Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Ilê Ayê

(Yoruba - The World, or maybe The House of Life)
Up, Down.

Greenpeace CO2 Germanybut, what I've got is rage & despair, not just at the official stupidity around global climate change aka global warming aka heat-death, our estimable Environment Minister f'rinstance, Jim Prentice, has been quietly diverting funds from renewable initiatives to his pet Alberta Tar Sands, he's a national Conservative eh? so it's not surprising, this is according to accidental disclosure by Natural Resources Minister Lisa Raitt, Prentice entirely denies it of course, so who do you believe? I believe Raitt, but it's not just failure to see the slavering sabre-toothed tiger on the horizon - there seems to be a general stupidity in almost everything I deal with, every facet flawed, some kind of death of the imagination ... must be me I guess, some Peer Gynt troll must'a bin scratching at my eyes, that must be it, except instead of the pigs looking like beautiful mermaids, as bonitas e gostosas sereias, they are looking more-and-more like ... pigs

this song touches the great divide for me, between whole integrated culture wrapped and folded in spirit, and metaphysics sliced diced and julienned ...

Não me pegue, não me toque,
Por favor não me provoque.
Eu só quero ver o Ilê passar,
Quero ver você, Ilê Ayê passar por aqui.
Depois Que o Ilê Passar, Miltão (?) ... Virginia Rodrigues I heard her sing it at the old Rival theatre in Cinelandia, Juba do Leão, Alex Ribeiro, Seu Jorge, Caetano Veloso ...
Donald Coxeter, King of GeometryDonald Coxeter, King of Infinite SpaceDonald Coxeter & HendrinaDonald Coxeter 2001Donald Coxeter 2002

Amadou Mariam Manu ChaoDo not go gentle into that good night, Dylan Thomas

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Ilé Aiyé, David ByrneGood men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Ilé Aiyé, David ByrneRage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

apparently Donald Coxeter went gently, as gently as you can, did not rage or curse, in many ways and on many levels an exemplary man, a single example - he cared personally for his wife who was stricken with Alzheimer's (as did my father) right out there to the very edge of doom

his young & pretty & fluffy biographer reports that, "He had no illusions about infinity or hyperspace materializing in the hereafter. He had reached mortality's event horizon." very cutely put, but how can she know such a thing about such a man, about any person?

the devolution of toilet paper, of coffee machines, of socks ...

Russell Jessop, Yearning for Zion RanchRussell Jessop, Yearning for Zion Ranchdevolution of everything then? ... six year-old Russell Jessop of the Yearning for Zion Ranch, a so-called 'polygamist compound' or 'polygamist sect' aka old-style Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ... anyway, Russell is quoted in the Globe as having said, "It was junk," referring to the bourgeois high-life he led under the supervision of the Children's Protective Services of Eldorado (10, 12) Texas (or is it Utah?)

you are so right Russell, it is every bit of it ever so clearly JUNK!

and the devolution of public discourse with bankrupt newspapers (1), of analysis based on obvious secular (and self-serving) agendas (2), of nuclear decommissioning papered over by greedy lies and probable disappearance by attrition (3), of shocking Justice (4, 5, 6), of abandoned children (7, 8), of human biology ... nevermind the pesky Aamjiwnaang Nation away over there on some reservation (11) with their 'two girls for every boy' and standing square in the way of progress, but changes in relative birth weights by sex in the general Canadian population (9), mmmm, gotta look into that, erm gotta cover that up, erm gotta find someone to blame besides the industrial greed-head perps and shareholders therof ... whatever

approaching some fugue, some complex impenetrable smerge, rage & despair ... mostly despair

well, that is the way the world is ... eh?

O RappaExplicité, JanetExplicité, JanetIlê Ayê,Naomi CampbellExplicité, JanetExplicité, Janet

Vamos pra cama meu bem,
Me pegue agora,
Me dê um beijo gostoso,
Pode até me amassar.

1. How does U.S. democracy survive without its newspapers?, John Ibbitson, Tuesday June 16 2009.
2. Report on Gene for Depression Is Now Faulted, Benedict Carey, June 16, 2009.
3. Funds to Shut Nuclear Plants Fall Short, AP, June 17, 2009.
4. Court quashes murder conviction, BBC, 16 June 2009.
5. Man's sleep-sex defence a waking nightmare for the woman he attacked, Kirk Makin, Wednesday June 17 2009.
6. Appeals court hears arguments on sexsomnia case, CTV, Thursday February 07 2008.
7. Zimbabwe girls trade sex for food, Mike Thomson, Friday 12 June 2009.
8. Woman accused of hiding dead babies lived in shelter, Anna Mehler Paperny, Tuesday June 16 2009.
9. Gender gap in birth weight shrinking, study finds, Globe, Wednesday June 17 2009.
10. 400 Children Taken From Polygamist Sect, CBS/AP, April 7 2008.
How does U.S. democracy survive without its newspapers?, John Ibbitson, Tuesday June 16 2009.

The answer isn't entirely grim

The Boston Globe is losing $1-million (U.S.) a week, and its owner, The New York Times Co., has put it up for sale, although some analysts doubt the paper has any net worth.

