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Supporting rape culture: University of Maryland says frat member's racist, pro-rape email didn't break school policy; protected by free speech

© Shutterstock
The University of Maryland's president is calling a sexist and racist email by a member of a campus fraternity reprehensible but says it did not violate school policy and is protected by the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment right to free speech.

Comment: Considering the rape culture rampant at universities, it's no surprise that the President of the school is unwilling to recognize the problem here. It's become the new normal. As long as the power structures at these schools remain indifferent, the rape culture will continue.

The email sent by a member of Kappa Sigma no longer enrolled at the school to several fellow fraternity members was racist and used "language disparaging the importance of sexual consent," university spokesman Brian Ullmann said.

In a letter to students on Wednesday, President Wallace Loh said the email was "hateful and reprehensible," but did not break the law or violate school policy. The student has not been identified.

"It caused anger and anguish, pain and fear, among many people," Loh said.

The email was sent last year but only recently became public online.

The national chapter of Kappa Sigma in a statement called the incident inexcusable and said the student submitted a letter of resignation from the fraternity.

The school ordered mandatory diversity training for Kappa Sigma and said all members of its fraternity system will undergo mandatory training in sexual assault prevention, multicultural competency, drug and alcohol education and hazing prevention.

Comment: The UVA rape outrage and media damage control


11 former educators found guilty of racketeering in test-cheating scandal

© Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Kent D. Johnson
Eleven former Atlanta public school educators were found guilty by a jury on Wednesday on charges of racketeering in one of the largest U.S. test-cheating scandals.

Prosecutors accused a dozen former teachers, principals and administrators of erasing incorrect answers or instructing students to change their answers to secure promotions and cash bonuses in 2009.

Eleven of the 12 defendants were found guilty of racketeering. Some were also convicted on lesser charges.

Only one educator was found not guilty on all counts.

The educators were among 35 teachers, principals and administrators indicted in 2013 after a state investigation of 56 Atlanta public schools found cheating on standardized tests in 44 of them.

The cheating was largely prompted by pressure to meet test targets, according to the state investigation.

Comment: The education system has turned from being concerned with actually educating our children to playing a numbers game, where meeting "test targets" is prioritized over everything else due to school funding being tied to standardized testing. What you see in this case are educators who felt the need to break the rules in order for their schools to meet arbitrary testing requirements. Perhaps the state should be less concerned about standardized tests, which can be faulty in judging a student's education, and more concerned with turning out truly educated students.


Family of Clemson frat member found dead files lawsuit, claim frat members' hazing caused death

© Tucker Hipps, Facebook.com
The parents of a Clemson University student who was found dead in a lake near the South Carolina campus allege that their son was killed by his fraternity brothers in a hazing stunt gone wrong because he could not afford to buy them all breakfast from McDonald's.

According to the New York Daily News, 19-year-old Tucker Hipps died on the morning of Sep. 22, but accounts vary widely as to the circumstances of his death.

Clemson's Sigma Phi Epsilon chapter claimed when Hipps' body was found that he had lagged behind on a morning run with members of the fraternity and never caught up. A preliminary coroner's report found that he died of blunt force trauma to the head consistent with a fall and it was assumed that he has slipped and fallen on a footbridge over the lake or along one of its trails.

Now, however, Gawker.com is reporting that Cynthia and Gary Hipps have filed a $25 million wrongful death lawsuit against Clemson University, the national and local chapters of Sigma Phi Epsilon, and fraternity brothers Thomas King, Campbell Starr and Samuel Carney, implicating them in the death of Tucker Hipps.


New York doctors arrested for using homeless people to bilk Medicaid

rich doctor
In America's fraudulent oligarch economy in which corruption and theft have become the preferred means to earn money, it's no surprise doctors feel a need to participate. Do no harm indeed.

From the New York Times:

"Free sneakers, shoes and boots today," Bernard Rorie shouted, standing outside a soup kitchen in East New York, Brooklyn, where he was being recorded by investigators

Mr. Rorie was recruiting homeless people, prosecutors said, and whoever had a valid Medicaid card would be packed into a van and sent to medical clinics around New York City. There, after hours of unnecessary tests and fake diagnoses, the homeless people would be sent off with sneakers — selected from stacks of shoeboxes in the clinics' basements. The doctors, staff members and billing specialists, meanwhile, would rack up hundreds or thousands of dollars per recruit in false Medicaid claims, prosecutors said.


