Friday, July 31, 2015

Women With Troubles - July 2015

Here is a compilation of women with troubles reported in news stories during July 2015. Each name is linked to an Interested-Participant blog entry displaying details.

For a more comprehensive listing, check the Women With Troubles category link.
(AL) Jennifer Marie Perry, 27,
teacher - Gets suspended sentence for sex with student,

(AR) Beth Dickerson, 32,
neighbor - Get six years prison for sex with child,

(AR) Amber Nicole Johnson, 28,
neighbor - Charged with human trafficking,

(AR) Mary Faith McCormick, 33,
teacher - Pleaded guilty to sex with boy, 13,

(AZ) Nikki Sianez, 25,
special education teacher - Accused of sex with male student, 17,

(CA) Laura Nicole Lasek, 27,
teacher - Guilty of sex with boy, 15,

(FL) Alecia Kay Dotson, 45,
teacher - Accused of romancing 11-year-old boy,

(FL) Lisa Elberson, 29,
neighbor - Accused of attacking a teenager with a baseball bat,

(FL) Jennifer Fichter, 30,
teacher - Sentenced to 22 years prison for sex with minor,

(FL) Veronica F. Gordon, 39,
neighbor - Charged with felony animal cruelty,

(FL) Dolly Kuryga, 47,
neighbor - Accused of sex acts on 16-year-old victim,

(IN) Tiffany Anne Cottrell, 31,
neighbor - Faces two counts of prostitution,

(MI) Jessica Carlton, 44,
neighbor - Accused of inappropriate relationship with boy, 11,

(MI) Lauren Hill, 26,
teacher - Sentenced to prison for criminal sex,

(MN) Rebecca Lee Noonan, 31,
girls soccer coach - Accused of sex with boy, 13,

(MO) Jessica Low, 33,
teacher - Gets four years prison for sex with student,

(MO) Nicole Porter, 20,
neighbor - Accused of sex with boy, 13,

(NC) Kimberly Lynne Umphlett, 24,
teacher - Indicted for sex with student,

(NC) Rebekah Gammon Wright, 28,
teacher - Gets 2 to 4 years prison for sex with student,

(ND) Amanda Kolosky, 35,
teacher - Gets suspended sentence for sex with student,

(NE) Molleigh Valdez, 23,
neighbor - Accused of sex with girl, 14,

(NJ) Jill Blau, 42,
special education teacher - Accused of drug charges,

(NJ) Radha Singh, 27,
neighbor - Accused of sexual assault of teenager,

(NV) Sara Jones, 31,
neighbor - Gets 21 years prison for attempted murder of police officer,

(NY) Christina Jewell-Belluccio, 32,
cheerleading coach - Guilty of sex with male student, 16. Gets eight days in jail,

(NY) Ashley Kaufmann, 30,
teacher - Arrested for relationship with boy, 16,

(OH) Emile L. Weaver, 20,
student - Indicted for causing death of her baby,

(OR) Alejandra Espinoza, 20,
neighbor - Accused of rape and sex abuse of boy, 14,

(PA) Katie Cross, 31,
teacher - Faces sex charges for straddling male student in parked car,

(PA) Paden Ann Tennant, 22,
teacher - Accused of sex with boy, 12,

(TN) Jennifer Darlene Smith, 39,
teacher - Charged with attempted murder of her husband,

(TX) Amanda Askari, 36,
teacher's aide - Pleaded guilty to improper relationship with a student. Sentencing in September,

(UT) Brianne Altice, 35,
teacher - Sentenced to between two and 30 years prison for sex with three male students,

(UT) Amber Telford, 33,
dance studio owner - Guilty of sex with minor. Sentencing in August,

(VA) Courtney E. Allman, 23,
softball coach - Convicted of indecent liberties with 15-year-old girl. Sentencing in October,

(WV) Amanda Sammons, 31,
neighbor - Arrested for sex with boy, 15.

Thanks to the tipsters.

Oregon Female Accused of Rape

Alejandra Espinoza

(Clatsop County, Oregon) A 20-year-old woman, Alejandra Espinoza, has pleaded not guilty to allegations of raping and sexually abusing a 14-year-old boy.

Espinoza faces counts of rape and third-degree sex abuse.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Missouri Woman Accused of Raping Boy

Nicole Porter

(Sedalia, Missouri) A 20-year-old local woman, Nicole Porter, has been accused of having sex with a 13-year-old boy.
A few days later during an interview at the Pettis County Sheriff’s office, Porter admitted to getting drunk with the teen at her home on Southwood Drive.

She said she had sex with the boy twice within the last few weeks and knew he was 13.
Porter was booked into the Pettis County Jail.

  British cops investigating after three youngsters sparked a race row by 'blacking up' as golliwogs

Is that the best they have got to do with their time. They don't have the personnel to attend the scene of most burglaries but they have got time for this triviality?

Police have launched an investigation to identify three teenagers who sparked a race row after they blacked up as Golliwogs for their town's summer parade.

Two girls and a boy painted their faces black, wore curly wigs and donned distinctive red, blue, white and black costumes at the Wick Gala, in Caithness, Scotland, on Saturday.

Police launched a probe into the incident after a member of the public raised the alarm over 'inappropriate behaviour' at the gala.

Golliwogs were a character in children's books in the late 19th century usually depicted as a type of rag doll. But the term has become a racial slur applied to black people in recent years.

Saskia Leighton, 23, from Wick, Caitness, added: 'Gala is a fantastic day of the year that really brings the community together.

'It's a real shame to see that great atmosphere spoiled by a few naive, thoughtless youngsters. I hope that they have learned from this and understand that although Wick may be remote they understand what it means and why it caused offence.

Wick Gala Committee have also been contacted by police as part of their probe.

Police Scotland confirmed it is carrying out an investigation but would not comment further.


Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).

Arizona Educator Accused of Sex Abuse of Student

Nikki Suanez

(Tempe, Arizona) Special education teacher at La Joya High School, Nikki Sianez, 25, has been accused of sexual abuse of a male student, 17.
Authorities uncovered the relationship while investigating the victim’s status as a runaway. The victim told investigators that he had been staying with Sianez at her mother’s home in Tempe.

According to court documents, a search warrant on Sianez phone showed “numerous photographs of Nikki and the victim hugging and kissing, as if they were in a romantic relationship."
Sianez was booked into custody at the Tempe City Jail.

New York Teacher and Male Student, 16

Ashley Kaufmann

(Port Jervis, New York) A 30-year-old Orange County teacher, Ashley Kaufmann, has been arrested for engaging in a relationship with a 16-year-old male Port Jervis High School student.

Kaufmann faces counts of forcible touching and endangering the welfare of a child.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

A syndrome of general biological fitness appears again

I have been pointing out for many years that there seems to be a syndrome of general biological fitness -- such that high IQ people are healthier, live longer and have better emotional balance. High IQ, in other words, is just one part of general bodily good functioning. The recent study below is another indicator of such an association and goes on to show that the link is genetic.  Some people are just born healthier and fitter. If so, all your bits work well -- including your brain, which is just another bodily organ.   A wise man from long ago knew that.  He said: "For he that hath, to him shall be given: and he that hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he hath." (Mark 4: 25).  "All men are equal" exists neither in the Bible nor in life

The association between intelligence and lifespan is mostly genetic

By Rosalind Arden et al.


