Safe and secure don’t work for the warrior activist. Standing on the sidelines watching the bully smack another kid, countless men beat, belittle, humiliate women to no end, or just looking out your window from a 5 story walkup and seeing 6 kids trying to stomp a young cat to death for the fun of it just doesn’t work for some people in life. You don’t get an invite to this way of life, you can’t train for it, you see wrong hurt and automatically step up as life calls upon you from somewhere within your soul and the rough ride stays with you until your last breath feeling that with all you gave it still wasn’t enough to stop the pain and wishing for one more moment to step and say; Hey, What The Fuck Are You Doing, Stop That! You can’t do that to…
Americans must account for the natives here when they came and the blacks they dragged over here kicking and screaming there will be no peace until this is settled…not because these groups will demand it, but you set the game up with your rules; law, accounting, finance: the energy in place once these rules have been implemented will demand it in order for their credence to have merit and continue or they will cease to exist of their own accord…there are no vacuums
© 2014, agentleman.
A GENTLEMAN’S VIEW CHALLENGE TO PROGRESSIVE MOVEMENT: A Platform for 2016 Presidential election;
If we continue to do things the same way, they most certainly won’t change…
This is the National Agenda Of The Progressive Party.
- Economic Justice: Prosperity should be accessible to everyone, not merely the few.
- Civil Rights: Every individual’s civil rights must be protected; discrimination and harassment based on race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, or physical and developmental ability should be banned.
- Health Care: Every individual should have affordable, quality health care.
- Education: It is essential that we invest in quality public education for all.
- Environment: We must commit to restoring and protecting our environment.
- Reproductive Freedom: Women and men – not politicians – deserve the right to make personal decisions about their reproductive health in accordance with their own personal and moral beliefs.
These are some specifics that address the issues of today’s reality and the stated Progressive agenda:
1. This country pays American taxpaying dollars subsidizing Fortune Five Hundred Companies during the last year to the tune of 63 Billion dollars. My understanding of the whole purpose of being one of elite prestigious companies on this list besides policies that make Wall Street happy is the ability to a) pay all employees a wage good enough to afford one wager earner per family as to allow real child rearing to take place in America and to do this without having United States subsidizing your employees with food stamps, to pay their fair share of corporate taxes if they have enough money to pay obscene bonuses to their CEO’s, to bring jobs home to America instead of utilizing sub standardly supported employees overseas. Meet those requirements and make them the standard then maybe some relief can be considered but during the last ten years of war in which much profit was made, very little was paid to support the patriotic work of our military much less the support the infrastructure updates needed all around this great nation by those companies making ever so much more profit. These savings will be the foundation funding education discussed below in item #8.
2. Immediate shutdown of all corporate subsides for foreign companies and any American Companies or business entities making profit during this support, manufacturing/operating overseas for avoidance of tax responsibilities (i.e. Apple). This should be about being an American citizen first an recognized American Business entity, proudly willing to participate in forwarding the American cause and Ideals. 50% of this savings should directly be put to education in addition to the savings from item #1 and would not be an added tax on any corporation or individuals to fund.This is simple, show profit, pay huge bonuses you don’t need United States government financial tax payer subsidized support for those benefits to the business or individuals. THIS ARGUMENT WILL NO LONGER BE ACCEPTABLE WITH PROGRESS: ‘Removal of subsidies equals tax increase’.
3. Refinance all outstanding mortgages at 3% and forgive related debt underwater and otherwise to include interest and penalties, give all financial institutions impacted an one time charge off without addition subsides for those outstanding balances. The point here is not to reward those who shouldn’t have taken part in the bad mortgage programs, but give a chance to homeowners who can afford to and not punish them as we did not the bankers. Let us be honest; many people will gain advantage from these saving including some responsible for causing this damage in the first place, so be it.
4. Forgive all student debt to include all interest and penalties, Banks were paid to stay in business while all others suffered, so no charge off for this loss period! The idea is to use avenues of revenue in place today and free up personal household debt. Take the government out of the business of profiting from educating its citizens which America should gladly welcome. See item #8.
5. Mandatory solar on all federal buildings by end of first term (2021). This is a no brainer when it comes to directly setting the tone for Uncle Sam’s responsible and representative behavior and policy about climate. The United States government has a mandate as a national security issue to take any action necessary to reduce this governments carbon footprint production, this and the next item starts us in that direction.
6. Electric government motor pool by 2025 for passenger vehicles, seeking full electronic transportation motor pool by 2040. Again making a statement that Uncle Sugar will take a conscience effort to a much smaller carbon footprint with the government’s motor pool and impact on climate.
7. Single payer modification made to the Affordable Care Act, Complete medical coverage for women’s health that allows for full range and control of choices. This would be the right thing to do to a system stolen from the opposition with the mission of giving to the client (health care patient) as little as possible for their money as put together by the Heritage Foundation in opposition to the Hillary Clinton Health Care plan.
8. Free full academic/vocational college education for all naturalized citizens who desire such education; vocational education and/for advancement can stand in its stead 10 year time limit to completion. See #2 for cost for implementing this educational national push.
9. Minimum wage standard at federal of 22 dollars an hour. $10.10 is not a ‘real living wage’ and an insult that doesn’t address family’s ability to have one parent at home, or childcare costs for single parents. If we claim to be about family we need to invest in the reality of what it takes to have and run a family today.
10. Fully subsidize purchases of electric personal passenger automobiles for 10 years . (Vehicles must meet standard of fully electric operational capability and can not be hybrid) This would be like the homes for vets after world war 2, with the intent of moving as many people as desired to convert to green mobility to be able to do so.
All of this he/she could do by executive order, two for each of Her/His first week in office. These executive orders would directly impact the financial status of the middle and lower strata Americans across a broad spectrum of households in a way that would immediately stimulate economic growth and activity for continued expansion by freeing up money that was being paid to continue to be buried under all this debt. Wall street was taken care of without begging Congress to get off their asses and do what they were elected to do and that is legislate instead of the traitorous behavior this country has witnessed to date. This would adjust the playing field for awhile, there is still much work to achieve a level one. This is where I fail to see the boldness of today’s Progressive Movement…
Pick a point, the economy, make a stand, suggest practical solutions, then put people on the spot, arguing with a fool only proves there are two, we have five years of two parties of fools arguing… Any of my followers who can suggest an even stronger platform, I will post their suggestions, I just thought we should at least attempt to care about and take care of the home front first. These suggestions attempts to address the financial difficulties everyone but the people who cause the catastrophe in the first place are experiencing. If we are not doing anything to give back/restore/build some trust with those who been devastated by the impact of this recession then the rest is straight bullshit! These 10 items address actions that can be taken presently and will positively impact many Americans across the spectrum no matter the party and that would be a good thing for America not just for Wall Streets Billionaires…
A Lesson From Ecuador: “Health is a right guaranteed by the state and whose fulfilment is linked to the exercise of other rights, including the right to water, food, education, sport, work, social security, a healthy environment and everything that promotes well-being. The state shall guarantee this right by implementing economic social, cultural, educational and environmental policies. It shall guarantee permanent, timely and non-exclusive access to programmes, actions and services promoting and providing comprehensive healthcare and reproductive health. The provision of healthcare services shall be governed by the principles of equity, universality, solidarity, interculturalism, quality, efficiency, effectiveness, prevention, and bioethics with a fair gender and generational approach.” President of Ecuador statement about the citizens of his country which we could learn from…A Third World Country like that.
© 2013 – 2014, agentleman.
How Washington Protects Itself and the Corporate Sector
By Noam Chomsky,
The question of how foreign policy is determined is a crucial one in world affairs. In these comments, I can only provide a few hints as to how I think the subject can be productively explored, keeping to the United States for several reasons. First, the U.S. is unmatched in its global significance and impact. Second, it is an unusually open society, possibly uniquely so, which means we know more about it. Finally, it is plainly the most important case for Americans, who are able to influence policy choices in the U.S.—and indeed for others, insofar as their actions can influence such choices. The general principles, however, extend to the other major powers, and well beyond.
There is a “received standard version,” common to academic scholarship, government pronouncements, and public discourse. It holds that the prime commitment of governments is to ensure security, and that the primary concern of the U.S. and its allies since 1945 was the Russian threat.
