Monday Reads

Good Morning!

It hardly seems possible that the first week of November has passed already.  There seems to be a lot of unhappiness and unrest around the world right now.  Ordinary people are continuing to express their discontent with their governments who ignore the rights of the many to support the wealth of the few.

Jineth Bedoya Lima is a Colombian journalist who is trying to use her own abuse as a way to end sexual assault of women’s journalists. She also wants to highlight the inaction of Colombia in pursing cases for women that have been brutalized.

As a journalist who was kidnapped, tortured, and violently gang-raped 11 years ago, when she was 26, Bedoya had finally gotten the chance she’d been waiting for, one that most women who’ve endured what she has will never get. After 11 years of her case lying motionless at Colombia’s attorney general’s office, she has the prospect of seeing some justice at the international level.

During a morning visit to Bogota’s maximum-security La Modelo prison in May 2000, as part of a newspaper investigation into alleged arms trafficking involving state officials and members of the right-wing paramilitary group United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), she was grabbed, drugged, and driven hours away. Three men repeatedly raped her and left her bound in a garbage dump at the side of a road, where a taxi driver discovered her that evening.

Later Bedoya told the news media how her kidnappers had gripped her hair and told her to “pay attention” as they tortured her. “We are sending a message to the press in Colombia,” they said.

After so many years of waiting on the Colombian justice system to investigate her attack, Bedoya is in D.C. to advance her case at the Inter-American Commission. The Pan-American human rights body will take up a case when all options have been exhausted on the country level or when a country has failed to bring justice in a reasonable amount of time. Bedoya and her lawyers appear to have banked and won on the latter.

All the inaction has taken its toll. When I asked after the hearing whether the look she’s had on her face all morning is anger, Bedoya answered quickly: “No, what you see is an expression of deep pain.”

Support for Republican Herman Cain has waned since the public discovery of settlements for sexual harassment.  The polls indicate a definite gender gap. Women are well aware of how prevalent sexual harassment is and they are also aware of Cain’s evolving explanations.

The poll showed the percentage of Republicans who view Cain favorably dropped 9 percentage points, to 57 percent from 66 percent a week ago.

Among all registered voters, Cain’s favorability declined 5 percentage points, to 32 percent from 37 percent.

The survey represents the first evidence that sexual harassment claims dating from Cain’s time as head of the National Restaurant Association have taken a toll on his presidential campaign.

A majority of respondents, 53 percent, believe sexual harassment allegations against Cain are true despite his denials. Republicans were less likely to believe they are true, with 39 percent thinking they are accurate.

“The most striking thing is that Herman Cain is actually seeing a fairly substantial decline in favorability ratings toward him particularly among Republicans,” said Ipsos pollster Chris Jackson.

A major story on sexual predation broke over the weekend.  Two Penn State officials have been charged with covering up sexual abuse allegations against a coach.

In a development that strikes very close to Joe Paterno’s storied football program, Pennsylvania State University athletic director Tim Curley and another university official were charged Saturday with perjury related to a child sexual abuse investigation of longtime Nittany Lions assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.

The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office said Curley, 57, and Gary Schultz, 62, Penn State’s senior vice president for finance and business, also were charged with failure to report, a summary offense. The perjury count is a third-degree felony punishable by up to seven years in prison and a $15,000 fine.

This appears to be yet another example of an old boy’s club protecting one of its own.  Sandusky was arraigned on 40 counts of sexual assault against young boys who he found via a charity he founded meant to help youth in trouble.  The cover-up undoubtedly lead to many assaults that could’ve been been prevented.
 Thousands of protesters surrounded the White House to demonstrate their lack of support for the Keystone Pipeline.  The pipeline exposes many states to the dangers of petroleum leaks and comes from Canadian Tar Sands.  The oil from the tar sands comes at great expense to the environment.

The protest was organized by the Natural Resources Defence Council, a U.S. environmental group. Spokeswoman Susan Casey-Lefkowitz told CBC News many Americans are concerned with the potential environmental impact of the pipeline.

“Tarsands expansion, climate change and particularly this pipeline is a major concern for many, many Americans,” she said, “and the numbers are growing every day.

“You know, for the president, it’s about making sure he holds true to the promises he made to fight climate change,” she said. “And to the other candidates, it’s about calling them out when they act like climate change is not real, which of course it is.”

Mississippi votes tomorrow to enact or reject a radical definition of human ‘life’.  Every one interested in the health of women will be watching the southern state that’s best know for being at the bottom of every list of good things in the country.  Colorado has voted on a similar initiative but it was rejected by voters.

