The Fort Worth Zoo’s new baby elephant is already a big hit with children who visit the zoo.
Their youthful fascination was enhanced Tuesday when zoo officials added a child’s inflatable pool to the elephants’ enclosure for Belle’s enjoyment. Belle could be seen rolling in the pool.
Still a little bit left of summer vacation left and I am sure some of you are hitting the road. It’s still hot down here in New Orleans but this weekend is Satchmo Summer Fest. Every little festival weekend is like a ready made holiday for me! I will probably go listen to some music and taste some home cooking!
There’s the usual this and that sorta stuff out there. Here is one helluva depressing take on a man that kidnapped and brutalized women for years. “Most of the sex… was consensual.” Yeah. RIGHT. Three young women held captive for 11 years and of course, they asked for it.
Ariel Castro’s words at his sentencing hearing on Thursday are almost jaw-dropping. Given a chance to speak before he was sentenced to life in prison, plus a thousand years for aggravated murder and for holding three young women captive for 11 years, he repeatedly blamed his victims.
He denied he raped and beat Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus, claiming instead that they asked him for sex and that his sexual addiction was to blame. He even said the abuse couldn’t have been that bad because DeJesus “looks normal.” While many onlookers were astonished, abuse experts said they hear that kind of language and justification every day.
NBC News asked them to weigh in on specific comments Castro made:
“Most of the sex that went on in that house, probably all of it, was consensual,” Castro said. “These allegations about being forceful on them — that is totally wrong. Because there was times where they’d even ask me for sex –many times. And I learned that these girls were not virgins. From their testimony to me, they had multiple partners before me, all three of them.”
The denial and rationalization comes as no shock to experts on rape and abuse. In fact, they say, it’s typical that men who rape or batter women will deny they did anything wrong, and even that the victim was “asking for it”.
“I think it’s actually very typical of an abuser,” says Barbara Paradiso, who directs the center on domestic violence at the University of Colorado-Denver.
“There is a widely held belief that women enjoy rape or that it is ‘just sex at the wrong time, in the wrong place’,” Rape Crisis of England and Wales says on its website. “Often when a woman is raped she is afraid that she will be killed – rapists often use the threat of killing a woman or her children to ensure her ‘submission’ and her silence after the attack. Women do not enjoy sexual violence. Victims of murder, robbery and other crimes are never portrayed as enjoying the experience.”
“I am not a violent person. I simply kept them there without being able to leave.”
“It is not uncommon for offenders to have justified their own behavior, oftentimes to see themselves as a victim,” Paradiso said in a telephone interview. “They often have a sense of righteousness around their behavior, that they had a right to do what they did or it was acceptable to do what they did that they were forced to do what they did because of the victim.”
“I never had a record until I met my children’s mother.My son was on there the other day saying how abusive I was but I was never abusive until I met her. And he failed to say that at the end before she passed away that them two weren’t even talking.
Castro’s son Anthony has said Castro beat him and his mother, Grimilda “Nilda” Figueroa, who died in 2012.
“What he’s saying, that I was a wife beater – that is, that is wrong. This happened because I couldn’t get her to quiet down. I would continuous tell her the children are right there, would you please? She would respond, I don’t care if the children are there and she would just keep going…the situation would escalate until the point where she would put her hands on me and that’s how I reacted, by putting my hands on her.”
It’s familiar thinking to Paradiso. “‘I had to hit her because she did x, y or z’,” she says. “(They are saying) ‘I had to bring her back into line’ … It doesn’t really surprise me at all that he said what he said. That behavior is completely based on power and control and domination, which our society supports. So I am not surprised that he said that.”
While his is an extreme case, experts say the pattern is anything but rare.
“I was taken aback [by Castro’s statements] but at the same time not shocked by it,” says Jennifer Marsh, vice president of victim services for RAINN, the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network. “It’s somebody who was not willing to accept that what they did was wrong and who may have convinced themselves that what they are doing is not wrong or justified. It read like the way that a perpetrator thinks.”
According to RAINN, someone is sexually assaulted in the United States every two minutes, and only three out of every 100 rapists ever spends any time in jail.
So this is a real interesting story about a writer that basically googled two words and got a visit from the Counter Terrorism People. Those two words are “backpack” and “pressure cooker”.
