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US, Florida: 7 teens charged with beating classmate unconscious

school bus
© Courthouse News Service
Seven central Florida teenagers were arrested after authorities said they punched and kicked a 13-year-old until she was unconscious while on a school bus.

The victim told authorities that Friday was her first time riding the bus and no one would let her sit down. About 75 children were riding the bus bound for a middle school in Ocala, a rural city north of Orlando. The victim said someone threw a shoe at her and she threw one back, according to an arrest report.

One girl allegedly asked students if they wanted to hit the victim, then instructed the teens to form a circle and began hitting and kicking the victim. Several witnesses said they saw the girl fall to the floor and "appear to have a seizure and pass out," according to the arrest report.

The victim, who is not being identified, was taken to the hospital and diagnosed with a concussion, severe bruising on her head and muscle spasms.

Seven teens, ranging in age from 12 to 15, were charged with battery and disorderly conduct. The Associated Press is not identifying the suspects because they are minors.

Evil Rays

US: 'If Fred Got Two Beatings Per Day...' Homework Asks

slavery homework
Third graders in in Gwinnett County, Ga., were given math homework Wednesday that asked questions about slavery and beatings.

Christopher Braxton told ABC News affiliate WSB-TV in Atlanta that he couldn't believe the assignment his 8-year-old son brought home from of Beaver Ridge Elementary school in Norcross.

"It kind of blew me away," Braxton said. "Do you see what I see? Do you really see what I see? He's not answering this question."

Pistol

Gunman in Afghan uniform kills US soldier on base

Image
© Unknown
Afghan National Army Uniform
Kabul, Afghanistan - A man in an Afghan army uniform opened fire on a group of Americans at a base in the south of the country, killing a U.S. soldier and wounding another, an Afghan military spokesman said Monday.

Spokesman Gen. Mohammad Zahir Azimi said the gunman was also killed in the shootout on Sunday. "Right now, an investigation is going on to determine whether he really was a soldier or someone using an army uniform. And if he was a soldier, what caused the shooting," Azimi said.

Similar attacks have raised fears of increased Taliban infiltration of the Afghan police and army as NATO speeds up the training of the security forces. In some cases the attackers were Afghan soldiers who turned on NATO troops. Others involved insurgents dressed in Afghan uniforms.

A NATO statement released late Sunday said only that a coalition service member was killed in the incident, apparently by an Afghan soldier, but provided no details on the location or the victim's nationality.

Radar

Stricken cargo ship breaks up off New Zealand coast

The stricken container ship, Rena, has started to break apart off the coast of New Zealand


A cargo ship grounded off the New Zealand coast since October has split into two pieces after being lashed by pounding seas, spilling sea containers and debris and sparking fears a fresh oil spill could wash ashore, maritime officials said on Sunday.

The officials said that the front section of the wreck remains stuck in its original position, but the stern section has broken off, slipped at least 100ft (30m) away from the bow and is "moving significantly," pounded by 19ft (6m) swells.

House

Pakistan's Musharraf to return this month

Image
© Lefteris Pitarakis/AP
Pervez Musharraf, the former President of Pakistan, talks during the launch of his new political party, the "All Pakistan Muslim League" in central London, on Oct. 1, 2010.
Karachi - Former President Pervez Musharraf announced Sunday he would return to Pakistan later this month and prepare for elections, something that could add to political turbulence in an already tense atmosphere in the country.

Musharraf's first challenge may be to avoid arrest on his arrival.

On Saturday, state prosecutors said they planned to detain the former army chief on charges he failed to provide security for former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto ahead of her assassination in 2008. While much remains unpredictable, commentators have speculated that the army will not allow Musharraf to be arrested, setting up fresh conflict between it and the unpopular government of President Asif Ali Zardari.

Musharraf told several thousand supporters in Karachi by telephone on Sunday he would return between Jan. 27 and Jan. 30.

In apparent reference to the charges against him, he said: "I am coming to Pakistan, but there are attempts to scare me off. There are baseless cases against me, but we will face those cases in court."

People

Ignorance Is Bliss

You can't make this stuff up.
blind voter graphic
© n/a
Washington - The less people know about important complex issues such as the economy, energy consumption and the environment, the more they want to avoid becoming well-informed, according to new research published by the American Psychological Association.

And the more urgent the issue, the more people want to remain unaware, according to a paper published online in APA's Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

[Follow the link to read the paper (pdf warning).]

