Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Confused ethicists attack surrogacy laws

A Nat. Review article says:
Why Gestational Surrogacy Is Wrong
Not much distinguishes it from the buying and selling of children when the surrogacy is paid. ...

The current political landscape surrounding surrogacy indicates that as a nation we have failed to reconcile the undeniable realities of both motherhood and childbirth with our laws surrounding how these technologies enable collaborative reproduction and the building of modern families. Those who argue that this reflects merely a misunderstanding of surrogacy and a bias in favor of certain family models have yet to account for the medical and moral consequences of paying women to gestate babies for others. Until we have a serious public debate over commercial surrogacy, women and children remain exposed to exploitation at the hands of those entrusted with their protection.

— Jennifer Lahl is the president of the Center for Bioethics and Culture and producer/director of the surrogacy documentary Breeders: A Subclass of Women? Christopher White is the director of education and programs at the Center for Bioethics and Culture and a 2013–2014 Robert Novak Fellow.
Based on those job titles, I would expect some actual reasons, and not misunderstandings.

But they just argue similarity to baby-selling, and that is a very lame argument. They do not even explain why baby selling should be illegal. You may not realize it, but lots of American baby adoptions today go thru brokers who charge tens of thousands of dollars for their services. It is baby selling in disguise.

Here is the study abstract:
A major study in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry (June 2013) looked at 30 surrogacy families and found that surrogate children, while not suffering from psychological disorders, had elevated levels of adjustment difficulties.
Results: Although children born through reproductive donation obtained SDQ scores within the normal range, surrogacy children showed higher levels of adjustment difficulties at age 7 than children conceived by gamete donation. Mothers who had kept their child’s origins secret showed elevated levels of distress. However, maternal distress had a more negative impact on children who were aware of their origins.

Conclusions: The absence of a gestational connection to the mother may be more problematic for children than the absence of a genetic link.
I admit that I do not know the difference between "reproductive donation" and "gamete donation". A gamete is a reproductive cell. At any rate, this is a weak study based on a few questionnaires giving normal results.

The NR article explains that LGBTQIA politics is driving this:
Both New York State and the District of Columbia, where surrogacy contracts are unrecognized, are currently considering new laws that would allow women to be paid as gestational mothers. In both cases, lawmakers in same-sex relationships have sponsored the proposed legislation, which would expand the market for same-sex couples who want to have children.
My main problem with the article is that it is attacking a straw man:
In 1998, when the New York State Department of Health took up the issue of surrogacy after seeing the fallout from the Baby M case in neighboring New Jersey, its task force reported that “the members concluded that the practice could not be distinguished from the sale of children and that it placed children at significant risk of harm. They also agreed that surrogacy undermines the dignity of women, children, and human reproduction.” Nothing about the ethical or medical facts of surrogacy has changed since then — only the politics surrounding it.
The Baby M case was legally and ethically questionable, and the NJ courts made a mess of it, but that is not how it is done today. Now the gestational carrier does not use her own eggs. And several states, including California, have passed laws regulating the contracts. So yes, the ethical or medical facts of surrogacy have changed since Baby M, and this article does not address those crucial changes.

Maybe these gestational carrier laws are part of a gay plot to undermine the family. But at least that business is based on contracts to uphold the intentions of parents and other parties. The NJ Baby M court approach is to just let the family court judge award child custody based on his opinion of the BIOTCh, regardless of the contracts.

A libertarian site comments:
It is sad when the Nation Review is posting essays full of leftist bilge like, “surrogacy arrangements often take place between parties with unequal power, education, and economic status.” Once you see that don’t you have to discount anything said in such an essay?
I am inclined to agree. That type of thinking leads leftist to reject contracts, rule of law, and the necessities of modern civilization. These gestation contracts are just like other contracts.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Gag order on formerly public records unconstitutional

UCLA law professor and free speech expert Eugene Volokh writes:
According to the Chronicle, “[t]he allegations against [Jackson] were settled, but no one connected to the case would say what happened because of the gag order.”

If the facts are as reported, then this order is clearly unconstitutional. Given the First Amendment, a court can’t order a publisher — whether Google, some other Web site, the Houston Chronicle, or this blog — to delete formerly public records.

Even damages liability in such cases is generally unconstitutional, see Florida Star v. B.J.F. (1989) (in which the Court that a newspaper had a right to publish even an erroneously released name of a rape victim, notwithstanding a state statute prohibiting such publication). The case against an injunction is even clearer.
I agree that the First Amendment implies that a court cannot order this blog to delete formerly public records. But that is exactly what was done by Commissioner Irwin H. Joseph and Judge Heather D. Morse issued such gag orders and forced me to remove public evidence from my blog.

I am not talking about personally embarrassing info about my ex-wife, or anything vindictive. I am talking about testimony of court officials against me that was used to justify decisions against me.

The gag orders served no purpose except to cover up incompetence and corruption.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

California lesbians charged with torture

Here is an update on an earlier story about lesbian child abuse:
The stakes just got higher for a couple accused of starving and abusing their three young children and keeping a young girl chained to a wall inside their Russell Road house in Salinas.

Prosecutors amended criminal charges against Christian Jessica Deanda, 44, and Eraca Dawn Craig, 31, on Wednesday by adding two charges: torture and personally inflicting great bodily harm.

If the two women are convicted of torture, they could be sentenced to a life prison term.

Deanda and Craig remain behind bars and their preliminary hearing is scheduled for June 6. They have pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Monterey County Sheriff's investigators said the women abused the girl and two boys, ages 3 and 5, over a long period of time.

