Society's ChildS


Rare Billy the Kid photograph sold for $2.3 million

© ReutersBilly the Kid is pictured in an undated handout photograph
The only authenticated photograph of infamous Wild West gunslinger Billy the Kid was auctioned off to Florida billionaire William Koch for an $2.3 million on Saturday night.

Koch, an energy company executive and well-known collector of art and American West artifacts, placed the winning bid in person before stunned onlookers at Brian Lebel's annual Old West Auction in Denver.

Lebel said at an auction preview that he expected the tintype image to sell for between $300,000 and $400,000.

Koch told Reuters after the auction that he plans to allow some small museums to display the piece, and after that he will "just enjoy" the iconic piece.

"I love the old West," he said. "This is a part of American history."

The metallic photo, taken outside a Fort Sumner, New Mexico, saloon in late 1879 or early 1880, depicts the outlaw gripping the upright barrel of a Winchester carbine, with a Colt 45 pistol strapped to his hip.


46 Injured After Gas Explosion in Southern Russia

An official says a gas canister explosion at a wedding reception in southern Russia has injured 46 people.

An Emergencies Ministry official in the province of North Ossetia said 11 people are in critical condition after Saturday's blast ripped through a courtyard where guests were assembling.

Ministry spokesman Alexander Andreyev told The Associated Press that the worst cases would be flown to Moscow for treatment.

Russian news agencies said the gas was being used to fuel an outdoor grill.

There was no suspicion of foul play.


Mother Adds Human Face to Wiki Drama

© James Croucher / The AustralianValerie Bader and Darren Weller rehearse for Stainless Steel Rat.
Christine Assange hasn't read the script for the world's first "wikiplay" about her son but she has firm views about its subject matter. "Every piece of misinformation that goes out is another nail in Julian's coffin," she says.

Stainless Steel Rat, by Melbourne playwright Ron Elisha, focuses on eight months in the life of WikiLeaks's Julian Assange.

The central character is played by Darren Weller. Other figures portrayed include Barack Obama, lawyer Geoffrey Robertson and Julian's son, Daniel.

Christine Assange asked, at the urging of her son, to see the script. "Creative objectivity" was the reason she was knocked back. But that's not why she will not be among the audience when the play has its premiere in Sydney next week. "I'm too busy trying to save his life," she says.

Assange is on bail in Britain awaiting the outcome of his appeal against extradition to Sweden, where he faces sexual assault allegations. His mother is certain Sweden would hand him over to the US.


US: Beware of uncivil servants with arms?

© Unknown
Get used to bureaucrats bearing firearms.

The U.S. Department of Education made headlines recently for sending a team of armed agents to execute a search warrant on a Stockton, Calif., man's home in a criminal investigation involving financial aid fraud.

Kenneth Wright was removed from the house in his boxer shorts and handcuffed. His three children were placed in a squad car while agents searched for information regarding his estranged wife, who didn't even live there.

Seemed like heavy-handed behavior for an agency that exists primarily to cultivate a nation of bookworms. But the Department of Education's having at its disposal what amounts to a SWAT team is just one of the vagaries of post-9/11 society.

Believe it or not, Education is one of more than two dozen federal agencies that were granted police powers in a little-known provision of the Homeland Security Act.

Alarm Clock

US: Power grid change may disrupt clocks

© AP Photo/Charles KrupaIn this Oct. 10, 2005 file photo, UPS delivery man Chris Carhart of South Boston, wheels packages past a store window featuring clocks at Quincy Market in Boston. Our power supply has been so precise we've set our clocks by it โ€” but time is running out on that idea. A yearlong experiment with the electric grid may make plug-in clocks and devices like coffeemakers run up to 20 minutes fast.

Washington - A yearlong experiment with the nation's electric grid could mess up traffic lights, security systems and some computers - and make plug-in clocks and appliances like programmable coffeemakers run up to 20 minutes fast.

"A lot of people are going to have things break and they're not going to know why," said Demetrios Matsakis, head of the time service department at the U.S. Naval Observatory, one of two official timekeeping agencies in the federal government.

Since 1930, electric clocks have kept time based on the rate of the electrical current that powers them. If the current slips off its usual rate, clocks run a little fast or slow. Power companies now take steps to correct it and keep the frequency of the current - and the time - as precise as possible.

Comment: Italy: Clocks in Sicily Mysteriously Jump Ahead


US: Elderly woman asked to remove adult diaper during TSA search


A woman has filed a complaint with federal authorities over how her elderly mother was treated at Northwest Florida Regional Airport last weekend.

