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Five killed in Alps plane crash

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Five members of the same family have died in a plane crash in the French Alps
A Moroccan family of five returning home died when their plane crashed shortly after take-off from an airport near the French Alps.

The twin-engine plane hit a hill and crashed in a forest in an uninhabited area outside Grenoble, a city that is the gateway to the Alpine resorts in south-eastern France.

Bruno Charlot, a local government official, said all five aboard died. The pilot was flying his wife and their three children home to Morocco, apparently after a holiday in France.

Red Flag

Official saw no immediate danger for Detroit girl allegedly killed by mom

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Tameria Greene
A court official who was asked to remove a Detroit child from her home just weeks before she was fatally stabbed turned down the state's request because he believed there was no immediate danger, according to a transcript released Friday.

"They're in no more danger today than they were yesterday. And no one came to court yesterday to ask for the children to be removed," Richard Smart, a referee in the family division of Wayne County Circuit Court, said on Nov. 23, referring to Tameria Greene and her four siblings.

On Sunday, five weeks later, 8-year-old Tameria was found dead in her home on Larned Street, near downtown Detroit. An autopsy determined that the girl died of a single stab wound to the chest. Her mother, Semeria Greene, has been charged with murder.

The Michigan Department of Human Services had sought to remove Tameria and the other children from their home. The detailed petition presented to Smart alleged that Tameria had been bitten by her mother on her hand, forearm and face. The agency said there were multiple marks and bruises elsewhere.

Arrow Up

Kansas militia expects zombies, and it's dead serious

Zombies
© ApocalypseCometh
It's got to be one of the coolest names ever for a group: The Kansas Anti Zombie Militia.

But the group is real and its members are pretty serious about it. Once the Zombie Apocalypse hits, they'll be ready for it and they want you to be too.

"Can a natural person change into this monster that many fear?" Alfredo Carbajal, the militia's main spokesman, said in an interview. "The possibilities are yes, it can happen. We have seen incidents that are very close to it, and we are thinking it is more possible than people think."

Carbajal and other true believers aren't so much scared of movie zombies. The apocalypse they see coming is a pandemic spread by a virus that creates zombie-like symptoms.

Last month, the Discovery Channel featured the Kansas militia in a documentary that concluded that such a Zombie Apocalypse - or Zompoc - was possible. The program featured scientists who speculated some evolving virus is bound to jump to humans on our overcrowded planet.

Of course, scientists have been warning about pandemics such as bird flu that don't produce zombies, but zombies are the hot monsters right now.

A packed house listened last year at St. Mary's College of Maryland as a chemist, psychologist and student acknowledged the possibility of an epidemic, according to the school's newspaper.

The panel pointed out that there already have been zombie-like symptoms dating back to 1594; they were eventually determined to be the first recorded human case of furious rabies - an especially serious form of rabies.

Eye 2

9-year-old Pakistani girl kidnapped and gang-raped

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© Reuters / Fayaz Aziz
An archive photo of a Pakistani girl.
A nine-year-old Pakistani girl has been taken to the hospital in critical condition after being kidnapped and brutally gang-raped. The girl's mother has named the abusers, but no arrests were made.

The girl was admitted to a hospital in Bahawalpur after being raped on Wednesday. She remains in critical condition due to loss of blood and internal injuries, the Express Tribune reported, quoting the hospital's doctors.

Local police have launched a criminal case against seven men for the kidnap and rape; no arrests have been made yet.

The girl's mother named five of the seven suspects. She reportedly told police that she hesitated to inform law enforcers because the kidnappers threatened to kill her and the girl if the woman spoke to authorities.

Station House Officer Irshad Joyia said they were ordered to arrest the suspects, but later were informed that the men had fled to Alipur village, the Express Tribune said.

According to a First Information Report (FIR) prepared by police, the girl was beaten and then kidnapped by three women and a man in front of her house in Manzoorabad in Rahim Yar Khanby. The kidnappers reportedly took her another location where she was gang-raped by three men, one of whom was named in the FIR.

