Archive for October, 2009

15-Year-Old Beaten and Gang Raped for 2 Hours After Homecoming Dance

October 27, 2009

I just heard about a story out of Richmond, CA that really made my blood boil. On Saturday, a 15-year-old girl was beaten and gang raped for 2 hours after she left her school’s homecoming dance. After leaving the Richmond High School homecoming dance around 9:30 P.M. to get a ride home with her father, the girl ended up meeting up with some kids on the school campus who were drinking.

Richomnd Police Lieutenant Mark Gagan told reporters, “The series of events that occurred over the next two and a half hours got more severe and more vicious to where she was ultimately gang raped, beaten and her injuries were so severe that she had to be sent to the hospital in a helicopter.”  The victim is still in the hospital, currently in stable condition.

There’s been some controversy over whether or not the school is safe.  After being asked by reporters if he thought the school was safe, one male student said, “No it’s not. Not at night time.”  Charles Ramsey, a Richmond school board member disagreed, saying, “It is a safe school, 95 percent of the students here perform well, do what they’re expected to do, but do we have a part of the campus element here that is out of control?  Yes.  We do understand and are not putting our head in the sand around the fact that Richmond has a lot of issues and problems in terms of safety.”

The school district spokesman, Marin Trujillo said, “There’s just so much control that one can do after that, once they leave the sidewalk we can’t follow them home,” regarding the safety of the homecoming dance.

Since the attack, 2 arrests have been made: a 15-year-old student, as well as a 19-year-old former student, Manuel Ortega, who was caught as he tried to flee the scene of the crime.

Gagan said that police arrived as the 2+ hour-long rape was still taking place, and that “we’re looking at four to seven active participants of sexual assault and extremely violent felonies.  We’re also suspecting there were up to a dozen people who witnessed what had happened and their involvement is unknown.”

The 15-year-old male was arrested after being pulled from class for questioning.  Another student was pulled out of class for questioning, but was released.

What I’d like to know is how the heck could 12 people stand by and watch this happen?  What kind of sick twisted person wouldn’t call the police!  The people who joined in and raped and attacked this girl need to be arrested and locked up for the rest of their lives.  I would argue that they should probably be given the death penalty, considering how heinous of a crime this was, but the death penalty isn’t an option in rape cases any more.  But they should certainly be locked up for the rest of their lives.  A crime this heinous and disgusting deserves a harsh punishment.

And while those who watched may not be charged with any crime (depending on whether or not they cheered it on, they could possibly be charged as conspirators or accomplices in the crime), they need to take a look at themselves and ask, “What the heck is wrong with me?”  How could you sit by and let something like this happen to a 15-year-old girl!  What’s wrong with you!

It’s stories like these that make me begin to lose hope in humanity. When 4-7 people gang rape a girl, and 12 people sit around and watch, there’s something wrong with what’s going through our children’s heads.  I don’t know what, but something needs to be done.  Sitting by and watching something like this is unacceptable, and the people who watched this rape are should have to live with a whole lot of guilt for the rest of their lives.  I hope they realize how despicable it was for them to just sit by and watch.

And I hope the other attackers are caught and arrested.  My thoughts and prayers are with the victim of this attack – hopefully she recovers soon, but I have no doubt that she will be mentally scarred for years to come.

UPDATE: Somebody from Newsy, a video news website asked me to embed their story covering the gang rape:

more about “Newsy | Girl Gang Raped While Others …“, posted with vodpod 

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican

Barack Obama Wins Nobel Peace Prize; But Was It Too Soon?

October 9, 2009

Earlier today, it was revealed that President Obama had won the Nobel Peace Prize “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.”  President Obama has become the 4th U.S. President to win the honor, and only the 2nd sitting President to do so (the other was Teddy Roosevelt).

And while I would congratulate the President for such a high honor, I would also question whether or not it may have been a little too soon.  When Roosevelt won the prize, he was already 5 years into his presidency, while President Obama hasn’t even finished his first year.

Some have said that President Obama deserves the award, and it gives him a goal for his presidency, while others, such as past 1983 Nobel laureate Fmr. Polish President Lech Wałęsa were surprised at how soon into his presidency he won the prize: “‘What? So quickly? … He is proposing, he’s started, but he still must act.  We’ll see if he does what he proposes.  Sometimes the Nobel committee [awards the prize] as a way of encouragement into action.”

I would agree with Walesa – I think this was somewhat premature.  President Obama hasn’t really done anything yet – he’s just laid out plans for what he wants to do.  So if he lives up to his promises, he’ll be alright, otherwise it’s going to leave him looking like he really didn’t deserve this.

