MoJo Author Feeds: Dana Liebelson | Mother Jones Mother Jones logo en This Is What Happens When We Lock Children in Solitary Confinement <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/SOLITARY_630x400.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>"They left me in that little room with nothing," Kenny said. </strong>Maddie McGarvey</div> </div> <p><span class="section-lead">One night in March 2013,</span> a 17-year-old named Kenny was walking with a friend through farm country in Reilly Township, Ohio. The boys had been drinking and were checking car doors in the hope of finding a little money when they came across a pickup with keys in the ignition. They decided to take it for a spin.</p> <p>If you hadn't guessed by now, Kenny wasn't exactly thinking straight. He was just three weeks out of court-ordered rehab for marijuana possession and public intoxication, and his dad had just caught him stealing his anxiety medication. The pair drove a few miles to the home of Kenny's girlfriend, whose mother saw the purloined truck and called the cops. The boys bolted, spent the night in a shed, and the next night were arrested while partying at a frat house. A judge found Kenny guilty of receiving stolen property worth less than $7,500, a low-level felony. He deemed Kenny, who had some pot on him when he was caught, a "delinquent child," and sentenced him to six months at the juvenile correctional facility in Circleville.</p> <p>But Kenny's sentence wound up being rougher than the judge had perhaps intended. While the Circleville facility's website boasts rehabilitative programs such as music, worship, woodworking, and education, he didn't have much of a chance to take advantage of them. Shortly after arriving, Kenny landed in solitary confinement for fighting. Over the next six months he spent nearly 82 days in the hole&mdash;locked in his own room or an isolation cell&mdash;once for 19 days at a stretch, according to court documents.</p> <p>I learned about Kenny's case from legal filings in a lawsuit brought by the Obama administration against the state of Ohio. They make for some chilling reading. For years, the Department of Justice has pressured Ohio and other states to fix widespread problems in their juvenile prisons. In the fall of 2013, the department learned that some facilities were punishing kids like Kenny with long stretches of solitary. It investigated and filed suit the following March, asking a judge to immediately intervene because children would continue suffering "irreparable harm" if the practice wasn't stopped. Kenny's case was cited as a key example of the damage solitary could do.</p> <p>While in isolation, Kenny&mdash;who was diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder prior to the sixth grade&mdash;wrote to his mother, Melissa Bucher, begging her to make the two-hour drive to visit him. "I don't feel like I'm going to make it anymore," he wrote. "I'm in seclusion so I can't call and I'm prolly going to be in here for a while. My mind is just getting to me in here."</p> <p>Bucher, a warm, lively woman who at first glance could be mistaken for Kenny's big sister, insists that forced isolation turned her teen from a social kid with some mental-health issues into a depressed young man who shies away from others and experiences panic attacks at night. "Other inmates would call me a lot and tell me he was not doing good and hearing voices," she said. When she visited Kenny, she noticed "he had scratch marks all over his arms. He was just digging into them." Alphonse Gerhardstein, an attorney representing Kenny and others in a separate lawsuit that was eventually consolidated with the Justice Department's case, noted in an email to the state attorney general's office that the boy "bangs his head frequently" and "had fresh injuries."</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/politics/2014/01/juveniles-kids-solitary-confinement-ohio-new-york"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Politics Longreads Crime and Justice Human Rights Prisons Top Stories solitary confinement Wed, 14 Jan 2015 11:00:11 +0000 Dana Liebelson 265841 at Top Al Qaeda Bomb Maker Reportedly Killed In Air Strikes <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p dir="ltr"><span class="message_content"><em><strong>Update (11/7/2014):</strong></em> CBS News <a href="" target="_blank">reported</a> on Thursday that one of Al Qaeda&rsquo;s lead bomb makers, a member of the Khorasan group targeted by the first US airstrikes in Syria, is dead&mdash;according to US officials. Officials claim that one of the missiles fired at Khorasan targets struck a car reportedly carrying David Drugeon, the former French intelligence officer who helped develop some of the group&rsquo;s secretive bombs designed to make it past airport security. "Sources told CBS