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- ‘We Have to Stand Our Ground.’ Activists Push Democrats to Fight for DACA Recipients in Shutdown
As a government shutdown loomed, protesters in all corners of the U.S. Capitol pressured lawmakers not relent on their promise to reject any spending bills that did not protect a vulnerable group of immigrants.
They chanted and marched on the brick-paved streets of Southeast Washington. They carried signs and donned hats demanding a vote on legislation that would give immigrants brought to the U.S. as children a legal pathway to citizenship. The group has been at risk since the Trump Administration announced he was rescinding the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that shielded them from deportation.
In the halls of a Senate office building on Friday evening building, they unrolled a hand-painted sign that read: “GOP, Don’t hold the Dream Act Hostage.”
Democrats and Republicans are engaged in a game of chicken on Capitol Hill. Hours ahead of a shutdown, the Senate hit a stalemate on a short-term bill that would fund the government for the next month. The bill would ensure the lights stay on, fund a popular children’s health care program for the next six years, and delay some Obamacare-related taxes. But the bill does not include protections for recipients of DACA. Because of that, immigrant rights activists said lawmakers should reject it.
“We’ve heard some Democrats say that they support us, but we want to see them show that they support us with their votes and vote no on the spending bill without a Dream Act attached, ” said Sadaf Raza, 21, a student activist from Arkansas who joined a protest earlier on Friday.
Said Xiomara Caldera, 20, another student activist: “For any lawmaker who has voted on a spending bill without a Dream Act attached. I really just want to say to them, shame on you.”
While the continuing resolution passed with mostly Republican support in the House, its prospects are dimmer in the Senate. Given Republicans slim majority, it would need Democratic votes to pass. But because the bill lacks language on DACA and other Democratic priorities, many Democrats have said they cannot support it. If some vulnerable Democrats who are up for reelection in states that Trump won in 2016 are willing to cast votes for the measure, it would have a chance of passing before the midnight deadline.
Regardless, Republicans have seized on Democratic opposition. Before the House even voted, they’d begun placing the blame on Democrats who they say want to shutdown the government in order to protect illegal immigrants.
“Apparently they believe the issue of illegal immigration is more important than everything else,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a floor speech on Friday morning. “All of the essential services the American people depend on.” McConnell called the Democrats’ position as “completely unfair and uncompassionate.”
But for many grassroots activists, it’s the complete opposite. “I think it says a lot about the Republican Party that they’re willing to pit children against immigrant youth when we know that both issues are important,” says Alondra Gomez, 21, a DACA recipient and Tennessee college student who has been in Washington for the past week lobbying lawmakers. “It’s just vile. It’s cruel that they want to do this. We have to stand our ground.”
The night before, she and other activists sat in the gallery of the U.S. Senate as Republican leaders insisted that lawmakers had until March to come up with a legislative solution for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, an Obama-era program that shielded some young immigrants from deportation. In reality, she said, the situation is much more dire. Her own DACA paperwork expires in September of this year and many of her friends have already lost their protections. And when Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, who has long supported legislation to give legal status to immigrants who were brought to the U.S. by their parents, implored his colleagues to consider the fate of an estimated 122 Dreamers who lose DACA protections everyday, Gomez cried.
“For the first time, those Republicans had to see us. We’ve been going to their offices and they kick us out. They don’t hear our messages. They act as if they don’t care,” she said. “They had to acknowledge that we’re watching. That the whole country is watching.”
Activists reject the notion that the Democrats fight for immigrant protections puts beneficiaries of a child health insurance program at risk — there is appetite for both and lawmakers should be able to handle both, they say.
For their part, Democrats have said their opposition to the continuing resolution goes beyond the lack of protection for Dreamers. They are criticizing Republicans for failing to negotiate with them on a number of legislative priorities and said another short-term bill would not solve major funding issues. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Republican efforts to add funding for children’s health insurance to the bill in order to drum up Democratic support is like trying to pass off a “bowl of doggy doo with a cherry on top” as a chocolate sundae.
If the government shuts down, there will be a rush to place the blame on one party over the other, but the young immigrants at the center of the push-and-pull say it is not fair to say their calls for a legislative fix to an issue that was manufactured by the Trump administration will be the reason any short-term CR fails.
“This shut down is not an immigration shutdown,” said Patrice Lawrence, the policy director for the UndocuBlack Network.“This comes down to Republicans not doing their job.”
