We have spoken to your mother. We know everything.
British children as young as nine are being forced to marry against their will by their families, campaigners have warned.
Charities supporting victims of forced marriages report growing numbers of young teenagers and children seeking help.
They are urging schools to take tougher action where they suspect pupils are at risk, and to monitor their rolls carefully and raise the alarm when children disappear.
Thousands of Britons - mainly young women from the Asian communities - are thought to be victims of forced marriage each year, but concerns are increasingly focused on the plight of underage girls who are being offered for marriage to foreign men when they have barely left primary school.
No accurate figures exist for the scale of the problem, although the Government's Forced Marriage Unit has helped rescue around 60 children aged 15 or under in the past four years - including 11 so far in 2008 - and experts fear that may represent only the tip of the iceberg.
Typically victims are taken overseas by their families on a false pretext and forced to marry. Extreme cases where women rebel against their family's plans and try to run away have led to so-called 'honour killings' or suicides.
Ministers angered campaigners two years ago by dropping plans to make it a criminal offence to force someone to marry, after Muslim groups objected strongly to the plans.
A charity operating a national helpline on forced marriage, Karma Nirvana, yesterday highlighted one incident where a nine-year-old girl from a Pakistani family in the east Midlands was taken into care after her parents told her she was to be married.
Director Jasvinder Sanghera said that on average one child a week aged under 16 had sought assistance since the helpline launched in April.
'The youngest child we have dealt with was nine years old,' she said. 'The girl told her teacher she was going to be forced to marry someone and initially she was not believed.
'Ultimately, with the help of the Forced Marriage Unit, she was dealt with through child protection procedures. She was assessed and, thankfully, taken into foster care.'
The Forced Marriage Unit, jointly funded by the Home Office and Foreign Office, deals with around 5,000 calls and 300 known cases a year, while a third of all inquiries come from under-18s. Some 15 per cent of cases involve boys being forced to marry.
The youngest victim rescued and repatriated to Britain by the unit was an 11-year-old girl who was flown back from Bangladesh last year after her parents tried to make her marry a local man.
Ms Sanghera, who herself fled home after being threatened with forced marriage at the age of 15, said: 'I currently have cases involving four children aged 11 to 14 who were forced to marry or were at risk, and have now been made wards of court.
'You don't just get forced into a marriage at 16 or 17. This is happening to very young children. We certainly have had cases of minors being sexually abused.
'But we have no idea how many children under 16 are at risk, and this is compounded by a reluctance of schools to engage with the issue. Many schools shy away due to supposed cultural sensitivities.'
She added: 'These marriages can be prevented by identifying the signs in school or teachers believing pupils when they raise it.'
The problem is believed to be particularly prevalent in Pakistani communities, she said, where many parents arrange to marry their children to first cousins.
The charity is calling for a formal system of headcounts before and after summer holidays, so that schools can identify children who disappear without explanation.
A report by Parliament's Home Affairs Select Committee earlier this year said more than 2,000 pupils were unaccounted for in just 14 local council areas across England and Wales.
Plans to make forced marriage a specific crime were dropped by ministers in 2006 following a Muslim community backlash, although new laws passed last year gave courts new powers to issue injunctions preventing a young person from marrying or being taken abroad - any breach of which by parents would constitute a crime.
Rival Somali pirates arguing over what to do with a hijacked Ukrainian ship and its cargo of 33 tanks engaged in a shootout on board, killing three of their number, a maritime group said on Tuesday.
In the most high-profile of this year's wave of hijackings off lawless Somalia, pirates seized the MV Faina six days ago and have demanded $20 million in ransom.
U.S. navy ships are shadowing the boat, whose capture has sparked controversy over the destination of its cargo and thrown a spotlight on rampant piracy in one of the world's busiest shipping areas connecting Europe to Asia and the Middle East.
Andrew Mwangura, of the East African Seafarers' Assistance Programme, said factions among the roughly 50 pirates on board had argued over whether to free the cargo and 20-man crew.
"The radicals on board do not want to listen to anyone," said Mr. Mwangura, whose Kenya-based group is monitoring the saga via relatives of the crew and the pirates. "The moderates want to back-peddle. The Americans are close, so everyone is tense. There was a shootout and three of the pirates were shot dead."
The U.S. navy has said the ship, which was heading for Kenya's Mombasa port, was carrying T-72 tanks, grenade-launchers and ammunition ultimately bound for south Sudan via Kenya.
Such a shipment could violate the terms of a north-south peace pact in Sudan unless specifically authorised by both sides who signed a 2005 truce after more than two decades of war.
Kenya says the armoury was for its military.
Taking advantage of chaos on shore, where an Islamist-led insurgency has raged for nearly two years, Somali pirates have seized more than 30 ships this year and attacked many more.
Most attacks have been in the Gulf of Aden between Yemen and north Somalia, a major global sea artery used by about 20,000 vessels a year heading to and from Suez, including Gulf oil shipments. The pirates have also struck in the busy Indian Ocean waters off south Somalia.
With U.S. and French military bases in the area, many are unhappy with the lack of international action.
"If civil aircraft were being hijacked on a daily basis, the response of governments would be very different," top shipping trade bodies and transport unions said in a joint statement.
"Yet ships, which are the lifeblood of the global economy, are seemingly out of sight and out of mind."
As well as building new homes and taking new wives onshore, the increasingly rich pirates have bought speedboats, satellite phones and other equipment to aid their trade. They, and middlemen acting as financiers, are making millions in ransoms.
"There is a striking similarity between the actions of these unscrupulous pirates and the activity in ‘blood diamonds' in Liberia and Sierra Leone during the civil wars in these countries," said U.N. envoy to Somalia, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah.
"No ship, big or small, civil or military, is spared. With the seizure of the Ukrainian ship, a new line has been crossed."
He said higher insurance prices for goods coming to the region were adding to hardships around the Horn of Africa.
U.S. analyst J. Peter Pham, of Madison University, called for a united international naval response, more attention on solving Somalia's civil conflict, and better protection equipment on board commercial vessels.
"Many have done little aside from being prepared to pay ransoms which only perpetuate the cycle of violence," he wrote in a new report on the Somali piracy phenomenon.
Anger runs deep. It is aimed at financiers, who first earned huge and conspicuous bonuses and now successfully force taxpayers to pay for their mistakes. It is also aimed at financial markets, whose merits have been oversold.
The mantra that financial markets always allocate resources better was never true. Financial markets suffer from very serious failures, chiefly information asymmetry. The subprime saga started with beneficial risk diversification until it became a channel for contagion. The saga also revealed the depth of herding among financial institutions – the exact opposite of risk diversification among them. Having followed the same strategy, they all suffered simultaneous losses.
Financial operations are about risk-taking, which means uncertainty and, occasionally, crashes.
On this ground, anger is universal. US congressmen compete with themselves to lash out at the financiers who created this mess. But, outside the Anglo-American world, we see an outburst of resentment against the US and British approach to finance and banking. With people angry and scared at what may happen next, political leaders find it more difficult than usual to resist populist tendencies and seek to distance themselves from a possibly serious downturn. With market failures crudely in the limelight, they feel pressed to reassert the role of government. Nationalism is always a convenient spare wheel for difficult times.
Once again, Anglo-American capitalism is a bad word and globalisation is next in line. Speeches at this year’s United Nation General Assembly by leaders from every continent reveal the depth of contempt that has been lying low, buried underneath the apparent success of the globalisation process.
