In black and white

(MENAFN – Gulf Times) In 2018, Jordan Peele became the first black writer to win an original screenplay Oscar. The honour came for his debut feature Get Out, a horror film exploring the latent menace lurking behind a seemingly well-meaning white liberal family.
‘I stopped writing this movie about 20 times because I thought it was impossible, he said in his acceptance speech. ‘I thought it wasn’t going to work. I thought no-one would ever make this movie. But I kept coming back to it because I knew if someone let me make this movie, that people would hear it and people would see it.
A day after Peele’s win, Shudder, AMC Networks’ horror and thriller streaming service, green-lit the documentary Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror, which explores the origins, evolution and impact of black films and filmmakers in the genre with Get Out serving as its centrepiece.
The documentary, directed by up-and-coming filmmaker Xavier Burgin, explores the history of black horror actors and creators by tracing their presence in horror movies from the silent film era through Get Out. Among the voices in the film are Candyman star Tony Todd, author and academic Tananarive Due and The Craft actress Rachel True.
‘Horror as a genre is definitely a way that our American culture has projected its societal fears, said Due. ‘We have so many daily anxieties, whether it’s at the workplace, with our kids, with the police, and that anxiety has a cost that I believe horror helps us interpret.
‘With social media, you see everything in real time, said Burgin, alluding to the prevalence of police brutality videos shared online. ‘It’s a constant thing that we see on a regular basis. And a lot of the time it feels like horror in a way.
‘To me, it made sense that black horror took off [after Get Out] because we were being told ‘We have Obama, nothing’s wrong anymore,’ added True. ‘So for it to naturally extend itself in this direction makes sense now. I think with horror there is a way to survive the big bad thing that is intangible in real life. We can defeat it on camera.
A few weeks after the documentary’s streaming release, Burgin, Due, Todd and True huddled in a conference room at Shudder’s Santa Monica offices to discuss the current landscape of horror — and black filmmaking of any genre — since Peele’s Oscar win.
‘Unfortunately in the time to come, there will be more cynical attempts to create a story that seems black because it has black faces in it, but in fact is not a black story and not even meant for black people, Due predicted.
True fake-coughed Green Book as an example.
‘It’s a shame about Green Book because that subject matter is an extremely important part of our culture, said Todd.
‘And that is why when we saw all those white faces accepting the Oscar, it left a sour taste in our mouths, said True. ‘Not to say that white people cannot produce a black story, they can. But that is a case in point of maybe not the narrative we would have told.
Although the mainstream success of Get Out means studios will become more willing to bet on black filmmakers and stories, much of horror’s history — like film history in general — is steeped in one-dimensional or stereotypical portrayals of black characters.
‘There’s the sacrificial Negro who exists only to save a white character, Due said. ‘There’s the magical Negro trope which sort of gives us supernatural abilities that are often used in service to warning the white characters or asking if they’re OK. And then ‘first to die’ was around for a long time. It kind of became a joke. We can chuckle about it now, but frankly, if we don’t address it and if we don’t call out the tropes, five years from now, 10 years from now, they roll back around.
The documentary, based on Robin R. Means Coleman’s 2011 book Horror Noire: Blacks in American Horror Films from the 1890s to Present, posits that horror means something entirely different to black people than it does to whites, which is what makes the current pivot toward black storytelling by black creators so revolutionary.
‘We’re developing a consumer base that’s a little more sophisticated about what it means to enjoy a black project, said Due. ‘So it’s not just about the black faces, but is it a black story? And Get Out is a great example of a horror film that is a black story from a black perspective by a black artist that just so happens to be something anyone can enjoy. You get to the universal through the specific.
‘When race is just an afterthought or meant to fulfil some kind of trope in horror then it’s going to be bland, she added. ‘And at worst it’s going to be offensive. When black creators put black people in their stories, they’re just trying to express their humanity, they’re not doing it to fulfil a trope or because someone told them it would be more profitable that way. They’re doing it to tell the truth.
‘Things are changing, roles are changing, said Todd. ‘Things are getting deeper. The more things that we write and create, the more the project, I think, feels real. The lens cap is off now and it sees everything.
‘I can’t wait for Jordan Peele’s Us to come out, said Due. ‘He’s a great leader in that. And I know [Peele’s production company] Monkeypaw is producing other horror series and The Twilight Zone is coming down the pipe. It’s great that he’s so supportive of other artists.
That ability to support other artists rather than subscribe to a crabs-in-a-barrel mentality is what sets the current landscape of black horror apart from recent years.
‘What I noticed in black Hollywood in the ’90s is it was a bit of a Highlander mentality: there can only be one, there’s only room for one of us, said True. ‘So if there’s three other black people over there, all of a sudden they’re adversaries. I think we’re seeing a shift in being able to support each other more and help bring up other black people and not see them so much as competition.
‘And what I hope comes from black creators is not just the optics of having black characters in the stories but you get a slightly different twist, slightly different mythologies and beliefs that make it scary because you haven’t seen it done a hundred times over. Horror is one of those genres that’s ripe for difference because horror fans want to be scared.
‘We’re finally able to actually take control of the narrative, said Burgin. ‘[Until recently] blackness was seen through the lens of whiteness. Now black filmmakers are trying to get out our perspectives front and centre. — Los Angeles Times/TNS

Last updated: March 20 2019 01:20 AM


In black and white RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

Chuck Harmon: Cincinnati Reds’ First African-American Player Dead at 94

By The Associated Press

CINCINNATI (AP) — The Cincinnati Reds’ first African-American player has died at the age of 94.

The team says Charles “Chuck” Harmon died Tuesday, nearly 65 years after he made his debut against the Braves in Milwaukee on April 17, 1954. It did not provide details.

In this March 1956, file photo, Cincinnati Reds’ Charles Harmon poses during spring training baseball in Tampa, Fla. Harmon, the Reds’ first African-American player, died Tuesday, March 19, 2019. He was 94. ( (AP Photo/File)

Harmon had remained a familiar figure in Cincinnati as a regular participant in fan and community events.

Among his Reds honors is a bronze plaque near their stadium entrance.

In this April 20, 2004, file photo, former Cincinnati Reds player Chuck Harmon, left, reaches across a plaque honoring him to shake hands with his son, Chuck Harmon Jr., during ceremonies before the Reds game against the Atlanta Braves in Cincinnati. Harmon, the Reds’ first African-American player, died Tuesday, March 19, 2019. He was 94. (AP Photo/Al Behrman, File)

A native of Washington, Indiana, Harmon served in the Navy and was a standout basketball and baseball player at the University of Toledo . He worked his way into Major League Baseball seven years after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier.

Harmon played more than two seasons as a Reds utility player. He also played for the Cardinals and Phillies in his four years in the majors.


More AP MLB: and

UCSF opens “skin of color” dermatology clinic to address…

Black people are far less likely than white people to develop skin cancer, but they also have much lower survival rates. With the deadliest form of skin cancer, nearly 90 percent of white people will live for at least five years after their diagnosis, compared to just 66 percent of African Americans.

There are many reasons for this striking disparity, including systemic racism, lack of access to health care and deeply rooted mistrust in mainstream doctors by the black community. And there’s one deceptively simple explanation: Most dermatologists are white, and white doctors are rarely trained to look at and make diagnoses in dark-colored skin.

Dr. Jenna Lester, who may be the only black dermatologist in San Francisco, is trying to change that. She’s started a “skin of color” clinic at UCSF, focused on addressing the specific needs of patients with darker skin.

The goal to start out is simply to give people of color a comfortable medical home with a doctor who understands their needs both because of her training and her personal background. Eventually, she’d like to expand the clinic to teach other dermatologists to work with people of color and conduct research to improve care.

“When a patient walks into a room and the patient is black, and I’m black, there is a certain relief I see in their face,” Lester said. “Once I’ve established myself and have patients coming to me, we can address gaps in our medical knowledge. Things like research and education, they’ll come a bit later.”

