Society's ChildS

Che Guevara

Serbia anti-government protesters demand early election

© ReutersThe protesters said they were fed up with corruption and low wages
Tens of thousands of anti-government protesters have massed in Belgrade to call for early elections, amid growing anger over the economy and corruption.

Opposition leader Tomislav Nikolic told the crowd he was going on hunger strike until an election was called.

The rally comes three months after a similar protest in the capital.

President Boris Tadic has said Serbia needs stability and dismissed opposition ultimatums about election dates as "totally inappropriate".

The next election is scheduled for 2012.

But the BBC's Mark Lowen in Belgrade says the resurgent opposition, combined with news of the hunger strike, may make the call for a fresh poll hard to ignore.


US: Mystery deepens as bodies turn up on Long Island

© Don Emmert / AFP/Getty ImagesSuffolk County Police divers prepare to search for human remains in the waters of Hemlock Cove on April 13 near Point Lookout, N.Y.
A search on a rustic barrier island for a missing prostitute has yielded a series of grisly finds pointing to a serial killer, or maybe two. Authorities are stumped, and locals are shaken.

In the summertime, the beaches along Ocean Parkway on Long Island are an American photo album of family picnics, July Fourth fireworks and minivans wedged bumper to bumper. But in the winter, this idyllic place is a windswept wilderness laced with thickets of brush that, it seems, provide the perfect dumping ground for murder.

That's the macabre scene that has unfolded since a prostitute went missing a year ago and a search party began scouring this seashore getaway for some sign of her.

What turned up instead was a string of mostly skeletal remains suggesting the work of a serial killer, or maybe two. Police are eager to find Shannan Gilbert, 24, who they suspect is somewhere in the impenetrable terrain that keeps offering up mysteries they can't explain.

So far, this barrier island off Long Island's south shore, 40 miles from New York City, has yielded a terrible crop of death, including the bodies of four other women known to have worked as prostitutes, shrouded in burlap; a bag of arms and legs; a human skull; and the body of an unidentified woman lying near that of a child about 5 years old, wrapped in a blanket.

Authorities are stumped, and the hardy, eclectic, year-round dwellers here are shaken. Yet such grisly finds have taken on a sad familiarity; strings of prostitute killings, most unsolved, exist in almost every major city and many smaller places, experts say, and Long Island has not been immune. Joel Rifkin of East Meadow was convicted of killing nine women, mostly drug-addicted prostitutes, between 1989 and 1993 and is serving a 203-year prison sentence. Robert Shulman of Hicksville was convicted of five such killings in the 1990s; he was serving a life term in prison when he died in 2006.


Nigeria holds mostly peaceful presidential vote

© AP / Sunday AlambaA Nigerian army guard seen at a polling station as electoral official count ballot papers after the National Assembly election in Ibadan, Nigeria, Saturday, April 9, 2011.
Nigerians chose their president in an election Saturday many hoped would show Africa's most populous nation could hold a credible vote without the violence and rigging that marred previous ones, though children cast ballots and party officials helped others press their inked fingers to paper.

Despite widespread security concerns after bombs hit a vote-counting centre and a polling station during last weekend's legislative elections, voting in the oil-rich country was largely peaceful Saturday though a police officer was fatally shot in the volatile northeast.

"In recent decades, Nigeria had come to be known for flawed elections. People outside and Nigerians themselves had come to believe that elections could not reflect the will of the people. But, today people showed that they can change that," former Botswana President Festus Mogae, who led the Commonwealth Observer Group, said.

"We seem to be witnessing a giant of Africa reforming itself and putting its house in order," Mogae said.

The chief European Union observer also said most stations opened on time, and that observers only saw a few cases of missing voting materials. But in the remote villages of northern Nigeria where opposition candidates are drawing their support, some of the voters were smooth-cheeked boys not even 5 feet (1.5 metres) tall, wearing clothes two sizes too big for them.


California: This Army Unit Was Bogus, Prosecutors Charge

Fake Army Unit
© Jonathan Alcorn for The New York TimesYupeng Deng, also known as David Deng, appeared in Los Angeles County Superior Court in Pomona on Wednesday for his arraignment.

To the Chinese immigrants he recruited, Yupeng Deng was known as Supreme Commander. He offered them United States Army uniforms, conducted training exercises on Sundays, led marches in municipal parades and promised a path toward American citizenship.

The uniforms were real, but Mr. Deng's U.S. Army/Military Special Forces Reserve unit was a sham, the authorities said.

On Wednesday, Mr. Deng, 51, was arraigned in Los Angeles County Court on 13 felony charges related to the fake military operation, which concentrated on Chinese immigrants, eager to become American citizens, in the San Gabriel Valley, east of Los Angeles.

More than 100 immigrants paid upwards of $300 to join the bogus unit, the authorities said, and $120 to renew their memberships each year. In addition, recruits could increase their rank with additional cash donations to Mr. Deng, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney's office, which is prosecuting the case.


As Bahrain stifles protest movement, U.S.'s muted objections draw criticism

Two months after the eruption of mass protests in Bahrain, the kingdom has largely silenced the opposition, jailing hundreds of activists in a crackdown that has left the Obama administration vulnerable to charges that it is upholding democratic values in the Middle East selectively.

Bahrain's monarchy, since calling in Saudi troops last month to help crush the protest movement, has been quietly dismantling the country's Shiite-led opposition. On Friday, the Sunni government announced an investigation into the activities of Bahrain's largest political party, the Shiite-dominated al-Wefaq, which could lead to its ban.

