Category Archives: Current News

A current news story

Manatee Country School Board Protects Football Coach, puts Students in Danger

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Manatee High School Hurricanes running backs coach Rod Frazier, age 35, has been charged.

In 2011, the citizens of the United States were enraged at how Penn State school officials were covering up a child molester in order to protect its football program. In 2012, Americans were shocked at how the community of Steubenville, Ohio, was protecting several high school football players of raping a 16-year-old girl. In 2013, I found out that my own hometown school board was protecting its football program. In July 2013, Manatee High School assistant football coach Rod Frazier was charged with seven counts of misdemeanor battery after being accused of inappropriately touching and interacting with female students. As the Bradenton Police Department dove deeper into its investigation, it discovered how Manatee County School Board knew about two allegations, yet allowed him to continue to coach while he was being investigated and was on paid leave. The police also discovered how other Manatee High School employees also witnessed Frazier’s abnormal behavior with female students, but nothing was done to protect the students. Bradenton is now a town that treasures its football program more than the well-being of the students.

Frazier’s Downward Spiral

Manatee High School has five official football state championships, the most recent one being in 2011. Throughout the 2012 season, the football team, the Hurricanes, was ranked #1 in the nation before losing in the playoffs in December. Frazier attended and played football at Manatee High School and University of Florida and he returned to Manatee High School in 2001 to become the assistant football coach. In 2006, he was hired as a parent liaison, the person to whom referrals and other disciplinary actions are first reported at the school, and the weightlifting coach – these two positions now gave him contact with female students.  In 2007, Frazier’s life began a downward spiral: a bank foreclosed his home, the court ordered him to pay child support, and he was arrested for violating a restraining order by his estranged wife. The restraining order was filed after Frazier’s former wife claim he choked her and used cocaine. The wife never pressed charges, so Frazier was released from prison and returned to his job at Manatee High School.

Investigation Begins

On November 15, 2012, Frazier was placed on paid leave pending an investigation of improper conduct. He was instructed to stay off of school board property until further notice, BUT he shows up at Manatee High School the next day to coach the first football playoff game of the season. On January 9, 2013, a letter from a former female student is brought to Manatee High School principal Don Sauer’s office. The letter claims Frazier inappropriately touched the female student, met her in a park, and asked for a naked picture. The student transferred to Palmetto High School to get away from Frazier. On January 10, the student and her mother are interviewed by Debra Horne, the school district investigator (who has been investigated Frazier since November). On January 24, Horne requests to be transferred to another administrative position, “due to a number of unjustified issues that have impacted me personally and professionally.” After the Bradenton Herald-Tribune published a story about how the school board is investigating Frazier, the Bradenton Police Department launches its own investigation on February 7 and Frazier is placed on paid leave…again.

Witnesses Come Forward

The first time Frazier did something inappropriate was August 2008 and the last time was December 2012. During the investigation, the first victim claims Frazier touched her, sent her text messages, asked for naked photos, and told her that he loved her. The student claims she was in Frazier’s office more than 100 times; there was even a time when Frazier pulled her onto his lap in front of another employee, but the employee never reported the incident. Even though other school employees saw a female student go into an adult male’s office with the door closed numerous times, not one of them said anything or questioned why a student is there and not in class. A former parent liaison at the high school, Adinah Torres, has come forward with information about Frazier; she claims he inappropriately rubbed his leg against hers while she was in his office being trained. She reported him to her supervisor, yet nothing was done.  Torres also witnessed girls entering his office and sitting on Frazier’s desk so as soon as she could, Torres found a new job and left Manatee High School due to the uncomfortable environment Frazier caused. Another student claims he slapped her on the buttocks several times and only stopped after she got firm with him. At the moment, the victims include a total of four female students and three female teachers. Bradenton residents have also come forward saying how they and other parents saw how Frazier inappropriately touched female students during weightlifting meets – they claim he would rub up against girls and stroke them. The police say there are at least 50 people who witnessed Frazier’s inappropriate behavior over the years.

