#India – Cash for #Aadhaar card scam busted #UID


200 px

TNN | Jun 29, 2013,

VADODARA: A citizen, who wanted to get anAadhar card, has blown the lid off a racket of accepting bribes to get the formalities of the card completed at a ward office of VadodaraMunicipal Corporation (VMC). The civic body got the man seeking the bribe sacked and has issued a notice to the firm to which the work was outsourced.A resident of Tarsali area of the city Indravadan Rathod exposed the racket after he was asked to pay the amount earlier this month for the registration of himself and his wife. He struck a deal for the card of his son for which necessary procedures were to be conducted on Friday and exposed the issue before mediapersons.

Rathod had gone to inquire about the procedures for the card on June 14 this month and was asked to come on June 15 by a youth working for the registration for the cards at the ward office. Rathod said he was asked to pay Rs 100 each for his and his wife Tara’s registration. He paid the amount and did not have to wait like other citizens and got the registrations done.

Rathod contacted the person again for the registration of his son and struck a deal. But when he went to the office of ward four for the registration on Friday, he took along the media and exposed the racket. Rathod said the money was to be given to a person operating at a photocopying centre near the ward office. Rathod later submitted a formal complaint regarding the issue to VMC headquarters.

“People come early in the morning before daybreak to get themselves registered. Then they have to come again at the time given to them to get themselves registered and give their fingerprints as well as retina scans. By paying money you can bypass the entire process,” Rathod said. VMC deputy municipal commissioner R K Sugoor said the man accused for taking bribes has been removed from duties. He added that the firm handling the project had also been issued a notice.

Sources in VMC added that the firm was appointed by the government after an elaborate procedure.

They added that the civic body’s job was to facilitate the operations.

 

US death row author William Van Poyck executed #deathpenalty


Petition to get Bill off Death Row

AP | Jun 13, 2013, 07.07 AM IST

STARKE, FLORIDA: A US man who orchestrated a deadly prison van ambush in 1987 in an attempt to free a prisoner has been executed.

William Van Poyck died on Wednesday evening by injection at the Florida State Prison.

“Set me free,” were his final words.

His case drew international attention because Van Poyck published three books and maintained a blog while on death row. He wrote recently about his pending execution.

The 58-year-old had been convicted of murdering prison guard Fred Griffis.

Van Poyck and Frank Valdes ambushed a prison van outside a doctor’s office in a failed attempt to free James O’Brien. Prison guard Fred Griffis was fatally shot after he threw the van’s keys into the bushes to foil the escape.

Van Poyck and Valdes were captured following a car chase.

In his appeals, Van Poyck argued that Valdes fired the fatal shots. The Florida Supreme Court last week rejected Van Poyck’s latest appeal involving Valdes’ widow, who says her husband told her he was the shooter.

In 1999, Valdes was stomped to death in prison. Seven guards were charged with his death, but none were convicted.

Van Poyck wrote an autobiography, “A Checkered Past: A Memoir,” saying his purpose was not to elicit sympathy but “to put a human face on me and convicts in general.”

“He is deeply remorseful for the ending of Fred Griffis’ life,” his sister Lisa Van Poyck told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

The family of Griffis has said in interviews that they were frustrated that news stories focused on Van Poyck, the crime and his writings — and not the victim.

HIS LAST  LETTER 
Dear Sis~
Tomorrow Elmer will be executed and I’ll be next up to bat, with 15 days to live.   A situation like this tends to make you reflect on the elusive nature of time itself, which some folks – physicists and metaphysicists alike – claim is an illusion anyway. Real or not it sure seems to be going someplace quickly!

This may be my last letter to reach you before you begin your journey down south to be by my side for my final days. These many visits I’ve recently received from those who love me have been a blessing for me.  I’m acutely aware that some guys on death watch have absolutely nobody to help them bear their burden during their last days and hours on earth, not a soul willing to share some love.  It’s a terrible thing to die all alone…  I continue to be inundated with letters of support and love from around the world, many from kind-hearted strangers, and many similar blog posts which you’ve shared with me.  Many are very moving, and all are deeply appreciated. I am humbled.  While I’ve answered many I simply cannot respond to them all in my allotted time remaining.  As my shortening days inexorably telescope down my focus turns ever inward as I wrestle with the timeless questions of the universe that have puzzled man since the dawn of consciousness here on Schoolhouse Earth.

I read in a recent newspaper article that the brother and sister of Fred Griffis, the victim in my case, are angry that I’m still alive and eager for my execution.  These are understandable human feelings.  I have a brother and sister myself and I cannot honestly say how I would deal with it if something happened to you or Jeff at the hands of another.  I have thought of Fred many times over the years and grieved over his senseless death.  I feel bad for Fred’s siblings though if seeing another human being die will truly give them pleasure.  I suspect when I’m gone, if they search their hearts, they will grasp the emptiness of the closure promised by the revenge of capital punishment.  There’s a lot of wisdom in the old saying “An eye for an eye soon makes the whole world blind.”

All is well with me here in the death house.  I’ve been blessed with a strong body and a stout mind and spirit, more than sufficient to see me through this final passage.  The deep love of others, freely given to me by those I’m honored to call my friends, helps ease the journey.  The one thing I am absolutely certain of after 58 years on this rock is that LOVE is the foundation of the cosmos, the very essence of what we call God.  This is the one lesson we all must learn, and will learn in due time, and which gives me my peace.

Light & Love,
Bill

 

#India – American woman gang-raped in Manali #Vaw #WTFnews


gangrape

By  Jun 04, 2013

NEW DELHI (AP) — An American woman was gang-raped Tuesday in the northern Indian resort town of Manali, police said.

