On an icy/snowy Saturday, some additional, and positive, Virginia-oriented info on the excellent 2015 Affordable Care Act (ACA) enrollment numbers through February 15, taken from a recent post on Charles Gaba's ACASignups blog. Full disclosure: I volunteer for ACASignups, and for that matter, I buy my health insurance on healthcare.gov. Plus, as a bit of final info comes in from a couple of remaining states, the following "rankings" could slightly change.
The bottom line: both compared to other states, and compared to our own numbers last year, Virginia's doing great on ACA enrollment on healthcare.gov. I have no idea why. Is it that enrollment outreach grant that Gov. McAuliffe got from HHS? More generally, is it because we have a pro-ACA governor who loves to beat numerical benchmarks, as opposed to last year, when we were busy changing governors in the middle of the October-March enrollment period?
Note, btw, that none of this affects the shame of the lack of Medicaid expansion. This is about the other part of the ACA, the on-exchange signups for health insurance. You know, the part that the Supreme Court case with all-Virginia plaintiffs, King vs. Burwell, may destroy.
How well did Virginia do in the 2015 enrollment period vs. how it did in the 2014 enrollment period?
Virginia comes in fifth in the nation in year-over-year improvement. Last year's Virginia enrollment on the exchange was 216,356; this year's 384,612 is 177.77 percent of the prior number.
How well did we do vs. the HHS projection? And against ACASignups's own projections for Virginia?
Here, Virginia's performance is sixth compared to other states. We came in at 139.86 percent of our HHS projection of 275,000.
~ Breach affects 80 million Anthem subscribers nationally ~
RICHMOND (February 5, 2015) - Attorney General Mark R. Herring today warned Virginians to be extremely vigilant with their financial accounts, credit reports, and other personal information in light of a massive data breach reported by Anthem, Inc., the second-largest health insurance provider in the nation and the largest insurer in the Commonwealth of Virginia. According to Anthem, hackers breached the company's computer systems and gained access to the names, birthdays, medical ID's, Social Security numbers, email addresses, and employment information of 80 million customers across the nation. It is not yet known how many Virginians may be affected, but Anthem has previously stated they have more than 3 million members in the Commonwealth.
"This is one of the largest data breaches we've ever seen and given the sensitivity of the financial and personal information contained in medical records, it's extremely important that Virginians closely monitor their financial information in the days and weeks ahead," said Attorney General Herring. "These kinds of breaches can lead to an increased risk of identity theft, and criminals may utilize the stolen information to send scam and phishing emails posing as legitimate companies in an attempt to commit fraud or identity theft. If you notice irregular or suspicious financial activity, contact your bank or the business immediately. Never open emails or click links you don't trust, and take proactive steps to keep your information secure online."
The Attorney General's Office received 305 database breach notifications in 2014 and works to ensure that companies experiencing database breaches comply with Virginia law by notifying affected Virginians. Because data breaches lead to an increased risk of identity theft and fraud, all Virginians should regularly monitor their financial accounts and credit reports. Free credit reports may be obtained at www.annualcreditreport.com.
In addition to the above advice, citizens should heed the following:
Use strong passwords for your email, computer, and financial accounts, including variations of capital and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols of at least 8 characters
Install anti-virus programs on your computer and scan files and emails regularly
Never download software programs from unknown publishers
Check for regular updates to your operating system
Install and activate a software and hardware firewall on your computer
Back-up all of your data regularly using a USB drive
The Attorney General's Computer Crimes section and Victim Notification program are dedicated to empowering Virginians to protect themselves from identity crime and financial crimes, and works with Virginians who find themselves victims to this increasingly common crime. The office publishes the informational resource, "How to Avoid Identity Theft - A Guide for Victims of Identity Theft."
Additionally, the office offers an Identity Theft Passport, a wallet-sized card that you can carry and present to law enforcement or other individuals who may challenge you about your identity if you have been a victim of an identity crime. The Identity Theft Passport is available to any Virginian who has filed a police report claiming they are a victim of an identity crime or who has obtained a court order expunging their record as a result of an identity crime. The Attorney General's Office conducts investigations to confirm the legitimacy of all passport applications. You may download the Identity Theft Passport from the Attorney General's website at http://www.ag.virginia.gov/files/IDTPASSPORTI.pdf or contact the Victim Notification program at 804-786-2071.
