Society's ChildS


Merkel Christian Democratic Union Routed in German State Poll

© unknownGerman Chancellor Angela Merkel
German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives have suffered an election defeat in southwestern state of Baden-Württemberg amid public outcry over her nuclear policy.

According to exit polls, the Greens and the Social Democrats (SPD) have staked out a solid lead in the state elections in Baden-Württemberg with 47.3 percent of the vote, as compared to Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) and the Free Democrat (FDP), who gained 44.3 percent combined, AFP reported on Sunday.

The Greens polled 24 percent, an increase of 12.3 percent since the last state elections in 2006, setting the stage for a Green party premier to hold the reins of power in Baden-Württemberg for the first time in German history.

The CDU, who had an unassailable control in the state of 11 million people for nearly 58 years, obtained 39.3, while the FDP took five percent in the election, which was depicted as a litmus test of Merkel's nuclear policies in the wake of Japan's nuclear crisis.

The election campaigns in Baden-Württemberg have been consumed by talks over the nuclear crisis in Japan.


Radiation in seawater may be spreading in Japan

© AP Photo/The Yomiuri Shimbun, Masanobu NakatsukasaEvacuees from Fukushima, where the troubled Dai-ichi nuclear power plant is located, receive meals for dinner at an evacuation center in Saitama, Japan, Sunday, March 27, 2011.
Highly radioactive iodine seeping from Japan's damaged nuclear complex may be making its way into seawater farther north of the plant than previously thought, officials said Monday, adding to radiation concerns as the crisis stretches into a third week.

Mounting problems, including badly miscalculated radiation figures and no place to store dangerously contaminated water, have stymied emergency workers struggling to cool down the overheating plant and avert a disaster with global implications.

The coastal Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant, located 140 miles (220 kilometers) northeast of Tokyo, has been leaking radiation since a magnitude-9.0 quake on March 11 triggered a tsunami that engulfed the complex. The wave knocked out power to the system that cools the dangerously hot nuclear fuel rods.

On Monday, workers resumed the laborious yet urgent task of pumping out the hundreds of tons of radioactive water inside several buildings at the six-unit plant. The water must be removed and safely stored before work can continue to power up the plant's cooling system, nuclear safety officials said.

The contaminated water, discovered last Thursday, has been emitting radiation that measured more than 1,000 millisieverts per hour in a recent reading at Unit 2 - some 100,000 times normal amounts, plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. said.

As officials scrambled to determine the source of the radioactive water, chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano repeated Monday that the contaminated water in Unit 2 appeared to be due to a temporary partial meltdown of the reactor core.


Canada: Air Farce actor Roger Abbott dies

© The Canadian PressRoyal Canadian Air Farce cast member Roger Abbott. Saturday, Nov. 14, 2009.
Canadian actor and comedian Roger Abbott has died, his friend and fellow player in CBC's Royal Canadian Air Farce confirmed Sunday.

Don Ferguson said Abbott, 64, died Saturday night at Toronto General Hospital, 14 years after being diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

He kept the progressive disease secret from all but a few close friends and family until a week ago, Ferguson said.

"Roger was the guiding light of Royal Canadian Air Farce since it began in 1973, and all of us who have had the honour of working with him and the pleasure of knowing him will dearly miss his kindness, generosity, integrity, leadership and wonderful sense of humour," he said.


Canada: Seven residents missing after fiery blast tears through Woodstock apt building

© The Canadian Press / Dave ChidleyA firefighters holds a hose on the scene of a three story apartment building fire in Woodstock, Ontario, Sunday, March 27, 2011. Seven people were taken to hospital and up to 11 more are unaccounted for, police said.
Seven people remain unaccounted for after a fiery explosion reduced an apartment building to a pile of bricks and charred wood in Woodstock, Ont., on Sunday.

With a large part of the three-storey building now turned to a pile of smoldering rubble, police said the outlook for those missing was grim.

"If we don't have any fatalities, I'll be very surprised," Sgt. Marvin Massecar of Woodstock police said late in the afternoon.

Raging flames tore through the building after nearby residents reported hearing a thunderous explosion and feeling the ground shudder early Sunday morning. Plumes of black smoke could be seen from the distance as fire crews worked to douse the blaze.

At one point, it looked like much of the building's facade was consumed by roaring orange flames, which caused the structure to crumble into a heap of bricks and twisted metal.

Seven people, including a firefighter, were injured in the blaze, police said. Six of those hurt were treated at Woodstock General Hospital and released. One person remained in hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

By Sunday evening, police had taped off a large area surrounding the building and evacuated all the homes on Victoria Street.

Eye 1

We're All Spies Now

© iStockphotoSurveillance is now a multibillion-dollar global industry, and an increasingly pervasive part of our daily lives.
In the late 1940s, George Orwell wrote his nightmarish novel 1984, depicting a future world where an all-seeing but unseen tyrant, Big Brother, ruled over his citizens by watching their every move. In this paranoid dystopia, surveillance was purely a ''top-down'' affair, a government tool for controlling the hapless masses: privacy was a crime, the Thought Police punished dissent and history was rewritten daily for political ends.

