Society's ChildS


Irish political classes lose their fear of the Catholic church

Enda Kenny
© Isopix / Rex FeaturesEnda Kenny, who this week launched an unprecedented attack on the Vatican.
Enda Kenny's criticism of the Vatican this week marks a significant milestone on Ireland's journey away from being a mono-Catholic state into a 21st European republic

There are two parallel revolutions taking place on either side of the Irish Sea that will radically alter the relationship between government and non-state institutions that exercise major temporal power.

In Britain the ongoing revelations of wrongdoing within the Murdoch empire and the public humiliation of a media baron and his son may result in re-alignment in the relationship between politicians and the press, with the former becoming less supplicant to the latter.

One of the most important by-products of the last few incredible weeks has been the end of fear. Specifically, fear of media tycoons who used to boast that some of their newspapers had "won" elections and had left the prime ministerial ambitions of party leaders in ruins. The humbling of Murdoch Senior and Junior this week marked the end of that fear.

Meanwhile, here in Ireland the political classes have also lost their fear, namely of the once almighty Roman Catholic church. The news reports both in the Republic and the UK were not exaggerating on Wednesday.

Enda Kenny's attack on the Vatican over its handling of yet another clerical child sex abuse scandal in Ireland was indeed truly "unprecedented". Even Kenny's Fine Gael, a party with deep roots in rural Catholic Ireland, had lost its fear of the men (they are always men!) who wear red cabs and wield crosiers.

Since the mid 1990s the Catholic church's reputation has been slowly eroding amid a deluge of damaging revelations about its priests, religious orders and the institutions they run.

Bad Guys

NY Mummy Smugglers Reveal Vast Antiquities Black Market

© Dr. Michael MiyamotoThe illegal trafficking of mummies can destroy scientists' chances of learning about ancient Egyptians. Here, the mummy Maiherpri resides in a sarcophagus after undergoing a scan to reveal the prevalence of heart disease at the time.
The rescue of an ancient Egyptian mummy's sarcophagus this month from alleged smugglers in New York - the first time authorities say an international artifacts' smuggling ring was dismantled within the United States - sounds more like the plot of a movie than reality.

Amazingly, however, mummy smuggling not only still happens today, it was once so common that enough mummies were available to be ground up and sold as powder, archaeologists reveal.

"Mummy powder was something you could buy in pharmacies up to 1920, because people thought it was a type of medication," said Egyptologist Regine Schulz, curator of ancient art at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore.

Today's black market for mummy and other antiquities is in the billions of dollars, though exact numbers aren't known. Besides not having a clear bead on the breadth of trafficking in Egyptian artifacts, scientists and officials say it's often difficult to protect the precious artifacts as the Egyptian desert is so vast.


California, US: Mysterious 'explosion' that triggered Friday's fire under investigation

© Bill LavallieA CAL FIRE helicopter and federal fire fighting helicopter scoop water from the Mokelumne River to battle Friday's blaze
CAL FIRE investigators are looking into the cause of a fire that torched more than 80 acres of Calaveras County and burned up to the very edge of Amador County, threatening to burn the Mokelumne River's scenic Middle Bar run. As the fire reached its most dangerous peak Friday afternoon, witnesses and reporters observed CAL FIRE law enforcement questioning at least one man about how the blaze started.

Fire crews were first alerted to the blaze around 4 p.m. Friday afternoon. Emergency responders arriving at Gwin Mine Road were quickly told by witnesses that an old, beat-up truck had just "exploded and caught fire," tossing red embers that quickly ignited the dry weeds and greasewood. At least two people - reportedly a man and a woman - were seen escaping the truck without injuries.

Heart - Black

Chinese couple sells kids to play games

© Unknown
A Chinese couple sold their three children for cash to play video games, according to a local report.

Sanxiang City News newspaper (translated by ABC News, via said the parents, both under 21, sold their children for money to fund playing online games at internet cafes.

In 2009, Li Lin and Li Juan sold their second child, a baby girl, for less than $500. They reportedly spent the money shortly after.

They then sold their first child, a boy, for about $4600. They sold their third child, also a boy, for the same amount.


Norway gunman's father speaks out: 'He should have taken his own life'

© Sipa Press/Rex FeaturesJens Breivik, the father of Anders Behring Breivik, is protected by gendarmes at his home in Cournanel, south-west France.
Jens Breivik in state of shock over actions of Anders Behring Breivik and says he wishes his son had killed himself

Sitting in his villa in the French village of Cournanel - population 500 - surfing the internet for news of the bomb blast and massacre back home, retired Norwegian diplomat Jens Breivik had no idea that, for him, the worst was to come.