There are a number of ways to evaluate the doctrine. One obvious question to ask is: What happened when the Russian threat disappeared in 1989? Answer: everything continued much as before.
The U.S. immediately invaded Panama, killing probably thousands of people and installing a client regime. This was routine practice in U.S.-dominated domains—but in this case not quite as routine. For first time, a major foreign policy act was not justified by an alleged Russian threat.
From El Salvador to the Russian Border
The administration of George H.W. Bush issued a new national security policy and defense budget in reaction to the collapse of the global enemy. It was pretty much the same as before, although with new pretexts. It was, it turned out, necessary to maintain a military establishment almost as great as the rest of the world combined and far more advanced in technological sophistication—but not for defense against the now-nonexistent Soviet Union. Rather, the excuse now was the growing “technological sophistication” of Third World powers. Disciplined intellectuals understood that it would have been improper to collapse in ridicule, so they maintained a proper silence.
The U.S., the new programs insisted, must maintain its “defense industrial base.” The phrase is a euphemism, referring to high-tech industry generally, which relies heavily on extensive state intervention for research and development, often under Pentagon cover, in what economists continue to call the U.S. “free-market economy.”
One of the most interesting provisions of the new plans had to do with the Middle East. There, it was declared, Washington must maintain intervention forces targeting a crucial region where the major problems “could not have been laid at the Kremlin’s door.” Contrary to 50 years of deceit, it was quietly conceded that the main concern was not the Russians, but rather what is called “radical nationalism,” meaning independent nationalism not under U.S. control.
All of this has evident bearing on the standard version, but it passed unnoticed—or perhaps, therefore it passed unnoticed.
Other important events took place immediately after the fall of the Berlin Wall, ending the Cold War. One was in El Salvador, the leading recipient of U.S. military aid—apart from Israel-Egypt, a separate category—and with one of the worst human rights records anywhere. That is a familiar and very close correlation.
The Salvadoran high command ordered the Atlacatl Brigade to invade the Jesuit University and murder six leading Latin American intellectuals, all Jesuit priests, including the rector, Fr. Ignacio Ellacuría, and any witnesses, meaning their housekeeper and her daughter. The Brigade had just returned from advanced counterinsurgency training at the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and had already left a bloody trail of thousands of the usual victims in the course of the U.S.-run state terror campaign in El Salvador, one part of a broader terror and torture campaign throughout the region. All routine. Ignored and virtually forgotten in the United States and by its allies, again routine. But it tells us a lot about the factors that drive policy, if we care to look at the real world.
Another important event took place in Europe. Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev agreed to allow the unification of Germany and its membership in NATO, a hostile military alliance. In the light of recent history, this was a most astonishing concession. There was a quid pro quo. President Bush and Secretary of State James Baker agreed that NATO would not expand “one inch to the East,” meaning into East Germany. Instantly, they expanded NATO to East Germany.
Gorbachev was naturally outraged, but when he complained, he was instructed by Washington that this had only been a verbal promise, a gentleman’s agreement, hence without force. If he was naïve enough to accept the word of American leaders, it was his problem.
All of this, too, was routine, as was the silent acceptance and approval of the expansion of NATO in the U.S. and the West generally. President Bill Clinton then expanded NATO further, right up to Russia’s borders. Today, the world faces a serious crisis that is in no small measure a result of these policies.
The Appeal of Plundering the Poor
Another source of evidence is the declassified historical record. It contains revealing accounts of the actual motives of state policy. The story is rich and complex, but a few persistent themes play a dominant role. One was articulated clearly at a western hemispheric conference called by the U.S. in Mexico in February 1945 where Washington imposed “An Economic Charter of the Americas” designed to eliminate economic nationalism “in all its forms.” There was one unspoken condition. Economic nationalism would be fine for the U.S. whose economy relies heavily on massive state intervention.
The elimination of economic nationalism for others stood in sharp conflict with the Latin American stand of that moment, which State Department officials described as “the philosophy of the New Nationalism [that] embraces policies designed to bring about a broader distribution of wealth and to raise the standard of living of the masses.” As U.S. policy analysts added, “Latin Americans are convinced that the first beneficiaries of the development of a country’s resources should be the people of that country.”
That, of course, will not do. Washington understands that the “first beneficiaries” should be U.S. investors, while Latin America fulfills its service function. It should not, as both the Truman and Eisenhower administrations would make clear, undergo “excessive industrial development” that might infringe on U.S. interests. Thus Brazil could produce low-quality steel that U.S. corporations did not want to bother with, but it would be “excessive,” were it to compete with U.S. firms.
Similar concerns resonate throughout the post-World War II period. The global system that was to be dominated by the U.S. was threatened by what internal documents call “radical and nationalistic regimes” that respond to popular pressures for independent development. That was the concern that motivated the overthrow of the parliamentary governments of Iran and Guatemala in 1953 and 1954, as well as numerous others. In the case of Iran, a major concern was the potential impact of Iranian independence on Egypt, then in turmoil over British colonial practice. In Guatemala, apart from the crime of the new democracy in empowering the peasant majority and infringing on possessions of the United Fruit Company—already offensive enough—Washington’s concern was labor unrest and popular mobilization in neighboring U.S.-backed dictatorships.
In both cases the consequences reach to the present. Literally not a day has passed since 1953 when the U.S. has not been torturing the people of Iran. Guatemala remains one of the world’s worst horror chambers. To this day, Mayans are fleeing from the effects of near-genocidal government military campaigns in the highlands backed by President Ronald Reagan and his top officials. As the country director of Oxfam, a Guatemalan doctor, reported recently,
“There is a dramatic deterioration of the political, social, and economic context. Attacks against Human Rights defenders have increased 300% during the last year. There is a clear evidence of a very well organized strategy by the private sector and Army. Both have captured the government in order to keep the status quo and to impose the extraction economic model, pushing away dramatically indigenous peoples from their own land, due to the mining industry, African Palm and sugar cane plantations. In addition the social movement defending their land and rights has been criminalized, many leaders are in jail, and many others have been killed.”
Nothing is known about this in the United States and the very obvious cause of it remains suppressed.
In the 1950s, President Eisenhower and Secretary of State John Foster Dulles explained quite clearly the dilemma that the U.S. faced. They complained that the Communists had an unfair advantage. They were able to “appeal directly to the masses” and “get control of mass movements, something we have no capacity to duplicate. The poor people are the ones they appeal to and they have always wanted to plunder the rich.”
That causes problems. The U.S. somehow finds it difficult to appeal to the poor with its doctrine that the rich should plunder the poor.
The Cuban Example
A clear illustration of the general pattern was Cuba, when it finally gained independence in 1959. Within months, military attacks on the island began. Shortly after, the Eisenhower administration made a secret decision to overthrow the government. John F. Kennedy then became president. He intended to devote more attention to Latin America and so, on taking office, he created a study group to develop policies headed by the historian Arthur Schlesinger, who summarized its conclusions for the incoming president.
As Schlesinger explained, threatening in an independent Cuba was “the Castro idea of taking matters into one’s own hands.” It was an idea that unfortunately appealed to the mass of the population in Latin America where “the distribution of land and other forms of national wealth greatly favors the propertied classes, and the poor and underprivileged, stimulated by the example of the Cuban revolution, are now demanding opportunities for a decent living.” Again, Washington’s usual dilemma.
As the CIA explained, “The extensive influence of ‘Castroism’ is not a function of Cuban power… Castro’s shadow looms large because social and economic conditions throughout Latin America invite opposition to ruling authority and encourage agitation for radical change,” for which his Cuba provides a model. Kennedy feared that Russian aid might make Cuba a “showcase” for development, giving the Soviets the upper hand throughout Latin America.
The State Department Policy Planning Council warned that “the primary danger we face in Castro is… in the impact the very existence of his regime has upon the leftist movement in many Latin American countries… The simple fact is that Castro represents a successful defiance of the U.S., a negation of our whole hemispheric policy of almost a century and a half”—that is, since the Monroe Doctrine of 1823, when the U.S. declared its intention of dominating the hemisphere.
