Society's ChildS


US, California: Jack Sparrow Character Pepper-Sprayed in Hollywood Brawl

Fight among several costumed figures erupts in front of the Kodak Theatre
© Steve BoelhouwerA photo from a similar fight on Hollywood Boulevard in September 2011 shows a SpongeBob SquarePants character's costume left on the pavement

A brawl among several costumed figures erupted in front of the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood on Thursday evening, resulting in a Jack Sparrow character being pepper-sprayed, according to Los Angeles police.

The Jack Sparrow character was treated for minor injuries in the fight that reportedly included Cat Woman, an alien and a second pirate.

Cat Woman, the alien and the pirate fled following the free-for-all that played out in front of tourists on busy Hollywood Boulevard.

The incident was the latest run-in between characters who pose for pictures with tourists and then aggressively demand money.


Canada: Is CBC Using Public Money to Pay for Porn?

James Moore
© Reuters/Blair GableMinister of Canadian Heritage James Moore.
The Sun News Network strikes again.

In their latest attack against the CBC, the right-leaning media conglomerate is accusing our state broadcaster of paying for and broadcasting soft-core porn.

Sun News is referring to Hard, a program produced in France and broadcast on Radio Canada's on-demand web portal

The show, which is featured prominently on's homepage, includes scenes with nudity and explicit sexual activity all the while the CBC logo sits atop the digital player.

Even the pro-CBC New Democrats are shaking their heads at this latest revelation.


Illinois, US: Family Furious After Calumet City Police Shoot, Kill Boy With Autism

Police in Calumet City were defending their actions Wednesday after officers shot and killed a 15-year-old boy, who has a form of autism, after he threatened them with a knife.

Stephon Watts' family said he suffered from Asperger's Syndrome - a high-functioning form of autism - and attention deficit disorder.

As CBS 2′s Susanna Song and WBBM Newsradio's Steve Miller report, they claimed the boy was only holding a butter knife. Police would only describe it as a "kitchen knife."

The deadly encounter happened at the boy's home at 541 Forsythe Av. in Calumet City, police said.


French Elle denies Obama fashion piece 'racist'

black fashion power
© Elle
French fashion bible Elle has denied charges of racism after unleashing a storm by suggesting that a black American elite, inspired by the Obama couple, was finally embracing "white" fashion.

The January 13 blog post entitled "Black fashion power" has drawn volleys of angry protest on both side of the Atlantic, with the New York Daily News tabloid saying it managed to "insult black Americans as a whole".

In the piece, which has since been removed from Elle's website, journalist Nathalie Dolivo cited singers Erykah Badu or Rihanna and the actress Zoe Saldana, as black Americans who understood "the importance of style".

"In an America governed for the first time by a black American president, chic has become a plausible option for a community up until then bound by its streetwear codes," she wrote.


US: Stolen Babies? Immigrant Mother Loses Four Kids

The scars of childbirth were still healing on Amelia Reyes Jimenez's stomach in 2008 when police came to her Phoenix apartment and took her three-month-old daughter from her arms.


Do You Like Online Privacy? You May Be a Terrorist

surveillance graphic
© n/a
A flyer designed by the FBI and the Department of Justice to promote suspicious activity reporting in internet cafes lists basic tools used for online privacy as potential signs of terrorist activity. The document, part of a program called "Communities Against Terrorism", lists the use of "anonymizers, portals, or other means to shield IP address" as a sign that a person could be engaged in or supporting terrorist activity. The use of encryption is also listed as a suspicious activity along with steganography, the practice of using "software to hide encrypted data in digital photos" or other media. In fact, the flyer recommends that anyone "overly concerned about privacy" or attempting to "shield the screen from view of others" should be considered suspicious and potentially engaged in terrorist activities.

