I continue to believe that a huge number of Christians in this country actually make this the least Christian country on the planet. After all, white evangelicals were the biggest chunk of voters that made way for Russia’s attack on our form of government and brought an insane man into the White House. What type of people fall for cons? What type of people actually will damage themselves and their neighbors to feel smug and safe in their whiteness? Better yet, what will the recently installed Pope say to President Swiss Cheese for Brains and the Gingrichs who play the pious game of “maybe for thee but not for me” with all the Jesus teachings.
You can have as many bible studies and prayer breakfasts as you want in this administration and the actions will never overtake the words passed into law. What we continue to see is the rich and powerful destroying the lives of the weakest among us to provide lavish tax cuts that basically accrue value to no one but the person who receives them.
With that lecture, I give you the Republican and Trump Agenda. We are seeing the proposals that will send many to their graves. Paul Ryan is not nicknamed the Granny Starver for nothing. Please don’t watch the Trumpical Clusterfuck Tour. Read what’s going on with the Budget and with the Department of Re-Education.
President Trump’s first major budget proposal on Tuesday will include massive cuts to Medicaid and call for changes to anti-poverty programs that would give states new power to limit a range of benefits, people familiar with the planning said, despite growing unease in Congress about cutting the safety net.
For Medicaid, the state-federal program that provides health care to low-income Americans, Trump’s budget plan would follow through on a bill passed by House Republicans to cut more than $800 billion over 10 years. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that this could cut off Medicaid benefits for about 10 million people over the next decade.
The White House also will call for giving states more flexibility to impose work requirements for people in different kinds of anti-poverty programs, people familiar with the budget plan said, potentially leading to a flood of changes in states led by conservative governors. Many anti-poverty programs have elements that are run by both the states and federal government, and a federal order allowing states to stiffen work requirements “for able-bodied Americans” could have a broad impact in terms of limiting who can access anti-poverty payments — and for how long.
Numerous social-welfare programs grew after the financial crisis, leading to complaints from many Republicans that more should be done to shift people out of these programs and back into the workforce. Shortly after he was sworn in, Trump said, “We want to get our people off welfare and back to work. . . . It’s out of control.”
Trump’s decision to include the Medicaid cuts is significant because it shows he is rejecting calls from a number of Senate Republicans not to reverse the expansion of Medicaid that President Barack Obama achieved as part of the Affordable Care Act. The House has voted to cut the Medicaid funding, but Senate Republicans have signaled they are likely to start from scratch.
As usual, children and the sick get the worst treatment. I suppose it’s only time that we see an end to child labor laws and poor farms established. Either that, or we funnel every one to private jails.
But Tuesday’s budget will be more significant, because it will seek changes to entitlements — programs that are essentially on autopilot and don’t need annual authorization from Congress. The people describing the proposals spoke on the condition of anonymity because the budget had not been released publicly and the White House is closely guarding details.
The proposed changes include the big cuts to Medicaid. The White House also is expected to propose changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, though precise details couldn’t be learned. SNAP is the modern version of food stamps, and it swelled following the financial crisis as the Obama administration eased policies to make it easier for people to qualify for benefits. As the economy has improved, enrollment in the program hasn’t changed as much as many had forecast.
The Trump administration Monday plans to ask a federal court for another 90-day delay in a lawsuit over Obamacare insurance subsidies, according to two administration sources, leaving the future of the health care marketplaces in limbo through late August.
The suit, House v. Price, centers on Obamacare’s cost-sharing program, which reimburses health insurers to help low-income people make co-payments at the doctor or hospital. The legal motion in a case that was brought by House Republicans during the Obama administration is expected to be filed later Monday.
President Donald Trump has argued that the markets are fatally flawed and will collapse no matter what his administration does. He also suggested that the ensuing chaos could entice Democrats to come to the bargaining table and help craft a health care overhaul. But administration officials have said the payments would continue while the lawsuit is pending.
While another delay would stop short of imploding the markets, it still undermines the exchanges, by continuing uncertainty as insurers decide where to offer coverage and how to price it.
House Republicans charged the cost-sharing program was never legally funded in Obamacare. A federal district court judge ruled in 2016 that the Obama administration was illegally funding the program. The Obama administration appealed that decision but the issue was unresolved before Trump took office.
Before she was picked by President Trump to head up the U.S. Department of Education, Betsy DeVos was the chairwoman of the American Federal for Children, a pro-school choice lobbying group.
When she visits Indianapolis Monday night, Secretary DeVos will address a sea of friendly and familiar faces at the AFC’s National Policy Summit at the Weston Hotel.
It’s expected DeVos will roll out a Trump administration plan to provide tax credits to corporations and individuals who donate money to groups and schools that provide school choice scholarships to students and parents.
“We see that this is a really significant opportunity for her to lay out a vision for what she sees as educational choice going into the future for all fifty states,” said AFC Spokesman Tommy Schultz. “I think Indianapolis and Indiana are great places to do it where Indiana has one of the fastest growing choice programs in the entire country.”
More than 33,000 Hoosier students attend classes in a private or charter school under Indiana’s expanded choice program.
“So a federal tax credit scholarship program would be a really great way to facilitate getting more families educational options for their child. We expect something like that to be potentially rolled out later this year,” said Schultz. “It’s purely folks giving charitable contributions to education scholarship organizations and then therefore they’ll get a credit for that.”
Indiana’s public school teachers fear the DeVos speech will be one more attack on the system that educates a majority of America’s children, many of them in struggling urban school districts.
“We are concerned that her speech is going to be about changes to the proposed federal budget and how that’s going to impact our students,” said Theresa Merideth, president of the Indiana State Teachers Association. “What we have is a voucher system now that funds kids who are already going, by and large, to private schools anyway, and there is no data that is showing they are doing any better that public school counterparts.”
Meredith said before- and after-school programs, and services aimed at special education youngsters, will be at risk from proposed Trump administration cuts to the federal education budget.
The Trump administration, in a significant escalation of its clash with the government’s top ethics watchdog, has moved to block an effort to disclose any ethics waivers granted to former lobbyists who now work in the White House or federal agencies.
The latest conflict came in recent days when the White House, in a highly unusual move, sent a letter to Walter M. Shaub Jr., the head of the Office of Government Ethics, asking him to withdraw a request he had sent to every federal agency for copies of the waivers. In the letter, the administration challenged his legal authority to demand the information.
Dozens of former lobbyists and industry lawyers are working in the Trump administration, which has hired them at a much higher rate than the previous administration. Keeping the waivers confidential would make it impossible to know whether any such officials are violating federal ethics rules or have been given a pass to ignore them.
Mr. Shaub, who is in the final year of a five-year term after being appointed by President Barack Obama, said he had no intention of backing down. “It is an extraordinary thing,” Mr. Shaub said of the White House request. “I have never seen anything like it.”
A divided U.S. Supreme Court ruled that North Carolina Republicans relied too heavily on race when they drew two bizarrely shaped congressional voting districts that were used until the 2014 election.
The ruling upholds a lower court decision that rejected the two majority-black districts and ordered a new map for the 2016 election. Even with the new lines, Republicans maintained their hold on 10 of the state’s 13 districts.
Writing for the court, Justice Elena Kagan said a three-judge panel had sufficient grounds for concluding that race, and not politics, was the driving factor in setting out the lines. She also backed the lower court’s conclusion that the district lines weren’t needed to comply with a federal voting-rights law.
“A state may not use race as the predominant factor in drawing district lines unless it has a compelling reason,” Kagan wrote.
The case produced an unusual split. Justice Clarence Thomas, perhaps the most conservative justice, joined the court’s four liberals in the majority. Thomas is a staunch opponent of the use of race in drawing district lines, no matter which side benefits.
Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito and Anthony Kennedy issued a partial dissent saying they would have upheld one of the districts. Justice Neil Gorsuch didn’t take part in the case, which was argued before he joined the court.
The contested districts were both held by black Democrats. Critics said the goal was to dilute minority voting strength outside of those two districts and preserve the power of neighboring white Republicans.
North Carolina officials said they were trying to preserve black majorities and comply with the Voting Rights Act, the landmark 1965 law designed to protect racial minorities. North Carolina also contended that, with regard to one of its disputed districts, map-drawers were legitimately motivated by politics.
One of the disputed districts — the 12th District, held by Representative Alma Adams — was 120 miles long, snaking from Charlotte to Greensboro and roughly tracking Interstate 85. The other — the 1st District, held by Representative G.K. Butterfield — was in the northeastern part of the state, with tendrils that captured black areas further south and west.
The 12th District has been the subject of repeated court challenges over the years. The latest case represented the fifth time the Supreme Court had examined the district.
That’s according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter. The person spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the private interactions between Flynn and the committee.
Flynn’s decision comes less than two weeks after the committee issued a subpoena for Flynn’s documents as part of the panel’s investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election.
Legal experts have said Flynn was unlikely to turn over the personal documents without immunity because he would be waiving some of his constitutional protections by doing so. Flynn has previously sought immunity from “unfair prosecution” to cooperate with the committee.
Simon Maloy argues that the Trump White House is collapsing in an op ed for The Week.
Just as Air Force One was lifting off to ferry Trump to Riyadh, The New York Times and The Washington Post each published seismically significant pieces on the White House’s ever-expanding Russia scandal. The Timesreported that Trump, during an Oval Office meeting the day after he fired FBI Director James Comey, told high-level Russian officials that Comey was a “nut job” and firing him had relieved the “great pressure” Trump felt “because of Russia.” The Post, meanwhile, reported that the Justice Department’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s links to Russia has identified a senior White House official as “a significant person of interest.”
Shortly after the Times and Post stories hit, CNN came through with another big scoop, reporting that Russian officials had boasted during the 2016 campaign that they could use former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn to influence Trump and his associates.
The Times piece in particular is brutal for Trump. At the time the president divulged to the Russians his motivation for firing his FBI director, the administration was still sticking to its ridiculous story that Comey lost his job because he botched the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails. That means officials from an adversarial government knew the White House wasn’t being honest about a politically explosive subject.