Opponents said the definition is too broad and, in addition to outlawing abortion, could have effects on in vitro fertilization and birth control methods.

Stan Flint, a consultant for Mississippians for Healthy Families — a group that opposes the measure — said the group has tried to educate voters that they can be against abortion and vote against the initiative.

“Hopefully, everyone in Mississippi will understand this is a dangerously flawed vehicle,” Flint said. “It’s an extreme government intrusion.”

Here’s a really disturbing video from Occupy Oakland of some one being shot at by a rubber bullet by riot police while filming them.   Kind’ve makes you wonder about which countries are police states, doesn’t it?

Barry Ritholz continues to make certain that the causes of the financial crisis can’t be white washed by politicians seeking political donations from Wall Street. He writes on the “big lie” at WAPO.

Why are people trying to rewrite the history of the crisis? Some are simply trying to save face. Interest groups who advocate for deregulation of the finance sector would prefer that deregulation not receive any blame for the crisis.

Some stand to profit from the status quo: Banks present a systemic risk to the economy, and reducing that risk by lowering their leverage and increasing capital requirements also lowers profitability. Others are hired guns, doing the bidding of bosses on Wall Street.

They all suffer cognitive dissonance — the intellectual crisis that occurs when a failed belief system or philosophy is confronted with proof of its implausibility.

Be sure to check the list that follows this quote.  He has a really good step by step explanation of how Allan Greenspan’s low interest rates led to banks looking for high profits in all the wrong places.  They have no one to blame but themselves.  So, why are people like Mayor Bloomberg the blaming poor home owners?

So, that will get us started this morning. What’s on your reading and blogging list?


Thursday Reads

Good Morning!! I have a real grab bag of news items for you this morning.

Via Ezra Klein, a Gallup poll found that nobody, including most Republicans, wants the government fooling around with Medicare. I can’t embed the chart, but you can see it at either of the above links. Klein:

The Republican Party has a bit of a problem: Their coalition is heavily weighted toward seniors. But their agenda is heavily weighted toward cuts to entitlement programs that benefit seniors. In 2010, they handled this by relentlessly attacking Democrats for the Medicare cuts in the Affordable Care Act. In 2011, they’re trying to handle it by saying that Paul Ryan’s Medicare cuts will exempt anyone under 55 — but because he’s keeping all the Medicare cuts from the Affordable Care Act and implementing them on schedule, that isn’t, by the GOP’s own logic, actually true….

The most popular position in the GOP’s coalition isn’t that Medicare needs a complete overhaul, as Ryan thinks. It isn’t that it needs major changes, or even that it needs minor changes. It’s that we shouldn’t try and control costs at all.

ROFLOL!

Speaking of arrogant and deluded Republicans, The Smoking Gun obtained FAA documents relating to an incident in which James Inhofe “scared the crap out of” a bunch of Airport employees when the elderly GOP Senator landed his plan on a closed runway.

Newly released Federal Aviation Administration documents and audiotapes shed a scary new light on a bizarre incident late last year during which U.S. Senator James Inhofe landed his Cessna on a closed runway at a south Texas airport, scattering construction workers who ran for their lives as the politician’s plane hopscotched over them and six vehicles.

The FAA material, provided in response to a TSG Freedom of Information Act request, details how Inhofe, 76, chose to land on the main runway at the Cameron County Airport on October 21 despite being aware that it was closed and had a large ‘X’ on its threshold….

Shortly after Inhofe landed, Sidney Boyd, who was supervising construction on the closed runway, called the FAA to report that Inhofe’s plane, a twin-engine six-seater, initially touched down on the runway and then “’sky hopped’ over the six vehicles and personnel working on the runway, and then landed.”

During the call, which was recorded by the FAA, Boyd said Inhofe’s antics “scared the crap out of” workers, adding that the Cessna “damn near hit” a red truck. Referring to the vehicle’s driver, Boyd added, “I think he actually wet his britches, he was scared to death. I mean, hell, he started trying to head for the side of the runway. The pilot could see him, or he should have been able to, he was right on him.”

Inhofe agreed to “complete a program of remedial training” so he wouldn’t lose his pilot’s license.

According to a report by the Senate Permanent Committee on Investigations, released today, Goldman Sachs “Misled Clients, Lawmakers on CDOs.”

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) designed, marketed and sold collateralized debt obligations that misled investors and created conflicts of interest as the company built short positions before the U.S. housing market collapsed, a Senate panel said in its report on the financial crisis.

