Society's ChildS

Bizarro Earth

Gulf Coast Fighting for Recompense

shut down sign
© Erika BlumenfeldGulf Coast businesses are closing down as they fail to secure compensation payouts
Residents and fishermen outraged as BP's compensation fund administrator denies 'loss of income' claims.

"I just got off the phone with Feinberg's people and I'm really upset," says seafood merchant Michelle Chauncey from Barataria, Louisiana.

Her business, which sells wholesale and retail crabs, has not provided her with an income since the end of May, and her home is being foreclosed.

Attorney Kenneth Feinberg's Washington-based firm, Feinberg Rozen, has been paid $850,000 a month by BP to administer a $20bn compensation fund and claims process for Gulf residents and fishermen affected by the Deepwater Horizon explosion last April.

The Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF), which Feinberg manages, was set up after negotiations between BP and the Obama administration, but over recent months there has been growing concern among the Coast's residents that Feinberg is limiting compensation funds to claimants in order to decrease BP's liability.


US: Woman Arrested For Sending Boy, 12, Into The Cold

police sirens
© CBS News
A woman was arrested after allegedly kicking her 12-year-old son out into the cold early Sunday morning in the Hill District.

According to the criminal complaint, officers were called to the corner of Chauncey Street and Webster Avenue for a juvenile not wearing shoes at 2:22 a.m.

Officers transported the boy to a home in the 700-block of Junilla Street. After officers knocked on the door several times, 32-year-old Camella Cosby answered.

She was asked about the events of the evening and stated, "He wanted to leave, so I let him leave."

Cosby was taken into custody after officers noticed "glassy blood shot eyes" and alcohol on her breath.

Officers searched the house and noticed no furniture, beds and minimal clothing for the children in the home.

Light Saber

People Power: Phil Mocek found "NOT GUILTY" by Albuquerque jury

© unknownPhil Mocek
A six-woman Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court jury has found Phil Mocek "NOT GUILTY" of all of the charges brought against him following his arrest in November 2009 at the TSA checkpoint at the Albuquerque airport.

We'll be posting more details as well as audio recordings and photos of the trial. The jury returned its verdict (video of verdict and Mr. Mocek's reaction) Friday evening after about an hour of deliberation, following a two-day trial we attended.

Mr. Mocek did not testify, and the defense rested on Friday without calling any witnesses or presenting any evidence. the jury found that even without rebuttal, the TSA and Albuquerque police had failed to satisfy their burden of proving any of the four charges: concealing his identity, refusing to obey a lawful order (it was never entirely clear whether this was supposed to have been an order to turn off his camera, an order to leave the airport despite having a valid ticket, or an order to show ID, none of which would have been lawful orders), trespassing, and disorderly conduct.

The best evidence in the case was the video from Mr. Mocek's digital camera (bellow) that both the TSA and the police had tried to stop Mr. Mocek from filming, and which ended when they seized his camera out of his hands and shut it off. In her closing argument, defense counsel Molly Schmidt-Nowara argued that the police and TSA witnesses were not credible, that their testimony was contradicted by the video and by common sense, that what they really objected to was having Mr. Mocek legally take pictures, and that any disorderly conduct was on the part of the police and TSA.


US teacher on leave as school investigates student accounts that 2nd graders had oral sex

Markham Elementary
© The Associated Press/Marcio Jose SanchezThe exterior of Markham Elementary School is seen in Oakland, Calif., Friday, Jan. 21, 2011. A second-grade teacher in the Oakland school has been placed on leave while the school investigates reports that students engaged in oral sex and stripped off some of their clothes during class.
Oakland, California - A second-grade teacher in California was placed on leave while a school and police investigate accounts by students that classmates engaged in oral sex and stripped off some of their clothes during class, officials said Friday.

The investigation was under way at Markham Elementary School in Oakland, where the principal notified parents of the situation in a letter Thursday.

We believe if the reports are true, there was a serious lapse of judgment or lack of supervision in the classroom," said Troy Flint, a spokesman for the Oakland Unified School District. "We're investigating how could this have happened. It seems unthinkable to us, just the same way it does to the public."