But I do think that the President handled the situation well – he admitted that he really didn’t think deserve this right now, but that he will take the award “as a call to action”.  Here’s the full transcript of the President’s address to the media earlier today:

THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary
___________________________________________________________
For Immediate Release                                          October 9, 2009

REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
ON WINNING THE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE

Rose Garden

11:16 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Good morning.  Well, this is not how I expected to wake up this morning.  After I received the news, Malia walked in and said, “Daddy, you won the Nobel Peace Prize, and it is Bo’s birthday!”  And then Sasha added, “Plus, we have a three-day weekend coming up.”  So it’s good to have kids to keep things in perspective.

I am both surprised and deeply humbled by the decision of the Nobel Committee.  Let me be clear:  I do not view it as a recognition of my own accomplishments, but rather as an affirmation of American leadership on behalf of aspirations held by people in all nations. 

To be honest, I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures who’ve been honored by this prize — men and women who’ve inspired me and inspired the entire world through their courageous pursuit of peace.

But I also know that this prize reflects the kind of world that those men and women, and all Americans, want to build — a world that gives life to the promise of our founding documents.  And I know that throughout history, the Nobel Peace Prize has not just been used to honor specific achievement; it’s also been used as a means to give momentum to a set of causes.  And that is why I will accept this award as a call to action — a call for all nations to confront the common challenges of the 21st century.
    
These challenges can’t be met by any one leader or any one nation.  And that’s why my administration has worked to establish a new era of engagement in which all nations must take responsibility for the world we seek.  We cannot tolerate a world in which nuclear weapons spread to more nations and in which the terror of a nuclear holocaust endangers more people.  And that’s why we’ve begun to take concrete steps to pursue a world without nuclear weapons, because all nations have the right to pursue peaceful nuclear power, but all nations have the responsibility to demonstrate their peaceful intentions.

We cannot accept the growing threat posed by climate change, which could forever damage the world that we pass on to our children — sowing conflict and famine; destroying coastlines and emptying cities.  And that’s why all nations must now accept their share of responsibility for transforming the way that we use energy.

We can’t allow the differences between peoples to define the way that we see one another, and that’s why we must pursue a new beginning among people of different faiths and races and religions; one based upon mutual interest and mutual respect.

And we must all do our part to resolve those conflicts that have caused so much pain and hardship over so many years, and that effort must include an unwavering commitment that finally realizes that the rights of all Israelis and Palestinians to live in peace and security in nations of their own.

We can’t accept a world in which more people are denied opportunity and dignity that all people yearn for — the ability to get an education and make a decent living; the security that you won’t have to live in fear of disease or violence without hope for the future.

And even as we strive to seek a world in which conflicts are resolved peacefully and prosperity is widely shared, we have to confront the world as we know it today.  I am the Commander-in-Chief of a country that’s responsible for ending a war and working in another theater to confront a ruthless adversary that directly threatens the American people and our allies.  I’m also aware that we are dealing with the impact of a global economic crisis that has left millions of Americans looking for work.  These are concerns that I confront every day on behalf of the American people. 

Some of the work confronting us will not be completed during my presidency.  Some, like the elimination of nuclear weapons, may not be completed in my lifetime.  But I know these challenges can be met so long as it’s recognized that they will not be met by one person or one nation alone.  This award is not simply about the efforts of my administration — it’s about the courageous efforts of people around the world. 

And that’s why this award must be shared with everyone who strives for justice and dignity — for the young woman who marches silently in the streets on behalf of her right to be heard even in the face of beatings and bullets; for the leader imprisoned in her own home because she refuses to abandon her commitment to democracy; for the soldier who sacrificed through tour after tour of duty on behalf of someone half a world away; and for all those men and women across the world who sacrifice their safety and their freedom and sometime their lives for the cause of peace. 

That has always been the cause of America.  That’s why the world has always looked to America.  And that’s why I believe America will continue to lead.

Thank you very much.

END                                                    
11:22 A.M. EDT

The Norwegian Nobel Committee has rejected claims that the prize was awarded prematurely, and Geir Lundestad, the secretary of the committee told reporters, “We want to emphasise that he has already brought significant changes.  We do of course hope that there will be many concrete changes over the years but … We felt it was right to strengthen him as much as we can in his further struggle for his ideals.”

