libera voce/libera mente

"free voice, free mind"

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Her Threats Ignored

HOUSTON -- A Houston-area middle school student was arrested Friday after allegedly bringing a handgun to school and pointing it at teachers and a maintenance worker, authorities said.

The unidentified 12-year-old female student at Dean Middle School in Harris County, Texas, threatened to kill a teacher and students, and was sent to the office at about 8:30 a.m. for starting a fight, police said, according to KPRC-TV.

The girl was then suspended, and her parents picked her up.

Deputies said they wanted to charge her, but the district attorney declined.

"At that point, they refused the charges on the basis that there was no imminent threat at that time," said Chief Larry Shiflet with the Harris County Precinct 4 Constable's Office.

Officials said the girl returned to school three hours later with a loaded gun and wearing a bandana and hat.

She entered the gymnasium and pointed the gun at three teachers and a maintenance worker, deputies said.

"She just pulls out the gun. Everybody -- they just started screaming, 'Lock down, lock down, lock down,'" a student said.

Harris County Precinct 4 deputies then intervened at gunpoint.

"For everyone's safety, we wanted to make sure no one was injured," Shiflet said.

The girl was immediately isolated from students, according to authorities.

The campus was placed on lockdown during the incident. Students were detained in classrooms for about 15 minutes until officers took the student into custody.

The principal sent home a letter to parents explaining what happened.

Officials said no students were in danger at any time.

The student faces two counts of assault with a deadly weapon. She could possibly be charged as an adult.

Investigators are trying to determine where the student got the weapon.

From 'Girl, 12, Accused Of Packing Heat At School: Middle School Student Allegedly Pointed Gun At Teachers'.

No Need for Strength

The latest police Gazette has great news for women - unless they're women in urgent need of police with muscle, Andrew Bolt writes.

Or, as constables Sharna and Nicole found last Sunday, they're police who need that muscle themselves.

The Gazette notes that squad five of this year's recruits has been sworn in as constables, so congratulations to Sylvia, Simone, Skye and the rest.

In fact, nine of these 16 new constables are women, which should thrill those people in heavy knits who believe in gender equality in all things -- from policing to childbirth.

Such heavy recruiting of women is now typical under Chief Commissioner Christine Nixon, who wants our force to be more feminised and "anti-authoritarian ". So 14 of the 21 new constables of squad four, and 11 of the 18 of squad three, were women too -- which means only a third of all new officers since July have been men.

What a triumph for Nixon. It shows what you can do when you try hard to promote people with the right gender, rather than the right qualifications.

And, no, I'm not being too harsh. You see, one of those qualifications now being overlooked to help the ladies is the one requiring new police meet fairly stern physical standards.

The old tests that demanded recruits drag weighted tyres at speed, or scale two-meter walls, have been relaxed or scrapped since the Labor Government came to power and started to preach gender politics.

How well that change worked. Soon the Auditor-General could note: "Since 1999, the proportion of female applicants who successfully completed the (fitness) test is 80 per cent, compared with approximately 30 per cent in the 1990s before the changes were made."

This seems to be only good news to Nixon, who prefers police to back off rather than biff, even when confronting the rampaging lawless, and who now has officers in Frankston writing letters to repeat offenders asking them, pretty please, to stop.

But Nixon's feminisation of the force has not just given us police who seem unwilling to stand up to a rabble -- as we saw at last year's G20 riots -- but police who seem physically unable to.

Frustrated male officers have told me of having to work on patrol with women who couldn't be counted on in a confrontation with hoons, needing as much police protection as the public.

Now, I read the incident fact sheet that poor constables Sharna and Nicole filed on Sunday to explain how Sharna came to scratch her hands.

"(We) responded to YCT (Youths Causing Trouble alert), on arrival observed approx 30 males walking Nth in Clarendon St throwing flares after leaving a soccer match at the Bob Jane Stadium", the women wrote.

"Members att(empted) to s/t (speak to) one particular male who was in possession of a flare.

"As members have attempted to s/t male, other males in group have pushed
members away and closed ranks around suspect. Members were repeatedly
pushed away from suspect.

"During scuffle member has dropped set of car keys belonging to police van
. . . During scuffle u/k (unknown) person has stolen keys . . .

"While members have backed off awaiting for assistance, males have decamped
. . . Keys not recovered." And so a police van was put out of action.

Of course, confronting 30 youths gone giddy over the soccer is a bit of an ask even for two male officers, so I'm reluctant to criticise these women.

Yet, I wonder if the louts who pushed them around would have dared do the same to a couple of six-foot male officers with that authoritarian attitude Nixon has vowed to destroy.

That said, no real harm done . . . this time. But one day this lack of frontline muscle might be fatal.

I say that after NSW police last month issued this press statement: "Senior police have praised members of the public who came to the assistance of two female officers . . .

"The constables . . . attended a car dealership . . . after receiving reports of a man causing problems . . .

"The policewomen were speaking with the man when his behaviour turned aggressive and violent. The officers attempted to subdue the man with capsicum spray . . . He then allegedly assaulted both officers before unsuccessfully attempting to remove one of the constables' firearms from her holster. The man . . . then allegedly pushed the other officer into a parked vehicle, causing her to hit her head. As a result, she dropped her baton which was picked up by the offender.

"He was allegedly about to strike the officer with the baton when he was restrained by up to 10 passers-by . . ."

God know what the man, apparently schizophrenic, might have done had he got hold of that gun.

Again, a caveat: male officers can also find it very hard to restrain a struggling man, and some have come off the worst when trying to.

Yet, I suspect the public won't often have to rescue two male officers as the public had to rescue these two women.

I also suspect few women could have saved themselves the way acting Sergeant Shane Gray did last year. Again I quote, this time from a report on an inquest which closed this week:

"A policeman was in fear of his life when he shot dead a man he pulled over for stealing petrol in remote Western Australia . . .

"(A witness) told the inquest today the officer did not know (William John) Watkins was on the run for the rape and double homicide of sisters Colleen Irwin 32, and Laura Irwin, 21, whose bodies were found in Melbourne on January 28, 2006 . . . Watkins . . . attacked the unsuspecting officer, repeatedly bashing and kicking him, breaking his nose . . . Fearing for his life, Sgt Gray shot Watkins . . ."

Would a Sgt Tanya have survived or stopped this double killer?

