He was asked if White nationalists should be allowed to serve in the military.
Lazy Caturday Reads: A Mixed Bag of StoriesPosted: May 13, 2023 Filed under: abortion rights, Donald Trump, Twitter | Tags: abortion in Texas, animal cruelty, Chris Licht, CNN, CNN Trump town hall, Diane Feinstein, Elon Musk, Linda Yaccarino, Racism, Tommy Tuberville, violence against women, white supremacistis 11 Comments
It has been another exhausting week, and I’m tired of dealing with Trump’s poisonous effect on our country. Unfortunately his evil influence is still affecting a large portion of the GOP electorate. If only he would just disappear. But that’s not going to happen. We are stuck with him for the time being, and we have to face that reality. So I’ll include a few Trump stories in a mixed bag of other topics.
I really hate to post this story, but I’m going to so you know to watch out for this. I just discovered that Elon Musk has enabled animal cruelty tweets and videos on Twitter.
This is from Ben Collins, the disinformation and extremism reporter at NBC News: Cat and dog torture videos litter Twitter, adding to concerns about moderation.
Graphic videos of animal abuse have circulated widely on Twitter in recent weeks, generating outrage and renewed concern over the platform’s moderation practices.
One such video, in which a kitten appears to be placed inside a blender and then killed, has become so notorious that reactions to it have become their own genre of internet content.
Laura Clemens, 46, said her 11-year-old son came home from his school in London two weeks ago and asked if she had seen the video.
“There’s something about a cat in a blender,” Clemens remembered her son saying.
Clemens said she went on Twitter and searched for “cat,” and the search box suggested searching for “cat in a blender.”
Clemens said that she clicked on the suggested search term and a gruesome video of what appeared to be a kitten being killed inside of a blender appeared instantly. For users who have not manually turned off autoplay, the video will begin rolling instantly. NBC News was able to replicate the same process to surface the video on Wednesday.
Clemens said she is grateful her child asked her about the video instead of simply going on Twitter and typing in the word “cat” by himself.
So the autofill function on Twitter was guiding people to these horrific tweets.
The spread of the video as well as its presence in Twitter’s suggested searches is part of a worrying trend of animal cruelty videos that have littered the social media platform following Elon Musk’s takeover, which included mass layoffs and deep cuts to the company’s content moderation and safety teams.
Last weekend, gory videos from two violent events in Texas spread on Twitter, with some users saying that the images had been pushed into the platform’s algorithmic “For You” feed.
The animal abuse videos appear to predate those videos. Various users have tweeted that they have seen the cat video, with some trying to get Musk’s attention on the issue — some dating back to early May. Clemens said she flagged the video on May 3 to Twitter’s support account and Ella Irwin, the vice president of trust and safety at Twitter and one of Musk’s closest advisers….
Yoel Roth, Twitter’s former head of trust and safety, told NBC News that he believes the company likely dismantled a series of safeguards meant to stop these kinds of autocomplete problems.
Of course Musk has fired all the people who used deal with issues like this. NBC reached out to Twitter about this problem and received no response, but apparently by Friday Twitter had completely turned off all search bar autofill suggestions.
Now a little comic relief. Here’s a suggestion for Dakinikat in her ongoing struggle to get her cat Keely to swallow her meds.
Dave Paresh at Wired has a story about Twitter’s incoming CEO: Twitter’s New CEO, Linda Yaccarino, Has a Fearsome To-Do List.
LINDA YACCARINO IS going to have to change her tune. As a long-time executive overseeing ad sales at global television giant NBCUniversal, she spent years fighting social media companies for the billions of dollars that advertisers divide up every year between old and new media….
At Twitter, Yaccarino will have to spin her knowledge of social media’s weaknesses into an asset and start competing with the traditional media industry that she has championed since long before online social networks were even a thing. Elon Musk announced on Friday that Yaccarino will oversee business operations while he focuses on Twitter’s technology and design as executive chair and CTO.
Together, Yaccarino and Musk will try to stop the drain of users and advertisers of the past several months and start to formulate his vision of turning Twitter into an “everything app,” with digital payments tools and other features Musk has yet to clearly articulate. All that will make Yaccarino’s to-do list more wide-ranging than she ever had in TV, and she must do it at a company still reeling from Musk’s sometimes chaotic revamp and his laying off of most of its employees. Here are five tasks awaiting her….
Yaccarino’s deftness at getting advertisers to open up their checkbooks earned her a huge role at NBC. She persuaded them to keep spending on TV spots even as consumers devoted more time to online services, and to try out new streaming options, such as NBC’s Peacock.
The challenge at Twitter is different. Most advertisers want to avoid association with questionable content, but Musk has embraced controversy, chopping down teams that moderate content and monitore potential racial and political bias in Twitter’s recommendation systems. He also relaxed rules for combating hate speech against transgender users, censored journalists and critics, and welcomed back users his predecessors had banned for breaking Twitter’s content rules, including former US president Donald Trump.
Good luck to Yaccarino. That sounds like the hopeful descriptions of Trump staffers who try to control him or at least minimize the damage he causes. Musk is just as much of a narcissistic psychopath as Trump, if not worse. Read more at Wired if you’re interested.
People are still talking about Trump’s disastrous “town hall” on CNN.
Charlie Nash at Mediaite: Republican at Trump Town Hall Says Many in Audience Were ‘Disgusted’ or ‘Bewildered’ By Ex-President.
Many audience members at CNN’s town hall with former President Donald Trump on Wednesday were “disgusted” and “bewildered” by the spectacle, but were told to be respectful and not to boo, according to a report.
“The floor manager came out ahead of time and said, Please do not boo, please be respectful. You were allowed to applaud,” claimed Republican political consultant Matthew Bartlett in an interview with Puck News senior political correspondent Tara Palmeri on Thursday.
“And I think that set the tone where people were going to try their best to keep this between the navigational beacons, and that if they felt compelled to applaud, they would, but they weren’t going to have an outburst or they weren’t going to boo an answer,” he said.
Bartlett claimed that, while many in the audience applauded and cheered the former president, “there were also people that sat there quietly disgusted or bewildered.” He estimated that while around half of the audience expressed vocal support for Trump, the other half sat in silence. Bartlett also alleged that Trump repeatedly “lost the audience” when he spoke about topics like January 6 or the results of the 2020 election, despite the appearance on CNN that the audience was consistently on his side.
“In a TV setting, you hear the applause, but you don’t see the disgust,” Bartlett told Palmeri. “So Trump did not have the entire room on his side, make no mistake, even if it certainly came across that way on TV.”
Well, isn’t that special? CNN’s Christ Licht has a lot of answer for. But he still thinks the “town hall” was a success. He didn’t take it well when staffers criticized his decision to hold what amounted to a Trump rally on in prime time.
Alex Griffing at Mediaite: CNN’s Oliver Darcy Reportedly Scolded By Boss Chris Licht Over ‘Emotional’ Trump Town Hall Coverage: ‘They Put the Fear of God Into Him.’
