Monday, August 31, 2015

Pyramid Scheme

I read this today and reviewed the Gizmodo articles and I have already disputed the numbers using basic math, so if I can just break it down into simple what the f then anyone with an ability to break down the hackers data to eliminate duplicates, bots and bullshit then it pretty much confirms my suspicions.

I was curious as to how Ashley Madison worked but I am fairly confident that the information I have read demonstrates it is a type of pyramid scheme. I had already had my curiosity satiated when I set up my fake OK Cupid account and had to opt out of paying monthly fees, finding random messages that were odd and attempting to correspond to those messages that kept popping up and in turn finding myself blocked or no responses which made me wonder if any to all were legitimate. And to the few that I did exchange emails with were sad men who I tracked to several other satellite sites also owned by whom, Ok Cupid.

OK Cupid has admitted to fraudulent data practices in matching members and they have a delete account feature that is utterly not true. Once you return to the site using your IP they manage to suddenly resuscitate the account that you had assumed deleted. Wow just wow.

But the entire online dating nonsense is just that. The Atlantic did a great article on this in 2012.

We need to have the right to be forgotten frankly and the internet providers are fighting tooth and nail to not bring that to the United States.

So if I can create a fake account, use a pay pal account set up with a business name not a personal name    with no major issues who else is doing it.  And none of that is illegal by the way nor frankly should it be.  But it does offer some protection and security  that if that data was released it has again a business name not a personal one what does that tell you about the supposed members of these sites.  Is this really a way you want to meet someone?

 So I want to remind everyone that numbers do lie and these companies are vested in lies.

  Ashley Madison insists it’s not a scam

© Provided by The Verge

Ashley Madison says that women do in fact use its website and are even continuing to sign up, rejecting an analysis last week that said only a few thousand women ever used the site to send a message. It says that during the first half of 2015, the ratio of paying male members to active female members was 1.2 to 1 (men have to pay to send messages on the site; women can use it for free), which suggests a much more vibrant network. Ashley Madison also says that women sent 2.8 million messages during the last week alone. While that figure doesn't refute Gizmodo's analysis, you'd expect those millions of messages to represent more than a few thousand people.

Last week's activity may well be an anomaly

Over the past week, Ashely Madison says it's seen "hundreds of thousands" of new sign ups, including almost 87,600 women. That's surprising for a few reasons, not the least of which being that hackers the other week exposed private information on the site's existing 37 million users, and you'd expect no one to trust the site after that to properly facilitate discreetaffairs. There has also been some talk of Ashley Madison misrepresenting its usage and making it seem like far more women use the site than are actually present, something that it's clearly seeking to refute with today's statement.

Of course, when considering the 2.8 million messages sent last week, it's worth remembering that this could be an anomaly. It isn't every week that Ashley Madison users are subject to a massive hack that very publicly exposes their presence on the site, and that could have easily driven usage. Likewise, it's possible that people signing up are doing so out of curiosity or research after the hack — perhaps even to view the profile of someone who they discovered was on it — so there's a big difference between new signups and active users. Even if Gizmodo's analysis is off, these figures don't prove that Ashely Madison is alive and well after the hack, just that it's still alive.

Cutting Costs

As the rise of living wages comes to the forefront the issues of how to offset this to satisfy Wall Street and in turn keep the bottom line rising as those tides have no intention of lifting all boats comes this:

Wal-Mart cuts workers' hours after pay raise boosts costs
Bloomberg News
Shannon Pettypiece
August 31, 2015.

Wal-Mart, in the midst of spending $1 billion to raise employees’ wages and give them extra training, has been cutting the number of hours some of them work in a bid to keep costs in check.

Regional executives told store managers at the retailer’s annual holiday planning meeting this month to rein in expenses by cutting worker hours they’ve added beyond those allocated to them based on sales projections.

The request has resulted in some stores trimming hours from their schedules, asking employees to leave shifts early or telling them to take longer lunches, according to more than three dozen employees from around the U.S. The reductions started in the past several weeks, even as many stores enter the busy back-to-school shopping period.

Chief Executive Officer Doug McMillon is trying to balance a desire to improve service -- partly through increased spending on his workforce -- against investors’ pressure to keep profit growing. Labor costs, which rose after Wal-Mart increased its minimum wage to $9 an hour in April, have weighed on earnings, which missed analysts’ expectations last quarter. At the same time, Wal-Mart is trying to maintain low prices to fend off rivals.

The reduction in hours is taking place only in locations where managers have overscheduled workers, staffing the store for more time than they’ve been alloted, said Kory Lundberg, a spokesman for Bentonville, Arkansas-based Wal-Mart. The reductions won’t affect efforts to better staff stores, shorten checkout lines, and improve cleanliness and stocking, he said.

Dual Goals

Greg Foran, the head of Wal-Mart’s U.S. operations, has said the retailer has dual goals of containing expenses and spending more to improve its stores.

“Amid the investment, we’re focused on growing sales and controlling costs, as you would expect from Wal-Mart,” Foran said earlier this month after the company announced disappointing earnings. “We are staying true to our roots. However, we are committed to improving the customer experience and we will protect the investments necessary to achieve this goal.”

Striking that right balance is proving challenging for the world’s biggest retailer, according to accounts from some employees.

A Wal-Mart employee at a location near Houston, who asked not to be identified because she didn’t have permission to talk to the media, said her store had to cut more than 200 hours a week. To make the adjustment, the employee’s store manager started asking people to go home early two weeks ago, she said. On Aug. 19, at least eight people had been sent home by late afternoon, including sales-floor associates and department managers.

Long Waits

The employee said she’s covering an area once staffed by multiple people at one of the busiest times of the year -- the back-to-school season. On a recent weekday, she had a customer who had to wait 30 minutes for an employee to unlock a product the shopper wanted to purchase, she said. In e-mails, interviews and social-media posts, employees in a range of positions across the country shared similar stories of hours being cut.

The staff at a location in Fort Worth, Texas, were told that the store needed to cut 1,500 hours, according to a worker who asked not to be named for fear of being reprimanded. After being asked to stay late to help with extra work earlier in the week, some were told to take two-hour lunch breaks to make up for the additional hours they’d clocked, the employee said.

Senior Workers

McMillon’s move to raise Wal-Mart’s minimum wage to $9 an hour in April has stirred other frustrations. Some of the chain’s more senior employees have criticized the increase, saying it mostly benefited newer workers and that more experienced staff shouldn’t be making at or near what new hires are paid.

Wal-Mart has said it anticipated some employees being disappointed about not getting raises and is trying to create more opportunities for workers to advance within the company. It also has a new scheduling system.

By cutting hours, Wal-Mart now risks losing some of its best employees to competitors that can provide more stable schedules, said Burt Flickinger, managing director at Strategic Resource Group LLC. The company also may alienate customers if the staffing levels result in poorer customer service and products not getting on store shelves, he said.

Wal-Mart has made strides during the past year in addressing customers’ complaints of barren shelves, dirty stores and long check-out lines, Flickinger said. But some locations still aren’t staffed well enough during peak times, he said.

“Wal-Mart risks a talent drain at a time when McMillon has made meaningful improvements in the company,” Flickinger said. “All these competitors will take Wal-Mart workers to make themselves strong and help make a major competitor weaker.”

ETA:  Since I wrote this piece the NRLB has led WalMart to rethink closing several stores that were attempting to unionize.

