Tuesday, December 31, 2013

GOP bill would change WI child custody, support laws

Some much-needed reforms are being considered in Wisconsin:
Father's rights groups are fighting to change the way courts rule in child custody and child support cases. And they've gotten the attention of some Republican lawmakers.

Rep. Joel Kleefisch (R-Oconomowoc) authored Assembly Bill 540, which seeks to establish a presumption in the law that equal placement with each parent is in the best interest of a child after a divorce. ...

"Its not really in the best interest of children to have a one-size fits all statute that does say you must equalize, unless....," countered Daphne Webb, a family law attorney with the Stafford Rosenbaum firm of Madison.
Maybe Rule of Law is not really in the best interest of divorce lawyers who make a lot more money when the judge has more discretion to rule according to his prejudices.

Rule of Law means that courts acts according to written rules and regulations in predictable ways. It was invented 1000s of years ago, and it essential for modern civilization. If you do not pay your rent or mortgage, you can be evicted, if proper procedures are followed.

Somehow the family law attorneys have convinced everyone that Rule of Law is not in the best interest of the children. They are nuts. I am glad to see some Wisconsin Republicans have a more sensible view.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Do you just want to believe it

I just watched the 1971 western film Shoot Out. It had this conversation:
Woman: Is Decky your daughter?

Clay Lomax (played by Gregory Peck): Well, looking at her from over there, what would you say?

Woman: One minute, yeah, but the next minute, (shakes head).

Lomax: Well I'm not sure myself.

Woman: Is any man ever sure?

Lomax: Oh well, with some women, -

Woman: (laughs) Do you really believe that? Or do you just want to believe it?
Yes, a man can be now sure with DNA testing.

There is also a scene where both of them show that they would save the life of their own natural child over a step-child or anyone else. Makes sense to me. I've heard people claim that a step-child gets as much love as a natural child, but I do not believe it.

Lomax would have been killed, but the crazy bragging hired gunman was told not to kill him:
When you buy a killing, Bobby Jay, you sell yourself. Now a reliable professional killer is a closed-mouthed man. Me, I'm a businessman with a reputation to protect, or is that putting it too bluntly for you?
The gunman shot a cup off the head of Lomax's daughter, and Lomax eventually turns the tables on the gunman. These old western movies have lots of quick-draw duels. And then Lomax goes back to the woman who offered to take care of his alleged daughter. I guess a happy ending requires him to find a wife to help rear a daughter.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

2013 a tipping point against the family

Billionare and NY mayor Michael Bloomberg's daughter just gave birth to a son, with an unmarried Argentine equestrian boyfriend. New grandpa Bloomberg divorced his wife a couple of years ago, and is living with a girlfriend without marriage.

Eliot Spitzer is getting a divorce and has a new girlfriend, since he lost his last election. More and more court decisions are detrimental to normal marriage, while recognizing same-sex marriage and polygamy. We may be reaching a tipping point towards the destruction of marriage and the family.

I eventually read the New Yorker story on the Egyptian-American mom who lost her kid to CPS and foster care and who was framed for child abduction. It confirmed my suspicions, with all of the arguments against her being vague contradictory psychobabble. Sometimes you can just read the accusations, and know that there is no valid case. The mom herself has commented on my blog.

Yesterday's newspaper advice column recommends a fake wedding with a phony minister:
Dear Annie: I am an 84-year-old woman in love with a 92-year-old man. Since I'm rather old-fashioned, I do not believe in living with him unless we are married. However, marrying him could change our financial status. Is there any service that could be performed so that we may live together legally and not impact our children's legacy? -- In Love

Dear In Love: Please discuss this with a lawyer who specializes in marital law. There are clergy who will perform religious marriage ceremonies that may not be legally binding, depending on the state you live in, ...
Only someone who is anti-marriage would advocate a sham wedding in order to defraud Social Security.

The next letter is even weirder:
Dear Annie: You've printed a few letters about married couples who are not enjoying a good sex life. I think there is more advice you should give on this subject.

First of all, married couples should not sleep in the same bed. ...

As far as the physical problems, there are many possible reasons for a low libido. But for men, it's food preservatives, which often contain saltpeter. Men who want to stay virile must avoid packaged foods.

Besides over-familiarity and physical problems, there is the issue of what to do in bed. Couples who explore the Persecutor-Victim-Rescuer story are usually able to develop some very exciting scripts.
There is some bad advice. I have heard that rape fantasies work well for some couples also.

Update: Right after posting this, my local newspaper dropped the stupid "Annie" advice column:
Starting today, you’ll notice some changes on our regular feature pages. We’ve tweaked the offerings on our comics page, and we’ve con­solidated our puzzles page with our entertainment page.

In the comics package, you’ll notice the addition of “Mother Goose & Grimm,” “Six Chix,” “Tun­dra,” “Luann,” “Little Dog Lost,” “Mister Boffo,” “Wumo” and “Take it from the Tinkersons.”

Those strips will replace “The Brilliant Mind of Edison Lee,” “Lio,” “Freshly Squeezed,” “Doonesbury,” “Rhymes with Orange,” “F-Minus,” “The Duplex,” “Mutts” and “Pea­nuts.”

The switch is part of a Digital First Media initiative to create some common pages that can be shared by small groups of the company’s papers. In turn, that allows us to focus our efforts on what we do best, which is giving you up-to-date local news and features. The Digital First initiative is not currently affecting our Sunday comics offerings.

On “Your Daily Break,” our new consolidated puzzles and entertainment page, you’ll find a new advice column from Carolyn Hax of the Washington Post, the games Sudoku, 7 Little Words and Celebrity Cipher, a daily horoscope, a daily TV listings grid, plus the NEA Crossword.
Okay, maybe it was the result of some larger changes, and not from my influence. Now they have some other dopey advice columnist instead.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Devils of unreason

Alfred Hitchcock's Spellbound (1945 film) starts with this preamble:
Our story deals with psychoanalysis, the method by which modern science treats the emotional problems of the sane. The analyst seeks only to induce the patient to talk about his hidden problems, to open the locked doors of his mind. Once the complexes that have been disturbing the patient are uncovered and interpreted, the illness and confusion disappear... and the devils of unreason are driven from the human soul.
It is funny to see psychiatrists in this era taken so seriously.

Nowadays, it is more common to see them as incompetent quacks who are covering up their own neuroses, such as in the hilarious 1991 movie What About Bob?.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Sister jailed for flinging peanut butter

If you call 911 by mistake, do not hang up. You have to explain it.

Here is a Florida story:
A 29-year-old Deltona woman was arrested on allegations of throwing peanut butter on her brother's face in an argument over a urinating dog.

Rachel Byrd was arrested Monday on battery charges.

According to a Volusia County Sheriff's report, Byrd and her brother, 30-year-old Gabriel Byrd, began arguing around 2 a.m. because the dog was urinating in the living room of the house shared by the siblings.

Deputies said Rachel Byrd flung a spoonful of peanut butter at her brother, and someone called 911 but hung up. A dispatcher called back but no one answered, so a deputy was sent to the home, officials said.

The deputy said the brother did not want to press charges against his sister, but the deputy noted that peanut butter was running down his face.

Rachel Byrd had a cut on her leg from the dog, but the deputy determined that she was the aggressor and arrested her.

She was being held without bail at the Volusia County Branch Jail.
Yes, a dog urinating in the house at 2am can be very annoying, but that cop is going to draw his own conclusions about hte peanut butter on your face.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Father drops toddler from high-rise

I posted about a murdering mom, so here is a NY Post story about a murdering dad:
A distraught dad tossed his toddler off the roof of a 52-story apartment building on the Upper West Side on Sunday, then jumped himself — killing them both, law enforcement sources said.

Dmitriy Kanarikov, 35, of Brooklyn was supposed to hand over his 4-year old son to his estranged wife at a Manhattan precinct amid a bitter custody dispute between the couple, sources said.
There are two obvious alternative lessons that judges could draw: (1) they could try to take kids away from parents who are apt to go nuts when their kid is taken away, or (2) they could give a predictable joint child custody deal to all parents, so there is less reason for anyone to get upset.

I would take the latter choice of course. Others might say that psychologists should evaluate crazy Russians.

A faithful reader also tells me that US Army Sgt. Jeffrey Chafin has lost his child custody case. His wife took their daughter to Scotland while he was fighting in Afghanistan, and I posted earlier this year about how he got the US Supreme Court to decide that he was entitled to a fair hearing. Well he got the hearing, but not his daughter.

I had been encouraged that the Supreme Court had been willing to stick for parental rights. But it was really just sticking up for some procedural technicalities, and it is letting the dad lose his daughter.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

NASA launch kills frog

This is from a NASA rocket launch. I got accused in court of killing a frog. Any astronaut or engineer on this launch might be in trouble!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Coerced stepson to kill dad

Here is an extreme case of parental alienation:
An Ohio woman who forced her 10-year-old stepson to fatally shoot his father in November 2003, ruled an accident at the time, was sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole Thursday.