It's true police aren't often called upon to use their strength. But it's reckless to pretend officers on patrol don't need to be able to handle themselves physically, especially now street violence is getting luridly worse.

Even the very women who gain most from the feminising of the force worry that perhaps the standards have been dropped too much, after all.

This time I'll quote the minutes of a police women's support group, which met in Echuca and discussed an earlier article in which I raised these concerns: "(T)here was general agreement that training requirements at the (police) academy had been dropped not just for women but for both sexes. The feeling of members is that the standard of recruits has been dropped for both sexes."

Of course, these 16 women insisted this was not to be "seen as a female gender issue" -- although the standards were dropped precisely to get more women into the force.

Well, job done. But even feminists on the force are now uneasy about the results, and someone -- maybe them, maybe you -- may soon get hurt.

From an article entitled 'Females face the front line' by Andrew Bolt in the Herald Sun (Melbourne) Join Andrew on

Good Thing He's a Judge

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- After two days of investigation, police have cleared Chief Judge Donald Moran of any wrongdoing and are seeking an arrest warrant for his wife on charges of domestic battery and falsifying a police report.

A supplemental police report obtained by Channel 4 on Thursday afternoon said that after interviewing Donald Moran, reinterviewing his wife, Elina, and other family members, police wrote, "Mr. Moran is no longer a valid suspect in this case."

Elina Moran had called police late Monday night and said her husband had hit her during a fight. Officers noted that her lip was bloody and swollen and there was blood spattered on her hair and shirt.

According to the supplemental report, Donald Moran said his wife had a glass of wine with dinner that night, then drank a whole bottle once they got home. She also was taking prescription medication for depression, he said.

Moran said his wife was angry with him, saying he did not give her enough attention. He told police "she became enraged and started to strike him in the back with closed fists."

"At that point, his wife tripped, fell and hit her face," the report said. "His wife immediately made statements about him hitting her."

On Wednesday, police reinterviewed Elina Moran, who admitted being "very mean and nasty to her husband," and striking him. The report quotes her as saying:
"I lied; I tried to hit him and hurt him; I'm the abuser. I lied to police. You could arrest me for that."
The report concludes with police recommending that the State Attorney's Office obtain an arrest warrant for Elina Moran.

Donald Moran's attorney, Hank Coxe, said his client met with State Attorney Harry Shorstein on Wednesday afternoon and asked that his wife not be charged.

From, September 27, 2007.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Teen Girl Tortured, Beaten Beyond Recognition

A fractured eye socket, broken nose and a battered and bruised face pitted with cigarette burns made her face almost unrecognizable.

The 18-year-old’s attackers also used cigarettes to burn her tongue and the inside of her ears, and her hair was set afire.

What happened to the Dartmouth girl who was almost beaten to death last week is being described by some in the justice system as one of the worst cases of torture ever in Nova Scotia.

The case is the talk of Halifax and Dartmouth court circles and has shaken many who are familiar with the crime. Even more troubling to some is that the alleged attackers are teenage girls themselves, one 18 and the other two, 14.

No one in the justice system would comment on the record because the case is still before the courts, but details are slowly emerging about a night of terror for the unidentified victim who sources say is lucky to have escaped with her life.

It’s alleged the girl was attacked late on Sept. 20 by several other females in a wooded area behind John Martin Junior High School on Brule Street in north-end Dartmouth.

Sources say the victim was beaten unconscious several times, and each time she came to, the beatings were renewed.

Despite her screams, sources say the victim was rolled down a hill behind the school and forced to walk up again without any shoes or socks on.

Only during a brief lull in the beatings was the girl able to slip away from her attackers and seek help at a nearby Albro Lake Road apartment building, sources said.

Halifax Regional Police will say only that the victim and the girls arrested in the crime all knew one another and they speculated the attack was the result of a previous dispute among them.

A bail hearing for Brittany McNeil, 18, of Primrose Street was to be held in Dartmouth provincial court Thursday but was adjourned to Oct. 11. She is being held in custody until then.

Ms. McNeil is charged with aggravated assault, assault with cigarettes and a lighter, possessing a weapon dangerous to the public and failing to comply with an undertaking.

Two 14-year-olds were also slated to have bail hearings in Halifax youth court Wednesday on similar charges. Neither can be identified under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

One of the girls is also charged with unlawful confinement and eight counts of breaching court orders. The other faces one charge of breaching a court order.
Their hearings were adjourned to Oct. 3 and they were remanded to a youth detention facility in Waterville.

By BRIAN HAYES Court Reporter (, The Chronical Herald, September 28, 2007.

Murderous Mothers

Infanticide is a crime no one living in France can commit. It is a crime that does not exist: page through the French Penal Code and you won't even find the word. Yet, mothers killing their newborn babies is a French phenomenon.

It is just that the French call infanticide by another name: under Art. 221-4-1 of the Penal Code it is qualified as the "assassination of a minor under the age of 15." It is an "assassination" and not a "murder." French law makes a distinction between ordinary murder – killing in a burst of sudden anger, like a crime passionnel when a spouse kills an unfaithful partner – and premeditated murder or, as in the United States, first-degree murder. The latter is designated an assassinat – an assassination, whereas the other is a meurtre - murder.

Until France abolished the death sentence in 1977, as a rule, punishment for assassination was the guillotine; that of murder was life imprisonment – or perpète in French, underworld slang – though it, too, could have fetched a sentence of capital punishment.

There are, according to legal statistics, between 60 and 100 infanticide cases in France annually. Most do not grab media attention, yet at present (September 2007) five such cases are drawing intensive press coverage, thus revealing that infanticide is a very real problem in France. One of the cases, that of a woman named Véronique Courjault, now awaiting trial for assassination, has allegedly inspired novelist Mazarine Pingeot, love-child of the late President François Mitterrand and Museum Curator Anne Pingeot, to tackle this distressing fact in her new novel, Le Cimetière des poupées - The Cemetery of the Dolls. The novel is No. 1 on the best-seller' s charts amid strong denial from Pingeot, who is expecting her second child, that she has drawn inspiration from the "Babes in the Freezer" case, as the Courjault case is known here. According to Pingeot, she followed all the current French infanticide cases in order to try to understand why a mother would kill a child she had carried in her womb for nine months. The novel is written in the voice of such a murderous mother who tries to explain her act to her husband in letters she writes from the cell where she is awaiting trial.

