Society's ChildS

Heart - Black

Batman 'Joker' child-killer claims 'no choice'

Kim De Gelder
An artist's impression of Kim De Gelder on the first day of his trial at Gent's courthouse on February 22, 2013.
A nursery killer who carried out murders disguised as Batman villain 'The Joker' told a court on Monday he was left "no choice" but to stab to death two toddlers and their minder at a Belgian creche -- despite saying he knew murder was wrong.

"I was aware that you should not (kill) but I did not see any other choice," Kim De Gelder told the court in Ghent, which is considering whether the 24-year-old can be held responsible for his knife rampage.

"I was pushed towards this choice, perhaps from outside. It came directly," De Gelder said in reply to lengthy questioning by the presiding judge.

De Gelder is charged with killing the two infants and their 54-year-old carer in an attack on the Fable Land nursery in the town of Dendermonde in January 2009, as well as the attempted murder of 22 others at the creche -- including 16 babies and toddlers.

De Gelder is further charged with murdering an elderly woman in a separate attack a week earlier.

The court must determine whether De Gelder can be considered sane or not. On Friday, his lawyer told the 12 jurors his client was a paranoid schizophrenic who "is irresponsible and cannot be punished."

Just after the release of cult 2008 Batman movie The Dark Knight, De Gelder entered the nursery with his hair dyed red and his face painted white with black around his eyes -- like the film's villain 'The Joker,' as played by the late Australian actor Heath Ledger.

Last year, US youth James Holmes was accused of killing 12 people and wounding 58 in a cinema screening the sequel of the film.


Sequestration: Canadians will feel the pinch from automatic U.S. spending cuts

© The Canadian Press
Are you having trouble getting your head around this thing called sequestration?

America's TV talking heads and political bloggers are getting people south of the border jittery as the first round of automatic federal budget cuts - about US$85 billion - take effect later this week.

But why should we care up here in Canada? Here's why. Do you like to scoot across the border to shop for bargains? Well, scooting's out. Expect longer waits - maybe hours - to get through customs as border points face reduced staffing.

Planning an air trip? Closure of some U.S. air traffic control centres will tangle airline schedules and force cancellation of flights, which given the interlinked nature of the world's air-travel system, will inevitably ripple into Canada, The Canadian Press reports. U.S. customs pre-clearance centres at airports could also be closed down.

Businesses are expected to feel the effect as well with a reduction in customs services as 8,000 positions are cut to meet government-mandated budget targets.

Eye 2

New York City woman: Husband wanted to kill me, eat others

© AP Photo/Elizabeth Williams
The estranged wife of a New York City police officer struggled to keep her composure Monday as she testified about discovering shocking emails and other evidence on his computer showing he had discussed killing her and abducting, torturing and eating other women.

"I was going to be tied up by my feet and my throat slit and they were going to watch the blood drain out of me," Kathleen Mangan-Valle told a Manhattan jury.

Mangan-Valle, 27, also read about plans to put one friend in a suitcase, wheel her out of her building and murder her. Two other women were "going to be raped in front of each other to heighten their fears," while another was going to be roasted alive over an open fire, she said.

"The suffering was for his enjoyment and he wanted to make it last as long as possible," she said.

Mangan-Valle broke down in tears several times, but the emotional peak of the day came when a defense attorney showed her pictures of Officer Gilberto Valle in uniform feeding their newborn daughter, prompting both she and Valle to openly weep as the judge sent the jury away for an afternoon break.

Eye 1

Federal trial of "Cannibal Cop" opens in New York

Gilberto Valle
Gilberto Valle
New York - Opening arguments were set to begin Monday afternoon in the federal trial of a New York City police officer accused of plotting last year with a New Jersey man to kidnap, cook and eat a Manhattan woman.

Officer Gilberto Valle says he was simply engaged in online role playing on a website for fans of violent sexual fetishes, and that he never intended to actually commit a crime.

In pre-trial hearings, prosecutors have quoted from a flurry of emails the pair traded last year, in which they appear to discuss the plot in great detail.

Valle, 28, and New Jersey mechanic Michael Van Hise, 22, mused over how to keep the victim alive until she could be cooked.

In one email, Valle warned Van Hise he needed "to definitely make sure" one purported target would not be found.

"She will definitely make news," the email said.

Light Saber

Iceland seeks internet pornography ban

Country to examine ways to prevent citizens accessing violent or degrading content but critics are uneasy about censorship

In the age of the internet and globe-spanning viral videos, can a thoroughly wired country become a porn-free zone? Authorities in Iceland want to find out.

The government is drafting plans to ban pornography, in print and online, in an attempt to protect children from a tide of violent sexual imagery.