Walmart to Reopen 5 Stores Named in Union Complaint

SEPT. 2, 2015
mart said it would reopen five stores in the United States whose closure had prompted a union to file a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board claiming retaliation against workers for organizing. The stores will reopen in late October or early November, and Walmart will encourage previous employees to apply for jobs, a company spokesman, Lorenzo Lopez, said on Wednesday. Walmart had said the closures, which affected more than 2,000 workers, were for plumbing and other repairs. The complaint filed by the union, the United Food and Commercial Workers International, is still pending. It said that Walmart closed a store in Pico Rivera, Calif., because workers had been trying to organize for better pay and benefits. The other four stores were included as cover, the union said. Walmart has denied the claims.

Kicking the Can

The below op ed was interesting as it it upon the salient problems in the medical industrial complex - accountability. And the other it was touched upon the favorite of legislative tactics - the knee jerk resolution named after a victim to show the family members that they care, they really do.

There is a problem with both which neither legislators or their buddies, lawyers, wish to resolve and that is the problems that the victims of medical abuse are resolved. And as I blogged about the Veteran's Hospital they have done little to nothing to resolve the problems they face and they never will. This is America, we kick the can and we hope the can finally collapses from all the kicking its not a problem any more.

The op ed was written by "personal injury lawyers" so they have a vested interest in this legislation that they discuss. They are the most predatory and abusive of all lawyers next to criminal ones. And there was this comment that I thought was quite applicable.

Mr. Moore's web site brags that he has obtained more than $1 billion dollars in malpractice settlements. If he is taking the typical 33% contingency fee off of these settlements, he has raked in a third of a billion dollars in legal fees.
If malpractice suits were the answer to poor medical care, one would think that flogging the system with a billion dollars of settlements would have completely solved the problem.
But of course this is not about Laverne or any other patient - it is about making rich lawyers even richer. The 1%, of which Mr. Moore is surely a member, want more money. Do not allow these men to fool you - the primary purpose of malpractice suits is to make lawyers rich, it is not to improve care. If you want to improve care, you implement a system like the airlines and FAA did for plane crashes. Why don't Mr. Moore and Cohen advocate for that? I am pretty sure we all know the answer.

There were over 500 and most were in agreement that the medical profession is a hot mess and one only needs to read ProPublica and their stories of patient harm to validate that but I thought this comment was also quite relevant with regards to understanding and respecting patient complaints

The authors strike their most important note when they state that doctors are policing themselves. So true. The same goes for lawyers, too. This must be stopped. You don't need to be an expert in medicine or law to know the difference between right and wrong. Medicine is a business. Aside from negligence, millions of unnecessary treatments, procedures, surgeries and prescriptions are applied by doctors every year in America. It's completely out of control. There is no real leadership. I said this to a doctor recently and his reply was "don't come to us the next time you're sick". How childish. If doctors can't do it their way, without interference, we should all just go home and die. Evidence based medicine is a joke. Am I saying that all medicine is bad? Of course not. An emergency room is a magical place. But the wonderful parts of medicine shouldn't grant license to the bad parts. We need federal standards, federal licensing and federal oversight. And we need actual evidence-based medicine, not the status quo of "that's just how we do it".

They both speak the truth and that is something we don't need to hear. So kick that can down the road.

When Bad Doctors Happen to Good Patients

The New York Times Opinion
AUG. 31, 2015

ONLY in Albany can a bill pass the Assembly with overwhelming bipartisan support, be sponsored by a majority of the State Senate, be endorsed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, and yet never come up for a final vote. That happened to Lavern’s Law, a bill that would have helped grievously injured victims of medical malpractice have their day in court. This summer, the Senate majority leader, John J. Flanagan, a Republican, wouldn’t allow the bill to be voted on, effectively killing it.

The bill is named after Lavern Wilkinson, a Brooklyn woman whose curable form of lung cancer went untreated when doctors at Kings County Hospital failed to alert her to a suspicious mass noted on an X-ray taken three years earlier. Ms. Wilkinson died, and her daughter was barred from bringing a lawsuit against the negligent hospital because in New York a victim has only two and a half years from the time of the medical mistake in which to bring an action, not from the time the error was discovered or should have been discovered. The latter standard is the law in 44 states, and Lavern’s Law would have adopted the provision in New York.

Hospitals are dangerous places. In 1999 the Institute of Medicine at the National Academy of Sciences published a study, “To Err is Human,” which concluded that at least 44,000 patients were killed (and many more injured) in hospitals each year because of medical errors. By 2011, a study in the journal HealthAffairs estimated that the number of avoidable deaths was probably 10 times higher. Hundreds of thousands more patients are seriously injured through negligence. Doctors and hospitals are doing a poor job of policing themselves, yet they have been successful at keeping anyone else from doing it.

The opposition to Lavern’s Law came from the hospital and health care lobby, apparently concerned that the bill might result in more medical malpractice lawsuits. It very well might, but the actual number would probably be minuscule: Of the hundreds of possible cases we evaluate every year, only a handful are outside the statute of limitations. But it is still hard to tell those victims that neither we nor the judicial system can help them.

Surprisingly, despite the frequency of avoidable errors, very few wind up as medical malpractice lawsuits. A 2013 study concluded that about 1 percent of medical errors resulted in a claim. Only a tiny percentage of malpractice cases result in doctors’ hospital privileges being curtailed. Between 2011 and 2013, there were approximately 7,400 complaints against doctors filed each year with the New York State Office of Professional Medical Conduct. Most consumer complaints are not about suspected malpractice — after all, it takes a fair amount of expertise to identify medical errors caused by negligence. Rather, most allege impairment, improper prescribing, sexual misconduct and fraud. Of the complaints filed, only 287 per year, on average — less than 4 percent — resulted in serious sanctions: the loss, suspension, or restriction of the physician’s license.

And even if a victim wins a medical malpractice lawsuit, awards are generally modest. Thirty-three states restrict the amount of compensation for the pain and suffering victims have endured. According to the Department of Justice, the median award by juries is $400,000; in bench trials, where the judge also serves as the jury, the median award is $631,000. But when juries do award large pain-and-suffering amounts, it is because that is the only way our system allows people who have been grievously harmed to recoup some measure of what they have lost.

That Lavern’s Law wasn’t allowed to come up for a final vote is Albany’s shame. The greater shame is that hospitals don’t put more emphasis on patient safety. As the Lavern’s Law travesty makes clear, we need better solutions. Don’t limit what injured people may collect, and don’t make it more difficult for victims to get their cases heard. Even better for all concerned, keep the negligent act from ever happening in the first place. And there are practical ways to do that.

Doctors and hospitals must do a better job of policing themselves. Six percent of all doctors were estimated to be responsible for 58 percent of all malpractice payments between 1991 and 2005. State licensing agencies must do a much better job of keeping those worst of the worst out of hospitals. The threshold for state medical licensing agencies to initiate reviews should be reduced; in New York it takes six malpractice judgments or settlements. It should be three at most.

Also, top hospital administrators should be held accountable for negligence committed in their facilities. The 10 highest-paid administrators and doctors at each hospital should have a significant portion of their compensation tied to patient safety. If 30 percent of their compensation was tied to an annual reduction in malpractice claims against their hospital, patient safety would be a higher priority. There would be no personal liability, but it would ensure that everyone in the organization would be more focused on keeping patients safe. But as long as hospitals and doctors block legislation and fight regulation, patients will remain in peril.

Raise the Roof or the Family but not the Rent

I found the below article interesting as a comparison of what urban living in what are now the desirable dense cities touted as sustainable cost for those with families and those without.