"These studies were designed to help understand the so-called 'ignorance is bliss' approach to social issues," said author Steven Shepherd, a graduate student with the University of Waterloo in Ontario. "The findings can assist educators in addressing significant barriers to getting people involved and engaged in social issues."

Chalkboard

Forced Military Testing in America's Schools

Image
© US Military
The invasion of student privacy associated with military testing in U.S. high schools has been well documented by mainstream media sources, like USA Today and NPR Radio. The practice of mandatory testing, however, continues largely unnoticed.

The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, or ASVAB is the military's entrance exam that is given to fresh recruits to determine their aptitude for various military occupations. The test is also used as a recruiting tool in 12,000 high schools across the country. The 3 hour test is used by military recruiting services to gain sensitive, personal information on more than 660,000 high school students across the country every year, the vast majority of whom are under the age of 18. Students typically are given the test at school without parental knowledge or consent. The school-based ASVAB Career Exploration Program is among the military's most effective recruiting tools.

In roughly 11,000 high schools where the ASVAB is administered, students are strongly encouraged to take the test for its alleged value as a career exploration tool, but in more than 1,000 schools, according to information received from the U.S. Military Entrance Processing Command through a Freedom of Information Act request, tens of thousands of students are required to take it. It is a particularly egregious violation of civil liberties that has been going on almost entirely unnoticed since the late 1960's.

Eye 2

Let Him Prey: High-Ranking Jesuits Helped Keep Pedophile Priest Hidden

peadophile priest
© Illustration by Brian Stauffer
The conservative Catholic family lived on a quiet cul-de-sac in Walnut Creek and took pains to observe the traditions of a church racked by social change. Their lives appeared driven by the famous motivational phrase of Saint Ignatius, Ad majorem Dei gloriam - for the greater glory of God. It was the same motto that ostensibly guided the Jesuit priest, Donald McGuire, to whom they turned for spiritual guidance.

Then, in 1993, they learned that McGuire had done unthinkable things with their 16-year-old son, Charles, who traveled with him as his personal assistant. The boy and the priest had allegedly looked at pornographic magazines, masturbated, and taken showers together. The family took this devastating news to an esteemed San Francisco priest, Joseph Fessio, who, like McGuire, had once been a teacher at the University of San Francisco.

Fessio runs the Ignatius Press, a Catholic publishing house based in the Sunset District that is the primary English-language publisher of the pope's writings. He and McGuire shared a reputation for doctrinal orthodoxy. McGuire, for his part, was a cleric of worldwide renown, functioning as adviser and confessor to Mother Teresa. While family members considered reporting the abuse to secular authorities, Fessio urged them to stay quiet until he could confer with Jesuit higher-ups.

Confronted with the allegations, McGuire, a famously manipulative man known both for his charm and periodic rages, denied Charles's accusations or made excuses. His Jesuit bosses in Chicago, where McGuire was technically based, ordered him to undergo a residential treatment program at a psychiatric hospital for priests. In about seven months, McGuire was released and returned to active ministry. He continued to prey on other children for the next nine years.

Stormtrooper

British Judge Accuses Police of Racism

Image
© unknown
British police have been accused of abusing their powers under the so-called stop-and-search act and institutionally performing racism as far as the act is concerned.

A prominent legal advisor said that police officers, who targeted people based on their skin colour alone, should be held accountable for wasting police time and hence misusing public resources, British media reported.

Richard Stone was a leading adviser to the judge who produced the landmark Macpherson report in 1999, which concluded that the Metropolitan police was institutionally racist.

Stone, a member of the Stephen Lawrence inquiry panel, said last week after the sentencing of two of the killers of the black teenager, that prosecuting officers who commit a crime under the act would improve public confidence in stop-and-search.

V

US: Deadline Set for Iowa Occupy Camps

Image
© unknown
Occupy protesters' tents in Stewart Square city park of Des Moines
The US authorities have given Occupy protesters in the city of Des Moines, the capital of state of Iowa, an ultimatum to clear out their encampment by the end of the month.

The protesters have until the end of January to dismantle their tents and leave the city's Stewart Square Park but the occupiers have vowed to stay and face arrest -- or seek a court injunction to prevent the eviction.

Occupy Des Moines protesters have been camping at the site for some three months now.

Occupiers from across the US came together in the city ahead of the Republican presidential candidates' primary vote in Iowa earlier this week.