According to the Toledo Blade, 46-year-old Judith Hawkey of Oakwood, Ohio, was sentenced in Defiance County Common Pleas Court, prosecutor Morris Murray said. She was convicted last month of aggravated murder, four counts of endangering a child and insurance fraud in connection to husband Robert Breininger’s death, which she claims was an accident.
She deserves the sentence, if she really did that.

I tend to be skeptical about these cases that depend entirely on some kid changing his story ten years later. He seems a little too happy with the outcome:
"Relief,” Breininger said as he describes his feelings to reporters after the sentencing. “I feel like she got what she deserved. I was ready to get it off my chest. I was bearing that burden for so many years."

Corey says now he can get on with his life.

"[I can] stop living in the shadows. I don't have to worry about anything now. My biggest fear... she's gone," said Breininger.
About once a month, there is a TV on a case like this. Typically the DA does not find enough evidence after an analysis of the crime, but certain vindictive family members spend years building a case against one of the suspects, and the DA eventually tries and convicts him.

The shows give the impression that justice was finally achieved, and someone who almost got away with murder is finally going to prison. Maybe so, in most cases, but it is very difficult to get the truth ten years later.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Boy Trouble - Family breakdown

Kay S. Hymowitz writes in Atlantic magazine:
Family breakdown disproportionately harms young males—and they’re falling further behind.

When I started following the research on child well-being about two decades ago, the focus was almost always girls’ problems—their low self-esteem, lax ambitions, eating disorders, and, most alarming, high rates of teen pregnancy. ...

The reason for boys’ dismal school performance, they argued, was the growing number of fatherless homes. ...

In fact, signs that the nuclear-family meltdown of the past half-century has been particularly toxic to boys’ well-being are not new. ...

On average, boys are more physically active and restless than girls. They have less self-control and are more easily distracted. They take longer to mature. They have a harder time sitting still, paying attention, and following rules, especially in the early years of school. ...

Boys — not girls — often require remedial education to sit still, to look at the person speaking to them, to finish the task they were working on. These days, experts might put it this way: boys come into the world with less natural human capital than do girls.
No, boys do not have less human capital. They only appear to have less if you judge them by feminine standards, such as the willingness to sit still in class for feminized educators.

If boys pay too much attention to something, it is considered a symptom of autism, and if they pay too little, a symptom of ADD. They are only considered normal if they behave like girls.

Keoni Galt points out how her analysis is partially right and partially annoying:
Boys don't just need Fathers in the home to role model and provide guidance them on how to become Men.

Boys need Fathers in the home, to keep the mothering from becoming smothering. ...

Where did this Fatherless boy learn how to be cruel and heartless? By imprinting his single mother's worst feminine traits and emotional stability causing an intermittent reward addiction for her approval, combined with his base masculine drive and aggressiveness.

Which is precisely why the lynch pin to destabilizing and destroying a civilization, is to remove the Father from his role at the head of his home.
Update: James S Taranto of the WSJ also says that Hymowitz's analysis falls short, and explains the root of her problem:
The real revelation comes in the first paragraph, wherein Hymowitz laments non-elite boys' diminishing "chances ... of becoming reliable husbands and fathers." To be sure, this columnist is acquainted with any number of men who fit that description, and by and large they report that family life is a source of great happiness. But we can't recall ever hearing such a man describe himself, nor can we imagine one describing himself proudly, as a "reliable" husband or father.

Hymowitz would like men to organize their lives around maximizing their usefulness to women and children. Hey, what woman wouldn't?
That is, she is measuring the success of boys by what is good for girls. She is arguing that boys are not improving themselves the way girls are, but fails to grasp that boys and girls may want different things.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Attacking Freud

I did not think that it was possible to overstate the bogosity of Sigmund Freud. But maybe so.

Eustace Mullins wrote this 1997 essay:
Few Americans realize that the principal tool of Communist penetration in the United States is the pseudoscience of psychotherapy.

Not only have many patriots who opposed Communist subversion been imprisonedfor life without trial, but many others have been rendered helpless, their fortunes seized, and theirexposures of Communist treachery discredited by the accusation of “mental illness”.

In 1848, Karl Marx issued his Communist Manifesto, detailing the Jewish plans for subduing the gentile, but it was not until 1896 that the most workable system to achieve this goal, psychoanalysis”, was unveiled by his fellow Jew Sigmund Freud. ...

Freud’s reputation as the great inventor of an entire new science rests solely on his discovery that he could get his patients to talk about themselves without the use of hypnosis. Nevertheless, much of the mumbo jumbo of psychotherapy was invented in order to create a hypnotic atmosphere.

Freud’s discovery freed him from the stigma of the charlatans of hypnosis, and put a great distance between him and his discredited predecessors such as Mesmer, the father of Mesmerism.

Nevertheless, the practice of psychoanalysis depends heavily on creating and maintaining a pseudo-hypnotic atmosphere in the psychiatrist’s office. The patient must be persuaded to relax, to place himself completely in the power of the psychiatrist, and to reveal his innermost self. Thus the pseudoscience of psychotherapy functions only because it is pseudohypnosis. No wonder that Freud is pronounced Fraud!

Once he had broken away from the unsavory reputation of his predecessors, and had put the stigma of charlatanism behind him, Fraud began to build an elaborate facade of intellectual supports for his new “science” of psychotherapy. This proved to be a difficult task, for, as Szasz has pointed out, psychotherapy is merely talk. It would not be easy to erect a vast superstructure of scientific procedures around the basic principle of a patient lying on a couch and chatting about himself to a listening doctor.
I don't know about this, but I am convinced that Freud was a complete quack, and the whole fields of psychiatry and psychology can hardly be taken seriously as long as they idolize Freud.

Here is another opinion from a statistics professor:
Freudianism in the 1950s: Back then, Freudian psychiatrists were on the top of the world. Not only were they well paid, well respected, and secure in their theoretical foundations, they were also at the center of many important conversations. Even those people who disagreed with them felt the need to explain why the Freudians were wrong. Freudian ideas were essential, leaders in that field were national authorities, and students of Freudian theory and methods could feel that they were initiates in a grand tradition, a priesthood if you will. Freudians felt that, unlike just about everybody else, they treated human beings scientifically and dispassionately. What’s more, Freudians prided themselves on their boldness, their willingness to go beyond taboos to get to the essential truths of human nature.
This high view of Freudians is laughable today.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Another angry dad tells his story

Another angry dad has written an account of his California child custody dispute:
I am delighted that you are still blogging on the subject of family law, etc. I hope that things in your own situation have eased-up and improved.

I printed out your web page bog information back in 2006 when I was in the midst of a brutal divorce and child custody case. We communicated back then too.

The experience of being trapped in a dysfunctional marriage was nothing compared to the dysfunction of the divorce court I was in in California. The experience motivated me to write a book about my own divorce - and take a close and revealing look at the divorce process - especially as relates to child custody. The result is Give Back My Son.

I hope that you will take a look at the web site - http://www.givebackmyson.com as well as the publisher's web site http://www.familyfirstpublishing.com. Id really appreciate it if you might take a look at the book and even consider a review. Please link my web sites - and, after taking a look at them, let me know what you think.

Sincerely,
Scott O'Dell
Utah, USA
An Amazon review gives it one star for being "one-sided", and for losing in court.

Sorry, I cannot bear to read his books. I cannot even bear to read my own posts on the subject. Others books have detailed the problems of the family court, such as those by Alec Baldwin and Stephen Baskerville.

He says:
In truth, family courts typically do not have the time, tools or interest to competently and fairly measure what is best for our children. In their often short-cut and unjust methods, the family court system consistently relegates fathers to the status of second-class parents and exploited citizens. Discover why family court is a misnomer for a prejudiced and broken apparatus better known as “anti-family.” A place where the purpose of deciding child custody is too often diluted or derailed by expedient, divisive, and prescriptive methods that just make for more problems.
In my opinion, the family would be more dangerous if it did have the tools measure what is best for children. Any such decision-making is fundamentally contrary to a free society.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Quarterback is innocent until proven guilty

Emily Bazelon writes in Slate about the Heisman Trophy winner accused of rape:
The victim says that at first her alleged assailant was “unknown” to her and that she figured out it was Winston in early January. ...

Whether schools should punish athletes who have been accused but not convicted — or in Winston’s case, even charged — is a hard call. But if athletes like Winston are getting a pass from the police and prosecutors, and from the university disciplinary system, then their continuing presence on the field starts to look like an enabling factor. Sure, they deserve to be treated as innocent until proven guilty.
If she really believed in treating him as innocent until proven guilty, then she would not call the accuser a "victim", and it would not be a "hard call" to decide whether schools should punish an innocent man.

