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Car Sales Could Slump in 'Unlucky' 2013

New Car
© Wheels
Triscadecaphobia (or triskaidekaphobia) is the fear of the number 13 as a harbinger of bad luck. And it's why new car sales will likely slump in the 2013 model-year.

Believers will want nothing to do with an "unlucky" 2013 car, and even non-believers might shun these autos fearing lower future resale values.

Rationally, we can dismiss such beliefs as nonsense, but the fact is that our society often accommodates this common superstition. For example, high-rises rarely, if ever, have a 13th floor - usually skipping from 12 to 14 in the numbering. Many developers also by-pass "13" when numbering homes in new communities.

In Ireland, known for its lucky charms (and inspiring a kids' cereal here by the same name), an auto industry group estimates 2013 car sales will plummet by one-third. To help counteract this, officials are being asked to change the car registration system to alter the year prefix to become "131" and "132" instead of the dreaded "13" alone.

So what's the solution for North America?

As a knee-jerk reaction, automakers might just jump ahead and call them "early" 2014 models. But then, that would bring us into the realm of tetraphobia where the number "4" is avoided because it's pronounced much like the word for "death" in Cantonese and other Asian languages. The number "14," as in the year 2014, is considered even more unlucky ("sure death") than "4" by itself.


Czechs Ban Spirits After Bootleg Alcohol Poisoning

Czech ban
© Reuters
Stores began clearing shelves soon after the ban was announced
The Czech government has banned the sale of all spirits containing more than 20% alcohol following a spate of poisoning that has left 19 people dead.

The ban covers all outlets including restaurants and hotels.

The poisonings have been blamed on bootleg vodka and rum tainted with the industrial chemical methanol and sold cheaply at markets and outdoor kiosks.

Czech police have arrested 10 people and seized 5,000 litres of spirits, as well as counterfeit labels.

Health Minister Leos Heger said the unprecedented ban was effective immediately and applied nationwide.

"Operators of food and beverage businesses... are banned from offering for sale (and) selling... liquor containing alcohol of 20% and more," he announced on national television.

The deaths - which began to emerge earlier this month - have been described as the Czech Republic's worst case of fatal alcohol poisoning in 30 years.


One-Fifth of US Children are Living in Poverty

© Agence France-Presse/Getty Images/Spencer Platt
A just released analysis of recent census statistics reveal that more than one-in-five children in the United States lives in poverty.

Demographers have mulled through US Census Bureau figures from 2011 to discover that economic conditions in the US may be even worse than what experts had previously suggested. In addition to the continuously stagnant unemployment level, poverty among Americans remains at record levels.

"The take-away is that the number of people living in poverty continues to be appallingly high," Julie Zaebst, policy manager with the Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger, tells the Philly Inquirer. "This despite the economy being in recovery."

And as the poor continue to suffer, America's elite are in better standing than ever. While incomes for the country's bottom 40 percent of wage-earners remained relatively stable last year when compared with statistics from one year earlier, the top one percent of Americans saw their wages increase by around 6 percent, further widening the gap between the haves and have-nots.

According to the latest figures, the youth of the US are hit hardest. While adults make up a significant proportion of the population living below the poverty line, 21.9 percent of all children in the country - more than one in five - are poor. By comparison, only 8.7 percent of adults over the age of 65 live in similar standing.


9 arrested as anti-GMO activists block Monsanto site in California

© Reuters/Mario Anzuoni
Nine anti-GMO protesters were arrested for blocking the gates to a large Monsanto seed plant in Southern California. The action aimed to draw attention to a November ballot initiative that would require labels on genetically modified food.

­Around a dozen activists from the Occupy Monsanto movement, some wearing biohazard suits, arrived at the plant on Wednesday morning and chained themselves to vehicles they parked at the entrances to Oxnard's Seminis Vegetable Seeds.

The blockade prevented trucks from entering or leaving the facility for nearly six hours. Police arrested nine of the activist for trespassing, protest organizers said. The event was a preview of around sixty other events planned to take place next week in countries around the world, demonstrators said.


Pedophile US pastor sentenced to 330 years in prison


Sixty nine-year-old pedophile US pastor Oscar D. Perez (shown) is sentenced to a 330-year prison term for sexually assaulting five children between the ages of nine and 15.
A US Christian pastor has been sentenced to a 330-year prison term for sexually assaulting five children between the ages of nine and 15 at his Los Angeles home.

The 69-year-old priest, identified as Oscar D. Perez, was sentenced Friday in a California court for abusing the children at his apartment near Los Angeles between 2007 and 2011, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Perez, an Apostolic pastor and bishop at a Laguna Hills Episcopalian Church, befriended various families at the church, recruited children to help with church services and invited his victims to his apartment, according to prosecutors.

He was detained and initially charged with assaulting two of the victims in September 2011 after one of the children told his mother of the abuse. Ensuing probes by police investigators led them to three more victims.

According to the report, the Christian preacher was found guilty in July on 22 felony charges of lewd acts upon a child under 14 years of age, among other felony counts of vulgar behavior against multiple victims.


Chinese protesters attack Japanese embassy in Beijing over island dispute

© Reuters / Jason Lee
A demonstrator throws an egg at the Japanese embassy during a protest in Beijing September 15, 2012
Thousands of protesters massed at the Japanese embassy in Beijing on Saturday, hurling rocks and bottles at the building and burning Japanese flags. The demonstrators demanded that Japan drop its claim to disputed islands in the South China Sea.