The 30-year-old woman was picked up early Tuesday morning by men in a truck as she was hitchhiking back to her guest house after visiting a friend, police officer Sher Singh said.

The three men in the truck then drove to a secluded spot and raped her, he said. She went to police and they filed a rape case.

No arrests had been made as of Tuesday afternoon, Singh said.

(READ MORE: The ongoing threat to female travelers in Asia)

Authorities issued an alert for the three men and set up roadblocks to check any trucks leaving the town, he said.

The reported rape came after a Swiss tourist was gang-raped in March while on a cycling trip through rural India. Six men were arrested in that attack. In a separate incident the same month, a British woman traveling in northern India jumped out of the third-floor window of her hotel room fearing a sexual attack after the hotel’s owner tried to force his way into the room.

The assaults come amid heightened concern about sexual assaults in India that followed the fatal gang-rape of a young woman on a moving bus in New Delhi in December.

That rape sparked public protests demanding better protection for women. In response, the government passed a law increasing prison terms for rape and providing for the death penalty in cases of rape that result in death or leave the victim in a coma. It also made voyeurism, stalking, acid attacks and the trafficking of women punishable under criminal law.

 

Protest- Millions march against Monsanto and GM crops


Organisers celebrate huge global turnout and say they will continue until Monsanto and other GM manufacturers listen

Anti-GM protester

Protesters make their point to Monsanto in Los Angeles, California, May 25, 2013. Photograph: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

Organisers say that two million people marched in protest against seed giant Monsanto in hundreds of rallies across the US and in more than 50 other countries on Saturday.

“March Against Monsanto” protesters say they wanted to call attention to the dangers posed by genetically modified food and the food giants that produce it. Founder and organiser Tami Canal said protests were held in 436 cities across 52 countries.

Genetically modified plants are grown from seeds that are engineered to resist insecticides and herbicides, add nutritional benefits, or otherwise improve crop yields and increase the global food supply. Most corn, soybean and cotton crops grown in the United States today have been genetically modified. But some say genetically modified organisms can lead to serious health conditions and harm the environment.

The use of GMOs has been a growing issue of contention in recent years, with health advocates pushing for mandatory labelling of genetically modified products even though the federal government and many scientists say the technology is safe.

The “March Against Monsanto” movement began just a few months ago, when Canal created a Facebook page on 28 February calling for a rally against the company’s practices. “If I had gotten 3,000 people to join me, I would have considered that a success,” she said Saturday. Instead, she said, two million responded to her message.

Together with Seattle blogger and activist Emilie Rensink and Nick Bernabe of Anti-Media.org, Canal worked with A Revolt.org digital anarchy to promote international awareness of the event. She called the turnout “incredible” and credited social media for being a vehicle for furthering opportunities for activism.

Despite the size of the gatherings, Canal said she was grateful that the marches were uniformly peaceful and that no arrests had been reported.

“It was empowering and inspiring to see so many people, from different walks of life, put aside their differences and come together today,” she said. The group plans to harness the success of the event to continue its anti-GMO cause.

“We will continue until Monsanto complies with consumer demand. They are poisoning our children, poisoning our planet,” she said. “If we don’t act, who’s going to?”

Monsanto, based in St Louis, said on Saturday that it respects people’s rights to express their opinions, but maintained that its seeds improve agriculture by helping farmers produce more from their land while conserving resources such as water and energy.

The US Food and Drug Administration does not require genetically modified foods to carry a label, but organic food companies and some consumer groups have intensified their push for labels, arguing that the modified seeds are floating from field to field and contaminating traditional crops. The groups have been bolstered by a growing network of consumers who are wary of processed and modified foods.

The Senate this week overwhelmingly rejected a bill that would allow states to require the labelling of genetically modified foods.

The Biotechnology Industry Organisation, a lobbying group that represents Monsanto, DuPont & Co and other makers of genetically modified seeds, has said that it supports voluntary labelling for people who seek out such products. But it says that mandatory labelling would only mislead or confuse consumers into thinking products weren’t safe, even though the FDA has said there is no difference between GMO and organic, non-GMO foods.

However, state legislatures in Vermont and Connecticut moved ahead this month with votes to make food companies declare genetically modified ingredients on their packages. And supermarket retailer Whole Foods Markets Inc has said that all products in its North American stores containing genetically modified ingredients will be labeled as such by 2018.

Whole Foods says there is growing demand for products that don’t use GMOs, with sales of products with a “Non-GMO” verification label spiking between 15% and 30%.

 

Obama Deports Record Number of Immigrants, Using Scary Private GEO Group to Get the Job Done


The largest deportation prison in the U.S. is a former jail in the hyper-corrupt City of Adelanto, California, where public officials are often criminals.
March 31, 2013  |  alternet

This article was first published by Not Safe for Work Corporation.

Last year, the federal government deported roughly 400,000 people, the highest number of deportations in U.S. history.

A generous portion of these poor saps came through a brand new private processing and detention facility located in the remote and fairly unpopulated High Desert of California. Operated by Geo Group — remember that name — the prison is now the largest immigrant detention center in the Golden State. And it’s located only a few miles my house, on the edge of a miserable little suburb city by the name of Adelanto.

Adelanto means “progress” in Spanish.