This is a story of a big black boy having a consensual sexual act with a blond white girl. However much Bazelon and others might disapprove, this is legal under current American law. There is substantial evidence of his innocence.

Failure to accept the concept of "innocent until proven guilty" is one of the main faults with the family court, and with popular opinion about it. Many times I have heard otherwise intelligent people say something like, "okay the accusation was false, but how do you know he did not abuse the child in some other way?"

Monday, December 16, 2013

New feminist book justifies husband killing

An Ottawa Canada newspaper reports:
Battered women are morally entitled to kill their abusive partners, even those who are passed out or asleep, says a respected University of Ottawa law professor.

Elizabeth Sheehy raises the provocative idea in her new book, eight years in the making, called Defending Battered Women on Trial. It will be published Dec. 15 by UBC Press.

“Why should women live in anticipatory dread and hypervigilence?” she writes in the book’s concluding chapter. Would it not be just, Sheehy asks, “to shift the risk of death to those men whose aggressions have created such dehumanizing fear in their female partners?”

In an interview with the Citizen, Sheehy — who received a prestigious award from the Canadian Bar Association for her scholarship on women and the law this summer — answered that question in the affirmative.

Battered women can justly kill abusive partners “because a woman in that circumstance has already lived in captivity,” she said. “She’s already lived in a form of imprisonment and enslavement in a relationship like that.”

Sheehy likened women in abusive relationships to prisoners of war. “We would never say of a prisoner of war that it’s not just that she or he kill their captor to escape. It is just to kill to escape that kind of enslavement.”
A Voice for Men explains what is wrong with this, if it is not obvious.

I am not sure that it is even accepted that prisoners of war can kill their captors. Prisoners have rights under the Geneva Convention, and killing is not one of those rights.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Drunk driver has affluenza

The Wash. Post reports on the lastest goofy forensic psychologist:
A Texas boy, 16, has received probation after pleading guilty to killing four people in a drunk-driving collision earlier this year. A psychologist who testified in the boy’s defense said he had been spoiled by his parents’ wealth and that he suffered from what he called “affluenza.” ...

The boy pleaded guilty last week to manslaughter and assault while intoxicated. He had been speeding, and had Valium and a high level of alcohol in his blood, according to testimony. ...

Meanwhile, they neglected to teach [the boy] that dangerous behavior could have serious consequences, according to the psychologist.

“He never learned that sometimes you don’t get your way,” Miller said. “He had the cars and he had the money. He had freedoms that no young man would be able to handle.”

He used the term “affluenza,” which describes the ennui and depravity of certain very rich people, and which was popularized by psychologist Oliver James in a 2007 book by the same title.
No, affluenza is not in the DSM-5 yet.

My opinion of this case would be influenced by how the boy got the Valium. Did the parents take him to some stupid shrink who gave him Valium in lieu of normal parenting?

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Supreme court sympathetic to kidnappers

The US Supreme Court usually avoids any cases involving child custody or parental rights, but is now hearing Lozano v. Alvarez:
Issue: Whether a district court considering a petition under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction for the return of an abducted child may equitably toll the running of the one-year filing period when the abducting parent has concealed the whereabouts of the child from the left-behind parent.
They just had the oral argument:
But several Justices – including Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Samuel A. Alito, and Stephen Breyer – expressed concerns that, because Regan’s rule would require near-automatic return, it would preclude courts from considering the best interests of children who had spent enough time in their new location to form attachments there, effectively punishing the children for the sins of the abducting parent.
ConcernS? What concerns? So kidnappers should be able to get away with it because they hide for a year and end up in a friendly jurisdiction?

I occasionally here of fathers rights groups and even mothers who hope to get a parental rights case to the US Supreme Court so that they can declare a constitution right to force family courts to let all fit parents have joint custody.

Forget it. Look how confused these justices are in the transcript:
JUSTICE BREYER: Well, what is the answer? I'd like a straight answer in your opinion, because Justice Kagan's case, the mother kidnaps the child. They live in a grain elevator, a nicely refurbished grain elevator, in Peoria for a year. And after the year, a month later the father finds both of them, goes to a family judge -- a very tough job by the way -- and the family judge reads this and he says, well, I have to admit the child is settled here now in Iowa. All right. Is settled. ...

The father says this is the most unfair thing I've ever seen. She hides out for a year. The child could be just as well back in London. Almost as well. Who knows? Maybe better. But now, what can the family court do -- judge do? That's the straight question we've been trying to get your answer to that, and it isn't an answer to say -- you could say, if that's the answer, I don't know.
Family court judges have very easy jobs. It only becomes a "very tough job" if the judge tries to micromanage parents and make crazy decisions like giving a child to a kidnapper on a theory that the child's best interests will be served by cutting him off from a fit parent.

Our Supreme Court is unfit to hear a parental rights case.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Sick Australian inbreeding family

I think I said that this sort of thing never happens. I stand corrected. It happened in a strange Australian family:
Not only were the Colt family closely related by generations of incest. In fear of discovery the appalling facts about their family, the Colts had fled three other Australian states before coming to rest in rural NSW.

And it was here that four generations of interbreeding exploded into a life of depravity.

Under the eye of the family matriarch, Betty Colt, who slept in the marital bed with her brother, the children copulated with each other and with adults.

Years of interrelations had resulted in some of the children misshapen and intellectually impaired. Many of them could not speak intelligibly.

They were profoundly neglected, to the point they didn't know how to shower or use toilet paper, and were covered in sores and racked with disease.

Left to their own devices, brothers with sisters, uncles with nieces, fathers with daughters, they engaged in sexual activities. ...

When they finally managed to get test swabs into a laboratory, geneticists uncovered a family tree which was a nightmare of "homozygosity", when a child's parents are closely related.

Eight of the Colt children have parents who were either brother and sister, mother and son or father and daughter.

A further six have parents who were either aunt and nephew, uncle and niece, half siblings or grandparents and grandchild.

Interviews with the Colts revealed the family saga began back in New Zealand, in the first half of last century when June Colt was born to parents who were brother and sister.
This will be a textbook example of how too much inbreeding can be bad.

First Lady scowls

These are pictures of President Barack Obama with Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt at the Nelson Mandela funeral. Michelle Obama seems unhappy.

Update: A NY Post columnist adds:
My bookshelves sag with encyclopedic volumes arguing that America and the West are in decline. But proving that a picture is worth a thousand books, the “selfie” seen ’round the world ends the argument.

It’s official — the government of the United States of Obama consists of boobs and bores and is led by a narcissist. It is no consolation that Great Britain joins us in racing to the bottom.

President Obama’s flirting with Denmark’s prime minister would be shameful on any occasion. That it happened at the memorial for Nelson Mandela only adds to the embarrassment.

But the “selfie” episode also symbolizes the greater global calamity of Western decline. With British prime minister David Cameron playing the role of Obama’s giggling wingman, the “look at me” moment confirms we have unserious leaders in a dangerously serious time.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Zimmerman girlfrend recants

A lot of domestic violence disputes are just silly arguments that do not need to be police matters. Here is a recent one that was all over the news. AP reports:
Prosecutors are considering whether to move forward with domestic violence charges against George Zimmerman even though his girlfriend is asking them not to do so.

Without a witness willing to testify, prosecutors can still use law enforcement reports, 911 calls and other witnesses to build a case. But such cases are more difficult to prove, State Attorney's Office spokeswoman Lynne Bumpus Hooper said.

Zimmerman filed an affidavit from his girlfriend, Samantha Scheibe, saying she doesn't want him charged with aggravated assault, battery and criminal mischief. The affidavit was filed with a motion Monday asking a judge to change the terms of his bond so he can have contact with Scheibe.

Zimmerman was arrested last month after Scheibe accused him in a 911 call of pointing a gun at her, smashing a coffee table and pushing her outside. Zimmerman also called dispatchers, denied pointing a gun at her and blamed her for the broken table.
More difficult to prove? This was a simple he-said-sge-said, with no injuries or hard evidence. And the girlfriend has renounced the complaint:
In the signed affidavit, Scheibe -- referring to Zimmerman as "my boyfriend" -- said detectives misinterpreted what she said and that she hadn't been coerced into signing the document.

"I am not afraid of George in any manner and I want to be with him," Scheibe wrote.

It's not uncommon in domestic violence cases for the alleged victims to change their minds about pursuing charges, said Blaine McChesney, a former prosecutor in Orlando who now is a defense attorney.

"In the heat of the moment, they're angry about what has happened. Later, upon reflection, they're not as angry. They're not as upset," McChesney said Tuesday. "The feelings of love and compassion overcome any feelings the victim had."

