Society's ChildS


Swedish embassy in Belarus reopens a year after Teddy Bear Airdrop

© RIA Novosti. Egor Eremov
The Swedish Embassy in Belarus said Tuesday that it was reopening more than a year after a Swedish company airdropped teddy bears with pro-democracy messages over the country, causing a diplomatic dispute.

"The Swedish Embassy will be open to visitors again," the diplomatic mission said in a statement on its website. It noted, though, that Swedish visa applications were "still being accepted at the Estonian Embassy in Minsk."

On July 4, 2012, a Swedish public relations company chartered a light aircraft to illegally enter Belarusian airspace and drop about 800 teddy bears with messages emphasizing the lack of human rights in the former Soviet republic.

The stunt led to a dispute between Belarus and Sweden, resulting in the expulsion of Swedish diplomats from Minsk and Belarus' withdrawal of its embassy staff from Stockholm.


Riot police use water cannons and teargas to halt a demonstration by striking teachers in Mexico City

© demotix.comTeachers of the CNTE took the bordering streets to the Senate of Mexico in protest for the educational and labor reform approved by the Mexican Congress that affects his interests.
At least 40 people were wounded on Friday in Mexico City as anti-riot police used water cannons and teargas to halt a demonstration by striking teachers, the latest unrest in weeks of protests against education reform.

Hundreds of anti-riot police have regained control of Mexico City's historic center using water cannons and tear gas to clear the area of striking teachers, who responded with firebombs.

At least 40 people were wounded in Friday's clashes at Zocalo square after a few hundred demonstrators violated a deadline to vacate the area to make room for the nation's independence day celebrations this weekend after weeks of protests against education reform.

The teachers, many armed with sticks and wearing masks, had set trash on fire and placed metal barriers in adjoining streets to block the police from entering the Zocalo, home to the National Palace, Aztec ruins and the city's cathedral.

Thousands of teachers had been occupying the plaza for the past three weeks, but most had left before the deadline, leaving makeshift tents and trash behind. Local businesses had shut their doors before the raid.

Police cleared the Zocalo within half an hour and put out small fires. An hour later, clean-up crews were dispatched to remove the plastic tarps from the tent city.


Quebec government facing criticism and internal rift over secular dress code

The government of Quebec is facing bitter criticism and an internal rift after it unveiled a secularism charter this week that prohibits public workers from wearing ostentatious religious symbols.

A move by Quebec's ruling Parti Quebecois to ban public workers in the province from wearing ostentatious symbols has drawn fire from other Canadian leaders, and even created an internal division within the group.

The so-called 'Charter of Quebec Values' forbids state employees from wearing large Christian crosses, Jewish skullcaps or Muslim headscarves to work.

Supporters say the measure will create a more inclusive Quebec, in which people of all religions - or no religion - felt welcome. The move, similar to a law passed in France in 2004, has widespread backing in Quebec.

However, the proposed charter drew condemnation from Canada's three main federalist parties, and all the mayoral candidates in Montreal's November election proclaimed they would have the province's largest city opt out of the dress code.


Possum infestation keeps new Australian prime minister Tony Abbott out of official residence

Tony Abbott
© UnknownMr Abbott is due to be sworn in as prime minister this week
Tony Abbott has delayed moving into Australia's official prime ministerial residence because it is run-down and infested by possums but will instead take up digs at the national police academy. Mr Abbott is due to be sworn in as prime minister this week

The British-born fitness-obsessed prime minister-elect will live alongside police recruits in a tiny £70-a-night flat with a kitchenette but is reportedly happy because the compound has an excellent gym. Mr Abbott is due to be sworn in as prime minister this week after his landslide election victory last weekend and reportedly rejected an offer to stay in a £1800-a-night luxury rental.

Australia's official prime ministerial residence, The Lodge, a 1920s colonial-style 40-room mansion in Canberra, was intended to be a temporary lodging until a permanent "monumental" residence was constructed. It is in a state of serious disrepair and has given successive leaders problems.


War economy: Afghan coal mine collapse kills 27 people

Afghan Mine
© Unknown
At least 27 miners in northern Afghanistan were killed after a coal mine collapsed in a remote area of Samangan province, officials said on Sunday. Rescue efforts are under way to free another dozen workers who remain trapped underground.

A coal mine collapse has killed at least 27 miners in the north of Afghanistan, officials said on Sunday, with rescue efforts under way to save about 12 workers trapped underground.

Emergency teams rushed to the scene after the mine collapsed in a remote area of Samangan province on Saturday, and bodies were being brought out of the accident site.

"We have 27 miners who died while they were working in an underground coal mine in Abkhorak coal mine in Ruyi Du Ab district," Mohammad Sediq Azizi, the Samangan governor's spokesman, told AFP.

"They were working in a coal mine when part of the mine collapsed on them. We are heading to the scene for further investigation," Azizi said, adding that 20 other people had been injured.


Costa Concordia ship's hull pulled off Italian reef

Costa Concordia being salvaged
© APSept. 16, 2013 - The Costa Concordia ship lies on its side on the Tuscan Island of Giglio, Italy. Engineers succeeded in wresting the hull of the shipwrecked Costa Concordia from the Italian reef where it has been stuck since it capsized in January 2012, leaving them cautiously optimistic they can rotate the luxury liner upright and eventually tow it away. Never before has such an enormous cruise ship been righted, and the crippled Concordia didn't budge for the first three hours after the operation began.

