Society's ChildS


Macabre meeting with Pakistan cannibal

Arif Ali
© BBC NewsWhat Mohammad Arif Ali and his brother did shocked Pakistan.
Tracking down the two brothers convicted following a notorious act of cannibalism in Pakistan is no easy task - the duo are keeping a low profile after being released from prison.

We began by following an oxcart-rutted dirt track for as far as it would go in Punjab province. Then we walk another kilometre or so through humid maize and sugarcane plantations to reach the farmhouse.

The brothers are not there, their uncle, Wali Deen, tells me. He is also not happy to see me.

"Interview the corpse-eaters? They didn't eat corpses. They are just the victims of their neighbours' jealousy," he says defiantly.

Wali Deen
© BBC NewsWali Deen insists that his nephews are not cannibals.
Mohammad Farman Ali and Mohammad Arif Ali were sentenced to two years in jail for stealing a corpse from a grave and using it to make meat curry.

Because they killed no one and there is no law relating to cannibalism in Pakistan, the pair only served about two years in jail for desecrating a grave following their arrest in April 2011.

The overwhelming evidence of cannibalism created a serious law and order situation in the area around the small desert town of Darya Khan, located along the western fringes of Punjab, some 200km (124 miles) south of the capital, Islamabad.

In June, people of the town were stunned when the brothers were released from jail. Angry protesters set tyres on fire on a major highway in the area, blocking traffic for several hours.

The police had to take the brothers into protective custody to prevent them from being lynched. Their whereabouts since their release have been largely unknown.


Caught on camera: Truck jumps over Indiana highway and explodes

A dashboard camera captures the moment an articulated lorry explodes in a huge fireball after flying into the air on a highway in Indiana, in an incident which the driver and his young son miraculously survived.

Footage from a dashboard camera of a driver in the US state of Indiana captures the incredible moment an articulated lorry is launched into the air, flies over a two lane highway before exploding in a fireball.

The incredulous reaction of the driver who witnessed the incident can be heard on the footage, which is believed to have been filmed on Thursday afternoon.

A local newspaper, The Greensburg Daily News, reported that the lorry driver and his seven-year-old son, who was travelling with him at the time of the accident, escaped the incident with only minor injuries.


Toxic cloud of tar sands waste travels from Detroit to Canada

© Unknown
A massive cloud of black dust that swept across the Detroit River into Windsor, Canada this week has been linked to piles of petroleum coke, a by-product of tar sands oil illegally stored in Detroit by Koch Carbon.

Though much has already been said of the tar sands oil industry, which is currently experiencing a boom and has spurred several high profile pipeline expansions across the US, the accumulation of the petroleum coke, commonly referred to as pet coke, along the Detroit riverfront went largely unnoticed until this week.

Light Sabers

Edward Snowden granted asylum, leaves Moscow airport in taxi

National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden left transit zone of a Moscow airport and entered Russia after authorities granted him temporary asylum, his lawyer said Thursday.

Moscow -- Edward Snowden finally managed to break free of his confinement at the transit zone of Moscow's international airport when he was granted Russian travel documents Thursday, after which he hopped in a cab and left for a secret location, his Russian lawyer said.

"Edward was granted a one-year asylum and I just saw him to a taxi out of the airport," Anatoly Kucherena said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. "It is up to him to choose a residence inside Russia, but his location will remain secret for the duration of his stay."

"For the most wanted man on earth," Kucherena added, "personal safety is his No. 1 priority now."

Snowden, who is wanted by the United States for leaking highly classified documents from his work as a consultant for the National Security Agency, had been effectively trapped at Moscow's Sheremetyevo International Airport since June 23, when he arrived on a flight from Hong Kong. He was intending to change planes in Moscow, apparently for Latin America, but was caught in limbo when the United States canceled his passport.

Stock Down

U.S. housing market shifts into reverse: A whirlpool of speculation

Here are a few headlines you might want to mull-over before you plunk 20 percent down on that $500,000 Tudor in Rancho Mirage:

"Mortgage Applications Drop for Seventh Straight Week", "Homeownership slides to 18 year low", "Investors start to move out of housing", "Sellers Worry Rising Rates Will Lower Demand", "PE Scrambles To Exit Housing Market", "Higher mortgage rates lead to softer home demand, Beazer exec says."

Of course, all you're reading is stories about the 12.2% year-over-year price surge that's started the buzz about the next housing bubble. And it's true too, housing prices have gone up. Financial manipulation and corporate propaganda DO work, even in an no-growth, high unemployment economy where half the college graduates under 30 are shackled to loans they'll never repay, where one-in-six people scrape by on food stamps, and where "four out of 5 U.S. adults struggle with joblessness, near-poverty or reliance on welfare for at least parts of their lives." (AP News) Hurrah, for the American Dream! Hurrah, for propaganda!