A trend right now in the 1% class is having more than one child. Well you have to keep that breed line open and secure and so many families that used to be the one and only now have 2 to 3 children, it proves you can have it all with nannies and other full time help on board to help the of course highly educated stay at home working mom with her fantastic degree and career that she is leaning in on.

And then we have real families and of course the singltaries. These are the most desirable as they have disposable income, will live in cell pods and work 24/7 in dystopian workplaces or as I call them the Amazonians.  But they are well and alive in San Francisco, New York and Boston.  The rents are a rising but so is the pay or not but they have free bagels.

This does a better job than most explaining the cost of living in what are those places deemed "family friendly" and those not and the cost breakdown of each.  Note that the costs for family oriented towns are just that towns, not cities and there is little to no discussion on the work available for same families in which to be employed to live on.  So while it may be cheaper to live in Morristown what do you do there?

Real Time Economics
The Most Affordable Place in the U.S. to Raise a Family

New Market, Tenn., is among the communities in the Morristown metropolitan statistical area, where a family of four can meet basic needs for $49,114 a year, according to the Economic Policy Institute.
A family of four can meet its basic needs for $49,114 a year in Morristown, Tenn.—about half the income needed to raise a family in New York or Washington.

There are 140 communities and regions where a family can meet basic needs such as rent, health care and taxes for less than $60,000 a year, according to the Economic Policy Institute’s Family Budget Calculator released Wednesday.

But in Washington, New York, San Francisco and six other areas, the same essentials cost at least $90,000 a year.

The findings demonstrate the wide gap in cost of living between places like Morristown, a mostly rural region nestled in the mountains of eastern Tennessee, and the New York metro area, home to more than 20 million people.

The data also shows how families in any part of the country can struggle to make ends meet, said Elise Gould, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute, a left-leaning think tank. Even in Morristown, two adults working full-time at the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour would fail to provide for their family without assistance.

“Everyone thinks it really cheap to live in Mississippi or Louisiana, but it’s not cheap anywhere if you have a very low-wage job,” she said. In fact, no place in Mississippi costs less than $60,000 annually for a family of four. That reflects elevated taxes and transportation costs compared with neighboring states.

The EPI measure isn’t a poverty gauge, but rather estimates what it costs for households to satisfy basic needs, including shelter, food, child care, transportation, health care and taxes. The measure takes into account items such as a cell phones and home furnishings, but not vacations or saving for retirement or college.

EPI has calculated the basic cost of living in more than 600 communities and regions. A tool on the institute’s website allows users to find the measures in their towns, based on the size of their families.
For families of four, 14 of the 15 least expensive areas were in Tennessee. That reflects the state’s low tax rate and relatively affordable child-care options. Several areas in Oklahoma, South Carolina and Louisiana were among the cheapest places to live.

But also included among communities with less than $60,000 in annual living costs were industrial regions, such as Toledo, Ohio, and Cumberland, Md., and cities in the far west such as Logan, Utah, and Boise, Idaho.

In each of those communities, annual rent was less than the national median of $8,977.
Of the nine most expensive communities, five were in the state of New York, including New York City, where the rent for a family of four is estimated at $17,280 for basic accommodations and child care costs $24,130 annually for two children.

But Washington, D.C., was the most expensive city overall for a family of four, requiring $106,493 in income just to meet basic needs. The District of Columbia has the highest taxes in the country, $18,868 annually, and has by far the top child-care costs, at $31,158. Nationwide, the median cost for child care for two children is $9,993 a year.

Washington’s child-care costs may skew higher because the measure doesn’t include potentially cheaper options located in the Maryland and Virginia suburbs.

Still, living without kids makes Washington a more affordable place. A couple with no children needs $52,347 to meet basic needs, ranking the capital as just the 15th most expensive place to live. The most expensive for a couple is Stamford, Conn., requiring $62,430 a year.

The Numbers Game

Apparently the excuse or explanation for why men act as if the are barbarians is because of a numbers game.

To explain the Tinder app bullshit, Washington Post explains is as a fact of the Numbers Game.  The idea that there are fewer college educated men in the pool limiting the available men for whom women will choose to marry.  Which allows professional educated me to swim in the pond and never have to venture into the deep end.   So I can also infer that it means on college campuses there are more women than men.  Okay so what is the deal with the "epidemic" of rape on college campuses?

Would it not be unnecessary? Since men are the minority they pretty much could sit in the commons slugging a beer and be inundated with women desperate to either fuck/marry them, thereby making rape superfluous.  And in turn the women could not use Title IX to demand equality and the men would not need to drug women, get them falling down drunk or well do anything but sit back and wait for the bitches to cough up the if it fact numbers are in their "favor."

And the Ashley Madison numbers are odd that if the reported members are true that would make 1 our of every 200 people a member, the majority men.  Interesting who are they cheating with the same woman?

Here is a favor.  Men you need to sit down with the women in your life, your mothers, sisters, friends and relatives, a trusted teacher and include in that the men in your life. Your father, uncle, brother, a coach and have a type of pow wow session to understand and learn about each other and what it is you need, sexually, emotionally, intellectually and any other "ly" that one needs to have fully functioning relationships.

But then again that is all that talking and gibberish women want.  I sat with two boys the other day at my coffee shop and a third joined us.  He did not give me eye contact, he did not acknowledge my presence, he sat there ignoring me and attempting to change the topic while not actually listening but enough to know he did not want a part of it.  He then got up and walked away.  I told the two boys that he was an asshole and that if he works with them they work with an asshole and that if he is ever there when I go there again I will leave. I don't want him fired, nor have a scene with him, I will leave as that is the best I can do to remove myself from intentionally being around assholes. They knew I was right and we ended it there. No apologies no excuse making just pointing out facts.

Then I heard about Chrissie Hynde and her remarks about how women "deserve" to be raped. The internets were ablaze with rage and frustration and once again when I go on Twitter not to denigrate but to share my dismay that I like the author in the piece share about a female rock icon. (For me the other is Ann Wilson few I think will ever parallel her or her sister Nancy, they will always have my Heart)  And of course the only responses I got were from 4 disturbed individuals; One an ex prisoner libertarian in England who derided me as a "feminist" that must be the new "dyke" insult, the other calling himself Chris Hitler and we will leave the nic as self explanatory and lastly a bizarre man from Canada who had studies about women rapists and their affect on men.

So when I awoke this morning to the BBC discussion on the matter it was appropriate as it put Ms. Hynde as a type of victim who for all purposes was still the 21 year old girl trapped in a 63 year old woman's body.  That she had never found peace or help or support and that it was easier to find excuses and justifications than to find resolution.  That will never happen so when it doesn't what are your choices then?  I think the best explanation was to call one self a Survivor.

And then again I found this article below and just the title alone says it all/.  We keep saying "rape culture" but we have a massive global problem with regards to the issue of rape and even what defines it.  Then add the confusion about human trafficking that in turn becomes "sex" trafficking they are not one in the same and one may be due to in response to the other.   We are very confused about the issue of sex and of rape and of what it all means to everyone.

If we are truly the majority in the global population we are sure as hell surviving despite it all. Maybe that explains it as those in the minority don't like it much and yet without is there is no one at all.

 How can we call ourselves civilised while women are victims of barbarity?

The abhorrent sexual violence waged by groups such as Isis and Boko Haram must be countered by governments and at local levels

Women displaced as a result of Boko Haram attacks in Nigeria
Women displaced as a result of Boko Haram attacks at a camp for internally displaced people in Yola, Adamawa State. Photograph: Afolabi Sotunde/REUTERS

In Syria and Iraq, Isis terrorists have turned kidnapping and the sale of women and girls into recruitment and fundraising tools. Thousands of women have been enslaved and raped. In Somalia and Nigeria, terrorists have abducted scores of young women to force them into sham “marriages” characterised by degradation and abuse.