Craig is the biological mother of the 3-year-old boy and is a former prison guard. The girl and 5-year-old boy are biological brother and sister, and Craig and Deanda and their legal guardians. Deanda and Craig are domestic partners and had planned to get married this month.

The warrant, which refers to the 8-year-old girl as "Jane Doe," stated that when deputies arrived at the house for a welfare check on the children, the girl had several physical injuries, a scar on her head, dark circles under her eyes, and she weighed just 40 pounds.

"Jane Doe stated she was chained up to a wall with a collar around her neck. Jane Doe reported that her hair was shaved off and videotaped. Jane Doe reported that Christian kept a journal as well. Jane Doe was hit with a black belt and was forced to be chained up all day, every day," the warrant states.

Sheriff Scott Miller said the girl looked like someone who had come out of a concentration camp when she was rescued from the house.

"All the children were taken out of schools to prevent contact with police or counselors," the warrant states.
Here is the search warrant with more info, but many questions are unanswered. Who thought that it was a good idea to give a couple of kids to these lesbians? Who is the natural father to the third kid?

Friday, April 25, 2014

Parental Alienation Awareness Day

Today is Parental Alienation Awareness Day.
April 25 has been chosen as Parental Alienation Awareness Day (PAAD), part of a global awareness campaign to raise awareness about parental alienation. The idea was introduced in Canada by Sarvy Emo in late 2005, with the original date being March 28. This was changed after the start of the campaign for marketing reasons and was put into practice in 2006.

In 2011, Bermuda, Seventeen U.S. states (New York, Maine, Connecticut, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Montana, Nebraska, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Maryland, Mississippi, West Virginia, Indiana, Oklahoma), many Canadian towns and cities officially recognized April 25 as Parental Alienation Awareness Day.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Court approves searches from anonymous tips

The US Supreme Court just decided Navarette v. California, upholding this:
A California Highway Patrol officer stopped the pickup truck occupied by petitioners because it matched the description of a vehicle that a 911 caller had recently reported as having run her off the road. As he and a second officer approached the truck, they smelled marijuana. They searched the truck’s bed, found 30 pounds of marijuana, and arrested petitioners. Petitioners moved to suppress the evidence, arguing that the traffic stop violated the Fourth Amendment. Their motion was denied, and they pleaded guilty to transporting marijuana. The California Court of Appeal affirmed, concluding that the officer had reasonable suspicion to conduct an investigative stop.
Drunk driving is off-topic for this blog, but I post this because we are headed towards a society where anonymous busybodies disapprove of someone's parenting practices, call in a complaint to CPS, and CPS and the COPS do an intrusive investigation. They may search the home to go on a fishing expedition, and make a legal case out of whatever they find.

Here is J. Scalia's dissent:
The Court’s opinion serves up a freedom-destroying cocktail consisting of two parts patent falsity: (1) that anonymous 911 reports of traffic violations are reliable so long as they correctly identify a car and its location, and (2) that a single instance of careless or reckless driving necessarily supports a reasonable suspicion of drunken­ness. All the malevolent 911 caller need do is assert a traffic violation, and the targeted car will be stopped, forcibly if necessary, by the police. If the driver turns out not to be drunk (which will almost always be the case), the caller need fear no consequences, even if 911 knows his identity. After all, he never alleged drunkenness, but merely called in a traffic violation—and on that point his word is as good as his victim’s.

Drunken driving is a serious matter, but so is the loss of our freedom to come and go as we please without police interference. To prevent and detect murder we do not allow searches without probable cause or targeted Terry stops without reasonable suspicion. We should not do so for drunken driving either. After today’s opinion all of us on the road, and not just drug dealers, are at risk of having our freedom of movement curtailed on suspicion of drunkenness, based upon a phone tip, true or false, of a single instance of careless driving.
I recently talked to someone who had to deal with an unfounded CPS complaint a few years ago, and she was sure that the caller must have gotten into a lot of trouble for the bogus report. I explained to her that there is no chance that the reporter got into any trouble.

CPS advises that you if are in doubt about reporting something, then you should report it and let CPS check it out. Furthermore, there are laws requires teachers, nurses, and others to report suspicions, with criminal penalties if they do not. It is impractical to be punishing both those who report and those who do not.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Courts ignore evidence on gay parents

I mentioned a controversial study of gay parents in July 2012 and April 2013. Now I see a gay lawyer bragging that it has been discredited in court:
The Regnerus study did not examine as its sole focus the outcomes of children raised in same-sex households but, because of sample limitations inherent in the field of study at this point, examined primarily children who acknowledged having a parent who had engaged in a same-sex relationship. Thus, the Regnerus study cannot be viewed as conclusively establishing that raising a child in a same-sex household produces outcomes that are inferior to those produced by man-woman parenting arrangements.
In fact these limitations are expressed by the study, in the Regnerus testimony, and in my postings on the subject.

If a study showed that women have more mental health issues than men, that would not prove that men should always get child custody than women. Likewise, this study does not show that gays and lesbians should never rear kids.

Any time a study makes a statistical statement, there are always fools who do not understand such statements. For example, if you say that studies show that cigarette smoking increases the risk of lung cancer, there is often a wise guy who argues the opposite because of one guy who smoked every day and lived to be 100 years old.

It is extremely rare for any study to conclusively establish any child-rearing method or environment produces outcomes that are inferior. There are studies showing that black families have high rates of juvenile delinquency, but you will not get any court to say that black parents should not be raising kids.

Same-sex marriage is being legalized for political reasons, whether it is good for kids or not. The available studies indicate that gays and lesbians make lousy parents. The studies are not definitive, and we should have better ones in a few years when we can study a lot more couples engaging in this grand experiment.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Shared environment not a factor

A 2000 paper summarized the evidence:
When genetic similarity is controlled, siblings often appear no more alike than individuals selected at random from the population. ...