Giglio Island, Italy - Engineers on Monday succeeded in wresting the hull of the shipwrecked Costa Concordia from the Italian reef where it has been stuck since it capsized in January 2012, leaving them cautiously optimistic they can rotate the luxury liner upright and eventually tow it away.

Never before has such an enormous cruise ship been righted, and the crippled Concordia didn't budge for the first three hours after the operation began, engineer Sergio Girotto told reporters. But after some 6,000 tons of force were applied using a complex system of pulleys and counterweights, "we saw the detachment" from the reef thanks to undersea cameras, he said.

Girotto said the cameras did not immediately reveal any sign of the two bodies that were never recovered from among the 32 who died Jan. 13, 2012 when the Concordia slammed into a reef and capsized after the ship's captain steered the luxury liner too close to Giglio Island.

Images transmitted by robotic diving vehicles indicated that the submerged side of the hull had suffered "great deformation" from all its time on the granite seabed, battered by waves and compressed under the weight of the ship's 115,000 tons, Girotto said.

The initial operation to lift the Concordia from the reef moved the ship just 3 degrees toward vertical, leaving the vessel some 62 degrees shy of being pulled upright. While a seemingly small shift, the movement was significant enough to be visible: A few feet of slime-covered hull that had been underwater became visible above the waterline.

Engineers were waiting for the operation's completion before declaring success: The entire rotation was expected to last as long as 12 hours, with crews prepared to work into the night if need be.

So far, "rotation has gone according to predictions," and no appreciable pollution from inside the ship has spewed out, said Franco Gabrielli, chief of Italy's Civil Protection agency, which is overseeing the operation.


Yet another mass shooting in America: Police say as many as 2 shooters have killed 4, injured 8 on grounds of Washington, D.C. Navy Yard

Washington Navy Yard shooting
© Washington Post 10 people shot at Navy Yard: Police search for active shooter on grounds of Washington Navy Yard in Southeast D.C.
As many as two shooters, including one in fatigues, killed at least four people and wounded eight others in a rampage at the Washington Navy Yard on Monday, police said, spreading fear and chaos across the region as authorities tried to contain the incident.

Initial reports were marked by confusion, but by late morning, police said at least one of the shooters was "down." It was unclear whether that means the suspect was in custody, wounded or dead. They said that another suspect may have been pinned down in a building on the installation in Southeast Washington near Nationals Park.

Gunfire was heard shortly before 11 a.m., two and a half hours after the first shots were fired, an area where police believed that person was barricaded. Police were sweeping Building 197, the Naval Sea Systems Command Headquarters where the shooter was apparently holed up. The number of shooters still was unclear.

At least two police officers were shot. Police on the scene said one is a D.C. Metro Police officer who was shot twice in the leg and was evacuated on a helicopter that took off from a rooftop. The other was a base officer. The D.C. officer, a male, was concious at MedStar Washington Hospital Center and his chances for survival were good, hospital officials said.

Life Preserver

Germany urges European nations to accept more Syrian refugees

syrian refugees
© afp
Germany has granted temporary shelter to 5,000 Syrians and is urging other European nations to accept more refugees from Syria's civil war. The UN estimates that more than two million people have fled the conflict so far.

Germany is urging other European nations to consider taking in more Syrian refugees to help cope with the large number of people displaced by the country's conflict.

Interior Ministry spokesman Jens Teschke says Europe's most populous country "is leading by example" by giving temporary shelter to 5,000 Syrians as part of a special humanitarian assistance program lasting two years.

The U.N. refugee agency is seeking a total of 10,000 such places in 2013.

Teschke told reporters in Berlin that while Germany doesn't want to tell other countries how many Syrians to take in, Austria is receiving a similar number per capita.


Egypt journalist faces military court over 'lies'

Egyptian soldier
© France 24An Egyptian soldier stands guard on a watchtower near the border between Egypt and the Palestinian territory on September 12, 2013.
An Egyptian journalist on Sunday appeared before a military court, accused of spreading lies about the army's campaign against militants in the Sinai Peninsula.

The court in the Suez canal city of Ismailiya adjourned Ahmed Abu Deraa's hearing to September 18.

Abu Deraa, who writes for the independent daily Al-Masry Al-Youm, was detained on September 4 in north Sinai over published reports that army raids had hit a mosque and houses and also injured civilians.

Authorities say they are targeting "terrorists" in the peninsula that borders the Palestinian Islamist-run Gaza Strip.


Drudge hates new shield bill, but is defining 'journalist' really 'fascist'?

Sen. Dianne Feinstein
© J. Scott Applewhite/APSen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. asks questions during a hearing on Capitol Hill. Sen. Feinstein says a “17-year-old blogger” doesn’t deserve a legal shield.
A media shield law approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee defines a "real reporter" deserving of extra protection. Bloggers, "citizen journalists," and others cry "foul!"

In its attempt to define who's a journalist and who's not, is the US Senate trying to say that Thomas Paine, a corset-maker, wouldn't have deserved the same protections from government heavy-handedness as a newspaper publisher like Ben Franklin?

The first version of a media shield law that handily made it through the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday defined for the first time what constitutes a "real reporter" deserving of extra protection versus what Sen. Dianne Feinstein called a "17-year-old blogger" who doesn't deserve a legal shield.

While Mr. Paine eventually edited magazines in the United States, he's best known for his pamphleteering days, when he self-published "Common Sense," one of the American Revolution's most poignant calls to arms. Modern bloggers often see themselves as the inheritors of the pamphleteering tradition, and many wondered on Friday whether Paine would be covered under the proposed law.