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Woman Records Parole Officer Sexually Assaulting Her During Home Visit

March 30, 2015 in Blogs

By Terrell Jermaine Starr, AlterNet

The victim recorded the assault on her cell phone because she wanted the cops to believe her.


A south Florida parole officer has been arrested and charged with sexually assaulting a woman whose probation he was supervising, WSVN reports.

Coral Springs police say Zachary Thomas Bailey, 50, used his position to sexually assault the victim. During two visits to the victim's home, Bailey allegedly forced himself on the woman while her daughter was in the other room.

Lieutenant Joe McCue said that Bailey blocked the victim from leaving the bathroom during his first visit and grabbed her genitals. “The first time he went there, he said he needed to check out the bedroom,” said McCue. “While in the bedroom, Mr. Bailey did sexually batter the victim by putting his hands down the front of her pants.”

During the next visit the following day, Bailey followed the victim into her bedroom and asked her for a massage. When she refused, Bailey allegedly took his clothes off, put on a condom, forced her onto the bed and raped her.

The victim recorded the assault on her cell phone because she felt it was the only way police would believe her. She feared reporting the rape would result in Bailey writing up a false parole violation.

“The victim said, 'This is rape. This is rape. I don't want you to do this,'” said McCue. “Unfortunately, she was in fear that if she reported this, he would violate her probation and put her back in jail.”

The video shows Bailey taking off his clothes and putting on the condom, which he left at the home. “The video is extremely explicit,” said the victim's attorney, Bradford Cohen. “It actually shows what her accusations are.”

Police will use the condom and video as evidence. Bailey worked for the Department of Corrections before being fired last Wednesday. Coral Springs police are asking any of Bailey's other victims to come forward.

“At this time, we're really uncertain if there's additional victims out there or not. However, if …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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What Happened When I Posed As a Man on Twitter

March 30, 2015 in Blogs

By Alex Blank Millard, xojane

For one week, I got to see what it's like to be treated with respect online.


Last weekend I became a man. I’ve dreamed about becoming a man before, wondered what it would be like to have genitalia that hangs, imagined myself free to walk alone with headphones on, fantasized about running at night. I didn’t get to experience that. But I did become a man on Twitter.

My partner and I talk about injustice a lot. He is aware of his male privilege. He is a feminist. He tweets about how we are treated differently:

My handle on Twitter is @hippoinatutu because I identify with those big beautiful hippos in tutus in Fantasia. Body-shaming is never OK with me, and I openly talk about being a fat woman. I am aware that I am fat. I’m also short, yet no one ever feels the need to “disagree” with me by calling a “disgustingly short” person.

I am told I am fat and ugly all the time. I get rape threats regularly, even though I'm also told I'm “too ugly to rape.” Even though these people on the Internet are not clever, and aren't saying anything new, it hurts. The online abuse is just a small sliver of what women hear every single day.

We do not just get threatened by faceless eggs on the Internet. We are attacked. We are abused. One in six of us will be assaulted/raped. People murder us. We are not just told to shut up by Twitter handles with four followers, we are shushed by bosses and stifled by media. Senators silence us. We internalize and silence ourselves. We aren’t just told we are fat; we are told we should be ashamed of our bodies by people who love us, people who should know better. Trolls are merely an echo of the harassment we hear every day.

It’s wrong that we cannot speak, even on the Internet, without fearing verbal harassment, rape threats, presumptions about our sex lives. It’s agonizing that I cannot voice my own experience, talk about my pain, …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Ricky Gervais on Being an Atheist: ‘It’s Just the Supernatural Thing I Don’t Buy’

March 30, 2015 in Blogs

By Tom Boggioni, Raw Story

'I just don’t believe there’s a God. That’s all there is to it.”


In an interview with the New York Daily News to promote the one-hour series finale of his television show “Derek,” comedian Ricky Gervais discussed his atheism, saying he has a problem with the “supernatural thing.”

The controversial television star who famously tweeted, “Everyone has the right to believe anything they want. And everyone else has the right to find it fucking ridiculous,” explained that he grew up loving Jesus.

“Listen, I loved Jesus growing up,” Gervais said. “He was a kind man who cared about the poor and stuck up for them, all that. It’s just the supernatural thing I don’t buy. He’s a great role model.”

Gervais' attitude toward atheists seems to mirror that of fellow comedian Patton Oswalt, who recently railed against angry off-putting atheists, saying “being an atheist means you don’t give a fuck about what anyone believes in.”

Gervais said, “I think people think 'atheist' means you’re this angry militant who runs into churches and says, ‘All of you are going to die, stop this!’ I like Christmas, I like carols. I just don’t believe there’s a God. That’s all there is to it.”

