If you’re one of those folks that asks for a seatbelt extender when you get on a flight, you may want to take Peru off your vacation destination list. And not for the reason you might think:
A gang of killers who murdered to steal their victims’ body fat have been arrested in Peru.
Police said the three people held in the jungle province of Huanuco confessed to five killings and said they could sell one litre of fat for £10,000 to the cosmetic industry.
The men said the fat was sold to intermediaries in Lima, who police suspect sold it to companies in Europe.
No animals were injured in the manufacture of these cosmetics – not.
This is also not a new business:
It is believed six members of the gang are still at large, including leader Hilario Cudena, 56, who Castillejos said had been killing people to extract human fat for more than 30 years.
Medical authorities said last night human fat is used in anti-wrinkle treatments – but is always extracted from the patient, usually from the stomach or buttocks.
There would be a risk of reaction that could lead to lifethreatening consequences if fat from someone else were used, said dermatology professor Dr Neil Sadick.
So the questions – if what Sadick says is true and this his been going on for 30 years, who in Europe is buying this stuff and why?
There’s obviously a market somewhere.
A little Sunday puzzler for you.
Charles Krauthammer takes on the developing media spin about Ft. Hood murders.
That, of course, is that Hasan’s religion had nothing to do with any of this – instead he had just heard so much from returning vets that he “snapped”. He, in effect, developed secondary PTSD. Says Krauthammer:
Really? What about the doctors and nurses, the counselors and physical therapists at Walter Reed Army Medical Center who every day hear and live with the pain and the suffering of returning soldiers? How many of them then picked up a gun and shot 51 innocents?
And what about civilian psychiatrists — not the Upper West Side therapist treating Woody Allen neurotics, but the thousands of doctors working with hospitalized psychotics — who every day hear not just tales but cries of the most excruciating anguish, of the most unimaginable torment? How many of those doctors commit mass murder?
It is a pretty untenable and unbelievable attempt to divert attention away from the elephant in the room – the fact that Hasan was a radicalized muslim who proselytized for his religion (something his colleagues heard but neither reported or did anything about), had “SoA” (Soldier of Allah) on his business card and shouted “Allahu Akbar” when he began his murder spree.
As Krauthammer points out the religious aspect of this is something the politically correct crowd would prefer to ignore. Instead they literally invent something to replace it on the fly and in its stead:
Secondary post-traumatic stress disorder, a handy invention to allow one to ignore the obvious.
And the perfect moral finesse. Medicalizing mass murder not only exonerates. It turns the murderer into a victim, indeed a sympathetic one.
And it isn’t a recent attempt on the part of the media. Consider this – not even one full day after the massacre at Ft. Hood, Newsweek’s Andrew Bast wrote this:
What if Thursday’s atrocious slaughter at Fort Hood only signals that the worst is yet to come? The murder scene Thursday afternoon at the Killeen, Texas, military base, the largest in the country, was heart-wrenching. Details remained murky, but at least 13 are dead and 30 wounded in a killing spree that may momentarily remind us of a reality that most Americans can readily forget: soldiers and their families are living, and bending, under a harrowing and unrelenting stress that will not let up any time soon. And the U.S. military could well be reaching a breaking point as the president decides to send more troops into Afghanistan.
It’s hard to draw too many conclusions right now, but we do know this: Thursday night, authorities shot and then apprehended the lone suspect, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan. A psychiatrist who was set to deploy to Iraq at the end of the month, Hasan reportedly opened fire around the Fort Hood Readiness Center, where troops are prepared for deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. And though this scene is a most extreme and tragic outlier, it comes at a time when the stress of combat has affected so many soldiers individually that it makes it increasingly difficult for the military as a whole to deploy for wars abroad.
Not even a full day after the murders, you have the stage being set for precisely what Krauthammer notes – medicalizing (stress, PTSD, victim) the tragedy instead of pointing to the real reason – or even mentioning it.
Fast forward to yesterday and an AP story:
Rising suicide rates and a shooting spree last week by an Army psychiatrist at a base in Fort Hood, Texas, have raised new questions about the effects of combat stress and the state of the military’s mental health system.
