Saturday Reads: World-Wide Rape Culture and Other News

Newspaper, coffee and bagel at table

Good Morning!!

For the past two days I’ve been reading about the gang rape that took place in Steubenville, Ohio last August. This horrendous story got almost no national publicity until The New York Times published a long investigative piece on it on December 16. I’m sure you’ve probably heard about it by now too.

Sadly, it’s a familiar story. High school athletes sexually assault young girl, town closes ranks to protect boys and blame the victim. We’ve seen similar events again and again over the past few years and probably the only difference in these recent attacks on women from those in previous times–going by centuries–is that they get more publicity now and some people are outraged about them. But it doesn’t stop.

There was the Richmond High gang rape in California, the Pitt Meadows gang rape in British Columbia, the gang rape of an 11-year-old girl in Texas, and most recently the death of a woman who was viciously gang raped in India.

Go here to watch a very good video of Amanda Marcotte and a Canadian blogger discussing our world-wide rape culture, focusing on the cases in India, Steubenville, and Pitt Meadows.

Another difference in these incidents from those in earlier times is that participants often take photos and videos of these horrendous events and either send them to each other or post them on-line. In the Steubenville case, participants even tweeted about what was happening as they watched! This creates more nightmarish problems for victims and for law enforcement, but may also lead to perpetrators getting caught even when there is a local cover-up. In Steubenville, an “Anonymous” group has been involved–hacking into computers to retrieve data that has been erased.

Shockingly, this week, as the Steubenville story broke nationally, we witnessed the shameful spectacle of House Republicans finally refusing–after months of stalling–refusing to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act.

To be honest, I wasn’t even sure if I should write about the Steubenville story today. It’s so disgusting that I haven’t even been able to bring myself to watch the video of students joking about the gang rape that the Anonymous group released. I didn’t want to subject all of you to something that I can barely stand to read about.

What I decided to do is give you a brief summary of what I’ve learned so far and post some links so you can read more if you are interested. I’m not going to name names, but you’ll see them if you go to the links.

Steubenville is a small town of about 17,000 people in southeastern Ohio just a short distance from the West Virginia border. Steubenville is crazy about their high school football team (nicknamed “Big Red”) and the team brings in a great deal of money to the community–through increased legal and illegal (gambling) business. There has apparently been a culture of protecting the football players and allowing them to run wild, and the perpetrators in this case are football players.

What I’ve gathered, based on the most recent stories and rumors, is that the victim (age 16) lived in West Virginia but had recently broken up with her boyfriend who was from Steubenville. The boyfriend was enraged about the breakup, and tweeted about the victim, saying she should be punished. He apparently encouraged at least one member of the football team to call the girl, befriend her, and urge her to attend a massive end of the summer party that took place in multiple locations. One of the locations was the home of the local prosecuting attorney whose son is on the football team.

The Anonymous hackers claim the girl was drugged immediately after she was picked up in a car by three football players. That can’t be confirmed because the girl didn’t get to the hospital in time for a date rape drug to be detected. It makes sense though, because the girl was unconscious throughout the night and doesn’t remember anything after she got in the car with the two perpetrators who have been arrested so far.

These two boys (both 16) carried the girl around like an object from house to house (there are photos), and she was repeatedly sexually assaulted by multiple attackers. This apparently happened during parties as the girl lay on the floor or in a chair, unresponsive. One onlooker even “joked” that she was dead. The NYT reports that at one point she vomited in the street and “she remained there alone for several minutes with her top off.” At one point a former football player who was a student at Ohio State University this year called for her to be urinated on. It’s not clear if that happened, but several people reported it.

The girl reportedly slept on a couch in one of the houses and was taken home early in the morning and left on her parents’ doorstep. She had no knowledge of what had happened to her until she started seeing the comments and photos on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. The fact that she has no memory of the night at all certainly suggests that she could have been given a date rape drug. You’ll find a lot more information on Atlantic Wire if you go to that link.

When the girl’s mother realized what had happened, she took her daughter to the hospital and to the police, but it was too late to recover any evidence. The local prosecutor reportedly discouraged the victim and her family from pressing charges, warning that the community would turn against them and the media would never leave them alone.

Eventually two boys were arrested and charged as adults with rape and kidnapping, but many character witnesses testified for them, including the football coach (who is close friends with the Sheriff and who didn’t bench any of the other team members involved) and the kidnapping charge was dropped and the boys are now charged as juveniles. Their trial is scheduled for February. No one else as been charged, but after the story went national this week authorities said there could be more arrests. The case is now being investigated by special prosecutors and the local prosecutor and judge have recused themselves (BTW, the state attorney general is former Republican Senator Mike DeWine–remember him? In addition, the Atlantic reported yesterday that the football coach may be forced to resign. Today Anonymous plans to hold a public protest in Steubenville.

A few more links:

Prinniefied.com, the home of a crime blogger who kept the Steubenville story alive for months when there was little media coverage.

An early (September 2) story from the Cleveland Plain Dealer: Rape charges against high school players divide football town of Steubenville, Ohio

WTOV News 9 in Jefferson County Ohio: New developments revealed in Steubenville teen rape investigation

DailyKos: The Steubenville Rape – A Timeline

American Prospect: Purity Culture Is Rape Culture

The Atlantic: As a Girl in India, I Learned to Be Afraid of Men

The Atlantic: India’s Gender-Equity Problem

In Other News

Some interesting reads on other topics

A fascinating article at The Atlantic about the phenomenon of waking up under anesthesia: Awakening

Linda Campbell was not quite 4 years old when her appendix burst, spilling its bacteria-rich contents throughout her abdomen. She was in severe pain, had a high fever, and wouldn’t stop crying. Her parents, in a state of panic, brought her to the emergency room in Atlanta, where they lived. Knowing that Campbell’s organs were beginning to fail and her heart was on the brink of shutting down, doctors rushed her into surgery.

