RIO DE JANEIRO — The attacks have stunned this city. In one, an assailant held a gun to the head of a 30-year-old woman while raping her in front of passengers on a bus as the driver proceeded down a main avenue. In another, a 14-year-old girl from a hillside slum was raped on one of Rio’s most famous stretches of beach.
In yet another case, men abducted and raped a working-class woman in a transit van as it wended through densely populated areas. The police failed to investigate, and a week later the same men raped a 21-year-old American student in the same van, pummeling her face and beating her male companion with a metal bar.
“Unfortunately, it had to happen to her before anyone would help me,” said the Brazilian woman raped in the transit van. “I was like, ‘Could this have been avoided if they had paid attention to my case?’ “
A recent wave of rapes in Rio — some captured on video cameras — have cast a spotlight on the unresolved contradictions of a nation that is coming of age as a world power. Brazil has a woman as president, a woman as a powerful police commander and a woman as the head of its national oil company — and yet, it was not until an American was raped that the authorities got fully involved and arrested suspects in the case.
Rio’s public security officials acknowledge that they have faced a sharp increase in the number of reported rape cases, which surged 24 percent last year to 1,972 in the city. But they argue that the increase has taken place nationally, reflecting a change in legislation in 2009 to broaden the definition of rape to include oral and anal penetration, as well as efforts to make it easier for women to file rape complaints.
In a speech to party cadres containing some of the boldest pro-market rhetoric they have heard in more than a decade, the country’s new prime minister, Li Keqiang, said this month that the central government would reduce the state’s role in economic matters in the hope of unleashing the creative energies of a nation with the world’s second-largest economy after that of the United States.
On Friday, the Chinese government issued a set of policy proposals that seemed to show that Mr. Li and other leaders were serious about reducing government intervention in the marketplace and giving competition among private businesses a bigger role in investment decisions and setting prices. Whether Beijing can restructure an economy that is thoroughly addicted to state credit and government directives is unclear. But analysts see such announcements as the strongest signs yet that top policy makers are serious about revamping the nation’s growth model.
Cops Go Undercover at High School to Bust Special-Needs Kid for Pot: Why Are Police So Desperate to Throw Kids in Jail?
Californians Doug and Catherine Snodgrass are suing their son’s high school for allowing undercover police officers to set up the 17-year-old special-needs student for a drug arrest.
In a video segment on ABC News, they say they were “thrilled” when their son — who has Asperger’s and other disabilities and struggled to make friends — appeared to have instantly made a friend named Daniel.
“He suddenly had this friend who was texting him around the clock,” Doug Snodgrass told ABC News. His son had just recently enrolled at Chaparral High School.
“Daniel,” however, was an undercover cop with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department who ” hounded” the teenager to sell him his prescription medication. When he refused, the undercover cop gave him $20 to buy him weed, and he complied — not realizing the guy he wanted to befriend wanted him behind bars.
“Sending police and informants to entrap high-school students is sick,” says Tony Newman, director of media relations at the Drug Policy Alliance. “We see cops seducing 18-year-olds to fall in love with them or befriending lonely kids and then tricking them into getting them small amounts of marijuana so they can stick them with felonies. We often hear that we need to fight the drug war to protect the kids. As these despicable examples show, more often the drug war is ruining young people’s lives and doing way more harm than good.”
Despite issuing a highly publicized memorandum in 2009 stating, “Science and the scientific process must inform and guide decisions of my Administration,” it remains clear that federal lawmakers and the White House continue to willfully ignore science in regards to the cannabis plant and the federal policies which condemn it to the same prohibitive legal status as heroin. In fact, in 2011 the Obama administration went so far as to reject an administrative petition that called for hearings to reevaluate pot’s safety and efficacy, pronouncing in the Federal Register, “Marijuana does not have a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States or a currently accepted medical use with severe restrictions. At this time, the known risks of marijuana use have not been shown to be outweighed by specific benefits in well-controlled clinical trials that scientifically evaluate safety and efficacy.” (The Administration’s flat-Earth position was upheld in January by a three-judge panel for the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.)
