Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for August 2nd, 2018

Sharp answer on “Anonymous” on Quora.

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Just read it. Fascinating. It’s always the human element that’s the weakest link, innit?

Written by Leisureguy

2 August 2018 at 5:33 pm

Worker Charged With Sexually Molesting Eight Children at Immigrant Shelter

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Trump’s idea to split up families seeking asylum and sending their children away is the direct cause of this. Topher Sanders and Michael Grabell report in ProPublica:

A youth care worker for Southwest Key has been charged with 11 sex offenses after authorities accused him of molesting at least eight unaccompanied immigrant boys over nearly a year at one of the company’s shelters in Mesa, Arizona, federal court records show.

The allegations against Levian D. Pacheco, who is HIV-positive, include that he performed oral sex on two of the teenagers and tried to force one of them to penetrate him anally. The other six teens — all between 15 and 17 — said Pacheco had groped them through their clothing. All of the incidents are alleged to have taken place between August 2016 and July 2017, according to a court filing last week that laid out the government’s case.

The case, initially investigated by local police, is now proceeding through U.S. District Court in Phoenix. Pacheco had worked at Southwest Key’s Casa Kokopelli shelter, one of eight the company runs in Arizona, since May 2016.

Casa Kokopelli was cited by the Arizona Department of Health Services in 2017 for failing to complete background checks, including fingerprinting, to ensure that employees hadn’t previously committed sex offenses and other crimes, records show. Pacheco worked for nearly four months without a complete background check, according to documents and an agency official. Those records did not show any previous arrests or convictions for sex offenses, they said.

Pacheco, 25, was indicted in August 2017 after an investigation by local law enforcement and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services inspector general’s office. The current charges include eight counts of abusive sexual contact with a ward and three counts of sexual acts with a ward. Pacheco, who is in U.S. Marshals’ custody, could not be reached for comment, but he denied the charges in court documents. His federal public defender, Benjamin Good, said, “We are looking forward to defending Mr. Pacheco in court.”

Trump administration officials have repeatedly asserted that the shelters are safe, even fun, places for kids. But there has been increasingly intense scrutiny of the federally funded, privately run shelters after the administration separated some 3,000 children from their parents at the border and sent them to shelters and foster homes across the country. Last week, ProPublica reported that police nationwide have responded to hundreds of calls reporting possible sex crimes at shelters that serve immigrant children. One of those calls resulted in the conviction of a Tucson shelter worker for molestation.

Now further documents have emerged describing alleged incidents in Arizona involving Southwest Key, the largest operator of immigrant youth shelters nationwide.

ProPublica only discovered Pacheco’s case while trying to find additional information about a vague reference to a molestation case in Arizona inspection records. Federal officials had known about the case when answering questions from ProPublica last week and when describing the conditions of the shelters before Congress, but did not mention it.

In addition to Pacheco, two other cases involving abuse at other Southwest Key shelters have recently surfaced.

On Tuesday, an employee at a Southwest Key facility in Phoenix, Fernando Magaz Negrete, was arrested on allegations that he sexually abused a 14-year-old girl by kissing her and rubbing her breast and crotch, according to Phoenix news outlets. And The Nation reported Friday that a 6-year-old girl who had been separated from her mother was allegedly fondled by a boy at another Southwest Key facility in Glendale, Arizona in June.

At other Southwest Key facilities, police reports and call logs from the last five years detail inappropriate relationships with staff, dozens of runaways, sexual contact among kids at the shelters and other allegations of molestation by employees. In one case, ProPublica found, a 46-year-old youth care worker in Tucson was convicted of groping a 15-year-old boy who had just arrived in the United States five days earlier.

In an email, HHS spokesman Kenneth Wolfe said the agency has issued a stop placement order and removed all unaccompanied minors from the Casa Kokopelli shelter. He declined to say when the stop placement order was issued.

“These are vulnerable children in difficult circumstances, and the Office of Refugee Resettlement at HHS’ Administration for Children and Families treats our responsibility for each child with the utmost care,” he said. “Any allegation of abuse or neglect is taken seriously.”

In response to questions from ProPublica, Jeff Eller, a spokesman for Southwest Key, wrote in an email that he was unable to comment on specific cases. When asked how Pacheco’s alleged actions could have escaped detection for 11 months, Eller didn’t answer the question, but said: “Any employee accused of abuse is immediately suspended and law enforcement called. This is what we did in this case.” Eller said the allegations were also reported to the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement, which oversees the shelter system, and the appropriate state agency.

In response to a question about how the company could assure the public that children are safe in its facilities, Eller wrote: “We find the premise of your question dishonorable.” . . .

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Written by Leisureguy

2 August 2018 at 4:33 pm

What did Max Weber mean by the ‘spirit’ of capitalism?