Today, removing an appendix leaves only a few droplet-size scars. But back then, in the 1960s, the procedure was much more involved. As Campbell recalls, an anesthesiologist told her to count backward from 10 while he flooded her lungs with anesthetic ether gas, allowing a surgeon to slice into her torso, cut out her earthworm-size appendix, and drain her abdomen of infectious slop, leaving behind a lengthy, longitudinal scar.

The operation was successful, but not long after Campbell returned home, her mother sensed that something was wrong. The calm, precocious girl who went into the surgery was not the same one who emerged. Campbell began flinging food from her high chair. She suffered random episodes of uncontrollable vomiting. She threw violent temper tantrums during the day and had disturbing dreams at night. “They were about people being cut open, lots of blood, lots of violence,” Campbell remembers. She refused to be alone, but avoided anyone outside her immediate circle. Her parents took her to physicians and therapists. None could determine the cause of her distress. When she was in eighth grade, her parents pulled her from school for rehabilitation.

Over time, Campbell’s most severe symptoms subsided, and she learned how to cope with those that remained. She managed to move on, become an accountant, and start a family of her own, but she wasn’t cured. Her nightmares continued, and nearly anything could trigger a panic attack: car horns, sudden bright lights, wearing tight-fitting pants or snug collars, even lying flat in a bed. She explored the possibility of post-traumatic stress disorder with her therapists, but could not identify a triggering event. One clue that did eventually surface, though, hinted at a possibly traumatic experience. During a session with a hypnotherapist, Campbell remembered an image, accompanied by an acute feeling of fear, of a man looming over her.

An article at The Atlantic on How Obama Decides Your Fate if He Thinks You’re a Terrorist

Over the past two years, the Obama administration has begun to formalize a so-called “disposition matrix” for suspected terrorists abroad: a continuously evolving database that spells out the intelligence on targets and various strategies, including contingencies, for handling them. Although the government has not spelled out the steps involved in deciding how to treat various terrorists, a look at U.S. actions in the past makes evident a rough decision tree.

Understanding these procedures is particularly important for one of the most vexing, and potentially most dangerous, categories of terrorists: U.S. citizens. Over the years, U.S. authorities have responded with astonishing variety to American nationals suspected of terrorism, from ignoring their activities to conducting lethal drone strikes. All U.S. terrorists are not created equal. And the U.S. response depends heavily on the role of allies, the degree of threat the suspect poses, and the imminence of that threat — along with other factors.

See the flow chart and read detailed explanations {shudder} at the link.

NYT: F.D.A. Offers Broad New Rules to Fight Food Contamination

The proposed rules represent a sea change in the way the agency polices food, a process that currently involves taking action after contamination has been identified. It is a long-awaited step toward codifying the food safety law that Congress passed two years ago.

Changes include requirements for better record keeping, contingency plans for handling outbreaks and measures that would prevent the spread of contaminants in the first place. While food producers would have latitude in determining how to execute the rules, farmers would have to ensure that water used in irrigation met certain standards and food processors would need to find ways to keep fresh food that may contain bacteria from coming into contact with food that has been cooked.

New safety measures might include requiring that farm workers wash their hands, installing portable toilets in fields and ensuring that foods are cooked at temperatures high enough to kill bacteria.

Whether consumers will ultimately bear some of the expense of the new rules was unclear, but the agency estimated that the proposals would cost food producers tens of thousands of dollars a year.

Mother Jones: Powerful Tea Party Group’s Internal Docs Leak—Read Them Here

FreedomWorks, the national conservative group that helped launch the tea party movement, sells itself as a genuine grassroots operation, and for years it has battled accusations of “astroturfing”—posing as a populist organization while doing the bidding of big-money donors. Yet internal documents obtained by Mother Jones show that FreedomWorks has indeed become dependent on wealthy individual donors to finance its growing operation.

Last month, the Washington Post reported that Richard Stephenson, a reclusive millionaire banker and FreedomWorks board member, and members of his family funneled $12 million in October through two newly created Tennessee corporations to FreedomWorks’ super-PAC, which used these funds to support tea party candidates in November’s elections. The revelation that a corporate bigwig like Stephenson, who founded the Cancer Treatment Centers of America and chairs its board, was responsible for more than half of the FreedomWorks super-PAC’s haul in 2012 undercuts the group’s grassroots image and hands ammunition to critics who say FreedomWorks does the bidding of rich conservative donors.

Big donations like Stephenson’s are business as usual for FreedomWorks. According to a 52-page report prepared by FreedomWorks’ top brass for a board of directors meeting held in mid-December at the Virginia office of Sands Capital Management, an investment firm run by FreedomWorks board member Frank Sands, the entire FreedomWorks organization—its 501(c)(3) and (c)(4) nonprofit arms and its super-PAC—raised nearly $41 million through mid-December. Of that total, $33 million—or 81 percent of its 2012 fundraising—came in the form of “major gifts,” the type of big donations coveted by nonprofits and super-PACs. (FreedomWorks’ nonprofit components do not have to disclose their funders.)

Well-heeled individual contributors ponied up $31 million—or 94 percent—of those major gifts, according to the FreedomWorks board book. Eight donors gave a half-million dollars or more; 22 donated between $100,000 and $499,999; 17 cut checks between $50,000 and $99,999; and 95 gave between $10,000 and $49,999. Foundations contributed $1.6 million in major gifts, and corporations donated $330,000.

Now what are you reading and blogging about today? I look forward to clicking on your links.


Saturday Reads: A Fiscal Cliff-Free Zone

MarilynMonroe reads

Good Morning!!

Several months ago, I wrote about seeing a gathering of wild turkeys as I drove down my street in a western suburb of Boston. I was very surprised, but when I got home and googled I learned that the giant, not-very-bright birds have been invading communities all over Massachusetts–including the city of Boston!

