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Same-Sex Custody Battle Could Change Florida Law

© unknown
Janet Jenkins, shown on the left, holds a missing person's flier showing her daughter and Lisa Miller is shown in a file photo on the right.
US, Tallahassee - Custody battle in Florida between two lesbians could fuel the growing national debate over the definition of motherhood.

It also might force state lawmakers to reconsider a 19-year-old law regarding the rights of sperm and egg donors.

The women, now in their 30s and known in court papers only by their initials, were both law enforcement officers in Florida. One partner donated an egg that was fertilized and implanted in the other. That woman gave birth in 2004, nine years into their relationship.

But the Brevard County couple separated two years later, and the birth mother eventually left Florida with the child without telling her former lover. The woman who donated the egg and calls herself the biological mother finally tracked them down in Australia with the help of a private detective.

Their fight over the now 8-year-old girl is before the state Supreme Court, which has not announced whether it will consider the case. A trial judge ruled for the birth mother and said the biological mother has no parental rights under state law, adding he hoped his decision would be overturned.

The 5th District Court of Appeal in Daytona Beach obliged, siding with the biological mother and saying both women have parental rights.

At issue is the 1993 state law meant to regulate sperm and egg donation. Scholars debate whether the constitutional right to procreate includes outside-the-body technologies used to conceive.


Saint's Ancient Heart Stolen from Dublin Cathedral

© The Associated Press/Shawn Pogatchnik
The iron cage that housed the heart of St. Laurence O'Toole sits broken and empty Sunday, March 4, 2012, inside Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin. A modern portrait of Jesus Christ is in the background.
Somewhere in Ireland, a burglar has the heart of a saint.

Officials at Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin said Sunday they're distraught and perplexed over the theft of the church's most precious relic: the preserved heart of St. Laurence O'Toole, patron saint of Dublin.

O'Toole's heart had been displayed in the cathedral since the 13th century. It was stored in a heart-shaped wooden box and secured in a small, square iron cage on the wall of a chapel dedicated to his memory. On Saturday someone cut through two bars, pried the cage loose, and made off with the relic.

"I am devastated that one of the treasured artifacts of the cathedral is stolen," said the Most Rev. Dermot Dunne, the cathedral's dean. "It has no economic value but it is a priceless treasure that links our present foundation with its founding father."

Ireland's national police force, the Garda Siochana, said detectives were studying hours of closed-circuit TV footage to try to identify the approximately 40 people who walked out the cathedral's front doors Saturday morning.

Che Guevara

Demonstrators interrupt Rick Santorum speech in Oklahoma City

US - About 20 liberal demonstrators tried to shout down Rick Santorum while he delivered his stump speech on the steps of the state capitol building here Sunday, yelling "racist" and "fascist" at the Republican presidential candidate.

The anti-Santorum faction began chanting "Get your hate out of our state" when the candidate started his address. Standing before a microphone at the top of the steps, Santorum ignored them and continued speaking. The demonstration lasted about 15 minutes.


Canadian government "ready to talk" about Iceland adopting our currency?

canadian dollar, money
© unknown
Iceland has been desperate to replace its krona with a more stable currency since its banking collapse of 2008.

But instead of the obvious choices - the American dollar, the British pound or the euro - it seems Icelanders are eyeing our loonie. According to an article in the Globe and Mail, several Icelandic business leaders and some political parties have actually approached the Canadian government about adopting the Canadian dollar as their national currency.

"Canadian ambassador to Iceland Alan Bones had planned to deliver remarks to a conference on the future of the Icelandic krona, making it clear that if Iceland decided to adopt the Canadian dollar, with all its inherent risks, Canada was ready to talk," the article notes.

However, Bones' Saturday speech was cancelled abruptly.

Arrow Down

When insanity rules the world

India should resist the West's brazen efforts to use championship of democracy as a cover for regime change.

In June 1914, Serbian ultra-nationalists calling themselves the Black Hand managed to kill Archduke Ferdinand, the heir apparent to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian empire, in Sarajevo and ignited the First World War. None of the Great Powers wanted that war. None expected it to last more than four weeks. It lasted four years and took 19.5 million lives. Today, three apparently coordinated attacks on Israeli diplomats in Georgia, India and Thailand, for which Tel Aviv is strenuously blaming Iran, could become the spark for a similar conflagration in the Middle East.

The comparison is not as fanciful as it sounds, for the configuration of forces in the international state system is beginning to resemble what existed in the decade before the First World War. The most striking similarities are the decline in the economic power of the hegemonic nation - Britain then, the United States today; challenges from new aspirants to hegemony, Germany then (with the U.S. lurking in the wings), China and Salafi Islam today; attempts to shore up hegemony through alliances with like-minded nations - Britain, France and Russia then - the U.S., the European Union and Israel today; the emergence of a bunker mentality that hardens stances and progressively closes the avenues for peace through accommodation; and a growing temptation to use military power to pre-empt potential challenges even before they arise.

