Society's ChildS


Reborn baby doll: Silicone bundle of joy

Baby Dolls_1
© Rebecca Martinez
The photo above, taken by photographer Rebecca Martinez, is of a baby shower in St. Louis, with games and gifts you'd typically find in such gathering, with one big exception: the honored babies aren't real.

Black Magic

Horrific cult broken up in Northern Mexico

© Glenn E. Malone/Flickr
A sect named Defenders of Christ that was broken up in Mexico last month forced women to participate in orgies, discouraged baths and made people eat raw animal organs, the wife of a cult leader said Tuesday.

Mexican immigration authorities raided the sex-driven sect's house in the northern state of Nuevo Laredo on January 25, rounding up 14 foreigners, including its Spanish leader Ignacio Gonzalez de Arriba, and 10 Mexicans.

Gonzalez de Arriba saw himself as the reincarnation of Christ and used the Internet to recruit adherents, offering classes on "bio-programming," alternative health care, psychic powers and sexuality, according to the Victim Support Network, which helps people who flee sects.

"They broke you down, making you even doubt your own name," Blanca Castro, who was married to a Venezuelan leader of the Defenders of Christ, told a news conference.

"They made me eat raw animal organs. And you know what? When you're starving you'll eat anything," the Mexican woman said, adding that sect leaders told followers that hygiene was a waste of time.

Comet 2

Meteorite fragment hunters drive prices to stratospheric amounts

But, with one small piece costing up to £6,500, how can buyers tell whether they are getting the genuine article?

Professional meteorite hunters were quickly on the scene last week after a large space rock entered the atmosphere over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk and exploded. Demand from international collectors is such that a tiny fragment of the meteorite could fetch hundreds of dollars. Reports have already surfaced on Russian websites of pieces being offered for sale for as much as £6,500.

But how do you tell that what you are buying is a genuine meteorite and not, say, a piece of painted concrete?

"The first thing to look for is the 'fusion crust'," says Dr Natalie Starkey, a cosmochemist at the Open University who specialises in the study of meteorites. "Think of what the crust on baked bread looks like. The exterior of the meteorite will be shiny, smooth and black. The heat generated by entering our atmosphere causes the rock's exterior to melt like glass. This appearance is a good indicator that it's a meteorite, but, sadly, it isn't definitive. Ultimately, it will need forensic examination by an expert."

Mr. Potato

Fetus is 'the largest organ in a body' says Republican representative

A Republican state representative in Alabama says that her bill to force new restrictions on abortion clinics is necessary because the fetus is "the largest organ in a body."

In a recent interview, state Rep. Mary Sue McClurkin explained why she was sponsoring House Bill 57 - The Women's Health and Safety Act - which would "require clinics to follow ambulatory clinic building codes and make it a felony - punishable by up to 10 years in prison - for a nurse, nurse practitioner or physician's assistant to dispense abortion-inducing medications," according to the Montgomery Advertiser.

"When a physician removes a child from a woman, that is the largest organ in a body," the lawmaker declared. "That's a big thing. That's a big surgery. You don't have any other organs in your body that are bigger than that."

In fact, the largest internal organ in the body is the liver, weighing 3.5 pound on average. The body's largest external organ is the skin. A fetus weighs about 0.6 pounds at 20 weeks.

"My liver, heart, and skin are all very excited that we are now giving organs personhood rights, although the latter is slightly upset about losing out on its 'largest organ in the human body' rep," Jezebel's Katie J.M. Baker wrote on Monday.


Effects of bullying last into adulthood, study finds

Victims of bullying at school, and bullies themselves, are more likely to experience psychiatric problems in childhood, studies have shown. Now researchers have found that elevated risk of psychiatric trouble extends into adulthood, sometimes even a decade after the intimidation has ended.

The new study, published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry on Wednesday, is the most comprehensive effort to date to establish the long-term consequences of childhood bullying, experts said.

"It documents the elevated risk across a wide range of mental health outcomes and over a long period of time," said Catherine Bradshaw, an expert on bullying and a deputy director of the Center for the Prevention of Youth Violence at Johns Hopkins University, which was not involved in the study.

"The experience of bullying in childhood can have profound effects on mental health in adulthood, particularly among youths involved in bullying as both a perpetuator and a victim," she added.

Penis Pump

Former Republican senator reveals secret child with another senator's daughter

Typical politician: Former Sen. Pete Domenici
(R-NM) admitted on Tuesday to fathering a child with Michelle Laxalt, the daughter of former Nevada Gov. and Sen. Paul Laxalt (R) after what she called "one night's mistake" more than 30 years ago.