The clinic opened late last year, and so far it’s not limited to a specific location or day or time of the week — patients are referred to Lester, or they track her down by word of mouth, and they make an appointment. She mostly sees patients by referral from within UCSF, but some have come from far reaches of the Bay Area and other parts of the state.

Jenna Lester (right), assistant professor, Department of Dermatology, UCSF Health, talks with patient Elba Clemente-Lambert (left) in an exam room in the Dermatology Clinic China Basin Location about a rash and itchy skin on Friday, March 15, 2019 in San Francisco, Calif. Photo: Lea Suzuki / The Chronicle

Photo: Lea Suzuki / The Chronicle

Jenna Lester (right), assistant professor, Department of Dermatology, UCSF Health, talks with patient Elba Clemente-Lambert (left) in an exam room in the Dermatology Clinic China Basin Location about a rash and itchy skin on Friday, March 15, 2019 in San Francisco, Calif.

Lester said she’s always been interested in addressing health disparities among people of color, and she realized in medical school that dermatology was a field wide open for improving care. Black people already are under-represented in medicine, and even more so in specialty fields like dermatology.

That under-representation feeds the cycle of health disparities that lead to worse outcomes for black people in almost all areas of health, from heart disease and diabetes to most types of cancer. Erasing those disparities is going to require a massive overhaul of the health care system and beyond — from changing how science is taught in high schools to stabilizing medical costs and improving communication between health care providers and communities of color.

A single dermatology clinic isn’t going to solve the broader problems, but it’s an important solution in the interim, said Dr. Bruce Wintroub, chair of dermatology at UCSF.

“People of color have been underrepresentened in medicine, and for that reason populations of people of color have really been under-served,” Wintroub said. “We felt that it was time to offer the beginnings of a solution to this problem.”

Only about 5 percent of all doctors in the United States are black, though black people make up about 13 percent of the total population. And though the total number of black doctors has increased over the past several decades, the percentage hasn’t budged much. Those rates can be even more worrisome when applied to medical specialties like dermatology.

Malcolm Chelliah, a medical student at Stanford who will graduate this year, said he chose to focus on dermatology for many of the same reasons Lester did — because he knew access to care was a problem for many communities of color. When he was growing up in Cleveland, his family and friends were more likely to talk to each other than a doctor when they had a question about a rash or other health problem.

“I’m the first person in my family to go to college, and I recognized by the time I got there that the way health care is practiced in urban areas is very different from more affluent areas,” Chelliah said. “Where you’re from should not dictate the services available to you or the outcomes.”

Dermatologists treat all kinds of disease of the skin, hair and nails, though skin cancer is the most serious. Melanoma — the deadliest type of skin cancer — is more common in people with lighter skin because pigmentation offers some natural protection from ultraviolet rays, which can cause certain skin cells to grow out of control and form tumors. People with darker skin have more pigmentation than those with lighter skin.

Black people are still at risk of developing skin cancer, but often both doctors and patients under-estimate that risk and don’t think to check for early signs of melanoma, leading to later diagnoses and worse outcomes.

Tumors on black skin may be a different color than what white dermatologists are expecting, or they might just look different against a darker backdrop. And black people are more susceptible to tumors on the palms of their hands and the soles of their feet, where they don’t have as much pigmentation.

“In dermatology we have many diagnostic maneuvers, but our primary is visual. It’s looking at the skin and recognizing a pattern,” Lester said. “If we’re not trained to recognize things in skins of color, we may miss diagnoses.”

Skin cancer isn’t the only dermatological issue that might affect people of color in different ways than white people. Everything from eczema to an allergic rash may be harder for doctors to identify if they were only trained to look at lighter skin.

Hair conditions also can look different on people of color, and treatments may vary too. Lester said she may give different advice or recommend different products to patients based on the texture of their hair or whether it’s straight or tightly curled. Chelliah pointed out that a black doctor may think to remind a black patient to remove a weave from her hair before an appointment.

Elba Clemente-Lambert, who is a patient of Jenna Lester (not shown), assistant professor, Department of Dermatology, UCSF Health, stands for a portrait at the Dermatology Clinic China Basin Location on Friday, March 15, 2019 in San Francisco, Calif. Photo: Lea Suzuki / The Chronicle

Photo: Lea Suzuki / The Chronicle

Elba Clemente-Lambert, who is a patient of Jenna Lester (not shown), assistant professor, Department of Dermatology, UCSF Health, stands for a portrait at the Dermatology Clinic China Basin Location on Friday, March 15, 2019 in San Francisco, Calif.

Among Lester’s first patients in the skin-of-color clinic was Elba Clemente-Lambert, who had a scalp condition that was causing her to lose hair. Clemente-Lambert, 77, said she’s comfortable enough seeing doctors who aren’t black — she’s had to be, given how few of them there still are.

Still, after meeting Lester she made sure to schedule her next dermatology appointments with the clinic, in part because she appreciates that a black doctor may have more experience with her specific needs.

“It’s not easy to explain, but just knowing that she was a person of color and so was I, and she may be more aware and more in tune — I could relate to her,” Clemente-Lambert said.

Their first visit, though, ended up being about much more than addressing her health needs.

Clemente-Lambert was a longtime UCSF employee and deeply involved in the university’s black caucus, a group formed in the 1960s to improve representation among the staff and students of the medical school. The day Clemente-Lambert met Lester was almost exactly the day of the 50th anniversary of the founding of the caucus.

“A whole bunch of memories flooded my mind when I saw her. There was a lot of discrimination and racism and prejudices back then. People just wanted to feel valued or respected,” Clemente-Lambert said.

“When Dr. Lester walked into that room, I felt such a connection to her,” she said. “It felt really good. At the end of the session, I asked if I could give her a hug.”

Erin Allday is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email:

New Music Revue: JV’s Boogaloo Squad honour influences

March 20, 2019 by Emily Welch, contributing writer

JV’s Boogaloo Squad
Going to Market
(Flatcar Records)

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I slid Going to Market into my car stereo, but I was drawn right in. JV’s Boogaloo Squad are a trio from Toronto; the CD cover features three very approachable-looking dudes smiling away. Upon opening up the packaging, I saw a write-up of how their lives and music have been heavily influenced by Black artists.

The music is cool; the songs are all instrumental and are a fusion of jazz, soul, swing, and funk. Listening to this feels like a time- travelling trip to when some of the most influential music trends were started. It isn’t what I will always listen to in my car, but I can definitely see having it on while I have dinner guests, or maybe throwing a Mad Men-themed party featuring this CD as the soundtrack.

“Squadzilla” took me down a path that echoed a cocktail party in the 1970s, and “Capybara Walk” had the distinct sound of a detective show from the same era.

Going to Market is a groove- filled musical journey and a worthy purchase for those who love soul.

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When and Where 3/27 – 4/3

Illustration by Sarah Hofstedt

Wednesday, March 27

Wet + Kilo Kish

Cost: $35 – $60

Time: 7 p.m.

Place: Belasco Theater; 1050 S. Hill St., Los Angeles

Avant-garde singer Kilo Kish will be the opening act for indie folk band Wet as they tour together. Kish has collaborated with such artists as Gorillaz, Vince Staples and Donald Glover. Wet will perform their top hits like “Old Bone,” “Don’t Wanna Be Your Girl” and “It’s All in Vain.”

Thursday, March 28

Cirque du Soleil: Corteo

Cost: $63 – $115

Time: 7:30 p.m.

Place: The Forum; 3900 W. Manchester Blvd., Inglewood

A new iteration of the famed acrobatic show has appeared once again! Cirque du Soleil: Corteo, which will be at The Forum, revolves around the passing of a clown named Mauro, who watches his own funeral take place as a celebration of his life.

Friday, March 29


Cost: $9

Time: 11 a.m.