Although prosecutors can move ahead without the cooperation of the victim, it makes it difficult to convict if there is no physical evidence of injuries, he said.

"Juries really want to see the alleged victim on the stand talking about the case," McChesney said. "It's very hard to convict in a case when the victim isn't there."
Of course juries want to see that a crime was committed, before they vote for a conviction. Without a complaining witness, how could there be a crime?
Some victims refuse to cooperate believing the person who assaulted them will wind up in prison, said Carol Wick, chief executive of Harbor House of Central Florida, which offers shelter and programs to victims of domestic violence.

In reality, the courts offer alternatives to prison such as mandatory therapy and anger management classes. In metro Orlando, where more than half of the cases that end up being dropped are due to victims unwilling to testify, police are starting a program that tries to get victims in touch with counselors within 24 hours of a reported assault.

"People don't understand the psychological manipulation that goes on when this happens," Wick said.
Yes, some women realize that sending a boyfriend to prison for a little argument is not fair.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Divorce battle over dog custody

A reader sent this NY Post story, saying it reminded her of me:
A pair of divorcing women are about to fight it out in court over a miniature dachshund named Joey in what will be New York’s first matrimonial pet-custody case.

“People who love their dogs almost always love them forever,” Manhattan Justice Matthew Cooper opines in his ruling granting the women oral arguments. “But with divorce rates at record highs, the same cannot always be said for those who marry.” ...

The only bone of contention in their divorce is who will get sole custody of their 2-year-old pet.

Travis bought Joey as a 10-week-old puppy from a pet store and gave him to her then-girlfriend as a gift and “a consolation for her having to give away her cat at Travis’ insistence,” according to court papers.

Murray is fighting to keep her best friend, who always slept on her side of the bed.

“I consider this puppy, my little angel Joey, the love of my life,” Murray told The Post.

“He is my little soul mate, and there was no way in this lifetime I could ever live without him.” ...

While some state courts like those in Kansas declined to stick their noses in a custody cases, others have leaped at the chance to treat canines like humans in legal proceedings.

An Alabama judge awarded a dog named Preston to one spouse over the other by taking into consideration the pet’s “best interests,” a gauge typically used in child custody cases.
Instead of regarding Joey like a piece of property, the judge — who gives the full disclosure that he owns a 12-year-old rescued pit bull mix named Peaches — will schedule a hearing to determine his fate.

“This is a cutting-edge case for animal rights,” said Murray’s attorney Sherri Donovan. “It recognizes the special place of pets in our families.” ...

He will ask the pup’s mothers to answer questions similar to those posed during child custody trials such as: “Who spent more time with Joey on a regular basis?”
Our family courts have gone mad, when they consider the best interests of a dog.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Chemo not forced on Amish girl

An Ohio family has successfully evaded busybody govt officials who want to interfere in medical decisions. The Boston Globe reports:
A court-appointed guardian is dropping her attempt to force an 11-year-old Amish girl with leukemia to resume chemotherapy after she and her parents fled their home to avoid treatment.

The move filed in court Friday will likely bring an end to a months-long fight between Sarah Hershberger’s family and a hospital that began when her parents decided to halt the treatments because they were making the girl sick.

The guardian, an attorney who’s also a registered nurse, was given the power to make medical decisions for Sarah after an appeals court ruling in October said the beliefs and convictions of the girl’s parents can’t outweigh the rights of the state to protect the child.

But the guardian, Maria Schimer, decided to drop the effort because she doesn’t know where Sarah is now and it has become impossible to monitor her health or make any medical decisions, said Clair Dickinson, an attorney for Schimer.
This was not really a religious freedom case.
Andy Hershberger, the Ohio girl’s father, said this past summer that the family agreed to begin two years of treatments for Sarah last spring but stopped a second round of chemotherapy in June because it was making her extremely sick and she feared the treatments would make her infertile.

The family’s attorney said the girl’s parents made their decision after researching the effects of chemotherapy.
I am surprised that the authorities did not hunt them down until the girl is dead.

Monday, December 09, 2013

Asperger definition is like male brain

Asperger syndrome has been dropped from the DSM-5, but still causes trouble. It is diagnosed:
Asperger syndrome is defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR) as a pervasive developmental disorder that is distinguished by a pattern of symptoms rather than a single symptom. It is characterized by impairment in social interaction, by stereotyped and restricted patterns of behavior, activities and interests, and by no clinically significant delay in cognitive development or general delay in language. Impairments must be significant, and must affect important areas of function, and the diagnosis is excluded if criteria are also met for autism.
It should be obvious from the definition how ridiculous this is. It is like saying:
Homosexuality is a disorder that is characterized by impairment in heterosexual interactions, and in stereotypical gay behavior.
Here is the AQ Test, a diagnostic tool for adult Asperger, as described in a 2001 Wired article. About half of the 50 questions have to do with preferring facts and details over fiction.

Preferring reality over fiction is a male charactistic. Christina Hoff Sommers writes in Time magazine:
In a major report released last year by the British Parliament’s Boys’ Reading Commission, the authors openly acknowledge sex differences and use a color-coded chart to illustrate boys’ and girls’ different reading preferences: girls prefer fiction, magazines, blogs and poetry; boys like comics, nonfiction and newspapers.
Adults show the same pattern, with the fiction best-sellers being female fantasies like Fifty Shades of Grey. Men watch the History channel while women watch the Lifetime channel.

About a quarter of the questions detect anti-social tendencies, such as "I would rather go to a library than to a party." Or preferring to do things on one's own, or not being good at social chit-chat. Men are more individualist than women. These questions might distinguish an introvert from an extrovert, but that's all.

Men are more focused on their interests and activities than women, and about 7 questions detect that. Another 5 questions are about having an organized and orderly life.

Surprisingly, only a couple of questions have anything to do with a communications deficiency. One is "I am often the last to understand the point of a joke."

Men tend to communicate directly, and women indirectly. For women, nonverbal clues like body language are much more important. Men are much more like to be the type to say what they mean, and mean what they say. That type is also the most obvious symptom of Asperger.

A NY Times article on tech novelties just said:
People with autism, who can have a hard time reading facial expressions, may be among the beneficiaries, Dr. Burleson said. By wearing Google Glass or other Internet-connected goggles with cameras, they could get clues to the reactions of the people with whom they were talking — clues that could come via an earpiece as the program translates facial expressions.
I have ridiculed this idea before. Men who communicate directly and verbally have no need for trying to read subtle cues in facial expressions.

Differences in people are like cats and dogs. New research shows that cats recognize their master's voice, and ignore it. Dogs are much more responsive.

It is sometimes said that women are more social than men, and hence typical men have some sort of sociability deficit. That is partially true, but misleading. As explained in this Roy Baumeister ZURICH.MINDS INTERVIEW video, women tend to do well in emotional exchanges in one-on-one and small family interactions, but men do better in large groups. Men tend to have better social skills for team sports, business organizations, and politics.

The main thing being detected here is a male brain. There is nothing disordered about preferring reality, being focused, or even being introverted. Psychologists tend to be effeminate and emotionally fragile themselves, and consider regular men to be disordered. The whole concept of Asperger syndrome is wrong and offensive.

Update: The WSJ reports:
Women and men display distinctive differences in how nerve fibers connect various regions of their brains, according to a half-dozen recent studies that highlight gender variation in the brain's wiring diagram. There are trillions of these critical connections, and they are shaped by the interplay of heredity, experience and biochemistry. ...

Broadly speaking, women in their 20s had more connections between the two brain hemispheres while men of the same age had more connective fibers within each hemisphere. "Women are mostly better connected left-to-right and right-to-left across the two brain hemispheres," Dr. Verma said. "Men are better connected within each hemisphere and from back-to-front."

That suggests women might be better wired for multitasking and analytical thought, which require coordination of activity in both hemispheres. Men, in turn, may be better wired for more-focused tasks that require attention to one thing a time. But the researchers cautioned such conclusions are speculative.
This may explain why boys are more focused.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

The trouble with grandparent visitation

The US Supreme Court made a mess of grandparent visitation law in Troxel v. Granville, 530 U.S. 57 (2000), and the states have been sharply divided on the issue ever since. The latest mess is a N. Dakota case:
GRAND FORKS – A couple here who were sued by the man’s parents for visitation with the grandchildren is appealing the case to the state Supreme Court.

That’s after a judge confirmed his ruling that Cory Bjerke and his longtime partner, Naomi Sterf, must allow their 16-year-old to visit her grandparents any time she wishes, and also must allow the couple’s other two younger children to see Bjerke’s parents.

State law says grandparents may be given visitation, as long as it’s in the children’s best interests and doesn’t interfere with the parent-child relationship.