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Peter Ghosh, an associate professor of history and Jean Duffield fellow in modern history at St Anne’s College, University of Oxford, writes in Aeon:

ax Weber’s famous text The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism(1905) is surely one of the most misunderstood of all the canonical works regularly taught, mangled and revered in universities across the globe. This is not to say that teachers and students are stupid, but that this is an exceptionally compact text that ranges across a very broad subject area, written by an out-and-out intellectual at the top of his game. He would have been dumb­founded to find that it was being used as an elementary introduction to sociology for undergraduate students, or even schoolchildren.

We use the word ‘capitalism’ today as if its meaning were self-evident, or else as if it came from Marx, but this casualness must be set aside. ‘Capitalism’ was Weber’s own word and he defined it as he saw fit. Its most general meaning was quite simply modernity itself: capitalism was ‘the most fateful power in our modern life’. More specifically, it controlled and generated ‘modern Kultur’, the code of values by which people lived in the 20th-century West, and now live, we may add, in much of the 21st-century globe. So the ‘spirit’ of capitalism is also an ‘ethic’, though no doubt the title would have sounded a bit flat if it had been called The Protestant Ethic and the Ethic of Capitalism.

This modern ‘ethic’ or code of values was unlike any other that had gone before. Weber supposed that all previous ethics – that is, socially accepted codes of behaviour rather than the more abstract propositions made by theologians and philosophers – were religious. Religions supplied clear messages about how to behave in society in straightforward human terms, messages that were taken to be moral absolutes binding on all people. In the West this meant Christianity, and its most important social and ethical prescription came out of the Bible: ‘Love thy neighbour.’ Weber was not against love, but his idea of love was a private one – a realm of intimacy and sexuality. As a guide to social behaviour in public places ‘love thy neighbour’ was obviously nonsense, and this was a principal reason why the claims of churches to speak to modern society in authentically religious terms were marginal. He would not have been surprised at the long innings enjoyed by the slogan ‘God is love’ in the 20th-century West – its career was already launched in his own day – nor that its social consequences should have been so limited.

The ethic or code that dominated public life in the modern world was very different. Above all it was impersonal rather than personal: by Weber’s day, agreement on what was right and wrong for the individual was breaking down. The truths of religion – the basis of ethics – were now contested, and other time-honoured norms – such as those pertaining to sexuality, marriage and beauty – were also breaking down. (Here is a blast from the past: who today would think to uphold a binding idea of beauty?) Values were increasingly the property of the individual, not society. So instead of humanly warm contact, based on a shared, intuitively obvious understanding of right and wrong, public behaviour was cool, reserved, hard and sober, governed by strict personal self-control. Correct behaviour lay in the observance of correct procedures. Most obviously, it obeyed the letter of the law (for who could say what its spirit was?) and it was rational. It was logical, consistent, and coherent; or else it obeyed unquestioned modern realities such as the power of numbers, market forces and technology.

There was another kind of disintegration besides that of traditional ethics. The proliferation of knowledge and reflection on knowledge had made it impossible for any one person to know and survey it all. In a world which could not be grasped as a whole, and where there were no universally shared values, most people clung to the particular niche to which they were most committed: their job or profession. They treated their work as a post-religious calling, ‘an absolute end in itself’, and if the modern ‘ethic’ or ‘spirit’ had an ultimate found­ation, this was it. One of the most widespread clichés about Weber’s thought is to say that he preached a work ethic. This is a mistake. He personally saw no particular virtue in sweat – he thought his best ideas came to him when relaxing on a sofa with a cigar – and had he known he would be misunder­stood in this way, he would have pointed out that a capacity for hard work was something that did not dist­inguish the modern West from previous soc­ieties and their value systems. However, the idea that people were being ever more defined by the blinkered focus of their employment was one he regarded as profoundly modern and characteristic.

The blinkered pro­fessional ethic was common to entrepreneurs and an increasingly high-wage, skilled labour force, and it was this combination that produced a situation where the ‘highest good’ was the making of money and ever more money, without any limit. This is what is most readily recognisable as the ‘spirit’ of capitalism, but it should be stressed that it was not a simple ethic of greed which, as Weber recognised, was age-old and eternal. In fact there are two sets of ideas here, though they overlap. There is one about potentially universal rational pro­cedures – specialisation, logic, and formally consistent behaviour – and another that is closer to the modern economy, of which the central part is the professional ethic. The modern situation was the product of narrow-minded adhesion to one’s particular function under a set of conditions where the attempt to understand modernity as a whole had been abandoned by most people. As a result they were not in control of their own destiny, but were governed by the set of rational and impersonal pro­cedures which he likened to an iron cage, or ‘steel housing’. Given its rational and impersonal foundations, the housing fell far short of any human ideal of warmth, spontaneity or breadth of outlook; yet rationality, technology and legality also produced material goods for mass consumption in unprecedented amounts. For this reason, though they could always do so if they chose to, people were unlikely to leave the housing ‘until the last hundredweight of fossil fuel is burned up’.