Today the country home near the Pyrenees in south-west France, where he had hoped to spend his retirement in peace, is surrounded by gendarmes "for his own protection".

And the most obscure details of his 70-year life were being picked over for clues to why his son, "a very ordinary boy", turned into an assassin. The truth is that Jens Breivik has no more idea than anyone else. Possibly less. Anders Breivik had never lived with his father and had not seen him since he was a teenager.

"I view this atrocity with absolute horror," his father told Norwegian journalists. "My condolences go out to all those who have suffered because of this. I am in a state of shock. I have not recovered."


Oslo massacre: British police called in over Breivik's claims he met 'mentor' in UK

© Wolfgang Rattay/ReutersA woman places flowers on a police car in Oslo after a memorial march to mourn the victims of Friday's bomb and shooting.
Europol ask for information because gunman wrote of visiting London for secret far-right gathering in 2002

Police attempting to piece together Anders Behring Breivik's links to far-right groups in the UK and Europe have written to Scotland Yard asking for more officers to help with the investigation.

A specialist unit has been set up in The Hague to trawl through a database of known high-risk, rightwing extremists and assist the Norwegian police as they examine evidence from Breivik's 1,500-page "manifesto" published online hours before he launched one of the worst mass killings in peacetime Europe.

Rob Wainwright, director of Europol, told the Guardian he had written to the Metropolitan police's new head of counter-terrorism, Cressida Dick, asking for more officers from Scotland Yard after Breivik boasted of his links to far-right groups in the UK.


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India: 1-Year-Old Boy with 34 Fingers and Toes Breaks World Record

© SolarpixExtraordinary: Akshat Saxena has entered the Guinness Book of Records after being born in India with ten toes on each foot and seven fingers on each hand.
A one-year-old boy in India has broken a world record after being born with 34 fingers and toes.

Akshat Saxena had seven fingers on each hand and ten toes on each foot, according to a spokesman for Guinness World Records.

The child, from Uttar Pradesh in northern India, has since had a series of surgeries to amputate the excess digits. Akshat was born last year without thumbs so doctors are working to reconstruct these out of the fingers they have removed.

His mother Amrita Saxena said: 'I was so happy to see my baby as it was our first child.

'But later, when I saw his fingers, I was shocked and surprised.'

The condition is known as polydactyly, a genetic disorder which can be inherited and gives rise to excess digits.

Most commonly, the extra digits appear on the little finger side of the hand.

Mrs Saxena said it was a family friend who convinced them Akshat was extremely special.

Heart - Black

US, New York: Mom Faces Charges in Death of Disabled Daughter Found Dead Hours Before Family Wedding

The mom who Nassau cops say killed her disabled daughter in a depraved murder-suicide bid just hours before the excited 8-year-old was going to be a flower girl in her cousin's Long Island wedding on Saturday is now facing a second-degree manslaughter rap.

Veronica Cirella, 30, who remains hospitalized at Nassau County Medical Center, was found unconscious with an unknown item wrapped around her throat in the basement of the Plainview house she shared with her daughter Julie Cirella, cops said.

An 8-year-old disabled girl who was going to be the flower girl at her cousin's Long Island wedding yesterday was found dead just two hours before the ceremony, cops said.

The body of Julie Cirella, who has cerebral palsy, was found with no visible signs of trauma in the basement of the Plainview, L.I., home she shared with her mom, grandmother and five others, said Nassau County police Detective Lt. Kevin Smith.


UK: Police: House Fire that Killed Talented Golfer, 21, and His Sister, 8 Being Treated as 'Murder'

  • Thomas Sharkey had U.S. scholarship at top university
  • Sister had returned home from sleepover because she missed her family
  • Police say fire which left parents seriously injured was a 'deliberate act'
© SWNSTragedy: Thomas Sharkey, 21, and his eight-year-old sister Bridget, who were killed in a house fire in Helensburgh, near Glasgow. Police have now launched a murder investigation

These are the first pictures of talented golfer Thomas Sharkey, 21, and his eight-year-old sister Bridget, who were killed in a house fire.

Police believe the blaze was started deliberately and have now launched a murder investigation into the siblings' deaths.

Their parents Angela, 46, and Tommy, 55, managed to escape the fire in Helensburgh, near Glasgow, after an off-duty policeman raised the alarm.