Isn’t that a gorgeous photo? It was taken in New Hampshire near Mount Washington in October 2011.
A potpourri is “a combination of incongruous things.” Well that’s what I have for you this morning. We’ll begin at Sea-Tac airport in Seattle where Boston Celtics legend Bill Russell, 79, was arrested by TSA police for having a loaded gun in his carry-on bag. He was held for about half-an-hour and then released. He has a permit for the gun. Russell was on his way to Boston where a statue of him will be unveiled on November 1.
Did you hear about the morons in Utah who destroyed a 170-million-year-old rock formation and made a video of themselves doing it? From the Deseret News:
Two men have come under scrutiny by the public and possibly by prosecutors after a video made the rounds online showing them pushing over an iconic rock formation.
The men were visiting Goblin Valley State Park last week when they said they noticed a precariously perched
boulder that was loose and worried it would fall on someone. The delicate “goblin” formation, also known as a “hoodoo,” is one of many that gives the park its name.
What followed was a video showing the men joking and laughing as Glenn Taylor, of Highland, topples the rock, narrated by cameraman Dave Hall, who says lives have been saved. A third man, identified as Taylor’s son, watches.
These two ignorant fools, who are Boy Scout leaders (!), thought the ancient rock formation was suddenly going to tip over and crush someone.
Utah State Parks spokesman Eugene Swalberg called the video disturbing. Possible criminal charges are being screened by the Emery County Attorney’s Office and the Utah Attorney General’s Office, he said….
The goblins date back more than 170 million years to the Jurassic Period, Swalberg said. The park, which gets more than 85,000 visitors per year, was dedicated in 1974 to protect the fragile formations, he said.
“There are some established trails in the park, but there are also areas where you can have self discovery and wander amongst the goblins,” Swalberg said. “That’s the beauty of Goblin Valley. It’s not meant to have people push over the goblins. It’s meant to enjoy.”
Check out the idiotic quotes from these guys in this Fox News story:
“This is about saving lives,” Dave Hall, who shot the video, told The Associated Press on Friday. “One rock at a time.”
The rock formation is about 170 million years old, Utah State Parks spokesman Eugene Swalberg said. The park in central Utah is dotted with thousands of the eerie, mushroom shaped sandstone formations.
In a video posted on Facebook, Glenn Taylor of Highland, Utah, can be seen last Friday wedging himself between one formation and a boulder to knock a large rock off the formation’s top. Taylor and his two companions can then be seen cheering, high-fiving and dancing….
“My conscience won’t let me walk away knowing that kids could die,” Hall said.
While safety was their motivation, Hall said, it was exciting to knock it over, and that’s why they reacted with high-fives and cheers in the video.
“You can’t have a rock the size of a car that you can push with one hand, and have it roll, and not have an adrenaline rush,” Hall said. “It was a crazy, exciting moment.”
What an asshole! If these fools don’t get criminally prosecuted, at least maybe the Boy Scouts will discipline them.
Boy Scouts of America spokesman Deron Smith confirmed the men are members of the organization, saying in a statement that the organization is “shocked and disappointed by this reprehensible behavior.”
Boy Scout troops spend countless hours in state and national parks, guided by the principle of leaving nature the way they find it, Smith said.
“The isolated actions of these individuals are absolutely counter to our beliefs and what we teach,” Smith said. “We are reviewing this matter and will take appropriate action.”
Moving on , , ,
NSA officials admit they put off installing the latest anti-leak software at the Hawaii facility where Edward Snowden stole thousands of top secret documents before fleeing the country and eventually accepting asylum in Russia.
Well before Snowden joined Booz Allen Hamilton last spring and was assigned to the NSA site as a systems administrator, other U.S. government facilities had begun to install software designed to spot attempts by unauthorized people to access or download data.
The purpose of the software, which in the NSA’s case is made by a division of Raytheon Co, is to block so-called “insider threats” – a response to an order by President Barack Obama to tighten up access controls for classified information in the wake of the leak of hundreds of thousands of Pentagon and State Department documents by an Army private to WikiLeaks website in 2010.
The main reason the software had not been installed at the NSA’s Hawaii facility by the time Snowden took up his assignment there was that it had insufficient bandwidth to comfortably install it and ensure its effective operation, according to one of the officials.
Due to the bandwidth issue, intelligence agencies in general moved more slowly than non-spy government units, including the Defence Department, to install anti-leak software, officials said.
In other related news,
Snowden told The New York Times in an interview that he turned all of his files over to Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras when the three met in Hong Kong last spring; he said he didn’t keep any of the files and therefore China and Russia could not have gotten access to them. From HuffPo:
Snowden said he did not retain copies of the documents and did not take them to Russia “because it wouldn’t serve the public interest,” the Times reported. He said his familiarity with China’s intelligence abilities allowed him to protect the documents from Chinese spies while he was in Hong Kong.
“There’s a zero percent chance the Russians or Chinese have received any documents,” he said….
The Times reported that in the interview, which it said took place over several days in the last week and involved encrypted online communications, Snowden asserted that he believed he was a whistle-blower who was acting in the nation’s best interests by revealing information about the NSA’s surveillance dragnet and huge collections of communications data.