In the case of one CDO, Hudson Mezzanine Funding 2006-1, Goldman Sachs told investors its interests were aligned with theirs while the firm held 100 percent of the short side, according to the report released today by the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. Senator Carl Levin, the Michigan Democrat who leads the panel, urged regulators to review all of the structured finance transactions described in the report.

At a briefing today, Levin said he believed Goldman Sachs executives weren’t truthful about the company’s transactions in testimony before the subcommittee at an April 2010 hearing. He said he would refer the testimony to the Justice Department for possible perjury charges.

Good. I sure would like to see some prosecutions of these lying, cheating frauds.

Via Tennesee Guerrilla Women, Ashley Judd is “speaking out against misogyny.” She wrote a couple of paragraphs in her new memoir about rap artists promoting hatred and violence against women:

While speaking about an AIDS awareness program she works with, Judd writes, “Along with other performers, YouthAIDS was supported by rap and hip-hop artists like Snoop Dogg and P. Diddy to spread the message…um, who? Those names were a red flag.”

Judd continued, “As far as I’m concerned, most rap and hip-hop music – with its rape culture and insanely abusive lyrics and depictions of girls and women as ‘ho’s’ – is the contemporary soundtrack of misogyny.”

She concludes, “I believe that the social construction of gender – the cultural beliefs and practices that divide the sexes and institutionalize and normalize the unequal treatment of girls and women, privilege the interests of boys and men, and, most nefariously, incessantly sexualize girls and women – is the root cause of poverty and suffering around the world.”

The backlash was immediate and vicious, and included death threats. Judd apologized for generalizing about all rap and hip hop music, but ended with this:

“Hatred of girls and women, I will oppose with spiritual and non-violent principles every day,” she concludes, adding that the Twitter responses to her remarks included death threats. “Abuse and violence in any form, at any time, in any expression, are never okay. Period. I, and other girls and women, are not afraid of you. You can keep on hating, but I am going to keep on loving.”

More power to Ashley Judd!

In more violence against women news, the search for bodies is continuing on Long Island. After finding ten bodies so far on beaches, searchers are looking underwater for more remains. In addition the FBI is helping out with “high-tech planes.”

“This is not an episode of CSI. This is an intensive long term investigation that includes the use of sophisticated technology as well as good old fashioned detective work,” said Suffolk County Police Commissioner Richard Dormer at a press conference today.

Dormer said that the FBI will provide investigators with planes and choppers that use sophisticated aerial imaging technology of the Long Island beach area where the skeletal remains of at least nine bodies have been found so far.

“Weather permitting this operation will commence later this week…We’re hoping the technology will help identify skeletal remains that may still be out there,” Dormer said.

Police believe that there are no links between the bodies found on Long Island in 2010 and 2011 and four bodies that were found in Atlantic City in 2006.

According to the NY Post, some of the bones found in the past couple of days could be victims of another Long Island serial killer Joel Rifkin.

The skull and torso found on a desolate Nassau County beachfront are too old to be connected to the serial killings of four Craigslist call girls — and could belong to long-lost victims of notorious Long Island butcher Joel Rifkin, a source said yesterday.

“These are so old that roots were growing around the vertebrae and the skull,” the source told The Post.

“These could be one or two of Joel Rifkin’s victims who were never found,” or the work of another killer, the source said.

Further complicating the case, the bodies of a man and a young child have been found during the search.

Austria is the latest country waking up to the abuse of its children by Catholic priests.

Over 800 cases of abuse in Catholic institutions in Austria have been reported so far, a commission tasked with investigating abuse cases announced on Wednesday.

A total 837 abuse victims approached the commission, which was set up by the Austrian Catholic Church last year after it was hit by a wave of abuse revelations, commission head Waltraud Klasnic told a press conference.

Three quarters of the victims were male, with the most cases — about 20 percent — reported in northern Upper Austria province, followed by Vienna and western Tyrol, according to a commission report summarising its first-year findings.

Back in the good old USA, Bill Donohue of the Catholic League says the kids were asking for it.

The group bought an expensive full-page ad in The New York Times Monday that places the blames for the church’s scandals on “homosexuality, not pedophilia.”

And perhaps most shockingly, it also claimed that some children were active participants in the abuse.

“The refrain that child rape is a reality in the Church is twice wrong: let’s get it straight — they weren’t children and they weren’t raped,” self-appointed Catholic League president Bill Donohue wrote in the ad.