School Board Fails

The original school board investigation began on November 15, 2012. Interim Superintendent David Gayler claims the investigation was based on “rumors and innuendos about inappropriate relationships with students.” Even if it’s just rumors, the school board should still take a case seriously and report it to the police since there are children involved. It’s becoming too common for teachers abusing their powers to take control of students. My own high school, Lakewood Ranch High School (which is also in Bradenton), had its own trouble with a track coach sleeping with a 17-year-old female student. Though the student claimed it was consensual (which doesn’t exist when an adult is sleeping with an underage student), Ernest Lee Jones received 5 years in prison. When asked about how Frazier was placed on November 15, but showed up the next day to coach a football game, Gayler stated “If he went back to work after a day, then they couldn’t find anything to attach the complaint.” Frazier was placed on paid leave and ordered not to go on school board property, which includes the school, but he ignored it and went to the high school to coach football. Frazier should not be allowed on school property when he is being investigated for abusing students. Gayler says nothing was discovered about Frazier, but what investigation lasts less than two days? Was there even an official investigation? Horne was in charge of the investigation in November and was given a list of four female students to contact by assistant football coach, Steve Gulash, but she never did! Horne was in charge of finding out if Frazier was abusing four female students, but she never bothered to contact them. When the investigation was re-launched in January after the former student delivered the letter, she asked to be transferred to a new position; she is now an assistant principal at Prine Elementary School. Horne’s job was to determine if Frazier was a threat to children, yet she never bothered to ask one student and now she’s in charge of young children; do you feel safer knowing she’s there? There is also no proof that Manatee High School and the Manatee County School Board reported the potential crimes to the police, which they must do by law.

Bullying

After the first female student came forward about Frazier, she became a victim of cyber bullying because we live in a world where a female is automatically a slut if she is a victim. Gulash saw the bullying on her Facebook page and reported it to the police in April 2013, but he was reprimanded by the school board for not reporting it to his superiors first (even though he went to the Manatee High School principal). Gulash claims he and other staff members were being harassed by Manatee County administrators involved in Frazier’s case and says several employees and students will not come forward because they are afraid of the consequences (the students don’t want to be bullied by fellow students and the teachers don’t want to lose their job in a county that is not hiring teachers for the next year). The mother of the girl being teased also reported bullying to Palmetto High School but nothing was done and the Palmetto Police Department says there is not enough evidence was there for there to be a crime. A high school employee used his power to abuse girls, yet he was protected while the girls are labeled sluts and are teased by fellow students. When does football become more important than a child? When does football become more important than a human being? Never.

Charges are filed

On April 1, Bradenton Police recommend that Frazier be charged and on July 19, the State Attorney’s office charges Frazier with seven counts of misdemeanor battery and three counts of interference with the attendance of a student in school, which are second degree misdemeanors. On July 23, Superintendent Rick Mills announces that the district will reopen its investigation into the Frazier case (because they did such a great job the first two times). On July 25, hundreds of pornographic images are found on Frazier’s school computer and now the police department is trying to discover if the porn is current or former Manatee High School students. Frazier officially resigned  the next day and is now waiting to be arraigned August 8. Besides Frazier, the Bradenton Police force recommends that former assistant superintendent Bob Gagnon, former school investigator Debra Horne, former Manatee High School assistant principal Matthew Kane, and current Manatee High School assistant principal Greg Faller should be charged with failing to report child abuse and lying to the police. As members of the school board, their number one job is the protect children, but none of them did. All of them are still working and at the moment, none of them have been charged even though failing to report suspected child abuse is a crime. They all knew something was going on, yet not one of them did anything to save a child from a monster.

Frazier is not the only criminal

Rod Frazier was an assistant football coach at one of the top high school football programs in the nation. He knew he had power and he abused it by inappropriately touching female students and staff members for several years. Several students, parents, and employees knew Frazier was abusing students, but when it was reported to the Manatee County School board, nothing was done! Debra Horne, a female adult who should care about the interests of female students, failed to investigate the allegations correctly. If the Bradenton Herald-Tribune didn’t write about the allegations in January 2013, then the Bradenton Police Department would never have known about Frazier since NO ONE contacted the police, which is the correct protocol when a CHILD IS SUSPECTED OF BEING ABUSED.  After the Penn State incident, Florida passed the strictest law in the nation for anyone who fails to report child abuse – a possible five year prison sentence. Manatee High School and Manatee County School Board decided that football was more important than children – everyone involved in protecting a monster deserves to face the consequences.

Resources:

Manatee High assistant football coach investigated

Update: Manatee High coach Frazier resigns

Coach protecting student in Frazier case reprimanded

State abuse law passed after Penn State applies in Frazier case

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Acid-Attack Victims Demand Justice from Indian Government

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Graphic images but the world needs to know what is going on to women

Due to National and International Pressure, the Indian Government created new laws in February 2013 to combat the increasing attacks on women. In India, 90% of violent attacks are against women and the number is only increasing. After acid-attack victim Sonali Mukherjee appeared on India’s version of “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire” in 2012, acid-attack victims hoped that the country would finally care about them, but some victims are still waiting for justice.

