Society's ChildS

Alarm Clock

Mid-April linked with national tragedy

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© Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty ImagesBOSTON, MA โ€“ APRIL 15: A man is loaded into an ambulance after he was injured by one of two bombs exploded during the 117th Boston Marathon near Copley Square on April 15, 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts. Two people are confirmed dead and at least 23 injured after two explosions went off near the finish line to the marathon.

The deadly attacks in Boston Monday left a city and a nation searching for answers. But it has also drawn attention to an odd historical phenomenon that happens around this time of April.

April 15 will be forever linked with the horrific bombings in Boston during the Boston Marathon. At least three people were killed and another 144 were injured during the bombings. April 16, 2007 was the date of the Virginia Tech University massacre where Seung-Hui Cho shot 32 students and faculty to death and injured 23 others before committing suicide.

April 17 is linked in many South Floridian's minds with the failed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961. The goal of the Bay of Pigs was to take over Cuba and get rid of Fidel Castro. The invasion, financed and trained by the CIA, ended up in disaster for the United States and drove the wedge even deeper with Cuba.

Handcuffs

Ex-official's wife confesses in Texas DA Deaths

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© FacebookMike and Cynthia McLelland are seen at their home in this undated family photo.
The wife of a former North Texas justice of the peace was charged with capital murder after confessing to her involvement in the three shooting deaths of the local district attorney, his wife and an assistant prosecutor, authorities said Wednesday.

Kim Williams was arrested early Wednesday, a day after she told investigators that she and her husband, Eric Williams, were involved in the shootings of the Kaufman County district attorney, his wife and one of his prosecutors, according to documents in the case.

The affidavit says Kim Lene Williams "described in detail her role along with that of her husband" but was unclear on who she said committed the shooting.

Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland and assistant prosecutor Mark Hasse prosecuted Eric Williams last year for theft of three computer monitors. Wiliams was convicted and sentenced to probation. He also lost his elected position as justice of the peace - a judge who handles mostly administrative duties - and his law license.

Arrow Down

More than 125 sketchy domains registered within hours of Boston marathon explosions

Boston
© Bharath Gunapati
Yesterday, many of us stopped giving a hoot about - at least for a few minutes - about problems with our wireless bills and cable connection to watch with concern as news reports tried to piece together exactly what happened during and after the explosions that rocked the Boston Marathon. Then there were those jerks who, as will all high-profile tragedies, sought to cash in.

According to Domains.com, there were more than 125 new, Boston-related domain names registered by 7 p.m. ET last night, not even six hours after news of the explosions first went public.

We'd rather not provide any of these sites with link traffic or SEO by mentioning their URLs, but as you can imagine they are mostly variations on "Boston," "bomb," "marathon," "terror," and "attack." But if you want to skim through the full list, feel free to check it out at Domains.com.

Meanwhile, according to SeattlePI.com, within an hour of the explosion a Twitter account "@_BostonMarathon," which looks awfully close to the legit @BostonMarathon account, wrote "For every retweet we receive we will donate $1.00 to the #BostonMarathon victims #PrayForBoston." This account has since been suspended by Twitter.

This sort of soulless nonsense is, sadly, nothing new. In December, scammers pounced at the chance to take money from people who wanted to something, anything to help the families of the victims of the school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, CT. In addition to those directly trying to trick people into "donating" money, we saw a number of "page-flippers," people who create tragedy-specific Facebook pages and Twitter accounts that then get a large number of subscribers. These accounts are later flipped to buyers who want to Spam the built-in audience with marketing for a completely unrelated item.

Eye 1

The Philadelphia abortion clinic horror - that didn't make the news

Dr. Kermit Gosnell
© Yong Kim, APDr. Kermit Gosnell
We've forgotten what belongs on Page One.

Infant beheadings. Severed baby feet in jars. A child screaming after it was delivered alive during an abortion procedure. Haven't heard about these sickening accusations?