According to the town’s official biography, Adelanto was founded by Earl H. Richardson, inventor of the first electric iron, the Hotpoint. His outfit, the Hotpoint Electric Heating Company, later merged with GE and churned out electric irons by the hundred of thousands. The invention made Richardson rich. It also gave the kindly old bespectacled gentleman visions of grandeur. His dream: to buy land way out in the Mojave Desert, lay the foundation for the first master-planned community in Southern California and sell it off piece by piece to veterans returning from trenches of World War I.

For some reason, the vets had no interest in living hundreds of miles from civilization, preferring instead to convalesce in bungalows on the beaches of Venice and Santa Monica. But Adelanto wasn’t a total loss for Richardson. World War II broke out, and the federal government took a bunch of land off his hands to build what would later become the George Air Force Base. Adelanto remained a military support settlement until the base closed in 1992.

The city has grown since then, tripling in size since the late 1980s. Now, Adelanto is a cheap suburb of Victorville. There’s no shape or organization to it, no master planning in sight—just patches of subprime subdivisions, apartment complexes and warehouses scattered in the desert. All that growth didn’t bring prosperity; it only accelerated the city’s slide into corruption, poverty and violence.

In 1997, Adelanto’s police chief was convicted of embezzlement and sent to jail. That same year, one police officer was convicted of child molestation, while two otherswere found guilty of beating and torturing suspects in their custody. In one case, they hauled someone in on a drug offense, attempted to beat a confession out of him and, when the guy started bleeding on the floor, made him lick up his own blood. One of the officers — Thomas Boyd Chandler — then threatened the suspect that he’d be shot and buried in a hole in the desert if he squealed to anyone about the enhanced interrogation techniques used on him in custody. To drive the point home, Chandler took a bullet from his gun. “This bullet has your name on it,” he warned.

Despite a shakeup, in 1998, both Adelanto’s sitting mayor and the city attorney were convicted felons. And a grand jury investigation found evidence of election fraud and rampant corruption.

“This is one of the most crooked places on Earth,” said 20-year resident Roger Ayers told the Associated Press in 1998. The AP article noted that the town had a bingo parlor and a strip club, but no restaurants or supermarkets.

Adelanto was also being infiltrated by the Taiwanese mafia, which was operating an ammunition factory in the area.

Here’s the Associated Press again:

Federal and county law enforcement officials have questioned the opening of J.J. Ammo Inc., a bullet factory with connections to China. A principal in the firm, Wah Nien “Johnny” Chiang, is a Taiwan native who authorities say is tied to Asian organized crime. “We’re well aware of Johnny Chiang and that he’s making ammunition out in Adelanto. We’re not sure why,” said Sgt. Tom Budds, who heads the Asian organized crime unit of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

Chinese-Taiwanese mafia churning out bullets in Adelanto? I guess anything’s possible out here on the frontier of SoCal’s suburban sprawl.

Today, of the 32,000 people who call Adelanto home, nearly 60 percent are Latino and a large number of those are undocumented. Per-capita income is just under $12,000—nearly three times lower than California average. One out of every three people live under the poverty line, and 5.4 percent of the population is what the good folks at the census bureau classify as “institutionalized.” Which is just a bureaucratic way of saying that one out of 20 Adelanto residents is currently rotting in jail—at a rate that’s five times higher than the national average. That’s not surprising: until recently Adelanto had been home to three prisons: one county, one city and one private.

After the real estate bubble popped, Adelanto teetered on the verge of bankruptcy. By 2010, the city was essentially out of money, and had only $100,000 in its reserve fund. On top of everything, California started releasing nonviolent prisoners to relieve the state’s overcrowded penitentiary system. And that meant Adelanto was on the verge of losing a major source of revenue: a city-owned minimum security facility that housed state inmates and brought in nearly $2 million in pure profit. But there was a way out…

As luck would have it, a private prison company called Geo Group happened to be in the market for a detention facility located in Southern California.

California might have been downsizing its prison population, but the federal government was ramping up its deportation operations and needed private contractors to handle the logistics of housing and processing immigrants. Geo Group—the second-largest private prison company in America, with roughly 60 facilities and 40,000 souls under its care—was always eager for more business, and Adelanto’s prison was exactly what it needed to get in on the action.

In 2010, Adelanto sold its prison to Geo Group for lump payment of $28 million. As part of the deal, Adelanto helped the new buyer secure a contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), for which the city negotiated an additional payout of $50,000 a year from Geo Group.

Geo quickly expanded the facility to hold 1,300 inmates, making it the largest private deportation center in the state California. It projected an annual revenue stream of $42 million (at a rock bottom rate of $99 per detained immigrant per day). And according to its cushy contract with ICE, Geo was guaranteed a 75-percent minimum occupancy rate, meaning that the feds agreed to pay the private prison company $36 million a year to run its Adelanto facility, whether it contained immigrant detainees or not. All this, of course, is being funded by hardworking American taxpayers.

Remember Adelanto’s majority Latino population, a large number of whom are undocumented? Now, they suddenly find themselves living in the shadow of the largest deportation center in the state, dedicated to concentrating and kicking out people just like them. A speeding ticket is enough to initiate deportation these days, and it doesn’t matter if the immigrant has children or family here: recent stats show that a quarter of people deported are parents with children who are U.S. citizens.

Be afraid, be very afraid.

Geo Group’s Adelanto project was still in the works when I lived out here in 2009, so last week I decided to take a drive out and see how the finished product looks.

It was right around sunset time, and everything was awash in an orange-red light radiated out from behind the San Bernardino Mountains. Geo’s Adelanto facility is located on Ranchero Rd, on the western edge of Adelanto. Just one block past the prison, the asphalt ends and the street turns into a dirt road that disappears into the desert on horizon.