A first reason for this backlash is the delicate balance between individualism and solidarity. Americans are famously known to encourage and practise individual responsibility. In many other countries, solidarity is more highly valued and individualism is seen as the other side of egoism. Generous welfare states do not just reflect this view, they also create incentives to support collective insurance arrangements, even if they are inefficient. Adam Smith’s invisible hand, the assertion that individualism delivers the common best, is not popular: we know that his assertion is only approximately correct because it assumes that markets are perfect, which is not the case in practice.
Where individualism is considered a virtue, deviations from the ideal outcome are seen as a regrettable side-effect. But in most parts of the world, where individualism is considered morally wrong, the law of the market is tolerated as long as it delivers prosperity. When it fails, its legitimacy is soon questioned. The world’s major financial markets are in New York and London. No wonder, then, that anger is aimed at Anglo-American capitalism.
The second reason is related to the way financial markets operate. The US and the UK have championed arm’s-length finance, the financing of corporations through issuance of shares and bonds to anonymous stakeholders. Continental Europe – and south-east Asia – has long favoured face-to-face deals between entrepreneurs and bankers. Deals can be shoddy and cliquish, but they provide for some stability. Over the past two decades, arm’s-length finance has made headway in continental Europe, beating back the old boys’ networks. No wonder that the old boys are now hitting back.
Strikingly, Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, and Peer Steinbrück, the German finance minister, have both announced the end of Anglo-American financial supremacy. It is not clear what their prediction is based upon.
They have denounced excesses, such as bonuses, but that does not even begin to address the root cause of the crisis. They have described financial markets as unregulated. This is simply wrong. Financial markets are tightly regulated. The problem is not just that the regulation is inappropriate, but also that supervisors have not enforced it.
We knew of the hundreds of billions of dollars in dubious claims parked off bank balance sheets in a clear effort at circumventing existing regulations. Regulatory arbitrage, as this is called, has gone unchecked for years.
Both leaders had harsh words for “speculation”, but this misses the fact that finance is speculation. Both zeroed in on short selling. Short selling is like cars. Drivers can be reckless; disciplining them seems more reasonable than banning cars. Denouncing market short-termism runs against evidence that markets better predict companies’ long-term performance than their own managers.
Mr Sarkozy and Mr Steinbrück may be simply captured by their own old boys, but the fate of Fortis, the Belgo-Dutch banking and insurance group, may give them second thoughts. Pain is travelling across the Atlantic and could hurt more good European banks. Mr Sarkozy promised that no French depositor would ever suffer any loss from any French bank. He might soon find the price tag pretty steep.
So will Anglo-American capitalism fade away? Maybe, but that will be decided in Washington, not Paris and Berlin. One thing is sure, neither France nor Germany can mount a serious challenge, at least as long as their people and leaders mistrust and misunderstand finance.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ordered her Majority Whip, Jim Clyburn, to essentially not do his job in the runup to the vote on Monday for the negotiated Wall Street bailout plan, according to House Democrat leadership aides.
"Clyburn was not whipping the votes you would have expected him to, in part because he was uncomfortable doing it, in part because we didn't want the push for votes to be successful," says one leadership aide. "All we needed was enough to potentially get us over the finish line, but we wanted the Republicans to be the ones to do it. This was not going to be a Democrat-passed bill if the Speaker had anything to say about it."
During the floor vote, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and House Democrat Conference chair Rahm Emanuel could be seen monitoring the vote on the floor, and gauging whether or not more Democrat votes were needed. Clyburn had expressed concerns, says the leadership aide, of being asked to press members of the Black and Hispanic caucuses on a bill he was certain those constituencies would not want passed.
"It worked out, because we didn't have a dog in this fight. We negotiated. We gave the White House a bill. It was up to the Republicans to get the 100 plus votes they needed and they couldn't do it," said another Democrat leadership aide.
Emanuel, who served as a board member for Freddie Mac, one of the agencies that precipitated the economic crisis the nation now finds itself in, had no misgivings about taking a leadership role in tanking the bill. "He was cheerleading us along, mothering the votes," says the aide. "We wanted enough to put the pressure on the Republicans and Congressman Emanuel was charged with making it close enough. He did a great job."
Pelosi and her aides have made it clear they were not going to "whip" or twist the arms of members who did not want to vote, but they also made no effort to rally any support for a bill they attempted to hijack over the weekend.
Further, according to House Oversight Committee staff, Emanuel has received assurances from Pelosi that she will not allow what he termed a "witch hunt" to take place during the next Congressional session over the role Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac played in the economic crisis.
Emanuel apparently is concerned the roles former Clinton Administration members may have played in the mortgage industry collapse could be politically -- or worse, if the Department of Justice had its way, legally -- treacherous for many.
But that’s what happened to David Huckvale, 42, who needed a £40,000 bionic leg to walk again.
The father-of-two popped down to his local pub on the same day surgeon Alistair Gibson, who specialises in fitting the computer-controlled limb, was there for a pint.
When the two happened to meet Mr Gibson mentioned he had a spare leg and could fit Mr Huckvale for free.
Mr Huckvale had his leg amputated when he was 29 after a benign tumour was removed.
Before the chance encounter, he had been limping around in a false leg, which didn’t fit properly and walked with the help of crutches and was sometimes in a wheelchair.
Mr Huckvale had read about the bionic leg available in the US and was saving for one – but had only managed to put away a fraction of the required £40,000.
He even bought a lottery ticket every week in the hope he might get a windfall.
Mr Huckvale told the Sunday Mirror: “I have been blessed by a miracle. I can now play in the garden with my two girls. Alistair has given me my life back.”
Mr Gibson said he was pleased to have been able to help.
A day after a 5-foot-tall yellow contraption appeared on the immaculately kept sidewalk outside the Hilton hotel, doorman Howard Golden walked circles around it, eyeing it suspiciously.
Then he pronounced his verdict on Atlanta's latest jab at its runaway panhandling problem: donation meters.
"This is one of the dumbest things I've seen in my life," said the New York City transplant. The way he figures it, nothing will stop a determined panhandler from making a day's pay. Certainly not a meter.
"I'm just waiting for someone to steal it," he said.
Panhandling is the No. 2 complaint about the city, behind traffic. Atlanta leaders have spent years battling an ever expanding and contracting swarm of beggars, credited with frightening tourists, driving away downtown business and being a general pain.
Now the city is asking victims — from conventioneers to everyday pedestrians passing a buck to keep the peace — to stop the problem themselves by cutting off panhandlers' income at the source.
Spare change plopped into meters instead of panhandlers' palms will be collected and distributed to social service groups, a new approach in a city that's tried everything from bans to police stings to curb some of the nation's most aggressive begging.
But with victims as weary of gimmicks as they are of panhandlers, success may be slow in coming.
Research in some cities shows panhandlers earn as much as $50,000 a year.
Parking meter-like donation stations designed to redirect some of that money began popping up downtown Sept. 11. Twenty-four hours later, few around the city seemed to consider them worth their dime.
"This will be a great way to do some good," said Jeff McCord, a state worker who nonetheless breezed by the meter installed at City Hall. No change, he said.
He was like many pedestrians who bypassed the meters, their annoyance with panhandlers overshadowed by their indifference to any attempts to make them go away.
Marie Brewer glanced at the one outside City Hall, but shook her head when asked if she'd donate. She questioned how her change would be used.
"They take it ... you don't know where it will end up," Brewer said.
Officials have placed five meters at prominent spots in the tourist heavy business corridor, where "spangers" — slang for spare change beggars — typically lurk.
Posters around the city encourage tourists and pedestrians to feed the meters instead of panhandlers. Resource cards list shelters and other places to find help for the fraction of panhandlers who officials believe are actually destitute.
The concept looks great on paper.
On city streets? Not so much.
"You think a guy's gonna let you put money in here?" said Golden, who's sure aggressive panhandlers would intervene if someone walked up to feed the meters.
