Society's ChildS


Doctor Turned Serial Killer in World War II Paris

© The Associated PressThis March 17, 1946 file photo shows Dr. Marcel Petiot in Paris. The doctor, a serial killer who was convicted of 26 murders and guillotined as punishment for his crimes, regularly treated refugees, businessmen and Gestapo agents, but also had a predilection for killing wealthy Jews and burning their bodies in a basement furnace. He was one of the most unusual informers used by one of America's most secretive espionage agencies, known simply as the Pond.
Nazi-occupied Paris was a terrible place to be in the waning days of World War II, with Jews, Resistance fighters and ordinary citizens all hoping to escape. Disappearances became so common they often weren't followed up.

And one man used the lawlessness for his own terrible purposes, killing perhaps as many as 150 people.

Yet it wasn't until thick black smoke seeped into buildings in a fashionable part of the city that firefighters and police were called to an elegant townhouse where they found body parts scattered around -- setting off a manhunt that led them, eventually, to Marcel Petiot.

The crime was very much of its time, said David King, who chronicled the hunt for Petiot in Death in the City of Light.

"Paris was not a good place to be. A lot of people were trying to leave Paris, a lot of people just disappearing. He had it plotted out, a very devious plan," said King, in a telephone interview.

Che Guevara

US: Occupy Protesters Start March from NYC to DC

© The Associated Press / Mary AltafferDemonstrators affiliated with the Occupy Wall Street movement start a march from the encampment at Zuccotti Park to Washington DC, Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2011 in New York
Flanked by police scooters, about two dozen Occupy Wall Street protesters started a two-week walk from New York to Washington on Wednesday.

The activists left Manhattan's Zuccotti Park, marched past the World Trade Center site and boarded a ferry to New Jersey. The group planned to stay overnight at a private home in Elizabeth, N.J., and resume their walk on Thursday morning.

"Everything is going well so far, everyone is in good spirits" Kelley Brannon, the walk's main organizer, said during a phone interview Wednesday night, shortly before they arrived in Elizabeth. "We're doing well and looking forward to our travel."

They plan to walk through Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland and arrive in Washington by Nov. 23 - the deadline for a congressional committee to decide whether to keep President Barack Obama's extension of Bush-era tax cuts. Protesters say the cuts benefit only rich Americans.


US, Washington: Democrats push repeal of Defense of Marriage Act

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Senate Democrats who back gay marriage have decided now is the time to repeal a federal law defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

The Democrats may satisfy their gay marriage supporters, but the bill won't get very far.

The repeal could be approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, but the next stop - the full Senate - could be a long way off. The bill's chief sponsor, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., says she doesn't have the votes for Senate passage, and the bill would have no chance in a House controlled by Republican conservatives.

The chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., defended the timing of the panel's likely vote on the Defense of Marriage Act. "It is never the wrong time to right an injustice," he said.

Feinstein's bill has 31 Senate sponsors, all Democrats. Most Republicans fiercely oppose the repeal.

"Traditional marriage between a man and a woman has been the foundation of our society for 6,000 years," said Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, the ranking Republican on the Judiciary panel. "The Defense of Marriage Act protects this sacred institution, which I believe in, and attempts to dismantle this law are likely to be met with a great deal of resistance."

No Entry

US, California: Occupy UCLA Protest Shuts Down Wilshire Boulevard At Westwood

© Sara Fay
If the 200 protesters marching down Westwood Boulevard Wednesday were looking for attention, they found it. But not all of it was productive.

Though their goals were similar, Wednesday's march was a far cry from Occupy UCLA's short-lived campout and quiet table on Bruin Walk just a week ago.

The protesters started at the heart of campus in Bruin Plaza and headed into the Village. The intersection of Wilshire and Westwood boulevards was shut down. Marchers sat in the street, blocking traffic. Eleven were arrested, seven of them students.

A disturbance was made, a voice was heard. All in the name of calling University of California students to fight against tuition hikes and the state to reinvest in higher education.

And while many of the marchers were UCLA students, they weren't led by their peers. The protest was the first event in a week of action organized by ReFund California Coalition, an offshoot of the Occupy Wall Street movement that demands more funding for higher education.

Arrow Down

Israel Court Upholds Ex-President's Rape Conviction

© Reuters/Baz RatnerFormer Israeli President Moshe Katsav (2nd L) arrives to the Supreme Court to hear the verdict of his appeal on a rape conviction in Jerusalem November 10, 2011.
Israel's Supreme Court on Thursday upheld a conviction for rape against former president Moshe Katsav, and said it saw no reason to change the seven-year jail sentence imposed on him earlier this year.

The justices, in reading out their verdict following the appeal hearing, said they concurred with the decision of the three-judge panel at lower court that convicted Katsav last December and sentenced him in March.

Katsav was convicted for twice raping an aide when he was a cabinet minister in the late 1990s, and molesting or sexually harassing two other women who worked for him during his 2000-2007 term as president.

Katsav had consistently denied the charges, but the Tel Aviv lower court said his testimony had been "riddled with lies."

He was allowed to remain free until after the appeal ruling but will begin serving his sentence on December 7, Israeli media reports said.


New Pew Forum Report Analyzes Religious Restrictions Around the World

religions graphic
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Three-Year Study Finds One-Third of Global Population Experiences An Increase

Washington, D.C. - More than 2.2 billion people, nearly a third (32%) of the world's total population of 6.9 billion, live in countries where either government restrictions on religion or social hostilities involving religion rose substantially between mid-2006 and mid-2009, according to a new study on global restrictions on religion released today by the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life. Only about 1% of the world's population lives in countries where government restrictions or social hostilities declined.