News&hellip;that Drugeon&rsquo;s death would be a severe blow to Khorasan&rsquo;s plans to attack Europe and the US," CBS reports. </span></p> <p dir="ltr">On Monday night, September 22, a US-led coalition launched air strikes in Syria against members of ISIS, the extremist Islamic group occupying territory in Iraq and Syria. As a "last-minute add-on," <a href="" target="_blank"><em>NBC</em> reports</a>, the United States also targeted a different terrorist group: a little-known outfit called Khorasan. This Al Qaeda affiliate gained some public attention earlier this month after US officials <a href="" target="_blank">reported</a> that the extremists were plotting to sneak bombs on to US airplanes. Last week, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper noted that the group "perhaps" posed as great a threat to the United States as ISIS. On Tuesday morning, Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby maintained that strikes on ISIS and Khorasan were "very successful." The US targeted Khorasan's "training camps, an explosives and munitions production facility, a communications building and command and control facilities," the Pentagon told the <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Washington Post.&nbsp;</em></a></p> <p dir="ltr">News of these air strikes raised an obvious question: Who and what is Khorasan? The group is led by <a href="" target="_blank">Muhsin al-Fadhli</a>, a 33-year-old senior Al Qaeda operative who was privy to Osama bin Laden's 9/11 plans prior to the attacks, <a href="" target="_blank">according to</a> the <em>New York Times.</em> US officials have tracked Fadhli for years, and the State Department refers to him as a "senior facilitator and financier" for Al Qaeda. In 2012, the State Department was offering up to $7 million for information about his whereabouts. Born in Kuwait, he has <a href="" target="_blank">operated </a>in Chechnya, fighting Russian soldiers, according to the United Nations, and has been wanted in connection to Al Qaeda attacks in Saudi Arabia.</p> <p dir="ltr">In a conference call with reporters after the air strikes, several senior administration officials, speaking on background, said that Khorasan had established a safe haven within the chaos of Syria to plot attacks against the United States and other Western nations. One official reported that this planning was "nearing the execution phase." A senior administration official also said that Khorasan&mdash;described as a band of experienced Al Qaeda veterans&mdash;was recruiting Westerners fighting in Syria for "external operations," and that Khorasan plotting had prompted the United States to beef up aviation security measures a few months ago. One administration official noted that President Obama had been contemplating strikes against Khorasan for months "separate and apart from the growing threat from ISIL."</p> <p dir="ltr">On Monday, prior to the strikes, Brian Forst, a professor at American University and a counterterrorism expert, told <em>Mother Jones</em>, "If we can find al-Fadhli and take him out, Khorasan will be largely neutered." Brian Michael Jenkins, a senior terrorism expert with the RAND Corporation, contends that leaders can always be replaced, referring to both Al Qaeda and ISIS, which have cycled through different leaders. "It doesn't end their operations," Jenkins says. "It has a disruptive effect."</p> <p dir="ltr">Khorasan, according to <a href="" target="_blank">press reports</a>, has about 50 jihadist fighters, mostly from Afghanistan and Pakistan. US officials <a href="" target="_blank">told the AP</a> earlier this month that the group was sent to Syria by Al Qaeda top dog Ayman al-Zawahari to link up with another Al Qaeda affiliated group, the Nusra Front, and "recruit Europeans and Americans whose passports allow them to board a US-bound airliner with less scrutiny from security officials."</p> <p dir="ltr">Aki Peritz, a former counterterrorism analyst with the CIA, says, "It's much easier to recruit people&mdash;especially those with foreign passports&mdash;in Syria than in Pakistan for operations abroad." He adds, "Given that there are several thousand foreigners in Syria today, it's probably much easier for Al Qaeda to spot, assess, develop, recruit, and train willing individuals there than anywhere else in the world."&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">Jenkins compared the fighting in Syria and Iraq to a "talent show" that Khorasan was watching and judging, looking for recruits. Khorasan is "scarier" than ISIS, he argues, because it is focused primarily on attacking the West. Forst also notes that Khorasan focuses "more on the West than Syria," while ISIS is "focusing on Middle Eastern targets."