According to Talking Points Memo, Domenici and Laxalt gave separate statements to the Albuquerque Journal revealing the existence of their son, Nevada attorney Adam Paul Laxalt.

"I have apologized as best as I can to my wife, and we have worked together to strengthen our relationship," Domenici said in his statement. "I deeply regret this and am very sorry for my behavior. I hope New Mexicans will view that my accomplishments for my beloved state outweigh my personal transgression."

Domenici served six terms in the Senate, from 1973 until 2009.

According to her autobiography statement on Politico's "The Arena," Michelle Laxalt worked as a lobbyist, and was named one of the "top 50 lobbyists in D.C." by The Washingtonian in 1993 and 1998. Her most recent lobbyings were made in 2010, on behalf of the American Gaming Association, and three companies connected to American financier T. Boone Pickens: BP Capital, Clean Energy Fuels and Mesa Wind and Mesa Water. It is unclear whether she ever lobbied Domenici.


Belgium considers euthanasia for minors

Belgian legislators opened a debate Wednesday on whether to amend a decade-old law on euthanasia to cover minors, being told by experts that it was already taking place in practice without any set guidelines.

Currently, the law applies to those over 18 but one expert told the upper house of parliament that it was clear that euthanasia was being carried out on younger people, the Belga news agency reported.

"We all know it," said Dominique Biarent, head of intensive care at Queen Fabiola Children's University Hospital in Brussels.

Faced with this reality, "doctors need a legal framework," Biarent was quoted as saying by Belga.

Another expert, Professor Chris Van Geet of Leuven University, said the proposed changes pose "an enormous ethical problem."

The changes to the law, which would also include sufferers of Alzheimer's disease, were submitted to parliament in December and it is likely to be several months before any decision is taken on them.

Arrow Down

Is your local police department using pictures of pregnant women and children for target practice?

Boy with Gun_1
© Law Enforcement Targets, Inc
What if I told you police in your town could desensitize themselves to the idea of shooting a (armed) child, pregnant woman, or young mother, for just a couple of bucks?

The "No More Hesitation" series from Law Enforcement Targets Inc. offers exactly that. For less than 99 cents per target, police can shoot at real-life images "designed to give officers the experience of dealing with deadly force shooting scenarios with subjects that are not the norm during training."


11 year-old girl catches fire at Oregon hospital

© KATU/ABC NewsIreland Lane, an 11-year-old cancer survivor, caught fire at an Oregon hospital.
An 11-year-old cancer survivor who was hospitalized with a head injury is now recovering from third-degree burns after her shirt mysteriously caught fire in a Portland, Ore., hospital room.

The girl, Ireland Lane, had been painting in her room at Doernbecher Children's Hospital, ABC affiliate KATU reported. Moments later, she ran into the hallway screaming, with her T-shirt aflame.

"I've been in medicine going back 30 years now and never heard anything like this. And hopefully I never will again," Dr. Stacy Nicholson, physician-in-chief at Doernbecher Children's Hospital, told KATU.

"Our safety experts are working closely with the Oregon State Fire Marshal's office on its investigation," Nicholson added in a statement to "We anxiously await the their findings and will certainly make adjustments if the cause was preventable."

Hospital staff extinguished the flames, but the cause of the fire remains a mystery. Ireland said she used hand sanitizer to clean a table that rolled over her bed, where she had painted a wooden box as a gift for her nurses, the Oregonian reported. Officials are investigating whether the alcohol-based sanitizer and static electricity could have sparked the fire, a spokesman for the Oregon State Fire Marshal told

Arrow Down

Six in 10 people worldwide lack access to flush toilets or other adequate sanitation

© Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock
It may be the 21st century, with all its technological marvels, but 6 out of every 10 people on Earth still do not have access to flush toilets or other adequate sanitation that protects the user and the surrounding community from harmful health effects, a new study has found.The research, published in ACS' journal Environmental Science & Technology, says the number of people without access to improved sanitation is almost double the previous estimate.

Jamie Bartram and colleagues explain that the current definition of "improved sanitation" focuses on separating humans from human excrement, but does not include treating that sewage or other measures to prevent it from contaminating rivers, lakes and oceans. Using that definition, 2010 United Nations estimates concluded that 4.3 billion people had access to improved sanitation and 2.6 billion did not.

The new estimates used what the authors regarded as a more realistic definition from the standpoint of global health, since untreated sewage is a major cause of disease.
They refined the definition of "improved sanitation" by discounting sewage systems lacking access to sewage treatment.

They concluded that about 60 percent of the world's population does not have access to improved sanitation, up from the previous estimate of 38 percent.