For additional information and resources regarding computer crimes and other consumer issues, please visit Attorney General Herring's website athttp://www.ag.virginia.gov/.
(Yeah, but, but, but...FREEDOM! And stuff. (deep sarcasm) - promoted by lowkell)
Lately I've seen a bunch of blog posts about the true cost of various things, such as the true cost of carbon, the true cost of commuting, the true cost of student loans, or the true cost of free parking in the city. Usually, the gist of such articles is that if you understand the true cost of something, you might decide you don't want to pay that cost, or that the people who engage in or profit from that activity should bear the costs. It is not infrequent that an entire industry will fight against exposure of the true cost of their product, precisely because they don't want to be forced to shoulder the cost of their product. Asbestos and cigarettes are good examples of those.
So lately, following the shooting murder of a prominent cardiac-thoracic surgeon, Dr. Michael Davidson, M.D., at Brigham and Womens Hospital in Boston, I've been wondering, what is the true cost of gun ownership?
Dr. Davidson, age 44, was gunned down in one of his own hospital's examining rooms. The shooter was a 54 year old accountant, who apparently was angry because Dr. Davidson operated on his mother, and his mother had complications after the surgery, supposedly due to some of the medications she was taking, and died. That happens sometimes after surgery; there is always the risk of a bad outcome, no matter what the doctors and nurses do.
There has been a fair amount of discussion of gun safety following the incident in Idaho in which a 2 year old accidently shot his mother with her own 9 mm pistol in a Walmart.
One statement in the Jonathan Turley post caught my attention:
It is not clear if the safety was on the weapon, though as an experienced gun owner I assume that Rutledge had the safety on. However, it is not difficult for a child to switch of a safety.
About a year ago, I was surprised to learn that there are 9 mm semiautomatic pistols on the market which do not have a safety, unless I missed it in the manufacturer's manual and schematic diagrams. Specifically, I am talking about the Smith & Wesson SD9 VE.
Before that, I never heard of a handgun that didn't have a safety. What is the thinking that lead to this "feature?" Is the pistol safer to use without a safety?
From what I've been reading on the internet, the logic frequently used by "concealed carry" advocates goes something like this:
Yesterday, I posted what now seems like a rather ironic tweet: "If you're tired of seeing SexualAssault cases in the news, GOOD! News of this epidemic is finally reaching people! UniteAgainstRape" I tweeted it proudly, thinking maybe I in some small way helped to raise public awareness of the epidemic of sexual assault in our society through UniteWomen.org's Unite Against Rape program, which I co-founded. The fact that reports of sexual assault are rising is welcome news to those of us who work to fight sexual assault. Instances of rape aren't increasing, but rates of reporting it are, which means we are making progress.
Then, I signed onto my computer today to find a retraction of the Rolling Stone story about an alleged gang rape at the University of Virginia due to what Rolling Stone editors now believe are discrepancies in the victim's story. My first thought was, "Oh, sh!t!"
Just when we have finally reach a spot where sexual assault is out from behind a veil of shame and secrecy - and it seems we are finally shedding a light on a problem that plagues our society - one of the most high-profile victims of collegiate rape in recent history has (rightly or wrongly) now been publicly deemed untrustworthy. Whether trust was or was not "misplaced" in her by Rolling Stone is beside the point; either way, the legacy that will linger from this story is that women lie about rape.
The perception that "crying rape" is a common occurrence largely thwarts our efforts to stave sexual assault. In most cases, the assumption is that the victim is lying or seeking attention, as was suggested by George Will who asserted that being a rape victim is a "coveted status" on college campuses (to which I had a very strong retort).
Last Friday I traced the route Hannah Graham took to the place she was discovered, curious to know, among other things, how long the drive had taken. I also wondered if a former residence of Matthew's along the route that hadn't been mentioned in the news had been searched.
My interest in any of this is part of a broader curiosity about the relationship between power and behavior that began with an attempt to better understand how sexual harassment, abuse, assault, and rape should be approached by the military leadership. I am certain that the initiatives taken to curb these issues in the military are aimed at the wrong targets and will falter. But I digress. October has been National Bullying Prevention Month. There was an eye-opening, at least for me, and gut wrenching series of presentations at the Charlottesville Shelter for Help in Emergency. And though Hannah Graham was not a known acquaintance of her alleged assailant, the motivations and social skills of this sort of assailant are strikingly similar. It is really their signatures that distinguish them. They are rarely insane, by the way.