Indeed, Atlanta panhandlers have a reputation for being pushy and at times violent. On Sept. 2, police arrested a man they say was a panhandler who shot and killed a Florida man at a gas station after begging him for money.
The city has tried to tackle the problem before. A three-year-old panhandling ban meant to silence beggars faltered after victims — usually tourists — refused to return for prosecutions.
Earlier this month, police wrapped up a 30-day sting involving plainclothes officers mimicking tourists and other pedestrians. Once they were panhandled, they essentially became victims guaranteed to show up for a trial.
The sting netted 50 arrests for violations of the panhandling ban. It was a small dent among the dozens of panhandlers that line entire blocks.
Police say they can do only so much. It's up to the victims to cut panhandlers off.
"We do know the reason people are coming back is because they're getting money," said Wilma Sothern, vice president of marketing with Central Atlanta Progress, a revitalization group that has partnered with the city and tourism groups to curb panhandling.
She and other city leaders looked to cities like Denver for inspiration.
Pedestrians there were giving as much as $4.5 million a year to panhandlers before the city installed 86 meters last year, said Jamie Van Leeuwen, who helps oversee the effort through Denver's Road Home, an anti-homelessness initiative.
The project has generated over $15,000 in coins.
Meters have been installed in such places as Chattanooga, Tenn., St. Louis and Baltimore, which got the first batch in the nation. In coming months, the city will add 25 meters to the nine it has, said Kirby Fowler, president of the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore.
Still, the biggest help has to come from folks like Daniel and Danielle Corenchuk, tourists from Fort Stewart, Ga., who were approached by panhandlers five times their first day in town.
"I had a man sing me a nice song ... 'Cupid, draw back your bow,'" Danielle said, chuckling.
She rewarded the soloist with 75 cents she wouldn't likely feed into a meter.
After all, the panhandler had a nicer voice.
As long as the Palestinian world was divided into two separate entities only on the physical level, this could go on, yet in January this world will be divided into two on the legal front as well - a development that would mark the ultimate collapse of Palestinian politics.And finally, once Hamas thwarts the prospect of elections it will end the Palestinian dreams of unity and make it clear that we are dealing with two peoples with two destinies. As such, the Palestinian vision will spread across four countries: Gaza, Judea and Samaria, Jordan, and Israel – not bad for someone who doesn’t even have one state.
What happened in 1936 and in 1948 is happening to the Palestinians this time around as well: On January 14, 2009, in about four months, 73-year-old Mahmoud Abbas’ term in office will end, and the storm shall start.
Hamas will not allow elections to be held in the Gaza Strip, most certainly when the presidential candidate is Abbas or another Fatah figure. As a result, it would be impossible to hold presidential elections. Hamas is waiting for this exact scenario to materialize in order to argue that according to the Palestinian constitution and election law, a retired president should be replaced by the parliament speaker.
The current parliament speaker is a Hamas man, Aziz Dweik, after Hamas has taken over the Palestinian parliament, which is not functioning in fact. Dweik has been detained by Israel, however, and therefore Hamas argues that the next president should be his deputy, Ahmed Bahar, who is of course also a Hamas man. This is how Hamas intends to fully take over the territories.
So what are the conclusions of these scenarios?
Gaza constitutes the Palestinian state. It has complete sovereignty, even though it is isolated and unrecognized. Not only does it no longer maintain any connection with the Judea and Samaria kingdom, they are hostile entities at this time.
The Israeli government’s desire to reach a diplomatic solution with Abbas by the end of the year is unfeasible. In the coming months, Abbas will become radical in respect to his words and deeds. It is no coincidence that he went to visit Samir Kuntar in Lebanon, and that he constantly declares that the refugees will return to Israel. Abbas will be radicalizing his statements and objectives so he is not accused of capitulating to Israel.
All of the Palestinian Authority’s institutions are not functioning, a fact that turns it into an artificial entity, which is operating at the mercy of the terrible enemy, Israel, both in Gaza and in Judea and Samaria. Israel, and only Israel, is sparing the Palestinians a political, economic, and social collapse.
We reached the absurd situation whereby everything hinges on Abbas at this time. Condoleezza Rice’s artificial support for Abbas has turned him into a major player: If he stays, there will seemingly be a diplomatic solution, yet if he goes, everything will collapse along with him. How absurd!
This status, which grants Abbas great weight and importance, also reflects great weakness. How can we reach an agreement with him when he doesn’t represent a large part of his own Authority? How can we reach a deal with him when his future presidency is undemocratic? In practice, he has dissolved the parliament, established an illegal government without getting the required permission from parliament, and now he may extend his own term in office. And what will happen if at the same time we will see another Palestinian, and a Hamas man at that, assuming the role of president?
An almost sole outlet for the Palestinian distress may be a new type of Intifada or some kind of other military activity against Israel that would reunite Palestinian forces. Tzipi Livni’s term in office, should she become prime minister, would encourage them to do so as they would perceive Israel to be weakening. Are we ready for this? In the midst of the leadership vacuum that we are facing and our leaders’ shallowness, is anyone preparing for a Palestinian collapse, which will of course affect us too?
During the early 1970s, the school I was at experienced a surge in enrollment. The yield that year — percentage of students accepts to those who enrolled — was extremely high, too high, in fact, in relation to the number of dormitory rooms available to house incoming students. Thus, what was great for the university’s bottom line created a problem. Where were we going to put these students? One option that appeared was an off-campus dormitory at a local theological seminary that had the opposite problem: not enough students to fill its quarters. However, when the students on my own campus heard about the off-campus alternative, they “requested” (a.k.a. protested) the administration to create triples out of the resident halls’ doubles and keep everyone around the quad. We obliged, converted student lounges into rooms, put bunk beds in the doubles and the extra students were in residence on site.
Fast forward eight years, two complete academic cycles, and the undergraduates came to the administration and protested (a.k.a requested) that the triples on campus be re-converted into doubles because the overcrowding was creating too many social problems: long lines for bathrooms, too noisy, difficulties in the dining halls, etc. We obliged, opened up the lounges, took out the bunk beds and extra closet units, and reduced occupancy. We found an off-campus dormitory at the local theological seminary that still had unused rooms. No joke. Not a single student from Protest No. 2 had any memory of Protest No. 1. Tabula rasa.
From the September 15, 2008 Columbia Daily Spectator:
“Columbia has not allowed ROTC programs to operate on campus for over 40 years, when the military training groups were banned as a statement of opposition to the Vietnam War. More recently, the University Senate — the highest body of administrative, faculty, and student representatives which makes recommendations to the University’s Board of Trustees — has reaffirmed the ban, citing opposition to the U.S. military’s ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy. Final decisions on university policy rest with the board of trustees. Students who are interested in ROTC can join programs at other schools.”
Policy decisions are affected by current environment. Columbia’s administration responded to the anti-war fervor on campus with a policy change — no more ROTC (Reserve Officers’ Training Corps) on campus. They reacted once again, to affirm the no-ROTC policy, when the military’s position on homosexuality and the campus community’s position were in conflict. But the issues surrounding ROTC have changed once again, and now there is a movement to reinstate the military’s presence on campus.
ROTC on non-military campus (distinguished from the service academies) accomplishes several things: educates students who will become officers in the military with supplemental skills beyond traditional academic disciplines, such as leadership, personal and professional codes of conduct, strategic problem solving, military tactics, and others areas. Enrollment in the ROTC program comes with financial assistance and military service obligations.
