Society's ChildS


Romney's Bain Capital Owns Media Giant Broadcasting Limbaugh, Hannity

Activists are expressing serious concerns that Mitt Romney's private equity firm Bain Capital owns one of America's largest media conglomerates, Clear Channel Communications, Inc., which broadcasts numerous popular talk-show hosts with incalculable influence in the 2012 GOP primary. Among the radio personalities syndicated by Clear Channel or aired on hundreds of stations it owns nationwide are Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, Glenn Beck, Michael Savage, and many others.

Because of the San Antonio-based media giant's enormous influence - it is the largest owner of radio stations in the United States, and experts point out that it essentially owns what has come to be known as the conservative talk-radio industry - Romney critics, supporters of Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich, Tea Party groups, and elections commentators are all raising the alarm. Some analysts are even calling for the firm to disclose the fact that Romney's Bain Capital owns a station or syndicates a show whenever a media personality is reporting on the Republican presidential campaign.

Bizarro Earth

Ancient Greek Sites Could Soon be Available for Rent

© AFP/Louisa Gouliamaki
Available for rent: The Acropolis.

In a move bound to leave many Greeks and scholars aghast, Greece's culture ministry said Tuesday it will open up some of the debt-stricken country's most-cherished archaeological sites to advertising firms and other ventures.

The ministry says the move is a common-sense way of helping "facilitate" access to the country's ancient Greek ruins, and money generated would fund the upkeep and monitoring of sites. The first site to be opened would be the Acropolis.

Archaeologists, however, have for decades slammed such an initiative as sacrilege.

The culture ministry said any renting of ancient Greek sites would be subject to strict conditions.


The US Government Is Bankrupt

Everyone knows that the US government is bankrupt and has been for many years. But I thought it might be instructive to see what its current cash-flow situation actually is. At least insofar as it's possible to get a clear picture.

As you know, the so-called Super Committee recently tried to come up with a plan to cut the deficit by $1.5 trillion and failed completely. To anyone who understands the nature of the political process, the failure was, of course, as predictable as it was shameful. What's even more shameful, though, is that the sought-after $1.5 trillion cut wasn't meant to apply to the annual budget but to the total budget of the next 10 years - a fact that is rarely mentioned.

Now whenever the chattering classes talk about cuts, it's always about cuts over the course of 10 years. Which is a dodge, partly because most of the supposed cuts will be scheduled for the end of the period, but also because new programs, new emergencies and hidden contingencies will creep in to offset any announced cuts. So the numbers below aren't a worst case; they're the rosiest possible scenario. People have thought I was joking when, asked how bad the Greater Depression was going to be, I answered that it would be worse than even I thought it would be. But I haven't been joking.


US - Houston, Texas: Mysteries deepen in case of Iranian activist shot to death outside Memorial-area townhome

© ABC13HPD investigators at the scene of the murder of Gelareh Bagherzadeh, found in her car in the Memorial area early Monday morning.
Houston - What originally seemed like a neighborhood tragedy in an upscale community near Memorial has now taken on international overtones with the identification of a murder victim as an Iranian women's advocate.

Gelareh Bagherzadeh, 30, was shot to death around midnight Monday in the parking area behind the townhome at 894 Augusta Drive where she lived with her parents. She was a student in molecular genetics technology at MD Anderson Cancer Center and was an organizer of Sabz-Houston, an organization calling for political change in Iran.

Born in Mashhad, Iran, she was prominent for her activism in demanding a regime change in Iran in 2010 and rights for women in her native country. Websites devoted to that cause ran accounts of her death Monday and Tuesday.

The mystery of Bagherzadeh's death deepened Tuesday, when Houston police revealed they first responded to a shots-fired call in that block about 11:45 p.m. Sunday but found no evidence of a shooting and left the scene.


India's Black Hole: A Bleak Fate for Delhi's Vanishing Children

Frightening statistics from Delhi's police have revealed that 13 children go missing in the city each day. Many end up as slaves or are forced to work in the sex industry in a city which is now India's undisputed kidnapping capital.

­With almost 17 million people packed into its crowded city streets, New Delhi is the perfect place for people to get lost. But some are never found again. They simply disappear.

That is what happened to Rao Kumar's 12 year old son, Ravi. He went missing one year ago when he left the house to get his bicycle, and never returned.

"I don't know who took my son away. I looked for him everywhere but did not find him," says Rao Kumar, the father of the missing child.

And Ravi is far from the only one.

In Delhi alone, anywhere from 2-5,000 children go missing every year, while in India as a whole, a staggering 800,000 disappear.