The immediate goal at the time was to conquer Cuba, but that could not be achieved because of the power of the British enemy. Still, that grand strategist John Quincy Adams, the intellectual father of the Monroe Doctrine and Manifest Destiny, informed his colleagues that over time Cuba would fall into our hands by “the laws of political gravitation,” as an apple falls from the tree. In brief, U.S. power would increase and Britain’s would decline.
In 1898, Adams’s prognosis was realized. The U.S. invaded Cuba in the guise of liberating it. In fact, it prevented the island’s liberation from Spain and turned it into a “virtual colony” to quote historians Ernest May and Philip Zelikow. Cuba remained so until January 1959, when it gained independence. Since that time it has been subjected to major U.S. terrorist wars, primarily during the Kennedy years, and economic strangulation. Not because of the Russians.
The pretense all along was that we were defending ourselves from the Russian threat—an absurd explanation that generally went unchallenged. A simple test of the thesis is what happened when any conceivable Russian threat disappeared. U.S. policy toward Cuba became even harsher, spearheaded by liberal Democrats, including Bill Clinton, who outflanked Bush from the right in the 1992 election. On the face of it, these events should have considerable bearing on the validity of the doctrinal framework for discussion of foreign policy and the factors that drive it. Once again, however, the impact was slight.
The Virus of Nationalism
To borrow Henry Kissinger’s terminology, independent nationalism is a “virus” that might “spread contagion.” Kissinger was referring to Salvador Allende’s Chile. The virus was the idea that there might be a parliamentary path towards some kind of socialist democracy. The way to deal with such a threat is to destroy the virus and to inoculate those who might be infected, typically by imposing murderous national security states. That was achieved in the case of Chile, but it is important to recognize that the thinking holds worldwide.
It was, for example, the reasoning behind the decision to oppose Vietnamese nationalism in the early 1950s and support France’s effort to reconquer its former colony. It was feared that independent Vietnamese nationalism might be a virus that would spread contagion to the surrounding regions, including resource-rich Indonesia. That might even have led Japan—called the “superdomino” by Asia scholar John Dower—to become the industrial and commercial center of an independent new order of the kind imperial Japan had so recently fought to establish. That, in turn, would have meant that the U.S. had lost the Pacific war, not an option to be considered in 1950. The remedy was clear—and largely achieved. Vietnam was virtually destroyed and ringed by military dictatorships that kept the “virus” from spreading contagion.
In retrospect, Kennedy-Johnson National Security Adviser McGeorge Bundy reflected that Washington should have ended the Vietnam War in 1965, when the Suharto dictatorship was installed in Indonesia, with enormous massacres that the CIA compared to the crimes of Hitler, Stalin, and Mao. These were, however, greeted with unconstrained euphoria in the U.S. and the West generally because the “staggering bloodbath,” as the press cheerfully described it, ended any threat of contagion and opened Indonesia’s rich resources to western exploitation. After that, the war to destroy Vietnam was superfluous, as Bundy recognized in retrospect.
The same was true in Latin America in the same years: one virus after another was viciously attacked and either destroyed or weakened to the point of bare survival. From the early 1960s, a plague of repression was imposed on the continent that had no precedent in the violent history of the hemisphere, extending to Central America in the 1980s under Ronald Reagan, a matter that there should be no need to review.
Much the same was true in the Middle East. The unique U.S. relations with Israel were established in their current form in 1967, when Israel delivered a smashing blow to Egypt, the center of secular Arab nationalism. By doing so, it protected U.S. ally Saudi Arabia, then engaged in military conflict with Egypt in Yemen. Saudi Arabia, of course, is the most extreme radical fundamentalist Islamic state, and also a missionary state, expending huge sums to establish its Wahhabi-Salafi doctrines beyond its borders. It is worth remembering that the U.S., like England before it, has tended to support radical fundamentalist Islam in opposition to secular nationalism, which has usually been perceived as posing more of a threat of independence and contagion.
The Value of Secrecy
There is much more to say, but the historical record demonstrates very clearly that the standard doctrine has little merit. Security in the normal sense is not a prominent factor in policy formation.
To repeat, in the normal sense. But in evaluating the standard doctrine we have to ask what is actually meant by “security”: security for whom?
One answer is: security for state power. There are many illustrations. Take a current one. In May, the U.S. agreed to support a U.N. Security Council resolution calling on the International Criminal Court to investigate war crimes in Syria, but with a proviso: there could be no inquiry into possible war crimes by Israel. Or by Washington, though it was really unnecessary to add that last condition. The U.S. is uniquely self-immunized from the international legal system. In fact, there is even congressional legislation authorizing the president to use armed force to “rescue” any American brought to the Hague for trial—the “Netherlands Invasion Act,” as it is sometimes called in Europe. That once again illustrates the importance of protecting the security of state power.
But protecting it from whom? There is, in fact, a strong case to be made that a prime concern of government is the security of state power from the population. As those who have spent time rummaging through archives should be aware, government secrecy is rarely motivated by a genuine for security, but it definitely does serve to keep the population in the dark. And for good reasons, which were lucidly explained by the prominent liberal scholar and government adviser Samuel Huntington, the professor of the science of government at Harvard University. In his words: “The architects of power in the United States must create a force that can be felt but not seen. Power remains strong when it remains in the dark; exposed to the sunlight it begins to evaporate.”
He wrote that in 1981, when the Cold War was again heating up, and he explained further that “you may have to sell [intervention or other military action] in such a way as to create the misimpression that it is the Soviet Union that you are fighting. That is what the United States has been doing ever since the Truman Doctrine.”
These simple truths are rarely acknowledged, but they provide insight into state power and policy, with reverberations to the present moment.
State power has to be protected from its domestic enemy; in sharp contrast, the population is not secure from state power. A striking current illustration is the radical attack on the Constitution by the Obama administration’s massive surveillance program. It is, of course, justified by “national security.” That is routine for virtually all actions of all states and so carries little information.
When the NSA’s surveillance program was exposed by Edward Snowden’s revelations, high officials claimed that it had prevented 54 terrorist acts. On inquiry, that was whittled down to a dozen. A high-level government panel then discovered that there was actually only one case: someone had sent $8,500 to Somalia. That was the total yield of the huge assault on the Constitution and, of course, on others throughout the world.
Britain’s attitude is interesting. In 2007, the British government called on Washington’s colossal spy agency “to analyze and retain any British citizens’ mobile phone and fax numbers, emails, and IP addresses swept up by its dragnet,” the Guardian reported. That is a useful indication of the relative significance, in government eyes, of the privacy of its own citizens and of Washington’s demands.
Another concern is security for private power. One current illustration is the huge trade agreements now being negotiated, the Trans-Pacific and Trans-Atlantic pacts. These are being negotiated in secret—but not completely in secret. They are not secret from the hundreds of corporate lawyers who are drawing up the detailed provisions. It is not hard to guess what the results will be, and the few leaks about them suggest that the expectations are accurate. Like NAFTA and other such pacts, these are not free trade agreements. In fact, they are not even trade agreements, but primarily investor rights agreements.
Again, secrecy is critically important to protect the primary domestic constituency of the governments involved, the corporate sector.
The Final Century of Human Civilization?
There are other examples too numerous to mention, facts that are well-established and would be taught in elementary schools in free societies.
There is, in other words, ample evidence that securing state power from the domestic population and securing concentrated private power are driving forces in policy formation. Of course, it is not quite that simple. There are interesting cases, some quite current, where these commitments conflict, but consider this a good first approximation and radically opposed to the received standard doctrine.
Let us turn to another question: What about the security of the population? It is easy to demonstrate that this is a marginal concern of policy planners. Take two prominent current examples, global warming and nuclear weapons. As any literate person is doubtless aware, these are dire threats to the security of the population. Turning to state policy, we find that it is committed to accelerating each of those threats—in the interests of the primary concerns, protection of state power and of the concentrated private power that largely determines state policy.
Consider global warming. There is now much exuberance in the United States about “100 years of energy independence” as we become “the Saudi Arabia of the next century”—perhaps the final century of human civilization if current policies persist.
