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Tue, 05 Dec 2023
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Lana Wachowski's HRC Visibility Award Acceptance Speech

"I began to believe voices in my head -- that I was a freak, that I am broken, that there is something wrong with me, that I will never be lovable," the Cloud Atlas co-director tells a San Francisco fundraiser crowd.
The following is a transcript of a speech delivered by Lana Wachowski to the Human Rights Campaign's annual gala dinner in San Francisco on Oct. 20, 2012.


Blast kills 22 in Saudi capital

© Fars News Agency
A gas tanker exploded on a main road in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on Thursday, killing at least 22 people and injuring over 100 others.

The lorry veered into a bridge pylon at a junction on Khurays Road in Riyadh at about 7:30 am, causing a gas leak that filled the area and then burst into flames, destroying nearby cars and a business.

Eyewitnesses reported widespread damage to the area, with dozens of cars mangled by the blast and burned out.

A bus that had been gutted by the fire stood idle on the flyover, with witnesses saying that the vehicle had been transporting workers whose fate remained unknown.

Another truck fell off the bridge due to the impact of the explosion, the witnesses said. Civil defense personnel carried two "completely charred" bodies from the site.


Shooting rocks California university Halloween party

At least four people have been wounded in a shooting outside a Halloween party at the University of Southern California (USC), in Los Angeles.

University officials said the shooting happened as result of an argument between two people unconnected with the university.

One of the two was shot, along with three bystanders. Both were detained as they fled the scene.

The incident took place at 23:30 local time (06:30 GMT).

The campus was shut down but later reopened.


United States Supreme Court justices consider whether drug-sniffing dogs pass smell test

K-9, dog
Washington - Can you trust what a dog's nose knows? Police do, but the Supreme Court considered Wednesday curbing the use of drug-sniffing dogs in investigations following complaints of illegal searches and insufficient proof of the dog's reliability.

Justices seemed concerned about allowing police to bring their narcotic-detecting dogs to sniff around the outside of homes without a warrant and seemed willing to allow defense attorneys to question at trial how well drug dogs have been trained and how well they have been doing their job in the field.

"Dogs make mistakes. Dogs err," lawyer Glen P. Gifford told the justices. "Dogs get excited and will alert to things like tennis balls in trunks or animals, that sort of thing."

But Justice Department lawyer Joseph R. Palmore warned justices not to let the questioning of dog skills go too far, because they also are used to detect bombs, protect federal officials and in search and rescue operations. "I think it's critical ... that the courts not constitutionalize dog training methodologies or hold mini-trials with expert witnesses on what makes for a successful dog training program," he said.

"There are 32 K-9 teams in the field right now in New York and New Jersey looking for survivors of Hurricane Sandy," Palmore added. "So, in situation after situation, the government has in a sense put its money where its mouth is, and it believes at an institutional level that these dogs are quite reliable."

Pumpkin 2

3 injured by gunfire in Halloween crowd disturbance in Hollywood

Los Angeles - Three people were shot Wednesday night in a large throng of Halloween revelers in Hollywood, sending a flood of police into the area to control the crowd.

Police Sgt. Andrew Chao of the Hollywood Station told City News Service that the shooting took place around 10 p.m. on Hollywood Boulevard.

A 17-year-old boy was critically wounded with gunshot wounds to the chest and a leg.

A 14-year-old boy was shot in a foot and a 25-year-old man was struck in the buttocks, he said. All three were transported to local hospitals.

The gunmen fled, possibly in a white sport utility vehicle, Chao said.

Stock Down

U.S. prosperity slides in index that ranks Norway no. 1

© Ty Wright/Bloomberg
The U.S. slid from the top ten most prosperous nations for the first time in a league table which ranked three Scandinavian nations the best for wealth and wellbeing.
The U.S. slid from the top ten most prosperous nations for the first time in a league table which ranked three Scandinavian nations the best for wealth and wellbeing.

The U.S. fell to 12th position from 10th in the Legatum Institute's annual prosperity index amid increased doubts about the health of its economy and ability of politicians. Norway, Denmark and Sweden were declared the most prosperous in the index, published in London today.

With the presidential election just a week away, the research group said the standing of the U.S. economy has deteriorated to beneath that of 19 rivals. The report also showed that respect for the government has fallen, fewer Americans perceive working hard gets you ahead, while companies face higher startup costs and the export of high-technology products is dropping.

"As the U.S. struggles to reclaim the building blocks of the American Dream, now is a good time to consider who is best placed to lead the country back to prosperity and compete with the more agile countries," Jeffrey Gedmin, the Legatum Institute's president and chief executive officer, said in a statement.