On top of that, Trump’s comments to the Russians could become the focus of an obstruction of justice inquiry by special counsel Robert Mueller, who was tapped to assume control of the Russia investigation following Comey’s dismissal. Trump had already told NBC’s Lester Holt that the Russia investigation factored into his decision to fire Comey, and the Times report adds significant weight to the idea that Trump’s primary motivation in sacking Comey was to neutralize an issue that was damaging him politically.
The Post report, meanwhile, feels like the first strong indication that the Russia investigation has the potential to cut deeply. The fact that a senior White House official is coming under scrutiny is obviously a problem for Trump, but the Post also reported that the FBI inquiry now “also includes determining whether any financial crimes were committed by people close to the president.”
Financial Crimes is an interesting take given the Russian hacking of the US election and White House. But, it’s a serious way to take down the Trump Criminal Syndicate. This is from Josh Marshall writing for TPM.
We know – and this article confirms – that Paul Manafort is a significant focus of the probe. Even apart from his political work in Ukraine, Manafort appears to have a series of real estate deals, loans, etc. that investigators are looking at. So perhaps it’s something as mundane as stumbling across some kind of crooked, small-bore real estate ventures Manafort participated in while examining his business ties to people in Ukraine.
But my hunch is that it’s a bit more than that.
As you’ve seen, what I’ve been focused on in recent months are a series of business ventures over the last couple decades – either involving President Trump or his close associates – which seemed to rely on capital from people from the former Soviet Union or recent emigres from those countries. Trump himself, Felix Sater, Michael Cohen and many others figure into this as well as Manafort, Trump’s children, the Kushners and still others. My interest of course is to understand the roots of Trump’s affinity with the post-Soviet oligarch world and whatever financial ties or dependence he has on it. But even if you take the Russia/former Soviet Union connection with its geopolitical dynamics out of the equation, you simply can’t read over these deals and not see that Trump and his crew just play way out on the outer fringe of legality at best. At best. People who have done or subsequently did time in the US or other countries repeatedly appear in the picture. So do people from organized crime. A lot.
One thing you find looking through Trump’s history is that after his fall from financial grace a quarter century ago this pattern seemed to become part of the business model. Cut off from capital from the big banks and most people interested in not losing their money, he had to do business with people with decidedly sketchier reputations. Those people, often looking for places to park wealth in real estate, had to accept much higher levels of risk than people with clean reputations. That seemed to lead them to Trump.
Then there’s another level of it. Even apart from big bad acts and corrupt deals, look at the stuff David Fahrenthold dug up on the Trump Foundation and his Potemkin charitable giving. Beyond issues of possible illegality, the big takeaway there was that Trump operates with a seemingly almost total disregard for rule-following or even a lot of elementary record keeping. So on top of substantively shady deals things are executed in really slapdash and hazard ways. In other words, the Trump Organization sounds a lot like the Trump White House. Only it’s a private company, surrounded by a moat of NDAs, all examined by little more than the thin scrutiny of the New York tabloids.
Here are just a couple examples of some color from the kinds of associations and business dealings I’m talking about: one and two.
Follow those links.
So, I’ve just filled the page with over 3100 words and counting. I think I’ll leave the rest to you this morning.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
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As you will notice today’s post is being accompanied by black and white stripes. (Or are they white and black stripes?)
Black and white printed stripes, black shadows against white skin, or white lights streaming upwards against a black night.
Whatever the case may be, I think the last few days have brought home my deepest fears…perhaps it is because I live in Banjoville, a town that is so predominately Trump territory. So I have the intimate knowledge of the “phenomena” that is Trump-ism… you know that shit that so many dumb-asses in the media write about…let me tell you plain and simple what is Trump’s Juju with the crowd who is voting for him come November.
It is white supremacy.
Shall I repeat it? Yes, I think I should.
And it brings with it all the other horrible baggage you would expect…the usual racism, hate, intolerance, misogyny, assholism, and all the rest peppered with a shit load of “christian values” as they define the code of religious virtue…as it applies to who theyfeel deserves it. Which you all know is limited to those they consider “right” enough (white enough) to meet the approved standard.
Rep. Steve King objected to a comment during a cable news discussion at MSNBC that this will be the last election dominated by old white people.
Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) offered an unusual defense of the racial homogeneity of his party during a panel on MSNBC Monday evening.
The group, led by Chris Hayes, was discussing the first day of the Republican national convention and Donald Trump’s history of racially-loaded comments and behavior. King told Hayes that he thought Trump had “modified” his behavior in that regard, but Esquire’s Charlie Pierce said he didn’t see much diversity reflected in the gathering itself.
“If you’re really optimistic, you can say that this is the last time that old white people will command the Republican Party’s attention, its platform, its public face,” Pierce said. “That hall is wired,” he continued. “That hall is wired by loud, unhappy, dissatisfied white people.”
“This ‘old white people’ business does get a little tired, Charlie,” King said. “I’d ask you to go back through history and figure out, where are these contributions that have been made by these other categories of people that you’re talking about, where did any other subgroup of people contribute more to civilization?”
“Than white people?” Hayes asked, clearly amazed.
“Than, than Western civilization itself,” King replied. “It’s rooted in Western Europe, Eastern Europe and the United States of America and every place where the footprint of Christianity settled the world. That’s all of Western civilization.”
There are lots of basic things wrong with King’s statement, even just starting with his category of ‘whiteness’. Whiteness is not ‘natural’– it is an invented category. Were Irish white? A lot of English didn’t think so. “Whites” rioted against Greek immigrants to the US. White supremacists still argue over whether to let in Italian-Americans. Me, I don’t want to be called white and I decline that categorization whenever the government or other people with questionnaires will let me. The Appalachian side of my family probably has some Melungeon to it and some of us aren’t all that ‘white.’
Cole goes on to correct King’s ridiculous statement about “civilization” here:
If by civilization is meant urban society with high rates of literacy, scientific and technological innovation, role specialization and division of labor, and high levels of collective government, then northern European Christians did not invent it.
Iraq, Iran, India, China and Egypt did. The Sumerians, Babylonians, Assyrians, Elamites, Persians, Indians, Chinese and the Pharaohs of Egypt had civilization for thousands of years while Celts in Britain were painting themselves blue and doing hunting and gathering in the wastes.
There is way more at the link, please go and read the full article.
Of course it is no use to show or tell these Trumptarians the facts. Because they will go on, completely make up false stuff, put it in school books and teach it to the young children. And hey, they don’t even have to stick to charter schools anymore, in Texas…where most of the US public schools purchase their textbooks to use in the public education system, fact is a thing of the past.
It’s “deeply flawed,” but that hasn’t stopped the Texas State Board of Education before.
A proposed Mexican-American studies textbook has drawn harsh criticism for what Latino educators and scholars in Texas are calling a lack of scholarly expertise, major factual inaccuracies and demeaning characterizations of Mexican-Americans.
“What we have now is a deeply flawed and a deeply offensive textbook,” Celina Moreno, of the Texas Latino Education Coalition, said at a Monday press conference.
Groups like Moreno’s came together with professors who specialize in Mexican-American heritage, and who had been independently scrutinizing the textbook, to share some of their disturbing findings.
Emilio Zamora, a professor of history at the University of Texas at Austin, reviewed material that covered the U.S.-Mexican War of 1846-48 to the present. He said he found “five to seven serious, serious errors per page,” which render the entire publication “useless and even counterproductive.”
The Texas State Board of Education is currently reviewing the book for potential approval. Although the book’s fate is far from clear, the board has previously approved textbooks and curricula that deny climate change, promote creationism, whitewash historical events and maintain that the roots of Western democracy are found in the Bible.
And last year, the board rejected a proposal that state-approved elementary and high school textbooks be fact-checked by academics.
Oh, that emphasis is mine…
Because of the state’s tremendous clout in the educational publishing world, Dan Quinn of the nonpartisan educational watchdog group Texas Freedom Network told HuffPost that content that makes the grade in the Lone Star State is likely to be adopted ― in some form or another ― well beyond its borders.
I really feel that this has been coming for some time. I remember writing about this textbook shit years ago…it is one of the topics we have discussed frequently on the blog.
The lone proposal for a Mexican-American heritage textbook came from Momentum Instructions, a company linked to Cynthia Dunbar, a former education board member known for her extreme conservative views. Quinn described her four-year term on the board as “one culture war after another.”
In a 2008 book titled One Nation Under God ― released while Dunbar was still serving on the state board ― she called public education “tyrannical” and a “subtly deceptive tool of perversion,” according to the Texas Observer.
As for the proposed textbook, Quinn suggested that Dunbar and its authors were seeking to “promote their own political and personal ideas.” He said the authors lack credible expertise in the field of Mexican-American studies.
Emails and calls to Momentum Instructions were not immediately returned.
It sounds like something you would expect in a nation that has Trump as the official GOP Candidate for President…
As the State Board of Education (SBOE) is accepting comments on the book before voting on it in November, a group of academics and advocacy groups decided to take a closer look at Mexican American Heritage. Organized as the Responsible Ethnic Studies Textbook Coalition, they announced their reviews Monday morning at the Texas Education Agency’s (TEA) offices in Austin.
As it went on, the press conference began to sound more like the least successful book blurb pitch session ever:
“A deeply flawed and deeply offensive textbook that has no place in Texas classrooms.” — Celina Moreno, Texas Latino Education Coalition
“Useless and even counter-productive.” — Emilio Zamora, professor of history at UT-Austin
“Replete with … offensive racial stereotypes.” — Lilliana Saldaña, associate professor of Mexican-American studies at UT-San Antonio
“So riddled with factual errors that a traditional publisher would not have recognized or tried to publish this book.” — Christopher Carmona, National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies-Tejas Foco
“Willfully irresponsible, culturally chauvinist and discriminatory.” — Zamora
“The person who wrote the section on Texas history would have failed a fourth-grade exam. … There are no women cited or quoted in the entire chapter.” — José María Herrera, assistant professor of education at UT-El Paso
“Simply unworthy. … Obviously a fraud.” — Zamora, again
The coalition is calling for the SBOE to completely reject the book — not just require a few tweaks to the text — for a combination of factual errors, academic laziness and cultural insensitivity.
