LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – A California arbitrator ordered Health Net Inc to pay $9.4 million in damages and expenses for what he described as “reprehensible” conduct in canceling the policy of a cancer patient after she fell ill, according to documents made public on Friday.

The award to Patsy Bates, 51, included $8 million in punitive damages and raised concerns about the company’s practice of retroactively canceling policies of individuals who make large claims and paying bonuses to underwriters for meeting cancellation targets.

Health Net said in a statement that, while it does not agree with some of arbitration judge Sam Cianchetti’s conclusions, it will immediately adopt a review process for all policy cancellations.

The multimillion-dollar punitive damages award, the first in a so-called recision case, is sure to send a message to other large health insurers who face lawsuits over the practice, said Bates attorney William Shernoff.

“Let’s see if these other big health carriers will change their practices, then we will have done something,” Shernoff told Reuters. “Until this punitive damages award came down, nobody was doing anything.”

Shernoff has three proposed class actions over retroactive cancellations pending in California courts against Health Net, Blue Cross and Blue Shield, as well as a case involving a newborn boy whose Health Net coverage was canceled after he was born blind and with cerebral palsy.

The Bates case brought to light a bonus system in which Health Net set annual policy cancellation targets that it described in terms of numbers of canceled policies and millions of dollars in savings in medical expenses.

CHEMOTHERAPY CANCELED

Bates had health insurance with another company for several years before a Health Net broker solicited and enrolled her in an individual insurance policy in August of 2003.

Bates was diagnosed with breast cancer a month later, and began chemotherapy treatments but had just three of eight planned treatments when Health Net pulled the plug, contending she had lied about her weight and a heart problem on her application.

“Can you imagine having Stage 3 cancer and you think you have insurance and you are supposed to have eight sessions of chemo and you have three and they are stopped?” she told Reuters. “If you haven’t had to go through trauma that you may live and you may not, you may not understand.”

A cancer advocate enrolled Bates in a state-funded program to finish her chemotherapy treatments. Her cancer went into remission but she still has no health insurance and was left with about $130,000 in unpaid medical bills.

In an opinion issued on Thursday, the arbitrator found that Bates’ application had been improperly filled out by the Health Net broker, and inadequately reviewed by its underwriters.

“It is difficult to imagine a policy more reprehensible than tying bonuses to encourage the recision of health insurance that helps keep the public alive and well,” arbitrator Cianchetti wrote in his opinion.

In awarding the $8 million in punitive damages, Cianchetti observed “it is hard to imagine a situation more trying than the one Bates has had to endure.”

He also warned that Health Net ignored its own guidelines as well as “obvious errors,” including at least one error “amounting to criminal conduct.”

In response, Health Net said it would rescind no policies going forward without a binding external, third-party review process.

The company said it planned to clarify its application and underwriting processes to insure it received all necessary information before issuing policies.

Health Net also pledged to do a “comprehensive review” of its processes, including broker training and education.

“We take this very seriously and are committed to resolving these issues,” the company said in a statement.

* By Gina Keating (Feb 22, 2008/ Editing by Gary Hill)

I am Independent politically. But, now, I consider the best political option, for USA and the world, will be to have a president democrat.
In politics do not exist pure, perfect or free errors candidates.

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The actual world to govern had a lot people complicated and variable in extreme.

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are two excellent candidates. According the history and politics characteristics of USA; in my opinion, Hillary Clinton, with her errors included, she can be a real option to improve the national and international politics of USA.

Nevertheless, I do not rule out to Obama. Also, he is a good option to be president of USA.

In reality all it depends on what they do (both candidates) in next days. The fight is very hard. But, at the end, I will support to the best: Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama.

See You Later.
CARLOS Tiger without Time

Barack Obama, then known as Barry, in a 1978 senior yearbook photo at the Punahou School in Honolulu. At Punahou, a preparatory school that had few black students, he talked with friends about race, wealth and class. (below)

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Nearly three decades ago, Barack Obama stood out on the small campus of Occidental College in Los Angeles for his eloquence, intellect and activism against apartheid in South Africa. But Mr. Obama, then known as Barry, also joined in the party scene.

“He was so bright and wanted a wider urban experience.” ANNE HOWELLS, Mr. Obama’s former English professor
Years later in his 1995 memoir, he mentioned smoking “reefer” in “the dorm room of some brother” and talked about “getting high.” Before Occidental, he indulged in marijuana, alcohol and sometimes cocaine as a high school student in Hawaii, according to the book. He made “some bad decisions” as a teenager involving drugs and drinking, Senator Obama, now a presidential candidate, told high school students in New Hampshire last November.

Mr. Obama’s admissions are rare for a politician (his book, “Dreams From My Father,” was written before he ran for office.) They briefly became a campaign issue in December when an adviser to Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, Mr. Obama’s chief Democratic rival, suggested that his history with drugs would make him vulnerable to Republican attacks if he became his party’s nominee.

Mr. Obama, of Illinois, has never quantified his illicit drug use or provided many details. He wrote about his two years at Occidental, a predominantly white liberal arts college, as a gradual but profound awakening from a slumber of indifference that gave rise to his activism there and his fears that drugs could lead him to addiction or apathy, as they had for many other black men.

Mr. Obama’s account of his younger self and drugs, though, significantly differs from the recollections of others who do not recall his drug use. That could suggest he was so private about his usage that few people were aware of it, that the memories of those who knew him decades ago are fuzzy or rosier out of a desire to protect him, or that he added some writerly touches in his memoir to make the challenges he overcame seem more dramatic.

In more than three dozen interviews, friends, classmates and mentors from his high school and Occidental recalled Mr. Obama as being grounded, motivated and poised, someone who did not appear to be grappling with any drug problems and seemed to dabble only with marijuana.

Vinai Thummalapally, a former California State University student who became friendly with Mr. Obama in college, remembered him as a model of moderation — jogging in the morning, playing pickup basketball at the gym, hitting the books and socializing.

“If someone passed him a joint, he would take a drag. We’d smoke or have one extra beer, but he would not even do as much as other people on campus,” recounted Mr. Thummalapally, an Obama fund-raiser. “He was not even close to being a party animal.”

Mr. Obama declined to be interviewed for this article. A campaign spokesman, Tommy Vietor, said in an e-mail message that the memoir “is a candid and personal account of what Senator Obama was experiencing and thinking at the time.”

“It’s not surprising that his friends from high school and college wouldn’t recall personal experiences and struggles that happened more than twenty years ago in the same way, and to the same extent, that he does,” he wrote.

What seems clear is that Mr. Obama’s time at Occidental from 1979 to 1981 — where he describes himself arriving as “alienated” — would ultimately set him on a course to public service. He developed a sturdier sense of self and came to life politically, particularly in his sophomore year, growing increasingly aware of harsh inequities like apartheid and poverty in the third world.

He also discovered that he wanted to be in a larger arena; one professor described Occidental back then as feeling small and provincial. Mr. Obama wrote in his memoir that he needed “a community that cut deeper than the common despair that black friends and I shared when reading the latest crime statistics, or the high fives I might exchange on a basketball court. A place where I could put down stakes and test my commitments.”

Mr. Obama wrote that he learned of a transfer program that Occidental had with Columbia and applied. “He was so bright and wanted a wider urban experience,” recalled Anne Howells, a former English professor at Occidental who taught Mr. Obama and wrote him a recommendation for Columbia.

By SERGE F. KOVALESKI (The New York Times)
Published: February 9, 2008

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President George W. Bush called on Congress on Friday to give the U.S. economy a “shot in the arm” with an election-year package of temporary tax cuts and other measures worth up to $150 billion.

Bush said the United States, where share markets have slumped and unemployment is rising, faced the risk of an economic downturn but that his advisers still expected continued growth, albeit at a slower pace.

He said he wanted Congress to move quickly on a stimulus package that would focus on tax rebates for families and incentives to encourage business investment. The White House said the package could create about 500,000 new jobs.

“This growth package must be built on broad-based tax relief that will directly affect economic growth and not the kind of spending projects that would have little immediate impact on our economy,” Bush said at the White House.

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said the administration hoped for a package worth about $140 billion to $150 billion, which is a little more than 1 percent of the economy’s size.

Financial markets are reeling amid bleak reports of declining retail sales and rising unemployment on top of soaring oil prices and a credit crunch brought on by a crisis in subprime mortgages.

Bush’s plan failed to reassure investors on Friday as world stock prices fell again, with U.S. stocks tumbling to close out the worst week for the benchmark S&P 500 index in 5 years on fears the White House effort will not be enough to avoid recession.

Economists are talking of a possible recession taking hold before presidential and congressional elections in November and the debate over an economic stimulus has been taken up by candidates campaigning to succeed Bush in the White House.

Bush and the Democratic-led Congress are in rare agreement that a stimulus is needed. But they are still hammering out the details of a plan that is likely to include tax rebates of several hundred dollars each to help spur consumers as well as temporary tax breaks for businesses.

TAX REBATES

Under discussion are proposals to trim the lowest income tax rate and give the money back in a rebate. Lawmakers are also considering allowing businesses to immediately write off 50 percent of their new investments.

Democrats are looking to provide states with some financial aid, extend unemployment benefits beyond the 26 weeks offered by most states and to get some more money for food stamps.

For now, lawmakers are putting aside the bitter partisanship that dominated last year’s session and which resulted in near-gridlock over spending, taxes, health care and the Iraq war.

“I am encouraged and share the president’s view that we need prompt bipartisan action to strengthen our economy,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Only a day earlier, the Nevada Democrat had expressed some disappointment with the results of a telephone conference between Bush and congressional leaders.

Sen. Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat, said after Bush’s remarks on Friday that the president needed to accept some spending as part of the package.

“We want a balanced package of tax rebates for the middle class and spending stimulus that jump-starts the economy quickly,” Schumer said at a news conference.

Bush predicted that an agreement could be worked out soon. The administration and lawmakers say the outlines of plan could be clear by Bush’s State of the Union address to Congress on January 28.

“I believe we can come together on a growth package very quickly,” Bush told reporters as he visited a lawn mower factory in Maryland on Friday.

Most of the major White House contenders have unveiled proposals for the economy but they differ widely on specifics, highlighting the challenges in getting a bipartisan agreement.

Sen. Hillary Clinton, who has proposed a $110 billion plan that would target poor and middle-class people, said Bush’s approach would shortchange struggling families.

“I don’t think it does enough,” she said in Las Vegas.

Meanwhile, Republican Sen. John McCain, campaigning in South Carolina, expressed wariness about some Democratic ideas for a stimulus, especially those focusing on spending.

“I want to see where that money is going to come from,” said McCain, who laid out a proposal on Thursday for cuts in corporate tax rates and incentives for companies to invest in new equipment and research.

(Reporting by Caren Bohan and Donna Smith, additional reporting by Jeremy Pelofsky, Steve Holland and Jeff Mason; editing by Kristin Roberts and Stuart Grudgings)

An Investigation of Feminist Claims about Rape. As a crime against the person, rape is uniquely horrible in its long-term effects. The anguish it brings is often followed by an abiding sense of fear and shame. Discussions of the data on rape inevitably seem callous. How can one quantify the sense of deep violation behind the statistics? Terms like incidence and prevalence are statistical jargon; once we use them, we necessarily abstract ourselves from the misery. Yet, it remains clear that to arrive at intelligent policies and strategies to decrease the occurrence of rape, we have no alternative but to gather and analyze data, and to do so does not make us callous. Truth is no enemy to compassion, and falsehood is no friend.

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Some feminists routinely refer to American society as a “rape culture.” Yet estimates on the prevalence of rape vary wildly. According to the FBI Uniform Crime Report, there were 102,560 reported rapes or attempted rapes in 1990.[1] The Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates that 130,000 women were victims of rape in 1990.[2] A Harris poll sets the figure at 380,000 rapes or sexual assaults for 1993.[3] According to a study by the National Victims Center, there were 683,000 completed forcible rapes in 1990.[4] The Justice Department says that 8 percent of all American women will be victims of rape or attempted rape in their lifetime. The radical feminist legal scholar Catharine MacKinnon, however, claims that “by conservative definition [rape] happens to almost half of all women at least once in their lives.”[5]

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Who is right? Feminist activists and others have plausibly argued that the relatively low figures of the FBI and the Bureau of Justice Statistics are not trustworthy. The FBI survey is based on the number of cases reported to the police, but rape is among the most underreported of crimes. The Bureau of Justice Statistics National Crime Survey is based on interviews with 100,000 randomly selected women. It, too, is said to be flawed because the women were never directly questioned about rape. Rape was discussed only if the woman happened to bring it up in the course of answering more general questions about criminal victimization. The Justice Department has changed its method of questioning to meet this criticism, so we will know in a year or two whether this has a significant effect on its numbers. Clearly, independent studies on the incidence and prevalence of rape are badly needed. Unfortunately, research groups investigating in this area have no common definition of rape, and the results so far have led to confusion and acrimony.