It was a confluence of magnificent proportions that led six agents from the joint terrorism task force to knock on my door Wednesday morning. Little did we know our seemingly innocent, if curious to a fault, Googling of certain things was creating a perfect storm of terrorism profiling. Because somewhere out there, someone was watching. Someone whose job it is to piece together the things people do on the internet raised the red flag when they saw our search history.
Most of it was innocent enough. I had researched pressure cookers. My husband was looking for a backpack. And maybe in another time those two things together would have seemed innocuous, but we are in “these times” now. And in these times, when things like the Boston bombing happen, you spend a lot of time on the internet reading about it and, if you are my exceedingly curious news junkie of a twenty-year-old son, you click a lot of links when you read the myriad of stories. You might just read a CNN piece about how bomb making instructions are readily available on the internet and you will in all probability, if you are that kid, click the link provided.
Which might not raise any red flags. Because who wasn’t reading those stories? Who wasn’t clicking those links? But my son’s reading habits combined with my search for a pressure cooker and my husband’s search for a backpack set off an alarm of sorts at the joint terrorism task force headquarters.
That’s how I imagine it played out, anyhow. Lots of bells and whistles and a crowd of task force workers huddled around a computer screen looking at our Google history.
This was weeks ago. I don’t know what took them so long to get here. Maybe they were waiting for some other devious Google search to show up but “what the hell do I do with quinoa” and “Is A-Rod suspended yet” didn’t fit into the equation so they just moved in based on those older searches.
I was at work when it happened. My husband called me as soon as it was over, almost laughing about it but I wasn’t joining in the laughter. His call left me shaken and anxious.
What happened was this: At about 9:00 am, my husband, who happened to be home yesterday, was sitting in the living room with our two dogs when he heard a couple of cars pull up outside. He looked out the window and saw three black SUVs in front of our house; two at the curb in front and one pulled up behind my husband’s Jeep in the driveway, as if to block him from leaving.
Six gentleman in casual clothes emerged from the vehicles and spread out as they walked toward the house, two toward the backyard on one side, two on the other side, two toward the front door.
A million things went through my husband’s head. None of which were right. He walked outside and the men greeted him by flashing badges. He could see they all had guns holstered in their waistbands.
“Are you [name redacted]?” one asked while glancing at a clipboard. He affirmed that was indeed him, and was asked if they could come in. Sure, he said.
They asked if they could search the house, though it turned out to be just a cursory search. They walked around the living room, studied the books on the shelf (nope, no bomb making books, no Anarchist Cookbook), looked at all our pictures, glanced into our bedroom, pet our dogs. They asked if they could go in my son’s bedroom but when my husband said my son was sleeping in there, they let it be.
Meanwhile, they were peppering my husband with questions. Where is he from? Where are his parents from? They asked about me, where was I, where do I work, where do my parents live. Do you have any bombs, they asked. Do you own a pressure cooker? My husband said no, but we have a rice cooker. Can you make a bomb with that? My husband said no, my wife uses it to make quinoa. What the hell is quinoa, they asked.
They searched the backyard. They walked around the garage, as much as one could walk around a garage strewn with yardworking equipment and various junk. They went back in the house and asked more questions.
New poll numbers released Thursday suggested that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is entering his reelection campaign next year facing two perilous obstacles: an electorate that wants him out of office and a viable Democratic challenger.
The latest survey from Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling — conducted on behalf of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) and Democracy For America and provided in advance to TPM — found Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, who launched her Senate campaign on Tuesday, drawing the support of 45 percent of Bluegrass State voters and narrowly edging McConnell by a single point. Eleven percent of voters said they are undecided. The two liberal groups to commission the poll are both opposed to McConnell.
A slight majority of Kentucky voters — 51 percent — disapprove of the job McConnell is doing, giving the GOP leader an approval rating of 40 percent. PPP has previously identified McConnell as the least popular senator in the country, but the latest poll marks a marginal improvement It marks for a marginal bump since April, when McConnell nursed a 36 percent approval rating. PPP polled 1,210 Kentucky voters on those two questions, and the margin of error is 2.8 percent.
Kentucky voters may also be experiencing McConnell fatigue, according to PPP’s latest. When the pollsters asked if McConnell deserved reelection “[a]fter 30 years in the U.S. Senate,” 54 percent said he does not, compared with just 38 percent who said he does deserve another term. The pollster asked 625 voters that question, and it has a margin of error of 3.9 percent.