- Investigators Still Don’t Know Why the Las Vegas Shooter Killed 58 People
LAS VEGAS (AP) — The Las Vegas gunman meticulously planned the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history, researching SWAT tactics, renting other hotel rooms overlooking outdoor concerts and investigating potential targets in at least four cities, authorities said Friday.
But almost four months after Stephen Paddock killed 58 people and wounded more than 800 others with a barrage of bullets from the Mandalay Bay casino-hotel, investigators still have not answered the key question: Why did he do it?
Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo released a preliminary report on the Oct. 1 attack and said he did not expect criminal charges to be filed against Paddock's girlfriend, Marilou Danley, who had been called the only person of interest in the case. Investigators believe Paddock acted alone, and he did not leave a suicide note or manifesto.
Paddock, who killed himself before police reached him, told friends and relatives that he always felt ill, in pain and fatigued, authorities said.
His doctor thought he may have had bipolar disorder but told police that Paddock refused to discuss the possibility, the report said. The doctor offered him antidepressants, but Paddock accepted only a prescription for anxiety medication. He was fearful of medication and often refused to take it, the doctor told investigators.
During an interview with authorities, Paddock's girlfriend said he had become “distant” in the year before the shooting and their relationship was no longer intimate.
When they stayed at the Mandalay Bay together in September 2017, Paddock acted strangely, she told investigators. She remembered him constantly looking out the windows overlooking an area where the concert would be held the next month. He moved from window to window to see the site from different angles, the report said.
She described him as “germaphobic” and said he had strong reactions to smells.
The 64-year-old retired accountant was a high-stakes gambler and real estate investor. He had lost a “significant amount of wealth” since September 2015, which led to “bouts of depression,” the sheriff has said. But Paddock had paid off his gambling debts before the shooting, according to the report.
Prior to the attack, Paddock's online searches included research into SWAT tactics and consideration of other potential public targets, including in Chicago, Boston and Santa Monica, California, the sheriff said.
His research also sought the number of attendees at other concerts in Las Vegas and the size of the crowds at Santa Monica's beach. Among his searches was “do police use explosives,” the report said.
Four laptops and three cellphones were found inside his hotel suite. On one of the computers, investigators found hundreds of photos of child pornography.
The same computer was used to search for the height of the Mandalay Bay, how to remove hard drives from laptops, the location of gun shows in Nevada and information about several other Las Vegas casinos.
Paddock's brother, Daniel Paddock, was arrested in Los Angeles in October in an unrelated child pornography investigation. He has pleaded not guilty.
Authorities have said they found no link between the attack and international terrorism.
Paddock fired more than 1,100 bullets, mostly from two windows on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel, into a crowd of 22,000 people attending the Route 91 Harvest Festival music below, Lombardo has said.
That includes about 200 shots fired through his hotel room door into a hallway where an unarmed hotel security guard was wounded in the leg and a maintenance engineer took cover.
Several bullets hit fuel storage tanks at nearby McCarran International Airport that did not explode. Authorities reported finding about 4,000 unused bullets in Paddock's two-room suite, including incendiary rounds that Lombardo said were not used.
Investigators found 23 guns in the rooms, including 12 rifles fitted with “bump stock” devices that allowed rapid-fire shooting similar to fully automatic weapons. Dozens of guns were strewn around the room, some left inside a bassinet. Police also found a blue plastic hose with a fan on one end and a snorkel mouthpiece on the other end inside the room.
A federal grand jury is hearing evidence in a case that spun off from the shooting investigation. The FBI has “an ongoing case against an individual of federal interest,” Lombardo said, declining to elaborate.
Spokeswomen for the FBI and federal prosecutors in Las Vegas declined to comment.
Danley was in the Philippines at the time of the shooting. In the days before the attack, Paddock sent her a $100,000 wire transfer. She has said she found that odd and thought he might have been breaking up with her when he sent her the money and told her to use it to buy a home for her family there.
During an interview with the FBI after she returned from the Philippines, Danley volunteered that investigators would find her fingerprints on bullets used during the attack because she would sometimes help Paddock load high-volume ammunition magazines, according to FBI warrant documents.
- Michigan State University Won’t Remove President Amid Criticisms Over Larry Nassar Abuse
The Michigan State University Board of Trustees said Friday that it would not remove university President Lou Anna Simon, who has faced calls to resign amid findings of abuse by former university sports doctor Larry Nassar.
Nassar, who was also a longtime physician for USA Gymnastics, has been accused of sexual abuse by hundreds of athletes and was arrested in December 2016 on child pornography charges. The Detroit Free Press reported Thursday that several university administrators, including Simon, had known about accusations of sexual misconduct against Nassar before his arrest.