That illustrates very clearly the nature of the concern for security, certainly not for the population. It also illustrates the moral calculus of contemporary Anglo-American state capitalism: the fate of our grandchildren counts as nothing when compared with the imperative of higher profits tomorrow.
These conclusions are fortified by a closer look at the propaganda system. There is a huge public relations campaign in the U.S., organized quite openly by Big Energy and the business world, to try to convince the public that global warming is either unreal or not a result of human activity. And it has had some impact. The U.S. ranks lower than other countries in public concern about global warming and the results are stratified: among Republicans, the party more fully dedicated to the interests of wealth and corporate power, it ranks far lower than the global norm.
The current issue of the premier journal of media criticism, the Columbia Journalism Review, has an interesting article on this subject, attributing this outcome to the media doctrine of “fair and balanced.” In other words, if a journal publishes an opinion piece reflecting the conclusions of 97% of scientists, it must also run a counter-piece expressing the viewpoint of the energy corporations.
That indeed is what happens, but there certainly is no “fair and balanced” doctrine. Thus, if a journal runs an opinion piece denouncing Russian President Vladimir Putin for the criminal act of taking over the Crimea, it surely does not have to run a piece pointing out that, while the act is indeed criminal, Russia has a far stronger case today than the U.S. did more than a century ago in taking over southeastern Cuba, including the country’s major port—and rejecting the Cuban demand since independence to have it returned. And the same is true of many other cases. The actual media doctrine is “fair and balanced” when the concerns of concentrated private power are involved, but surely not elsewhere.
On the issue of nuclear weapons, the record is similarly interesting—and frightening. It reveals very clearly that, from the earliest days, the security of the population was a non-issue, and remains so. There is no time here to run through the shocking record, but there is little doubt that it strongly supports the lament of General Lee Butler, the last commander of the Strategic Air Command, which was armed with nuclear weapons. In his words, we have so far survived the nuclear age “by some combination of skill, luck, and divine intervention, and I suspect the latter in greatest proportion.” And we can hardly count on continued divine intervention as policymakers play roulette with the fate of the species in pursuit of the driving factors in policy formation.
As we are all surely aware, we now face the most ominous decisions in human history. There are many problems that must be addressed, but two are overwhelming in their significance: environmental destruction and nuclear war. For the first time in history, we face the possibility of destroying the prospects for decent existence—and not in the distant future. For this reason alone, it is imperative to sweep away the ideological clouds and face honestly and realistically the question of how policy decisions are made, and what we can do to alter them before it is too late.
© 2014, agentleman.
The England That Is Forever Pakistan
Multiculturalism and Rape in Rotherham
By SARFRAZ MANZOOR
LONDON — A man recently came to visit the member of Parliament for Rotherham, Yorkshire, and he had a question. Now in his late 50s, he had arrived from Pakistan three decades earlier. After a lifetime of hard work, he could not understand why his boys did not display the same Muslim values he had, why they did not show respect or want to work as hard as he did.
“I tried really hard to bring them up right,” the man told the M.P., “and I don’t know what has gone wrong.”
What has gone wrong in Rotherham, and what is wrong with its Pakistani community, are questions much asked in recent weeks: How could this small, run-down town in northern England have been the center of sexual abuse of children on such an epic and horrifying scale?
Lucy, now 25, was groomed to be a rape victim starting when she was 12. The attacks, by individuals and groups of men in Rotherham, England, often happened outdoors, including an alley, and near the city’s war memorial.Life in an English Town Where Abuse of Young Girls Flourished
According to the official report published in August, there were an estimated 1,400 victims. And they were, in the main, poor and vulnerable white girls, while the great majority of perpetrators were men, mainly young men, from the town’s Pakistani community. Shaun Wright, the police commissioner who was responsible for children’s services in Rotherham, appeared before Parliament after his refusal to resign over the scandal. The scandal has cost both the chief executive and the leader of the council their jobs, and four Labour Party town councilors have been suspended.
A popular explanation for what Home Secretary Theresa May has described as “a complete dereliction of duty” by Rotherham’s public officials is that the Labour-controlled council was, for reasons of political expediency and ideology, unwilling to confront the fact that the abusers were of Pakistani heritage. Proper investigation, it is said, was obstructed by political correctness — or, in the words of a former local M.P., a culture of “not wanting to rock the multicultural boat.”
This, however, is only a partial explanation, and a partisan one. It fails to account for how a community once lionized as “more British than the British” — pious, unassuming and striving — is now condemned for harboring child abusers in its midst.
Pakistanis first came in significant numbers to Rotherham in the late 1950s and early ’60s, in the wave of immigration that brought men from the Indian subcontinent to Britain, largely to do work that the indigenous white working class no longer wanted. My father was part of this first wave. He worked on the production line of the Vauxhall car factory in Luton, an unlovely town north of London. In Rotherham, many Pakistani men ended up doing dirty, dusty work in the steel foundry.
The new immigrants were from rural villages, typically in Kashmir, the northern province bordering India; they were socially conservative and hard-working. When I was growing up in the ’80s, the stereotype of Pakistanis was that we were industrious and docile.
The Pakistani community in Rotherham, and elsewhere in Britain, has not followed the usual immigrant narrative arc of intermarriage and integration. The custom of first-cousin marriages to spouses from back home in Pakistan meant that the patriarchal village mentality was continually refreshed.
Continue reading the main storyContinue reading the main storyContinue reading the main story
Britain’s Pakistani community often seems frozen in time; it has progressed little and remains strikingly impoverished. The unemployment rate for the least educated young Muslims is close to 40 percent, and more than two-thirds of Pakistani households are below the poverty line.
My early years in Luton were lived inside a Pakistani bubble. Everyone my family knew was Pakistani, and most of my fellow students at school were Pakistani. I can’t recall a white person ever visiting our home.
Rotherham has the third-most-segregated Muslim population in England: The majority of the Pakistani community, 82 percent, lives in just three of the town’s council electoral wards. Voter turnout can be as low as 30 percent, so seats can be won or lost by a handful of votes — a situation that easily leads to patronage and clientelism.
Rotherham is solidly Labour; the last Conservative M.P. lost his seat a month after Adolf Hitler was elected the chancellor of Germany. The Labour politicians who governed Rotherham in the last decade came into politics during the anti-racism movement of the ’70s and ’80s. Their political instinct — and self-interest — was not to confront or alienate their Pakistani voters. Far easier to ally themselves with socially conservative community leaders, who themselves held power by staying on the right side of the community.
These dynamics help explain why so few spoke out about the culture that produced the crimes — a culture of misogyny, which Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, a Conservative politician who was raised near Rotherham, criticized in 2012, saying that it permits some Pakistani men to consider young white women “fair game.” It would be a brave leader, Pakistani or otherwise, who would tell the Pakistani community that it needed to address such issues, or that the road to progress required Pakistani parents to relax their strictures and allow their sons and daughters to marry out.
If working-class British Pakistanis had been better represented in the groups that failed them — the political class, the police, the media and the child protection agencies — it is arguable that there would have been a less squeamish attitude toward the shibboleths of multiculturalism. British Pakistanis may be held back by racism and poverty, but by cleaving so firmly to outmoded prejudices and fearing so much of the mainstream culture that swirls around them, they segregate themselves.
I owe much to the fact that my family moved from a Pakistani monoculture in Luton to a neighborhood that was largely white, where I learned to challenge many of the attitudes and expectations my parents had instilled. An enlightening breeze of modernity needs to blow through those pockets of England that remain forever Pakistan.
The grim fact of child sex abuse is that it is not limited to any country, community or creed — witness the cases of leading white television stars who have been convicted of the crime in Britain, and the experience of the Catholic Church in Ireland and America. Most Pakistani men, in Rotherham or elsewhere, do not, of course, turn to criminality or become child abusers. But Rotherham’s abusers found that their ethnicity protected them because they belonged to a community few wished to challenge.
What may seem like a story about race and religion, however, is as much one about power, class and gender. The Pakistanis who raped and pimped got away with it because they targeted a community even more marginal and vulnerable than theirs, a community with little voice and less muscle: white working-class girls.
In the rush to denounce multiculturalism, it would be wise to consider not only what gave the perpetrators the license to abuse, but also to reflect on what led to the victims being so undervalued that their cries were ignored.