Ambulance

Six Russians dead, two injured in Italy snowmobile accident

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© Reuters / Alessandro Garofalo
Rescue workers wait during the rescue operations to recover the bodies of six Russian tourists who died on the Alpe Cermis in Val di Fiemme, northern Italy January 5, 2013.
Six people from southern Russia were killed and two wounded after a snowmobile accident in the Italian Alps. Their vehicle tipped over and fell 100 meters down a steep ski slope.

Five of those who died and one of the survivors were tourists from southern Russia's Krasnodar; another survivor and one of the deceased both worked for a tourist company in Italy, RIA Novosti reported.

Russian diplomats have identified the four men and two women who died in the crash.

Those injured in the accident - Boris Yudin and driver Azat Agafarov - were taken to hospital by helicopter.

Yudin's 17-year-old son, who was not on the vehicle, lost his mother and sister in the accident.

The tourists were driving to their hotel from a restaurant located in the mountains at around 10:00pm local time, the vice consul at the Milan embassy told journalists.

Heart - Black

2012 was an unmitigated disaster for abortion rights

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© Credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque
Anti-abortion demonstrators take part in the "March for Life" in Washington January 23, 2012. Nearly 100,000 protesters marched to the U.S. Supreme Court to mark the 39th anniversary of the Court's landmark Roe v. Wade decision on abortion.
Think the so-called "War on Women" (really a war on everyone, since family planning, abortion, birth control and cancer screenings are good for everyone, regardless of gender) is over? Think again, sadly. The reality is that in the state capitols, the steady drive to make it nearly impossible for women to obtain abortions is continuing. Last month, at AlterNet, we profiled just a few of these state initiatives that had cropped up after the 2012 election and continued the unfortunate trend of using political power to legislate the uteri of citizens.

A new study from the Guttmacher Institute looked at all the laws and provisions relating to reproductive rights that went into effect in 2012:
Reproductive health and rights was once again the subject of extensive debate in state capitols in 2012. Over the course of the year, 42 states and the District of Columbia enacted 122 provisions related to reproductive health and rights. One-third of these new provisions, 43 in 19 states, sought to restrict access to abortion services. Although this is a sharp decrease from the record-breaking 92 abortion restrictions enacted in 2011, it is the second highest annual number of new abortion restrictions.
The highest year, of course, was 2011. What are some of the restrictions passed? Age limits, late-term abortion bans (20-week bans, for instance), clinic regulations that are near-impossible to meet, forbidding insurance coverage, and more.

Dollar

Warning of huge food price rise in UK

Food Price Rise UK
© Sean Smith/Guardian News & Med
Gloom: Waitrose boss Mark Price warned that food prices are likely to rise even further in the coming years.
Massive rises in food prices will hammer family budgets this year, the boss of one of Britain's biggest supermarkets warned yesterday.

Waitrose managing director Mark Price said recent increases in the price of bread and vegetables were 'just the tip of the iceberg', with prices set to rise across the board.

'Everything will be hit,' he added.

And with farmers facing poor harvests after the second wettest year on record, Britain's impending food crisis looks set to last 'for the foreseeable future'.

Another punishing rise in the cost of the weekly shop - which is already increasing faster than wages - will hit families struggling to make ends meet. Living standards are already under their greatest squeeze in a generation, compounded before Christmas when energy providers announced inflation-busting price increases.

Now food prices are likely to carry on rising after crops were hampered by appalling weather. Mr Price said: 'We're seeing input food inflation of around 3 to 3.5 per cent, but we expect it go up to as much as five.

'But you can't ever say how high these increases will end up being. The one safe thing to say is that demand will out-strip supply. It is likely that food inflation will continue to rise for the foreseeable future. In some commodities, the increases will be massive. It's bread, vegetables, all produce.