CNN media reporter Oliver Darcy was reportedly scolded by his boss Chris Licht, the chairman and CEO of the network, over his critical coverage of the network’s Trump town hall on Wednesday night.
Puck’s Dylan Byers reported Friday that Licht “summoned” Darcy “and his editor to a meeting with himself and top executives in which they told him that his coverage of Trump town hall had been too emotional and stressed the importance of remaining dispassionate.”
Darcy reported on the town hall after the event, writing, “It’s hard to see how America was served by the spectacle of lies that aired on CNN Wednesday evening.”
He offered some kind words for Kaitlan Collins, who moderated the event, calling her “as tough and knowledgable of an interviewer as they come.” He noted that “she fact-checked Trump throughout the 70-minute town hall.” On the whole, his analysis was critical of the network.
Byers, a veteran media reporter who has worked everywhere from NBC to Politico to CNN, added further detail:
“summoned Darcy and his editor Jon Passantino to a meeting with himself, CNN comms chief Kris Coratti, editorial executive vice president Virginia Moseley and senior vice president of global news Rachel Smolkin, in which they told him that his coverage had been too emotional and repeatedly stressed the importance of remaining dispassionate when covering the news, be it CNN or any other media organization.”
“Darcy stood by his work and pushed back on the ‘emotional’ characterization, one source with knowledge of the meeting said. But afterward two sources who heard about the meeting described him as visibly shaken,” Byers reported.
“They put the fear of God into him,” Byers reported another source saying. Darcy took over Brian Stelter’s Reliable Sources newsletter after Licht ousted Stelter at the network.
For Pete’s sake, Darcy is a media critic. He’s supposed to express his opinions. Chris Licht doesn’t seem to know much about journalism.
Diane Feinstein has finally returned to Washington and will again fill her seat on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Perhaps now Biden’s judicial appointments will resume getting approval. But there are concerns about Feinstein’s health.
From Paul McCloud at Rolling Stone: Feinstein’s Health Crisis Goes Back Farther than We Knew.
DIANNE FEINSTEIN, 89, returned to Congress this week, ending an almost three-month medical absence that highlighted her advanced age and deteriorating health. But her decline, and the problems it entails for American democracy, date back farther and go deeper than has been publicly known.
Multiple sources tell Rolling Stone that in recent years Feinstein’s office had an on-call system — unbeknownst to Feinstein herself — to prevent the senator from ever walking around the Capitol on her own. At any given moment there was a staff member ready to jump up and stroll alongside the senator if she left her office, worried about what she’d say to reporters if left unsupervised. The system has been in place for years.
“They will not let her leave by herself, but she doesn’t even know it,” says Jamarcus Purley, a former staffer.
Senators juggle a heavy schedule of votes, hearings and meetings on a wide range of subjects. Momentary lapses and mixups about a topic are far from unheard of. But over the last several years, interviews with Feinstein devolved into confusion on a near-daily basis. A familiar pattern would emerge: Feinstein would make an unexpected stance on a bill or policy position, only for her staff to quickly follow up by email to correct the record. It got to the point where reporters would pause before rushing to publish an otherwise-newsworthy declaration because of the inevitability of staff reversing her statement.
Feinstein once notably seemed to forget she had relinquished her role as third in line to the presidency. As the longest-serving member of the Senate majority, she would traditionally serve as president pro tempore, behind only the vice president and speaker of the House in the line of succession. Feinstein announced last October via a written statement she would voluntarily give up the title. But when asked about it three weeks latershe told a reporter she was still considering what to do. The staffer quickly corrected the Senator.
It’s a sad career coda for a groundbreaking lawmaker, who has said she will retire when her term expires at the end of next year. Feinstein joined the Senate in 1992 as the first female senator from California, accomplishing a series of firsts as she rose through the chamber’s ranks. As well as advancing landmark gun control and marriage equality laws, she became the first woman to lead the Senate’s intelligence panel in 2009. In 2017, became the first woman to chair the Judiciary Committee.
There’s much more at the link.
Another Senator who should definitely retire is Alabama’s Tommy Tuberville, who wants to control the Defense Department’s abortion policies and thinks that white supremacists should be welcomed in the U.S. military.
Megan Leibowitz at NBC News: Military promotions impasse drags on as Sen. Tuberville defends blockade.
Dozens of military promotions continue to languish in the Senate as GOP Sen. Tommy Tuberville digs in on blocking typically routine approvals over his opposition to the Pentagon’s abortion policy.
About 200 defense-related promotions are awaiting Senate action, but Tuberville has indicated he has no plans to ease up on his blockade unless the Defense Department reverses course on an abortion policy for service members and their dependents that was announced in October.
Since March, Tuberville has been using a procedural tactic to slow promotions that are often quickly approved in the Senate by unanimous consent. One senator’s objection, however, can stall the approval process.
The Alabama senator’s moves have provoked bipartisan backlash, including from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. Asked in a press conference Wednesday about Tuberville’s holds, McConnell replied, “No, I don’t support putting a hold on military nominations. I don’t support that.”
Tuberville responded to McConnell’s remarks on Thursday saying the Pentagon has not been responsive.
“I’m not talking to anybody — crickets from anybody in the military, you know, to work this out,” Tuberville told reporters.
When reached for comment, a Pentagon spokesperson said in a statement that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin “and the Department continue to engage Senator Tuberville and his office in good faith and have directly relayed how his hold on our general and flag officers have risks to our military readiness and severely limit the Department’s ability to ensure strategic and operational success.”
Philip Bump wrote about Tuberville’s remarks about white supremacists at The Washington Post: Sen. Tuberville rises to the defense of racists in the armed forces.
Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) offered an unusual criticism of the Biden administration in a radio interview this week.
“We, our military and [Defense Secretary Lloyd] Austin put out an order to stand down and all military across the country, saying we’re going to run out the White nationalists, people that don’t believe how we believe,” he told NPR affiliate WBHM. “And that’s not how we do it in this country.”
“They call them that,” he replied. “I call them Americans.”
Tuberville was elected to the Senate with President Donald Trump’s support in the 2020 election that Trump lost. Even before taking office, Tuberville pledged to oppose the electors cast by states Trump lost in an effort to slow or block Joe Biden’s ascension to the presidency.
Trump-adjacent rhetoric: that Biden and his administration are trying to villainize the right as being riddled with racists and domestic terrorists. It’s just that he got it backward. Instead of suggesting that decent, hard-working Americans were being cast as racists, he’s suggesting that racists are simply decent, hard-working Americans.
The idea that Biden (and Austin by extension) are using accusations of White nationalism as a cudgel was a central part of Tucker Carlson’s rhetoric back in his Fox News days. Immediately after Biden’s inauguration, Carlson highlighted a portion of the new president’s speech in which he — obviously alluding to the riot at the Capitol two weeks before — swore to uproot extremism.