Gervais explained that what he does believe in is the right to euthanasia, and complained about those who oppose it for others based upon their own religious convictions.

“I’m all for dignity in dying,” he said. “I think if someone’s just had enough, there’s no hope and they’re in pain…I don’t know how anyone could oppose someone’s choice and right over whether they continue living or not. There’s so many misunderstandings about it and I don’t understand the anger that people don’t understand that this is beautiful and merciful and right.”

“I retweeted this awful thing, this religious thing — ‘If you euthanize someone in terrible agony, it’s deprived them of the privilege of the grace of God to suffer’ — and I just think what a twisted evil, thought process that is,” he lamented. “To impose your beliefs on another human being in terrible pain and suffering and agony and trauma, and …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Stigmatizing Depression and Suicide Won't Help Explain Germanwings Tragedy

March 30, 2015 in Blogs

By Terrell Jermaine Starr, AlterNet

Yes, copilot Andreas Lubitz was treated for suicidal thoughts. That doesn't mean we can make blanket statements about depression.


Andreas Lubitz, the copilot authorities claim intentionally downed a plane in the French Alps week, was treated for suicidal tendencies before receiving his pilot's license, the New York Times reports.  

German prosecutors said Lubitz was treated by psychotherapists “over a long period of time” but did not provide exact dates. During followup doctors' visits, “no signs of suicidal tendencies or outward aggression were documented,” the Times noted.

French prosecutors claim Lubitz, 27, was at the wheel of Germanwings Airbus A320 jetliner last Tuesday when he set it on course to crash into the mountains in southwest France. The captain was locked out of the cockpit and pleading with Lubitz to open the door in the moments before the fatal crash. All 150 passengers on the plane were killed.

Over the past week, commentary about Lubitz’s emotional health has dominated headlines, with the Daily Mail UK running a front page story titled, “Suicide pilot had a long history with depression. Why on Earth was he allowed to fly?”

Then there is the racial dynamic. If Lubitz were Muslim, would the media be calling this an act of terrorism instead of focusing on his mental health? I certainly believe they would be exploring the terror angle if that were the case, even though authorities have ruled out the possibility of terrorism.

But I want to focus on the troubling portrayals of mental illness I’m observing.

It will not be easy to determine why Lubitz by all accounts purposefully crashed the plane. But social media conversations about this tragedy and headlines like the Daily Mail's are worrisome because they can lead to dangerous stereotypes about depression and suicidal ideation.

Here in the United States, the CDC reports that nearly 39,518 people committed suicide in 2011; most who kill themselves do so with a firearm. According to the World Health Organization, 800,000 people commit suicide each year worldwide. The CDC also reports that 8.3 million people, or 3.7 percent of the U.S population, …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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My Personal Libertarian Hell: How I Enraged the Movement and Paid the Price

March 30, 2015 in Blogs

By Edwin Lyngar, Salon

I used to be a Libertarian. Then I had the gall to criticize them in an article.


The most dangerous thing you can do on the Internet is to send your banking information to a mysterious Nigerian prince. The second most dangerous thing you can do is to write even the most tepid criticism of libertarians. I recently wrote piece about my trip to Honduras and how conditions in that country reminded me of a “Libertarian Utopia.” I was inspired not only by the trip but also from reading many articles that have outlined a failing libertarian experiment in that country (here and here, for instance). I focused on just this one small factor when, of course, I also realize that the problems of Central America are historical, entrenched, and above all, complicated. From the reaction online you would have thought I personally kicked Austrian economist Friedrich Hayek square in his wrinkled, decomposed sack.

Reaction was swift and personal, including widely circulated factoids that I’m both fat and bald (guilty on both counts). Some called for my utter, personal ruin. Fair enough. But there were comments that went too far, such as those that addressed my parenting skills or that examined my decade-old divorce. I was unprepared for the fire hose of rage and invective. In fact, it’s hard to overstate just how furious—and proud of it—this segment of America seems. I could provide links, but I’d rather not send them traffic. If you are compelled to see for yourself, feel free to take a refreshing dip into the libertarian cesspool, but try not to get any in your mouth.

I’m tempted to avoid this group altogether, but I think it would be chicken shit of me to back away because of some name-calling and an epic temper tantrum. Every badly written blog and hysterical, spittle-flecked Internet video only further proves the point that these people have serious problems.

I often write about libertarianism from my own personal journey through it. The biggest criticism I’ve heard while writing various pieces is that I was “never really a libertarian.” I was a Ron Paul delegate in …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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One Small Step against Tyranny

March 30, 2015 in Economics

By Richard W. Rahn

Richard W. Rahn

Do you think the government should be able to seize your property if you have not been convicted of any crime? Most people are not aware that one of the most odious activities of federal, state and local tax and police authorities is that of “asset forfeiture.” Asset forfeiture laws allow law enforcement to seize and keep property of individuals and businesses without a criminal conviction.