Place: Descanso Gardens; 1418 Descanso Dr., La Cañada Flintridge

Plant lovers out there can pick from an assortment of different tomato plant seedlings. This weekend-long event includes discussions, tomato cooking demonstrations and a great Bloody Mary bar.

Saturday, March 30

Vince Staples at The Novo

Cost: $30 – $130

Time: 9 p.m.

Place: The Novo; 800 W. Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles

On his Smile, You’re on Camera tour, rapper and Long Beach native Vince Staples takes his unconventional rapping and plays for thousands of fans. Joining Staples for the tour are his opening acts, JPEGMAFIA and Buddy.

Sunday, March 31

Leimert Park Art Walk

Cost: FREE

Time: 12 p.m.

Place: Leimert Park; 3333 W. 43rd Place, Los Angeles

Held on the last Sunday of every month, the Leimert Park Art Walk is a wonderful event filled with African-American art, music and African-American culture.

Monday, April 1

American Theatre Guild presents The Magic of Adam Trent

Cost: $39 – $89

Time: 12:30 p.m.

Place: Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza; 2100 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks

Touting himself as “The Next Generation of Magic,” magician Adam Trent takes his marvelous magic on tour for all to see. Trent got his start on the best selling Broadway magic show “The Illusionists,” performing on its first two record-breaking runs on Broadway during the show’s U.S. tour.

Tuesday, April 2

Shen Yun

Cost: $80 – $165

Time: 7:30 p.m.

Place: Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza; 2100 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks

One of the most popular Chinese dance troupes is on the U.S. leg of its tour once again. Shen Yun is a beautiful classical Chinese dance show that has performances based on Chinese folk dance and story-based arrangements.

Wednesday, April 3

Pink Sweat$

Cost: $17

Time: 8 p.m.

Place: The Roxy; 9009 West Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles

Philadelphia-native Pink Sweat$ is on the rise in the R&B genre. After starting off making music at Sound Stigma Studios when he was 19, the artist discovered his love for songwriting and has even written songs for unconventional rapper Tierra Whack and MAX.

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

US bars ICC staff

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a news conference at the State Department, Friday, March 15, 2019 in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a news conference at the State Department, Friday, March 15, 2019 in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a news conference at the State Department, Friday, March 15, 2019 in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a news conference at the State Department, Friday, March 15, 2019 in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

US bars entry of International Criminal Court investigators


AP Diplomatic Writer

Friday, March 15

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States will revoke or deny visas to International Criminal Court personnel who attempt to investigate or prosecute alleged abuses committed by U.S. forces in Afghanistan or elsewhere and may do the same with those who try to take action against Israel, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Friday.

Pompeo, making good on a threat delivered last September by national security adviser John Bolton, said the U.S. had already moved against some employees of The Hague-based court, but declined to say how many or what cases they may have been investigating.

“We are determined to protect the American and allied military and civilian personnel from living in fear of unjust prosecution for actions taken to defend our great nation,” Pompeo said.

He said any wrongdoing committed by American personnel would be dealt with in U.S. military and criminal courts.

The visa restrictions would apply to any court employee who takes or has taken action “to request or further such an investigation,” Pompeo said.

“These visa restrictions may also be used to deter ICC efforts to pursue allied personnel, including Israelis, without allies’ consent,” he said.

The ICC prosecutor has a pending request to look into possible war crimes in Afghanistan that may involve Americans. The Palestinians have also asked the court to bring cases against Israel.

Speaking directly to ICC employees, Pompeo said: “If you are responsible for the proposed ICC investigation of U.S. personnel in connection with the situation in Afghanistan, you should not assume that you still have or will get a visa or will be permitted to enter the United States.”

That comment suggested that action may have already been taken against the ICC prosecutor who asked last year to formally open an investigation into allegations of war crimes committed by Afghan national security forces, Taliban and Haqqani network militants, as well as U.S. forces and intelligence officials in Afghanistan since May 2003.

The United States has never been a member of the ICC. The Clinton administration in 2000 signed the Rome Statute that created the ICC but had reservations about the scope of the court’s jurisdiction and never submitted it for ratification to the Senate, where there was broad bipartisan opposition to what lawmakers saw as a threat to U.S. sovereignty.

When George W. Bush took office in 2001, his administration promoted and passed the American Service Members Protection Act, which sought to immunize U.S. troops from potential prosecution by the ICC. In 2002, Bolton, then a State Department official, traveled to New York to ceremonially “unsign” the Rome Statute at the United Nations.

In September, Bolton said the ICC was a direct threat to U.S. national security interests and threatened its personnel with both visa revocations and financial sanctions should it try to move against Americans. Pompeo said Friday that more measures may come.

“We are prepared to take additional steps, including economic sanctions, if the ICC does not change its course,” he said, adding: “The first and highest obligation of our government is to protect its citizens and this administration will carry out that duty.”

The ICC did not immediately respond to Pompeo’s announcement, but said last year it was “undeterred” by Bolton’s threat. At the time it noted that it had been established by a treaty supported by 123 countries and said it prosecutes cases only when those countries failed to do so or did not do so “genuinely.” Afghanistan is a signatory.

Supporters of the court, the first global tribunal for war crimes, slammed Pompeo’s announcement.

Human Rights Watch called it “a thuggish attempt to penalize investigators” at the International Criminal Court.

“The Trump administration is trying an end run around accountability,” it said. “Taking action against those who work for the ICC sends a clear message to torturers and murderers alike: Their crimes may continue unchecked.”

Since its creation, the court has filed charges against dozens of suspects including former Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi, who was killed by rebels before he could be arrested, and Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who is accused of charges including genocide in Darfur. Al-Bashir remains at large, as does Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony, who was among the first rebels charged by the court in 2005. The court has convicted just eight defendants.

The court has been hobbled by refusal of the U.S., Russia, China and other major nations to join. Others have quit, including Burundi and the Philippines.

The Conversation

US military steps up cyberwarfare effort

March 12, 2019


Benjamin Jensen, Associate Professor of International Relations, Marine Corps University; Scholar-in-Residence, American University School of International Service

Brandon Valeriano, Professor of Armed Politics, Marine Corps University

Disclosure statement

Benjamin Jensen receives funding from the Carnegie Corporation, Office of Naval Research and Koch Foundation. He is affiliated with the Atlantic Council and is an officer in the U.S. Army Reserve. The views expressed are his own. None of these affiliations were used to sponsor the research linked to this article.

Brandon Valeriano receives funding from Carnegie Corporation. He is affiliated with the Atlantic Council. The views expressed are his own. None of these affiliations were used to sponsor the research linked to this article.

Partners: American University School of International Service provides funding as a member of The Conversation US.

The U.S. military has the capability, the willingness and, perhaps for the first time, the official permission to preemptively engage in active cyberwarfare against foreign targets. The first known action happened as the 2018 midterm elections approached: U.S. Cyber Command, the part of the military that oversees cyber operations, waged a covert campaign to deter Russian interference in the democratic process.

It started with texts in October 2018. Russian hackers operating in the Internet Research Agency – the infamous “troll factory” linked to Russian intelligence, Russian private military contractors and Putin-friendly oligarchs – received warnings via pop-ups, texts and emails not to interfere with U.S. interests. Then, during the day of the election, the servers that connected the troll factory to the outside world went down.

As scholars who study technology and international relations, we see that this incident reflects the new strategy for U.S. Cyber Command, called “persistent engagement.” It shifts Cyber Command’s priority from reacting to electronic intrusions into military networks to engaging in active operations that are less intense than armed conflict but still seek to stop enemies from achieving their objectives. In late 2018, the U.S. goal was to take away Russia’s ability to manipulate the midterm election, even if just briefly.

Coercion is difficult

Cyber Command’s operation against the troll factory was part of a sophisticated campaign that targeted individuals – Internet Research Agency workers – and systems – the organization’s internet connection.