Saldaña noted that the book not only refers to indigenous people as “Indians,” but provides a lengthy explanation of why “Indians” is the best term to use. Elsewhere, Saldaña pointed out, the authors describe one group of people as driven by “bloodlust” — language she said was better suited to a Hollywood script than a serious academic text.
Board member David Bradley, R-Beaumont, who opposed asking for a Mexican-American studies course and textbook, said the proposed book seems fine.
“It’s really kind of amusing. The left-leaning, radical Hispanic activists, having pounded the table for special treatment, get approval for a special course that nobody else wanted,” Bradley said. “Now they don’t like their special textbook? I bet they want everyone to also get an A for just attending? The one thing we can’t fix in this world is unhappy people.”
It really pisses me off…fuck him. (That male superior tone in the statement. How I hate it.) And this is how the majority of the population in my home town think. It is exactly how a Trumptonain thinks. And it is the kind of person who will vote him into office.
The triumph of Trump has demonstrated the cost of the devil’s bargain that party elites — and the media — have accepted over the years.
What is on display at the RNC in Cleveland is the Republican id. We always suspected it would look something like this. But even though it reared its ugly head on occasion on Fox News or in Congress — on the lips of some right-wing preacher or billionaire hedge-fund manager. They would compare gays to Satan, progressive taxation to Naziism and people of color to criminals at best, animals at worst — but the more polite, polished folks who spoke for the party would always regretfully shake their well-coiffed heads and explain that wasn’t what the party was really about.
And to their eternal shame, most in the media ran interference for this confidence game, only to be blindsided when Trump demonstrated that it had always been a charade.
Well thanks to Donald Trump and his followers, the jig is up. Melania Trump’s plagiarism of Michelle Obama was just about the least offensive thing one heard from the podium on Monday night. The rest was a near orgy of hatred, racism, sexism and ethnocentrism. Rudy Giuliani has always presented himself as an avatar of “law and order.” This has been a conservative mantra for half a century. We always suspected it was code for the suppression of African-Americans and now we know. Ditto all this talk of “Judeo-Christian” values. It’s a code for Islamophobia and oppression. And the attacks on Hillary Clinton sound an awful lot as if they are being spoken by people who simply cannot accept the fact that women have the same rights and capabilities as men. And to their eternal shame, most in the media ran interference for this confidence game, only to be blindsided when Trump demonstrated that it had always been a charade.
Listen to the speeches by the Republican heavyweights who have agreed to take the stage in Cleveland; not one of them has put forth an actual idea that makes sense in terms of how to govern the United States. That’s because governance has long ceased being relevant to the Republican coalition. What holds it together is nothing more than nostalgia for a more oppressive America and resentment toward those who refuse, any longer, to sit on the back of bus.
My only response to this is to say that it is what I’ve been seeing all along, for years…from my window into the world that is my “quiet redneck mountain town” of Banjoville, GA. It is frightening as hell. I cannot lean back and think this election is a done deal. That folks will vote for Hillary and that she is a foregone conclusion to win in November. I am truly scared Trump could pull it out, and the stupidity will put him in office…and we will once again see the white lights of supremacy that shone in Nuremberg those years ago…brightening the dark black skies over America…to make America Great Again…to make America Safe Again. (As the RNC message was on Monday.)
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On May 17, Americans and people around the world mark the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia by reaffirming the dignity and inherent worth of all people, regardless of who they love or their gender identity.
Our nation is committed to the principle that all people should be treated fairly and with respect. Advancing this goal has long been a cornerstone of American diplomacy, and I am proud that my Administration has made advancing the human rights of LGBT individuals a specific focus of our engagement around the world. I am also proud of the great strides that our nation has made at home in recent years, including that we now have marriage equality as a result of last year’s landmark Supreme Court decision.
At the same time, there is much work to be done to combat homophobia and transphobia, both at home and abroad. In too many places, LGBT individuals grow up forced to conceal or deny who they truly are for fear of persecution, discrimination, and violence. All nations and all communities can, and must, do better. Fortunately, human rights champions and good citizens around the world continue to strive towards this goal every day by lifting up the simple truth that LGBT rights are human rights. The United States honors their work and will continue to support them in their struggle for human dignity.
“Today, I join Canadians – and people around the world – to recognize the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia.
“Everyone deserves to live free of stigma, persecution, and discrimination – no matter who they are or whom they love. Today is about ensuring that all people – regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity – feel safe and secure, and empowered to freely express themselves.
“On this important day, I encourage all Canadians to raise awareness, and mobilize to end the violence, prejudice, and judgement faced by LGBTQ2 persons.
“As a society, we have taken many important steps toward recognizing and protecting the legal rights for the LGBTQ2 community – from enshrining equality rights in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to the passage of the Civil Marriage Act. There remains much to be done, though. Far too many people still face harassment, discrimination, and violence for being who they are. This is unacceptable.
“To do its part, the Government of Canada today will introduce legislation that will help ensure transgender and other gender-diverse people can live according to their gender identity, free from discrimination, and protected from hate propaganda and hate crimes.
“Today, let us unite in a global celebration of diversity, and reaffirm our commitment to unequivocally defend LGBTQ2 rights as human rights. We will never stop fighting for a safer, more equal, and more just world for all of our children.”
According to multiple reports, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has proposed legalizing same-sex marriage across the entire country. Should Mexico recognize same-sex marriages at the national level, it would join the United States and Canada as the only North American nations to do so. Nieto’s proposal comes as part of a string of socially liberal policy ideas from the 49-year-old president, including the legalization of medical marijuana and an overhaul of the country’s war on drugs.
In what’s sure to be part of a growing trend, a young woman in a Walmart restroom Friday was treated to a stern anti-transgender scolding from a self-appointed member of the Moral Police in Danbury, Connecticut. Aimée Toms, a 22-year-old college student from Naugatuck, was washing her hands when a complete stranger hissed “You’re disgusting!” and “You don’t belong here!” Toms, you see, has really short hair and was wearing a baseball cap, which was enough to convince the sharp-eyed Walmart shopper that Toms had to be one of those filthy transgender people using the ladies’ biffy, endangering The Children and ruining America. Toms posted a fine video rant about the experience to Facebook Friday evening, and the video quickly went viral, with nearly 40,000 views since it went up. We have to say we like the cut of her jib. Toms introduces the video with this brief caption:
If it really takes me pulling up my shirt and showing someone I grew these boobs myself for them to leave me alone in a restroom, I don’t want to live on this planet anymore.
Students in North Georgia are the targets of the latest transphobic outcry.
Parents in Fannin County, organized by school resource officer Anthony Walden, rallied last week against a policy supporting transgender students using bathrooms that align with their gender identity, instead of their sex assigned at birth.
Parents packed the Thursday school board meeting to decry the policy, which stems from federal government guidance, with media reports of anywhere from one to three hundred people in attendance.
“We could stand to lose 3.5 million dollars, that’s federal money,” school attorney Lynn Doss toldFox 5 News.
Following the egregious N.C. “bathroom bill,” the federal government issued a letter to schools urging them to allow transgender students to use restrooms and other facilities that correspond with their gender identity and not their sex assigned at birth.
N.C. and Gov. Pat McCrory are facing a lawsuit from the federal government over HB 2, with the Dept. of Justice making clear that transphobic bathroom policies are discriminatory and a violation of student’s civil rights.
So much love to Loretta Lynch for this: “Let me also speak directly to the transgender community itself…no matter how isolated, no matter how afraid, and no matter how alone you may feel today…we see you, we stand with you, and we will do everything we can to protect you going forward.”
I think you can tell the direction this article is taking….
Transphobic statements abounded during the three hours of public comment. Parents and local leaders encouraged the school board to forego the federal dollars, threatening to remove their kids from school.
“We’re going to do everything we can to stop this, and if not, then us moms are going to come home and teach our kids like it used to be,” Parent Angel Chancey said.
“Ask the question what would Jesus have me do in this situation,” said Matthew McDaniel, a pastor at First Baptist Church. “We need to stand on God’s truth in this perverse situation.”
Speaker David Ralston, who represents the area, even waded in, sending a letter to Ga. Sens. Johnny Isakson and David Purdue asking them to get involved.
Calling it “a vast overreach of federal authority,” Ralston asks them to “take appropriate action to protect our students and our local educators from the heavy hand of the federal government.”
Well, he certainly doesn’t seem interested in protecting transgender students, and that does not bode well for continued “religious freedom” rabble-rousing during next year’s legislative session.
Have I mentioned how much I hate the people up here in Banjoville. Fannin is the county next door…so they are our Banjoneighbors.
State Sen. Steve Gooch (R-51), Senate Majority Whip, is calling on Georgia’s top officials to take a firm stand against President Barack Obama’s letter sent to school systems Friday with guidelines allowing transgender students to use bathrooms matching the gender they identify with.
“We’re asking the governor and lieutenant governor to look at the president’s policy initiative that he announced this week that basically threatens local governments with withholding their funds for their local schools,” Gooch said Tuesday. “We think that’s a wrong direction for our country. We shouldn’t be controlling local school boards and dictating them and holding this over their head.”
Gooch, of Lumpkin County, briefly answered questions during Tuesday afternoon’s Helen City Commission meeting.
Mike Webb is a conservative candidate for the United States Congress (VA-8) and he’s hoping to bring “responsiveness and accountability” to Washington, D.C. From hiscampaign announcement:
“If we succeed in winning this race as a conservative Republican in the most liberal district in the nation and the most Democratic in the South, that will be a real revolution that will have national implications,” he said in a press release.
He is campaigning with a hands-on approach, insisting he does all of his own social media:
Webb claims that many residents are looking for responsiveness and accountability from their elected and appointed leaders. “One way to do that is to personally respond on social media. Talk and engage with people. Joke and chide. Engage in dialogue. That is what it is all about.”
Unfortunately for Mike Webb, he’s probably now wishing he had someone running his social media. He shared a screenshot of his computer screen while trying to make a point (that was partial conspiracy theory) about trying to find employment and he forgot to close out a couple of tabs:
Oh, my! Fans of Mike Webb’s Facebook page were quick to point out that the two tabs above led to two porn sites. Needless to say, fans were amused:
Picking out single words in a flow of speech is no easy task and, according to linguists, to succeed in doing it the brain might use statistical methods. A group of scientists has applied a statistics-based method for word segmentation and measured its efficacy on natural language, in nine different languages, to discover that linguistic rhythm plays an important role.