</p> <p>So does the Obama administration have the legal authority to hit Khorasan? Under the <a href="" target="_blank">post-9/11 authorization</a> provided by Congress in 2001, the president is allowed to use force against "those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001." And senior administration officials contend that this authorization covers Khorasan, given its connection to Al Qaeda.</p> <p>In in a statement on Tuesday morning, Obama referred to Khorasan as "seasoned Al Qaeda operatives"&mdash;and he seemed to this group with ISIS, as he vowed to "do what's necessary to take the fight to this terrorist group." He added, "Once again, it must be clear to anyone who would plot against America and try to do Americans harm that we will not tolerate safe havens for terrorists who threaten our people." But as the president spoke, there was not sufficient public information to judge the nature and seriousness of the threat posed by a group most Americans had not yet heard of.</p></body></html> Politics Foreign Policy International Military Obama Top Stories Tue, 23 Sep 2014 16:45:22 +0000 Jenna McLaughlin and Dana Liebelson 260796 at Why Facebook, Google, and the NSA Want Computers That Learn Like Humans <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="lol cats" class="image" src="/files/MJ-Cats-final-ani-630.gif"><div class="caption">Illustration: Quickhoney</div> </div> <p>In June 2012, a Google supercomputer <a href="" target="_blank">made an artificial-intelligence breakthrough</a>: It learned that the internet loves cats. But here's the remarkable part: It had never been told what a cat looks like. Researchers working on the Google Brain project in the company's <a href="" target="_blank">X lab</a> fed 10 million random, unlabeled images from YouTube into their massive network and instructed it to recognize the basic elements of a picture and how they fit together. Left to their own devices, the Brain's 16,000 central processing units noticed that a lot of the images shared similar characteristics that it eventually recognized as a "cat." While the Brain's self-taught knack for kitty spotting was nowhere as good as a human's, it was nonetheless a major advance in the exploding field of deep learning.</p> <p>The dream of a machine that can think and learn like a person has long been the <a href="" target="_blank">holy grail</a> of computer scientists, sci-fi fans, and futurists alike. Deep learning&mdash;algorithms inspired by the human brain and its ability to soak up massive amounts of information and make complex predictions&mdash;might be the closest thing yet. Right now, the technology is in its infancy: Much like a baby, the Google Brain taught itself how to recognize cats, but it's got a long way to go before it can figure out that you're sad because your tabby died. But it's just a matter of time. Its potential to revolutionize everything from social networking to surveillance has sent tech companies and defense and intelligence agencies on a deep-learning spending spree.</p> <p>What really puts deep learning on the cutting edge of artificial intelligence (AI) is that its algorithms can analyze things like human behavior and then make sophisticated predictions. What if a social-networking site could figure out what you're wearing from your photos and then suggest a new dress? What if your insurance company could diagnose you as diabetic without consulting your doctor? What if a security camera could tell if the person next to you on the subway is carrying a bomb?</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/media/2014/09/deep-learning-artificial-intelligence-facebook-nsa"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Media Animals Civil Liberties Tech Top Stories NSA Fri, 19 Sep 2014 10:00:11 +0000 Dana Liebelson 257261 at Microsoft Wants Minecraft to Make It Cool. Good Luck. <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Microsoft rattled the gaming world this week when it announced it would spend <a href="" target="_blank">$2.5 billion</a> to acquire Minecraft, a wildly popular indie videogame. By buying the game, Microsoft hopes to tap into players' wallets. But what's less clear is whether Microsoft can win over gamers, some of whom are criticizing Microsoft for trying to buy its way to cool&mdash;and stifling creativity in the process.</p> <p>Minecraft's premise is simple: Players are dropped into a world with LEGO-style blocks, and can then choose their own adventures&mdash;exploring, building new structures, or fighting monsters. The game has legions of devoted followers&mdash;including hardcore gamers, <a href="" target="_blank">elementary school kids</a>, and United Nations staffers who have asked citizens in developing countries to use the program to <a href="" target="_blank">design better public spaces</a>. Some gamers are <a href="" target="_blank">earning a living off </a>of Minecraft by uploading game videos to YouTube and taking a chunk of the ad revenue, and they're not shying away from slamming the deal.