In military terms, that effort generated “friction,” or difficulty for opposing forces to perform even mundane tasks. Russian hackers and trolls may wonder how a foreign government got their information, or was able to take their workplace offline. They might be worried about personal vulnerabilities, weaknesses in their own systems or even what else Cyber Command might do if they don’t stop trolling.

Our research has found that covert activities that are not as clear as armed conflict don’t always change a target’s behavior. Successful coercion efforts tend to require clear signals of both capability and resolve – assurance that the defender both can respond effectively and will do so, in order to prevent the attacker from taking a desired action.

Digital operations are often the opposite – concealing that anything has happened, as well as who might have done it.

Even when a defender shows an adversary what it is capable of, there are few guarantees that deterrence will work. It is tough to force a determined aggressor to back down. Most scholarly studies of coercion – whether in the form of cyber action, economic sanctions or limited air strikes – show how hard it is to change an adversary’s behavior.

As we have found, all of these signals, digital and otherwise, are most effective when used by more technologically sophisticated countries, like the U.S., who can combine them with other instruments of national power such as economic sanctions and diplomacy. Actions in the shadows can produce friction, but on their own are unlikely to change an opponent’s behavior.

Through targeted social media posts, Russians have amplified political fault lines in the United States. Social media makes it easy for misinformation to spread, even long after false stories are planted. There will always be “useful idiots” who will circulate disinformation and misinformation.

Entering risky territory

It’s not clear that U.S. military hacking of Russian internet connections will put a damper on Putin’s global information warfare campaign.

It’s also not yet clear whether there will be – or even has already been – any sort of retaliation. There may be a point at which the conflict escalates, threatening the electricity grid, civic groups, private homes or voting systems.

It’s valuable for the U.S. to introduce friction against enemies who seek to harm the American way of life. But it’s equally important to consider the potential for escalation to more widely harmful forms of conflict. This type of cyberoffensive may succeed at pushing back Russian disinformation. Or it may just be the government’s attempt to do something – anything – to convince the public it’s engaging the threat. Quick wins, like shutting down a troll factory for a few days, could produce much bigger longer-term consequences in a connected world.

The Conversation

Sen. Martha McSally, pioneering Air Force pilot, shows how stereotypes victimize sexual assault survivors again

March 12, 2019

Author: Leigh Goodmark, Professor of Law, University of Maryland, Baltimore

Disclosure statement: Leigh Goodmark does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

Martha McSally was the first woman to fly combat missions for the United States Air Force after the prohibition on female combat pilots was lifted in 1991. She later sued the United States Department of Defense, challenging a policy that required servicewomen in Saudi Arabia to wear abaya (full-body coverings) when traveling off-base. In 2014, she was elected to the House of Representatives and is a currently a United States senator from Arizona.

Martha McSally is a powerful woman.

But when a superior Air Force officer raped her, “I was ashamed and confused. I thought I was strong but felt powerless,” McSally said. She blamed herself. And she chose not to report the assault.

The feelings McSally describes are common among victims of sexual violence. McSally is not alone in her decision not to report her victimization. In 2016, only about 23 percent of rapes were reported to law enforcement.

In my 25 years of representing survivors of gender-based violence as an attorney, I have met hundreds of women like McSally. The shame and powerlessness that these women feel are a direct result of antiquated notions about rape and sexual assault that were, until recently, embedded in the legal system.

Those ideas continue to affect how police, prosecutors and judges see victims of violence and how victims see themselves.

Institutional skepticism

Reforming the law was a priority for the anti-rape movement of the 1970s and 80s.

The rape law of the time both implicitly and explicitly challenged the credibility of complainants. Many states gave jurors a cautionary jury instruction derived from 17th-century English jurist Sir Matthew Hale’s observation that rape “is an accusation easily to be made and hard to be proved.”

Prior to the rape law reform of the 1970s and 80s, the law in most states required rapes to be promptly reported. The failure to make a prompt report suggested that the event was fabricated.

Rape law in many jurisdictions precluded prosecution without corroboration of the victim’s testimony; a rape victim, on her own, could not be a credible witness. Many state laws also required that rape victims fight back against their attackers – resisting “to the utmost,” according to the law.

And defendants could introduce evidence about the accuser’s sexual history to undermine the claim that the sex was not consensual.

These laws have, for the most part, been repealed. But the skepticism of rape claims and rape victims underlying these laws continues to shape how the legal system responds to rape and sexual assault.

Victim credibility

Official reports detail just how poorly many police departments and prosecutors understand and deal with rape.

A 2011 United States Department of Justice report describes how police in New Orleans, for example, asked a victim of sexual assault “if she screamed or resisted the perpetrator.” When she said she had not, the detective asked why not, and commented that “the victim ‘seemed very calm and unrattled.’” The implication, of course, is that a true victim would scream and fight; a calm and unrattled victim is not a credible victim.

In a 2016 report, a U.S. Department of Justice investigation of the Baltimore Police Department documents detectives’ skepticism of victims who delayed reporting and detectives’ suggestions that victims had done something to trigger assaults. Police and prosecutors openly ridiculed victims who they did not believe.

In one exchange, a prosecutor wrote, “[T]his case is crazy. … I am not excited about charging it. This victim seems like a conniving little whore. (pardon my language)”; the officer responded, “Lmao! I feel the same.”

In a 2014 report, the Department of Justice described how Missoula, Montana police told a woman that “because ‘no one had a limb cut off and there was no video of the incident,’ prosecutors ‘wouldn’t see [her rape] as anything more than a girl getting drunk at a party.’” Between January 2008 and May 2012, the Missoula County Attorney’s Office filed charges in less than 17 percent of the rape cases referred for prosecution. By contrast, in 2012-2013 about 48 percent of sexual assault related arrests resulted in charges being brought in Arizona.

As recently as September 2018, many observers dismissed Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s account of being sexually assaulted by Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh because of her failure to promptly report.

Victim stereotypes

Society generally, and law enforcement specifically, still expects rape victims to look and act a certain way.

They should be demure, virginal and blameless; they should not have had previous sexual contact with their attackers; they should be openly emotional about their experiences; they should report promptly; they should fight to defend their honor.

When rape victims fail to conform to these stereotypes, law enforcement doubts their stories.

Without a “good” victim, law professor Tamara Rice Lave has argued, police are less likely to make arrests, prosecutors are less likely to bring cases to trial, and judges and juries are less likely to convict.

These stereotypes affect how victims respond to rape and sexual assault.

Women see that the system continues to blame them for being raped. Like Sen. McSally, they don’t report because they don’t believe that the system will work for them. When they do report, they often feel, as McSally described, “like the system was raping me all over again.”

Law enforcement reliance on rape stereotypes heightens the shame, powerlessness and revictimization that women who have been raped feel when they do report – and prevents other women from reporting in the first instance.

The Department of Justice reports cited above suggest that changing the law has not changed attitudes toward rape victims. Only by changing the wider culture will we achieve that goal.

At the University of Maryland Carey School of Law, where I teach, we’re trying to make that cultural change through the Erin Levitas Initiative for Sexual Assault Prevention.

As we describe our initiative, “Our goal is to change the way that boys and young men think about women by addressing the attitudes that drive violence.”

The Levitas Initiative will use restorative justice principles, which focus on repairing the harm experienced by victims, to respond to incidents of school-based sexual harassment and educate middle school students on sexual violence.

We hope that restorative dialogue and active accountability will undermine the attitudes and stereotypes that continue to haunt victims of rape – something the law has not been able to achieve.

Takeaways from Beto O’Rourke’s presidential launch


Associated Press

Monday, March 18

NORTH LIBERTY, Iowa (AP) — After weeks of hype, former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke swung through Iowa for the first time and strode into the presidential race to larger crowds and more media attention than most others in the already crowded 2020 Democratic field.