Though I am not a psychiatrist or sociologist, I am going to dare to discuss the social pathology involved in behaviors that probably should not always be stove piped into various categories like bullying, domestic abuse, intimate partner abuse, elder abuse, child abuse, hazing, rape, murder, etc. You may recall that when Hannah Graham went missing, I suggested that she would not have been her assailant's only victim. What I have come to recognize through a lot of study recommended by old friends who are experts is that these are varying manifestations of power and most of those who wield power in those ways do not perceptibly look or act differently from you or I unless they are among peers or bystanders under their influence. Their "success" is shaped by knowing what others perceive as right or wrong and only acting wrong in the presence of their victims or reliable bystanders. Often they count on their victims' and any witnesses' shame to provide leverage that avoids consequences for their actions.
So, before I go below the fold, I want to repeat what I know is easier for me to say than for others to do: if you are or know a victim of any of these trespasses, report, report, report...do not stand by, get help; help others.
Probably not. Yesterday a 17 year old girl, Malala Yousafzai, shared the Nobel Peace Prize; the winners cited "for their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education." How many girls in America struggle? Far too many.
"Empowerment of and investment in girls are key in breaking the cycle of discrimination and violence and in promoting and protecting the full and effective enjoyment of their human rights" - United Nations Resolution 66/170
A simple truth is that gender inequality begins at conception. Is it simply culture? No, I don't believe so...it is rooted in physiological differences and procreation roles; these are natural facts that have influenced the paths of social Darwinism. Where there has been philosophical advancement, social enlightenment has neglected the value and role of women for the sole purpose of maintaining a dominance that serves the interests of the "haves." Somehow, somewhere, long, long ago, women became chattel. And the luster of that property is diminished by the exercise of "ownership rights" by men.
Women are diminished by patriarchal attempts to protect that ownership. These are clearly manifest in laws restricting women's sovereignty over their own bodies. This would be comical if it were not so tragic. While those who would protect the status quo focus on the emotional issue of abortion, they refuse to effectively ameliorate the more pervasive crimes and trespasses against girls and women, most of which create the circumstances that force the tragic choice they would not allow.
That the abuses of girls and women in other cultures and countries are often far worse than the general condition in America does not excuse their social position and condition here.
Possibly only because Hannah Graham disappeared did we learn she was a victim of foul play. Statistically, 1,137 other American undergraduates were raped that day. Why aren't they in the headlines? Bet you if four UVA football players had gone missing in five years, those cases would have been solved.
There is every disincentive for victims of rape to report their assaults. When they do, they invariably become victimized again. The deck is stacked in favor of assailants. You'd think that in the enlightened environs of college campuses this would not be so. When will the discussion about violence against women change from women avoiding potential danger to men behaving with respect?
There is nothing positive about this to learn from the leadership on Virginia's campuses. And there seems no accountability for leadership failures. The President of James Madison University (JMU), at a minimum, provided cover for the malfeasance in his administration's handling the Sarah Butters sexual assault, deflecting blame onto the victim. Governor McAuliffe plastered over the scandal of Title IX investigations across Virginia by appointing a task force to conduct a "top-to-bottom" review of procedures for investigating sexual assaults and resolving complaints at public colleges and universities. You can conduct the tightest investigations in the universe and it won't prevent the next broken life. Nice try Governor, but this won't change the climate on campuses. You want Presidents of Virginia's universities and colleges to be invested? Fire one; start with JMU President Alger who allowed Sarah Butters' dignity to be trampled upon.
The overuse of football as a metaphor for life can be irritating but sadly in the area of leadership, some college coaches are way ahead of their "bosses." Last July after Coach Charlie Strong started kicking players off of his team for their behavior toward women, ESPN commentator Rod Gilmore was asked about football players' violence against women. Gilmore, a former Stanford football player, accomplished attorney, and ESPN analyst praised Strong for doing the right thing.
"He's one of the few people who takes a strong stand against violence against women. I mean he comes out on day one and says that if you don't treat women with respect, you cannot play for him. And he's new at Texas and he backed that up today. But seriously, across the landscape of college football, we don't take it seriously enough." - Rod Gilmore on ESPN
There's always a story behind the story and sometimes one belies the other. Remote Area Medical (RAM) is a godsend; make no mistake about it. But like any private sector organization, the transparency or accountability we demand from government is not always evident. Today's "conservatives" would never acknowledge that.