China Sports Brand Tries to Break Into US Market

© The Associated Press / Ho, Li NingThis handout photo taken on Aug. 25, 2009, shows Jay Li, General Manager of Li-Ning International sitting among shoes, at undisclosed location. Chinese athletic shoemaker Li-Ning knew it couldn't 'out-Nike' Nike, especially in the sporting giant's own backyard. So the company is going grassroots in its expansion to the U.S, using an irreverent YouTube video to play up it heritage while taking a lighthearted dig at the Li-Ning name.
Chinese athletic shoemaker Li-Ning knew it couldn't "out-Nike" Nike, especially in the sporting giant's own backyard. So the company is going low-budget edgy in its expansion to the U.S, using an irreverent YouTube video to play up its heritage while taking a lighthearted dig at the company name shared with its high-profile founder.

Li-Ning is among the first Chinese consumer product brands trying to build a following in the U.S., seeking to grab a slice of its saturated but highly coveted market. As China's economic might increases - it last year overtook Japan as the second-biggest economy after the U.S. - its companies are increasingly confident about expansion overseas. But corporate China has yet to produce a brand with the global name recognition of the likes of Apple, Sony or Google.

"It's a process of finding out - while staying true to our heritage, our brand - what side of our DNA is going to resonate with the American consumer," said Jay Li, general manager for Li-Ning International. "We're still searching, to be perfectly honest with you. And we're not in a hurry."

Americans might remember Li Ning (pronounced lee-NING) as the final torchbearer during the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics - the former gymnastics gold medalist who "ran" along the opening in the stadium roof while suspended by wires.

His namesake company is a top domestic brand in China's lucrative athletic shoe and apparel industry, with more than 7,900 stores across the country. Though it has forecast slumping sales and a one percentage point decline in gross profit margin in 2011, CEO Zhang Zhiyong recently told the Wall Street Journal that Li-Ning plans to invest $10 million in U.S. operations this year.

"Our founder Mr. Li Ning has always said his vision was never about building China's Nike, it's about building the world's Li-Ning," Li said. "You can't be global without having a legitimate claim of market share in the most mature sporting goods market."

There are significant hurdles to overcome: Americans are still smarting from the recession and spending less. Chinese goods are widely regarded as shoddily made, knockoffs or even dangerous. Li-Ning's logo recently underwent a redesign, but many consumers may still see a strong resemblance with the Nike "swoosh."


US: 11 Teens Arrested in Mag Mile Robberies

© unk
Chicago, Illinois-Some of the teens used Twitter to coordinate the grab-and-go robberies

Eleven teenagers are facing charges for bum-rushing Mag Mile stores and stealing $5,000 in loot.

The group targeted Filene's Basement at 830 N. Michigan Ave., The North Face at 875 N. Michigan Ave. and Ax Armani Exchange at 520 N. Michigan Ave. on Wednesday evening. Chicago police arrested the teens nearby that same night , the Sun-Times reports.

The five girls, ranging in age between 14 -16, and six boys, ranging in age between 15 - 17, are charged with retail theft as juveniles, police said.

The suspects stole $2,720 worth of products from The North Face, $2,247 from AX Armani Exchange and almost $300 from Filene's Basement, said police.


Social Networking Under Fresh Attack as Tide of Cyber-Scepticism Sweeps US

teen using iphone
© Najlah Feanny/CorbisAn American student checks in on his smart phone. Critics of social networking say it is having an isolating effect on users.
Twitter and Facebook don't connect people - they isolate them from reality, say a rising number of academics

The way in which people frantically communicate online via Twitter, Facebook and instant messaging can be seen as a form of modern madness, according to a leading American sociologist.

"A behaviour that has become typical may still express the problems that once caused us to see it as pathological," MIT professor Sherry Turkle writes in her new book, Alone Together, which is leading an attack on the information age.

Turkle's book, published in the UK next month, has caused a sensation in America, which is usually more obsessed with the merits of social networking. She appeared last week on Stephen Colbert's late-night comedy show, The Colbert Report. When Turkle said she had been at funerals where people checked their iPhones, Colbert quipped: "We all say goodbye in our own way."