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Rape: “Normal Male Behavior”
Of the rape studies by nongovernment groups, the two most frequently cited are the 1985 Ms. magazine report by Mary Koss and the 1992 National Women’s Study by Dr. Dean Kilpatrick of the Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center at the Medical School of South Carolina. In 1982, Mary Koss, then a professor of psychology at Kent State University in Ohio, published an article on rape in which she expressed the orthodox gender feminist view that “rape represents an extreme behavior but one that is on a continuum with normal male behavior within the culture” (my emphasis).[6] Some well-placed feminist activists were impressed by her. As Koss tells it, she received a phone call out of the blue inviting her to lunch with Gloria Steinem.[7] For Koss, the lunch was a turning point. Ms. magazine had decided to do a national rape survey on college campuses, and Koss was chosen to direct it. Koss’s findings would become the most frequently cited research on women’s victimization, not so much by established scholars in the field of rape research as by journalists, politicians, and activists.

Koss and her associates interviewed slightly more than three thousand college women, randomly selected nationwide.[8] The young women were asked ten questions about sexual violation. These were followed by several questions about the precise nature of the violation. Had they been drinking? What were their emotions during and after the event? What forms of resistance did they use? How would they label the event? Koss counted anyone who answered affirmatively to any of the last three questions as having been raped:

8. Have you had sexual intercourse when you didn’t want to because a man gave you alcohol or drugs?

9. Have you had sexual intercourse when you didn’t want to because a man threatened or used some degree of physical force (twisting your arm, holding you down, etc.) to make you?

10. Have you had sexual acts (anal or oral intercourse or penetration by objects other than the penis) when you didn’t want to because a man threatened or used some degree of physical force (twisting your arm, holding you down, etc.) to make you?

Koss and her colleagues concluded that 15.4 percent of respondents had been raped, and that 12.1 percent had been victims of attempted rape.[9] Thus, a total of 27.5 percent of the respondents were determined to have been victims of rape or attempted rape because they gave answers that fit Koss’s criteria for rape (penetration by penis, finger, or other object under coercive influence such as physical force, alcohol, or threats). However, that is not how the so-called rape victims saw it.

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Only about a quarter of the women Koss calls rape victims labeled what happened to them as rape. According to Koss, the answers to the follow-up questions revealed that “only 27 percent” of the women she counted as having been raped labeled themselves as rape victims.[10] Of the remainder, 49 percent said it was “miscommunication,” 14 percent said it was a “crime but not rape,” and 11 percent said they “don’t feel victimized.”[11]

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In line with her view of rape as existing on a continuum of male sexual aggression, Koss also asked: “Have you given in to sex play (fondling, kissing, or petting, but not intercourse) when you didn’t want to because you were overwhelmed by a man’s continual arguments and pressure?” To this question, 53.7 percent responded affirmatively, and they were counted as having been sexually victimized.

The Koss study, released in 1988, became known as the Ms. Report. Here is how the Ms. Foundation characterizes the results: “The Ms. project-the largest scientific investigation ever undertaken on the subject-revealed some disquieting statistics, including this astonishing fact: one in four female respondents had an experience that met the legal definition of rape or attempted rape.”[12]

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The Official “One in Four” Figure
“One in four” has since become the official figure on women’s rape victimization cited in women’s studies departments, rape crisis centers, women’s magazines, and on protest buttons and posters. Susan Faludi defended it in a Newsweek story on sexual correctness.[13] Naomi Wolf refers to it in The Beauty Myth, calculating that acquaintance rape is “more common than lefthandedness, alcoholism, and heart attacks.”[14] “One in four” is chanted in “Take Back the Night” processions, and it is the number given in the date rape brochures handed out at freshman orientation at colleges and universities around the country.[15] Politicians, from Senator Joseph Biden of Delaware, a Democrat, to Republican Congressman Jim Ramstad of Minnesota, cite it regularly, and it is the primary reason for the Title IV, “Safe Campuses for Women” provision of the Violence Against Women Act of 1993, which provides twenty million dollars to combat rape on college campuses.[16]

When Neil Gilbert, a professor at Berkeley’s School of Social Welfare, first read the “one in four” figure in the school newspaper, he was convinced it could not be accurate. The results did not tally with the findings of almost all previous research on rape. When he read the study he was able to see where the high figures came from and why Koss’s approach was unsound.

He noticed, for example, that Koss and her colleagues counted as victims of rape any respondent who answered “yes” to the question “Have you had sexual intercourse when you didn’t want to because a man gave you alcohol or drugs?” That opened the door wide to regarding as a rape victim anyone who regretted her liaison of the previous night. If your date mixes a pitcher of margaritas and encourages you to drink with him and you accept a drink, have you been “administered” an intoxicant, and has your judgment been impaired? Certainly, if you pass out and are molested, one would call it rape. But if you drink and, while intoxicated, engage in sex that you later come to regret, have you been raped? Koss does not address these questions specifically, she merely counts your date as a rapist and you as a rape statistic if you drank with your date and regret having had sex with him. As Gilbert points out, the question, as Koss posed it, is far too ambiguous:

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What does having sex “because” a man gives you drugs or alcohol signify? A positive response does not indicate whether duress, intoxication, force, or the threat of force were present; whether the woman’s judgment or control were substantially impaired; or whether the man purposefully got the woman drunk in order to prevent her resistance to sexual advances…. While the item could have been clearly worded to denote “intentional incapacitation of the victim,” as the question stands it would require a mind reader to detect whether any affirmative response corresponds to this legal definition of rape.[17]
Koss, however, insisted that her criteria conformed with the legal definitions of rape used in some states, and she cited in particular the statute on rape of her own state, Ohio: “No person shall engage in sexual conduct with another person . . . when . . . for the purpose of preventing resistance the offender substantially impairs the other person’s judgment or control by administering any drug or intoxicant to the other person” (Ohio revised code 1980, 2907.01A, 2907.02).[18]

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The Blade Cuts Deep
Two reporters from the Blade a small, progressive Toledo, Ohio, newspaper that has won awards for the excellence of its investigative articles-were also not convinced that the “one in four” figure was accurate. They took a close look at Koss’s study and at several others that were being cited to support the alarming tidings of widespread sexual abuse on college campuses. In a special three-part series on rape called “The Making of an Epidemic,” published in October 1992, the reporters, Nara Shoenberg and Sam Roe, revealed that Koss was quoting the Ohio statute in a very misleading way: she had stopped short of mentioning the qualifying clause of the statute, which specifically excludes “the situations where a person plies his intended partner with drink or drugs in hopes that lowered inhibition might lead to a liaison.”[19] Koss now concedes that question eight was badly worded. Indeed, she told the Blade reporters, “At the time I viewed the question as legal; I now concede that it’s ambiguous.”[20] That concession should have been followed by the admission that her survey may be inaccurate by a factor of two: for, as Koss herself told the Blade, once you remove the positive responses to question eight, the finding that one in four college women is a victim of rape or attempted rape drops to one in nine.[21] But as we shall see, this figure too is unacceptably high.

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For Gilbert, the most serious indication that something was basically awry in the Ms./Koss study was that the majority of women she classified as having been raped did not believe they had been raped. Of those Koss counts as having been raped, only 27 percent thought they had been; 73 percent did not say that what happened to them was rape. In effect, Koss and her followers present us with a picture of confused young women overwhelmed by threatening males who force their attentions on them during the course of a date but are unable or unwilling to classify their experience as rape. Does that picture fit the average female undergraduate? For that matter, does it plausibly apply to the larger community? As the journalist Cathy Young observes, “Women have sex after initial reluctance for a number of reasons . . . fear of being beaten up by their dates is rarely reported as one of them.”[22]

Katie Roiphe, a graduate student in English at Princeton and author of The Morning After: Sex, Fear, and Feminism on Campus, argues along similar lines when she claims that Koss had no right to reject the judgment of the college women who didn’t think they were raped. But Katha Pollitt of The Nation defends Koss, pointing out that in many cases people are wronged without knowing it. Thus we do not say that “victims of other injustices-fraud, malpractice, job discrimination-have suffered no wrong as long as they are unaware of the law.”[23]
Pollitt’s analogy is faulty, however. If Jane has ugly financial dealings with Tom and an expert explains to Jane that Tom has defrauded her, then Jane usually thanks the expert for having enlightened her about the legal facts. To make her case, Pollitt would have to show that the rape victims who were unaware that they were raped would accept Koss’s judgment that they really were. But that has not been shown; Koss did not enlighten the women she counts as rape victims, and they did not say “now that you explain it, we can see we were.”

Koss and Pollitt make a technical (and in fact dubious) legal point: women are ignorant about what counts as rape. Roiphe makes a straightforward human point: the women were there, and they know best how to judge what happened to them. Since when do feminists consider “law” to override women’s experience?

Koss also found that 42 percent of those she counted as rape victims went on to have sex with their attackers on a later occasion. For victims of attempted rape, the figure for subsequent sex with reported assailants was 35 percent. Koss is quick to point out that “it is not known if [the subsequent sex] was forced or voluntary” and that most of the relationships “did eventually break up subsequent to the victimization.”[24] But of course, most college relationships break up eventually for one reason or another. Yet, instead of taking these young women at their word, Koss casts about for explanations of why so many “raped” women would return to their assailants, implying that they may have been coerced. She ends by treating her subjects’ rejection of her findings as evidence that they were confused and sexually naive.

There is a more respectful explanation. Since most of those Koss counts as rape victims did not regard themselves as having been raped, why not take this fact and the fact that so many went back to their partners as reasonable indications that they had not been raped to begin with?

The Toledo reporters calculated that if you eliminate the affirmative responses to the alcohol or drugs question, and also subtract from Koss’s results the women who did not think they were raped, her one in four figure for rape and attempted rape “drops to between one in twenty-two and one in thirty-three.”[25]

The “One in Eight” Study
The other frequently cited nongovernment rape study, the National Women’s Study, was conducted by Dean Kilpatrick. From an interview sample of 4,008 women, the study projected that there were 683,000 rapes in 1990. As to prevalence, it concluded that “in America, one out of every eight adult women, or at least 12.1 million American women, has been the victim of forcible rape sometime in her lifetime.”[26]

Unlike the Koss report, which tallied rape attempts as well as rapes, the Kilpatrick study focused exclusively on rape. Interviews were conducted by phone, by female interviewers. A woman who agreed to become part of the study heard the following from the interviewer: “Women do not always report such experiences to police or discuss them with family or friends.

The person making the advances isn’t always a stranger, but can be a friend, boyfriend, or even a family member. Such experiences can occur anytime in a woman’s life-even as a child.”[27] Pointing out that she wants to hear about any such experiences “regardless of how long ago it happened or who made the advances,” the interviewer proceeds to ask four questions:

1. Has a man or boy ever made you have sex by using force or threatening to harm you or someone close to you? Just so there is no mistake, by sex we mean putting a penis in your vagina.

2. Has anyone ever made you have oral sex by force or threat of harm? Just so there is no mistake, by oral sex we mean that a man or boy put his penis in your mouth or somebody penetrated your vagina or anus with his mouth or tongue.

3. Has anyone ever made you have anal sex by force or threat of harm?

4. Has anyone ever put fingers or objects in your vagina or anus against your will by using force or threat?
Any woman who answered yes to any one of the four questions was classified as a victim of rape.

This seems to be a fairly straightforward and well-designed survey that provides a window into the private horror that many women, especially very young women, experience. One of the more disturbing findings of the survey was that 61 percent of the victims said they were seventeen or younger when the rape occurred.

There is, however, one flaw that affects the significance of Kilpatrick’s findings. An affirmative answer to any one of the first three questions does reasonably put one in the category of rape victim. The fourth is problematic, for it includes cases in which a boy penetrated a girl with his finger, against her will, in a heavy petting situation. Certainly the boy behaved badly. But is he a rapist? Probably neither he nor his date would say so. Yet, the survey classifies him as a rapist and her as a rape victim.
I called Dr. Kilpatrick and asked him about the fourth question. “Well,” he said, “if a woman is forcibly penetrated by an object such as a broomstick, we would call that rape.”
“So would I,” I said. “But isn’t there a big difference between being violated by a broomstick and being violated by a finger?” Dr. Kilpatrick acknowledged this: “We should have split out fingers versus objects,” he said. Still, he assured me that the question did not significantly affect the outcome. But I wondered. The study had found an epidemic of rape among teenagers-just the age group most likely to get into situations like the one I have described.

