I’m going to imitate Dakinikat and “go local” today. I’m so sick and tired of the national news–school shootings, the campus rape problem, big banks controlling Congress, and “journalists” trying to force Elizabeth Warren to run for president so they can spend the next two years humiliating Hillary Clinton. Oh, and calling Warren the “Ted Cruz of the left”?!
Maybe you heard about this already, but I just think it’s so cool. The old Massachusetts State House in Boston (built in 1713) has been undergoing renovations recently. In October, workers found a time capsule dating from 1901 inside the head of a copper lion statue that, along with a statue of a unicorn was perched on top of the old building.
From CNN: 113-year-old time capsule found in Boston.
The Bostonian Society didn’t — or couldn’t — fully divulge the 113-year-old time capsule’s contents, explaining that “the process of extracting documents that are old and probably fragile will need to be slow and careful.” But a Boston Globe article from February 24, 1901, detailed what went into the box, which the story predicted would “prove interesting when the box is opened many years hence.”
According to the Globe, the box included the photographs and autographs of local statesmen such as Massachusetts Gov. Winthrop M. Crane and Boston Mayor Thomas Norton Hart, as well as news clippings of the day from several city newspapers and even a “letter to posterity from the reporters of the Boston Daily newspapers assigned to City Hall.”
It also included a photograph of the “5th Massachusetts Regiment on its way to Framingham to be mustered in as U.S. volunteers for service in the war against Spain,” as well as “campaign buttons for McKinley, Roosevelt and John D. Long for vice president.”
The box was sealed inside the lion’s head by Samuel Rogers, a local coppersmith who was part of the crew renovating the nearly 200-year-old State House. Although the occasion was detailed in the city’s largest newspaper, the Bostonian Society said its current staff was unaware of the time capsule until they received a letter from a descendent [sic] of Rogers alerting them to it.
The lion and unicorn statues were restored and returned to the top of the old State House in November.
On Thursday, another time capsule was unearthed in Boston–this at the new State House–and it was put there more than 200 years ago.
From The Boston Globe: Revere-Era Time Capsule Uncovered at The State House.
The 219-year-old capsule— a green box believed to contain Revere-era items— was concealed by Governor Samuel Adams, Paul Revere, and William Scollay when the building was constructed in 1795….
Museum of Fine Arts Conservator Pam Hatchfield was chipping away at the stone block concealing the capsule this morning when the coins fell from the cornerstone. Reporters at the site described one of the coins as “silver-colored” but “not legible.” The box, which was discovered during building maintenance, is expected to be completely unearthed by Thursday afternoon.
But this isn’t the first time the capsule has surfaced. The Boston Globe reported that the box was discovered amidst emergency repairs to the building in 1855, and was returned to its spot following the construction, remaining unopened.
More details from another Globe article from Thursday:
After a full day spent lying on her back on a muddy wooden plank, chipping with painstaking care at the underside of a stone block to free the time capsule hidden within, Museum of Fine Arts conservator Pam Hatchfield sat up in front of the State House to a round of applause, a green box held delicately in her hands.
“I feel happy and relieved. And excited. And really interested to see what’s in this box,” she said Thursday night, after posing for a selfie with the capsule for her mom. The extrication took more than seven hours and involved about a dozen workers….
“Hopefully there will be no damage and we will be able to observe the artifacts that trace us back to the history not only just of this building, but of our Commonwealth and our country,” said Secretary of State William Galvin, who was on hand for the capsule’s first appearance in more than 150 years.
The capsule is believed to include a collection of silver and copper coins dating from between 1652 and 1855; an engraved silver plate; newspapers; the seal of the Commonwealth; cards; and a title page from the Massachusetts Colony Records, according to Meghan Kelly, a spokeswoman for the Executive Office of Administration and Finance.
Hatchfield, who is head of Objects Conservation at the Museum of Fine Arts, said the corroded copper alloy box that holds the collection was undamaged by the removal process, and appeared to be in good shape. It was a little smaller than a cigar box and, she said, heavier than she expected.
The box was taken by State Police escort to the Museum of Fine Arts, where Hatchfield said it will be X-rayed to determine the contents.
There’s much more at the link if you’re interested. We should learn more about what is in the box next week. The box will eventually be reburied, perhaps with a few items from 2014 included.
See lots more photos at The Daily Mail: America’s oldest time capsule unearthed at Boston statehouse after being buried in 1795 by Sam Adams and Paul Revere. Below is a photo of Pam Hatchfield holding the box after she unearthed it.
A few more Boston stories–hope I’m not boring you too much.
Here’s why only rich people can afford to live in downtown Boston these days: Boston real estate assessments eclipse $100 billion for first time.
It’s official. Boston is a $100 billion city.
With the real estate market surging, the total estimated value of its residential and commercial property jumped over that threshold for the first time and has climbed to a total of $110 billion, according to a new city assessment.
The increase will mean significantly higher tax bills for many property owners next year, although the extent of those increases will not be known until tax rates are set in the coming days….
In total, the assessed value of the city’s real estate has more than doubled in 12 years.
Although Boston has some of the highest-priced property in the country, its total value remains much lower than larger cities such as New York, where assessors tabulated more than $900 billion in property last year.
Still, Boston is growing at a rapid clip, with millions of square feet of buildings under construction. Commercial and residential real estate markets have come alive. More than $10 billion in commercial buildings changed hands during the first nine months of the year, according to the real estate firm JLL. That’s already more than double the $4.7 billion sold last year.
A similar pattern has occurred in the residential market, with prices rising sharply in many neighborhoods. The average selling price of condominiums in the downtown Boston area rose to $830,000 this fall, a 16 percent increase from a year earlier.
So for the superrich, the economy is surging in Boston, but it will be difficult for small businesses to keep paying their rising property tax bills.
Here’s really silly Boston story–so ridiculous that it made the national news.
From USA Today: Harvard prof flips over $4 Chinese food overcharge.
A Boston-area Chinese restaurant charging $1 more per plate than it advertises on its online menu may have served the wrong guy — a Harvard Business School professor specializing in online advertising fraud who wasted no time in pulling out the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Statute and threatening legal action. According to a lengthy e-mail exchange published by the Boston Globe, Ben Edelman is seriously agitated, and though the mom-and-pop shop only overcharged him $4, he says it’s the principle….
The restaurant, Sichuan Garden, appears to have thus far complied with Ben Edelman’s requests, including refunding him $12 (three times what he was overcharged) and updating the online menu to reflect actual prices. Ran Duan, who tends bar at the restaurant for his parents, recently told Boston.com:
“I personally respond to every complaint and try to handle every situation personally. … I have worked so hard to make my family proud and to elevate our business. [This exchange] just broke my heart.”
This battle actually escalated to the point where Edelman threatened a lawsuit against the restaurant unless they refund three times the amount they had overcharged him.
Globe columnist Hilary Sargent published the exchange of e-mails between Edelman and Duan in this article: Ben Edelman, Harvard Business School Professor, Goes to War Over $4 Worth of Chinese Food. Next, Sargent found out that Edelman “Did This Before, And Worse.”
Boston.com received a tip from a “former manager” of a “Back Bay sushi restaurant,” who stated that he had read the Edelman email exchange published on this site, and that when “it sounded familiar” he realized he had seen a similar email exchange several years prior.
The restaurant manager declined to give his name or the name of the restaurant, but described both emails and phone calls with Ben Edelman over a dispute related to the use of a Groupon promotion.
We were then sent copies of several emails exchanged in August 2010 between Ben Edelman and Osushi Restaurant management.
Boston.com confirmed the authenticity of these emails with Tim Panagopoulos, one of three partners who owned and operated Osushi, which has since closed.
Check out those e-mails at the above link.
Next, Hilary Sargent ran into trouble. From BostInno on Thursday: The HBS Professor Chinese Food Saga Took a Weird Turn Last Night.
Harvard Business School Professor Ben Edelman may have gone way, way too far over a $4 billing mistake at Brookline Chinese restaurant Sichuan Garden. But on Wednesday evening, Boston.com posted an article claiming it appeared that Edelman—after apologizing for his actions on his website—may have taken things into far more shameful territory by sending a message to the restaurant containing a racial slur.
Ooops! Turns out Sargent hadn’t actually confirmed that the slur came from Edelman. On top of that Sargent (who is somewhat young and inexperienced) had a T-shirt made that mocked the HBS prof. That was apparently too much for the Globe, and Sargent has been suspended for a week.
Boston.com deputy editor Hilary Sargent has been suspended for one week in connection with a T-shirt she designed—and then tweeted about—that mocked a Harvard Business School professor at the center of an ongoing story she was covering.
That’s the word from multiple sources familiar with the decision.
Word is that the suspension isn’t related to an article that Sargent retracted on Wednesday with an acknowledgment that its facts couldn’t be verified. Details weren’t immediately available about whether the suspension comes with pay or not.
Both the retracted article and the T-shirt pertained to Harvard Business School professor Ben Edelman and his long-winded reaction to a billing mix-up at a Brookline restaurant, Sichuan Garden. Sargent posted the initial story on the incident as well as a series of follow-up articles, which have had wide readership.