While I believe that keeping gay people from serving the country is wrong and foolish, unsound and un-American, I found the actions directed against ROTC to be unpersuasive and unproductive. They did not get the job done. Our military is under civilian authority: Policies put in place by the military are subject to approval by a chain of command that goes through the secretary of defense to the commander-in-chief. Each of the branches of the military has a non-military leader, Secretary of the Army, Navy, Air Force, etc. Congress and the administration control the military; or, to put it another way, the military takes orders from “we the people.” And our military needs all the talent it can get.
Yet the ROTC programs became lightening rods for anti-war and equal-rights policies. Students who effectively shut down ROTC programs were denying their fellow students the right of freedom of choice, to be engaged in public service, and here is where the past meets the present.
Presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain recently spoke at a forum on public service held at Columbia University. Both men proclaimed their support for the encouragement of public service by many sectors of the population: college students and beyond, in many fields of endeavor — education, health, social service — in urban and rural communities — full time, part time, for pay, or as volunteers. The tone of the meetings was to invigorate a spirit of service into the national consciousness, a subject many will recall I have addressed in the past.
But in their remarks, both Obama and McCain also voiced support for the reintroduction of ROTC to campus in order to give students the right to select the military as an avenue to engage in public service. They pointed out the irony of holding a public service conference on a campus that has limited the rights of its students to support the military. Obama put it into context when he said, “I recognize that there are students here who have differences in terms of military policy … But the notion that young people here at Columbia … aren’t offered the choice, the option of participating in military service, I think is a mistake.” And McCain pointed out, “the attractiveness of serving in the military, particularly as an officer.”
As an aside, in an odd “compromise,” Columbia and Harvard allow their students to enroll in ROTC on other campuses! Is this the campus equivalent of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy?
The Columbia campus is gearing up for a referendum on the subject, most likely to take place after the presidential election in November. As a Columbia alumnus of the Class of 1959, I vote for the return of ROTC and for fair treatment of all who seek to serve their country without regard for their sexual orientation. Patriots come in all forms.
The CRA requires that each depository institution's record in helping meet the credit needs of its entire community be evaluated periodically. That record is taken into account in considering an institution's application for deposit facilities.One can almost imagine a CRA commissar saying, "It'd be a real shame if something happened to that nice bank of yours." When in doubt about potential CRA liability, don't risk committing a crime against diversity: make the loan. Or else.
Neither the CRA nor its implementing regulation gives specific criteria for rating the performance of depository institutions. Rather, the law indicates that the evaluation process should accommodate an institution's individual circumstances.
Subject: The Birk Economic Recovery Plan
I’m against the $85,000,000,000.00 bailout of AIG.
Instead, I’m in favor of giving $85,000,000,000 to America in a “We Deserve it Dividend”.
To make the math simple, let’s assume there are 200,000,000 bona fide U.S. Citizens 18+.
Our population is about 301,000,000 +/- counting every man, woman and child. So 200,000,000 might be a fair stab at adults 18 and up..
So divide 200 million adults 18+ into $85 billon that equals $425,000.00.
My plan is to give $425,000 to every person 18+ as a We Deserve It Dividend.
Of course, it would NOT be tax free. So let’s assume a tax rate of 30%.
Every individual 18+ has to pay $127,500.00 in taxes. That sends $25,500,000,000 right back to Uncle Sam.
But it means that every adult 18+ has $297,500.00 in their pocket. A husband and wife have $595,000.00.
What would you do with $297,500.00 to $595,000.00 in your family?
Remember this is for every adult U S Citizen 18+ including the folks who lost their jobs at Lehman Brothers and every other company that is cutting back. and of course, for those serving in our Armed Forces.
If we’re going to re-distribute wealth let’s really do it…instead of trickling out a puny $1000.00 ( “vote buy” ) economic incentive that is being proposed by one of our candidates for President.
If we’re going to do an $85 billion bailout, let’s bail out every adult U S Citizen 18+!
As for AIG.
Let the private sector bargain hunters cut it up and clean it up.
Here’s my rationale. We deserve it and AIG doesn’t.
Sure it’s a crazy idea that can “never work.”
But can you imagine the Coast-To-Coast Block Party!
How do you spell Economic Boom?
I trust my fellow adult Americans to know how to use the $85 Billion We Deserve It Dividend more than I do the geniuses at AIG or in Washington DC.
And remember, The Birk plan only really costs $59.5 Billion because $25.5 Billion is returned instantly in taxes to Uncle Sam.
Ahhh…I feel so much better getting that off my chest.
Kindest personal regards,
T. J. Birkenmeier, A Creative Guy & Citizen of the Republic
PS: Feel free to pass this along to your pals as it’s either good for a laugh or a tear or a very sobering thought on how to best use $85
May want to even flood Congress with this message!!!
Clowns — make that 21 naked clowns— are coming to haunt your dreams. Graduates of San Francisco's Clown Conservatory Class of 2008 have stripped down to their birthday suits to make a 2009 Naked Clown Calendar, a joyful and humourous work of art the clowns hope to sell in honor of a beloved mentor paralysed from the effects of multiple sclerosis (MS) and others stricken with the disease. These aren't the usual photos of clowns at kids' parties or falling out of cars. No, they're photos of clowns tumbling though the air, performing songs in the park or flying out of cannons — with pies and top hats hiding the naughty bits. "Our goal was to create this sort of craziness in your mind," says Chad Benjamin Potter, the lead clown on the project. "When you think of clowns you think of costumes and makeup and hair. When you think naked clowns, that's something else entirely." The idea came about when clowns studying their first year at the San Francisco Circus Center's Clown Conservatory started talking about how great they felt, physically, thanks to all the training. They also felt they'd bonded in a unique way. They started talking about what they could do together and the idea of a clown calendar came up. Next thing they knew, someone suggested doing it in the buff. "But of course we wanted to do something that everyone can enjoy," Potter says, noting the calendar does offer a touch of modesty. "I am going to sell (the calendar) to my grandmother and I also want to sell it to my niece and my nephew." In the city's Sunset District, Judy Finelli's eyes are bright as she offers a guest to have a look at the Naked Clown Calender a home helper placed in her lap. Finelli, 60, is a lifelong clown who co-founded the San Francisco School for Circus Arts, now the Circus Center. In 1989 she was diagnosed with MS. Today she is quadriplegic. Sales of the calendar will help raise money for the Judy Finelli Fund, a non-profit organization set up through the Circus Center. The fund works with the MS Foundation of Florida to do advocacy and research. It also will provide scholarships to people with MS who want to do circus arts "It's done with a smile, it's done with a wink-wink-nudge-nudge kind of thing," Finelli says of the calendar, which she clearly enjoys. "I'm grateful they put me on the back of the calendar, but I'm also grateful they didn't ask me to strip!" The photography was done by art student Gabriela Alonso in a studio and, secretly, in public places. LaRena R. Iocco, who shares August with her clowning partner Lindsey Jones, says taking her photos in a San Francisco park was "a little nervewracking but thrilling." A helper stood guard with bathrobes while Iocco and Jones posed in a grove of trees, a guitar and ukulele positioned just right. Photographer Alonso would steal as many shots as she could until the helper warned that someone was coming. "We would have to throw on bathrobes and just chill," Iocco says. The clowns have a lofty goal of raising $1 million selling the 16-month calendars. No word yet about what sheningans they've planned for 2010.
Clowns — make that 21 naked clowns— are coming to haunt your dreams.
Graduates of San Francisco's Clown Conservatory Class of 2008 have stripped down to their birthday suits to make a 2009 Naked Clown Calendar, a joyful and humourous work of art the clowns hope to sell in honor of a beloved mentor paralysed from the effects of multiple sclerosis (MS) and others stricken with the disease.
These aren't the usual photos of clowns at kids' parties or falling out of cars. No, they're photos of clowns tumbling though the air, performing songs in the park or flying out of cannons — with pies and top hats hiding the naughty bits.