The only problem with these claims is that Snowden actually gave copies of some of the stolen files to the Chinese government-supported newspaper The South China Morning Post in August, long after he supposedly turned everything over to Greewald and Poitras. So where did that data come from?
Whatever the truth is, we do know the files are in the possession of Greenwald, Poitras, Wikileaks, The Guardian, The Washington Post, The New York Times, and several other news organizations as well as the British security services which confiscated the files from Greenwald’s live-in partner David Miranda when he was passing through Heathrow airport. So we can be sure there’s no danger of unauthorized release of secret information. Right?
That was sarcasm, by the way, in case you didn’t pick up on it . . .
Bob Cesca had a good post yesterday on Ted Cruz and his future plans. He apparently feels emboldened by his success in shutting down the government for two weeks, and plans more destructive behavior next time. Cesca writes:
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), the chief architect of the tea party shutdown and subsequent debt ceiling brinksmanship, might have lost an endorsement from his home town newspaper, but he managed to raise $1.19 million during the third quarter — nearly three times the haul of the second quarter total. That period of time didn’t include the shutdown, but it included his filibuster, which, it turns out, had a very important purpose: the make money for Ted Cruz. He also beefed up his email database with a petition that gathered over two million names and addresses.
When asked who “won” the shutdown battle, Rep. Tom Rooney (R-FL) told Politico the winners were “the people that managed to raise a lot of money off this.” Now, I don’t know if that means the tea party necessarily “won,” but Cruz and the Heritage Action group, which pulled in $330,000, didn’t walk away empty-handed.
While Cruz and the others cashed-in, the shutdown ended up costing the federal government $24 billion. Via TIME, here’s a breakdown of just a few of the losses:
-About $3.1 billion in lost government services, according to the research firm IHS
-$152 million per day in lost travel spending, according to the U.S. Travel Association
-$76 million per day lost because of National Parks being shut down, according to the National Park Service
-$217 million per day in lost federal and contractor wages in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area alone
And we’re supposed to continue buying the line that the tea party cares about government spending and the national debt? That’s rich.
Obviously, Cesca writes, they are going to do a repeat performance early next year. Read all about it at the link.
More wingnut news . . .
I happened to turn on the Hannity show on Fox News last Friday evening. “Average Americans are feeling the pain of Obamacare and the healthcare overhaul train wreck,” Hannity announced, “and six of them are here tonight to tell us their stories.” Three married couples were neatly arranged in his studio, the wives seated and the men standing behind them, like game show contestants.
As Hannity called on each of them, the guests recounted their “Obamacare” horror stories: canceled policies, premium hikes, restrictions on the freedom to see a doctor of their choice, financial burdens upon their small businesses and so on.
“These are the stories that the media refuses to cover,” Hannity interjected.
But none of it smelled right to me. Nothing these folks were saying jibed with the basic facts of the Affordable Care Act as I understand them. I understand them fairly well; I have worked as a senior adviser to a governor and helped him deal with the new federal rules.
So Stern actually contacted three of these folks and it turns out they all lied. As Drum summarizes:
One of them was apparently just lying, and the other two hadn’t even checked the exchanges, where they would have found that they could get better coverage for considerably less than they’re paying now.
Did you hear the latest in the Ariel Castro story?
One of Castro’s neighbors has now been charged with rapes and murders. From the Guardian:
Increased scrutiny of missing person cases in a Cleveland neighbourhood following the arrest of kidnapper Ariel Castro led to charges against a neighbour for the murders of two women in the 1990s, the FBI said on Friday.
Elias Acevedo, 49, was charged late on Thursday with the kidnapping, rape and murder of his 30-year-old neighbour, Pamela Pemberton, found strangled in 1994, and another woman believed to be Christina Adkins, a pregnant 18-year-old who disappeared in 1995. He also is charged with the rape of two young girls.
“Because the public became more aware and investigators were determined and relentless, people were re-interviewed and there was an increased interest in these missing person cases,” FBI spokeswoman Vicki Anderson said.
Acevedo, who lived on the same block as Castro, was arrested in June at his Seymour Avenue residence after police questioned Castro’s neighbours and discovered that Acevedo was a convicted sex offender who had failed to report his current address.
Acevedo became a suspect in the Adkins and Pemberton murders after the FBI re-examined the disappearance of other missing women from the Seymour Avenue neighbourhood after Castro’s arrest, according to a statement from the Cuyahoga County prosecutor’s office.
Imagine if the Cleveland police had actually done their job years ago?
I’ll end with this wacky story from CBS Atlanta.
A video of a showdown between a hunter and a bear in Canada posted in May of this year is making the rounds on social media as of late.
The video, posted by Jeffrey Moffatt, shows a hunter in a tree stand with a bear at the bottom of the tree.
Much to the surprise of the hunter, the bear climbs the tree in about three seconds and comes face-to-face with the hunter.
The bear sniffs around and eventually decides the hunter wasn’t a threat and climbs down the tree.
Moffatt said on YouTube that he only had a bow and arrow – no firearm – and did not have any cell service in case the situation would have gotten worse.
You have to watch the video!