Yesterday, as I drove down a street in Cambridge, I had to come to sudden stop as a lone wild turkey meandered into my path. I managed to get around the bird, but the car behind me didn’t make it I could see in my rear view mirror that the driver was forced to sit there as the turkey wandered around in the middle of the road. So apparently the turkey invasion is continuing apace.

From CBS News, December 7: Wild turkeys terrorize Massachusetts town residents

Aggressive turkeys are coming after some Massachusetts residents, prompting one town to consider seeking approval to trap and kill the birds.

In particular, three large male turkeys seem to be leading the assault in Brookline, CBS station WBZ in Boston reported. A meeting was held on Dec. 6 at the Brookline Police Station to discuss the poultry problem.

Karen Halvorson told WBZ that the turkeys have chased her on two occasions, banging on her front door and scratching her as she took her daily walk. She’s taken precautions including buying a hiking stick to ward off the creatures and carrying her phone on her at all times. Halvorson was at the meeting.

“I can’t believe we’re living this way,” she said.

Her husband has made piles of sticks around their house so they can throw them at the turkeys and run for cover. He’s been attacked four times in the last three years.

Jeeze, I’m glad they’re not hanging around in my front yard! BTW, Brookline is basically in Boston. It’s an urban area.

Turkeys.brookline

Here’s more from The Boston Globe in late November:

In Brookline, a roving band of wild turkeys is terrorizing residents, stalking some as they walk down the street and ambushing others as they try to exit their cars. They’re pecking backsides, scratching necks, and flapping powerful wings in the faces of passersby.

For those whose primary experience with the grand bird is when it’s sliced up on a plate, the problem may sound funny. And to those living in rural areas who have found ways to peacefully coexist with wild turkeys for years, the problem may sound overblown. But to residents of Brookline, where the presence of roughly two dozen 3- to 4-foot-tall birds is a relatively new phenomenon, the menace is anything but humorous or normal. Over the past few months, the number of encounters with the increasingly brazen birds ­­— not to mention calls to public safety officials — has risen.

According to the state agency MassWildlife, trapping and relocating the turkeys would be impractical: The best trapping methods aren’t suited for urban and suburban areas, and relocated turkeys often return or find new human populations to annoy. The better option, then, is to teach humans how best to deal with the birds. Brookline officials should get to work educating the town’s residents about best anti-turkey practices, which are available on MassWildlife’s website.

The birds are even invading Martha’s Vineyard: Oak Bluffs police bean rampaging turkey.

Oak Bluffs police officers Saturday used a bean bag shotgun to knock the stuffing out of an aggressive turkey that had run afoul of residents in the Hidden Cove Road neighborhood, where the big Tom attempted to rule the roost.

Lieutenant Tim Williamson said police were called to the neighborhood, located in the Major’s Cove subdivision, on several occasions for reports of turkeys harassing humans. In one instance, a turkey chased an elderly woman who tripped and fell and scraped her knee. “This turkey has been a menace in the neighborhood for at least a month or so,” Lieutenant Williamson said.

On Saturday at noon, police officer Jeffrey LaBell received a call at the station from a resident who police would not identify. The man told police a wild turkey was on his front porch and, according to the police report, “was keeping him and his wife from entering their residence. [The man] explained the turkey is aggressive and has attacked people in the neighborhood in the past on several occasions. [The man] demanded that something be done before the turkey causes harm to someone in the neighborhood.”

Now for some slightly more serious news, please follow me after the page break.

Read the rest of this entry »


Sunday Reads: Venus Fly-Trap, Irish Women, Liz and Dick

Good Morning

**Updated @ 1:40pm**

The world is smaller these days, internet and social media like twitter and Facebook bring people far away closer to us every day. One of my “Facebook Friends” who is an amazing bead weaver, lives in Tel Aviv. Her house suffered a direct hit by a missile early yesterday, fortunately no injuries…but the roof caved in and all the windows in the house were blown out. She has been posting quick updates to her FB page, mentioning the sounds of war just outside her home…talking about the stress of wondering if, or as it turned out, when it would be her family’s turn to experience the latest fight first hand.

I think these kinds of connections bring events like the war between Israel and Gaza home to many people who may not have been only slightly interested or barely aware of this escalating situation in the Mideast. I would post pictures of her house after being hit by a rocket, but she hasn’t posted any updates since early yesterday morning. I just hope Miriam is okay and safe.

** Update**

My FB friend posted an update to her status earlier today, here is what she said:

After a sleepless night I got up to take stock of the extensive damage caused by last nights attack..Daylight revealed just how bad it was and how lucky I am to be alive. Broken glass and debris everywhere, I don’t know where to start…This morning I find my beads covered in debris and dust, work in progress ruined…the car damaged…doors torn out of their frames…Still, I live to see another day, which is more than other people can say so I am thankful. I just want peace for us all. THANK YOU so much for your prayers and concern, you fill my heart with hope! ♥

I am relieved that she is okay, and I hope she stays safe and gets her wish of peace for everyone.

The reason I mention my artist friend is because I wanted to bring the next few links about Gaza and Israel into perspective.

Here are some recent updates on Israel and Hamas, the articles are rather involved so I will just post the first paragraphs and I urge you to go and read them in full:

Stop pretending the US is an uninvolved, helpless party in the Israeli assault on Gaza | Glenn Greenwald

A Palestinian man carries a wounded child in Gaza

A Palestinian man carries a wounded child at a hospital following an Israeli air raid in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip, on November 17, 2012. Photograph: Moiz Salhi/AFP/Getty Images

(updated below)

A central premise of US media coverage of the Israeli attack on Gaza – beyond the claim that Israel is justifiably “defending itself” – is that this is some endless conflict between two foreign entitles, and Americans can simply sit by helplessly and lament the tragedy of it all. The reality is precisely the opposite: Israeli aggression is possible only because of direct, affirmative, unstinting US diplomatic, financial and military support for Israel and everything it does. This self-flattering depiction of the US as uninvolved, neutral party is the worst media fiction since TV news personalities covered the Arab Spring by pretending that the US is and long has been on the side of the heroic democratic protesters, rather than the key force that spent decades propping up the tyrannies they were fighting.