© 2014, agentleman.
Harvard Business School’s Role in Widening Inequality
No institution is more responsible for educating the CEOs of American corporations than Harvard Business School – inculcating in them a set of ideas and principles that have resulted in a pay gap between CEOs and ordinary workers that’s gone from 20-to-1 fifty years ago to almost 300-to-1 today.
A survey, released on September 6, of 1,947 Harvard Business School alumni showed them far more hopeful about the future competitiveness of American firms than about the future of American workers.
As the authors of the survey conclude, such a divergence is unsustainable. Without a large and growing middle class, Americans won’t have the purchasing power to keep U.S. corporations profitable, and global demand won’t fill the gap. Moreover, the widening gap eventually will lead to political and social instability. As the authors put it, “any leader with a long view understands that business has a profound stake in the prosperity of the average American.”
Unfortunately, the authors neglected to include a discussion about how Harvard Business School should change what it teaches future CEOs with regard to this “profound stake.” HBS has made some changes over the years in response to earlier crises, but has not gone nearly far enough with courses that critically examine the goals of the modern corporation and the role that top executives play in achieving them.
A half-century ago, CEOs typically managed companies for the benefit of all their stakeholders – not just shareholders, but also their employees, communities, and the nation as a whole.
“The job of management,” proclaimed Frank Abrams, chairman of Standard Oil of New Jersey, in a 1951 address, “is to maintain an equitable and working balance among the claims of the various directly affected interest groups … stockholders, employees, customers, and the public at large. Business managers are gaining professional status partly because they see in their work the basic responsibilities [to the public] that other professional men have long recognized as theirs.”
This view was a common view among chief executives of the time. Fortune magazine urged CEOs to become “industrial statesmen.” And to a large extent, that’s what they became.
For thirty years after World War II, as American corporations prospered, so did the American middle class. Wages rose and benefits increased. American companies and American citizens achieved a virtuous cycle of higher profits accompanied by more and better jobs.
But starting in the late 1970s, a new vision of the corporation and the role of CEOs emerged – prodded by corporate “raiders,” hostile takeovers, junk bonds, and leveraged buyouts. Shareholders began to predominate over other stakeholders. And CEOs began to view their primary role as driving up share prices. To do this, they had to cut costs – especially payrolls, which constituted their largest expense.
Corporate statesmen were replaced by something more like corporate butchers, with their nearly exclusive focus being to “cut out the fat” and “cut to the bone.”
In consequence, the compensation packages of CEOs and other top executives soared, as did share prices. But ordinary workers lost jobs and wages, and many communities were abandoned. Almost all the gains from growth went to the top.
The results were touted as being “efficient,” because resources were theoretically shifted to “higher and better uses,” to use the dry language of economics.
But the human costs of this transformation have been substantial, and the efficiency benefits have not been widely shared. Most workers today are no better off than they were thirty years ago, adjusted for inflation. Most are less economically secure.
So it would seem worthwhile for the faculty and students of Harvard Business School, as well as those at every other major business school in America, to assess this transformation, and ask whether maximizing shareholder value – a convenient goal now that so many CEOs are paid with stock options – continues to be the proper goal for the modern corporation.
Can an enterprise be truly successful in a society becoming ever more divided between a few highly successful people at the top and a far larger number who are not thriving?
For years, some of the nation’s most talented young people have flocked to Harvard Business School and other elite graduate schools of business in order to take up positions at the top rungs of American corporations, or on Wall Street, or management consulting.
Their educations represent a substantial social investment; and their intellectual and creative capacities, a precious national and global resource.
But given that so few in our society – or even in other advanced nations – have shared in the benefits of what our largest corporations and Wall Street entities have achieved, it must be asked whether the social return on such an investment has been worth it, and whether these graduates are making the most of their capacities in terms of their potential for improving human well-being.
These questions also merit careful examination at Harvard and other elite universities. If the answer is not a resounding yes, perhaps we should ask whether these investments and talents should be directed toward “higher and better” uses.
By Robert Reich
© 2014, agentleman.
This Is How A Domestic Violence Victim Falls Through The Cracks
Berryville, Arkansas — Two days before she died, Laura Aceves stood on the side of the road and frantically dialed the police for the last time.
It was early afternoon and the 21-year-old had finished her shift at the Berryville Tyson Foods plant, where she worked on an assembly line deboning chicken. Moments after pulling out of the parking lot, her car broke down. At the nearest service station, a mechanic identified the problem: Someone had poured bleach in her gas tank.
Laura knew who was responsible. Her abusive ex-boyfriend, Victor Acuna-Sanchez, was out on bail and had a history of destroying her stuff. “No one else would have done this,” she told police.
According to family members and court records, Laura spent the last year of her life being terrorized by Acuna-Sanchez. He allegedly beat her with a baseball bat, dragged her behind a car, strangled her until she blacked out on the floor and told her over and over how he would kill her if she ever left him.
At the time, Acuna-Sanchez, 18, was awaiting trial for charges stemming from two prior attacks on Laura, including a felony for aggravated assault. He was out on bail, under court order to have no contact with Laura and to check in with probation by phone each week.
At the gas station, Laura told police where she thought Acuna-Sanchez might be staying and pleaded for their help. An officer said he’d search for him, but came up empty-handed. That evening, Laura, who had three young children, posted a vague message on Facebook hinting at her troubles: It is gonna be a long night.
Less than 48 hours later, she was found in her apartment with a gunshot wound to the head. Her four-month-old son was crying by her side, coated in so much blood that EMTs thought he’d been shot too. Laura had an open casket funeral. No amount of makeup could conceal her black eyes.
A year and a half has passed since her murder. On a clear day in April, her mother, Laura Ponce, drives to her last apartment and stands in the driveway, holding back tears.
The apartment complex is on the outskirts of town, on a steep, twisting ridge in the Ozarks. In the spring, the shrubs lining the road flush with tiny purple flowers. It’s the road that leaves town, the path out of Carroll County.
“She was trying to get as far away as she could,” Ponce says. “It wasn’t enough.”
As with many women who are killed in domestic violence homicides, Laura’s death was foreshadowed by a documented trail of warning signs. But in this small town in rural Arkansas, those red flags went unheeded. Despite Acuna-Sanchez’s history of brutal attacks and repeated violations of his bail conditions, the justice system failed to keep him away from the woman he vowed to kill.
“Everybody knew she was in danger,” Ponce says. “A police officer came to my house and I told him everything in detail: How Victor beat her up, how he told us we were all going to be murdered, and that he had guns. Why couldn’t anyone stop him?”
Robert Hancock, a neighbor, spots Ponce through his window and comes outside to talk. He was home the night Laura died. His mother owns the 12-unit apartment complex, which is now for sale. They haven’t been able to rent Laura’s unit since her death. Everyone knows what happened there.
“You have to trust that God will take care of it, one way or another,” he says. “Are you a Christian — do you believe in God?”
“I do,” Ponce says, her voice strained. “But I don’t believe in the justice of Berryville.”
Sheriff Bob Grudek, 71, sits in his office at the jail where Acuna-Sanchez is being held on capital murder charges and rattles off a list of small-town problems facing Carroll County.
Theft, mostly of farm equipment. People stripping copper wire off the chicken houses and selling it. Kids stealing their parents’ prescription drugs. DUIs. Some methamphetamine. And a lot of domestic violence.
In the last decade, Arkansas has frequently been ranked as one of the 10 worst states in the nation when it comes to men killing women, according to annual reports by the Violence Policy Center. The ranking is based on FBI data on incidents in which a sole male offender kills a single female victim, a typical indicator of domestic homicide.
In Arkansas, the combination of lots and lots of guns and lax firearm laws contributes to the problem. Research has shown if a batterer has access to a gun, the victim is eight times more likely to be killed. According to an analysis by the Center for American Progress, in 2010 Arkansas had the third-worst gun murder rate for women in the nation.
In the aftermath of Laura’s gruesome murder, a blame game between the sheriff and prosecutor’s office played out in the local press.
Acuna-Sanchez was out on bail at the time of Laura’s death, awaiting trial for earlier assaults against her. In the month leading up to her death, he repeatedly broke the conditions of his pretrial release, but faced few consequences.
