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UK: 15-year-old boy 'murdered over witch claim'

Eric Bikubi and Magalie Bamu
© BBC News
Eric Bikubi and Magalie Bamu deny murder
A 15-year-old boy was tortured and drowned by his sister and her boyfriend because they believed he was a witch, the Old Bailey has heard.

Kristy Bamu, from Paris, was found dead in Newham, east London, on Christmas Day in 2010.

The boy had 101 injuries and died from being beaten with a metal bar and drowning, the court heard.

His sister Magalie Bamu and her boyfriend, Eric Bikubi, both Congolese and aged 28, of Newham, deny murder.

Prosecutors told jurors of acts they described as "depraved", "wicked" and "cruel".

People

Top Syrian general defects with 50 troops

Image
© Bassem Tellawi/AP
Investigators inspect the bomb scene at a Midan neighborhood, the explosion ripped through a busy intersection in the capital Friday.
Beirut - As Arab League monitors prepared a report on Syria's compliance with its agreement to halt violence against protesters, a senior general reportedly said on live TV he was defecting from the regime's army with up to 50 of his soldiers.

Colonel Afeef Mahmoud Suleiman made the announcement live on Al-Jazeera's Arabic News channel on Saturday, the news organization reported.

Flanked by a group of his soldiers, Suleimen said he wanted to keep protesters safe. Al-Jazeera English translated his remarks from Arabic.

"We are from the army and we have defected because the government is killing civilian protesters," he said. "The Syrian army attacked Hama with heavy weapons, air raids and heavy fire from tanks."

Al-Jazeera reported that Suleiman was in the air force logistics division.

The announcement came a day after an explosion rocked an intersection in downtown Damascus, killing 26 people. The Syrian government blamed it on a suicide bomber.

Handcuffs

Afghan commission: US military abused detainees

Image
© Rahmat Gul/AP
A wounded man talks with a security guard at the scene of a bomb explosion in Jalalabad, Nangarhar province, Afghanistan on Dec. 29, 2011.
Kabult, Afghanistan - An Afghan investigative commission accused the American military Saturday of abuse at its main prison in the country, repeating President Hamid Karzai's demand that the U.S. turn over all detainees to Afghan custody and saying anyone held without evidence should be freed.

The demands put the U.S. and the Afghan governments on a collision course in an issue that will decide the fate of hundreds of suspected Taliban and al-Qaida operators captured by American forces. Members of the Afghan investigation said U.S. officials told them that many of those militant suspects were taken based on intelligence that cannot be used in Afghan courts.

The escalating controversy and demands by Karzai appeared to be the most recent in a series of exercises in political brinksmanship, as the president tries to bolster his negotiating position ahead of renewed talks for a Strategic Partnership Document with America that will determine the U.S. role in Afghanistan after 2014, when most foreign troops are due to withdraw.

Among the conditions that Karzai has set is an end to night raids by international troops and complete Afghan control over detainees.

Comment: Strange that a U.S. puppet is fighting for the rights of detainees/prisoners, with a country (USA) that pretends to be all about freedom, democracy and human rights.


Question

Mystery of disappearing 3.5 ton underwater statue off Italian coast

Image
© Unknown
The statue was securely embedded in concrete 95ft beneath the surface of the sea
Italian police are trying to solve the mysterious disappearance of a 3.5 ton statue of a saint which has stood on the seabed off the coast of Calabria since 2007.

Authorities are baffled as to who - or what - could have removed the bronze statue of St Francis of Paola, which stands 7.2ft high and was securely embedded in concrete 95ft beneath the surface of the sea.

The hooded figure, with one arm raised in supplication, is one of several saintly statues which dot the Italian coastline and are meant to protect fishermen and scuba divers.

Police and the Coast Guard are investigating a few theories, including the possibility that the statue was mistakenly snagged by the net of a large fishing boat.

If the crew of the boat were fishing in the area illegally, that would explain why the incident has not been reported.

Black Cat

Pageant Mom Pathology - Are Toddlers and Tiaras mothers DOPING their daughters?

Viewers of Toddlers and Tiaras were left in shock yesterday after a pageant mother described the means they use to get their children ready for the stage.

Six-year-old Alana Holler, and her mother June, from McIntyre, Georgia, are the subjects of this week's show.

Mrs Holler, a self-proclaimed 'Coupon Queen' told producers that she has tried various products to excite her daughter, including feeding her with Pixie Stix - tubes of powdered sugar referred to as 'pageant crack' - but an unidentified 'special juice' is her new secret weapon.


Comment: Sugar is a highly addictive and dangerous substance. Parents who feed kids large amounts need to know they are priming their children for potential obesity, diabetes and a host of other diseases. See:

Sugar Addiction is Real
The Links Between Sugar and Mental Health
Is America Too Sweet On Sugar?
A Spoonful of Sugar... Is Toxic?