One more silly Boston story and then I’m done. Actress Amy Poehler, who grew up in the Boston area, told Buzzfeed that she thinks Boston accents are “just disgusting.” Well, they are kind of grating, but after living here for close to 50 years, I’ve developed an affection for them. I think it’s interesting how each people in different sections of the city have slightly different accents. The same is true of people in the various cities and towns in Massachusetts. There is a distinctive Cambridge accent that differs slightly from the accents found in Somerville, Medford, or Malden.
According to The Boston Globe (via Medium), the Boston accent also won a “worst accent” competition at Gawker.
I’ll be honest. I never heard of Amy Poehler until I read about this; and I don’t think I’d like her that much, because she also hates Halloween. She’s dead to me now.
I know there’s plenty of horrible news out there. Feel free to link to your favorite horror stories, and I’ll share a few of my own in the comment thread.
Have a great weekend, Sky Dancers!!
Friday Nite Lite: #CalhounYellowJackets Win Georgia High School Football State Championship; Let’s Not Forget The #RapeCulture That Is Associated With This TeamPosted: December 12, 2014
Just a reminder not to forget the victim in that rape from spring of this year.
And your cartoons for tonight…
This is an open thread.
I have to keep it short today because I’ve got a lot of work to finish up within a week and I’m just about to collapse. Well, I actually I have a few times. I fell asleep mid-day for two days in a row now.
Still, I’ve kept a jaundiced eye on a lame duck congress who still hasn’t dealt with the financial obligations of the country. The same guys that vote for crap for their political sponsors and for world wide war just can’t seem to come up with the balls to pay their bills. Republican voters have condemned us to rolling rocks up mountains and just waiting for the inevitable crush. How can you hate your own country that much?
House Republican leaders are skating on thin ice with the government funding bill, facing stiff opposition from the left and the right that threatens passage just hours before a midnight deadline to avert a shutdown.
GOP leaders temporarily recessed the House and postponed a final vote scheduled for the afternoon, while informing members to be ready to vote.
“Leadership teams are still talking to their respective Members. A vote is still planned for this afternoon,” a House Republican leadership aide said.
Republicans long expected some opposition from their right flank due to the fact that the $1.1 trillion spending bill doesn’t block President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration. What has thrown the plan into chaos is that numerous House Democrats are defecting over extraneous policy provisions that would weaken derivative trading rules on big banks and loosen campaign finance laws. The bill likely will need significant Democratic support to pass.
The Democratic opposition is being led by Rep. Chris Van Hollen (MD) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (MA), who call the bank provision a giveaway to Wall Street.
According to multiple sources, the legislation was negotiated by GOP and Democratic leaders in the House and Senate. House Democratic leaders stress that they don’t support all the provisions in the bill but want to keep the government open. They say they are not whipping against the bill.
The White House came out for the bill after it cleared a test vote in the House by a narrow 214-212 margin earlier on Thursday. It said it objects to the weakening of Wall Street reform but signaled Obama would sign the bill anyway.
Republicans just won’t pay the bills unless Democrats agree to blow something up. It’s ridiculous. We’ve got a new political term for the lexicon. It’s a “Cromnibus” bill. It tries to tear apart what little Wall Street oversight regulation we’ve put through since the global financial crisis on Wall Street and Banks. It also increases the amount of money that an individual can give to a political party. So, we can either destroy our country now by not funding its debt and by not running our government or we can destroy it with more incentives to the financial gambling industry and to billionaire party sponsors.
The $1.014 trillion spending measure has been criticized for easing rules on campaign finance and the banking industry. But its supporters say it’s also a bipartisan deal that would fund most of the U.S. government until next October.
Disagreement over the bill forced the final vote to be delayed for hours Thursday. It also created unlikely alliances: The White House joined with House Speaker John Boehner to rally support for the measure, most House Democrats agreed with a small group of Republicans – including Rep. Michele Bachmann – that the bill should be rejected.
As we noted when the bill was agreed upon and published on Tuesday, the House was slated to hold the first vote on the spending bill Thursday, with the Senate to follow.
You can read the bill, broken down by government agency, on the House Appropriations Committee site.
The legislation was nicknamed “cromnibus” because it combines the traditional sweeping scope of an omnibus spending bill with a continuing resolution (CR). While it would fund most of the government until the next financial year, the Department of Homeland Security would only be funded through February, in a move that seeks to limit President Obama’s recent executive actions on immigration.
Another part of the measure would vastly increase the maximum amount of money a contributor can give to a political party.
“Right now a person can give just under $100,000 a year to a party through its various committees,” NPR’s Ailsa Chang reports on All Things Considered. “And under this bill, that cap goes up to almost $800,000.”
Shortly after noon Thursday, the bill squeezed by in the rules vote, 214-212, after Republican leaders including Speaker John Boehner and Chief Deputy Whip Patrick McHenry, walked the floor to bolster support, NPR’s Juana Summers reports.
After no Democrats voted in favor and more than a dozen Republicans defected to vote against, the House was adjourned so Boehner could organize his support.
So, as of yesterday afternoon, here were the poison pills. This bill had Elizabeth Warren hopping mad. Please go check that they were basically a Grinch to the poor while giving the rich enough presents that elephants should be blushing.
In addition to spending appropriations, the bill includes changes to various laws that are known as “policy riders.” One of these is drawing sharp criticism from Democrats and financial industry watchdogs. The Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform package passed in 2010 on how banks that receive taxpayer backing can use high-risk financial instruments known as a swaps, which were a key driver of the last financial crisis. Banks and other financial companies the “swaps pushout rule,” which has been praised as a crucial component of the reform law by the White House, Sen. (D-MA), and Bush-era banking regulator .
In addition to spending appropriations, the bill includes changes to various laws that are known as “policy riders.” One of these is drawing sharp criticism from Democrats and financial industry watchdogs. The Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform package passed in 2010 put new limits on how banks that receive taxpayer backing can use high-risk financial instruments known as a swaps, which were a key driver of the last financial crisis. Banks and other financial companies hate the “swaps pushout rule,” which has been praised as a crucial component of the reform law by the White House, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Bush-era banking regulator Sheila Bair.
The cromnibus repeals the swaps pushout rule. Americans for Financial Reform and the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights blasted the move as “a backroom deal buried deep in a stopgap government funding measure” that will increase the risks taxpayers and the economy face. Former Rep. Barney Frank called it “a terrible violation of the procedure that should be followed on this complex and important subject, and a frightening precedent that provides a road map for further attacks on our protection against financial instability.”
Compared to repealing the swaps rule, Congress’ second gift to the financial industry is a mere stocking stuffer. But it will have long-term consequences for public oversight of risky Wall Street behavior. The bill gives the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) a $250 million budget, which is $65 million less than what the White House asked for and $30 million less than the maximum CFTC budget that would have been allowed under last year’s long-term budget deal. While the CFTC number is an increase over previous years, the bill requires the agency to spend $50 million of the budget on information technology. The agency needs to upgrade its systems to perform its vast new responsibilities under Dodd-Frank reform, so the tech money is welcome in a sense. But it also needs way more money for staff than is allowed under the cromnibus budget. The bill won’t require layoffs at the CFTC, but it will prevent the agency from staffing up in the coming year to keep up with its growing role in regulating the financial industry, a Democratic staffer close to the negotiations told ThinkProgress. Departing CFTC commissioners have been saying for years that the agency is understaffed, and employee morale is dangerously low at the agency already according to press reports.
While several controversial policy riders were quickly discovered, it was the change to Dodd-Frank that generated the loudest outcry.
The provision would no longer require that big banks separate trades in financial derivatives from traditional bank accounts, which are backed by the government through the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). The derivatives played a key role in the financial collapse.
Critics argue the change would leave taxpayers on the hook if trades explode. Former Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) called it a “stealth attack” on his namesake achievement.
Still, it’s unclear whether the opposition from Warren, Frank and others will persuade House Democrats to risk a government shutdown by voting against the bill.
Even vocal critics in the Senate of the provision, such as Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), stopped short of promising to oppose it.
The White House, similarly, is not saying whether President Obama would sign the cromnibus, though White House press secretary Josh Earnest said he was “pleased” to see a bill produced.
The change to the Dodd-Frank law has enjoyed bipartisan support in the past.
Republicans and 70 House Democrats voted for a version of the tweak in 2013, with most arguing it would boost economic growth and lessen the regulatory burdens on banks.
“There’s huge misunderstandings about what this thing says,” said Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.), who was an early sponsor of the original House bill.
Himes argued that the most dangerous derivatives would still be kept away from government-backed banks under the provision, and that banks would only be allowed to trade “plain vanilla” interest rate swaps.
The House on Thursday approved a $1.1 trillion bill funding most of the government through September despite an outcry from Democrats and significant defections in both parties.
By a vote of 219-216, the House sent the bill to the Senate, where a similar debate may break out between liberal Democrats and the White House.
The vote split Democratic leaders, with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) opposing the bill and criticizing the White House, but Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) backing it. Fifty-seven Democrats voted for the bill, while 139 opposed it.
Hoyer said it was “better to pass it than to defeat it.”
Democrats objected to changes to the Wall Street reform bill that were included in the 1,600-page bill, and many were unswayed by a last-ditch White House lobbying push.
Conservative Republicans, meanwhile, opposed the bill for not doing more to curtail President Obama’s executive actions on immigration. While 162 Republicans voted for the bill, 67 rejected it.