A Serious Discrepancy
The more serious worry is that Kilpatrick’s findings, and many other findings on rape, vary wildly unless the respondents are explicitly asked whether they have been raped. In 1993, Louis Harris and Associates did a telephone survey and came up with quite different results. Harris was commissioned by the Commonwealth Fund to do a study of women’s health. As we shall see, their high figures on women’s depression and psychological abuse by men caused a stir.[28] But their finding on rape went altogether unnoticed. Among the questions asked of its random sample population of 2,500 women was, “In the last five years, have you been a victim of a rape or sexual assault?” Two percent of the respondents said yes; 98 percent said no. Since attempted rape counts as sexual assault, the combined figures for rape and attempted rape would be 1.9 million over five years or 380,000 for a single year. Since there are approximately twice as many attempted rapes as completed rapes, the Commonwealth/ Harris figure for completed rapes would come to approximately 190,000. That is dramatically lower than Kilpatrick’s finding of 683,000 completed forcible rapes.
The Harris interviewer also asked a question about acquaintance and marital rape that is worded very much like Kilpatrick’s and Koss’s: “In the past year, did your partner ever try to, or force you to, have sexual relations by using physical force, such as holding you down, or hitting you, or threatening to hit you, or not?”[29] Not a single respondent of the Harris poll’s sample answered yes.

How to explain the discrepancy? True, women are often extremely reluctant to talk about sexual violence that they have experienced. But the Harris pollsters had asked a lot of other awkward personal questions to which the women responded with candor: six percent said they had considered suicide, five percent admitted to using hard drugs, 10 percent said they had been sexually abused when they were growing up. I don’t have the answer, though it seems obvious to me that such wide variances should make us appreciate the difficulty of getting reliable figures on the risk of rape from the research. That the real risk should be known is obvious. The Blade reporters interviewed students on their fears and found them anxious and bewildered. “It makes a big difference if it’s one in three or one in 50,” said April Groff of the University of Michigan, who says she is “very scared.” “I’d have to say, honestly, I’d think about rape a lot less if I knew the number was one in 50.”[30]
When the Blade reporters asked Kilpatrick why he had not asked women whether they had been raped, he told them there had been no time in the thirty-five-minute interview. “That was probably something that ended up on the cutting-room floor.”[31] But Kilpatrick’s exclusion of such a question resulted in very much higher figures. When pressed about why he omitted it from a study for which he had received a million- dollar federal grant, he replied, “If people think that is a key question, let them get their own grant and do their own study.”[32]

Kilpatrick had done an earlier study in which respondents were explicitly asked whether they had been raped. That study showed a relatively low prevalence of five percent-one in twenty-and it got very little publicity.[33] Kilpatrick subsequently abandoned his former methodology in favor of the Ms./Koss method, which allows the surveyor to decide whether a rape occurred. Like Koss, he used an expanded definition of rape (both include penetration by a finger). Kilpatrick’s new approach yielded him high numbers (one in eight), and citations in major newspapers around the country. His graphs were reproduced in Time magazine under the heading, “Unsettling Report on an Epidemic of Rape.”[34] Now he shares with Koss the honor of being a principal expert cited by media, politicians, and activists.

There are many researchers who study rape victimization, but their relatively low figures generate no headlines. The reporters from the Blade interviewed several scholars whose findings on rape were not sensational but whose research methods were sound and were not based on controversial definitions. Eugene Kanin, a retired professor of sociology from Purdue University and a pioneer in the field of acquaintance rape, is upset by the intrusion of politics into the field of inquiry: “This is highly convoluted activism rather than social science research.”[35] Professor Margaret Gordon of the University of Washington did a study in 1981 that came with relatively low figures for rape (one in fifty). She tells of the negative reaction to her findings: “There was some pressure-at least I felt pressure-to have rape be as prevalent as possible . . .. I’m a pretty strong feminist, but one of the things I was fighting was that the really avid feminists were trying to get me to say that things were worse than they really are.”[36]

Dr. Linda George of Duke University also found relatively low rates of rape (one in seventeen), even though she asked questions very close to Kilpatrick’s. She told the Blade she is concerned that many of her colleagues treat the high numbers as if they are “cast in stone.”[37] Dr. Naomi Breslau, director of research in the psychiatry department at the Henry Ford Health Science Center in Detroit, who also found low numbers, feels that it is important to challenge the popular view that higher numbers are necessarily more accurate. Dr. Breslau sees the need for a new and more objective program of research: “It’s really an open question. . . . We really don’t know a whole lot about it.”[38]

“Rape Crisis” Hysteria: “Potential Survivors” and “Potential Rapists”
An intrepid few in the academy have publicly criticized those who have proclaimed a “rape crisis” for irresponsibly exaggerating the problem and causing needless anxiety. Camille Paglia claims that they have been especially hysterical about date rape: “Date rape has swelled into a catastrophic cosmic event, like an asteroid threatening the earth in a 50’s science fiction film.”[39] She bluntly rejects the contention that “‘No’ always means no . . ..’No’ has always been, and always will be, part of the dangerous, alluring courtship ritual of sex and seduction, observable even in the animal kingdom.”[40]
Paglia’s dismissal of date rape hype infuriates campus feminists, for whom the rape crisis is very real. On most campuses, date-rape groups hold meetings, marches, rallies. Victims are “survivors,” and their friends are “co-survivors” who also suffer and need counseling.[41] At some rape awareness meetings, women who have not yet been date raped are referred to as “potential survivors.” Their male classmates are “potential rapists.”[42]

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Has date rape in fact reached critical proportions on the college campus? Having heard about an outbreak of rape at Columbia University, Peter Hellman of New York magazine decided to do a story about it.[43] To his surprise, he found that campus police logs showed no evidence of it whatsoever. Only two rapes were reported to the Columbia campus police in 1990, and in both cases, charges were dropped for lack of evidence. Hellman checked the figures at other campuses and found that in 1990 fewer than one thousand rapes were reported to campus security on college campuses in the entire country.[44] That works out to fewer than one-half of one rape per campus. Yet despite the existence of a rape crisis center at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital two blocks from Columbia University, campus feminists pressured the administration into installing an expensive rape crisis center inside the university. Peter Hellman describes a typical night at the center in February 1992: “On a recent Saturday night, a shift of three peer counselors sat in the Rape Crisis Center-one a backup to the other two. . . . Nobody called; nobody came. As if in a firehouse, the three women sat alertly and waited for disaster to strike. It was easy to forget these were the fading hours of the eve of Valentine’s Day.”[45]

In The Morning After, Katie Roiphe describes the elaborate measures taken to prevent sexual assaults at Princeton. Blue lights have been installed around the campus, freshman women are issued whistles at orientation. There are marches, rape counseling sessions, emergency telephones. But as Roiphe tells it, Princeton is a very safe town, and whenever she walked across a deserted golf course to get to classes, she was more afraid of the wild geese than of a rapist. Roiphe reports that between 1982 and 1993 only two rapes were reported to the campus police. And, when it comes to violent attacks in general, male students are actually more likely to be the victims. Roiphe sees the campus rape crisis movement as a phenomenon of privilege: these young women have had it all, and when they find out that the world can be dangerous and unpredictable, they are outraged:

Many of these girls [in rape marches] came to Princeton from Milton and Exeter. Many of their lives have been full of summers in Nantucket and horseback-riding lessons. These are women who have grown up expecting fairness, consideration, and politeness.[46]

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Serious Misallocation of Funds
The Blade story on rape is unique in contemporary journalism because the authors dared to question the popular feminist statistics on this terribly sensitive problem. But to my mind, the important and intriguing story they tell about unreliable advocacy statistics is overshadowed by the even more important discoveries they made about the morally indefensible way that public funds for combatting rape are being allocated. Schoenberg and Roe studied Toledo neighborhoods and calculated that women in the poorer areas were nearly thirty times more likely to be raped than those in the wealthy areas. They also found that campus rape rates were 30 times lower than the rape rates for the general population of 18-to 24-year-olds in Toledo. The attention and the money are disproportionately going to those least at risk. According to the Blade reporters:

Across the nation, public universities are spending millions of dollars a year on rapidly growing programs to combat rape. Videos, self-defense classes, and full-time rape educators are commonplace. . . . But the new spending comes at a time when community rape programs-also dependent on tax dollars-are desperately scrambling for money to help populations at much higher risk than college students.[47]

One obvious reason for this inequity is that feminist advocates come largely from the middle class and so exert great pressure to protect their own. To render their claims plausible, they dramatize themselves as victims-survivors or “potential survivors.” Another device is to expand the definition of rape (as Koss and Kilpatrick do). Dr. Andrea Parrot, chair of the Cornell University Coalition Advocating Rape Education and author of Sexual Assault on Campus, begins her date rape prevention manual with the words, “Any sexual intercourse without mutual desire is a form of rape. Anyone who is psychologically or physically pressured into sexual contact on any occasion is as much a victim as the person who is attacked in the streets” (my emphasis).[48] By such a definition, privileged young women in our nation’s colleges gain moral parity with the real victims in the community at large. Parrot’s novel conception of rape also justifies the salaries being paid to all the new personnel in the burgeoning college date rape industry. After all, it is much more pleasant to deal with rape from an office in Princeton than on the streets of downtown Trenton.

Another reason that college women are getting a lion’s share of public resources for combatting rape is that collegiate money, though originally public, is allocated by college officials. As the Blade points out:

Public universities have multi-million dollar budgets heavily subsidized by state dollars. School officials decide how the money is spent, and are eager to address the high-profile issues like rape on campus. In contrast, rape crisis centers-nonprofit agencies that provide free services in the community-must appeal directly to federal and state governments for money.[49]
Schoenberg and Roe describe typical cases of women in communities around the country-in Madison, Wisconsin, in Columbus, Ohio, in Austin, Texas, and in Newport, Kentucky-who have been raped and have to wait months for rape counseling services.

There were three rapes reported to police at the University of Minnesota in 1992; in New York City there were close to three thousand. Minnesota students have a 24-hour rape crisis hot line of their own. In New York City, the “hot line” leads to detectives in the sex crimes unit. The Blade reports that the sponsors of the Violence Against Women Act of 1993 reflect the same bizarre priorities: “If Senator Biden has his way, campuses will get at least twenty million more dollars for rape education and prevention.” In the meantime, Gail Rawlings of the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape complains that the bill guarantees nothing for basic services, counseling, and support groups for women in the larger community: “It’s ridiculous. This bill is supposed to encourage prosecution of violence against women, land] one of the main keys is to have support for the victim. . . . I just don’t understand why [the money] isn’t there.”[50]

Because rape is the most underreported of crimes, the campus activists tell us we cannot learn the true dimensions of campus rape from police logs or hospital reports. But as an explanation of why there are so few known and proven incidents of rape on campus, that won’t do. Underreporting of sexual crimes is not confined to the campus, and wherever there is a high level of reported rape-say in poor urban communities where the funds for combatting rape are almost nonexistent-the level of underreported rape will be greater still.

No matter how you look at it, women on campus do not face anywhere near the same risk of rape as women elsewhere. The fact that college women continue to get a disproportionate and ever-growing share of the very scarce public resources allocated for rape prevention and for aid to rape victims underscores how disproportionately powerful and self-preoccupied the campus feminists are despite all their vaunted concern for “women” writ large.

Once again we see what a long way the New Feminism has come from Seneca Falls. The privileged and protected women who launched the women’s movement, as Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony took pains to point out, did not regard themselves as the primary victims of gender inequity: “They had souls large enough to feel the wrongs of others without being scarified in their own flesh.” They did not act as if they had “in their own experience endured the coarser forms of tyranny resulting from unjust laws, or association with immoral and unscrupulous men.”[51] Ms. Stanton and Ms. Anthony concentrated their efforts on the Hester Vaughns and the other defenseless women whose need for gender equity was urgent and unquestionable.

