Michael Winter

Michael Winter writes for USA Today.

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Bodies of 7 Children Killed in NYC ‘Hotplate’ Fire Arrive in Israel

Mourners attend the funeral for seven children killed in a Brooklyn fire in New

Mourners attend the funeral for seven children killed in a Brooklyn fire in New York on March 22. Image via RNS/Reuters.

The bodies of seven children from an Orthodox Jewish family who died in a fire in their home in Brooklyn have arrived in Israel for burial, Israeli network Arutz Sheva, and The Associated Press reported March 23.

Funeral services for the four boys and three girls of the Sassoon family, ages 5 to 16, were held in Brooklyn on March 22, before their bodies were flown to Israel.

The family lived in Jerusalem, where the children are to be buried, before moving to the Midwood neighborhood of Brooklyn two years ago. A friend said the family had planned to return to Israel to live.

Authorities identified the victims as girls Eliane, 16; Rivkah, 11; and Sara, 6; and boys David, 12; Yeshua, 10; Moshe, 8; and Yaakob, 5. All were found in upstairs bedrooms of the two-story, brick-and-wood, single-family home after the blaze — the city’s deadliest fire since 2007 — was reported early March 21.

Their 45-year-old mother, Gayle, a Brooklyn native, and 14-year-old sister, Tzipara, who jumped from a second-story window, remained in critical condition.

Turkish Official: Women Shouldn't Laugh in Public

by Michael Winter 07-30-2014

Bülent Arınç is one of the State Ministers of Turkey and Vice-Prime Minister. Creative Commons image by Chatham House.

Many Turkish women were doubled over with laughter Tuesday after their country’s deputy leader said in a speech assailing “moral corruption” that women should not laugh in public and should not talk on their mobile phones so much.

Speaking Monday night at a celebration marking the end of Ramadan, Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc took aim at contemporary life in Turkey, arguing for more chastity, humility, and reading of the Quran and less consumerism, oil consumption, and sex in the media, the Hurriyet Daily News reported.

Social media lit up as news of the speech spread, with hundreds of Turkish women posting photos of themselves and friends laughing in public places. Popular hashtags included #kahkaha (laugh) and #direnkahkaha (resist, laugh).

The Hurriyet Daily News offered this excerpt from Arinc’s remarks: “Chastity is so important. It is not only a name. It is an ornament for both women and men. [She] will have chasteness. Man will have it, too. He will not be a womanizer. He will be bound to his wife. He will love his children. [The woman] will know what is haram [sin] and not haram. She will not laugh in public. She will not be inviting in her attitudes and will protect her chasteness.”

Utah to Appeal Gay Marriage Case to Supreme Court

by Michael Winter 07-10-2014
Creative Commons image by Lbrcomm

Sean Reyes is the 21st Attorney General of Utah. Creative Commons image by Lbrcomm

The Utah attorney general announced Wednesday that he will go straight to the U.S. Supreme Court to challenge an appellate ruling that declared the state’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional.

Attorney General Sean Reyes decided to leapfrog the full 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver after a three-judge panel last month upheld a lower-court ruling and declared that the U.S. Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection and due process extend to gay men and lesbians who want to marry. It was the first time a federal appeals court had ruled on the issue.

Besides Utah, the June 25 decision applies to Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Wyoming, but the circuit court put its ruling on hold, pending appeals.

Pregnant Pakistani Woman Stoned to Death by Her Family

by Michael Winter 05-29-2014

Farzana Parveen, 25, was beaten to death on May 27 near the high court in Lahore, Pakistan. Creative Commons photo by Omer Wazir

As a crowd watched outside a courthouse, the family of a pregnant Pakistani woman beat her to death Tuesday because she married the man she loved instead of her cousin.

The 25-year-old woman’s father, brother, and spurned fiance were among about a dozen male relatives who used bricks and clubs in the so-called honor killing of Farzana Parveen for disobeying her family’s wishes. She suffered massive head injuries and was pronounced dead at a hospital.