For much of the afternoon and evening, the bill looked to be at death’s door as a government shutdown loomed at midnight.
The bill’s passage, as a result, was a remarkable victory for both Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and President Obama, who were able to cobble together the votes for passage.
The so-called “cromnibus” included an omnibus of 11 appropriations bills funding most of the government through September, and a continuing resolution funding the Department of Homeland Security through Feb. 27.
“This plan was put together after consultation with our members,” Boehner told reporters Thursday morning. “And we worked through this process in a bipartisan, bicameral way.”
He implored his members to back it: “Listen, if we don’t get finished today, we’re going to be here until Christmas.”
GOP leaders suspended debate on the floor for hours as the White House made a push to win over Democrats.
House Democrats have long-been agitated with the White House and its outreach efforts, but they’ve largely kept the grumbling behind closed doors and off the record.
With the arrival of the “cromnibus” debate — and Obama’s backing of the package — the frustrations spilled over.
Pelosi, rarely a public critic of the president, minced no words in denouncing the “cromnibus” — and Obama’s support for it.
Yes, you read that right. The President supported and also lobbied for the cromnibus despite it containing some really really awful things. Pelosi turned on the President. It passed by 1 voted. Yup, that’s right ONE VOTE. The Senate just gave itself 2 days to pass the monster. Oh, btw, the part about giving more money to political parties? That’s the REID-Boehner Bill. You won’t believe what got slipped into this 1600 page budget bill.
If anything, Thursday’s tumult highlighted the disconnect between Obama and congressional Democrats. Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic leader, came out in strong opposition to the measure even as Obama was pressing her members to back it.
Democrats aligned with Pelosi took issue with policy provisions added to the bill addressing campaign finance reform and a key provision of the financial overhaul.
“This bill puts a big bow on a holiday gift for the Wall Street contributors who get special treatment in the provisions of this bill,” Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, said ahead of the vote. “It’s all about stuffing the silk stockings, and these people want to gamble with our money.”
Conservative Republicans, meanwhile, fought the bill because they were angry that it didn’t combat Obama’s executive action on immigration.
We are so screwed. What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Thursday Reads: Did Nepotism at The Washington Post Contribute to Irresponsible Reporting on the UVA Rape Story?Posted: December 11, 2014
Have you ever wondered how extremely young men are able to get jobs at elite newspapers like The Washington Post right out of college?
Take for example T. Rees Shapiro, who has led the charge to not only discredit the Rolling Stone story on the problem of rape on the University of Virginia campus but also efforts to dismiss and humiliate Jackie, one of the women interviewed by Rolling Stone writer Sabrina Rubin Erdley .
However flawed the Rolling Stone article may have been, it was about much more than Jackie’s story. It illustrated a culture of minimization of rape that had existed had UVA for at least 30 years, in which women who reported being sexually assaulted were discouraged from going to the police, their complaints were not treated seriously, and accused perpetrators were not seriously investigated or punished.
Shapiro’s career has been greatly enhanced by his dismantling of Jackie’s story about a violent rape that allegedly took place in 2012. As a consequence of his efforts to dismantle Jackie’s story, T. Rees Shapiro has appeared on numerous television programs and received praise from many quarters. Most likely his youth enabled Shapiro to con Jackie into trusting him enough to talk to him “several times.”
Last night, I decided to take a quick look at young Mr. Shapiro and his career development path. How did he get such an elite journalism job at the young age of 27?
In 2009, Shapiro graduated from Virginia Tech, where he wrote for the student newspaper. In 2010, he was hired by the Washington Post as a copy boy. He soon graduated to writing obituaries, and in 2010 became an education reporter for the Post.
Clearly T. Rees (Nicknamed “Trees,” get it?) is a real go-getter, but he also has connections. His father Leonard Shapiro was a sportswriter for The Washington Post for 38 years, and his mother Vicky Moon is a writer and photographer who is apparently a fixture in Virginia society. Would Shapiro have gotten the Washington Post job without those connections? Maybe, but I doubt it.
When he wrote about Jackie, Shapiro emphasized several times that she was using her “real nickname,” thus enabling trolls like Chuck C. Johnson to find her and try to publicly out her. Shapiro was also able to locate Jackie’s so-called “friends” and get their after-the-fact critiques of Jackie’s story. Shapiro doesn’t say whether Jackie told him she still considers these people to be her friends.
In his critiques of the Rolling Stone article and specifically of Jackie’s story, Shapiro chose not to write about the other women who were interviewed by author Sabrina Rubin Erdley or to get input from experts on rape and traumatic memory. Would a more mature reporter have done so, rather than simply picking apart Jackie’s story? Would a female education reporter have thought to do that?
Despite the Post’s attacks on Jackie, the University of Virginia does in fact have a rape problem. UVA is one of 86 schools being investigated by the Department of Education for mishandling rape complaints. Four Virginia schools are on the DEA list.
From Huffington Post in July: For Years, Students Have Accused Virginia Universities Of Botching Sexual Assault Cases.
Four universities in Virginia are currently being investigated by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights for possible Title IX violations specifically related to sexual violence — JMU, the University of Virginia, the College of William & Mary and the University of Richmond. Two other schools in the state, the Virginia Military Institute and Virginia Commonwealth University, faced Title IX reviews that concluded this spring….
Each of the investigations at the Virginia schools, like that at JMU, was sparked by federal complaints.
UVA’s investigation is unusual in that it started in 2011, but remains open. The Education Department declined to say why the investigation was so long-running, and noted “that some cases take longer than others due to the nature and complexity of the issues involved.”
In fact, UVA is one of only 12 schools that that the Department of Education has “flagged for a total compliance review.”
Another Washington Post reporter, Nick Anderson, writes that the inconsistencies in Jackie’s story will not end the federal investigation of UVA.
The University of Virginia was under the microscope for its handling of sexual assault cases long before Rolling Stone magazine weighed in with the account of a student who said she was gang-raped at a fraternity house.
The emergence of fresh questions about that account — including the fraternity issuing a rebuttal, doubts voiced by some who know the woman, and a statement from Rolling Stone’s managing editor on Friday acknowledging “discrepancies” in her version of events — will not suddenly cancel that scrutiny.
A federal investigation of U-Va.’s response to sexual violence, begun in June 2011, continues. It is one of the longest-running active probes of its kind in the nation. U-Va. remains one of the most prominent of about 90 colleges and universities facing such investigations by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.
Student and faculty activists for sexual assault prevention, given a national platform in recent days, are unlikely to let the issue fade away. Skeptics will still wonder why the university has not expelled anyone for sexual misconduct in the past decade. Parents of prospective applicants, also mindful of the slaying of sophomore Hannah Graham after she disappeared in September, still want assurances that the Charlottesville campus is safe.
Perhaps most important, University President Teresa A. Sullivan laid out a detailed road map this week for a comprehensive review of the campus culture, touching on sexual assault, alcohol, Greek life and university oversight.
Since rape on campus is such a huge issue, shouldn’t education reporters like T. Rees Shapiro be more knowledgeable about sexual assault and its traumatic effects? One journalist, Francesca Bessey thinks so.
From Huffington Post: Thought the Rolling Stone Article Was Bad? Try Other Rape Journalism. Here’s her assessment of the Washington Post coverage:
The actual discrepancies introduced by the Washington Post are few: one, the individual whom Jackie claimed brought her to the fraternity was apparently a member of a different fraternity; and, two, a student who allegedly came to Jackie’s aid claimed she initially gave a different account of what happened that night. The fraternity also released a statement denying knowledge of the assault, or that there was a social function the night Jackie believes she was assaulted.
For someone who knows little to nothing about rape, fraternities, or the contemporary college party scene — which unfortunately seems to characterize a lot of the coverage thus far — these discrepancies might initially seem like gaping holes in Jackie’s story.
However, as any medical professional or victim advocate will tell you, trauma-related memory inconsistencies are extraordinarily common in cases of sexual assault, often manifesting in the survivor describing the incident to first responders as less severe than it actually was. Such plasticity of memory is not unique to rape cases; the FBI, for example, notes that “there can be a wide range of after effects to a trauma,” which can impact on a victim of a violent crime or the victim’s family members. A list of these effects includes confusion, disorientation, memory loss and slowed thinking. Psychological research has long demonstrated that humans reconstruct, rather than recall, memory, which is why eyewitness testimony is considered one of the most dubious forms of evidence in a court of law.
Why have journalists covering this story given more credence to statements by the fraternity and friends who were portrayed very negatively in the Rolling Stone article than to Jackie’s version of events?
…it is important to note that the so-called “inconsistencies” in Jackie’s story don’t necessarily invalidate her version of events. The fraternity’s statement is in no way more credible than Jackie’s own word — in fact, I would argue less so, given the sheer prevalence of fraternity rape. It would be foolish to assume that a fraternity’s formal denial of “knowledge of these alleged acts” means that they did not occur (with or without current leadership’s knowledge), as it would be foolish to rule out that the “date function” Jackie thought she was invited to wasn’t pure pretense in the first place. It is also within the realm of possibility that Jackie was brought to the party by a man who didn’t necessarily belong to the fraternity, even that he misled her about his membership in the frat. It is also possible that the student who gave a different version of how he found Jackie that night, lacks credibility or is himself having trouble recalling events.