OK, those are my contributions for today. What stories are you following? Please post your comments and links in the thread below.
Syria is still the top news story today, and its still very unclear what is going to happen. The latest CBS/NYT poll found that 56% of Americans disapprove of the president’s handing of the Syria situation, and 61% are opposed to military strikes.
Yesterday President Obama told CBS’ Scott Pelley, “I understand” American people aren’t with me on Syria strike. You can read the transcript of the interview at the above link. The interview ended this way:
SCOTT PELLEY: The people aren’t with you.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Yeah, well, not yet. And I, as I said, I understand that. So I’ll have a chance to talk to the American people directly tomorrow. I don’t expect that it’s gonna suddenly swing the polls wildly in the direction of another military engagement. If you ask the average person — including my household — “Do we need another military engagement?” I think the answer generally is gonna be no.
But what I’m gonna try to propose is, is that we have a very specific objective, a very narrow military option, and one that will not lead into some large-scale invasion of Syria or involvement or boots on the ground, nothing like that. This isn’t like Iraq, it’s not like Afghanistan, it’s not even like Libya. Then hopefully people will recognize why I think this is so important.
And that we should all be haunted by those images of those children that were killed. But more importantly, we should understand that when when we start saying it’s okay to — or at least that there’s no response to the gassing of children, that’s the kind of slippery slope that leads eventually to these chemical weapons being used more broadly around the world. That’s not the kind of world that we want to leave to our children.
Obama will address the nation tonight, and it seems unlikely that he’ll be able to shift public opinion dramatically enough to get support for military intervention in Syria. According to the CBS/NYT poll linked above, Republicans oppose Obama on Syria even more overwhelmingly that Democrats do; and it’s not clear to me that the opposition is just about military action. As far as I can tell, the hatred for Obama at this point is so strong among Republicans–and among many Democrats as well–that he can’t do anything right. If he had ignored the chemical weapons attacks in Syria, he would have been called weak, but now that he wants to act, he’s suddenly a warmonger. He’s damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t.
Currently the focus is on whether Obama can convince Congress to support action on Syria. If, as is most likely, his speech tonight doesn’t magically change public opinion, he’ll apparently be seen as an utter failure, both nationally and internationally. From The Boston Globe: Credibility stakes high for Obama in Syria speech.
President Obama’s speech to the nation Tuesday night has turned into a defining moment for the remainder of his term. The outcome of his call for Congress to authorize military strikes against Syria could determine both his credibility on domestic issues and his power on the international stage, analysts said Monday.
The stakes remained high even in light of Monday’s development that Russia is pushing Syria to allow United Nations control of its alleged chemical weapons. In an interview with CBS, Obama said Monday night that any proposed diplomatic solution must be backed by the “credible military threat from the United States.” [....]
“If he loses, then clearly, his lame duck status probably starts more than a year earlier than normal,” said Elaine C. Kamarck, a Clinton administration veteran and now a senior scholar at the Brookings Institution. “Also if he loses, it’s difficult to say how the bad guys in the world, like North Korea and other places, interpret this.”
President Obama said he will go ahead with his speech on Tuesday, outlining the rationale for US military action. The task has been made much more difficult because Obama has seemed uncertain of his own course. He initially drew a hard line on chemical weapons and then, once convinced that the Syrian government had used them last month, spoke and acted as if a military strike were imminent.
But of course if Obama hadn’t asked for Congressional approval, he would have been excoriated by the press for that and his second term would have been written off anyway. I just don’t think Obama can win at this point, regardless of what he decides to do on Syria or any other issue. Even the endorsement of popular former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton can’t turn around the current judgment that Obama is always wrong.
Former secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton on Monday endorsed President Obama’s call for military strikes against Syria and said “it would be an important step” if Syrian President Bashar al-Assad surrendered his stockpile of chemical weapons.
“The Assad regime’s inhuman use of weapons of mass destruction against innocent men, women and children violates a universal norm at the heart of our global order, and therefore it demands a strong response from the international community, led by the United States,” she said.
Clinton, a potential 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, made her first public remarks on Syria during a previously scheduled appearance at the White House. She said she had just come from a meeting with Obama, during which they discussed a proposal advanced by Russia to avert U.S. military strikes by having Assad turn over control of the country’s chemical weapons to international monitors.
She said that such a move would be important but that “this cannot be another excuse for delay or obstruction, and Russia has to support the international community’s efforts sincerely or be held to account.”
She also suggested that the Russian proposal came about only because of a “credible military threat by the United States.”
I think that’s probably true. Personally, I hope there’s a diplomatic solution, and the fact that Obama and Putin discussed such a possibility last week–and even before that–gives me some hope.
In other news,
Four men have been convicted in the gang rape of a women in Delhi, India last year. From BBC News:
The 23-year-old woman was brutally assaulted on a bus and died two weeks later.
Her death led to days of huge protests across India in a wave of unprecedented anger.
The case forced the introduction of tough new laws to punish sexual offences. The four men are expected to be sentenced on Wednesday.
Mukesh Singh, Vinay Sharma, Akshay Thakur and Pawan Gupta denied charges including rape and murder, and lawyers for three of the men said they would appeal against the convictions.