Have you ever racked your brains trying to make out even a single word of an uninterrupted flow of speech in a language you hardly know at all? It is naïve to think that in speech there is even the smallest of pauses between one word and the next (like the space we conventionally insert between words in writing): in actual fact, speech is almost always a continuous stream of sound. However, when we listen to our native language, word “segmentation” is an effortless process. What are, linguists wonder, the automatic cognitive mechanisms underlying this skill? Clearly, knowledge of the vocabulary helps: memory of the sound of the single words helps us to pick them out. However, many linguists argue, there are also automatic, subconscious “low-level” mechanisms that help us even when we do not recognise the words or when, as in the case of very young children, our knowledge of the language is still only rudimentary. These mechanisms, they think, rely on the statistical analysis of the frequency (estimated based on past experience) of the syllables in each language.
I hope you enjoy that one BB…
Have a good day y’all, treat this as an open thread of course.
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Second and even third jobs are the norm for many school teachers in South Dakota, where teacher pay ranks lowest in the nation, according to a state education task force. Gov. Dennis Daugaard has proposed a half-cent sales tax increase to help raise teacher pay, but his plan needs two-thirds approval in both the House and the Senate — a tough proposition in a legislature with an anti-tax lean.
Mary McCorkle, president of the South Dakota Education Association, said teachers often give up their evenings by grading papers and preparing lessons, and second jobs lead to burnout.
“Something has to give, whether it’s your health, your sanity,” McCorkle said. “You just can’t do everything, and you want to be there for your students.”
The SDEA, which represents more than 5,000 teachers in the state, said Daugaard’s proposal is an acknowledgement that South Dakota schools are having trouble hiring and keeping teachers.
The Brookings School District used to get dozens of applications for each open teaching position but now receives resumes from just a handful of qualified candidates, said school board President Steve Bayer. The pool depth is likely dwindling as applicants look across South Dakota’s eastern border to better-paying jobs.
“When you can make another thousand dollars a month as an experienced teacher, it’s probably worth looking at a place in Minnesota,” he said.
South Dakota’s average teacher salary of $40,023 in 2013-14 lagged an average of six states that border it by $11,888 a year and was $8,643 behind the next lowest neighbor, North Dakota, the group found. In some of South Dakota’s more remote areas, that average salary drops quickly.
Finding accurate beginning and average salaries for teachers by state is a tricky business. In our effort to build the most accurate list of teacher salaries by state, we have averaged the salary from multiple sources, including the National Education Association, job surveys, and private data analyses to create the Salary Comfort Index.
So if you are curious…take a peek at those numbers.
I will leave that story up to you. Take a gander at the new bill and the logic behind this mess.
The bill was approved by the state Senate on Tuesday and now awaits the signature of Gov. Dennis Daugaard (R), who has said it seems like a good idea. The measure would mandate that students use facilities corresponding with their “physical condition of being male or female as determined by a person’s chromosomes and anatomy as identified at birth,” not the gender with which they identify.
Religious leaders and migrants rights advocates in the United States say Pope Francis’ acknowledgment during his visit to the U.S.-Mexico border of the struggles of immigrants will send a humanitarian message.
Just before his Mass Wednesday afternoon in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Francis is to walk to the border fence along the Rio Grande, which separates the two countries. There, he’ll offer a prayer for migrants on the other side and for those who died trying to get to the U.S. A group of about 500 people, including migrants and refugees, will be on the U.S. side.
Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville said at a news conference in El Paso Wednesday that “because something has political dimensions it doesn’t mean that it does not also have moral dimensions.
That is sweet…because with the statement the Catholic Church put out on the Zika virus…we don’t want to get into a discussion on Moral Dimensions…or Dilemmas!
As the Zika virus spreads in Latin America, Catholic leaders are warning women against using contraceptives or having abortions, even as health officials in some countries are advising women not to get pregnant because of the risk ofbirth defects.
After a period of saying little, bishops in Latin America are beginning to speak up and reassert the church’s opposition to birth control and abortion — positions that in Latin America are unpopular and often disregarded, even among Catholics.
“Contraceptives are not a solution,” said Bishop Leonardo Ulrich Steiner, the secretary general of the National Council of Bishops of Brazil, and an auxiliary bishop of Brasília, in an interview. “There is not a single change in the church’s position.”
He urged couples to practice chastity or use “natural family planning,” a method in which women monitor their menstrual cycles and abstain from sex when they are fertile.
Of course these babies are gifts from Gawd.
This is not a stance likely to win many new followers. South America happens to be the continent with the highest proportion of Catholics who already disagree with the church on abortion and birth control, according to a large international poll commissioned by Univision in 2014. Seventy-three percent of Catholics in Latin America said that abortion should be allowed in some or all cases, and 91 percent supported the use of contraceptives — a higher percentage even than in Europe or the United States.
“The Vatican is very well aware of the seriousness of this issue, and the Holy Father is very aware of it,” Father Rosica said. “We’re waiting to see how the local churches in those countries respond.”
But Father Rosica said church teaching on abortion and contraception remains the same. The Zika epidemic, he said, presents “an opportunity for the church to recommit itself to the dignity and sacredness of life, even in very precarious moments like this.”
The five countries in Latin America and the Caribbean that have advised women to delaypregnancy are Brazil, Ecuador, El Salvador, Colombia and Jamaica. But access to contraception is limited throughout the region, especially for poor and rural women. Abortion is restricted in many countries, and it is illegal without exceptions in the Dominican Republic, El Salvador and Nicaragua, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Many church officials are wary that the Zika epidemic will lead to the loosening of laws on abortion and contraception. Cardinal Óscar Rodríguez Maradiaga of Honduras, who serves on Pope Francis’ nine-member advisory council, denounced the notion of “therapeutic abortions” for women carrying babies with microcephaly. He spoke at a Mass attended by the Honduran president and first lady.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday that $56 million were needed to combat the Zikavirus until June, including for the fast-tracking of vaccines, diagnostics and research studies into how it spreads.
The funds, including $25 million for the WHO and its regional office, would also be used to control the mosquito-borne virus that has spread to 39 countries, including 34 in the Americas, and has been linked to birth defects in Brazil.
“Possible links with neurological complications and birth malformations have rapidly changed the risk profile for Zika from a mild threat to one of very serious proportions,” WHO director-general Margaret Chan said in the WHO Strategic Response Framework and Joint Operations Plan issued in Geneva.
The WHO expects the funds to come from member states and other donors and said that in the meantime it has tapped a new emergency contingency fund for $2 million to finance its initial operations.
Chan will travel to Brazil from Feb 22-24 to review Zika-related measures supported by WHO and will meet the health minister, a WHO spokeswoman said.
The United Nations health agency declared the Zika outbreak a global public health emergency on Feb 1, noting its association with two neurological disorders, microcephaly in babies and Guillain-Barre syndrome that can cause paralysis.
Brazil is investigating the potential link between Zika infections and more than 4,300 suspected cases of microcephaly, a condition marked by abnormally small head size that can result in developmental problems.
More at the link.
Just a question…and it is a offensive one at that…since my life is defined by classic film and movies, the flick “Freaks!” (Yeah, I’m going there.) Didn’t the pinheads suffer from microcephaly? Innit that the same thing as this Zika virus? NWLuna? School me right!
Nothing says 2016 political discourse like a Trump surrogate and supporter calling out another panelist’s “big boobs” on Fox Business. I’m pretty sure all those stock market geeks tuning into Fox Biz were delighted by it.
Manigault: Yes, so let’s talk about Iraq and let’s talk about Donald Trump’s position. When Ta-mah-ra says that Donald Trump’s–
Holder: Tah-mara. It’s Tah-mara.
Manigault: It’s the same difference. You want to come on with big boobs, then you deal with the pronunciation of your name. Look. Donald Trump stands firm on what his position is about us going into Iraq —
Baritromo: Wait a second! Why are you bringing up Tamara’s boobs? I don’t understand why you brought up Tamara’s boobs.
The C&L post makes a point about why the mention of boobs is made:
Poor Maria just cannot understand. It’s because it gets attention, Maria! Mention boobs and every man watching looks up from his otherwise boring work to see what the catfight is all about.
Of course, it’s also crass and sexist but that’s what Trump’s campaign embodies. And who better than Omarosa to speak for Trump about some other woman’s breasts?
Athletes, she said, called her breasts “midgets.” One athlete called the women at the sexual assault crisis center center “white ‘male hating’ females.” And her concerns about violence by athletes toward women were “played down by my supervisors, and an effort was made to shield the student athletes.”
It was accusation No. 27 that lives on, though. An unnamed athlete, later identified as Peyton Manning, “pulled his pants down and exposed himself to me, as I was bent over examining his foot after asking me several questions.”
“Despite the above referenced complaints,” her filing said, “no effective remedial action has been taken by coaches, or other supervisor personnel. Instead complaints of sexual harassment are treated as jokes and efforts are made to protect the student athletes, and cover-up the complaint.”
Naughright settled with Tennessee. The investigative report on her allegations, compiled by Tennessee’s Office of Diversity Resources and Educational Resources (DRES) repeatedly finds that she was “not subjected to unwelcome sexual conduct,” and that “many of the individual allegations involved conduct that was not sexual in nature.” Her accusation against Manning seemed destined to become another incident written off as a young man’s foolishness.
Global food production needs ‘significant’ fertiliser boost – BBC News– This talks about the phosphate shortage. In Florida, you could spot a phosphate mine miles away. (Well, I don’t know about technically miles…but damn if you could not see them from across the bay.) Our science class would have field trips inside those mountain valley holes to look for fossils. Anyway, give that link a moment of your time.
You can see the devastation everywhere: in the hollowed out shells of barely-standing buildings, in the anguished faces of relatives waiting for news of loved ones, in the parade of scorched cars.
But what was it that set off the terrifying blasts that ripped through warehouses housing hazardous chemical materials, sending fireballs shooting across the sky and shaking tall buildings more than 2 miles away?
Hours later, amid the destruction in this northern Chinese port city of more than 13 million, the exact cause remained unclear.