“We know from the John Jay study that most of the victims have been adolescents, and that the most common abuse has been inappropriate touching (inexcusable though this is, it is not rape),” he added, referencing a 2004 study by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, which was funded by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

“The Boston Globe correctly said of the John Jay report that ‘more than three-quarters of the victims were post pubescent, meaning the abuse did not meet the clinical definition of pedophilia.’ In other words, the issue is homosexuality, not pedophilia,” Donohue wrote.

Another issue is that priests are in a position of power and should not take advantage of that position to gratify their sexual desires. But I’m sure Donohue would disagree. And where I come from adolescents are still children.

In science news, a new study revealed that Climate change affects tectonic plate movement, causing earthquakes

Understanding why plates change direction and speed is key to unlocking huge seismic events such as last month’s Japan earthquake, which shifted the Earth’s axis by several inches, or February’s New Zealand quake.

An Australian-led team of researchers from France and Germany found that the strengthening Indian monsoon had accelerated movement of the Indian plate over the past 10 million years by a factor of about 20 percent.

Lead researcher Giampiero Iaffaldano said Wednesday that although scientists have long known that tectonic movements influence climate by creating new mountains and sea trenches, his study was the first to show the reverse.

Dakninikat sent me this one from the BBC: Yellowstone supervolcano fed by bigger plume

The underground volcanic plume at Yellowstone in the US may be bigger than previously thought, according to a new study by geologists.

The volcanic hotspot below Yellowstone feeds the hot springs, mud pots and geysers that bring millions of visitors to the US national park each year.

There have been three huge eruptions of the Yellowstone supervolcano: 2.1 million years ago, 1.3 million years ago and 640,000 years ago. Two of these eruptions blanketed a large area of North America with volcanic ash.

The most recent full-scale eruption of the Yellowstone supervolcano ejected some 1,000 cubic km (240 cubic miles) of hot ash and rock into the atmosphere. There have been smaller eruptions in between the largest outpourings; the most recent of these occurred 70,000 years ago.

Of course that can’t be true because the earth can’t possibly be that old, right?

That’s all I’ve got for today. What are you reading and blogging about?


Bad News at Good News Camp

Last night I posted that prosecutors are looking into sexual abuse allegations relating to an employee at the Good News Christian Camp on Cape Cod–the same camp at which Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown says he was sexually abused by a counselor when he was a young boy.

Today an employee at the camp shot himself. And officials say he is the employee who was recently accused by another man who was abused at the camp when he was 10 years old. From The Boston Globe:

An employee of a Christian summer camp on Cape Cod shot himself to death today just days after he became the focus of a criminal investigation into allegations that he sexually abused a camper during the 1980s, officials said.

In a joint statement released this afternoon, Cape and Islands District Attorney Michael O’Keefe and Sandwich Police Chief Peter Wack said the man was dead when he was found near his vehicle on the grounds of Camp Good News this morning.

[....]

The dead man’s name was not released by authorities. But Boston attorney Mitchell Garabedian, who represents a former camper who brought a sex abuse allegation to prosecutors on Monday, said the employee was his client’s alleged abuser: Charles “Chuck” Devita, 43, who is listed on the camp’s website as part of the leadership team and director of the physical plant.

Devita left behind notes insisting “that he never did anything being alleged and was, indeed, sick of being accused,” according to a law enforcement official.

What a coward. He spends decades abusing vulnerable young boys, and when he’s finally caught he checks out, leaving a note claiming innocence.

Meanwhile, Scott Brown says his abuse took place in the 1970′s, more than 40 years ago. He refuses to identify his abuser, but now we know that the Camp has employed at least two pedophiles.

According to the Boston Herald:

Garabedian tells the Herald his client was supposed to meet with a state police investigator about today’s death. Garabedian said his client alleges he was repeatedly sexually assaulted at the overnight camp in 1985 by Devita.

Garabedian said three other people have now come forward today alleging they were also sexually assaulted at the camp — two from Devita and one from another man.

“Another individual has come forward alleging that he was molested by a different individual. I am currently investigating,” Garabedian said.

So…maybe three pedophiles have worked for this “Christian” camp. Let’s hope parents in Massachusetts stop sending their kids to this place, and learn to be vigilant about what is going on with their kids in the future. Parents need to be aware that pedophiles seek out jobs where they will have access to children.

It’s important for parents to discuss these kinds of situations with children in age appropriate ways. If nothing else, being open with your kids might help them feel safe to talk to you if, goddess forbid, they are approached by a sexual abuser.