More than half a century later, it is worth considering how Orwell's fictional prediction weighs up against reality. If Big Brother's gaze dominated that imagined future, who's watching over us now?

In some respects, old George was spot on: surveillance is booming. It's now a multibillion-dollar global industry, and an increasingly pervasive part of our daily lives. But today's version has evolved beyond the Big Brother model - a monstrous oppressor peering down a giant microscope - into a more sophisticated, multi-directional and complex beast. Surveillance has spawned so many offshoots, and spread in such unforeseen directions, that we are struggling to keep up with its ethical and legal ramifications. What's more, in the digital age, we as individuals are not always its helpless victims. Unsettling? Perhaps. But rather than blindly condemning or embracing these shifts, it's better to keep a watchful eye on them.


US: Radiation In Massachusetts Rainwater Likely From Japan

radiation rain

Boston -- Health officials said Sunday that one sample of Massachusetts rainwater has registered very low concentrations of radiation, most likely from the Japanese nuclear power plant damaged earlier this month by an earthquake and tsunami.

John Auerbach, the Massachusetts commissioner of public health, said that radioiodine-131 found in the sample - one of more than 100 that have been taken around the country - has a short life of only eight days. He said the drinking water supply in the state was unaffected and officials do not expect any health concerns.

Nevada and other Western states also have reported minuscule amounts of radiation, but scientists say those presented no health risks.

Che Guevara

Germans protest against nuclear energy

Tens of thousands of Germans have held anti-nuclear rallies, demanding the government disband atomic energy and increase safety standards.

The fresh protests took place in the cities of Berlin, Hamburg, Munich and Cologne following the nuclear crisis in Japan triggered by the earthquake and tsunami, a Press TV correspondent in Berlin reported.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel was quick to react to the catastrophe in Japan, announcing a three-month moratorium on extending the lifespan of Germany's nuclear power plants.

Still, demonstrators took to the streets in Germany in large numbers. Placards read slogans like "Fukushima is a warning." A minute's silence was also held to honor Japan's quake and tsunami victims.

"Today similar protests have been held in Munich, Cologne, Hamburg and Berlin. We expected tens of thousands, but the turnout has been higher than our expectations," Thorben Becker, a nuclear expert, told Press TV.

Light Saber

Farmers Sue USDA Over Monsanto Alfalfa - Again

flowering alfalfa
© Jean Forman Orth/ FlickrFlowering alfalfa plant
A coalition of farmers and environmental groups filed a lawsuit against the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) on March 18 to challenge the agency's recent decision to fully deregulate Monsanto's Roundup Ready alfalfa.

This is the second time the USDA has been sued over its approval of Roundup Ready alfalfa, which is genetically engineered (GE) to tolerate glyphosate, a popular herbicide commonly sold under the Monsanto brand name Roundup. The latest lawsuit, filed by groups like the Center for Food Safety (CFS) and the National Family Farm Coalition, opens a new chapter in the five-year battle over the GE alfalfa seed developed by Monsanto and Forage Genetics.

Industry watchdogs and farmers say that Roundup Ready alfalfa will increase reliance on already overused herbicides like Roundup, encourage the spread of herbicide-resistant "superweeds" and contaminate organic and conventional alfalfa with Monsanto transgenes through cross-pollination.


Wisconsin Church Members Charged With Abusing Infants

© Dane County Sheriff's OfficePhilip Caminiti, left, the pastor of Aleitheia Bible Church in Black Earth, Wis., and his brother, John Caminiti, 45, have been charged with a dozen counts of child abuse for allegedly using wooden rods to punish children.

The pastor and seven members of a small church in central Wisconsin have been charged with using wooden rods to spank infants as young as 2 months old for "being emotional, grumpy or crying," the Dane County Sheriff's office said.

The Aleitheia Bible Church, in the town of Black Earth, was started in 2006 with a donation in the range of $500,000-$600,000 from Bob and Lori Wick of nearby Mazomanie, according to a news release from the sheriff's office.

Lori Wick is the author of almost three dozen historical Christian novels with more than five million books in print, according to her Amazon profile. Reached by AOL News today by telephone at their home, Bob Wick said they "have no comment" on the case.

Black Cat

Japan: Huge Radiation Spike at Nuclear Plant Was a Mistake

Tokyo -- Emergency workers struggling to pump contaminated water from Japan's stricken nuclear complex fled from one of the troubled reactors Sunday after reporting a huge increase in radioactivity -- a spike that officials later apologetically said was inaccurate.

The apology came after employees fled the complex's Unit 2 reactor when a reading showed radiation levels had reached 10 million times higher than normal in the reactor's cooling system. Officials said they were so high that the worker taking the measurements had withdrawn before taking a second reading.

On Sunday night, though, plant operators said that while the water was contaminated with radiation, the extremely high reading was a mistake.