In response, Michigan State University student government leaders sent a letter to the board of trustees calling for change in university leadership. “Students can no longer place faith and trust in the current leadership of our administration,” they wrote, according to the Free Press. State lawmakers also called on Simon to resign.
But the board voiced its support for Simon on Friday, while also asking the Michigan attorney general to investigate whether school officials had ignored complaints against Nassar. “We continue to believe President Simon is the right leader for the university and she has our support,” the board said in a statement, the Free Press reported.
“Through this terrible situation, the university has been perceived as tone deaf, unresponsive and insensitive to the victims,” the board said. “We understand the public’s faith has been shaken. The Board has listened and heard the victims.”
While the Michigan State board met on Friday, Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman confronted Nassar in court with a powerful statement. She and many of the athletes who testified in court this week accused USA Gymnastics and Michigan State of enabling Nassar's abuse.
“I continue to appreciate the confidence of the Board and the many people who have reached out to me, and to them, who have the best interested of MSU at heart,” Simon said in a statement Friday, according to the Free Press. “I have always done my best to lead MSU and I will continue to do so today and tomorrow.”
- The Twisted Psychology of Parents Who Torture Their Children
Don't try to fathom what was going on in the minds of the California parents who starved and imprisoned their 13 children for years before one of the victims escaped and informed the police last weekend. Really, there is no unraveling it—not fully, at least. Basic empathy and the care of offspring are among the most fundamental lines of code in the human operating system. When that gets corrupted—when the protectors become tormentors, when the nurturers become jailers—it's nearly impossible to grasp, much less explain.
That doesn't mean that forensic psychologists and others aren't trying. Even as the Turpin children begin a long period of recovery, and the parents—David Turpin, 56, and Louise Turpin, 49—face sentences of 94 years to life, experts are trying to understand both the dynamics of the home and, more mysteriously, the parents' motivations.
The darkest part of an already dark reality is that while children may be abused by all manner of people, parents are overwhelmingly the likeliest offenders. According to the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS), 71.8% of child abuse or neglect cases occurred at the hands of victims' parents in 2015, the most recent year for which numbers are available. The leading risk factors in that study were—no surprise—parental alcohol abuse, drug abuse or domestic violence.
In the Turpins' case, there are no reports yet of substance abuse. And while the treatment the Turpin children received was violence by any measure, it was less systematic battering—though that was part of it—than a sort of patient, sadistic torment: reportedly forbidding them to use the bathroom, allowing them to shower only once a year, starving them while at the same time tormenting them with fresh pies placed just out of reach. Drugs, alcohol or uncontrolled anger don't explain that kind of slow, cold cruelty. But other factors might.
“In my experience there is usually a psychopathology in the parents,” says trauma psychologist Priscilla Dass-Brailsford, an adjunct professor in the department of psychiatry at Georgetown University. “They’re depressed perhaps, they're bipolar, they're schizophrenic. Some of the parents themselves might have been abused as children, though I say that warily because it's not an excuse to abuse your own children.”
David Finkelhor, professor of sociology and director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire, sees two other diagnostic profiles that might fit the parents: delusional or paranoid states, which can lead to all manner of irrational or abusive behavior.
A misguided ideology might be another factor. “Parents may tell themselves they're protecting their children from the corruption of an awful society,” says Finkelhor, “or that children are evil and need to be chastised or brought into line.”
The starvation may have been a similarly convoluted way of dealing with the business of feeding a family of fifteen. Louise Turpin was listed in records as a homemaker. While her husband appears to have been unemployed in recent years, he worked as an engineer at Northrop Grumman at an annual salary of $140,000 as recently as 2011. But that was the same year the Turpins filed for bankruptcy, listing debts of $100,000 to $500,000.
“He may have felt like this was the only way for the family to survive under the pressures that were being imposed on them by society,” says Finkelhor.
The co-conspiratorial nature of the crimes implicates both spouses equally, and they have been charged accordingly. Initial suspicion, however, will likely fall mostly on the husband as the initiator. The seven-year age difference between the two is not terribly much, but it would have seemed bigger when they married 32 years ago. He was also the principle wage-earner in the household, which creates its own kind of power disparity.
“It may just be that she drank his Kool-Aid,” says Finkelhor.
Not all experts would be so likely to give Louise Turpin even a small pass. Elizabeth Skowron, a professor of counseling psychology and a research scientist at the University of Oregon's Prevention Science Institute, says that in her group's work, mothers are very often both the perpetrators and initiators of abuse. The NCANDS data backs that up, with 70% of victims mistreated by the mother, the large majority of those times without the participation of the father. Still, in this case, she sees a potential for collaboration.
