Nine Circles of Hell!: Thursday, November 10
The Nine Circles of Hell! – all the news that gives you fits in print – today’s nine most hellish news stories, including an extra story on the EU’s economic troubles and a bonus link on #Occupy, for Thursday, November 10, 2011, are:
The Catholic Church, Penn State and unreported sex crimes against boys
Sex Crimes Against Boys Often Go Unreported Because of Queasiness Among Males
Sex crimes against boys, like the ones that allegedly occurred at Penn State University at the hands of former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, often go unreported — not just by educators and witnesses, but by the victims themselves — because of the discomfort society feels about male-on-male assaults, particularly in the “hyper-masculine” world of sports …
“There is a certain stigma attached to male-on-male assaults,” said Jennifer Marsh, hotline director for the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN). “We expect men to be protectors and we find it’s much easier to discuss if it’s a female victim.
“When a man is a victim it brings it more into their realm — what if they were involved in this themselves?” she said. “It’s certainly difficult for male victims to reach out and tell what happened, too. Loved ones shy away and feel uncomfortable.”
More than 10 percent of all child abuse victims are male and nearly half of them are under the age of 18, according to RAINN. An estimated 93 percent of the victims know their attacker.
“The parallels seem striking (head in the sand, massive denial, magical thinking about making this problem go away),” he wrote. “Note that the hierarchies in both settings are uniformly male. I suspect that’s a factor. It has taken the church many years to engage in serious efforts to reform their protocol. I suspect Penn State will follow a similar path. It’s tragic in so many ways.”
But David Finkelhor, director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire, said that the lack of reporting goes beyond the discomfort society feels about sex crimes against boys.
“Even though we believe that we would do the right things, when confronted by the reality it is often more challenging than we think it will be,” he said. “That’s why we have laws to mandate people to do this. One of the biggest barriers is that people realize, especially when they have an offender who is part of their social network, the devastating impact reporting [a crime] is going to have, especially if you have affection for them.”
Finkelor said the same difficulty in reporting happens in families “when parents know that a brother or father is molesting a grandchild.”
“They are aware of the devastating consequences for the offender and the family network as a whole,” he said.
As for Paterno and the alleged Penn State cover-up, Finkelhor said, “These people had the whole kind of damage minimization that we saw in the Catholic Church — to be concerned about the impact this would have on the school’s football program.”
Human Rights Watch confronts Calderon with abuses by Mexican military
Los Angeles Times
Mexican security forces commit serious abuses, group reports
In a comprehensive report released Wednesday, New York-based Human Rights Watch documented 234 cases which the group says represent serious abuse by marines and other security forces in several Mexican states.
The 220-page report, more than a year in the making, paints a tableau of murder, torture and sexual assault of detainees; “forced disappearances” (i.e., kidnappings where the victim never appears again); efforts by armed forces to hide their crimes by tampering with evidence; intimidation of families of victims if they complain or speak out; virtually no serious investigations by civilian or military authorities of the allegations.
The decision by President Felipe Calderon in December 2006 to deploy troops, who now number more than 50,000, against powerful drug cartels has not succeeded in reducing violence but instead led to a “dramatic increase” in human rights atrocities, Human Rights Watch concluded.
The behavior by marines has “only exacerbated the climate of violence, lawlessness, and fear that exists in many parts of the country,” the report said.
After a 2 1/2-hour meeting with representatives of the human rights group, Calderon’ s office issued a statement saying the biggest threat to Mexicans is not the government troops, but the criminals. Troops are being trained in human rights and working closely with state human rights officials, the statement said.
Representatives of Human Rights Watch said Calderon, in the sometimes tense meeting, agreed to examine the cases presented.
“We made him see the statistics,” Jose Miguel Vivanco, head of Human Rights Watch’s Americas section, said at a news conference Wednesday.