The proposal by the interior minister, Ogmundur Jonasson, has caused uproar. Opponents say the move will censor the web, encourage authoritarian regimes and undermine Iceland's reputation as a Scandinavian bastion of free speech.

Advocates say it is a sensible measure that will shelter children from serious harm.


Lowell snow plow driver fired for posting a video of himself burying parked cars and bragging about it

A screenshot of the video before it was taken off YouTube.
A snow plow driver in Lowell was fired Friday for posting a video of himself burying parked cars and bragging about it during the blizzard earlier this month.

The driver, who would only identify himself as Dogg, told WBZ-TV he lost his job plowing for a contractor for the city after the YouTube video was broadcast on local television.

The clip was taken down from the site late Friday morning.

He shot the video through his windshield while he was driving his plow in the Lowell area during the February 8-9 blizzard.

"At the end of the storm, I was already up for about 22 hours plowing and I decided to make a video of my favorite part of the day, which is when you push the snow banks back to the curbs," he told the Karlson & McKenzie show on WZLX Friday morning, before he was fired.


California girl, 13, accused of stabbing peer for bag of chips

Fresno, California - A California middle-school student in Armona has been charged in the stabbing of another student.

A 13-year-old girl from Armona, located in the South Valley, has been charged with assault with a deadly weapon.

The Kings County District Attorney's Office says she also faces another charge for using a knife. Kings County Sheriff's deputies say the girl stabbed a 13-year-old boy after he stole a bag of chips from her lunch.

She claims she only meant to "poke" him and was joking around.

The girl is expected to be arraigned on the charges Monday morning in Kings County Juvenile Hall.

Source: KFSN-TV

Heart - Black

9-year-old boy commits suicide after racial bullying

© CatersAaron Dugmore
The devastated family of a nine-year-old boy who hanged himself say he took his life after racist taunts by Asian bullies.

Aaron Dugmore - thought to be one of Britain's youngest suicides after bullying - was found in his bedroom after months of jibes at school, they claim.

His family say that Aaron was threatened with a plastic knife by one Asian pupil - who warned him: "Next time it will be a real one."

But despite complaints to the school, where 75 per cent of pupils come from ethnic backgrounds, they claim nothing was done to stop the bullying.

Heartbroken mum Kelly-Marie Dugmore is convinced the taunts led to her son killing himself two weeks ago. She sobbed: "We are not racist people. Aaron got on with all the children at his last school, and for him to have been bullied because of the colour of his skin makes me feel sick to my stomach."

Aaron joined Erdington Hall primary in Birmingham last September after the family moved nearby. But Kelly-Marie, 30, and stepdad Paul Jones, 43, noticed a change in him from his first day.

Bizarro Earth

Homeless New Yorker sues parents for making him feel 'unloved and beaten by the world'

A homeless New York man is suing his parents for $200,000 for allegedly not loving him enough.

"They aren't supportive, they're emotionally abusive, verbally abusive," 32-year-old Bernard Bey told WINS-FM. "We don't have a family bond that a family should have."

Bey's suit calls for his stepfather and mother, Bernard and Vickie Manley, to mortgage their home in Bedford-Stuyvesant in order to open a Domino's Pizza franchise.

According to WNBC-TV, Bey's lawsuit, filed on Thursday in Kings County in Brooklyn, accuses his parents of subjecting him to mental anguish and making him feel "unloved and beaten by the world."

Arrow Down

Violence against women an epidemic

Oscar Pistorius
© Themba Hadebe/APOlympic athlete Oscar Pistorius stands in the dock during his bail hearing in Pretoria, South Africa, on Friday. Pistorius was granted bail but still faces a murder charge in the shooting death of his girlfriend.
The headlines this past week made us want to scream in outrage.

The Oscar Pistorius murder case in South Africa; rape in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; gang rapes in India; Pakistan acid attacks, and missing and murdered aboriginal women in Canada. Each news item was served up by reporters and anchors as a separate, isolated story. In fact they are all different versions of the same story, told over and over again, night after night, from one country to the next.

Why do we treat all these disparate threads around the world as unrelated events? According to UNIFEM, one in three women - one billion members of our human population - will be raped or beaten in her lifetime. It's time to wake up, connect the dots, and realize that violence against women is a global problem on the scale of climate change or world food shortages.

It is for the courts to decide Pistorius' guilt or innocence in the murder of his girlfriend, but the case highlights the broader problem of violence against women in South Africa. We spend two to three months of every year working in Africa, including numerous visits to South Africa, and we hear from our friends there the story behind the story. Last year, almost 65,000 sexual offences were reported to South African police, who estimate a woman is raped there every 36 seconds.