The Obama administration has repeatedly appealed to the Bahraini government for restraint, and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton this week called for a political process that "advances the rights and aspirations of all the citizens of Bahrain." But the administration has neither recalled its ambassador to Manama nor threatened the kinds of sanctions it imposed on Libya - a striking disparity that is fueling ­anti-U.S. sentiment among Bahraini opposition groups.

"Even though the American administration's words are all about freedom and democracy and change, in Bahrain, the reality is that they're basically a protection for the dictatorship," said Zainab al-Khawaja, a prominent human-rights activist who began a hunger strike after her father, husband and brother-in-law were arrested at her apartment over the weekend.


US: FAA changing air controllers' schedules after another falls asleep

© Clif Owen/APThe FAA control tower at Reagan National Airport is seen in Arlington.
The crisis that has engulfed the nation's air-traffic system deepened Saturday as another air-traffic controller was discovered sleeping on the job, the government announced.

In this case, the controller was working a midnight shift at a crowded facility in Miami. No flights were threatened during the episode, but federal officials also announced they're instituting schedule changes to minimize fatigue among the thousands who work during the wee hours.

In what has become a wave of bad publicity for the nation's aviation system, the Federal Aviation Administration announced Saturday that it had discovered the sixth case of controllers suspected of sleeping on the job this year. None of the incidents has come close to triggering an accident, but the cases have undermined public confidence in the system and prompted widespread criticism.


Testimony from Japan: "A Ship with no Captain". Evolving Coverup of a Nuclear Disaster...

Earthquake and Nuke Fatigue: "Time For The Rich To Leave Tokyo"

It appears there is a cover-up as to the severity of the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster. We in Japan are being told by the government that there is a plan to monitor food safety to ensure the public will not be exposed to dangerous levels of radiation. Yet some experts dispute whether there is any such thing as a "safe dose." Further, the government is not honestly telling the public the extent of the problem or how they propose to resolve it (see this rolling update from a resident living near the Fukushima plant: ).

Any intelligent layperson who considers the technical aspects of the disaster will be at a loss as to how the plant operators will be able to restore the cooling system, which may be badly damaged, to reactors that themselves may be unrepairable or in various states of melt-down. If the nuclear fuel in the reactors has melted through to the floor, what would be the point of setting up a cooling system to a dysfunctional reactor and a pool of melted fuel?

No one in the government clearly answers these questions nor has the international community come forth with a possible solution.


US: 3 online poker houses face fraud charges in New York

Federal authorities busted the three largest online poker websites in the United States on Friday with charges of bank fraud and illegal gambling against 11 people, accusing them of manipulating banks to process billions of dollars in illegal revenue.

Prosecutors in Manhattan said they've issued restraining orders against more than 75 bank accounts in 14 countries used by the poker companies, interrupting the illegal flow of billions of dollars.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said the defendants "concocted an elaborate criminal fraud scheme, alternately tricking some U.S. banks and effectively bribing others to assure the continued flow of billions in illegal gambling profits."

The companies, all based overseas, were identified as PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker. The indictment sought $3-billion in money laundering penalties and forfeiture from the defendants.

The indictment said the companies ran afoul of the law after the U.S. in October 2006 enacted the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, which makes it a crime for gambling businesses to knowingly accept most forms of payment in connection with the participation of another person in unlawful Internet gambling.


US: Ohio police: Man killed wife, 3 young kids, then self; grandma says couple had marital trouble

© The Assoicated Press/JD PooleyOttawa County Sheriff Bob Bratton pauses while speaking to the media, Saturday April 16, 2011, in Port Clinton, Ohio. Authorities say Alan Atwater killed his three children, wife and himself inside an Ohio farmhouse.
A man who recently told a relative he was having marital problems called 911 and informed a dispatcher that he had fatally shot his wife and three young children and was getting ready to kill himself, too, authorities and his grandmother said Saturday.

The 911 call came in just after midnight, the Ottawa County Sheriff's Department said, and deputies arrived within minutes at the white-sided, two-story farmhouse in Oak Harbor, about 25 miles southeast of Toledo. They didn't enter the home until two hours later, after they'd tried to contact the people inside by phone and through a loudspeaker.

In an upstairs bedroom, they found Alan Atwater, 31; his wife, Dawn, 30; and their three children - 4-year-old Ashley, 2-year-old Isaac and 1-year-old Brady. The parents and two older children were on the floor, while the youngest was in a bed. All had gunshot wounds, authorities said.

"There has been a terrible accident at my house. My wife and three children are dead," Alan Atwater said in the 911 call, according to the sheriff's office. He told the dispatcher he had shot them.

Eye 2

US: Woman Allegedly Kills Cat For Lady Gaga Concert Outfit

© unknownLady Gaga
A 20-year-old Oklahoma woman was receiving treatment in a hospital Thursday after being charged with animal cruelty for allegedly killing the family cat and using the blood for an outfit she planned to wear to a Lady Gaga concert.

A relative of Angelina K. Barnes returned to her home in Oklahoma City and found the woman wearing a long coat, with her face covered in blood -- later determined to be cat's blood -- ready to attend the concert, KFOR reported.

The light switches in the house had been covered in duct tape to make them almost impossible to turn on.

It was later determined the cat had been drowned in the bathroom, before being sliced open and its eyes mutilated.

The liver of the animal was found in a makeup case on the bathroom's vanity.

Police said Barnes was taken to Griffin Memorial Hospital where she was receiving treatment. She did not attend the Lady Gaga concert.

Although Barnes was diagnosed with depression, neighbors said the violence was "completely out of character."