The Times itself is being propped up with a $250-million loan it negotiated at 14-per-cent interest, and because it sold and leased back part of its grandiose new headquarters. David Carr, who writes about media for the Times, recently estimated the loan and sale-leaseback “probably have given it the wherewithal to operate into 2011.”

McClatchy Co., which owns more than two dozen papers across the U.S., including the Miami Herald, effectively defaulted on its debt in May. It's being kept alive only because it negotiated a new loan at 15.75-per-cent interest.

The Philadelphia Inquirer, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times and many other U.S. dailies are in bankruptcy. Twenty-three thousand newspaper jobs have been lost in the United States over the past 18 months. The average share price of an American newspaper company fell by 83 per cent in 2008.

This newspaper's prospects are considerably healthier. The Globe and Mail, as a national newspaper, is not heavily reliant on classified advertising, which evaporated with the advent of Craigslist and the like.

The Globe has also still been spared the savage budget cuts that eviscerated so many once-great American newspapers as the recession accelerated chronic declines in readership and advertising revenue.

But in the U.S., it's time to ask: How will the seemingly inevitable extinction of many metropolitan daily newspapers influence politics and political culture there?

The answer isn't entirely grim. Some newspapers are bound to survive in print form, at least for a few more years, as competition thins and enlightened corporate owners recognize that laying off half their reporters is the surest way to destroy the only thing of value a newspaper has: the reputation behind its name.

Newspapers everywhere are experimenting with efforts to convince advertisers and readers to use their online platforms. Someone may eventually figure out a formula that generates both readers and revenue.

And new forums are emerging, as online providers rush to fill the void left by desiccated newsrooms and empty bureaus. Here in Washington, Politico is just one of several new or expanded websites breaking stories about congressional and White House shenanigans. (Politico also has a print edition.) In other cities, journalists are creating websites that offer in-depth coverage of municipal affairs.

But there is another, very disturbing, trend. A recent survey by The Pew Center for the People and the Press reported that “a new Washington media have evolved, but they are far from the more egalitarian or citizen-based media that advocates of the digital age might imagine. Instead, this new Washington media cohort is one substantially aimed at elites, often organized by industry, by corporate client, or by niche political interest.”

These publications may have an audience of a few thousand, or even a few hundred, willing to pay thousands of dollars in subscription fees for specialized coverage. “These are publications with names like ClimateWire, Energy Trader, Traffic World, Government Executive and Food and Chemical News,” the Pew study says. They are proliferating, and hoovering up reporters and editors who have lost their jobs in mainstream media. “Today, it is the niche, not the mainstream, media that [provide] blanket coverage of Congress and other important arms of the federal government,” the Pew report concludes.

The collapse of print journalism - network newscasts are also in terrible shape - threatens to bifurcate the public square. Those who know the power of information will pay to obtain it, and use that knowledge to influence the agenda.

Those who lack the means or interest will depend on blogs, social networking and whatever information they choose to look for online. How does democracy survive on that?

There's no need to panic, yet. You know the value of a newspaper, what its loss would mean to your life and your community. Someone, somewhere is going to figure out a way to deliver that product profitably again, although right now she may be busy studying for her exams.

In the meantime, this newspaper, at least, is not going anywhere.

Report on Gene for Depression Is Now Faulted, Benedict Carey, June 16, 2009.

One of the most celebrated findings in modern psychiatry — that a single gene helps determine one’s risk of depression in response to a divorce, a lost job or another serious reversal — has not held up to scientific scrutiny, researchers reported Tuesday.

The original finding, published in 2003, created a sensation among scientists and the public because it offered the first specific, plausible explanation of why some people bounce back after a stressful life event while others plunge into lasting despair.

The new report, by several of the most prominent researchers in the field, does not imply that interactions between genes and life experience are trivial; they are almost certainly fundamental, experts agree.

But it does suggest that nailing down those factors in a precise way is far more difficult than scientists believed even a few years ago, and that the original finding could have been due to chance. The new report is likely to inflame a debate over the direction of the field itself, which has found that the genetics of illnesses like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder remain elusive.

“This gene/life experience paradigm has been very influential in psychiatry, both in the studies people have done and the way data has been interpreted,” said Dr. Kenneth S. Kendler, a professor of psychiatry and human genetics at Virginia Commonwealth University, “and I think this paper really takes the wind out of its sails.”

Others said the new analysis was unjustifiably dismissive. “What is needed is not less research into gene-environment interaction,” Avshalom Caspi, a neuroscientist at Duke University and lead author of the original paper, wrote in an e-mail message, “but more research of better quality.”

The original study was so compelling because it explained how nature and nurture could collude to produce a complex mood problem. It followed 847 people from birth to age 26 and found that those most likely to sink into depression after a stressful event — job loss, sexual abuse, bankruptcy — had a particular variant of a gene involved in the regulation of serotonin, a brain messenger that affects mood. Those in the study with another variant of the gene were significantly more resilient.

“I think what happened is that people who’d been working in this field for so long were desperate to have any solid finding,” Kathleen R. Merikangas, chief of the genetic epidemiology research branch of the National Institute of Mental Health and senior author of the new analysis, said in a phone interview. “It was exciting, and some people thought it was the finding in psychiatry, a major advance.”