Watching and taking part in the transformation of a rural air terminal into expeditionary specialty clinics, dental and vision, is not an immersion in military precision. It almost can't be when much of the labor is borrowed. The effort resulting when organization is flattened results in stove-piping. The raw volunteers care about pitching in and recognize the limits of their ability to contribute to technical assembly of the equipment. There are enough seasoned volunteers that as long as the boxes and bags are lined up at their assigned places, they can readily and efficiently assemble and order materials; in their areas. The lack of organization and efficiency among the unguided volunteers is more than compensated for by their numbers and camaraderie. From pitching tents (probably the most organized effort), to setting up tables and chairs, to moving crates and boxes, the unbridled activity ends in mission accomplishment.
This is at the tactical delivery end. Strategically there is always another view that is masked by the appearance if not the reality of good intentions. My father had no time for the American Red Cross. After raging battles on isolated Pacific islands during World War II, the Red Cross sold donuts to the Marines and sailors ashore; the Salvation Army was there handing out goods gratis. Guess which organization he favored. My wife cannot turn down a request for a donation from Saint Jude's in Memphis despite having no clue who Danny Thomas was; it's those children. On the other hand, when I see anyone collecting donations to benefit our military service members or veterans, I challenge their credentials on the spot. I wasn't as discerning with RAM until I saw the DC-47 (a WWII DC-3 configuration) touch down in Lee County. After all, RAM had been endorsed via association by both of Virginia's United States Senators, our current Governor, and General Assembly members from both sides of the aisle.
Spending just moments with Dr. Joseph Smiddy is a cascade of chilling water for those claiming faith in the American health care system. What a lot of people proclaim as the best medical system in the world isn't delivering for many with the greatest need right here in Virginia.
"It's not just that they can't afford any sort of insurance that might be available to them under the Affordable Care Act. It's that this is a horribly underserved region in terms of medical resources." - Henry Schuster, 60 Minutes producer (at 3:17)
Organizers of an expeditionary Remote Area Medical (RAM) clinic just outside of Jonesville, Virginia expect something on the order of 600 patients today and tomorrow. This is the first of this kind of event in Lee County, set up in and around the airport that sits further west than Columbus, Ohio and Detroit, Michigan, far removed from Richmond. Sadly, this constitutes primary care for many residents. When I arrived yesterday as a volunteer, 22 hours before the first patient would be seen, there were already three carloads of people lined up to ensure they could get one of the specialty services. They know the routine.
Somehow Delegate Terry Kilgore (R-Gate City) avoids discerning scrutiny from his constituency. Even with all that tobacco money he is bringing home, many of those living in Virginia's poorest county rely upon the generosity of others for any health care at all. The county's only hospital closed about a year ago.
On September 30, 2013, the Lee Regional Medical Center closed its doors after serving the community for 70 years. With the loss of jobs and decreased access to medical care, the residents of Lee County have been deeply impacted by the hospital's closure. - Lee County Hospital Authority
Joe Biden sums up my feelings on this. The only thing I'd add is more about the NFL, which is filled with violence, glorification of violence, powerful people who coddle and protect violent players, and a lot of other problems. Of course, violence in general - and violence against women specifically - is a much broader problem in our society, and frighteningly, most of it is NEVER exposed, as with Ray Rice. With that, here's VP Biden, who demonstrates why in spite of his occasional faux pas, 99% of the time he gets it exactly right - including in this case.
It's never, never, never the woman's fault. No man has a right to raise a hand to a woman. No means no. [...] The one regret I have is we call it domestic violence as if it's a domesticated cat. It is the most vicious form of violence there is, because not only the physical scars are left, the psychological scars that are left. This whole culture for so long has put the onus on the woman. What were you wearing? What did you say? What did you do to provoke? That is never the appropriate question.
The next challenge is making sure, ironically, we get college presidents and colleges to understand that they have a responsibility for the safety of women on their campus. They have a responsibility to do what we know from great experience works. Bringing the experts. Provide people, give the young woman the support that she needs. Psychological support. the medical support, and if need be, the legal support. Societal changes taking place. It takes time. But I really believe it's taking root, and we have an obligation to just keep pushing it.