Biden promised to “confront and … defeat” the “rise of political extremism, white supremacy, [and] domestic terrorism” that the country was seeing.
“The question is,” Carlson said in response, “what does it mean to wage war on white supremacists? Can somebody tell us in very clear language what a white supremacist is?”
Tuberville is a real looney-tune, and I’m much more worried about what he will do next than I am about Diane Feinstein’s cognitive decline.
I’m going to end with another horror story–this time about abortion rights.
From the AP, via The Washington Post: A Texas woman was fatally shot by her boyfriend after she got an abortion, police say.
A man who didn’t want his girlfriend to get an abortion fatally shot her during a confrontation in a Dallas parking lot, police said.
Tuesday Reads: The News Is SurrealPosted: October 19, 2021 Filed under: morning reads | Tags: Bill Cassidy, Capitol insurrection, Colin Powell, Donald Trump, January 6 Committee, rape, Steve Bannon, surrealism, violence against women 11 Comments
Today the House January 6 Committee will vote to find Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress, and Trump has of course filed a lawsuit to prevent them getting documents related to his attempted coup. The Washington Post reports:
On the Bannon contempt vote:
Bannon was a private citizen when he spoke to Trump ahead of the attack, the committee said, and Trump has not asserted any such executive privilege claims to the panel itself.
“Mr. Bannon appears to have played a multi-faceted role in the events of January 6th, and the American people are entitled to hear his first-hand testimony regarding his actions,” the committee wrote in the resolution.
The resolution lists many ways in which Bannon was involved in the leadup to the insurrection, including reports that he encouraged Trump to focus on Jan. 6, the day Congress certified the presidential vote, and his comments on Jan. 5 that “all hell is going to break loose” the next day.
Once the committee votes on the Bannon contempt measure, it will go to the full House for a vote and then on to the Justice Department, which would decide whether to prosecute.
Trump has also found time to weigh in on Colin Powell’s death. The Hill: Trump criticizes media for treating Powell ‘beautifully’ in death.
Former President Trump lambasted the media on Tuesday for what he said was too-favorable coverage of former Secretary of State Colin Powell after his death on Monday.
“Wonderful to see Colin Powell, who made big mistakes on Iraq and famously, so-called weapons of mass destruction, be treated in death so beautifully by the Fake News Media. Hope that happens to me someday,” Trump said in a statement.
Trump called Powell “a classic RINO,” an acronym for “Republican in name only.”
“He made plenty of mistakes, but anyway, may he rest in peace!” Trump added.
Trump also attacked Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy. The Hill: Trump goes after Cassidy after senator says he wouldn’t support him for president in 2024.
Former President Trump blasted Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) on Monday after the senator said in an interview he would not vote for the real estate mogul if he ran for president again in 2024.
Cassidy during an interview that aired Sunday on “Axios on HBO” said that he did not believe Trump would be the GOP presidential nominee again.
“President Trump is the first president, in the Republican side at least, to lose the House, the Senate and the presidency in four years. Elections are about winning,” Cassidy told Axios’s Mike Allen….
In a statement on Monday, Trump called Cassidy a “RINO,” an acronym for “Republican in name only,” and reiterated a notion he had hoisted on other Republicans that Cassidy had “begged” for his endorsement in 2020 “and used it all over the place to win re-election.”
“Now, Wacky Bill Cassidy can’t walk down the street in Louisiana, a State I won by almost 20 points,” the Trump statement read. “He could not even be elected dog catcher today, the great people curse him.”
Trump did defeat President Biden by nearly 20 points in 2020 in Louisiana, winning about 58.5 percent of the vote. Cassidy did even better, winning 59.3 percent of the vote.
“Wacky Bill is a totally ineffective Senator, but Louisiana does have a great Senator in John Kennedy,” Trump said, referring to the state’s other GOP senator, whom he endorsed over the summer soon after Kennedy indicated he would run for reelection.
Cassidy was among the seven Republican senators who voted to convict Trump for inciting an insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6, though Trump was ultimately acquitted after leaving office later that month.
It’s still very difficult for me to believe that this moron was actually president.
According to historians Thomas Lecaque and J.L. Tomlin at The Bulwark, Bannon is setting the stage for another insurrection: Steve Bannon Out in the Open. The erstwhile Trump adviser is refusing to talk to the Jan. 6 committee, but most of his energetic anti-democratic activities are in plain sight.
…Bannon’s troubling activities did not stop after January 6. Far from it. He is still out in the streets, at rallies, on conference calls, and on his podcast trumpeting it to the heavens: The insurrection isn’t over, it’s only just begun.
On September 22, the day before the committee issued its subpoena, Bannon more or less confirmed his involvement with January 6th. He has continued to push the idea that the Biden administration is illegitimate—“We told you from the very beginning, just expose it, just expose it, never back down, never give up and this thing will implode”—and said that he wanted to help “kill this [Biden] administration in the crib.”
Bannon is neither hiding nor defensively trying to justify his past actions. Rather, he is continuing to push the Big Lie and all of its permutations, tying together a web of far-right ideas and allies. Like most good propagandists, he knows that the veil between fact and belief is very thin in a highly partisan political environment. What pushes an overt lie into semi-gospel is sometimes merely it’s repetition. Bannon’s podcast, “War Room,” continues to promote conspiracy theories about the 2020 election—the day after his subpoena running a segment titled “50k Illegal Ballots in One County Alone.” His guests have included Trumpist members of Congress, like Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene; conspiracy theorists Jack Posobiec and Mike Lindell; anti-vaxers; and other subpoenaed Trump administration figures. Topics run the gamut from the border to the debt ceiling to “how schools are indoctrinating kids” to “the battle of Lepanto” (sure to appeal to far-right Crusade-cosplaying insurrectionists and mass murderers alike). Perhaps most provokingly given his subpoena defiance, an episode on October 13 was entitled “The Continued Search for the Truth of January 6th.”
f Bannon were only a podcaster, were only pushing his ideas on one of the many far-right channels that have popped up in the last half-decade, that would be bad enough. But Bannon is incredibly active in person as well—a natural organizer and demagogue. It’s worth taking a look at just three of the events at which he has recently spoken.
Read all the details at the link.
At the Washington Post, authoritarianism expert Brian Klaas wrote about the history of election audits: Opinion: Republican ‘election audits’ have been used before — by dictators.
Thursday ReadsPosted: May 27, 2021 Filed under: morning reads, U.S. Politics | Tags: China, Covid-19, immunity, Joe Biden, mass shootings, Q-Anon, Sam Cassidy, violence against women, Wuhan lab leak theory 31 Comments
On Tuesday, I wrote about the sudden mainstreaming of the so-called “lab leak theory” of the origins of Covid-19 in China. Today David Leonhardt has an “explainer” of this sudden attention to this long-dismissed notion.
Suddenly, talk of the Wuhan lab-leak theory seems to be everywhere.