Ultimately, these are all details significant to a police or journalistic investigation, upon which the responsibility is on law enforcement and journalists to figure out. For Jackie, however, it doesn’t change much. It doesn’t change her experience of violent assault, or those of countless students like her, many of whose stories are also featured in the article in question. It does not change the majority of the material in the original article: not the debasing lyrics of the UVA fight song; not the person who hurled a bottle at Jackie’s face the first time she tried to speak out; not the 38 students who appeared in Dean Nicole Eramo’s office in just one academic year to discuss incidents of sexual assault, despite the fact that not one student has ever been expelled from UVA for a sexual offense.
In light of these facts, in light of my own rape and the rapes of too many of my friends at the hands of their peers, I do wonder: Whose credibility is really to be doubted here? Jackie’s or the public peanut gallery that has diluted sexual assault down to a number and a date?
Again, I don’t want to personally denigrate T. Rees Shapiro. He writes well, and he has done a fine job of locating sources at the University of Virginia–both in this case and in his previous reporting on in writing on the Hannah Graham murder case–probably because his youth helps him connect with college students only a few years younger than he is. But his analysis of a survivor’s story has suffered from his lack of knowledge and experience about campus sexual assault and rape in general.
I want to share two more articles that offer a more sophisticated take on these subjects–written by women with long journalistic experience.
From CNN, Rape culture? It’s too real, by Sally Kohn.
We don’t yet know all the facts behind the now-infamous, poorly fact-checked story in Rolling Stone about an alleged gang rape at the University of Virginia. What we do know: Rolling Stone at first blamed the alleged victim, “Jackie” — rather than its own journalistic sloppiness — for so-called “discrepancies” (before changing its callous statement).
And new reporting by the Washington Post does reveal that Jackie’s friends, cited in the story, say they are skeptical about some of the details. Still, they all believe that Jackie experienced something “horrific” that night, in the words of one, and we do know that Jackie stands by her story. Most of the doubts about it were apparently raised by those she’s accusing, including the fraternity and main alleged assailant — whom, I guess, we’re supposed to believe instead. But one other thing we do know is that gang rapes just like what Jackie is alleging do happen — too often, and all over America.
While Rolling Stone’s reporting was clearly shoddy, some writers who initially poked holes in Jackie’s story did so for ideological motives. For instance, even before the reporting lapses were revealed, conservative commentator Jonah Goldberg called Jackie’s story unbelievable. “It is not credible,” Goldberg wrote in the Los Angeles Times. “I don’t believe it.”
Instead, Goldberg insisted, Jackie’s account was “a convenient conversation for an exposé of rape culture,” something, incidentally, Goldberg also doubts to be real. “‘Rape culture’ suggests that there is a large and obvious belief system that condones and enables rape as an end in itself in America,” Goldberg later wrote in National Review. It’s all hogwash, says Goldberg, alleging that the very idea of “rape culture” is just “an elaborate political lie intended to strengthen the hand of activists.”
In other words, whatever the reality of what happened to Jackie, Goldberg and others were skeptical because they simply don’t believe rapes like that happen with the participation of groups of assailants, let alone the complicity of bystanders. This is where they’re mistaken.
Kohn then lists several extreme examples of gang rapes that resemble Jackie’s description–most of which we have covered here.
Also from CNN, In 2014, rape rage drove feminism’s ‘third wave’, by Nina Burleigh.
Historians could look back on this year as the beginning of feminism’s third wave.
The year was momentous for feminism. For the first time, rape victims and their supporters emerged from the shadows in significant numbers and started naming names — to significant effect. Women, their voices amplified by social media and with the support of a small but growing cohort of men, have been exposing and shaming venerable American institutions such as the NFL, Ivy League and non-Ivy League colleges, and the entertainment icon Bill Cosby.
First wave feminists won the right to vote. The second wave got us the right to work. But even with those advances, women have remained fundamentally restricted by the threat and terrible secret of sexual assault.
This year, emboldened and connected by social media, college women formed a powerful grassroots movement that led to universities such as Harvard being publicly named and shamed for not addressing women’s rape reports. They brought the issue of campus sexual assault into the White House, where Barack Obama became the first President to use the words “sexual violence.” The Department of Education released a list of universities under investigation for mishandling sexual violence cases, often letting even repeat predators off with barely a slap on the wrist.
These young women had been silent until social media enabled them to come together, even though thousands of miles apart, share debilitating secrets and then act with the confidence that safety in numbers provided.
I hope you’ll read the rest at the link.
I only hope that irresponsible journalism perpetrated by Rolling Stone and the even more irresponsible reaction to it have not set back the cause of protecting young women on college campuses from sexual violence.
I really don’t have anything to add to the picture on the left. That is pretty much how things seem to be going lately. Each day another bomb drops, and many of us sit here wondering will it stop? Will there be a moment when some decent shred of humanity will shine through the toxic stew of torture, police brutality, racism, sexism and all the rest of it…
Here are your links for this morning, many reactions to the CIA torture reports will come as no surprise.
I guess John McCain is the one GOP dude who we would expect had some words to say on the matter: McCain on Torture: A Stain on our National Honor, Produces Misleading Info | Informed Comment
“As the Senate Intelligence Committee’s CIA torture report roiled Capitol Hill Tuesday, Sen. John McCain framed the argument as one of moral clarity, all the while bumping up against his party leaders.
“I rise in support of the release, the long-delayed release of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s summarized, unclassified review of the so-called enhanced interrogation techniques that were employed by the previous administration to extract information from captured terrorists,” the Arizona Republican said on the Senate floor. “I believe the American people have a right, indeed responsibility, to know what was done in their name, how these practices did or did not serve our interests, and how they comported with our most important values.”
McCain, who spent five-and-a-half years in a North Vietnamese prison during the Vietnam War and endured unspeakable torture, is virtually unassailable on the issue. His comments put him back in the maverick role, at least in relation to the chamber’s internal politics, that has long defined his congressional career.”
In another link from Juan Cole’s blog: Psychologists, who Took mn. to Advise, Practice Torture, betrayed the Profession | Informed Comment
During the War on Terror, the CIA’s operations subjected hundreds of suspected terrorists to harsh interrogation techniques, which were often criticised as constituting torture. Now, the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the operation has made it clearer than ever that the CIA used many forms of “enhanced interrogation” to elicit information – very harsh methods indeed that simply did not yield the intended results.
As a leaked State Department memo put it, the report “tells a story of which no American is proud”.
This is a matter of outrage for everyone, but as psychologists, we have a particular obligation to speak out. Many of the approaches the CIA used were developed by our discipline, and by individuals who will have known about the codes of conduct by which US psychologists are bound – which include beneficence and non-maleficence, and respect for rights, dignity and integrity.
It is profoundly disturbing to see that the CIA’s techniques included deprivation of basic needs (warmth, food, water), humiliation, threats and the repeated use of waterboarding.
Ironically, many of the methods adopted were based on psychologists’ previous work directed at training members of the military, intended to assist them in avoiding talking to interrogators should they be captured and tortured. This work was apparently reverse-engineered for use on terrorist suspects.
Fox News…well, you know:
After reading reports about how the CIA inadvertently killed someone during an interrogation and subjected others to repeated waterboardings, “rectal feedings,” and threats to rape and kill their family members, did you get the feeling that sometimes the United States is less than awesome? That’s exactly what the Obama administration wanted! This afternoon in the alternate reality that is Fox News, the hosts of Outnumbered explained that the report was only released to distract Americans from real problems, like the IRS scandal and Benghazi.
“The Bush administration did what the American public wanted, and that was do whatever it takes to keep us safe,” declared the particularly incensed Andrea Tantaros. “The United States of America is awesome, we are awesome,” she continued. “We’ve closed the book on [torture], and we’ve stopped doing it. And the reason they want to have this discussion is not to show how awesome we are. This administration wants to have this discussion to show us how we’re not awesome” — mainly because they “don’t like this country” and “want us to look bad.”
Fox then returned to its regularly scheduled programming.
If you thought you heard it all from Bill O’Reilly, think again. Tonight he said that torture was a “morally acceptable” thing to do.
Meanwhile, across the pond: New Statesman | “Torture is always wrong”: David Cameron responds to the CIA report
David Cameron has responded to the alarming US report by Democrat senators on CIA interrogation activities in the wake of 9/11. Commenting on the shocking revelations about “brutal” techniques employed by the CIA on terrorism suspects, the Prime Minister said:
Let us be clear – torture is wrong, torture is always wrong.
For those of us who want to see a safer more secure world who want to see this extremism defeated, we won’t succeed if we lose our moral authority.
Now obviously after 9/11 there were things that happened that were wrong and we should be clear about the fact that they were wrong.
Clearly anticipating any questions emerging from this story that could drag Britain into the controversy, Cameron was keen to emphasise that he believes Britain has “dealt with” its position in relation torture policy. The United Kingdom appears on the list of countries that “facilitated CIA torture”.
Cameron referred to the Intelligence and Security Committee looking into questions raised by the Gibson Inquiry into the treatment of detainees post-9/11, and added that he has, “issued guidance to all of our agents and others working around the world about how they have to handle themselves”.
