Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

Misspoke?

Trump in Helsinki: “I do not see any reason why Russia would be responsible, I have great confidence in my intelligence people; but I will tell you that, President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.”

Trump back in Washington D.C.: “I accept our intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election took place. Could be other people also. A lot of people out there. There was no collusion at all,” in remarks preceding a meeting with House of Representatives Republicans about possible future tax cuts.

He has never had to pay for his actions or his remarks in his entire life. Everyone on the Republican side will fall back in line to cover for Trump.

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A Bit of Trivia – Big Boy

This is mostly a C&P as taken from Justin Frantz’s article One of the World’s Largest Steam Locomotives Is About to Make a Triumphant Return It is a fun post with a tad of economics tied to it.

It was not seventy years ago and may be more like sixty years ago when I took the train with my father out to Buffalo New York. I remember seeing the old steam driven locomotives in Chicago. I do not think one of them made the pull to Buffalo. It would have been kind of cool if one did. I think I was all of 5 then.

Seventy years after the First Transcontinental Railroad was completed in 1869, the steep Rocky Mountains of Wyoming and Utah were still giving the Union Pacific Railroad trouble. The mountains were too steep for a one engine pull.

Despite having the massive steam engines, the Union Pacific being one of the largest railroads in America struggled to move heavy freight trains over the mountains and would often have to use multiple locomotives to get cargo to its destination. This practice required more workers, more fuel, and more cost. In 1940, the Union Pacific’s mechanical engineers teamed up with the American Locomotive Company to build one of the world’s largest steam locomotives. A new class of engine simply known as “Big Boy.”

Now, six decades after the last Big Boy was taken off the rails, the Union Pacific is rebuilding one of the famous locomotives in honor of the upcoming sesquicentennial celebration of the first Transcontinental Railroad. It’s a project so ambitious that Ed Dickens Jr, a Union Pacific steam locomotive engineer and the man leading the rebuild, has likened it to resurrecting a Tyrannosaurus rex.

The Big Boy locomotives weighed more than one million pounds and were 132 feet, 9 inches long. Stood on its end, one would be the equivalent of a 13-story building. Each one cost approximately $265,000 to build, or about $4.4 million in today’s money. In the railroad world, the Big Boys were known as 4-8-8-4 articulated type locomotives. That designation meant the locomotive had four wheels in front, two sets of eight driving wheels (the large wheels connected to the pistons that make the locomotive move) in the middle, and four trailing wheels, all underneath one enormous boiler.

Union Pacific purchased 25 of the Big Boys between 1941 and 1944. According to Trains Magazine, the steam engines were originally going to be named “Wasatch,” after the mountains they were built to carry freight over. In 1941, an American Locomotive Company shop worker wrote “Big Boy” in chalk on the front of the locomotive and the name stuck. Below the steam engine’s new name, the unknown laborer also scratched a “V,” a popular symbol for victory during World War II, a conflict in which the Big Boy locomotives would soon play a pivotal role.

Locomotive No. 4000 and the first Big Boy left the American Locomotive Company factory in Schenectady, New York in the summer of 1941 bound for its new owner. The enormous steam engine garnered attention wherever it went and by one count more than 500 newspaper stories were written about it before it arrived on the Union Pacific’s tracks in Omaha, Nebraska on September 4, 1941. According to the historian John E. Bush, a self-described “Union Pacific steam locomotive nut” and author of numerous train books and a Trains Magazine blog about the locomotives; Locomotive No. 4000 and the other Big Boys were quickly put into service just as the Allied war effort was heating up. Between 1941 and 1945, the steam engines helped move millions of tons of war supplies and other materials.

Bush; “Without the Big Boys, the Union Pacific could never have moved all that material for the war effort.”.

Modern Cities Owe Their Cleanliness to These Innovative Old Sewers. The Union Pacific used the Big Boys until 1959, when they were replaced with diesel-electric locomotives, which were easier and cheaper to maintain, although arguably less impressive than a noisy, smoke-belching steam engine with its symphony of moving parts. Most of the Big Boys were scrapped, but eight were put on display around the country.

