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"Not Rape" is Nearly Every Woman's Story

Required reading:
The modeling industry sets up camp at the crossroads of youth & beauty and age & wealth — and moreover, it's an arena where those qualities cleave to the most predictable gender and power divide.

Latoya Peterson's excellent essay, "The Not Rape Epidemic," a version of which was published in the brand new anthology Yes Means Yes, and was blogged about last week by Megan, isn't exactly a gentle holiday season comedown. But I was struck, reading the piece — which is both moving and important — by a strange feeling of recognition. Peterson defines a new term, "not rape" — the kind of sex and sexual attention young women get from men which is, if not outright unconsenting, some measure of coerced. Not rape is every kind of uncomfortable experience you're made to feel complicit in: for choosing to go to the party, for wanting the kisses but not knowing how to say 'No' to what came next, for ending up alone with someone you thought you could trust — or, in Peterson's case, for opening the screen door a few inches to a friend-of-a-friend one summer afternoon while her parents were out.

The essay made me think of all the times I've not been raped. And all the other women in my industry who've not been raped. 


Ecumenical Patriarch Speaks out Against Oil Spill Disaster

I know this is old news, I've been busy lately.

Regarding the EP's speech, very good, go read it. I must however take issues with one of the comments:

Chill out, the blogger is a high official in an xian organization. These groups expect him to speak as he does of dietys, creators, supernatural creatures. He earned his position by speaking that way. His preaching earns money for his church. FYI, we atheists don't donate much to his church. He's preaching to the saved, not to skeptics. Chill out!!! 

I looked up xian in wikipedia, there are several definitions:
Xian may also refer to:
I'm assuming he thinks Eastern Orthodox are Daoists? Since we don't build aircraft.


Your blogger the failure...*sigh*

Your blogger had to give a final presentation today. they totally flubbed it. *Sigh* They don't see it as an end-of-the-world thing, but...that was really something to stand there in front of three Professors and have like, absolutely no project to show. And what's more, your blogger had six weeks to work on this project. Maybe if they'd had less time, they would've gotten more done? Maybe? Oh, well...guess it's just a learning experience.

Goldman Sachs, Sacked

(Above) Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs, during testimony before the
Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Investigations Subcommittee
hearing on Tuesday.

By Susan Pulliam and Evan Perez

Federal prosecutors are conducting a criminal investigation into whether Goldman Sachs or its employees committed securities fraud in connection with its mortgage trading. Prosecutors haven't determined whether they will bring charges in the case.

The investigation from the Manhattan U.S. Attorney's Office, which is at a preliminary stage, stemmed from a referral from the Securities and Exchange Commission, these people say.

The SEC recently filed civil securities-fraud charges against the big Wall Street firm and a trader in its mortgage group. Goldman and the trader say they have done nothing wrong and are fighting the civil charges.

Prosecutors haven't determined whether they will bring charges in the case, say the people familiar with the matter. Many criminal investigations are launched that never result in any charges.

The criminal probe raises the stakes for Goldman, Wall Street's most powerful firm. The investigation is centered on different evidence than the SEC's civil case, the people say. It couldn't be determined which Goldman deals are being scrutinized in the criminal investigation.

A spokesperson for the Manhattan U.S. Attorney's office declined to comment. Goldman declined to comment.

Goldman shares fell 2.6% in after-hours trading to $156.08 after The Wall Street Journal reported the news of the investigation. At the 4 p.m. market closing, Goldman shares were up 2.1%.

The development comes amid public calls for more Wall Street accountability for the industry's role in the financial crisis.

Though there are multiple ongoing criminal and civil investigations, no Wall Street executives connected with the meltdown have been convicted of criminal charges.

During congressional hearings this week into Goldman's role in the crisis, legislators grilled Goldman executives for nearly 11 hours.

The SEC and Justice Department often coordinate their actions on investigations. The probe underscores heightened efforts by the Manhattan U.S. Attorney's office in prosecuting white-collar and Wall Street crime.

It is in the midst of pursuing the largest insider-trading case in a generation, charging 21 individuals and negotiating 11 guilty pleas in that matter.

But the Goldman probe presents a significant challenge for the government. Prosecutors in the Brooklyn office of the U.S. Attorney last year lost a high-profile fraud case against two former Bear Stearns Cos. executives, in the first major criminal case linked to the financial meltdown.

Prosecutors had accused the Bear Stearns employees of lying to investors in 2007 about the health of two funds that eventually collapsed.

The case centered on what the government viewed as incriminating emails indicating the traders knew the mortgage market would fall but didn't disclose that view to investors.

To bring any criminal charges in the Goldman matter, prosecutors would need to believe they had gathered evidence that showed that the firm or its employees knowingly committed fraud in their mortgage business. Proving such intent to break the law typically is the toughest hurdle for prosecutors to clear.

Another stumbling block: Such financial cases can be highly complex. Few outside of Wall Street understand arcane products such as collateralized debt obligations, the pools of mortgage-related holdings at the heart of the SEC civil case against Goldman.

On April 16, the SEC charged Goldman and an employee, Fabrice Tourre, with securities fraud in a civil suit relating to a mortgage transaction, known as Abacus 2007-AC1, a deal the government said was designed to fail.

The SEC alleged that Goldman duped its clients by failing to disclose that hedge fund Paulson & Co. not only helped select the mortgages included in the deal but also bet against the transaction. Both Goldman and Mr. Tourre have denied wrongdoing.