They face the death penalty over the attack on the physiotherapy student after being found guilty of rape, murder and destruction of evidence.
Read more at the link.
Will the verdict affect attitudes toward violence against women in India? Nita Bhalla discusses this question at Thompson Reuters: As India gang rape trial ends, a debate over what has changed.
The serial rapist stalks her for days. Eventually he breaks into her home when she is alone and tries to rape her at knifepoint. But she somehow manages to overpower and trap him.
Now, with the help of her two housemates, she has to decide what to do. Kill him and bury him in the garden? Or call the police, who are known to be insensitive and may let him off?
The plot is from “Kill the Rapist?” – a provocative new Bollywood thriller which aims to embolden Indian women to report sexual assaults – and to deter potential rapists by making them “shiver with fear before even thinking of rape” the film’s Facebook page says.
Controversial? Yes, but it is part of a growing awareness in India about violence against women since the high-profile fatal gang rape of a 23-year-old student on a bus in December.
“Like most Indians, I had become used to hearing about rapes and other crimes against women. I would read about them, then turn the page and forget,” says Siddhartha Jain, the 39-year-old producer of “Kill the Rapist?”
“But the December incident shook me to the core. I didn’t want this just to be another story that would be forgotten in a year. My film, which will be released on the anniversary of the incident, is an excuse to amplify the discussion of women’s security and hopefully bring about some positive changes.”
It sounds a little like that play from the 1980s, “Extremities,” that Farrah Fawcett starred in. Perhaps India is getting its consciousness raised?
Meanwhile, check out this info I just pulled off Twitter: Study: 1 in 4 men across parts of Asia admit to rape. Some highlights:
1 A UN study in 6 Asia-Pacific countries found that 1 in 10 men admitted to raping a woman other than his wife or girlfriend. Counting wives and girlfriends, the figure rose to 24%. More than 10,000 men were interviewed in Bangladesh, China, Cambodia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Sri Lanka.2 The percentages of men who admitted to rape varied by country. In Bangladesh, 11.1% admitted to rape; in Cambodia 20.8%; in China 22.7%; in Indonesia 31.9%; in Papua New Guinea 60.7%.3 More than 70% of those who admitted to forcing a woman to have sex gave reasons that fell under the study’s category of “sexual entitlement.” Nearly 60% said they were bored or wanted to have fun. 40% said they were angry and wanted to punish the woman. Only half said they felt guilty and 24% had been imprisoned for rape.
Here’s an economics story from Wonkblog for Dakninkat to opine on. Why doesn’t Fed policy pack more punch? Blame Grandpa.
One of the great frustrations of the last few years has been that, even as central banks around the world have taken extensive steps to try to prop up growth, the impact hasn’t been that great. Indeed, over the last generation, there’s lots of evidence that changes in interest rates don’t pack the punch, in terms of both jobs and inflation, that they used to.
A researcher at the International Monetary Fund has a novel explanation for one reason why this may be: namely, a growing proportion of the world population, and especially in advanced nations, that is elderly.
“We will argue that monetary policy also has a weakened effect on the economy due to changing demographics,” Patrick Imam writes in a working paper. “The elderly used to account for a small share of the population, but technological breakthroughs and social changes over the last two centuries have transformed this demographic structure.”
The gist is that young people are more likely to borrow money, while older people tend to live investments, so lower interest rates have less effect on an aging society overall.
When just embarking on a career, a young person might take out major loans for education and for buying a house and car. As they reach middle age, they will tend to have paid down some of that debt while also building savings. By the time they hit retirement age, they should be net creditors, with significantly more savings than they still owe in debt.
That would imply that in an older society fewer people are actively using credit products. Which should in turn imply that a central bank turning the dials of interest rates will be less powerful at shaping the speed of the overall economy.
As usual, it’s the baby boomers’ fault. Anyway it’s an Interesting theory . . . we’ll have to see what Dak has to say about it.
Now it’s your turn. What stories are you following today? Please post your links in the comment thread.
This is a breaking news story.
First it was the Air Force sexual assault prevention office, now it’s the Army. From USA Today: Fort Hood assault prevention officer under investigation
WASHINGTON — A sergeant in charge of sexual assault prevention at Fort Hood is under investigation for sexual assault, the Pentagon announced Tuesday night.
The soldier, whose name has not been released, is being investigated for abusive sexual contact, pandering, assault and maltreatment of subordinates.
The soldier has been relieved of his duties and no charges have yet been filed, according to the Pentagon. He oversaw the program at the battalion level, a unit of about 800 soldiers.
The solider is being investigated for among other things forcing a subordinate into prostitution and sexually assaulting two others, according to a Capitol Hill staffer who has been briefed on the case and spoke about it on condition of anonymity.
“Forcing a subordinate into prostitution?” And this guy is in charge of preventing sexual assaults?! Wait, it gets worse.
Two senior Pentagon officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the case is under investigation, also confirmed that the sergeant is being investigated for running a prostitution ring.
The Army said a sergeant first class, whose name was not released, is accused of pandering, abusive sexual contact, assault and maltreatment of subordinates.