</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/politics/2014/09/minecraft-microsoft-cool"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Politics Corporations Tech Top Stories Thu, 18 Sep 2014 19:30:37 +0000 Dana Liebelson 260396 at The Demise of a US Group Backing Moderate Syrian Rebels Is a Bad Sign for Obama's Anti-ISIS Campaign <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Last week, President Barack Obama outlined his plan for expanding military action against ISIS, the murderous Islamic extremist group that controls territory in Iraq and Syria. His beefed-up campaign includes increased funding <a href="" target="_blank">previously announced</a> (up to <a href="" target="_blank">$500 million)</a> to train and arm supposedly moderate rebels in Syria who are fighting the dictatorial regime of Bashar al-Assad and also at times battling ISIS. For the past few years, Washington has assisted Syrian opposition forces deemed non-extremist&mdash;even though they might be fighting alongside Al Qaeda-affiliated rebels. But the effort has not been a great success, with hawks accusing the Obama administration of not doing enough, and administration officials skeptical about the moderate opposition's cohesion and military effectiveness and wary of doling out weapons that could fall into the wrong hands. In February, the leader of the moderate Free Syrian Army&mdash;who was the conduit for US aid to the rebels&mdash;was <a href="" target="_blank">removed</a> by his own council, partly because the FSA had been taking a beating from the regime and Islamist forces. Now Obama intends to boost the US effort to support these moderate fighters in Syria. But this move comes just weeks after the collapse of the Syrian Support Group, a US-based nonprofit backed by the State Department that <a href="" target="_blank">boasted</a> it delivered millions in dollars of nonlethal supplies to the FSA. According to former officials of the group, it shut down because of funding problems and divisions among rebel forces.</p> <p>Working with the rebels in Syria will be a <a href=";action=click&amp;pgtype=Homepage&amp;version=HpSum&amp;module=first-column-region&amp;region=top-news&amp;WT.nav=top-news&amp;_r=1" target="_blank">daunting task</a> for the Obama administration. There are hundreds of anti-Assad militias, each with its own agenda. Some moderate bands have no interest in taking on ISIS. Some fighters shift allegiances between secular outfits and Islamic extremist groups. Neither the FSA nor the Syrian National Coalition, a political group representing the opposition, control or even coordinate all the various non-extremist fighters. And the dissolution of the Syrian Support Group in the United States&mdash;just at the time when Washington is ramping up its investment in the Syrian opposition&mdash;could be a troubling sign.</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/politics/2014/09/syrian-support-group-isis-obama"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Politics Foreign Policy International Iraq Obama Top Stories Tue, 16 Sep 2014 10:00:05 +0000 Dana Liebelson and David Corn 260056 at Dem Candidate for Pennsylvania Governor Vows to Block Texas-Style Abortion Bill <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Tom Wolf, the Democratic candidate for Pennsylvania governor, promises that if he's elected he won't support a controversial bill that could force some abortion clinics in the state to close. Wolf's opponent, Republican Gov. Tom Corbett, has <a href="" target="_blank">trailed</a> in recent polls and is expected to back the bill in the slim chance it clears a vote.</p> <p>"Tom Wolf would not sign this bill. This is just an attempt to make it more difficult for women to access reproductive health care," says Beth Melena, a spokeswoman for Wolf's campaign. Corbett's campaign did not respond to comment, but the bill's sponsor, Republican Rep. Bryan Cutler, says that he expects that Corbett would support it. The governor has <a href="" target="_blank">backed</a> other abortion restrictions in the past, defending a bill that would require women seeking abortions to first obtain ultrasounds by <a href="" target="_blank">noting</a>, "You just have to close your eyes."