A thick chemical odor hung in the air. Fires still burned in the waterfront industrial district where the explosions went off. And the grim toll kept mounting.
At least 44 people are confirmed dead, 12 firefighters among them, officials said Thursday. More than 500 are hospitalized, 52 with severe injuries. Dozens of firefighters are missing.
Local authorities suspended firefighting efforts Thursday because of a lack of information about the “dangerous goods” stored at the warehouse at the heart of the blasts, the state-run Xinhua news agency said.
CNN has dramatic photos at the link. A few more stories on the disaster:
Former president Jimmy Carter announced Wednesday that he has cancer and will be undergoing treatment at Emory Healthcare in Atlanta.
Carter, 90, said the disease was discovered during recent liver surgery to remove “a small mass” and that the cancer “is now in other parts of my body.”
“I will be rearranging my schedule as necessary so I can undergo treatment by physicians at Emory Healthcare,” Carter said in a statement on the Carter Center Web site. “A more complete public statement will be made when facts are known, possibly next week.”
In a statement, President Obama said he and first lady Michelle Obama wished Carter “a full and fast recovery.”
“Our thoughts and prayers are with [wife] Rosalynn and the entire Carter family as they face this challenge with the same grace and determination that they have shown so many times before,” Obama said in a statement released by the White House. “Jimmy, you’re as resilient as they come, and along with the rest of America, we are rooting for you.”
The president also spoke with Carter on Wednesday evening to wish him “full and speedy recovery” and extended best wishes on behalf of himself and first lady Michelle Obama, White House spokesman Eric Schultz said.
According to NBC News, Carter said “a more complete public statement will be made when facts are known, possibly next week.”
Sunlight and shadow, by Winslow Homer
Sweden has dropped some of its charges against Julian Assange.
STOCKHOLM—Swedish prosecutors on Thursday ran out of time to pursue two of four investigations into allegations of sexual assault against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has been living at the Ecuadorean embassy in London since 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden for questioning.
Prosecutors said that probes into suspected unlawful coercion and sexual molestation would be dropped as the five-year limit that Swedish law allows for such charges to be brought has come to an end.
The five-year deadline for a second count of sexual molestation will be reached Aug. 18, prosecutors said. If the statute of limitation on that allegation also comes into effect, Mr. Assange would be left facing a single, more serious accusation of rape, over which prosecutors have until 2020 to question him….
Mr. Assange was accused of the crimes by two women during a visit to Sweden in August 2010. Prosecutors requested Mr. Assange return to Sweden from the U.K to face questioning.
The WikiLeaks founder, who denies the crimes, refused to return to Sweden, saying he feared he would extradited from Sweden to the U.S. where he could face trial over the publication by WikiLeaks of classified U.S. documents.
The Wikileaks founder said he was “extremely disappointed” and said the Swedish prosecutor had avoided hearing his side of the story….
He sought asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden, fearing he would then be sent to the US for questioning about the activities of Wikileaks.
Under Swedish law, charges cannot be laid without interviewing the suspect.
Mr Assange said he was innocent and claimed prosecutors had refused to visit him at the embassy.
They also refused to promise not to send him to the US if he were to go to Sweden, he said.
Mr Assange said: “I am strong but the cost to my family is unacceptable.”
The new novel, by Winslow Homer
In clown car news, Mike Huckabee said some more insane things about Planned Parenthood and abortion.
Talking Points Memo, Huckabee: DOJ Should ‘Criminally Prosecute Planned Parenthood.’
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) on Wednesday laid out how he would tackle Planned Parenthood without the support of Congress if he were elected president.
When asked on about Iowa radio host Simon Conway about Republican efforts to defund Planned Parenthood after an anti-abortion group released numerous edited videos about the women’s health organization, Huckabee said he would use the Justice Department.
“I would have a Justice Department that would begin to criminally prosecute Planned Parenthood for violating federal law and selling body parts,” Huckabee told Conway….
“I would also invoke the 15th and Fourteenth Amendments,” he said on Wednesday. “This is the power that we have to stop this incredible, barbaric scourge of abortion. Not just stop funding Planned Parenthood, but we need to invoke the Fifth and 14th Amendment. The Fifth Amendment guarantees due process for every person. The 14th Amendment guarantees equal protection under the law for every person.”
Huckabee said that he believes that unborn children are people, guaranteeing them Fifth and 14th Amendment rights.
“I would take that position. I would act on behalf of those unborn children, and I would let those who want to slaughter babies, those who want to sell their body parts, let them sue me,” he said.
I have said many times (for instance) that fetuses are valued more highly than the people who carry them, that the potential life of every fetus is more important than the actual life of a pregnant person. Never has this been more clear.
If Mike Huckabee, or any of his fellow Republican candidates, had their way, fetuses would have not equivalent rights, but more rights than any pregnant person.
Protip, Huckabee: “Slaughtering babies” is already against the law.
The country school, by Winslow Homer
CNN reports on a study showing that kids in elementary school are getting crushing amounts of homework.
The study, published Wednesday in The American Journal of Family Therapy, found students in the early elementary school years are getting significantly more homework than is recommended by education leaders, in some cases nearly three times as much homework as is recommended.
Parents reported first-graders were spending 28 minutes on homework each night versus the recommended 10 minutes. For second-graders, the homework time was nearly 29 minutes, as opposed to the 20 minutes recommended.
And kindergartners, their parents said, spent 25 minutes a night on after-school assignments, according to the study carried out by researchers from Brown University, Brandeis University, Rhode Island College, Dean College, the Children’s National Medial Center and the New England Center for Pediatric Psychology.
That is ridiculous and harmful. Children at younger ages learn far more from play and interacting with other kids than from regimented school assignments.
“It is absolutely shocking to me to find out that particularly kindergarten students (who) are not supposed to have any homework at all … are getting as much homework as a third-grader is supposed to get,” said Stephanie Donaldson-Pressman, the contributing editor of the study and clinical director of the New England Center for Pediatric Psychology.
“Anybody who’s tried to keep a 5-year-old at a table doing homework for 25 minutes after school knows what that’s like. I mean children don’t want to be doing, they want to be out playing, they want to be interacting and that’s what they should be doing. That’s what’s really important.”
The Pope is coming to the U.S., and one of his stops will be at a jail in Philadelphia.
One of 17 stops on the pope’s first U.S. tour, the visit to the inner-city jail is a reminder of the emphasis the Argentine pontiff has placed on social justice issues since being named head of the Roman Catholic Church in March 2013.
The pope’s stop at the Philadelphia facility will be the latest in a series of prison visits by Francis, an outspoken opponent of the death penalty and lengthy prison terms. He has counseled teenagers in juvenile detention in Brazil. In Bolivia, he kissed inmates in the country’s most violent prison.
His visit also comes at a time when a growing number of Democrats and Republicans are questioning tough criminal sentencing policies that have left the United States with the highest incarceration rate in the developed world. Barack Obama, who last month became the first sitting U.S. president to tour a federal penitentiary, has called for legislation overhauling sentencing rules.
Advocates for prisoner rights say they are pleased the pope has decided to put the issue on his agenda during the U.S. tour, which will include attending a conference on family life in Philadelphia, plus stops in Washington and New York.
Morning glories, by Winslow Homer
I was going to write about Hillary and the media’s obsession with her emails, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Instead, here’s an inspirational piece from Peter Daou and Tom Watson at #HillaryMen.
There is a manic urge among the media, the GOP and the elite commentariat to Stop Hillary – to block a woman from reaching the pinnacle of American political leadership.
Each poll, news story or issue that appears to harm her is seized upon with a strange combination of desperation and glee. It’s an unsavory process but Hillary knew what she was in for when she decided to seek the presidency a second time.
As #HillaryMen, we’re undaunted by the negative stories, unwavering in our support for Hillary and unyielding in our commitment to help smash the ultimate gender barrier.
Ending a 44-0 shutout that has lasted nearly a quarter millennium was never going to be easy. There is no cakewalk to the White House. And certainly not for a woman.
We’ve worked in politics and media for nearly two decades. Peter is a veteran of two presidential campaigns, including Hillary’s 2008 run. We’ve seen every permutation of every attack, every rise and fall in the polls, every gaffe and every zinger, every debate moment and debate aftermath, every nervous election night and every election surprise.
We know what lies ahead for Hillary’s campaign and we realize there will be times when the obstacles seem insurmountable. They are not.
For all practical purposes, the 2016 race is just getting underway. As the first summer of the campaign winds down, the rhetoric heats up and political prognostications start climbing in pitch. The fall frenzy begins in a matter of weeks.
I plan to head over to #HillaryMen every time I get angry and/or anxious about something written or said about her in the media. In case you haven’t read it yet, here’s a link to “The Facts about Hillary Clinton’s Emails” at her campaign website.
What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links on any topic in the comment thread, and enjoy your Thursday.
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Don’t know about y’all, but my insomnia is working overtime lately. I’ve tried to get some sleep last night but no such luck so, here is this morning’s post. If it seems a little pffft….you know why, it is because I am writing it with no sleep.
First up, some sad news for VP Biden, I just feel so much sorrow for the man.
Shortly after Joe Biden was elected to the Senate in 1972, tragedy struck. A car crash killed his wife and infant daughter and left both of his young sons severely injured. Only 29 years old at the time, Biden considered resigning from the Senate to care for his remaining family. A cadre of long-time senators, including Ted Kennedy and Hubert H. Humphrey, convinced Biden he could do both. So he did, leaving instructions that his sons’ phone calls were always to be put through during the day, and commuting back from Washington by train to be with them every night.Although Beau Biden was not a carbon copy of his father, he shared his unrelenting commitment to public service. Beau, the former attorney general of Delaware and son of Vice President Joe Biden, died Saturday from a recurrence of brain cancer at age 46. “The entire Biden family is saddened beyond words,” his father said in a statement. “We know that Beau’s spirit will live on in all of us—especially through his brave wife, Hallie, and two remarkable children, Natalie and Hunter.”Beau’s first experience in government came when he worked as a lawyer for the Justice Department before entering private practice. He held the rank of major in the Delaware Army National Guard, and served a yearlong tour in Iraq from October 2008 to September 2009. There, he worked as a judge advocate general in the waning days of the U.S. occupation. His deployment coincided with his father’s run for the vice presidency in 2008. “He’ll go, [although] I don’t want him going,” Joe told a crowd on the campaign trail. “But I don’t want my grandsons or granddaughters going back in 15 years, so how we leave makes a big difference.”