Whenever Chanchal Paswan (18) left her house in Chithnava, India, her male neighbors would follow her to her destination, pulling on her clothes while making lewd comments toward her. When Chanchal refused to sleep with them, the men decided to punish her – after all, these monsters believed that women should ALWAYS do what men say. On October 21, 2012, the men snuck onto Chanchal’s roof where she and her sister were sleeping. The men pinned her down and poured acid all over her while the younger sister, Sonam (15), was also burned.  The parents heard their children screaming and ran up to the roof and rushed the girls to the hospital.  The attackers laughed at the family while the neighbors watched in silence. When the family got to the hospital, it refused to admit the sisters until the following morning when television cameras showed up. The four men (Anil Rai, Ghanshyam Rai, Baadal Rai, and Raj Rai) were arrested, but the sisters are still waiting for justice.

Before and After Picture of Chanchal

Even though Chanchal was an adult who worked at the time of the attack, the police report claims she was a minor at the time of the attack so she received less compensation. There were rumors that the attackers would be forced to cover the cost of the surgeries the girls have been going through, but at the moment the family has been paying for all the surgeries and medication. Chanchal was even discharged early from Patna Medical College and Hospital because her family could not afford to pay for the medication and surgeries, though the hospital claims its for infection reasons.  The main attackers, Anil Rai, claims he is a minor to escape prison time even though he is not a minor. The family hopes that by drawing attention to their problem, they will be able to receive the correct compensation from the government and see the attackers be punished.  The attackers are from a higher caste (higher social class) and they believed they would never be punished since the girls are from a lower caste system.

Acid-attacks are on the rise in the Middle East and South East Asia because women are saying “no” to men and some men still view women as sex objects. Chanchal told one of the attackers “no” to a marriage proposal and instead of moving on, he made it his mission to ruin her life. Since acid-attacks were not considered a crime until recently, no one is sure how many women are inured each year by acid attacks but activists estimate there are as many as 1,000 attacks a year. Unlike Chanchal and Sonam, who took to the media to demand justice, most acid-attackers are forced to keep quiet due to constant threats from the attackers’ families or the police refuse to help. There is currently a petition on Change.org demanding that the sisters receive justice. While the government takes its time, these two sisters refuse to wait around and are currently campaigning for acid-attack victims. Chanchal is determined to return to school and provide for her family, but in the meantime, she removes the bandages around her face and looks at the camera, “I want the world to know what happened to me.”

Update: 

On April 23, 2013, Chancha met the DM of Patna to deliver the petition that contains over 65,000 signatures.

Sources:

Acid Attack Victim Vows to Fight

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Imagine being a 17 year-old girl, juggling time between college and work. Every night when you come home after work, the annoying male neighbors make catcalls and ask you to sleep with them – and every day you say “NO!” You tell your parents about them, but when your father goes next door to talk to their families, nothing happens. Finally, after years of  them sexually harassing you, you tell them that you are going to call the police. As you lay in bed that night, you wake up to the sensation of liquid being poured onto your face – then suddenly the pain of your face melting off jolts you awake. You used to be a beautiful girl with a promising future, but now you are blind, partially deaf, and have a face that must be covered by a scarf because of the horrific burns… you are Sonali Mukherjee.

 

Sonali Mukherjee Before the Attack

Sonali Mukherjee was a teenage college student living in Dhanbad, India when three of her male neighbors broke into her house to pour acid on her while she slept, just because she refused to sleep with them. The three men are: Tapas Mitra, Sanjay Paswan, and Brahmadev Hajra – one of them is rumored to be a married man in his 40’s.  Mitra and Paswan were supposed to spend nine years in prison, but they spent less than two years in prison after paying bail. Since Hajra was a minor at the time of the incident, he was let off the hook. While the attackers were enjoying life outside of prison, Mukherjee’s family was suffering; they were forced to move because of the constant threats from the attackers, her grandfather died from a heart attack, her mother fell into depression, and the younger sister  (who also suffered burns from the attack) was married off so she could have a life. Mukherjee had 22 surgeries performed, but the cost of the surgeries forced her family to sell land, cattle, and family jewelry.

Sonali Mukherjee

For the past nine years, Mukherjee has met several Indian government officials, but never received any aid. After her family ran out of money, Mukherjee wrote to the government, asking for permission to kill herself. Her letter was released to the media where it was seen by the producers of “Kaun Banega Crorepati” the Indian version of “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.” The producers asked her to be on the show for the Doosra Mauka (Second Chance) episode that features contestants who showed courage in the face of adversity. Mukherjee answered 10 questions correctly, winning 2.5 million rupees (or $45,000) in November, 2012.