Scarifying Statistics
Much of the unattractive self-preoccupation and victimology that we find on today’s campuses have been irresponsibly engendered by the inflated and scarifying “one in four” statistic on campus rape. In some cases the campaign of alarmism arouses exasperation of another kind. In an article in the New York Times Magazine, Katie Roiphe questioned Koss’s figures: “If 25 percent of my women friends were really being raped, wouldn’t I know it?”[52] She also questioned the feminist perspective on male/female relations: “These feminists are endorsing their own utopian vision of sexual relations: sex without struggle, sex without power, sex without persuasion, sex without pursuit. If verbal coercion constitutes rape, then the word rape itself expands to include any kind of sex a woman experiences as negative.”[53]

The publication of Ms. Roiphe’s piece incensed the campus feminists. “The New York Times should be shot,” railed Laurie Fink, a professor at Kenyon College.[54] “Don’t invite [Katie Roiphe] to your school if you can prevent it,” counseled Pauline Bart of the University of Illinois.[55] Gail Dines, a women’s studies professor and date rape activist from Wheelock College, called Roiphe a traitor who has sold out to the “white male patriarchy.”[56]

Other critics, such as Camille Paglia and Berkeley professor of social welfare Neil Gilbert, have been targeted for demonstrations, boycotts, and denunciations. Gilbert began to publish his critical analyses of the Ms./ Koss study in 1990.[57] Many feminist activists did not look kindly on Gilbert’s challenge to their “one in four” figure. A date rape clearinghouse in San Francisco devotes itself to “refuting” Gilbert; it sends out masses of literature attacking him. It advertises at feminist conferences with green and orange fliers bearing the headline STOP IT, BITCH! The words are not Gilbert’s, but the tactic is an effective way of drawing attention to his work. At one demonstration against Gilbert on the Berkeley campus, students chanted, “Cut it out or cut it off,” and carried signs that read, KILL NEIL GILBERT![58] Sheila Kuehl, the director of the California Women’s Law Center, confided to readers of the Los Angeles Daily Journal, “I found myself wishing that Gilbert, himself, might be raped and . . . be told, to his face, it had never happened.”[59]

The findings being cited in support of an “epidemic” of campus rape are the products of advocacy research. Those promoting the research are bitterly opposed to seeing it exposed as inaccurate. On the other hand, rape is indeed the most underreported of crimes. We need the truth for policy to be fair and effective. If the feminist advocates would stop muddying the waters we could probably get at it.

High rape numbers serve the gender feminists by promoting the belief that American culture is sexist and misogynist. But the common assumption that rape is a manifestation of misogyny is open to question. Assume for the sake of argument that Koss and Kilpatrick are right and that the lower numbers of the FBI, the Justice Department, the Harris poll, of Kilpatrick’s earlier study, and the many other studies mentioned earlier are wrong. Would it then follow that we are a “patriarchal rape culture”? Not necessarily. American society is exceptionally violent, and the violence is not specifically patriarchal or misogynist. According to International Crime Rates, a report from the United States Department of Justice “Crimes of violence (homicide, rape, and robbery) are four to nine times more frequent in the United States than they are in Europe. The U.S. crime rate for rape was . . . roughly seven times higher than the average for Europe.”[60] The incidence of rape is many times lower in such countries as Greece, Portugal, or Japan-countries far more overtly patriarchal than ours.

It might be said that places like Greece, Portugal, and Japan do not keep good records on rape. But the fact is that Greece, Portugal, and Japan are significantly less violent than we are. I have walked through the equivalent of Central Park in Kyoto at night. I felt safe, and I was safe, not because Japan is a feminist society (it is the opposite), but because crime is relatively rare. The international studies on violence suggest that patriarchy is not the primary cause of rape but that rape, along with other crimes against the person, is caused by whatever it is that makes our society among the most violent of the so-called advanced nations.

But the suggestion that criminal violence, not patriarchal misogyny, is the primary reason for our relatively high rate of rape is unwelcome to gender feminists like Susan Faludi, who insist, in the face of all evidence to the contrary, that “the highest rate of rapes appears in cultures that have the highest degree of gender inequality, where sexes are segregated at work, that have patriarchal religions, that celebrate all-male sporting and hunting rituals, i.e., a society such as us.”[61]
In the spring of 1992, Peter Jennings hosted an ABC special on the subject of rape. Catharine MacKinnon, Susan Faludi, Naomi Wolf, and Mary Koss were among the panelists, along with John Leo of U.S. News & World Report. When MacKinnon trotted out the claim that 25 percent of women are victims of rape, Mr. Leo replied, “I don’t believe those statistics. . . . That’s totally false.”[62] MacKinnon countered, “That means you don’t believe women. It’s not cooked, it’s interviews with women by people who believed them when they said it. That’s the methodology.”[63]

The accusation that Leo did not believe “women” silenced him, as it was meant to. But as we have seen, believing what women actually say is precisely not the methodology by which some feminist advocates get their incendiary statistics.

MacKinnon’s next volley was certainly on target. She pointed out that the statistics she had cited “are starting to become nationally accepted by the government.” That claim could not be gainsaid, and MacKinnon may be pardoned for crowing about it. The government, like the media, is accepting the gender feminist claims and is introducing legislation whose “whole purpose . . . is to raise the consciousness of the American public.”[64]

The words are Joseph Biden’s, and the bill to which he referred-the Violence Against Women Act-introduces the principle that violence against women is much like racial violence, calling for civil as well as criminal remedies.

Like a lynching or a cross burning, an act of violence by a man against a woman would be prosecuted as a crime of gender bias, under title three of the bill: “State and Federal criminal laws do not adequately protect against the bias element of gender-motivated crimes, which separates these crimes from acts of random violence, nor do those laws adequately provide victims of gender-motivated crimes the opportunity to vindicate their interests.”[65] Whereas ordinary violence is “random,” “violence against women” may be discriminatory in the literal sense in which we speak of a bigot as discriminating against someone because of race or religion.

Rape Litigation
Mary Koss and Sarah Buel were invited to give testimony on the subject of violence against women before the House Judiciary Committee. Dean Kilpatrick’s findings were cited. Neil Gilbert was not there; nor were any of the other scholars interviewed by the Toledo Blade.

The litigation that the bill invites gladdens the hearts of gender feminists. If we consider that a boy getting fresh in the back seat of a car may be prosecuted both as an attempted rapist and as a gender bigot who has violated his date’s civil rights, we can see why the title three provision is being hailed by radical feminists like Catharine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin. Dworkin, who was surprised and delighted at the support the bill was getting, candidly observed that the senators “don’t understand the meaning of the legislation they pass.”[66]

Senator Biden invites us to see the bill’s potential as an instrument of moral education on a national scale. “I have become convinced . . . that violence against women reflects as much a failure of our nation’s collective moral imagination as it does the failure of our nation’s laws and regulations.”[67] Fair enough, but then why not include crimes against the elderly or children? What constitutional or moral ground is there for singling out female crime victims for special treatment under civil rights laws? Can it be that Biden and the others are buying into the gender feminist ontology of a society divided against itself along the fault line of gender?

Equity feminists are as upset as anyone else about the prevalence of violence against women, but they are not possessed of the worldview that licenses their overzealous sisters to present inflammatory but inaccurate data on male abuse.

They want social scientists to tell them the objective truth about the prevalence of rape. And because they are not committed to the view that men are arrayed against women, they are able to see violence against women in the context of what, in our country, appears to be a general crisis of violence against persons.

By distinguishing between acts of random violence and acts of violence against women, the sponsors of the Violence Against Women Act believe that they are showing sensitivity to feminist concerns. In fact, they may be doing social harm by accepting a divisive, gender-specific approach to a problem that is not caused by gender bias, misogyny, or “patriarchy”-an approach that can obscure real and urgent problems such as lesbian battering or male-on-male sexual violence.[68]

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According to Stephen Donaldson, president of Stop Prison Rape, more than 290,000 male prisoners are assaulted each year. Prison rape, says Donaldson in a New York Times opinion piece, “is an entrenched tradition.” Donaldson, who was himself a victim of prison rape twenty years ago when he was incarcerated for antiwar activities, has calculated that there may be as many as 45,000 rapes every day in our prison population of 1.2 million men.

The number of rapes is vastly higher than the number of victims because the same men are often attacked repeatedly. Many of the rapes are “gang bangs” repeated day after day. To report such a rape is a terribly dangerous thing to do, so these rapes may be the most underreported of all.

No one knows how accurate Donaldson’s figures are. They seem incredible to me. But the tragic and neglected atrocities he is concerned about are not the kind whose study attracts grants from the Ford or Ms. foundations. If he is anywhere near right the incidence of male rape would be as high or higher than that of female rape.

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Look to the Root Causes
Equity feminists find it reasonable to approach the problem of violence against women by addressing the root causes of the general rise in violence and the decline in civility. To view rape as a crime of gender bias (encouraged by a patriarchy that looks with tolerance on the victimization of women) is perversely to miss its true nature. Rape is perpetrated by criminals, which is to say, it is perpetrated by people who are wont to gratify themselves in criminal ways and who care very little about the suffering they inflict on others.

That most violence is male isn’t news. But very little of it appears to be misogynist. This country has more than its share of violent males, statistically we must expect them to gratify themselves at the expense of people weaker than themselves, male or female; and so they do. Gender feminist ideologues bemuse and alarm the public with inflated statistics. And they have made no case for the claim that violence against women is symptomatic of a deeply misogynist culture.

Rape is just one variety of crime against the person, and rape of women is just one subvariety. The real challenge we face in our society is how to reverse the tide of violence. How to achieve this is a true challenge to our moral imagination. It is clear that we must learn more about why so many of our male children are so violent. And it is clear we must find ways to educate all of our children to regard violence with abhorrence and contempt.

We must once again teach decency and considerateness. And this, too, must become clear: in any constructive agenda for the future, the gender feminist’s divisive social philosophy has no place.

[Researching the Rape Culture of America, reprinted with permission, was excerpted from Who Stole Feminism? (Simon & Schuster Inc., New York, 1994) by Christina Hoff Sommers, chapter 10, pp. 209-226.]

Footnotes
1. Federal Bureau of Investigation, Crime in the United States: Uniform Crime Reports (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice, 1990).

2. Bureau of the Census, Statistical Abstract of the United States 1990, (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, l992), p. 184. See also Caroline Wolf Harlow, Bureau of Justice Statistics, “Female Victims of Violent Crime” (Washington, D.C., U.S. Department of Justice, 1991), p. 7.

3. Louis Harris and Associates, “Commonwealth Fund Survey of Women’s Health” (New York: Commonwealth Fund, 1993), p. 9. What the report says is that “within the last five years, 2 percent of women 1.9 million) were raped.”

4. “Rape in America: A Report to the Nation” (Charleston, S.C.: Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center, 1992).

5. Catharine MacKinnon, “Sexuality, Pornography, and Method,” Ethics 99 January 1989): 331.

6. Mary Koss and Cheryl Oros, “Sexual Experiences Survey: A Research Instrument Investigating Sexual Aggression and Victimization,” Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 50, no. 3 (1982): 455.

7. Nara Schoenberg and Sam Roe, “The Making of an Epidemic,” Blade, October 10, 1993, special report, p. 4.

8. The total sample was 6,159, or whom 3,187 were females. See Mary Koss, “Hidden Rape: Sexual Aggression and Victimization in a National Sample of Students in Higher Education,” in Ann Wolbert Burgess, ed., Rape and Sexual Assault, vol. 2 (New York: Garland Publishing, 1988), p. 8.

9. Ibid., p. 10.

10. Ibid., p. 16.

11. Mary Koss, Thomas Dinero, and Cynthia Seibel, “Stranger and Acquaintance Rape,” Psychology of Women Quarterly 12 (1988): 12. See also Neil Gilbert, “Examining the Facts: Advocacy Research Overstates the Incidence of Date and Acquaintance Rape,” in Current Controversies in Family Violence, ed. Richard Gelles and Donileen Loseke (Newbury Park, Calif.: Sage Publications, 1993), pp. 120-32.

12. The passage is from Robin Warshaw, in her book I Never Called It Rape (New York: HarperPerennial, 1988), p. 2, published by the Ms. Foundation and with an afterword by Mary Koss. The book summarizes the findings of the rape study.

13. Newsweek October 25, 1993.

14. Naomi Wolf, The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty Are Used Against Women (New York: Doubleday, 1992), p. 166.

15. At the University of Minnesota, for example, new students receive a booklet called “Sexual Exploitation on Campus.” The booklet informs them that according to “one study [left unnamed] 20 to 25 percent of all college women have experienced rape or attempted rape.”

16. The Violence Against Women Act of 1993 was introduced to the Senate by Joseph Biden on January 21, 1993. It is sometimes referred to as the “Biden Bill.” It is now making its way through the various congressional committees. Congressman Ramstad told the Minneapolis Star Tribune (June 19, 1991), “Studies show that as many as one in four women will be the victim of rape or attempted rape during her college career.” Ramstad adds, “This may only be the tip of the iceberg, for 90 percent of all rapes are believed to go unreported.”

17. Gilbert, “Examining the Facts,” pp. 120-32.

18. Cited in Koss, “Hidden Rape,” p. 9.

19. Blade, special report, p. 5.

20. Ibid.

21. Koss herself calculated the new “one in nine” figure for the Blade, p. 5.

22. Cathy Young, Washington Post (National Weekly Edition), July 29, 1992, p. 25.

23. Katha Pollitt, “Not Just Bad Sex,” New Yorker, October 4, 1993, p. 222.

24. Koss, “Hidden Rape,” p. 16.

25. Blade, p. 5. The Blade reporters explain that the number vanes between one and twenty-two and one in thirty-three depending on the amount of overlap between groups.