Why Are Children in the Same Family So Different?

In what may have been the most influential article ever written in the field of developmental behavior genetics, Plomin and Daniels (1987) reviewed evidence that a substantial portion of the variability in behavioral outcomes could not be explained by the additive effects of genotype or the environmental influences of families. They suggested that this residual term, which they called the nonshared environment, had been neglected by environmentally oriented researchers who assumed that the most important mechanisms of environmental action involved familial variables, like socioeconomic status and parenting styles, that are shared by siblings raised in the same home and serve to make siblings more similar to each other. Indeed, Plomin and Daniels argued, once genetic relatedness has been taken into account, siblings seem to be hardly more similar than children chosen at random from the population.

An important indicator of the influence of Plomin and Daniels' (1987) article is that an entire field of empirical research was generated in an attempt to answer the question posed in its title: Why are children in the same family so different?
This was explained to the general public is a book titled, The Nurture Assumption. It argued against the assumption that parental nurturing is important.

The terminology is a little confusing. The twin studies divide influences into these factors:
genetic effects (heritability);
shared environment - events that happen to both twins, affecting them in the same way;
unshared, or unique, environment - events that occur to one twin but not another, or events that affect each twin in a different way.
So the "shared environment" is the family environment shared by siblings. Many people assume that this is the most important thing in a child's life, but the studies do not show any significance at all.

A recent blogger JayMan elaborates:
In my earlier post on Gregory Clark’s work, The Son Becomes The Father, I laid bare the case for the known high heritability of human behavioral traits (including values and attitudes) and life outcomes. As well, equally important, I illustrated the complete absence of shared environment influences on these – that is, the effect common environmental forces that children growing up together share. This includes parents and upbringing, making it abundantly clear that parents don’t leave a lasting impact on who we grow up to be. These are towards what I’m calling the “75-0-25 or something” rule,
These results are hard to accept, as nearly all parents believe that they are doing something special for their kids with their care.

My theory is that parenting does not seem to make much difference because most moms just do what all the other moms in the neighborhood do. Then kids seem to be influenced more by schools and peers, than by parents. Of course this means parents still have influence by choosing where to live, what schools for the kids to attend, and what friends are encouraged. Parents can have even more influence if they are willing to have policies different from the crowd.

Whether I am right or not, there is very little scientific evidence that any parenting style is any better or worse than any other. If someone tries to tell you that you should be doing something different, ask for the research. It will usually not exist.

Here is another article about exaggerated parental influences:
The study identified that although there is a lack of scientific foundation to many of the claims of 'brain-based' parenting, the idea that years 0-3 are neurologically critical is now repeated in policy documents and has been integrated into professional training for early-years workers.

Dr Jan Macvarish, a Research Fellow at Kent's Centre for Parenting Culture Studies, analyzed the policy literature for the study.

She said: 'What we found was that although the claims purporting to be based on neuroscience are very questionable, they are continually repeated in policy documents and are now integrated into the professional training of health visitors and other early years workers. "Brain claims" entered a policy environment which was already convinced that parents are to blame for numerous social problems, from poverty to mental illness.

'The idea that these entrenched problems will be solved by parents being more attentive to their children's brains is risible. Although aimed at strengthening the parent-child relationships, these kinds of policies risk undermining parents' self-confidence by suggesting that "science" rather than the parent knows best.'

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Bogus Australian study killed

An Australian men's group actually killed some bogus research:
An online ‘domestic violence study’ has been ordered offline by the University of NSW Human Research Ethics Committee.

Flyers published by the survey organisers have been ordered destroyed.

The study, being conducted by the Gendered Violence Research Network, White Ribbon Australia and Youth Action NSW, was found by the Ethics Committee to have breached the University’s code of ethics.

The decision comes after a national coalition of men’s health advocates made a formal complaint to the University claiming the survey was gender-biased, poorly formulated and misleading. They argued it could not achieve its stated aims and any consequent findings would be unreliable and likely to mislead the public.
Their complaint had many devastating points, such as:
The 2 page promotional flyer (copy attached) contains significant factual errors, misrepresentations and selective citations.

A graphic on the flyer stats that “childhood exposure to intimate partner violence increased the likelihood of intergeneration violence particularly amongst boys” and attributes the source to F.E. Markowitz (2000)2. The “particularly amongst boys” statement is false and is not found in the Markowitz study. This US study actually found that “results suggest that men and women in the sample are equally likely to hit their spouses and children.”

Another graphic selectively quotes from Crime Prevention Survey (2001): “One in four young people have witnessed domestic violence against their mother or step mother,” completely ignoring the reported experience of young male respondents. The survey actually found that whilst 23% of young people were aware of domestic violence against their mothers or stepmothers by their fathers or stepfathers, an almost identical proportion (22%) of young people were aware of domestic violence against their fathers or stepfathers by their mothers or stepmothers.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Females do most of the talking

Here is some research from Scientific American:
On April 10, project director Peter Wrege visited New York City and briefed reporters about the project and some of its early findings. For one thing, the females do most of the talking:

“We’ve found from our studies that males actually don’t vocalize as much—much, much less than females. So a lot of what we’re recording actually are females talking to their babies and talking to each other. And males are sort of hanging out there and being quiet.”
No, this is not about humans.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Parental involvement lowers grades

Parents are often trying to convince family court judges of their involvement in their kids' schooling, as if that is something that all parents should be doing. But most of that involvement is worthless.