For most, Hasan’s “shooting spree” has raised few questions about the effect of combat stress and the state of the military’s mental health system.
Instead it has raised questions about the media’s insistence on crediting the obvious for his “shooting spree” and why they’re so afraid to confront it? Does combat raise stress – yes, of course it does. It always has. This is nothing new. But given what we’ve learned, that’s not why Hasan murdered 13 people.
Yet, as the AP story shows, that’s still the track some in the media prefer over the apparent truth of the matter.
Political correctness. As we’ve learned now, it kills. Unfortunately, not all of us have learned that as AP, Newsweek and a whole host of other poilitically correct apologists for Hasan’s motives continue to prove.
Steven Taylor says it:
It strikes me at this stage that trying to generalize from this event about a particular class of persons is no different than taking the Oklahoma City Bombing and assuming that because a right-wing white male was the perpetrator that there ought to be some blanket assumptions that could automatically be made. Or, perhaps a better analogy, those who have tried to blame things like abortion clinic bombings or anti-gay violence on conservative Christianity. In the absence of an actual organization directly advocating and planning specific violence, the responsibility for an event like this falls squarely on the shoulders of the person who engaged in the violence, and blaming others (based on religion, ethnicity or anything else) is blatantly unfair.
And yet, people are making wild assertions about the event, as if we really can know much of anything less than 24 hours after the event.
I’m not saying that there isn’t an “actual organization directly advocating and planning specific violence” (I don’t know), but until and unless that can be proven, it seems to me that the same broad brush we all condemn when, as Taylor points out, people try to make the same sort of unfounded assumptions about “right-wing” groups, etc is being used by some in this case.
Sometimes a nut is just a nut. And I think we all agree this guy is an absolute scumbag. But, in reality, given what happened today in Orlando and what we know about Hasan, you could argue that we have seen two disgruntled employees who happened to be mentally unstable try to settle their scores with lethal violence. Unfortunately we have a long and rich history of such events. We call it “going postal” from all the incidents of disgruntled postal employees shooting up their places of work.
Bottom line? Let’s not make more of this than it is until we have more proof. And no that’s not being politically correct – it is being factually correct. If he’s a radical Islamist jihadi directed by an al Qaeda master (or some like scenario), then I’ll be the first to point that out and condemn it.
But at the moment, he seems more like a nutjob who went over the edge and acted out violently. Until I learn more about him and what caused him to do what he did, I’ll continue with that tentative conclusion. Because that’s the only conclusion supported by the evidence right now.
That said, my heart and prayers are with the victims of his rampage. And a special word of thanks to Sgt. Kimberly Munley who heroically stepped into harm’s way and an insane situation and ended it with a few well places shots. She was wounded in both legs and her hand. I wish her a speedy and complete recovery so she can be up and about to testify when they try this scumbag and send him to his just reward.
A rather long title to introduce probably the single most absurd rationalization for not bringing Polanski to justice I’ve yet read.
You have to read it just to understand how intellectually bankrupt some people can be. The false premises and pretzel logic in this particular article is remarkable. So is the moral relevance. And notice too how he avoids the real charge (rape) in favor of a charge that was never made (statutory rape). Note too he completely avoids the problem of lack of consent from the girl. All the way through you continue to think, “this has to be a farce”. Frankly, for a while, I thought it was. But it clearly isn’t.
I have no idea who George Jonas is, but I do know that’s the last article of his I’ll ever bother reading.
Jonah Goldberg reminded me of this beauty by Harvey Weinstein concerning Hollywood’s defense of rapist Roman Polanski:
In an opinion piece in London’s the Independent, Weinstein Co. co-founder Harvey Weinstein, who is circulating the pro-Polanski petition, wrote: “Whatever you think about the so-called crime, Polanski has served his time. A deal was made with the judge, and the deal is not being honored. . . . This is the government of the United States not giving its word and recanting on a deal, and it is the government acting irresponsibly and criminally.”