When Vice President Joe Biden was first sworn in to the U.S. Senate in 1973, he took his oath by the bedside of his son Beau, who’d been injured in a car accident in December 1972 that claimed the lives of Joe Biden’s first wife and daughter.
Images of Biden’s swearing-in circulated on Twitter Saturday night after the vice president announced Beau had died from brain cancer. Beau Biden was 46.
In this Jan. 5, 1973 black-and-white file photo, four-year-old Beau Biden, foreground, watches his dad, Joe Biden, center, being sworn in as the U.S. senator from Delaware, by Senate Secretary Frank Valeo, left, in ceremonies in a Wilmington hospital. Beau was injured in an accident that killed his mother and sister in December. Mrs. Biden’s father, Robert Hunter, holds the Bible. (AP Photo/File)
Joseph H. Biden Jr., left, offers words of encouragement to his bedridden son, Beau, before Bidden was sworn in as the United States Senator from Delaware in ceremonies in Wilmington hospital on Jan. 5, 1973. Biden’s other son, Hunter, talks with Robert Hunter, Biden’s father-in-law. Beau is still in traction from an auto accident on Dec. 18, in which the Senator’s wife and daughter were killed. (AP Photo/Brian Horton)
Hundreds of people filled a church in the Mississippi Delta for the funeral on Saturday of BB King, who rose from sharecropper in the area’s flat cotton fields to worldwide fame as a blues singer and guitarist who influenced generations of entertainers.
King was 89 when he died on 14 May in Las Vegas. At his request, his body was returned to his native Mississippi for a final homecoming.
Amid rain, about 500 people filled the sanctuary of Bell Grove Missionary Baptist Church, a red brick structure that sits in a field off of BB King Road in Indianola. More than 200 people who couldn’t get into the sanctuary watched a live broadcast of the funeral in the church’s fellowship hall, many waving hand-held fans with a black-and-white photo of a smiling King hugging his black electric guitar, Lucille.
At the beginning of the service, family members filed past King’s open casket, which had an image of Lucille embroidered on the padded white cloth inside the lid. Later, the casket was closed and covered with a large arrangement of red roses.
The Reverend Herron Wilson, who delivered the eulogy, said King proved people can triumph over difficult circumstances.
“Hands that once picked cotton would someday pick guitar strings on a national and international stage. Amazing,” Wilson said.
More than 4,000 people viewed his open casket Friday at the BB King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center in Indianola.
One of his sons, Willie King of Chicago, said his father taught him to respond with love when others are angry.
“For a man coming out of the cotton field unlearned and you take his music and draw four corners of the world together – that is amazing,” Willie King said on Friday at the museum, where his father will be buried.
King’s public viewing Friday was almost like a state funeral, with Mississippi Highway Patrol officers in dress uniform standing at each end of the casket. Two of his black electric guitars stood among sprays of flowers.
After Florida police shot Jermaine McBean to death as he walked home with an unloaded air rifle, they said there was no reason to believe he did not hear their orders to drop the weapon and that he pointed it at them.
But a newly emerged photo that shows headphones in McBean’s ears immediately after the 2013 shooting raises questions about the police version of events, including why the white earbuds were later found stuffed in the dead computer expert’s pocket.
And another aspect of the police account is also being contradicted — by a man who called 911 in alarm when he saw McBean walking around with the air rifle but who also says McBean never pointed it at police or anyone else.
Michael Russell McCarthy, 58, told NBC News that McBean had the Winchester Model 1000 Air Rifle balanced on his shoulders behind his neck, with his hand over both ends, and was turning around to face police when one officer began shooting.
“He [McBean] couldn’t have fired that gun from the position he was in. There was no possible way of firing it and at the same time hitting something,” McCarthy said. “I kind of blame myself, because if I hadn’t called it might not have happened.”
Jermaine McBean shortly after he was fatally shot by police in Oakland Park, Fla., on July 31, 2013, while carrying an unloaded air rifle. Police say he ignored their orders to drop the weapon and was not wearing headphones; his family’s lawyer says this picture, taken by a witness, shows that was false.Courtesy David Schoen
If you look at the full image, at the link above, you can see where the gun ended up as well…
U.S. police have shot and killed 385 people during the first five months of this year, a rate of more than two a day, the Washington Post reported on Saturday.
The death rate is more than twice that tallied by the federal government over the past decade, a count that officials concede is incomplete, the newspaper said.
The analysis is based on data the Post is compiling on every fatal shooting by police in 2015, as well as of every officer killed by gunfire in the line of duty.
“We are never going to reduce the number of police shootings if we don’t begin to accurately track this information,” said Jim Bueermann, president of the Police Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving law enforcement.
The Post analysis comes as a national debate is raging over the police use of deadly force, especially against minorities.
Federal Bureau of Investigation records over the past decade show about 400 fatal police shootings a year, or an average of 1.1 deaths a day. Reporting of shootings by police agencies is voluntary.
But the Post’s analysis indicates the daily death toll for 2015 is close to 2.6 as of Friday. At that pace, police will have shot and killed nearly 1,000 people by the end of the year, the paper said.
Geez. Here are a few of the highlights…
Among unarmed victims, two-thirds were black or Hispanic.
Based on census numbers for the areas where the killings took place, blacks were killed at three times the rate of whites or other minorities.
Three of the 385 fatal shootings have resulted in an officer being charged with a crime.
What can be said in response to that article? I mean, we know what needs to be done, but when you see the statistics represented as such, and then see proof that police are covering up their killings…I do feel like throwing up.
According to a new report from the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice African-American women in San Francisco account for 50% of the female arrests, but only make up 6% of the female population.
The difference between Black female and non-black female arrests are four times higher than the rest of California. This rate has gone up sharply in San Francisco: in 1980, the arrest disparity between black women and non-black women was 4.1 percent, which is less than one-third of 2013’s racial disparity.
Get the link to the full report at the alternet link above.
So, a Mother Jones profile of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders dug up, among other things, an essay Sanders penned in 1972 for an alternative newspaper called the Vermont Freeman. Titled “Man—and Woman,” the piece is an exploration of gender roles written in a ’70s pop-psych milieu, and it describes a man in a couple fantasizing about abusing women while having sex with a female partner who is fantasizing about being raped; invokes a hypothetical newspaper article about a preteen girl being gang-raped; and references the woman having a “sex friend when you were 13 years old.”
I find this disturbing in so many ways. But then, y’all know my reasons.
This is a longish quote from the essay and some thoughts from the Shakesville blog…warning, it is fucked up shit. (the quote)
A man goes home and masturbates his typical fantasy. A woman on her knees, a woman tied up, a woman abused.
A woman enjoys intercourse with her man—as she fantasizes being raped by 3 men simultaneously.
The man and woman get dressed up on Sunday—and go to Church, or maybe to their “revolutionary” political meeting.
Have you ever looked at the Stag, Man, Hero, Tough magazines on the shelf of your local bookstore? Do you know why the newspapers with the articles like “Girl 12 raped by 14 men” sell so well? To what in us are they appealing?
Women, for their own preservation, are trying to pull themselves together. And it’s necessary for all of humanity that they do so. Slavishness on one hand breeds pigness on the other hand. Pigness on one hand breeds slavishness on the other. Men and women—both are losers. Women adapt themselves to fill the needs of men, and men adapt themselves to fill the needs of women. In the beginning there were strong men who killed the animals and brought home the food—and the dependent women who cooked it. No More! Only the roles remain—waiting to be shaken off. There are no “human” oppressors. Oppressors have lost their humanity. On one hand “slavishness,” on the other hand “pigness.” Six of one, half dozen of the other. Who wins?
Many women seem to be walking a tightrope now. Their qualities of love, openness, and gentleness were too deeply enmeshed with qualities of dependency, subservience, and masochism. How do you love—without being dependent? How do you be gentle—without being subservient? How do you maintain a relationship without giving up your identity and without getting strung out? How do you reach out and give your heart to your lover, but maintain the soul which is you?
And Men. Men are in pain too. They are thinking, wondering. What is it they want from a woman? Are they at fault? Are they perpetrating this man-woman situation? Are they oppressors?
The man is bitter.
“You lied to me,” he said. (She did).
“You said that you loved me, that you wanted me, that you needed me. Those are your words.” (They are).
“But in reality,” he said, “if you ever loved me, or wanted me, or needed me (all of which I’m not certain was ever true), you also hated me. You hated me—just as you have hated every man in your entire life, but you didn’t have the guts to tell me that. You hated me before you ever saw me, even though I was not your father, or your teacher, or your sex friend when you were 13 years old, or your husband. You hated me not because of who I am, or what I was to you, but because I am a man. You did not deal with me as a person—as me. You lived a lie with me, used me and played games with me—and that’s a piggy thing to do.”
And she said, “You wanted me not as a woman, or a lover, or a friend, but as a submissive woman, or submissive friend, or submissive lover; and right now where my head is I balk at even the slightest suspicion of that kind of demand.”
And he said, “You’re full of __________.”
And they never again made love together (which they had each liked to do more than anything) or never ever saw each other one more time.
After I read this last night, my thoughts were: One, 1972 is a long-ass time ago, but Sanders was also 31 years old in 1972. Not exactly a kid. Two, I had no desire to see Sanders “crucified” over it, as became the charge against anyone who raised concerns about it. Basically I just wanted him to say, “That was super fucked up and indefensible and I regret it.” Three, asking a man to repudiate troubling attitudes about women/sexual assault isn’t an attack. It’s a request to (maybe) reestablish trust. And four, that shouldn’t be a big deal, since people who genuinely believe they fucked up generally don’t mind saying so.
Melissa is being generous if you ask me….I’ve got some serious issues with this shit. But let’s continue:
But Sanders took a different route. Through a campaign spokesperson, the essay was described as a “dumb attempt at dark satire in an alternative publication.”
Step One: Call it satire. Step Two: Call us humorless.