"Our goal was to create this sort of craziness in your mind," says Chad Benjamin Potter, the lead clown on the project. "When you think of clowns you think of costumes and makeup and hair. When you think naked clowns, that's something else entirely." The idea came about when clowns studying their first year at the San Francisco Circus Center's Clown Conservatory started talking about how great they felt, physically, thanks to all the training. They also felt they'd bonded in a unique way. They started talking about what they could do together and the idea of a clown calendar came up. Next thing they knew, someone suggested doing it in the buff. "But of course we wanted to do something that everyone can enjoy," Potter says, noting the calendar does offer a touch of modesty. "I am going to sell (the calendar) to my grandmother and I also want to sell it to my niece and my nephew." In the city's Sunset District, Judy Finelli's eyes are bright as she offers a guest to have a look at the Naked Clown Calender a home helper placed in her lap. Finelli, 60, is a lifelong clown who co-founded the San Francisco School for Circus Arts, now the Circus Center. In 1989 she was diagnosed with MS. Today she is quadriplegic. Sales of the calendar will help raise money for the Judy Finelli Fund, a non-profit organization set up through the Circus Center. The fund works with the MS Foundation of Florida to do advocacy and research. It also will provide scholarships to people with MS who want to do circus arts "It's done with a smile, it's done with a wink-wink-nudge-nudge kind of thing," Finelli says of the calendar, which she clearly enjoys. "I'm grateful they put me on the back of the calendar, but I'm also grateful they didn't ask me to strip!" The photography was done by art student Gabriela Alonso in a studio and, secretly, in public places. LaRena R. Iocco, who shares August with her clowning partner Lindsey Jones, says taking her photos in a San Francisco park was "a little nervewracking but thrilling." A helper stood guard with bathrobes while Iocco and Jones posed in a grove of trees, a guitar and ukulele positioned just right. Photographer Alonso would steal as many shots as she could until the helper warned that someone was coming. "We would have to throw on bathrobes and just chill," Iocco says.
The idea came about when clowns studying their first year at the San Francisco Circus Center's Clown Conservatory started talking about how great they felt, physically, thanks to all the training. They also felt they'd bonded in a unique way. They started talking about what they could do together and the idea of a clown calendar came up. Next thing they knew, someone suggested doing it in the buff.
"But of course we wanted to do something that everyone can enjoy," Potter says, noting the calendar does offer a touch of modesty. "I am going to sell (the calendar) to my grandmother and I also want to sell it to my niece and my nephew." In the city's Sunset District, Judy Finelli's eyes are bright as she offers a guest to have a look at the Naked Clown Calender a home helper placed in her lap. Finelli, 60, is a lifelong clown who co-founded the San Francisco School for Circus Arts, now the Circus Center. In 1989 she was diagnosed with MS. Today she is quadriplegic. Sales of the calendar will help raise money for the Judy Finelli Fund, a non-profit organization set up through the Circus Center. The fund works with the MS Foundation of Florida to do advocacy and research. It also will provide scholarships to people with MS who want to do circus arts "It's done with a smile, it's done with a wink-wink-nudge-nudge kind of thing," Finelli says of the calendar, which she clearly enjoys. "I'm grateful they put me on the back of the calendar, but I'm also grateful they didn't ask me to strip!" The photography was done by art student Gabriela Alonso in a studio and, secretly, in public places. LaRena R. Iocco, who shares August with her clowning partner Lindsey Jones, says taking her photos in a San Francisco park was "a little nervewracking but thrilling." A helper stood guard with bathrobes while Iocco and Jones posed in a grove of trees, a guitar and ukulele positioned just right. Photographer Alonso would steal as many shots as she could until the helper warned that someone was coming. "We would have to throw on bathrobes and just chill," Iocco says.
The photography was done by art student Gabriela Alonso in a studio and, secretly, in public places.
"We would have to throw on bathrobes and just chill," Iocco says.
The clowns have a lofty goal of raising $1 million selling the 16-month calendars. No word yet about what sheningans they've planned for 2010.
Men and women are different psychologically because they are different biologically. We know this to be the case because biology has been shown to play a pivotal role in the perceptions we have of ourselves and our identity, both as individuals and as members of society.
One of the great ‘culture wars’ of the last century has been fought over gender identity. Differences in human biology were minimized or eradicated entirely. There is entire generation that has been taught that what is good for men is good for women and what is good for women is good for men. As a result, the reality that men and women have different needs is ignored. What separates men and women, according to the cultural dogma 0f this western new world order, is gender as defined by sexual organs only.
There are of course, other truths. Men spend most of their lives focused on leaving a mark, a legacy of some kind. They need to prove that their existence matters.
Women are different. They have a sense of worth and validity men do not have, primarily because biology dictates that they create and nurture. Women instead find their self worth in seeking recognition for who they are and what they mean to others.
(It is at this point that we wish to note we are speaking in generalities only. There are plenty of successful women achievers and plenty of nurturing men. We are painting with broad brush strokes so as to make clear the broader picture)
Boys come to understand and define their gender and identity by leaving their mothers. Boys are taught that they are not just like mother and in fact, must be different than mother to be boys. They detach to find their masculine identity.
Girls on the other hand, are taught to identify with their mother and as they mature, they develop deep attachments to their mothers (Harvard psychologist Carol Gilligan, author of In A Different Voice discusses these issues and the role biology plays in the moral development of children).
As we noted, feminine identity is most easily recognized by attachment and relating to mother (or maternal figures). Detachment for women is a much more difficult exercise. Masculine identity has it’s origins in detachment from mother. That detachment comes relatively easily for healthy boys. On the other hand, that encouragement to detach leaves boys with a lesser ability to relate. For better or worse, these are the issues that help define gender identity.
Any observer of children can easily recognize that a rule, boys tend to be more competitive and rule governed. Competition fosters independence and individual achievement. Rules make conflict mediation easy, so game can continue. Strict rules work in concert with competition. Who is faster or stronger can be easily measured if the playing field is level. Boys and men measure themselves with achievement.
It is also true that girls less competitive. They are at once more cooperative and more importantly at the same time, more concerned with feelings and even less concerned with rules. These qualities are absolutely needed to nurture. For example, when nurturing requires ‘breaking the rules,’ girls have no problem breaking the rules. An even playing field is the last things girls care about.
It ironic to note that young girls reaching puberty and early teenage years are inundated with the message that being a girl is being less than being ‘whole’ and that ‘wholeness’ is found in pursuing the same endeavors as boys. This idea, force fed to girls by way of popular culture and education has yielded tragic results. Overnight it seems, they have to learn new rules and compete in a game their in which their biology has not prepared them.
This of course places women in an almost no win, catch-22 position.
In defining humankind with a one size fits all parameter, popular culture has unfairly put an onerous burden on women.
We understand the qualities that define adulthood and maturity are many, not the least of which are independent and autonomous thinking, logical thinking and responsible actions and behaviors. These are masculine traits. They are measured and played out on a level playing field.
Women have become trapped by current culture. They can choose to be masculine and ‘adult’ or they can remain women and be perceived as less than their male counterparts. Popular culture and education have demanded that woman be both male and female and excoriate those who cannot ‘pull it off.’ As a result, a whole generation has come to deceive themselves and others, masquerading as anyone other than who they really are. This is a huge burden that has huge consequences. All too often, women who have chosen to be caretakers and nurturers are defined as deficient in their own moral development.
We know that boys and men need to achieve and accomplish to express their ‘natural selves.’ They do so via logical and fair rules, by way of defined and concrete actions. We also know that women are more naturally connected to others. They more easily focus on relationships and relating to others. Their natural empathy and intuitiveness (a biological function of nurturing) is decidedly not masculine in nature.