I will however, include this update on the Greenwald piece, which mentions this quote below:

7:55 P.M. Interior Minister Eli Yishai on Israel’s operation in Gaza: “The goal of the operation is to send Gaza back to the Middle Ages. Only then will Israel be calm for forty years.”

To which, Greenwald says this:

Let me know if any of the US Sunday talk shows mention that tomorrow during their discussions of this “operation”.

From the Boston Globe: Israel launches scores of airstrikes into Gaza

Israel broadened its assault on the Gaza Strip on Saturday from mostly military targets to centers of government infrastructure, obliterating the four-story headquarters of the Hamas prime minister with a barrage of five bombs before dawn.

The attack, one of several on government installations, came a day after the prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, hosted his Egyptian counterpart in that building, a sign of Hamas’ new legitimacy in a radically redrawn Arab world. That stature was underscored Saturday by a visit to Gaza from the Tunisian foreign minister and the rapid convergence in Cairo of two Hamas allies, the prime minister of Turkey and the crown prince of Qatar, for talks with the Egyptian president and the chairman of Hamas on a possible cease-fire.

But as the fighting ended its fourth day, with Israel continuing preparations for a ground invasion, the conflict showed no sign of abating. Gaza militants again fired long-range missiles at Tel Aviv, among nearly 60 that soared into Israel on Saturday. Israel said it hit more than 200 targets overnight in Gaza, and continued with afternoon strikes on the home of a Hamas commander and on a motorcycle-riding militant.

From Haaretz Daily Newspaper, Let’s try something new

The Palestinian people want to be free of the occupation. Life is like that sometimes. But how to accomplish that? At first they tried doing nothing. For 20 years they were idle, and indeed nothing happened. They then tried rocks and knives, the first intifada. And still nothing happened, except for the Oslo Accords, which did not change the fundamental nature of the occupation. After that, they tried a vicious intifada: again, nothing. They made a stab at diplomacy; still nothing, the occupation went on as before.

From Al Jazeera English, Israel continues deadly Gaza air raids

Israel and Palestinian fighters have traded air strikes and rockets for a fourth day, with Israel hitting the Hamas prime minister’s office and also downing a rocket aimed at Tel Aviv.

The death toll from the conflict climbed on Saturday to 45: 40 Palestinians, at least 13 of them civilians, including women and children, and three Israeli civilians.

At least eight people were killed and dozens more injured by overnight attacks on the Gaza Strip.

From the New York Times: Arms With a Long Reach Help Hamas

Rina Castelnuovo for The New York Times

A child watches from a field near Ashdod, Israel, as a missile is fired to intercept an incoming Palestinian rocket. About 30 rockets were fired from Gaza into southern Israel on Saturday morning.

And now I will move on to Ireland, and a few updates on a story we have followed here on Sky D.

Thousands March for Abortion Rights in Ireland

About 10,000 people marched through Dublin and observed a minute’s silence Saturday in memory of the Indian dentist who died of blood poisoning in an Irish hospital after being denied an abortion.

Marchers, many of them mothers and daughters walking side by side, chanted “Never again!” and held pictures of Savita Halappanavar as they paraded across the city to stage a nighttime candlelit vigil outside the office of Prime Minister Enda Kenny.

‘Change your abortion law to save lives’ grieving father tells Irish PM

Praveen and Savita Halappanavar.

Praveen and Savita Halappanavar during their wedding four years ago.

The father of the young woman who died after being refused an emergency abortion in Ireland has appealed directly to the Irish prime minister, Enda Kenny, to change the country’s legislation on abortion.

Interviewed by the Observer, Andanappa Yalagi issued a personal plea to Kenny: “Sir, please change your law and take consideration of humanity. Please change the law on abortion, which will help to save the lives of so many women in the future.”

Mr Yalagi also says he will take legal action against the hospital to try to prevent future acts of “inhumanity”. He and his wife, Akkamahadevi, expressed fury at the way in which Savita Halappanavar, 31, had been treated and revealed that no one from the hospital nor the Irish government had been in touch to express any remorse for the death of their only daughter. “I want to take legal action against them over the inhumane way they treated my daughter,” said Mr Yalagi, speaking at his home in the southern Indian town of Belgaum.

Ireland says won’t be rushed into decision on abortion rig – The Times of India

Ireland has said it will not be rushed into an immediate decision on right to abortion even as it assured India that an independent medical professional will assist the enquiry into the death of an Indian national who was refused termination of her pregnancy despite miscarrying.

The Indian envoy to Ireland , Debashish Chakravarti , met Ireland’s deputy PM and foreign minister Eamon Gilmore on Friday to convey the “deep concern” of Indian government at the death of Dr Savita Halappanavar expressing hope that steps would be taken so as not to allow such an incident to recur.

[…]

According to the foreign ministry, Gilmore conveyed deepest sympathies of Ireland for the death of Halappanavar and requested that these be conveyed to the family . He indicated that they were sensitive to the impact of the tragedy on public opinion and civil society.

He said the investigation would be completed at an early date and the Irish side would work closely with the Indian mission.

Meanwhile, Irish PM Enda Kenny has said he is awaiting a report by an expert group on the issue but will not be rushed into an immediate decision on right to abortion. Kenny said his government would go through the report and indicated it will take its own time in arriving at a decision.