Eye 1

12 year-old California boy comes to trial in killing of Neo-Nazi father when he was 10


Uniform: Jeff Hall seen after a skirmish during a conference of the National Socialist Movement in Pemberton, New Jersey on April 15, 2011
Riverside, California - Both the prosecution and the defense involved in a trial set to start here on Monday basically agree on the following: Before dawn on May 1, 2011, 10-year-old Joseph Hall went to his family's living room armed with a snub-nosed revolver, pointed it at his father's head as he lay sleeping on the couch, and shot and killed him.

From there, the two sides are likely to differ on both the events that preceded the shooting and Joseph's exact motive, elements complicated by his age and the fact that his father, Jeff Hall, was a rabid neo-Nazi. And those facts raise several more philosophical quandaries that, depending on how the judge weighs the answers, may determine the outcome of the trial. Among them: whether virulent racism can amount to parental abuse, whether a child exposed to such hate can understand the difference between right and wrong, and whether someone who grows up in such toxic circumstances can be blamed for wanting a way out.

The prosecutor, Michael Soccio, says that the actions of Joseph Hall have little to do with Nazism, but rather with his anger at being punished and spanked by his father at a party the day before the killing and the boy's worries that his father would leave his family. Though he says he sympathizes with Joseph and his upbringing - "There's a sweet side to him," Mr. Soccio said in an interview this month - he also has little doubt that the boy is a killer.


South Dakota executes man for rape, death of 9-year-old girl

© The Associated Press/KELO-TV
This July 18, 2012 file frame grab provided by KELO-TV shows convicted killer Donald Moeller during a court appearance in Sioux Falls, S.D. Moeller is scheduled to be executed to be executed the week of Oct. 29, 2012, for the 1990 killing of 9-year-old Becky O'Connell. His death sentence was the first handed down in South Dakota since the 1940s.
Sioux Falls, South Dakota - A South Dakota inmate was executed Tuesday night for the 1990 rape and murder of a 9-year-old girl who disappeared after leaving her home to buy sugar at a nearby store so she could make lemonade.

Donald Moeller, 60, received a lethal injection at the state penitentiary in Sioux Falls, marking South Dakota's second execution this month in an unusual surge for a state that has carried out just two other death sentences since 1913.

When asked if he had any last words, Moeller replied, "No sir," and then said, "They're my fan club?"

Moeller then was administered a lethal injection at 10:01 p.m. He took about eight heavy breaths before the breathing stopped and Moeller turned slightly pink.

Moeller's eyes remained open, and his skin turned ashen, then purple. The coroner checked for vital signs, and Moeller was pronounced dead at 10:24 p.m.

Moeller kidnapped Becky O'Connell from a Sioux Falls convenience store, where she'd gone to buy sugar to make lemonade at home. He drove her to a secluded area near the Big Sioux River, then raped and stabbed the girl. Her naked body was found the next day; investigators said her throat had been slashed.

Arrow Down

In workshops, fields, some 1.6 million Egyptian children at work in arduous conditions

Working Children
© Khalil Hamra/Associated Press
An Egyptian child carries a clay roof tile in a pottery workshop in old Cairo, Thursday, Oct. 18, 2012.
Cairo - It's early in the morning, and 13-year-old Ezzat is hard at work in one of Cairo's pottery workshops in an ancient part of the Egyptian capital. He sorts through the day's production. In the same area of workshops, three barefoot boys under the age of 12 carry clay pieces from inside the factory out into the sun to dry.

"I go to school, but I decided not to go today because it is time to paint the clay," said Ezzat, whose brother runs the workshop. Ezzat refused to give his last name.

The Egyptian government estimates that some 1.6 million minors work - almost 10 percent of population aged 17 or under - often in arduous conditions. Other experts put the number at nearly twice that, given that so many work in informal sectors and are difficult to track. In 2011, a U.S. Department of Labor report said Egypt had made some efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor, but it said the country has not addressed gaps in legal enforcement to protect children.

Some child labor activists worry that protections for children could be loosened further under the new constitution still being written. Earlier this month, the Egyptian Coalition for Children's Rights warned that early drafts of the document did not include as firm prohibitions on child labor as past constitutions.


Fake sharks in flooded NYC and New Jersey

Those 'sharks in the streets after Hurricane Sandy' pictures that have been doing the rounds. They're faked. Be careful what you believe. Some people seem very willing to over-indulge their emotions over 'Sandy' and then soft-sell it back to themselves as showing concern or empathy for the victims. Indulging your emotions and falling for emotional hooks during a time of crisis helps no one.