Piggy Bank

France: Rising costs of essentials cause people to increasingly turn to overdrafts

The French are increasingly turning to overdrafts, according to a banking survey.

A survey of savers, by pollsters CSA, found that as well using them, more people preferred to have overdraft options on their accounts in case of emergency.

It also found an increasing number of people preferred to become overdrawn for short periods rather than raid their savings accounts to make up the balance in their current account.

One in two people said they used their overdraft at least once a year, with one in five using it once a month according to the survey.

Many of the financial problems associated with overdrafts do not come from the overdrafts themselves (which can be free for some accounts), but with the fees associated with going over their limits.

A spokesman for Crédit Agricole said: "A decade ago this only concerned people who could not pay back their debts. Today we find more and more retirees and poor workers."

Rising costs of essentials such as housing and energy payments were behind many of these cases said the spokesman.

People 2

France mulls gay retirement home

The Mayor of a small French town has admitted he was unaware of giving permission to build a retirement village for gay people.

Yves Bastié, mayor of Sallèles d'Aude, gave the thumbs up to the construction of a holiday-retirement village as something he had long campaigned for.

But the mayor has admitted he was unaware that the project, put forward by the British company Villages Group, was destined to be a "private oasis for the over-50s gay and lesbian community".

"I knew nothing about it," he said. "I've asked my colleagues to check this information, but if it is the case, I think the least thing would have been to inform me."

While the project was presented to the mairie, images of a heterosexual couples were used, but on the English website of the group the illustrations are of gay couples.

The plan is for 104 eco-friendly homes plus a hotel, restaurant and sports centre in a gated community with concierge services and riverside access.

The entry price for a home is €236,000, plus €70 a week maintenance and service charge which also covers activities.

Arrow Up

France: New tariffs enter into force

Electricity bills rise an average of 5% from today, as interest rates on savings are cut to 1.25% and gas prices drop slightly.

EDF is introducing a new set of tariffs from August 1, which will hit small users the least, but will push up prices in general. They affect the state regulated accounts still owned by 95% of French households.

The interest rate of the tax free savings account the Livret A is cut from 1.75% to 1.25% - its lowest ever level, last seen in August 2009.

Meanwhile the prices of state regulated gas bills are set to drop slightly, by an average of 0.45%.

The SNCF and RATP have both decided to keep their fares unchanged.

Arrow Up

Wheat prices in Japan to increase for third time this year

Wheat prices in Japan, which imports 60 percent of its food, are poised to increase for the third time in a year, adding to inflation as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's economic stimulus weakens the yen and boosts costs.

Foreign wheat sold by the government to flour millers including Nisshin Seifun Group Inc. (2002) will probably rise about 5 percent in October from 54,990 yen ($553) a metric ton on average, according to the U.S. Wheat Associates. The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries will decide on prices this month, based on purchasing costs in the six months through August, said grain-trade director Sunao Orihara.

The increase will add to expenses for producers from noodle maker Nissin Foods Holdings Co. (2897) to Yamazaki Baking Co. (2212), which raised bread prices as much as 6 percent last month. Higher food costs are helping Abe's campaign to achieve a goal of 2 percent inflation for sustained growth. Consumer prices gained the most since 2008 in June, signaling the world's third-biggest economy may be starting to shake off 15 years of deflation. Wheat costs rose 10 percent in April and 3 percent in October.

"We expect another increase in yen-based wheat prices, despite a retreat in the international market, as Japan's currency remains weak against the dollar," Charlie Utsunomiya, director at the Tokyo office of U.S. Wheat Associates, said in an interview, based on sales through July.

Arrow Up

Rising food prices - not just your imagination

Tesco Boss Larry Phillip has finally come out to say that the days of cheap food prices are over. "Because of growing global demand, it is going to change. There's going to be more demand and more pressure. Over the long term I think food prices and people's proportion of income may well be going up but we'll be doing our bit. Unless more food is produced prices must go up. It's the basic law of supply and demand." Ah economics, how you attempt to explain everything. But what does this all mean?

Food Poverty

It means that we are going to have to pay more for food that ever before. It seems as if a lot of people are already well accustomed to higher food prices, which have risen by 25% over the last five years. An estimated 18 per cent of the UK is suffering from food poverty. Is it possible to continue to eat healthily while food prices rise? Processed, ready-made meals have been said to contribute to obesity levels. However, unfortunately such food is often cheaper than their healthy alternatives. What is the answer?