Lahore police charged her father, Mohammad Azeem, with murder, and the others were being sought. Azeem told police he helped kill his daughter because she had shamed the family.

“I killed my daughter as she had insulted all of our family by marrying a man without our consent, and I have no regret over it,” police investigator Rana Mujahid quoted him as saying.

Parveen was attacked as she and her husband, Mohammad Iqbal, arrived at the gates of the Lahore High Court. They went there to dispute charges brought by her father that Iqbal had kidnapped Parveen, who had been engaged to her cousin for several years.

Indonesian Woman Gang-raped, Faces Caning for Adultery

by Michael Winter 05-08-2014

Islamic religious police in Indonesia plan to publicly flog a 25-year-old widow and a married man for adultery after vigilantes gang-raped her as punishment for having extramarital sex, according to media reports.

The woman and her paramour, a 40-year-old father of five, were surprised late Wednesday by seven men and a 13-year-old boy who barged into her home in Aceh, which is the only province to enforce the system of Islamic law known as Shariah, the Sydney Morning Herald reported Tuesday, citing The Jakarta Globe.

The group tied up and beat the man, repeatedly raped the woman and poured raw sewage over them before taking the couple to the local Shariah police.

Fla. Man Gets Prison for Abortion-pill Miscarriage

by Michael Winter 01-28-2014

Judge's gavel on a brown table. Via: Shutterstock / sergign

The son of a Florida fertility doctor was sentenced Monday to nearly 14 years in federal prison for duping his pregnant girlfriend into taking medication that caused her to abort her 6-week-old fetus.

John Andrew Welden, 29, had pleaded guilty in September to forging a prescription for Cytotec, the brand name for misoprostol, in March 2013, which he relabeled as the common antibiotic amoxicillin. He convinced his former lover, Remee Jo Lee, that she had an infection and needed to take the antibiotic he claimed his father had prescribed. She miscarried within hours.

Welden, of Lutz, near Tampa, was sentenced to 13 years, eight months in a minimum-security facility, four months less than what prosecutors had sought in exchange for dropping a murder charge.

Woman Charged with Paint Vandalism at Washington National Cathedral

by Michael Winter 07-30-2013
Photo courtesy Washington National Cathedral.

The Bethlehem Chapel and Organwere defaced with green paint. Photo courtesy Washington National Cathedral.

Washington police arrested a 58-year-old woman after two chapels in the Washington National Cathedral were defaced with green paint Monday afternoon.

The arrest follows similar vandalism Friday to the Lincoln Memorial and a statue near the Smithsonian Castle on the National Mall. Police are testing paint samples to determine whether the three incidents are connected.

Police charged Tian Jiamel, who has no permanent address, with one count of defacing property.

U.S. Park Police investigators questioned her Monday night. Two police officials told The Washington Post that federal police had been seeking an Asian female who was possibly homeless.

State Bill Calls Abortion After Rape ‘Evidence Tampering’

by Michael Winter 01-25-2013
New Mexico State Capitol Building,  Ffooter / Shutterstock.com

New Mexico State Capitol Building, Ffooter / Shutterstock.com

A New Mexico lawmaker has drawn fire for proposing legislation to classify an abortion after a sexual assault as “tampering with evidence.”

Critics pounced on House Bill 206, introduced Wednesday by Republican state Rep. Cathrynn N. Brown, saying victims of sexual assault could be charged with a felony if they sought an abortion after rape or incest. But Brown said Thursday that the legislation was aimed at attackers, not victims.

“House Bill 206 was never intended to punish or criminalize rape victims,” Brown said in a statement. “Its intent is solely to deter rape and cases of incest. The rapist — not the victim — would be charged with tampering of evidence.”

“New Mexico needs to strengthen its laws to deter sex offenders,” the statement added. “By adding this law in New Mexico, we can help to protect women across our state.”

Brown said she would amend her legislation to make the intent clearer, the Albuquerque Journal reported.

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