Bjerke and Sterf argue the 16-year-old’s unfettered visitation rights laid out in the order by Grand Forks County District Court Judge Lawrence Jahnke do interfere with their parent-child relationship.
These visitation laws foolishly undermine parental authority, as can be seen in this case.

It is especially infuriating when the judge orders an outrageous and unconstitutional visitation schedule, and then disavows any responsibility for it:
The judge wrote that he hoped the bad feeling between the two sets of adults could be set aside, especially as holidays approached.

“It’s time for the Respondents and Petitioners, for the sake of their children and grandchildren, to once again attempt to re-establish a civil dialogue with one another. They can’t expect the court to repair their fractured relationship,” Jahnke wrote. “Only they themselves can do it.”
Judge Jahnke fractured that relationship by ordering the parents to let their kids run off to the grandparents whenever they please. The parental responsibilities are with the parents, not the grandparents, and the parents need the authority to use their own judgment without the micro-management by an a-hole judge like Judge Jahnke.

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Fatherlessness alters the brain

The UK Daily Mail reports:
Growing up without a father can permanently alter the BRAIN: Fatherless children are more likely to grow up angry and turn to drugs

Canadian scientists believe growing up in a fatherless household could have a greater impact on daughters than on sons

They said growing up without a father could permanently alter the structure of the brain and produce children who are more aggressive

Dr Gabriella Gobbi of McGill University in Canada said that the main impacts were seen in the prefrontal cortex

Growing up without a father could permanently alter the structure of the brain and produce children who are more aggressive and angry, scientists have warned.

Children brought up only by a single mother have a higher risk of developing ‘deviant behaviour’, including drug abuse, new research suggests.

It is also feared that growing up in a fatherless household could have a greater impact on daughters than on sons.
This is based on mouse studies, so may not be directly applicable to humans. Nevertheless it gives a biochemical mechanism for how kids are harmed from the lack of a father in the home.

I show the brain scan because that always makes any brain article seem much more scientific.
‘This suggests that these mice are a good model for understanding how these effects arise in humans.’ The report said the behaviour of the mice was ‘consistent with studies in children raised without a father, highlighting an increased risk for deviant behaviour and criminal activity, substance abuse, impoverished educational performance and mental illness’.

It added: ‘Our results emphasise the importance of the father during critical neurodevelopmental periods, and that father absence induces impairments in social behaviour that persist to adulthood.’ Dr Gobbi said the results suggested both parents are vital for children’s mental health development and hoped the findings would spur researchers to look more deeply into the role of fathers.

A separate report by the Centre for Social Justice, published in June this year, found that more than 1million British children currently live without a father and have no adult male role model, a figure that is rising by 20,000 a year.

Some of the poorest parts of the country are becoming ‘men deserts’, the report found, because there are so few visible male role models for children.

In the Manor Castle ward of Sheffield 75 per cent of households are headed by a single parent, most commonly a woman.
A large number of our social ills can be attributed to kids being raised by single moms.

Friday, December 06, 2013

Leftist actor defended

Left-wing MSNBC hosts sometimes lose their jobs over their anti-conservative hate speech, but right-wing author Ann Coulter actually defends a leftist actor and MSNBC host:
What are conservatives doing demanding Baldwin’s head for calling some pestilential paparazzi a “c*cks*ck*ng little f*g.” ...

Liberals don't mind abortion, sexual promiscuity, adultery, lying or criminal behavior. They save all their moral indignation for people who use politically incorrect words. ...

The most spectacular of Baldwin's alleged misbehaviors -- the angry voicemail he left for his daughter -- resulted from his absolutely legitimate frustration over divorce laws written by feminists. His ex-wife, Kim Basinger, was jerking Baldwin around on child custody and he exploded in rage.

I know people who were with Baldwin before he made that call. He had been working overtime all week on two TV shows, but instead of kicking back with friends when it was over, Baldwin went out of his way to keep a phone appointment with his daughter.

She didn't answer and he exploded, mostly at his wife, albeit via an angry message to his daughter. Baldwin's voicemail was immediately released to the press by Basinger's people.

The court punished him for leaving the message. It did not punish Basinger for leaking it to the press.

Up and down the family law system, the deck is relentlessly stacked against men. There are state and federal laws against "deadbeat dads" -- rigorously enforced -- but judges rarely enforce a father's visitation rights.

This has real-life consequences. Feminists don't care, just as they don't care about the real-life consequences of women in combat, abortion on demand or insane sexual harassment rules. It's only about their side winning. They're for the Girl Team.

Alec Baldwin: Victim of feminism.
I have also defended Baldwin's rant, and recommended his book.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Controversial article for men

The manosphere has apparently just published its most offensive article ever. Roosh writes:
On November 13, I allowed publication of Tuthmosis’ article 5 Reasons To Date A Girl With An Eating Disorder. I did so because it contains value for men who want to date thin women in America, a country that is currently facing a devastating obesity epidemic, which we recently highlighted with Fat Shaming Week.

The article states several facts about women with eating disorders:
A girl who spends inordinate mental and physical energy on her looks is rarely fat. ...

You can go out to nice restaurants and order take-out with the confidence that your expense on her will be minimal. ...
The delivery of ideas like these may make some people uncomfortable, but they are based on our experiences and views of the world. We speak the truths that politically correct outlets are too afraid to share because of sensitive mainstream readers who lose their composure at anything they disagree with.
By "eating disorder", they mean women who eat too little, and not the ones that eat too much.

I am not endorsing this; I am just passing along what some women find offensive. Apparently articles with titles starting "5 reasons" generate more hits.

The site has advice for men, such as this:
Only take advice from those who have done what you want to do ...

This principle may seem obvious, but it is astonishing at how many people fail to adhere to it. Take dating for example — the internet abounds with female dating coaches and advice columnists who presume to tell men how to attract and please women. None of them have ever done this themselves, and it’s no coincidence that their advice is almost universally worthless.

Whether you want to get huge, write a book, travel the world, get a promotion, date hotter girls, or start a business, you must only take advice only from those who have accomplished what you want to do.
Yes, a lot of dating advice is worthless, especially when women are giving advice to men.

Update: The site also has articles like 5 Reasons To Date A Man With Cancer and This Is Why Girls Go For Bad Boys.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Stanford professor convicted, child custody still pending

A fellow angry dad has an update on the strange case of the Stanford prof charged with parent abduction:
As of yesterday, Prof. Annelise Barron is a convicted felon. Apparently her plea was accepted and she was sentenced to time served because she's out of Elmwood jail and back on the street. A court trial regarding child custody is scheduled in two weeks.
Not sure, but he is probably the same reader who posted some more details in a comment a couple of months ago.

I don't know what to make of this story, except to conclude that an otherwise smart and respected mom can go nuts with paranoid delusions and possessiveness. Our society is very deferential to a crazy mom who is arguably acting out on maternal instincts, but there are some limits to which she can take the law into her own hands.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

John Nazarian, the King of Scumbags

Suzanne McCarley asks:
What sort of unscrupulous scum makes a living off of offering professional services designed to teach women how to make false allegations of abuse to police, criminal courts and family courts in order to evict their husbands from the family home and gain the upper hand in a divorce? How morally bankrupt do you have to be to encourage and instruct such conduct, intentionally targeting people you know to be innocent, unjustly depriving them of civil rights, property and even causing emotional and psychological harm to their children?

We all know the family court system is a deck stacked against men and their children. A growing number of people are recognizing this, recognizing the damage it is doing, and working toward correcting the problem. But what kind of human being recognizes the bias and pitfalls in the system, and profits from those problems by encouraging criminality?

John Nazarian is such a parasite.
The video gives a lesson for wives to make false charges against their husbands, in order to set up a favorable divorce. I hesitate to publicize such tactics, but some people need to know what can happen.

And millions of women are getting the divorce advice:
Dear Margo: I have a difficult problem I need an outsider's help with, as I wouldn't want friends or family to know. My husband is a very quiet man, and when I say quiet, I mean that he can go for days without having a conversation.

It doesn't seem to bother him, but it certainly bothers me. I knew he was quiet when I married him, ...

Dear Get: ... Tell him that conversation is going to become part of his life, either with you, a therapist or his divorce lawyer. ... Now you know how to make things better. — Margo, responsively

Monday, December 02, 2013

20th century witch hunts

I have some readers who seem not to believe that mass hysteria could lead to false charges and convictions for child abuse. Many such cases have been documented.

One sign that these cases are bogus is that there are wildly implausible and nonsensical accusations. Another is the supposed expert testimony of a quack with no reliable expertise in the subject matter.

Reuters reports on a new exoneration:
Texas has released a woman who spent 21 years in jail on charges of sexually abusing children in satanic rituals at her daycare facility, saying expert medical testimony that helped convict her was wrong.

Frances Keller, 63, was released on bond late Tuesday night and her husband, Dan Keller, who was convicted at the same time, will be released within a week in a deal reached with lawyers for the two, the Travis County district attorney's office said.