Until recently, O’Rourke was a little-known El Paso congressman whose views weren’t well known. His campaign rollout filled in some blanks and gave him a chance to try to move past some flubs, such as quips about being a part-time parent. Still, he remains something of a political mystery.

Here’s some of what we learned during his White House rollout:


One of the big questions surrounding O’Rourke’s candidacy is whether he’d be able to recreate the energy that fueled his political stardom during his 2018 challenge to Sen. Ted Cruz.

At least on the fundraising front, the answer is yes.

O’Rourke’s campaign said Monday it drew in $6.1 million in donations during its first day alone, or just more than the $6 million fellow Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders raised in the opening 24 hours of his campaign. That’s a key indication O’Rourke can revive a deep, nationwide supporter base built heavily on small donors that helped him rake in $80-plus million while nearly upsetting Cruz.

As he did while running for Senate, O’Rourke says he won’t take donations from outside political groups, but he also won’t rule out organizing fundraisers with high-dollar donors, as has another 2020 Democratic White House candidate, Elizabeth Warren. He said he’d support his campaign staff unionizing after Sanders’ became the first presidential campaign to do so.

And O’Rourke has pledged to release his tax personal returns — unlike President Donald Trump — but didn’t say when.


O’Rourke’s six years in Congress encompassed little foreign policy experience, and it’s showed at times. He said he supports a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, but when asked if he had an opinion about “Brexit,” he answered simply, “No.” If elected president, O’Rourke says he wouldn’t send U.S. troops to Venezuela. Nor would he deploy them to Syria “without some declaration or authorization for force.”

He’s also denounced China for manipulating international markets but hasn’t said how he’d deal with that other than criticizing Trump’s trade tariffs.


Policy areas O’Rourke likes discussing are immigration and the U.S.-Mexico border. A fluent Spanish speaker, he hails from El Paso , across the Rio Grande from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, which he calls the “world’s largest binational community.” O’Rourke says he knows more about the border that has dominated national debate than anyone running for president.


During the Senate race, O’Rourke said he’d support Sanders’ “Medicare for All” plan. Now, O’Rourke says he prefers a proposal by Democratic Reps. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut and Jan Schakowsky of Illinois known as “Medicare for America.”

O’Rourke says it would allow people who already get health insurance from their employers to continue to do so while helping millions without coverage enroll in Medicare.

When a man in Independence, Iowa, accused O’Rourke of siding with “insurance company greed,” the former congressman responded with one of his common refrains: “If we become too ideological or too prescribed in the solution, we may allow the perfect to become the enemy of the good.”


Asked about the U.S. government making financial payments for centuries of stolen labor and oppression of enslaved black Americans, O’Rourke didn’t directly answer. He said only that the nation had to confront the truth about its racist past.

Other 2020 presidential hopefuls, including Harris, Warren and ex-Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, have suggested the U.S. government should use tax credits or other subsidies to compensate the descendants of those enslaved.


O’Rourke frequently jogged with supporters while running for Senate and seems poised to get plenty of exercise during the presidential campaign. He participated in a race in North Liberty, Iowa, running 5 kilometers, or about 3.1 miles, in 24 minutes and 29 seconds. He also chatted with fellow racers while doing so, saying talking health care helped speed him up.

O’Rourke acknowledged being in pain toward the end of the race, but he called it a good “pressure check” on his body.


O’Rourke likes to drive himself to campaign stops, often while livestreaming. He did this constantly as a Senate candidate, saying he can’t stand to sit still.

His presidential campaign used a Dodge Caravan to traverse parts of Iowa, then drive to Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio with plans to head to Pennsylvania and New Hampshire. But O’Rourke has a tendency to speed — and to sometimes curse at other drivers — which can make for awkward internet moments. He’s promised to clean up his language while running for president.

O’Rourke could have the road to himself a lot. While other candidates, including the senators running for president, have day jobs, the campaign is O’Rourke’s only occupation at the moment.


Trump suggested O’Rourke constantly waving his arms might mean the Texan is crazy. Others picked up on how, during the online video announcing his candidacy, O’Rourke bounced so much on the couch where he was seated with his wife that she occasionally pitched forward, appearing to nod in agreement without actually moving her head.

Those who knew O’Rourke before he was elected to Congress in 2012 say he used to be a stiff and little-animated campaigner — a problem he no longer has.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a news conference at the State Department, Friday, March 15, 2019 in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a news conference at the State Department, Friday, March 15, 2019 in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a news conference at the State Department, Friday, March 15, 2019 in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

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On the campaign trail

2020 Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, left, meets with Sarah Bass of Boone, after a rally, Saturday, March 9, 2019, at the Iowa state fairgrounds in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Matthew Putney)

2020 Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, left, meets with Sarah Bass of Boone, after a rally, Saturday, March 9, 2019, at the Iowa state fairgrounds in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Matthew Putney)

FILE- In this Jan. 16, 2019, file photo Julian Castro, former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and candidate for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, speaks to the media at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, N.H. Castro isn’t ruling out direct payments to African-Americans for the legacy of slavery, a stand separating him from his 2020 rivals. The former housing secretary says, “If under the Constitution we compensate people because we take their property, why wouldn’t you compensate people who actually were property.’’ (AP Photo/Mary Schwalm, File)

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., speaks to local residents Friday, March 8, 2019, in the Queens borough of New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Presidential hopeful Castro isn’t ruling out reparations


Associated Press

Monday, March 11

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro isn’t ruling out direct payments to African-Americans for the legacy of slavery — a stand separating him from his 2020 rivals.

“If under the Constitution we compensate people because we take their property, why wouldn’t you compensate people who actually were property,” the former Obama-era housing secretary and ex-San Antonio mayor said on Sunday.

Castro was among the last of a pack of 2020 candidates to speak at the South by Southwest Festival in Texas, in what amounted to one of the biggest gatherings of the Democratic field yet.

As Democrats have addressed reparations in the early stages of the race, other candidates are discussing tax credits and other subsidies, rather than direct payments for the labor and legal oppression of slaves and their descendants. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders would put resources such as “Medicare for All” and tuition-free college into distressed communities.

Castro tells CNN’s “State of the Union” he doesn’t think that’s the proper argument for reparations if “a big check needs to be written for a whole bunch of other stuff.” Castro stopped short of saying he would push for direct compensation to descendants as president, saying instead that he would appoint a commissioner or task force that would make recommendations.

Sanders was in New Hampshire, while Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts was in Dallas, Kamala Harris of California was in Miami and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota was in Tampa.

Other highlights from Sunday’s campaigning:


The Vermont senator emphasized his rise from longshot candidate to major Democratic presidential contender in his first trip to New Hampshire since launching another run for president.

Sanders said his ideas that seemed “radical and extreme” four years ago are now helping define Democrats campaigns across the country.

“Those ideas that we talked about when I came here to New Hampshire four years ago, ideas that seemed so very radical at that time,” Sanders said. “Well, today, virtually all of those ideas are supported by a majority of the American people and they are being supported by Democratic candidates from school board to president of the United States.”

Sanders topped Hillary Clinton by 22 points in the state’s 2016 primary. But he now faces a wider field of rivals who have adopted some of the same views on policy issues he pioneered during his last run for the White House.

“This is where the political revolution took off,” Sanders said. “Thank you, New Hampshire.”


Washington Gov. Jay Inslee laid down a challenge for his 2020 rivals — join him in calling to abolish the Senate filibuster.

Inslee is a newcomer to the Democratic field and is running a campaign that’s almost singularly focused on climate change. But he was similarly adamant about doing away with the Senate filibuster while speaking to a small audience early Sunday morning at SXSW.

He said the six Democratic senators currently running for the White House shouldn’t think twice.

“Maybe they get religion on this and realize that the filibuster is going to stop us from doing anything from health care to climate change,” Inslee said. “As long as Mitch McConnell has the keys to the car, we’re not going to drive it anywhere.”

