Society's ChildS


US: Alec Baldwin: Booted from Plane for Playing Game

© Getty ImagesAlec Baldwin
You know when the flight attendants tell you to turn off all electronic devices prior to takeoff? They're not kidding -- even if you happen to be a star.

Actor Alec Baldwin was removed from an American Airlines flight leaving Los Angeles for New York on Tuesday when he was apparently too engrossed in a game of Zynga's Words With Friends to power down his iPad.

"Flight attendant on American reamed me out 4 playing WORDS W FRIENDS while we sat at the gate, not moving. #nowonderamericaairisbankrupt," the actor tweeted.

The incident caused a one-hour delay in the flight and kicked off a flurry of Internet chatter. Baldwin's own Twitter feed has been pulsing with caustic comments about his removal.

"Last flight w American," the 30 Rock star tweeted Tuesday afternoon, "Where retired Catholic school gym teachers from the 1950s find jobs as flight attendants."


China Arrests 600 in Huge Child Trafficking Bust, 178 Children Rescued

© Agence France-Presse/Peter ParksPhoto illustration. Chinese police have busted two huge child trafficking rings that spanned 10 provinces, arresting more than 600 suspects and rescuing 178 children, the government said Wednesday.
Chinese police have busted two huge child trafficking rings that spanned 10 provinces, arresting more than 600 suspects and rescuing 178 children, the government said Wednesday.

Child abductions and trafficking are rife in China, despite repeated police crackdowns -- a problem that many experts blame on the nation's strict "one-child" policy and lax regulations on adoption.

The public security ministry said in a statement that police in the southwestern province of Sichuan had chanced on clues that a child trafficking gang was operating there when dealing with a traffic accident in May.

Then in August, police in the southeastern province of Fujian discovered the existence of another gang involved in widespread child trafficking.

After a long period of evidence-gathering, more than 5,000 police officers from 10 different provinces across China launched a joint offensive on November 30, arresting 608 suspects.


Canada, Quebec: Gatineau's Values Guide For Immigrants Stirs Controversy

© unknownThe city of Gatineau, Que., has released a 'statement of values' aimed at immigrants, giving them advice ranging from the illegality of honour killings and bribing public officials to cooking smelly foods.
One of Quebec's biggest cities is throwing out the welcome mat to immigrants with a 16-point guide to local values, which range from refraining from bribing officials, killing people for honour, to cooking smelly foods.

The city of Gatineau says its newly released "statement of values" is aimed at helping newcomers integrate. But critics say it infantilizes them and treats immigrants "like they came out of a cave."

The guide is already drawing comparisons to the controversial code of conduct adopted by the Quebec village of Hérouxville during the heat of the province's reasonable accommodation debate in 2007. Unlike Hérouxville, however, which banned stonings even though it only had a single immigrant family, Gatineau is home to about 250,000 and has seen a surge in international immigration in recent years.

The administration of Mayor Marc Bureau says it published its list of "essential values" to help the newly arrived fit in and learn "how to interact" in their new environment, according to the guide.


Up to 40,000 Children Mine Gold in Mali: Rights Group

mercury in gold pan
Between 20,000 and 40,000 children work in artisanal gold mines in Mali, Africa's third-largest producer of the precious metal, Human Rights Watch said in a report Tuesday.

In a statement, HRW said that "children as young as six dig mining shafts, work underground, pull up heavy weights of ore, and carry, crush, and pan ore."

It also said that many children "work with mercury, a toxic substance, to separate the gold from the ore. Mercury attacks the central nervous system and is particularly harmful to children."

HRW children's rights researcher Juliane Kippenberg said children carried loads heavier than their own weight, climbed into unstable shafts, and touched and inhaled mercury, one of the most toxic substances on earth.


Canada: Congo Protests Turn Violent in Toronto, Ottawa

© The Associated Press/Simon MainaCongolese riot-policeman stand guard on the streets of Goma. Tensions from the presidential election in the Democratic Republic of Congo spilled across the Atlantic on Tuesday when pro-democracy protests in two Canadian cities turned violent.
Tensions from the presidential election in the Democratic Republic of Congo spilled across the Atlantic on Tuesday when pro-democracy protests in two Canadian cities turned violent.

In the capital Ottawa, police formed a line around the DRC embassy and used pepper spray to prevent dozens of protesters from storming the building.

Meanwhile in downtown Toronto, Canada's largest city, a group of about 150 protesters swarmed a police car and threw dirt at officers, prompting police to respond in force, sending 30 cars and cordoning off roads around the demo.

Electoral authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Tuesday postponed declaring the winner of the polls, as protests exploded worldwide. Early results showed President Joseph Kabila heading for re-election.