A couple of socilogy professors wroite in the NY Times:
Most people, asked whether parental involvement benefits children academically, would say, “of course it does.” But evidence from our research suggests otherwise. In fact, most forms of parental involvement, like observing a child’s class, contacting a school about a child’s behavior, helping to decide a child’s high school courses, or helping a child with homework, do not improve student achievement. In some cases, they actually hinder it.

Over the past few years, we conducted an extensive study of whether the depth of parental engagement in children’s academic lives improved their test scores and grades. We pursued this question because we noticed that while policy makers were convinced that parental involvement positively affected children’s schooling outcomes, academic studies were much more inconclusive.

Despite this, increasing parental involvement has been one of the focal points of both President George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act and President Obama’s Race to the Top. Both programs promote parental engagement as one remedy for persistent socioeconomic and racial achievement gaps. ...

In fact, there were more instances in which children had higher levels of achievement when their parents were less involved than there were among those whose parents were more involved. Even more counterintuitively: When involvement does seem to matter, the consequences for children’s achievement are more often negative than positive.
For the most part, those parent-teacher meetings are a waste of time.

In other parenting research, it does no good to feed babies in the middle of the night. NPR Radio reports:

Most of us chalk up a baby's nighttime crying to one simple fact: He's hungry.

But could that chubby bundle of joy have a devious plan?

Harvard University's David Haig thinks so. Last month the evolutionary biologist offered up a surprising hypothesis to help explain those 2 a.m. feedings and crying jags: The baby is delaying the conception of a sibling by keeping Mom exhausted and not ovulating, Haig writes in the current issue of the journal Evolution, Medicine and Public Health. ...

"It's clear that babies can get enough milk even if they sleep through the night," Haig tells Shots. "The waking becomes a different issue. ... I'm just suggesting that offspring have evolved to use waking up mothers and suckling more intensely to delay the birth of another sibling."

Moms like to feel as if they are doing something worthwhile when they do those feedings, and some are stilling doing it for 2-year-olds, but apparently there is no direct advantage to the baby.

A psychology professor writes a NY Times article on raising a moral child:
In an Israeli study of nearly 600 families, parents who valued kindness and compassion frequently failed to raise children who shared those values. ...

Genetic twin studies suggest that anywhere from a quarter to more than half of our propensity to be giving and caring is inherited. ...

Many parents believe it’s important to compliment the behavior, not the child — that way, the child learns to repeat the behavior. Indeed, I know one couple who are careful to say, “That was such a helpful thing to do,” instead of, “You’re a helpful person.”

But is that the right approach?
The experiments imply that the answer is no. And also that what you teach them does not matter so much, because they will learn from what you do, not what you say.

One of the great advances of Christianity was to move to a guilt-based culture, instead of a shame-based culture like the rest of the world. Here is the difference:
Shame is the feeling that I am a bad person, whereas guilt is the feeling that I have done a bad thing. Shame is a negative judgment about the core self, which is devastating: Shame makes children feel small and worthless, and they respond either by lashing out at the target or escaping the situation altogether. In contrast, guilt is a negative judgment about an action, which can be repaired by good behavior. When children feel guilt, they tend to experience remorse and regret, empathize with the person they have harmed, and aim to make it right. ...

If we want our children to care about others, we need to teach them to feel guilt rather than shame when they misbehave.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Pregnant women using opioids

I recently posted a story about a breastfeeding mom going to prison for using prescription morphine. Apparently millions of these prescriptions are being written. The NY Times reports:
Doctors are prescribing opioid painkillers to pregnant women in astonishing numbers, new research shows, even though risks to the developing fetus are largely unknown.

Of 1.1 million pregnant women enrolled in Medicaid nationally, nearly 23 percent filled an opioid prescription in 2007, up from 18.5 percent in 2000, according to a study published last week in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology. That percentage is the largest to date of opioid prescriptions among pregnant women. Medicaid covers the medical expenses for 45 percent of births in the United States.

The lead author, Rishi J. Desai, a research fellow at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, said he had expected to “see some increase in trend, but not this magnitude.”

“One in five women using opioids during pregnancy is definitely surprising,” he added.

In February, a study of 500,000 privately insured women found that 14 percent were dispensed opioid painkillers at least once during pregnancy.
Wow, I thought that pregnant women were scrupulous about avoiding drugs, out of maternal instincts. I had no idea that physicians were so actively giving opioids to them.

Update: Another study warns about harms from pregnant women taking anti-depressants like Prozac:
Researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health are calling attention to a new study linking anti-depressants with autism.

Published online earlier this week in the journal Pediatrics, the study was joint effort between researchers at Bloomberg and at the University of California at Davis' MIND Institute.

"This research also highlights the challenge for women and their physicians to balance the risks versus the benefits of taking these medications," said Irva Hertz-Picciotto, a researcher at the MIND Institute, "given that a mother's underlying mental-health conditions also may pose a risk, both to herself and her child."

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, are the most popular class of drugs prescribed for depression and anxiety symptoms -- endorsed by doctors for their high rate of success and relative safety. But for pregnant moms, SSRIs may put their baby-on-board at risk.

In a study of nearly 1,000 mothers and their children, researchers found a strong connection between prenatal SSRI exposure and developmental problems, including autism, in boys.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Women prefer small dogs over kids

The NY Post reports:
America’s next generation of youngsters should be called “Generation Rex.”

If you’re wondering why playgrounds around the city are so quiet and dog runs are packed, a new report has an answer: More and more US women are forgoing motherhood and getting their maternal kicks by owning handbag-size canines.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that a big drop in the number of babies born to women ages 15 to 29 corresponds with a huge increase in the number of tiny pooches owned by young US women, reports the business-news site Quartz.

Dog-crazy New York ladies told The Post that they aren’t surprised by the findings — and that they happily gave up diaper changes, temper tantrums and college funds for the easy affection of their doggy “child.”
The Spearhead agrees that this is a trend.