Appearing on Kaun Banega Crorepati

Mukherjee’s journey is still not over since she still has nine operations to go through. When she is done recovering from her surgeries, she plans to continue speaking out against violence against women. Already she has helped make a difference in India; after her letter to the government was released since summer, India erupted into anger at how a woman was forced to suffer while her attackers barely spent time in jail. Mukherjee realized appearing on television is what made the difference, telling Agence France Presse “Once everything else had failed, I decided to use my face. If you can stare at a picture of a pretty woman then you can look at my burnt face too.” India ranks #4 as the worst country for women; 90% of violent crimes are against women and that number continues to increase. After receiving negative national attention about  Mukherjee, and a gang rape on a city bus that resulted in a young woman dying, the Indian government started to create laws to stop the violence.  In February 2013, the Indian government approved a law that would imprison acid attackers for 10 years to life and the Supreme Court directed officials to discuss regulating the sales of acid and to set up a fund for victims. It is up to victims, like Mukherjee, and society to continue to battle the monsters that believe women are sex toys for men. If we let the government sweep these crimes under the rug, then women will never be equal to men and will continue to be abused, raped, and murdered. Mukherjee states, “I don’t want what was done to me done to any other girls” and she vows to continue the fight…will you?

She has gone through 22 surgeries and will go through 9 more

 

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I’m just Tired of Violence

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I had just witnessed the Boston Red Sox beat the Tampa Bay Rays and decided to cool off by taking a shower. When I finished my shower, my phone was ringing; my dad asked “What’s going on in Boston? I heard there were explosions at the Boston Marathon?” As someone trying to get in shape, I was furious that some idiots attempted to hurt runners who had just ran 26 miles. As someone who loves history, I was upset that some idiots tried to ruin a celebration of Massachusetts’ involvement in the Revolutionary War. As a human, I am sad that someone decided to injure and kill innocent people.

I don’t know what’s going on, no one does. There were two explosions around 3 P.M. at the Boston Marathon finish line. Some thought it was a possible chemical leak, but now reports are saying that police have uncovered several other bombs. The police found one bomb under bleachers and purposely set it off when no one was around. John F. Kennedy Library might have a bomb. Three people are reported dead, dozens more injured. At 4:08: the official report is 2 dead, 22 injured in blasts. No terrorist group has come forward yet, so it might just be some loner who did this. Someone who is upset at the world. Someone who hates America. Someone who hates everything…

I’m tired of seeing terrorist attacks. When I was in 7th grade, I saw people fall to their deaths from the World Trade Center. I remember the planes flying into the towers, the Pentagon, and into the field – but seeing a bodies falling to their deaths is an image I’ll never get out of my head. Then the reports of attacks overseas involving America’s allies in Europe made me thankful for the Atlanta Ocean separating America from the Middle East and Africa – terrorists would have to board a plane to get here and security at the airport is very, very strict. But Boston shows that sometimes there is nothing we can do to prevent attacks – there is always going to be an upset person trying to bring everyone down to his level.

America has been gun-crazy since the Sandy Hook elementary shooting – one side gather their guns while the other side tries to take the guns. And you know what? Both sides are WRONG. I said months ago that guns aren’t the problem nor are the bombs, it’s the people. The politicians have been spending all their time dealing with guns that they forgot about People – People Kill People. It’s the People who are uneducated that are more likely to be violent, yet the education budgets are always being cut. It’s the People who suffer from mental illness that are more likely to be involved in a mass attack, yet health care doesn’t cover the costs of all the help they need. It’s the People upset that America is involved in international conflicts, yet war continues to wage on (and for what?). Instead of wasting time fighting over guns, abortion, and other controversial laws that don’t do much good for society, how about America comes together to make sure that something like this won’t happen again, to make sure more children don’t grow up to be disgruntled adults pissed at society.

 

Stop Punishing the Kids for their Parents’ Choices

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"Every child Needs a Good School Lunch&qu...

“Every child Needs a Good School Lunch”  (Wikipedia)

When I went to school and forgot to bring my money for lunch, I would receive a peanut-butter and jelly sandwich at lunch. But in April 2013, 25 students in a Massachusetts middle school were denied lunch because they could not pay for their lunch. The school was supposed to give the children cheese sandwiches and milk if they forgot their money and not let them go hungry; instead, the students were forced to throw out their food in front of their peers, causing some of them to erupt into tears. As a result, the school fired four employees and will allow all children to eat for free for three days next week. After reading this story, I read some of the readers’ comments how the children should not be given food or reduced-price food if their parents couldn’t afford to pay for lunch – the children should just starve. What happened to caring about the future generation?