“From what I can gather, they’re both in this eyeball-deep,” says Skowron. “[It seems like they were] mutually engaged in keeping their children held hostage.”
One additional risk factor for either or both parents might be a state that Skowron calls “extreme threat-sensitivity,” often seen in highly abusive parents. “They view the world through a lens of things that are threatening, that ‘my child is more powerful than me,'” she says. “‘If I am in complete control then I can calm down.'”
Indeed, Skowron says that such parents actually become more physiologically stressed in the few instances that they show nurturing behavior to their children. Better — for the parents at least — to crack back down and feel that their world is in order again.
All of this will be for the Turpins to contemplate during the lifetime of imprisonment they likely face, and for the children to resolve in the longer, potentially much brighter futures they have ahead of them. Trauma specialists are generally sanguine about the ability of children to recover from such unimaginable abuse, which is one mercy. Another will be if what's learned from the horror show of the Turpin home helps prevent or at least mitigate the next such tragedy.
- The Surprisingly Complicated Meaning of Chicago West’s Name
When Kanye and Kim Kardashian West announced on Friday that the name of their new baby girl is Chicago West, the meaning of the name likely seemed clear to fans: Chicago is Kanye West's hometown.
West frequently mentions the city of Chicago in his music, and his song “Homecoming” is about the city. Chicago West was born on Monday via surrogate. But it turns out that the actual meaning of “Chicago” — beyond being the name of the Windy City — has an interesting history, giving Rumi Carter some company in the celebrity-baby-name trivia space.
The origin story behind the word that would become Chicago West's first name was debated by historians for some time and involved Native American dialects, odd smells and botany.
Some of the story is fairly clear. Most of the competing theories that have floated around over time have a similar background, detailing that the word “Chicago” — like many American place names — comes from a similarly pronounced or spelled name in a Native American language. The word first lent itself to the Chicago River, with the city officially incorporated in 1837.
One 1890 reference book lists a number of possible derivations for the word, including the Pottowattamie words “Shecaugo” and “Choccago,” meaning “playful waters” and “destitute” respectively, as well as the words “Chicag,” “Chicagowunz” and “Chicago,” all relating to leeks or onions. Also mentioned is the Indian Chief Chikagou. A fort called “Chicagou” is also cited as being listed in French missionary Louis Hennepin's accounts of the area as well. Another reference book from around the turn of the 20th century adds to those theories that the origin word could refer to a skunk or skunk weed, which is a plant known for its odor, or the Pottowattamie word for “destitute.” The text also brings up the Chicago River and garlic once more, citing that an account from 1695 refers to “the River of Garlic.”
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And that garlic theory is the prevailing one today.
The precise plant to which the word refers was Allium tricoccum, also known commonly as ramp, argues John F. Swenson in a 1991 article on the etymology of “Chicago” for the Illinois Historical Journal. As Swenson explains, the earliest historical documentation of European exploration of the area comes from a 17th century French expedition, the records of which contain detailed descriptions of the plant in question, known as chicagoua in a language of the Illinois people. Those French records also include references to the word being used to the describe the place where it grew, not just the plant itself. In later years, the meaning would be confused with other plants of the Allium genus, and it is likely that linguistic confusion over descriptions of the plant's odor led to the common misconception that “Chicago” translates to “bad smell.”
It was later, once the Illinois people were no longer present, Swenson notes, that the non-botanical suggestions for the meaning of “Chicago” began to pop up — including the theory, spread purely for promotional purposes, that “Chicago” means “great.” But, the author adds jokingly, people who love good food should appreciate the name “Chicago” for its original meaning.
However, Chicago West likely won't have to worry about just where the name comes from. Her family has made it known that they will call her Chi for short.
- 5 Songs You Need to Listen to This Week
Tinashe comes back to start the year off right with a slow-burning new R&B single, “No Drama,” backed up by Offset. Indie pop favorite Betty Who signals the start of a new chapter with a light but meaningful bop. Sweden's First Aid Kit prove that folk can come from unexpected corners of the world. Idiosyncratic North Carolina rock outfit Rainbow Kitten Surprise begin croon on “Fever Pitch.” And a British teen sings a timely parable about consent.
- Chuck Schumer Totally Predicted the Tide Pod Phenomenon Way Back in 2012
It appears that Sen. Chuck Schumer may have predicted the so-called Tide Pod Challenge that is currently sweeping the Internet way back in 2012.