Just three weeks before she was killed, police arrested him for violating a no-contact order. Despite a record of escalating violence against Laura, he was released without bail the following day.
In a local newspaper, Grudek blamed Acuna-Sanchez’s release on gaps in communication between the prosecutor and the judge. Since he had violated the no-contact order, prosecutors could have asked the judge to hold him pending trial, but they didn’t.
Deputy prosecuting attorney Devon Closser said that was because they didn’t know about his most recent arrest. She told The Lovely County Citizen that there was no procedure in place to inform prosecutors when protective orders had been violated — and that the system could use “fine-tuning.”
In an interview with The Huffington Post, Closser declined to discuss the case, but said it was “not unusual” for offenders to be released quickly if they were arrested simply for violating a no-contact order.
Records also show that Acuna-Sanchez wasn’t checking in with a probation officer, as he was ordered to do as a condition of bail, but no one noticed.
Grudek said he couldn’t comment on Acuna-Sanchez’s case specifically. But he shared his perspective on the problem of domestic violence, which he said he formulated by watching Dr. Phil.
“This is a very serious social problem,” he said, speculating that the crime was related to the breakdown of the traditional family structure. “Maybe if our culture goes back to when we had different values … I don’t remember when I was a kid hearing about any domestic violence.”
In fact, the opposite is true. Domestic violence has been on a steady decline in the U.S. for the past 20 years. Since the landmark Violence Against Women Act was passed in 1994, annual rates of domestic violence have plummeted by 64 percent. But the U.S. still has the highest rate of domestic violence homicide of any industrialized country.
Each day on average, three women are murdered by intimate partners — husbands and ex-husbands, boyfriends and estranged lovers. Compared to men, women are far more often murdered by someone they know. In 2010, 39 percent of U.S. female homicide victims were killed by an intimate partner. Just three percent of men suffered the same fate.
When asked how Carroll County could improve its handling of domestic violence cases, Grudek said he was unconvinced that a more proactive response — like setting high bail for serial abusers, or requiring GPS tracking for offenders who violate restraining orders — would make a substantial difference.
“The question you’re asking me is what’s wrong with the courts,” he said. “I’m asking you, what’s wrong with the women?”
Grudek said domestic violence prevention should focus on why women return to their abusers, and that it wasn’t “logical or responsible” to think the criminal justice system could solve the problem.
But across the country, many people are hopeful that it can play a pivotal role to help reduce domestic violence deaths.
While one in four women will be victims of domestic violence at some point in their lives, only a small fraction of cases turn lethal. The trick, many experts now believe, is identifying which women are at highest risk of death so they can be targeted for intervention.
Twenty-five years ago, Jacquelyn Campbell, now viewed as the country’s leading expert on domestic homicide, created a screening tool that helps police, court personnel and victim advocates identify the women who are at the greatest risk of being killed.
Victims of domestic abuse are asked 20 questions, including: Do you believe he is capable of killing you? Does he own a gun? Is he violently and constantly jealous of you?
“We now know enough about the risk factors that we need to assess perpetrators for risk of homicide,” Campbell said in an interview.
At the time of her death, Laura would have scored an 18 — in “extreme danger” — on Campbell’s lethality screening test, according to calculations by The Huffington Post. “The system might have worked best together to identify that perpetrator as high-risk and manage that case in a more proactive way,” Campbell said.
Jurisdictions in at least 33 states are now screening domestic violence victims, in a process dubbed “lethality assessment.” A number of different screening tools are in use, all stemming from Campbell’s seminal research in the 80s.
States that have adopted some form of lethality assessment are showing impressive progress. Over the past six years, an ambitious lethality assessment program in Maryland reduced its domestic violence homicide rate by 25 percent. A team in Newburyport, Massachusetts, has intervened in 129 high-risk cases since 2005 and has had zero homicides.
Last year, encouraged by these success stories, the U.S. Justice Department began funding 12 pilot programs across the country to train police in lethality assessment. In a speech announcing the initiative, Vice President Joe Biden hailed the approach.
“Lives are being saved — we know how to do it,” Biden said. “We know what risk factors put someone in greater danger of being killed by the person they love — and that also means we have the opportunity to step in and try to prevent these murders.”
Legislators in Oklahoma recently passed a bill requiring police to screen victims with an 11-question checklist to determine if they are at high risk of being killed or severely assaulted. Once a woman is determined to be at high risk, police inform her about the danger she is in, encourage her to seek help and connect her with key resources.
In neighboring Arkansas, police are not currently being trained to screen women using lethality assessment. When asked about the value of identifying high-risk victims, Grudek said he would use a screening tool if the state introduced it, but expressed skepticism.
“It doesn’t make any difference what kind of training officers get. You can tell that person they are at risk. But they will keep going back,” he said. “Women continue to live in that environment. Why don’t you do a study on why victims go back to these abusers? Why do they do that?”
There are many complex reasons why women stay with abusive partners. Leaving can be economically impossible, as well as dangerous. Research has shown that women are at greatest risk of homicide at the point of separation or after leaving a violent partner.
Fixating on that question — why doesn’t the woman just leave — reveals a fundamental misunderstanding about the realities of domestic abuse, said Kim Gandy, president of the National Network to End Domestic Violence.
“So often, when people say, ‘Why didn’t she just leave?’ the reality is that she did leave, or tried to,” Gandy said. “Often she has reached out for help repeatedly, to the police, to the courts, sometimes to friends or family. Often she has a protective order and he assaults her anyway.”
Blaming the victim for not leaving indicates ignorance about the power and control that is an integral part of domestic abuse, she said.
“If these kinds of police attitudes are common — the idea that it’s really the victim’s fault for being in that situation — then it would certainly deter a victim from seeking police help or protection,” she said. “These kinds of attitudes are one of the reasons that abusers feel they can do whatever they want, and not have to answer for their violence.”
Linda Tyler, a former state representative who fought to strengthen domestic violence laws in Arkansas, said that police, prosecutors and judges across the state aren’t adequately educated about domestic violence and don’t do a good enough job protecting victims from abusers.
“We consistently have no-contact orders violated, and victims subsequently assaulted or killed,” she said in an interview.
In 2009, she spearheaded a bill that gives judges the power to put GPS tracking on offenders who violate restraining orders. Keeping tabs on domestic abusers during the pretrial period has shown to be effective — a 2012 study found that when offenders out on bail are made to wear GPS trackers, they rarely try to contact their victims.
As Tyler traveled the state seeking support for the bill, she was dismayed by what she found.
“There were so many cases, over and over, where law enforcement just didn’t believe the victim,” she said. “I had prosecutors tell me that women made this stuff up. It’s unfortunately still an environment of — I’m a husband and I think I have the right to beat my wife, if that’s what I feel like I need to do. That goes with marital privileges.”
Her bill passed but has not been embraced by Arkansas’ judges. She said she knew of only three counties out of 75 that have used GPS tracking in response to the bill.
“I’m frustrated that it’s not used more often,” she said. “It may not be the only tool to use to curb domestic violence, but it is at least a tool and we seem to have so few of them, so we should really consider using it more than we do.”
Tyler said more training is urgently needed for police, prosecutors and judges, as is increased data gathering on domestic violence.
“We don’t effectively collect data on a statewide basis that allows us to compare performance from one jurisdiction to the other,” she said. “We should identify the areas where we have significant issues of violations of protective orders and hold those jurisdictions accountable, or at the very least make the information public so that the voters are informed. As you know, we do elect our county prosecutors, judges and sheriff.”
Laura was two years older than Acuna-Sanchez, and the two didn’t move in the same circles. But Berryville is a small place. In 2011, at a friend’s birthday party, they connected and started dating.
She was 19 and had two kids from a previous relationship. He was just 17. Within days, they were a couple.
From the very beginning, Ponce said, Acuna-Sanchez was violent. As is often the case with batterers, his methods of abuse went far beyond physical beatings. Ponce described a harrowing cycle of harassment, where he would brutally assault Laura, steal or destroy her belongings — a form of economic abuse — and threaten to kill her and her kids if she left him.
“He beat her on a weekly basis,” Ponce said. “She suffered like you wouldn’t imagine. Daytime, nighttime. It was a living hell.”