Background: Several studies in the new field of cognitive epidemiology have shown that higher intelligence predicts longer lifespan. This positive correlation might arise from socioeconomic status influencing both intelligence and health; intelligence leading to better health behaviours; and/or some shared genetic factors influencing both intelligence and health. Distinguishing among these hypotheses is crucial for medicine and public health, but can only be accomplished by studying a genetically informative sample.

Methods: We analysed data from three genetically informative samples containing information on intelligence and mortality: Sample 1, 377 pairs of male veterans from the NAS-NRC US World War II Twin Registry; Sample 2, 246 pairs of twins from the Swedish Twin Registry; and Sample 3, 784 pairs of twins from the Danish Twin Registry. The age at which intelligence was measured differed between the samples. We used three methods of genetic analysis to examine the relationship between intelligence and lifespan: we calculated the proportion of the more intelligent twins who outlived their co-twin; we regressed within-twin-pair lifespan differences on within-twin-pair intelligence differences; and we used the resulting regression coefficients to model the additive genetic covariance. We conducted a meta-analysis of the regression coefficients across the three samples.

Results: The combined (and all three individual samples) showed a small positive phenotypic correlation between intelligence and lifespan. In the combined sample observed r = .12 (95% confidence interval .06 to .18). The additive genetic covariance model supported a genetic relationship between intelligence and lifespan. In the combined sample the genetic contribution to the covariance was 95%; in the US study, 84%; in the Swedish study, 86%, and in the Danish study, 85%.

Conclusions: The finding of common genetic effects between lifespan and intelligence has important implications for public health, and for those interested in the genetics of intelligence, lifespan or inequalities in health outcomes including lifespan.


Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).

Bill Cosby and 35 Women

Bill Cosby Accusers

(New York City)
The latest cover of New York Magazine features 35 women who told the magazine their stories of being assaulted by Bill Cosby.
Frankly, I don't see a way for Cosby to walk away from his troubles.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Indiana Prostitution Arrest

Tiffany Anne Cottrell

(Muncie, Indiana)
Authorities allege a Hagerstown woman arranged to sell sex to two East Central Indiana men through a Craigslist ad.

Tiffany Anne Cottrell, 31, is charged with two counts of prostitution, a Class A misdemeanor carrying a maximum one-year jail term, in Wayne Superior Court 3.
Reportedly, men paid $125 for a sex act.

Your poverty is in your brain

We sort of knew that already.  The correlation between low IQ and poverty is well-attested. The latest journal article below however takes the story a bit further in that it identifies which brain regions are responsible.  Certain areas of poor people's brains are actually shrunken! The authors seem to have frightened themselves by their boldness, however, as they have tacked a totally illogical conclusion on to their findings.

If poverty is a result of the shrunken brain you were born with, does it not follow that there is not much you can do about it?  The authors below avoid that conclusion.  Instead they say that poor households "should be targeted for additional resources aimed at remediating early childhood environments".   An hereditary problem can be fixed by changing the environment?  That's a pretty good Non Sequitur as far as I can see.

It's not totally daft in that genetics accounts for only about two thirds of IQ.  There are some other influences that have an effect.  But all the research shows that family environment is NOT part of those other influences on IQ.   It's jarring but that is what all the twin studies show. So the hairy lady and her colleagues below are just ignoring the evidence.  But they need to in order to sound nicely Leftist about it all.

Footnote:  The authors of course avoid the term "IQ" like the plague but the standardized tests  of  academic achievement they used are little more than IQ tests and correlate highly with acknowledged measures of IQ.  So their findings show that IQ, income and brain development all cluster together.

Association of Child Poverty, Brain Development, and Academic Achievement

By Nicole L. Hair et al.


Importance:  Children living in poverty generally perform poorly in school, with markedly lower standardized test scores and lower educational attainment. The longer children live in poverty, the greater their academic deficits. These patterns persist to adulthood, contributing to lifetime-reduced occupational attainment.

Objective:  To determine whether atypical patterns of structural brain development mediate the relationship between household poverty and impaired academic performance.

Design, Setting, and Participants:  Longitudinal cohort study analyzing 823 magnetic resonance imaging scans of 389 typically developing children and adolescents aged 4 to 22 years from the National Institutes of Health Magnetic Resonance Imaging Study of Normal Brain Development with complete sociodemographic and neuroimaging data. Data collection began in November 2001 and ended in August 2007. Participants were screened for a variety of factors suspected to adversely affect brain development, recruited at 6 data collection sites across the United States, assessed at baseline, and followed up at 24-month intervals for a total of 3 periods. Each study center used community-based sampling to reflect regional and overall US demographics of income, race, and ethnicity based on the US Department of Housing and Urban Development definitions of area income. One-quarter of sample households reported the total family income below 200% of the federal poverty level. Repeated observations were available for 301 participants.

Exposure  Household poverty measured by family income and adjusted for family size as a percentage of the federal poverty level.

Main Outcomes and Measures:  Children's scores on cognitive and academic achievement assessments and brain tissue, including gray matter of the total brain, frontal lobe, temporal lobe, and hippocampus.

Results:  Poverty is tied to structural differences in several areas of the brain associated with school readiness skills, with the largest influence observed among children from the poorest households. Regional gray matter volumes of children below 1.5 times the federal poverty level were 3 to 4 percentage points below the developmental norm (P less than .05). A larger gap of 8 to 10 percentage points was observed for children below the federal poverty level (P less than .05). These developmental differences had consequences for children's academic achievement. On average, children from low-income households scored 4 to 7 points lower on standardized tests (P less than .05). As much as 20% of the gap in test scores could be explained by maturational lags in the frontal and temporal lobes.

Conclusions and Relevance:  The influence of poverty on children's learning and achievement is mediated by structural brain development. To avoid long-term costs of impaired academic functioning, households below 150% of the federal poverty level should be targeted for additional resources aimed at remediating early childhood environments.

JAMA Pediatr. Published online July 20, 2015. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2015.1475

Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).

Monday, July 27, 2015

Is the Pope a Fascist?

If we compare him with Fascists of the past, his ideas are clearly Fascist.  Fortunately, however, he has none of their power.  "But how can such a nice guy be a Fascist?" one might ask. In answer to that remember that "Pope" is a version of the Italian word for "father" and that both Mussolini and Hitler were seen as fatherly figures in their times.  Hitler had most Germans convinced that he loved them. And even in the mouth of a holy man bad ideas can be destructive when other people take them seriously.

And the church has always accomodated Fascism.   In 1929 Mussolini and Pope Pius 12th signed the Lateran treaty -- which is  the legal basis for the existence of the Vatican State to this day -- and Pius in fact at one stage called Mussolini "the man sent by Providence".  The treaty recognized Roman Catholicism as the Italian State religion as well as recognizing the Vatican as a sovereign state.  What Mussolini got in exchange was acceptance by the church -- something that was enormously important in the Italy of that time.

It should also be noted that Mussolini's economic system (his "corporate State") was a version of syndicalism  -- having workers, bosses and the party allegedly united in several big happy families --  and syndicalism is precisely what had been recommended in the then recent (1891) "radical" encyclical De rerum novarum of Pope Leo XIII.  So that helped enormously to reconcile Mussolini to the church.  Economically, Fascism was more Papal than capitalist (though in the Papal version of syndicalism the church naturally had a bigger role).