The National School Lunch Program is a federally assisted meal program operating in American schools; it provides nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free lunches to 31 million children each school day. When my parents were between jobs, I was one of those children until my parents both found jobs. If a school participates in the program, it receives cash subsidies and USDA foods from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Since the program began in 1946, more than 224 billion lunches have been served. In 2011, it cost $11.1 billion for the United States to support this program – an amount that means starving children can eat. When I wake up each morning, I knew I had food in the fridge, but 16.7 million children (22% of American children) don’t know if they get to eat each day.This program guarantees that the child gets at least one nutritious meal  a day – that the child will drink milk and not soda, eat fruit instead of candy – a meal not off the dollar menu. And why should the children suffer for their parents’ mistakes? Why should they go hungry because their mother is working two jobs and there is no father around? Why should they go hungry because both their parents decided to have fifteen children even though they live in a two-bedroom apartment? Why should they go hungry because their parents care more about getting high than staying clean to get a job? If these children aren’t taken care of, then they will never have a future and break out of the cycle.

At the end of January 2013, republican senator Stacy Campfield introduced legislation that would slash welfare benefits for parents whose children get bad grades. They claim it will inspire parents to do a better job parenting, while critics say it will hurt the children. Based on my experience, this will only punish the kid. I grew up with parents that were always there for me; they helped me with my math homework, went over my spelling words, and paid for a tutor to help me with reading. Because of my parents’ help early on, I went on to take honors and advanced placement classes in order to increase my chance of getting a scholarship to a good college – which I did. I was lucky. At my high school, there were several students who could not speak proper English – it was so bad, the teacher could not understand them when they asked questions – and no, they weren’t Hispanic immigrants, they were born and raised in the same town as I was, their parents just never bothered to teach them how to speech English so they had to learn from rap music. You know what I’m talking about, the poor kids with bad parents that have no future and are bound to continue the cycle of being a failure, like their parents.They were the kids who had to ride the school bus while everyone else drove cars to school. They were the kids who ate breakfast at the school cafeteria because there was nothing at home for them to eat. They were the kids who wore clothes from the thrift shop and Goodwill.  They were the kids who dropped out of high school because no one was there to push them to graduate and to tell them that they could become someone. So, cutting welfare will suddenly wake up a parent after 16-years of ignoring their child? Will the absent father suddenly appear knowing that his baby’s mama will be losing welfare that she uses to pay rent? Will the homeless parents suddenly be able to buy a computer for the child to finish his homework? The amount of welfare a recipient receives isn’t that much to begin with – this law was proposed in Tennessee where a single mom with two kids receives $185 a month – as any person knows, that is about three tanks of gas.

Then there are the children who have good parents, but because of an unforeseen circumstance, their parents don’t have the money to provide for them. The parents may be immigrants from a foreign country, hoping the move to the United States will be a better environment to raise their children. The parents may be tomato pickers working for dirt money, but they want their children to become lawyers, doctors, teachers, and engineers. And there are the children living on the streets with their parents because both parents lost their jobs because of the bad economy. The parents don’t want their children spending the nights in shelter and worrying about food, they want the children to graduate school and get a stable job. A mother leaving her abusive husband and taking her children to a women’s shelter won’t have the money to spend on her children if the father spent their joint-banking account on beer. She just wants her children to eat low-cost meals at school while she saves money for a new house. These parents are doing their best to provide for their children, but need some help so that their children will live up to their potential. How can Americans turn their backs on these families?

Instead of trying to take away food and welfare from a child because of bad parents or bad life events, the government should be trying to make sure the child doesn’t end up like his parent – that he graduates from high school, goes to college, finds a job, and raises a happy family instead of turning to drugs, alcohol, sex, and crime. Countless studies have shown that children with a low-education or drop out of school are more likely to become teenage parents, commit a crime and go to jail, turn to drugs and alcohol, and end up on welfare – each year the federal government spends $38 billion on teenage pregnancy, $74 billion on jails, $15 billion on the war of drugs, and $193 billion on welfare for a total of $320 billion – numbers that will only increase if children continue to be punished for their parents’ choices. Instead of being furious that government spends $11.1 a year to ensure that 31 million children eat one decent meal a day, they should be furious that they and their government continues to fail millions of children each year. These children, no matter if they have bad, average, or great parents, deserve a chance to receive lunch at school every day. Whenever a budget needs to be cut, the budget that effects the future generation is always the first one to go. That needs to change.