The excitement spread quickly. Newspapers and magazines reported the finding. Columnists, commentators and op-ed writers emphasized its importance. The study provided some despairing patients with comfort, and an excuse — “Well, it is in my genes.” It reassured some doctors that they were medicating an organic disorder, and stirred interest in genetic testing for depression risk.

Since then, researchers have tried to replicate the gene finding in more than a dozen studies. Some found similar results; others did not. In the new study, being published Wednesday in The Journal of the American Medical Association, Neil Risch of the University of California, San Francisco, and Dr. Merikangas led a coalition of researchers who identified 14 studies that gathered the same kinds of data as the original study. The authors reanalyzed the data and found “no evidence of an association between the serotonin gene and the risk of depression,” no matter what people’s life experience was, Dr. Merikangas said.

By contrast, she said, a major stressful event, like divorce, in itself raised the risk of depression by 40 percent.

The authors conclude that the widespread acceptance of the original findings was premature, writing that “it is critical that health practitioners and scientists in other disciplines recognize the importance of replication of such findings before they can serve as valid indicators of disease risk” or otherwise change practice.

Dr. Caspi and other psychiatric researchers said it would be equally premature to abandon research into gene-environment interaction, when brain imaging and other kinds of evidence have linked the serotonin gene to stress sensitivity.

“This is an excellent review paper, no one is questioning that,” said Myrna Weissman, a professor of epidemiology and psychiatry at Columbia. “But it ignored extensive evidence from humans and animals linking excessive sensitivity to stress” to the serotonin gene.

Dr. Merikangas said she and her co-authors deliberately confined themselves to studies that could be directly compared to the original. “We were looking for replication,” she said.

Funds to Shut Nuclear Plants Fall Short, AP, June 17, 2009.

VERNON, Vt. (AP) -- The companies that own almost half the nation's nuclear reactors are not setting aside enough money to dismantle them, and many may sit idle for decades and pose safety and security risks as a result, an Associated Press investigation has found.

The shortfalls are caused not by fluctuating appetites for nuclear power but by the stock market and other investments, which have suffered huge losses over the past year and devastated the plants' savings, and by the soaring costs of decommissioning.

At 19 nuclear plants, owners have won approval to idle reactors for as long as 60 years, presumably enough time to allow investments to recover and eventually pay for dismantling the plants and removing radioactive material.

But mothballing nuclear reactors or shutting them down inadequately presents the most severe of risks. Radioactive waste could leak from abandoned plants into ground water or released into the air, and spent nuclear fuel rods could be stolen by terrorists.

During the past two years, estimates of dismantling costs have soared by more than $4.6 billion because rising energy and labor costs, while the investment funds that are supposed to pay for shutting plants down have lost $4.4 billion in the battered stock market.

The power companies have been hammered by the same declining market returns as colleges, companies and private investors. Industry critics say reactor owners weren't saving enough even before the financial collapse, and that federal regulators have not held the industry to a high enough standard.

Federal regulators are expected to release a report later this week that will describe shortfalls at 30 of the nation's 104 nuclear plants and ask operators for details about how they plan to resolve the problem.

The amount of money set aside for dismantling the plants has decreased at nearly four of every five reactors, according to an AP analysis of financial records provided every other year to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The government could force plant operators to set aside more money.

Plant owners say they have several ways to close the gap. In addition to idling the plants, the government can simply extend licenses to operate them. And investments could recover in the years to come. Industry officials say a 6 percent annual rate of return is a reasonable long-term goal.

Most nuclear plants will be operating for several more decades and will be able to recoup their fund losses, said Steve Kerekes, a spokesman for the Nuclear Energy Institute, a trade group.

Nuclear power critics say those plans are not enough.

''No one at the NRC wants to acknowledge what is absolutely obvious to us, that the funds are inadequate and that the industry has bare assets,'' said Arnold Gundersen, a retired nuclear engineer and decommissioning expert.

Those critics say the industry is making assumptions about their investments that do not account for another market collapse, political obstacles to getting the licenses renewed and unforeseen safety problems that could make nuclear power less palatable.

Last week, British officials reported on a 2007 leak in a cooling tank at the decommissioned Sizewell-A nuclear plant. If the leak had not been promptly discovered, officials said, nuclear fuel rods could have caught fire and sent airborne radioactive waste along the English coast, harming plant operators or the public.

The average cost of dismantling a nuclear reactor is now estimated now at $450 million. The average plant owner has about $300 million saved up for the job. Typically, the money is raised through a small surcharge on electric rates.

NRC records show utilities are trying to close the gaps:

--Owners at 19 plants have won approval to mothball reactors for as long as 60 years. A method called Safestor has been approved for reactors including the three Palo Verde units in the Arizona desert and the Three Mile Island 1 reactor near Harrisburg, Pa.

Under this method, radioactive fuel is removed from the reactor and the spent fuel storage pool and is stored in dry casks on plant property. Plant systems are drained of water, and the remaining radioactivity in the plant is left to decay until the facility is dismantled.

But some analysts worry the utility companies that own nuclear plants might not even exist in six decades.