Syndicalism was of course a far-Leftist idea (with Sorel as a major prophet) long before it was a Papal one but the Holy Father presented a much more humanized and practical version of it and thus seems in the end to have been more influential than his Leftist rivals.  Mussolini was of course acutely aware of both streams of syndicalist thinking and it was a great convenience to him to be able to present himself as both a modern Leftist and as a supporter of the church.

So that is the Catholic intellectual inheritance, making Frank's ideas not at all outlandish in a Catholic context.  Catholic economic ideas in fact formed the basis of Italian Fascism.  And Frank has built on that foundation using more modern ideas.

In his recent encyclical, Frank has made it clear that he idealizes a simple and definitely non-capitalist rural past. Hitler did the same.  So exactly from where did Frank get those ideas?  As well as from Catholic economic thinking, he got them from liberation theology.  Liberation theology is widespread among South American priests and Frank is a South American priest.  So where did South American Priests get their ideas?  From the prevailing South American cuture.  And South American thinking is typically Fascist.  Latin America has had heaps of Fascist-type dictatorships in the recent history of its governance so that is hardly controversial.  Fascism explains Latin-American poverty.  Fascism is a form of Leftism and Leftism is always economically destructive.

So where did South American Fascism come from?  Initially from Simon Bolivar, the great liberator of South America.  Bolivar wanted to replace the king of Spain by a South American elite, not by mass democracy.  And to this day the Venezuelan regime describes itself as Bolivarian.  Bolivar and his ideas are far from forgotten.  Bolivar emphasized the importance of a strong ruler and the constitution he wrote aimed to establish a lifelong presidency and an hereditary senate. He explicitly rejected the liberal ideas of the U.S. founders. Fascist enough?  Memories of  a certain Tausend Jahr Reich come to mind. So the Latin American dictators have simply been good Bolivarians.

So that is the mental world that formed Pope Frank as he was growing up in Argentina.  And who is to this day the most influential political figure in Argentina?  Juan Peron, another Fascist and a friend of Mussolini in his day.  And it was of course Peron who gave refuge to many displaced Nazis after WWII.  And what was Peron's appeal?  He claimed to be standing up for the descamisados", the "shirtless ones".  In typical Leftist style he claimed to be an advocate for the poor.

Is Frank's thinking coming into focus yet?  He is actually a pretty good Peronist.  He has brought Argentinian Fascism to the Holy See.  He is certainly no original thinker. Paul Driessen  sets out below how his prescriptions would perpetuate poverty, disease, and premature death in the Third World -- just as they have done in Argentina

The Laudato Si encyclical on climate, sustainability and the environment prepared by and for Pope Francis is often eloquent, always passionate but often encumbered by platitudes, many of them erroneous.

“Man has slapped nature in the face,” and “nature never forgives,” the pontiff declares. “Never have we so hurt and mistreated our common home as in the last 200 years.” It isn’t possible to sustain the present level of consumption in developed countries and wealthier sectors of society. “Each year thousands of species are being lost,” and “if we destroy creation, it will destroy us.”

The pope believes climate change is largely manmade and driven by a capitalist economic system that exploits the poor. Therefore, he says, we must radically reform the global economy, promote sustainable development and wealth redistribution, and ensure “intergenerational solidarity” with the poor, who must be given their “sacred rights” to labor, lodging and land (the Three L’s).

All of this suggests that, for the most part, Pope Francis probably welcomes statements by his new friends in the United Nations and its climate and sustainability alliance.

One top Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change official bluntly says climate policy is no longer about environmental protection; instead, the next climate summit will negotiate “the distribution of the world’s resources.” UN climate chief Christiana Figueres goes even further. UN bureaucrats, she says, are undertaking “probably the most difficult task we have ever given ourselves, which is to intentionally transform the global economic development model.” [emphasis added]

However, statements by other prominent prophets of planetary demise hopefully give the pope pause.

Obama science advisor John Holdren and Population Bomb author Paul Ehrlich, in their Human Ecology book: “We need to de-develop the United States” and other developed countries, “to bring our economic system into line with the realities of ecology and the global resource situation.” We will then address the “ecologically feasible development of the underdeveloped countries.” [emphasis added]

Ehrlich again: “Giving society cheap energy is like giving an idiot child a machine gun.” And most outrageous: The “instant death control” provided by DDT was “responsible for the drastic lowering of death rates” in poor countries; so they need to have a “death rate solution” imposed on them.

Radical environmentalism’s death campaigns do not stop with opposing DDT even as a powerful insect repellant to prevent malaria. They view humans (other than themselves) as consumers, polluters and “a plague upon the Earth” – never as creators, innovators or protectors. They oppose modern fertilizers and biotech foods that feed more people from less land, using less water. And of course they are viscerally against all forms and uses of hydrocarbon energy, which yields far more energy per acre than alternatives.

Reflect on all of this a moment. Unelected, unaccountable UN bureaucrats have given themselves the authority to upend the world economic order and redistribute its wealth and resources – with no evidence that any alternative they might have in mind will bring anything but worse poverty, inequality and death.

Moreover, beyond the dishonest, arrogant and callous attitudes reflected in these outrageous statements, there are countless basic realities that the encyclical and alarmist allies sweep under the rug.

We are trying today to feed, clothe, and provide electricity, jobs, homes, and better health and living standards to six billion more people than lived on our planet 200 years ago. Back then, reliance on human and animal muscle, wood and dung fires, windmills and water wheels, and primitive, backbreaking, dawn-to-dusk farming methods made life nasty, brutish and short for the vast majority of humans.

As a fascinating short video by Swedish physician and statistician Hans Rosling illustrates, human life expectancy and societal wealth has surged dramatically over these past 200 years. None of this would have been possible without the capitalism, scientific method and hydrocarbon energy that radical, shortsighted activists in the UN, EPA, Big Green, Inc. and Vatican now want to put in history’s dustbin.

Over the past three decades, fossil fuels – mostly coal – helped 1.3 billion people get electricity and escape debilitating, often lethal energy and economic poverty. However, 1.3 billion still do not have electricity. In India alone, more people than live in the USA still lack electricity; in Sub-Saharan Africa, 730 million (equal to Europe) still cook and heat with wood, charcoal and animal dung.

Hundreds of millions get horribly sick and 4-6 million die every year from lung and intestinal diseases, due to breathing smoke from open fires and not having clean water, refrigeration and unspoiled food.

Providing energy, food, homes and the Three L’s to middle class and impoverished families cannot happen without nuclear and hydrocarbon energy and numerous raw materials. Thankfully, we still have these resources in abundance, because “our ultimate resource” (our creative intellect) has enabled us to use “fracking” and other technologies to put Earth’s resources to productive use serving humanity.

Little solar panels on huts, subsistence and organic farming, and bird-and-bat-butchering wind turbines have serious cost, reliability and sustainability problems of their own. If Pope Francis truly wants to help the poor, he cannot rely on these “alternatives” or on UN and Big Green ruling elite wannabes. Who are they to decide what is “ecologically feasible,” what living standards people will be “permitted” to enjoy, or how the world should “more fairly” share greater scarcity, poverty and energy deprivation?

We are all obligated to help protect our planet and its people – from real problems, not imaginary ones. Outside the computer modelers’ windows, in The Real World, we are not running out of energy and raw materials. (We’re just not allowed to develop and use them.) The only species going extinct have been birds on islands where humans introduced new predators – and raptors that have been wiped out by giant wind turbines across habitats in California and other locations. Nor are we encountering climate chaos.