"There is a reasonable likelihood that (the medical expert's) false testimony affected the judgment of the jury and violated Frances Keller's right to a fair trial," Rosemary Lehmberg, the district attorney for Travis County, which is located in central Texas and includes the city of Austin, said in a statement.

The release comes on the heels of a similar move in San Antonio where prosecutors agreed this month to release three lesbian women imprisoned since 1998 on sexual assault convictions that critics say were based on junk science and false views on sexual orientation.

Michael Mouw, the doctor whose testimony helped convict the Kellers, said in an affidavit presented to court this year that he had little training at the time on how to examine sexual abuse in children and came to the wrong conclusions in examining a child in the Keller case.

"While my testimony was based on a good faith belief at that time, I now realize my conclusion is not scientifically or medically valid, and that I was mistaken," he said in the affidavit, which was obtained by Reuters

The Kellers were convicted of sexually abusing a 3-year-old girl in their care and faced accusations of dismembering corpses, putting blood in drinks served to children and flying children to Mexico, where they would be sexually abused.

"The Keller case is definitely about the panic back then," Keith Hampton, a lawyer for Frances Keller, told Reuters.

Hampton filed a 128-page writ earlier this year in which he sought to refute the accusations leveled against the Kellers as well as describe the panic about daycare in that era.

The convictions in Texas were part of a national trend in the 1980s and early 1990s triggered by sensational accusations of satanic rituals and the sexual abuse of hundreds of children at a California preschool in what was known as the McMartin case.

Daytime talk show hosts stoked the fire with segments describing horrors inflicted upon children at daycare.

Between 1984 to 1989, some 100 people nationwide were charged with ritual sex abuse and 50 were put on trial, according to Debbie Nathan of the National Center for Reason and Justice, which works to free those wrongly imprisoned.
Another newspaper reports:
The Kellers, tried together in 1992, were sentenced to 48 years in prison after three children from their home-based Southeast Austin day care made allegations of sexual abuse that included strange and horrific rituals.

For those who believed in the prevalence of ritual abuse, the allegations were powerful proof that secret societies and dangerous cults — often protected by top politicians, business leaders and law officers — engaged in depraved attacks on children who could be dominated and indoctrinated through pain, humiliation and terror.

But for Hampton and other skeptics, the Kellers were the victims of an investigation run amok, featuring poor fact-gathering and interview techniques that spurred three young children to devise ever-more fantastic claims of abuse that should have raised doubts. Instead, in the hysteria over similar claims at day cares nationwide, the case spiraled out of control, Hampton said. ...

“A 21st century court ought to be able to recognize a 20th century witch-hunt and render justice accordingly,” the appeal said.
There have been a bunch of TV documentaries on these bogus cases. Here is one that impressed me:
About a third of the way into the movie, the Cummings describe how neighbors were being arrested, including one close friend that they knew had to be innocent. They decided that a witch hunt was in progress, and they had to get out. They had both lived in Bakersfield their whole lives, but they packed up and left the state in the middle of the night, never to go back.
I wish I could say that these 20th century witch-hunts do not happen anymore, but they do.

A current witch-hunt is the Jerry Sandusky Penn State scandal, as I argued here, here, and here. The scandal is costing Penn State maybe $100M or so. The core of the allegation is that Sandusky was regularly taking underage boys to the campus gym, and anally raping them in the shower where anyone could see him, and Penn State officials knowingly permitted it.

This is as crazy as the satanic ritual allegations. Sandusky was a retired coach with no power or authority over anyone. Nobody would have let him rape anyone, and there certainly could not be a conspiracy to cover up rape. The story is wildly implausible.

I would have to accept it if there were bodily fluids, video recordings, or any other objective evidence. But there is not. The only evidence is the recovered memories of people who changed their stories years later while preparing to sue Penn State for millions of dollars.

If you think that Sandusky is a creep, that's fine, you are entitled to your opinion. Maybe he is, and maybe he is not. My point here is that the public was overwhelmingly persuaded that Penn State was horrible, when the actual evidence against it was very slim and had bad motives.

Update: Penn State prosecutors have just released their strongest case against the Penn State officials, with emails showing that the officials knew more than they admitted to the grand jury, assuming that the officials read all of their emails 20 years ago. Also:
In a matter sure to be hotly disputed at trial, Spanier testified he never knew the allegations against Sandusky were of a sexual nature. Spanier told the jurors he was told a staff member (McQueary) had witnessed “horsing around” in the showers that made that staff member uncomfortable.

McQueary has repeatedly testified that he told Paterno, and later Curley and Schultz, that he believed he was witnessing a sexual assault.

Spanier told grand jurors that message was never conveyed to him, and “I know better than to jump to conclusions about things like that.” ...

The perjury charges will not be easy to prove.
The trouble with this accusation is that McQueary only gave that testimony after supposedly recovering memories from many years earlier. If McQueary witnesses a sexual assault, then he should have stopped it or reported it to the police at the time. He had the power to do both and did neither, making him a horrible person, if he is now telling the truth. He has changed his story a few times since. Now he is suing Penn State for millions of dollars, and his payoff depends on him sticking to his current story.

I do not believe McQueary. By his own words, he is such a morally damaged man that he is unreliable. It is possible that some of the Penn State administrators lied about some of the emails, but that is a minor matter. Lying about emails is not what made this a big scandal.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Mom loses child to CPS while shopping

The current New Yorker magazine has a story starting:
WHERE IS YOUR MOTHER?
A woman’s fight to keep her child.

On December 5, 2005, a three-year-old boy named Adam spent the morning in his crib, playing a handheld Spider-Man computer game and snacking on crackers. He began calling, “Mama help!,” a phrase he used when he couldn’t get his games to work. He repeated the phrase at least ten times, but his mother never came. He had been alone for ninety minutes when police officers arrived at the home, an oceanfront condominium in Huntington Beach, California. A fireman climbed a ladder to the second floor, where Adam’s cries could be heard, and pushed open the window. Adam was standing in his crib, his blond hair falling just below his shoulders. A policeman on the ground shouted up to him, asking him where his mother was. “Shopping,” he replied.
The story is behind a paywall, unfortunately. I doubt that I would have the patience to read it anyway, as the magazine is famous for paying by the word and presenting a overly lengthy and one-sided view.

The mom ended up losing custody of the boy as he was put out for adoption.

The mom is a well-educated Egyptian-American. Here is the story, as reported in the local Orange County newspaper, with their real names:
The lawsuit has its roots in December 2005, when a neighbor heard a child crying in a Huntington Beach condo. Police forced their way in and found Ismail's young son, Anthony, home alone in his crib.

The boy, then about 3, was taken by the Orange County Social Services Agency, and Ismail has not had custody of him since. She pleaded guilty in 2007 to child endangerment, and a judge gave her a suspended sentence.

Anthony was placed with foster parents, Shelby and Michael Ford, who later decided to adopt him.
Okay, but even if she was guilty as hell of child endangerment, California law requires CPS to give her a plan for restoring child custody. If she takes the parenting class or does whatever else they say, she should have gotten the boy back within a year. That is how I understand the law, anyway.

The typical child neglect case is where the parents are busted for illegal drugs, and CPS puts the kids in foster care. But then the parents are supposed to get the kids back if they produce a series of clean drug tests.

I posted a story about a local meth-addicted couple who tried to sell their baby last year for $25 in a Wal-Mart parking lot. According to news reports, they had to be offered a plan to go clean and get the kid back. In that case, they did not get the kid back because they were in prison.

Ismail is persistent, and the authorities tried to set her up for another criminal charge:
Concerned, Ismail met with private investigator Robert Young in November 2009, according to Snyder's opinion. The judge wrote that Young told investigators Ismail mentioned two plans: either having Young find negative information about the foster parents or having him kidnap Anthony so the boy could be taken out of the country.

Young called police. A few days later, he brought Detective Neil Schuster, who posed as a partner, to meet with Ismail. Police secretly recorded the conversation.

According to the judge's summary of the transcript, Ismail discussed a kidnapping in the meeting, but did not tell the men to go through with it. Instead, she said she wanted them to uncover negative information about the Fords first.

Police arrested Ismail right after the meeting, and she was held on $1 million bail.

Prosecutors argued she intended to take her son to Mexico, then to France or her native Egypt.

In August 2010, Newport Beach police arrested her again after Shelby Ford said Ismail followed her for several blocks on Balboa Island, in violation of a restraining order. Ismail said she went to Balboa Island often and was not there to see Ford or her son.

A judge acquitted Ismail in December 2010 of violating a court order. A year later, a jury acquitted her of solicitation for kidnapping.
I am not condoning kidnapping and fleeing the country, contrary to some of my readers. She could plausibly argue that she was just trying to ensure that the foster parents were taking good care of her son, and the secret tape recording failed to catch her advocating anything illegal. Apparently the jury bought that argument, and I believe in innocence until proven guilty.