­The dispute worsened earlier this week when Japan announced plans to purchase the islands from their private owners. Japan will buy three of the uninhabited islands from a Japanese family it recognizes as the land's rightful owner, Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura said.

China does not recognize Japan's claim to the isles, known to the Japanese and Senkaku and as Diaoyu to the Chinese. Taiwan has also claimed ownership of the territory.

© Reuters / Jason Lee
A protester uses a megaphone to shout slogans during a protest outside the Japanese embassy (in the background) in Beijing September 15, 2012
The sale is worth a reported 2.05 billion yen ($26 million US). The Japanese Coast Guard will maintain administrative control over the archipelago, which is located amid an important shipping lane and is believed to be sitting on deposits of valuable resources.

China responded to Japan's announcement by claiming that it will "never yield an inch" of the islands.

During the Saturday rally in Beijing, one of the protesters held up a sign with the provocative slogan, "For the respect of the motherland, we must go to war with Japan," Reuters reported.

Arrow Down

First man on the moon Buried at Sea

Washington, Sept. 14 -
Neil Armstrong Buried at Sea
© Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)
U.S. Navy personnel carry the cremated remains of Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong during a burial-at-sea service aboard the USS Philippine Sea in the Atlantic Ocean. Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon during the 1969 Apollo 11 mission, died Aug. 25
Neil Armstrong, Apollo 11 commander and the first man on the moon, was laid to rest in the Atlantic Ocean Friday in a burial at sea, NASA said.

The ceremony for Armstrong, who served in the Navy from 1949 to 1952, included a bugler and a rifle salute, after which his cremated remains were committed to the sea and an American flag was presented to his widow, Carol, the space agency reported.

The ceremony was conducted aboard the USS Philippine Sea.


Alleged Delware Police Brutality Victim Sues Department

A Delaware County woman is filing a lawsuit against a local police department after claiming she was the victim of police brutality.

Nicole Burney of Sharon Hill and her mother, Lynda Thomas, claim the ordeal began during a domestic dispute. Thomas tells NBC10 Nicole called Darby Township Police while she was arguing with her sister. When officers arrived, Nicole claims they handcuffed her and roughed her up in front of her 5-year-old son.

"One handcuff was placed on me and then I was shoved and pulled," said Burney. "I hit the ground and they put on the other one while dragging me. He knocked me into my truck without any reason, without any cause and without saying anything."

"I kept asking the cop why he was handcuffing her," said Thomas. "He never did answer me. They dropped her and her head hit the cement and she started having a seizure."

Other people wrote letters backing up Burney's allegations. Police called EMS to take Burney to the hospital. Medical reports from the scene as well as the hospital state Burney suffered a closed head injury.


Protesters March Against Police Brutality in Oxnard

© Heber Pelayo
The family of Robert Ramirez, a 26-year-old Oxnard man who was allegedly beaten by officers in a struggle while he was overdosing on meth and later died this past June, protested at the last Oxnard City Council meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 11. The family was joined by more than 150 activists against police brutality.
Alleged wrongful death sparks controversy

California - "Killer cops, off our streets."

That was the refrain chanted by a crowd of nearly 150 gatherers as they made their way from Camino del Sol Park to the Sept. 11 Oxnard City Council meeting. Led by a troupe of Aztec dancers and a squad of uniformed National Brown Berets, the procession wound their way through the Colonia neighborhood toward City Hall.

Drawn, perhaps, by the reverberating drumbeat, dozens of residents along the way stepped out to lend their support. Others looked on in bewilderment.

Tuesday's march was organized by Colectivo Todo Poder al Pueblo (All Power to the People Collective). The group led a similar march from Plaza Park to the Community Relations Commission meeting on Aug. 20, in response to accusations of brutality on behalf of the Oxnard Police Department following the death of Robert Ramirez, a 26-year-old Oxnard resident, on June 24.

Several of Ramirez's relatives and Colectivo supporters spoke out during the public comments segment of the Aug. 20 meeting.

"We want the community to have the power to fine anybody who touches unjustly or harasses our youth in our community," said Francisco Romero, a Colectivo organizer and 2006 candidate for City Council. "The time has come."


Chicago mayor, striking teachers reach "agreement in principle"

© Reuters/John Gress
Members of the Chicago Teachers Union carry placards outside the Benito Juarez High School on the fifth day of their strike in Chicago September 14, 2012.
The Chicago Teachers Union and the nation's third largest school district reached an "agreement in principle" to end a five-day strike over Mayor Rahm Emanuel's demand for education reforms, the school district said on Friday, raising hopes that teachers would be back in class on Monday.

"CPS (Chicago Public Schools) and CTU (Chicago Teachers Union) have come to an agreement in principle," the school district said in a message posted on Twitter.

Chicago School Board President David Vitale said the framework deal should allow students to be back in school on Monday morning.

More than 350,000 Chicago students marked a week off classes on Friday after some 29,000 Chicago teachers and support staff walked off the job over the education reforms.

The union's house of delegates, a larger consultative body than the negotiating team, was meeting on Friday afternoon to discuss the state of negotiations. It was not clear if they would vote on the agreement in principle.

The school district said the framework would first have to be approved by the union's delegates and then go to the full membership before it was final.

The teachers walked out on Monday in the first Chicago Teachers Union strike since 1987. It was the largest strike in the United States in a year and has galvanized the labor movement and exposed a rift within the Democratic Party over reforms of urban schools.