These practices are a stain on the conscience of the world. Sexual abuse is not a legitimate tactic of conflict or war. Women and girls are not slaves to be awarded to terrorist fighters. And mislabelling this abuse as “marriage” does not alter the reality that rape is rape and rape is wrong.

Given its pervasiveness throughout history, some question our ability to combat sexual violence. We strongly disagree. That is why last summer, in London, the British government convened a global summit to end sexual violence in conflict. More than 120 nations came together to deliver a stark message: “Survivors must be shielded, rescued and helped to reintegrate into societies. It is essential their voices are heard, that we learn the lessons and we act. Perpetrators must be identified, held accountable and stopped.” By acting together, governments and their partners can make steady progress against sexual violence in conflict.

We remain resolute in opposing and defeating terrorist groups. Hypocrisy abounds in Isis propaganda, luring young men and women with false promises, a stark reminder that the voices to counter it must be stronger. Women are an important part of the solution. Around the world, they are enlisting themselves in efforts to promote peace and tolerance that are louder and more powerful than deception and violence.

We must continue to integrate women as equal partners in international efforts to counter violent extremism, prevent conflict and build peace. Women are uniquely affected by war and their perspectives are indispensable in resolving disputes, ensuring accountability for crimes, minimising the suffering of civilians and designing long-term recovery programmes.

Today, women are represented in formal, UN-led peace negotiating processes more than ever before; women’s civil society groups are deeply involved in legal advocacy, advocating for survivors of sexual violence and caring for refugees. But we continue to fall short in enforcing a policy of zero tolerance towards sexual abuse and in addressing the shortage of women in military and security forces across the globWe continue to fall short in enforcing a policy of zero tolerance towards sexual abuse

We must end the double damage survivors of sexual violence have faced – the horror of the abuse and the shaming that too often follows. There is no complete remedy for the psychological scars sexual abuse can inflict, but policymakers can help by investing in assistance and counselling. We should rally and expand efforts that support survivors of Isis brutality, including women and girls who have returned from captivity. Perpetrators should pay a price for their crimes, not survivors.

Accordingly, we were encouraged when the spiritual leader of the Yazidis and Kurdish officials in Iraq welcomed back women and girls who had survived Isis abuse. We were pleased to hear religious leaders in Nigeria call for compassion towards pregnant former captives of Boko Haram and for acceptance of the children they will bear.

 Such compassion is not only fundamental to human decency, it can spare these new generations from the intolerance that feeds violent extremism.  Faith leaders have a unique role to play, but the need for support for the reintegration of survivors goes beyond religion. The role of local communities, supported by the leadership of governments, is paramount. Iraq has taken an important step as the first Middle Eastern country to adopt a national action plan, an important measure to address the impact of Isis on women.

More governments should follow suit.Finally, we must recognise that the persistence of sexual violence is a measure of the distance we still have to travel in respecting the rights of women. Our goal must be to build societies in which sexual violence is treated – legally and by every institution of authority – as the serious and wholly intolerable crime that it is.

We have seen global campaigns and calls to action draw attention to this issue and mobilise governments and organisations to act. But transformation requires the active participation of men and women everywhere. We must settle for nothing less than a united world saying no to sexual violence and yes to justice, fairness and peace.

Fighting Fire with Kids

I could go on with my thoughts about this article that I read in The Guardian.  One: that I had to read about it in a UK publication about my state. Two: That I had heard nothing about this from the escape, to the death to the entire programs existence.

Well we have prisoners doing all kinds of labor which has been extensively reported in the media here and it was found that much of it not beneficial to the state or the idea of rehabilitation or to the taxpayer.

And this program located in a rural area is the largest employer, it is a privately held "prison" that has apparently trained many of the current firefighters in the area but also it has come under immense criticism for its poor training and management.

These are children where three adult firefighters fully trained and experienced lost their lives but hey kids are well disposable and those in trouble are more so. And perhaps their inexperience contributed to those deaths.

My god this is abuse.

Escape casts spotlight on Washington use of juvenile inmates to fight wildfires

Inmate, 16, shoots self in head after escaping Chelan Complex fire work camp
Teen survives and state suspends decades-old firefighting program

Caty Enders in New York
The Guardian
Monday 31 August 2015

As record-setting Washington wildfires burned last week, a 16-year-old inmate who was helping to fight the Chelan Complex fire escaped from a work camp, after punching a security guard.
'It's unrelenting': inside the Washington town surrounded by raging wildfires

The next day, 22 August, police found the inmate on a nearby road and attempted to apprehend him. He pulled out a .22 caliber revolver and, after a brief interaction, fired one shot to his head.

The teen survived, but the program that deploys young inmates to help fight wildfires was placed on hold.

Washington has been employing inmates in juvenile detention to fight wildfires for decades. But the teen’s escape has shed new light on the program.

David Ball, a criminal justice lawyer and corrections expert at California’s Santa Clara University, said he was surprised to learn of fire camps for inmates under the age of 18.

“The word about scared-straight boot camps for juveniles is that they don’t do any good,” said Ball. “For most juvenile programs, there are lots of other things for these kids to do, like get their GED and go to counseling. This is really something that I have not heard of.”

The Washington state government said it was reassessing the juvenile work camps, in light of the events. Two deployed crews had been recalled to their main facilities.

But Jennifer Redman, a probation officer with Washington’s juvenile services, said she was hopeful the state will “get this program back up and running so we can deploy again”.

Naselle Youth Camp, which houses 76 boys, deploys two fire crews throughout the year. Since the 1960s, camps like this one have supplied the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) with inexpensive labor for trail work, fire prevention and fire suppression.

Redman said such crews were “not in the midst of heavy flames”. She said they began their 16-hour days at around 4am or 5am, received a lunch break, and then continued work until the early evening. Receiving orders from a DNR fire crew, they assisted with digging trenches, hauling pails of water to put out hot spots and supporting frontline firefighters.

“[They are] providing low-level fire suppression, so maybe just a smaller hose going to smaller areas,” said Redman. “Or doing clear-cutting.”

During a 14-day rotation, she said, inmates on fire prevention work received between $0.70 and $1.60 per day. Stints could be extended to 21 days, with a day off, and overtime pay or bonus fire pay was possible.

“Definitely the skills are transferrable,” said Redman. “Just waking up early in the morning and going to work, which is not a skill our kids come to us with.”

The young inmates at Naselle have committed crimes ranging from theft or drug offenses to burglary and violent crime.

The youth who escaped from the camp allegedly obtained the gun from a parks vehicle, about eight hours after he assaulted a guard and ran. According to a police report, he was in stable condition in hospital.

“The length we’ve been involved in the program speaks for itself,” said Redman, who said it was “extremely successful, both for the kids as well as the communities that they’re providing support for”.

The average age of children in Washington’s juvenile work camps is between 16 and 17, according to juvenile services.

For years, state budget cuts have threatened to shutter the low-security Naselle Youth Camp. In a town hall meeting in 2009, Naselle graduates turned up to fight for the camp, which offers an alternative to typical incarceration.

One former resident talked about working with the DNR for four years and being deployed at 12 fires. He called the work programs, which made him more than $7,000, “irreplaceable” and said they helped him become a “successful and productive young man” upon release.