EU must “unite or face irrelevance”
European debt crisis spiralling out of control
Past This is Hell! guest Larry Elliott writes …
Fears that Europe’s sovereign debt crisis was spiralling out of control have intensified as political chaos in Athens and Rome, and looming recession, created panic on world markets.
Reports emerging from Brussels said that Germany and France had begun preliminary talks on a break-up of the eurozone, amid fears that Italy would be too big to rescue.
Despite Silvio Berlusconi’s announcement that he would step down as prime minister once austerity measures were pushed through parliament, a collapse of investor confidence in the eurozone’s third-biggest economy sent interest rates in Italy to the levels that triggered bailouts in Portugal, Greece and Ireland.
Italian bond yields surged through the critical 7% mark, at one point hitting 7.5%, amid concern that the deteriorating situation had moved the crisis into a dangerous new phase.
In Athens talks to appoint a prime minister to succeed George Papandreou were in deadlock, and will resume on Thursday morning. The Italian president, Giorgio Napolitano, sought to reassure the markets by promising that Berlusconi would be leaving office soon.
Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, said the situation had become “unpleasant”, and called for eurozone members to accelerate plans for closer political integration. “It is time for a breakthrough to a new Europe,” she said. “Because the world is changing so much, we must be prepared to answer the challenges. That will mean more Europe, not less Europe.”
The president of the European commission, José Manuel Barroso, issued a new call for the EU to “unite or face irrelevance” in the face of the mounting economic crisis in Italy. “We are witnessing fundamental changes to the economic and geopolitical order that have convinced me that Europe needs to advance now together or risk fragmentation. Europe must either transform itself or it will decline. We are in a defining moment where we either unite or face irrelevance,” he said.
- If you want to follow the European economy’s turmoil in real time, The Guardian has done it again with a streaming site giving you all the latest. Just click here to follow the EU’s troubles live!
At #OccupyCal, cops “first response is just to come in and start hitting”
The Associated Press
Dozens of Occupy protesters arrested at Berkeley
Dozens of people were arrested during Occupy demonstrations at the University of California, Berkeley campus, as authorities twice clashed with protesters trying to set up encampments.
The bulk of the arrests came Wednesday night, as authorities in riot gear confronted demonstrators.
Television news footage from outside the university’s main administration building showed officers pulling people from the steps and nudging others with batons as the crowd chanted, “We are the 99 percent!” and “Stop Beating Students!”
Thirty-two people were arrested on suspicion of resisting and delaying police officers and failing to disperse, UC Berkeley police Lt. Alex Yao told the Daily Californian (http://bit.ly/sMxDeb). They were sent to Santa Rita Jail in Alameda County for processing.
University police didn’t immediately return calls from The Associated Press.
The officers eventually formed a perimeter around the steps of the building.
As the evening wore on, the crowd swelled as protesters debated whether to stay overnight …
The move to create a campus off-shoot of the Occupy Wall Street camps around the country came after hundreds of students, teachers and Berkeley residents rallied on campus before marching peacefully to a Bank of America branch.
At one point, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Harry Le Grande came out to negotiate, telling camp participants they could stay but only with certain conditions, such as not sleeping at the site or using sound amplifiers.
“The university supports the efforts of any group to speak out freely, but everyone is expected to follow campus policies, the law, and respect the rights of others to go to class, to teach, to do their work,” campus spokeswoman Janet Gilmore said.
Shadrick Small, 25, a UC Berkeley graduate student in sociology, was among the protesters trying to block police from dismantling the camp.
“It just seems unnecessary. We weren’t doing anything. We were just standing there with a bunch of tents,” Small said. “And their first response is just to come in and start hitting people. The reaction is just over the top.”
- If they aren’t striking #Occupy activists, the police seem to be spying on them, according to The Tennessean article, “THP went undercover among Occupy Nashville protesters“:
State troopers and Metro police officers conducted undercover operations in order to infiltrate Occupy Nashville protesters in the days leading up to the controversial arrests last month, according to records reviewed by The Tennessean.