I encourage everyone to click on their link and leave the exact OPPOSITE comment that these nutjobs want you to leave. Namely: urge the Virginia Department of Health to ditch the outrageous, selective persecution of women's family planning/health clinics in our state. It's totally unjustified, inexcusable, you name it. By the way, from everything I've heard, the comments were indeed real, despite Victoria Cobb's insane conspiracy theories. Also, what's the deal with this "billion-dollar abortion industr," "pro-abortion groups," "blood-splatter" and obligatory Gosnell reference verbiage? Personally, I don't know a single person who's "pro-abortion;" to my knowledge, there's no "abortion industry" at all, let alone a "billion-dollar" one; how does the subject line ("blood-splatter") relate in any way to the text; etc. I guess this crazy talk works with the fanatics, but still...do these people have no decency? OK, yeah, that was a rhetorical question.
---------- Forwarded message ---------- From: Victoria Cobb - President<firstname.lastname@example.org> Date: Wed, Jul 30, 2014 at 7:08 PM Subject: Blood-splatter To: xxxxx
I learned that pro-abortion groups delivered 4,844 comments to the Department of Health yesterday!
No one knows if the comments are real, from Virginians, or just a clever publicity stunt by the billion-dollar abortion industry, but that doesn't matter.
You and I know that perception is reality -- and on perception they are winning.
They will do ANYTHING to stop a law that would force abortion centers to comply with health standards that protect women.
Public comments part of review of burdensome and medically unnecessary health center restrictions
Richmond, VA – Women’s health advocates delivered 4844 public comments opposing the burdensome and medically unnecessary women’s health center restrictions to the Health Commissioner on Tuesday. As part of a review of the Targeted Restrictions of Abortion Providers (TRAP), the Health Commissioner and Board of Health are collecting public comments through July 31st. Included in the comments were letters from medical professionals that see the regulations as medically unnecessary and a barrier to women receiving comprehensive care.
“As a physician, I am committed to patient health and safety. Throughout my career, I have treated thousands of women and believe all patients deserve safe, high quality care,” said Dr. Wendy Klein, a Richmond internist, professor emeritus and national expert in Women’s Health. “Three years ago, Virginia appointed medical experts to recommend regulations based on sound and safe medical practice. However, the Board of Health ignored those recommendations and instead approved arbitrary restrictions designed to shut down women’s health centers that perform abortions. No other outpatient facility has been targeted in this manner. Physicians and the majority of Virginians agree: regulations must be based on the best medical standards and practices, not political maneuvering. We ask Dr. Levine to rescind and rewrite the TRAP restrictions, and to allow health decisions to be made in private by patients with their doctors. Politicians should not be making medical decisions.”
Advocates are asking for the restrictions to be rescinded and rewritten in a process that relies on medical evidence and best practices, not politics and ideology. The current restrictions are designed to shut down women’s health centers, which provide comprehensive reproductive health care, like cancer screenings and birth control, as well as safe, legal first-trimester abortion, to women across the Commonwealth.
It is been called a field hospital, but really isn't. There is some minor surgery, mostly dental, but most care falls into more clinical than surgical. An impressive endeavor in any case and outclasses any medical or dental activity the U.S. military routinely provides overseas. That was striking.
Odd what catches one's attention. The nice tents and orderly processes were expected. What caught my eye was the condition of the Wise County Fairgrounds as the Remote Area Medical (RAM) effort came to an end. The clients left the grounds far tidier than I would have ever expected. In fact, quite clean. A sign of respect? Or just the nature of people in this part of Virginia. Everywhere you go people are friendlier and more open to strangers than in more urban areas.
At the close of this RAM I was told that the last count at mid-morning had been 2,700 and that the total was likely near last year's 3,000 treated. The numbers are misleading. At every RAM, people are turned away and there is no accurate count of those. If the capacity supported more, the numbers would have some meaning. What is clear is that demand is growing either from awareness or economic conditions.
What I didn't know is that Wise is just one of three clinics that RAM has organized in far Southwest Virginia this year. Next: Jonesville, Virginia; 13 - 14 September. Then: Grundy, Virginia; 4 - 5 October. What I didn't expect was the efficiency of the breakdown of the camp. I now want to take part in and watch the arrival and assembly. For those who want to volunteer, information is available at the RAM website. Note that you should register early as registration can close; it closed a month before the clinic in Wise.
Another thing I didn't realize: the State Fairgrounds at the center of Oklahoma City, The Seattle Center in, of course, Seattle, and the Manhattan Convention Center in New York City now qualify as "remote." New York City! Clinics will be held at those locations in August, October, and November respectively. What does this say about health care in the United States? I am not really sure other than something is amiss.