In an interview, Weinstein said that people generally misunderstand what happened to Polanski at sentencing. He’s not convinced public opinion is running against the filmmaker and dismisses the categorization of Hollywood as amoral. “Hollywood has the best moral compass, because it has compassion,” Weinstein said. “We were the people who did the fundraising telethon for the victims of 9/11. We were there for the victims of Katrina and any world catastrophe.”
If Hollywood is the best moral compass, then there is no such thing as moral magnetic north.
While doing fundraising is appreciated, it shows much less of the needed compassion in those situations than a small rural church in Georgia which pools the resources of its parishioners, drives to coastal Mississippi, buys supplies from Home Depot and rebuilds houses for those made homeless by the hurricane.
Nope – the moral compass of this country resides where it always has, and those who possess it are calling BS on the Polanski charade.
I don’t get it. Where’s NOW? Where are all the women’s groups? Where are all the agitated ladies yelling “no means no!” Where are the children’s rights organizations demanding Polanski’s extradition?
And what in the world is going on in Hollywood? If ever anyone wanted to point to the decadence in our country this provides the example.
Here, let’s let Kate Harding provide a little clarity, shall we:
Roman Polanski raped a child. Let’s just start right there, because that’s the detail that tends to get neglected when we start discussing whether it was fair for the bail-jumping director to be arrested at age 76, after 32 years in “exile” (which in this case means owning multiple homes in Europe, continuing to work as a director, marrying and fathering two children, even winning an Oscar, but never — poor baby — being able to return to the U.S.).
Got that? He raped a child. He plead guilty to a lesser charge, but in fact he raped a child. Then he fled. You tell me, if it was some poor Wal-Mart frequenting, no-name red-neck who had done that 30 years ago and then taken off and hidden out in a double-wide for all this time, Hollywood would be having benefits for the victim and howling for the blood of the rapist. The women of The View would be demanding justice. Dr. Phil would be on Oprah telling the world of the long-term trauma and effect this sort of event can cause. Nancy Grace would be pounding the podium and telling the world this isn’t about the forgiveness of the victim, but justice.
Instead, as Harding points out, we’re hearing every excuse in the book from the glitterati (not necessarily the one’s I’ve named) as to why Polanski should skate. He’s been in “exile” for 30 years. Really? He’s lived in France. Although some may consider that to be a form of “exile” few prisoners convicted of rape would consider living there, fathering 2 children and generally enjoying the lifestyle of the rich and famous to be “exile”, much less punishment.
Instead, what it all boils down too is he’s an artist and artists are different than the little people and should be treated differently. I mean, don’t you know they don’t have to follow the rules? Haven’t you watched the awards shows or followed their lives on Entertainment Tonight? It is they who get to define what is good or right, or so they believe. They can ignore the rules and flaunt them, because, you know, they have a talent which millions enjoy. That makes them special and certainly more special than some floozy 13 year old child who’s life has come to nothing in comparison.
And besides, Polanski escaped justice long enough, thanks to our friends in France who refused to extradite an admitted child rapist, that he’s should be allowed to slide, or so his defenders rationalize.
The fact that she’s forgiven him (since justice was never done, what other choice did she have but bottle it up and let it poison her life?) and wants to avoid the publicity is understandable. Her mental health has demanded she find a way to put this behind her because the justice system was never able to bring her any sort of satisfaction or closure.
However, this isn’t really about her anymore – it’s about child rape and the simple fact that it is never right, never excusable and is always punishable, no matter how long it takes to track the perp down. That’s justice. You can’t drag Bubba out of the trailer and put him in jail for however long is appropriate if you can’t drag Polanski back from Switzerland and do the same.
And given ACORN’s history and recent problems I say none too soon. The plan had been to have the ACORN be an integral part of the Census Bureau effort in 2010. But ACORN’s past has caught up with it (the little sting operation in MD and DC probably didn’t help) and the Census Bureau, bowing to the public’s concern, is cutting the organization loose.