He had been assigned as an equal opportunity adviser and coordinator of a sexual harassment-assault prevention program at the Army’s 3rd Corps headquarters at Fort Hood when the allegation arose.
I’ll update in the comment thread if I get more information. Meanwhile, use this as an open thread.
Friday Reads: Why Media Must Examine Record of Cleveland Police Dept. in Violence Against Women CasesPosted: May 10, 2013
Yesterday I read something that infuriated me. I usually admire Amanda Marcotte’s writing on women’s issues, but I have real problems with her take on the neighbors of Ariel Castro who claim they called 911 over the years to report suspicious activity at his house on Seymour Avenue in Cleveland. Marcotte can’t believe that the Cleveland police would ignore such reports especially “considering Castro’s frightening history of domestic violence and child abuse.” She even provides links in the opening paragraph to a post at Slate in which she suggests that Castro’s neighbors must be “creating false memories”
As more details emerge from the bizarre kidnapping case in Cleveland, people are beginning to wonder how Ariel Castro could have kept women locked up in his house for a decade without anyone actually noticing that something strange was going on. Enter the neighbors,some of whom are telling the press that they did, in fact, see all sorts of weird behavior—and that they called the police, who did nothing about it. The police, however, are denying these reports, saying that the two visits made to the house in the decade were unrelated to any suspicious activities. Considering Castro’s frightening history of domestic violence and child abuse, it’s hard to imagine the police would just ignore it if the neighbors kept complaining about him doing things like dragging naked women around on leashes in his yard.
So what’s going on? Are all these people lying? Are the cops? Or is this a case of lost records or unrecorded police calls? One possible explanation is that the neighbors are simply caught up in the excitement over a national story unfolding in their backyard, and they’re misremembering their pasts because of it. False memories, particularly regarding incredibly emotional situations, are easier to develop than many realize.
This makes no sense to Marcotte, so she dredges up Elizabeth Loftus’ research on the unreliability of eyewitness testimony and the human ability to create “false memories.” For Amanda Marcotte, who seems to really care about the treatment of women who have been raped and otherwise abused, to excuse the Cleveland PD on this basis is a terrible mistake, in my opinion. Doesn’t she realize that Loftus is an expert witness who testifies almost exclusively for defendants accused of sexual abuse and assault? Couldn’t Marcotte at least look at the history of the Cleveland PD before dismissing accusations against them?
But no, she assumes that surely the Cleveland police department did the best they could, so any neighbor who worried about something being wrong at Castro’s house with it’s high fences, boarded up and trash-bag-covered windows must be “inadvertently” making up past concerns in order to alleviate their guilt or make themselves seem more important. I won’t go into a long essay on the problems with applying Loftus’ research in this case; I’ll just agree that anything is possible. But we need to ask ourselves: what is the most likely explanation in this particular case?
In another post at Slate, Justin Peters “explains” why he thinks the Cleveland PD “did everything they could and it still wasn’t enough.”
No. No, they didn’t. Let’s keep in mind that the Cleveland PD didn’t in fact find Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry, and Gina DeJesus. What happened is that
Berry noticed the front door of the home was unlocked but the outer storm door remained bolted. She was reluctant to attempt an escape because Castro was known to test the women by leaving doors in the house unlocked. He would beat them if they attempted to leave the unlocked rooms, police sources said. Berry made the decision to try to break through the storm door after seeing people on a neighbor’s porch. She gained the attention of neighbors such as Charles Ramsey, and they helped her and her 6-year-old child get out. She called 9-1-1 from a nearby home. [Ramsey was aided by another neighbor Angel Cordero, who wasn't as good an interview as Ramsey]
When Berry called 911, she got an operator who tried his best to blow her off by saying
Dispatcher: We’re going to send them as soon as we get a car open.
It took Berry’s continued urging to get him to act immediately. Even Charles Ramsey said in his interview with Anderson Cooper, “Bro, this is Cleveland,” seemingly calling attention to the fact that in Cleveland missing women don’t get found in neighborhoods like his. This is a fact that all of Cleveland is aware of, which is why there is a lot of anger toward police in the city right now.
This is a morning reads post, so I’m not going to rant on and on about this. Instead I’ll give you some links to articles that support what I’m saying. But first let me ask a rhetorical question for Slate and Amanda Marcotte: Were the women who claimed they were attacked by now convicted Cleveland serial rapist and murderer Anthony Sowell “creating false memories” when they call 911 and were ignored? Were the neighbors who reported the smell of rotting corpses emanating from Sowell’s house and yard “creating false memories?” What about the thousands of rape kits that Cleveland PD never had tested? Why is the Cleveland Police Department currently under investigation by the U.S. Justice Department?
Violence against women is huge problem in this country, and the Cleveland PD is not alone in treating it as a lower priority than other crimes. IMHO, it’s very important not to forget that. Not ever.
Now I’ll end my rant and give you some links to click on. I know this is a distasteful subject, a painful subject, and I understand why no one really wants to read all the gory details. But sometimes gory details are necessary to wake people up to the reality of what happens to women in this country every fucking day–especially poor women, drug-addicted women, sex workers, and others whom society sometimes sees as “disposable.”