Responding to increasing reports of illegal and lewd behavior among Occupy Nashville protesters, Tennessee Highway Patrol troopers dressed in street clothes and mingled among the crowd, according to the documents.
Unmarked vehicles also made regular rounds of the public square above the Legislative Plaza office building, where the protests have taken place every day since early October. Occupy Nashville protesters, like their national counterparts in Occupy Wall Street, oppose undue corporate influence on government.
An email from Department of Safety and Homeland Security Assistant Commissioner David Purkey instructed two officers to wear “blend in clothing” for the operation.
Occupy Nashville spokeswoman Dorsey Malina said protesters were aware of the undercover officers because they did a poor job of blending in. “We knew that there were certain people here that were probably undercover.” Malina said she was unsurprised to learn of the undercover efforts.
30-foot crack leads watchdog to question Ohio nuclear plant’s safety
The Associated Press
Ohio: Scientists Sound Alarm on Nuclear Plant
A watchdog group is questioning the soundness of a nuclear plant where a 30-foot hairline crack was recently discovered. The crack was found in the thick concrete on the outside of the reactor containment building at the Davis-Besse plant outside Toledo. Further inspections found numerous, tiny cracks on the building’s facade. The Union of Concerned Scientists has written the Nuclear Regulatory Commission asking whether the concrete walls were built to adequate engineering specifications. The plant’s owner, the FirstEnergy Corporation, says that the walls were designed properly and that the building has been inspected thoroughly. The plant has been shut down for installation of a new 82-ton reactor head, replacing one that cracked.
Alarming levels of pollution found in Wyoming aquifer near franking site
EPA Finds Compound Used in Fracking in Wyoming Aquifer
As the country awaits results from a nationwide safety study on the natural gas drilling process of fracking, a separate government investigation into contamination in a place where residents have long complained that drilling fouled their water has turned up alarming levels of underground pollution.
A pair of environmental monitoring wells drilled deep into an aquifer in Pavillion, Wyo., contain high levels of cancer-causing compounds and at least one chemical commonly used in hydraulic fracturing, according to new water test results released yesterday by the Environmental Protection Agency.
The findings are consistent with water samples the EPA has collected from at least 42 homes in the area since 2008, when ProPublica began reporting on foul water and health concerns in Pavillion and the agency started investigating reports of contamination there.
Last year — after warning residents not to drink or cook with the water and to ventilate their homes when they showered — the EPA drilled the monitoring wells to get a more precise picture of the extent of the contamination.
The Pavillion area has been drilled extensively for natural gas over the last two decades and is home to hundreds of gas wells. Residents have alleged for nearly a decade that the drilling — and hydraulic fracturing in particular — has caused their water to turn black and smell like gasoline. Some residents say they suffer neurological impairment, loss of smell, and nerve pain they associate with exposure to pollutants.
The gas industry — led by the Canadian company EnCana, which owns the wells in Pavillion — has denied that its activities are responsible for the contamination. EnCana has, however, supplied drinking water to residents.
After pressure from Coke, Grand Canyon re-thinks plastic bottle ban
The New York Times
Parks Chief Blocked Plan for Grand Canyon Bottle Ban
Weary of plastic litter, Grand Canyon National Park officials were in the final stages of imposing a ban on the sale of disposable water bottles in the Grand Canyon late last year when the nation’s parks chief abruptly blocked the plan after conversations with Coca-Cola, a major donor to the National Park Foundation.
Stephen P. Martin, the architect of the plan and the top parks official at the Grand Canyon, said his superiors told him two weeks before its Jan. 1 start date that Coca-Cola, which distributes water under the Dasani brand and has donated more than $13 million to the parks, had registered its concerns about the bottle ban through the foundation, and that the project was being tabled. His account was confirmed by park, foundation and company officials.
A spokesman for the National Park Service, David Barna, said it was Jon Jarvis, the top federal parks official, who made the “decision to put it on hold until we can get more information.” He added that “reducing and eliminating disposable plastic bottles is one element of our green plan. This is a process, and we are at the beginning of it.”