Nonstop cute at the Forth Worth Zoo where I might be spending a bit of time this month relearning the joys of teenagers. Don’t ask yet … I’ll share in good time. Just promise me you won’t faint when I do. Long time relationship curmudgeon–me–is in one and I am trying to relearn the joys of monogamy coupled with the agony of distance. There are pictures but I am trying not to jinx things quite yet. So, anyway, humor and pity me until I figure out wtf I am doing. Okay?
Bell was born July 7 and is just the second Asian elephant to be born at the Fort Worth Zoo in its 104-year history.
Zoo spokeswoman Katie Giangreco says Belle weighed 330 pounds at birth is gaining two pounds per day. She says Belle “is curious and full of personality, learning new things every day, learning what her trunk is for, learning to use her legs.”
Belle’s mother, Rasha, is helping in that instruction.
Asian elephants have been listed as endangered since 1976.
I am gonna close with Krugman on an Op Ed by Brad Delong on Larry Summers. I have no idea why any one thinks Larry Summers has the temperament for the job of Fed Chair despite his credentials, but oh well. Let’s let the shrill one say it better than me.
Brad DeLong asks why the left views Larry Summers as a right-wing hyena. I think that’s a straw man, or maybe a straw hyena. What is true is that a lot of people even on the moderate left don’t trust Summers, even though much of his commentary over the years has been very much center-left — and since leaving office he has become one of our most prominent fiscal doves.
Where does this mistrust come from? Well, let me give you an example: Jackson Hole, 2005, a conference dedicated to celebrating the record of, ahem, Alan Greenspan. Raghuram Rajan had presented a paper warning that the risks of financial instability were much higher than most people were acknowledging. (I think Rajan has been wrong on many issues since then, but that was certainly a prophetic paper). And the response, in general, took the form of ridicule.
The principal discussant was Don Kohn (pdf), who was (barely) polite but completely wrong-headed, celebrating financial innovations such as “the growing ease of housing equity extraction”:
Leading off on the rest of the discussion (pdf) was Larry Summers, who wasn’t polite, dismissing Rajan for being “slightly Luddite” in questioning the value of financial innovation, which he compared (in a really bad analogy) to technological progress in transportation.
Let’s face it. Summers is an asshole. I don’t care about his degrees or whatever. Assholes should not be in places where they have to influence people into doing the right thing on policy that effects the entire globe. Even, if it is a well-educated asshole, it is still just an asshole.
That is all.
What is on your reading and blogging list today?
I’ve been hesitant to dissect the recent bad news on the unemployment front too much because it’s going to get a lot worse and I’ll probably have more to say on that later. Remember, we’re just beginning to unwind the automobile industry and the affiliated small businesses and industries that it sustains. As that occurs, there will be a multiplying effect in small towns every where. Most of these small cities are sustained by car dealers and maybe one or two factories, as these businesses disappear, so will the small businesses providing services to employees. It’s going to get much worse folks. Since we’ve had stories from some of our own friends, we know that that impact strikes our near and dear.
That’s why I’ve been really confused as to why the administration seems to think by just talking up a few possible changes, which could yet be classified as random variation given there has not been enough time to actually establish a statistically significant pattern, they expect wishful change. Perhaps it’s just a continuation of the election season. If it’s repeatedly read from a teleprompter, it will happen. Just clap REALLY loud if you believe in green shoots!!! It will revive the economy!
The first crack in the plaster happened when Goolsbee let slip this little GEM on Fox News on Sunday. Michael Bowman writes:
The White House says America’s employment picture is worse than the Obama administration had anticipated just a few months ago. The somber admission follows the latest jobless report showing the highest unemployment rate the United States has seen in more than 25 years.
U.S. unemployment jumped a half percent in May, to 9.4 percent prompting this comment by Austan Goolsbee, a member of President Barack Obama’s Council of Economic Advisors:
“The economy clearly has gotten substantially worse from the initial predictions that were being made, not just by the White House, but by all of the private sector,” said Austan Goolsbee.