Although some steam engines still operate at museums and heritage railroads, for decades railroad enthusiasts believed the Big Boys were simply too big to ever run again. For one, the infrastructure needed to maintain such a massive locomotive had been torn down at the end of the steam era, and even if someone did rebuild one, there were few rail lines that could handle a machine of that size. But in 2013, Union Pacific announced that it was reacquiring a Big Boy in hopes of restoring it for the 150th anniversary of the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad. In spring 2014, Big Boy No. 4014 was moved from Pomona, California, where it was on display at the RailGiants Trains Museum, to Cheyenne, Wyoming, where Union Pacific keeps and maintains two other historic steam locomotives for special events and excursions.

Railroad historian John Bush was lucky enough to ride the Big Boy No. 4014 when it was hauled back to Wyoming by a pair of diesel-electric locomotives. He says highways along the rail line were packed with onlookers watching the unrestored steam engine roll down the tracks.

It was awe-inspiring, it was a dream come true for many.

Since the locomotive’s arrival at Union Pacific’s shop in Wyoming, mechanics have been slowly rebuilding it, which requires the disassembly, inspection, and repair of every single part of the locomotive. The steam engine will also be altered so that it can burn oil which is easier to acquire than the coal it once burned back in the 1940s and 1950s. “This is a massive ground-up restoration,” Dickens says.

Chief Engineer in charge of the rebuild Ed Dickens hopes to have No. 4014 completed and operating on its own power before May 10, 2019, the 150th anniversary of the Transcontinental Railroad. The first trip is expected to take the locomotive to Ogden, Utah, not far from where the Golden Spike was driven at Promontory in 1869.* The ceremonial spike joined the rails of the Union Pacific from Omaha with the Central Pacific Railroad from Sacramento, connecting the East Coast with the West Coast by rail for the first time in American history. Today, Promontory is a national historic site.

Bush expects train enthusiasts and history buffs from around the world to line the tracks from Wyoming to Utah when the Big Boy makes its first run in 60 years.

I cannot think of a bigger way to celebrate this anniversary than restoring a Big Boy locomotive. This is something railroad enthusiasts have dreamed about for more than a half-century.

References: One of the World’s Largest Steam Locomotives Is About to Make a Triumphant Return.

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The Banking Hustle

The Fed just let Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs off the hook after both failed the required stress tests under Dodd-Frank. The stress test is supposed to predict whether banks and so-called banks like Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs can weather a financial crisis.

This is not an instance of if you remember in 2008, who could forget? Few TBTF had set aside the necessary reserves to back the tranched MBS and the more risky CDS/naked CDS. These were the heady days of financial engineering and gambling on Wall Street. The models could not fail as they were statistically proven. Some investment firms such as Goldman Sachs (before it was made a bank by the Fed to save it’s hiney) made the call (CDS) on other nonbank firms such as AIG leaving AIG in dire straits as the money, the reserves were already paid out in dividends and bonuses. Greenspan did little to curb the appetite of investment firms and TBTF. The clearing board to track derivatives had not been installed by Wall Street. We were safe in the scheme of people pursuing what was best in the economy will only do what was right.

When it all hit the fan, the Fed had to make the investment firms (GS, Morgan Stanley, etc.) as well as others (American Express, GMAC [now Ally], etc.) banks in order to lend them money under the provisions of TARP and other save – the – banks plans (Barkley recommended a book; “The Alchemists: Three Central Bankers and a World on Fire” about what went on behind the scenes during the troubled times and a near economic collapse. I found it to be an interesting read during my long flights). The banks and newly designated banks and Wall Street survived (grumbling all the way about the inequities imposed upon them and lack of bonuses). Main Street paid the price in a crashing economy to which Labor as measured by Participation Rate has still not recovered from its numeric pre-2008. Republicans were all to willing to end lengthy unemployment and job training benefits for the less moneyed.

