Later On

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

Archive for the ‘Mental Health’ Category

How Thatcher’s Government Covered Up a VIP Pedophile Ring

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Given the profound psychological harm pedophiles wreak on children, there really should be some serious punishment handed out. Nico Hines reports at The Daily Beast:

A newspaper editor was handed startling evidence that Britain’s top law enforcement official knew there was a VIP pedophile network in Westminster, at the heart of the British government. What happened next in the summer of 1984 helps to explain how shocking allegations of rape and murder against some of the country’s most powerful men went unchecked for decades.

Less than 24 hours after starting to inquire about the dossier presented to him by a senior Labour Party politician, the editor was confronted in his office by a furious member of parliament who threatened him and demanded the documents. “He was frothing at the mouth and really shouting and spitting in my face,” Don Hale told The Daily Beast. “He was straight at me like a raging lion; he was ready to knock me through the wall.”

Despite the MP’s explosive intervention, Hale refused to hand over the papers which appeared to show that Leon Brittan, Margaret Thatcher’s Home Secretary, was fully aware of a pedophile network that included top politicians.

The editor’s resistance was futile; the following morning, police officers from the counter-terror and intelligence unit known as Special Branch burst into the newspaper office, seized the material and threatened to have Hale arrested if he ever reported what had been found.

More than 30 years later, an inquiry into allegations of child sex abuse rings, murder, and cover-ups has been launched by the British government after Scotland Yard detectives said they believed statements by victims who claimed they were systematically abused as young boys at sex abuse parties attended by judges, politicians, intelligence officers, and staff at the royal palaces.

In 1983, a controversial MP, Geoffrey Dickens, had made a series of incendiary claims about active pedophiles in the corridors of power. He handed a file containing the names of alleged perpetrators to Leon Brittan; publicly the authorities shrugged off the claims and no trial or prosecution would follow. The dossier mysteriously disappeared.

Decades later, Brittan claimed he had simply handed the papers to his subordinates to investigate and heard no more about it. Last year, he was forced to clarify his statement when it emerged that he had later written to Dickens to say the initial investigation had been deemed “worth pursuing” by investigators.

It is now claimed that confidential Home Office papers collated by Baroness Castle of Blackburn and passed to Don Hale, editor of her local newspaper, the Bury Messenger, claimed that Brittan had played an active role in overseeing the investigation into the pedophile network. “Leon Brittan was mentioned in everything you picked up, his fingerprints were over everything, he was the instigator,” Hale said. “He really had his finger on the pulse, he wanted to know everything about it; all the documents were cc’d back to Leon Brittan or it was an instruction directly from Leon Brittan.”

Brittan, a protégé of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, had been promoted to Home Secretary at the age of 43, making him the youngest person to preside over Britain’s domestic law enforcement and national security apparatus since Winston Churchill before the First World War.

Brittan, who died in January, has been accused of raping a woman and sexually abusing boys. He denied the allegations and was never charged, although police investigations have continued after his death. . .

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Written by LeisureGuy

6 March 2015 at 3:06 pm

Red Barns and White Barns: Why Rural Crime Skyrocketed in the Late 1800s

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Fascinating post by Kevin Drum at Mother Jones.

Here’s a fascinating little anecdote about lead and crime from a recent paper by Rick Nevin. It shouldn’t be taken as proof of anything, but it’s certainly an intriguing little historical tidbit about the association between lead exposure and increases in crime rates.

Here’s the background. Homicides increased dramatically between 1900-11, but most of that appears to be the result of increased rural homicides, not urban homicides. If lead exposure is part of the reason, it would mean that rural areas were exposed to increasing levels of lead about 20 years earlier, around 1880 or so. But why? Nevin suggests that the answer to this question starts with another question: Why are barns red? . . .

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Written by LeisureGuy

24 February 2015 at 2:35 pm

Giulani loves America, but not the Bill of Rights

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Contrary to the headline of this article, by Pam Martens in Wall Street on Parade, I do not believe Giulani is a hypocrite. I think he is simply stupid. The article begins:

Let’s hope this latest rant by former New York City Mayor, Rudy Giuliani, ends once and for all that preposterous moniker of “America’s Mayor” that he claimed solely because of 9/11.

While Mayor, Giuliani was sued 30 times by the New York Civil Liberties Union. It won 27 of the lawsuits. Many of the cases involved Giuliani’s assault on free speech and other First Amendment abuses under what truly makes America unique: its Bill of Rights.

In case there is still someone on the planet who hasn’t yet heard the rant, on Wednesday night Giuliani told about 60 guests at a right-wing dinner at Manhattan’s 21 Club that: “I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the President loves America. He doesn’t love you. And he doesn’t love me. He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of this country.”

The rant was reported Wednesday night by Politico’s Darren Samuelsohn. According toPolitico’s Dylan Byers, the dinner guests included Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker; John Stossel and Maria Bartiromo of Fox Business Network; CNBC’s Larry Kudlow; James Freeman of the Wall Street Journal’s editorial page; and Stephen Moore, a former member of the Journal’s editorial board who is now Chief Economist at the conservative Heritage Foundation.