“Over the last several months, through ongoing communication with our regional offices, it is clear that ACORN’s affiliation with the 2010 Census promotion has caused sufficient concern in the general public, has indeed become a distraction from our mission, and may even become a discouragement to public cooperation, negatively impacting 2010 Census efforts,” read a letter from Census Director Robert M. Groves to the president of ACORN.
“Unfortunately, we no longer have confidence that our national partnership agreement is being effectively managed through your many local offices. For the reasons stated, we therefore have decided to terminate the partnership,” the letter said.
Now the next goal ought to be to find a way to defund the organization, i.e. pull all of its federal funding. If it want to engage in “community organizing” let it fund itself the old fashioned way – beg for money.
Meanwhile, it appears MD has decided it may prosecute the filmmaker who exposed ACORN.
I never watch morning TV. I can’t stand all the caffeine fueled happy talk on the morning news shows and anyway I’d rather ease into the news cycle the old fashioned way – with a newspaper. But on September 11th of 2001 I happened to be listening to the radio when I heard a report that it was believed that an airplane had hit one of the twin towers of the World Trade Center.
I walked over and turned on the TV. I forget which channel or network it was but I remember the anchor talking about what was then thought to be a horrific accident. It couldn’t have been 5 minutes later that the second tower was hit.
I stood in horrified amazement. I realized it was no accident but I didn’t understand yet what it all meant. Then the report came in about the Pentagon. Finally I realized that it was an orchestrated attack. I wouldn’t hear about the plane that crashed in PA for a while.
I remember doing something I never do – sitting in front of that TV all day. It was like the earth stood still. I watched the towers burn. I watched the people flee. I watched in horror as others jumped. I watched the towers collapse one by one. I watched as fire and police rescue headed into the disaster area as civilians fled. I watched as ash, like a volcanic explosion might bring, cover that portion of the city. And I watched as New Yorkers fled the city on foot over clogged bridges.
It was a stunning day – an almost visceral feeling of anger finally descended on me as I began to understand the full implications of what happened.
9/11 is certainly a day that will live in infamy as we were the victim of a cowardly attack that cost the lives of 3,000 people. But, as is often the case with Americans, there were a lot of heroes that stepped up that day. And the basic decency of our fellow countrymen was also evident as businesses and individuals did what was necessary to help and comfort those who had been able to flee those towers.
9/11 is a day for remembrance. Not a day for “community service” or whatever it is that some are trying to turn it into. It should be a somber day in which we remember those who died, recognize that we have enemies in the world who will stop at nothing to strike us and redouble our commitment to protect our homeland from such attacks.
And to all those who lost their lives on that day, we should dedicate at least a portion of this one to their memory.
The case against?
Bernie Madoff, of course. A man who bilked investors of some 80 plus billion dollars over a couple of decades knew how to fool the regulators and was not shy about passing on that information to those who worked for him.
Money quote (no pun intended):
“You know, you don’t have to be too brilliant with these guys because you don’t have to be …”
Apparently the regulation regime, which should have easily have caught Madoff, failed too because regulators got to cozy with him:
“The guys . . . ask a zillion different questions and we look at them sometimes and we laugh, and we say, ‘Are you guys writing a book?’ ” he said.
“These guys, they work for five years at the commission then they become a compliance manager at a hedge fund now.”
Yeah – we need more regulations. That’s the ticket. More. That’ll fix it.
The regulations were there – the regulators, however, failed to enforce them. My guess is that a close examination of why we ended up in the financial pickle we did had less to do with the lack of regulation and more to do with what let Bernie Madoff skate for so long – a criminal lack of oversight by regulators as authorized by law.
Eric Zorn does a little “what if” in the Chicago Trib, wondering if Ted Kennedy could have survived Chappaquiddick in today’s news environment.
If we’d had insatiable 24/7 cable news networks in July 1969, the accident on Chappaquiddick Island in which a passenger in a car driven by Sen. Edward Kennedy drowned would likely have dominated the national consciousness for months.
Zorn then proceeds from the premise that Kennedy’s life and work after that event make the point that it is a good thing we didn’t have the 24/7 news cycle because we’d have lost a giant among legislators.