According to a report from the New York Daily News, the Senate Democratic leader held a September 2012 press conference to warn of the risks associated with the colorful appearance of the detergent capsules. “The incidents are skyrocketing,” he said. “These pods were supposed to make household chores easier, not tempt our children to swallow harmful chemicals. I saw one on my staffer's desk and I wanted to eat it.”
But while Schumer was worried about young children, it's teenagers who are currently the focus of Tide Pod concern. The challenge may have begun as a joke on social media, but it has reportedly inspired some teens to actually eat the potentially deadly packets. In fact, there were 39 reports of teens intentionally misusing laundry pods in the first 15 days of 2018 alone, according to data from the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC).
- ‘It’s Your Turn to Listen to Me.’ Read Aly Raisman’s Testimony at Larry Nassar’s Sentencing
Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman confronted Larry Nassar, the disgraced former USA Gymnastics doctor who she says sexually abused her for years, with a blistering statement in court on Friday.
The six-time Olympic medalist came face-to-face with Nassar — one of several women who made victim impact statements at his multi-day sentencing hearing. Nassar has pleaded guilty to seven counts of criminal sexual contact with underage girls.
Raisman revealed in November that Nassar had abused her through so-called therapeutic treatments that turned out to be inappropriate touching. Looking directly at Nassar at times during her testimony, the gynmast recounted the abuse and the lasting effects it has had on her and other women who have accused him. Raisman also sharply criticized USA Gymnastics and the United States Olympic Committee for failing to protect young, vulnerable gymnasts from abuse.
“Larry, you do realize now that we, this group of women you so heartlessly abused over such a long period of time, are now a force and you are nothing. The tables have turned, Larry,” Raisman said in her 13-minute statement. “We have our voices, and we are not going anywhere.”
Read Raisman's statement in full below.
I didn't think I would be here today. I was scared and nervous. It wasn't until I started watching the impact statements from the other brave survivors that I realized I, too, needed to be here.
Larry, you do realize now that we, this group of women you so heartlessly abused over such a long period of time, are now a force and you are nothing. The tables have turned, Larry. We are here. We have our voices, and we are not going anywhere. And now, Larry, it's your turn to listen to me.
There is no map that shows you the pathway to healing. Realizing that you are a survivor of sexual abuse is really hard to put into words. I cannot adequately capture the level of disgust I feel when I think about how this happened. Larry, you abused the power and trust I and so many others placed in you, and I am not sure I will ever come to terms with how horribly you manipulated and violated me. You were the USA Gymnastics national team doctor, the Michigan State's Olympic team doctor. You were trusted by so many and took advantage of countless athletes and their families.
The effects of you actions are far reaching. Abuse goes way beyond the moment, often haunting survivors for the rest of their lives, making it difficult to trust and impacting their relationships. It is all the more devastating when such abuse comes at the hand of such a highly regarded doctor, since it leaves survivors questioning the organizations and even the medical profession itself upon which so many rely.
I am here to face you, Larry, so you can see I've regained my strength, that I am no longer a victim, I am a survivor. I am no longer that little girl you met in Australia where you first began grooming and manipulating.
As for your letter yesterday: You are pathetic to think that anyone would have any sympathy for you. You think this is hard for you? Imagine how all of us feel. Imagine how it feels to be an innocent teenager in a foreign country hearing a knock on the door and it's you. I don't want you to be there, but I don't have a choice. Treatments with you were mandatory. You took advantage of that. You even told on us if we didn't want to be treated by you, knowing full well the troubles that would cause for us.
Lying on my stomach with you on my bed insisting that your inappropriate touch would help to heal my pain. The reality is, you caused me a great deal of physical, mental and emotional pain. You never healed me. You took advantage of our passions and our dreams. You made me uncomfortable and I thought you were weird. But I felt guilty because you were a doctor so I assumed I was the problem for thinking badly of you. I wouldn't allow myself to believe that the problem was you. From the time we were little, we are taught to trust doctors.
You are so sick I can’t even comprehend how angry I feel when I think of you. You lied to me and manipulated me to think that when you treated me, you were closing your eyes because you had been working hard when you were really touching me, an innocent child, to pleasure yourself.
Imagine feeling like you have no power and no voice. Well you know what, Larry? I have both power and voice and I am only beginning to just use them.
All these brave women have power and we will use our voices to make sure you get what you deserve — a life of suffering spent replaying the words delivered by this powerful army of survivors.