Thousands protest in Ireland to liberalize abortion laws – CSMonitor.com

Several thousand abortion rights protesters march through central Dublin on Saturday, demanding that Ireland’s government ensures that abortions can be performed to save a woman’s life.

March organizers claim a turnout of 20,000, but Irish police gave a figure of 6,000. Either way, the march was unusually large by Irish standards, wending its war from the Garden of Remembrance, a national independence  memorial, to Ireland’s parliament, DáIl Éireann, just over a mile away.

“The mood was somber and angry and determined,” says Wendy Lyon, a feminist activist and trainee attorney who attended the demonstration. “The sense was there has to be a turning point. That things can’t be allowed to go on without change. Enough is enough, basically.”

Ms. Lyon says Halappanavar’s death has resulted in a sea-change in Irish opinion, politicizing the previously apolitical: “I think the people really have shifted on it. I’ve spoken to people who were hesitant before but said something had to be done.”

Irish demand reform to abortion law

It is already clear that the Irish government will have to bow to public opinion. One minister admitted “action in some shape or form” will be taken. Dublin has also been under pressure from the European Court of Human Rights which has handed down a judgment criticising the Republic’s current law on abortion.

I realize that was just links with no commentary on the news out of Ireland, y’all know how I feel about this torturous death Savita experienced. I just can’t say any more about it.

Hundreds of Irish women go to England to obtain a legal abortion…an extreme hardship these women must face just to be able to have control over their own bodies. It is outrageous that the Catholic church will use all the power at their disposal to fight against a women’s right to choose or control their own bodies…when they purposely cover up and support pedophile priest, like this one from right here in Banjoville.

Former NE Ga. priest jailed in ’91 abuse case

A Roman Catholic priest accused of taking a 10-year-old boy to West Virginia for sex more than two decades ago was jailed on Thursday.

The Rev. Robert Poandl previously worked at St. Luke’s in Dahlonega, St. Paul the Apostle in Cleveland from 1979 to 1981 and St. Francis of Assisi in Blairsville from 1979 to 1988.

Poandl was most recently at the Cincinnati-based Glenmary Home Missioners, and is now in Butler County Jail in southwest Ohio following an order by a federal magistrate judge that he be taken into custody.

Poandl was here in Georgia until this year,

In February, Glenmary said it had relieved Poandl of his ministerial duties in Georgia and asked him to return to the Glenmary residence in Cincinnati.

Poandl has been living under what the order calls “a safety plan” at the Cincinnati residence and has not been functioning as a priest, Glenmary’s statement said.

According to the St Francis of Assisi Church’s website:

The history of the Catholic Church in Union and Towns Counties is your story – for you are the people who continue to respond in faith and love. To quote Fr. Bob Poandl, “Thank you for being a part of this history by living as part of Christ’s Body.”

Poandl was the church’s first pastor…it is sickening to see this crap hit so close to home.

I will post a few more interesting links below, because this post is getting long. These are articles about Walmart…

Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price | Occupy America

The richest people in America: The owners of Wal-Mart — six members of the Walton family — are all on the list of Forbes 400 richest people in America. Combined, the Waltons have a net worth equal to the bottom 30 percent of all Americans. They are all children or children-in-law of the founders of Walmart. Six people. As much wealth as 30 percent of all the people in America. The Waltons are now collectively worth about $93 billion, according to Forbes.

Wal-Mart employs more people than any other company in the United States outside of the Federal government, yet the majority of its employees with children live below the poverty line.

[…]

in 2004, a study released the UC Berkeley Labor Center found that “reliance by Wal-Mart workers on public assistance programs in California comes at a cost to taxpayers of an estimated $86 million annually; this is comprised of $32 million in health related expenses and $54 million in other assistance. Source: Ken Jacobs and Arindrajit Dube, “Hidden Costs of Wal-Mart Jobs”[PDF file], UC Berkeley Labor Center.

Wal-Mart dismissed the findings of the UC Berkeley study, “Hidden Costs of Wal-Mart Jobs,” as a “union hit piece.” However, text from Wal-Mart’s own internal memo substantially corroborates their findings.

An excerpt from the memo states:

“We also have a significant number of Associates and their children who receive health insurance through public-assistance programs. Five percent of our Associates are on Medicaid compared to an average for national employers of 4 percent. Twenty-seven percent of Associates’ children are on such programs, compared to a national average of 22 percent. In total, 46 percent of Associates’ children are either on Medicaid or are uninsured.”

Source: Wal-Mart Internal Memo [PDF File], via New York Times

A few statistics on exactly how many children of Wal-Mart of employees receive state-funded health care, and the cost to those states:

– FLORIDA: 12,300 WAL-MART Workers and their Dependents on Medicaid

– GEORGIA: 10,261 Children of WAL-MART Employees are Enrolled in PeachCare for Kids

– WISCONSIN: 1,252 WAL-MART Employees and Dependents on BadgerCare

Why are states subsidizing health care for Wal-Mart employees when the Walton family are all in the top ten wealthiest people in the entire nation? I’m not complaining that these families are getting health care, everyone deserves health care, but the Walton’s should be ashamed that they aren’t providing it.

WAL-MART Costs Taxpayers $1,557,000,000,00 to Support its Employees

“The Democratic Staff of the Committee on Education and the Workforce estimates that one 200-person Wal-Mart store may result in a cost to federal taxpayers of $420,750 per year – about $2,103 per employee. Specifically, the low wages result in the following additional public costs being passed along to taxpayers:

– $36,000 a year for free and reduced lunches for just 50 qualifying Wal-Mart families.
– $42,000 a year for Section 8 housing assistance, assuming 3 percent of the store employees qualify for such assistance, at $6,700 per family.
– $125,000 a year for federal tax credits and deductions for low-income families, assuming 50 employees are heads of household with a child and 50 are married with two children.
– $100,000 a year for the additional Title I expenses, assuming 50 Wal-Mart families qualify with an average of 2 children.
– $108,000 a year for the additional federal health care costs of moving into state children’s health insurance programs (S-CHIP), assuming 30 employees with an average of two children qualify.
$9,750 a year for the additional costs for low income energy assistance.”