Nevertheless, scientific evaluations of cannabis and the health of its consumers have never been more prevalent. Studies are now published almost daily rebuking the federal government’s allegations that the marijuana plant is a highly dangerous substance lacking any therapeutic utility. Yet, virtually all of these studies – and, more importantly, their implications for public policy – continue to be ignored by lawmakers. Here are just a few examples of the latest cannabis science that your federal government doesn’t want you to know about.
But don’t expect federal officials to help move this process forward. In 2011 federal administrators blocked investigators at the University of Arizona at Phoenix from conducting an FDA-approved, placebo-controlled clinical trial to evaluate the use of cannabis in 50 patients with PTSD.
Scientific integrity? Not when it comes to marijuana. Not by a long shot.
The Justice Department is objecting to a proposed $20 million severance payment for American Airlines CEO Tom Horton, saying it’s bigger than allowed by bankruptcy law.
Horton became CEO when American filed for Chapter 11 protection in November 2011. The proposed merger of US Airways Group Inc. and American calls for Horton to lose that job and become chairman of the combined company. American has proposed giving him severance pay of almost $20 million and lifetime flight benefits.
The objection filed Friday by the U.S. trustee’s office says bankruptcy law caps such payments, even if they are agreed to in bankruptcy court but not made until the company exits bankruptcy protection. Bankruptcy law limits severance payments to executives and aims to make sure companies can repay as much of their debt as possible.
The objection also says previous company filings showed that Horton would get a maximum of $6.4 million if he had left at the end of last year, and raises the question of why he should get so much more money now. American has said in filings that the money for Horton is in recognition of his efforts during the airline’s restructuring and his role in overseeing the merger with US Airways.
The trustee’s objection also says American should be required to explain how its board determined that $20 million was the right amount for Horton, and to say whether independent directors approved of the payment.
Progressive Activism Is Bubbling Up Across the Country — Here’s What’s Happening That the Corporate Media Can’t Be Bothered to
This was a week that exemplified the historic moment in which we live. We will look back at these times and see the seeds of a national revolt against concentrated wealth that puts profits ahead of people and the planet.
Mike Lux, who authored a history of the movements of the 1960s, wrote this week that when he researched his book he “was struck by the fact that so many big things happened so close together.” Comparing that moment to today he writes, “We are living in such a moment in history right now, that organizers and activists are sparking off each other and inspiring each other, that there is something building out there that will bring bigger change down the road.”
That is how we felt as we watched and participated in this week’s unfolding. We began the week prepared to focus our attention on the amazing teacher, student and community actions that were occurring in defense of schools. In Philadelphia, there was a giant walk-out of schools last Friday as students demanded their schools remain open and be adequately funded. The photos of young people fighting for the basic necessity of education were an inspiration.
That was followed by three days of protests in Chicago that were equally inspiring, students organized and communities came together to fight for education. Though corporate-mayor Rahm Emanuel’s carefully selected board voted to close 50 elementary schools and one high school (while the city funds the building of a new basketball stadium), the Chicago activists say they are not done. They are just getting started. It is that kind of persistence that wins transformation. These school battles are part of a national plan to replace community schools with corporatized charter schools. The battles of Chicago, Philadelphia and other cities are all of our battles.
But, when you read reports about police acting in this undemocratic way, don’t forget that many of them do not like doing what they are ordered to do and that pulling them to join the popular revolt is part of our job. A mass movement needs people from the power structure to join it in order to achieve success. We highlight one this week, Officer Pedro Serrano of New York who took the great personal risk of taping his superiors as part of an effort to end the racist ‘stop and frisk’ program of the NYPD.
So the Afghanistan President put forth a decree, banning or otherwise making illegal:
- Child Marriage
- Forced Marriage
- Domestic Violence
- "Women as Chattel" (Giving a daughter or sister away to settle a debt)
- Murdering Rape Victims as Adulterers
Which puts the country at least one baby step closer to being actually sane.