The report itself has stunned the world following its release yesterday. It suggests America’s spies repeatedly lied to Congress and its foreign allies in an effort to cover up the scale and brutal nature of a secret global programme of torture.
Of course the UN has it’s own response: CIA torture: Calls to prosecute US officials involved in ‘brutal’ interrogations of al-Qaeda suspects – The Independent
The UN has called for the prosecution of those behind a ‘criminal conspiracy’ at the CIA that led to the ‘brutal’ torture of detainees.
Ben Emmerson, United Nations’ special rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism, said those responsible for planning, sanctioning or carrying out crimes including waterboarding should not escape justice – even senior officials from George W Bush’s administration.
“It is now time to take action,” he said in a statement from Geneva. “The individuals responsible for the criminal conspiracy … must be brought to justice, and must face criminal penalties commensurate with the gravity of their crimes.
“The fact that the policies revealed in this report were authorised at a high level within the US Government provides no excuse whatsoever. Indeed, it reinforces the need for criminal accountability.”
Human Rights Watch executive director Kenneth Roth also said that the CIA’s actions were criminal “and can never be justified”.
“The report shows the repeated claims that harsh measures were needed to protect Americans are utter fiction.
“Unless this important truth-telling process leads to prosecution of officials, torture will remain a ‘policy option’ for future presidents.”
Now, over at Al Jazeera, they have an article that interviews surviviors:
Survivors of alleged CIA torture and rendition programs praised the release of a damning, if heavily redacted Senate account of the agency’s “brutal” and “ineffective” practices but noted it was only a first step toward accountability — and it certainly wasn’t an apology.
“Publishing this shows the other side, that human rights apply to everyone,” said Abdelhakim Balhadj, a Libyan political dissident who the U.S. rendered back to Libya in 2004, where he was allegedly tortured over a six-year period without being charged with a crime. “The U.S. denied us our human rights. We wanted the American people to recognize this.”
After years of delay, the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday released a 499-page executive summary of a more than 6,000-word report, which remains classified. It detailed a litany of apparently illegal methods employed by CIA officers to extract information from detainees — death threats, beatings, sleep deprivation, forced rectal feeding and other psychological torment — much of which had long since been leaked.
Significantly, the summary noted that so-called “enhanced interrogation” techniques were “brutal and far worse than the CIA represented” and they were not nearly as useful in obtaining information vital to national security as the agency had previously said.
Though ex-detainees like Belhadj welcomed those findings, he was disappointed that his name had not been mentioned specifically. In a phone call from his home in Libya, Belhadj, now a prominent politician and military leader in Libya, told of how he and his pregnant wife Fatima were picked up by U.S. authorities as they were trying to leave China, where they had been living until 2004, to seek political asylum in the U.K.
As well as the ex-CIA dudes…who have there side of the story: Ex-CIA officials say torture report is one-sided, flawed | Reuters
A group of former top-ranking CIA officials disputed a U.S. Senate committee’s finding that the agency’s interrogation techniques produced no valuable intelligence, saying such work had saved thousands of lives.
Former CIA directors George Tenet, Porter Goss and Michael Hayden, along with three ex-deputy directors, wrote in an op-ed article published on Wednesday in the Wall Street Journal that the Senate Intelligence Committee report also was wrong in saying the agency had been deceptive about its work following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.
The rest of the links for today’s post are in dump format, and they are not pleasant. In fact they are much of the same kind of news we have been seeing the past few weeks.
The usual story with the usual players. The men in this case were in a stolen car…that said…read the rest at the link.
As the American people continue to debate about — and organize over — the lack of consequences for the police who killed Eric Garner and Michael Brown, some commentators (like yours truly) have urged national Democrats to be more directly and unapologetically supportive of their African-American supporters and the #blacklivesmatter movement in general. But while it’s much too soon to tell whether Hillary Clinton or other similarly well-known Democrats will heed the call, it’s clear that one Democratic congressman, Minnesota’s Keith Ellison, is listening. “The fact is, people have to demand [a] sense of justice: people in the streets are going to make the system more responsive,” he said recently on MSNBC.
In a scathing editorial in the Hollywood Reporter, Chris Rock has confronted some issues that though obvious, are being blatantly ignored. He quite rightly points out that Hollywood is an exclusive, white industry that is terrible at giving opportunities to black and Latino people other than as the janitor. You only have to open your eyes to see this, but nobody, whether it be studio executives, producers, directors, other actors or critics, has been proactive in changing things. It’s OK to say it – Hollywood doesn’t care about black people.
Residents of Harrison try to fight off their reputation as the small town with the most hate groups in America
Thomas Robb lives 15 miles from downtown Harrison, Arkansas, past churches with signs speaking of God’s righteousness, a goat farm and a slew of rusted trailer homes. His home is a collection of nondescript white cottages that includes an office and a meeting place for the Christian Revival Center, where he serves as pastor. The buildings stretch across several acres — but don’t call the property a compound.
“It’s my home, not a compound,” Robb says, correcting a reporter with a smile. “The word ‘compound’ has such a negative connotation.”
Robb and his wife moved to the area 43 years ago from Tucson, Arizona: “You could see the handwriting on the wall of Arizona being a dumping ground for illegal aliens.” The stronger morals of people in Arkansas, he says, made the state a more attractive home for his Thomas Robb Ministries and the Christian Revival Center, which espouse a white-supremacist, “Christian-identity” theology. For the last 25 years, he’s also been the national director of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, the group founded by prominent Klan leader and former Louisiana politician David Duke. In that role, Robb has attempted to advance the white-nationalist movement by portraying the Klan, in the words of one journalist, as more “gentle, upbeat and friendly” — an approach that’s sometimes frowned upon by other Klan members for being too mainstream.
In Georgia, there was an execution last night: Injustice in Robert Wayne Holsey’s Case – NYTimes.com
Even by the abysmal standards of lawyering that defendants in capital trials regularly endure, Robert Wayne Holsey’s case stands out.
In 1997, Mr. Holsey was convicted and sentenced to death for killing a Georgia sheriff’s deputy named Will Robinson, who had pulled him over for robbing a convenience store. Despite evidence that Mr. Holsey was intellectually disabled — which should have barred him from execution under the United States Supreme Court’s earlier rulings — his lawyer neglected to make that argument at trial. Mr. Holsey was executed on Tuesday evening after the Supreme Court declined to stay his execution.
The evidence of Mr. Holsey’s mental deficits included an I.Q. test score of 70 when he was 15. In school, his intellectual functioning did not move past a fourth-grade level. But under Georgia law, a defendant is required to prove his intellectual disability beyond a reasonable doubt — the strictest standard in the country and one unmoored from scientific reality.
A Palestinian minister has died after clashes with Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank. The circumstances of Ziad Abu Ein’s death have yet to be officially confirmed, but sources told Al Jazeera that it occurred after he inhaled large amounts of tear gas and was struck by security forces.
Abu Ein, who was head of the Anti-Wall and Settlement Commission, died in Ramallah Hospital on Wednesday following a protest against the separation barrier near the village of Turmusayya, northeast of Ramallah.
The 55-year-old is thought to have been hit in the chest by Israeli soldiers at the demonstration, according to an Israeli journalist and a Reuters photographer who were at the scene. Other witnesses said he was headbutted and then collapsed.
Activists said they were planting olive trees by the illegal settlement of Adei Ad when the soldiers attacked them and fired large amounts of tear gas at the group.
Pictures of Abu Ein, a member of Fatah’s Revolutionary Council, knocked out and on the ground quickly circulated on social media sites.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas quickly condemned the death of Abu Ein, calling it a “barbaric act that cannot be tolerated.” He also said “all necessary steps” will be taken after an investigation into Abu Ein’s death is carried out.
More on the olive trees, and the significance here:
Obama had a tough interview: Jorge Ramos Challenges President Obama On Immigration In Testy Interview – BuzzFeed News
Hey, this is a surprise: Police officer buys eggs for woman caught shoplifting to feed her family in Tarrant | AL.com
A woman caught shoplifting eggs in Tarrant Saturday didn’t leave with handcuffs and a court date. Thanks to a Tarrant police officer, she left with food for her family.
Officer William Stacy was called to the Dollar General on Pinson Valley Parkway when employees caught the woman trying to steal a dozen eggs, Tarrant Police Chief Dennis Reno said.
The woman had her young children in the car. She told Officer Stacy that she was only stealing because she was trying to feed her children.
Stacy talked with Dollar General, and they said they wouldn’t prosecute. So Stacy made an offer.
“He said, ‘If I give you these eggs, will you promise that you won’t shoplift anymore?'” Reno said. “He knew that she was telling the truth and that’s the reason he went in and bought the eggs.”
Stacy bought the eggs and gave them to her, Reno said. The woman then asked if she could give him a hug.
Sorry if I am cynical…but…
“Police officers do this all the time. Of course, these are the kind of stories that never get told,” Reno said. “Every police officer in Jefferson County has done this at one point in time.”
Reno said this is one way police deal with issues — not every incident ends with someone being hauled off to jail.
No, they don’t get hauled off to jail, they get hauled off to the morgue.
Video of hug at link. It just is…I don’t know. Maybe y’all have a better way of putting it into words than I do?