Turkle's thesis is simple: technology is threatening to dominate our lives and make us less human. Under the illusion of allowing us to communicate better, it is actually isolating us from real human interactions in a cyber-reality that is a poor imitation of the real world.

Alarm Clock

Olbermann Leaves 'Countdown' on MSNBC

© Virginia Sherwood/MSNBCKeith Olbermann in November.
9:43 p.m. Updated Keith Olbermann, the highest-rated host on MSNBC, announced abruptly on the air Friday night that he is leaving Countdown with Keith Olbermann immediately.

The host, who has had a stormy relationship with the management of the network for some time, especially since he was suspended for two days last November, came to an agreement with NBC's corporate management late this week to settle his contract and step down.

In a closing statement on his show, Mr. Olbermann said simply that it would be the last edition of the program. He offered no explanation other than on occasion, the show had become too much for him.

Mr. Olbermann thanked his viewers for their enthusiastic support of a show that had "gradually established its position as anti-establishment."

In a statement, MSNBC said : "MSNBC and Keith Olbermann have ended their contract. The last broadcast of Countdown with Keith Olbermann will be this evening. MSNBC thanks Keith for his integral role in MSNBC's success and we wish him well in his future endeavors."


US: Gabrielle Giffords Heard Cheers Leaving Arizona Hospital, Smiled

She heard them, smiled, and tears welled up in her eyes.

The caravan carrying Rep. Gabrielle Giffords swept past cheering crowds Friday as she left the hospital in Tucson, Ariz., where she dazzled doctors with her recovery from being shot in the head two weeks ago, and was moved to Houston for rehabilitation.

Children sat on their parents' shoulders as the motorcade passed. Many waved. Others carried signs wishing "Gabby" well.

"It was very emotional and very special," said Dr. Randall Friese, who traveled with Giffords.

By Friday afternoon, after a 930-plus-mile trip that doctors said went flawlessly, Giffords was in an intensive care unit at Texas Medical Center, where a new team of doctors planned to start her therapy immediately.

After several days of evaluation, she will be sent to the center's rehabilitation hospital, TIRR Memorial Hermann.

Giffords has "great rehabilitation potential," said Dr. Gerardo Francisco, chief medical officer of Memorial Hermann.

"She will keep us busy, and we will keep her busy as well," he said.

The first thing is to determine the extent of Giffords' injuries and the impact on her abilities to move and communicate. She hasn't spoken yet, and it's unknown whether she will suffer permanent disabilities.

A gunman shot Giffords and 18 other people on Jan. 8 as she met with constituents outside a grocery store in Tucson. Six people died. The suspect in the attack, Jared Loughner, 22, is being held in federal custody.


US: Ex-Chicago Cop Gets 4 1/2 Years in Torture Case

© The Associated Press / Charles Rex ArbogastIn this May 24, 2010 file photo, former Chicago police lieutenant Jon Burge leaves the federal building in Chicago. On Thursday, Jan. 20, 2011, a sentencing hearing is scheduled to begin for Burge, who was convicted of lying about the torture of suspects.
A decorated former Chicago police officer whose name has become synonymous with police brutality in the city was sentenced Friday to 4 1/2 years in federal prison for lying about the torture of suspects.

Dozens of suspects - almost all of them black men - have claimed for decades that Jon Burge and his officers electrically shocked, suffocated and beat them into confessing to crimes ranging from armed robbery to murder.

U.S. District Judge Joan Lefkow said the sentence reflected the seriousness of the allegations and, in making her decision, she wondered why a respected officer so admired by his department would resort to such violence.

"My best guess is ambition," Lefkow said. "Perhaps the praise, the publicity and the commendations . . . were seductive and led you down this path."

Burge was charged with lying when he testified in a civil lawsuit brought by Madison Hobley, who was sentenced to death for a 1987 fire that killed seven people, including his wife and son. Hobley was later pardoned.

Hobley claimed detectives put a plastic typewriter cover over his head to make it impossible for him to breathe. Burge denied knowing anything about the "bagging" or taking part in it. The indictment against Burge never said Hobley was tortured but accused Burge of lying about participating in or knowing about torture that took place under his watch. Burge has never faced criminal charges for abuse.