26. “Rape in America,” p. 2.

27. Ibid., p. 15.

28. The secretary of health and human services, Donna Shalala, praised the poll for avoiding a “white male” approach that has “for too long” been the norm in research about women. My own view is that the interpretation of the poll is flawed. See the discussions in chapters 9 and 11.

29. Louis Harris and Associates, “The Commonwealth Fund Survey of Women’s Health,” p. 20.

30. Blade, p. 3.

31. Ibid., p. 6.

32. Ibid.

33. Dean Kilpatrick, et al., “Mental Health Correlates of Criminal Victimization: A Random Community Survey,” Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 53, 6 (1985).

34. Time, May 4, 1992, p. 15.

35. Blade, special report, p. 3.

36. Ibid., p. 3.

37. Ibid., p. 5.

38. Ibid., p. 3.

39. Camille Paglia, “The Return of Carry Nation,” Playboy, October 1992, p. 36.

40. Camille Paglia, “Madonna 1: Anomility and Artifice,” New York Times, December 14, 1990.

41. Reported in Peter Hellman, “Crying Rape: The Politics of Date Rape on Campus,” New York, March 8, 1993, pp. 32-37.

42. Washington Times, May 7, 1993.

43. Hellman, “Crying Rape,” pp. 32-37.

44 Ibid., p. 34.

45. Ibid., p. 37.

46. Katie Roiphe, The Morning After: Sex, Fear, and Feminism (Boston: Little, Brown, 1993), p. 45.

47. Blade, p. 13.

48. Andrea Parrot, Acquaintance Rape and Sexual Assault Prevention Training Manual (Ithaca, N.Y.: College of Human Ecology, Cornell University, 1990), p. 1.

49. Blade, p. 13.

50. Ibid., p. 14.

51. Alice Rossi, ed., The Feminist Papers: From Adams to de Beauvoir (New York: Columbia University Press, 1973), p. 414.

52. Katie Roiphe, “Date Rape’s Other Victim,” New York Times Magazine, June 13, 1993, p. 26.

53. Ibid., p. 40.

54. Women’s Studies Network (Internet: LISTSERV @UMDD.UMD.EDU), June 14, 1993.

55. Ibid., June 13, 1993.

56. See Sarah Crichton, “Sexual Correctness: Has It Gone Too Far?” Newsweek, October 25, 1993, p. 55.

57. See Neil Gilbert, “The Phantom Epidemic of Sexual Assault,” The Public Interest, Spring 1991, pp. 54-65; Gilbert, “The Campus Rape Scare,” Wall Street Journal, June 27, 1991, p. 10; and Gilbert, “Examining the Facts,” pp. 120-32.

58. “Stop It Bitch,” distributed by the National Clearinghouse on Marital and Date Rape, Berkeley, California. (For thirty dollars they will send you “thirty-four years of research to help refute him [Gilbert].”) See also the Blade, p. 5.

59. Sheila Kuehl, “Skeptic Needs Taste of Reality Along with Lessons About Law,” Los Angeles Daily Journal, September 5, 1991. Ms. Kuehl, it will be remembered, was a key figure in disseminating the tidings that men’s brutality to women goes up 40 percent on Super Bowl Sunday. Some readers may remember Ms. Kuehl as the adolescent girl who played the amiable Zelda on the 1960s “Dobie Gillis Show.”

60. International Crime Rates (Washington, D.C.: Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1988), p. 1. The figures for 1983: England and Wales, 2.7 per 100,000; United States, 33.7 per 100,000 (p. 8). Consider these figures comparing Japan to other countries (rates of tape per 100,000 inhabitants):
  FORCIBLE RAPE
  U.S. 38.1
  U.K. (England and Wales only) 12.1
  (West) Germany 8.0
  France 7.8
  Japan 1.3
Source: Japan 1992: An International Comparison (Tokyo: Japan Institute for Social and Economic Affairs, 1992), p. 93.

61. “Men, Sex, and Rape,” ABC News Forum with Peter Jennings, May 5, 1992, Transcript no. ABC-34, p. 21.

62. Ibid., p. 11.

63. Ibid.

64. Senator Biden, cited by Carolyn Skomeck, Associated Press, May 27, 1993.

65. “The Violence Against Women Act of 1993,” title 3, p. 87.

66. Ruth Shalit, “On the Hill: Caught in the Act,” New Republic, July 12, 1993, p. 15.

67. See ibid., p. 14.

68. Stephen Donaldson, “The Rape Crisis Behind Bars,” New York Times, December 29, 1993, p. A11. See also Donaldson, “Letter to the Editor” New York Times, August 24, 1993. See, too, Wayne Wooden and Jay Parker, Men Behind Bars: Sexual Exploitation in Prison (New York: Plenum Press, 1982); Anthony Sacco, ed., Male Rape: A Casebook of Sexual Aggressions (New York: AMS Press, 1982); and Daniel Lockwood, Prison Sexual Violence (New York: Elsevier, 1980).

* Researching the “Rape Culture” of America
By Dr. Christina Hoff Sommers

As an associate professor of philosophy at Clark University, Dr. Christina Hoff Sommers specializes in contemporary moral theory. She has written articles for The New Republic, The Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and The New England Journal of Medicine.

Rape Trauma Syndrome or RTS is a devastating form of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD, familiar to many military combat veterans) which has been recognized and described only in the past two decades. In some form and degree it affects virtually all victims of sexual assault, including ones who avoided a completed rape.

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Even verbal sexual aggression without physical coercion a common experience for prisoners can leave the target psychologically damaged.

For male survivors of an actual rape the disorder is likely to be severe and even life-threatening. Institutions should brook no delays in getting new rape victims into counseling within hours of the victimization; this is a true psychiatric emergency.

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RTS was first discerned and described in connection with female victims. Males experience the same problems, but in addition must deal with a number of serious issues specific to their gender which add greatly to the traumatization. Male victims who remain incarcerated and are thus unable to withdraw from the setting of their victimization are seriously handicapped in attempting to recover from the trauma.

Those who are exposed to repeated victimization and must even adapt on a daily basis to being a perpetual and continual victim of unwanted sexual penetration, and who must undertake numerous daily compromises in order to avoid the most catastrophic situations (a description which unfortunately comes to characterize most incarcerated rape survivors), must endure the most extreme form of the syndrome.

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The literature on therapy, written for male survivors in the community, does not yet take these sharply intensifying factors affecting prisoners into account.
Anyone likely to be in a therapeutic or counseling relationship with a rape survivor should become familiar with the psychological and medical literature.

Other staff members, however, also have to deal with rape survivors and should have at least a basic familiarity with RTS in order to avoid unwittingly contributing to the further victimization of the survivor.

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This begins with an understanding of the nature of the worst psychological injuries suffered, since it is in these hypersensitive areas that the survivor is most vulnerable to additional, albeit unintentional, traumatization caused by others who deal with him after the physical assault.

First there is the total loss of control over even the insides of one’s own body, resulting in feelings of utter vulnerability and powerlessness. This makes control and power key psychological issues for all rape survivors. In the case of men, who are brought up to expect internal inviolability, are expected to be able to defend themselves against attack, and are socialized to consider total helplessness incompatible with masculinity and thus intolerable, these issues are heightened. In the setting of imprisonment, the very environment, with its all-pervasive theme of control by the state, continually exacerbates this wound.

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Whenever decisions are made for the survivor, rather than by him, this has the effect of rubbing more salt into the open wound. Therefore persons in positions of authority should wherever possible allow the survivor to make his own choices, even if the alternative options presented are unacceptable, in order to help him combat the feeling of total helplessness which will, if left intact, defeat all attempts to improve his condition.

Often this is a question of style rather than substance, but in psychological matters it is the impression which counts.

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However, when conflicts arise over confidentiality, participation in prosecution or informing, housing placement, etc., staff members should keep in mind that every action taken which the victim perceives as one of peremptory control will in fact aggravate the trauma and thus, from the survivor’s perspective, further victimizes him.

Second, there is the perception that the victim’s sexual identity as a male has been compromised or even demolished and reversed. All but those homosexuals who identify themselves as feminine are gravely affected by this perception. It results from very widespread attitudes relating to sexual penetration and defeat in personal combat (sexuality and aggression being the two primary remaining sources of male identity to most prisoners), and it is exacerbated by the daily behavior of other prisoners who are aware of the victimization and lose no opportunity to remind the survivor of his supposed “loss of manhood.”

If allowed to go unaddressed, this belief will frequently lead to suicide attempts, other self-damaging behavior, or violently aggressive compensatory behavior. It is absolutely imperative, therefore, that staff persons refrain from implying any slight to the victim’s masculinity.

To the contrary, all persons in contact with the survivor should go out of their way to emphasize his male status verbally and through body language at every opportunity.

The third major injury, for heterosexual survivors, is often related to manhood issues, and results from peers who spread the unfounded belief that the victim’s sexual orientation is compromised or even transformed by his involuntary experience.

This perception, if not countered, can also produce suicidal behavior. Unfortunately, staff people frequently contribute to this belief by failing to distinguish between homosexuals and heterosexuals who have been pressured into passive sexual activity or roles. Only careful staff training with regard to the realities of prisoner sexuality can work to counter this deplorable tendency.

Even in cases where prisoners label themselves as “homosexual,” staff should be careful to ascertain that this identity existed prior to confinement before reinforcing it by repeating the label; an unsophisticated prisoner may simply be repeating what others, seeking to justify his sexual subordination, have told him, or may be using it as a temporary condition rather than a basic trait.

Ultimately one must question whether there is any rationale for making official distinctions of sexual orientation in the environment of same-sex confinement, where sexual behavior both active and passive so commonly involves those who behave heterosexually both before and after confinement. Most specifically, staff members should avoid any implication that a rape survivor would have any less interest in the opposite sex.
Suicidal impulses are so common among males who have recently experienced their first or second rape that any such victim should be presumed suicidal until a mental health professional determines that this is not the case.

RTS has been observed to proceed in most victims in a series of stages, though they are not universal. The description which follows applies to the untreated survivor; those victims who are given effective psychotherapy or counseling, or even merely exposed to Tape II, may avoid the worst aspects of RTS or be better able to control their actions and feelings.

At first the new victim, especially when removed from the site of the attack, tends to be numb, withdrawn, talks slowly or inaudibly if at all, and denies or disbelieves the experience. Some victims however, are visibly upset and highly emotional, sometimes palpably terrified. These two states may even alternate.

Feelings of helplessness and extreme vulnerability (which may appear as indifference to one’s fate) are endemic; they may together with the re-experiencing of the original terror induce a kind of paralysis in the face of new sexual aggression; staff members must avoid interpreting such paralysis as consent.

Nightmares and sleep disturbances are common. Shame, humiliation, and embarrassment are characteristic. The ability to concentrate may be lost and dissociation (“spacing out”) become frequent. Memory may be impaired. Victims should be encouraged but not forced to express themselves. This stage can last up to a week, but many of its features remain.

The second stage displays some or all of the following features: self-worthlessness or self-contempt, self-blame for the victimization (reinforced by those around him both staff and prisoners who “blame the victim” in various ways), sense of being a failure, various forms of shame, severe depression, homophobic panic, anxiety, extreme insecurity, obsession with body areas involved in the rape, restlessness, urge to escape, compulsive movement, other compulsive behaviors, inability to trust (including those who are trying to help), disturbances in sexual functioning, resistance to intimacy of any kind, ambivalence towards females, fear of males, fear of being or going “crazy”, fear of persecution, cynicism, social isolation, loss of motivation, anger, and rage, often with body and mind at odds (one agitated, the other calm; later switched).

Personal boundaries are confused, and relationships chaotic and conflicted. Again, some of these symptoms may persist into later stages.

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This stage, when outside confinement, commonly develops a marked suppression of feelings combined with an attempt to “carry on like normal.” For a prisoner who may be involved in perpetual if less violent sexual exploitation and who must continually compromise to avoid further gang-rape, this may show itself in mechanical compliance with sexual demands while remaining basically numb to the experience, and strong dependency with regard to his new master and protector.

Feelings of security and protection, desperately needed, are associated with sexual performance and submission to more powerful men. Survival needs to comply with demands for a submissive role frequently overrule urges to rebel and reclaim autonomy, suppressing these but causing deep conflicts which appear as disturbances in other psychological areas.

In the third stage, which may be postponed until after release, the suppressed rage resurfaces and may be accompanied by violent behavior, obsession with vengeance or with the rape experience itself, belligerence towards all holders of power (including institutional staff), disturbing sexual fantasies, phobias, substance abuse, disruption of social life, self-destructive behavior and revictimization,lifestyle disorganization, antisocial and criminal activity, and aggressive assertion of masculinity, including the commission of rape on others.