I am still trying to get to the bottom of this. It does appear that CPS and other authorities were out to get Ismail. It is not clear why. Maybe because she is Egyptian, maybe she refused to admit to being a bad mom, maybe a personality conflict, maybe prosecutors were just evil and vindictive, I don't know.

Even if you believe that she deserved to lose her son, it is very unusual to try to entrap her with an undercover cop and tape recorder, and then still prosecute her when she says on tape that she does not want to do anything illegal.

All of her lawsuits have failed, of course:
By then, Ismail had already filed two lawsuits against multiple police officers, two cities, Orange County social workers and her son's foster parents.

In the first case, she accused Huntington Beach police of wrongly entering her apartment and conspiring with the Fords and county social workers to keep her son from her. Most of those counts were dismissed. But claims are still pending against the Fords, who have filed a motion to dismiss.

The Fords have adopted Anthony, who is about 11 and doing well, said Katherine Marie Schreurs, a lawyer for the family.

She said the Fords hope to get the lawsuit behind them.

"They were the innocent ones," Schreurs said. "They just had the child placed in their home, and then the county freed him for adoption."
No, the Fords are not the innocent ones. They filed a lawsuit to gain the adoption of a boy against the wishes of the boy's mother, and I cannot find any papers showing that the mother was unfit.

The boy will soon learn that everyone who googles his name, Anthony Ford, will learn that he was raised by horrible people who conspired to steal him from his real mom.

Googling the mom, I find that an Egyptian-American Neveen Ismail was an actress on Oxygen's reality soap, "The Bad Girls Club 2." I cannot tell if it is the same woman or not. The mom also had a blog for a while, but has not updated it.

Ismail did try to bring her case to the US Supreme Court, as she explains in a brief she wrote to influence a later case:
Amicus curiae, Niveen Ismail, is a private concerned citizen and a resident of Orange County,California, who has personal first hand experience with Child Protective Services (CPS) and the juvenile court system. Proceeding in pro per, she petitioned this Court in May 2009 for review. Docket No. 08-10723. The main question presented was whether California’s dependency laws terminating parental rights under a preponderance of the evidence conflicted with this Court’s holdings in Santosky v. Kramer, 455 U.S. 745 (1982). This Court requested a response on August 27, 2009, and denied cert on November 2, 2009.
It appears to me that she had a strong case, but was shut out by the courts.

If CPS has unchecked power, we could end up like the UK, where this just happened:
Social workers in Britain obtained a court order to have a pregnant Italian woman forcibly sedated so her child could be removed from her womb without her consent.

The story, reported by the Telegraph, has raised questions about the powers afforded to social workers in the country.

The woman's lawyer, Brendan Fleming, called the forced operation "unprecedented."

The unnamed Italian national was in Britain for a work trip when she suffered a panic attack, which her family believes happened because she didn't take her medications for bipolar disorder.
You would think that the British could have just notified the Italian CPS to keep an eye on her.

Update: Here is the New Yorker issue (uses Flash).

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Punished for reporting animal abuse

I sometimes report on child abuse cases, and I am reporting this because I did not even know that animal abuse was reportable like child abuse:
GREELEY, Colo. - The woman who took a video showing alleged animal abuse at a cattle ranch near Kersey is now facing animal cruelty charges.

Taylor Radig, who was associated with an animal rights organization, filmed the abuse as she worked at the Quanah Cattle Company from mid-July through September.

Radig was associated with an animal rights organization identified as Compassion Over Killing and referred to herself as a “contractor” for said organization, according to the sheriff's office.

The video footage was handed over to the Weld County Sheriff's Office two months after Radig quit working there, the sheriff's office said.

On Friday, Radig was charged with animal cruelty because she didn't report the abuse when it was happening, which is a violation of state law.
So she reported animal abuse and gets charged for not reporting it two months earlier?

There is somethihng fishy about this story. Maybe the cops just wanted to drive the animal rights group out of the county.

In most states, it is legal to fail to turn in a murderer. You can witness a murder, and report it 2 months late, or never report it, and you cannot be penalized. I do not know why animals would have more rights than human beings.

Update: A reader refers me to Ag-gag anti-whistleblower laws.

Update: No new ag-gag bills were passed in 2013.

Friday, November 29, 2013

CPS blames parents for bad diagnosis

Fox News Connecticut reports on a case where CPS blamed the parents when they got bad medical diagnoses for their daughter:
It’s a medical “mystery” that has left a Connecticut family baffled and heartbroken.

After a long history of medical problems, a West Hartford teenager is now “trapped” inside a hospital with seemingly no way out.

FOX CT spent the past few months investigating the emotional case.

It has been a bitter custody battle, and nine months after it started, it’s still going on.

In December 2012, Justina Pelletier was an active 15-year-old girl who would go ice skating, laughed and spent time with her family.

But just two months later, her family says their nightmare began.
“[Exhales] It’s beyond any wildest nightmare that you could think of,” says Justina’s father, Lou Pelletier.

Her longtime West Hartford psychologist has also been following the case.

“It’s the most bizarre situation … I’ve ever been involved with,” says Dean Hokanson, the clinical psychologist who has worked with Justina the past five years.

Justina was diagnosed with mitochondrial disease a few years ago. It’s a genetic disorder that can cause loss of muscle coordination and weakness.

Despite that diagnosis she lived a normal life.

But last February, she also got the flu and was admitted to Boston Children’s Hospital to see her specialist.

Almost immediately, a different team of doctors delivered a different diagnosis, questioning the original diagnosis of mitochondrial disease.

“They came in, and they said we cannot take Justina out of the hospital. They called DCF,” says Linda Pelletier, Justina’s mother.

They said Justina had “somatoform disorder.”

In short, they were saying she suffered from a mental illness, not mitochondrial disease.

Her parents, Lou and Linda Pelletier, were escorted out of the hospital by security, and within four days, they lost custody of Justina. ...

The Pelletiers are left fighting DCF in court, hoping to regain custody of their daughter, and watch her ice skate once again.

“Hospitals, be it this scenario or big picture, cannot just hide behind DCF to do their dirty work,” says Lou Pelletier.

Since our initial investigation, we’ve learned that the judge has issued a gag order in this case.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

The fad psycho diagnosis of our age

I mentioned a NY Magazine article, and it has more:
“Is every man in America somewhere on it?” Nora Ephron wondered about the autism spectrum in an e-mail to a friend a few months before her death. “Is every producer on it? Is every 8-year-old boy who is obsessed with statistics on it? Sometimes, when we say someone is on the spectrum, do we just mean he’s a prick? Or a pathological narcissist? I notice that at least three times a week I am told (or I tell someone) that some man or other is on the spectrum.”
After saying that Romney and Obama are both on the autism spectrum, it lists other celebrities:
The diagnosis is everywhere: Facebook’s former head of engineering has stated that Mark Zuckerberg has “a touch of the Asperger’s.” Time suggested that the intensely awkward Bill Gates is autistic; a biographer of Warren Buffett wrote that the Oracle of Omaha, with his prodigious memory and “fascination with numbers,” has “a vaguely autistic aura.” On Celebrity Rehab, Dr. Drew Pinsky deemed Dennis Rodman (selectively hyperfocused, socially obtuse) a candidate for an Asperger’s diagnosis, and the UCLA specialist brought in to make it official “seemed to concur,” Pinsky told viewers. On the Asperger’s community site Wrong Planet, threads like “Real life celebrities who have or probably have Asperger’s” include Jim Carrey, Adolf Hitler, Daryl Hannah, Slash, Billy Joel, J. K. Rowling, and Adam Carolla, who makes the cut because “I’ve heard guests on his podcast remark on his lack of eye contact.” “Kanye Probably Has Asperger’s,” BuzzFeed recently declared.

Still others are seeing it in themselves. David Byrne: “I was a peculiar young man—borderline Asperger’s, I would guess.” Craigs­list founder Craig Newmark, noting his poor eye contact and limited social competency, blogged that Asperger’s symptoms “feel uncomfortably familiar.” Dan Harmon, the volatile creator of NBC’s Community, told an interviewer last year that he had boned up on Asperger’s symptoms when researching the character Abed: “The more I looked them up, the more familiar they seemed.” Dan Aykroyd told NPR’s Terry Gross that he was diagnosed with Asperger’s as a child (a puzzling claim given that the diagnosis didn’t exist prior to 1981, when Aykroyd turned 29); Aykroyd insisted he was being serious, and as evidence of his continuing symptoms he noted his “fascination with law enforcement and the police.”
It concludes that autism specturm is the fad diagnosis of our ae:
Every generation has its defining psychiatric malady, confidently diagnosed from afar by armchair non-psychiatrists. In the fifties, all those gray-suited organization men were married to “frigid” women. Until a few years ago, the country of self-obsessed boomers and reality-TV fame-seekers and vain politicians and bubble-riding Ponzi schemers made narcissistic personality disorder—diagnosis code 301.81 in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition—the craziness of the moment. And who among us has not proudly copped to our own “OCD” or “ADD,” deemed a mercurial sibling “seriously bipolar,” written off an erratic ex as “obviously borderline,” or nodded as a laid-off friend pronounced his former boss a “textbook sociopath”? Lately, a new kind of head case stalks the land—staring past us, blurting gaucheries, droning on about the technical minutiae of his boring hobby. And we are ready with our DSM codes: 299.00 (autistic disorder) and 299.80 (Asperger’s disorder).