Jean Weber of Destin filed a complaint with the Department of Homeland Security after her 95-year-old mother was detained and extensively searched last Saturday while trying to board a plane to fly to Michigan to be with family members during the final stages of her battle with leukemia.

Her mother, who was in a wheelchair, was asked to remove an adult diaper in order to complete a pat-down search.


BP moves to dismiss Mexican states' and Alabama cities' complaints in oil spill MDL

© NA

Attorneys for BP have filed a motion to dismiss the claims filed by the Louisiana District Attorneys, Alabama cities and Mexican states against the oil company following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion and oil spill.

BP is claiming that the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) states that "federal law is exclusive for claims arising from drilling for oil and other mineral exploration and development activities on the [Outer Continental Shelf]."

BP also states that the claims brought on by Mexican states are invalid because international treaties between Mexico and the U.S. do not mention remedies for oil spills.

2 + 2 = 4

Of muck and men

© Unknown
Tracing the spread of agriculture into Europe so many thousands of years after it happened is among the biggest challenges facing archaeologists. But the chemical signature of the manure early farmers spread on their land remains to this day. Amy Bogaard describes how her team found it.

As any gardener knows, animal manure does a brilliant job of keeping soils rich in nutrients and easy to work. Though chemical fertilizers are now widely used, manuring still plays a critical role in food production in many parts of the world today. But was it always so important?

The Crop Isotope Project is the first attempt to systematically assess the importance of manuring in early farming communities, dating back thousands of years - and the results have been, well, ground-breaking.

Archaeologists know where and when the 'ingredients' of European farming emerged - around 10,500 years ago in the Middle East's Fertile Crescent - and we have a good grasp of how agriculture then spread into Europe. But what was early farming like? How were crops grown and animals raised? This kind of understanding is crucial for explaining how farming emerged and became established, as well as its long-term consequences.

In the Middle East, growing crops and herding animals emerged at around the same time. Furthermore, the early suite of crops and livestock (wheat and barley, pulses and flax, together with sheep, goats, pigs and cattle) went on to spread together across Europe. This combined crop-and-livestock 'package' hints at some sort of mixed farming.

Comment: Research into how our ancestors farmed, ate and lived is admirable, but the fact of the matter is that the advent of agriculture was also the advent of the decline of the human race. The growing of grains and fruits over large tracts of land has not only destroyed much of our environment, but it has wreaked havoc with human health.

For 99% of human history, human beings have eaten animal meat and fat. It is only within the last 10,000 years, with the introduction of agriculture, that humans have eaten grains. We, as a species therefore, are genetically pre-disposed to thrive on animal products. In addition, most grains contain gluten and lectins, the former being a sugar to which many people are allergic, and the latter being a plant's natural defence against being eaten. Lectins are 'anti-nutrients' that damage and impair the function of the intestines of any animal that eat them, including humans. Both gluten and lectins have been linked to a host of 'modern' illnesses that have impoverished the lives of humanity as a whole.


Tens of thousands attend pro-government rallies in Syria

Tens of thousands of Syrians from across the country have held pro-government rallies to express their support for President Bashar al-Assad.

During the rallies on Saturday, the government supporters also condemned what they called foreign interference in their country's internal affairs, the Press TV correspondent in Damascus reported.

In the Syria capital, a group of religious leaders of different faiths held a meeting to express their unity.

Smaller groups of Syrians in other parts of the country held anti-government demonstrations and committed acts of sabotage. Seven people, both civilians and members of the security forces, were reportedly killed.


Five more killed in Syria unrest

Protesters call for reforms in Syria in March 2011.
At least five people have been killed near the central city of Homs in the latest outbreak of violence in Syria.

The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Saturday that two protesters were killed in Kiswa, which is located 15 kilometers (10 miles) south of the capital, Damascus, during funerals held for demonstrators who lost their lives on Friday, Reuters reported.

Three others were reportedly killed during house-to-house searches in the Barzeh district of Damascus and in the town of Quseir, a village west of Homs.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has identified the dead as civilians, but Press TV cannot independently confirm the reports.

On Friday, at least 12 people were killed and many others injured in several Syrian cities, including Damascus, after thousands of people took to the streets across the country to demand reforms.

Opposition activists said Syrian security forces opened fire on protesters, while Syria's state TV blamed the killing on armed gangs, saying a number of police officers were also among the victims.