I’ll begin with a video from Democracy Now–an interview with Cleveland reporter Eric Sandy.
Here is Sandy’s article, The Long History of Ariel Castro, Cleveland Kidnapper and Monster. Please note that Castro did come in contact with law enforcement over the years because of his horrific abuse of his wife and children. None of his violent behavior was really taken seriously or adequately dealt with. I apologize for this long excerpt:
Once again, Tomba’s words at the Tuesday morning press conference hang in the air: “Every single lead was followed up no matter how small,” he said. Unavoidable thoughts hearkening back to Anthony Sowell’s 2011 serial murder convictions hang in the air, as well. The rescue at the Seymour Avenue house will bear out a legacy on the backs of all involved, much like Cleveland’s other high-profile crimes.
Stories revolving around Castro’s work as a bus driver and his interactions with family members fill out characteristics about the man – elements of his personality that may have led to both the kidnapping and to his evasion from law enforcement.
In 1993 and 2005, Castro was accused of domestic violence from his one-time wife. The former charges were reduced to mere disorderly conduct, while the latter incident offered grisly imagery of a fractured marriage still capable of wreaking havoc. Castro broke his ex-wife’s nose and ribs, dislocated her shoulders, knocked out one of her teeth and battered her so hard that a blood clot formed on her brain, according to filings in court. In an interview with investigators after the fact, Castro denied ever being abusive toward her.
That filing effectively killed Castro’s chances at even partial custody of his children. Nevertheless, as sources familiar with the man report, his penchant for manipulation pulled Emily and Arlene back into his gravitational pull at times.
Several years after the gross sexual imposition conviction of Colon blew over, Emily Castro gave birth to a girl. It’s unclear who the father was – though speculation points to either a former boyfriend who now lives in Cleveland or, according to the private investigator, something much more untoward, evil, and incestuous.
Emily was living in Fort Wayne, Ind., where she attempted to murder her 11-month-old daughter by slashing her throat four times in 2007. She was later convicted of attempted murder and sentenced to 25 years in prison.
“It is certainly a mystery as to how this happened or why this happened,” Allen Superior Court Judge John Surbeck told The Journal Gazette at the time.
It is indeed a mystery that may yet hold more clues as to who Ariel Castro has been all these years. Any answers that lay within may illuminate a gap in local law enforcement’s own investigations.
More articles to ponder:
Note the padlocked door in the background of the photos, which were taken in 2001–before the abductions of Knight, Berry, and DeJesus took place. Who or what was in those locked rooms at that time?
Daily Telegraph: ‘Ariel Castro locked my sister in a box and beat her’
CNN on the similarities with the Anthony Sowell case: Cleveland abductions a chilling reminder of ‘House of Horrors’
19 Action News: “Note of admission” written by Ariel Castro in 2004
KNYC.com: Police Report
Joan Walsh on the media sliming of Charles Ramsey: Charles Ramsey is still a hero
Note that the stepfather tried to get police and FBI to investigate Ariel Castro in the disappearances. They ignored his pleas, and Castro was used as a source against the stepfather and allowed to testify against him–even with his history of domestic abuse! Did you know that Castro repeatedly abducted his own daughters?
The Daily Beast: My Neighbor the Monster
Doug Parker owns the home next to Cleveland suspect Ariel Castro. In his first interview, he recalls 20 years of confrontations, a bitter court case, and more red flags….
Parker says the police have been to the house more than they claim. For one, he says, he called the police in May 1996 when Castro pulled fence posts out of the ground and rolled up a chain link fence that ran between the two properties.
“He did it while I was at work, so I couldn’t stop him,” Parker says.The posts had been buried 18 inches, leaving holes that DeaAna, 6 years old at the time, tripped over while playing and injured herself. “The cops came, we talked, and one of them suggested I go to court on this,” Parker says. “And that’s what I did.”He was awarded $900 in damages and Castro was ordered to put the fence back up.
I guess those court records must have gone missing…
If you are stunned that three Cleveland women could be held captive for a decadewithout being discovered, then you are unacquainted with the case of Anthony Sowell, also known as the Cleveland Strangler.
Sowell was a registered sex offender who remained at liberty despite a series of sexual-assault complaints against him, until the police finally acted and discovered the bodies of 11 murdered women in his house and backyard.
At least some of those murders and rapes could have been prevented if the police had not reacted so indifferently when a distraught woman called them in September 2008, after being repeatedly raped, beaten, and choked by Sowell. She had at one point sought refuge in a bathroom, where she saw a headless body wrapped in plastic and positioned in a sitting position in the bathtub.
After managing to get away, the woman had stumbled as far as a bus stop before she could go no further. She would later testify: “I couldn’t walk no more. I was tore up. My body was tore up … My face, my female parts, my butt.”
She called the police. “They told me I had to come in and make a report,” she would testify. She further testified that she asked the dispatcher, “How do I get there?” The dispatcher told her: “Come in and make a report. We can’t take a report over the phone.”
She told the court that after the call, “I felt less than human. I didn’t know who to turn to.”