The writing career of Mazarine Pingeot, 33, has enjoyed ups and downs. Le Cimetière des poupées is her fourth novel and fifth book. Her first novel, Premier Roman (1998) sold 60,000 copies, whereas sales dropped to 12,000 for the second and third. Her autobiography Bouche Cousue however sold 200,000. The late President Mitterrand successfully concealed her existence until a French magazine ran a cover story on her in 1992. Journalists had, though, been aware of her existence almost since her birth in 1974. She shares her life with the Moroccan-born Mohamed Ulad-Mohand, 41, a movie producer.

The Five Cases

Véronique Courjault, 40, and her 41-year-old engineer husband, Jean-Louis, hail from the town of Chinon, on the River Vienne, 177 miles south of Paris. In Chinon, its population of 8,000 live in clusters of 15th and 16th century houses with grey-slated roofs. Over the roofs tower the ruins of France's oldest fortified castle, the Chateau of Chinon. It was there in the town of Chinon that Joan of Arc first told King Charles VII that visions and voices had sent her to him and that God will aid him and his kingdom in the battle against the English.

The Courjaults were known as quiet, decent people: the only time a member of the family had perhaps drawn attention was when Véronique Fièvre dressed in black from head to toe, in 1995, to marry Jean and Geneviève Courjault's son Jean-Louis. What the villagers did not know was that the bride wore black because she was pregnant and she hoped that the dark color would hide her rounded stomach.

For the first few years of their marriage, Jean-Louis and Véronique lived in Villeneuve-la- Comtesse, a village of 700 rural souls, not far from Chinon. The couple, parents of a son named Jules, appeared to welcome the birth of a second son, Nicolas, within a year. Then Jean-Louis, an engineer, lost his job and, as Véronique was a housemother, also with no income, a doom settled over the Courjault household. Then, in 1999, the four set off for Seoul, South Korea where Jean-Louis took up a job with a car parts manufacturer.
At his work, the bespectacled Jean-Louis was highly regarded; Véronique, short, dark-haired and rather plain, was known as a shy but polite member of the local French community: she worked as an auxiliary teacher at a kindergarten for the children of French ex-pats. She enjoyed the reputation of being an excellent teacher and colleague: all also said that she was an exemplary mother to the couple's two sons, 9 and 11 respectively.

In June of 2006, the four Courjaults returned to France on vacation. Jean-Louis, however, had to rush back from Chinon to Seoul to resolve a crisis at his office. Back at the family's luxurious Seoul apartment, he opened the family freezer and nearly fainted. Running to the apartment building's concierge, he babbled something about the bodies of two babies in the freezer. The supervisor followed him up to the apartment and, yes, in the freezer, wrapped in plastic bags, were the bodies of two babies. The South Korean police allowed the greatly shocked Jean-Louis to return to France, but not before he had supplied a DNA sample. They already knew that they could obtain Véronique's DNA from a hospital where she had undergone an ablation of the uterus (this procedure makes a woman unable to bear children without having to remove the womb). Both the DNA samples matched those of the two dead newborns: they were perfectly-formed boys born in 2002 and 2003, weighing 7.5 lbs and 7.9 lbs.

In France, the "Babes in the Freezer" story very quickly hit the headlines. Véronique and Jean-Louis denied that they were the parents of the two murdered babies and, giving "South Korean media lynching" as reason, they refused to return to Seoul. The French public seemed as outraged at the allegations that the respectable couple could have committed such an atrocious crime. French police meanwhile carried out their own DNA tests and theirs confirmed that of the South Korean's.

Promptly arrested, the couple still vehemently denied having killed the two newborns; they did not, they said, even have any knowledge of their presence in their freezer. It took Véronique three months to break down and confess: She said that she suffocated the babies immediately after birth. She had apparently successfully hidden the pregnancies from her husband and had given birth all alone in the bathroom. She had, as she was to confess next, already killed a newborn. That was back in 1999 in sleepy, rural Villeneuve-la- Comtesse. On that occasion she had also suffocated the baby on birth, but she had burnt that little body: She had done so in the fireplace in the family home and buried the charred remains in the garden. Police started to dig and found the remains.
France never extradites one of her nationals and therefore Véronique is to stand trial in France. Jean-Louis, though, was released sous contrôle judiciaire sans caution – under control order. The police believe that he was unaware of what he's wife had done. While he waits for her case to come to court (as the French legal process is slow, this will only be in the latter part of 2008), he lives at a secret address: the couple's two sons, described as "traumatized, " live with him. Both the Fièvre and Courjault families are supporting him, and so they do Véronique. Mrs. Geneviève Courjault, Jean-Louis's mother, quite indignant, has written to author Pingeot to complain about her novel, and in Chinon, a petition has been drawn up to have the novel, published by Editions Julliard of Paris, withdrawn. So far 200 have signed the petition; not many, certainly, but as Mrs. Marie-Françoise Canal of Chinon says: "The Courjault family is very highly regarded here and they have suffered enough. We are also considering Jean-Louis and Véronique's two boys – they must be protected." Jean-Louis's father recently died; according to the man's widow, he died from a broken heart caused by the tragedy that had hit the family.

The first of the remaining four cases from which Pingeot could have drawn inspiration for her novel, came to light at the same time as the Courjault case.
This is the case of a 39-year-old woman identified only as "a woman from Toulouse." Toulouse is no backwater. Four hundred and thirty-three miles from Paris and only 200 from the Spanish city of Barcelona, it has a population of almost half a million which makes it France's fourth most populous city.

This infanticide was committed in 2004. The woman, already the mother of four children of whom the eldest was her 15-year-old daughter, found herself yet again pregnant. Although the baby's father was her partner (he had also fathered the other four children) she decided that she did not want another child; the couple's relationship was falling apart anyway. Soon it ended, but the man called in on his former partner and their children regularly carrying food parcels. Then, last November, he did so again. On that occasion he had brought along some meat and opening the freezer to store it away, he found the small, naked, frozen body of a baby. The body was in a transparent plastic bag. He summoned the police and his ex-partner, called from her work, quickly confessed to having smothered the baby, a boy, in the minutes after birth. As she said, "I didn't want it." Now incarcerated, this woman's trial will also commence in the latter part of 2008. Her eldest daughter, now 18, faces the charge of "non-assistance to a person in danger." She allegedly knew that her mother was pregnant and that she was going to kill the baby. Presumably she also knew that the tiny corpse was in the freezer.