</p> <p>The newer <a href="" target="_blank">bill</a>, introduced in February, would require doctors who perform abortions to get admitting privileges from a hospital which offers obstetrical or gynecological care less than 30 miles away from their clinic. Abortion rights supporters say the legislation is unnecessary because <a href="" target="_blank">only 0.3 percent of abortions lead to major complications </a>and abortion providers don't need admitting privileges to transfer sick patients to hospitals. They believe the bill will limit Pennsylvania women's access to safe and legal abortions, because not all doctors may work within 30 miles of a hospital and some religiously affiliated hospitals will not grant admitting privileges to doctors who perform abortions. The Pennsylvania bill has nearly <a href="" target="_blank">identical language</a> to the admitting-privileges requirement that passed last year in Texas. Since the passage of that requirement (and other abortion restrictions), many of the Lone Star State's <a href="" target="_blank">41 abortion clinics have closed.</a></p> <p>Some Pennsylvania women say they already have trouble accessing clinics. This week, a woman was <a href="" target="_blank">sentenced</a> to prison for ordering abortion pills online for her 16-year-old daughter, who did not want to have the baby. The <em>Bloomsburg Press Enterprise</em> reported that she ordered the pills because the daughter did not have insurance to pay for a hospital abortion and there were no clinics nearby.</p> <p>Fortunately for abortion rights advocates, people familiar with Pennsylvania's political scene say that the bill is doomed. "They did this before with one of those ultrasound bills and that died an ugly death too. As conservative as this Legislature can be, it seems to me to be seized by fits of common sense," says John Micek, editorial and opinions editor for PennLive and the <em>Patriot-News</em>.</p> <p>The legislation hasn't gone to a vote yet and Cutler, who sponsored the bill, says that he doesn't expect it to before the Senate session ends on <a href="" target="_blank">November 12</a>. He says he will consider reintroducing it next year.</p></body></html> Politics Reproductive Rights Sex and Gender Top Stories Thu, 11 Sep 2014 10:00:08 +0000 Dana Liebelson 259826 at Controversial Former College President Mansplains Alleged Rape Victim <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Two weeks ago, Stephen Trachtenberg, the former president of George Washington University, <a href="" target="_blank">made headlines</a> when he appeared on NPR's <a href="" target="_blank"><em>The</em> </a><a href="" target="_blank"><em>Diane Rehm Show </em></a>to discuss sexual assault on college campuses and <a href="" target="_blank">said</a> that women had "to be trained not to drink in excess" so they could defend themselves against men who "misbehave." Critics <a href="" target="_blank">accused</a> him of placing the burden on victims and <a href="" target="_blank">equating sexual assault with misbehavior</a>, claims that Trachtenberg contended did not represent his views.</p> <p>In the midst of this controversy, a woman who says she was raped when she was a George Washington student in the early 2000s and was "extremely traumatized" by how the university handled her case confronted Trachtenberg via email to share her experience and denounce his remarks. In an email response, Trachtenberg, now a professor<strong> </strong>at the school, said her story "surely entitles you to your anger" and implored her to "tell me exactly what I said that you think I need to be ashamed of." The exchange was obtained by <em>Mother Jones. </em></p> <p>Following the NPR show, the woman&mdash;who asked not to be named&mdash;emailed Trachtenberg about her case and said:</p> <blockquote> <p>&hellip;Your recent remarks on the Diane Rehm show disgust me. Shame on you. Shame on the message that you have just sent to millions of women, millions of daughters, and millions of us survivors. I hope you can take the time to reflect on your statements and understand the impact of your words.</p> </blockquote> <p>In interviews with <em>Mother Jones</em>, the woman recounted what happened to her. She said she was raped on campus by a fellow student, in the middle of the day, with no alcohol or drugs involved. She didn't immediately report the assault, but after she began to experience depression and symptoms of PTSD, she decided to take a leave of absence. According to documents she provided to <em>Mother Jones</em>, a counselor recorded the account of her rape and an associate dean examined her records in order to approve the leave. "No one ever talked to me about my options," she said. "No one suggested reporting to the police or going through the student judicial process." Maralee Csellar, a George Washington spokeswoman, said she can't comment on the case due to privacy laws.</p> <p>After the woman returned to school, she filed a case against the alleged rapist with student judicial services. But she said she was not provided a victim's advocate or any other support, and was "blindsided" by the legal defense mounted by the alleged assailant. She had an emotional breakdown and was unable to finish the trial. After that "extremely" traumatizing experience, she said she was not interested in going to the police.