North Carolina wants a State Religion

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Bill of Rights, 09/25/1789

Bill of Rights, 09/25/1789 (Photo credit: The U.S. National Archives)

In the late 1800’s, some Christian groups proposed that the United States create a new state that was only for Christians. This worried feminist Elizabeth Cady Stanton who knew traditional Christian values viewed women as second-class citizens – women couldn’t vote, own property, leave unhappy marriages, or do anything without their husband’s permission. Luckily, the Christian State was never created and decades later, women were able to gain equality rights since the United States was created with the idea of separating the church from the government.

On April 1, 2012, North Carolina proposed a bill that would allow an official state religion that would declare the state exempt from the Constitution and court rulings. The bill was filed on April Fool’s Day, though North Carolina is very serious about this pill. It is back by eleven Republicans and was filed after a lawsuit was filed to stop county commissioners in Rowan County from opening meetings with a Christian prayer. The bill’s main sponsors are Carl Ford and Harry Warren and the co-sponsors are Edgar Starnes and Larry Pittman.

The bill reads:

SECTION 1. The North Carolina General Assembly asserts that the Constitution of the United States of America does not prohibit states or their subsidiaries from making laws respecting an establishment of religion.

SECTION 2. The North Carolina General Assembly does not recognize federal court rulings which prohibit and otherwise regulate the State of North Carolina, its public schools, or any political subdivisions of the State from making laws respecting an establishment of religion.

Past American leaders knew religion should not control the United States. Thomas Jefferson and other founding fathers made sure government was split from religion because they knew a country ruled by religion doesn’t allow democracy. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Anyone who knows history, particularly the history of Europe, will, I think, recognize that the domination of education or of government by any one particular religious faith is never a happy arrangement for the people.”  And she is right, look at the Middle East where all the countries are controlled by religion – the poor are uneducated, the leaders use the Quran to kill Christians and Jews, and women are forced to cover their faces and serve their husbands. Now, you may think “that wouldn’t happen here in a majority Christian country” but some strict Christians still believe men are better than women, that other religions should not be practiced, the homosexuals should be punished, and birth control should disappear – even though Jesus preached “love thy neighbor.”

The United States is supposed to be the country in the world that allows all religions, as long as the religions are not violent and the followers still follow the country’s laws. North Carolina choosing religion over government is a danger for all people. Though the bill will not pass since it 100% goes against the U.S. Constitution, the men behind this bill should not be in office if they care more about THEIR religion than about the people that were voted to represent. Instead of wasting time seeking revenge over the fact that they cannot pray at government meetings, they should be creating laws to help the poor and the weak; after all, that’s what Jesus said to do.

 

Steubenville Rape Trial Verdict: Guilty

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A judge announced Sunday morning that the defendants, Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond, have been found guilty of rape. The two were accused of sexually assaulting an intoxicated 16-year-old, an action that was recorded on a cell phone, at a high school party in August, 2012. The boys will serve their sentence at a juvenile detention facility.

The victim testified in court on Saturday that she could not remember the attack and waking up naked in a house she did not recognize. Her earrings, shoes, cell phone, and underwear were missing. It was after she read text messages among friends and saw a video that made fun of her and the alleged attack that she realized she was sexually assaulted. Two of her former friends that were with her at the party took the stand last week, describing how much she drank and how intoxicated she was. Other witnesses noticed how she had trouble walking and was puking.

Three of the witnesses were boys that witnessed the sexual assault, but didn’t try to stop it or report it, yet they were not charged. This fueled rumors that the town was covering up members of its beloved football team. One of the boys actually recorded the assault, deleting it the morning after. Ohio’s attorney general plan to announce later Sunday whether additional charges will be brought in the case. One of the defendants asked his friend to cover for him, proof that he knew what he was doing was wrong. Visiting Judge Thomas Lipps announced the verdict 10 a.m. Eastern time. After the verdict was read, the defendants and their family members openly wept at the verdict.

Mays was sentenced to a minimum of two years in a juvenile correctional facility and Richmond was sentenced to a minimum of one year. The Department of Youth services will rule whether the two boys will be detained longer, depending on their behavior and rehabilitation. At the most, they would could be in the juvenile correctional facility until they are 21. They will also be credited for the time they had served before the trial.

So for raping a girl, they could ONLY be serving 1-2 years in a Juvenile facility.

Sexual Assault Facts:

  • A woman in the United States is sexually assaulted every 2 minutes.
  • 25% of women and 10% of men are sexually assaulted in their life time.
  • 30% of all sexual assaults occur when the perpetrator is under the influence of alcohol. 
  • 80-90% of acquaintance rape involves alcohol.
  • Girls ages 16-19 years-old are 4 times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape.