So of course there’s a riot about it:
More than 200 male students protested in Kabul yesterday against women’s rights, calling for the repeal of a presidential decree on the ‘Elimination of Violence Against Women’, which they say is un-Islamic.
Every time I try and defend Muslims against the venom I hear going towards them from the ultra-far right here in the states, I’m reminded of stuff like this. Of course, if the ultra-far right had their way, our country would look suspiciously like the Middle East in a few years.
Fifty years ago, African-Americans were targets of the Ku Klux Klan’s violent hate agenda as the Civil Rights movement gained steam in desegregating public institutions across the South.
The Birmingham church bombings, which killed four little girls in 1963, was one of the most violent crimes the Ku Klux Klan has been responsible for in attacking Black Americans (on Friday, the president signed a bill designating the Congressional Gold Medal commemorating the lives of the four young girls killed in the 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing).
In 2013, the Ku Klux Klan is still active and fighting to hold on to the legacy of their forefathers. Triple Hate, a new VICE documentary, profiles a recent KKK rally against the Memphis city council’s decision to rename Confederate parks.
But why are groups like the KKK still holding on to the past? According to Bill Nigut, Southeast regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, the issues of the KKK are deeper than just wanting to defend their history and keep the Confederacy alive.
“They are venting their anger and frustration. They are looking to blame people for issues in their own lives,” says Nigut. “It is not surprising that in a time of economic uncertainty there are people looking to blame other people for their own problems.”
Matt Barber of Liberty Counsel is clutching his pearls and cranking up the faux outrage machine once again, this time over a pamphlet sent out to management at the Department of Justice that offers suggestions on how to maintain a positive work environment for LGBT employees. And he lies about the content of that pamphlet in order to claim that it’s an “attack on freedom.”
Our sources have provided Liberty Counsel an internal DOJ document titled: “LGBT Inclusion at Work: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Managers.” It was emailed to DOJ managers in advance of the left’s so-called “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month.”
The document is chilling. It’s riddled with directives that grossly violate - prima facie -employees’ First Amendment liberties.
Following are excerpts from the “DOJ Pride” decree. When it comes to “LGBT pride,” employees are ordered:
“DON’T judge or remain silent. Silence will be interpreted as disapproval.” (Italics mine)
That’s a threat.
And not even a subtle one.
Oh, nonsense. First of all, this is a pamphlet of “practical tips to help managers create a truly inclusive workplace
climate.” It’s not a set of commandments delivered from Mt. Sinai. It wasn’t even sent out by DOJ officials, it was sent out by DOJ Pride, the Association of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Employees of the U.S. Department of Justice and Their Allies. And when you look at this in context, it becomes clear what that little out-of-context snippet means
With less than six weeks left until the interest rate on Stafford loans are set to double if Congress doesn’t act, proposals on how to address these federal interest rates have been pouring in from all branches of the government.
On Thursday, the House passed the Smarter Solutions for Students Act, which would put Stafford loan interest rates in step with financial markets from year to year, ending a system in which rates are set by Congress. This “simple” solution likely won’t get far, as it faces opposition from Senate Democrats who have a competing bill that would extend the current interest rate of 3.4 percent for two years, giving Congress time to consider a long-term approach to address the growing student debt crisis that impacts 38 million Americans.
President Obama also threatened to veto the bill, calling it the “wrong approach” for students and their families, citing the lack of transparency and clarity for student and parents who try to garner the true price tag of borrowing for college, missing repayment options for borrowers who don’t attend school anymore, and shifting the burden of reducing the deficit on the shoulders of student loan borrowers among others.
In response to the House’s passage of the bill Carmel Martin, executive vice-president for policy at the Center for American Progress, our parent organization, said in:
The decision by the House of Representatives to approve Rep. Kline’s proposal is a step in the wrong direction for students and the economy. Rep. Kline’s bill taxes students to pay down the deficit. Congress should act to stop rates from doubling and build in protections for students to help them manage their debt. The House measure would divert $3.7 billion from the program to deficit reduction and result in an increase in student debt of close to $4 billion over what borrowers would pay under current law.