No category 3-5 hurricane has struck the USA in a record 9-3/4 years. (Is that blessing due to CO2 and capitalism?) There has been no warming in 19 years, because the sun has gone quiet again. We have not been battered by droughts more frequent or extreme than what humanity experienced many times over the millennia, including those that afflicted biblical Egypt, the Mayas and Anasazi, and Dust Bowl America.

The scientific method brought centuries of planetary and human progress. It requires that we propose and test hypotheses that explain how nature works. If experimental evidence supports a hypothesis, we have a new rule that can guide further health and scientific advances. If the evidence contradicts the hypothesis, we must devise a new premise – or give up on further progress.

But with climate change, a politicized method has gained supremacy. Based on ideology, it ignores real-world evidence and fiercely defends its assumptions and proclamations. Laudato Si places the Catholic Church at risk of surrendering its role as a champion of science and human progress, and returning to the ignominious persecution of Galileo.

Nor does resort to sustainable development provide guidance. Sustainability is largely interchangeable with “dangerous manmade climate change” as a rallying cry for anti-hydrocarbon, wealth redistribution and economic transformation policies. It means whatever particular interests want it to mean and has become yet one more intolerant ideology in college and government circles.

Climate change and sustainability are critical moral issues. Denying people access to abundant, reliable, affordable hydrocarbon energy is not just wrong. It is immoral – and lethal.

It is an unconscionable crime against humanity to implement policies that pretend to protect the world’s energy-deprived masses from hypothetical manmade climate and other dangers decades from now – by perpetuating poverty, malnutrition and disease that kill millions of them tomorrow.

Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow, author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power - Black death, and coauthor of Cracking Big Green: Saving the world from the Save-the-Earth money machine

Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).

Nebraska Woman Accused of Sex with Girl

Molleigh Valdez

(Box Butte County, Nebraska) A 23-year-old woman, Molleigh Valdez, has been accused of engaging in a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old girl.

Valdez faces a charge of sexual assault of a minor.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

"I Am Martol" A Huge Success - Update

(Willoughby, Ohio) Americans United (AU) admitted in a fiery rebuttal of a Plain Dealer editorial, "Yes, we do poke our nose into other people's business..."

Despite the National AU's efforts, the show went on and "I Am Martol," the controversial opera, was performed at Lake Catholic High School in Mentor, OH on June 9th and 10th. Almost $2500 had been raised on "Go Fund Me" for the new venue.

According to one attendee at the nearly packed house,
"... It is an opera, after all. Some of it may even have been in Norwegian — the language of the original composer. The themes were all there — light vs. dark, good vs. evil. Subtitles, anyone?

I don’t know if the audience knew any better than me what it was all about.

But there was dance. Photography. Music that was spectacular, truly collegiate level in its sparkling excellence. Outstanding musicians. Simple staging. The audience was riveted.

And that’s when I had an epiphany. This audience knew EXACTLY what was going on.

Forget the plot. Art was going on. And they loved it."
Americans United for the Separation of Church and State will continue to bully. Congratulations to Willoughby's South High School students – oops, "The Willoughby Singers" – for persevering!

Updated by Note Taker

* * * * *

Controversial Opera Is Squashed
[Previous 4/25/15 post]

(Willoughby, OH) This weekend's Willoughby South High School presentation of an original opera has been canceled due to a lawsuit threat that suggests that the opera promotes religion and is a violation of the separation of church and state.
The production, called "I am Martol" was written partially by Ben Richard, the school's choir director. According to the school district, Richard used music by Ola Gjeilo, a young Norwegian composer.

[Alex Luchenitser, a legal director for Americans United for Separation of Church and State] called it a religious opera and said public school teachers have no business promoting religion. He acknowledged he had not read the opera and relied on the complainant's description.
Students say "I Am Martol" is simply an opera about the struggle between good and evil. Participation was voluntary and no students are being forced to attend the production. The Willoughby-Eastlake School District’s legal department is reviewing the situation. A Go Fund Me account has been created to raise money for a new venue for the performance in anticipation that the show can be presented at a later date.

Interesting that Mr. Luchenitser has not even read the opera.

Posted by Note Taker

US Navy Secrets

USS Alexandria

(Groton, Connecticut) A US Navy submarine sailor, Kristian Saucier, is seemingly facing big trouble.
The FBI says a sailor took illegal photographs of classified systems on the U.S. Navy's Groton-based, nuclear-powered attack submarine USS Alexandria and later tried to destroy the evidence when he learned that the Navy and FBI were investigating.

The Navy was alerted to the security breach when the town dump foreman in Hampton found a cellular telephone in a Dumpster and decided to keep it to replace his own. When he noticed that the phone contained photographs, he showed them to a retired Navy chief, who called the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.

U.S. Attorney Deirdre M. Daly said Friday that a federal grand jury has charged Kristian Saucier, 28, of Arlington, Vt., with unlawfully retaining photos taken inside restricted areas of a nuclear attack submarine, and obstructing an investigation.

"Salon" discusses using courts to punish climate deniers

Bring it on! Skeptics should be looking forward to this.  A court case would be a great opportunity to expose the hollowness of the global warming scare.  You can see why "Salon" is very tentative about the idea.  For political reasons, the Dutch government could not mount a defense on the basis of the science but other individuals and bodies would not be under that constraint.  Al Gore's movie was declared inaccurate by a British court but it would have much more impact if the whole hoax was declared inconclusive by a court

Last month a court at The Hague ordered the Dutch government to cut its emissions by at least 25% compared to 1990 levels by 2020, the first ruling of its kind anywhere in the world. The victory was the result of a class action lawsuit brought by an NGO called the Urgenda Foundation (short for “Urgent Agenda”), which charged the Dutch government with “hazardous state negligence” in the face of climate change. Along with the rest of the EU, the Netherlands is taking a promise to cut 40% against 1990 by 2030 to the Paris climate talks in December, but they are off track, looking to achieve only a 17% cut by 2020. The court extracted a confession from the government’s lawyers that more could be done, and therefore ruled that not doing more was negligent.

The case has excited activists around the world. This week Marjan Minnesma, Urgenda’s co-founder and director, was in Australia, advising groups looking to emulate her success. “It’s the kind of action we’d love to run and we’re investigating”, environmental lawyer Sean Ryan told the Guardian. Australia is of course headed by the government of Tony Abbott, an aggressive climate change denier. In the face of such apathy, courts may be the best option. The speculative Australian attempt is one of five cases found by that might benefit from the Urgenda example, including one almost identical in its goal and reasoning brought (and recently won) by eight teenagers in Washington State.

Historically, courts seem to have backed away from climate change, preferring to leave it up to legislators and diplomats. In 2008, for example, the tiny Alaskan village of Kivalina sued several major oil corporations, including ExxonMobil, BP and Shell, for putting it under threat of rising sea levels and erosion. It’s handful of citizens wanted compensation to move the entire community to a different location. All courts up to the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed the case as an issue for the executive and legislative branches. This refusal to play a role may be about to change. Ceri Warnock analyzing the Urgenda decision for the Journal of Environmental Law, believes that the case and a handful like it may indicate that courts are moving, in the face of an extreme danger such as climate change, to close a constitutional gap between the duty of governments to protect their citizens and their means of doing so. Climate change makes the unthinkable — that courts might be called upon to “re-balance” the constitution — thinkable. Such an internal conflict was on display as far back as 2007′s landmark Massachusetts vs Environmental Protection Agency, where the justices of the Supreme Court clashed over the threat posed by climate change and the causal link with emissions. Declaring that emissions caused climate change and climate change was a threat to the plaintiffs, the majority ordered the EPA to reconsider its refusal to treat carbon dioxide and other greenhouse emissions as pollutants.