The practice has been rife with abuse by law enforcement officials, often using seized property of innocent individuals for their own use. As a result of the outcries about the abuse, there was a unanimous vote by both Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate in New Mexico to end the practice of civil asset forfeiture in the state. The bill now awaits the signature of Gov. Susana Martinez. An unlikely coalition supported the measure to repeal asset forfeiture, ranging from the left-leaning American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico to the libertarian-leaning Institute for Justice. Former federal prosecutor and director of the Justice Department’s Asset Forfeiture Office, Brad Cates, now a resident of New Mexico, is one of the leading advocates of repeal of asset forfeiture laws at both the state and federal levels. Mr. Cates and the first director of the federal Asset Forfeiture Office, Judge John Yoder, in an article in The Washington Post last September, wrote: “We find it particularly painful to watch as the heavy hand of government goes amok. The program began with good intentions but now, having failed in both purpose and execution, it should be abolished.”

Civil asset forfeiture and money-laundering laws are gross perversions of the status of government amid a free citizenry.”

Many states and the federal government still allow asset forfeiture, even though they appear to fly in the face of the Fifth and 14th Amendments to the Constitution, which clearly protect any person from being deprived of property without due process. Where are the judges who are supposed to protect us from unconstitutional abuses?

It is particularly troubling that President Obama’s nominee for attorney general, Loretta Lynch, the current U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, strongly defended civil asset forfeiture during her Senate confirmation hearings, despite major abuses by her own office. One case is described by my Cato colleague and attorney, Adam Bates: “In May of 2012 the Hirsch brothers, joint owners of Bi-County Distributors of Long Island, …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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North Korea Advances Along the Nuclear Path: Washington Should Switch from Coercion to Engagement

March 30, 2015 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

North Korea continues along the nuclear path. A new report warns that Pyongyang could amass a nuclear arsenal as large as 100 weapons by 2020. With that many warheads the North would move from marginal local player to significant regional power in the same league as India, Israel, and Pakistan. Iran’s potential program, currently the subject of frenzied negotiation, suddenly looks much less threatening.

Washington has no realistic strategy to deal with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Some policymakers have advocated offensive military action, but that likely would trigger a war which would devastate South Korea. In contrast to Iran, U.S. presidents long ago stopped intoning that “all options” are on the table. The price of war simply would be too high.

The Obama administration’s chief policy has been to reaffirm Washington’s defensive alliance with the South. Then-U.S. military commander Gen. James D. Thurman said in 2013: “We’ve got to keep a close watch on [Kim Jong-un], every day, and that’s what we try to do.”

Some 28,500 U.S. troops are on station, backed by conventional forces elsewhere in the region. The Center for a New American Security recently recommended that the Pentagon draft contingency plans “for the possibility of limited military campaigns on the Korean peninsula” short of the full-scale war. The administration also is prepared to deploy Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense. Moreover, Washington maintains a nuclear umbrella over the South.

However, such steps have little effect on the North’s nuclear development since offensive action is not the program’s purpose. Rather, the DPRK sees nukes as protection against the allies’ overwhelming military strength, prestige for an otherwise geopolitical nullity, potent tool of extortion, and domestic reward for North Korea’s military. In fact, the more ostentatious the allies’ military preparations, the greater Pyongyang’s incentive to expand its nuclear capabilities.

Some analysts look to more economic sanctions to stop a North Korea bomb. A United Nations Panel of Experts recently proposed penalizing the North’s space agency, the National Aerospace Development Administration. Zach Przystup of Tufts University’s Fletcher School called for “the U.S. and its partners to work to tighten sanctions and stop the flow of luxury goods into North Korea.” Undoubtedly, more could be done, but neither China nor Russia is likely to approve new UN penalties. Additional U.S. sanctions alone aren’t likely to cause the North to surrender a program deemed essential to the regime’s international standing and domestic stability. …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Cato Institute Welcomes New CEO

March 30, 2015 in Economics

The Cato Institute welcomes Peter Goettler, a former managing director at Barclays Capital, as its new President and CEO, effective April 1. Current CEO John Allison is retiring after more than two exemplary years on the job. “Peter Goettler is an accomplished business executive who can speak powerfully, write convincingly, and has the leadership skills to take Cato’s outstanding team to an even higher impact level. We are very fortunate to have him as Cato’s new President and CEO. He has the talent to make a great organization even better,” said Allison.