 

Steubenville Rape Trial Begins

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If you have not heard of this case, please read Ohio Town Protecting Football Players from Rape Charges and Steubenville Gang Rape Case: February Update for more information.

Trent Mays, 17, left, Ma’lik Richmond,16, and Richmond’s attorney Walter Madison before the trial began Wednesday. (Keith Srakocic, Associated Press / March 13, 2013)

Steubenville, Ohio used to be a thriving town. But when the steel mills closed, most of the residents moved away. Residents still continue to move away since there are not many jobs available, and the jobs that are available don’t pay much;the median income is only $33,000. Then in 2005, the local high school football team won the State Championship… a team that few people believed in. Then the team won again in 2006, providing hope to a town that needed it. There is no question that high school football is important to the town; after all, the football stadium has 10,000 seats while the town’s population is 18,659. Now, two members of the football team are being accused of raping a 16-year-old girl at a party. Now, all of America is watching Steubenville.

Wide receiver Ma’Lik Richmond, 16, and quarterback Trent Mays, 17, are being charged with rape. Richmond is accused of raping the girl by penetrating her vaginally with his finger while Mays is charged with rape for using his hands to vaginally penetrate and then distributing child pornography. Mays is also accused of trying to engage in oral sex, but was unable to and instead masturbated on her while at the home of another student. His DNA was found on a blanket at the scene of the crime. The defense attorneys will be arguing that the victim was able to give her consent and that the sex was consensual. The prosecutor will be arguing that the girl was impaired and could not give her consent.

The judge presiding over the case and the one deciding the fates of the two defendants is Judge Thomas Lipps.  On the first day of the trial, two girls (and friends of the victim) testified that the victim was drunk and having trouble walking on the night she was allegedly raped. One witness says that the girls filled cups with Stoli Vanilla vodka to drink at the party and that they victim “went downhill fast.” The next morning, the victim was confused, crying that she could not remember anything. When the witness was asked about the photograph of the alleged victim being carried by two males, the witness testified that the girl was conscious while this was happening, and that one of the boys stepped on her hair. One photograph that was not released to the public shows the victim asleep with what appears to be semen on her stomach. Earlier, Richmond stated on ABC News 20/20 that “I didn’t rape anybody. I didn’t witness a rape going on. And if I would have thought that somebody was being raped or anything like that, I would have stopped it.” Yet, there are pictures and Twitter statuses of several members of the football team posing with the victim and joking about her being raped.

Even though Richmond and Mays are accused of rape and are almost adults, they are only being tried as juveniles. They are currently on house arrest, attending school at a juvenile-detention facility. There are rumors that the town officials and sheriff department has been covering up the crime, protecting the football players.Meanwhile, the victim has been called “slut” by her peers and wakes up crying in the middle of the night from horrible nightmares.  If the defendants are found guilty, they will be held in juvenile jail until they are 21-years-old and will be required to register as sex offenders.

Rand Paul Right to call out President

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On Wednesday March 7th at 11:45, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul took the senate floor to begin his filibuster blocking Senate confirmation of John Brennan, President Obama’s pick for director of the CIA. Though I usually do not agree with any Tea Party member, Paul pointed out how dangerous drones are to the American public. Though drones are used on the battlefield across the Atlantic Ocean, the U.S. government is now talking about using drones in the United States for surveillance or killing an American in extreme circumstances.

In a letter to Paul on March 4th, Attorney General Eric Holder stated the Federal government has not conducted such operations and doesn’t plan to…but it was possible President Obama could be forced by an “extraordinary circumstance” to kill citizens inside the United States, such as similar attacks to Pearl Harbor and 9/11 Attacks. Rand took to the senate floor to point how the U.S. government could abuse its power and use the drones to kill terrorist suspects without first taking the suspects to court. As the 5th Amendment states:

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Paul was not the only one to question drones, he was joined by several other Republican senators and Democrat Ron Wyden of Oregon. The senators questioned the constitutionality of drone strikes on U.S. citizens at home and aboard. As Paul pointed out “No American should be killed by a drone on American soil without first being charged with a crime, without first being found guilty of a crime by a court… How can you kill someone without going to a judge, or a jury?” Already American terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki was killed by a drone strike in Yemen. Since he was an American, didn’t al-Awlaki deserve a trial? Would soldiers be criticized for killing an American suspect and not taking him in? And if future al-Aklakis were lying in bed in their American homes, would a drone be used to kill them? Does America’s future involve drones flying in American skies?