Student debt: A ticking time bomb

student debt death
© DonkeyHotey/Flickr
There's a generational time-bomb ticking — and the student debt crisis is the trip wire.

Adults under 35 disproportionately bear the brunt of escalating inequality.

America's educated youth are graduating into an economy with stagnant wages and a torn safety net. Federal and state budget cuts, meanwhile, have spiked tuition costs and cut public services that aid young workers, such as transportation and affordable housing.

A rumble of legitimate discontent is mounting from the 40 million Americans saddled with student debt totaling $1.16 trillion — a number expected to increase to $2 trillion by 2022. College debt now touches one in five U.S. households and exceeds total credit card indebtedness.

The most frustrated students are blocking highways over tuition hikes. Others are launching "debt strikes" by refusing to pay the for-profit schools that bilked them.



Two women allegedly inspired by ISIS arrested in NYC for planning to set bomb off

© AP

Comment: Is this another case of the FBI creating terrorists out of thin air through its well known entrapment efforts? The U.S. never does get tired of using fear to control its populace, and it sure looks like this story falls into that familiar pattern.

Federal authorities have arrested two women who were allegedly planning to detonate a bomb somewhere in the United States after being radicalized at least in part by ISIS, sources familiar with the arrests told ABC News.

The public was never in danger, as it was all part of a lengthy undercover FBI operation. And court documents suggest any plotting was more aspirational than operational.

However, court documents cite direct connections to known or suspected terrorists inside the United States and overseas.

In August of last year, 28-year-old Noelle Velentzas became Facebook friends with Tairod Pugh, a U.S. Air Force veteran indicted two weeks ago for his own ISIS-inspired plans. Meanwhile, 31-year-old Asia Siddiqui "has had repeated contact with members of" Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the Yemen-based terrorist group behind several bomb plots targeting U.S.-bound planes.

Both were arrested earlier today without incident in Queens, N.Y., where they had been roommates until recently.

In meetings with an undercover FBI agent in recent months, Velentzas and Siddiqui allegedly discussed efforts to learn the "science" involved in building explosives, often analyzing previous bomb plots inside the U.S. -- failed ones and successful ones, like the Oklahoma City bombing. In addition, they downloaded "The Anarchist Cookbook" and watched videos about building bombs, court documents allege.


Crumbling infrastructure: More than 61,000 bridges in the U.S. are structurally deficient and in need of repair

© Reuters / Noah Berger
More than 61,000 bridges throughout the United States are "structurally deficient" and in need of serious repair, a national association of builders has warned, citing government statistics.

New analysis of 2014 bridge database information recently released by the US Department of Transportation (US DOT) showed that there were 61,064 "compromised" bridges handling 215 million crossings every day, mostly within the Interstate Highway System. The American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) made its analysis public on Wednesday and urged lawmakers to help extend funding for the federal program for capital investments, due to expire May 31.
61k US bridges are "structurally deficient," says new analysis - an improvement last yr's 63k http://t.co/0zHmlzYN8B pic.twitter.com/aGNlNKlHKH

— ProPublica (@ProPublica) April 1, 2015
The 250 most-frequently-crossed bridges that rate as "structurally deficient" are on urban interstate highways, particularly in California. Nearly 87 percent of these bridges were built before 1970.

"Many of the most heavily traveled bridges are nearly 50 years old," warned ARTBA chief economist Dr. Alison Premo Black. "Elected officials can't just sprinkle fairy dust on America's bridge problem and wish it away."

Comment: Maybe if the U.S. was less concerned about producing bombs, missiles, and bullets and invading other countries, there would be money to spend on repairing the country's infrastructure.