I am also here to tell you to your face, Larry, that you have not taken gymnastics away from me. I love this sport and that love is stronger than the evil that resides in you, and those who enabled you to hurt many people. You already know you're going away to a place where you won't be able to hurt anybody ever again. But I am here to tell you that I will not rest until every last trace of your influence on this sport has been destroyed like the cancer it is.
Your abuse started 30 years ago. But that's just the first reported incident we know of. If over these many years, just one adult listened, and had the courage and character to act, this tragedy could have been avoided. I and so many others would have never, ever met you. Larry, you should have been locked up a long, long time ago. Fact is, we have no idea how many people you victimized or what was done or not done that allowed you to keep doing it and to get away with it for so long. Over those 30 years when survivors came forward, adult after adult, many impositions of authority protected you, telling each survivor it was OK, that you weren't abusing them. In fact, many adults had you convince the survivors that they were being dramatic or had been mistaken. This is like being violated all over again.
How do you sleep at night? You were decorated by USA Gymnastics and the United States Olympic Committee, both of which put you on advisory boards and committees to come up with policies that would protect athletes from this kind of abuse. You are the person they had “take the lead of athlete care.” You are the person they say “provided the foundation for our medical system.” I cringe to think that your influence remains in the policies that are supposed to keep athletes safe, that these organizations have for years claimed “state of the art.”
To believe in the future of gymnastics is to believe in change. But how are we to believe in change when these organizations aren't even willing to acknowledge the problem? It's easy to put out statements talking about how athlete care is the highest priority. But they've been saying that for years, and all the while, this nightmare was happening. False assurances from organizations are dangerous, especially when people want so badly to believe them. They make it easier to move away from the problem and enable bad things to continue to happen. And even now after all that has happened, USA Gymnastics has the nerve to say the very same things it has said all along. Can't you see how disrespectful that is? Can't you see how much that hurts?
A few days ago, USA Gymnastics put out a statement attributed to its president and CEO Kerry Perry, saying she came to listen to the courageous women and said, “Their powerful voices leave an indelible imprint on me and will impact my decisions as president and CEO every day.” This sounds great, Ms. Perry, but at this point, talk is cheap. You left midway through the day, and no one has heard from you or the board.
Kerry, I've never met you, and I know you weren't around for most of this. But you accepted the position of president and CEO of USA Gymnastics, and I assume by now you are very well aware of the weighty responsibility you've taken on. Unfortunately, you've taken on an organization that I feel is rotting from the inside. And while this may not be what you thought you were getting into, you will be judged by how you deal with it. A word of advice: Continuing to issue statements of empty promises thinking that will pacify us will no longer work. Yesterday, USA Gymnastics announced that it was terminating its lease at the Ranch, where so many of us were abused. I am glad that it is no longer a national team training site, but USA Gymnastics neglected to mention that they had athletes training there the day they released the statement. USA Gymnastics, where is the honesty? Where is the transparency? Why must the manipulation continue?
Neither USA Gymnastics nor the USOC have reached out to express sympathy or even offer support. Not even to ask, how did this happen? What do you think we can do to help? Why have I and others here probably not heard anything from the leadership from the USOC? Why has the United States Olympic Committee been silent? Why isn't the USOC here right now?
Larry was the Olympic doctor and he molested me at 2012 London Olympic games. They say now they applaud those have spoken out, but it's easier to say that now. When the brave women who started speaking out back then, more than a year after the USOC says they knew about Nassar, they were dismissed. At the 2016 Olympic games, the president of the USOC said that the USOC would not conduct an investigation and even defended USA Gymnastics as one of the leaders in developing policies to protect athletes. That's the response a courageous woman gets when she speaks out? And when others joined those athletes and began speaking out with more stories of abuse, were they acknowledged? No. It is like being abused all over again.
I have represented the United States of America in two Olympics and have done so successfully, and both USA Gymnastics and the United States Olympic Committee have been very quick to capitalize and celebrate my success. But did they reach out when I came forward? No. So, at this point, talk is worthless to me. We're dealing with real lives in the future of our sport. We need to believe this won't happen again.
For this sport to go on, we need to demand real change, and we need to be willing to fight for it. It’s clear now that if we leave it up to these organizations, history is likely to repeat itself. To know what changes are needed requires us to understand what exactly happened and why this happened. This is a painful process but it's the only way to identify all the factors that contributed to this problem, and how they can be avoided in the future. This is the only way to learn from these mistakes and make gymnastics a safer sport. If ever there was a need to fully understand a problem, it is this one right now. To accept that problem is limited to just what we know now is irresponsible, delusional even. Each new day seems to bring a new survivor. We have no idea just how much damaged you caused, Larry, and we have no idea how deep these problems go.
