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Steubenville: How the Media Promotes Rape Culture

March 19, 2013 in Blogs

By Tara Murtha, RH Reality Check

This past Sunday, 16-year-old Ma’lik Richmond and 17-year-old Trent Mays were found delinquent (the equivalent of guilty in juvenile court) of raping a 16-year-old girl in front of their friends at a series of parties in Steubenville, Ohio. Mays was also found delinquent on charges of the illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material for texting a picture he took of the victim while she was naked.

Almost exactly 30 years earlier, in March 1983, a woman was gang raped by at least four men—six were originally charged—in Big Dan’s Tavern in New Bedford, Massachusetts. The victim in the Big Dan’s attack was Cheryl Araujo, a 21-year-old mother of two who lived down the street from the tavern. (The 1988 film The Accused is loosely based on the incident.)

There are striking parallels between the two cases. And, notably, they illustrate how little the media’s coverage of rape cases has changed over the decades.

Reporters covering the Big Dan’s case openly struggled with responsible reporting issues, such as whether or not to name the victim and how to give context to victim-blaming quotes from community members.

Araujo was told in court that she had to “prove her innocence.” She was aggressively cross-examined and grilled about her drinking. “She was as much on trial as the defendants,” an advocate told theAssociated Press.

In both the Big Dan’s and Steubenville cases, the public was shocked by the presence of bystanders who joined in, cheered, or did nothing to stop the attacks. That shock converged with anxiety over the role a new media format played in each case: As Columbia University journalism professor Helen Benedict noted in the landmark 1993 book, Virgin or Vamp: How the Press Covers Sex Crimes, the newfangled media in the Big Dan’s case was 24-hour cable news.

The Steubenville case, of course, was documented on and subsequently unfolded through social media: The assailants took photos of the victim looking unconscious. A friend shot, and later deleted, video of Mays assaulting the victim in a car. A blogger named Alexandra Goddard helped the case gain attention by chiseling away …read more

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Rich CEOs Trying to Pay Even LESS in Taxes

March 19, 2013 in Blogs

By Steven Hsieh, AlterNet

A lobby group for more than 200 CEOs is launching a campaign to reduce the corporate tax rate to 25 percent and loosen restrictions on offshore tax havens, reports The Hill.

“It’s time we reclaim America’s home court advantage by modernizing tax policy in a fiscally responsible way so all U.S. businesses can create jobs, innovate, grow, compete – and win,” Business Roundtable resident John Engler said in a press release.

The Business Roundtable’s announcement comes right off the heels of a Wall Street Journal analysis revealing that 60 corporations shielded 40 percent of annual profits by collectively stashing $166 billion offshore in 2012. Also, a study by shows 64 corporations paid just over 8 percent in taxes from 2008 to 2012. Some of these companies are the same ones pushing for a 10 percent corporate tax cut.

Meanwhile, the CEOs pushing for lower taxes continue to pay themselves exorbitantly, further widening the gap between corporate heads and regular Americans. The New York Timesreports that CEO pay rose five percent last year, during a time of “stubbornly high unemployment and declining wealth for many ordinary Americans.” And in 2011, AFL-CIO notes that S&P 500 executives “made, on average, 380 times the average wages of U.S. workers.”

Last week, President Obama convened closed-door meetings with Republican lawmakers to discuss stand-alone corporate tax reform. Reuters reports that Obama told Republicans he’d support a revenue-neutral corporate tax reform plan.

“If he's agreed, and he has, that the lowering of rates with the corporate tax will be revenue neutral, there's no reason we can't do that now,” Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) told Reuters.

But other Republicans and pass-through organizations that pay the 40 percent individual tax rate want a complete overhaul, rather than just stand-alone corporate tax reform.

“To us, tax reform means comprehensive. That means corporate, individual and pass-through,” Brian Reardon, executive director of the S Corporation Association told The Hill. “In our experience, the vast majority of the business community is united around that idea.” 

While businesses and lawmakers continue debating reduced taxes for corporations and the wealthy, low-income Americans brace …read more

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The Invasion of Iraq: Ten Years Later

March 19, 2013 in Economics

March 19 marks the 10 year anniversary of the launch of Operation Iraqi Freedom. At the time, President George W. Bush told the American people that we’d gone to war “to disarm Iraq, to free its people and to defend the world from grave danger.” Ten years later, the future of “Iraqi Freedom” is unclear at best, but it’s evident that there wasn’t much to disarm and that the world was never in grave danger. Cato scholars long opposed the war and argued repeatedly that an expeditious military withdrawal from Iraq was in America’s strategic interest.