Cleveland police removed Michelle Knight’s missing person entry from an FBI database 15 months after she was reported missing in 2002 — and nearly a decade before she was rescued from her captor’s home on Cleveland’s West Side.
City spokeswoman Maureen Harper said Thursday that police followed proper procedures by removing Knight’s name from the database in November 2003 because they were unable to contact Knight’s mother by telephone to verify that her then-22-year-old daughter still was missing.
However, the police department’s written policy on investigating missing adults, at the time of Knight’s disappearance on Aug. 23, 2002, describes a different verification process. It states that an officer must go and see that a missing person has been found, then inform the FBI within two hours for removal from the National Crime Information Center database.
Kym Pasqualini, a national advocate for missing adults, said in an interview Thursday that the removal of Knight’s name and description from the database helped the case fall through the cracks.
She got pregnant from the rape and that victimization probably set her up to be revictimized when she learned her son was to be taken away from her. Sadly, she left home angry and upset and Ariel Castro offered her a ride.
NY Daily News: Michelle Knight’s twin brother talks about their history and his happy reunion with her.
This one is heartbreaking but speaks beautifully to me about human nature and our need for connection.
I guess this is enough for now. I’ll provide other links in the comment thread. If you made it this far, thanks for reading.
As always, this is an open thread and you are welcome post links on any topic in the comments.
Again, I understand this is a painful and distasteful subject. But please be aware that violence against women is truly endemic in the U.S. and it still isn’t treated with the necessary seriousness by law enforcement, the courts, or the media.
I’m going to start the day’s reads off with two really good articles on modern capitalism. Both actually have titles that ask questions. I’ll start with the first one written by Richard Wolfe at The Guardian as reprinted by RS. ” What’s efficiency got do do with capitalism?” The answer is absolutely nothing.
What’s efficiency got to do with capitalism? The short answer is little or nothing. Economic and social collapses in Detroit, Cleveland and many other US cities did not happen because production was inefficient there. Efficiency problems did not cause the longer-term economic declines troubling the US and western Europe.
Capitalist corporations decided to relocate production: first, away from such cities, and now, away from those regions. It has done so to serve the priorities of their major shareholders and boards of directors. Higher profits, business growth, and market share drive those decisions. As I say, efficiency has little or nothing to do with it.
This is what we call a “positive” economic discussion on policy in that that the data leads one to the conclusion and values don’t play a role in the argument until the end of the article when the author makes a case for democratization of the economy. This is called making a “normative” case. For a “normative” economic discussion from the get-go, turn to this article in WAPO by Steven Perlstein. “Is capitalism moral?”
Note the Gordon Gekko-like logic here: Because pursuit of self-interest is the essential ingredient in a market system, it somehow follows that individuals and firms are free to act as greedily and selfishly as they can within the law, absolved from any moral obligations. And it’s not just in the movies. The same amorality was on display at those Senate hearings in 2010 where Fabrice “Fabulous Fab” Tourre and the team from Goldman Sachs tried to explain to incredulous lawmakers why it was perfectly reasonable to peddle securities to clients that they had deliberately constructed to default.
Free-market advocates have a stronger moral case against government “confiscating” the money earned by one person to give it to another.
The traditional liberal defense of redistribution, of course, is that a lot of what passes for economic success derives not only from hard work or ingenuity but also from good fortune — the good fortune to be born with the right genes and to the right parents, to grow up in the right community, to attend the right schools, to meet and be helped by the right people, or simply to be at the right place at the right time. A market system should reward virtue, they argue, not dumb luck.
The problem is that we don’t really have anything resembling textbook market capitalism because all markets don’t exhibit characteristics that make them amenable to an unrestrained market. Also, we have a political class that is easy to capture via donations and lobbying who set up laws that allow already dominant industries to become more monopolistic and less ‘free’ through preferential legal treatment and taxation. The worst of the folks that scream about the virtues of ‘capitalism’ are the ones that really know nothing about Adam Smith or the origins of the system and its simple agriculture and industrial roots. For a real life example of the failures of unchecked capitalism, check out BB’s post last night outlining what’s going on in Cyprus. The overall mismanagement of lending and under-evaluation of risk by British, American and German banks has cost the citizen’s of many countries a lot of wealth. The Cyprus situation is unprecedented and sets an especially dangerous precedent. You can see how the powerful can co-opt the system in this play that takes savings from depositors. Markets all over the world are responding. Asian markets were the first to tank.
I spent a lot of time yesterday in an absolute rage over the rape apologia rampant in coverage by two of CNN’s women journalists who seemed more concerned with the lasting impact the verdict of the trial would have on the convicted rapists than the victim and possibly more victims of their out-of-control male libidos. There was also more discussion of the role of teen alcohol abuse in the incident that the attitudes and privileged treatment of the male athletic stars by the media. It was totally disgusting!! I posted some of this down thread in the Sunday Reads but feel strong that it needs to frontpaged and repeated. The judge got the verdict right while CNN turned into a rape apologia factory.
CNN’s Candy Crowley began her breaking news report by showing Lipps handing down the sentence and telling CNN reporter Poppy Harlow that she “cannot imagine” how emotional the sentencing must have been.