Immigration status neither confers nor denies basic human rights. How anyone arrives in America does not affect their status as humans. We do not have a spotless record and to pretend we do is shameful. Fortunately not ubiquitous, our inexcusable cases of exploitation are a close kept family secret.
Happy Independence Day. This week none other than Rush Limbaugh began framing the right wing excuses for the behavior of Americans in Lawrenceville and, now, Murrieta, north of San Diego. The purpose of Ellis Island, he bloviated, was to halt the spread of disease; poking at a spot that sparks fervor aimed at the children who've crossed our border. He sarcastically mocked the words on the Statue of Liberty. And, he seemed to argue that we are not a nation of immigrants. Tell that to the 11% of Virginians who are.
Recently, while waiting for a connection after a cancelled flight in Budapest, I struck up a conversation with a woman who I'd heard speaking English. Turned out that she is in the process of establishing residency in Germany. A naturalized American citizen, her family immigrated to the United States from Estonia after World War II. It had been a struggle to gain that status and it only occurred by happenstance. Sitting in a park in devastated Tallinn, her father struck up a conversation about his dream with a nun who coincidentally was with a Catholic organization working with sponsors for immigrants to the United States.
The family was eventually granted entry status and guided to settle in a small northwest Pennsylvania town where there was a job for her father. It was a company town, essentially owned by his employer. To "help" them settle, they were given credit at the company stores, payment for which was automatically deducted from his wages. It did not take her mother long to come to the realization that they were gradually falling further and further into debt with small hope of escaping a spiral into tacit servitude.
What a difference a year makes. This time last year there was a sense that comprehensive immigration reform at the federal level may happen in some form. It would be sweeping and, like any compromise, not exactly what everyone wanted. Now we have something worse: only the noise of recrimination.
The Virginia Coalition for Immigrant Rights (VACIR) met last year to map out the values and principles held by Virginians and provide a voice to Congress. But now what since reform appears dead in the water? Well, during the Obama administration, more than 2 million mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, and children have been deported; more deportations than in any previous administration. That number is hard to wrap your head around and does not convey the individual personal tragedies involved. For example, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) reports 72,410 of those deported said that they had one or more U.S. born children. Tens of thousands of U.S. citizens, then, have had their parents deported. So the VACIR has changed its tact and directed its energy toward pressuring the Obama administration to act since the House of Representatives has failed in its responsibilities. They are also looking at ways state legislators can address the issues.
11% of Virginians were born outside the United States. They, like all Virginians, need the tools and opportunities necessary to build strong families, healthy communities, and a culturally and economically thriving Virginia. For now VACIR is focused on four key areas:
Comprehensive Immigration Reform at the Federal level
Where do we even begin with Federal reform? The well is poisoned. I will disclose that my bias on this matter begins and ends with the Republican Party, Ronald Reagan, Simpson-Mazzoli, and close personal experiences with immigration and naturalization. Some 3 million immigrants were granted amnesty in 1986. That is the precedent that those who are angry should focus on when crying about today's "failed policies." And the fact is that the reason for the current flood is not anything President Obama has done but a more pedestrian cause: it's the economy stupid; the economy in Honduras, El Salvador and the rest of Central and South America. Places where we meddled, then abandoned; the spawn of Ronald Reagan's foreign policy abetted by Ollie North and "company."
Tonight was WHSV's third installment in a series indicting the James Madison University Administration for failing to take sexual assault seriously. Apparently the McAuliffe Administration fails to recognize the malfeasance that is evident or suffers the same hope that this will simply be forgotten. Suspend and investigate the administrators now!
There is actually much more to be concerned about. Apparently Alger and his crew are completely unfamiliar with the characteristics and behaviors of sexual predators. Generally predators are serial violators. And when allowed to escape appropriate punishment are emboldened to continue, armed with more knowledge of the processes that might result in their apprehension. Predators are stalkers and sociopaths. If the JMU administrators believe that this was just a misunderstanding among friends who had too much to drink, then they are unqualified to protect the students in their charge. In fact, the behavior of those three men typifies that of a stalker who lays in wait for such an opportunity to present itself. It is very unlikely that this was their first or last such behavior. Every indication is that these men should be registered sex-offenders for the good of any community in which they reside. But JMU decided it is fine that they remain on campus despite the threat they present.