Logging into an account associated with a residential internet service provider (such as Comcast or AOL), an activity that could simply indicate that you are on a trip, is also considered a suspicious activity. Viewing any content related to "military tactics" including manuals or "revolutionary literature" is also considered a potential indicator of terrorist activity. This would mean that viewing a number of websites, including the one you are on right now, could be construed by a hapless employee as an highly suspicious activity potentially linking you to terrorism.

The "Potential Indicators of Terrorist Activities" contained in the flyer are not to be construed alone as a sign of terrorist activity and the document notes that "just because someone's speech, actions, beliefs, appearance, or way of life is different; it does not mean that he or she is suspicious." However, many of the activities described in the document are basic practices of any individual concerned with security or privacy online. The use of PGP, VPNs, Tor or any of the many other technologies for anonymity and privacy online are directly targeted by the flyer, which is distributed to businesses in an effort to promote the reporting of these activities.


'US Uses Depleted Uranium, Makes Graveyards in Afghanistan'

Afgan father with ill child
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An Afghan activist reveals the US is still using horrific depleted uranium weapons in Afghanistan, creating graveyards of people who die of cancer and other unusual diseases, Press TV reports.

"These weapons are still used. In fact, a US aircraft called A-10 warthog, normally, even if it doesn't use a uranium projectile in the machine gun, every third projectile is a uranium projectile and that's the working horse of the US army in Afghanistan. They use it left and right," Dr. Mohammad Daud Miraki said in an interview with Press TV.

"Apache helicopters and Bradley vehicles also utilize these projectiles in these weapons," he added.

The activist also noted that 62.7 percent of the population of Afghanistan has been targeted by the dangerous radioactive ammunitions.


5.6 Million Americans Have Switched Their Banks In The Last 90 Days

protest sign
© n/a
Back in November, the Occupy Wall Street movement inspired "Bank Transfer Day," a day for Americans fed up with the actions of the nation's biggest banks to move their money to a different institution. Initial estimates of the impact of Bank Transfer Day placed the number of accounts moved at around 600,000, but later estimates revised that downward to around 200,000.

However, new estimates from Javelin Strategy and Research, a research and consulting firm, show that the original numbers were closer to the truth. Javelin found that 5.6 million people have moved their bank accounts in the last 90 days, with 610,000 citing Bank Transfer Day as their reason:
Bank Transfer Day and the Occupy Movement have received tremendous attention, and for the first time we have market research data to measure the impact on the financial services industry. Javelin's research estimates that 5.6 million U.S. adults with a banking relationship changed providers in the past 90 days. Of those switchers, 610,000 US adults (or 11% of the 5.6 million) cited Bank Transfer Day as their reason and actually moved their accounts from a large to a small institution.


Obama More Press-Friendly than Bush, but Controls the Message

© Reuters
The president has granted 408 media interviews with journalists in his first three years in office, exactly three times as many as his predecesor, according to a study cited by The New York Times. Towson University's Martha Kumar has tallied 136 one-on-ones for George W. Bush's first three years, and 166 for Bill Clinton's.

This stat confirms what we already knew: Obama is a press-friendly president, but perhaps not in the way that we thought. Obama's given far fewer general Q&As with the White House press corp (94) than Bush (307) or Clinton (493). The reason? "He prefers interviews because he prefers speaking on a particular topic," says Kumar. So this statistic is less about volume and more about message control.


BBC admits receiving millions in grants from EU and councils

EU flags
© AlamyBBC received nearly £3million in grant money from the European Union over the past four years
The news prompted MPs to raise questions about the BBC's impartiality when its journalists report on events in the EU.

The BBC admitted in a letter to a Tory MP that it has received nearly £3million in grant money from the European Union over the past four years.

Other grants totalling £16million came from local authorities across the UK. The money was spent on "research and development projects".

The broadcaster also disclosed that its commercial arm BBC Worldwide borrowed over £141million from the European Investment Bank since 2003. Of that figure £30million is still due to be repaid by the end of May this year.

These figures are disclosed in the commercial arm's annual report, while the BBC's annual report does not make clear where the grant money comes from.