Canada: A British Columbia Family's Secret: How They Helped Their Parents Die

© Jeff Vinnick/The Globe and MailTwo boys stand with right-to-die protesters as they demonstrate recently outside the B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver.
Buried in a stack of affidavits filed in a right-to-die case is a remarkable, anonymous document that breaks a deep, long-held family secret about how two chronically ill parents were guided to death.

It is sworn by a 63-year-old social worker from British Columbia who identifies himself only as L.M., because he fears he, his sister and others could face criminal charges for assisting in the deaths.

The document - one of many that chronicles the shattering emotional journeys endured by those involved in assisted deaths - illustrates a key argument being made in Carter versus the Attorney-General of Canada.

Joseph Arvay, a lawyer representing the B.C. Civil Liberties Association and a group of individuals challenging the Criminal Code, has told court that because it is illegal for physicians to help the chronically ill die, people are forced to help take lives secretly, the way women once sought back-alley abortions.

Heart - Black

Indian Couples Whose Families Disapprove Turn to the Love Commandos

© Candce Feit/The Globe and MailVeer and Puja Bharti faced violence and disapproval of their love marriage because they are from different castes.
New Delhi- They met on the bus to college in 2005. Soon he was cutting class all morning to ride the bus and make sure he had the chance to talk to her. Puja Bharti says she knew within moments of speaking to her now-husband, Veer, that it was love. And she knew that this love was going to be a big problem.

Veer and Puja are from different jati in the Hindu caste system. And although they have thoroughly modern Indian families who sent them to earn college degrees and urged them both into business, neither family would tolerate the idea that their children should have a "love marriage," as it is known here.

Mr. Bharti's father confronted him about the relationship in 2008, and when he refused to renounce Puja, beat him up and threw him out of the house. He moved in with friends in another city, found a job and started saving money in the hope of persuading her to elope. Her family, meanwhile, began a campaign of physical assault and emotional abuse that escalated until, one day in September, she overheard her brother saying the time had come to kill her, since she stubbornly refused to marry any boy the family chose for her. So Ms. Bharti ran away and used her last rupees in a payphone call to Mr. Bharti. And he in turn made a call to a number he'd read in the paper, and saved just in case.

He called the Love Commandos. And they kicked into action.


US: "My Mommy's Gay But She Doesn't Need Any Fixing"

© RawStoryMichele Bachmann speaks to 8-year-old boy
Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann appeared stunned Sunday after an 8-year-old South Carolina boy told her that his gay mother didn't "need any fixing."

The candidate was signing her memoir Core of Conviction for a scant few supporters at a Myrtle Beach Books-A-Million when 8-year-old Elijah stepped forward with a message.

"You said it, but I think my ears were too far away," Bachmann told the boy as she leaned over the table, pulling him close.

"Ms. Bachmann, my mommy's gay but she doesn't need any fixing," Elijah whispered into her ear.

The dumbfounded GOP hopeful slowly stood up with her wide eyes glaring at the mother.

"Bye, bye," she waved.

Red Flag

US: Firefighters Watch as Couple's Home Burns to the Ground (Because They Hadn't Paid $75 Subscription Fee)

Vicky Bell's home was destroyed after fire
© WPSD Local 6Left with nothing: Vicky Bell's home was destroyed after fire ripped through it in on the outskirts of South Fulton, Tennessee - and firefighters did nothing to help
A couple stood helplessly by and watched their home and valuables go up in flames because a team of firefighters refused to help - as they had not paid their 'subscription fees'.

Vicky Bell and her boyfriend managed to escape from their trailer home but did not have time to grab many personal belongings.

Miss Bell, from Tennessee, said the blaze was terrifying - but almost as shocking was seeing fire trucks sitting in the distance and doing nothing to help.

Rural residents who want to be protected by the fire officers in their nearby town of South Fulton must pay a $75 annual subscription.

South Fulton Mayor David Crocker told Local 6 WPSD that if they don't collect fire fees, the fire department can't survive - and if they make exceptions to the rule, no one will ever pay the fee.


US: Dentist wants to make possession of cigarettes in Washington a felony

© AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, fileIf Dr. Ed Dolan's petition made it on the ballot, and became a law in Washington state, not only would buying these cigarettes become a class C felony, so would buying them in Oregon and crossing the border into Washington with a pack.
Listen: Dr. Ed Dolan wants to make cigarette possession a felony Dori Monson talks to a doctor gathering signatures to ban the possession of tobacco cigarettes in the state of Washington.

The health risks of cigarettes have been taught in schools and printed on the cigarette packages for decades. There is a statewide ban preventing people from lighting up in public places. Now, one dentist would like to prevent you from even holding a cigarette in the state of Washington.

"I care about people's health," said Dr. Ed Dolan, who is behind the cigarette ban initiative. "I'm hoping that this will help all of the citizens of Washington state live longer, healthier, happier lives and eliminate the diseases, pain and suffering caused by tobacco products."