The total figure is based on the average $420,750 per-store figure, multiplied by 3700 (the approximate number of stores currently in the United States).

Source: Rep. George Miller / Democratic Staff of the Committee on Education and the Workforce, “Everyday Low Wages: The Hidden Price We All Pay for Wal-Mart”, February 16, 2004.

And then there is this:

Walmart’s Internal Compensation Documents Reveal Systematic Limit On Advancement

Two years ago, when she started working at the deli counter of a Walmart in Illinois, Lisa hoped that her job would amount to the beginning of a career, one that would pay enough to cover her bills and enable her to stay current on her student loan debt.

But despite one raise since, Lisa, who asked that only her first name be used, now earns just $9.10 an hour, or about $13,000 a year on part-time hours. Seven months pregnant, she recently filed for bankruptcy. With no alternatives at hand, Walmart now seems like a dead-end to poverty, she says.

“I don’t have underwear without holes in them,” she said. “Everyone at work wears T-shirts that are threadbare. I have just enough to eat and get gas to make it to work for the next two weeks.”

Stories like Lisa’s are even backed up by Walmarts own internal documents.

are confirmed by Walmart’s official compensation policy, an internal company document obtained by The Huffington Post, titled the “Field Non-Exempt Associate Pay Plan Fiscal Year 2013.” The plan details a rigid pay structure for hourly employees that makes it difficult for most to rise much beyond poverty-level wages.

Low-level workers typically start near minimum wage, and have the potential to earn raises of 20 to 40 cents an hour through incremental promotions. Flawless performance merits a 60 cent raise per year under the policy, regardless of how much time an employee has worked for the company. [Click here to read the full pay policy] As a result, a “solid performer” who starts at Walmart as a cart pusher making $8 an hour and receives one promotion, about the average rate, can expect to make $10.60 after working at the company for 6 years.

[…]

The Walmart pay plan is organized around seven levels of job difficulty for hourly workers, called Position Pay Grades (PPGs), ranging from cart-pushers (Level 1) and cashiers (Level 3), to cake decorators (Level 4) and customer service managers (Level 6). Each subsequent pay grade offers 20 to 40 cents more than the previous level, according to the document. This means that the base rate of pay for a top hourly position at Walmart, like a check-out supervisor, is $1.70 more than that of the lowest paying job.

Or even less than minimum wage, which is what my husband makes when you consider how much overtime he puts in a week, because once you get into the level of Assistant Managers, you are no longer hourly. You get a flat salary no matter how many hours you work, and in my husbands case, it could be 60 hours a week or more.

Okay, that is all the newsy stuff I have for you today. I will end with a couple easy stories…first this one that explores the science behind the venus fly trap, Probing the mystery of the venus fly trap’s botanical bite


Plants lack muscles, yet in only a tenth of a second, the meat-eating Venus fly trap hydrodynamically snaps its leaves shut to trap an insect meal.

This astonishingly rapid display of botanical movement has long fascinated biologists. Commercially, understanding the mechanism of the Venus fly trap’s leaf snapping may one day help improve products such as release-on-command coatings and adhesives, electronic circuits, optical lenses, and drug delivery.

Now a team of French physicists from the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) and Aix-Marseille University in Marseille, France, is working to understand this movement. They will present their findings at 65th meeting of the American Physical Society’s (APS) Division of Fluid Dynamics (DFD), Nov. 18 — 20, 2012, in San Diego, Calif.

Read more at the link.

Lastly, two reviews for you on a couple of real shitty movies.

Liz and Dick, which sounds like something I could really enjoy making fun of: Lindsay Lohan in ‘Liz & Dick’: TV Review – Hollywood Reporter

It should come as no great surprise that Lifetime’s Liz & Dick movie starring Lindsay Lohan is spectacularly bad. After all, it’s Lohan, more memorable in the tabloids than she ever was as an actress. No, the mystery here is whether Lifetime actually believed it had a major “television event,” as it says, because this was Lohan’s “highly anticipated comeback movie role,” as the channel’s website notes. Was Lifetime made giddy by the potential, or made blind by it? Most intriguing, did it know that casting Lohan of all people as Elizabeth Taylor would nearly burn Hollywood down — and shock the rest of the country as well, thus ensuring enormous ratings?

Lifetime’s website breathlessly asks visitors, “Are you finally convinced?” — with a link to a photo of Lohan as Taylor and a young Liz side by side. No, the photo is not convincing. Hair and makeup miracles do not make a movie. So calm down, Lifetime.

Lohan is woeful as Taylor from start to finish. But, whatever you do, don’t miss Liz & Dick. It’s an instant classic of unintentional hilarity. Drinking games were made for movies like this. And the best part is that it gets worse as it goes on, so in the right company with the right beverages, Liz & Dick could be unbearably hilarious toward the tail end of the 90-minute running time. By the time Lohan is playing mid-’80s Taylor and it looks like a lost Saturday Night Live skit, your body may be cramped by convulsions.

And then there is Twilight, Breaking Dawn 2,  which led one review to write this:

After 10 minutes of this movie, this was the only note I managed to scribble out:

Oh, but he recommends you see the show, *:

Do I recommend that you see the new Twilight this weekend? Of course I do. Just so long as you get drunk first—irrevocably drunk. I’m talking, “I can’t tell the Partridges apart anymore” drunk. I mean a level of smiling intoxication at which you cannot hear the difference in quality between vintage Motown and Jenna Marbles’ “Bounce That Dick,” nor can you distinguish between your momma’s cooking and the Arby’s value menu.

