Lazy Caturday ReadsPosted: April 27, 2019
We’re living in crazy world now. It’s the weekend, and Trump is golfing, so maybe we’ll have a little peace for a couple of days. Maybe. I’ve been looking at the latest news for hours now, and I’m at a loss to know what to write about today. There’s just too much crazy.
So, before I get to political news, I want to call your attention to with fascinating story about recent advances in crime solving that were long ignored because they were discovered and championed by older women.
The New York Times: Sooner or Later Your Cousin’s DNA Is Going to Solve a Murder, by Heather Murphy. [Emphasis added]
In the year since the arrest of the man believed to be the notorious Golden State Killer, the world of criminal investigation has been radically transformed.
Using an unconventional technique that relies on DNA submitted to online genealogy sites, investigators have solved dozens of violent crimes, in many cases decades after they hit dead ends. Experts believe the technique could be used to revive investigations into a vast number of cases that have gone cold across the country, including at least 100,000 unsolved major violent crimes and 40,000 unidentified bodies.
Many have called it a revolutionary new technology. But credit for this method largely belongs to a number of mostly female, mostly retired family history lovers who tried for years to persuade law enforcement officials that their techniques could be used for more than locating the biological parents of adoptees.
These women were ignored by law enforcement, probably because they were older women. What could they possibly know about finding murderers and rapists?
One was Diane Harman Hoog, the 78-year-old director of education at DNA Adoption, who realized in 2013 that she could apply the techniques she was using to identify two bodies she’d read about in a Seattle newspaper. “This is too complicated,” she said she was told when she reached out to a detective. Four years later, Margaret Press, a 72-year-old retired computer programmer and skilled family tree builder in California, tried to help her local sheriff with a similar case. No one would return her calls.
Fast forward to April 25, 2018, the day that a gaggle of California prosecutors announced that an “innovative DNA technology” had been used in the Golden State Killer case.
The innovator was Dr. Barbara Rae-Venter, a genetic genealogist who had uploaded crime scene DNA to GEDMatch.com, a low-key genealogical research site run out of a little yellow house in Florida. Dr. Rae-Venter, 70, and her team soon found a suspect by using the genetic and family tree data provided by his cousins.
And that was how a former police officer, Joseph DeAngelo, came to be charged with 26 counts of murder and kidnapping in connection with scores of rapes and murders that were committed across California in the 1970s and ’80s. In interview after interview, Paul Holes, a determined investigator who had spent decades chasing false leads, rejoiced in his decision to involve Dr. Rae-Venter.
“Barbara really braved the pass,” said CeCe Moore, a genetic genealogist who was also among the first to see the potential in the technique. Within a few weeks of the announcement, she began working with Parabon, a forensic consulting firm.
Practically every week now, there are news reports of cold cases being solved, including famous cases that have long been the subjects of popular speculation and conspiracy theories.
In rapid succession, Parabon’s work led to 49 genetic identifications, reopening a number of cold cases: the 1987 double murder of a young Canadian couple, six rapes in North Carolina and the slaying of a Stanford University graduate 46 years ago. The technique resulted in at least 17 arrests, including people who had never been under any suspicion, such as a well-established party D.J. and children’s entertainer in Pennsylvania. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children is revisiting about 700 cases involving unidentified children’s remains and has identified about 15 in the past year.
An additional 300 cases are in the works: old murders, serial sexual assaults, and unidentified bodies, according to estimates by various genealogists and investigators.
Thanks to women in their 60s and 70s, who were long ignored and discounted. Isn’t that amazing? We live in a culture that diminishes women’s accomplishments.
We have a similar situation in politics. Women’s voices and talents are overlooked in favor of anyone with a penis. If you’re white and have a penis, you’re never to old to run for president; but if you’re an accomplished woman with specific plans to make life better for Americans, you’ll never be good enough to draw attention from the white male media.
Yesterday, the latest ancient white male savior appeared on The View. He was challenged about his refusal to apologize either to Anita Hill or to women he manhandled.
In his first television interview since announcing his run for president, former Vice President Joe Biden found himself sputtering a bit Friday when confronted by The View over multiple allegations of inappropriate touching and his treatment of Anita Hill.
Biden was initially greeted by The View hosts with a very warm welcome by the panel and extremely friendly audience. But the tone shifted halfway through the chat when co-host Sunny Hostin brought up recent accusations from multiple women that he invaded their personal space and made them feel “gross.”