Since the War of Terror started, about 95% of killings have been done by drones. Drones have killed 4,700 people, but up to 25% may have be civilians. On September 11, 2012, drones attacked U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, killing four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador. Now I realize that in war, everything goes. Innocent men, women, and children are going to die in wars. But if drones are used in the U.S., doesn’t that mean that innocent people could also be killed. People who are no way near a battlefield could be killed as collateral damage or the U.S. government could be wrong. How many people have died because the SWAT team invaded the wrong house? U.S. Marine Jose Guerena was killed by the SWAT team when he grabbed his gun to protect his family from invaders. The court system is used to make sure a criminal is a criminal.

Not all Republicans agree with Paul ‘s stance on drones (such as Senator John McCain), believing he spent 13 hours scaring Americans. But Americans should continue to question the president, especially since the Authorization for Use of Military Force, passed right after 9/11 attacks, grants the presidents to use “all necessary and appropriate force” against any person, organization, or nation connected to the 9/11 attacks. The War on Terror continues to spread throughout the Middle East, entering Africa. And though drones are usually used when the U.S. is 100% positive the suspect is a terrorist, sometimes  the “reasonable man” standard is used. The reasonable man standard means that drones do not need to confirm positive identification of a target before firing, while a soldier would need to know before firing on a suspect.

Paul refused to end his filibuster until he could no longer continue or the president or Attorney General Holder clarified if the president has the power to kill Americans. Paul ended his filibuster finished at 12:45 a.m. Thursday. After 13 hours on the Senate floor, now all of America knows who Paul is and he is now a candidate for the 2016 Presidential election. The U.S. government replied to Paul with the following letter:

It has come to my attention that you have now asked an additional question: “Does the President have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on American soil?” The answer to that question is no.

Sincerely,

Eric H. Holder, Jr.

Paul and American received the answer, but the drone issue has just started. America is starting to realize that the president has too much power.

 

“To announce that there must be no criticism of the president… is morally treasonable to the American public.” Theodore Roosevelt

Steubenville Gang Rape Case: February Update

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In my earlier article about the Gang Rape in Steubenville, Ohio, I wrote on how a 16-year-old girl was raped by several members of the high school football team in Steubenville. Though there were possibly 50 witnesses to the rape and several students posted pictures and videos online of the unconscious girl at parties, no one came forward to report any of the rapists. Though the case was kept under wraps for months, it has gain national attention after New York Times and the technology-hacker group Anonymous became involved. Here is a February update on the case:

The two defendants, Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond, are facing rape charges in juvenile court. Mays’ attorney Adam Nemann asked for a change of venue due to the death threats his client was receiving, but was denied; the case will take place in Steubenville. The defendant attorneys filed a motion to postpone the court date; this motion was granted and the trial will now take place on March 13. The defendant and prosecution attorneys both filed a motion to keep the court private to protect the defendant and victim, but the motion was denied. One of the defendants also filed a motion to refer the victim as an “accuser” because “the ultimate question in this case is whether a crime was committed. Only after such determination can a person be declared a victim” wrote Attorney Walter Madison. The nation will be able to see inside the juvenile court, and sadly, see the victim. The judge in charge of the case is visiting judge Thomas Lipps.

Three football players (Mark Cole, Evan Westlake, and Anthony Craig) testified in October against the two defendants. It was originally believed the witnesses were granted immunity for their testimonies, but now Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine says the witnesses (all of whom may have photographed the alleged victim) have not been granted immunity. The FBI is currently investigated this trial.  At the end of January, UltraViolet presented a petition asking DeWine to investigate the incident to ensure that all of the people who were involved are prosecuted; the petition had 70,000 signatures. The petition mentions how under Ohio law, failure to report a felony is a crime. Thousands of people across the nation demand that all the witnesses face charges since they all knew that their friends raped an unconscious girl, but DeWine says that no one else will be charged. One of the friends who knew about, and joked, about the rape is Michael Nodianos. He is seen on a 12-minute video commenting on how the victim is probably dead and was peed on. He dropped out of Ohio State due to a large number of death threats.

Besides Nodianos, the Steubenville sheriff department has received death threats. Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdalla has been a target due to his comments at a Occupy Steubenville protest  (saying no further arrests would be made) and for his friendship with the football coach Reno Saccoccia. There was even a bomb threat on the Steubenville high school, though it was just a fake. Meanwhile, the victim has been receiving support from the nation, and though she is going through a tough time (crying at night), she hopes her case will help other victims.

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