With the nations of the world lining up to promise vague or inadequate emissions cuts, and with no mechanism yet in place to enforce them, is it time to call in the lawyers? Do courts have a duty to push governments to act on the threat of climate change, or is this better (and perhaps more legitimately) left to governments?


Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).

Saturday, July 25, 2015

WV Woman Arrested for Sex with Boy

Amanda Sammons

(Tucker County, West Virginia) A 31-year-old local woman, Amanda Sammons, has been arrested for engaging in sex with a 15-year-old boy.

Sammons faces multiple counts of sexual abuse.
The boy told police that earlier in June, he went to stay all night with a 14-year-old male friend. Sammons, whom the boy saw snorting pills at the home, began watching YouTube videos with the boys.

When the 14-year-old friend left the room, Sammons touched the victim's genitals through his shorts. The boy told police he told Sammons that he didn't want her to do that to him, but she refused to stop.
Sammons was booked into custody at the Tygart Valley Regional Jail in lieu of $25,000 bail.

Some reflections about education -- old and new


I guess lots of people have heard old fogies like me complaining  that education "ain't what it used to be". And of course it is not.  The world of today is different from the past and education must reflect that to some extent.

A century ago, a "Greekless" person was regarded as not fully educated, for instance.  Even if you were not fluent in ancient Greek, you were expected to know the more famous quotations and be able to at least figure out the bits that you did not know.  These days a knowledge of html is much more important and helpful.  It certainly makes blogging easier.

But good stuff has undoubtedly been lost in today's schools and replaced with blah. Important areas of cultural awareness have been supplanted by lessons about fluid sexual identities and the importance of saving the planet! Not to mention the evils of patriarchy and lies about Hitler being a conservative.

And it takes us old guys to be aware of that.  If you have never been exposed to something you cannot know what you have missed. And to have missed exposure to our great cultural heritage is a great loss indeed.  There is, of course, culture of all sorts. But what I am talking about is areas of enjoyment that have stood the test of time.  And poetry, literature and music are such areas.

Contrary to what Leftists seem to believe, the world did not begin yesterday.  It's possible that half of all the great minds that have ever existed are alive today -- but what about the other half?  And the traditional role of education was to tell us about that other half

And it is particularly in the area of culture that the other half is important.  Scientists, engineers and philosophers of the past have now mostly been completely superseded.  Isaac Newton, for instance, was brilliant in his day but physics has long gone beyond him in its understanding of the universe.  But cultural contributions are really never superseded.  Monteverdi might have written the Vespro della Beata Vergine 400 years ago but  it is still performed and enjoyed to this day.  And, for religious music, no-one has surpassed J.S. Bach, who lived from 1685 to 1750.

And its the same in poetry.  Poets like Coleridge and Tennyson just simply cannot be replaced.  They are sui generis and give particular pleasures that no-one else does.  There are other good poets but to miss out of Tennyson and Coleridge is to miss out on much of the pleasure that poetry can bring.  Tennyson died in 1892. Samuel Taylor Coleridge died in 1834.  And if you like poetry but know nothing of either of those dead white men, you have simply missed out on a great experience.

So I am glad that I went to school when the importance of the culture of the past was still recognized.  In the '50s I went to a totally undistinguished Australian country school but came away from it not only with some knowledge of mathematics, chemistry  and physics but also a knowledge of the great poets, a basic grasp of Latin and Italian -- and a good introduction to the language and literature of Germany.  At age 15 I was even learning to recite and sing Schubert Lieder  in the original German.  And I knew English language poems by Tennyson and others by heart.  And it was also courtesy of my school that, at age 13 or thereabouts, I first heard Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor.

But most of that will be Greek to young readers today.  They have no idea of how much enjoyment and satisfaction has been hidden from them.

So how come I learnt all that highbrow stuff in a country school half a world away from where it originated?  It was basically because Britain's very prestigious "public" (meaning private!) schools taught that sort of thing.  And because of the acknowledged excellence of such schools, they became a model that everyone wanted to emulate.  I was, in short, taught a curriculum not too different from what I would have got at Eton.

But nowadays everything from the past is wrong in our Left-dominated educational system so Eton traditions are the last thing that a "modern" educator would respect.

And yet the past can be so helpful.  Readers of novels, for instance, always have the problem that you usually have to read a fair bit of a novel before you know whether it is any good.  Without guidance of some sort you cannot know in advance whether a novel is worth reading and you can waste a lot of time on something that in the end gives you nothing.

But classic novels are classics because lots of people have found them good over a long period of time and recommended them to others.  They are the sort of book of which people have long said:  "You MUST read ...".   So knowing which are the classic novels can greatly upgrade the pleasure you get out of reading.

For instance, I greatly enjoyed reading many years ago what some say is only the second novel ever written in English --  "Joseph Andrews" by Fielding. Can anybody who has read that book forget "Madam Slipslop"?  I cannot.  Sometimes a classic novel has great insights but it is always entertaining. And fortunately, you can get a reading list of great novels and enjoy them.

It's not so simple with poetry.  The great pleasure of poetry is not to read it just once but to KNOW it.  And that means to know at least some of it by heart. If you do, you will often recite it, either out loud or just in your head.  And you will enjoy doing that.  But there's the difficulty:  The older you get the harder it is to memorize things.  Anything that needs memorizing basically has to be done when you are young -- preferably at school.  So if you were never taught any of the great classic poems at school, the pleasure of poetry has basically been ripped away from you.  Sorry.  But that's it.  If you want to try yourself out, here is a famous but short poem by Tennyson. It's a lament over the death of his homosexual lover.  The Left seem to think they have invented homosexuality recently.  They have not.

Break, Break, Break


Break, break, break,
         On thy cold gray stones, O Sea!
And I would that my tongue could utter
         The thoughts that arise in me.

O, well for the fisherman's boy,
         That he shouts with his sister at play!
O, well for the sailor lad,
         That he sings in his boat on the bay!

And the stately ships go on
         To their haven under the hill;
But O for the touch of a vanish'd hand,
         And the sound of a voice that is still!

Break, break, break
         At the foot of thy crags, O Sea!
But the tender grace of a day that is dead
         Will never come back to me.

It's a wonderful and heartfelt poem by a master of the English language.  I learnt it at school.

And then there is music.  Fortunately, the simpler music from the past has been  much revived by the folk music movement -- so remains accessible regardless of your education. It was the folkies who introduced to "Cutty Wren", written over 200 years ago. If you know that song can you ever forget "John the red nose"?  I cannot.

But some of the slightly more complex songs from the past should also be enjoyable to many.  I think particularly of madrigals. They were once taught as part of a good education. In some private schools they still are.  Take Monteverdi's Chiome d' Oro ("Tresses of gold").  It's a love song to a lady with blonde hair! A not unfamiliar idea, though probably politically incorrect these days.  The many ladies who blond their hair these days would sympathize.  A good performance here. It's wonderful.  Monteverdi wrote it around 400 years ago.  Words translated from the Italian  here.

And that brings me to another important cultural element:  languages.  If you learn (say) German at school you will almost certainly never get to the point of being able to have a reasonable conversation in it.  That is not the point.  It is much more likely that you WILL get to the point where you  can make  some fist of reading texts in that language.  And that IS useful.