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The suppression period can last for many years, even decades. It is important that survivors be steered towards opportunities for continued treatment after release (with therapists knowledgeable about RTS), when their progress, once outside of the traumatic environment, is likely to dramatically improve.

The final stage involves a partial or complete resolution of these issues and a reintegration of the self which allows the past victimization to recede in importance, though traces will remain for the rest of his life.

* By Stephen Donaldson President, Stop Prisoner Rape, Inc.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has called on the US and European governments to stop treating Colombian left-wing rebel groups as terrorists.

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Mr Chavez said the Farc and ELN guerrilla movements were armies with a political project and should be recognised as such.

He was speaking a day after helping manage the Farc’s release of two hostages held for more than five years.

The Colombian president swiftly rejected Mr Chavez’s idea.

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Just a day after helping to broker the liberation of two high-profile hostages, Clara Rojas and Consuelo Gonzalez, Mr Chavez used his annual state of the nation speech to make the appeal, addressing himself to Colombia’s conservative President Alvaro Uribe.

“I ask you (Uribe) that we start recognising the Farc and the ELN as insurgent forces in Colombia and not terrorist groups, and I ask the same of the governments of this continent and the world,” Mr Chavez said.

‘Pain and poverty’

But Mr Uribe quickly rejected the idea.

He said the insurgents were terrorists who funded their operations with cocaine smuggling, recruited children and planted land mines in their effort to topple a democratically elected government.

“The only thing they have produced is displacement, pain, unemployment and poverty,” Mr Uribe said.

The Colombian and Venezuelan presidents have been squabbling for months over Mr Chavez’s role in trying to mediate swap of hostages for guerrilla prisoners held by Colombia’s government.

The release of Ms Rojas and Ms Gonzalez was the most important handover in the Colombian conflict since 2001.

The Farc said the unilateral move showed its willingness to negotiate over remaining hostages.

Correspondents say it was a triumph for Mr Chavez, who greeted the women in Caracas on Thursday following their release.

The Venezuelan president has said he wants to repeat the success with dozens of other captives.

But Mr Uribe has been wary of his Venezuelan counterpart’s involvement.

The Farc and the smaller ELN say they are fighting for a fairer distribution of wealth.

In 2002 the EU joined the US in classifying the Farc as a terrorist group.

* BBC NEWS:

WHITE PLAINS, New York (Reuters) – Disgraced U.S. sprinter Marion Jones was sentenced to six months in prison on Friday for lying to federal prosecutors about her steroid use, a stunning downfall for the five-time Olympic medalist.

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U.S. District Court Judge Kenneth Karas imposed the sentence after Jones, 32, pleaded guilty to two charges last October, when she retired from athletics and tearfully confessed to betraying the trust of her fans after years of denying she used performance-enhancing drugs.

“Your honor, I absolutely realize the gravity of these offenses and I am deeply sorry,” Jones told the judge, crying as she begged not to be separated from her two young sons.

“I pray that you be as merciful as a human being can be.”

Karas gave Jones six months for lying about steroid use and two months — to run concurrently — for misleading federal investigators about a check fraud case involving her ex-boyfriend, former 100-metres world record holder Tim Montgomery.

After hearing her punishment, Jones sobbed into the shoulder of her husband, Olympic sprinter Obadele Thompson. She has until March to turn herself over to authorities.

“I truly hope that people will learn from my mistakes,” she said later in a brief statement to reporters.

Jones has been stripped of the five athletics medals she won in the Sydney Olympics, three of them gold. All her performances as of September 2000 have been erased from the record books.

She confessed to lying to investigators in 2003 when she denied knowing that she swallowed the banned substance tetrahydrogestrinone (THG), known as “the clear,” before the 2000 Olympics.

WRONG MESSAGE

Karas noted the elevated status of athletes in society and said using drugs sent the wrong message. He said he did not believe Jones’ statement in October when she said she did not realize she was taking steroids until after the 2000 Games.

Jones had told the judge she believed she was ingesting flaxseed oil until July 2001, and suspected it had been a performance enhancer only when she was unable to train as intensively and did not recover as quickly after she stopped taking the substance.

“That is very difficult to believe, that a top-notch athlete, knowing that a razor-thin margin makes the difference, would not be keenly aware of what he or she put in her body,” Karas said. “It was a troubling statement.”

Jones, whose image from a triumphant Sydney Games was enhanced by a winning smile and joyous celebrations, now has become the biggest name in world sport to admit using steroids.

“Today’s sentencing concludes a sad series of events,” USA Track & Field Federation said in a statement. “It is a vivid morality play that graphically illustrates the wages of cheating in any facet of life, on or off the track.”

Prosecutors had agreed to a light sentence because Jones was prepared to cooperate in a separate fraud investigation of her former coach and one-time Olympic relay gold medalist, Steve Riddick.

Riddick was convicted in May 2007 of bank fraud, bank fraud conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy. On Friday Karas sentenced him to five years and three months in prison.

Montgomery, Jones’ ex-boyfriend, has pleaded guilty to bank fraud. A sentencing date has not yet been set.

Defense lawyers asked for mercy saying Jones had suffered public humiliation.

Jones once pulled in millions of dollars in product endorsements but is now in financial ruin.

The case comes amid other steroid scandals in U.S. sport, including a special report by former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell last month that named nearly 90 baseball players as suspected steroid users.

Major League Baseball home-run king Barry Bonds is under indictment for a similar offense, accused of lying to federal investigators about his steroid use. He has pleaded innocent and denies he ever used performance-enhancing drugs.

Like Bonds, Jones was ensnared in a federal probe into California’s now-defunct BALCO lab that disgraced elite athletes in several sports.

(Reporting by Christine Kearney and Edith Honan; Editing by Daniel Trotta and Xavier Briand)

For me the Blogs are a modern and personal tool of very important human communication.

Our Blogs permit us to know us among diverse people that we are in this world of Internet.

Likewise it permits us to observe the enormous variety of points of view, criteria of design or personal opinions on diverse themes.

That is it more valuable of the Blogs; therefore any common person has the opportunity to be expressed, on a worldwide basis, in any theme that we like or we want to emphasize.

Finally greeting everybody or friends “blogueros” around the world.

I wish that you have a Happy and prosper year 2008.

See You Later.
CARLOS Tiger without Time

At a Veterans Day naturalization ceremony at Camp Anaconda, north of Baghdad, the Homeland Security Secretary, Michael Chertoff, led 178 troops in the oath of allegiance. Each new American received a certificate, a flag and the hearty praise of Brig. Gen. Gregory Couch, who hailed them as “these wonderful warriors.”About 40,000 non-citizens are serving in the United States military, continuing a tradition of immigrant soldiering that dates to the dawn of the republic. About 4,000 troops since 2004 have earned citizenship while stationed abroad.

Presumably all of them were legal residents, since the military does not knowingly accept the undocumented. But some who entered the country illegally do manage to enlist — including soldiers like Lance Cpl. Jose Antonio Gutierrez, a Marine who was one of the first killed in the early hours of the Iraq war in March 2003. He was from Guatemala, and won his American citizenship posthumously.

There is an irony to the Pentagon’s policies toward the undocumented. The military’s ranks and morale have been ruinously sapped by the misadventure in Iraq. To keep the recruiting pipeline filled, it has repeatedly lowered its standards on things like candidates’ aptitude, education and health, and granted “moral waivers” to tens of thousands of recruits with criminal records.

But while the military has been taking a gamble, a la “The Dirty Dozen,” on the potential for ex-convicts — including some violent felons — to redeem themselves, a pool of highly motivated and well-qualified candidates lies out of reach: men and women like Corporal Gutierrez.

The Pentagon has been more progressive about immigration than the rest of the federal government. Many military leaders supported a bill to give a select group of young immigrants — high school graduates who were brought here illegally by their parents, grew up here, had exemplary records and were eager to serve — the chance to enlist and become legalized after two years in uniform.

That was the Dream Act, but it died because Congress, under ferocious pressure from the hard-line right, refused to grant “amnesty” in any form to the blameless children of “illegal aliens.”

The message was clear — Uncle Sam may want you, and you may want Uncle Sam, but you cannot serve. If you are undocumented there is no redemption for you — not even in Iraq.

That’s pretty hard core. It’s a good example of how self-defeating the restrictions orthodoxy can be. But that’s where the national debate is stuck.

  • I think that it is the height of racism, ignorance and hypocrisy for this government to simultaneously round up immigrants of any status at the same time that it forces them into harm’s way. Those who VOLUNTARILY give their lives, or risk their lives, for a country that they are told doesn’t want them, deserve our utmost respect and yes, even amnesty. Putting your neck on the line for the United States should earn you your citizenship and everything else that this nation has to offer.
    While I believe that the innocent children of illegal immigrants deserve a break and all of the benefits of citizenship, I think that it should go double for those who enter the military and volunteer for a doomed operation that even current enlistees are abandoning in droves. I just read a separate article about how desertion rates are at an all-time high, and as the deaths in Iraq continue with no end to this illegal war in sight, how can we NOT afford to honor immigrants who are willing to fight for this country? — Posted by Hillary
  • Let’s get past the immigrant paranoia and recognize the potential this sort of system could have. The army desperately needs front-line bodies in Iraq and their crumbling recruitment standards are proof. Immigrants need a way to prove themselves worthy of citizenship that makes sense and is actually attainable to the masses. Allowing immigrants, especially illegal ones, the opportunity to earn citizenship through fighting for this country seems like the best idea to deal with the immigration “issue” that I’ve heard. Our country gains a larger and more motivated military, and immigrants gain a straightforward yet not-in-the-least-bit easy path to citizenship. And perhaps best of all, for those consumed by the immigration witchhunt, aliens who are living in the country undocumented will volunteer themselves to BECOME documented in order to serve. It’s so painfully obvious I can’t believe we haven’t been doing this since 9/12
    — Posted by Mike Jewell

  • Humans Are People Too
    by Christopher Jon Batis
    To label, designate, view, consider, describe or otherwise regard any human being as illegal or alien is fundamentally, inherently, patently, basically, and vehemently offensive, disgusting, evil, abhorrent, humiliating, inhumane, oppressive, derisive, and completely, universally devoid of any possible recognition of the divine, corrupting of the spirit, and absent of any decency or morality, and defamatory of creation.

    Do we really consider ourselves so distinct from one another to the manner in which we breathe, bleed, feel and occupy space on this planet and our place in the universe?

    Is it so difficult to recognize in each other the divinity from which we all emanate?; that we are all drops from the same ocean?; that we are all running out of the precious time we all have on this plane of existence and chose to waste it in the futility of micro-detailing our differences, focusing on the banality of our external traits, concentrating on the irrelevance of our geographical origins when most of us love our children, long for purpose, and, at one point or another, will exhale one last time?

    National sovereignty is important, but must we approach the issues of immigration with such personal anger and hatred toward one another? Can we not approach the issues of our nation with the dignity this country should be recognized for?

    Surely, as Americans, as leaders of freedom, we can approach the issues that affect us with personal integrity, intelligent discourse, and respectful regard for all lives, foreign or domestic, with the same respect we demand for ourselves?

    The jury is out. May the verdict be fitting of the fair, the just, and the pursuers of happiness

    — Posted by Christopher Jon Batis

  • We need to do some serious thinking and discussing about “illegal” immigrants. We also need hard data.
    We need reliable information on:1. Total number of illegal immigrants.
    2. How many are working?
    3. What kinds of work they do.
    4. How much they are being paid.
    5. Amount of taxes they pay, classified by Social Security, Medicare, Federal income tax, state and local income tax.

    I suspect that “illegal” immigrants fill very important needs in our economy at a very low cost. In other words, they are extremely valuable to the rest of us.

    If that is true, we should stop saying nasty things about them and accept them as valuable members of our society and legalize them. What’s the problem with that?

    — Posted by Realist

  • I am a freshman at Hunter College and is writing a paper: “Viva La American Dream.” Please excuse my naiveness due to my youth, but whatever happened to human decency that America is so well known by? It seems to me that anyone, illegal or not, should be able to dream the American dream, especially those who are willing to die for that dream.
    I had my own dream the other night and dreamed that we lived in a different world; one with an Orwellian reality and that we (Americans)were all excluded from the American dream. With globalization now confronting us, I imagine a world without borders and that some world leader have excluded us from cross over the global borders to seek a better life. I woke up in a sweat and hurriedly, to the computer to write the NY Times. — Posted by lucia bruni
  • So the NY Times thinks it’s terrible that the “hard-line” right refuses to offer amnesty to “blameless children of illegal aliens?”
    I note how the Times conveniently neglected to mention some of the logic of those who might oppose the “Dream Act.” For one, wouldn’t it be more than awkward to have a young person fighting for us while our laws demand that the illegal parents and extended family be kicked out of the country? I think we all know the public demonstrations and hoopla that would surround any effort to export any illegal family member of such service people. So realistically, in a country like ours, we must face the fact that this would be an “all or none” deal. We either accept the illegal soldier into our armed forces and allow his parents and extended family to stay or we kick all of them out.