...with this verdict, myself, along with all the other females in the student body are torn down enormously. As a senior about to graduate in a few short weeks, I feel as though my last year has been tainted. I do not want to share a diploma with these three boys. I do not want to tell people I graduated from a school that thinks sexual assault and sexual harassment are acceptable. - excerpt from a letter to President Alger from a party to the school's investigation
Below the fold is the full letter to JMU President Alger from a friend of the victim that expresses frustration that the sexual assault of a student was taken so casually and dealt with so lightly. Like JMU advertises, "It's all about relationships."
In the first of a three part series that began airing last night and continues tonight and tomorrow, a former JMU student tells her story of assault at the hands of three other JMU students while on Spring break in Florida. These were men that she considered her friends and whose video of the assault filtered through the internet before she was fully aware of what happened.
"I'm clearly like not really able to defend myself or fight them off," said Butters, "We were in an enclosed bathroom. It was three of them surrounding me and none of them thought they were doing anything wrong."
But the Administration was slow to act. The event occurred in March 2013 and was reported but the case did not seem to gain any attention until last fall. By the time the three members of the JMU Sigma Chi fraternity were admonished, they had earned their degrees and were allowed to graduate.
Their punishment: expelled upon graduation; not allowed to walk at graduation or allowed back on campus ... but graduated nonetheless.
This ball is not in Senator Warner's court now. This hot potato is Governor McAuliffe's. It is time for him to expel some of the administrators at JMU.
Ryan Blosser was raised in Waynesboro and a stand-out basketball player at Fishburne Military School who earned an athletic scholarship to play for a Division I college. That foray lasted a year, after which he began a circuitous journey to a farm in Churchville and Project GROWS in Verona.
People often ask me "What happened to you?" I don't look like the short-haired Fishburne basketball player that I was. - Ryan Blosser
Growing up, Blosser says, local food was Domino's pizza and a gallon of orange juice. He spent all his time at the YMCA indoors. He didn't know he was missing anything. When he went off to college he just did not like the experience. He quit. But basketball had been his entire identity. He met his future wife, Joy, and decided to move to Hawaii. It was on Oahu that his obsession with local food started.
Blosser sees his life as three woven tracks. First there is his need to engage his body somehow physically; an intellectual need, which being a college basketball player did not fulfill; and finally an emotional need. In Hawaii, the guy who had never been outside started to surf. Then he happened on a local farmer's market and he bought and fell in love with a basil plant. Finally while taking a college course on poetry he discovered the haptic poets. The basil plant became his fetishized object.
This is going to really sound really, really "woo woo," but I started to actually connect to the rhythm of the planet, not in that hippie kind of way, but in a real way where you are outside in the water and you actually feel it.
These experiences motivated him. He could grow his plant and eat it too. He could smell it, put it in his food and eat it, all without going to the store to buy it. To that point he had been living off of rice and beer; that was what the money they had bought. Then about 12 years ago, in a corner of his yard, he started an herb garden.
Shannon Fisher - Richmond-based host of the national radio talk show, The Authentic Woman - Perspectives on the Female Experience in America, and co-founder and past Director of Unite Against Rape for UniteWomen.org - wrote a pointed letter to George Will in response to his June 6 opinion piece in the Washington Post, Colleges Become the Victims of Progressivism, in which he states that being a victim of sexual assault is "a coveted status that confers privileges."
Her letter reads as follows:
"First, I would like to annotate that rape is not a political issue. To hurl the label of 'progressivism' at policies that clear the way for a victim of rape to report a crime, and to avoid having this report whitewashed by administrators whose primary concern is protecting an institution's reputation, significantly diminishes the significance of the crime. Supposing that only a progressive would support the punishment of perpetrators of this heinous crime suggests that a conservative would revel in having these crimes masked - and that is simply not the case. Most humans with a developed sense of empathy would like to see those who violated their loved ones - mothers, daughters, grandmothers, sisters, sons, brothers, fathers - brought to justice.
"Rape knows no gender. Rape knows no socio-economic status. Rape knows no political party, nor any religion or ideology. Rape is indeed ubiquitous, possibly the most ubiquitous human rights violation worldwide today. It would stand to reason that, regardless of one's political leaning, every ethical person would applaud ubiquitous reporting of such violations. It appears your disdain for the rise in reports of sexual violence on college campuses is based on a contempt for progressive policies. While I respect disdain for any political ideology and relish diversity of opinion, I take great issue with your implied correlation between political ideology and response to sexual assault...."
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