"Our concern is that they'll just walk away from it," said Jim Riccio, a Greenpeace nuclear policy analyst. "It's like a sitting time bomb. The notion that you can just walk away from these sites and everything will be hunky-dory is just not true."

--The operators of 54 nuclear plants, or more than half in the U.S., have already received 20-year license extensions. Sixteen more are being reviewed, and the commission expects to receive 21 more applications in the next several years. To date, the NRC hasn't turned down any license extensions.

While companies ask for extensions for other reasons -- primarily to keep producing power and making money -- some companies have explicitly told shareholders they will use license extensions to meet their decommissioning obligations.

--Some plants are calculating growth projections for their investments with an annual return of 6 percent. While that is roughly what leading market indexes make over decades, the NRC found plant owners lost an average of 13 percent over the past two years.

In Texas, state rules govern utilities' investments, said Ashley Monts, a spokeswoman for Luminant Corp., which owns two nuclear plants near Glen Rose, Texas. Five years before a plant is set to close, she said, Luminant is required to have 60 percent of the cost available. Two and a half years out, the gap must be completely closed.

Luminant has about $385 million set aside to close its two plants in 2030 and 2033. Two years ago, that figure was $439 million. The cost of decommissioning the reactors is $824 million, almost $90 million than was estimated before.

--Plant operators appear to benefit from NRC rules that don't require them to set aside money to store old nuclear fuel, demolish buildings, or return the plant sites to pristine states. Although some states require a full site restoration, the federal government does not.

The Callaway Unit 1 reactor near Fulton, Mo., reported in March that meeting the NRC savings target for decommissioning would leave it far short of the real cost of cleaning up the site.

It began with a story similar to those told by other plants: The cost to meet the minimum federal requirement for decommissioning rose from $358 million to $406 million in two years. Its savings to pay for it dwindled from $268 million to $236 million.

But a detailed study of the cost of decommissioning Callaway showed something far worse: The federal savings target was about $288 million less than what it would actually cost for a full dismantling, cleanup and safe storage of spent nuclear waste.

The waste disposal problem has become especially acute since the federal government scrapped plans to store nuclear waste at a secure facility in Yucca Mountain, Nev. Instead, radioactive fuel rods are now stored in large concrete and steel canisters on plant grounds that are guarded around the clock and tested often for leaks.

The Vermont Yankee plant, in southeastern Vermont along the banks of the Connecticut River, was hailed as the future of power production for New England when it opened in 1972. Its license is set to expire in 2012, and its decommissioning fund has less than half the money expected to be needed.

As recently as December 2007, the fund held $416 million. Now it stands at about $384 million -- a rebound from where it stood a few months ago but not even close to the estimated $932 million it will eventually cost to dismantle the plant.

Entergy Corp. is seeking a 20-year license extension for Vermont Yankee, and is hoping to have enough money in the fund to decommission the plant in the 2030s. Jay Thayer, the plant's vice president for operations, said that if the decommissioning fund continues to perform poorly, the company may ask for permission to idle the plant for as long as 60 years under the Safestor program. That would put off the dismantling until 2092.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Vermont Yankee
Nuclear Energy Institute
Luminant Corp.

Court quashes murder conviction, BBC, 16 June 2009.

A man who has spent eight years in prison for murder has won an appeal against his conviction.

Ian Lawless, 47, was jailed for life in 2002 after confessing to the murder of retired sea captain Alf Wilkins on the Yarborough estate in Grimsby. Judges at the Court of Appeal ruled that his conviction was unsafe after hearing fresh medical evidence about his mental condition at the time. Mr Lawless said he felt "ecstatic" after he was released. He emerged to freedom at the Royal Courts of Justice, supported by members of his family and legal team. He said he also felt "strange" being out of prison after so long. Standing outside the court with his daughter Laura Jayne, he said: "I should never have been in there."

'Need for attention'

His solicitor, Mark Newby, said: "Ian is delighted to have his liberty today." Mr Newby said the case highlighted the dangers of vulnerable people being pushed through the court process "without putting the necessary safeguards in place".

Mr Lawless and another man were convicted of firebombing Mr Wilkins's flat after wrongly suspecting him of being a paedophile. The former tugboat skipper's body was found in the kitchen of his smoke-damaged flat with his 12-year-old black Alsatian dog Lucky lying nearby. Mr Lawless's case had been referred to the Court of Appeal for review by the Criminal Cases Review Commission, an independent body which investigates possible miscarriages of justice. The judges heard that at the time of his confession Mr Lawless had a "pathological need for attention".

Lord Justice Richards, sitting with Mrs Justice Gloster and Mrs Justice Dobbs, said the court was satisfied that if the jury had heard the new medical evidence at the trial "it might have affected their assessment of the reliability of the various confessions made by the appellant".

He added: "The verdict might have been different." Lord Richards said the judges had also borne in mind that the verdict was a majority of 10 to two and was returned after a "very long period of deliberation". The court heard Mr Lawless had made various "confessions" to third parties, including regulars in a pub and a taxi driver. He said he was the "lookout" in the attack, but he denied any involvement in police interviews and in court.

It has since emerged that he suffered from a personality disorder and that his need for attention was exacerbated when drinking.