Sometimes I see a mom or a nanny take tender loving care of a child, and I marvel at the maternal instinct. And then I see a woman do the same with some stupid mutt that looks like an overgrown rodent.

I don't want to bash the dog-lovers. They seem completely normal, compared to the cat lovers.

Meanwhile, the other New York newspaper caters to the kind of rich people who obsess on dogs. The NY Times reports:
Not to brag, but we may have a little genius on our hands. Our 6-month-old is up before dawn playing brain games. She knows her way around an iPad and practically devours puzzles, and I’m teaching her to read. Just recently, she mastered an advanced chess toy.

I am talking, of course, about our dog. ...

In the last decade, Mr. Hare informed me, we have learned more about how dogs think than in the last century. As he explained, his own research shows that dogs read our gestures, like pointing, more flexibly than any other animal. Other investigators from Hungary, using functional magnetic resonance imaging, recently announced that the canine brain is sensitive to cues of emotion in human voices. When you pet a dog, another study concluded, both human and canine oxytocin levels increase.

Other findings are hairier. A research article in Frontiers in Zoology last December asserted that dogs align their bodies along a magnetic north-south axis when urinating or defecating, though nobody knows why. My favorite was the classic study conducted in France on why a stranger’s crotch is more interesting to a dog than its master’s.

More curious still was the crowd-funded effort this past winter by a group of Scandinavian designers and “optimistic dreamers” calling themselves the Nordic Society for Invention and Discovery. The team claims to be developing a small gadget called No More Woof, a prototype that uses “the latest technology in microcomputing and EEG to analyze animal thought patterns and spell them out in human language using a loudspeaker.” A dog barks, and the electronic translator will say things like, “Em, why are you guys leaving?”
If someone else printed this, I might suspect a joke.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Twitter tranny accused of raping wife

Silicon Valley LGBTQIA advocacy meets the nastiness of divorce court. The San Fran paper reports:
A prominent advocate for transgender and women's rights in the tech world has been charged with raping her wife, The San Francisco Examiner has learned.

Dana McCallum, a senior engineer at Twitter who speaks and writes about women's and transgender-rights and technology issues, was arrested Jan. 26 and booked into County Jail on suspicion of five felonies, according to the Sheriff's Department.

McCallum, 31, who was born a male, openly identifies as a female and whose legal name is Dana Contreras, was charged Jan. 29 with five felonies, including three counts of spousal rape, one count of false imprisonment and one count of domestic violence, according to the District Attorney's Office. She has since pleaded not guilty.
So did he have his penis surgically removed, or did he use it in the rape? Was this really a sex act, or some peculiar imitation?
McCallum has been out of jail on $350,000 bail. A condition of her release is that she attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, according to court documents.

A Jan. 29 criminal protective order obtained by The Examiner says McCallum must not contact or come within 150 feet of her wife.
What does AA have to do with anything? AA is quasi-religious, and I did not think that it could be required.
Despite the charges, McCallum's attorney, John Runfola, says the case is simply about money.

"I'm just disgusted that, you know, this is going on," Runfola said. "Dana is an employee [at Twitter] and is about to come into a large amount of money. ... This whole thing is about money."

The couple had been separated, he said, but were still having sexual relations. McCallum served her wife with divorce papers the day before the incident, Runfola said.

The incident in question, according to Runfola, happened in a small condo in the Mission when four teenagers were in the house.

"No one heard 'rape' or fighting or anything," he said.

There are no witnesses for the prosecution, except one teenager who allegedly heard "no" through a door, Runfola said regarding police files.
Money. It all makes sense now. Welcome to the nastiness of divorce court, and the system's inability to handle bogus allegations.
As an advocate for women in technology and the LGBT community, Dana helped create advocacy teams at Twitter and other companies, served as a delegate on women's issues in India, and speaks regularly at events focused on women and LGBT people in tech."

A December story in Business Insider listed McCallum as one of the most important gay people in the tech world.
This is too weird for me. The comments say that McCallum is keeping his penis, and is really just a cross-dresser.
Im sorry but this article is ridiculous. A cis person CANNOT be raped by a trans person. Trans people do not have the required institutional power to rape their oppressors.
Cis women make phony claims in divorce court all the time.

Some other bizarre domestic violence crimes come from South Africa. Amputee runner Oscar Pistorius is on trial for murdering his girlfriend, with his story being that he thought that she was an intruder as she used the bathroom in the middle of the night.

And this:
The murdered bride of Shrien Dewani sent a text message saying her new husband was a flop in bed on their honeymoon, it was claimed today.

Mr Dewani, 34, from Bristol, was last week extradited to South Africa to face trial for the murder of his wife Anni Dewani, 28, who died when she was shot in the neck as the couple travelled in a taxi on the outskirts of Cape Town while on their honeymoon in November 2010.

Taxi driver Zola Tongo, who testified that Dewani set up the killing, was jailed along with the two gunmen.

South African authorities believe millionaire Mr Dewani is secretly gay and wanted to get out of the marriage.

The Sun reported Mrs Dewani's uncle Ashok Hindocha claimed she texted cousin Sneha Hindocha saying: 'Finally did it. Not as good as my previous boyfriends.'

He rubbished reports that Mrs Dewani said: 'Last night we had it five times'.
Hmmm. I think that there are a couple of lessons here.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sluggish cognitive tempo is the new ADD

Just when I thought that the shrinks already had too many excuses for drugging kids, the NY Times reports on a new one:
With more than six million American children having received a diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, concern has been rising that the condition is being significantly misdiagnosed and overtreated with prescription medications.