Translating plain text into English from another language is difficult enough but translating a work of art into English is just about impossible.  The translation will never be as gracious as the original. That came home forcefully to me when I was reading the translation of Chiome d' Oro.  Italian was one of the languages I studied in my schooldays and the translation of Chiome d' Oro is nowhere as magical as the original Italian.  Every Italian would agree with me on that!  You just miss so much if your cultural awareness is limited to English.

All that came back to me recently when Anne asked me "Who is this Goethe fella?".  Johann  Wolfgang von Goethe is of course Germany's most famous and beloved poet.  And seeing that he wrote in the land of music, it is no surprise that his poems have been set to music -- by Hugo Wolf, Franz Schubert and others.  Some of Schubert's most famous Lieder are to texts written by Goethe. So I was able to introduce Anne to Goethe via the Schubert Lieder.

So, for the benefit of anybody reading this who might have an interest in classical music let me link to just two of the songs I found. Let me revisit some things that it has been my great good fortune to enjoy for nearly 60 years.

There is for instance here a good rendition of Gretchen am Spinnrade set by Schubert.  It is a love song.  It is from the legend of Faust, the man who sold his soul to the Devil.  Faust wanted Gretchen so the Devil made her fall frantically and hopelessly  in love with him.  The song tells of her feelings.  A translation from the German:

My peace is gone,
My heart is heavy,
I will find it never
and never more.
Where I do not have him,
That is the grave,
The whole world
Is bitter to me.

My poor head
Is crazy to me,
My poor mind
Is torn apart.

For him only, I look
Out the window
Only for him do I go
Out of the house.

His tall walk,
His noble figure,
His mouth's smile,
His eyes' power,

And his mouth's
Magic flow,
His handclasp,
and ah! his kiss!

My peace is gone,
My heart is heavy,
I will find it never
and never more.

My bosom urges itself
toward him.
Ah, might I grasp
And hold him!

And kiss him,
As I would wish,
At his kisses
I should die!

And if the song is good, just the music Schubert wrote for it is great too.  There is an incredibly sensitive performance of it for solo piano by a Chinese lady -- Yuja Wang -- here.  What a treasure it is that the East Asians seem to like our classical music even more than we do! If, as seems likely, the Leftists achieve the destruction of our civilization, China will preserve our great cultural treasures.

And, getting back to Goethe, there is Erlkoenig set by Schubert -- one of the most famous of the Schubert Lieder. A version sung by the young Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (a famous German baritone) is here -- with English subtitles.  The story is of an ill child who is having hallucinations while his father is riding frantically to get the child home.  It is very dramatic.

Will the screed above benefit anyone?  Probably not. But I still think it concerns things that should be noted down -- JR.

Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).

Friday, July 24, 2015

Pennsylvania Woman Accused of Sex with Boy

Paden Ann Tennant

(Upper Allen Township, Pennsylvania) A 22-year-old local woman, Paden Ann Tennant, has been accused of engaging in long-term sex with a boy, starting at age 12.

Tennant faces charges of statutory sexual assault, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, indecent assault, corruption of a minor and unlawful contact with a minor.

Tennant was booked and released on $40,000 bail.

Ohio Mother Accused of Killing Her Baby

Emile L. Weaver

(Zanesville, Ohio) A 20-year-old female student at Muskingum University, Emile L. Weaver, has been indicted on multiple felonies after her baby was found dead in a trash can.
The indictment comes almost exactly three months since a baby’s body was found in a trash can on the college campus. The preliminary autopsy released by the Muskingum County Coroner in April determined the female child was born alive and later died of asphyxiation.
Weaver was booked into custody with bond set at $1,000,000.

New York Cheer Coach Guilty of Sex with Student - Update

Christina Jewell-Belluccio

(Greece, New York)
Former Greece Olympia High School cheerleading coach Christina Jewell-Belluccio pleaded guilty Thursday to third degree rape as a result of her sexual encounters with a 16-year-old male student who attended the school.

The incidents occurred at her house and another location in June 2014.

Under the plea agreement, Jewell-Belluccio will serve eight work Sundays with the Monroe County Jail and will be on probation for a term of 10 years. She will also be required to register as a sex offender and an order of protection was issued prohibiting her from having contact with her victim for eight years.
Jewell-Belluccio will not resume her work coaching high school athletes or be employed in a school.

* * * * *

New York Cheer Coach Accused of Sex with Student
[Previous 3/20/15 post]
(Greece, New York) A 32-year-old educator and varsity cheerleading coach at Greece Olympia High School, Christina (aka Christine) Jewell-Belluccio, has been accused of sexual contact with a 16-year-old student.

Formerly named Coach of the Year, Jewell-Belluccio faces charges of rape and criminal sexual act involving a student.

Jewell-Belluccio is free on bail.

[Update] Additional data for Christina (aka Christine) Jewell-Belluccio can be found here.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Florida Woman Accused of Sex with Minor

Dolly Kuryga

(Hernando County, Florida) A 47-year-old local woman, Dolly Kuryga, has been accused of performing sexual acts on a 16-year-old victim.

Kuryga reportedly admitted to having a sexual encounter with the 16-year-old. She has been charged with sexual assault/battery on a minor.

Kuryga was booked into custody with bond set at $10,000.

Where has that pesky heat gone?

Warmists are convinced that there is some unmeasured heat hiding somewhere but can't decide where.  First it was in the Atlantic then in the Pacific.  But Whoops! the Pacific actually seem to be cooling.  Never mind.  Voila!  It's now in the Indian ocean. Story below mostly just modelling so mainly for laughs

The extra heat that has entered the Pacific Ocean during the period of slow surface warming since 1998 has been transferred to the Indian Ocean, reports a study published online in Nature Geoscience. The findings reconcile reports of an enhanced heat uptake in the Pacific Ocean over the past 15 years or so with an observed *decrease* in the heat that is stored there. [Which is pretty pesky!]

Global mean surface temperatures have nearly stabilized since 1998 despite observations at the top of the atmosphere suggesting that the Earth has continued to warm. A significant portion of this heat is believed to have entered the Pacific Ocean, but measurements of the Pacific’s heat content indicate that it has actually been decreasing.

Sang-Ki Lee and colleagues analysed observational data along with simulations with a global ocean–sea ice model, and find that the increased heat uptake in the Pacific Ocean has been compensated by increased heat transport to the Indian Ocean, through the passages of the Indonesian Archipelago. The heat gain in the Indian Ocean accounts for 70% of the heat storage in the top 700 m of the global ocean. The authors suggest that if this transport persists, the accumulating heat in the Indian Ocean could be projected into the Atlantic Ocean, which has already heated substantially since the mid-twentieth century.


Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Michigan Woman, 44, Obsessed with Boy, 11

Jessica Carlton

(Union County, New Jersey) A 44-year-old Michigan woman, Jessica Carlton, has been accused of an inappropriate relationship with an 11-year-old New Jersey boy.

Carlton faces two counts of second-degree endangering the welfare of a child and 12 counts of third-degree endangering the welfare of a child.
The victim told detectives he first communicated with Carlton in May 2013 in a chat on Xbox Live, where he had originally connected with Carlton's son. Carlton was aware that the boy was 11 years old at the time, authorities said.