The road leading to the prison was mostly empty. A big rig or a truck rumbled past once in a while. Warehouses flanked the prison complex. There was some sort of pump substation across the street, and a big cluster of high-voltage transmission cables and transformers a little farther down. A gentleman’s club sat on a lot behind the prison, in sight of its fortified courtyard. Two dancers stood out back by the club’s service entrance, smoking and looking out at the brightly lit detention center in front of them. Other than that, there was nothing but desert scrub and Joshua trees for miles around.

At first I passed the prison completely, mistaking it for a cluster of warehouses. It was only when I saw the high metal fence surrounding an outdoor area lit up with blinding flood lights that I realized what I was looking at.

I doubled back and parked on the side of the road across the sprawling prison complex.

There were a couple of blue “Geo Group” signs. Shuttle busses of various sizes were clustered in a side parking lot. A dozen or so cars were parked in the lot out front, and two or three people were slowly walking toward the main entrance.

If I didn’t know otherwise, I never would have guessed that I was looking at the largest deportation facility in California. It could have been anything: a distribution hub, a warehouse or a large office complex. Hell, it could have even passed for a community college.

Unlike the imposing slab structures of federal prison complex a couple of miles to the east, the bland nondescript facade of Geo’s detention facility masked its brutal function, and gave no indication about the dark and bloody history of the company that ran it.

Y’see, Geo Group isn’t just any private prison operator. It started life as a subsidiary of the Wackenhut Corporation, the shady quasi-government security company founded in the 1950s by former FBI agent and fervent McCarthyite George R. Wackenhut.

Wackenhut packed his company with rightwing generals, John Birch Society leaders and future leaders of the military-security establishment, including William Casey and Frank Carlucci. He fashioned Wackenhut Corp into a modern version of the Pinkerton Agency, providing various security and espionage services to both the government and private clients.

It has defended U.S. Embassies all across the world, protected domestic nuclear facilities and currently guards our nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve. In the 1960s, Wackenhut spied on antiwar activists, infiltrated protest movements and compiled dossiers on 2.5 million suspected dissidents. Mining companies hired Wackenhut goons to serve as strikebreakers.There’s even a good chance Wackenhut was involved in transferring chemical weapons from the U.S. to Saddam Hussein in 1990, as reported in a 1992 SPY Magazine investigation titled “Inside the Shadow CIA.”

“It is known throughout the industry that if you want a dirty job done, call Wackenhut,” a retired FBI special agent William Hinshaw told SPY. In the 1980s, George Wackenhut opened up a new subsidiary, the Wackenhut Corrections Corporation, to take advantage of new and exciting lucrative business opportunity: private prisons.

We can go down a deep rabbit hole chasing Wackenhut’s spook connections. But the main thing to note is that the company feeds on and profits from military conflict, social unrest, economic hardship, paranoia and fear. And its private prison operations are simply the newest outgrowth of that business model.

With Wackenhut’s history as a violent rightwing paramilitary organization, it’s track record in prison management quickly became littered with corpses, broken bodies and rape victims. It racked up such a bad rep that the company was forced to change its name from Wackenhut to Geo Group.

There are too many incidents to list here. But a recent Department of Justice investigation into Geo’s Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility near Jackson, Mississippi, gives a glimpse of the kind of conditions inmates face in Geo’s for-profit prisons.

Here are few tidbits, courtesy of the Southern Poverty Law Center:

Guards frequently doused young men with pepper spray as a first response, rather than a last resort. Youths were routinely sprayed simply for refusing verbal commands, such as failing to remove their arms from food tray slots while locked in their cells – something they sometimes did to get attention for medical emergencies… .

… Fights were common, occurring almost daily. Cell doors could be easily rigged to remain unlocked, allowing youths to leave their cells and enter others at will. Guards were often complicit in attacks. Weapons were readily available. Emergency call buttons in the cells didn’t work… . In addition, guards “frequently and brutally react to low-level aggression” – such as using profanities or reacting too slowly to an order – by “slamming youth head first into the ground, slapping, beating, and kicking youth,” the DOJ found…

… Some guards apparently saw their charges as sexual prey. Sexual misconduct between staffers and youth occurred on a monthly basis – “at a minimum,” the DOJ found. But GEO did little or nothing to prevent it, other than firing those caught in the act – like the female guard who yelled “close the door” at another guard who saw her engaged in intercourse with a youth in a medical department restroom…

… Violence by youths and guards wasn’t the only problem. Neither were the gang affiliations of some guards. Or the grossly inadequate medical and mental health care. Or the proliferation of drugs and other contraband. Or the lack of educational and rehabilitative programs. Or the wild overuse of pepper spray on passive youths.

Indeed, the DOJ found that sexual abuse – including brutal youth-on-youth rapes and “brazen” sexual misconduct by prison staffers who coerced youths – was “among the worst that we have seen in any facility anywhere in the nation.”

Geo Group is very aware just how much it depends on a harsh, punitive criminal and immigration laws for survival.

Here’s how Geo described its position to investors in a 2012 10K filing:

In particular, the demand for our correctional and detention facilities and services, electronic monitoring services, community-based re-entry services and monitoring and supervision services could be adversely affected by changes in existing criminal or immigration laws, crime rates in jurisdictions in which we operate, the relaxation of criminal or immigration enforcement efforts, leniency in conviction, sentencing or deportation practices, and the decriminalization of certain activities that are currently proscribed by criminal laws or the loosening of immigration laws. For example, any changes with respect to the decriminalization of drugs and controlled substances could affect the number of persons arrested, convicted, sentenced and incarcerated, thereby potentially reducing demand for correctional facilities to house them. Similarly, reductions in crime rates could lead to reductions in arrests, convictions and sentences requiring incarceration at correctional facilities. Immigration reform laws which are currently a focus for legislators and politicians at the federal, state and local level also could materially adversely impact us.