Yet now some powerful figures in mental health are claiming to have identified a new disorder that could vastly expand the ranks of young people treated for attention problems. Called sluggish cognitive tempo, the condition is said to be characterized by lethargy, daydreaming and slow mental processing. By some researchers’ estimates, it is present in perhaps two million children.

Experts pushing for more research into sluggish cognitive tempo say it is gaining momentum toward recognition as a legitimate disorder — and, as such, a candidate for pharmacological treatment. Some of the condition’s researchers have helped Eli Lilly investigate how its flagship A.D.H.D. drug might treat it.

“This is a concoction to justify the giving out of medication at unprecedented and unjustifiable levels,” Keith Conners, a psychologist and early advocate for recognition of A.D.H.D., said of the rising rates of diagnosis of the disorder.

The Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology devoted 136 pages of its January issue to papers describing the illness, with the lead paper claiming that the question of its existence “seems to be laid to rest as of this issue.” The psychologist Russell Barkley of the Medical University of South Carolina, for 30 years one of A.D.H.D.’s most influential and visible proponents, has claimed in research papers and lectures that sluggish cognitive tempo “has become the new attention disorder.”
You can bet that the drugs for this will be abused.

Major League Baseball bans a lot of performance enhancing drugs, but if the player has a documented attention deficit, then he gets to take pills to increase his alertness.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Court stenographers not necessary

I have complained about the lack of court reporters, about courts not liking parties to make their own recordings. The NY Times has a debate:
Are Court Stenographers?

After a court reporter with a drinking problem left behind an incomplete record of at least six trials and two dozen other proceedings in Manhattan, the legal community was left to debate again if, in the age of digital recordings, court stenographers are needed.
Using automated tools would be a whole lot cheaper and more reliable.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Shove a spouse, lose a gun

I mentioned last month this US Supreme Court decision. Jeff Knox writes about it:
The U.S. Supreme Court came down with a decision in March that effectively expands the base of people prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms in this country. In a unanimous decision in the case U.S. v. Castleman, the Court ruled that the law banning possession of firearms by anyone ever convicted of any crime of violence against a spouse or significant other – often referred to as the Lautenberg law – applies not only to crimes labeled as “Domestic Violence” or to such crimes that involve what an average person would consider actual violence, but also to things like pushing, shoving, or grabbing, even when no harm was intended and no injury sustained.

Many states have intentionally drawn a distinction between minor contact among family members during an argument and violence intended to harm, intimidate, or control. Those states’ common-sense approach to the matter has now been overruled by the Court, and convictions for charges like simple assault in cases like a woman slapping a cheating spouse, or a man pushing his way out the door to get away from an argument, will now include the mandatory loss of firearm rights for life – even if the incident occurred decades ago.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Singer thinks she has Asperger

The London Guardian reports:
Throughout her life, Scottish singing sensation Susan Boyle has carried the label "brain damaged". Now, in an exclusive interview with the Observer, the 52-year-old has revealed that she was misdiagnosed after complications at birth and has actually had Asperger's, a high-functioning form of autism.

Boyle, who shot to fame on Britain's Got Talent in 2009 to become one of the bestselling British female artists, received the diagnosis a year ago but has kept it secret. "It was the wrong diagnosis when I was a kid," she says. "I was told I had brain damage. I always knew it was an unfair label. Now I have a clearer understanding of what's wrong and I feel relieved and a bit more relaxed about myself."

Boyle's success has recently led to a cameo role in the festive film, The Christmas Candle, while Fox Searchlight is interested in making a film of her life story with Oscar-winner Meryl Streep in the lead role. But her achievements have sometimes been marred by reports of volatile behaviour and emotional outbursts. ...

"I think people will treat me better because they will have a much greater understanding of who I am and why I do the things I do."
No, no one will treat her any better. Asperger syndrome does not explain volatile behaviour and emotional outbursts. The diagnosis is just a stupid fad, and it is not even in the DSM-5 anymore.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Toddlers on long-distance sailboat trip

The NY Times reports on the latest parenting controversy:
As her family began what was supposed to be a monthslong journey in a 36-foot sailboat from Mexico to New Zealand, Charlotte Kaufman wrote openly of her misgivings about taking her two daughters — ages 1 and 3 — to sail the South Pacific, with her husband as captain and herself as the crew.

“I think this may be the stupidest thing we have ever done,” she wrote in her trip blog, before concluding: “It is a difficult self-imposed isolation that is completely worth it.”

Less than two weeks later, 900 miles off the coast of Mexico, Charlotte and her husband, Eric, unable to steer their ship, the Rebel Heart, called for emergency help. Their younger daughter, Lyra, who had been treated for salmonella just weeks before the trip, was covered in a rash and had a fever. After a complicated rescue effort orchestrated by the California Air National Guard and the United States Navy and Coast Guard, the Kaufman family was on a Navy ship heading to San Diego, scheduled to arrive on Wednesday.

But well before they set foot on dry land, the Kaufmans have become the focus of a raging debate over responsible parenting. Some readers of their blogs have left blistering comments suggesting that the authorities should take their children away, seizing on such details in Ms. Kaufman’s postings as the baby rolling around and unable to sleep because of the ship’s violent pitch, and soiled diapers being washed in the galley sink.
As far as I know, it is not child abuse or neglect to be a long distance from medical care when a child happens to get a rash.

I am not going to pile on here. What they do is their business. I might have said that kids might appreciate the trip more if they are a lottle older, but maybe the parents had good reasons.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Is ‘eat your peas!’ emotional abuse?