Man's sleep-sex defence a waking nightmare for the woman he attacked, Kirk Makin, Wednesday June 17 2009.

Rape victim struggles with court's acquittal of man who suffers from 'sexsomnia'

After being jolted out of sleep by a stranger raping her after a party, it was almost inconceivable to a 34-year-old Toronto woman that anything could ever match the horror.

Until two years after the July 3, 2003, attack, that is, when the man accused of the crime, Jan Luedecke, breezed out of court after convincing a judge that he had been asleep at the time and the attack was the result of a condition known as sexsomnia.

"I was teetering and couldn't breathe," recalled the victim, speaking out for the first time about the internationally publicized case. "I went running to the back door of the courtroom. I think that I was going into shock. I came out the door and I dropped to my knees and said: 'They just let a rapist go' " The victim, known as L.O., said a solicitous court officer helped her up and told her: "Let's find your Crown attorney. This is not done yet. There is always legal recourse."

And there was. After a successful appeal by the Crown, Mr. Luedecke will appear before the Ontario Review Board by mid-July so that it can determine the most effective treatment for the 37-year-old landscaper.

L.O. - a vivacious, self-confident woman who works in the media - has attended every court date over the past six years. Thoughtful and self-analytical, she said she has grown impatient with the notion of victimhood, but privately worries about her devotion to the case. "Is it an obsession or a profession?" she said.

L.O. intends to attend the review board hearing, her presence serving as a reminder that Mr. Luedecke presents a threat to women every time he falls asleep. Having raised the issue of sexsomnia, she said, Mr. Luedecke has saddled himself forever with the diagnosis.

"I can't emphasize enough what a heavy burden the board has," she said. "This is someone who can't control his illness - by his own admission and by his doctor's admission."

The attack took place in a home in the Beaches area of Toronto after a large number of guests had left a summer croquet party. L.O. had dozed off on a sofa and awoke with Mr. Luedecke on top of her.

"Get away from me," she recalled yelling, as she pushed him off. "Who the hell are you?"

To her surprise, the assailant gave L.O. a strange look, and replied: "Jan."

L.O. ran out, then returned to retrieve her car keys from the coffee table. Near them, she saw her underwear: "Suddenly, it all registered. The word 'rape' hit my brain."

Mr. Luedecke's defence centred on a combination of stress, sleep deprivation, magic mushrooms and beer having triggered his sexsomnia. He declined to be interviewed for this article.

"When I was told that he'd come forth with this sleepwalking defence, my jaw hit the floor," L.O. recalled. "I couldn't even believe that it was a legal defence."

A defence sleep expert, Dr. Colin Shapiro, described sexsomnia as a sleep state precipitated by a combination of alcohol, genetics and sleep deprivation. The defence also adduced evidence that Mr. Luedecke had had sex with four previous girlfriends while asleep.

L.O. hit a low point after viewing a videotaped police statement in which Mr. Luedecke described commencing the assault by first kissing and fondling her. "It was like going backwards again," she said. "I may as well have been drugged. I was sleeping - how much more vulnerable can a person be?"

She was appalled when Mr. Luedecke apologized from the witness box. "I remember thinking: This is all about how it affected you and your life," she said. "That's not an apology. If you're going to apologize, make it to the person you are apologizing to."

On Nov. 30, 2005, Ontario Court Judge Russell Otter acquitted Mr. Luedecke on the basis that the attack had been involuntary.

"I remember the look on his face, like he had just been vindicated," L.O. said. "But you admitted it," she said. "Everybody in this building knows that you still did this."

L.O. praised the prosecutors in her case, Kim Motyl and Kim Crosbie, but said the system failed her. She worries that other sexual assault victims might see no point in reporting an attack to police.

The latter concern began to evaporate several weeks ago, when Ontario Court Judge Kathryn McKerlie struck a blow against the sexsomnia defence by criticizing Dr. Shapiro - who had testified for the defence at another sexsomnia trial - for venturing unwarranted opinions.

Still, the attack and Mr. Luedecke's acquittal were setbacks for L.O. She was apprehensive in party situations and ultra-cautious about her personal security. She got a dog and attended self-defence classes.

"I wanted to get home and inside before dark, because the night brought sleep and vulnerability," she said. "I would wake up for the longest time and look around the room. If there was a cup that seemed slightly moved, I would get up to check everything."

L.O. trolled the Internet, compulsively reading about her case. "Based on the blogs I read, there are people out there who think he should be acquitted," she said. "I've read comments that, 'Maybe she should learn not to get loaded and pass out.' Or, 'Maybe she was asking for it.' Somebody wrote that I was wearing a skirt. Well, was I supposed to be wearing jeans in 90-degree weather?"

Her preoccupation concerned her. "I look at everything that I've been through and I think: Where did the last six years just go? There is no closure yet. I'm still waiting for it. What does happen when it all comes to an end? What do I focus my life on now? Is there going to be another negative effect once it ends?"

Seeing Mr. Luedecke take responsibility for his actions and seek treatment would help considerably, she said. "If it were me, and I did something while I was in a state other than conscious awareness, I'd be mortified," she said.