At least 56 dead after Russian fishing trawler sinks in freezing waters of Sea of Okhotsk

© AP Photo/Russian Emergency Situations Ministry Press Service
In this undated photo provided by Russian Emergency Situations Ministry, a Russian trawler, the same type as Dalny Vostok, is seen in an undisclosed location
A rescue mission to find survivors from the Dalniy Vostok fishing trawler, which sank in the Sea of Okhotsk off the Kamchatka Peninsula, will continue through the night. Fifty-six people are confirmed dead, while 63 were rescued from the freezing waters.

One hundred and thirty-two people were confirmed to have been aboard the fishing vessel, when it sank. Of those, 117 have been accounted for, according to TASS. Around 10 of the survivors are in a critical condition, suffering from hypothermia.

The head of the Russian Emergencies Ministry, Vladimir Puchkov, says the rescue mission to try and find survivors from the Dalniy Vostok should continue through the night.

"We will continue the rescue operation in the area where the trawler went down when night falls at full capacity," said Puchkov, according to Interfax.

He added that 26 vessels are currently at the scene and helping with the rescue operation. Strong winds have hampered the rescue mission, with helicopters unable to reach the area where the vessel sank. One chopper took off from Petropavlovsk Kamchatka, but was forced to return to the city of Magadan.

Eye 2

Update: 147 killed in Kenya university attack - Somali group Al-Shabaab claims responsibility

© Reuters/Thomas Mukoya
Soldiers from the Kenya Defence Forces
The death toll has risen to at least 147 people after the siege of Garissa University College in Kenya. The attack on the institution by masked Al-Shabaab gunmen, an Al-Qaeda splinter group, has ended, according to the government's disaster agency.

The siege lasted nearly 15 hours. When it concluded, according to Reuters Interior Minister Joseph Nkaissery told Kenyan media: "The operation has ended successfully. Four terrorists have been killed."

Comment: How could anyone describe what happened as successful when 147 have been killed?

In the early morning, about five gunmen from the Islamist militant group Al Shabaab stormed a Kenyan university campus during morning prayers, killing a number students and staff, and taking others hostage. Police and soldiers surrounded the college, and exchanges of gunfire have been going on all day.

"We are finding it difficult to access the compound because some of the attackers are on top of a building and are firing at us whenever we try to gain entry," a policeman at the university campus in Garissa said earlier.

Kenyan police have issued a dusk to dawn (from 6.30 pm till 6.30 am) curfew in four regions near the Somalia border, as a security precaution following the attack, Reuters reported.

Comment: 147 people have died, yet there is nowhere near the kind of widespread coverage over this terrible incident compared to what occurred after the shootings at Charlie Hebdo that killed far, far fewer people. A dozen or so people are killed in a Western country and the Western politicians all stop what they're doing to show the flag in Paris, but when 147 people are killed by a Western proxy army in an African country it's no big deal, go back to your regularly scheduled programming folks. The double standards are sickening, absolutely sickening!

Heart - Black

Judge rules Connecticut teen nearing end of forced chemo not allowed to go home


Comment: So much for a free country. The state of Connecticut has effectively imprisoned this poor woman and forced her to undergo a poisonous treatment. Such a decision should be made by the individual, and if they choose to forgo standard allopathic treatment, that's none of the state's business. That they instead force her to undergo chemotherapy and then refuse her wishes to return home to her family is criminal.

A Connecticut teen who has been forced to have chemotherapy to treat Hodgkin lymphoma will remain in temporary custody of the state for the time being, according to her attorney, Josh Michtom.

A Connecticut juvenile court judge issued a written decision Wednesday denying a motion to let the teen, identified in court documents as "Cassandra C.," go home. The judge also denied a motion for visitation.

The 17-year-old is in remission after nearly six months of forced chemo treatments. On March 16, Michtom tried to convince the court that she should be able to return to her mother's home because she was no longer at imminent risk of harm from her illness.

Michtom and attorney Michael Taylor, who represents Cassandra's mother, Jackie Fortin, released a written statement after receiving the judge's decision Wednesday: "We are disappointed in this ruling, not least of all because it draws a factual conclusion that is directly contradicted by the weight of the evidence. We're conferring with our clients now about next steps, including whether to take another appeal."

Cassandra was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma in September and medical experts gave her an 85% chance of survival if treated with chemotherapy. Without it, doctors said at the time, she was likely to die within two years.