The second case is that of Aline Lelièvre, 19. In November of 2006, Aline, in great distress, summoned police to her tiny one-roomed apartment in the town of Redon. She hails from Fégréac. Redon and Fégréac are towns in northwest France, close to the Atlantic coast. In Fégréac (2,000 inhabitants) , Aline lived with her parents in a small, white-walled house that stood at the end of a gravel road. Her father worked in a mattress factory and her mother in a school canteen. Yet still so young, Aline wanted more to her life than a dead-end gravel lane and her job cooking pancakes in a creperie. There was a problem though: She was pregnant by her Portuguese boyfriend, a waiter. The boyfriend, however, abandoned her to go to live in Switzerland. When notified that he was to become a father, he made it clear that he was not ready for fatherhood and certainly not for settling down.

Aline's parents helped her as much as they could; they loved the child she gave birth to, a boy named David, as if he was their own. But Aline still craved for a better, more exciting life. Redon, 12 miles from Fégréac, with its 10,000 inhabitants, therefore suddenly looked like a gilded metropolis to her. That was where she and David would go. She waited until the boy was 14 months old and then she made the move.

Working as a waitress in a pizza bar, Aline could afford to rent a tiny apartment in downtown Redon. She dropped David off at a neighbor's each morning before setting off to sell pizzas.

Then one night, Aline summoned the police. She'd been living in Redon for just two months. Her son, David, she stammered, has been kidnapped. Police rushed to the apartment and listened to Aline's story. She said she'd put the little boy to bed and had then gone downstairs to chuck out the garbage and to smoke a cigarette. On her return to the apartment a few minutes later David was gone. Over the following few days, Aline's bespectacled, pimply, tearful face had all France crying with her. Photographs of her appeared on the front pages of leading magazines: on some she was holding and cuddling a chubby, smiling, blue-eyed baby David. Accompanying stories recounted Aline's sad life: how her Portuguese lover had walked out on her; she was working as a waitress to keep starvation at bay, and David's nanny had stopped taking the little boy in. This had meant that the young, single mother had been taking the child with her to the restaurant; she had, though, told her employer that she would have to leave her job unless she could find someone else to take David in.

A sad story certainly, but the experienced police decided that what she was saying about David's kidnapping did not hang together and, before long, she confessed to having killed the child. She said she suffocated him, then wrapped the little body in a pink sheet from the child's bed, put it in a bag and rode out to a pond on her scooter and threw the bag into the water. In jail, awaiting her trial that will also not be heard until the latter part of 2008, she has tried to commit suicide by drinking a detergent. David's father remains living in Switzerland; having been unaware of what his ex-girlfriend was up to, there are no charges against him.

The third case came to light when a recently retired couple bought an old house in the village of Contres in the picturesque Loire region south of Paris, and, digging in the garden came across the body of a baby. The police, having been summoned to the property, brought in dogs, and soon they found another tiny body also buried in the garden and still yet another. The third was hidden in the house's fireplace. The house's previous owner, Marinette Pezin, 39, soon found and questioned, admitted to having killed the three babies right after their birth. She had no explanation for what she had done other than that her 18-year marriage had been an unhappy one – by then it had ended in divorce – and she already had four children and did not want another. Her ex-husband is not facing any charges: He was apparently unaware of the three pregnancies. This case is also to be heard some time in 2008.

The fourth case of infanticide from which Pingeot could have drawn inspiration came to light this past August.

Virginie Labrosse, 36, admitted to killing three of her newborns. Like Veronique Courjault, the "woman from Toulouse" and Marinette Pezin, she also kept the tiny cadavers at home, and as with the first two, the bodies were discovered by the unsuspecting father.

Virginie and the babies' father, described as a 40-year-old plumber who had in 2001 served a seven-month incarceration for sexually molesting a female hitch-hiker, had been together for 16 years. By all appearances, the couple, who in 2006 had bought an elegant, cream-walled, double-storey house with white shutters in the green hills above Albertville, in the mountainous Savoy region of Eastern France, were financially comfortable and getting on very well. However, their relationship was stormy, and while the two were still living in an apartment in downtown Albertville, Virginie had begun a love affair with their 20-year old neighbor. Then, in August, she left her husband and moved in with her lover. Alone at home, the husband started to scratch in cupboards and around the cellar and came across a box. Inside, were the decomposed bodies of two babies. In a state of shock and almost incoherent, he instantly summoned the police. Virginie, brought to the house, then led the police to another box and in it was yet another tiny decomposed body.

According to Virginie, who confessed that she was not "maternal" and had no wish to have a child, she had killed the three babies immediately after birth: one was a boy, another a girl, but she claimed that she couldn't remember the sex of the third (decomposition has also made it impossible to determine the sex). The first she had killed in 2001. As she told police, she had given birth to that baby "in the toilet" and the baby had "drowned." The second she killed in 2003 and the third in 2006. DNA tests will have to establish whether the third child was fathered by her lover. Both her husband and her lover were unaware of the pregnancies, though the lover's mother told police that Virginie had last year told her son that she was pregnant but she had suffered a miscarriage while on the toilet. "Virginie had put on a lot of weight and often complained about stomach ache but she wouldn't consult a doctor, and then when I saw her last October she had suddenly lost a lot of weight," said the woman.

Meanwhile, Virginie has told police that she kept the babies because she did not want to abandon them. She said: "I considered them part of myself." A psychiatrist explained that she had turned the babies into "dolls."

Virginie had, in fact, moved the little bodies around the house – perhaps playing with them? She had, though, first kept them in the freezer, but fearing that her husband might find them there, she had taken them out and kept them in boxes; the boxes were moved regularly from one room to another, and up and down from the basement. Then, as a police spokesman said: "When the couple started to carefully wrap the crockery to move from the apartment to the new house, she took great care to wrap the little bodies as well. Make no mistake, they were going along."

Incarcerated, Virginie's mental state is being assessed. Her husband and lover do not face any charges. Should Virginie be diagnosed sane and fit to stand trial, the case would not be heard until 2009.

The French, apart from now wanting to know what in the French psyche makes the nation's mothers kill their newborns, also ask themselves what this says of French men as fathers. How can a man, who does not only share a woman's daylight hours but so too her nights, not know, not see, that she's pregnant, especially when she's in an advanced state of pregnancy?