Stop

Mexico's 'grand warlock' draws a crowd despite spotty prediction record

Grand Warlock
© AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo
Antonio Vazquez Alba, popularly known as the "Grand Warlock," announces his traditional predictions for the new year during a press conference in Mexico City, Friday, Jan. 4, 2013.
Mexico City - Antonio Vazquez is a cherubic 72-year-old with twinkling eyes, a long white beard and a knack for predicting things that don't actually happen.

For more than three decades, Mexico's self-proclaimed "Grand Warlock" has been doing tarot card and horoscope readings to reveal what's in store for the coming year.

Among past predictions: Fidel Castro would die in 2008. Germany would win the 2006 World Cup. Barack Obama would lose to Mitt Romney.

Despite Vazquez's consistently incorrect record of prognostication, dozens of journalists swarmed Mexico City's press club on Friday for the Grand Warlock's latest round of predictions in what has become one of this country's most reliably strange and inexplicably popular New Year's traditions.

On tap for 2013, according to the Grand Warlock: a new war in the Middle East, chaos in Venezuela and a tough year for Obama.

But it's not all bad news. Vazquez said 2013 will be a great year for Mexico, a country that has struggled with drug violence and a slow economy.

"Mexico is going to have a relevant place in the world, economically speaking," he said. "Mexico will place itself as a paradise for investors."

Heart - Black

Saudi sergeant accused of Vegas child rape

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© Photo: Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department / AP
This image provided by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department shows Mazen Alotaibi, 23, a sergeant in Saudi Arabia’s air force who was arrested Dec. 31, 2012, in Las Vegas on charges that he pulled a teenage boy into Las Vegas Strip hotel room and sexually assaulted him the morning of the city’s big New Year's Eve fireworks extravaganza.
A sergeant in Saudi Arabia's air force was jailed in Las Vegas on charges that he pulled a boy into a hotel room and sexually assaulted him the morning of Sin City's big New Year's Eve fireworks extravaganza.

Mazen Alotaibi, 23, faces charges including kidnapping, sexual assault with a minor and felony coercion that could get him decades in state prison, according to police and charging documents obtained Friday.

The boy, who is younger than 14, told police the man forced him into a room at the Circus Circus hotel on the Las Vegas Strip and raped him. Police arrested Alotaibi after being called to the hotel before 9:30 a.m. Dec. 31.

"There was a kidnapping and sexual assault with force," Las Vegas police Lt. Dan McGrath said. "The victim said he was forced into the room and sexually assaulted. We have a strong case based on the evidence."

The boy, who lives out of state, was staying at the hotel with his family, McGrath said. He was taken to a hospital for medical treatment and evidence collection and released later to family members. His name was not made public.

Bad Guys

Chicago duct tape dad given probation for binding toddler

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© Facebook
Chicago Police are investigating a Facebook photo posted by Andre Curry, 21, of his daughter apparently bound with tape, under the title "This is wut happens wen my baby hits me back ;)"
A Chicago judge ruled today that a dad convicted of aggravated battery for binding his 18-month old daughter with tape and taping her mouth shut will not have to go to prison, but serve probation instead.

Andre Curry, 22, was ordered today to serve 18 months probation, undergo parenting classes and submit to periodic drug tests.

Curry was arrested in December 2011 after posting a photo of the little girl on Facebook with the caption: "This is wut happens wen my baby hits me back ;)."

He was convicted in November of aggravated domestic battery and aggravated battery, and faced up to seven years in prison.

Curry has no prior criminal record and his lawyer convinced the judge to reconsider the felony conviction, dropping the charges to a misdemeanor.

Curry did not testify in his own defense, but his lawyer argued that he was just fooling around and the girl was never in danger.

"To use a child ... as a toy or a prop in an odd attempt at humor is conduct of an insulting or provoking nature," Cook County Circuit Judge Lawrence Flood said in November when Curry was found guilty.