Mr. Martin, a 35-year veteran of the park service who had risen to the No. 2 post in 2003, was disheartened by the outcome. “That was upsetting news because of what I felt were ethical issues surrounding the idea of being influenced unduly by business,” Mr. Martin said in an interview. “It was even more of a concern because we had worked with all the people who would be truly affected in their sales and bottom line, and they accepted it.”
‘Remorseless growth of greenhouse gases … continues unchecked’
Leading article: Chilling facts on global warming
The new figures on global carbon dioxide emissions for 2010 from the US Department of Energy make sobering, not to say chilling, reading.
They show that, although much of the world may be facing a financial, economic and industrial crisis, the remorseless growth of the greenhouse gases that cause global warming continues unchecked.
The headline figure is that world CO2 jumped by its largest ever amount in a single year, from 31.6 billion tons to 33.5 billion tons. However, close scrutiny of the data from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory reveals other patterns that are just as disturbing. The key one is the explosive and seemingly unstoppable growth in emissions from China, which leapt by 9.3 per cent over the year, to 8.15 billion tons of CO2. The Chinese are now producing 24.3 per cent of global carbon emissions and have firmly taken over from the US the role of the world’s biggest polluter.
America’s still-enormous output of 5.49 billion tons now represents 16 per cent of the world total. This means that, from being behind the United States in carbon pollution until 2007, the Chinese proportion of the total is now 50 per cent greater than that of the US.
The other trend worth noticing is just how fast India, the world’s third-biggest emitter, is increasing its carbon pollution. It has reached 2.06 billion tons, which is 6.1 per cent of world emissions. But its increase over the year was 9.4 per cent – the highest rise from any country.
What makes these figures chilling is that none of these nations – not China, nor the US, nor India – has any interest in signing a legally binding treaty to bring CO2 down, in accordance with the Kyoto protocol, which will once again be the principal item on the agenda of the UN climate conference in Durban next month.
New Egypt clamps down on dissident graffiti
Egypt’s New Rulers Declare War on … Graffiti
Over the past months, Egypt’s Military Council has mounted what amounts to a “war on graffiti,” targeting the political artworks that are now widespread in Egyptian cities. Graffiti works calling for demonstrations, demanding the completion of the revolution, and advocating solidarity with labor’s demands are now being treated as the enemy.
January 25 transformed Egyptian graffiti normally reserved for sports slogans into an effective method for raising awareness among citizens about their rights.
Ali al-Halabi and Ahmad Samhan, members of the April 6 Youth Movement, were arrested on October 19 on charges of damaging public property, and drawing on the walls of a military establishment. Their case was referred to the office of the military prosecutor, and they were released on bail after seven days of dentention, allowed for in Egyptian law. Almost four months earlier, the designer and graffiti artist Janzir was arrested on charges of “affixing a poster detrimental to public security.” He was released the same day.
Graffiti artist Haytham Salah the war going on between the Military Council’s security apparatus, and graffiti activists is now out in the open. It is commonplace for young men she says to be seized for distributing pamphlets in the street, or arrested for rallying citizens to participate in the parliamentary elections.
“From the point of view of a large segment of the Egyptian populace, graffiti is a new art form,” Haytham said. “We use it to get our ideas across in a simple way, without using political terminology that can be hard to understand.”
Toward the end of 2010, three activists were taken into custody for writing phrases critical of the parliamentary elections. The charges were for publicly posting and distributing publications. The office of the prosecutor general looked into their case that same day and released them, as the the police report did not contain adequate grounds for a case.
Al-Halabi and Samhan’s defense attorney, Rawda Ahmad, also represents the executive director of the Arab Network for Human Rights Information. She remembers this event as the turning point inaugurating a period of continual harassment of graffiti artists, despite the regime change, which had seemed to promise greater freedoms of expression.