Having a loved one disappear takes a dreadful toll on families. Kumar has not been able to hold down a steady job or stay healthy. His only focus is finding out what happened to his son. But the answer is likely a grim one - most children who disappear in Delhi end up as sex workers or slaves.

"The kids are kept in places where no one will be able to find them. They're also kidnapped for the organ trade business, adoption and also for begging," says R.S. Chaurasia, chairperson of the Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA), a non-governmental organization in India which campaigns against child labor, child trafficking and child servitude.

Bad Guys

US Poll: 84 Percent of Americans Disapprove of the Job Congress is Doing

© Andrew Harrer / BloombergAccording to a recent Gallup poll, Congress's approval rating has reached an all-time low of 11 percent. Here are some surprising things from recent history that were more popular than the current Congress.
Lawmakers will return to Washington on Tuesday to begin an election-year work session with low expectations for any significant legislative action, while also receiving low approval ratings for themselves.

A new Washington Post/ABC News poll shows a new high - 84 percent of Americans - disapproving of the job Congress is doing, with almost two-thirds saying they "disapprove strongly." Just 13 percent of Americans approve of how things are going after the 112th Congress's first year of action, solidifying an unprecedented level of public disgust that has both sides worried about their positions less than 10 months before voters decide their fates.

It has been nearly four years since even 30 percent expressed approval of Congress, according to the Post/ABC survey, and support hasn't recovered from the historic low it reached last fall.


France: Sarkozy Mocks S&P Credit Downgrade

On Monday French President Nicolas Sarkozy openly stated the Standard & Poor's of France's downgrade "changes nothing." Eight other countries in the Eurozone, which is the world's second largest economy, received the same fate and many feel the downgrade could stump Sarkozy's effort to lead the Eurozone out of its economic crisis. Jim Rogers, investor and author, joins us to discuss the credit downgrade and what this means for the Eurozone.


Poland slaps fine on singer for bashing Bible

© GettyDoda of Poland arrives for the MTV Europe Music Awards.
Warsaw - A Polish court slapped a fine on a popular singer who bad-mouthed the Bible -- the latest episode in which authorities grapple with religious defamation in a traditionally Catholic country that is growing increasingly secular.

Dorota Rabczewska, a singer who uses the stage name Doda, said in a 2009 interview that she doubted the Bible "because it's hard to believe in something that was written by someone drunk on wine and smoking some herbs."

A Warsaw court ordered her Monday to pay a fine of 5,000 zlotys ($1,450) for offending religious feelings.

The case comes months after another Polish court let off a death metal performer, Adam Darski, who tore a Bible during a 2007 performance. It deemed his act artistic expression.


US: Hundreds Mark MLK Holiday Outside South Carolina Capitol

© AP Photo/Evan VucciPeople arrive at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Washington, Monday, Jan. 16, 2012, for a ceremony honoring his legacy.
Hundreds of people rallied Monday outside the South Carolina capitol to honor the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday and protest the state's voter identification law.

While rallies in previous years have often been focused on protesting the Confederate flag that flies outside the Statehouse near a memorial for Confederate soldiers, the attention this year has turned to the voter ID law.

The U.S. Justice Department has rejected the law. The Obama administration said it didn't pass muster under the 1965 voting rights act, which outlawed discriminatory practices that prevented blacks from voting. On Monday, marchers carried signs that read: "Voter ID(equals)Poll Tax."

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder was among those slated to speak.


More US Catholics Take Complaints to Church Court

© The Associated Press/M. Spencer GreenIn this Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2012 photo, Rev. Patrick Lagges stands in front of a statue of Saint Francis in Chicago.
Parents upset by the admission policy at a parochial school. Clergy and parishioners at odds over use of their building. A priest resisting a transfer to another parish.

It was once assumed that disagreements like these in the Roman Catholic Church would end one way: with the highest-ranking cleric getting the last word.

But that outcome is no longer a given as Catholics, emboldened following the clergy abuse scandals that erupted a decade ago this month, have sought another avenue of redress.

In recent years, clergy and lay people in the United States have increasingly turned to the church's internal legal system to challenge a bishop's or pastor's decision about even the most workaday issues in Catholic life, according to canon lawyers in academia, dioceses and in private practice. Sometimes, the challengers even win.

In one example cited by veteran canon lawyers, parishioners wanted to bar musical performances in their church that weren't liturgical. Their priest had been renting space to a local band. In another case, a nun filed a petition after a religious superior disclosed the nun's medical information to others - a potential violation of privacy. Regarding bishops' often contentious decisions to close parishes, the liberal reform group FutureChurch posts a guide on its website called "Canonical Appeals for Dummies" on seeking Vatican intervention to stay open.