Acuna-Sanchez had a reputation around town for violent behavior.
According to a woman who went to high school with him, he “wasn’t ever afraid to fight.” In a court-ordered mental health evaluation, he told a psychiatrist that he fought in school constantly, starting in elementary school, where he was eventually expelled. At 11, he said he was ordered to receive mental health treatment due to “anger problems.” He said his father hit him a lot, “hard enough to where you’re bleeding,” and his mother married a string of violent men who beat her in front of him.
A woman who witnessed the relationship and who asked to remain anonymous said Acuna-Sanchez was deeply controlling. “Laura acted like she always had to do what he wanted and if she didn’t, there’d be hell to pay,” she said. “Sometimes they were happy but most of the time she was scared of him.”
In one case, Laura fled to her mother after an assault and asked her for a copy of her passport. Acuna-Sanchez had destroyed the original by burning it in the kitchen sink, along with her social security card and birth certificate.
“She had her hair over her eyes. I grabbed her, tipped her face up — all purple,” Ponce said. “I screamed and said I was going to call the cops. She said, ‘Please, no mama, he will kill us all.’”
In March 2012, less than a year after they started dating, Laura became pregnant with Acuna-Sanchez’s child. She filed a restraining order soon after.
“I have tried to leave him before, but he always finds me and makes my life miserable by taking my things or my mom’s things until I get back with him,” she wrote in the restraining order. “He told me he wouldn’t leave me alone.”
Researchers are split on how effective restraining orders are at protecting victims. At the most basic level, they serve as documentation of misbehavior that can be used to arrest offenders. But they are often ignored — abusers violate restraining orders an estimated 40 percent of the time — and there’s no way to track how many domestic abuse homicide victims had restraining orders against their killers at their time of death.
Even after filing a restraining order, Laura struggled to separate from Acuna-Sanchez. The two briefly rekindled their relationship, though Ponce describes Laura’s participation as involuntary.
“I don’t like to call it ‘dating,’” she said. “Laura did not want to continue the relationship. He was forcing her to be with him. If she didn’t do what he said, she had to pay.”
Each time she tried to leave him, he would intimidate her with threats, beat her and destroy her belongings. “She was so exhausted,” Ponce said. “Every time he would ruin her things, and she had to start over. She didn’t have much money.”
At the court hearing to make the restraining order permanent, Laura declined to pursue it and the petition was dismissed.
But after Laura gave birth to their baby boy, Jordan, the abuse accelerated.
A week after Jordan was born, on Sept. 1, police responded to a 911 call at Laura’s house. She told police that Acuna-Sanchez had hit her in the face, then smashed her car with a hammer and destroyed the baby’s car seat by tearing all the stuffing out.
He was arrested for domestic battery that day. On Sept. 4, he was released on bail with a protective order to have no contact with Laura. But two days later, Acuna-Sanchez returned to her apartment.
In the police report, Laura said she heard a noise outside and opened the door to peek out. Acuna-Sanchez pushed his way in and tried to kiss her. When she refused, she told police, he tackled her to the ground and strangled her. She blacked out. When she regained consciousness, she said, her newborn baby was lying by her side and Acuna-Sanchez had fled, stealing her cell phone and car keys. When police arrived, “she was crying and holding her two-week-old child,” the officer wrote.
It took over a month for Acuna-Sanchez to be arrested. It is not clear why police did not apprehend him earlier.
On Oct. 3, he was arrested and charged with aggravated assault on a family member, a felony, and with violating the no-contact order. This time he was held in jail for a month. On November 15, he was granted bail, and told he wasn’t allowed to contact Laura. He was also ordered to call the probation office two times a week.
But due to an apparent error at the courthouse, the probation office was never notified that Acuna-Sanchez was on probation and therefore required to stay in close contact with an officer. He never once called in.
In a letter sent to prosecutors, Kent Villines, assistant area manager of the Arkansas Department of Community Correction, confirmed the Berryville office had been unaware of the order. “I checked with all the personnel … and no one knew anything about this situation,” he wrote, “therefore Victor Acuna has not been checking in with this office at any time.”
Villines told The Huffington Post that it was the prosecutor’s responsibility to send over the order, and that it was “rare” for an order to fall through the cracks. “Usually, with this system we have set up, things don’t disappear, but sometimes they do,” he said.
In early December, Acuna-Sanchez was arrested for violating the no-contact order once more, after police spotted him in a car with Laura. The next day, Berryville District Judge Scott Jackson released him on his personal recognizance; no bail. That was the last time he was in police custody while Laura was still alive.
At Christmas, Ponce said, Laura told Acuna-Sanchez that she was leaving town. She had been saving money and was planning to rent an apartment in Missouri with her best friend.
“That was her biggest mistake, telling him,” Ponce said. “He wasn’t going to just let her go.”
Laura didn’t make it to the New Year.
On New Year’s Eve, 2011, police found her dying on the floor of her apartment. Hours later, they arrested Acuna-Sanchez at his mother’s house. He was found hiding in the shower, armed with a 22-caliber handgun. In the pocket of his overalls were 39 bullets and the key to Laura’s apartment.
He is now awaiting trial on capital murder charges. If convicted, he will face death or life imprisonment without parole.
On a Saturday night in early April, locals gather outside the courthouse for a memorial for Laura.
Little has changed in Carroll County since her death. As far as Ponce can tell, there’s been no real effort to reform how domestic violence cases are handled. And there’s been no acknowledgement that anything went wrong.
“The only thing I’ve been told is the system needs ‘fine-tuning,'” Ponce says. “Nothing is different.”
She says she’s dejected by the lack of progress and alarmed that no steps have been taken to prevent this kind of tragedy from happening again. That’s her biggest fear. Ponce organized the memorial — plastering the town with posters and posting an ad in the local newspaper — hoping to raise awareness about domestic violence in the community. She doesn’t want Laura’s death to be for nothing. It has to mean something.
At dusk, she pulls up in a minivan with Laura’s three kids in tow. After Laura’s death, she abruptly became the caretaker of a newborn, as well as Laura’s two school-aged children.
“I had no baby clothes,” Ponce recalls. Now, her life revolves around the kiddos, as she calls them.
Jordan, who will be 2 in August, still wakes up screaming most nights. Christopher, Laura’s other son, is 6. And then there’s Josie, her only daughter, who is 8.
All three are in therapy over their mother’s brutal death. Research has shown that kids who grow up witnessing domestic violence suffer lasting emotional effects and are more likely to have behavioral problems.
The kids sit on the ground and wait quietly for the memorial to start. The crowd is mostly Latino, but there are at least a dozen Caucasians in the crowd of around 40. Kids outnumber adults two to one.
Someone hands out purple ribbons. An oversized sketch of Laura, donated by a local artist, is displayed on an easel. Pamphlets about domestic violence support are scattered across a table.
There is no shelter for battered women in all of Carroll County. The director of the closest shelter, The Sanctuary, located 30 miles away in Harrison, speaks to the crowd about their services: temporary accommodation, a 24-hour crisis line, support groups and assistance with protective orders and court advocacy. The director of community outreach translates afterwards in Spanish.
Ponce chokes up when it’s her turn to take the microphone.
“I want to turn Laura’s tragedy into a way to help other people,” she says. “If anyone is in that situation, do not wait. A restraining order is just a piece of paper. Leave, get into a shelter, move out, don’t wait.”
Her point is clear — Women won’t get help here. The only recourse is to flee. She offers to drive them.
Ponce directs her harshest words toward the local justice system, which she says failed her family.
“They have to do their jobs more seriously and they need to communicate,” she says. “I’m just going to keep fighting and fighting until I see justice served.”
Josie, Laura’s firstborn, tries not to cry. She prefers to remember the good times with her mom. They used to bake cookies together and play in the park. And whenever her mom got sad, she’d play “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” and the two would dance around and everything would be better.
She stays very still while her grandmother talks. She listens.
When the 21 balloons are released -– one for each year of Laura’s life -– Josie cranes her head upward and watches the purple spheres become smaller and smaller in the distance, until they are just little dots and then nothing at all.
© 2014, agentleman.