Economists point out that the current jobless rate is already higher than the hypothetical rate that was used to calculate the health of banks and other financial institutions in so-called “stress tests” earlier this year. And, the upward unemployment trajectory is expected to continue in coming months, even if the overall economy begins to recover.
Austan Goolsbee spoke on Fox News Sunday:
“It is going to be a rough patch [difficult period], not just in the immediate term, but for a little bit of time [in the future],” he said. “You have to turn the economy around, and jobs and job growth tends to come after you turn the economy around.”
Somebody must have a lot of time on their hands to write a song called “Hey, Paul Krugman” but still, if the angsty, artsy fartsy creative class that foisted this POTUS on us is finally waking up, then Twitter me when the Revolution comes. I’ve even read the orange cheeto place and seems even a few of them are beginning to see the writing on their blackberries.
So, Paul is still appalled and speaking out against the Zombie Plan. I’d say this is another sfz! warning to the White House. What I can’t repeat enough is that it’s not just Paul. It’s not just me. It’s everyone with any knowledge of macroeconomics and the financial system.
Why am I so vehement about this? Because I’m afraid that this will be the administration’s only shot — that if the first bank plan is an abject failure, it won’t have the political capital for a second. So it’s just horrifying that Obama — and yes, the buck stops there — has decided to base his financial plan on the fantasy that a bit of financial hocus-pocus will turn the clock back to 2006.
I don’t know if you’ve ever sat in an economics class, but most of you who have will attest that few economics professors are what you would call the dramatic, excitable types. However, I’ve seen more animation out of them recently than I’ve seen in all recent Marvel Comic Books.
From “Reasons Why The Obama Administration will not solve this crisis by the end of 2009” at The Underground Investor:
Consider that President-elect Obama voted FOR the horrible $700 billion bailout plan that accomplished less than zero in fixing the global economy while only transferring wealth from people that were struggling the most to the unethical financial executives that created this problem. These were my exact words in October, 2008, verbatim, about the eventual effect of the bailout plan: “Don’t believe the media spin. This will fix nothing. Even if and when the government overpays Wall Street and US banks by 300%, 500% and 1000% for their toxic assets, this temporarily recapitalizes these financial institutions but only creates A MUCH BIGGER PROBLEM for the future.” If I understood why the bailout plan would most definitely fail, as I blogged here, and the next President of the United States could not, that is a scary thought. On the other hand, if President Obama understood that the bailout plan would likely accomplish nothing but the transference of wealth from hard-working citizens to corrupt financial executives and still voted for the bill, then this action needs no further discourse.
From FT’s Willem Buiter:
Why are the unsecured creditors of banks and quasi-banks like AIG deemed too precious to take a hit or a haircut since Lehman Brothers went down? From the point of view of fairness they ought to have their heads on the block. It was they who funded the excessive leverage and risk-taking of banks and shadow banks. From the point of view of minimizing moral hazard – incentives for future excessive risk taking – it is essential that they pay the price for their past bad lending and investment decisions. We are playing a repeated game. Reputation matters.
Three arguments for saving the unworthy hides of the unsecured creditors are commonly presented:
- Unless the unsecured creditors are made whole, there will be a systemic financial collapse, with dramatic adverse consequences for the real economy.
- If the unsecured creditors are forced to take a hit, no-one will ever lend to banks again or buy their debt.
- The ultimate ‘beneficial owners’ of these securities – notably pensioners drawing their pensions from pension funds heavily invested in unsecured bank debt and owners of insurance policies with insurance companies holding unsecured bank debt – would suffer a large decline in financial wealth and disposable income that would cause them to cut back sharply on consumption. The resulting decline in aggregate demand would deepen and prolong the recession.
I believe all three arguments to be hogwash.
The peasantry appears ready to pick up the pitchforks and storm the castle over the AIG bonuses. So what sayeth the King’s men? What’s the word from our Regent’s best? Well, here’s the real bottom line according to the NY Times.
New York’s efforts against A.I.G. have overshadowed those of the Treasury secretary, Timothy F. Geithner, the official who is responsible for the financial bailout, along with the Federal Reserve. The White House and Treasury have been besieged by questions about why Mr. Geithner did not know sooner about the bonus payments due this month, and whether he could have done more to stop them, prompting White House officials to assert President Obama’s continued confidence in Mr. Geithner.