Geo Group is candid about all this. It has to be: In 2011, the company depended on the deportation of immigrants for 14 percent of its business. Something like 88 percent of its $1.6 billion in revenues that year came from federal and state government agencies. And that’s what so troubling about President Barack Obama’s promise to enact “meaningful” immigration reform. After Obama took office, Geo’s stock price rebounded from a low of about $10 a share in 2009 to nearly $33 in January 2013, tripling over the course of Obama’s first term. And here’s the frightening thing: the stock price didn’t even budge last week, after Obama announced his intent to push through immigration reform by the end of spring this year.

This means one of two things: Either the multibillion dollar hedge funds and private equity firms that own 97% of Geo Group’s stock don’t know what they’re doing. Or they know exactly what they’re doing, and are confident that — despite the bipartisan rhetoric around a kinder, gentler, less deporty immigration system — Geo Group’s deportation facility in Adelanto is still looking forward to a long, prosperous future.

Yasha Levine is an editor for eXiledonline.com. He is the author of the book, The Corruption of Malcolm Gladwell (2012).

 

Steubenville High School rape: Two teen football players found guilty #Vaw


Associated Press | Updated: March 17, 2013

Steubenville High School rape: Two teen football players found guilty

Steubenville High School students Ma’Lik Richmond and Trent Mays (photo below)

Steubenville, OhioTwo members of a high school football team were found guilty Sunday of raping a drunken 16-year-old girl in a case that bitterly divided the Ohio city and led to accusations of a cover-up to protect the community’s athletes.Steubenville High School students Trent Mays and Ma’Lik Richmond face a possible sentence of detention in juvenile jail until they turn 21, capping a case that came to light via a barrage of morning-after text messages, social media posts and online photos and video that drew global attention.

Both teenagers broke down in tears after the verdict was read. As Richmond’s lawyer addressed the judge, he paused for a moment to comfort his client, whose sobs could be heard throughout the courtroom.

Mays, 17, and Richmond, 16, were charged with digitally penetrating the West Virginia girl, first in the back seat of a moving car after an alcohol-fueled party on Aug. 11, and then in the basement of a house. Mays was also found guilty on a charge of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material.

The case roiled the community amid allegations that more students should have been charged and led to questions about the influence of the local football team, a source of a pride in a community of 18,000 that suffered massive job losses with the collapse of the steel industry.

Their arms linked, protesters demanding that the high school athletes be held responsible stood outside the courthouse awaiting the verdict, some of them wearing masks.

The trial opened last week as a contest between prosecutors determined to show the girl was so drunk she couldn’t have been a willing participant that night, and defense attorneys soliciting testimony from witnesses that would indicate that the girl, though drunk, knew what she was doing.

The teenage girl testified Saturday that she could not recall what happened the night of the attack but remembered waking up naked in a strange house after drinking at a party. The girl said she recalled drinking, leaving the party holding hands with Mays and throwing up later. When she woke up, she said she discovered her phone, earrings, shoes, and underwear were missing, she testified.

“It was really scary,” she said. “I honestly did not know what to think because I could not remember anything.”
Steubenville_Trent Mays_295.jpg
The girl said she believed she was assaulted when she later read text messages among friends and saw a photo of herself taken that night, along with a video that made fun of her and the alleged attack. She said she suspected she had been drugged because she couldn’t explain being as intoxicated as defense witnesses have said she was.

“They treated her like a toy,” said special prosecutor Marianne Hemmeter.

Evidence introduced at the trial included graphic text messages sent by numerous students after the night of the party, including by the accuser, containing provocative descriptions of sex acts and obscene language. Lawyers noted during the trial how texts have seemed to replace talking on the phone for contemporary teens. A computer forensic expert called by the state documented tens of thousands of texts found on 17 phones seized during the investigation.

The girl herself recalled being in a car later with Mays and Richmond and asking them what happened.

“They kept telling me I was a hassle and they took care of me,” she testified. “I thought I could trust him (Mays) until I saw the pictures and video.”

In questioning her account, defense attorneys went after her character and credibility. Two former friends of the girl testified that the accuser had a history of drinking heavily and was known to lie.

“The reality is, she drank, she has a reputation for telling lies,” said lawyer Walter Madison, representing Richmond.

The two girls testified they were angry at the accuser because she was drinking heavily at the party and rolling around on the floor. They said they tried unsuccessfully to get her to stop drinking.

The accuser said that she does not remember being photographed as she was carried by Mays and Richmond, an image that stirred up outrage, first locally, then globally, as it spread online. Others have testified the photo was a joke and the girl was conscious when it was taken.

The photograph led to allegations that three other boys, two of them members of Steubenville High’s celebrated Big Red football team, saw something happening that night and didn’t try to stop it but instead recorded it.

The three boys weren’t charged, fueling months of online accusations of a cover-up to protect the team, which law enforcement authorities have vehemently denied.

Instead, the teens were granted immunity to testify, and their accounts helped incriminate the defendants. They said the girl was so drunk she didn’t seem to know what was happening to her and confirmed she was digitally penetrated in a car and later on a basement floor.

Ohio’s attorney general planned to announce later Sunday whether additional charges will be brought in the case, including against the three other boys.