President Biden yesterday called on U.S. intelligence officials to “redouble their efforts” to determine the origin of Covid-19 and figure out whether the virus that causes it accidentally leaked from a Chinese laboratory. Major publications and social media have recently been filled with discussion of the subject.
The origin of the virus remains unclear. Many scientists have long believed that the most likely explanation is that it jumped from an animal to a person, possibly at a food market in Wuhan, China, in late 2019. Animal-to human transmission — known as zoonotic spillover — is a common origin story for viruses, including Ebola and some bird flus.But some scientists have pointed to another possibility: that it escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology. As in other laboratories, researchers there sometimes modify viruses, to understand and treat them.
“It is most likely that this is a virus that arose naturally, but we cannot exclude the possibility of some kind of a lab accident,” Dr. Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health, told senators yesterday.
Leonhardt writes–as I did on Tuesday–that the reason this is suddenly getting so much attention is because a number of scientists have recently argued that the lab leak theory should be investigated.
Among the reasons: Chinese officials have refused to allow an independent investigation into the lab and have failed to explain some inconsistencies in the animal-to-human hypothesis. Most of the first confirmed cases had no evident link to the food market.
But has anything really changed?
In some ways, not much has not changed. From the beginning, the virus’s origin has been unclear. All along, some scientists, politicians and journalists have argued that the lab-leak theory deserves consideration.
Almost 15 months ago, two Chinese researchers wrote a paper concluding that the virus “probably originated from a laboratory in Wuhan.” Alina Chan, a molecular biologist affiliated with Harvard and M.I.T., made similar arguments. David Ignatius and Josh Rogin, both Washington Post columnists, wrote about the possibility more than a year ago. Joe Biden, then a presidential candidate, didn’t mention the lab-leak theory in early 2020 but he did argue that the U.S. should “not be taking China’s word” for how the outbreak started.
But these voices were in the minority. The World Health Organization initially dismissed the lab-leak theory as implausible.
Read the rest at the link–I’ve probably quoted too much.
If you read the comments on the Tuesday post, you know that Quixote, who is quite knowledgeable on this subject, vehemently argued against the lab leak theory. Quixote posted another comment yesterday that I didn’t see until this morning:
The virus isn’t engineered because you can tell by the RNA sequence. If it had been, the inserted bits will be obvious when you compare it to related viruses. Sort of like Frankenstein’s monster is visibly sewn together from parts that don’t go together.
The early cases don’t particularly center on the lab or on people associated with it. They’re outside Wuhan, inside Wuhan, at the abandoned mine / bat cave, at the captured animal food market, and so on. The pattern is what you’d see if a virus mutated to be able to infect people, but wasn’t very good at it yet, and had been moving through the population for a while. In the course of simmering through the population, the most successful virus would be the one that changed enough to infect people easily.
It had enough time to do that, and that was exactly the threat the Wuhan lab, and also CDC people there, were looking for. (Trump, by the way, cut funding for both of those because what the hell do we need to be paying people in China for.) The danger was noticed by Chinese doctors (one of whom soon died of the disease) who tried hard to alert the world. They were squelched by the government. If the CDC people had still been there, it would have been a lot harder to squelch.
So tl:dr; no evidence covid19 was an intentional bioweapon thing. Poor evidence that it could have unintentionally leaked. It’s a fact that the attempted coverup by the Chinese let the pandemic get going. If procedures at the lab need improving, they certainly should be.
The other things you mention about China are all true. (Tibet too. Never forget Tibet.) It’s been obvious for decades that China was going to abuse whatever power it could get. But that’s another whole train of thought.
As bad as they are, covid19 does not fit the lab leak story at all well. Both things can be true: they’re bad and covid was an incompetent accident made infinitely worse by self-serving dictators all over the world, including China.
I agree that there certainly is no evidence for the lab leak theory. The only reason I thought there could be something to it was that several people in the lab got sick with something that looked like Covid-19 and were hospitalized. I thought they could have gotten the virus from the cave samples–not that the virus was engineered in the lab–and that somehow the virus got into the population that way. But there is no way to ever know if this happened, as China would never cooperate with any investigation.
Now that Biden has ordered an investigation, we will likely hear more about this, but I can’t see how we’re ever going to know for sure how the virus originated. The crossover from animal to human explanation makes the most sense.
It’s also worth checking out this thread on Twitter by a China expert.
In other Covid-19 news, The New York Times reports that two studies have found that Immunity to the Coronavirus May Persist for Years.
Immunity to the coronavirus lasts at least a year, possibly a lifetime, improving over time especially after vaccination, according to two new studies. The findings may help put to rest lingering fears that protection against the virus will be short-lived.
Together, the studies suggest that most people who have recovered from Covid-19 and who were later immunized will not need boosters. Vaccinated people who were never infected most likely will need the shots, however, as will a minority who were infected but did not produce a robust immune response.
Both reports looked at people who had been exposed to the coronavirus about a year earlier. Cells that retain a memory of the virus persist in the bone marrow and may churn out antibodies whenever needed, according to one of the studies, published on Monday in the journal Nature.
The other study, posted online at BioRxiv, a site for biology research, found that these so-called memory B cells continue to mature and strengthen for at least 12 months after the initial infection.
“The papers are consistent with the growing body of literature that suggests that immunity elicited by infection and vaccination for SARS-CoV-2 appears to be long-lived,” said Scott Hensley, an immunologist at the University of Pennsylvania who was not involved in the research.
Read more at the NYT.
There was another mass shooting yesterday–so what else is new?
It’s also not new that the perpetrator had a history of violence against women. Fox News: San Jose shooting leaves 9 dead, deceased suspect identified; victims shot in separate buildings.
The eight people initially killed by a gunman at a Northern California rail yard Wednesday morning were shot in two separate buildings before the suspected shooter took his own life, authorities said Wednesday.
A ninth victim died in a hospital late Wednesday evening, authorities said.
Santa Clara Sheriff Laurie Smith expressed her grief for the families of the victims before praising the quick response of law enforcement officers who went into a Valley Transportation Authority building as the active shooting was happening. She said deputies and San Jose police officers were the first on the scene.
The suspect was identified Wednesday as Samuel Cassidy, 57, who was a VTA employee, officials said. No motive is known for the shooting at this time.
An ex-girlfriend told the San Francisco Chronicle he was prone to alcohol-fueled mood swings and had been accused in a March 2009 court filing of rape and abuse. The documents were filed in response to a domestic violence restraining order that Cassidy had filed earlier that month.
The former girlfriend alleged his mood swings worsened when he drank alcohol and that he played “several mind games which he seems to enjoy.” She listed several incidents of alleged sexual assault in which he would hold her arms and force his weight onto her.
He would apologize and promised to never do it again afterward, the report said.
Cassidy’s ex-wife said he had threated workplace violence years ago. KCRA3.com: What we know about Sam Cassidy, the suspect in the San Jose VTA shooting.