California has two Division of Juvenile Justice fire camps. But in that state, juveniles must be at least 18 to work in a camp. In California, which also operates 42 adult fire camps, 18- to 23-year-olds are expected to operate closer to the fire. In the 72 years the program has existed, inmates have died working the fire line.

According to Bill Sessa, an information officer with the California department of corrections, “all of the juvenile offenders [used to fight fires] have committed serious or violent felonies”.

Sessa said spots in the program were coveted, available to both young men and women, and only granted to inmates that were exceptional.

“They have to have the aptitude to be in the camp,” said Sessa. “They have to be willing to work as a team. They have to take the responsibility to be part of a crew. And they have to be physically able to do the work.

“You can’t minimize the fact that it’s dangerous work. But by the same token, the safety record of these crews is very good.”

The point of such camps, as laid out by the state of California, is to “provide the cooperative agencies with an able-bodied, trained work force for fire suppression and other emergencies such as floods and earthquakes”.

Redman said that while such work in Washington state was good for discipline, inmates were not necessarily receiving vocational training that would set them up for a job with the DNR upon release.

“I wouldn’t say it’s very common,” she said, “because there’s competing demand for those jobs.”

In many states, including California, inmate firefighters will be disqualified from fire crews once they get out of prison, due to their felony convictions. The Washington DNR conducts what a human resources representative called “extensive” criminal background checks. Certain types of felon are automatically barred.

For adult inmates, David Ball said, the work may be dangerous but the camps are often a welcome alternative.

“Prison is terrible,” said Ball. “And this is the less terrible version of prison for most people.”

Ball said it was important for each state to assess whether such programs were rehabilitating inmates, not least when the inmates were minors.

“It might be a great idea for these kids going out on these fire crews,” said Ball. “But I’d like to know, what evidence do you have that that’s true? We don’t typically let children do this type of work.”

Assume the Position

If you recall in the never ending cycle of news and histrionics there was the matter of the Veteran's Hospitals and their failure to provide timely and appropriate care.  There were pledges, promises, Congressional investigations and appointments of new leaders so at this point we would assume that things were on the right track and the wounded warriors were getting those wounds healed.  Wrong again.

I read this today and went yes I know.  I recall last year having this discussion with a young man whose mother worked at a Veteran's Hospital in North Dakota and said that it is not happening where his mother worked.  Yes this is the standard "I did not know" now replaced with "I/Me/My fill-in-the-blank is a Doctor/Lawyer/Indian Chief and doesn't do any of that."  Yes that is great, exception meet rule.

Funny when you have millions incarcerated, hundreds of thousands dying due to medical malpractice, people living in tents/on the street, there is this one single individual who seems to be the Mother Theresa Martin Luther King person who has never heard of of or knows of such monstrosities.  I will let one decide if that is an excuse or an explanation as to why things are so fucked up in this country as relying on one single individual to do anything is a lot of pressure, so I get it, I really do.

When it comes to our Government the struggle to actually function and do so consistently is the problem.  It is no different that any private business that goes stagnant suffers from bureaucracy and ends up in the Chapt 13 waste can or is bought on the cheap or attempts to re-invent itself after numerous other failed attempts to do so.  Yet I hear repeatedly that we need more business in Government and less government in well government.  I can point to hundreds of companies and businesses that were once the Facebook of their time and some still exist, some do not and some are just shells of their former existence.   In other words business is like government  equally screwed up but they pay way better!

As I like to say "they paid that dude 50 million to drive that company under? Hey I could do for half that in half the time!"

So what is the problem with regards to the Veteran's hospitals. It is a problem with most hospitals only they pay less and add even more bureaucracy to the process.  I heard of a hospital in Amsterdam that is totally run on collective collaboration by the Nursing staff it is called the Buurtzorg Method.  It was one of the more interesting stories I heard on BBC about businesses looking to run without management and administration.  Much like the Zappos model but with actual experts that guided the transition not just a proclamation by the king pin.

So when I assume the position that government is incapable of change of growth I assume the position that they cannot as they are unable. And meanwhile we all pay the price and its not about taxes. That is the least of our problems.

Medical errors are up at VA hospitals, but they’re actually doing less to figure out why

The Washington Post
By Lisa Rein
August 31 2015

Hospitals across the country are under growing pressure to reduce preventable medical mistakes, the errors that can cause real harm and even death to patients.

But the Department of Veterans Affairs, which runs a massive system of hospitals and clinics that cared for 5.8 million veterans last year, is doing less, not more, to identify what went wrong to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

A report out late Friday from the Government Accountability Office found that the number of investigations of adverse events — the formal term for medical errors —plunged 18 percent from fiscal 2010 to fiscal 2014. The examinations shrank just as medical errors grew 7 percent over these years, a jump that roughly coincided with 14 percent growth in the number of veterans getting medical care through VA’s system.

Auditors said it was hard for them to know whether the decline in investigations (called root cause analyses) means that fewer errors are being reported, or that these mistakes, while on the rise, are not serious enough to warrant scrutiny.

But the reason for the caution is itself disconcerting: VA officials apparently have no idea why they are doing fewer investigations of medical errors. They told auditors that they haven’t looked into the decline or even whether hospitals are turning to another system.

This chart shows root cause analyses of preventable medical errors done by hospitals and clinics (Department of Veterans Affairs)

The National Center for Patient Safety, the office in the Veterans Health Administration responsible for monitoring investigations of medical errors, “has limited awareness of what hospitals are doing to address the root causes of adverse events,” the report concluded.

Patient safety officials are “not aware of the extent to which these processes are used, the types of events being reviewed, or the changes resulting from them,” GAO wrote.

It added that “the lack of complete information may result in missed opportunities to identify needed system-wide patient safety improvements.”

Auditors said the lack of analysis is “inconsistent” with federal standards on internal controls, which require agencies to look at significant changes in data.

An adverse event is an incident that causes injury to a patient as the result of an intervention that shouldn’t have been made, or one that failed to happen, rather than the patient’s underlying medical condition. These kinds of errors are considered preventable, which is why hospitals and physicians are under pressure to put new systems in place or update their standards and procedures. They often result from a combination of system and medical errors.

Some examples: Medical equipment was improperly sterilized, leading a patient or multiple patients to be exposed to infectious diseases. Surgery was done on the wrong patient, with the wrong procedure on the wrong side. A patient falls or is burned. A patient gets the wrong medication or the wrong dose.

VA officials, in response to a draft of the report, generally agreed with its conclusions and with GAO’s recommendation that they get a better handle on why fewer root-cause investigations are done. The patient safety office has started a review that’s scheduled to be done in November. Officials acknowledged that while hospitals use other systems (such as the Six Sigma management method) to review medical errors, “these processes are not a replacement” for root-cause analyses.

The report was requested by three leading Senate Democrats and two House members who are ranking members or serve on committees that oversee the VA, including presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.); Sen. Richard Blumenthal (Conn.); Rep. Corrine Brown (Fla); Sen. Patty Murray (Wash.) and Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (Tex.)

Although they collected data from the entire system of 150 VA hospitals and clinics, auditors did a deeper dive at four: the Salt Lake City Health Care System; Robley Rex Medical Center in Louisville, Ky.; Southeast Louisiana Veterans Healthcare System in New Orleans and James E. Van Zandt Medical Center in Altoona, Pa.

Patient safety officials told auditors that while they haven’t done an analysis of why there are fewer investigations of medical errors, they observed a “change in the culture of safety” at many hospitals.