    If the NY Times is prepared to advocate that it would allow illegal alien soldiers into our military while simultaneously kicking the soldiers’ extended family out of the country, then I’d love to read about it. But I think most readers know that the NY Times would never advocate such a position.

    I’m afraid that this issue is simply more nuanced than the NY Times would like us to believe.

    — Posted by Bill Carson

  • I doubt this post will ever make it past the censors, (they never do when the topic is illegal immigration) but I have to say I’m surprised by the tone of my fellow Americans.
    Tell me, my fellow citizen…why should I have to obey the laws that foreign aliens don’t? If I steal someone’s identity and use it to perpetuate fraud, should it be condoned and I be allowed to keep my ill-gotten goods? There are some very nice condo’s sitting empty in an adjacent building, much nicer than the ratty old studio I currently rent. If I were to break into one and squat there, should I be allowed to remain for as long as I like? These questions may sound illogical, but they exactly mirror what has been posted here. An American citizen convicted of any of the crimes illegals commit as a matter of course would be, at the least, sent to jail. Jail for a citizen, fortune for the illegal. How is that fair?You people just don’t get it. You may believe that you are championing the underdog, the helpless, the downtrodden but what you are actually doing is advocating AGAINST “equal under the law”, one of the basic tenets of democracy. If you are so contemptuous of that democratic process, of the rule of law, of our sovereignty…just be honest and say so. If you don’t believe that America has a right to decide who can come here and who we don’t want…say so. Don’t be a coward. Stand up and declare that there’s nothing wrong with criminality and that the law is only for those stupid enough to obey it. If we follow the path of the open-borders, pro-illegal crowd we’ll end up with either Anarchy or a World Government. After all, without borders there are no separate countries. Don’t be afraid to say that you WANT to see a World Government. Just be honest and quit trying to couch it as anything BUT a willingness to see the United States as a subject state.

    No amnesty. Build the fence. Enforce the law.

    — Posted by Mara

  • I was a commanding officer and in my unit I had men from various countries. No one asked them if they wanted to die, just give us your best effort. It is a shame that our President doesn’t step in and let illegal immigrants serve, then give them citizenship. I believe we all are brothers and sisters, not spurious beings. I haven’t seen any immigrants provoke a crime, just the opposite. They take jobs that have not been outsourced and add to our society. When will the American people stop listening to the right wing and consider what they are preaching? Remember when we lived in a free society? Have you ever read the writings on the Statue of Liberty. I have!
    — Posted by J. Harry Sutherland  

  • In all foreign wars, and even in the civil war, the rich in America have used substitutes to do the real fighting. Making the immigrants – legal or illegal – fight is nothing new under the sun. If you don’t like this, then stop this imperial hubris. — Posted by Julia
  • I suppose the commonly-used phrase “they do jobs that ordinary Americans don’t want to do” includes being willing to fight and even die for our country. As a veteran, I am ashamed that we have so many who are willing to go to war, but so few who are willing to do the fighting. Of course, an illegal occupation of Iraq is not exactly a traditional “war” is it?
    — Posted by Don Skillin
  • I agree with the first post by Hillary. The undocumented should be allowed to serve and their families should be allowed to stay here. This whole “illegal immigrant” war is a way of distracting Americans from the real problems created and nurtured by the ruling oligarchy. And a way for Lou Dobbs to increase his ratings and sell more cars. And yes, do remember the words on the Statue of Liberty. My ancestors were illegal immigrants in the 1620s when they came over here and killed the people who were living here. The undocumented work, pay taxes, and also DRIVE here (and so should prove they know how to drive and have insurance — we think if we don’t allow them to have driver’s licenses they will decide to go home?). Biometrics would be helpful in preventing document forgeries..the technology exists and we should use it. We need to rethink this issue and not be duped into thinking that our problems are due to the undocumented. The problem is with our devious, greedy rulers and not with undocumented people joining our armed forces.
    — Posted by Bev

American consumers, uneasy about the economy and unimpressed by the merchandise in stores, delivered the bleak holiday shopping season retailers had expected, if not feared, according to one early but influential projection.

Spending between Thanksgiving and Christmas rose just 3.6 percent over last year, the weakest performance in at least four years, according to MasterCard Advisors, a division of the credit card company. By comparison, sales grew 6.6 percent in 2006, and 8 percent in 2005.
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“There was not a recipe for a pick up in sales growth,” said Michael McNamara, vice president of research and analysis at MasterCard Advisors, citing higher gas prices, a slowing housing market and a tight credit market.

Strong demand at the start of the season for a handful of must-have electronics, like digital frames and portable GPS navigation systems trailed off in December. And robust sales of luxury products could not make up for sluggish sales of jewelry and women’s clothing.

What did eventually sell was generally marked down — once, if not twice — which could hurt retailers’ profits in the final three months of year. “Stores are buying those sales at a cost,” said Sherif Mityas, a partner at the consulting firm A.T. Kearney, who specializes in retailing.

MasterCard’s SpendingPulse data, scheduled to be released Wednesday, cover the 32-day period between Nov. 23 and Dec. 24. It is based on purchases made by more than 300 million MasterCard debit and credit card users and broader estimates of spending with cash and checks. It encompasses sales at stores, on the Internet, of gift cards, gasoline and meals at restaurants.

The final numbers are in line with MasterCard’s already modest expectations, which were reduced in the middle of the season. But retail analysts and economists, who scrutinize holiday spending for clues about the health of the American economy, are unlikely to be impressed by the results.

Eboni Jones, 32, of Windsor, Conn., epitomized the problem for stores.

A phone company manager, she waited until this past weekend to make a single purchase at a major chain store this season, favoring Web retailers and designer outlet stores with deeper bargains.

“I am on a tighter budget that I’ve ever been,” said Ms. Jones, who walked into the Macy’s at Westfarms Mall in Farmington, Conn., on Sunday morning to take advantage of a sale.

In the past, she easily spent $100 each on her six nieces and nephews. This year, it was more like $50. “If it’s not on sale, I won’t buy it,” Ms. Jones said.

MasterCard found that online spending rose 22.4 percent, a healthy, if not robust, showing, given fears that Web purchases would slow after a decade of impressive growth.

Clothing sales rose a meager 1.4 percent, but there was a stark split between genders. Sales for women’s apparel dropped 2.4 percent. Sales for men’s apparel rose 2.3 percent. Analysts said women complained of dreary fashions.

“Even when the dust settles, women’s clothing is likely to be one of the weakest categories in retail this season,” said John D. Morris, senior retail analyst at Wachovia Securities.

Luxury purchases rose 7.1 percent, as the nation’s well-heeled splurged on $600 Marc Jacobs trench coats and $800 Christian Louboutin shoes. Footwear, at all prices, proved a bright spot for the clothing industry, with sales surging 6 percent.

Weak sales of clothing left retailers jostling for the deepest if not most desperate discounts over the last weekend to drum up interest from consumers. Martin & Osa knocked 50 percent off women’s wool sweaters. Gymboree issued $25 coupons to shoppers who spent $50 on its children’s clothing. Even the markdown-averse Abercrombie & Fitch dusted off its clearance signs, selling $99 faux-fur trimmed-down coats for $79.

The American consumer has perplexed analysts this season. Retail experts confidently predicted that shoppers, uneasy about the economy, would trade down from mid-price chains, like Macy’s and Nordstrom, to discounters with steeper discounts.

To a certain degree, they did, mobbing low-priced chains like T.J Maxx, and Marshall’s. But the discount retailer Target has struggled this season. On Tuesday, it said its sales could fall by 1 percent in December compared with last year, an anomaly for a retailer accustomed to at least 4 percent monthly sales growth over the last three years.

In the end, analysts said, the biggest winners are likely to be Wal-Mart, which emerged as the undisputed low-price leader this season, and Best Buy, which became the destination for competitively priced electronics.

Much of this season’s action appeared to unfold on the Web, which spared consumers a $3-a-gallon drive to the mall. Like MasterCard, ComScore, a research firm, found that online spending rose steadily to $26.3 billion.

ComScore measured spending during the 51 days between Nov. 1 and Dec. 21. The biggest day for online shopping was Monday, Dec. 10 ($881 million), not the Monday after Thanksgiving ($733 million), known as Cyber Monday in the retail world, because consumers typically flock to the Web at work after a holiday weekend of browsing.

Unsatisfied with sales so far, dozens of retailers, from the high-end to the low, will start slashing prices Wednesday morning. Kohl’s is scheduled to hold a 60- to 70-percent off sale; Macy’s is knocking down prices by 50 to 70 percent, and dangling a $10 coupon for purchases of $25 or more; clothing will be 50 percent off at Saks Fifth Avenue between 8 a.m. and noon; and Toys “R” Us is offering a buy-one-get-one-half-off promotion.

* By MICHAEL BARBARO (New York Times; 26 Dec. 2007)

The scale of an unspeakable horror from Bosnia’s rape camps and the horrors of Rwanda’s genocide in the 1990s to the atrocities being perpetrated daily in northern Congo and Sudan’s Darfur region, the tally of body bags runs alongside another grim body count: the numbers of women and girls, but in some places men and boys too, subjected to rape and other forms of sexual violence. Reliable and comprehensive figures are hard to come by: victims are often too traumatised or too fearful to speak out. But a report on “Sexual Violence in Armed Conflict” by the Geneva-based Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF) picks its way as systematically as it can through conflict after conflict, in Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe and the Middle East, piecing together the evidence.

It is grim reading. In Bosnia’s war up to 50,000 women were subject to sexual violence; over 14 years perhaps 40% of Liberia’s population suffered similar abuse; just under half those interviewed in a randomised study in Sierra Leone in 2000 had been raped, and more than a quarter had been gang-raped.

Such sexual violence can lead to severe physical as well as psychological damage: high numbers of fistula cases have been reported during conflicts in Burundi, Chad, Congo, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Liberia and elsewhere. An earlier DCAF report recorded that an estimated 70% of Rwanda’s rape survivors were infected with HIV/AIDS. The offspring of such violence are often stigmatised or abandoned as “children of hate”. In other words, the damaging health, economic and social consequences live on long after conflicts end.

Can such violence be curbed? In Darfur, marauding militias prey on women and children collecting firewood, food or animal fodder outside refugee camps. In some places, African Union peacekeepers have sent out trucks with soldiers to follow the women and provide as much protection as they can.

Alongside practical initiatives like these “firewood patrols”, DCAF calls, as have earlier UN resolutions, for more women peacekeepers. They get along better with locals and also improve the behaviour of their male counterparts (in Congo in 2005 the UN registered 72 allegations of sexual violence of one sort or another against its own troops; 20 were substantiated). The percentage of women serving in UN military and police units is tiny; but some women have recently had senior posts in UN missions. And earlier this year Liberia received the UN’s first-ever all-female contingent—103 Indian policewomen. It would help, says DCAF, if victims of sexual violence were more involved and better cared for in programmes for disarmament and demobilisation.

But when it comes to curbing sexual violence during conflict, ending a culture of impunity is key. The statute of the International Criminal Court allows for the prosecution of rape and similar violence as war crimes, crimes against humanity and even potentially as acts of genocide. Earlier this year the chief prosecutor decided to focus one of the court’s investigations on atrocities carried out in 2002-03 in the Central African Republic—where rapes may have exceeded murders.

The increasing use of rape, by governments as well as militias, as a weapon of war is to be the target of a UN General Assembly resolution that is expected to pass soon. After intense lobbying by Sudan (the resolution named no names, but evidently the shoe fitted) among the UN’s Africa group, backed surprisingly by South Africa, the language of the resolution has been watered down somewhat. But it still calls for the UN secretary-general to report back next year on what is being done to protect civilians against sexual violence—and to hold to account, among others, governments that target their own citizens in this way.

* War’s other victims/Dec 6th 2007/From The Economist print edition

AS FAR as George Bush is concerned, “Iran was dangerous, Iran is dangerous and Iran will be dangerous” if it gets sufficient knowledge to build a nuclear bomb. But his words this week were barely audible above the clamour detonated by a new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), the collective judgement of all 16 of America’s intelligence agencies, that Iran had halted its nuclear weapons programme in the autumn of 2003.
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To Iran’s irrepressible president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the report was a “great victory”—an own thumb-in-the-eye for the Great Satan.

