Society's ChildS

Heart - Black

100 Feared Dead as Russia Plays Down Chances of Finding Boat Survivors

© ReutersA survivor from the tourist boat Bulgaria that sank
The chances of finding more survivors after a tourist boat sank in Russia's Volga river were "very small", according to the government, raising fears that more than 100 people have died.

The double decker boat carrying more than 180 people sunk "within minutes" during a heavy storm on Russia's Volga River on Sunday killing at least two people and leaving more than a hundred other passengers missing.

In an accident that will raise fresh questions about the safety of Russia's ageing Soviet-era trains, planes and boats, eyewitnesses said the tour boat sank about two miles from the nearest river bank in bad weather.

"It was not that choppy but it was raining hard and there was a storm," Yelena Kaleyeva, a resident of a nearby village, told local media.

Other witnesses said the vessel, called Bulgaria, sank within about two minutes, that visibility in the area was low, and that passengers dashed to grab hold of anything that floated to stay alive.

Not all of them managed to get a life jacket or to make it to one of the few emergency boats however.

Bad Guys

New Australian Law to Make Muslims Lift Veils

© unknown
Muslim women would have to remove veils and show their faces to police on request or risk a prison sentence under proposed new laws in Australia's most populous state that have drawn criticism as culturally insensitive.

A vigorous debate that the proposal has triggered reflects the cultural clashes being ignited by the growing influx of Muslim immigrants and the unease that visible symbols of Islam are causing in predominantly white Christian Australia since 1973 when the government relaxed its immigration policy.

Under the law proposed by the government of New South Wales, which includes Sydney, a woman who defies police by refusing to remove her face veil could be sentenced to a year in prison and fined 5,500 Australian dollars ($5,900).

The bill - to be voted on by the state parliament in August - has been condemned by civil libertarians and many Muslims as an overreaction to a traffic offense case involving a Muslim woman driver in a "niqab," or a veil that reveals only the eyes.

The government says the law would require motorists and criminal suspects to remove any head coverings so that police can identify them.

Critics say the bill smacks of anti-Muslim bias given how few women in Australia wear burqas. In a population of 23 million, only about 400,000 Australians are Muslim. Community advocates estimate that fewer than 2,000 women wear face veils, and it is likely that even a smaller percentage drives.

Bizarro Earth

Ten Decapitated Bodies Found in Torreon, Mexico

© ReutersThe bodies were found after a night of killings across the region which left at least 40 people dead
The decapitated bodies of three women and seven men have been found in an abandoned lorry in the northern Mexican city of Torreon, police say.

One head was found on the windscreen. The others were dumped by the roadside, along with threatening messages.

They were found after a night of violence across northern Mexico.

National Security Spokesman Alejandro Poire attributed the beheadings to a battle between two drugs gangs, the Zetas and the Sinaloa cartel.

Police said the 10 had probably been killed a few days back, as the bodies were showing signs of decomposition.


Gunmen Kill at Least 20 in Mexican Bar

© ReutersMember of a forensic team and a police detective cordon off a crime scene in downtown Monterrey
Gunmen burst into a bar in the Mexican city of Monterrey and shot dead at least 20 people Friday, the latest massacre in the city battered by drug-gang violence, El Universal newspaper reported.

At least five people were injured, the paper reported, citing local police.

The gunmen fired AK-47 assault rifles throughout the bar in downtown Monterrey, Milenio newspaper reported.

Several other Mexican media outlets, including Reforma newspaper, reported the same tally of dead and injured.

Over the last four years, industrial and relatively prosperous Monterrey has gone from being a model for developing economies to a symbol of Mexico's drug war chaos as rival gangs fight one another in the city's streets.

Heart - Black

Canada: Intruder stomps 20 rabbits at Britiaah Columbia sanctuary

A Vancouver Island animal refuge has boosted its security after an intruder brutally killed 20 rabbits last month.

Susan Vickery of the Ears Sanctuary in Coombs, B.C. said she found the rabbits stomped or crushed to death at the compound on June 14.

"I arrived at the front gate in the morning and found one of my rabbits dead and obviously crushed," Vickery told "I went across the barn and it was just tragic. It was tragic to see these little bodies just smashed down."


Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie invited to lavish 40th birthday party for whistleblower Assange... two days before his court appeal on sex charges

© Alanpix.comBirthday boy: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange today near his home in Norfolk
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is celebrating his 40th birthday - just two days before he fights attempts to extradite him to Sweden to face rape charges.

Among those said to be invited to the bash are Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie and US Vogue editor Anna Wintour.

A huge marquee has been put up at Ellingham Hall, the 10-bed Norfolk farmhouse where he has been under house arrest for the past seven months.

Party invitations included instructions on where to land helicopters and private jets.

Assange has to report to the police station every day as well as wear an electronic tag

If he loses his extradition appeal in the High Court on Tuesday he faces being taken under police guard to Sweden, to fight allegations of rape and sexual assault.

The house and its 650-acre estate are owned by Vaughan Smith, director of the Frontline media club.

Mr Smith, who will be at the party, told the Independent: 'You're only 40 once.' Last week it emerged a £850,000 book deal Assange signed to write his memoirs had collapsed.


US, Florida: Judge Orders Mental Health Evaluation for Palmetto Expressway Bomb Scare Suspect

© Gabriel Nuñez / Courtesy to the HeraldCars back up on the Palmetto Expressway eastbound near the exit for Northwest 27 Avenue on Friday afternoon. A bomb threat is causing the backup.
One mystery was solved when police arrested the tattooed man who left his fake-weapons-laden hearse under the Palmetto. Other questions - like 'why?' - remained.

Was it a faux terrorist plot? A malicious prank? Performance art?

One man knows for sure - and he is sitting in jail Sunday while waiting for a mental health evaluation, days after a bizarre episode in which a hearse, abandoned underneath the Palmetto Expressway at Northwest 27th Avenue, brought rush-hour traffic to a standstill for more than five hours.

Lee Lewis, 28, who bills himself on his MySpace page as a fetish model and fireplay entertainer, was being held at a downtown Miami detention center Sunday on $36,500 bond.

The state requested the mental health evaluation Sunday after police found Lewis' tricked-out hearse, festooned with silver skulls and outfitted with green undercarriage lighting under the Palmetto on Friday afternoon. The officers thought they spotted automatic weapons, an anti-tank rocket and other explosives inside - and immediately closed the road to cars and pedestrians. The Miami-Dade bomb squad rushed to the scene.

The following day, an investigation found that the weapons were bogus.

"They were good replicas," Miami Gardens Police Chief Matthew Boyd said Saturday. "But they were fake."

Lewis turned himself in Saturday morning, Boyd said.

Arrow Down

Best of the Web: The Dollar Collapse Will be the Single Largest Event in Human History

Every major civilization in history has collapsed. In almost all recorded cases the collapse has occurred as a result of infinite expansion in a finite environment. We are, no doubt, approaching a similar fate.

The dollar collapse will be the single largest event in human history.

This will be the first event that will touch every single living person in the world. All human activity is controlled by money. Our wealth, our work, our food, our government, even our relationships are affected by money. No money in human history has had as much reach in both breadth and depth as the dollar. It is the de facto world currency. All other currency collapses will pale in comparison to this big one. All other currency crises have been regional and there were other currencies for people to grasp on to. This collapse will be global and it will bring down not only the dollar but all other fiat currencies,as they are fundamentally no different. The collapse of currencies will lead to the collapse of ALL paper assets. The repercussions to this will have incredible results worldwide.


Russian reactor reconnected to power grid after shutdown

© RIA Novosti. Viktor ChernovNuclear specialists earlier said such safety shutdowns are a routine occurrence.
A reactor at the Balakovskaya nuclear power plant (NPP) in central Russia was restarted and reconnected to power grid early on Sunday after a safety shutdown, a spokesman for the plant said.

"The reactor was reconnected to the power grid and restarted in compliance with regulations for safety operation," the source said. "Radiation levels at the station and surrounding territories remain unchanged, at the normal level."


US - Iowa Town Evacuated After Fuel Tanker Explosion

Blakesburg, Iowa -- A series of explosions were reported in the southern Iowa town of Blakesburg Friday morning.

The Wapello County Sheriff's office said the town was evacuated. Witnesses report hearing multiple explosions from the scene. The fire was brought under control and the evacuation order lifted around 11:40 a.m.

Officials said a fuel tanker caught fire and exploded around 8:30 a.m. The driver was off-loading fuel when the fuel ignited.