Now is the time to acknowledge that the very person who sits before us now — who perpetrated the worst epidemic of sexual abuse in the history of sports, who is going to be locked up for a long, long time — this monster was also the architect of policies and procedures that are supposed to protect athletes from sexual abuse for both USA Gymnastics and the USOC.
If we are to believe in change, we must first understand the problem and everything that contributed to it. Now is not the time for false reassurances. We need an independent investigation of exactly what happened, what went wrong and how it can be avoided for the future. Only then can we know what changes are needed. Only then can we believe such changes are real.
Your Honor, I ask you to give Larry the strongest possible sentence, which his actions deserve. For by doing so, you will send a message to him and to other abusers that they cannot get away with their horrible crimes. They will be exposed for the evil they are and they will be punished to the maximum extent of the law. Let this sentence strike fear in anyone who thinks it is OK to hurt another person. Abusers, your time is up. The survivors are here, standing tall, and we are not going anywhere.
And please, your Honor, stress the need to investigate how this happened, so that we can hold accountable those who empowered and enabled Larry Nassar, so that we can repair and once again believe in this wonderful sport. My dream is that one day, everyone will know what the words “me too” signify but they will be educated and able to protect themselves from predators like Larry, so that they will never, ever, ever have to say the words, “me too.” Thank you.
- No, All Those Strollers Aren’t Your Imagination. More Women Are Having Children
In a reversal of a decades-long trend, more American women are now choosing to have children. They're getting a lot of other stuff out of the way first and many more of them are going it alone, but the most recent figures show that by the end of their childbearing years, 86% of U.S. women have had kids, a 7.5% rise since 2006.
The new analysis of U.S. Census Data from Pew Research also found that those mothers are bearing more children. The U.S. had the lowest fertility rate in its history in 2006, with the average American woman bearing 1.86 kids. In 2016, that average was 2.07, an 11% rise. Those figures put the country on par with the early 90s, but nowhere close to the 70s.
This is good news for those worried about a declining fertility rate, which bodes ill for the economic health of a country and particularly its ability to care for its elderly people. Countries with a low birth rate, including France and Japan, have instituted family friendly policies to encourage more people to have offspring to try to stave off a possible financial collapse.
But while more U.S. women are bearing children, and mothers are having bigger families, they're embarking on motherhood in a very different manner from their forebears. They're waiting longer to have kids and are much less likely to be married than in generations past.
In fact, one of the most striking trends to emerge from the new report is the change since 1994 in the profile of women who, by the end of their childbearing years, have had a baby without marrying:
-The majority of never-married women aged 40-44 have had a child, a rise of 75% in two decades
-Many more highly educated single women have chosen to become mothers, three times as many with a bachelors degree and five times as many with a postgraduate degree. A quarter of single women aged 40-44 with a higher degree are now mothers.
-There has been an almost threefold growth in the number of unmarried white women who have borne a child, from 13% to 37%.
-Among African-American women the growth is smaller but the percentage is higher: three quarters of unmarried black women in that age group have kids, up from two thirds two decades ago.
- Single women whose education finished at high school are also much more likely to be mothers: 70% of them have kids, a rise from 48% in 1994.
The report also finds that far fewer women of all education levels have their children as teens, pushing the median age of first motherhood from 23 in 1994 to 26 in 2014.
Analysts at Pew attribute some of these trends to economics and some to the increase in the number women attending and finishing college. “The Great Recession intensified this shift toward later motherhood,” the reports says, “which has been driven in the longer term by increases in educational attainment and women’s labor force participation, as well as delays in marriage.”
Researchers also noted that their analysis could not encompass women who adopt children or become step-parents, but point to estimates that 6% of children in the U.S. live in a household with one parent who fits either description.
- Trump Has Divided the Country. Some Americans Are Trying to Bring Us Back Together
Between 2011 and 2016, I ventured across America’s political divide. I live in Berkeley, California, a liberal town in a liberal state, and in those years, I tried to step into the shoes of those living in a deeply conservative town, a center of the petrochemical industry: Lake Charles, in a conservative state, Louisiana. It’s a story I tell in my 2016 book, Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right. Nearly all the people I came to know voted for Donald Trump — most with hope and excitement. Since the book came out, I’ve returned to Louisiana three times, perused my Facebook feed and invited some to my own home to learn if and how their feelings have changed over the course of President Trump’s first year. As Trump’s efforts to “make America great again” paradoxically pull us apart, I wondered: Was there hope that we would not lose each other?