(It is at this point that we wish to reiterate that we are speaking in generalities only. There are plenty of successful women achievers and plenty of nurturing men. We are painting with broad brush strokes so as to make clear the broader picture)
Because we are less aware of who we are as men and women (with distinctions often blurred), the chasm between the sexes has deepened. At the beginning of the 21st century, it would appear as if we know more about physical chemistry than we do about human chemistry.
With men less sure of their own identity (’a child doesn’t need a father’) the quest for a more clear identity has taken on Quixotic proportions.
Men have always desired respect. If they didn’t get it, well, those were the breaks. Nowadays, many men demand respect simply by virtue of their existence (not unlike women ‘demanding’ special recognition by virtue of their anatomy). ‘I was dissed’ has been the cause of a whole lot of violence.
Real respect is of course, earned. Men want to earn respect because they ‘figured it out’ for themselves. The lessons learned can be big (’check out the house addition I put up’) or small (’I told you I’d get you there), but in the end, men are gratified because they solved a problem by themselves (’I can put up a house addition too’ or ‘I can get you there just as well as anyone else).
Women may roll their eyes at that kind of bravado. They ask, what’s the big deal about asking advice? Women ask for advice all the time, why can’t men?
Men are hurt- and will react accordingly- when advice, instructions or suggestions offered by a woman are perceived a statement of lack of respect or the lack of confidence a woman might have in the man’s ability to ‘figure it out.’ When a man is sure of a woman’s respect for him, he has no trouble asking and even seeking out her advice.
On the other hand, a man who demands ‘Respect me because of who I am and because of anything I might do or not do’ is the sky writing sized statement of a man with no self esteem. Sadly, there are no shortage of men so poorly endowed. The identity confusion wrought by popular culture has also guaranteed that there are no shortage of women who will willing pair up with such ‘men.’
How that came about is no mystery. With gender roles uncertain, there have been generations of men and women who cannot identify with a healthy relationship. Some women grew up very unhappy, with male figures who harshly dominated them. Some of those woman will follow in the same footsteps and allow themselves to be dominated and live a very unhappy life. Others will choose to ‘protect’ themselves and select only men they can dominate. They too are destined to live a very unhappy life.
Many women today find identity in being the victim or the aggressor. There are few more profound tragedies for women today and the children they nurture.
Both men and women need positive role models to fortify and validate who they are.Those role models aren’t only of the same sex. Men and women need to look to each to other to make the glove fit.
Women need to look up to men and men must make the effort to make women feel wanted and cherished.
Men must come to understand that there they can express their love and caring in ways other than by solving problems. They must learn that women don’t necessarily want to solve the problem and be done with it. Often, they want to discuss the issues surrounding the problem. Women know when other women want advice or when they want to discuss and examine the issues that surround the problem. Men are used to rules and level playing fields. These are skills that must be learned. If a man does not immediately respond, it does not mean he doesn’t care. Women need to be clear when they need help to fix a problem and when they need to vent.They also need to be clear on how they communicate. A guy can sit at a bar all night long, talking to a disinterested bartender and be perfectly happy with little or no meaningful exchange.
Women need to understand that when men feel secure and respected they will ask for advice and intimacy. While women have experience with relating, a more complex and ethereal reality, men have experience with achieving, usually an individual endeavor with defined rules and a level playing field. A man does not necessarily need for a woman to wax eloquent on her respect for him. Conversely, a man who simply acknowledges a woman’s need for communication and then doesn’t engage in the kind of exchange she expects might be in for a pretty miserable evening. Women need to teach men how to respond to their emotional needs. Unlike women, men did not develop those skills in the schoolyard or lunchroom.
Women feel fulfilled and will respond best if they feel cherished, recognized, appreciated and acknowledged for who they are.
Men feel fulfilled and respond best when they feel needed and respected, when they believe they have an important role to play- to leave a mark or legacy. If properly developed and encouraged, men will direct their efforts to make their legacy their family.
Still, it bears remembering that while there is plenty of crossover, what makes men and women tick are different.
A woman’s sense of self is most often defined by those aspects of nurturing such as feelings, relationships, communication and connectivity with others, even when she also highly capable, competent and logical.
A man’s sense of self can most often be defined by respect trust, acceptance, admiration and encouragement, even when is also nurturing, gentle and caring.
Out identities are not zero sum games. We can be who we are and at the same time, possess the attributes we attribute to others.
Men are more reluctant to give or ask for advice. Women ask for and give advice freely because their need to ‘relate’ trumps a man’s need to go it alone.
A man who believes a woman is trying to remake them will resist, because while she sees her efforts as improving him, he perceives himself as not being good enough or even as a failure. Men who believe they are part of a solution to a problem will jump on board and cooperate.
Both men and women who do not feel appreciated will turn outward . If he doesn’t feel good, he gets involved in sports or hobby that keeps him away from home and family. Id she doesn’t feel appreciated, she will turn to her friends for what she can’t get. In either case, home and family suffer.
While men have no problem with believing they are deserving of respect, women often do not believe they deserve to have their needs met. They want to be told they are worthy not only of having their needs met, but even more [authors' note: My grandmother used to say that the most wonderful thing my grandfather ever said to her came in the form a promise: 'If there is a 'next time around,' I'll make you a wedding worthy of a Princess, because you deserve it and besides, every young girl deserved to be a princess. I think of those things, you know.']
When the communicating and relating to others hits a pothole, women become vulnerable to feeling rejected and abandoned. Men have to be aware of that. Men fear failure, incompetence and abandonment, too. When women they are close to are unhappy, men often feel like failures, believing it is their job to keep women happy.
Whether we care to admit it or not, our biology dictates a whole lot of our psychology. The emotional need of women help define their identity. Women are more caring and understanding than men and they always have a need to connect. They need devotion, reassurance, validation and appreciation if they are to be who they are meant to be.
Men need to conquer and achieve and leave a mark. They want to be respect, trusted and encouraged.
It’s that simple- and that complex. At least now you know the parameters.
Chimps can match up the faces of group members with photos of their behinds. The ability, researchers say, shows that chimps carry around mental representations with "whole body" detail of chimps they have encountered.
Primatologists Frans de Waal and Jennifer Pokorny of the Yerkes National Primate Research Centre at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, tested how well six adult chimpanzees could link pictures of various chimpanzee behinds, either male or female, with photos of individual chimp faces.
They showed a chimp, first, a photo of a chimp's behind, including genitals, then the faces of two chimps, both of the same sex as that behind. Each of three male and three female chimps were able to make the correct face-with-behind pairing with a probability significantly higher than chance.
But the chimps succeeded only if the faces were of chimps they knew. This suggests, the researchers say, that the chimps weren't simply detecting generic visual cues in the faces that would link them to the behind in question. Rather, it seems that the chimps must be capable of what psychologists call "whole body" integration.
"They were not only seeing the photographs as representations of chimps they knew, says de Waal, "but linked the face and behind by drawing upon a mental representation of the whole body of those chimps."
Earlier experiments had hinted that some non-human primates might have this capability, but this is the first time "whole body knowledge" has been convincingly demonstrated.
Concept of sex?
Primatologist Agnes Lacreuse of the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, says that more experiments are needed before we can conclude that chimps identify other chimps using a "gender construct" method. "We know that macaques are able to categorize faces as males or females, so it would be very surprising if chimpanzees were unable to do so."
In other experiments, de Waal and Pokorny also tested the chimps' ability to recognise the sex of other chimps from photos of their faces alone.
They first presented chimps with a photo of either a generic male or female chimp rear end – a sexually charged stimulus. The chimps were then shown closely cropped photos of two chimps, one male and one female, and encouraged to select the face of the same sex as the rear end.