They started talking over the phone, through Xbox chats and on social media. After a few months, they exchanged nude photos and twice engaged in nude video chats on Xbox Kinect, documents allege.

Carlton allegedly read to him from the journal that detailed her sexual fantasies of oral sex and intercourse with the boy.
Carlton was booked on $175,000 bond.

A Nazi salute?

TThe 1930's photo below is said to show the Duke of Windsor, a British Royal, giving the Nazi salute.  What rubbish!  Like a lot of elite Brits in the 30s he did see Hitler's achievements in reviving Germany as admirable but what appears below is just a Royal wave.  The Nazi salute is straight-armed.  It is true that the salute can be given carelessly in a variety of ways that are not straight-armed but that does not prove that this was a Nazi salute.  If it did, all sorts of casual waves would have to be regarded as Nazi.  Only if the Duke were found to be giving a straight-armed salute could the Nazi accusation stick

UPDATE: A good comment from a reader:

"I agree that the Duke of Windsor is not giving the Nazi salute. If it were a Nazi salute, the Duke would be giving it as a greeting to Der Fuehrer, and if that were so, then all the other Nazis present would be giving it as well. It's just a wave to the crowd."


Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

California Teacher Guilty of Student Rape

Laura Nicole Lasek

(Yuba County, California) A 27-year-old teacher formerly at Thomas E Mathews Community School in Marysville, Laura Nicole Lasek, has admitted to statutory rape of a student younger than 16.

Lasek pleaded no contest to felony counts of unlawful sex with a minor and oral copulation of a minor child.

Reportedly, Lasek had oral sex and sexual intercourse with a 15-year-old boy.

How your prejudices can dictate your actions in a crisis

The story below gets a lot of things right but the mumbo-jumbo about neurology is a red herring that just distracts from the central point, helping the article to end up as a classic bit of Leftist obfuscation and evasion of the real problem.

But one thing they do get right is that stereotypes are flexible and can be changed.  See the last paragraph below.   I concluded the same from my survey of the research evidence about stereotypes.  See here and here.

But they fail to follow through on the logic of that.  If stereotypes are inherently flexible, why are some stereotypes persistent?  Why do people persist in expecting blacks to be  aggressive, dangerous and criminal?  As Jesse Jackson once showed, even blacks expect that of other blacks.

It wouldn't be that the stereotypes are accurate, would it?  It wouldn't be that many blacks, particulaly young males, REALLY ARE  aggressive, dangerous and criminal, would it?

Black adult males are often aggressive and unco-operative towards police so is it surprising that a cop might be alert for aggression from a black adult male?  And if the black is walking towards the cop holding a gun, what is the cop supposed to do?  He's not a martyr.  His first duty is to stay alive and his experience suggests that he might have only seconds to ensure that.

It is regrettable that blacks generate such stereotypes in others but it is their own doing.  If by some miracle blacks became as law-abiding as (say) the Chinese, the stereotype would change.

UPON arriving at the park in Cleveland, Ohio, where Tamir Rice was playing, it took less than 2 seconds for police officer Timothy Loehmann to emerge from his car and shoot the boy, fatally, in the abdomen.

How was it possible for a policeman responding to a call about a person who was “black, male and armed” to decide so quickly that someone should be killed? Events unfolded too quickly for careful thought, so Loehmann’s actions were probably driven by automatic, perhaps even unconscious, processes.

To begin to understand actions at this timescale, it helps to consider how they could play out in the brain. This is where psychologists who study the neural and cognitive processes underlying prejudice, stereotypes and discrimination come in. By looking at the inner workings of the brain, we can examine the (often unconscious) prejudices that nearly all of us have. And we can begin to trace the split-second processes at work when a police officer sees a suspect and then initiates an action – to shoot or not shoot.

Stereotypes can profoundly shape how we see and act toward racial minorities, and studies of the neural mechanisms involved shed light on just how this happens (Nature Reviews Neuroscience, vol 15, p 670). We know from decades of social psychology research that, for white Americans, “black”, “male” and “armed” are attributes that activate a network of information forming a stereotype and stored in the mind. Neuroscience is helping us to understand how this happens, and how a stereotype can influence our perceptions and actions.

Concepts about people and groups are stored in the brain’s temporal lobes. Through these networks, the term “black male” calls up concepts of hostility, threat and crime in the minds of many Americans. This stereotype information then feeds into the medial frontal cortex toward the front of the brain, where it is integrated into a first impression of the person. This all happens in a moment. In the case of police officers responding to a call, that moment is when they first hear a description from their dispatcher.

The medial frontal cortex is also involved when we take another person’s perspective in order to understand their thoughts and motives. However, research reveals a reduction in this region’s pattern of activity when we think about people from lower status groups. Given that African Americans are viewed this way, this suggests they are seen more as objects than as people. These factors – stereotyping and dehumanisation – conspire to produce the impression that someone is dangerous and that their life is not particularly worthy.

As emotions run high, brain structures that respond rapidly to threats, such as the amygdala, activate and prepare the body for a fight-or-flight response. The amygdala plays a critical role when snap judgements are made in response to threat. My research has shown that people’s prejudices are amplified when they feel threatened, and this is thought to be due to heightened amygdala activity. Importantly, the impact of racial bias on the amygdala appears to reflect associations learned from the surrounding culture rather than our personal beliefs. This means that the amygdala response to black people is not specific to bigots; it occurs for most Americans, even if they reject racial prejudice.

Let’s consider the Rice case. Police were dispatched to the park after a 911 caller reported a “guy with a pistol… he’s pointing it at everybody”. The caller also noted, “it’s probably fake” and “he’s probably a juvenile” – details reportedly not conveyed to the officers. And, of course, Rice was black. This was one of the details the dispatcher who took the 911 call sought to establish, insistently. Skin colour is an important identifier, of course, but “black” also suggests a profile. To the dispatcher, race seemed to be critical for constructing the scene: black, male, gun.

Rice was indeed playing with a fake gun – a replica semi-automatic – and he was, indeed, a juvenile. But although Rice was just 12, he was already 5 foot 7 inches (1.7 metres) tall and weighed 195 pounds (89 kilograms). When police approached, they probably saw what they were expecting – an armed adult male in an active shooter situation. Rice was sitting alone at a picnic table. As the car pulled up, he rose and began to walk towards it.

All of our research suggests that at such a moment, the police officer’s brain is primed to see a black criminal with a gun, prepared to shoot, even though it would be difficult to accurately make out the weapon in this time frame. We know from eye-tracking studies that shooting decisions – particularly when the suspect is black – are often made before the eye can fully process the object in the suspect’s hand. In these ways, stereotypes and expectations influence what the perceiver thinks they see.

Rice reportedly reached toward his waistband where the replica gun was tucked. Without hesitation, the officer fired two rounds.

Was the killing of Tamir Rice, like the deaths of many other black men at the hands of police, driven by racial prejudice? Overwhelming evidence from experimental psychology points to “yes”. But whose prejudice? Was it the officer who made the snap decision to shoot Rice? The dispatcher, who seemingly primed the officer to care more about Rice’s race, rather than his age or the notion that the gun was fake? A society that stereotypes young black men as criminals? Or a social system that perpetuates inequality along racial lines?

The answer is probably “all of the above”, but with an emphasis on culture and social systems. Unfortunately, these are the most difficult to change. So while systemic change may be the ultimate goal, interventions to reduce prejudice at the personal level may be most effective in the short term.