Take a look at those reviews, you will laugh…and then be glad you didn’t waste your time watching these movies, or perhaps you will get the urge for some quiet time immersed in Hollywood’s version of love. Hey, think about it…the Petraeus affair is really the stuff that movie dreams are made of.

Have a wonderful Sunday!


Open Thread: Hillary in India

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (L) watches a girl do karate during an anti-human trafficking event in Kolkata May 6, 2012.

[Click on the photo to see more pictures of Hillary Clinton in India.]

This is just going to be a link and photo dump, because I know absolutely nothing about Indian politics.

From the NY Daily News:

Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, hoped to narrow a gap with India over Iran on Monday as she tried to throw a spotlight on issues dear to her heart such as the fight against sex trafficking.

Mrs Clinton was paying the first visit by a top US official to the eastern metropolis Kolkata and will then meet in New Delhi with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, amid concern that the growing US-India partnership has been drifting….

On Sunday, Mrs Clinton sought to draw attention to sex trafficking in India, where forced prostitution of women and girls is one of the largest illicit businesses.

Mrs Clinton appeared visibly moved as she watched a dance by former victims of sex trafficking, who recounted their plight in a synchronised performance designed as a form of therapy by the local group Kolkata Sanved.

Mrs Clinton called the recital “mesmerising” and thanked each of the six dancers, telling them she was proud of them. She was shown quilts which former trafficking victims sew as a way to give them new livelihoods.

“What you’re doing is so important to try to not only help yourselves but to help other young girls,” Mrs Clinton said.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (2nd L) holds a sari during an anti-human trafficking event in Kolkata May 6, 2012.

Here’s another article on the anti-trafficking event: Hillary’s date with history
She’s cheerleader in trafficking crusade

To them, she was “US ka bahut bara neta….Bill Clinton ki biwi (a top leader of the US….Bill Clinton’s wife)”. To her, they were the faces of a movement close to her heart.

When Poonam Khatoon, 16, and Uma Das, 19, finally found themselves face to face with Hillary Clinton at the Rabindranath Tagore Centre of the ICCR on Sunday afternoon, all it needed was a smile to break down the barriers.

“Aami bhabtei parini onar shamne darate parbo. Uni amader lorai-tey shamil hoyechhen, sheta ekta boro byapar (I couldn’t imagine I would be standing in front of her. She has joined our crusade, that’s a big thing),” Uma told Metro of her meeting with the US secretary of state.

Community worker Uma and Poonam, a student of Class IX, are daughters of women in prostitution involved with Apne Aap Women Worldwide, a grassroots movement to end sex trafficking. The duo took turns escorting Hillary through a pictorial journey of a trafficked girl.

At the end of the event, Hillary told the women she was their “cheerleader” and that she would “stand by” them. They asked her to talk publicly about human trafficking as much as she could.

The secretary of state’s keepsake from the Sunday afternoon rendezvous was a green wristband with the words: “Cool Men Don’t Buy Sex”.

Hillary not only wore the band immediately, she insisted that members of her entourage sport one each as well. “She was also gifted a T-shirt that read: ‘Together we can end sex trafficking’.

Another photo from the trafficking event

From the Washington Post:

NEW DELHI — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton arrived in India’s capital Monday with a clear message for the country’s leaders: Cooperate with us on with Iran.

Yet less than a mile from her meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, there was another group meeting with Indian leaders. An Iranian trade delegation is in New Delhi, overlapping with Clinton’s trip and potentially undermining one of its main purposes.

The Obama administration is turning up the pressure on India to join international sanctions against Iran that would choke off funds for the country’s nuclear program. India, which relies on Iran for about 12 percent of its oil imports, has so far been unwilling to go along.

“This is a regime that has a history of aggressive behavior,” Clinton warned of Iran during a town hall-style meeting Monday morning in Kolkata, her first stop in a three-day swing through India. “And I don’t think you deal with aggressors by giving in to them. … Our goal is resolve this peacefully and diplomatically, and that’s why we need India to be part of the international effort.”

Finally, a report from India on Hillary’s meeting with the prime minister:

New Delhi: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

Hillary and the Prime Minister discussed several issues related to Indo-US relations. She also urged India to speed up the civil nuclear deal and cut oil imports from Iran….

Before her meeting with the Prime Minister, Hillary met Mamata Banerjee earlier on Monday and promised more US investment in West Bengal….

According to a US consulate statement, the top US diplomat, who had an hour-long meeting with Banerjee, discussed a range of issues including stepping up US investments in the state, according to a US consulate statement.

“Touching on issues, ranging from increasing US investment in West Bengal, including in the retail sector, US-India relations, regional affairs and strong people-to-people connections, the Secretary reaffirmed to the chief minister the US desire to work with India and West Bengal to deepen and broaden our partnership,” it said.


Wednesday Reads: Torture, Big Pharma and Freaky Monsters

Good morning, its Wednesday! To start off this morning news reads I found three articles to bring to you from AJE. So let’s get to it…

The latest out of Egypt,  protesters demand Tantawi ouster – Middle East – Al Jazeera English

The SCAF released a statement warning protesters against “harming public interests” [Reuters]

Thousands of Egyptians marched on the cabinet headquarters in central Cairo on Tuesday to demand the removal of the ruling military council.

The march, reminiscent of protests that forced President Hosni Mubarak to step down on February 11, followed a warning by the military council that it would use all legitimate means to end a five-day-old protest in the city’s Tahrir Square.

“Down, down with military rule,” demonstrators chanted as they went from Tahrir square towards the prime minister’s office, where they demonstrated before returning to the square.

“The people want the removal of the Field Marshal,” they shouted, referring to Mohammed Hussein Tantawi, the military council leader who served as Mubarak’s defence minister for two decades.