…read more

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The Iraq War's Unhappy Anniversary

March 19, 2013 in Economics

By Gene Healy

Gene Healy

At about 9:30 p.m. on March 19, 2003, the shooting phase of Operation Iraqi Freedom began, with an unsuccessful “decapitation strike” aimed at top Iraqi leadership, including Saddam Hussein. Shortly thereafter, President George W. Bush told the American people in a nationally televised address that we’d gone to war “to disarm Iraq, to free its people and to defend the world from grave danger.”

Ten years later, the future of “Iraqi Freedom” is unclear at best, but it’s evident that there wasn’t much to disarm and that the world was never in grave danger.

What has the Iraq War cost us, and what lessons, if any, have we learned?

Placing all the blame for the war on neoconservatives lets everyone else off far too lightly, it seems to me. The 2002-03 rush to war was abipartisan flight from responsibility.

What has the Iraq War cost us, and what lessons, if any, have we learned?”

In 2002, very few of our elected representatives were interested in doing basic due diligence before exercising the solemn responsibility that the Constitution gives Congress in the power “to declare War.” From late September 2002 on, copies of the 92-page National Intelligence Estimate on the Iraq threat were available to any member of the House or Senate who wanted to review it. Only a handful even bothered. Then-Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y. — our current secretary of state and his predecessor — weren’t among the six senators who took the time to read the report before voting for war. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., explained that getting away to the secure room to read the NIE — a short walk away across the Capitol grounds — is “not easy to do” and that NIEs make for “extremely dense reading.”

The Beltway intelligentsia didn’t comport itself any better. In a recent article for the New Republic, “The Eve of Destruction,” TNR’s John B. Judis describes “what it was like to oppose the Iraq War in 2003.” Lonely: “within political Washington, it was difficult to find like-minded” opponents of the war. “Both of the major national dailies — The Washington Post and The New York Times (featuring Judith Miller’s reporting) — were beating the drums for war,” as were most of “Washington’s thinktank honchos.”

Not all of them, however. In a 2001 debate on Iraq with former CIA Director James Woolsey, my Cato Institute colleague, then-Chairman William …read more
Source: OP-EDS

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Where Will the Next Financial Crisis Begin?

March 19, 2013 in Economics

By Richard W. Rahn


Richard W. Rahn

Which country will serve as the trigger for the next financial crisis? Given the continuing rise in debt-to-gross domestic product (GDP) ratios in many countries, it is apparent that a new financial crisis will occur. Most of the speculation has been about when, rather than where. The most likely candidates are heavily indebted countries with a large growth deficit. The growth deficit is the difference between expected GDP growth and the expected government spending deficit as a percentage of GDP.

The financial crisis is likely to result in a totally justified flight from most government bonds, including those of the United States, which will set off a self-reinforcing cycle of unfundable rises in interest payments.”

The way to eliminate the growth deficit is by either increasing economic growth or reducing government spending. Almost all economists understand that economic growth can be increased by (1) reducing taxes on labor and capital, (2) eliminating counterproductive regulations, and (3) putting an end to monetary uncertainty. Classical-Austrian school economists think that reducing government spending by itself, particularly when a country is highly indebted, speeds up economic growth because government spending tends to waste and misallocate resources. Keynesian economists think that government spending increases economic growth — particularly if a country is not heavily indebted and if the deficit spending only continues for a limited period of time. A few radical Keynesians (it is unlikely that the late John Maynard Keynes would have been one) think that almost any level of government spending is stimulative.

The academic argument is about whether the government spending multiplier is less than one (as most classical-Austrian school economists think) or greater than one (as the Keynesian economists think). In a new paper that reviews the empirical evidence and studies (Policy Analysis No. 721, Cato Institute), professor Andrew T. Young concludes: “Given weak evidence of significant short-run benefits, it is hard to justify stimulus spending packages in light of the almost certain and large long-run costs.”

Massive deficit spending has not worked, as advertised, for a number of years in the countries listed in the accompanying table. All of them are at risk of even more financial shocks and stresses, and none of them seems politically able to make the degree of necessary change to solve the mess. Thus, it is most likely that one of them will serve as the location where the next global financial crisis is triggered. (Countries …read more
Source: OP-EDS