Mays and Richmond were determined to be delinquent, the juvenile equivalent of guilty, Judge Thomas Lipps ruled in the juvenile court trial without a jury.

The Associated Press normally doesn’t identify minors charged in juvenile court, but Mays and Richmond have been widely identified in news coverage, and their names have been used in open court. The AP also does not generally identify people who say they were victims of sex crimes.

 

UN Resolution Calls for Israel to Disclose Nuclear Arsenal


Regional outlier asked to join NPT and back vision of a ‘Nuclear-Free Middle East

- Common Dreams staff

The UN General Assembly voted overwhelmingly on Monday to approve a resolution calling on Israel to open up its nuclear weapons program to international inspectors and to end its refusal to join the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treary, or NPT.

 A vote by the United Nations general assembly has called on Israel to open its nuclear programme to weapons inspectors. (Photograph: Chip East/Reuters) The resolution passed with a 174-6 vote, and included 6 abstentions. Israel, the U.S., Canada, Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Palau were the “no” votes.

Also included in the UN measure was a call to reschedule a recently cancelled conference that would push for a ‘nuclear-free Middle East,’ something that all countries across the region, including Iran, have supported. A meeting on the issue was planned for this month in Helsinki, FInland, but was  cancelled, or at least postponed, by the U.S. at the end of November.

Though the Israeli nuclear weapons arsenal is widely known to exist, neither the nation’s government or its key ally, the U.S., will publicly acknowledge the program.

This refusal has long helped Israel avoid acknowledging the hypocrisy of its repeated threats against Iran for its nascent nuclear technology program.

As the Associated Press reports:

Resolutions adopted by the 193-member General Assembly are not legally binding but they do reflect world opinion and carry moral and political weight.

Israel refuses to confirm or deny it has nuclear bombs though it is widely believed to have a nuclear arsenal. It has refused to join the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, or NPT, along with three nuclear weapon states — India, Pakistan and North Korea.

And John Glaser, writing at Antiwar.comadds:

If Israel agreed to dismantling its vast stockpiles of nuclear weapons and to a deal enforcing a nuclear weapons-free zone in the Middle East – a deal Iran and Israel’s Arab neighbors have repeatedly proposed – the supposed threats Israel faces in the region would virtually disappear.

But Israel refuses to give up its nuclear monopoly, insistent on maintaining its excuse to build up its military and distract from the Palestinian issue.

As former CIA Middle East analyst Paul Pillar has written, “the Iran issue” provides a “distraction” from international “attention to the Palestinians’ lack of popular sovereignty.”

________

 

Two US states back legalizing gay marriage #Gender


AP | Nov 7, 2012, 12.11PM IST

Voters a continent apart made history on Tuesday on two divisive social issues, with Maine and Maryland becoming the first states to approve same-sex marriage by popular vote, while Washington state and Colorado legalized recreational use of marijuana.

The outcome in Maine and Maryland broke a 32-state streak, dating back to 1998, in which gay marriage had been rebuffed by every state that voted on it. They will become the seventh and eighth states to allow same-sex couples to marry.

“For the first time, voters in Maine and Maryland voted to allow loving couples to make lifelong commitments through marriage – forever taking away the right-wing talking point that marriage equality couldn’t win on the ballot,” said Chad Griffin of the Human Rights Campaign, a national gay-rights group.

Washington state also was voting on measures to legalize same-sex marriage, while Minnesota voters were considering a conservative-backed amendment that would place a ban on same-sex marriage in the state constitution.

The marijuana measures in Colorado and Washington set up a showdown with the federal government, which outlaws the drug.

Colorado’s Amendment 64 will allow adults over 21 to possess up to an ounce (28 grams) of marijuana, though using the drug publicly would still be banned. The amendment would also allow people to grow up to six marijuana plants in a private, secure area.

Washington’s measure establishes a system of state-licensed marijuana growers, processors and retail stores, where adults can buy up to an ounce (28 grams). It also establishes a standard blood test limit for driving under the influence.

The Washington measure was notable for its sponsors and supporters, who ranged from public health experts and wealthy high-tech executives to two of the Justice Department’s top former officials in Seattle, U.S. Attorneys John McKay and Kate Pflaumer.

“Marijuana policy reform remains an issue where the people lead and the politicians follow,” saidEthan Nadelmann of the Drug Policy Alliance, which opposes the co-called “war on drugs.” ”But Washington state shows that many politicians are beginning to catch up.”

Estimates show that pot taxes could bring in hundreds of millions of dollars a year, but the sales won’t start until state officials make rules to govern the legal weed industry.

In Massachusetts, voters approved a measure to allow marijuana use for medical reasons, joining 17 other states. Arkansas voters were deciding on a similar measure that would make it the first Southern state in that group.

Maine’s referendum on same-sex marriage marked the first time that gay-rights supporters put the issue to a popular vote. They collected enough signatures over the summer to schedule the vote, hoping to reverse the outcome of a 2009 referendum that quashed a gay-marriage law enacted by the state Legislature.

In both Maryland and Washington, gay-marriage laws were approved by lawmakers and signed by the governors earlier this year, but opponents gathered enough signatures to challenge the laws.

In Minnesota, the question was whether the state would join 30 others in placing a ban on gay marriage in its constitution. Even if the ban is defeated, same-sex marriage would remain illegal in Minnesota under statute.

Heading into the election, gay marriage was legal in six states and Washington, D.C. – in each case the result of legislation or court orders, not by a vote of the people.