Personally, I disagree – I think it was premature, but I am proud that an American won the prize, and I hope Obama is a champion of peace throughout his presidency.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican

Michigan Legislature Needs to Get to Work on Permanent Budget

October 5, 2009

Last week, Michigan saw its second government shutdown in the state’s history.  In the history of this country, only two other states have had government shutdowns because of a budget crisis, and Michigan is the only state to have more than one shutdown.  What’s even more sad is that the 2 shutdowns came only 2 years apart.

I ended up watching most of the late-night sessions last week, as I followed the budget crisis, and while there were some humorous segments (such as “I can count!” coming from the chairman of the Senate), most of what I saw was just sad – it’s sad that the Michigan legislature can’t pass a budget on time.

So why does Michigan have problems passing a budget?  There has been a fundamental failure in leadership, as well as the overall impacts of having the state in such a poor economic state.

Michigan is essentially the same position as it was for the 2007 shutdown: a Democratic Governor with terrible economic policies, a Democratic-controlled House of Representatives with Andy Dillon (D-Redford) as Speaker of the House waiting until it is too late to work on the budget, and a Republican-controlled Senate who tried to get the budget done on time, but was unable to overcome the incompetency of the House.

In both the 2007 and 2009 shutdowns, work on the budget started too late, and many legislators (including Republicans) weren’t committed to finishing the budget on time.

While portions of the budget were being passed by the Senate late Tuesday night, the House had already recessed for the day.  We saw the same thing in 2007: Andy Dillon would go would only have the House in session once or twice a week over the summer, and he even took a five-day weekend trip to Mackinac Island after acknowledging that the state was facing a budget crisis.

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop (R-Rochester) had been getting Senate budget bills passed and sent over to the House faster than House bills were coming to the Senate.

But this isn’t to say that all Republicans were trying to finish the budget on time or that all Democrats were uninterested in finishing on time.  While the Senate Republicans seemed to generally work harder as the deadline got closer, NOBODY was working hard enough in the month and weeks beforehand.  Instead of passing a budget 2 hours into the government shutdown, the legislature should be passing a budget weeks or even months beforehand.

Representative Tim Bledsoe (D-Grosse Pointe) has suggested that the Michigan Constitution be amended to require the budget be done by July 1st, and legislators wouldn’t get paid after that date until a budget was passed.  Bledsoe told the Detroit Free Press, “We’ve had every opportunity to get this work done earlier in the year.  There’s no excuse to be moving the budget as late as we did.”

Senator Hansen Clark (D-Detroit) has suggested fining legislators $1,000 a day for each day after the fiscal year that a budget isn’t completed, with the Speaker of the House and Senate Majority Leaders paying $3,000.  He told reporters, “Even though many of us work long hours, we don’t have the same incentives as other sectors of the work force.  Typically, our incentive would be to do a good job so we can get re-elected, but apparently that’s not enough. … The leaders have to be accountable for results.  If you don’t perform the core mission of your job, and that’s to enact a balanced budget … there should be a penalty.”

Former Majority Leader Ken Sikkema (R) said that the problems run deeper than just legislators not cracking down in time: “The gap between revenue and spending is so large that there isn’t any structural issue that can compensate for it.  It’s a much deeper issue that legislators don’t want to deal with.  Michigan as a state can’t continue the level of spending it’s enjoyed for many years.  The economy has downsized underneath it.  Until you change the tax structure and the spending process, this kind of paralysis is likely to continue.  There is no process change that is going to make this a rational, timely, decision-making process.  Until there are fundamental changes, you can’t avoid this kind of chaos.”

And in part, I would agree with that.  The Democrats in the legislature have refused to accept that spending cuts are an inevitable result of the state’s deficit.  Taxes can only be raised so many times and only to a certain level, and when you’ve exhausted that option, you have to cut spending.  Michigan is not in a position to raise taxes.  Businesses won’t come to Michigan if we raise taxes, and we’ve even seen film companies come to Michigan now that we have a tax credit for film companies.  Raising taxes is only going to hurt the economy more and drive more people out of the state.

Fortunately, an interim budget was passed and signed by Governor Granholm only 2 hours into this year’s shutdown, but we aren’t in the clear yet.  The legislature gavels into session tomorrow, and a permanent budget still needs to be passed for the new fiscal year.  Unless legislators understand that spending cuts are not and option, but a necessity, and that they have to start cracking down and getting to work, we will wind up seeing a full government shutdown when the interim budget expires.

And we need to learn from our mistakes – this cannot happen in 2010.  It’s just unacceptable.  Fortunately, 2010 is an election year, and lawmakers will be trying to pass a budget on time so that they can get reelected, but unless things change, we will see ourselves back in this same position in 2011.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican


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