Rape Culture at the University of Virginia and College Campuses

Duke v Virginia

Rape culture is pervasive in U.S. colleges and universities, but even more so at the University of Virginia. The extent of violence surprised even me.

Interesting that it took Rolling Stone to produce this story rather than one of the mainstream news outlets. So many local newspapers and news stations have essentially enabled this kind of revolting power dynamic at some of our most prestigious higher educational institutions. Many of them are simply advertisers and marketers for their local university and have few real journalists, if any. And most national outlets aren’t any better, as they’re committed to establishment institutions as they currently exist.

This is a story as much about what we allow to happen as it is about what’s happening. If the media and higher educational administrations did their jobs and if we put these students in prison as criminals for the rape crimes that they have committed, then this behavior would diminish. The students who engage in these abusive crimes are criminals, thugs, and our society should treat them as such.
We let thieving bankers, rapists, and police shooters live their lives as respected citizens, but put in prison drug users and the poor who can’t pay debts. There’s something wrong with this picture. If society does nothing to address this, there will be a massive, popular reaction against all the imbalance. Nature abhors a vacuum.


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Ferguson and Michael Brown

As I read the media accounts of the grand jury on the shooting of Michael Brown, I am surprised that there is so little coverage of how a grand jury is supposed to function. All a grand jury has to do is see if there’s enough evidence to indict someone. It’s not supposed to weigh conflicting evidence, or examine conflicting stories, or assess what the most likely scenario of events was. It’s simply there to determine if sufficient evidence exists to reasonably conclude that someone may have done something.

This grand jury acted as if they were in a trial, but that’s not how it’s supposed to go. And the district attorney acted much more like a defense attorney than a prosecutor, which is very odd to say the least. The trial is where the evidence is supposed to be weighed, not a grand jury.

The joke is that most prosecutors could get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich. So you can see that the unwillingness to indict the police officer is a bizarre outcome and clearly reflects that something else was going on. I don’t think it’s very difficult to figure out what that was.

It’s really not complicated. According to this grand jury, and many others as well, African American life is worth less than white life. And many jurisdictions view police as judge, jury, and executioner. We are no longer a of laws, but of people. Of course, that’s anti-constitutional, but the situation will improve only when people rise up, protest, and force change.

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The U.S. is Using Solitary Confinement in its Prisons at a much higher rate than other Countries


This is a troubling trend that betrays the fundamental values of a free society: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/mar/20/solitary-confinement-psychological-effects-sarah-shourd/print


The Prison Gulag in Idaho: Another Horror Story of Private Prison Management

Ada County Republican Caucus in Boise, Idaho

When will we learn? Make sure to see the video.



Peace Protesters Sentenced to Excessively Long Terms


I am certainly not a pacifist and would not agree with the protesters on several matters. This includes the notion that we can just unilaterally stop having nuclear weapons or that we should stop using drones.

Further, I expect protesters¬†engaging in civil disobedience to be willing to accept reasonable punishment (which apparently these ones are). These sentences, however, seem retributive and excessive. How do we put individuals like this away for so long when we allow CEO bankers who have engaged in presumably criminal activity and thereby done infinitely more damage to millions of people and to the well-being of our nation and world to go scott-free? Not only do they have their freedom, but they even get to dine and schmooze with leading politicians, including the president, and other glitterati. There’s something wrong here.

Perhaps the government was simply embarrassed by their incompetent and ineffective security around the most powerful weapons in the world.

In any case, we apparently have a two-tiered society: one for the privileged, and one for the rest of us. This will have to change for us to meet our ideals.


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The Day a Boy Almost Shot His Father: When Life Flashes Before our Eyes


AlmostShotHisFather1This story speaks for itself. Guns can lead us down dark alleys from which we might not emerge, especially when we’re young and immature. ¬† James Luria describes in excruciatingly poignant detail a flash of maturity that saved his life.




Banks Hire Uniformed Police in Banks


The linking of banks with off-duty police in full uniform is a perilous development for our freedom. Corporations and public security join forces to potentially oppose the will of the people. What’s happening to our freedom and democracy?



Gun Ownership in Israel and Switzerland


Both Israel and Switzerland are extremely careful about letting civilians own guns in their homes. When you travel in Israel, you see lots of soldiers with potent guns. However, in Israel, outside of the settlements, there is a very low gun ownership rate. In fact, with the exception of those who live in settlements, you are not allowed to own guns unless you held the rank of at least captain in the IDF and have a good reason to own a gun. Those who do own are required to go through a rigorous series of physical and psychological tests. Further, Israel rejects 40% of applications for gun purchase and requires that every gun sold have a government trace mark in case of investigation. Even off-duty soldiers are required to leave their guns on base when they return home.



Madoff, Wilpon, and the Mets

The intriguing and mysterious saga of the Wilpon and Madoff families. I’m not sure what happened here, but the story is gripping. If Wilpon knew so little about investing (which may well be the case), that’s one more confirmation how con-men can push the buttons of anyone in their narcissistic drive for money and power.