Wall Street On Parade has previously raised questions about Stossel, Kudlow and Moore’s ties to right-wing front groups and Maria Bartiromo’s involvement with Citigroup while she was at CNBC.

This is what the New York Civil Liberties Union had to say about the Giuliani era in its 60th Anniversary Annual Report: . . .

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Giulani may be more than stupid. There seems to be some active mental imbalance at work. Narcissistic Personality Disorder, for example.

Written by LeisureGuy

22 February 2015 at 4:47 pm

Posted in GOP, Mental Health

Crime and environmental lead

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Kevin Drum points out a report that includes a section linking crime to environmental lead:

The Brennan Center has released a lengthy report examining the reasons for the big crime decline of the 90s and aughts, and one section highlights the work of Jessica Reyes and others linking crime levels to gasoline lead emissions:blog_lead_crime_chart

Reyes, and other researchers, have found that lead is connected to aggressive behavior and behavioral problems because it affects brain development of children….Reyes found that the decrease in lead caused a remarkable 56 percent of the decrease in violent crime in the 1990s….This theory had been previously suggested by another economist, Rick Nevin, in 1999. He illustrated a similarity in the trends between violent crime and gasoline lead 23 years prior.

….In December 2013, an NAS roundtable discussed the lead theory. There was an extended discussion in which most participants seemed to concur that the 56 percent drop in crime attributed to lead by Reyes was likely too large.Most experts seem to believe that lead played some role, but maybe not as high as the finding presented by Reyes. More research is needed to establish lead’s precise role in the crime decline.

….The authors do not draw a conclusion on this theory because they could not secure complete state-by-state data on this variable level for 1980 to 2013, as needed for the regression….Based on current research and expert reactions, it is possible that lead played some role in the 1990s drop in violent crime but perhaps not as large as that found by Reyes. Further, lead’s effect on the crime drop likely waned in the 2000s.

Now, you might think I’d be annoyed that lead was the 13th out of 13 theories they looked at, and that they downplayed the likelihood of a significant role for lead. In fact, I’m thrilled. This is one of the first reports I’ve seen that gives lead a substantial section of its own, and the authors clearly take the idea seriously. The fact that they want more research before committing themselves further is perfectly reasonable. It’s a new theory that needs more research from people not already committed to it one way or the other.

A couple of notes, though. . .

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Written by LeisureGuy

12 February 2015 at 12:14 pm

Best healthcare in the world except it refuses to pay for treatment

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Darcy Lockman writes in the NY Times:

The phone call came two billing cycles after Ben and I had increased his session frequency to twice a week. A woman identifying herself as “an independently licensed care advocate” with a large insurance company left a message asking me to call back. My neck tightened. No psychologist wants to hear from an insurer. Like some ne’er-do-well relative, insurers call only when they want money — or rather, when they want to keep money they’d once promised to disburse.

With Ben’s approval, I called back. The problem turned out to be the addition of the second session. I explained that Ben had become suicidal in the aftermath of his father’s death. He had recently purchased bullets, though so far he owned no gun.

“Well, how much longer will you need to see him twice a week?” the woman asked.

Ben had a long history of abuse at his father’s hands. Though his father’s death had brought on this bout of suicidal ideation — the first he’d had in the year we’d been working together — Ben had been considering killing himself off and on since getting sober 10 years back. He needed extra support now, certainly, but realistically I didn’t see this changing for some time.

My response was measured: “He has a history of trauma and addiction. It’s hard to say how long.”

“We don’t really pay for that,” the woman said. “Twice a week is only for a crisis.”

I told her that her statement was in violation of the mental health parity laws, which prohibit outright session limitations, and she told me she’d be passing me along to the next level of investigation: the peer review. The peer reviewer would be the one to decide whether two sessions were really necessary. He’d be in touch.

In the meantime, I revisited the issue with Ben. Sharing the particulars of a treatment with a third party requires consent. Like many survivors of childhood abuse, Ben felt deep shame about his past, and though I’d offer as few details as possible to the peer reviewer, Ben could choose to forgo reimbursement to protect his privacy. He told me to proceed.

If Ben was worried about his insurer knowing too much, he needn’t have been. The peer reviewer, when I spoke with him by phone, seemed less interested in hearing about Ben than in finding a sanctioned justification for cutting off reimbursement. Denial of treatment is allowed under a handful of conditions, and the reviewer moved down a list of them: I should have referred Ben out for something more cost effective (he suggested electroshock therapy); I should have been measuring Ben’s progress quantitatively in order to determine when to discharge him (by asking him, for example, to rate his depression on a scale of 1 to 10).

Finally, the reviewer implied that it was Ben himself who was the problem. After all, hadn’t Ben decided against a medication consultation despite my suggestion of it? “He’s noncompliant,” the reviewer declared, triumphant. With this he seemed to be offering me an out: Let’s attack him and then we can spare you. I thought of Ben’s mother, who never took a stand against her husband’s abuse of their son.