In general, most of the countries that experienced substantial increases in government restrictions or social hostilities involving religion already had high or very high levels of restrictions or hostilities. By contrast, nearly half of the countries that had substantial decreases in restrictions or hostilities already scored low. This suggests that there may be a gradual polarization taking place in which countries that are relatively high in religious restrictions are becoming more restrictive, while those that are relatively low are becoming less restrictive.

These are among the key findings of Rising Restrictions on Religion, the Pew Forum's second report on global restrictions on religion. The study is part of the Pew-Templeton Global Religious Futures project, an effort funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts and the John Templeton Foundation to analyze religious change and its impact on societies around the world.


US: Big Banks Plead with Customers Not to Move Their Money

demonstrate at a Bank of America
© David McNew/Getty ImagesPolice officers stand guard as Occupy LA protesters stop to demonstrate at a Bank of America during the Move Your Money March on what is being called Bank Transfer Day on November 5, 2011.

Yes, The Big Banks DO Care If We Move Our Money

650,000 customers moved $4.5 billion dollars out of the big banks and into smaller banks and credit unions in the last month.

But there is a myth making the rounds that the big banks don't really care if we move our money. For example, one line of reasoning is that no matter how many people move their money, the Fed and Treasury will just bail out the giants again.

But many anecdotes show that the too big to fails do, in fact, care.

Initially, of course, if the big banks really didn't care, they wouldn't have prevented protesters from closing their accounts.


Bank Transfer Day: Kristen Christian on How She Inspired Mass Exodus from Big Banks to Credit Unions

Protests were held across the country Saturday to mark Bank Transfer Day, a campaign to move accounts from big banks into community banks or credit unions. Credit unions attracted more than 40,000 new account holders, reporting about $80 million in new savings, or an average of about $2,000 per new account holder. The campaign was organized by Kristen Christian when she learned that Bank of America planned to charge her a $5 monthly debit card fee. Her Facebook post urging friends to abandon big banks unwittingly blossomed into a national campaign. Although the campaign was neither inspired by nor organized by the cyber-activist group Anonymous or the Occupy Wall Street movement, it did benefit from their support. "The message from Bank Transfer Day was not the fee itself, but actually the principle behind it, because, at least with Bank of America, the fee only applied to account holders with less than $20,000 in combined accounts. So, based on principle, I couldn't support a business that would directly target the impoverished and working class," Christian says.

Heart - Black

Daughters of Maire Rankin speak about their 'living nightmare'

Marie Rankin, brutally attacked on Christmas day 2008
The Truth about what happened the night Maire Rankin was murdered will never be known, according to her daughters Brenda and Aine.

The two daughters gave their first interview to TV3′s Midweek programme tonight, in which they described the past two years and 10 months as a "living nightmare".

Their 81-year-old mother, Maire, was killed in the early hours of Christmas morning in 2008. Her neighbour, Dublin pharmacist Karen Walsh, was convicted of the brutal murder and jailed for a minimum of 20 years last Friday.

"The past two years and 10 months have been about Karen Walsh," Aine told presenter Colette Fitzpatrick during the interview. "We have been in court 50 times and have been completely and utterly obsessed with the trial. It has taken over.


Best of the Web: Corpses Don't Rebel: A former follower of Michael Pearl's "To Train Up A Child" reacts to the death of Hana Williams

Trigger Warning: This article contains graphic descriptions of infant and child abuse.

© AP
The death toll from parents following Michael and Debi Pearl's teachings continues to mount. Another child is has been "biblically chastened" to death via corporal punishment, and Michael Pearl is defending his teachings in the mainstream media while promoting his new book. Gary Tuchman and Anderson Cooper both reported on the death of 13-year-old Hana Williams, whose adoptive parents Larry and Carri Williams subjected her to beatings and neglect while following the teachings of the Pearls.

Michael Pearl defends himself and his teachings during his CNN interviews using two arguments:

First, the presence of his book, To Train Up a Child, and the presence of his other teaching materials on "biblical chastisement," in the homes of homicidal parents, is purely circumstantial. It makes no more sense, Pearl argues, to blame To Train Up a Child for discipline-turned-abusive-turned-murderous than to blame Alcoholics Anonymous brochures in the home for deaths due to drunk driving, or weight-loss materials in the home for obesity.

As Anderson Cooper pointed out, this defense is illogical. AA literature says not to drink, especially while driving. Pearl literature emphasizes inflicting physical pain on children in order to break their wills and achieve total obedience to parents. In the Cooper interview, Pearl talks about physically chastising to "get the child's attention." What if your child still isn't paying attention?

Pearl's second argument comes up every time his teachings are linked to children beaten to death: kids end up abused and killed because parents, despite owning copies of his teachings and trying to follow them, aren't really following his teachings. They are missing the joy part, the reconciliation part, the praying part, the loving part, or whatever. They discipline in anger instead of in love.

Or - and I suspect this is what Pearl really thinks but can't say without contradicting his own child-training directions - they should have known when to stop, when they were being cruel and abusive instead of loving, even if the child was still in rebellion and hadn't budged an inch. At some point, a loving parent with some sense and a conscience will stop inflicting more pain. This is what Pearl believes, or at least one would hope this is what he believes. This isn't what he teaches.