Of course, you have to accept his premise that Kennedy’s life and work after Chappaquiddick were worthwhile to sign on to the premise. I, for one, don’t.
I mean this is a guy who, as he schemed to figure out a way to become president, tried to make a deal with the General Secretary of the Soviet Union, Yuri Andropov, to undermine Ronald Reagan and gain politically.
So there are probably just as many out here who might have welcomed such coverage if it had had the desired effect of running Kennedy out of public life.
“Politically, Kennedy wouldn’t have survived that kind of media bombardment,” said Bruce DuMont, president of Chicago’s Museum of Broadcast Communications and host of “Beyond the Beltway,” a national weekly talk-radio show. “It wouldn’t have just been a spotlight, it would have been a heat lamp. On him, on all the investigators, on everyone connected to the story.
The cable networks turned Scott and Laci Peterson into household names, DuMont said. “Just think what they would have done with Ted and Mary Jo. Remember all the coverage they gave to the  plane crash that killed John F. Kennedy Jr.? Multiply that by 10.”
Two things argue against this scenario. One – Scott and Laci Peterson didn’t have the upper hand with an adoring media. The Kennedys have always seemed larger than life because the media made them that way. One also has to remember the media of the time knowingly covered up brother Jack’s infidelity. 24/7 news coverage or not, that same sort of mentality was at work with any Kennedy. Expecting a critical look at this particular event is simply not something one can assume – especially given the fact that it never really got it at the time.
Two – Ted Kennedy was shameless. There was nothing that would run him out of public life, to include his cowardly act which led to the death of Mary Jo Kopechne. Had it been otherwise, the facts surrounding the incident at Chappaquiddick and the amount of coverage it did receive should have been sufficient to do what Zorn claims only 24/7 coverage would have accomplished now. But Kennedy waved it off, ignored it and plowed on.
So while I find Zorn’s point about today’s news cycle (and talk radio) to be interesting, I also find it to be a flawed rationalization for keeping certain bad actors in place supposing that some will become “Ted Kennedys” if we don’t run them off. In fact, he says as much:
Or, as I believe, is the nation — particularly our disabled and disadvantaged residents — better off for the 40 years of service he was able to render after that terrible night?
The momentary satisfaction of destroying Ted Kennedy for his failings would have had a significant price. Something to keep in mind when the next fallen figure, Democrat or Republican, stumbles into the heat lamp.
Zorn’s argument is that justice delayed or belayed might turn out for the better in some cases. That’s an incredibly silly notion. And again you have to agree with the premise that Kennedy’s “40 years of service” were worth Kopechne’s life. Zorn is arguing it is. And he’s not the only one.
Joyce Carol Oates attempts to push the very same premise under a different guise:
His tireless advocacy of civil rights, rights for disabled Americans, health care, voting reform, his courageous vote against the Iraq war (when numerous Democrats including Hillary Clinton voted for it) suggest that there are not only “second acts” in American lives, but that the Renaissance concept of the “fortunate fall” may be relevant here….Yet if one weighs the life of a single young woman against the accomplishments of the man President Obama has called the greatest Democratic senator in history, what is one to think?
One is to think that there isn’t equal justice for all, that some are more privileged and apparently valuable than others. And certainly any future accomplishments, if good, are simply pure luck, even if you agree they’re “good” . We have no way to look into the future and decide that someone will contribute to society in a grand way.
But we can look into the the interior of a ’67 Oldsmobile, see a woman left to drown through the sheer cowardice of the driver who was more concerned about his political career than her life, and draw certain conclusions then.
To some, such as Zorn and Oates, they see a redeemed person who did well with the second chance. Others, such as myself, see such thinking as rationalization for making an exception of Kennedy where they wouldn’t make one for anyone else (despite the lip service). “Second acts” or second chances, where I come from, occur after a price has been paid for the act in question. Kennedy never paid that price.
What Zorn and Oates are really saying here is since it turned out well in their opinion, the ends justify the means. As I see it that’s not justice, it’s elitism on steroids.