It is an extremely powerful analysis, which tells us . . .

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Written by Leisureguy

2 August 2018 at 3:36 pm

Posted in Books, Business, Daily life

The only person responsible for Al Franken’s downfall is Al Franken himself

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A useful reminder from (the other) Michael Cohen in the Boston Globe:

IT’S BEEN NEARLY EIGHT MONTHS since Al Franken resigned from the US Senate amid credible allegations of sexual impropriety. While most Americans have largely moved on, some Democrats don’t want to let it go.

And they have a scapegoat for Franken’s demise: Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York.

Last month, it was reported that George Soros, the Democratic mega-donor, is still bitter over Franken’s departure from Capitol Hill. Like many Democrats, he blames Gillibrand, who was one of the first Democratic senators to call on Franken to step down.

It was, said Soros, all about furthering her ambitions to be the Democratic presidential nominee in 2020.

This line of argument has become routine from rank-and-file Democrats: At a time when Republicans have done nothing about a president credibly accused of sexually assaulting more than a dozen women, they regularly blast fellow Democrats — and Gillibrand, in particular — for turning on one of their best and brightest.

Raise Franken or Gillibrand’s names on social media, and you’ll surely be inundated by claims that Franken was the victim of a hit job, pushed out for behavior that hardly rose to the level of other prominent men accused of sexual impropriety. He should have received due process and an investigation before being unceremoniously dumped.

Gillibrand, it should be noted, has spent much of her Senate career battling sexual assault in the military. But she is still portrayed as an opportunist who allegedly used her call for Franken to step down as a springboard to national prominence.

Let’s be clear: there is one person responsible for what happened to Al Franken . . . and his name is Al Franken.

Indeed, there seems to be some sort of collective amnesia on the left over the accusations made against him.

His defenders only seem to remember that infamous picture of him pretending to grab the breasts of fellow entertainer Leeann Tweeden during a USO tour.

But Tweeden just opened the floodgates. Eight women, four of them on the record, made allegations against Franken.

Lindsay Menz alleged that Franken “put his hand full-fledged on my rear” and “wrapped (it) tightly around my butt cheek.”

Stephanie Kemplin said he “put his arm around me” and “groped my right breast.”

Tina Dupuy recounted Franken putting his hand on her waist and “grabbing a handful of flesh” and squeezing “at least twice.”

Another woman who refused to give her name said that in 2006, Franken tried to give her a “wet, open-mouthed kiss.” She reported feeling “stunned and incredulous. I felt demeaned. I felt put in my place.”

A former Democratic congressional aide told Politico “Franken tried to forcibly kiss her” and when she tried to flee the room allegedly said, “It’s my right as an entertainer.”

Tweeden reported something similar: that in rehearsing a skit in which Franken was supposed to kiss her, he “put his hand on the back of my head, mashed his lips against mine and aggressively stuck his tongue in my mouth.”

If there was one single accusation against Franken, then his defenders might have a point, particularly if he denied doing anything wrong. But Franken said he couldn’t remember many of the incidents. However, if something bad did happen, he said he was “tremendously sorry.”

That those on the political left, who regularly and rightly criticize the sexual impropriety of Republican lawmakers, play these accusations down or brush them aside because they like Franken’s politics is hypocrisy in its highest form.

Democrats who defend Franken are sending a troubling message to women. “Yes, come forward, tell us your stories of sexual harassment and abuse. You are brave and heroic. We will believe you . . . but just so long as you don’t accuse a prominent liberal of bad behavior.”

It is Gillibrand who got it right last year when she said that talking about“the differences between sexual assault and sexual harassment” is “the wrong conversation” and what is needed is to “draw a line in the sand and say . . . none of it is acceptable.” . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

2 August 2018 at 12:43 pm

Maggard 22mm synthetic, Meißner Tremonia Himalayan Heights, Dorco PL602, and Booster June Clover

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The Maggard 22mm synthetic could easily be a “brush for life” despite its modest price. Well made, comfortable handle, feels good on face, and efficient: what more does one need? It made a very nice lather from Meißner Tremonia’s Himalayan Heights shaving soap, and the Dorco PL602, a first-rate razor in comfort and efficiency, easily and comfortably produced a smooth face, to which I applied a good splash of Booster June Clover, a favorite that had gotten pushed to the back of the shelf.

Written by Leisureguy

2 August 2018 at 8:44 am

Posted in Shaving

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