The man who opened fire Wednesday at a rail yard in San Jose, killing nine other people and ending his own life, has been identified as 57-year-old Sam Cassidy. He was an employee of the Valley Transportation Authority, which provides bus, light rail and other transit services throughout Santa Clara County, authorities said.
Cassidy was identified as a maintenance worker at the Valley Transportation Authority….
According to The Associated Press, Cassidy had talked to his ex-wife about killing people at work more than a decade ago.
“I never believed him, and it never happened. Until now,” a tearful Cecilia Nelms told The Associated Press.
She said he used to come home from work resentful and angry over what he perceived as unfair assignments.
“He could dwell on things,” she said. The two were married for about 10 years until a 2005 divorce filing and she hadn’t been in touch with Cassidy for about 13 years, Nelms said.
I’m still perplexed and fascinated by the Q-Anon phenomenon. There a couple of stories about it today.
NBC News: Study finds nearly one-in-five Americans believe QAnon conspiracy theories.
Washington, we have a problem — politically, informationally and societally — when 15 percent of Americans agree with the QAnon statement that the U.S. government, media and financial worlds “are controlled by a group of Satan-worshipping pedophiles who run a global child sex trafficking operation.”
Or when 20 percent agree with this statement: “There is a storm coming soon that will sweep away the elites in power and restore the rightful leaders.”
Or when another 15 percent agree that “Because things have gotten so far off track, true American patriots may have to resort to violence in order to save our country.”
These are the results of a PRRI-IFYC study that was conducted online March 8-30, but that was just released Thursday.
And the study finds that Republicans, those who trust far-right news outlets like OANN and Newsmax, and white evangelicals and Hispanic Protestants are all more likely to believe these statements than other Americans.
It’s hard to call something fringe when approximately one-in-five Americans believe these statements, especially one that true patriots “may have to resort to violence” to save the country.
Here’s the PRRI story: Understanding QAnon’s Connection to American Politics, Religion, and Media Consumption.
Three Components of the QAnon Conspiracy Movement
The far-right conspiracy theory movement known as QAnon emerged on the internet in late 2017 and gained traction throughout former president Donald Trump’s time in office. QAnon’s core theory revolves around Satan-worshipping pedophiles plotting against Trump and a coming “storm” that would clear out those evil forces, but the movement has also been described as a “big tent conspiracy theory” that involves a constantly evolving web of schemes about politicians, celebrities, bankers, and the media, as well as echoes of older movements within Christianity, such as Gnosticism.
To understand how this loosely connected belief system is influencing American politics, religion, and media, we fielded three questions, each containing a tenet of the QAnon conspiracy movement….
QAnon Beliefs and Partisanship
A nontrivial 15% of Americans agree with the sweeping QAnon allegation that “the government, media, and financial worlds in the U.S. are controlled by a group of Satan-worshipping pedophiles who run a global child sex trafficking operation,” while the vast majority of Americans (82%) disagree with this statement. Republicans (23%) are significantly more likely than independents (14%) and Democrats (8%) to agree that the government, media, and financial worlds in the U.S. are controlled by a group of Satan-worshipping pedophiles who run a global child sex trafficking operation.
Similarly, one in five Americans (20%) agree with the statement “There is a storm coming soon that will sweep away the elites in power and restore the rightful leaders,” while a majority (77%) disagree. Nearly three in ten Republicans (28%), compared to 18% of independents and 14% of Democrats, agree with this secondary QAnon conspiracy theory. Trends among demographic groups are similar to those of the core QAnon conspiracy theory.
Fifteen percent of Americans agree that “Because things have gotten so far off track, true American patriots may have to resort to violence in order to save our country,” while the vast majority (85%) disagree. Republicans (28%) are twice as likely as independents (13%) and four times as likely as Democrats (7%) to agree that because things have gotten so far off track, true American patriots may have to resort to violence.
Click the link to read the rest.
So…that’s a mixed bag of news for you. What else is happening? As always, this is an open thread.
Monday Reads: Trigger Post for victims of Rape and Assault and RacismPosted: March 22, 2021 Filed under: child sexual abuse, children, Mid Day Reads, physical abuse | Tags: misogyny, Racism, violence against women 22 Comments
Good Morning Sky Dancers!
If you read one thing today make it this opinion piece at The Guardian by Rebecca Solnit: “Women are harmed every day by invisible men”. The title really doesn’t say it all but the body of the essay does.
I was a teenage advocate to challenge how women and children are treated by about every layer of society and the justice system when men do something untoward and harmful to them. My neighbor was in Junior League that established one of the first rape and abuse crisis lines for women in the country. It is now nationally recognized and run by the YWCA in Omaha. At the time, we had one phone in a psychologist’s office in West Omaha, training to use the list we had and to listen, and then various resources that we could provide to callers. It was small but became mighty. Fortunately, it now has skilled counselors on phones instead of teenage volunteers and homemakers.
I learned many things at the time about exactly how unfair the entire criminal justice system was to women and child victims at the time. Sex crimes were in the property crimes divisions of police stations. Women officers? Nope. Could a man rape his wife? Nope. Have at least three witnesses present to see the entire thing? No? Then, forget prosecution. My job at the crisis line was to say here’s the person you call, here’s a hospital that will help you, and eventually we started having lists of safe houses and counsellors. This was the mid 70s. A lot has changed on that front but one thing hasn’t.
Whatever happens to a woman is still likely seen to be her fault. The perpetrator eventually becomes invisible. She asked for it. She provoked him. She had a drink. I even had a friend while at university who knew I was still passionately working on campus and at the legislature to change things who had just been raped by the library rapist. She asked if it was worth reporting it because she had a couple of hits off a joint before she went there to study. I’m like Go to the hospital! Call the police! Do not make this man the winner of anything!
Ask any woman and they’ll have similar stories from either their own lives or women they know. I grew up with my mother pointing to the imprint of an iron on her inner thigh and the stories of how it got there. My mild mannered banker of a grandfather was violent and abusive. My family oozed white, WASPY upper mild class privilege so I don’t want to hear any of that other kind’ve stuff that excuses men’s–and especially white men’s–actions and behaviors. It’s still rampant.
Solnit’s writing always hits home but this one hit home so hard my house shook. She’s speaking to the latest spree shooter who targeted Asian Women working for Day Spas in the Atlanta area. However, she reminds us that we’ve seen this and we’ve seen the response over and over and over.
Some white guy with no emotional or self control has to eliminate “temptation” or was forced into a “rage” or a “hard on” by some women. So, rather than get his act together he kills the “objects” of his temptation or rapes her. Then, the media continues with his narrative. Women are to blame for what happens to them. Women are just men’s property. They are objects. They are less. These guys have a right to feel resentful and harmed and to correct that by taking it out on the woman or women or they’re just lone wolves, disturbed little boys, men with issues we can’t possibly understand.
This is Solnit’s opening narrative.