The spokesman further explained: “When Bernie got into this race, he understood that there would be efforts to distracts voters and the press from the real issues confronting the nation today.”
Well, not for nothing, pal, but male politicians seeking higher office who have loathsome ideas about women, gender roles, and sexual violence is one of “the real issues confronting the nation today.” Which is why I was hoping that Sanders would take seriously the concerns raised about some of the language used in that piece.
The truth is, I’m way more angry about that response than I was about the fucking essay.
Oh yeah, I agree with Melissa here…she is fucking right about this. For the “spokesman” asshole to dismiss the real issue here, only goes to show that what ever disgusting misogynist perverted sexist pedo shit Sanders was selling back in 1972, it still on the sale rack in 2015.
Now for some other disgusting crap being slung about…this time it is in the name of Christians, via Digby:
A conservative Quiverfull writer with ties to the Duggars has come out swinging in defense of the “19 Kids & Counting” stars, posting a series of outraged Facebook posts praising the family in spite of an ongoing sexual abuse scandal.
In the posts, which were first cited by watchdog group Homeschoolers Anonymous, homeschooling activist Rick Boyer — also the author of the Jim Bob Duggar-endorsed book “Take Back the Land” — asserted that the reality-show family appropriately handled allegations of incest and assault by eldest son Josh Duggar, and that they do not deserve to be criticized.
“‘Abuse’ is the new ‘racism,’” Boyer, who also sits on the board of the Home Educators Association of Virginia, wrote. “As soon as you’re accused of it, you’re considered guilty. Just what would you like the Duggars to have done? Turn all their kids over to a godless psychologist? Maybe one supplied by the local public school system where ‘abuse’ is so unheard of? Should they have skinned Josh alive, rolled him in salt and hung him on a meathook?”
Raul Lavin entered the world nearly a century ago as a member of the Cuban Club.
Lavin, 98, the club’s oldest member, said his parents signed him up the month before he was born. That entitled him to 60 days of free membership, a great gift in those times, he said.
“The first thing cigar makers ever did was pay the dues to the club.”
That’s because the club provided many of the joys and necessities of life: fellowship, theater, dancing, the neighborhood bar, doctor visits, pharmacy, hospitalization and burial.
The Cuban Club, Italian Club and Centro Asturiano, where Spanish immigrants gathered, stand as Tampa gems, looking like grand mansions built by railroad barons of the era. These elaborate edifices, all built between 1914 and 1918 to replace original buildings, housed America’s first mutual aid societies, forerunners to health maintenance organizations. Celebrated architect M. Leo Elliott designed or helped design each building, all listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
A rescue effort led by descendants of the early members saved the buildings. The Cuban and Italian clubs were in such decay by the 1980s that pigeons, entering through broken windows, roosted in once-glittering ballrooms. Fund raisers and grants enabled the members to put millions into renovating them.
These clubs were such an important part of my family. My mother was born in the old Centro Asturiano Hospital.
Centro Asturiano never deteriorated to the degree of the other two buildings because members raised the money to make improvements as needed over the years, said president Frank Menendez.
Another early club, organized by black Cuban immigrants who felt the full sting of the Jim Crow American South, did not fare so well. The Marti-Maceo Society’s red brick club house on Seventh Avenue, built in 1907 with arched doors and windows and a high wraparound balcony outside, fell to the wrecking ball of urban renewal in 1965.
Sharon Gomez, president of the club — named for Jose Marti and celebrated black Cuban Gen. Antonio Maceo Grajales — said a lawyer member led a failed effort to save the old building. Members moved to a modest replacement on Seventh Avenue near the western gate of Ybor City. Like the other clubs, Marti-Maceo rents out the facility for private gatherings.
Not many of those involved in the rescue of the old buildings remember the time when cigar factories were smoking and the clubs were the center of life. Cuban Club president Patrick Manteiga, 51, for example, is too young. Manteiga, editor of La Gaceta, remembers the building only as a rental venue; as a teenager, he helped the organizers of the popular Artists & Writers Balls in the early 1980s.
All the clubs have lost members over the years, he said, just as service clubs like Optimist or Elks have.
“They just aren’t a necessary part of life.”
They were vital in the beginning, when “Latins in non-Latin parts of town were not very welcome,” he said. Depending on the club, within its confines members could bowl, play handball, work out, take a dip in an indoor pool and meet friends in the cantina for card games and dominoes.
Now, only Centro Asturiano’s cantina is open to a few older members who gather daily for dominoes and cards. It’s a small space on the second floor. When the club had 6,000 members, the cantina was a cavernous room on the ground floor. There, the magnificent, 42-foot marble and onyx bar — the longest of its kind in the world, Menendez says — is open only when the room is rented.
Immigrants took great pride in these buildings, which served as their country clubs. Joe Caltagirone, 89, historian for the Italian Club, said his grandfather would come home from work on a farm, bathe, eat dinner, put on a coat and tie and go to the club.
“My grandfather would not be caught dead in there without a tie and coat.”
For Lavin, the best time at the Cuban Club was right after World War II. The cigar factories were still bustling and so was the club, bringing in star band leaders such as Cab Calloway and Count Basie.
The club put on elaborate productions of light operettas like The Merry Widow, with lavish gowns for the women, elegant uniforms and cutaways on the men.
“Every Sunday, the Cuban Club theater would get full,” Lavin said.
The club that started the mutual aid society movement is now a group of about 60 whose two clubhouses were sold to other entities.
Centro Espanol Ybor City
Spanish immigrants led by Ignacio Haya — whose factory beat Vicente Martinez Ybor’s in turning out Tampa’s first hand-rolled cigar — formed Centro Espanol in 1891. It grew to nearly 3,000 people in its heyday. In 1912, the club built the large brick structure that still bears its name at 1536 E Seventh Ave. in Ybor City. Designed by Francis J. Kennard in a mix of Spanish, Moorish and French Renaissance styles, the building has been designated a U.S. national historic landmark. It’s now occupied by the Carne ChopHouse restaurant.
By the way, here is a picture of Jose Marti at Ybor’s cigar factory 1893:
A Georgia woman likely faces probation after she was arrested and put in ankle shackles earlier this month because of her son’s school absences, according to People.
Julie Giles, of Screven County, said she was arrested after her son had six more unexcused absences than the school system allows, in part because he is frequently ill and Giles does not have the money to take him to the doctor.
“As all of you know, my boys being sick often is nothing new. … The truth is, l cannot afford a copay every single time they are sick, but I never want to send them to school when they feel bad or could possibly get others sick,” she wrote on Facebook on May 12. “I have NEVER been in trouble before in my life and the boys are beside themselves.”
Giles was booked on May 14 and released within minutes, according to the Screven County Jail. She was charged with one count of failure to comply with mandatory attendance.
She posted that day to say she had been shackled by the ankles when she turned herself in. Screven County Sheriff Mike Kile confirmed this to People, but said the shackling is standard procedure during any arrest.
A GoFundMe has been set up for Giles. As of this writing, $710 has been raised out of a $2,500 goal.
Giles will likely receive probation, Kile told People.
She is one of 12 people this school year referred to the court for student truancy, Screven County Schools Superintendent William Bland said in an email.
Giles’ husband, Keith, was not arrested, according to the New York Daily News. The school system report that was first filed with the sheriff’s office names only the person who enrolled the truant student, Bland said.
A California high school has beat the odds, sending all its graduating seniors off to college for the seventh straight year, despite being located in a neighborhood riddled with crime and plagued with gangs.
“It’s not Beverly Hills by any stretch,” said Paul Hosch, vice president of mission advancement at Verbum Dei High School, which boasts a 100 percent college acceptance rate.
“The neighborhoods that surround the students are underserved. There are very few grocery stores. There are lots of gangs. It’s not a place most people would want to raise their kids,” he added.
This is an open thread, and have a good Sunday.
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Francoise in a round-backed chair reading, Mary Cassatt
I stayed up late last night reading the stunning Rolling Stone article on the culture of sexual assault and official cover-up at the University of Virginia. After I finished it, I had quite a bit of difficulty getting to sleep. The story was reported and written by investigative journalist Sabrina Rubin Erdely. The headline is A Rape on Campus: A Brutal Assault and Struggle for Justice at UVA. Before I begin, I want to warn everyone that the article includes explicit descriptions of sexual assault and a shocking culture of indifference to victims. I’m not going to excerpt explicit descriptions of rapes, but I do want to quote some of the reactions to them by students and administrators.
The article opens with a graphic description of a violent gang rape of 18-year-old incoming freshman “Jackie” that took place at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house during a party. Hours later, beaten and bloody, Jackie called “friends” for help, but instead of taking her to a hospital they talked her out of reporting the assault because it would ruin her “reputation,” and they as her friends would be ostracized and would no longer be invited to frat parties.
So Jackie hid in her room and sank into a deep depression. She received no support from her “friends” and acquaintances. The man who had taken her to the party and set up her rape by 7 men behaved as if nothing abnormal had happened, and asked her why she was ignoring him. Erdely on the friends’ reactions:
She was having an especially difficult time figuring out how to process that awful night, because her small social circle seemed so underwhelmed. For the first month of school, Jackie had latched onto a crew of lighthearted social strivers, and her pals were now impatient for Jackie to rejoin the merriment. “You’re still upset about that?” Andy asked one Friday night when Jackie was crying. Cindy, a self-declared hookup queen, said she didn’t see why Jackie was so bent out of shape. “Why didn’t you have fun with it?” Cindy asked. “A bunch of hot Phi Psi guys?” One of Jackie’s friends told her, unconcerned, “Andy said you had a bad experience at a frat, and you’ve been a baby ever since.”
That type of response to sexual assaults is apparently common at UVA.
That reaction of dismissal, downgrading and doubt is a common theme UVA rape survivors hear, including from women. “Some of my hallmates were skeptical,” recalls recent grad Emily Renda, who says that weeks into her first year she was raped after a party. “They were silent and avoided me afterwards. It made me doubt myself.” Other students encounter more overt hostility, as when a first-year student confided her assault to a friend. “She said she thought I was just looking for attention,” says the undergrad. Shrugging off a rape or pointing fingers at the victim can be a self-protective maneuver for women, a form of wishful thinking to reassure themselves they could never be so vulnerable to violence. For men, skepticism is a form of self-protection too. For much of their lives, they’ve looked forward to the hedonistic fun of college, bearing every expectation of booze and no-strings sex. A rape heralds the uncomfortable idea that all that harmless mayhem may not be so harmless after all. Easier, then, to assume the girl is lying, even though studies indicate that false rape reports account for, at most, eight percent of reports.