He was followed on stage by Castro, who also signaled an openness to the Senate doing away with the filibuster, which is a procedural tool that requires a supermajority of at least 60 votes to pass many big items, instead of a simple majority.


Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said he’s not cut out for the Senate — and that he doesn’t see himself switching races if his presidential run fizzles out.

“I don’t see it in my future,” Hickenlooper said.

Democrats have sights on Sen. Cory Gardner’s seat. The Colorado Republican is up for re-election in 2020. Hickenlooper said he’s spoken with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer but says he considers running for president a calling.

Hickenlooper also said decriminalizing prostitution is worth exploring. He brought up the recent Florida crackdown on massage parlor prostitution and investigation into human trafficking, which resulted in New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft being charged with two misdemeanor counts of prostitution. Kraft has pleaded not guilty.

“There are a lot of arguments, and I think they’re worth taking into serious consideration, that legalizing prostitution and regulating where there are norms and protections” to prevent abuse should be looked at, Hickenlooper said.


Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg said Sunday night that he and Vice President Mike Pence have different views of their Christian faith and that he doesn’t understand Pence’s loyalty to President Donald Trump.

The mayor of South Bend, Indiana, said his feeling “is that the Scripture is about protecting the stranger, the prisoner, the poor person, and that idea of welcome. That’s what I get in the Gospel when I’m in church.” He said Pence’s view “has a lot more to do with sexuality, a certain view of rectitude.”

Buttigieg said he is puzzled by Pence’s strong support for the president.

He asked how Pence “could allow himself to become the cheerleader of the porn star presidency?” and adds, “Is it that he stopped believing in Scripture, when he started believing in Donald Trump?”

Buttigieg made the comments at a CNN town hall in Austin, Texas.

Associated Press writer Hunter Woodall in Concord, New Hampshire, contributed to this report.

Follow Paul J. Weber on Twitter:

Opinion: Will McConnell Buck the American People?

By Robert Weissman

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has built a career on weakening our democracy. Nothing seems to bring out the passion in the famously stoic McConnell more than opposing pro-democracy reforms.

Well, now he has the challenge of a lifetime. The House of Representatives has just passed H.R. 1, the For the People Act, the most sweeping pro-democracy and anti-corruption measure of the last 50 years. McConnell has denounced H.R. 1 and pledged that he will block it from coming to the floor of the Senate.

But if McConnell is so eager to hold a vote on the Green New Deal, a legislative proposal that he strongly opposes, why is he so committed to blocking Senate consideration of H.R. 1? Could it be that he thinks Republicans will have a hard time voting against pro-democracy reforms? Is he worried that voters may hold accountable defenders of the current corrupt political system?

Those would be reasonable fears. But McConnell should be worried also about the impact of preventing a vote on H.R. 1. Voters are desperate for far-reaching campaign finance and ethics reforms — divided only on whether the system should be fundamentally changed or completely rebuilt. Voters are not likely to treat his obstructionism kindly.

They are likely to be especially outraged because H.R. 1 so effectively addresses what so many people are so outraged about and the shameful anti-democratic practices that so tarnish our nation.

Among other measures, H.R. 1 would:

—Replace the current campaign finance system that empowers the super rich and big corporations with one that relies on small donors and public matching funds.

—End secret spending in elections.

—Eliminate partisan gerrymandering.

—Establish automatic voter registration.

—Restore voting rights to felons who have served their time.

—Make Election Day a national holiday.

McConnell calls these democracy expanding measures a “power grab.”

Of course, he’s right to be worried, for it is a reallocation of power away from a narrow grouping of super rich oligarchs and to the people.

That redistribution of power is called “democracy.”

McConnell is not alone in attacking H.R. 1. The Koch Brothers’ main organization, Americans for Prosperity, says that “the free speech regulations in H.R.1 would make it more difficult than ever for people to make their voices heard and hold their elected leaders accountable.”

They also are right to be worried. Those supposed “free speech regulations” are disclosure requirements that would end political Dark Money — a move that would absolutely reduce the undue political influence of super rich and corporate donors who are able to hide their efforts to buy elections.

Big Business in general is upset. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the trade association for large corporations, leads a large grouping of trade associations in denouncing H.R. 1 for “pushing certain voices, representing large segments of the electorate and our economy, out of the political process altogether.”

Actually, H.R. 1 is amplifying the voices of the electorate. Although the point seems to evade the trade associations, Big Business is not part of “the electorate.” That said, H.R. 1 doesn’t limit corporations’ ability to spend on elections — that will require a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United — though it does end their ability to finance electioneering secretly.

McConnell and the power elite are right to be frightened. H.R. 1 would upset the normal way of doing business in Washington. It would break Corporate America’s stranglehold over our government and curtail the shameful vote-suppressing activity increasing across the nation.

But they are clinging to a backward-looking strategy that is doomed to fail. In a nation marked by the most severe wealth and income inequality of the last 100 years, amid intense outrage across the political spectrum against a rigged system that works for corporations and the super rich at the expense of the rest of us, the American people will not tolerate McConnell’s obstructionism. Democracy reform is coming to the United States, whether McConnell and his corporate allies like it or not.


Robert Weissman is the president of Public Citizen, a nonprofit consumer advocacy organization that champions the public interest in the halls of power. He wrote this for

Opinion: O, Canada — the ‘Crisis’ of American Health Care Costs

By Robert Graboyes

America spends more than any other country on health care — in the aggregate, per capita, or as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product. This, fretters fret, constitutes a crisis; they ask why we can’t be more like Canada, or France, Sweden, or the United Kingdom.

Numbers suggests why we can’t be. And shouldn’t be.

For an American, Canada’s health care system has shortcomings (longer wait-times, for example). America’s health statistics fall a bit short of Canada’s in some respects (shorter lifespan, higher infant mortality), but those differences largely reflect factors outside of health care — personal behavior, physical environment, genetics and so forth. All in all, Canadian and American health care are quite similar, with both countries enjoying some of the best care on the planet.

America, like Canada, could provide much better care for what we spend. But do our high costs constitute a crisis?

According to the Fraser Institute, 2013 per capita health care expenditures were $9,086 in the United States and $4,569 in Canada — 17 percent of GDP in America versus 11 percent in Canada.

But Fraser’s point was why these numbers don’t constitute a crisis for America. America’s 2013 per capita GDP was $53,135; Canada’s was $42,701. In income terms, Canadians are 20 percent poorer than Americans.

That average American who spends $9,086 on health care still has $44,049 left over for food, shelter, clothing, roads, military, entertainment, etc. The Canadian spending $4,569 on health care only has $38,132 remaining for other things.

But why can’t we get our health care spending down to Canada’s level and have an extra $4,517 to spend on other things?

Consider some real-world numbers for a treatment we’ll call Procedure A. On average, Procedure A cost $5,510 in America in 2018 and only $5,070 in Canada (and even better, only $4,740 in the Euro Area). Should America hire Canadians or Europeans to teach us how to do Procedure A more efficiently?

Let’s examine cost variations within the United States for a different treatment for the same condition. In 2013, Procedure B cost $4,490 in Boston and only $2,590 — 42 percent less — in Nashville. Perhaps Bostonians should travel to Nashville to learn the secrets of Nashville’s efficiency?

Maybe not. Procedures A and B are both treatments for the same condition — hunger. Procedure A is the purchase of 1,000 Big Mac hamburgers from McDonald’s. Procedure B is the purchase of 1,000 McDonald’s Quarter Pounders.

Few companies on earth have tighter quality control or more regimented procedures than McDonald’s. Canadians make a Big Mac exactly as Americans do. A Quarter Pounder requires the same routines on the same ingredients to produce a Quarter Pounder. Canadians have little useful advice to offer the Americans, and Bostonians need not visit Nashville unless they’re hungry for country music or hot chicken. Burgers cost different amounts in different places because cost conditions differ. Unless McDonald’s is willing to offer inferior food and service in America, American burgers will continue costing more than Canadian burgers. The same for Boston and Nashville.