Here is an essay from England:
y friend’s eight-year-old son doesn’t like greens. Recently, when faced with a dinner plate containing fish, chips and peas, he was asked by his dad to ‘Finish it all up!’, to which the boy replied, ‘I feel very uncomfortable having to eat these peas’. It was a striking moment. It seemed he’d internalised the language of child protection, and then used it to get his own way; one of the mantras children are taught at school nowadays is ‘Never feel you have to do anything you are uncomfortable with’.

This may seem like a funny example, but it shows how the language of child protection can be used to undermine adult authority. I was recently in a bus station in London where some noisy teenage girls were throwing sweets around. An elderly man gently remonstrated with them; they responded by shouting ‘Paedo!’ at him.

Children are not stupid. They pick up on the general culture of fear and suspicion of adults that has sprung from society’s obsession with child protection.
The park in downtown Santa Cruz has a child play area that is fenced off and has a sign: "Adults must be accompanied by children."

Monday, April 07, 2014

Court appointed child abuse creeps

The Santa Cruz Sentinel printed a public relations pitch from CASA of Santa Cruz County:
Cynthia Druley: We all have a role in protecting children

By the time you finish reading this article, more than 30 cases of child abuse will have been reported to authorities nationwide. By the end of today, that number will swell past 9,000. And four of those children will die at the hands of their abuser. All in a single day.

When we take stock of these sobering statistics during April — National Child Abuse Prevention Month — it's easy to be overwhelmed.

You may ask yourself, "What can I possibly do to make a difference?" You can play a role in preventing child abuse and neglect by becoming advocates for children.

For some of us, that advocacy comes in a formal role. Teachers, child care workers, health care providers and others who come into daily contact with children can be vigilant for signs of abuse and neglect. Taking action to report suspected abuse or to offer extra time and attention to fragile children and their families can do more than make a difference. It can save lives.

CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) volunteers stand up for abused and neglected children, giving them a voice in an overburdened child welfare (foster care) system that is hard-pressed to meet their individual needs. A CASA volunteer's comprehensive advocacy can support them during a very difficult time and break the cycle of abuse and neglect.

Children with CASA volunteers find safe, permanent homes more quickly, are half as likely to re-enter the foster care system, and do better in school. On a national basis, CASA organizations are making a profound difference in the lives of hundreds of thousands of abused and neglected children across the country. Last year CASA of Santa Cruz County made a difference in the lives of over 200 such children in our community. But despite all the children we have helped, there are still far too many who are left to fend for themselves.

CASA of Santa Cruz County is one of more than 900 CASA programs across the country committed to ensuring that every child who needs a CASA volunteer has one.
She goes on to give instructions on how to volunteer, and how "you can report your suspicions confidentially."

Does any of this creep you out? I never heard of CASA and did not know that we have court appointed busybody volunteers to spy on kids, intervene in families, and facilitate CPS action.

I knew about real parents, foster parents, adoptive parents, and guardians ad litem, but I did not know that the court is appointing child advocates. What is this all about? I don't get it.

Update: A reader points out below that I missed Santa Cruz County court appointed advocate arrested for child molestation, and this leetter:
I'm beginning to feel like I'm trapped in the film "Groundhog Day." Thursday, Feb. 27, the Sentinel featured yet another headline about alleged child molester Brian Criswell, entitled "Former court advocate to face trial." Good grief. Since mid-October you have run nine articles about this topic -- with every single headline identifying the defendant as a "court appointed advocate." A bit of overkill, yes?
The local newspaper also had Friends of CASA hosts its annual fundraising luncheon at Serverino's.

As I check the archives, I did post the Criswell story, Court-appointed child molester, in Oct. 2013. I guess I forgot.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Mother killed baby with breast milk

I did not know that breastfeeding could be such a serious crime. S. Carolina news:
A Campobello woman has been found guilty of killing her daughter with a morphine overdose from breast milk.

She was sentenced to 20 years in prison and will serve 80 percent of the prison sentence before she is eligible for release.

Stephanie I. Greene, 39, was found guilty of homicide by child abuse, involuntary manslaughter and unlawful conduct toward a child after a 4-day jury trial in Spartanburg, according to Solicitor Barry Barnette.

Greene’s 46-day-old daughter, Alexis, was found dead in her parents’ bed on Nov. 13, 2010. Authorities said Greene appeared disoriented when coroner’s office investigators first arrived. They said she had trouble walking, slurred speech and had unfocused eyes, according to trial testimony.

A toxicology report showed toxic levels of morphine in her blood, liver and brain as well as other drugs, including Klonopin, in her system, Barnette said.

Greene's attorney, Wise Rauch, said he does not disagree the baby likely died of a morphine overdose. He questions how such a toxic level killed the newborn.

"When the average human being takes morphine, it's metabolized through the liver," said Rauch. "If it's not metabolized correctly, then yes, it has the possibility to build up, but no mother would know whether or not their child metabolizes morphine correctly without a genetic test."

Greene had been a nurse with a B.S.N Degree and failed to disclose her morphine prescriptions to her doctors and service providers and did not reveal her pregnancy and her breastfeeding of Alexis to her other doctors that were providing the prescriptions to her, according to Barnette.

He said Greene was on morphine and other prescription drugs during her pregnancy and while she was breast-feeding Alexis.

"The two doctors that were giving her the medications did not know she was pregnant," said Barnette.

Greene currently has 38 fraudulent prescription drug charges pending against her, Barnette said.

He said Greene’s prior criminal record includes a conviction for unlawful conduct toward a child and attempt to obtain controlled substance by fraud.
Usually a criminal conviction requires showing criminal intent. This woman was obviously an addict who was not intending to poison her child. Yes, she probably lied to get prescriptions, but that is what addicts do. I wonders why none of the medicos noticed her condition.