It's not your fault. Since the murder trial of Pennsylvania abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell began March 18, there has been precious little coverage of the case that should be on every news show and front page. The revolting revelations of Gosnell's former staff, who have been testifying to what they witnessed and did during late-term abortions, should shock anyone with a heart.

NBC-10 Philadelphia reported that, Stephen Massof, a former Gosnell worker, "described how he snipped the spinal cords of babies, calling it, 'literally a beheading. It is separating the brain from the body." One former worker, Adrienne Moton, testified that Gosnell taught her his "snipping" technique to use on infants born alive.

Eye 1

Kermit Gosnell murder trial: Philadelphia abortion clinic 'beheaded live babies'

A Pittsburgh medic has revealed horrifying details of the operating conditions of a Philadelphia abortion clinic, where children born alive were "beheaded".

Stephen Massof, 50, is standing witness in the trial of his former employer, Kermit Gosnell. And on 4 April, he told a court he routinely saw the murder of infants at the hospital. He also said the hospital once aborted a fetus at 26 weeks - this is two weeks beyond the permitted 24-week limit, which is in itself only to be used in extreme cases.

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© ReutersHundreds of babies born live were killed at the Philadelphia abortion clinic.

Gosnell, 72, is standing trial for the murder of seven at the Philadelphia Women's Medical Society Clinic, as well as a woman who walked in to the hospital as a patient, the Mail reports.

If he is found guilty, Gosnell will be sentenced to death.

Chalkboard

White House petition reaches 100,000 signatures for home-schooling family Obama administration wants deported to Germany, where home schooling is illegal

  • A lawsuit against the Department of Justice will be heard April 23
  • Federal government based its decision on an international law ruling
  • Germany fines parents for home schooling and can revoke custody rights
  • An estimated 2 million children in the US are home schooled
White House petition took less than 30 days to attract 100,000 supportersA Tennessee family of devout evangelical Christian asylum-seekers who face deportation to their native Germany has reached a milestone in their quest to remain in the United States, now that their petition on the White House's website collected more than 100,000 signatures in less than 30 days.

That's the magic number that the Obama administration says will trigger an official review and a formal response. The total currently stands are more than 111,000.

'Every state in the United States of America recognizes the right to homeschool,' reads the petition filed by the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), 'and the U.S. has the world's largest and most vibrant homeschool community. Regrettably, this family faces deportation in spite of the persecution they will suffer in Germany.'

That group sued the Department of Justice after a judge in the DOJ's Executive Office for Immigration Review ruled that Uwe and Hannelore Romeike's earlier grant of asylum should be revoked.

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© UnknownThe school day in the Romeike household is conducted around the kitchen table, with Hannelore making the rounds as her children study. An advocacy group sued the federal government over their deportation order, and a federal appeals court will hear the case on April 23

Pistol

School shooters and video games - The Huffington Post doesn't want you to read

guns
© Wikimedia
After the Huffington Post signed me on as a blogger and allowed me to write op-ed pieces on any topic, for two years, ranging from books to sports to reviews to pop culture, something changed in our relationship. It was sudden.

I wrote this piece for Huff Po in late December, 2012. For some reason, the editors wouldn't print it. Like every other article I'd written, I submitted the piece on their backstage for signed bloggers, but nothing happened. It didn't go up on their site. I waited, and it didn't happen.

A few days went by. Then a week. I contacted the editors, and they didn't respond. Then I contacted again, and they let me know that they wouldn't publish the piece.

Stop

England to ban circuses from using wild animals

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© AFP Photo
Travelling circuses in England will be banned from using wild animals from December 2015, the government announced on Tuesday, after a long campaign to end the practice.

Introducing a draft bill in parliament, junior environment minister Robert Ponsonby said circus operators had until then to adapt their shows and find new homes for their animals.

"This legislation will end the use of wild animals in travelling circuses in this country. It will also help ensure that our international reputation as a leading protector of animals continues into a new global era," he said.

Lawmakers voted two years ago to end the use of wild animals in circuses and animal rights groups have been pressing for a change, but ministers initially feared a legal challenge from operators.