“He more than has the president’s complete confidence,” said Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff. As angry as the president is at the news about A.I.G., which he learned Thursday, Mr. Emanuel said, “his main priority is getting the financial system stabilized, and he believes this is a big distraction in that effort.”
It appears the henchman let slip something important. It’s all a ‘big distraction’. POTUS is so angry he can tell a joke. Meanwhile, more and more comes out concerning ‘what the President knew and when he knew it.” I have to say one thing, we got the time line for this immediately after the request came at yesterday’s press conference. Gibb’s may not be the most eloquent of Press Secretaries but when he promises missing information, he does deliver.
CNN’s Wolf Blitzer and Ali Velshi are reporting that they reported on the bonuses back in January 28 so why the kerfuffle today? Also, who is going to be the Judas Goat for this one? FDL’s Jane Hamshear calls Dodd the ‘sin eater’ here and thinks the President is trying to protect Geithner. Jane puts together a time line that more aptly reflects the idea that the President had to hear about the bonuses way back when but didn’t really LISTEN until they became a problem.
Here’s Jane’s take on Dodd’s original provision (removed by Geithner and Summers) on executive pay.
Dodd’s version prohibited TARP recipients from paying out bonuses, retention awards or incentive compensation to the 25 most highly compensated employees. It also prohibited any employee of a company receiving TARP funds from making more than the President. Both provisions would have been in effect so long as a company was receiving TARP funds. Since AIG just paid out $1 million in bonuses to 73 employees, Dodd’s version limiting all employees to what the President made (roughly $500,000) would have substantially nipped that in the bud.
So, at this point we have to ask a question. Do we have a renegade Secretary of the Treasury in cahoots with the President’s personal Economics adviser or a President who probably knew what was going on and didn’t really care until the peasants made an issue of it? Now we have an issue with which congress critters of both parties can make hay. Geithner is going to testify before the House next week on March 24 and 26 according to the WSJ about the AIG bonuses. Meanwhile, AIG’s current CEO testified and plans to ask employees to return the bonuses. ( Pretty, Pretty please, give back at LEAST HALF).
AIG Chairman and Chief Executive Edward Liddy, appearing before a U.S. House subcommittee, said the company has asked employees at its financial-products division who received more than $100,000 to “step up” and return at least half the payments.
“We’ve heard the American people loudly and clearly these past few days,” Mr. Liddy said, claiming that some employees have already volunteered to give up their entire bonus.
He warned, however, that the request could backfire if the employees who received the retention bonuses decide to resign from the firm. “They will return it, but they will return it with their resignations,” Mr. Liddy said.
So after a good yammering, I mean hammering from congress, Liddy once again explains the role of the bonuses.
Mr. Liddy said that the “cold realities of competition” for customers and employees played a role in the firm’s decision to make the payments, which have spurred a public backlash given the roughly $170 billion the government has used to prop up the troubled insurer.
“Because of this, and because of certain legal obligations, AIG has recently made a set of compensation payments, some of which I find distasteful,” Mr. Liddy said.
Describing the financial-products division, Mr. Liddy called it an “internal hedge fund” that exposed the company to extreme market risk. The result, he said, was that “mistakes were made at AIG on a scale few could have ever imagined possible.”
“Those missteps have exacted a very high price, not only for AIG but for America’s taxpayers, the federal government’s finances and the economy as a whole,” said Mr. Liddy, who took over AIG as part of the government’s rescue of the firm in September.
It seems every one finds them distasteful. Even the president “coughed” and joked with “anger” after being properly motivated by his teleprompter. So once again, congress critters will draft legislation to control executive compensation at companies receiving TARP money. Barney (the congressman, not the dinosaur) wants the President as ‘de facto CEO’ of AIG to institute a lawsuit to get the funds back. But wait, they did do that during drafting of the stimulus package. Dodd edited it. Summers and Geithner removed it. What next?
Meanwhile, over at the FED they continue to try break up AIG into pieces. They also appear to be more the source of Wall Street attention that both the hearings and today’s Presidential work-avoidance trip to California. The market rallied on news of the latest from the FOMC. They’re letting loose the printing presses to ease credit. So evidently, while the peasantry revolt, the congressmen act revolting, and the President flies to give another speech and appear on Leno, the bankers are at play.
Let’s just grab some popcorn and discuss.