Sounds a little like staged bullshit to me.
But again, I am a cynical bitch.
I mean, when you have a Sgt with the Tarrant Police Department police stealing evidence and selling it to other cops:
According to Tarrant Police Chief Dennis Reno, former Tarrant Police Officer, Sgt. Charles Higgins, has turned himself in to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.
The Tarrant Police Department is asking a suspected criminal to turn himself in. But this criminal isn’t like the others.
“He was an extraordinary officer,” Police Chief Dennis Reno said.
That’s because Charles Kevin Higgins used to be a Sgt. with the department.
“Myself and every officer here feels betrayed,” Reno said.
Reno says a while back his department noticed items missing out of the evidence room, which is what Sgt. Higgins was in charge of. Higgins was confronted and was told an investigation would be happening.
“Rather than face an investigation, Sgt. Higgins rendered his resignation at that time,” Reno said.
Further investigation would show much more missing from the evidence room than anticipated.
Nine handguns were missing. Reno says Higgins told people he needed money. He sold six of them to citizens. But four of them were sold to closer friends.
“He sold them to some of his fellow police officers here at the station,” Reno said.
The serial numbers on the guns sold to the officers matched the numbers of those missing from the evidence room. Reno believes Higgins made nearly $3,500 on the guns. Reno says the officers who bought the firearms thought they were part of Higgins’s personal collection, as Reno says Higgins is a gun collector.
Reno says he could not comment whether more items were taken from the evidence room.
Or the Jefferson County Sheriff’s office being investigated for racial discrimination: JeffCo Sheriff’s hiring, firing practices under scrutiny for racial discrimiation
A federal judge wants to know what Jefferson County Sheriff Mike Hale is doing to deal with racial discrimination.
During a status hearing over the county’s consent degree involving hiring and firing practices, U.S District Judge Lynwood Smith said he will now be focusing on the sheriff’s office.
The county’s hiring and firing is currently under the supervision of court appointed receiver Ronald Sims.
During Thursday’s court hearing, plaintiffs in the case said it came to their attention that Sheriff Hale does not have an affirmative action officer to oversee any racial complaints or violations of discrimination law.
Jefferson County has affirmative action officers in place but the question now is whether Sheriff Hale, who is already facing a tight budget, hire another person for the job or use the county’s personnel.
Jefferson County commissioner David Carrington says it’s a matter that has to be studied.
“It would be a little cumbersome for the county’s AA officer to get involved with the sheriff’s office. We have a lot of issues we need to deal with. If the judge says it’s our responsibility we will accept it and go forward,” Carrington said.
Judge Smith told Sheriff Hale’s attorney in court to get more engaged and to research what the sheriff has done to deal with racial discrimination going back to 1982, when the original consent decree was signed by Hale’s predecessor Mel Bailey.
A federal judge, who last year installed a manager to oversee all Jefferson County personnel decisions to prevent discrimination against blacks and women, has now turned his focus onto the county sheriff’s office.
At a hearing this morning U.S. District Court Judge Lynwood Smith asked an attorney for Sheriff Mike Hale to determine what that office has done – or hasn’t – to ensure that it doesn’t discriminate against blacks or women in hiring, firing and promotions since a consent decree was signed by county officials 32 years ago.
Smith said he believes “it is past time to focus on the sheriff… He (the sheriff) is under the same duties and obligations as the county commission.”
The 1982 consent decree was issued as part of lawsuits that contended the county and the City of Birmingham had discriminated against blacks and women. County officials, including former Sheriff Mel Bailey, signed the decree. Birmingham and the Jefferson County Personnel Board were ultimately released from their decrees.
About seven years ago plaintiffs in the lawsuits asked the judge to find the county in contempt for not abiding by the terms of its consent decree. After a lengthy process the judge last year found the county was in contempt and put in place a receiver, Ron Sims, over the county’s human resources department.
At today’s status conference Smith holds once a month to check on the county’s compliance, an attorney for the plaintiff’s, Rowan Wilson, told the judge about an issue that came up.
Wilson said that Sims two months ago had appointed an affirmative action officer to review personnel complaints. Recently sheriff’s employees had come to the new officer with issues, which brought up the question as to whether the sheriff had an affirmative action officer, he said.
As part of the consent decree the county was to have an affirmative action officer, but didn’t, Wilson said. The issue came up during testimony in the contempt hearings.
Take a look at the comments….interesting to say the least.
This sounds a lot like Banjoville.
But seriously…to go back to the quote from Reno, the chief at Tarrant PD:
“Police officers do this all the time. Of course, these are the kind of stories that never get told,” Reno said. “Every police officer in Jefferson County has done this at one point in time.”
Oh yeah, I bet they do that act of kindness all the time….
That is it for me, y’all have a good day. So? What are you reading about?
It’s difficult to imagine how the news can get any worse . . . and then it does.
Dec. 9 (Bloomberg) — The Democrats on the Senate intelligence committee are preparing to issue their report on the harsh interrogation tactics the CIA used on terrorism suspects, defying the objections of current and former U.S. officials including former President George W. Bush.
The panel plans to release today a summary of a 6,200-page report concluding that the Central Intelligence Agency used extreme interrogation methods at secret prisons more often than legally authorized and failed to disclose all the activities to lawmakers and other officials.
Despite warnings from opponents of the report’s release, including some Republicans on the panel, that Americans would face retaliation overseas, President Barack Obama supports making the conclusions public, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said yesterday.
“The president believes that, on principle, it’s important to release that report, so that people around the world and people here at home understand exactly what transpired,” he said. Earnest said the administration has taken steps to improve security at U.S. facilities around the world.
Read the arguments for and against releasing the report at the link. A brief summary of the conflict at USA Today: Obama, Bush teams battle over torture report. Of course Dick Cheney felt the need to butt in.
While Obama and aides support release of the report as to way to prevent future abuses, some Bush administration officials call it partisan second-guessing of techniques that proved necessary during the war on terrorism.
“What I keep hearing out there is they portray this as a rogue operation and the agency was way out of bounds and then they lied about it,” former vice president Dick Cheney told The New York Times. “I think that’s all a bunch of hooey. The program was authorized. The agency did not want to proceed without authorization, and it was also reviewed legally by the Justice Department before they undertook the program.” [….]
The dispute between Obama and Bush officials revolves around the legality of the interrogation programs and whether they yielded valuable intelligence as the U.S. raced to block terrorism in the years following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Cheney and other Bush administration officials say the programs yielded actionable intelligence that helped uncover possible terrorist plots.
Congressional Democrats say the report shows that tactics like waterboarding yielded nothing that could not have been obtained by other means.
The two sides agree on one thing: Release of the Senate report, detailing some of the less savory methods used to extract testimony from terrorism suspects, could lead to violent, anti-American protests in some countries.
Reuters has a minor preview on the contents of the report: Sexual threats, other CIA methods detailed in Senate report.
The report, which Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein said would be released on Tuesday, describes how al Qaeda operative Abdel Rahman al Nashiri, suspected mastermind of the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole, was threatened with a buzzing power drill, the sources said. The drill was never actually used on him.
It documents how at least one detainee was sexually threatened with a broomstick, the sources said.
Preparing for a worldwide outcry from the publication of such graphic details, the White House and U.S. intelligence officials said on Monday they had shored up security of U.S. facilities worldwide.
The report, which took years to produce, charts the history of the CIA’s “Rendition, Detention and Interrogation” program, which President George W. Bush authorized after the Sept. 11 attacks.
Bush ended many aspects of the program before leaving office, and President Barack Obama swiftly banned “enhanced interrogation techniques,” which critics say are torture, after his 2009 inauguration.
The Christian Science Monitor asks what I think is an irrelevant question: Did torture yield results? I really don’t care; some things are just wrong period.
The 480-page document reveals the results of Senate investigation into the CIA’s use of torture and other techniques that violate international law against prisoners held on terrorism-related charges. Though many details of the Senate’s findings will remain classified – the document is a summary of a 6,000-page report that is not being released – the report is expected to conclude that the methods used by the CIA to interrogate prisoners during the post-9/11 years were more extreme than previously admitted and produced no intelligence that could not have been acquired through legal means….
The Los Angeles Times writes that the report is expected to say that the CIA used methods of “waterboarding, sleep deprivation, stress positions and other so-called enhanced interrogation techniques more frequently than was legally authorized at then-secret prisons known as ‘black sites.’ “
The report will also likely state that the intelligence acquired from the use of such techniques was not useful to finding Osama bin Laden or preventing attacks on US interests, and “nearly all the intelligence gleaned through harsh techniques could have been obtained from more traditional intelligence-gathering systems,” the Times adds.
We probably should brace for attacks on President Obama for daring to go on BET and talk about racism and then follow that up by joking around with Stephen Colbert.
BET Exclusive: Obama Talks Race, Racism and How Far America Has to Go. Watch the interview at the link. Joyce Jones highlights the main points:
Barack Obama – not the president, but the man – has a dream: his children will be viewed as individuals and judged not by the color of their skin but based on the content of their character, their behavior and their talents and gifts. Sadly, he observed in an exclusive interview with BET Networks, “misguided attitudes” mean that people of color still have less margin for error, particularly if they are male….