I clarified to the reviewer that I’d never insisted Ben go on medication; Ben had not defied me. Thwarted, the reviewer went back to his list: I’d given Ben the wrong diagnosis; he wasn’t making any progress; if I really thought he needed two sessions a week, then why wasn’t he in the hospital, and if he didn’t need to be in the hospital, then why were we doing two sessions a week?

I got off the phone knowing I’d lost a contest rigged from the start. . .

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Written by LeisureGuy

10 February 2015 at 4:05 pm

The First Date That Changed Everything

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Fascinating story by Lois DeSocio in Buzzfeed:

Everything that comes with a relationship can be counted — in years, losses, gains, money, friends, family. The end of a marriage deserves an accounting. The numbers matter. We had been married 27 years. Two sons. Four houses. Thirty Christmases. The list does not have an end. Sometimes, emerging from a divorce, it takes a while for things to add up.

Three years ago, when I was 56, I suggested to my husband that he move out of our house in New Jersey. Our marriage had been faltering for years. As he was settling into his new apartment in Manhattan, he called. He was struggling. He said that he didn’t want a divorce. He was sorry for his part in our breakup. It was October; he promised that we, and our two sons, would still spend that Christmas together as a family. We pledged that we would always be friends, and our family would survive. We would stay separated for a year and, somehow, together, figure out this whole thing.

Five months after our pledge, and six months into our separation, my husband called. It still wasn’t unusual for him to call me. We spoke every few days. We even met for dinner or a drink on occasion. After a few minutes, as we were about to hang up, he told me that he was “seeing someone.”

“Seeing someone.” Two words that splintered my head into speechlessness, followed by a dizzying internal stream of, What about “Our family would survive”? What about “We’ll always be friends”? What about “We’ll get through this together”?

I sputtered into the phone:

“Who is she?”

“You’re seeing someone?”

“Are we supposed to be dating?”

“What about me?”

“What about us?”

“How old is she?”

“Are you getting married?”

“What if she wants kids?”

“Who is she?”

My ex-husband is a business executive. He runs meetings. When I paused to catch my breath, he answered every question with purpose.

She was 39 or 40. (He was my age.) She was “very successful.” He told me where she worked. He said he would always be in my life. “Nothing has changed.”

He said he would never be with anyone “who didn’t understand this.”

And: “I told her I have two sons in their twenties, and I don’t want any more kids.”

Three months after that phone call, and nine months into what had become a separation that was now laying bricks on the road to divorce, it was time, according to friends and family, to “put yourself out there.” “Maybe go online.” “See someone!”

One girlfriend had started a profile for me on eHarmony. It took two weeks for me to bite — a solitary Friday night, over wine, when I was feeling especially feisty and brave. So I named myself Isabella on my eHarmony profile, put up a year-old headshot, and watched half in fascination, half in horror as eHarmony’s computerized compatibility matrix churned out a slew of Santa Claus look-alikes — some on Harleys. (Not my type.) But eventually one stood out — a 59-year-old IT guy from Manhattan. We agreed to meet for dinner in my suburban town one July night. I wore my favorite black dress with the cool belt. It was my first date in over 30 years. . .

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Written by LeisureGuy

27 January 2015 at 3:32 pm

Ersatz engine rumble: Recorded engine noise to appeal to the macho

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With more efficient car engines, the full-throated rumble and roar of the old V-8 is pretty much a relic of the past, but some are eager to be able to produce such sounds from their car or truck as a signifier of power and masculinity. The obvious answer: recorded engine noise, played back at volume.

Drew Harwell writes for the Washington Post:

Stomp on the gas in a new Ford Mustang or F-150 and you’ll hear a meaty, throaty rumble — the same style of roar that Americans have associated with auto power and performance for decades.

It’s a sham. The engine growl in some of America’s best-selling cars and trucks is actually a finely tuned bit of lip-syncing, boosted through special pipes or digitally faked altogether. And it’s driving car enthusiasts insane.

Fake engine noise has become one of the auto industry’s dirty little secrets, with automakers from BMW to Volkswagen turning to a sound-boosting bag of tricks. Without them, today’s more fuel-efficient engines would sound far quieter and, automakers worry, seemingly less powerful, potentially pushing buyers away.

Softer-sounding engines are actually a positive symbol of just how far engines and gas economy have progressed. But automakers say they resort to artifice because they understand a key car-buyer paradox: Drivers want all the force and fuel savings of a newer, better engine — but the classic sound of an old gas-guzzler.

“Enhanced” engine songs have become the signature of eerily quiet electrics such as the Toyota Prius. But the fakery is increasingly finding its way into beefy trucks and muscle cars, long revered for their iconic growl.

For the 2015 Mustang EcoBoost, Ford sound engineers and developers worked on an “Active Noise Control” system that amplifies the engine’s purr through the car speakers. Afterward, the automaker surveyed members of Mustang fan clubs on which processed “sound concepts” they most enjoyed. . .

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Written by LeisureGuy

22 January 2015 at 8:51 am

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