The alleged murderer of eight people, six of whom were Asian American women, reportedly said that he was trying to “eliminate temptation”. It’s as if he thought others were responsible for his inner life, as though the horrific act of taking others’ lives rather than learning some form of self-control was appropriate. This aspect of a crime that was also horrifically racist reflects a culture in which men and the society at large blame women for men’s behavior and the things men do to women. The idea of women as temptresses goes back to the Old Testament and is heavily stressed in white evangelical Christianity; the victims were workers and others present in massage parlors; the killer was reportedly on his way to shoot up Florida’s porn industry when he was apprehended.
This week an older friend recounted her attempts in the 1970s to open a domestic-violence shelter in a community whose men didn’t believe domestic violence was an issue there and when she convinced them it was, told her, but “what if it’s the women’s fault”. And last week a male friend of mine posted an anti-feminist screed blaming young women for New York governor Andrew Cuomo’s travails, as though they should suck it up when he violated clear and longstanding workplace rules, as though they and not he had the responsibility to protect his career and reputation.
Sometimes men are written out of the story altogether. Since the pandemic began there have been torrents of stories about how women’s careers have been crushed or they have left their jobs altogether because they’re doing the lioness’s share of domestic labor , especially child-rearing, in heterosexual households. In February of this year, NPR opened a story with the assertion that this work has “landed on the shoulders of women” as if that workload had fallen from the sky rather than been shoved there by spouses. I have yet to see an article about a man’s career that’s flourishing because he’s dumped on his wife, or focusing on how he’s shirking the work.
Informal responses often blame women in these situations for their spouses and recommend they leave without addressing that divorce often leads to poverty for women and children, and of course, unequal workloads at home can undermine a woman’s chances at financial success and independence. Behind all this is a storytelling problem. The familiar narratives about murder, rape, domestic violence, harassment, unwanted pregnancy, poverty in single-female-parent households, and a host of other phenomena portray these things as somehow happening to women and write men out of the story altogether, absolve them of responsibility – or turn them into “she made him do it” narratives. Thus have we treated a lot of things that men do to women or men and women do together as women’s problems that women need to solve, either by being amazing and heroic and enduring beyond all reason, or by fixing men, or by magically choosing impossible lives beyond the reach of harm and inequality. Not only the housework and the childcare, but what men do becomes women’s work.
Please Read the entire thing. Then, consider this stream of tweets by Bruce Bartlett on research by Pew Research. It’s basically a reading list of things surrounding white–but especially white male–fragility. Yes. Racial discrimination is a problem for white males in their minds just about the same way that the mass murderer felt women tempting him were his problem.
The research thankfully shows that the majority of all of us in this country see racial discrimination and even white people. But, then there’s the wipipo that think it’s all about them. Bartlett writes about this at The New Republic: “The Ultimate White Fragility. White people in not-insignificant numbers maintain a persistent belief that they’re the ones suffering historic levels of racial discrimination.” Robin DiAngelo, coined the term in a best-selling book in 2011. Yes, that’s 10 years ago and look where we are on this.
Over the last 10 years, the issue of reverse racism and its social and political implications have drawn extensive interest from social scientists. The most well-known study was by Michael I. Norton and Samuel R. Sommers of the Harvard Business School and Tufts University, respectively, in 2011. They found that whites increasingly viewed racial prejudice as a zero-sum game—reduced bias against black citizens automatically led to increased bias against their white counterparts. As the chart from their article shows, perceived discrimination against whites by both whites and blacks rose as discrimination against blacks was perceived to have fallen. (This analysis is available through Tufts University.)
Further studies in 2014, 2015, and 2016 confirmed that many whites do indeed see racial progress as a zero-sum game. However, the latest study, published last year, was more skeptical of this trend. Nevertheless, the idea of zero-sum racial discrimination is very popular in the Republican Party. Then-Senator Jeff Sessions expressed the widely held GOP sentiment in 2009 when he said, “Empathy for one party is always prejudice against another.”
Notice it’s the same set of white evangelicals and republicans that tend to come up in all the quotes and polls that Bartlett cites in that 2019 article. It’s a complete taste of Trumpism. All of this is deeply intertwined with both patriarchy as viewed by many religious traditions like white evangelical Christianity and white supremacy which has been at the root of native genocides and slavery of Africans and black Americans since the country’s inception. It continues to poison the well.
So, the Supreme Court is considering reinstating the death penalty of the Boston Marathon Bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Remember that Domestic Terrorist Timothy McVeigh of the Oklahoma bombings was the last to receive the federal death penalty in 2001 until Trump went on killing spree at the end of his term. You may remember that a woman was one of them. The other were primarily black men This is from January and BBC Canada.
Five people have been executed in the run-up to President-elect Joe Biden’s 20 January inauguration – breaking with an 130-year-old precedent of pausing executions amid a presidential transition.
They make Mr Trump the country’s most prolific execution president in more than a century, overseeing the executions of 13 death row inmates since July of this year.
The five executions began with convicted killer 40-year-old Brandon Bernard who was put to death at a penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana. They ended with the death of Dustin Higgs, 48, at the same site on 16 January.
President Biden does not support the Death Penalty. This is from the AP link.
The Supreme Court said Monday it will consider reinstating the death sentence for Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, presenting President Joe Biden with an early test of his opposition to capital punishment.
The justices agreed to hear an appeal filed by the Trump administration, which carried out executions of 13 federal inmates in its final six months in office, including three in the last week of President Donald Trump’s term.
The case won’t be heard until the fall, and it’s unclear how the new administration will approach Tsarnaev’s case. The initial prosecution and decision to seek a death sentence was made by the Obama administration, in which Biden served as vice president.
Justice and jobs are not generally meted out equally in this country and many white men fear they will be. The Capitol Hill Riot/Insurrection will be a test of this certainly. Today’s NYT: “Evidence in Capitol Attack Most Likely Supports Sedition Charges, Prosecutor Says.“I personally believe the evidence is trending toward that, and probably meets those elements,” said Michael Sherwin, who had led the Justice Department’s inquiry into the riot. “. This is from Katie Benner.
Evidence the government obtained in the investigation into the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol most likely meets the bar necessary to charge some of the suspects with sedition, Michael R. Sherwin, the federal prosecutor who had been leading the Justice Department’s inquiry, said in an interview that aired on Sunday.
The department has rarely brought charges of sedition, the crime of conspiring to overthrow the government.
But in an interview with “60 Minutes,” Mr. Sherwin said prosecutors had evidence that most likely proved such a charge.
“I personally believe the evidence is trending toward that, and probably meets those elements,” Mr. Sherwin said. “I believe the facts do support those charges. And I think that, as we go forward, more facts will support that.”
Scott Pelley’s interview on 60 minutes can be found at this link.