Similarly, health care costs more in America than in Canada because cost conditions differ. Consider physician salaries. 2008 data showed primary care physicians (family doctors, internists, obstetrician/gynecologists, and so forth) earning $186,582 in America — 50 percent more than Canada’s $125,000 average. Numerous factors underlie this difference, but an important one is the difference in opportunities in the two countries. Canadian doctors accept $125,000 per year because alternative opportunities for highly intelligent, highly motivated individuals are more limited in Canada than in America. Offer physicians $125,000 in the United States, and would-be medical students may choose careers in law, finance or information technology instead.

The differences become even more acute for specialty physicians. The same study showed orthopedic surgeons earning $442,450 in America — 113 percent more than their Canadian colleagues, who earned only $208,000.

There are many things wrong with America’s health care sector and many ways Americans could get more care and better health for the dollars they spend. But asking “Why can’t we be more like Canada?” leads nowhere useful and distracts us from practical, productive innovations such as telemedicine or enabling nurses, intelligent machines, and patients to do what currently requires high-priced physician labor.


Robert Graboyes is a senior research fellow with the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, where he focuses on technological innovation in health care. He is the author of “Fortress and Frontier in American Health Care” and has taught health economics at five universities. He wrote this for

The Conversation

What will happen to Michael Jackson’s legacy? A famed writer’s fall could offer clues

March 14, 2019

Author: Rachel Hope Cleves, Professor of History, University of Victoria

Disclosure statement: Rachel Hope Cleves receives funding from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

There’s no question that Michael Jackson changed music history. But how will history remember Michael Jackson?

Since HBO released the new documentary film “Leaving Neverland,” which detailed allegations by two adults who say that they were molested by Jackson as children, the musician’s legacy – already complicated – is up in the air.

Jackson is not the first notable artist to be accused of sexually abusing children. Some, like Roman Polanski and Woody Allen, are still living and producing art that provokes discussion.

But there are other alleged child abusers who have died and whose works, once considered great, have faded into obscurity, in no small part because it is almost impossible to memorialize them without creating the impression of condoning their behavior.

The writer Norman Douglas is a prime example. The subject of a biography I’m working on, Douglas had a reputation for molesting children. After his death, he became an off-limits topic for biographers, and while he had his defenders, he ultimately couldn’t escape historical erasure.

Rumors do little to dim a budding star

During the first half of the 20th century, Norman Douglas was a literary star. Friends with Joseph Conrad, D.H. Lawrence and Aldous Huxley, he was best known for his bestselling 1917 novel “South Wind.”

Virginia Woolf sang its praises in the Times Literary Supplement. Graham Greene recalled how his generation “was brought up on South Wind.” When the hero of Evelyn Waugh’s “Brideshead Revisited” arrives at Oxford after World War I, he brings with him only two novels, “South Wind” and Compton Mackenzie’s “Sinister Street.”

But today Douglas is entirely forgotten.

The reasons why artists’ works go forgotten vary. In Douglas’ case, it’s fair to say that his erudite writing style went out of fashion.

But there’s more to the story. During his lifetime, Douglas was notorious for his relationships with children. In 1912, he lived with a 14-year-old boy in London while he was working at The English Review. Four years later, he was arrested in London for acts of gross indecency with a 16-year-old. After his release on bail, Douglas fled to Italy, where laws regulating sex between men and boys were more lax. He settled in Florence, where his celebrity only grew.

Visitors to the city, like Huxley and Lawrence, would seek him out in the city’s cafés. The radical journalist and heiress Nancy Cunard, who met Douglas in Florence in 1923 and became a close friend, recalled the “aureole of legend” that surrounded him.

Douglas was always attended to by Italian boys who worked for him as messengers or cooks, and endless rumors circulated about Douglas’ relationships with these boys. A diary entry written by a friend of Douglas’ described how Douglas performed fellatio on a boy named Marcello. Brothers Sacheverell and Osbert Sitwell warned Cunard that Douglas was dangerous. D.H. Lawrence’s widow, Frieda, told her friend Dudley Nichols that Douglas was “the only wicked man I have known, in a medieval sense.”

Scrutiny grows

Britain’s strict libel laws, the norms of politeness and the power of Douglas’ celebrity seemed to prevent people from writing publicly about his sexual relationships with boys while he was alive.

But you can’t libel the dead.

When Douglas died in 1952, debate about his memory erupted in the press. The first signs of the battle to come appeared in the obituaries. British diplomat Harold Nicolson noted Douglas’ shocking “indulgences” in a death notice for The Spectator.

Nicolson’s article prompted 50 or 60 letters of protest from Douglas’ friends, but there was no holding back the tide. In 1954, Douglas’ former friend Richard Aldington published a book of vicious recollections about the writer titled “Pinorman,” a portmanteau of Norman and his friend Pino Orioli. Aldington didn’t mince words. He called Douglas a pederast whose path in life was “strewn with broken boys and empty bottles.”

Douglas’ friends were outraged. Cunard wrote to Aldington’s publisher accusing him of libel and threatening to wage a “collective protest.” She rallied Douglas’ friends to lambaste the book in reviews. Her own review for the periodical Time and Tide was titled “Bonbons of Gall.” Graham Greene wrote to a friend that he intended to “kill” Aldington’s book, and he penned a review for The London Magazine that was so incendiary it could not be published for fear of libel charges from Aldington, who was very much alive.

Greene maliciously sent Aldington the review and asked for permission to publish it. Naturally, Aldington refused and reached out to friends for help putting together a pamphlet attacking Douglas’ defenders. Frieda Lawrence contributed a story about how Douglas once casually offered her a boy of 14, saying that he preferred them younger. But the pamphlet was so intemperate that a lawyer said it would run afoul of the libel laws and could not be published.

The danger of choosing to forget?

Aldington was forced to retreat. With “Pinorman” disparaged by its reviewers, Aldington was discredited. It seemed that Douglas’ friends had won the battle.

But Aldington won the war. The truth was out there, and Douglas’ reputation was permanently injured.

In the decades that followed many would-be biographers tried their hand at writing Douglas’ story; time and again they failed. Douglas simply could not be remembered as a great writer in the face of the allegations against him. Only one comprehensive biography, titled “Norman Douglas,” has ever been published about him. It came out in 1976, during a rare moment of sexual openness; even so, the publisher almost nixed the manuscript after 10 years of work by its author, Mark Holloway.

Today Douglas is a forgotten writer. When the truth about his sexual relations with children was fully exposed after his death he became an impossible figure to memorialize.

Over time, it’s likely that Michael Jackson’s memory will be similarly eroded. The television show “The Simpsons” has already pulled its 1991 episode featuring Jackson. His name will likely be taken down from public monuments. People will be hesitant to produce new versions of his music. His influence will live on, but it will be difficult to commemorate his work.

Perhaps that is for the best. But maybe it isn’t.

Reluctance to preserve the memory of the extensive history of sex between adults and children leaves society ill-equipped to recognize and handle child sexual abuse today. A culture that is caught up in narratives that identify pedophiles as monsters has a hard time recognizing when beloved figures, like Michael Jackson, are molesting children right before its eyes.

There is need for history to remember abusers and to remember them in all their complexity. If Jackson’s memory is preserved, maybe it will be easier to see the present more clearly.

2020 Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, left, meets with Sarah Bass of Boone, after a rally, Saturday, March 9, 2019, at the Iowa state fairgrounds in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Matthew Putney)

FILE- In this Jan. 16, 2019, file photo Julian Castro, former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and candidate for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, speaks to the media at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, N.H. Castro isn’t ruling out direct payments to African-Americans for the legacy of slavery, a stand separating him from his 2020 rivals. The former housing secretary says, “If under the Constitution we compensate people because we take their property, why wouldn’t you compensate people who actually were property.’’ (AP Photo/Mary Schwalm, File)

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., speaks to local residents Friday, March 8, 2019, in the Queens borough of New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

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Report Shows Concerning Divide Between Portland Cops and the Public


Portland Police Bureau

The Portland Police Bureau’s relationship with the public is fraught.