</p> <p>Replying to the woman, Trachtenberg wrote:</p> <blockquote> <p>Yours is a dramatic story of a dreadful experience and it surely entitles you to your anger. I like to think that today the university would serve you better. Your frustration with what happened seems sound. That said there are limitations to what the university can do. We can regret that but it cannot be denied. I believe that cases like yours need to be dealt with by the state. They have police and prosecutors and courts that have an expertise which exceeds that of the university. Rape by a student is no less rape than that by any other citizen and all need to be treated like crimes and adjudicated as such. My remarks on the Diane Rehm show are what they are. They do not define all that I think about the matter but they stand for a portion of my view that educating women--men too--about the dangers of drinking would make them safer. Being sober make one less vulnerable. And helps with driving too. Similarly I think it empowers women to know something about self defense if attacked. So go back and think about what I said beyond the strong memories of your personal experience and tell me exactly what I said that you think I need to be ashamed of. Educated empowered women strike me as a good idea.</p> </blockquote> <p>In an email to <em>Mother Jone</em>s, Trachtenberg&mdash;who noted that he does not speak on behalf of the university&mdash;writes, "This is a tragic story that seems to go back about a decade. I tried to be as responsive as I could to this abused woman when she wrote but to some agendas there is no reply." He added, "My heart goes out to her."</p> <p>More than <a href="" target="_blank">75 schools</a> are being investigated by the US Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights to determine whether they botched sexual-assault investigations. George Washington is not one of those schools. Still, in January 2014, a victim complained to the student newspaper, the <a href="" target="_blank"><em>GW Hatchet</em></a>, about the school's response to her accusation of sexual assault, noting, "It was this constant battle with GW." Csellar said that the university issued new sexual-violence policies last year and is "committed to fully supporting survivors of such acts and treating appropriately those who are found to have committed them."</p> <p>Trachtenberg insists that his original comments have been misconstrued and that he's being unfairly maligned. "I thought I was speaking good and prudent truth on behalf of women when I was on the <em>Diane Rehm Show</em>," he writes. "I said don't blame the victims and I proposed two modest and hardly radical ideas."<strong> </strong>He later adds, "Because my effort to candidly address part of a problem fell short of perfection and neglected to deal with all aspects of the rape culture agenda I was abused."</p> <p>"Look what happened to me, look at my case," the woman told <em>Mother Jones</em>. "I'm sure this is happening to other people. With the attitude of people like this, whom we put our trust in, no wonder."</p></body></html> Politics Education Sex and Gender Top Stories Wed, 10 Sep 2014 10:15:05 +0000 Dana Liebelson 259661 at Ex-George Washington University President Responds to Controversy Over His Sexual Assault Remarks <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>A former university president came under fire this week for the advice he gave on how to combat sexual assault on college campuses. On Tuesday, George Washington University President Emeritus Stephen Trachtenberg appeared on NPR's <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Diane Rehm Show</em></a> and said, "Without making the victims responsible for what happens, one of the groups that have to be trained not to drink in excess are women. They need to be in a position to punch the guys in the nose if they misbehave." Critics pounced. <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Jezebel</em></a> slammed his comments as "jaw-droppingly stupid," and the website noted, "<span>If this is the attitude freely and blithely expressed by a former University President, it's no wonder that <a href="">more than 75 schools</a> are currently under investigation by the Department of Education for botching sexual assault investigations</span>."</p> <p>The following day, Trachtenberg told the school newspaper, <em><a href="" target="_blank">The <em>GW</em> Hatchet</a>,</em> that his remarks had been taken "out of context," but he reiterated his main point: <em>"</em>What I'm saying is you want to have somebody you care about like your daughter, granddaughter or girlfriend to understand her limits because she will be less likely to be unable to fight off somebody who is attacking her."