In California, voters were deciding whether to repeal the state’s death penalty. If the measure prevailed, the more than 720 inmates on death row there would have their sentences converted to life in prison.

While 17 states have ended capital punishment, most did so through legislative action. Only in Oregon, in 1964, did voters choose to repeal the death penalty; they later reversed themselves to reinstate it.

In all, there were 176 measures on the ballots Tuesday in 38 states, according to the Initiative and Referendum Institute at the University of Southern California.

Other notable ballot measures:

- Maryland voters approved a measure allowing illegal immigrants to pay lower in-state college tuition, provided they attended a state high school for three years and can show they filed state income tax returns during that time. About a dozen other states have similar laws, but Maryland’s is the first to be approved by voters.

- In Oklahoma, voters approved a Republican-backed measure that wipes out all affirmative action programs in state government hiring, education and contracting practices. Similar steps have been taken previously in Arizona, California, Michigan, Nebraska and Washington.

Yes, China still harvests organs from executed prisoners #wtfnews


Posted by Max Fisher on November 5, 2012, Washington Post

Chinese police lead a condemned man into a special execution van to be put to death. (AFP/Getty Images)

China is the world’s leader in capital punishment, executing “thousands” every year, according to Amnesty International’s best guess of the officially secret statistic. A U.S.-based NGO estimates 4,000 executions in 2011 alone, which is actually half of their projected 8,000 in 2007. By comparison, second-ranked Iran used the death penalty 360 times in 2011. The U.S., ranked fifth, used it 43 times.

Another practice often accompanies China’s capital punishment: organ transplants. In 2009, government officials publicly acknowledged that executed prisoners provided over 65 percent of organ transplants. The health ministry also said that 10,000 organ transplant operations are performed annually.

The numbers are unsettling. We don’t know how many thousands of prisoners China executed in 2009, but if they provided organs for 65 percent of that year’s 10,000 surgeries, it would suggest most or perhaps close to all of the prisoners had their organs removed after their deaths.

The Chinese government has been working to reform its capital punishment system, which may explain how it could have cut the number of executions in half in only four years. Still, China uses a uniquely broad definition of what can receive the death penalty. Earlier this year, a 28-year-old woman was sentenced to death for defaulting on a $56 million loan. In past years, Chinese executions have been carried out with a single gunshot to the head, although the state is attempting to shift toward lethal injections. Because demand is high and the facilities can be expensive, the state deploys special police buses designed to administer the injection.

China is also working on reducing its addiction to death row organs. According to the 2009 BBC story, about 1.5 million people in China needed organ transplants at the time, a staggeringly high demand that was helping to drive a dangerous and criminal black market in illegal organ harvesting. The state was hoping to curb this by encouraging more voluntary donors, although officials acknowledged it would be difficult to overcome cultural taboos against the practice. (Presumably, the executed prisoners share these taboos.) They launched pilot programs in a few parts of the country to solicit voluntary organ donors.

Did the plan work? It’s not really clear as the state has not released data from the program. But, on Friday, officials announced that they would roll out the program nationwide sometime early next year, hoping to reduce the dependency on prisoners’ organs. The country’s goal is to abolish the practice outright within five years. Officials are also hoping to design a new system to fairly allocate transplants, a process that in the past has “been criticized as opaque, profit-driven and unethical,” as the Associated Press puts it.

Uruguay OKs Abortion; Sex Assault Rampant in Haiti #womenrights #goodnews


By WeNews staff

Saturday, October 20, 2012

An elderly woman at a camp of makeshift tents in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
An elderly woman at a camp of makeshift tents in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Credit: UN Photo/Sophia Paris.

(WOMENSENEWS)–

Cheers

The Uruguayan Senate voted 17-14 to legalize all first-trimester abortions in a groundbreaking step in Latin America, Boston.com reported Oct. 17. Cuba is the only other country in the region where all women currently have access to first-trimester abortions.

The legislation establishes that the public health care system must guarantee every woman the freedom to decide without pressure whether to have an abortion. Recent polls have suggested that a majority of Uruguay‘s 3.3 million people favor decriminalizing abortion, as this law accomplishes.

More News to Cheer This Week:

The Retail Action Project (RAP) joined other groups Oct. 17 to support Bintou Kamara, a RAP member and Abercrombie and Fitch cashier who started a petition on Change.org to end “on-call” shifts. “On-call” scheduling leaves workers waiting by the phone to find out if they will work that day, sometimes an hour before the shift is to begin, leaving them unable to plan for child care, school or second jobs, RAP said, but they often have little choice because workers are guaranteed only one day a week of work.

Thousands of people across the country, as well as prominent New Yorkers, such as Helen Rosenthal, candidate for City Council on the Upper West Side, stood behind the Sustainable Scheduling Campaign, to address the underemployment crisis caused by corporate retailers’ unpredictable, part-time scheduling practices.

“I am here today because worker’s rights are women’s rights,” said Rosenthal. “It’s the women who at the end of the day are the glue to the family. Often they’re the economic engines not just of their families but of the community; and the only way they can hold their families together and their communities together is by having stable jobs. By having on-call schedules, it leaves [mothers] totally at risk for losing their jobs and losing the ability to support their families. We need the private sector, like these big companies, to step up and lead the way, not just for women but for all workers to have sustainable jobs.” –Maggie Freleng, WeNews correspondent

Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousufzai stood for the first time after being shot Oct. 9 and is “communicating very freely,” according to the director of the British hospital where she is undergoing treatment, CNNreported Oct. 19. Yousufzai was shot in the northwestern district of Pakistan last week after she defied the Taliban by insisting on the right of girls to go to school. Authorities are investigating the attack and say they have made a number of arrests.