Hours before the interview aired, his critics on the right began lashing out at him for, according to Breitbart News, “playing the race card more overtly than ever before.” Others will say it’s about time he spoke up about the series of police-involved deaths of a disproportionate number of African-American men, which he acknowledged. But he also said that “institutionally” he is required to remain silent during the investigations of those incidents, which would be compromised “if it appeared that I was trying to steer to a particular outcome.”
That doesn’t mean he does not empathize with those who’ve expressed their anger and frustration more publically. The president recalled a meeting he had last week that included several young African-American leaders whose experiences of being stopped or treated suspiciously for no reason reminded him of his own. He also said that as long as the protests remain peaceful, they are necessary.
“I’m going to stay on this,” the President said Monday in an interview with BET, a network that reaches a predominately young African-American audience. “Not only am I going to stay on it … but hopefully the entire society says, ‘Let’s finally try to make some real progress on this.'”
Once criticized for shying away from the topic of race early on in his presidency, Obama has recently taken a more active role in sharing how his personal experiences help him to empathize with all kinds of people affected by the recent protests on racial tensions — from protesters, to victims, to law enforcement officers, to families, and most importantly, to black youth.
In his interview with BET’s “106 & Park,” the President cited a meeting he had with nonviolent protesters Monday — between ages 18-25. For him, he says, listening to young African-Americans describe their own experiences of being stopped for no reason, or being unjustly labeled as suspicious, strikes a personal chord.
“My mind went back to what it was like for me when I was 17, 18, 20,” the President said. “As I told them, not only do I hear the pain and frustration of being subjected to that kind of constant suspicion, part of the reason I got into politics was to figure out how can I bridge some of those gaps and understandings so that the larger country understands this is not just a black problem or a brown problem, this is an American problem.”
The President also made a point to invoke Attorney General Eric Holder’s race and civil rights record, saying, “He’s got a similar set of stories and experiences he can share.”
The Boston Globe on Obama’s Colbert Report appearance:
Obama kicked off the show sitting in for Colbert to perform a regular feature of the program called ‘‘The Word’’ wherein Colbert’s rants are accompanied by snarky messages to the audience.
So when Obama, as Colbert, declared that there are aspects of ‘‘Obamacare’’ that people from both parties actually like, the text aside to the audience read, ‘‘Everything but the Obama.’’
Later, Colbert observed that the economy had been creating more jobs of late.
‘‘You have employed a lot of people — mostly as secretary of defense,’’ Colbert cracked in a reference to Obama recently nominating his fourth top civilian at the Pentagon.
‘‘That’s boosted our numbers a little bit,’’ Obama replied.
Colbert, whose on-screen persona is that of an insufferable conservative scold, accused Obama of exceeding his authority on immigration. ‘‘When did you decide to burn the Constitution and become emperor?’’ he asked. The question was heard as a joke by many in the audience at George Washington University. But to Obama’s critics, the question had a ring of truth.
Obama dropped the comedy and replied, ‘‘Actually, Steve, everything that we have done is scrupulously within the law and has been done by previous Democratic and Republican presidents.’’
Watch part of the episode at the link.
You know how Republicans are constantly claiming that their anti-abortion laws are designed to keep women safe? From Think Progress: Large Study Confirms That Abortion Is Extremely Safe.
After analyzing data from nearly 55,000 women who received abortion care under California’s Medicaid program, researchers at UC San Francisco concluded that hardly any of them had serious complications within six weeks of their procedure. Just 126 cases necessitated follow-up care for surgery, a blood transfusion, or other conditions that require hospital admission.
Other studies, including data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have also confirmed abortion’s safety. We already had some evidence, for instance, that giving birth is about 14 times riskierthan having an abortion. But the new UCSF study goes a bit further than previous research by tracking the complete data on all of the health care used by women who have received abortions. Since many women have to travel long distances to end a pregnancy, the UCSF researchers also examined women’s follow-up care at facilities closer to where they live….
Despite the mounting evidence in this area, the notion that abortion may be dangerous for women is a pervasive assumption that hasbolstered the passage of dozens of state laws tightening restrictions on clinics and doctors. In a press release announcing their findings, the study authors indicated that they hope the new study “will contribute to the national debate over abortion safety.”
“Abortion is very safe as currently performed, which calls into question the need for additional regulations that purportedly aim to improve safety,” said Ushma Upadhyay, an assistant professor at Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH), a leading research program based at UCSF.
Of course scientific studies won’t move right wing extremists, who do not believe in science in the first place.
Yesterday I was relieved to see many women writers pushing back against the UVA rape story backlash and asking readers to remember that “Jackie” is a real person with real emotions, and the kinds of memory failures she may have evidenced are comment in human beings. I’m running out of space, so I’ll just provide some links to some of the articles I found.
From Buzzfeed, Annie Clark writes: There Are Too Many Jackies.
Clark and her friend Andrea Pino were students at UC Chapel Hill when they were sexually assaulted. Together they filed a complaint with the Department of Education under Title IX. Their work is what triggered the Obama administration to take a stronger position on sexual assaults on college campuses.
Read about it in Vogue, Campus Sexual Assault: Annie E. Clark and Andrea Pino Are Fighting Back—And Shaping the National Debate. Clark and Pino started an organization called End Rape on Campus (EROC).
More important articles:
Roxanne Gay, Our Stories.
Amanda Marcotte, UVA controversy allows woman-haters to get really, really ugly.
Caroline Fairchild, Why the media obsession with Rolling Stone’s UVA rape story is all wrong.
Finally, some NBA players have begun wearing “I Can’t Breathe T-Shirts.”
NEW YORK — As he stood amid 70 or so media members inside a cramped Cavaliers locker room Monday night, LeBron James explained the significance of the powerful words that stretched across his torso during pregame warmups.
“If it feels important to me then I respond,” said James, who wore a black t-shirt with the words “I CAN’T BREATHE” prior to the start of his team’s game against the Nets at the Barclays Center. “If it doesn’t, I don’t. There are a lot of issues I have not talked about. For me, it is about knowledge and about a gut feeling that hits home for you. You feel it, and go about it.” [….]
…the story of the night was the activism of a number of NBA players. Before the game, the Cavaliers’ James, Kyrie Irving and the Nets’ Deron Williams and Kevin Garnett among others all wore the same black t-shirts. They are the latest professional athletes to make a personal statement on the death of Eric Garner, a 43-year-old Staten Island man who was killed on July 17 after he was wrestled to the ground and choked to death by police officers arresting him for selling untaxed cigarettes. Last week a Staten Island grand jury decided not to bring charges in the police-involved death. That decision has prompted protests around the country, as protesters have mobilized around Garner’s last words: “I can’t breathe.” A video recording of the arrest has been viewed by millions.
Unbeknownst to the players, protesters swarmed Atlantic Avenue outside the Barclays Center during the game, holding a “die-in” to protest the Garner ruling. The hashtag #RoyalShutdown was used by activists on Twitter as a rallying point.
That’s all I have. What stories are you following today? Please share your thoughts and links in the comment thread, and enjoy your Tuesday.
Well, the Southern Strategy is alive and well and still working in the South where Republicans have officially run a campaign for a know nothing and do nothing crook based on absolutely nothing but racist dog whistles. The whistles were really loud and clear. They worked too.
All you have to do is ask a Cassidy voter what said congressman voted for or against, or what he stands for or against, or anything based on issues or record. They go silent. Ask them about the fact he is now under investigation for bilking Louisiana taxpayers out of money and ignoring the details of his outside work agreement granted by Congress and they scream “they are all crooks”. This is just a new one. The only other thing they say is that “Miss Piggy” is with Obama and Obama is bad and then they add something about not being racist and trying to be politically correct but Obama has run the country into the ground. Then, they ignore any and all contrary facts and accuse you of dissing their valid opinions because you are a libtard and a sore loser.
They cannot tell you not one thing about him other than he’s not a white woman in the party that brought you a black president. I am clearly appalled by the audacity of it all.
Many African-Americans saw Cassidy’s TV ads as a primer in race-baiting. The spots evoked the primal myth of the Old South in which white womanhood must be defended. In ads that ran around the clock, viewers saw Landrieu’s face pictured cheek-to-jowl with the black president like uneasy lovers in a Valentine.
“They’re pandering to the lowest common denominator,” bristled Stanley Taylor, a retired African-American member of the National Association of Letter Carriers, speaking by cell phone as he canvassed voters before the election. “Those spots are racist and totally dismissive of people’s ability to figure out their own self-interest.”
The blowback of racial politics marks the end of an era that began in 1970 when the senator’s father, Moon Landrieu, as the newly-elected mayor of New Orleans ushered African-Americans into local government, while guiding an era of dramatic urban growth. New Orleans had a white voting majority at the time; today it is about 60% African-American.
“Rather than suggest some policy objectives, it’s been easier for the Cassidy campaign to enflame racial fear to motivate Republican voters,” brooded community organizer Jacques Morial, whose father Dutch was the first African-American mayor of New Orleans, succeeding Moon in 1978. His brother Marc later served two terms as mayor and is today president of the Urban League.
Landrieu’s loss showed yet again that the great power in American politics is to make people believe that something false is true. Cassidy’s campaign recast the three-term senator as a projection of the black president largely reviled by the majority of white voters here, as in the rest of the South.