This is a revealing observation:

“[Patient safety] officials stated that they have observed a change in the culture of safety in recent years in which staff feel less comfortable reporting adverse events than they did previously. Officials added that this change is reflected in [their] periodic survey on staff perceptions of safety; specifically, 2014 scores showed decreases from 2011 on questions measuring staff’s overall perception of patient safety, as well as decreases in perceptions of the extent to which staff work in an environment with a nonpunitive response to error.”

Still, the number of reports of medical errors has been increasing.

Root-cause analyses are launched depending on the severity of the error. High-risk mistakes that seem destined to recur require investigations. Lower-risk errors are up to the discretion of hospital staff.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Ages and or Wages

I read two articles today. One about the nature of work and its import in life. Called Rethinking Work it is by my favorite of the quack industry, a Psychologist, regarding how if one feels important at work the compensation matters but not as much as the meaning of work.  Right.  Apparently he did not read Harper's on the focus of the Neoliberal education for the past 30 years.   The other about the "Hookup Culture" why men are app happy in regards to dating and cheating.  To say they are both about the numbers baby would be appropriate.

So in response I did a quick inventory of my working and sexual life.  To say I am a bohemian who loathes working for others would be an appropriate argument.  I had no parents, no wealthy background, high end education or opportunity to explore avenues that might have allowed me to be an "entrepreneur" an "innovator" or a great "visionary" to lean in or out or just to have some work that gave me meaning and appropriate compensation.  And in turn being ostensibly a member of the temporary work force as I have never held a job in a single place longer than a year (other than substituting or being an office temp then it was years but note not a single place) while availing myself of much more how should I say prurient interests.  I have never lived even when married in a dwelling that long and this is the longest I have lived in a single place well since childhood.  Again, bohemian is the first thing that comes to mind yet the last thing anyone would think if one met me.  I grounded myself by being myself.  And I cannot wait to move.

So after my near death experience (and that is the truth there is no other words) the light bulb went off.  I was the master of my own domain and at some point should have, could have changed that.  I elected to marry and be the "housewife" as boring and unfulfilled that it was, it took me out of largely an unsatisfactory workplace of which I loathed.  I don't think I am that uncommon as I now realize. That was one part of the epiphany, the other was the vagina thing.  I used to think that we had overcome, we were better baby, smarter baby, and we had choices. Then I looked at all my "choices" and they were largely secondary options - the receptionist, the assistant, the salesclerk  and lastly the teacher.  All female dominant professions and all largely under compensated, largely ignored and abused by both customers, students and mangers/administrators alike.

We are told as women we marry our fathers, no I work for them.  I repeated the patterns in my home in my professional life in my personal life I chose to road less traveled for a woman.

I have laughed this week as the evidence that many of the social and other medical experiments have come to light as being less than well how shall we say "honest." I was already looking at older ones that are the dogma to educational theory and thought that these are not about kids but about life imprinting and that when you reach a certain age that is the focus of your development, both intellectually and socially.  As men and women or boys and girls mature at different ages it would make sense that the type of adult they become is in fact a fluid stage of extrinsic factors but much of it happens at that moment of "imprint."

So in that as it goes it would not surprise me that we also exit aging in the same manner of which we entered it.  So however you were at puberty you will find yourself at the same place just older and well less wiser, or not just older.    We have "menopause" for women that defines the ending of our "menstrual" cycle. Note that men are still in there at all times.  But men do they not have a hormonal cycle in which leads to change as well? Yes they do or we would not need viagra. The lady pill is not about that one however, that is for any age at any time a women must be horny.  Again men don't care about that age issue when it comes to fucking.  

But what is it about aging that causes so many people to suddenly reflect and become the person they wanted to be, need to be or just don't give a flying fuck about any of it and are who they are?  I think it centers around the biggest measure and that is work and net worth.  Family is secondary and its why you see I believe more women who ask for the divorce and become more free sexually and in turn often re-enter the workplace, pursue degrees and in turn live the life they want. For men its counting the dollars and the hard ons.  As in older years the same things that matter in puberty matter in seniority.

So when the article about numbers in the Post claimed of course its women's faults. It always is that men who are in a smaller cohort of educated professionals and that is the prime equalizer for mating I thought well really that is a woman's fault. She wants an intellectual intelligent partner with equal professional security and income.. how dare she!!!  Women should be more like men were in the 50s and find a nice Betty to secure the home, work his shift at Lowe's and be home to what cook the dinner?  Do men who are blue collar do that now?

The idea that meritocracy exists in marriage is ludicrous. Does it exist in the workplace?  So it is absurd to think that marriage across class lines works regardless of the gender of the spouse. I suspect women are more willing to put aside that issue of understanding vacationing in Gstaad and having a house manager than a man is.    I suspect when you are a man and you are in school on a grant with others around you whose families idea of roughing it is glamping on the Cod that you might have to learn to do whatever it takes to fit in.  I suspect some of that is what explains the St. Paul case. The denial by alumnus that the senior salute is a rite of passage and the one person who gets busted on it is in fact a child less of privilege and more of divorce and financial aid. He is the token black kid.  And in the Vanderbilt rape case the leader and alpha there was white and funny now he is the one declaring indigence should they go to retrial.  Ah meritocracy it works in the criminal courts apparently, in reverse.  Ray Nagin the former Mayor of NOLA is also a poor black man now.

But I digress...

So the idea that over several thousand men signed up for Ashley Madison with less an 1/3 of that number were women disputes that belief that the men are the majority and can pick and choose.  And I would very much like to see the numbers on Tinder, Ok Cupid and the lot.   It appears that men are everywhere looking for the same few hundred vaginas. Is that double dipping, gang banging or just a lot of hookers making big bucks.  To think Homeland Security raided Rentboy, they need to widen that net.

I spoke to someone who claims that one woman on Craigslist gets 200-300 responses per ad.  So once again I did two ads and I got about 30 and many of them repeats.  So maybe they are on vacation the other 150 or so. But men believe that and I said do it yourself and they went no, I don't want any dick pics.  Okay then.  And people wonder why I retired my vadge. She had a good 30 plus run. Yes I became sexually active at 18 and decided that any sex of any kind with a man was not happening this year at 55 and am fine with that.  Not having sex with any gender is fine it doesn't mean giving up sexual pleasure however.

So that was the second realization that both in work and in life I have directness and honesty that is utterly unfiltered.  I did not need a head injury to cause it it just enabled me to realize it after the fact. When you are sure that you could have died at the hands or the cause of a man then it is time to step away.  Your gender is my kryptonite.

As for work, I realized that I forgot that I am actually good at Teaching and that I actually like kids. So as I work to renew my license and move somewhere else to see if I can go back to Teaching I know that yes in fact compensation is lacking but that is not of import to me at this age.  I can make that work as I have been subbing for the last few years.  It is the kids that matter. As for the rest of it well I will figure that out. But the first rule is keeping my mouth shut. Trust no one you work with (**read the Social Q's question below that substantiates that) but get along with then via the KISS method (keep it simple and stupid), and as I say to kids you don't have to like them but you don't have to kill them.  Just keep moving.  I have been doing that for years. I might see if I can just do half of that equation and still find meaning and relevance in life regardless of ages or wages.