The Case of Thomas Drake: Are We Living in a Police State?

This is scary. The U.S. now finds itself in the position of teetering between anarchy and fascism. We are busy prosecuting NSA whistleblowers, while letting bank executive crooks and perjurers go scot free. They live lives in the lap of luxury after stealing and cheating, while those who question fraud and waste in the NSA have their lives ruined. There is something wrong with this picture.


Goldman Sachs: Crooks and Perjurers

We prosecute NSA whistleblowers, while we let major scam artists and criminals go free.


Honor Killing in West Bank and the Need for Reform

Sad, but illuminating. And there’s some hope with the popular anger against the murderer and violence against women:
http://www.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/meast/05/20/mideast.honor.killing/index.html?iphoneemail (via Dianne Bazell)


Bradley Manning’s Miraculous Recovery

Isn’t it amazing how quickly Bradley Manning recovered from his problems? Gee, I wonder if public pressure had anything to do with it.


No Prosecutions of Financial Crimes

This is one of the most demoralizing aspects of the economic and financial crisis that began in 2008. White collar criminals do not have to face the courts or prison because they are rich, powerful, and influential. This is the triumph of plutocracy that is now America. Via Dianne M. Bazell

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/14/business/14prosecute.html (via Dianne Bazell)


Debtor Prisons Back in Vogue

Oops. What century is this? Where is Charles Dickens?


Dealing with Evil

Sociopaths, murderers, con-men, sadists, and bystanders before violence are all part of the same cosmic body as heroes, rescuers, protectors, saints, and gentle souls. We are all on the same path, only some of us perhaps further along than others. When we punish evil, which we must–often harshly–we need to remember to have compassion for all human beings, no matter how rotted and degraded they are. They are our family; they are us. That is a form of wholeness: to be able to condemn (sometimes to kill to protect the lives of others or our own) while also acknowledging our common humanity and shared divine spirit.


The Unconstitutional Mistreatment of Bradley Manning

More on the treatment of Bradley Manning and the degradation of our constitutional freedoms:


Illinois Bans Capital Punshment

Illinois bans capital punishment:


Wachovia Launders Drug Money

Not only do big banks screw homeowners over, invest in high-risk securities, treat regular people like chattel, and suck up taxpayer money, but we now learn that they launder drug money. Yes, further deregulation sounds like a great idea.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/apr/03/us-bank-mexico-drug-gangs (via Dianne Bazell)


Drug Smuggling and Usage Increase Signficantly in Costa Rica and Honduras

This is a significant development in Central America, particularly Costa Rica and Honduras.  When we do something in one place (here Columbia and Mexico), it affects others.  Gee, does this remind me of the interconnected web in which we all live.



Bank Criminals Get Off–Only Regular People Get Punished

The pillaging of the middle class continues: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/14/opinion/14krugman.html?_r=1


Fox Not News

How is Fox News called “News”?¬† Its purpose is not news, but spreading corporate ideology.¬† Calling it news is Orwellian.¬† Fundamental dishonesty is a core element of morality, and what Fox promotes is counter to basic ideals of integrity.

And Media Matters reports how Fox lied about the Wisconsin situation:

And now we find that the head of Fox news, Roger Ailes, asked an employee to lie:

Prime Minister’s Harper’s attempt to repeal the Canadian law that prevents false and misleading news information is rejected.


Gold Wars in Columbia

Old conflicts over coca morph into new ones over gold.


Prisoners Close Budget Gaps and Learn Skills By Working

This has support from both conservative deficit hawks and liberals who believe that prisoners are much less likely to commit crimes after release if they have employable skills.



Why Isn’t Wall Street in Prison

No one from Wall Street ends up in prison.  Why?  Because the the politicians and government bureaucrats are bought off.  This analysis of Matt Taibbi says it all.



Violent Rhetoric and Tucson

As we see today in Tucson with the attempted assassination of a congresswoman (Gabrielle Giffords), plus the shootings and murders of many bystanders, violent imagery and language can set the context for real-life horror. Whatever your political point of view (center, right, left, independent), let us please pledge ourselves to civility, humanity, and mutual respect.

Pima County (Arizona, Tucson) Sheriff, Clarence Dupnik, says it powerfully:

“When you look at unbalanced people, how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths about tearing down the government, the anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on this country is getting to be outrageous, and unfortunately Arizona has become sort of the capital. We have become the mecca for prejudice and bigotry.”

“The vitriolic rhetoric that we hear day in and day out from people in the radio business and some people in the TV business … This has not become the nice United States that most of us grew up in.”

Please keep the victims and families in thought and prayer.


Pardoning Billy the Kidd


“Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico is considering whether to grant a pardon to Billy the Kid. Among opponents are descendants of the sheriff who killed him.”


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