I’d like to point you to a more inspiring read from Vogue: “5 Female Artists From Around the World Who Celebrate Women in Their Work.” If you’d like to share something with the kids or grand kids, try the Multicultural Kids Blog.: “7 Women Artists Who Changed History.”. You can also check out this from Art and Design: “Famous Female Artists – 5 Incredible Women Artists That You Need To Know”
I hope you have a good week. It’s so nice to have so many flavors of spring decorating the avenue now. All the azaleas and camellias are in bloom. I hope they’re finding they’re way to your corner of the northern hemisphere!
Meanwhile enjoy a live performance of Suzanne Vega and her song “Luka”. And then listen to Natalie Merchant and “Motherland”. Gee, I like this Women’s History month thing! And, I notice I’m really late in the day already! This was my morning to sleep 2 hours later than the I usually get up in Fake Time and 1 hour later in Real Time. My body is really not liking this time change. But, anyway … your turn!
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Saturday Reads: white privilege and the enabling of rape culturePosted: June 11, 2016 Filed under: Afternoon Reads, Rape Culture, Reproductive Health, Reproductive Rights, Vagina, Violence against women, Women's Rights | Tags: Brock Turner, rape culture, violence against women 24 Comments
(Rape and sexual assault trigger warnings)
I went to undergraduate school at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, Nebraska where I immediately joined the University Women’s Action Group and followed the work I did in high school as a volunteer for what was the the nascent Rape Crisis line set up by the Junior League in Omaha. I had been assaulted in the choir room at my high school when I was a junior by two seniors. I was forcibly held down for a period of time and had bible verses and other things shouted at me. It made me realize how vulnerable every girl and woman is to the pack mentality of white men and boys with privilege who are taught by their parents, religions, coaches, teachers and friends to go out and grab anything they want because they are told they are the masters of the universe and entitled to go for it.
I worked hard to change the old laws in Nebraska when I hit college so that violent crimes against women and children would be removed from the Property Crimes Divisions of police departments, so that female police officers were assigned to victims, so that women didn’t need 3 witnesses to their assaults to even be considered assaulted rather than just telling tales, so that husbands could be found guilty of rape, and so that women’s sexual history and facts not pertinent to the rape would not be brought up to slander the victim in court. I taught basic self defense and lectured at sororities which mostly meant telling my peers to assume they’d be assaulted at some time so here’s ways to lower your risk.
I wound up helping a friend who had been raped in the stacks at the library through the legal process that re-victimized her. She was afraid to even report the rape since she had been smoking pot earlier in the evening. This was in the mid 1970s. My lecture to those girls was to basically warned them to avoid the male athletes; especially the football players and travel and stay in packs in well-lit areas. But how and why should you tell any student to avoid studying in the library? A serial rapist was later found to haunt there and it proves women can’t assume they are safe anywhere, and that thought rules our lives.
I had planned to be a lawyer at that time and the way the system treated women and children that were assaulted by men was at the top of my list of things I intended to change. At 60, a full forty years later after my core activism, I know now that even systemic changes do not change men like Judge Aaron Persky. He’s getting some blow back but, he just won another term. It also hasn’t apparently changed how many boys are raised in this country.
I’d like to think that my work at that time made women and children safer but then I read about Brock Turner, Stanford University where rapes are frequent , Turner’s parents, and our justice system that still metes out justice based on levels of privilege.
Yes, it’s that post. It’s where we confront a society that raises and enables rapists. We face a judge and court system that fails when it comes to privileged white males. My oldest daughter’s first labor day weekend at LSU turned into an ER visit when she was roofied at a local college bar and temporarily paralyzed. Fortunately, she was with other girls and some properly-raised boys took her to the hospital. Believe me, I never lectured my daughters on much of anything because my mother raised me in fear of all kinds of things like being captured for white slavery. You kinda stop listening to it after awhile and I never wanted that to happen so I chose my lectures carefully. I lectured my daughters on never, ever leaving their drinks uncovered or unattended at any time. Gigging in the French Quarter left me knowing that the tricks of Bill Cosby live on. Let me tell you about a local eye surgeon on that account … but that’s for another day.
The deal is that we still live in a world where many men think they have a right to anything they want including the bodies of women. To quote one of my favorite lyricists, “you have to be carefully taught.”
Well, it’s as good a day as any to discuss how a judge in California enabled a rapist after a jury of his peers delivered a guilty plea on 3 felony accounts. The six month sentence–which appears to look more like a three month sentence–has outraged the American Public. Follow this link to CNN for a good understanding of the basics of the case.
Please be aware that this post will contain information that may trigger visceral responses in any of our readers that have been sexually assaulted. I know that we have quite a few survivors here, so I want to make it clear that this post and the links may upset you.
Believe me, I’m amazed that our country is finally at the point where a sexual assault case can garner so much attention. I don’t know what got us to that point. I only know that it’s been a long time coming. One in five women and one in thirty three men will be the victims of sexual violence at least once in their lives. An American is sexually assaulted every two minutes. That is no small number.
The victim’s statement to Brock Turner, the former Stanford student convicted of sexually assaulting her, has been viewed online millions of times since last week. A CNN anchor read the statement, in full, on television. Representative Jackie Speier, a California Democrat, read it aloud on the House floor. The case, which resulted in a six-month jail sentence and probation for Turner, has touched off furor among those who say the punishment is too light, and sparked vigorous debate about the intersection of sexual assault, privilege, and justice.
This is an astounding moment, in part because it’s so rare for sexual violence, despite its ubiquity, to garner this kind of attention.
“It’s incredible,” said Michele Dauber, a Stanford Law School professor who has pressed for the recall of the judge who sentenced Turner. “Why did that happen? First of all, it’s the tremendous power and clarity of thought that is reflected in the survivor’s statement.”
“She is helping people to understand this experience in a visceral and clear way,” Dauber added. “And she’s brushing away all the really toxic politics around campus assault that have built up. People have said, ‘How can we really believe these women? It’s his word against hers.’ This men’s rights movement has emerged. And there’s been a lot of rage happening out there. Then, whoosh, [this statement] really reframed it.”
It wasn’t just the statement. In March, Turner was convicted of three felony counts: sexually penetrating an unconscious person with a foreign object, sexually penetrating an intoxicated person with a foreign object, and assault with an intent to commit rape. If it’s rare for someone to report a sexual assault in the first place, it’s even more unusual for that report to result in a conviction. In the vast majority of sexual assaults the perpetrators never serve time in prison—97 percent of cases, an analysis of Justice Department data by the anti-sexual violence advocacy group RAINN concludes.
Another unusual component of the case at Stanford: There were eyewitnesses. Two graduate students were riding their bikes through Stanford’s campus when they saw, “a man on the ground, thrusting toward a body,” The Mercury News reported in March.
We’ve found out some horrible things since the sentence was handed down. The parents wrote letters to the judge pleading for leniency that are so appallingly clueless and selfish that you wonder how this boy has not become a full blown sociopath. The letters fell on sympathetic ears, however, since the judge himself was a Stanford athlete at one time. I’ve linked to the mother’s newly released letter since the father’s has pretty much gone viral and we’ve discussed it already in some downthread conversations.