The chimps tended to be successful at this test too, but again only if the faces belonged to chimps familiar to them.
This suggests, de Waal speculates, that chimps may operate with a "gender construct" – that is, the chimps recognise the sex of other chimps based, not just on physical attributes, but on other information from their previous experience with those individuals, such as their roles in the larger group.
This would be similar to how humans recognise gender, de Waal points out. In experiments with sex cues such as facial shape and hair removed, for example, people can identify faces as male or female more rapidly if they are faces of familiar people.
Journal reference: Advanced Science Letters (DOI:10.1166/asl.2008.006)
A woman admitted she helped her troubled, bullied 14-year-old son build a weapons cache by buying a rifle and gunpowder, but investigators still don't know if she was aware her son was planning a deadly school attack.
Michele Cossey, 46, pleaded guilty Tuesday in Montgomery County Court to one count of child endangerment. She admitted that she gave her son access to a rifle with a laser scope and gunpowder, which investigators said he was using to build grenades.
Prosecutors said her son, Dillon, came to idolize the Columbine High School shooters and was planning an attack last year on Plymouth Whitemarsh High School, which some former schoolmates attended.
Cossey, bullied over his weight, had left public school in seventh grade and was being home-schooled. Over time, violent Internet sites fueled his revenge fantasies, his defense lawyer said after his juvenile court plea.
Montgomery County Assistant District Attorney Christopher Parisi said he thought purchasing the weapons was "an attempt to boost his self-esteem, and in some way help the child, as misplaced as those thoughts may have been."
Michelle Cossey's sentencing won't occur for at least three months until a psychiatric evaluation is completed. The maximum possible prison term is 3 1/2 to 7 years, but her defense attorney she could get less than a year - or even just probation - under sentencing guidelines.
Parisi said he doesn't know if Cossey knew about her son's attack plans, but that he hopes to learn that before sentencing.
"If it were to come out that she knew he was planning an attack ... that would certainly increase the severity of the crime," he said.
The judge who sentenced Dillon Cossey to a juvenile treatment facility, where he could remain until his 21st birthday, said that Michele Cossey had fostered a "me-and-mom-against-the-world" attitude in her only child.
Authorities did not think the school attack was imminent, but the boy did amass an arsenal - knives, swords, BB guns, the rifle and partly assembled homemade grenades - in his bedroom at his Plymouth Township home.
Police learned of the planned attack when Cossey invited a friend to join him. The friend went to police last fall.
The boy's father, Frank, sat beside his wife as she entered the plea. He had tried to buy their son a rifle in 2005, but was stymied by a prior felony conviction, which he failed to note on the application. The omission led to a house arrest sentence for lying about his criminal record.
Michelle Cossey has had twice-a-month supervised visits with her son, is missing him and wants him back home, defense lawyer Tim Woodward said.
"Her ultimate goal is to be reunited with her son," the attorney said. "She does admit that she made some mistakes."
News8.net (see video):
When it comes to rallying Republicans wanting to win the White House, there is no more important memory to evoke than that of Ronald Reagan. Cindy McCain was in D.C. at a building named in honor of the former president, paying tribute with Mrs. Reagan.
The event was about embracing the legacy of Ronald Reagan, so when Cindy McCain came on stage to honor the former Soviet dissident receiving the Ronald Reagan Freedom Award, Natan Sharanksy, she noted the similarities between the man Reagan worked to free from a Soviet gulag prison and her own husband. "They both were prisoners. John for serving his country, Natan for serving his conscience. Their hard experiences strengthened both men."
For John McCain on the campaign trail, the Reagan legacy is one he wants to be closely associated with. It would rally the faithful, conservatives who consider Reagan one of their greatest presidents, but also Reagan Democrats, blue collar workers across the country who cross party lines and identify with Reagan's appeal to patriotism and American prosperity.
As Nancy Reagan bestowed the Freedom Award on Sharansky, the attendees were a Who's Who of the Reagan administration. It included those seeking to send another Republican to the White House, like Democratic senator Joe Lieberman, who described the ways he thinks McCain resembles Ronald Reagan. "Ready to lead as commander in chief, take us through the economic crisis we're in with strength and optimism and also break the partisanship so we can get Washington working again."
The economic situation has escalated the debate over the Reagan legacy. Senator McCain is promising to embrace President Reagan's anti-tax, anti-regulation philosophy. Senator Obama this week argues it was that philosophy that led to the current market meltdown.
Martin Tytell, whose unmatched knowledge of typewriters was a boon to American spies during World War II, a tool for the defense lawyers for Alger Hiss, and a necessity for literary luminaries and perhaps tens of thousands of everyday scriveners who asked him to keep their Royals, Underwoods, Olivettis (and their computer-resistant pride) intact, died on Thursday in the Bronx. He was 94.
The cause was cancer, said Pearl Tytell, his wife of 65 years. She said that her husband also had Alzheimer’s disease.
When he retired in 2000, Mr. Tytell had practiced his recently vanishing craft for 70 years. For most of that time, he rented, repaired, rebuilt, reconfigured and restored typewriters in a second-floor shop at 116 Fulton Street in Lower Manhattan, where a sign advertised “Psychoanalysis for Your Typewriter.”
There, at the Tytell Typewriter Company, he often worked seven days a week wearing a white lab coat and a bow tie, catering to customers like the writers Dorothy Parker and Richard Condon, the newsmen David Brinkley and Harrison Salisbury, and the political opponents Dwight D. Eisenhower and Adlai E. Stevenson. Letters addressed only to “Mr. Typewriter, New York” arrived there, too.
Mr. Tytell worked on typewriters that could reproduce dozens of different alphabets appropriate for as many as 145 different languages and dialects — including Farsi and Serbo-Croatian, Thai and Korean, Coptic and Sanskrit, and ancient and modern Greek. He often said that he kept 2 million typefaces in stock.
He made a hieroglyphics typewriter for a museum curator, and typewriters with musical notes for musicians. He adapted keyboards for amputees and other wounded veterans. He invented a reverse-carriage device that enabled him to work in right-to-left languages like Arabic and Hebrew. An error he made on a Burmese typewriter, inserting a character upside down, became a standard, even in Burma.
Martin Kenneth Tytell was born on Dec. 20, 1913, the next-to-last of 10 children whose Russian Jewish immigrant parents lived on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Eventually, going to school mostly at night, he earned a bachelor’s degree from St. John’s University and an M.B.A. from New York University.
But as a boy he worked in a hardware store, carrying a screwdriver everywhere, and one day in school he got himself excused from gym class by volunteering to answer the telephone in a nearby office. Sitting on a desk was an Underwood typewriter, which he took apart. The man who came to fix it gave him his first lesson in typewriter repair. Before he was out of high school he had the typewriter-maintenance account for Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital.
In 1943, a contraband shipment that included 100 Siamese typewriters was seized by the federal government, and with typewriters needed by overseas forces and typewriter producers having largely converted to other wartime manufacturing, Mr. Tytell, then in the Army, was asked to convert the Siamese typewriters for the Office of Strategic Services, the World War II precursor to the Central Intelligence Agency. His machines, capable of reproducing 17 different languages, were airdropped to O.S.S. headquarters at various war fronts.
In 1950, lawyers for Alger Hiss, the former State Department official who had been convicted for lying to a grand jury about passing secret information to a Communist agent, Whittaker Chambers, hired him to prove that unlike a fingerprint, a typewriter’s writing pattern is reproducible.
Hiss had been convicted largely because the government presented expert testimony maintaining that the documents passed to Chambers were written on a typewriter owned by Hiss and his wife, Priscilla. At his sentencing, Hiss famously accused Chambers of committing “forgery by typewriter.”