"You don't want to make sure that you never do it again? You have to control the triggers, otherwise you are going to have another episode. But how do you monitor somebody every waking moment? How do you control his stress level, short of sedating him and putting him in a white padded room? It scares the life out of me that he will walk on the streets. He's a huge threat to society."

Appeals court hears arguments on sexsomnia case, CTV, Thursday February 07 2008.

The Ontario Court of Appeals is considering whether to classify a man a danger to society after he was acquitted of sex assault because of a sleep disorder.

Crown attorneys asked the court Thursday to consider imposing conditions on the man who suffers from sexsomnia -- a form of parasomnia, a sleeping disorder, which can prompt symptoms like sleep walking.

Prosecutor Kimberley Crosbie argued that classifying him as a danger and imposing conditions would help protect future victims.

Jan Luedecke, 33, was aquitted of sex assault in 2005, two years after attending a party and meeting a woman who later accused him of trying to rape her.

Both had been drinking and fell asleep on adjoining couches. The woman awoke to find Luedecke on top of her attempting to have sex. She pushed him off, and then called police.

Luedecke says he fell asleep and only woke up when he was thrown to the floor.

The accused told the court he only suspected he had sex when he went to the bathroom and discovered he was wearing a condom.

During the original trial, Dr. Colin Shapiro explained that Luedecke had experienced sexsomnia during the incident.

Luedecke's sexsomnia was brought on by alcohol, genetics, and sleep deprivation, Shapiro said.

The court was also told that Luedecke previously had sex while asleep with four girlfriends. He has since cut down on his drinking, and is taking medication to prevent a repeat of the incident.

"The finding at trial, which is not challenged on appeal, was that it wasn't volitional," Frank Addario, Luedecke's defence lawyer, told reporters at Thursday's appeal. "It wasn't a deliberate choice that he made, that it was something that was done while he was unconscious."

His lawyers told the Court of Appeals Thursday there was no need to impose sanctions on their client.

Dr. Jeffrey Lipsitz with the Toronto sleep disorder centre told CTV Toronto that sexsomnia should be taken as seriously as any other sleep disorder.

"Frankly if this unfortunate news story was about someone getting up and eating during sleep we wouldn't be on the news talking about it," he said. "It's the fact that it relates to sex and another party who was unwillingly involved that really makes it worrisome."

Nonetheless, a counsellor with the Toronto Rape Crisis Centre said she worries some men could pretend to have sexsomnia as a defense for forcing themselves on women.

"My only fear is that you're going to have men around who are going to do the same thing and say, 'Oh, I was sleep walking,'" said Chris Leonard.

If the court rules in favour of Luedecke, it would set a precedent for allowing the condition to be used as a defence in cases of sexual violence.

Luedecke's case isn't the first time someone has been acquitted of a crime because the court accepted they were sleeping.

In 1999, George Campbell beat an attempted murder charge after slitting his girlfriend's throat, who said his behaviour was completely out of character.

However, if the Court of Appeals declares sexsomniac as a mental illness, Ontario will be the first province in the country to do so.

Only three per cent of people suffer from sleep disorders. Only a fraction of that number would be prone to sexsomniac.

Zimbabwe girls trade sex for food, Mike Thomson, Friday 12 June 2009.

Growing numbers of children in Zimbabwe are turning to prostitution to survive, the charity Save the Children says.

The aid agency says increasing poverty is leading girls as young as 12 to sell their bodies for as little as a packet of biscuits.

It also claims that the coming football World Cup in neighbouring South Africa could soon make things worse.

Unemployment in Zimbabwe is thought to top 90% and many cannot afford to pay for food, medical care or school fees.

The deputy head teacher of a large school with 1,500 pupils east of Victoria Falls told the BBC that hundreds of her female students are now selling their bodies for whatever they can get.

"It could be books, it could be biscuits, chips, some even just to be given a hug."

Throughout my conversation with the deputy head, two small teenage girls in threadbare school uniforms sat watching from a brick wall by the playground. Both are orphans.

The older one, who is 14, said she knows many girls here who have become prostitutes.

"I don't want to do that but life is so difficult, so very difficult. Both my parents are dead and I rarely see my two sisters. Recently I stood by the river and I thought about throwing myself in but I didn't. I don't know why."

There is also evidence that many girls are being targeted by child traffickers, Save the Children's country director Rachel Pounds says.

They are thought to have plans to send young Zimbabwean girls to South Africa to work as prostitutes during next year's football World Cup finals.

Woman accused of hiding dead babies lived in shelter, Anna Mehler Paperny, Tuesday June 16 2009.

Police trying to trace all residences of Jennifer Sinn

A woman accused of keeping the decomposing remains of her infant children into a storage box was living in a shelter for abused women and children when she was arrested.

The Clarke Road shelter that 32-year-old Jennifer Sinn listed as her address in London, Ont., is part of Women's Community House, Canada's largest high-security emergency shelter for abuse victims.

Women's Community House executive director Kate Wigger couldn't say when Ms. Sinn moved there, or confirm that she was a resident of the shelter, which serves women seeking haven from numerous forms of violence, but predominantly partner abuse.