****Not-So-Private MessageI am an artist with a full-time job. I asked a co-worker, in a private Facebook message on our personal accounts, if she could connect me with a high-powered person who recently left the company. I thought I might get some marketing tips. I also wrote: “I want to get out of here, LOL,” meaning: I want to quit my job when my artwork takes off. Well, this co-worker showed my private message to my boss (her husband). He is furious and says I should leave if I want to. I feel betrayed.    ---ANDIE, NEW YORK
If you really don’t understand, for the vast majority of married couples, that when you tell the husband something it flows straight to the wife (and vice versa), you need more than art-marketing tips. You need help understanding how the world works. The only exception to this marital cheesecloth: close friends who swear confidentiality, and even those secrets are breached more often than not. Tell your boss you were joking. And learn your lesson: Your co-worker is a wife first, and friend second.******

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Funerals No Weddings

The infamous movie 4 Weddings and a Funeral made me realize this week I know of no weddings and haven't in quite some time.

When you age you open the Obit section of the news and go "wow I didn't know he/she was still alive and guess what not any longer" when I see people of the news who are famous or interesting individuals who brought something to the table of life. At times I just review the entire section in the New York Times to admire the interesting and often dated photos of those who have passed and been loved enough to ensure they were memorialized appropriately.

I frequently when disasters strike read each news story to learn about who died and their personal narrative so for one moment they are remembered and known by someone who just took a moment to give a damn.  Even kids say to me "how can you remember those names?"  I respond, "I need to."

The disaster that struck Katrina, 9/11, even Hurricane Sandy I spent a lot of time reading about lives that were cut off and struck in the face of disaster.  Then came Sandy Hook. I stopped. I have a strange obsession with not using children's names regardless if the nature is either negative or positive.  A good example was my posts on the St Paul's rape case. Never used the boy's name and never will. He has to live with it, the media never stopped using it, nothing will come from it but the school and the idea that they seemed to have a decades old culture that turned a blind eye to the Senior Salute, well they get full on names. I always look to the adults in these children's lives and ask how have they failed them?

I do use the names of the wrongly convicted, the exonerated and those murdered by the State be it in guilt or innocence as I cannot understand a country that trumps the idea of freedom seems to be obsessed with anything but.  We have become a retaliatory and revenge seeking nation.

Which may explain the gun violence that dominates the news.  This week two people were gunned down in a bizarre shooting of which the angry former employee validated his rantings and in turn killings as revenge for his dismissal from a job due to race and sexual identity.  We will promptly label him "mentally ill" the vague qualifier that explains these shootings and move on.

But we had the frightened teen who went to school intent to shoot to kill but was talked down.  He is not the first nor last but he too will be labeled "mentally ill" and then move on.

We are a nation obsessed with guns. The Guardian who is recording all deaths by U.S. Police are asking now questions about other deaths by civilians with guns.  They are asking the questions we should be asking but we will just find the answer is to blame something or someone else.

A gunman killed two journalists on live TV and a 14-year-old boy held 29 classmates and a teacher hostage – and those were just the incidents everyone saw. When 88 people are shot to death each day, campaigners demand to know just what it will take for meaningful gun control reform to pass

Horror, Live for all of us to see
Another Week in US Gun Violence

Sabrina Siddiqui in Washington
For the Guardian
August 29, 2015

It was every parent’s worst nightmare. A 14-year-old boy, armed with a gun, walked into a classroom at his school and threatened to shoot anyone who called for help.
Virginia shooting victim's father says he will need to buy gun to defend himself

A three-hour standoff ensued at the Philip Barbour high school in Philippi, West Virginia on Tuesday. For much of it, 29 teenagers and their teacher did not know if they would live or die.

Forty-five minutes passed before administrators at the school even became aware that a hostage situation was unfolding in a second-floor social studies class. Thus began a sequence of action that has become all too familiar for a nation besieged by gun violence and where schools are often a target: a 911 emergency call was placed and the school was quickly evacuated, as police responded and set up a barricade.

Through calm negotiations in the most tense of atmospheres, the young gunman was ultimately persuaded to release the hostages without injury – and prevented from taking his own life – by a combination of authorities, the teacher and his own pastor, who offered his assistance when informed of the boy’s identity.

But the resounding relief among parents, educators and law enforcement was tinged with the knowledge that it could have been far worse. Within seconds, Philip Barbour high school could have added its name to the list of school massacres – Columbine, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook – that hold worldwide notoriety and rank among the deadliest mass shootings in US history.

And yet it was not this incident that captured public attention this week.

The fatal shooting of two journalists on live television in Moneta, Virginia, on Wednesday cast a spotlight on the nation’s gun violence in an even more public fashion than the mass shootings in movie theaters and schools that came before it.

Alison Parker, 24, and Andy Ward, 27, were shot and killed during a morning broadcast for WDBJ7, the TV station where they worked, by a resentful former colleague who had been dismissed two years earlier for erratic behavior.

Viewers who had woken up to a light segment on local tourism in central Virginia suddenly bore witness to a gruesome double murder. The chaos was captured in all of two minutes: the firing of shots, the screams as the victims attempted to run, and then silence.

The last frame on Ward’s camera would reveal the grainy image of a gunman walking casually away. Parker and Ward were both pronounced dead at the scene. Vicki Gardner, a third victim who was being interviewed by Parker, was shot in the back but survived. The shooter, Vester Lee Flanagan, 41, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound after being chased by police.

Colleagues remembered Parker and Ward as full of promise, the kind of people who lit up the room with their energy and warmth. Both were in committed relationships – their partners not only worked at the same station, but watched from the control room on Wednesday morning as the people they were preparing to marry were killed.

Gun violence in America claims roughly 88 lives each day, according to data compiled by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The shooting in Virginia would perhaps not have shocked the conscience of America had it fallen under the day-to-day gun violence that kills more than 32,000 per year. As Gabby Giffords, the former congresswoman who was shot in the head in a 2011 mass shooting in Tucson, Arizona, put it, what was unprecedented was not the shooting itself, but that two young journalists were executed on live TV.

“Many times, shootings like these happen behind close doors, in homes and schools and movie theaters. But this time, the horror unfolded live and on air, for all to see,” Giffords said in a statement with her husband, Mark Kelly, through their anti-gun violence group Americans for Responsible Solutions.

In the same week as the incident in Moneta, Virginia, Brianna Blackston saw her boyfriend Zachary McGee take his last breath, after he was shot outside a warehouse party in downtown Modesto, California.

Police said eight people were shot, including McGee, who was pronounced dead at the hospital.

Blackston walked out of the party to an eruption of gunfire. She was shot in the knees and hid under a car.

“It felt like it was never going to stop,” Blackston told the Guardian. “It was like a video game.”

Heather Graves, a spokeswoman for the Modesto police department, said police were still looking for the suspect in Sunday morning’s shooting.

“We had two more murders that week so we were working diligently on those as well,” Graves added.

In Cleveland, Ohio, 20-year-old Brionna Boddy was killed when a gunmen opened fire on a parked party bus, authorities said. A 26-year-old man and a 21-year-old man were also shot.

Some guests inside a house party came outside to see what had happened, but went back inside when they saw nothing, telling the police: “It was just someone shooting in the air. It happens all the time.”

In west Baltimore, 93-year-old Clara Canty was sitting on the steps of her rowhouse on Wednesday when a bullet grazed the top of her head.

Canty had been caught in the crossfires of a shooting in her neighborhood that left a 23-year-old dead and a 17-year-old injured, police said.

“It’s just something that I never experienced before. I never seen a person that got killed all of a sudden,” Canty told the Baltimore Sun on Thursday.

Everytown for Gun Safety, the group backed by former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, a vocal proponent of stricter gun laws, estimates that as many as 135 school shootings have occurred since Newtown, in December 2012, resulting in at least 52 deaths and nearly 100 non-fatal gunshot injuries.