For those who’ve been following the recent community meetings, tense city hall press conferences, and numerous fatal encounters with Portland officers, this should come as no surprise.

However, the city now has numbers to support this assumption.

On Tuesday, the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) released a 52-page document outlining the public and police officer perceptions of the PPB’s role in Portland, based on a series of surveys, focus groups, one-on-one interviews, and public meetings. The report, conducted by an outside consultant, was created to inform the police bureau’s five-year strategic plan—a new roadmap for the bureau that PPB’s expected to release sometime before May. Here are the major takeaways from the wide-reaching report:

Communities of color deeply distrust Portland police:

A whopping 73 percent of all community members surveyed believe that the PPB “considers race and ethnicity when enforcing the law.” Eighty-five percent of African Americans who were surveyed believe PPB policies are only fair and effective sometimes, if at all.

Twenty five percent of African American surveyed feel “comfortable and safe” interacting with Portland officers. And 38 percent of surveyed African Americans “do not trust the police at all.” That number grows to 45 percent among American Indian Portlanders surveyed.

Even those inside the police department believe race plays a discriminatory role in their job—the report found that 48 percent of surveyed officers believe race influences the way an employee is treated.

Police aren’t able to genuinely engage with members of the public:

Due to a perceived (and real) challenge to recruit new police officers to fill vacant positions, Portland officers don’t feel like they are able to adequately meet the public’s community engagement standards—like attending community meetings or introducing themselves to neighbors in their service area. According to the report, 84 percent of community members say their experience with PPB officers participating in “authentic community engagement” is limited. And what little exists seems forced.

The report includes this unattributed quote from a surveyed community member: “Community engagement in Portland is a public relations effort, not a priority. It’s not authentic. You have to listen.”

Community members noted that police officers’ “militarized appearance” dissuades the public from interacting with officers in more casual settings. The report identified that, among community members, the “top barrier” to creating an effective police force is excessive use of force.

The system in which PPB operates undermines progress and accountability:

Only half of PPB officers say they are not afraid to hold their organization accountable. (The other half is unsure or disagrees.) And 46 percent of surveyed officers believe “change is not possible at PPB.”

The public can sense this vague unease. “The community believes accountability in the PPB is lacking, demonstrated by a perception of tolerance for bias and racism, past union decisions, and a lack of transparency in disciplinary action and decision making,” the report reads.

Police are unclear about the role they’re expected to play in Portland:

Thirty percent of PPB officers surveyed found the bureau’s “organizational goals unclear. “Interpretation of certain policies and procedures varies across leadership,” the report reads.

Out of caution, it appears officers are simply avoiding confrontation that could clash with bureau policies or take them to court. Some 95 percent of all officers are “less willing to stop and question people who seem suspicious,” because of the negative public perception around local policing.

Analysts say this could be linked to unstable or unsupportive leadership within the bureau. “Leadership consistency – their vision, their focus, their voice – has a tremendous impact on the effectiveness of organizational operations,” the report reads.

Politics get in the way of meaningful reform:

“PPB and city leadership, as it relates to Police Bureau issues, are seen as making decisions based on the best interests of politics, rather than the best interest of the PPB and Portland’s community members,” reads the report.

Analysts use Portland’s houseless crisis to illustrate this problem. “Without the political will to comprehensively address Portland’s houseless crisis, the PPB will continue to serve as first responders to Portland’s houseless community,” the report reads. “This role as first responder requires a different skill set than is currently recruited and trained for.”

Officers also see politics taking a role in the basic training they receive. “Some officers believe that important trainings on shoot/don’t shoot scenarios and non-lethal force have taken a back seat to de-escalation, mental health and implicit bias training due to political and community pressures.”

While officers say they see value in these prioritized trainings, they’re worried that they won’t be prepared for basic, but critical, scenarios.

The report also points to growing tensions between the police bureau and mayor’s office, which is often amplified by statements made by the Portland Police Association, PPB’s union.

“There is a perceived conflict of interest given the city’s leadership structure and the Mayor’s position as the [Police] Commissioner,” the report finds. “Even when the community and PPB staff align on changes, the labor union can, at times, undermine these changes, limiting the ability for progress in certain areas.”

Police aren’t receiving crucial behavior health care:

Over half of PPB officers surveyed said that they are “burnt out, frustrated, and emotionally exhausted” by their work. Few feel comfortable talking about it with their supervisor, though.

“The internal culture at PPB is not aligned with effective officer wellness and wellness is not prioritized,” the report finds “Some officers and professional staff believe that there is a stigma against coming forward with wellness concerns.”

Community members aren’t thrilled local cops—who are often the first called to respond to a mental health crisis—aren’t getting the mental health care they need.

A quote from an unnamed community members: “Officers also need ongoing and compulsory mental health care for themselves as members of an inherently stressful workplace.”

The public sees police as as the “other”—and vice-versa:

Portland police are considered community “outsiders” by 71 percent of the surveyed community members. (Technically, this is true. Only 18 percent of Portland police live within the city’s limits). The majority of the community believes that the PPB don’t always have “the best interest of the communities they serve in mind.”

PPB officers feel equally misunderstood. Ninety-one percent of surveyed officers don’t believe the public understands “what it means to be a cop.”

‘Rosenwald’ will be shown in Davis Auditorium at Skidmore College March 24

Julius Rosenwald in a reflective moment from the documentary “Rosenwald”  to be screened at Skidmøre on March 24.

SARATOGA SPRINGS– The Saratoga Jewish Community Arts will present “Rosenwald,” a documentary directed by Aviva Kempner at the Skidmore College Davis Auditorium on Sunday, March 24, at 7 p.m. The documentary will be followed by a panel discussion and a dessert reception.

Kempner begins the film by focusing her inquisitive lens on a mystifying anomaly. Who is the white man prominently framed on the wall of many predominately black schools located throughout the American South?  This question turns out to be the thread that unravels a historical yarn.

In the early years of the 20th century, Julius Rosenwald, son of German Jewish immigrants, an entrepreneur, a profit driven businessman and a devoted philanthropist, donated millions to the construction of more than 5,300 schools in African American communities in the rural South.

After being introduced to Booker T. Washington and “as a member of a despised minority,” The northern businessman part-owner and leader of Sears, Roebuck and Company, focused his attention and his tremendous wealth on the plight of southern blacks. Through an alliance with B.T. Washington, Rosenwald funded and built community schools for black children throughout the south in the era of segregation. He gave grants that supported black artists, musicians, and writers who became a substantial portion of the black cultural and intellectual leaders in the 20th century.
Some of his schools were burned down by the Ku Klux Klan. He rebuilt them, sometimes over and over. The masterstroke in Rosenwald’s building program was his insistence that he would provide a third of the funding if the respective community would contribute the rest. These schools weren’t handed down from the heavens; they were built from the ground up by the very people whose children attended them.
What inspired Julius Rosenwald?” asks Jewish Community Arts Coordinator, Phyllis Wang. “It was not only the autobiography of. and later relationship with Booker T Washington, and the biography of William H. Baldwin Jr., a white industrialist who became a leading advocate for African American education in the late 19th century, but also the Jewish principles of tikkun olam (repairing the world) and tzedakah (righteousness often in the form of charitable giving).”

Washington-based documentarian Kempner has also celebrated celebrating Jewish American achievement in films Like “The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg” (1998) and “Yoo-Hoo Mrs. Goldberg” (2009).
A $5 admission /donation is requested. Information or reservations may be obtained by calling 518-584-8730, opt. 2.

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