Another puzzle is why a woman would carry a child she really does not want to termination and then slay it brutally on birth, when she lives in a country where she may undergo an abortion legally. Abortion was legalized in France in 1975 and can be obtained on demand and free of charge on the state's health scheme, the Securité Sociale.

In 1976, the first year of legal abortion in France, 134,173 women underwent the procedure here, whereas in 1974, the year before legalization, there had been a reported 36,400 illegal abortions in the country. In 2002, the most recent year for which statistics are available, 134,797 women underwent an abortion. Of these the majority (34,887) were aged between 20/24, while 968 were 45 and over, and 6,137 were aged between 12/17. The highest number of abortions was in 1983 with 182,862.

written by Marilyn Z. Tomlins; posted September 19, 2007 to

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Dinesh D'Souza

What's So Great About America
Books authored by Dinesh D'Souza include:

1984: Falwell, Before the Millennium: A Critical Biography, Regnery Publishing (ISBN 0-89526-607-5)
1986: The Catholic Classics (ISBN 0-87973-545-7)
1987: My Dear Alex: Letters From The KGB (with Gregory Fossedal), Regnery Publishing (ISBN 0-89526-576-1)
1991: Illiberal Education (ISBN 0-684-86384-7)
1995: The End of Racism (ISBN 0-684-82524-4)
1997: Ronald Reagan: How An Ordinary Man Became an Extraordinary Leader (ISBN 0-684-84823-6)
2000: The Virtue of Prosperity (ISBN 0-684-86815-6)
2002: What's So Great About America, Regnery Publishing (ISBN 0-89526-153-7)
2002: Letters to a Young Conservative (ISBN 0-465-01734-7)
2007: The Enemy At Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11 (ISBN 0-385-51012-8)

Articles written by Dinesh D’Souza include:

Moon's Planet: The Politics and Theology of the Unification Church
Ten Great Things About America
How Ronald Reagan Won The Cold War
Technology And Moral Progress
We the Slaveowners: In Jefferson's America, Were Some Men Not Created Equal?
The Self Esteem Hoax
Two Cheers For Colonialism
Reagan Versus The Intellectuals
The Crimes of Christopher Columbus
10 things to celebrate: Why I'm an anti-anti-American
God Knows Why Faith is Thriving

from Wikipedia

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Rise of Stalinism

Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev warned Russians on Wednesday of the risk of a rebirth of Stalinism, saying their country was in danger of forgetting its tragic past.

"We should remember those who suffered, because this a lesson for all of us," Gorbachev told a conference marking 70 years since the start of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin's Great Terror.

"We must squeeze Stalinism out of ourselves, not in single drops but by the glass or bucket," Gorbachev added. "There are those saying Stalin's rule was the Golden Age, while (Nikita) Khrushchev's thaw was sheer utopia and (Leonid) Brezhnev's neo-Stalinism was the continuation of the Golden Age."

During the Great Terror, 1.7 million Soviet citizens were arrested between August 1937 and November 1938, of whom 818,000 were executed, the human rights group Memorial said.

Historians estimate that up to 13 million people were killed or sent to labor camps in the former Soviet Union between 1921 and 1953, the year Stalin died.

Despite Stalin's record, recent polls have shown many young Russians have a positive view of the former Soviet leader and there have been attempts this year to play down his excesses, which have found an echo among the country's youth.

Fifty-four percent of Russian youth believe that Stalin did more good than bad and half said he was a wise leader, according to a poll conducted in July by the Yuri Levada Centre.


A prime-time television documentary drama series at the start of this year drew critical fire by attempting to portray Stalin in a new light, as a man with a conscience who sought a relationship with God in his final days.

President Vladimir Putin has never praised Stalin. However, he stirred controversy at a meeting with teachers when he appeared to play down the Great Terror, saying Russia "must not allow others to impose a feeling of guilt on us" and adding that the country had "not had such bleak pages (in history) as was the case with Nazism."

A new history teaching manual partly authored by Putin's chief political strategist Vladislav Surkov and unveiled in June described Stalin as brutal but also "the most successful leader of the USSR."

It gave few details of the Great Terror, instead emphasizing Stalin's achievements in rebuilding the Soviet economy after World War Two and industrializing the country.

"It was namely during his leadership that the country's area was expanded to the borders of the former Russian empire (and sometimes beyond them), victory was gained in the greatest war -- the Great Patriotic War, industrialization was achieved and cultural revolution accomplished," the textbook says.

Gorbachev, praised in the West as a man who ended the Cold War but vilified by many Russians for presiding over the Soviet Union's chaotic collapse, triggered a heated discussion at the conference about the new history manual.

"A massive campaign to revise the collective memory is under way," said Irina Shcherbakova, a Memorial project coordinator. "We plunge them (Russia's younger generation) into half-lies, half-truth, and in the end we get ready-made cynics."

From a Reuters news story by Dmitry Solovyov appearing September 26, 2007.

Justice in Jena

THE case of the so-called Jena Six has fired the imaginations of thousands, notably young African-Americans who, according to many of their comments, believe they will be in the vanguard of a new civil rights movement. Whether America needs a new civil rights movement I leave to social activists, politicians and the people who must give life to such a cause.

I am a small-town lawyer and prosecutor. For 16 years, it has been my job as the district attorney to review each criminal case brought to me by the police department or the sheriff, match the facts to any applicable laws and seek justice for those who have been harmed. The work is often rewarding, but not always.

I do not question the sincerity or motivation of the 10,000 or more protesters who descended on Jena last week, after riding hundreds of miles on buses. But long before reaching our town of 3,000 people, they had decided that a miscarriage of justice was taking place here. Their anger at me was summed up by a woman who said, “If you can figure out how to make a schoolyard fight into an attempted murder charge, I’m sure you can figure out how to make stringing nooses into a hate crime.”

That could be a compelling statement to someone trying to motivate listeners on a radio show, but as I am a lawyer obligated to enforce the laws of my state, it does not work for me.

I cannot overemphasize how abhorrent and stupid I find the placing of the nooses on the schoolyard tree in late August 2006. If those who committed that act considered it a prank, their sense of humor is seriously distorted. It was mean-spirited and deserves the condemnation of all decent people.

But it broke no law. I searched the Louisiana criminal code for a crime that I could prosecute. There is none.