Afterward, to prepare for an appeal, Hiss’s lawyers hired Mr. Tytell to build a typewriter whose print pattern would be indistinguishable, flaws and all, from that of the Hisses. It took him nearly two years, but he succeeded. His work became the foundation of Hiss’s plea, ultimately unsuccessful, for a new trial and, after his release from prison in 1954, of the debate over his guilt, which goes on to this day. Hiss died in 1996.
In addition to his wife, Mr. Tytell is survived by a daughter, Pamela, of Paris, and a son, Peter, of Manhattan. Peter Tytell, who closed the store about a year after his father retired, is a forensic document examiner who frequently testifies in criminal trials, a natural offshoot of the family business. Mrs. Tytell said on Thursday that she had met her husband in 1938 when he went to an office she was managing and sold her a typewriter.
“And he said, ‘Come work for me, and I’ll marry you,’ ” Mrs. Tytell recalled. “And I said, ‘That’s no inducement.’ ”
Mr. Tytell was proud of the rarity of his expertise, and relished the eccentric nature of his business. “We don’t get normal people here,” he said of his shop. And he was aware that his connection to the typewriter bordered on love.
“I’m 83 years old and I just signed a 10-year lease on this office; I’m an optimist, obviously,” Mr. Tytell told the writer Ian Frazier in a 1997 article in The Atlantic Monthly, commenting on the likelihood that typewriters weren’t going to last in the world much longer. “I hope they do survive — manual typewriters are where my heart is. They’re what keep me alive.”
Politics is a lot like religion. We pick a team, play for that team and proudly identify with that team.
Our political identity goes a long way in conferring upon us a set of values and rules that help shape our community. Of course, we don’t have to share a political identity to share certain values. In western society, we value democracy and the freedoms that guarantees irrespective of political affiliation and identity. Political identity is acquired and refined over time (and sometimes changed. See Neo-neocons excellent series, A Mind Is A Difficult Thing To Change).
Our true and real identity, that visceral part of us that instinctively relates to our family and ethnic group is fundamental to existence. Our real identity defines not only our best values and beliefs, but identity also defines our center, the best of who we are and where we come from. It is in that part of our identity in which we find our greatest comfort and our greatest potential at the same time.
Identity should not be confused with status. That more ethereal idea also identifies us, but in a different way.
Status is less about an idea and more about a concrete and definitive expression of ourselves, outside the group. Some of us are recognized as more influential than others, some less so. Some are more educated, others are recognized for their skills. Some people are more charitable, others are more parsimonious. The individual ‘who we are’ is confers a kind of status on us and in doing so, establishes a social pecking order of sorts.
Of course, talking about identity and status is fraught with hazard. Bell Curve authors Hernstein and Murray were excoriated and practically run out of academia on rail for suggesting that people are different and learn differently. Jeremiah Wright, former minister at Trinity United Church in Chicago, said the same thing and is hailed as a ‘visionary.’
Larry Summers suggested that there might be factors outside of cultural socialization to explain why more men than women were more attracted to the sciences and engineering professions. He postulated that men might have a different set of innate skills and abilities than women. Under a firestorm of controversy, Summers left his position as president of Harvard University. It seems his perceived identity was more important than his earned status as a man of letters and science.
It should be noted that Summers was quoting Steven Pinkers’ book, The Blank Slate. In it, he recounts an exchange with a female colleague:
Look, I know that males and females are not identical. I see it in my kids, I see it in myself, I know about the research. I can’t explain it, but when I read claims about sex differences, steam comes out of my ears.
When it is all said and done, the ‘who we are’ is not determined by our gender, church or our political affiliations. The real ‘who we are’ is determined by our status in our community, a status that is earned and not bestowed. We have to earn the right to distinguish ourselves- not by claiming a particular identity, but by contributing to our own group and our greater community.
In much of the Muslim world, it is believed that religion alone confers a superiority or inferiority. It is not hard to understand why such ideas are so ferociously held. Their is a world that has contributed very little to the community at large. Theirs is an existence that consumes and does not create. It is no wonder that radical Islam wants to destroy the earned status of the west. Their fight is a desperate one. They are not fighting us so much for who we are, as many might say, but rather, for who they are not now and have not been for a thousand years. They are fighting the human and cultural evolution that has passed them by because of dysfunctional leadership and the mistaken belief that identity alone guarantees them a seat at the table of first world and civilized nations and societies.
Many Arab Muslims need to believe in the fantasies and mythologies that place the blame for Arab cultural and societal failures on others. If they do not do that, they must look in the mirror of reality and place the blame where it belongs- on the very identity they so ferociously cling to. They would have to admit that everything they were taught, stand for and believes in- that identity trumps status, is a lie. They would have to concede that their lives have been wasted.
Much of the identity of an abused child centers around the sad truth that as he or she grows up, the child learns (subconsciously) to equate abuse with love. When confronted with even the most vile kinds of abuse, that now grown up individual will always perceive the abuse as love. When confronted and victimized by abuse, that individual will frame and preserve every kind of abuse as an expression of love. They will insist they were deserving of the punishment. They will say that the abuse is yet more proof that that the victimizer cares and loves them. This is an integral part of the identity of the child. The child assigns no status to his or herself. The therapist will struggle to help that abused child (or later adult) assign a value, a status to themselves outside their identity as being victims of abuse.
One of the accepted hallmarks of civilized society is an accepted code of moral behavior. No matter one’s ethnic or cultural identity, prejudices, biases or beliefs, we are all expected to behave in a certain way. We are all expected to treat others, regardless of their religion, culture or creed, in the same way we ourselves expect to be treated. We assign ourselves and others, a certain status. If that accepted code of moral behavior is not present in a particular society, that society cannot be counted as civilized. Individuals, cultures and religions cannot count on identity alone to assign worth. Individuals, cultures and religions who demand a privileged status for themselves and a reduced status for others cannot be counted as a credible members of a civilized society any more than can members of the Ku Klux Klan claim moral credibility.
It is not uncommon to see NBA or NFL players dress like corporate CEO’s. They wear tailor made suits and shirts that can cost in the thousands. They wear one thousand dollar shoes and have only the finest of accessories. Why? Because they believe if we see them dressed like CEO’s or other professionals, we will accord them more respect and status and take their utterances more seriously. Wearing those kind of clothes, they believe, will camouflage the reality that their entire identity and is valued predicated on how well they handle a ball.
Like the athletes that desperately need to be valued for something other than what is no more than a pastime for most, much of the Arab world desperately wants to be valued for something other than the behavior in which they engage, tolerate or promote. They desperately want to be seen as something other than hate filled, desperate and dismissive of the western world and western values of freedom. As time goes by, the fantasy becomes more grotesque. They become the victims. Never do they seek to elevate their own status- they only seek to play a shell game with the victimhood identity.
In truth, the Arab world cannot be proud of their identity. The Islamic and Arab cultures that achived so much status in the past and that has contributed mightily to the progress of mankind exist no more. Their identity is now defined by religious intolerance, hate, violence and even genocide. There is very little the Arab world has to be proud of- and pointing to past glory and status only serves to highlight how far they have fallen. All the phony ‘Arab pride’ (read: identity) in the world has not motivated them to build. All they have done is destroy- and that destruction is a symptom of self hatred. People who hate themselves, destroy everything and everyone around them.
People that believe in their higher selves, build. The same is true for nations.
Religions, nations, societies and cultures are not remembered for what they destroy or allow to be destroyed. They are remembered for what they have built and they ideals they pursue that elevate mankind.
As this election season unfolds, we need to remember that as well.