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

New Santa Cruz director of dad gouging

The Santa Cruz Sentinel reports:
SANTA CRUZ -- The Department of Child Support Services is getting a new director, Jamie Murray, who is moving here from the same job in Sutter County.

A 20-year veteran of child support services around California, "she brings to the table a lot of tools that you really want to see in the department," said Lynn Miller, the interim director.

Murray has a bachelor's in industrial psychology from CSU, Hayward and a master's in public administration from CSU, East Bay. She will oversee a staff of 64 employees and a budget of $6.8 million in Santa Cruz County, as well as 19 employees and a budget of $1.86 million in San Benito County. Child Support Services does everything from garnishing wages to revoking passports in an effort to get kids their fair share. They also handle state-mandated paternity tests. ...

The department has a lot of options for finding delinquent parents and getting them to pay child support, including revoking driver's, hunting, fishing and medical licenses. But the goal isn't just to punish delinquent cases. They'll work with parents through job loss and other financial straights, to make sure everyone can afford their payments.

"A lot of people who aren't in the system wonder what we do," Miller said. "We serve a lot of families. And we really want to keep the noncustodial parent as involved in the child's life as the custodial parent. We didn't in the past, but we're really trying these days."
She has 64 employees and $6.8M just for extracting support payments from noncustodial dads? Yes, I do wonder what they all do.

How can a noncustodial parent be as involved as the custodial parent? She is babbling nonsense.

A comment says that the dept is getting sued in federal court.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Children of the Underground

A reader provided more info on the case below. The NY Daily News reports:
According to The Australian, Barnett initially fled to South Africa, where she married a man, Juan Geldenhuys in 1995.

She later gave birth to a son, now 17, before moving to New Zealand. From there, she moved to Australia after splitting with Geldenhuys, who recently died of bone cancer. It was a friend of Geldenhuys who helped tracked down Savanna's father after becoming suspicious of the mother and tracking him down via the Internet.

She was apparently helped in the US by an organization called Children of the Underground, which helps women stuck in apparently abusive relationships.
Another source says:
Since then, he has spent nearly all his assets in an effort to recover Savanna. Leveraged to the hilt, he lives simply and works seven-day weeks at two jobs: as a stockbroker for Merrill Lynch and as a father engaged in a full-time search for his child.

There are hundreds of people like Todd, mostly fathers, who say they are victims of an underground network that willingly helps mothers and their children go into hiding - in violation of court orders.

Most of these fathers say they have been falsely accused of molesting their children. While the courts believe them, the underground's organizers don't; instead, they take the law into their own hands, leaving fathers cut off from their sons and daughters for years at a time, sometimes forever.

The most public of those underground leaders, Faye Yager, says she will only hide mothers who have extensive documentation of sexual abuse - medical reports, psychological evaluations, police statements.

But no such papers existed in Todd's case. Barnett never made any sexual abuse allegations during the long, nasty court battle for custody of Savanna. She called Harris Todd lots of names, but "child molester" wasn't one of them.
Just as I suspect, there is an underground network of child kidnappers that help moms violate child custody court orders. They tell themselves that they are preventing child molesters, or some such nonsense. Fathers no not molest their one-year-old babies. This is just a phony charges that is dreamed up by moms because they are vindictive, delusional, paranoid, possessive, borderline, or whatever.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Mom tracked down in Australia

A baby stealer has been tracked down on the other side of the world. AP reports:
A woman accused of abducting her infant daughter from South Carolina 20 years ago has been located in Australia and is facing extradition back to the United States to face charges, federal authorities announced this week.

On Thursday, U.S. Attorney Bill Nettles said that an indictment had been unsealed charging Dorothy Lee Barnett, 53, with international parental kidnapping and making a false statement on a passport application.

Her daughter, Savanna Catherine Todd, now 20, was in Australia living a normal life, Nettles said.

Barnett did not have custody of her then 10-month-old daughter when she left in 1994 from Isle of Palms, Nettles said. At the time, police said Barnett left for a birthday party with her daughter and never returned. In 1993, she had filed for divorce from her husband, Bowling Green, Ky., native and former Charleston stockbroker Benjamin Harris Todd III.

Authorities said Barnett was located in Australia earlier this month and had been living under several aliases.
Some people are probably going to say that this woman should not be punished because she is the mom, because a mom must have had good reasons for her flight, and because she is no longer a threat to kidnap more babies.

It should not matter if the daughter speaks out in favor of the mom. Kids are worse off being reared by single moms, and a lot of resources could have been spent on the search. The kidnapping was a big loss to the dad and other relatives. The mom was probably helped by friends and relatives, and they could be charged also/.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Forensic lab expert is convicted

In a rare case of accountability for forensic experts, a corrupt chemist is going to prison.

AP reports:
A chemist at a Massachusetts drug lab accused of faking test results in criminal cases has been sentenced to three to five years in prison.

Annie Dookhan, of Franklin, pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice, perjury and tampering with evidence. Friday in Suffolk Superior Court.

She'll also be on probation for two years when she gets out of court.

Dookhan sent the state's criminal justice system into a tailspin last year when state police shut down the state Department of Public Health lab she worked at after discovering the extent of her misconduct.

Since the lab closed in August 2012, at least 1,100 criminal cases have been dismissed or not prosecuted because of tainted evidence or other fallout from the lab's shutdown.
She did not make all drug tests positive, of course -- just the one where she knew that the prosecutors wanted a positive result. More details:
State police shut down the state Department of Public Health lab she worked at after discovering the extent of Dookhan's alleged misconduct.

Prosecutors said Dookhan admitted "dry labbing," or testing only a fraction of a batch of samples, then listing them all as positive for illegal drugs, to "improve her productivity and burnish her reputation." ...

Dookhan's lawyer, Nicolas Gordon, argued that she made a series of tragic mistakes and that her only motivation was to be "the hardest-working and most prolific and most productive chemist."

"This is not a woman who ever set out to hurt anyone," Gordon argued during a court hearing last month.
She is a scapegoat. None of the prosecutors is being punished.

The judge piles on:
Sentencing guidelines called for a maximum sentence of three years for Dookhan, but Ball said in a ruling last month she wanted to impose a tougher sentence “given the magnitude of the harm she has done, considerations of general deterrence and, particularly, punishment.”

The judge said in the ruling that “the consequences of her behavior, which she ought to have foreseen, have been nothing short of catastrophic: Innocent persons were incarcerated, guilty persons have been released to further endanger the public, millions and millions of public dollars are being expended to deal with the chaos Ms. Dookhan created, and the integrity of the criminal justice system has been shaken to the core.”

Dookhan pleaded guilty to 27 charges, including evidence tampering and obstruction of justice. She worked at a now-closed Department of Public Health lab in Jamaica Plain.

A scientific determination that a substance seized by police is an illegal drug is a cornerstone of a drug case in court. A defendant cannot be convicted for possession or distribution of, for example, a harmless white powder.
No, the whole state criminal justice system should have foreseen this. Those judges and prosecutors surely realized that they were giving incentives for pro-prosecution faking.

It is very easy to devise a system where it would be impossible to do what Dookhan did. Just occasionally send duplicated samples to an independent out-of-state lab. Anonymize the samples so that no one at the lab knows which samples are supposed to be positive. Use some of the quality control methods that are now used in factories all over the world.

The state has to do some of these things anyway in order to get admissible evidence in court. Someone is supposed to be able to testify about the reliability of the lab results, and they need to do some sort of double-checking in order to estimate the reliability.

No, the state of Mass. deliberately created a system for framing defendants with bogus lab results.

The problem is worse in the family court. I do not see how Dookhan's crime is any worse that what psychologist Ken Perlmutter does. He refused to do my evaluation until he could call Commissioner Irwin Joseph to find out what outcome he wanted. And then he dry-labbed his report, ignoring the evidence on the record. This Complaint to State Board details how he failed to do a proper evaluation. The California board verified all the factual allegations, but did not take his license away.