Similarly, the United States attorney for the Western District of Louisiana, who is African-American, found no federal law against what was done.

A district attorney cannot take people to trial for acts not covered in the statutes. Imagine the trampling of individual rights that would occur if prosecutors were allowed to pursue every person whose behavior they disapproved of.

The “hate crime” the protesters wish me to prosecute does not exist as a stand-alone offense in Louisiana law. It’s not that our Legislature has turned a blind eye to crimes motivated by race or other personal characteristics, but it has addressed the problem in a way that does not cover what happened in Jena. The hate crime statute is used to enhance the sentences of defendants found guilty of specific crimes, like murder or rape, who chose their victims based on race, religion, sexual orientation or other factors.

Last week, a reporter asked me whether, if I had it to do over, I would do anything differently. I didn’t think of it at the time, but the answer is yes. I would have done a better job of explaining that the offenses of Dec. 4, 2006, did not stem from a “schoolyard fight” as it has been commonly described in the news media and by critics.

Conjure the image of schoolboys fighting: they exchange words, clench fists, throw punches, wrestle in the dirt until classmates or teachers pull them apart. Of course that would not be aggravated second-degree battery, which is what the attackers are now charged with. (Five of the defendants were originally charged with attempted second-degree murder.) But that’s not what happened at Jena High School.

The victim in this crime, who has been all but forgotten amid the focus on the defendants, was a young man named Justin Barker, who was not involved in the nooses incident three months earlier. According to all the credible evidence I am aware of, after lunch, he walked to his next class. As he passed through the gymnasium door to the outside, he was blindsided and knocked unconscious by a vicious blow to the head thrown by Mychal Bell. While lying on the ground unaware of what was happening to him, he was brutally kicked by at least six people.

Imagine you were walking down a city street, and someone leapt from behind a tree and hit you so hard that you fell to the sidewalk unconscious. Would you later describe that as a fight?

Only the intervention of an uninvolved student protected Mr. Barker from severe injury or death. There was serious bodily harm inflicted with a dangerous weapon — the definition of aggravated second-degree battery. Mr. Bell’s conviction on that charge as an adult has been overturned, but I considered adult status appropriate because of his role as the instigator of the attack, the seriousness of the charge and his prior criminal record.

I can understand the emotions generated by the juxtaposition of the noose incident with the attack on Mr. Barker and the outcomes for the perpetrators of each. In the final analysis, though, I am bound to enforce the laws of Louisiana as they exist today, not as they might in someone’s vision of a perfect world.

That is what I have done. And that is what I must continue to do.

From an opinion piece by Reed Walters, district attorney of LaSalle Parish, appearing in The New York Times September 26, 2007.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


PATERNITY FRAUD: The crime only a woman can commit

For her, once is a fault, twice is culpable irresponsibility and any more than that is disgustingly shameful! At any rate, the number is not always significant, but could be as important as the crime itself. When discovered, Paternity Fraud should be punishable by imprisonment.

Face it, fraud is fraud and it doesn’t make any difference if it’s love, corporate or marital. When caught and there’s a DNA substantiation that this baby does not belong to mom’s husband, boyfriend or current partner, and these men were continually paying heavily out of their pockets, then there needs to be some jail time. This would also include artificial insemination, without the donors’ permission or in other words, sperm theft. The mom who duped the guy into paying for children he did not father should be put into the slammer, no question.

While she is serving her term, which should be a minimum of one year, per count, (1 child=1 year, 2 children=2 years, etc.), any money she makes while working within the prison system, should be given to the ex-husband, partner or defiled donor. It would be either to start paying back the ‘payer’ or to help support the children. Why would the fact that ‘she is the mother of those children’ have anything to do with her serving an established sentence? She did not show regard for either the husband or the children, so it’s a little late to claim she was merely considering the welfare of the children, isn’t it? Where was her concern for the welfare of the children when she deprived them not only of the love and company of the father they had known, but also of their real, albeit sometimes obviously, undeserving of it father?

She was the one who was completely reckless, not the partner; so why didn’t she tell him she was unhappy, or just end the marriage or relationship before any pregnancies. In fact, if the woman finds it that difficult to confide her feelings to her man, then why have any relationship or get married at all?

If this was a sperm theft, then she should be locked up permanently. However, this isn’t possible, but she should get ample time, no less than five years, in the slammer for a grand theft, so she will reconsider and learn from what she has done. What she’s achieved would be the same as stealing a man’s body part, for Pete’s sake!

When women cheat on their husbands, thousands upon thousands of them do not take precautions. WHY? For too many years, men have been paying child support for children they have not fathered, and it’s spreading like a bad disease of the female psyche.

The wives have duped their spouses into signing anywhere from one to five birth certificates. Then, the women get tired of their partners, they hightail it to a lawyer to begin divorce proceedings. Dad must then ‘own up’ to his responsibility of supporting the children. Depending on how many there are this could cost him nearly all of his hard-earned paycheck, a hefty divorce settlement, his 401K and everything he had put away for a rainy day. Well guys, put away your umbrellas because if the battle is fought properly the payload and payback could be sweet.

If any man recalls the old saying, “The squeakiest wheel gets the oil” then the necessary steps are at the fingertips of the lawmakers. I do have one question, though. Where is the ACLU when men really need them? Shouldn’t they be protesting on Capitol Hill somewhere, for MENS RIGHTS? Where ARE these people when men really need them? They sure squawk for everyone else’s rights. Why not MENS PATERNITY RIGHTS? Com’on gentlemen, they’re not doing their jobs over there, and men are still in turmoil about this issue. If some men are sitting back doing nothing, then they ARE taking the path of least resistance.

Mandatory DNA, live birth testing should be made binding across the nation. It should begin in Washington and proceed to each state. In the meantime, the dad who has been deceived, is now left standing on the heavy end of justice scales, while mom stays at home, pretending she is the helpless, hopeless victim of a bad marriage. She runs to the officials of the Friend of the Court, Family Court and Child Support Agencies whining about what she does not have, and they actually believe her.

It is just so astonishing that suddenly she is so concerned about the welfare of her children, but she could have cared less when she decided to deprive them of the company of their father. On the other hand, is their DAD REALLY THEIR DAD, or did mommy actually run away from dad before he found out the children were not his? First and foremost, ‘DNA before you pay.’

“No money disbursed without DNA first!”