This week, in addition to the close call in West Virginia, a third grader who brought a gun to school accidentally shot a classmate, and Mississippi State University was placed on lockdown after a student threatened to kill himself and others.

In urban areas, the availability of firearms – mostly obtained illegally – has transformed gun violence into an intractable plague. In Chicago, one of the deadliest examples, there have been 1,897 shooting victims this year, according to data compiled by the Chicago Tribune. Among those victims in several shootings last Wednesday was a 14-year-old girl who was struck while standing on a corner.

The intersection of domestic violence and guns has also spurred calls for reform, with advocates highlighting statistics that reveal a greater threat posed to victims of domestic abuse when a firearm is involved. Women are five times more likely to be killed by their abuser if the abuser owns a gun, according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. The group also found that more than two-thirds of spouse and ex-spouse homicide victims over the last three decades were killed with firearms.

Americans for Responsible Solutions and Everytown have led the charge over the last two years in battling the gun lobby, led by the National Rifle Association, to provoke reforms to gun safety laws at both the federal and state level. This week, gun control advocates renewed calls on US lawmakers to at the very least hold a debate, if not a vote, on legislative solutions that might curtail gun-related deaths and injuries.

They were echoed by Barack Obama, who after the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, made gun reforms a cornerstone of his agenda only to be stymied by Republicans in Congress.

“It breaks my heart every time you read or hear about these kids of incidents,” Obama said in an interview hours after Parker and Ward were killed. “What we know is that the number of people who die from gun-related incidents around this country dwarfs any deaths that happen through terrorism.”

It has been more than two years since the US Senate failed to pass legislation designed to expand federal background checks, proposals made in the aftermath of Sandy Hook, in which 20 children and six educators were killed, as well as the gunman and his mother.

Despite garnering the support of 90% of Americans, the bipartisan background checks bill was blocked by a Republican-led filibuster and not once revisited – even as high-profile mass shootings have continued to dominate headlines.

Politicians who oppose new restrictions on guns have been quick to point out that the law could not have stopped Vester Flanagan from shooting his former colleagues, their interviewee and himself in Virginia.

Although the state does have a massive loophole in its gun laws – no background checks are required for firearms purchased at gun shows – Flanagan bought his handgun legally after passing a background check.

His mental instability became apparent after the killings, but he had no known history of psychiatric treatment. He had no record of criminal felonies and had no protective orders against him. A waiting period would also not have helped, because he bought his pistol two months before the shootings.

But gun control advocates believe the shooting in Virginia is an exception to the rule. The majority of gun-related incidents, they have argued, could be prevented by proposals currently on the table, such as universal background checks, cracking down on the trafficking of firearms, or banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

Erika Soto Lamb, a spokeswoman for Everytown, said requiring background checks on all gun sales would reduce the violence most significantly, by ensuring that criminals, domestic abusers and the mentally ill did not get their hands on firearms.

“The everyday gun violence that is killing us may not always make headlines or take over the airwaves, but we can do more to keep Americans from dying,” Lamb told the Guardian.

“Politicians often want to focus on mental health in response to tragedies like the one this week – that is certainly a piece of the puzzle – but more than 84,000 Americans have been killed with guns since Newtown, and only 5% of crime is associated with diagnosable mental illness.

“It is unacceptable that so many of our elected political leaders aren’t doing anything about the other tens of thousands of Americans who are being shot to death.”

With every incident, the gun reform movement gets the chance to gain another grieving relative with enough public capital to speak for the families of the other 616 who died that week.

This week, Alison Parker’s father, Andy Parker, announced it would be his life’s mission to push for change.

“There has to be a way to force politicians that are cowards and in the pockets of the NRA to come to grips and have sensible laws so that crazy people can’t get guns,” Parker told CNN, the morning after the shooting.

“It can’t be that hard.”

Off With Their Heads

Saudi Arabia is coming for a State visit with all the pomp and circumstance one would expect for a visiting head of State. But as we wage a debate and not yet a war over ISIS and their continuing hold on the Middle East, there is one fact that is not a debate:  Saudi Arabia has decapitated more individuals than ISIS.  Well you learn at the feet of the master.

While there is no question that it is a legal form of punishment and we are not in any place to excuse or justify or bargain with the Saudi Prince as we have an immense incarceration problem and we still practice our own executions under the guise of capital punishment.  So bring on the State dinners the obligatory deference as I would like to always say that good manners and good graces are equally a mark of civility but I wonder what is the point?  If it is to negotiate and work with our Middle East allies on a solution to the crisis in Syria, to work with our negotiations with Iran or to simply ask what are they doing to resolve their own crisis of faith with their own people taking to the streets of Europe, taking people hostage and systemic raping and enslaving young people under the guise of the  Quaran and the blessings of Allah then have at it.  But when we had guests in our home we cleaned our house and the adage goes "people in glass houses should not throw stones"

We have a lot of cleaning to do.

Saudi Arabia executed 175 people in past year, says Amnesty International

On average, one person every two days was put to death in kingdom, says new report, with figures for 2015 already ahead of those for whole of last year

Family members of Indonesian maid Siti Zainab display a poster bearing her portrai. Siti Zainab was executed in April in Medina.Family members of Indonesian maid Siti Zainab display a poster bearing her portrai. Siti Zainab was executed in April in Medina. Photograph: Juni Kriswanto/AFP/Getty Images

Staff and agencies
August 25

Saudi Arabia has executed at least 175 people over the last 12 months, on average one person every two days, according to a report released on Tuesday by Amnesty International.

The report said at least 102 people had been put to death in the first six months of 2015, compared with 90 across the whole of 2014.

The kingdom follows a strict interpretation of Islamic law and applies the death penalty to a number of crimes including murder, rape and drug smuggling. Saudi courts allow for people to be executed for adultery, apostasy and witchcraft.

People can also be executed for crimes committed when they were below 18 years of age.

“Saudi Arabia’s faulty justice system facilitates judicial executions on a mass scale,” Said Boumedouha, acting director of Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa program, said in a statement.

The kingdom is in the top five countries in the world for putting people to death. It ranked third in 2014, after China and Iran, and ahead of Iraq and the United States, according to Amnesty International figures.

In one case highlighted in the report, two sets of brothers from the same extended family were executed in August 2014 in the southern city of Najran after being convicted of receiving large quantities of hashish. Amnesty said the men claimed they were tortured during interrogation and sentenced to death largely based on confessions made after being beaten and deprived of sleep.

Indonesia announced in May that it would stop sending new domestic workers to 21 Middle Eastern countries after Saudi Arabia executed two Indonesian women. Siti Zainab and Karni binti Medi Tarsim were found guilty of murder and executed in April.
Amnesty said it had contacted the Saudi interior and justice ministries, but received no reply.

Most executions are carried out by beheading, though some are also done by firing squad. In rare cases, executed bodies have been displayed in public to deter others from committing crime.

In May this year, Saudi Arabia advertised for eight new executioners to cope with an increasing number of death sentences. The role, posted on the civil service jobs portal, was described as “executing a judgment of death” as well as performing amputations on those convicted of lesser offenses.

Amnesty said almost half of those executed during the last 30 years were foreign nationals, many of whom lack the Arabic skills to understand court proceedings and charges. Almost a third of those executed were for drug-related offenses.The rights group said Saudi authorities have denied its researchers access to the country. Amnesty said it researched cases for this report by contacting people before their execution and reaching out to relatives and lawyers, in addition to analysing available court documents.