The discovery last Saturday of a box containing the bodies of three babies shocked the residential southwest London community, which as late as Thursday was crawling with police cruisers as officers spent the night combing through house where the box was found for further evidence.

An autopsy on the remains began on Thursday at Toronto's forensic pathology unit. The bodies are so severely decomposed that Ontario's deputy coroner Bonita Porter said it's uncertain what information investigators will be able to glean from them. It could be weeks the forensic tests yield results.

In the meantime, London police are working with the Peel police and Ontario Provincial Police are trying to trace Ms. Sinn through the places in Ontario they think she called home.

They know that at one point she lived in Brampton, where, according to a 1996 Toronto Star article, Peel police helped a 19-year-old Jennifer Sinn give birth to her second child in her father Erwin's house.

Police said they'll have an update on the investigation on Monday.

Ms. Sinn faces three counts each of concealing the body of a child and offering an indignity to a dead body. She appeared briefly in court on Tuesday and has been remanded to custody until her next hearing on June 19. Police aren't seeking a psychological assessment.

Police allege that the 32-year-old concealed the remains of the babies in 2001, 2002 and 2006 in the London house where she lived until very recently.

Next-door neighbour Anne Alleston said Ms. Sinn lived for several months in the rented duplex with the man who found the remains on Saturday, along with three children – two boys and a girl. Ms. Alleston said she moved out with an 18-month-old girl in May.

Simon Fraser University criminologist Robert Gordon said there is precedent for cases like this, often in instances of post-partum depression. But serial charges like this, apparently over the course of several years, are extremely rare, and suggest the actions of someone without access to support services.

“Mothers are not always solely experiencing psychiatric conditions post-partum, and sometimes they will dispose of their infants because of a variety of social pressures, poverty ... sheer despair.”

Gender gap in birth weight shrinking, study finds, Globe, Wednesday June 17 2009.

Trend observed in Canada a world first

Something odd has been happening to the weights of baby boys born in Canada compared to the weights of baby girls.

Male babies on average have always been modestly larger than girls, but over the past two decades, the difference in size between the sexes has been diminishing. The shrinkage in this unusual gender gap hasn't been huge, with the relative difference declining by about half of one per cent, but it has been large enough for researchers to detect it.

The finding – described by the scientists who discovered it as the first time the trend has been observed anywhere in the world – is the result of a study that compared the weights at birth of almost all of the approximately five million baby boys and girls born in Canada from 1981 to 2003.

The researchers, from the University of Montreal, McGill University and the Public Health Agency of Canada, cannot explain the trend, although they suspect chemical pollutants that interfere with hormones may affect males during fetal development more severely than girls.

There are no other plausible factors “that we can think of, but we have no direct evidence that any environmental chemicals are the cause,” said Michael Kramer, a professor at the department of pediatrics at McGill and one of the researchers.

The finding will appear in next month's issue of the journal Epidemiology, and is part of a growing body of scientific literature suggesting that when it comes to pollutants, males may be the weaker sex, being at more risk from chemical contaminants than females.

“This is just one more indication [that] something is going on in our fetuses that is not good,” observed Frederick vom Saal, a biologist at the University of Missouri and a leading U.S. researcher on chemicals that interfere with normal hormone function.

He said the idea that pollutants in the environment might be behind the trend “is very plausible” because genetic factors that might cause the gap in girl and boy weights to change wouldn't arise that quickly.

Dr. Kramer and his colleagues made one other finding that many women who've had babies recently may suspect already. Children at birth over the past couple of decades have been getting ever larger. Boys in 1981 clocked in at an average of 3.391 kilograms and by 2003 tipped the scales at 3.507 kg. Over the same period, baby girls went from 3.248 kg to 3.375 kg, weighing nearly as much on average in 2003 as the boys did back in 1981.

The figures were for full-term births, and consequently excluded the extremely tiny babies that modern medicine is able to rescue through the use of incubators.

A number of factors explain the trend to plumper babies, according to Dr. Kramer. Among them are that women are getting heavier. They're gaining more weight while pregnant, but also contributing has been a reduction in smoking during pregnancy and an older average age among women giving birth. Such birth-size- inhibiting factors as teen pregnancies are also much less common than they used to be.

But the fact that girls have been gaining in weight relative to boys is harder to explain.

One reason that scientists suspect pollutants is that some chemicals block the action of testosterone, the key male hormone. Testosterone is an anabolic steroid that helps fetuses put on weight in the same way that some athletes use knock-offs of it as growth-promoting compounds to put on more muscle mass.

Among the most widely used chemicals that undermine testosterone production are the plasticizers known as phthalates. One possible explanation for the weight finding is that fetuses may be getting less of the crucial male hormone as a result of their mothers' exposure to the chemicals.

Another reason scientists are looking at hormone disruption is that there is a rare genetic disorder highlighting the importance of these biological compounds in determining birth weight.

A small number of children are born with the characteristic manly pair of XY chromosomes, but who have a genetic mutation that makes them insensitive to male hormones. These children develop anatomically with the external genitalia and other features characteristic of females, although genetically they are male and have testes hidden away in their abdomens.

Babies with this condition have similar weights to girls, suggesting that whatever is causing the gap between males and females to shrink is likely linked to problems with getting enough male hormones.