At the very least, the spooks’ reassessment of Iran’s ongoing nuclear work seems likely to put a brake on already slow diplomatic efforts through the United Nations Security Council to pressure Iran into suspending its enrichment of uranium and its efforts to produce plutonium. Although a new resolution promising stiffer sanctions on Iran may still be circulated soon, both Russia and China say that the new NIE version of events means at a minimum a bit of a rethink.

Yet it’s a funny thing. Although the new judgement on Iran’s weapons work contradicts a 2005 NIE view that Iran was tinkering on regardless, the intelligence folk have not changed their prediction that Iran could have a nuclear weapon by around 2015. So does Iran have such military ambitions? And if so, why the presumed four-year pause?

When intelligence types talk of Iran’s weapons programme, what they mean is work to design a nuclear warhead, master the mechanics to make it go bang and covertly produce the highly-enriched uranium or plutonium for its explosive core. In 2002 much of Iran’s hitherto-secret uranium work, including its centrifuge-enrichment plant at Natanz, was exposed by an opposition group. Iran then came under mounting pressure to suspend such work and let in inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The intense scrutiny, the intelligence analysts think, caused Iran to halt its other nefarious activities too.

Yet, as a leaked speech by a senior Iranian nuclear official later made clear, Iran was not abandoning enrichment, only ducking and weaving to get the world off its back. Uranium and plutonium work, it insists, are legal under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty—for peaceful purposes. The enrichment go-slow ended abruptly in 2006, however, with the election of Mr Ahmadinejad. Iran now has 3,000 centrifuge machines up and running at Natanz.

Does that matter if all the other work has stopped? Producing enough plutonium or highly enriched uranium (power reactors use the low-enriched sort, but this can be enriched to weapons grade by running it through the centrifuges a few more times) is the chief obstacle to building a bomb. Halting the obviously illegal work, while pressing ahead with enrichment in plain sight would still leave Iran with a weapons option, argued George Perkovich of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a Washington think-tank, back in 2005. The new NIE assessment comes to a similar conclusion.

Iran claims never to have had any intent to build weapons. The NIE disagrees. America is even more firmly convinced on the evidence it has obtained—some of it quite recently—that until 2003 Iran’s government was trying to build a nuclear weapon. It was “probably worse than we thought”, says Stephen Hadley, Mr Bush’s national security adviser.

It always was implausible that a country without a single working nuclear-power reactor would spend so heavily on, and be so secretive about, uranium enrichment. The IAEA still wants to know more about unexplained traces of highly enriched uranium found by inspectors and a document Iran had for years, but claims never to have made use of, showing how to shape uranium metal into hemispheres, a technique useful only for weapons. Inspectors also want Iran to account for drawings dated 2003 from a laptop provided to America by a defector the following year that show design work on a missile cone that could accommodate a nuclear warhead. Iran dismisses such evidence as “baseless”.

The latest NIE assessment expresses “moderate confidence” that Iran’s weapons pause continues. Israel’s defence minister, Ehud Barak, this week begged to differ. He acknowledged that the odds on an eventual American military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities have lengthened, but said Israel would not lower its guard “because of an intelligence report from the other side of the world, even if it is from our greatest friend.” Intriguingly, while the director-general of the IAEA, Mohamed ElBaradei, expressed himself pleased with the NIE reassessment, the New York Times quoted a senior official close to the agency as expressing more scepticism about what Iran is really up to.

So where does diplomacy go from here? The NIE suggests that the weapons pause may indicate more of a cost-benefit approach to Iran’s nuclear ambitions, and that some cleverer combination of scrutiny and pressure, combined with juicier offers to take account of Iran’s security, prestige and other goals might prompt its regime to steer clear of further weapons work—though it could reverse course at any time. Yet that has been the basic diplomatic strategy all along: get Iran to halt enrichment and negotiate inducements, including co-operation on other advanced, but less dangerous, nuclear technologies, to make the suspension permanent. Mr Ahmadinejad firmly rules this out. Ironically, this week’s NIE will make it harder to muster the diplomatic wherewithal to press him to change his merry tune.

* From The Economist print edition (Dec.6, 2007)

THE consequences were not so serious, it would be tempting to mock the fiascos and flip-flops of America’s intelligence services. Before 2003 they said that Iraq had chemical and biological weapons and was seeking nuclear ones. They were wrong. In 2005 they said that Iran had a secret nuclear programme and was determined to get a bomb. Now they say they were wrong about that too
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This week’s national intelligence assessment says with “high confidence” that although Iran was indeed working on a bomb until the autumn of 2003 it then stopped. By the middle of this year it had probably (“moderate confidence”) not started again.
And unless it got fuel for a bomb from abroad it would take at least until late 2009 (“moderate confidence”) but more likely between 2010 and 2015 to make it at home.

What is the baffled layman to make of this? First that intelligence is neither art nor science but a system of best guesses based on incomplete evidence. If new evidence suggests that the previous guesses were wrong, it is a good thing that spies are willing to say so. Some of the outraged hawks who want America to bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities accuse the spies of sexing down their latest Iran dossier in order to make amends for having sexed up the one that led America into a war in Iraq. But that would imply a truly impressive conspiracy between the 16 agencies that signed the report. Of course, the spies’ new assessment may be wrong, as their previous ones proved to be. But it is most unlikely to be a tissue of lies.

For that very reason, however, relieved doves who think the spectre of a nuclear Iran or of an American attack has now disappeared had better read the report again. Its final sentence says (“high confidence”) that Iran has the scientific, technical and industrial capacity eventually to produce nuclear weapons if it chooses. As to what “eventually” means, the assessment has not changed: it was always late 2009 at the earliest but more probably the middle of the next decade. As to whether Iran will do so, the spies say (“moderate-to-high confidence”) that “at a minimum” it is keeping the option open.

That is troubling, because Iran can continue to work towards a bomb without resuming the secret programme America now thinks it stopped in 2003. That programme was about “weaponisation”: the fiddly business of making a device that can set off a chain reaction in nuclear fuel. But creating such a warhead is the easier part of building a bomb. Harder by far is making the fuel. And, as the report notes, making the fuel is precisely what Iran continues to do in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions at its uranium-enrichment plant at Natanz. For now, it is true, Iran is enriching the uranium at below weapons grade. It says it is doing so only in order to power reactors to produce electricity. But it has no such reactors. And to get the uranium to weapons grade it has only to run the stuff often enough through Natanz’s centrifuges.

In short, nothing in the new assessment makes the story Iran tells about Natanz any less fishy or the dangers posed by its dash to enrich uranium any less troubling. But it has utterly changed the politics of the issue. The case for American pre-emption now becomes almost impossible to sell either at home or abroad. That is probably a good thing, given that a military attack was always likelier to restore Iran’s determination to build a bomb than destroy its ability to get one. Unfortunately, the report may also make it harder for America and Europe to maintain, let alone sharpen, the sanctions the world has imposed in order to make Iran stop work at Natanz.

Talk if necessary, but keep up the sanctions
Since the spies say Iran stopped its bomb-making in 2003 because of world pressure, relaxing it now would be perverse. But to keep the world on side, America may have to show new flexibility. For example, while tightening sanctions, it could offer to talk to Iran about all aspects of their troubled relations, even before work at Natanz stopped. Iran might refuse. But that would at least make it clear which side was the spoiler.

* Dec 6th 2007. From The Economist print edition

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The number of people in U.S. prisons has risen eight-fold since 1970, with little impact on crime but at great cost to taxpayers and society, researchers said in a report calling for a major justice-system overhaul.The report on Monday cites examples ranging from former vice-presidential aide Lewis “Scooter” Libby to a Florida woman’s two-year sentence for throwing a cup of coffee to make its case for reducing the U.S. prison population of 2.2 million — nearly one-fourth of the world’s total.

It recommends shorter sentences and parole terms, alternative punishments, more help for released inmates and decriminalizing recreational drugs. It said the steps would cut the prison population in half, save $20 billion a year and ease social inequality without endangering the public.

But the recommendations run counter to decades of broad U.S. public and political support for getting tough on criminals through longer, harsher prison terms and to the Bush administration’s anti-drug and strict-sentencing policies.
“President (George W.) Bush was right,” in commuting Libby’s perjury sentence this year as excessive, the report said. But he should also have commuted the sentences of hundreds of thousands of other Americans, it said.

“Our contemporary laws and justice system practices exacerbate the crime problem, unnecessarily damage the lives of millions of people (and) waste tens of billions of dollars each year,” it said.

The report was produced by the JFA Institute, a Washington criminal-justice research group, and its authors included eight criminologists from major U.S. public universities. It was funded by the Rosenbaum Foundation and by financier and political activist George Soros’ Open Society Institute.

The Justice Department dismissed the recommendations and cited findings that about 25 percent of the violent-crime drop in the 1990s can be attributed to increases in imprisonment.
“The United States is experiencing a 30-year low in crime, in large part due to the tough enforcement actions we’ve taken in the last decade,” department spokesman Peter Carr said.
SHIFTING ATTITUDES

But there are signs of shifting attitudes on sentencing policies. Some financially strapped states are shortening sentences and Congress is moving to pass increased help for released prisoners, said Executive Director Marc Mauer of the Sentencing Project, which has advocated alternatives to long sentences.
“Compared to where we were in the mid-(19)90s, it’s been a very significant change,” Mauer said.

More than 1.5 million people are now in U.S. state and federal prisons, up from 196,429 in 1970, the report said. Another 750,000 people are in local jails. The U.S. incarceration rate is the world’s highest, followed by Russia, according to 2006 figures compiled by Kings College in London.

Although the U.S. crime rate began declining in the 1990s it is still about the same as in 1973, the JFA report said. But the prison population has soared because sentences have gotten longer and people who violate parole or probation, even with minor lapses, are more likely to be imprisoned.

“The system is almost feeding on itself now. It takes years and years and years to get out of this system and we do not see any positive impact on the crime rates,” JFA President James Austin, a co-author of the report, told a news conference.
The report said the prison population is projected to grow by another 192,000 in five years, at a cost of $27.5 billion to build and operate additional prisons.

At current rates, one-third of all black males, one-sixth of Latino males, and one in 17 white males will go to prison during their lives. Women represent the fastest-growing segment of the prison population, the report said.

“The massive incarceration of young males from mostly poor- and working-class neighborhoods, and the taking of women from their families and jobs, has crippled their potential for forming healthy families and achieving economic gains,” it said.

* By Randall Mikkelsen (Nov.19, 2007)

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The world’s scientists have done their job. Now it’s time for world leaders, starting with President Bush, to do theirs. That is the urgent message at the core of the latest — and the most powerful — report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a group of 2,500 scientists who collectively constitute the world’s most authoritative voice on global warming.

Released in Spain over the weekend, the report leaves no doubt that man-made emissions from the burning of fossil fuels (and, to a lesser extent, deforestation) have been responsible for the steady rise in atmospheric temperatures.

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If these emissions are not brought under control, the report predicts, the consequences could be disastrous: further melting at the poles, sea levels rising high enough to submerge island nations, the elimination of one-quarter or more of the world’s species, widespread famine in places like Africa, more violent hurricanes.

And it warns that time is running out. To avoid the worst of these disasters, it says, the world must stabilize emissions of greenhouse gases by 2015, begin to reduce them shortly thereafter and largely free itself of carbon-emitting technologies by midcentury.

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As Rajendra Pachauri, a scientist and economist who leads the I.P.C.C., noted: “ What we do in the next two or three years will define our future.”

Deep in all this gloom is a considerable ray of hope: significant progress toward stabilizing and reducing emissions can be achieved using known technologies.

This a hugely important message for policy makers and for those who say there’s no point in spending money on the problem because the game is already lost. The world does not have to rely on pie-in-the-sky technologies, the report insists. What it really needs is a policy structure to encourage major investments in cleaner technologies that are already at hand or within reach.

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The report’s urgent warnings and its message of hope could not be more timely. Nations will gather in Bali next month to begin framing a successor to the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, which expires in 2012. Under normal circumstances, Bali would be the beginning of a long, contentious process; Kyoto, negotiated in 1997, did not take effect for seven years. What the I.P.C.C. is saying is that the world cannot afford to wait for another grand agreement, and certainly not for another seven years. It needs action now.

Every member of Congress should read this report. The Senate has begun hearings on legislation that would put a mandatory cap on carbon emissions. The bill is not perfect and, to some critics, not strong enough. But it is a worthy start and would move the United States toward the cleaner fuels and carbon-free technologies essential to the task of changing the way the world produces and uses energy.

Mr. Bush should also read it and order extra copies for members of his staff. After years of denial, the president now concedes that a problem exists. But he still insists on voluntary remedies and still worries about the costs to the American economy of anything more ambitious. If there is one message Mr. Bush and other world leaders must take away from the scientists, it is that the price of more delay will be far greater.

Published by Google: November 20, 2007