Info

US: Soldier Charged with Having Explosives at Airport is Released

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© unknown
Sgt. Trey Scott Atwater
Sgt. Trey Scott Atwater, who faces a federal charge of trying to bring explosives onto an airplane, was released Friday on bond after his first court appearance in Midland, Texas.

Federal Magistrate Judge David Counts released Atwater on a $50,000 unsecured bond, court documents show. He was released into the custody of his supervisor at Fort Bragg, N.C., where the demolitions expert is stationed. Two members of the U.S. Army were in Midland to escort Atwater back to Fort Bragg, according to the office of U.S. Atty. Robert Pitman, who agreed to the conditions of the soldier's release.

Atwater, who completed three tours in Afghanistan, was also ordered to possess no firearms or explosives, consume no alcohol and to submit to a mental health examination, court documents show. His travel is restricted to North Carolina and Texas.

Atwater is charged with trying to bring C-4 onto a airplane flying from Midland to Dallas, according to a criminal complaint filed with the U.S. District Court for West Texas. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, if convicted.

Eye 1

FBI's Expanded Definition of Rape Will Recognize Men as Victims

Joe Biden
© unknown
Joe Biden
The Obama administration expanded the FBI's more than eight-decade-old definition of rape Friday to count men as victims for the first time and to drop the requirement that victims must have physically resisted their attackers.

The new definition will increase the number of people counted as rape victims in FBI statistics, but will neither change federal or state laws nor alter charges or prosecutions.

The expansion was long awaited because policymakers and lawmakers use crime statistics to allocate resources for prevention and victim assistance.

The issue got top-level White House attention starting last July, when Vice President Joe Biden raised it at a cabinet meeting.

Biden, author of the Violence Against Women Act when he was in the Senate, said the new definition is a victory for women and men "whose suffering has gone unaccounted for over 80 years." Calling rape a "devastating crime," the vice president said, "We can't solve it unless we know the full extent of it."

Info

US: California Lawmaker Gets Probation in Shoplift Case

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© The Associated Press
Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi, D-Castro Valley, right, talks with her seatmate, Assemblywoman Cathleen Galgiani, D-Livingston, at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif.
A judge sentenced a California lawmaker to three years of probation after she pleaded no contest to stealing leather pants and other merchandise, thefts that her attorney blamed on a benign brain tumor.

Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi was arrested on Oct. 23 after surveillance cameras at a Neiman Marcus store at Union Square showed her walking out the doors with unpaid merchandise in her shopping bag. She was accused of stealing nearly $2,500 worth of clothing.

She entered the plea in San Francisco Superior Court Friday after the judge reduced a theft charge against her from a felony to a misdemeanor at a prosecutor's request.

In addition to probation, Judge Gerardo Sandoval ordered her to pay $180 in fines and court costs, and told her to stay at least 50 feet away from the Neiman Marcus store.

Shortly after her arrest, a spokesman for Hayashi had explained that she was distracted by a cellphone call and forgot to pay for the merchandise.

Santa Hat

US, New York: Man Broke Into Elderly Brooklyn Woman's Home, Stayed For The Holidays

While Joyce King Was Away, Intruder Took Up Residence, Brought In His XBox


An elderly woman from Brooklyn who has lived alone for years suddenly found herself with a roommate. A stranger slipped into her apartment while she was away for the holidays, and made himself right at home.

The freeloader not only broke into 82-year-old Joyce King's East Flatbush apartment, he moved in, eating in one of her chairs, watching TV, setting up an XBox, all while King was visiting family between Christmas and New Year's.

Whoever it was, however, was long gone by the time King returned home from her 10-day visit, leaving her home intact.

Heart - Black

3-Hot air balloon crash kills 11 in New Zealand

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© unknown
  • Balloon catches fire before plunging to ground
  • No survivors in worst NZ aviation disaster in 33 years
  • Investigation under way, police notifying next of kin (Adds details and quotes, changes dateline)
A hot air balloon burst into flames and crashed in New Zealand on Saturday, killing all 11 people on board in the country's worst air accident in more than three decades.

Police said the balloon appeared to have clipped powerlines and caught fire before crashing into farmland near Carterton, about 80 km (50 miles) northeast of Wellington on New Zealand's North Island.

"Sadly the pilot and 10 passengers on board have not survived," Wellington District Commander Superintendent Mike Rusbatch said.

The accident occurred just before 7.30 am (1830 GMT) in calm, clear weather in a region well known for hot air ballooning.

"I couldn't believe what I was seeing. There were flames licking up the side of the basket, right up the guy-ropes," David McKinlay told state-run Television New Zealand.