Dr. vom Saal said the Canadian finding suggests metabolic abnormalities are occurring during fetal development. He said this could predispose babies to conditions such as obesity later in life.

However, Dr. Kramer discounted these worries, and said the change in weight difference “is far too small to be of clinical or public health importance.”

400 Children Taken From Polygamist Sect, CBS/AP, April 7 2008.

SAN ANGELO, Texas - More than 400 children, mostly girls in pioneer dresses, were swept into state custody from a polygamist sect in what authorities described Monday as the largest child-welfare operation in Texas history.

The dayslong raid on the sprawling compound built by now-jailed polygamist leader Warren Jeffs was sparked by a 16-year-old girl's call to authorities that she was being abused and that girls as young as 14 and 15 were being forced into marriages with much older men.

Dressed in home-sewn, ankle-length dresses with their hair pinned up in braids, some 133 women left the Yearning for Zion Ranch of their own volition along with the children.

State troopers were holding an unknown number of men in the compound until investigators finished executing a house-to-house search of the 1,700-acre property, which includes a medical facility, numerous large housing units and an 80-foot white limestone temple that rises discordantly out of the brown scrub.

"In my opinion, this is the largest endeavor we've ever been involved in in the state of Texas," said Children's Protective Services spokesman Marleigh Meisner, who said she was also involved in the 1993 siege of the Branch Davidian compound in Waco.

The members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints spent their days raising numerous children, tilling small gardens and doing chores. But at least one former resident says life was not some idyllic replica of 19th-century life.

"Once you go into the compound, you don't ever leave it," said Carolyn Jessop, one of the wives of the alleged leader of the Eldorado complex. Jessop left with her eight children before the sect moved to Texas.

Jessop said the community emphasized self-sufficiency because they believed the apocalypse was near.

The women were not allowed to wear red - the color Jeffs said belonged to Jesus - and were not allowed to cut their hair. They were also kept isolated from the outside world.

They "were born into this," said Jessop, 40. "They have no concept of mainstream society, and their mothers were born into and have no concept of mainstream culture. Their grandmothers were born into it."

Meisner said each child will get an advocate and an attorney but predicted that if they end up permanently separated from their families, the sheltered children would have a tough acclimation to modern life.

Tela Mange, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Public Safety, said the criminal investigation was still under way, and that charges would be filed if investigators determined children were abused.

Still uncertain is the location of the girl whose call initiated the raid. She allegedly had a child at 15, and authorities were looking for documents, family photos or even a family Bible with lists of marriages and children to demonstrate the girl was married to Dale Barlow, 50.

Efforts to locate the girl are hampered because the women and children in custody are related to one another, share similar names or were given different names at different times, reports CBS News correspondent Hari Sreenivasan.

Under Texas law, girls younger than 16 cannot marry, even with parental approval.

The church members were being held at Fort Concho, a 150-year-old fort built to protect frontier settlements, to be interviewed about the 16-year-old girl and whether, in fact, the teenager was among them.

DPS troopers arrested one man on a charge of interfering with the duties of a public servant during the search warrant, but it was not Barlow, Mange said.

"For the most part, residents at the ranch have been cooperative. However, because of some of the diplomatic efforts in regards to the residents, the process of serving the search warrants is taking longer than usual," said DPS spokesman Tom Vinger, who declined to elaborate. "The annex is extremely large and the temple is massive."

Barlow's probation officer, Bill Loader, told The Salt Lake Tribune that he was in Arizona. Phone messages seeking comment from Loader and Barlow were not immediately returned Monday.

Barlow was sentenced to jail last year after pleading no contest to conspiracy to commit sexual conduct with a minor. He was ordered to register as a sex offender for three years while he is on probation.

The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, headed by Jeffs after his father's death in 2002, broke away from the Mormon church after the latter disavowed polygamy more than a century ago.

The group is concentrated along the Arizona-Utah line but several enclaves have been built elsewhere, including in Texas. Several years ago it paid $700,000 for the Eldorado property, a former exotic animal ranch, and began building the compound as authorities in Arizona and Utah began increasingly scrutinizing the group.

On Monday, a woman who had once been in a similar sect told The Early Show that women are treated like "breeding machines" in the sects.

"(Polygamy is) a life where, as a female, you really don't think for yourself, you're basically told what to do. You really are just a breeding machine to further the agenda of the male patriarchy," said Laurie Allen to anchor Julie Chen. "This is what I experienced."

The compound sits down a narrow paved road and behind a hill that shields it almost entirely from view in Eldorado, a town of fewer than 2,000 surrounded by sheep ranches nearly 200 miles northwest of San Antonio. Only the 80-foot-high white temple can be seen on the horizon.

Jeffs is jailed in Kingman, Ariz., where he awaits trial for four counts each of incest and sexual conduct with a minor stemming from two arranged marriages between teenage girls and their older male relatives.

In November, he was sentenced to two consecutive sentences of five years to life in prison in Utah for being an accomplice to the rape of a 14-year-old girl who wed her cousin in an arranged marriage in 2001.

The investigation prompted by the girl's call last week was the first in Texas involving the sect.


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