Che Guevara

China Protest Leaders Elected to Lead Village

© Peter Parks / AFP/Getty Images
A vote is cast Saturday in the village of Wukan in China's southern province of Guangdong as residents participate in leadership election.
Two leaders of protests last year in a southern Chinese village were elected over the weekend to a village council in balloting that was closely watched for clues of possible liberalization within the Chinese Communist Party.

Although the election in Wukan village was not the first of its kind, the village in Guangdong province has become a test case for how far the party is willing to go to accommodate local grievances and demands for a more accountable government.

The fishing village last year erupted in furor over sale of its farmland to real estate developers, a volatile issue throughout fast-developing rural China.

In Wukan, villagers went further than many others. They ransacked a police station, kicked out their leaders and erected barricades, keeping Chinese authorities out for 10 days in December until a compromise could be negotiated.

The vote held Saturday was part of that compromise. Lin Zuluan, a protest organizer was elected village head and party secretary, and another protester, Yang Semao, was picked as his deputy.


Japan's Tsunami Victims Learning from an Earthquake Island's Rebuilding Mistakes

© unknown
Cautionary tale … Okushiri Island devastated by an earthquake in 1993 has become a concrete fortress.
Okushiri, Japan - On the night of July 12, 1993, the remote island of Okushiri was ripped apart by a huge earthquake and tsunami that now seem an eerie harbinger of the much larger disaster that struck north-eastern Japan in March last year.

Islanders still recall with horror how a wall of frothing black water raced out of the darkness to consume entire communities, leaving almost 200 people dead.

In the five years that followed, the Japanese government rebuilt the island, erecting 10.7-metre concrete walls on long stretches of its coast, making it look more like a fortress than a fishing outpost. The $1 billion worth of construction projects included not only the hefty wave defences but entire neighbourhoods built on higher ground, with a few flourishes, like a futuristic $13.8 million tsunami memorial hall featuring a stained glass panel for each victim.

But as Japan begins a decade-long $277 billion reconstruction of the north-east coast, Okushiri has become a cautionary tale. Instead of restoring the island to its vibrant past, many residents say, the $1 billion spending spree may have helped kill its revival.


2 kids, 2 Adults Killed in Fire Similar to June 2011

© The Vindicator/Jessica M. Kanalas / Associated Press
A house is shown where a man, woman and two girls died Saturday, March 3, 2012 in a house fire in Warren, Ohio.
US: Ohio, Warren - For the second time in less than a year, a house fire in the city claimed multiple victims including children.

Two adults, Edtwan Kimble, 32, and Yolanda Holmes, 38; and two children, Mari'auna Holmes, 12, and Marniece Holmes, 9, died Saturday during a fire at their home at 160 Austin Ave. NW.

"It is a sad day for Warren. Our arms are open, and if they need us, we'll be there to help them along the way to go through this period," said Councilwoman Helen Rucker, D-at large.

Fire Chief Ken Nussle said the blaze began about 3:30 a.m. Saturday.

"The [911] caller indicated she was burning up, so the firefighters knew they had occupants," Nussle said.

When firefighters arrived two minutes after the call, the entire second floor of the home was engulfed and flames were in the first-floor kitchen, the chief said.

Once inside, firefighters did a search and found the adults and children, deceased, in two bedrooms on the second floor, Nussle said.

"No working smoke detectors were found," he said.


Upstate New York Man Accused of Threat Against Obama

© unknown
Brent G. Dickinson
US, Saratoga Springs - A man is accused of threatening to kill President Obama and elementary schoolchildren in upstate New York.

Prosecutors say the U.S. Secret Service and local authorities collaborated to arrest Brent Dickinson.

The county district attorney's office said Saturday the 33-year-old man "intended to murder" the targets of his threatening messages. They said the U.S. Secret Service intercepted two threatening messages posted by Dickinson on a White House message board Friday.

Dickinson was arraigned in Saratoga Springs City Court on charges of making terroristic threats.

He was taken to city jail after bail was set at $50,000. It wasn't immediately known Saturday whether he had an attorney.

A message left at a number listed for Dickinson's possible relatives was not returned Saturday.

Source: The Associated Press


Andrew Breitbart: Coroner Wants to 'Cover all the Bases'

© Jeff Kowalsky / European Pressphoto Agency
Andrew Breitbart signs his book Righteous Indignation: Excuse Me While I Save the World! Feb. 25 in Troy, Mich.
US, California - The Los Angeles County coroner's office said it is awaiting the results of toxicology tests before releasing an official cause of death for conservative author and activist Andrew Breitbart, who died unexpectedly Thursday at age 43.

A source familiar with the investigation told The Times the tests are routine in a death of someone so young.

An autopsy was completed Friday, and the tests are expected to take several weeks.

"It's standard procedure," coroner's spokesman Craig Harvey told Reuters. "We have a very young man who died suddenly and unexpectedly, so we want to make sure we cover all the bases."

The source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the case was still under investigation, said officials are working on the assumption that Breitbart died of natural causes. A witness saw him collapse while walking near his home and said that he had no external injuries, the source said. Paramedics rushed Breitbart to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, where doctors pronounced him dead.

"It looks like a heart attack, but no one knows until "an autopsy is done, Breitbart's father-in-law, actor Orson Bean, told The Times.