"There is no place in today's society for wild animals to be used for our entertainment and we are absolutely delighted," said Peter Jones, president of the British Veterinary Association.

Prime Minister David Cameron's government has already introduced tough new regulations to safeguard animal welfare, and two circuses are currently licensed to use about 20 wild animals between them.

Airplane

American Air reservation system down, grounds 200 flights

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© Reuters/Eduardo Munoz
American Airlines said its reservation system had an outage on Tuesday, leading the carrier to halt at least 200 flights.

"American's reservation and booking tool, Sabre is offline," American Airlines spokeswoman Mary Frances Fagan said in an email to Reuters.

"We're working to resolve the issue as quickly as we can. We apologize to our customers for any inconvenience."

Bad Guys

Sweatshops on wheels: The slow death of America's mass transportation system

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© Mr. Fish
The deterioration of the nation's public transportation, like the deterioration of health care, education, social services, public utilities, bridges and roads, is part of the relentless seizing and harvesting of public resources and programs by corporations. These corporations are steadily stripping the American infrastructure. Public-sector unions are being broken. Wages and benefits are being slashed. Workers are forced to put in longer hours in unsafe workplaces, often jeopardizing public safety. The communities that need public services most are losing them, and where public service is continued it is reduced or substandard and costlier. Only the security and surveillance network and the military are permitted to function with efficiency in their role as the guardians of corporate power. We now resemble the developing world: We have small pockets of obscene wealth, ailing infrastructure and public service, huge swaths of grinding poverty, and militarized police and internal security.

The assault on public transportation, which has devastating consequences for the poor who cannot get to work or the doctor's office without it, is not new. General Motors, Standard Oil, Firestone Tire and Rubber, B.F. Phillips Petroleum and Mack Manufacturing set up companies in the 1930s - first United Cities Motor Transit and later National City Lines - in order to rip up city trolley tracks and replace them with bus and car routes. These corporations, joined by companies such as Greyhound, pushed through the national highway grid. City bus companies, as riders turned to cars, began to go bankrupt. The federal government in 1964 approved the Urban Mass Transit Act, which provided capital and operating funds for mass transit to keep it on life support. The corporations, meanwhile, pushed through huge urban renewal plans, all funded by the taxpayer, which focused exclusively on highways, tunnels and bridges and further sidelined public transportation. Jane Jacobs, who wrote the 1961 book "The Death and Life of Great American Cities," presciently understood and fought these corporate forces, led in New York City by Robert Moses, who forcibly displaced hundreds of thousands of residents and demolished neighborhoods to cater to the demands of the car and fossil fuel industries. Robert A. Caro in his biography of Moses, "The Power Broker," exposed this relentless process in depressing detail.

This process of destroying our public transportation system is largely complete. Our bus and rail system, compared to Europe's or Japan's, is a joke. But an even more insidious process has begun. Multinational corporations, many of them foreign, are slowly consolidating transportation systems into a few private hands. Of the top three multinationals that control transport in the U.S. only one, MV Transportation, is based here. FirstGroup, a multibillion-dollar corporation headquartered in the United Kingdom and a product of Margaret Thatcher's privatization of British mass transit, now owns First Student, which operates 54,000 school buses in 38 states and nine Canadian provinces and has 6 million student riders. FirstGroup also has a controlling stake in Greyhound. Veolia Transportation, a subsidiary of Transdev, a conglomerate headquartered in France, has 150 contracts to run mass transit systems in the United States. It was Veolia, after Hurricane Katrina, that took over the New Orleans bus system. And Veolia did what it has done elsewhere. It stripped bus workers of their pensions. New York's Nassau County bus service, once part of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), was turned over to Veolia after the French corporation hired former three-term Sen. Al D'Amato of New York as its lobbyist. Veolia - which when it takes over a U.S. property, as in New Orleans or Nassau County, refuses to give workers a defined-benefit plan - is partly owned by a pension fund that covers one-third of French citizens. U.S. workers are losing their benefit plans to a company created to provide benefit plans for the French. Veolia is currently lobbying Rhode Island and Atlanta to privatize their bus services.