Harlow explained that it had been “incredibly difficult” to watch “as these two young men — who had such promising futures, star football players, very good students — literally watched as they believed their life fell apart.”
“One of the young men, Ma’lik Richmond, as that sentence came down, he collapsed,” the CNN reporter recalled, adding that the convicted rapist told his attorney that “my life is over, no one is going to want me now.”
At that point, CNN played video of Richmond crying and hugging his lawyer in the courtroom.
“I was sitting about three feet from Ma’lik when he gave that statement,” Harlow said. “It was very difficult to watch.”
Candy then asked CNN legal contributor Paul Callan what the verdict meant for “a 16 year old, sobbing in court, regardless of what big football players they are, they still sound like 16 year olds.”
“What’s the lasting effect though on two young men being found guilty juvenile court of rape essentially?” Crowley wondered.
“There’s always that moment of just — lives are destroyed,” Callan remarked. “But in terms of what happens now, the most severe thing with these young men is being labeled as registered sex offenders. That label is now placed on them by Ohio law.”
“That will haunt them for the rest of their lives.”
The purpose of a justice system is to make sure those guilty of heinous crimes pay for their crimes. I’m still livid about this and so are most of the folks on my twitter stream. You can look down stream on Sunday’s thread for videos and links. I found Dan Wetzel’s post particularly compelling as it describes the entitlements given to male athletes in Steubenville and elseville.
The Big Red players were disorganized crime. No secrets. No code words. No shame. They neither grasped the depth of the crime nor the unrelenting pressure of true authority – not their compliant parents or ball coach, but a legal system that didn’t care a whit about Steubenville High football.
Steubenville’s football program has long been a source of pride in the community. (Reuters)For all the rumors and speculation around town of cover-ups and favoritism being played, the authorities did their job. There is zero indication the Steubenville police did anything but aggressively and swiftly investigate the charges.
When understandable conflicts of interest – only 18,000 people live in the city and everyone knows everyone – arose in the local prosecutors office, the case was handed over to the state’s attorney general out of Columbus. A judge was brought in from across the state, near Cincinnati. And it was Judge Lipps, not anyone around Steubenville, who granted immunity to the witnesses.
Meanwhile, attorney general Mike DeWine called on Sunday for a grand jury to continue an investigation into the case.
“This community desperately needs to have this behind them,” DeWine said. “But this community also desperately needs to know justice was done and that no stone was left unturned.”
It’s still hard to say if Mays and Richmond ever grasped the trouble they were in until Sunday.
Mays knew enough to grow concerned. The girl was never sure whether to press charges, but once her parents found out, there would be no doubt. They culled social media for clues and walked into the Steubenville Police Department with a flash drive of evidence.
Just prior to that, Mays became panicked and texted the girl.
“I’m about to get kicked off my football team,” Mays wrote.
“The more you bring up football, the more pissed I get,” the girl wrote back. “Because that’s like all you care about.”
They had no idea about the severity of what they had done which means there’s an awful lot of parents, teachers, and clergy that need to sit down with some girls and boys and define sexual assault. They also need to make sure that everyone knows that the laws apply to every one.
I know there are many ‘recovering’ Catholics that read this blog so I thought I’d link to this article in Salon by Andrew O’Hehir entitled “Is Pope Francis a Fraud?” He makes some valid points about looking at each parish or archdiocese as distinct. He focuses on the recent purge by the Jesuits of their liberal coherts and the position of the new Pope in a church in turmoil.
But the former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio emerges from a Jesuit order that has been largely purged of its independent-minded or left-leaning intellectuals, and his reputation at home in Latin America is decidedly mixed. While Francis seems to be an appealing personality in some ways — albeit one with a shadowy relationship with the former military dictatorship in Argentina, along with a record on gay rights that borders on hate speech — it’s difficult to imagine that he can or will do anything to arrest the church’s long slide into cultural irrelevance and neo-medieval isolation. His papacy, I suspect, comes near the end of a thousand-year history of the Vatican’s global rise to power, ambiguous flourishing and rapid decline. It also comes after 40 years of internal counterrevolution under the previous two popes, during which a group of hardcore right-wing cardinals have consolidated power in the Curia and stamped out nearly all traces of the 1960s liberal reform agenda of Pope John XXIII and Vatican II.A handful of intellectuals, both inside and outside the church, quietly believe that means Pope Francis isn’t a legitimate pope at all.
I can’t speak to any of those being a WASP turned WASB, but I thought I’d share it all the same since I read the article knowing the role of Popes and the church in history.
Perez, 51, is the assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights division. If confirmed by the Senate, he would replace Hilda Solis, who resigned in January.
The White House portrayed Perez as someone in line with Obama’s sense of social justice. An official lauded Perez for settling the nation’s three largest fair lending housing cases, boosting enforcement of human trafficking laws and protecting rights of veterans and students. He also led the Justice Department in challenging voter ID laws in Texas and South Carolina.“Tom is a dedicated public servant who has spent his career fighting to keep the American dream within reach for hardworking middle class families and those striving to get into the middle class,” the White House official said.
I’d say that’s enough of me writing things. Now, it’s your turn. What’s on your reading and blogging list today?