“Give her jail instead, for jumping into his bed!”

“She had the itch, so it’s jail for the witch!”

© Lea Anna Cooper

Thursday, September 20, 2007

All Better Now

'Just call me Mom!'Don't call them her drug years. Courtney Love was "out sick."

It's a concept she says she got recently from friend Gwyneth Paltrow, who, along with Trudie Styler, was among a handful of friends Love says were "kind to me through thick and thin. You really know who your true friends are when you're down and out."

The former Hole singer and widow of Nirvana's Kurt Cobain says she's patiently treading on a long-term trek back from her own personal hell of drug addiction, bankruptcy, identity theft and legal troubles. She has been clean and sober for three years, the singer says, "but it will be another two years before my memory is back to normal" because of her heavy drug abuse.

With her first solo album since 2003 due later this year, Love says, "I know how to play the game now. I have to navigate the system, follow the rules and stop being a rebel. I can't afford to be a 43-year-old rebel."

She says her life today is focused on her music and album, Nobody's Daughter, and her daily regimen is filled with Buddhist chanting, Pilates and Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. She also meets regularly with a therapist and a drug addiction specialist, and watches daughter Frances Bean, 15, play soccer.
FIND MORE STORIES IN: BEVERLY HILLS | Getty | Gwyneth Paltrow | Courtney Love | Hole | Kurt Cobain | Nirvana

"I'm really just a Beverly Hills soccer mom who wants to be a real estate mogul and design clothes," she says with a laugh.

Still, Love's penchant for candor and honesty continues to create controversy. Love says she was "goaded and manipulated" into making statements about Steve Coogan supplying drugs to actor Owen Wilson, whom she says she has met twice. And speculation about her 60-pound weight loss and plastic surgery has made Love a tabloid favorite.

She says she currently weighs 136 pounds, but prefers to be 125, so she can fit into designer sample gowns. She admits to two nose jobs, some painful dental surgery and an ill-advised lip-plumping procedure that left her with a "crazy chop mouth" that she's trying to fix to "restore my face to a natural look."

Love's love of fashion is also a hot topic for her; she says it's a necessity for today's female artists. Selling CDs and touring, she says, doesn't pay the bills.

Artists today, she says, make money by marketing their brand in fashion lines and fragrances, and Love says she has thrown herself into books and marketing conferences to prepare for that step.

But the timing isn't quite right, she says. "No one wants to smell like Eau du Controversy."

Adapted from an article appearing in USA Today on September 18, 2007 by Karen Thomas.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

'Maggie May'

Wake up Maggie I think I got something to say to you
It's late September and I really should be back at school
I know I keep you amused but I feel I'm being used
Oh Maggie I couldn't have tried any more
You lured me away from home just to save you from being alone
You stole my heart and that's what really hurt.

The morning sun when it's in your face really shows your age
But that don't worry me none in my eyes you're everything
I laughed at all of your jokes my love you didn't need to coax
Oh, Maggie I couldn't have tried any more
You lured me away from home, just to save you from being alone
You stole my soul and that's a pain I can do without.

All I needed was a friend to lend a guiding hand
But you turned into a lover and
mother what a lover, you wore me out
All you did was wreck my bed
and in the morning kick me in the head
Oh Maggie I couldn't have tried anymore
You lured me away from home 'cause you didn't want to be alone
You stole my heart I couldn't leave you if I tried.

I suppose I could collect my books and get on back to school
Or steal my daddy's cue and make a living out of playing pool
Or find myself a rock and roll band that needs a helpin' hand
Oh Maggie I wish I'd never seen your face
You made a first-class fool out of me
But I'm as blind as a fool can be
You stole my heart but I love you anyway.

Maggie I wish I'd never seen your face
I'll get on back home one of these days.

By Rod Stewart with Martin Quittenton. © 1971

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Competence No Requirement

'At least I'm perky!'The Senate Foreign Relations Committee, ignoring precedent and, frankly, common sense, appears to have injected a new confirmation hurdle for nominees to top federal jobs.

The committee on Tuesday took up the nomination of the undersecretary of state for management, Henrietta H. Fore, to be administrator of the Agency for International Development.

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) told his colleagues that he opposed her as a result of his investigation into the recent "passport fiasco," a mess for which State's consular affairs chief, Maura Harty, took "full responsibility." Fore was Harty's boss.

When Fore's nomination came up, Nelson said, he asked her privately if she accepted any responsibility for the huge delays in issuing passports. "She would not answer the question." Did the same at her confirmation hearing, Nelson said.

"Well, I don't like that," he said, adding that he was going to put a hold on the nomination but that he was going to give her a chance to "put into writing what I had requested."

This apparently caused a mini-panic at State.

"No less than" Deputy Secretary John Negroponte called Nelson Friday night "while I was in an airboat with Barbara [Boxer] in the Everglades," Nelson said.

Secretary Condoleezza Rice called him Monday.

Nelson got his letter from Fore, but he wasn't satisfied. "She says, 'yes,' period," he said. "Then . . . she goes on with a lot of the language, 'Well, we all share responsibility.' "

Wasn't enough for Nelson, who said Harty had been "instructed . . . to take the fall." He lifted his hold but said he would vote "no."

Then Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) said he would . .
"support Nelson's comments. . . . If we're seen as promoting incompetence, I think it looks bad on all of us. So, in the spirit of bipartisanship, Bill, I support you."

Adapted from a bit by Al Kamen in The Washington Post on Friday, September 14, 2007.

Amateur Research on Gender Violence

I also maintain that anyone who mistrusts the "experts" in this field can do a very simple piece of research themselves. It won't be accepted by academics but it will open your eyes and give you an insight into what is really going on.

Just take a pen and notepad and go to any place where large numbers of people of both sexes gather in roughly equal numbers. Bars, clubs, whatever. It will certainly help the research if there is plenty of alcohol available.

Then just sit quietly in a corner or where you have a good view, and look for acts of physical violence against people. Score the "hits" on your notepad. You can use a very simple system, like just recording numbers; or make it as sophisticated as you like, such as distinguishing types of violence (kicks, slaps, pushes, hitting with objects etc), where aimed (face, head, ribs, groin) and the scale (low level, medium, hard, full-on - based on any criteria you choose). But be sure to record which sex perpetrates the violence, and which sex is on the receiving end, in each case.

