Society's ChildS


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."

Heart - Black

US: THREE Elderly Women Say TSA Agents Made Them Pull Down Pants, Underwear

TSA says agents followed protocol

With age come such things as catheters, colostomy bags and adult diapers. Now add another indignity to getting old - having to drop your pants and show these things to a complete stranger.

Two women in their 80s put the Transportation Security Administration on the defensive this week by going public about their embarrassment during screenings in a private room at John F. Kennedy International Airport. One claimed she was forced to lower her pants and underwear in front of an agent so that her back brace could be inspected. Another said agents made her pull down her waistband to show her colostomy bag.

While not confirming some of the details, the TSA said a preliminary review shows officers followed the agency's procedures in both cases. But experts said the potential for such searches will increase as the U.S. population ages and receives prosthetics and other medical devices, some of which cannot go through screening machines.


Toilet paper restrictions imposed on schoolchildren in Spain in latest austerity cuts

toilet roll
© Alamy
Schoolchildren in Catalonia are the latest victims of austerity cuts with authorities instructing them to limit their use of lavatory paper in a bid to save money.

The northeastern region has been ordered to rein in its deficit and has embarked on a series of stringent austerity cuts.

The latest edict issued by the region's ministry of education instructs state schools to cut "excessive consumption" of toilet roll among pupils and limit the quota to a maximum of 25 metres per child per month.

This most recent penny saving measure comes amid widespread cuts to education budgets across Spain that has led to regular protests in the streets by teachers.


US: Women kicked off airplane at PBIA claim unruly flight attendant was to blame

Passengers claim attendant was 'a bully'

Three women were escorted off a New York bound flight at Palm Beach International Airport Monday afternoon by airline staff and Palm Beach County Sheriff's deputies. The women claim they did not do anything wrong and that a flight attendant on board was the only one behaving poorly.

The women -- a lawyer, a therapist and a retired travel agent -- were complete strangers until they were seated near one another on AirTran Flight 1451 to White Plains, New York. They were buckled in and ready to take off when they said a male flight attendant began mishandling some overhead luggage.