The former veep replied that “everybody has to be more away of the private space of men and women” before awkwardly asking the all-woman panel if he can hug them, noting that he wasn’t sure what to do when he walked out….
Biden then rambled a bit about how it is his responsibility to be “more aware” and how he needs to better read when “this is space no one wants me to invade.” He made sure to note that no one has categorized the allegations as having anything “to do with harassment.”
“They have said that,” Hostin replied. “They have also said they would like an apology.”
“Look, I’m really sorry if what I did is talk to them and trying to console that they took it a different way,” the former vice president replied. “It’s my responsibility to make sure that I bend over backwards to try to understand how not to do that.”
On Anita Hill:
Biden claimed he did everything he could to defeat Thomas’ confirmation while adding that he “believed her from the beginning,” causing the panel to grill him on whether he wanted to “clean this up right now” and directly apologize to her.
Asked why he didn’t reach out to Hill earlier, considering the hearings occurred 28 years ago, Biden said: “Since I had publicly apologized for the way she was treated… I didn’t want to, quote, invade her space.”
“I think she wants you to say I’m sorry for the way I treated you, not for the way you were treated,” Behar shot back. “That might be a littler closer.”
Biden, still unable to unequivocally apologize for his actions, answered: “But I’m sorry the way she got treated. I never heard—if you go back and look at what I said and I didn’t say, I don’t think I treated her badly. I took on her opposition.”
This clueless old guy is the supposed savior that white men–and all the Never Trumpers apparently–thinks can defeat Trump in 2020. How will he do that if he doesn’t reach out to women and people of color? He has to win the nomination first, right?
I got in a ridiculous argument about this on Twitter last night, and I was stunned to learn how many people don’t understand that in order to run against Trump, Biden will need to get votes from the base of the Democratic Party–not just working class white men.
One more Biden article from Slate: Joe Biden Wants Women to Vote for Him. He doesn’t want to earn their votes, by Christina Cauterucci.
On Thursday, soon after Biden announced his entrance into the race with a tweeted video, the New York Times published Anita Hill’s account of a phone call he’d made to her a few weeks earlier. Ostensibly, the point of the call was to make amends with the woman he’d famously failed as the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1991, when Hill testified that then–Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas had repeatedly sexually harassed her.
But according to both Hill and Biden’s team, the former vice president didn’t apologize for asking Hill skeptical questions about her alleged harassment or for failing to call three witnesses who were willing to echo or back up Hill’s allegations. He didn’t apologize for allowing Republicans on the committee to badger her with accusations that she suffered from “erotomania,” a condition characterized by delusions that a higher-ranking person has the hots for them. Biden didn’t even apologize for telling Hill she’d get to testify first, then, without notifying her, allowing Thomas to go first instead….
Over the past couple of years, as Biden has been mulling a presidential run, he’s occasionally expressed sympathy for Hill in public. Every time, he’s refused to put any blame on his own shoulders. “I’m so sorry that she had to go through what she went through,” he told Glamour in 2017. Later that year, he gave an interview to Teen Vogue. “My one regret is that I wasn’t able to tone down the attacks on her by some of my Republican friends,” he said. “I wish I had been able to do more for Anita Hill. I owe her an apology.” And when Biden appeared on The View on Friday, in his first sit-down interview since launching his campaign, he again declined to take any responsibility. “I’m sorry for the way [Hill] got treated,” he told the show’s panel of women. “I don’t think I treated her badly.”
The fact that he gave these dutiful half-apologies to outlets and shows that are designed to appeal to women is typical of the Biden approach to gender: more concerned with where and how he appears than what he says and does….
The message Biden is sending is that he cares about women as a political bloc but not as individuals whose perspectives merit concerted empathy. He either thinks female voters will be satisfied by a pat on the head accompanied by a roll of the eyes, or he believes his strong support among older Democrats—many of whom share his eye-rolling impulse when it comes to gender issues—will be enough to win a contested primary without getting the buy-in of progressive feminists.
Read the rest at Slate.
And there’s the even more ancient white male “savior,” Bernie Sanders.
Honestly, at this point I’m ready to throw up my hands and give up. The Iowa caucuses are more than 8 months away and the election is a year and a half away!
There’s much more news out there. Here are some stories to check out.
The New York Times: Donald Trump Shows a New Level of Contempt for Congress.
The Washington Post: In Trump’s world, FBI agents are traitors and Robert E. Lee isn’t.
HuffPost: Exposed: Military Investigating 4 More Servicemen For Ties To White Nationalist Group.
That’s all I have for you today. What stories have you been following?