Be honest, don't cheat, and record everything. Don't let anybody off just because their physicality is low-level, or there is no sign of damage; and certainly not because they are female. Leave your prejudices at home. Even if it is just a mild push, still record it. Any contact with any degree of force behind it and with obvious intent should go down on your pad. Ignore playful stuff, but use your judgement over whether something is serious or not. You should be able to tell from the faces of the two parties, and the verbal exchanges that are certain to precede and follow it.

At the end of the night, you will have your own sample that you can trust because you have chosen the circumstances and the venue, seen the action with your own eyes, and recorded it in your own fair hand.

It is unscientific, crude and partially subjective; as I say, it would never be accepted by serious scholars in this field. The purpose is not to prove anything to anyone else, but only to yourself.

But I can guarantee that if you make a number of these records, in different locations at different times, you will see a distinct pattern emerging. And that pattern will show women as the main initiators of violence. They will be the ones throwing the first punch or aiming the first kick, in a very decided majority of cases.

How do I know? Because I have made many such casual observations myself, and the results are always the same.

Why is it consistently so? Because women have no constraints on their behaviour at all. There is no taboo, no social disapproval, no punishment, and very little risk of adverse consequences, let alone retribution. But men have all of those constraints. And if men do "kick off", then 99% of the time it will be against other men. I can assure you that the column in your notepad headed "male on female" will be the emptiest.

Don't take my word for it; try it yourself. You might learn something you had never believed could be true.

A comment posted by Paul Parmenter to another blog.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Story of the Cheating Woman

'I’ll try to sum up a funny story that happened a few years ago: I got a vasectomy. I met a girl soon afterwards. She was nice and attractive but with a selfish streak that raised a big red flag. She was 32 at the time and I could practically HEAR her biological clock ticking. Regardless, she was a good lay, easy on the eyes, and reasonably good company.

I did NOT tell her about my vasectomy and I always used a condom with her to protect against STDs. She assumed, obviously, that the condom was only used for birth control. Silly girl.

We date for a few months. I never made any move towards commitment but she brought it up ocassionally. For me, this was a casual but pleasant relationship. For her - as I was to find out - it was part of life-changing series of events that she was planning very carefully.

Four months into dating, I get the “I’m pregnant” talk. She’s going on and on about how the condom must have broke and now we really need to think about getting married “for the baby”. She’s positively giddy. She has a baby in her and she thinks she’s gonna have a good meal ticket (me) to go along with her new 7lb annuity.

At this point, I’m just as giddy. I get to pull the reverse “oops” on her. I figured that she slept with some bad boy and got knocked up. Good thing I was using condoms! Better still that I have a serious mistrust of women who can’t think beyond their own uteri.

So I wait a couple of days to “think about all this.” I meet her again. I say I don’t want kids and that she should have an abortion. I know where this is going and sure enough it goes there. She goes completely batsh*t insane on me. There were the usual insults about my manhood. There were threats of legal action. It was all very ugly and I was loving every minute of it.

Well, I let her stew for a few days. She leaves me nasty messages on my phone. She sends awful emails. I’m laughing hysterically.

It was time to drop the hammer. While she was stewing I was busy. First I get a notarized copy from the urologist who performed the vasectomy. Next I get a notarized copy of the TWO test results indicating a “negative test result for sperm” to show I’m sterile and shooting blanks. Finally, I get a letter from a shark attorney stating he has seen the other documents and is prepared to litigate against this woman if she continues to communicate with me in such an unpleasant manner. Also, the letter states that we will insist on DNA testing to show that the baby is not mine. I’m ready.

I meet with this woman at her place. I bring flowers and a small bit of jewelry to show I am willing to reconcile and assume my responsibilities as a new father. I also have stuck in my pocket the documents I have prepared.

She’s all giddy again. Her plan is going perfectly - or so she thinks. We talk about our future. We have some pretty good sex. Then, as I am about to walk out the door, I ask her the $64,000 question. “Are you sure that this baby is mine?”

Well, she goes batsh*t insane again. Hell, she ought to. Her plan could completely unravel if there is ANY question about my paternity. Oh, she’s really screaming now. How dare I question her morals. Do I think she’s a slut. I’m just trying to weasel out of my responsibilities… blah, blah, blah, yadda, yadda, yadda.

I’m not really mad. I’m kind of embarrassed for her. But since she won’t shut up and the neighbors can hear all of this, I ask her to step back inside and sit down. She sits on the sofa and calms down a bit. She is glaring at me with all the moral self-righteousness that only a woman can muster up. She thinks she has me trapped. She is 100% convinced her plan has worked. Oh, the tangled web of lies and deceit she has wrought around herself and I am about to hack through them with a few pieces of paper.

I reach into my pocket slowly. I extract the three pieces of paper and unfold them slowly and deliberately.

I tell her simply, “You’re screwed”.

Her look doesn’t change. There is no way she can fathom what I have prepared.

I continue. “I am sterile”

Her look changes just a bit. Something is beginning to sink in. Naturally, she reverts to women’s logic. “You’re full of sh*t. You’re trapped and you know it.”

I hold up the letter and the test results. “Three months before we met, I had a vasectomy. Here is a notarized letter from him stating what I had done. Here are two test results showing that I tested negative for the presence of sperm. Blanks. I am shooting blanks. That baby inside you is simply not mine.”

This woman is not to be swayed by logic and clear documentation. “Bullsh*t, those are fakes.”

I was ready for that. “No, they are real. This last piece of paper is from my attorney. It’s a simple letter to you that states if you pursue any kind of legal action against me for child support that I will insist on a DNA test to prove paternity, that is, to prove that your baby is not mine.”

I give the woman all the documents. She reads them slowly, deliberately. With each passing second she can feel in her soul that she has made a very bad mistake. With denial swept away, she started to cry. It’s a small cry at first. Then it becomes deeper and more painful. By the time she gets to the letter from the lawyer she is sobbing.

I had no sympathy for her. I turned and walked out the door. Even after I closed the door I could still hear her sobbing.

Epilogue -

I never heard directly from this woman again. I did hear through my friends that she did indeed have the baby. I also heard that the real father was some guy in a band she had met. I assumed that after 30, women stopped going after musicians, bikers, criminals, and thugs. Silly me for thinking the best of American women.

The Moral of the Story -

Get a vasectomy but keep it a secret.'

::authorship unknown::