The protest that began on Friday has increasingly targeted the generals running the country and is one of the longest since it took over from Mubarak following mass protests against rising prices, poverty, unemployment and years of authoritarian rule.

This next link is about something we have called for repeatedly.  Of course, it ain’t going to happen with the current “Bushie” in the White House.  Rights group seeks Bush ‘torture’ inquiry – Americas – Al Jazeera English

Human Rights Watch has called on Barack Obama, the current US president, to order a criminal investigation into alleged detainee abuse by his predecessor, George W Bush, and senior figures from his administration.

“There are solid grounds to investigate Bush, [former vice president Dick] Cheney, [former secretary of defence Donald] Rumsfeld, and [former CIA director George] Tenet for authorising torture and war crimes,” Kenneth Roth, HRW’s executive director, said.

In a 107-page report entitled, “Getting Away with Torture: The Bush Administration and Mistreatment of Detainees,” the rights watchdog said inaction was denting America’s standing in the world.

“The US is right to call for justice when serious international crimes are committed in places like Darfur, Libya, and Sri Lanka, but there should be no double standards,” Roth said.

“When the US government shields its own officials from investigation and prosecution, it makes it easier for others to dismiss global efforts to bring violators of serious crimes to justice.”

And the last AJE link is to an episode of Fault Lines, and discusses Big Pharma doing clinical trials on the poor and illiterate in India.  Outsourced: Clinical trials overseas – Fault Lines – Al Jazeera English

Instead of testing trial medicines on Americans, more and more of these tests are being carried out on poor people in faraway places. Russia, China, Brazil, Poland, Uganda and Romania are all hot spots for what is called clinical research or clinical trials.

Now employing CROs – or clinical research organisations – the industry is big business, worth as much as $30bn today.

One country has experienced a boom like no other in this industry – India. Spoken English, an established medical infrastructure, welcoming attitudes toward foreign industry and, most importantly, legions of poor, illiterate test subjects that are willing to try out new drugs have transformed the Indian landscape into a massive testing ground for pharmaceuticals.

Fault Lines’ Zeina Awad travels to India to see what the clinical research practices look like on the ground. What role are the US regulatory bodies playing in overseeing the trials? Are participants aware that they are taking part in a clinical trial? Is the testing being held up against international ethical standards?

Okay, now back to the US.  We all have been disgusted by those Pro-Life Fetus Fanatic Racist billboards that are springing up around America. Ever wonder what those women these billboards are targeting think about them?  Here are a couple of videos to check out…What Do Real Women Think About Anti-Choice Billboards | RH Reality Check

It seems like every time you turn around, another racist, anti-abortion billboard is popping up in public. But what do everyday women really think of these campaigns? The Asian Communities for Reproductive Justice (ACRJ) asked a few for some on the street interviews, and this is what they had to say.

I thought it was interesting to see what Keisha, Dani and Beverly had to say about those awful PLUB billboards.

Speaking of awful PLUBs…Audio: Bachmann in ’04: ‘It’s part of Satan, I think, to say this is gay’ – Good As You:: Gay and Lesbian Activism With a Sense of Humor

Some media outlets have played the clip from this same conference where she called homosexuality “personal bondage, personal despair, and personal enslavement.” But for my money, this one — wherein the GOP superstar invoked Satan, sexual dysfunction, and the Love Won Out “ex-gay” conference — is the real gem:

And I think something that was meant for evil was meant for good, and I think we can see that again today. Well there’s something that’s happening in our schools, and one of the reasons why I felt I was called to take up this issue, of bringing a constitutional amendment to the state of Minnesota before our people—I was the chief author in the MN state senate—is because of the profound impact this would have on every man, every woman, every child in the state of Minnesota. Because everyone thought this would only impact the 1.3 percent of our population that is a same-sex individual — and again, don’t misunderstand. I am not here bashing people who are homosexuals, who are lesbians, who are bisexual, who are transgendered. We need to have profound compassion for the people who are dealing with the very real issue of sexual dysfunction in their life, and sexual identity disorders. This is a very real issue. It’s not funny, it’s sad. Any of you who have members of your family that are in the lifestyle—we have a member of our family that is. This is not funny. It’s a very sad life. It’s part of Satan, I think, to say this is gay. It’s anything but gay. And so we are not here tonight — in fact, I wish this whole room was filled with the gay community — because we’d reach our hand out in love.

Reaching out with a hand of love?

I don’t think that love is what this Bachmann Clinic is preaching.

And lastly, some choice satanic monsters for you to enjoy… remember, there is no actual proof that any of these are “gay.”  None of them look very happy.

Oh, and be sure you take a look at the last drawing, Monstrum hermaphroditicum pedibus aquilinis, perhaps this is what Michele Bachmann sees in her nightmares?

BibliOdyssey: Monstrorum Historia

Monstrum alatum, & cornutum instar Cacodaemonis

“Ulissi Aldrovandi (Aldrovandus) (1522-1605) graduated from Padua and Bologna Universities with degrees in law, philosophy and medicine and taught logic to supplement the occasional patronage bestowed on him by his cousin, the Pope.

During nearly a year of confinement in Rome while fighting a heresy charge, Aldrovandi developed a strong interest in the natural world. He began to collect all manner of specimens which apparently came to constitute a formidable natural history museum for those that visited him.

He travelled quite a bit in his quest for specimens and recorded his observations in some 4000 manuscripts, a number of which were published during his lifetime. His writings include studies in ornithology, medicine, hydrology, zoology, botany and, as can be imagined from the embellished and fantastical images here, a paper on mythical creatures as well (among others).

Aldrovandi was instrumental in establishing the botanical gardens in Bologna and his alma mater there awarded him the first Professorial chair in natural science.”

So what are you reading about today?  Anything interesting?