7 Women Working Tirelessly to Screw Over Other Women
These women should be held just as accountable as men who attack equal rights for women. By Amanda Marcotte
A lot of people assume the term “female misogynist” is an oxymoron. How can a woman be opposed to the fight to help women achieve equality? The sad fact of the matter is, as long as there has been feminism, there have been women who find it personally advantageous to reject feminism and instead argue for continuing social systems that perpetuate women’s inequality, male dominance, and even violence against women. (There were even plenty of women who were willing to argue against women’s suffrage back in the day.) Here is a list of women who have made a career out of opposing women’s struggle for social, political and economic equality.
1. Christina Hoff Sommers. Sommers is a pioneer in the art of arguing that it’s men who are actually the oppressed class in modern society. Her 2000 book The War Against Boys tried to argue, falsely, that feminists are ruining young men’s lives by oppressing them through the educational system. (Somehow those distressed young men continue to graduate and go on to have better job opportunities and make more money than their female peers.) She was most recently spotted offering her support to an organized online campaign to harass a young video game developer over her sex life.
2. Cathy Young. While Christina Hoff Sommers specializes in facetious claims about imaginary feminist oppressors, Young focuses on minimizing the problems of sexual abuse and harassment of women. Recently, she made a shoddy and dishonest claim that men get harassed more than women online, a claim that necessarily leads to the conclusion that women’s greater stress over harassment must be the result of their inferior constitution. Young also objects to the new movement to pass laws requiring men only to have sex with women who want the sex, on the grounds that men can’t be expected to handle something as simple as reciprocity.
3. Jill Stanek. Many women have found their calling in attacking contraception and abortion access, but Stanek, an ardent blogger, brings a hatefulness and obsessiveness that helps her stand out from an already unpleasant crowd. After getting old enough that unwanted pregnancy stopped being a personal concern, Stanek “discovered” that contraception has been evil all along, dedicating much of her blog to arguing that pregnancy prevention is a uniquely modern evil. Stanek also notoriously celebrated domestic violence, arguing that men should hit women who have abortions. “That spontaneous slap was the reaction of a real man who a woman had just told she aborted his baby,” she said of a notorious scene in Godfather II in which a gangster hits his wife. “Compare that to the modern-day cowardly male response, ‘It’s your choice. Whatever you decide, I’ll support you.’”
4. The Politichicks. Ann-Marie Murrell, Morgan Brittany and Dr. Gina Loudon are Internet video hosts who run a show called Politichicks and have a new book out arguing that women don’t actually want the equality feminists are fighting for. They laid out their philosophy recently on Fox & Friends. “Beyoncé’s argument,” complained the host, “is that it’s okay for women to be sexual beings just like men are sexual beings.” The Politichicks agreed that this was absolutely outrageous, arguing that feminists are actually “sexualists” and that feminist insistence that women like sex just like men do encourages violence against women.
5. Janet Bloomfield. Bloomfield is supposedly the PR representative for the anti-feminist website A Voice For Men, but her take on public relations is much different than the way most people understand the term, as she spends most of her time harassing and abusing other women online. Indeed, her Twitter harassment got so bad Twitter actually banned her account, though she immediately started a new one and began her harassment anew. Bloomfield’s hatred of feminists has also led to her making up fake quotes she attributes to feminists in order to make it look like feminists hate men. Despite this unhinged behavior, she has a lot of status in the misogynist movement, because she provides cover for men who want to deny they hate women.
6. Lila Rose. Rose concentrates most of her energies on demonizing Planned Parenthood in hopes of cutting off state and federal funding, so that low-income women lose access to affordable contraception and reproductive healthcare services. Rose’s strategy is to do “undercover” videos, which are usually deceptively edited, to build the claim that Planned Parenthood’s services are evil and need to be terminated. While a couple of employees have, in the many years of Rose’s activism, been caught on camera doing a poor job and were subsequently fired, most of the people Rose targets on camera are only saying “shocking” things if your audience already believes women should not have access to contraception and sex education. Her latest attempt at a “sting” involves activists secretly taping themselves asking sex educators questions about sexual practices like bondage. Audiences are supposed to be horrified because the educators answer the questions honestly instead of shaming the patients. Research shows that honest, non-judgmental sex education is far better than sex-negative programs that try to discourage sexual experimentation through shaming.
7. Phyllis Schlafly. Phyllis Schlafly is the OG (original gangster) of women who hate other women, spearheading the fight against the Equal Rights Amendment and helping invent the modern conservative movement in the process. Schlafly was successful in her fight to keep a ban on sex discrimination out of the U.S. constitution, but she didn’t just rest on her laurels, continuing the fight against women’s basic human rights to this day. She was most recently spotted telling women that the way to turn boyfriends who beat them into loving partners is to marry them, even though experts advise that keeping the abuser as far from the victim as possible is the best way to keep the victim safe.
What makes some women so nasty toward other women that they would actively work to deny women equal rights, or even access to healthcare and basic safety? For some, it’s religious conviction. Some like to imagine they’re somehow special and better than all other women. Some enjoy the easy attention they get from sexist men by bashing women and others enjoy the financial perks of being the woman who is willing to speak out against feminism. But regardless of their reasons, female misogynists are putting personal gain ahead of the health and wellbeing of average women, and for that they should be held just as accountable as men who attack the equal rights of women.
© 2014, agentleman.
Sports Are Supposed To Be An Escape, But This Week They Reflected America At Its Worst
By Chris Greenberg
Sports can sometimes provide an escape from the world’s troubles. Not this week. This week, the world couldn’t escape the troubles making headlines in sports.
From explicit footage of domestic violence and audio recordings of racist remarks to murder trials and allegations of child abuse, here is a look back at some of the sports stories that generated outrage and necessitated some serious soul searching by athletes, league executives and fans alike this week. Taken together they offer a stark reminder that athletics don’t simply showcase men and women performing at their best, they can also offer a haunting reflection of society at its worst.
The Ray Rice Video: On Monday, TMZ made public the infamous video of Ray Rice punching his then-fiancee and now wife in the elevator at a casino in February. Following the release of the explicit video, Rice’s contract with the Baltimore Ravens was terminated and the NFL upgraded a two-game suspension into an indefinite ban. In attempting to explain why the initial ban had been just two games, a punishment widely criticized as being too lenient when it was levied in July, NFL Commissionner Roger Goodell claimed during a Tuesday interview with Norah O’Donnell of CBS that the league had not scene the footage inside the elevator until it was released by TMZ. He also, potentially deceitfully, claimed Rice’s account of the incident had been “ambiguous.” A day later, The Associated Press reported that a law enforcement official had sent the Ray Rice video to an NFL executive in April, five months before it became public. Amid calls for Goodell to resign or be fired, the league announced an investigation into its handling of the case.
The Oscar Pistorius Verdict: A judge began reading the verdict of Paralympic track star Oscar Pistorius in Pretoria, South Africa on Thursday. Pistorius, 27, had been charged with premeditated murder following the fatal shooting of his girlfriend, 30-year-old model Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentine’s Day in 2013. Judge Thokozile Masipa ruled out both premeditated murder and murder verdicts but convicted Pistorius of culpable homicide.
The Atlanta Hawks’ Race Problem: In a tumultuous week for the Atlanta Hawks, it became quite clear that the NBA did not rid itself of racism when it removed Donald Sterling as owner of the Los Angeles Clippers. Hawks General Manager Danny Ferry began an indefinite leave of absence on Friday, just days after it was revealed that he made racist remarks about free agent Luol Deng during a conference call with team owners in June, including saying that he “has got some African in him.” The announcement that Ferry would take a leave of absence came less than a week after Hawks co-owner Bruce Levenson announced he would sell his controlling interest in the franchise over a racially charged email he had sent to team executives in 2012.
Adrian Peterson Indicted: Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was indicted in a child abuse case on Friday, and a warrant was reportedly issued for his arrest. In a statement released to the media, Peterson’s attorney claimed the alleged abuse involved disciplining a son with a switch. Citing police reports, Nick Wright of CBS Houston reported that the alleged abuse resulted in cuts and bruises to the child’s back, buttocks, ankles, legs and scrotum.
© 2014, agentleman.