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Debtors prison for unemployed dads

A New Jersey newspaper reports:
Back in December over 90,000 people in New Jersey saw an end to their unemployment with the expiration of federal emergency benefits. This was the highest share of any state. Another 89,000 New Jersey residents are also set to lose their benefits during the first six months of 2014 as 63 weeks of unemployment is shrinking to 26 according to a report published by the House of Representatives' Ways and Means Committee.

For the Bergen County Jail this means big business.

In Bergen County being unemployed may get you thrown in jail. Bergen County residents who are jobless and have fallen behind on child support or alimony payments face indefinite incarceration in the Bergen County Jail’s “Work Release” program.

Brought before a judge every two weeks unemployed parents incarcerated in the “work release” program are required to report their efforts in finding a job. Being unemployed in Superior Court in Bergen County is considered to be by choice and puts you in contempt of court.

For the long term unemployed this may mean a long term in jail.
Some day this will be seen as barbaric, just as slavery is seen as barbaric today.

Friday, April 04, 2014

Followup on demoted good judge

I posted before on Good judge gets demoted, but they could not get rid of him, and he is back on the job:
San Diego Superior Court Judge Gary Kreep, banished to Kearny Mesa traffic court for the past three months after city prosecutors said they would boycott his criminal courtroom, is on his way back to the downtown courthouse.

Kreep will start a new assignment in Department 7 in the central courthouse, handling a full calendar of landlord-tenant disputes, according to a court spokeswoman. He’ll also handle some civil cases that relate to landlord tenant disputes as well as credit card debt cases. ...

Being sent to traffic court was an unusual step, since those courts are usually staffed only by court commissioners, who are paid about 15 percent less than the $180,000 in salary a Superior Court judge earns. It was virtually unheard of to have a sitting Superior Court judge assigned to hear traffic infractions.

Common sense on Rawhide

I just watched this 1962 Rawhide episode:
The Boss's Daughters
Favor's herd is prevented from passing through private land that is the only tenable route going north to the Kansas destination. However the landowner will relent if Favor gives his permission to allow the landowner to adopt Favor's two young daughters (who happen to be visiting Favor) when he marries Favor's sister-in-law, who has been caring for the children. If Favor is opposed to giving up his children, and if he refuses the adoption scheme, he will be forced to either fight his way through the private land or head the herd south and around through the dessert, losing much or all of his herd to the severe elements.
The daughters look and act just like my daughters. Except that Favor's daughters are loyal to their real father. And the men settle their disputes with guns, wire cutters, cattle, and man-to-man confrontations, instead of shrinks, feminists, and judges.

After listening to an argument about "what's best" for his daughters, and how he would have visitation privileges comparable to how often he sees them anyway, the dad (Favor) says:
But logic and reason ain't got nothing to do with it. There is a big difference between thinking and feeling. No, I am not going to lose them at all. ... They are my daughters, and they belong with me.
Well put. He faced the same family court logic and reason that says that a dad should be willing to give up his kids as long as he is still writing support checks and getting visitation privileges, because that is what's best. No, it is not best. People had more common sense back in 1962.

The modern family court is a great mistake. We were much better off in an era where men were men and women were women. I am an anachronism like Favor or Clint Eastwood (who also starred on Rawhide).

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Ad shows dad and hamster

A blog reports:
For decades, fathers and husbands have been depicted on TV programs and in ads as fools, incompetents, abusers and jerks. Sprint goes one better in its series of commercials about The Frobinson Family. Dad/Husband is depicted as a hamster trapped inside a plastic ball.
No, I am not urging a boycott. Just noting the trend.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Man ordered not to criticize cop

I posted yesterday about someone who got into trouble for criticizing family court officials online.

A free speech law professor writes about a police officer attempting to use the legal system to silence criticism:
You can read the ACLU complaint, the protection order — which was in effect for 12 days before being vacated — and Officer Bledsoe’s petition; you can also see the video embedded below.

The order that the Missouri court issued, and that the ACLU is now suing over, strikes me as outrageous. The relevant language read,

Respondent is further ordered to remove all videos, pictures, and text data showing Petitioner’s name and picture from the internet and respondent shall refrain from posting all such data in the future.

Such an order violates the First Amendment even if it referred to a private person, I think, and certainly when it bars the posting of the name of a police officer whom one is criticizing, and a video of the officer performing his duties. I’ve written in detail about such orders, and why they are unconstitutional, in my One-to-One Speech vs. One-to-Many Speech, Criminal Harassment Laws, and “Cyberstalking”; the article chronicles how harassment and stalking laws — which were designed to stop (among other things) unwanted speech to a person — are now being used to stop unwanted speech about a person. Yet so long as the speech about a person doesn’t consist of true threats or other unprotected forms of speech, it must remain constitutionally protected. This is just the latest such incident to hit the news; I wrote about several others in the article.
I do believe that citizens are performing a public service when they expose the work of govt officials. Most officials are doing good jobs, and should be happy to demonstrate that taxpayer money is well spent. Others are incompetent, destructive, or corrupt, and it is a public service to expose them.

And ex-cop explains: Everyone Behaves Better When They're on Video.
Reason TV sat down with former Seattle Police officer Steve Ward, who left the force to start Vievu, a company that makes body cameras for police officers.

“Everyone behaves better when they’re on video,” says Ward. “I realized that dash cams only capture about five percent of what a cop does. And I wanted to catch 100 percent of what a cop does.”

The cameras are small, light, and clip to the clothing of a police officer’s uniform. They turn on with a large switch on the front of the camera and have a green circle that surrounds the lens so that civilians know that the camera is recording.
Maybe you think that this is a little creepy, but this is where we are headed. The technology is here, and people are going to use it.