I’ve found a bevy of ways that white folks can say they’re not racist while saying racist things. One of my major clues is when they start any sentence “I’m not racist”. I’ve been astonished at the number of racist things people say shortly after they couch it with “I’m not racist but …” There was a Face the Nation conversation on Racism on Sunday about an interview that the President has given BET that basically states that “Racism is deeply rooted in our Nation”. This conversation surrounds the recent spate of police murder of unarmed black citizens where threat wasn’t really present. The central pale question was why hasn’t President Obama has made everything all better when it comes to race relations. I can give you my take. Many people are so deeply racist that they don’t even see it and refuse to see it. Others are unabashedly racist and think they’re justified for whatever reason. Many people seem to just be willfully ignorant which makes me wonder if they will ever learn. No one black man can overcome years steeped in white privilege just as one woman serving in a public office can’t overcome years of shoving women into subservient roles based on outdated notions. It’s not their fault. The faults lie within us.
In a special segment, “BET News Presents: A Conversation with President Barack Obama,” the president will help find meaningful solutions to unrest after the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner sparked nationwide protests.
“This isn’t going to be solved overnight,” Obama said in an excerpt of the interview to air Dec. 8 at 6 p.m.
The interview, hosted by BET host and TV journalist Jeff Johnson, marks the president’s first network discussion outlining his strategy to investigate the incidents and ways the country can unify during this time.
“This is something that’s deeply rooted in our society, deeply rooted in our history. But the two things that will allow us to solve it: Number one: Is the understanding that we have made progress and so it’s important to recognize that as painful as these instances are, we can’t equate what’s happening now with what was happening 50 years ago. If you talk to your parents, grandparents, uncles, they’ll tell you that things are better,”
Speaking to youth on the music-variety series targeting African Americans, Obama also cited “progress” as the second most critical step.
Charles Blow was one of the speaker’s on the Face of Nation segment which debated the progress made or unmade in race relations since the President was elected 6 years ago. So was David Ignatius. How is it that so many people can completely miss the institutional differences in the way people are treated simply based on surface differences. Folks in hoodies are thugs and deserve it. Folks that don’ make the police feel safe must be themselves scary, threatening individuals whose life history must be slandered to protect the guilty. Our white male straight christian culture looks for ways to make every body that’s not them a culpable party. We’re all deserving of pain and violence simply by not being them. Hoodie wearers deserve to be shot. Slinky Dress wearers deserve to be raped. Loving any one outside a sanctioned straight marriage deserves to be bullied and turned away from your business.
SCHIEFFER: Well, Charles, let me — I want to get back to this — this first finding here, that relational — race relations are worse under a Black president than they were under a white president.
>hat — what do you make of that?
CHARLES BLOW, “NEW YORK TIMES”: Well, I mean they…
SCHIEFFER: Or at least they’re saying that’s what people say — are saying.
BLOW: Right. So — but you have to figure — ask yourself, is it a causal relationship, right?
Is it because of him and something that he has done or is it a reaction to him actually being the president, which is — which is not really about him, but about us, right?
And — and I think that is the bigger question, that is a bigger philosophical question as to how do we respond to people who do not look like us?
Do we believe that they have our interests at heart?
Do we believe that we can — we can identify and — and empathize with that person?
And — and if we cannot, then there’s — we kind of exacerbate something that may already exist in terms of bias, in terms of how we see race relations in this country.
And I think that’s a real question that we have to ask ourselves about who we are and whether or not things were, in fact, better before this president and — and just were kind of underneath the — kind of under the surface.
SCHIEFFER: David, what do you — and I don’t mean to suggest that it’s Barack Obama’s fault.
SCHIEFFER: But I mean I found that stunning, that this would be the finding that a lot of people say that things are worse now than they were.
DAVID IGNATIUS, “WASHINGTON POST”: Sociologists sometimes talk about a revolution of rising expectations, where because of changes, the election of the first African-American president, having Eric Holder, an African-American as our — as our attorney general, people expect things are changing.
And then when they see evidence in these cases where young unarmed black men are being shot and they’re — they’re not — the people who shoot them are not being indicted, there’s a special anger because people thought things were getting better. They thought with this African-American president that it would be different six years on.
And I think that’s part of what’s behind it, is a sense of disappointment. You know, America has had race issues. This is our original sin. And it’s a continuum in our national story.
But I wonder if the explosion of anger now doesn’t have something to do with people saying it should have been better because of the changes we thought the country had made in electing Barack Obama.
SCHIEFFER: And — and it’s not.
IGNATIUS: And it’s not…
IGNATIUS: Here’s this problem that — I mean how many years have we heard about driving while black as an experience that African- Americans have?
You know, white people hear this, but do we really react?
I’ve been experiencing all kinds of deja vu all over again in all kinds of things relating to civil rights issues. Here’s another clueless white male–David Lowry–on why forcing a woman to return your kiss isn’t a form of sexual assault. But, but isn’t it cute that I want to invade her body space and physically do things to her she doesn’t want. She’s not saying no! She is just being coy so I won’think here a slut!!! Coy deserves to be force kissed!!!
National Review editor Rich Lowry on Sunday argued that “attempted forced kissing” doesn’t count as sexual assault.
During a discussion about the Rolling Stone story on an alleged gang rape at the University of Virginia, Lowry suggested that the magazine “had an agenda.”
“Rolling Stone didn’t do basic fact-checking here, I believe because they had an agenda to portray UVA as the bastion of white male privilege, where basically rapists rule the social life,” he said.
CNN’s Van Jones then referenced the statistic that one in five women are sexually assaulted in college.
Lowry shot back that the statistic was “bogus” and complained that the survey used “includes attempted forced kissing as sexual assault.”
The ABC panelists then berated Lowry for his claim.
“It’s not a crime that the police are going to be involved in and prosecute,” he insisted.
Here’s another cluess white male with his christian privilege showing. Everybody’s beliefs are made up and not real except his. Other people’s religions deserve to be ignored.
Fox News host Tucker Carlson argued over the weekend that a Satanist holiday display should be banned from the Florida state Capitol where a Christian nativity had been erected because they did not practice a “legitimate religion.”
Last week, the Satanic Temple won the right to place a display of an angel burning in hell alongside other holiday displays in the Florida Capitol building after officials initially rejected it, saying the Satanic message was “grossly offensive during the holiday season.”
“I’m assuming that there aren’t a ton of Satanists in Tallahassee,” Carlson told Bible Based Church Pastor Darrick McGhee on Saturday. “I’m assuming there really aren’t any at all, and this is purely an attempt to stick a finger in the eye of Christians in Florida.”
“So the rationale here is that Satanism is legitimate religion,” the Fox News host complained.
McGhee explained that the Satanic Temple had met the guidelines set by Florida’s Department of Management Services.
“They must be pretty stupid guidelines,” Carlson quipped, later adding that Satanist should have chosen any of the “51 other weeks in the year.”
“Just to be totally clear, you would not have an objection if a Jewish group or a Muslim group or a Baha’i group or something legitimate other religion wanted a display in the state capitol, would you?” Carlson wondered.
“No objection whatsoever,” McGhee agreed.
“I mean, this is just an inability to draw reasonable distinctions between reality and what is a pretty offensive prank,” Carlson concluded.
And more of this crap from states trying to put white male privilege into law. Michigan wants to enact a religious right to discriminate. In other words, if it offends white male christians, they can do whatever they want to the rest of us.
The Michigan House of Representatives, led by Speaker Jase Bolger (photo, above, left, with Gov. Rick Snyder,) just passed a bill that would allow discrimination to become sanction by the state. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act, akin to one that made nationwide headlines in Arizona but was vetoed, appears to merely force the government to step aside if a person’s “deeply-held religious beliefs” mandate they act, or not act, in a certain manner.
Supporters of these bills claim they allow people of faith to exercise their religion without government interference, but in reality, they are trojan horses, allowing rampant discrimination under the guise of religious observance.
For example, under the Religious Freedom law, a pharmacist could refuse to fill a doctor’s prescription for birth control, or HIV medication. An emergency room physician or EMT could refuse service to a gay person in need of immediate treatment. A school teacher could refuse to mentor the children of a same-sex couple, and a DMV clerk could refuse to give a driver’s license to a person who is divorced.
Michigan Speaker Bolger fast-tracked the bill, which passed on partisan lines, 59-50. It now heads to the Michigan Senate, and if successful, to Republican Governor Rick Snyder. It is not known if Gov. Snyder would sign it.
“I support individual liberty and I support religious freedom,” Bolger said today. “I have been horrified as some have claimed that a person’s faith should only be practiced while hiding in their home or in their church.”
MLive reports that Michigan’s RFRA is “modeled after a federal version that the Supreme Court has said should not apply to states.”
I’m just having a real difficult time handling all of this. Sometimes I believe that things will never get better.
How do you fight back? These folks have media outlets spewing continual hatred and crap. They’re obviously not beneath running complete nonsense and obvious fear mongering ads and TV programs. They’re not ashamed to lie or slander. They also know exactly what to say and do to keep the angry sheep in line. I’ve got very few answers these days to anything
So, want to play a little Spot the Africa to pass some time?
Have a great day! What’s on your reading and blogging list today?