A letter to the judge from Brock Turner‘s mother calls the convicted rapist the “most trustworthy and honest person I know.”
The emergence of Carleen Turner‘s glowing assessment of her “beautiful son,” a former Stanford swimmer, comes after his victim’s letter went viral, his father’s letter sparked outrage, andBrock’s own statement maintained the encounter was consensual.
His mother’s letter depicts Brock as a model student and citizen, and she laments the misfortune that has struck her son:
My first thought upon wakening every morning is “this isn’t real, this can’t be real. Why him? Why HIM? WHY? WHY?”
She goes on to describe the devastating effect of this “awful, horrible, terrible, gut-wrenching, life-changing verdict” on her family:
My once vibrant and happy boy is distraught, deeply depressed, terribly wounded, and filled with despair. His smile is gone forever-that beautiful grin is no more. … We are devastated beyond belief. My beautiful, happy family will never know happiness again.
In her concluding plea for mercy, she says Brock isn’t tough enough to survive prison and would be a “target” for other inmates:
I beg of you, please don’t send him to jail/prison. Look at him. He won’t survive it. He will be damaged forever and I fear he would be a major target. Stanford boy, college kid, college athlete- all the publicity……..this would be a death sentence for him.
This is from the mother of a convicted rapist worrying about her son being raped in prison. No one should be raped. EVER. Not even her rapist son deserves to be raped. But, really, how can anyone be so unaware of the suffering of her son’s rape victim and yet be so concerned about his potential rape? Here are some new developments found by the press since the story has garnered so much attention. Turner sent pictures of the rape victim’s breast to his friends.
Investigators believe Brock Turner may have photographed his assault victim’s breasts, then sent the pictures to a group of friends, the Daily Mail reported.
According to police, Turner received a text message via the GroupMe online app asking, “Who’s [sic] t*ts are those” from a fellow swimmer, identified as Justin Buck. However, the picture that prompted the question was deleted from the group chat by an unknown party.
A witness also told police that he saw a man standing over the victim holding his cell phone.
“The cell phone had a bright light pointed in the direction of the female, using either a flashlight app in his phone or its built-in app,” a police statement read.
The witness, identified as Blake Bolton, then “told the male subject to roll her over onto her side to breathe. The male subject did not do this. Bolton then got on his knees and checked her pulse. When he got back up, the male subject was gone.”
USA Swimming has banned Brock Turner for life.
The U.S. governing body for the sport of swimming on Friday banned ex-Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner, whose six-month jail sentence for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman has stirred widespread outrage.
Condemning Turner’s “crime and actions,” USA Swimming said that he is not a current organization member and is ineligible for membership.
“Brock Turner’s membership with USA Swimming expired at the end of the calendar year 2014 and he was not a member at the time of his crime or since then,” USA Swimming spokesman Scott Leightman said. “As a result, USA Swimming doesn’t have any jurisdiction over Brock Turner.”
Court documents have been released and show that Brock Turner lied about his past partying exploits. Turner’s parents and the student himself indicated that Stanford made him do it. Evidence shows otherwise.
In a letter submitted to Persky prior to sentencing, Turner said he came from a small town in Ohio and never experienced partying that involved alcohol. But when he started attending Stanford, Turner wrote, he began drinking to relieve the stress of school and competitive swimming. He blamed a “party culture and risk-taking behavior” for his actions.
But prosecutors said they found text messages and photographs that show Turner lied and has a history of partying.
Investigators found photographs of Turner smoking from a pipe and another teammate was holding a bong, according to court documents. A photo of a bong was found as well as a video showing Turner smoking from a bong and drinking from a bottle of liquor.
“Furthermore, there are many text messages that are indicative of drug use, both during the defendant’s time at Stanford and during his time in Ohio when he was still in high school.”
In a message sent to a friend in 2014, Turner asked: “Do you think I could buy some wax so we could do some dabs?” Dabs is a reference to smoking a highly potent form of cannabis, known as honey oil.
Turner also talked about using acid while in high school and at Stanford. He bragged about taking LSD and MDMA together, an act referred to as “candyflippin,” according to prosecutors.
A professor in his Ohio community indicates that Turner’s surroundings enable all kinds of white privilege and bad behavior. It sounds a lot like the place where I grew up. (H/T to BostonBoomer)
The kids walk to school and go home for lunch. The schools are nationally recognized. In fact, the local nickname for Oakwood is “the Dome,” so sheltered are its residents from violence, poverty and inconvenient truths. I have lived here for more than 20 years.
Communities like this one have a dark side, though: the conflation of achievement with being “a good kid”; the pressure to succeed; the parents who shrug when the party in their basement gets out of control (or worse yet, when they host it) because “kids are gonna drink”; the tacit understanding that rules don’t necessarily apply. The cops won’t come. The ax won’t fall.
Yet now it has.
Invariably, when I tell someone who knows the Dayton area that I live in Oakwood, they assume that I am rich, narrow-minded, a Republican or some combination thereof. If most residents were just the stereotype, though, I would not have been happy here as long as I have. For the most part, I have loved raising my kids here. But I have struggled, too. My closest friends and I have a long-standing joke about needing to remember to “lower the bar” around here — about not falling prey to the pressures to conform and compete, not buying the line that the schools or the kids are special. Most of us understand our privilege and good fortune. Many do not.
There is an Oakwood in every city; there’s a Brock Turner in every Oakwood: the “nice,” clean-cut, “happy-go-lucky,” hyper-achieving kid who’s never been told no. There’s nothing he can’t have, do or be, because he is special. Fortunately, most kids like this will march into their predictably bright futures without victimizing anyone along the way. Many will do good in the world.
But it’s not hard to draw a straight line from this little ’burb (or a hundred like it) to that dumpster at Stanford. What does being told no mean to that kid? If the world is his for the taking, isn’t an unconscious woman’s body? When he gets caught, why wouldn’t his first impulse be to run, to make excuses — to blame the Fireball or the girl or the campus drinking culture? That is entitlement. That is unchecked privilege.
I’ve been in conversations about rape, violence, and rape culture for over 40 years. I feel like there’s not much new that can be added to the conversation although all the wisdom beings in the multiverse know that those of us that really care about this try angles old and new. It rarely captures public opinion unless it’s part of the rescuing the princess paradigm and that worries me.
It’s interesting that the thing that started this latest outrage also displays intersectionality so we not only see that rape culture is alive and well but the treatment of rapists by judges depends on factors like privilege and race. My guess is that treatment of victims depends on similar factors. The referenced article is by Shaun King. I wish he would investigate the justice meted out for poor women and for women that are racially minorities brutalized by men because my guess is they don’t get their day in court let alone their week in the press. Would this story have gotten so far if the victim was less educated or “articulate”? If she were a sex worker or poor? If she were a Hispanic woman who overstayed her VISA?
All victims of rape deserve justice as do all perpetrators.
Mothers and Fathers, don’t let your babies grow up to be rapists.