Afghanistan has overcome the biggest obstacles of any country in its efforts to educate girls, according to a new global education report released Oct. 16 by the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization,Reuters reported. Seventy-nine percent of girls were enrolled in school in 2010 compared to 4 percent in 1999.

The girls basketball team of Franklin County High School in Indiana will be again playing in primetime slots (Fridays and Saturdays) after the school filed a consent decree in court, The National Women’s Law Center said in a press statement Oct. 16. In the past the women had been forced to play on weeknights, when attendance is lower and making it more difficult to find the time to complete their homework.

Female lawyers in Saudi Arabia will be allowed to plead cases in court for the first time beginning next month, according to a justice ministry directive published Oct. 16, The Independent Online reported. The ruling will apply to all women who have a law degree and who have spent at least three years working in a law office.

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma will be the first South African woman to take a top leadership position in the African Union, the Associated Press reported Oct. 15. She will be in charge of peace and security functions and keeping track of the political and economic affairs of the continent.

Up to one billion women are expected to enter the workplace in the next decade, according to the latest survey from Booz and Co. on women in the workplace, CNBC reported Oct. 15. The report says the surge in female employees, employers, producers and entrepreneurs in the next 10 years will improve not only gender equality, but global economic growth.

Inspired by the Pompidou Center in Paris, which for nearly two years removed all the men’s art from their modern galleries, the Seattle Art Museum is inviting women to take over its downtown building this fall,Bloomberg BusinessWeek reported Oct. 15. The museum will show the contribution of women to photography, video, painting and sculpture from this past century.

Women’s eNews writer Molly Ginty, editor in chief Rita Henley Jensen and editor Corinna Barnard received the Casey Award for Meritorious Journalism Oct. 18 in Washington, D.C., alongside the New York Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Los Angeles Times, ABC and NPR. The Women’s eNews team won their award for “Infant Formula Companies Milk US Food Program,” with support from the Nation Institute and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

Jeers

Reports of rape and sexual violence have been too common after the January 2010 earthquake that killed more than 220,000 people and displaced almost 25 percent of the population in Haiti, CNN reported Oct. 18. Seventy percent of households surveyed in a recent study said they were now more worried about sexual violence and 14 percent of households reported that at least one member of the household had been a victim of sexual violence since the earthquake.

High numbers of adolescent girls are also engaging in what they call “transactional sex” for shelter and food. Many of those interviewed claimed they had never sold sex before, but the earthquake had left them no option.

More News to Jeer This Week:

Nearly 38 percent of lesbians polled in a national survey said they were not routinely screened for cervical cancer, putting them at risk of developing a highly preventable cancer, according to a University of Maryland School of Medicine study, an Oct. 17 press statement said. The percentage of lesbians not being screened as recommended is higher than for women overall.

Sexual violence against girls in Zambia is rampant, according to a report released Oct. 18 by Cornell Law School’s Avon Center for Women and Justice. Eighty-four percent of students interviewed reported that they had personally experienced such abuse or knew of classmates who had experienced it. Read more in “Zambian Schoolgirls Face Rampant Sexual Violence.”

When asked his opinion on pay equality for women in the Oct. 16 debate, Mitt Romney misstated his role saying when he was the incoming governor of Massachusetts he asked women’s groups to find him qualified women to be members of his cabinet. According to senior political writer of The Phoenix, David Bernstein, Romney’s claim that he asked for such a study is false. The statement gained extensive criticism and lead to the “binders full of women” media phenomenon. Read more in “Romney’s ‘Binders of Women’ Offer Ammo to Obama.”

Police at Miami University of Ohio are investigating a flier titled “Top Ten Ways to Get Away with Rape” posted on the bathroom wall of one of its residence halls, ABC news reported Oct. 15. The tips included such graphic advice as encouraging men to have sex with unconscious women because it “doesn’t count,” drugging women with “roofies” and slitting women’s throats if they recognize their attackers.

Janis Lane, a female Tea Party leader of the Central Mississippi, came out against women having the right to vote in an interview with the Jackson Free PressAlternet reported Oct. 16. Questioned about men getting involved in the reproductive decisions of women, Lane’s response was, “Our country might have been better off if it was still just men voting. There is nothing worse than a bunch of mean, hateful women. They are diabolical in how [they] can skewer a person….double-minded, you never can trust them.”

Sexist stereotypes, humiliating photographs of women and male bylines dominate the front pages of British newspapers, according to research carried out by Women in Journalism, The Guardian reported Oct. 14. Male journalists wrote 78 percent of all front-page articles and men accounted for 84 percent of those mentioned or quoted in lead pieces, according to analysis of nine national newspapers over the course of four weeks.

Noted:

Prominent women’s advocate, Kim Gandy, has been selected as president and CEO of the National Network to End Domestic Violence, the organization said in a press statement. The national network is a membership and advocacy organization dedicated to creating a social, political and economic environment in which violence against women no longer exists.

Actresses Eva Longoria, Scarlett Johansson and Kerry Washington star in a new ad that highlights Mitt Romney’s positions on women’s health issues and criticizes the Republican Party for pushing legislation to “redefine” rape and force women to undergo transvaginal ultrasounds, The Huffington Post reported Oct. 15.

Ann Romney reached out to female voters Oct. 15 in central Pennsylvania, urging them to persuade their undecided friends to support her husband, Philly.com reported Oct. 16. “My message is this for women: Do you want a brighter economic future? If you do, vote for Mitt,” she said.