Even the SEC's case, which is subject to a lesser standard of proof than a criminal case, is viewed as a challenge for regulators. The SEC's commissioners were split 3-2 along party lines on whether the agency should bring a case.

In battling the SEC charges, Goldman says its investors were sophisticated and knew the underlying securities they were buying. Goldman says it wasn't required to disclose who provided input into the deal or the views of its clients in the transaction.

The congressional hearing involved numerous other mortgage deals Goldman arranged in 2006 and 2007. Lawmakers criticized Goldman and its executives for allegedly stacking the deck against clients during the market meltdown in 2007.

Some of the emails released by regulators, lawmakers and Goldman suggest a callous attitude among Goldman employees toward the risks involved in some of the Goldman mortgage deals, including one in which a Goldman employee referred to a mortgage transaction the firm sold to investors as a "sh—y" deal.

Over the years, the government has been reluctant to criminally charge financial firms with wrongdoing because the charge itself can cause a business to implode. Some investing clients can't or won't trade with a firm facing such a taint.

Indeed, in the more than two-century history of the U.S. financial markets, no major financial firm has survived criminal charges.

Securities firms E.F. Hutton & Co. and Drexel Burnham Lambert Inc. crumbled after being indicted in the 1980s.

In 2002 Arthur Andersen LLP went bankrupt after it was convicted of obstruction of justice for its role in covering up an investigation into Enron Corp. The conviction was later overturned by the Supreme Court.

In recent years, some financial firms have agreed to "deferred prosecutions," in which they agree to a probationary period for which they won't commit any future wrongdoing.

That's what Prudential Securities Inc. famously did in 1994 when that securities firm faced criminal charges that it misled investors about the risks and rewards of limited-partnership investments.

Prudential agreed to a three-year deferred prosecution, as well as fines and restitution, to end a criminal securities-fraud investigation.

American Media's Cultural Conquesnt

By Peter Mwaura

This form of imperialism colonizes the mind. There's a growing dominance of global media/entertainment systems, influenced mainly by the culture and interests of the US. The dominance results in the displacement or destruction of indigenous cultures.

Yesterday was World Press Freedom Day. The day celebrates press freedom and evaluates press freedom worldwide. Maybe, May 3 should also be a time to think about casting out the demons of cultural imperialism.

The UN General Assembly, when it proclaimed the day in 1993, forgot cultural imperialism, which has been around since the 1960s. Cultural imperialism, otherwise known as media imperialism, describes a situation where one country, or countries, dominate others through exports of their media products, such as television programming and news.

To speak of casting out the demons is, therefore, an allegory for decolonising the mind. There is a growing dominance of global media systems and entertainment products, influenced mainly by the culture and interests of the United States. The dominance results in the displacement or destruction of indigenous cultures.

Much of the dominance comes from the American media system. The US exports more media and entertainment products than any other nation and three of the most important transnational media corporations — AOL Time Warner, Disney and News Corporation (owned by Australian Rupert Murdoch, who acquired American citizenship) — are American.

At the same time, English remains the predominant language on the Internet, even though it is not the native language that most people in the world speak. There are, for example, three times as many native speakers of Chinese as native speakers of English.

In cultural imperialism, nations with dominant media systems impose their beliefs, values, lifestyles, and ideologies on others. America’s dominance in the entertainment industries makes it difficult for African countries to produce and distribute their own cultural products.

Add to that the growing popularity of Mexico’s romantic soaps, and the competition becomes tougher. Cultural imperialism prevents the development of native cultures and has a negative impact on the natives, who reject their own culture in favour of a foreign one.

The story of the women of Fiji is illustrative. Women with fuller figures are traditionally admired. Then television was introduced on the island in 1995 and Fijians started watching American shows like Baywatch, Beverly Hills 90210 and Melrose Place.

Over a three-year period, Anne Becker, director of research at the Harvard Eating Disorders Center of Harvard Medical School, carried out a study on the island to investigate shifts in body image and eating practices.

She found that the Western images and values transmitted via television led to an increase in disorders such as anorexia and bulimia.

A survey of teenage girls found that 74 percent of them felt they were “too big or fat”. The girls had absorbed the Western ideals of beauty. “The teenagers see TV as a model for how one gets by in the modern world,” reported Dr Becker. “They believe the shows depict reality.”

Cultural imperialism can take many forms. John Tomlinson, author of the book, Cultural Imperialism, defines cultural imperialism as “the use of political and economic power to exalt and spread the values and habits of a foreign culture at the expense of a native culture.”

Herbert Schiller, one of the best known writers on media imperialism, defines cultural imperialism as:

“The sum of the process by which a society is brought into the modern world system and how its dominating stratum is attracted, pressured, forced and sometimes bribed into shaping social institutions to correspond to, or even promote, the values and structures of the dominating centre of the system.”

Ngugi wa Thiong’o, in Decolonising the Mind, gives many examples of cultural imperialism. “But the biggest weapon wielded and actually daily unleashed by imperialism,” he writes, “is the cultural bomb.”

The effect of a cultural bomb is to “annihilate a people’s belief in their names, in their languages, in their environment, in their heritage of struggle, in their unity, in their capacities and ultimately in themselves,” he says.

“It makes them see their past as one wasteland of non-achievement and it makes them want to distance themselves from that wasteland,” he concludes. The intended results are despair, despondency and a collective death-wish.”

Cultural domination by the media was not something that was foreseen when on December 10, 1948, the UN General Assembly proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in which Article 19 states that press freedom includes the right “to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”