</p> <p>On Thursday, <em>Mother Jones</em> asked Trachtenberg to comment on the ongoing controversy, and he replied with a written statement. Regarding <em>Jezebel</em>, he said:</p> <blockquote> <p><em>Jezebel</em> has a world view that informs their prose. They are an advocate for an important cause and they take every opportunity to make their case. Sometimes in their enthusiasm they may get a little overheated. It's hard to resist an apparent opportunity when you believe you are on the side of the angels.&nbsp;</p> </blockquote> <p>In response to other questions&mdash;including why he chose to use the word "misbehave" to describe sexual assault&mdash;Trachtenberg said:</p> <blockquote> <p>I chose that word because I was thinking and speaking quickly under time constraints on a radio show. Under different circumstances I might have used another perhaps stronger word. I am an educator. I believe in the power of education. I think that education about drinking and its effects on an individual can help protect that person from vulnerability. Knowledge makes one stronger. I also believe that having skills gives one power. If you know how to defend yourself you have strength that can be helpful in the event things turn physical. These two ideas are not meant to solve all problems. They are not blame shifters. They are what they are. Better to know things then not. No silver bullets here. We need to educate men too. Date rape is largely the responsibility of young men and alcohol and opportunity. We can address these issues as a community. Men and women and institutions together. Victims should do their best but they are victims and not to blame. My recommendation is to change the culture of the campus so that men and women protect and nurture each other as a family would. It will take work but it can be done.</p> </blockquote> <p>Is this an apology? You be the judge.</p></body></html> MoJo Sex and Gender Top Stories Thu, 28 Aug 2014 17:12:54 +0000 Dana Liebelson 259326 at Your Cellphone Company Says Your Location Info Is Private. Think Again. <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>On Sunday, the <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Washington Post</em></a> published an expos&eacute; revealing that private companies are peddling surveillance systems to foreign governments that track the location of cellphone users in the United States and abroad. The report raised a basic question: How can this be happening when cellphone companies generally promise not to disclose their customers' location information without their consent? The main problem is that location information is available on a global network that can be accessed by thousands of companies. And in the wake of the <em>Post</em> story, US cellphone companies are refusing to discuss how this squares with their privacy policies, or say what they are doing to keep their customers' whereabouts confidential.</p> <p>Here's what's going on: Carriers collect location information from cellphone towers and share it with each other through a global network called SS7. This allows a US carrier to find a customer even if she hops a plane to India. But according to the <em>Post</em>, surveillance systems makers have gained access to SS7 and are using it to grab location data, allowing these firms to pinpoint people within a few city blocks.</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/politics/2014/08/cell-phone-carriers-privacy-location"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Politics Tech Top Stories Thu, 28 Aug 2014 10:00:08 +0000 Dana Liebelson 259151 at Obama Authorizes Air Strikes in Iraq: Will Americans Be Evacuated? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>On Thursday, as Islamic militants closed in on the Kurdish capital of Irbil, President Obama authorized targeted air strikes in Iraq if necessary to prevent the capture of the city, which is a base for US officials and foreign workers.&nbsp;"When the lives of American citizens are at risk, we will take action," Obama said. He also pledged to provide humanitarian aid and to take steps to protect about 40,000 members of the Yazidi sect, who have fled their homes and have been trapped on nearby mountains.</p> <p>The announcements came after fighters associated with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) took control of at <a href=";module=Ribbon&amp;version=origin&amp;region=Header&amp;action=click&amp;contentCollection=Home%20Page&amp;pgtype=article" target="_blank">least one town</a> within 20 miles of the city and&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">reportedly</a> seized a massive dam, which if breached could flood Mosul, a&nbsp;city of 1.5 million residents.