It is not difficult to see that the wedge between Republicans and Democrats is formidable. According to a recent Pew survey, 71% of Democrats believe the government should do more to help the needy; only 24% of Republicans do. Sixty-four percent of Democrats think discrimination is the main reason blacks can’t get ahead; only 14% of Republicans do. Eighty-four percent of Democrats believe immigrants strengthen the country with their work ethic and talent; only 42% of Republicans do. The average gap between Democrats and Republicans on ten subjects has grown from 15% in 1994 to 36% in 2017. Two decades back, the blue-red divide on a range of issues was about as wide as that between blacks and whites (about 14% typically); today it is much wider.
A year after they voted for Trump, all the Trump supporters I talked to remained committed to him. Some did so with a sigh: “Why can’t he stop tweeting?” “Why can’t he be more presidential?” But others had risen up as defiant moral bodyguards. When Trump was quoted as speaking of some African nations as “shithole nations,” saying Haitians “all have AIDS” and describing Norwegian newcomers as desirable, many of his supporters felt embarrassed for him and by him. But one Louisianan I knew responded, “I’m sorry but those African countries are terrible places to live,” and another angrily rebuked Trump’s critics on Facebook, “Democrats feign horror when Trump calls a COUNTRY a ‘shithole’ but praise Hillary for calling a PEOPLE deplorable,” and again, “You’re a Democrat if you think its horrible that Trump called a country a ‘shithole,’ but that its okay to murder an unborn child.” Surely people have seen members of both parties furiously pointing out the moral hypocrisies of their opponents.
But is that partisan hatred the only story? No.
It is harder to see, but a nationwide grass-roots movement has been quietly growing, and it seeks not to eliminate difference but to remove its bitter edge. The first signs I saw of this came as email messages from my readers. One woman wrote, “I’m part of an Episcopalian congregation here in western Massachusetts. Can you put me in touch with a congregation in Lake Charles?” Another woman said, “I live on a dairy farm in Kansas, in a conservative state, and I’d liked to get some high school kids from California to see how we live out here.” When a Trump supporter I profiled in Strangers came with her children to visit my family in Berkeley, we conducted an 8-person right-meets-left “Living-room Conversation” — part of a project that’s the brainchild of a local mediation lawyer, Joan Blades — to see if we could find common ground on how to clean up the environment. We began by going around the room, each person, left and right sharing his or her personal goals for America, and for its environment and found them fairly similar — though as the conversation we wandered between points of agreement (clean energy) and disagreement (the government subsidizing clean energy). Usually in Livingroom Conversations, the group meets eight times, though we could only meet once. And while we experienced no aha-breakthrough moment, all of us felt glad we’d tried.
Even among the most ardent and extreme people I met over five years of research in Louisiana, I found specific issues on which there was potential for coalition — for example, safeguarding children on the Internet, reducing prison populations for non-violent offenders, protecting against commercialization of the human genome, pushing for good jobs and re-building our rail system, roads, bridges – America’s infrastructure. In fact, most of my Louisiana Trump supporters wanted to mend its social infrastructure too.
Signs of a desire to reach out extend far beyond my inbox and living room. Listed on the website of the Bridge Alliance, a non-profit non-partisan umbrella group, are over seventy cross-partisan groups based in towns scattered across the country with such names as Common Good, Better Angels, American Public Square, AllSides. Virtually all of these small groups rose from local efforts to restore a culture of respect while exploring potential points of agreement. Common ground is there to be explored. By some estimates, over one in ten people who voted for Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary ended up voting for Trump in the presidential election. Experts also estimate that between 6.7 and 9.2 million people who voted for Trump in 2016 had also voted for Obama in 2012.
As of October 2017, the Bridge Alliance had three million supporters. As we head into the next three years with a divided media and a speak-to-one-base president, more of us need to reach out to people we disagree with. We may not be as polarized as we think. And even — or really, especially — if we are, we need to restore the spirit of the public square.
In the past, we had ways of bringing together Americans who differed: the compulsory draft, labor unions, public schools and libraries and nightly TV news programs everyone watched, like The Huntley-Brinkley Report. Increasingly today we lack these ways of sharing each other’s worlds. So we need to strengthen the old ways or reinvent new ones — perhaps more Living Room Conversations among some of those Bernie-Obama-Trump crossovers. By itself, the simple act of crossing the partisan divide will not resolve our crisis. But it could help us slowly rebuild a nation in which we feel as if we know each other again.