…read more

Source: CATO HEADLINES

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How U.S. Export-Import Bank Taxes Indiana's Manufacturers, Workers

March 29, 2015 in Economics

By Daniel J. Ikenson

Daniel J. Ikenson

If you count yourself among the majority of Americans fed up with the unsavory, business-as-usual, back-room dealing that continues to define Washington, take heart in the fact that the charter of the scandal-prone U.S. Export-Import Bank is set to expire on June 30. 

Ex-Im is a government-run export credit agency, which provides below market-rate financing and loan guarantees to facilitate sales between U.S. companies and foreign customers. In 2013 roughly 75 percent of Ex-Im’s subsidies were granted for the benefit of just 10 large companies — including Boeing, Bechtel, and GE — that could easily have financed those transactions without taxpayer assistance.

Supporters characterize the bank as a pillar of the economy, undergirding U.S. export sales, which allegedly create more and higher-paying U.S. jobs. But a fatty sheath of willful ignorance has insulated the bank from the scrutiny it deserves. Like all Washington subsidy programs, Ex-Im gives to the few, but takes from the many.

A fatty sheath of willful ignorance has insulated the bank from the scrutiny it deserves.”

When the government subsidizes your competitor’s sales but not yours, you are made worse off because your competitor can now offer lower prices or better sales terms than he otherwise could. Call these the “intra-industry” costs. Likewise, when the government subsidizes your suppliers’ sales to your competitor, you are made worse off because your competitor’s costs are artificially reduced, enabling him to charge lower prices or offer better sales terms than he could without the subsidy. Call these the “downstream” costs.

Ex-Im’s management and its Washington-savvy supporters have been running a shell game, dazzling Congress with the shiny new export sales it finances, while drawing policymakers’ attention away from the costs those activities impose on everyone else. Last year, Delta Airlines finally had enough and complained about Ex-Im loans to Air India, which were granted to enable the foreign carrier to purchase aircraft from Boeing. Delta officials demonstrated how those taxpayer subsidies, made for the benefit of Boeing’s bottom line, put Delta at a competitive disadvantage by reducing Air India’s capital costs, enabling it to lower fares and compete more effectively with Delta for international travelers. Why should taxpayer dollars be used to promote the interests of one U.S. company over another?

The problem isn’t limited to Delta. A recent Cato Institute study estimated the net costs imposed on firms in downstream industries on account of Ex-Im’s subsidies to …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Why the Supreme Court Will Overrule the IRS

March 29, 2015 in Economics

By Michael F. Cannon, Jonathan H. Adler

Michael F. Cannon and Jonathan H. Adler

Kevin Pace is a jazz musician who teaches music appreciation in Northern Virginia. When the IRS announced it would impose the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate here in the Old Dominion, Pace’s employer cut hours for part-time professors in order to avoid steep penalties. Pace lost $8,000 in income. That would be bad enough if the penalties the IRS is now imposing on Virginia employers were legal. Yet two federal courts have held they are not.

In King v. Burwell, four Virginia taxpayers are challenging the IRS’s decision to impose Obamacare’s major taxing and spending provisions in states that refused to establish a health-insurance “exchange.” As provided in the Affordable Care Act, the federal government established fallback exchanges (HealthCare.gov) in those states.

Not a single member of Congress ever claimed the ACA authorized subsidies in federal exchanges. Not. Even. Once.”

But the act authorizes premium subsidies — and certain taxes that those subsidies trigger — only “through an Exchange established by the State.” In spite of that clear statutory requirement, the IRS is issuing premium subsidies and imposing those taxes in 34 states, including Virginia, that did not establish exchanges. The King challengers allege the IRS is subjecting them, Kevin Pace and 57 million other Americans to illegal taxes in the form of Obamacare’s individual and employer mandates. The Supreme Court heard oral arguments earlier this month, and will likely rule by June.

Times-Dispatch columnist A. Barton Hinkle’s “The case against Obamacare is looking weaker,” March 23 — is skeptical of the challengers’ claim that Congress intended to authorize the disputed taxes and spending only in states that established exchanges. I used to share his skepticism. I no longer do.

***

In 2011 and 2012, I researched and wrote — along with Case Western Reserve University law professor Jonathan H. Adler — a law-journal article that explains why the IRS’s actions are illegal. Our work laid the foundation for King and three similar cases. To our knowledge, we have done more research on the question of what Congress really meant than anyone.

When we began, we knew Congress routinely conditions benefits to individuals on states implementing federal programs. The Supreme Court has held that Congress cannot compel states to implement such programs, but it can create incentives for states to do so. Medicaid is an example. Congress offers states billions of dollars — but only if the states run health-care programs …read more

Source: OP-EDS