And so at UVA, where social status is paramount, outing oneself as a rape victim can be a form of social suicide. “I don’t know many people who are engrossed in the party scene and have spoken out about their sexual assaults,” says third-year student Sara Surface. After all, no one climbs the social ladder only to cast themselves back down. Emily Renda, for one, quickly figured out that few classmates were sympathetic to her plight, and instead channeled her despair into hard partying. “My drinking didn’t stand out,” says Renda, who often ended her nights passed out on a bathroom floor. “It does make you wonder how many others are doing what I did: drinking to self-medicate.”
Investigative journalist Sabrina Rubin Erdely of Rolling Stone
Erdely talked to a number of survivors, and she found a history of gang rapes at Phi Kappa Psi fraternity stretching back at least 30 years. She describes a culture in which male upperclassmen target freshmen girls and deliberately take advantage of their lack of sophistication about the danger of sexual violence on college campuses.
A year later, Jackie did report the rape to a UVA administrator. She was sent to Dean Nicole Eramo, who heads the “Sexual Misconduct Board.” Eramo subtly discouraged Jackie from reporting the rape.
When Jackie finished talking, Eramo comforted her, then calmly laid out her options. If Jackie wished, she could file a criminal complaint with police. Or, if Jackie preferred to keep the matter within the university, she had two choices. She could file a complaint with the school’s Sexual Misconduct Board, to be decided in a “formal resolution” with a jury of students and faculty, and a dean as judge. Or Jackie could choose an “informal resolution,” in which Jackie could simply face her attackers in Eramo’s presence and tell them how she felt; Eramo could then issue a directive to the men, such as suggesting counseling. Eramo presented each option to Jackie neutrally, giving each equal weight. She assured Jackie there was no pressure – whatever happened next was entirely her choice.
Like many schools, UVA has taken to emphasizing that in matters of sexual assault, it caters to victim choice. “If students feel that we are forcing them into a criminal or disciplinary process that they don’t want to be part of, frankly, we’d be concerned that we would get fewer reports,” says associate VP for student affairs Susan Davis. Which in theory makes sense: Being forced into an unwanted choice is a sensitive point for the victims. But in practice, that utter lack of guidance can be counterproductive to a 19-year-old so traumatized as Jackie was that she was contemplating suicide. Setting aside for a moment the absurdity of a school offering to handle the investigation and adjudication of a felony sex crime – something Title IX requires, but which no university on Earth is equipped to do – the sheer menu of choices, paired with the reassurance that any choice is the right one, often has the end result of coddling the victim into doing nothing.
“This is an alarming trend that I’m seeing on campuses,” says Laura Dunn of the advocacy group SurvJustice. “Schools are assigning people to victims who are pretending, or even thinking, they’re on the victim’s side, when they’re actually discouraging and silencing them.
The culture of cover-up at UVA is shocking to me, but it is probably typical of many colleges and universities, according to Erdely. However UVA is among a select group of 86 schools that is under investigation by the federal Office of Civil Rights because of their failure to deal with the problem. In September UVA held a two-hour trustees meeting to discuss sexual assault on campus.
Those two hours, however, were devoted entirely to upbeat explanations of UVA’s new prevention and response strategies, and to self-congratulations to UVA for being a “model” among schools in this arena. Only once did the room darken with concern, when a trustee in UVA colors – blue sport coat, orange bow tie – interrupted to ask, “Are we under any federal investigation with regard to sexual assault?”
Dean of students Allen Groves, in a blue suit and orange necktie of his own, swooped in with a smooth answer. He affirmed that while like many of its peers UVA was under investigation, it was merely a “standard compliance review.” He mentioned that a student’s complaint from the 2010-11 academic year had been folded into that “routine compliance review.” Having downplayed the significance of a Title IX compliance review – which is neither routine nor standard – he then elaborated upon the lengths to which UVA has cooperated with the Office of Civil Rights’ investigation, his tone and manner so reassuring that the room relaxed.
Told of the meeting, Office of Civil Rights’ Catherine Lhamon calls Groves’ mischaracterization “deliberate and irresponsible.” “Nothing annoys me more than a school not taking seriously their review from the federal government about their civil rights obligations,” she says.
Jackie eventually became involved with a UVA rape survivors group, but even among these women who were trying to deal with their traumatic experiences and reaching out to recent victims, the culture was one of not reporting their rapes to police.
UVA Dean of Students Nicole Eramo
You’ll recall that it was at UVA that 18-year-old Hannah Graham was abducted and murdered, allegedly by 32-year-old Jesse Matthew, who had been previously accused of rape at two different Virginia colleges in 2002 and 2003. He was not charged in either case, and he apparently went on to become a smoothly professional sexual predator. The news reports say that the victims did not want to press charges, but the truth is that colleges and universities regularly discourage young women from reporting rapes in order to protect their institutional reputations. Erdely addresses this issue at length in her article on UVA.
Lisak’s 2002 groundbreaking study of more than 1,800 college men found that roughly nine out of 10 rapes are committed by serial offenders, who are responsible for an astonishing average of six rapes each. None of the offenders in Lisak’s study had ever been reported. Lisak’s findings upended general presumptions about campus sexual assault: It implied that most incidents are not bumbling, he-said-she-said miscommunications, but rather deliberate crimes by serial sex offenders.
In his study, Lisak’s subjects described the ways in which they used the camouflage of college as fruitful rape-hunting grounds. They told Lisak they target freshmen for being the most naïve and the least-experienced drinkers. One offender described how his party-hearty friends would help incapacitate his victims: “We always had some kind of punch. . . . We’d make it with a real sweet juice. It was really powerful stuff. The girls wouldn’t know what hit them.” Presumably, the friends mixing the drinks did so without realizing the offender’s plot, just as when they probably high-fived him the next morning, they didn’t realize the behavior they’d just endorsed. That’s because the serial rapist’s behavior can look ordinary at college. “They’re not acting in a vacuum,” observes Lisak of predators. “They’re echoing that message and that culture that’s around them: the objectification and degradation of women.”
I won’t quote any more from the article, but I do recommend reading it if you can handle it.
UVa President Teresa A. Sullivan released a statement Wednesday night, stating the university’s commitment to preventing sexual assault.
“The University takes seriously the issue of sexual misconduct, a significant problem that colleges and universities are grappling with across the nation,” Sullivan said in the statement. “Our goal is to provide an environment that is as safe as possible for our students and the entire University community.”
Erdely said UVa reinforced one of her major arguments in her article — that UVa administration focuses on prestige and appearance over student safety — with Sullivan’s statement….
“I am writing in response to a Rolling Stone magazine article that negatively depicts the University of Virginia and its handling of sexual misconduct cases,” Sullivan said at the beginning of the statement.
“It goes to show what their priorities are here — the fact that she would go out of her way to say I negatively depicted the university — this is the first thing on their minds,” Erdely said. “They need to be putting student safety first.”
Date: Wed, Nov 19, 2014 at 6:17 PM
Subject: An Important Message from President Sullivan
To the University community:
I am writing in response to a Rolling Stone magazine article that negatively depicts the University of Virginia and its handling of sexual misconduct cases. Because of federal and state privacy laws, and out of respect for sexual assault survivors, we are very limited in what we can say about any of the cases mentioned in this article.
The article describes an alleged sexual assault of a female student at a fraternity house in September 2012, including many details that were previously not disclosed to University officials. I have asked the Charlottesville Police Department to formally investigate this incident, and the University will cooperate fully with the investigation.
The University takes seriously the issue of sexual misconduct, a significant problem that colleges and universities are grappling with across the nation. Our goal is to provide an environment that is as safe as possible for our students and the entire University community.
We have recently adopted several new initiatives and policies aimed at fostering a culture of reporting and raising awareness of the issues.
We want our students to feel comfortable coming forward with information when there are problems in the community and cooperating with local law enforcement and the student disciplinary process. We also want them to feel empowered to take action and to lead efforts to make our Grounds and our community a better place to live and learn.
We have been taking a leadership role on issues regarding sexual misconduct and violence. U.Va. hosted a national conference on this topic in February 2014. “Dialogue at U.Va.: Sexual Misconduct Among College Students” brought together national experts and professionals from approximately 60 colleges and universities to discuss best practices and strategies for prevention and response.
The HoosGotYourBack initiative, part of the Not On Our Grounds awareness campaign, was developed and launched in collaboration with students and with local Corner Merchants to increase active bystander behavior.
A number of other initiatives are also planned for the spring. Among them are the implementation of a new student sexual misconduct policy and a related training program, a campus climate survey, and an in-depth bystander intervention program that will include students, faculty, and staff.
Finally, I want to underscore our commitment to marshaling all available resources to assist our students who confront issues related to sexual misconduct. Our dedicated Student Affairs staff devote countless hours to educating and counseling our students on issues regarding their health and safety, and they stand ready to assist whenever students need help.
Teresa A. Sullivan
President Sullivan approved distribution of this message.
I’ll let you judge the sincerity of Sullivan’s statement.
I know there is plenty of other news going on, but this was all I could think about this morning. Please post your links on any topic in the comment thread, and feel free to discuss this post or not. I realize this is a very difficult subject, but it is also a vitally important one.
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The Sky Dancing banner headline uses a snippet from a work by artist Tashi Mannox called 'Rainbow Study'. The work is described as a" study of typical Tibetan rainbow clouds, that feature in Thanka painting, temple decoration and silk brocades". dakinikat was immediately drawn to the image when trying to find stylized Tibetan Clouds to represent Sky Dancing. It is probably because Tashi's practice is similar to her own. His updated take on the clouds that fill the collection of traditional thankas is quite special.
You can find his work at his website by clicking on his logo below. He is also a calligraphy artist that uses important vajrayana syllables. We encourage you to visit his on line studio.