</p> <p>Throughout the decade following the US-led invasion of Iraq, the&nbsp;Kurdish north has avoided much of the violence and chaos common in the south. As recently as June, the State Department <a href="" target="_blank">noted</a> that the region has been "more stable relative to the rest of Iraq in recent years." That relative tranquility has not only drawn diplomats, oil workers, and US military personnel to Irbil: Just last year, the <a href="" target="_blank"><em>New York Times</em></a> called the city a "tourist boom town." Should ISIS take&nbsp;Irbil, any foreigners left there would be at considerable risk.</p> <p>US companies began pulling employees from Iraq before ISIS's recent advances. <a href="" target="_blank">According to</a> the leader of Iraq's state-run South Oil Company, Exxon Mobil staged a <a href="" target="_blank">"major evacuation"</a> in mid-June and BP reportedly withdrew 20 percent of its staff. But over the last few days, companies have ramped up extractions from Kurdistan: On Thursday, <a href="" target="_blank">Reuters reported</a> that Exxon Mobil is pulling its staff, and a Chevron spokeswomen told the <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Wall Street Journal</em></a> the company had reduced its number of foreign workers in the region.&nbsp; &nbsp;</p> <p>Even as ISIS made <a href="" target="_blank">dramatic gains</a> across Iraq in June and July,&nbsp;Irbil remained a <a href="" target="_blank">safe haven</a>. <span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; line-height: 2em;">Refugees from elsewhere in northern Iraq streamed in</span><span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; line-height: 2em;">, as did foreigners. </span>Employees of Siemens Energy were <a href="" target="_blank">evacuated to Irbil</a> in mid-June amid a <a href="" target="_blank">bloody battle</a> for control of Baiji's oil infrastructure. Earlier that month, the State Department <a href="" target="_blank">relocated</a> staffers from the embassy in Baghdad to consulates outside the capital, including the one in Irbil. But now, the situation has reversed. <a href="" target="_blank">According</a> to the <em>New York Times,</em> civilians are swamping Irbil's airport, hoping to snag seats on flights to Baghdad. Meanwhile, <span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; line-height: 2em;">Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways has <a href="" target="_blank">canceled</a>&nbsp;all flights to Irbil.</span></p> <p>Aki Peritz, a former CIA counterterrorism analyst, says that when US citizens are under threat, the State Department works quickly. And when it comes to the safety of diplomatic staff, "if they felt like the US consulate could fall, they would have evacuated," he says. "They have an itchy finger, especially after Benghazi&mdash;they're not going to let Americans get chopped up and put on the internet."</p> <p>While Obama said on Thursday night that protecting US military personnel, diplomats, and civilians living in Irbil is a priority, it's unclear just how many Americans and other foreigners are present in the city, and what plans may be in place to evacuate them. A senior administration official told reporters late on Thursday that there was an "ongoing conversation" in the administration about evacuating its diplomats, but "given that we will make sure [ISIS] cannot approach Irbil, we're very confident our consulate is safe."</p> <p>A Defense Department spokesman, Commander Bill Speaks, says that there is a Joint Operations Center in Irbil, with about 40 military personnel. He would not discuss contingency planning for any potential evacuation of US or non-US foreign citizens. Katherine Pfaff, a spokesperson for the US State Department, declined to provide the number of staff based in the Irbil consulate. "We have nothing to announce on possible evacuations," she says.</p> <p>According to Steven Cook, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations who was in Irbil in June, there's not a huge American presence in the city, but it is home to some foreign diplomats and oil workers, with a couple of expat hotspots. He says that Kurdish officials "knew the fight was coming; they just didn't know it was coming so quickly."</p> <p>David Phillips, director of the Program on Peace-building and Rights at Columbia University's Institute for the Study of Human Rights, is on his way to Irbil on Sunday for a preplanned research trip. He told <em>Mother Jones</em> from his hotel in Turkey that he has meetings scheduled with government officials and "as far as I know, everything is on track."</p> <p>"It's a fast-moving, volatile situation," he adds. "Unless something really unexpected happens, I think the Islamic State is going to be on the run." He says he promised his daughters that he wouldn't "do anything foolish."</p></body></html> Politics International Iraq Top Stories Fri, 08 Aug 2014 03:03:07 +0000 Dana Liebelson and Jenna McLaughlin 257971 at