How could this tragedy have turned out differently? From studies, we know that it is difficult to control a non-conscious bias “in the moment”. The most promising approach, I believe, is through proactive control, which involves anticipating a potential problem and having a planned response. In the lab, we have found that such interventions can eliminate racial bias in shooting decisions, and we are beginning to investigate whether people can, with training, see greater humanity in those of other ethnic backgrounds.

You might think none of this applies to you, but you would be wrong. Virtually everyone has unconscious racial biases, in part because the mind has a natural tendency to categorise people and also because our culture exposes us to common caricatures about race.

Our research shows that even avowed egalitarians show bias in their behaviour when they have to make a snap judgement. These biases are also not limited to race but exist for almost any attribute, be it gender, nationality, sexual orientation or hair colour, and they constantly shape our judgements. Bias comes from our culture, it seeps into our brains, and unless we control it, it is expressed in our actions.

Are these biases hardwired? Far from it; with every new thing you learn, your brain changes. This means that our prejudices can change. A neuroscience approach is letting us begin to tease apart the different components behind a split-second prejudiced response, first to understand it, and then, perhaps, to find ways to change it.


First Climate Change Refugee

Ioane Teitiota

(New Zealand)
A man from a tiny Pacific island who asked a court in New Zealand to recognise him as the world's first climate change refugee had his appeal rejected and faces deportation.

Ioane Teitiota, 38, said his home in Kiribati, the world’s lowest lying nation, was unsafe due to rising sea levels.

The Supreme Court acknowledged that Kiribati faced challenges but said Mr Teitiota was not at risk of persecution or serious harm and his nation was taking steps to protect its citizens from the environmental threat.
Reportedly, Kiribati will be inundated by water within 30 years.

Missouri Teacher Sentenced for Sex Charges - Update

Jessica Low

(Joplin. Missouri)
Circuit Judge David Dally sentenced former Joplin High School teacher Jessica Low to four years in prison today for having sex with one male student and texting nude photographs of herself to another.

The judge assessed Low concurrent terms of four years each on convictions for second-degree statutory rape and sexual contact with a student.
Case closed.

* * * * *

Missouri Teacher Pleads Guilty to Sex Charges - Update
[Previous 5/19/15 post
(Joplin, Missouri)
Thirty-three-year-old Jessica Low, a former communication arts teacher, pleaded guilty Monday to statutory rape and having sexual contact with a student. Under a plea deal, Lowfs prison time would be no more than five years in prison.

Sentencing was set for July 20.
Reportedly, Low sent dozens of nude images of herself to one student and engaged in sex with a second boy.

* * * * *

Missouri Teacher Accused of Sending Inappropriate Pics to Students
[Previous 5/29/14 post]
(Joplin, Missouri) Based upon a tip to the Southwest Missouri Cyber Crime Task Force, a 32-year-old teacher at Joplin High School, Jessica Low, has been accused of sending inappropriate pictures to students.
Officers arrested Low Wednesday at the Joplin High School 9-10 center.

Low is being held in the Joplin Municipal Jail on probable cause charges of 2nd degree Statutory Sodomy and d Furnishing Pornography to a Minor. The case was forwarded to the Jasper County Prosecutor for review.
Details on arrest and booking are unavailable.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Who are the haters?

My attention has just been drawn to what I gather is a popular 2012 rant on Daily Kos:  "An open letter to the people who hate Obama more than they love America".   It is very amusing indeed.  I have often observed that if you want to know what is true about Leftists, you just have to look at what they say about conservatives.  They can't imagine that conservatives do not share their hostile emotions. They "project" onto others what is true of themselves.

So what are conservatives accused of in the article?  Hate.

The writer goes through a whole range of current conservative ideas and policies and asserts that they are motivated by hate.  No reasoning or evidence for each assertion is offered.  It is supposed to be self-evident, apparently.  And to the writer and other Leftists it presumably is.  That it could be otherwise motivated they are not capable of considering and they live anyway in a little mental bubble from which conservative discourse is zealously excluded.  They figuratively (and sometimes literally) run away from hearing conservative arguments.

Take just the first assertion of the rant:  "You hate gay people".  A typical Leftist sweeping assertion devoid of any nuance.  All the conservatives I know are essentially indifferent to homosexuals, though some think that homosexual marriage is destructive of social order.  So the writer is quite simply wrong.

Even conservative Christians make a point of saying that they do NOT hate homosexuals, though they do believe that the Bible is clear that homosexuality is a sin leading to condemnation by God, and that they therefore should do nothing to encourage it.  Even the notorious Fred Phelps used to say "GOD hates fags".  He didn't say "I hate fags".  And, theologically and exegetically, he was perfectly correct.  My late sister was a homosexual yet I find  nothing to criticize in what conservatives really do say about homosexuals

And the rest of the assertions in the Daily Kos rant are equally at variance with the real situation.

The big omission in the article therefore is any discussion of the full range of relevant evidence and reasoning on any issue.  In typical Leftist fashion, the writer tells only half the story.  If he told the whole story about any of the issues his balloon of rage about them would largely deflate.

The whole rant is an amazing example of intellectual incompetence but that is no surprise.  Hostile emotions are what drive the Left, not evidence and reason.

I am not big on tooting my own trumpet but if you want to see an argument backed up by a host of facts and careful deductions, my three part exposition on the nature of Leftism is here, here and here.  It's much more voluminous than the Daily Kos piece but that's because it considers the issues with proper care. I see no point in bare assertions like the Daily Kos piece.

Dakota Teacher Gets Probation for Sex with Student - Update

Amanda Kolosky

(Mandan, North Dakota) Local Mandan High School teacher Amanda Kolosky, 35, has been sentenced per a plea agreement for alleged sex with a student.

Kolosky received a one-year suspended sentence and two years of supervised probation.

* * * * *

Dakota Teacher Accused of Sex with Male Student
[Previous 5/15/17 post]
(Mandan, North Dakota) A 35-year-old Mandan High School teacher, Amanda Kolosky, has been arrested for allegedly engaging in sex with a 17-year-old male student.

Kolosky has been charged with felony corruption of a minor.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Incorrect: "Born In The USA", by Bruce Springsteen

Poor old Bruce. This has to be one of the most consistently misunderstood and misused songs in history. A blistering anti-Vietnam war screed and not the uber-patriotic anthem that many - including clueless presidential candidates - think it is.

It's also the perfect song to sing along to loudly, and without shame. That is until you get to the second verse, where Bruce bellows:

"Got in a little hometown jam, so they put a rifle in my hand / Sent me off to a foreign land, to go and kill the Yellow Man."

Oh dear. Unlike the 'n' word, the term 'yellow' has never been widely reclaimed by those it disparages. While Springsteen clearly did not intend to offend, it is nonetheless a jarring line and a glaring reminder that no matter how progressive our politics, we can't really escape the time in which we live.


Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).

NJ Therapist Accused of Sex with Minor

Radha Singh

(Paterson, New Jersey) A 27-year-old local woman, Radha Singh, has been accused of sexually assaulting a teenager.

Singh has been charged with sexual assault and endangering the welfare of a child.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Preparing for "The Big One"

Hype about a potentially devastating tsunami/earthquake may concern Pacific Northwesterners. If so, the Washington Military Department says those in affected areas should prepare by making emergency supply kits consisting of the following:

  • Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
  • Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both (link weather radio
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • Manual can opener for food
  • Local maps
  • Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger

Good luck.

Posted by Note Taker

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