Back-step a little in time, just a few months ago Congress in all of its wisdom passed a revision to Dodd-Frank which raised the limit of banks from $50 billion to $250 billion in assets-cash-capital to avoid the Dodd-Frank stress tests. This was done under the guise of being called, (cough-cough, clearing my throat) community banks or The Community (Bank) Hustle as the Intercept would label it. You would expect this type of push to occur from Republicans; but, Democrats also joined in the give-away to the banking industry. 17 Democrats who were mostly (10) up for elections. Senators such as Michigan’s Debbie Stabenow (Stabenow also joined Biden in passing the 2005 Bankruptcy Act which included a provision disallowing bankruptcy for student loans) voted for this revision of Dodd-Frank. When there is a backbone needed, Democrats are largely silent and fade into the group hoping they are not noticed. “S.2155 The 2018 Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act” has a nice ring to it the same as the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act which disposed of bankruptcy for Student Loans. Consumer Protection?

Volcker felt $75 billion was enough leeway for banks and former Congressional Rep and sponsor Barney Frank felt $100 billion was enough (it may be reversed; but each is less than $250 billion). The $250 billion limit allows some of the riff-raff such as Deutsche Bank and Holding Company to escape the surveillance it should have through stress testing. With the $250 billion limit, “25 of the 38 largest banks in the United States would no longer be subject to stronger capital and liquidity rules, enhanced risk management standards, living-will requirements, and stress testing requirements. They collectively hold $3.5 trillion in assets or an approximate one-sixth of the assets in the entire banking sector. Scandal-plagued Deutsche Bank and other foreign banks such as BNP Paribas, UBS, and Credit Suisse should still be more heavily monitored rather than deregulated.

In May, Congress lessened the burden of maintaining adequate reserves for community banks which included 25 of the largest banks in the US plus the scandal-ridden banks (Deutsche, BNP Paribas, UBS, and Credit Suisse). The same act allows mortgages to be created with little or no confirmation of whether the borrower has the ability to pay back the loans and allows loans made outside of escrow requirements in which borrowers may be confronted with costly tax liens or force-placed insurance and loans being made with indirect kickbacks. And this is called Consumer Protection, the same as eliminating the bankruptcy protection on student loans without limiting what commercial banks could do to make those loans.

In June, “the Federal Reserve gave the giant investment banks Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs a pass for ‘stress tests’ even though they had failed it. In the review of their financial conditions, it was determined that the banks did not have enough assets to allow them to weather a financial crisis. Despite failing the stress tests, the Fed agreed to allow the banks to pay $billions in profits to investors which, under normal application of the rules, the banks should have kept. This is just the latest example of leniency that the Fed, governed now by Trump appointees, is showing the financial industry. Other examples include the dismantling of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the rolling back of the Dodd-Frank post-2008 financial regulations for medium-sized banks, and the reduction of compliance penalties under the Community Reinvestment Act.”

Bill Black: “the US is in the eighth straight year of economic expansion. The country is close to full employment (I would disagree on that point). Business failures are at a minimum and would not be defaulting on their loans. Banks should easily pass these stress tests. The San Francisco Fed recently published results that showed in the last 60 years, inverted yield curves have predicted recessions. with the exception of one, an inverted yield curve was followed by a recession and followed by a substantial reduction in growth. The yield curve looks like it’s about to invert again (longer-term interest rates are lower than shorter-term interest rates).”

Maybe now is not the right time to loosen regulations on major banks.

run75441 @ Angry Bear Blog

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It is All in the Timing

In his editorial “Say Hello to Your Boy. A Special Guy,” Josh Marshall at TPM had this to say:

“When I first read the Times story I wasn’t sure whether the younger Kennedy (Justin), whose title was Managing Director and Global Head of Real Estate Capital Markets, would have been someone to actually make loans to someone like Trump as opposed to overseeing more complex or synthetic efforts like mortgage backed securities and such. But it turns out he definitely was. The FT says Kennedy was ‘one of Mr. Trump’s most trusted associates over a 12-year spell at Deutsche.’ A review of Kennedy’s bio suggests those twelve years were 1997 through 2009 – key years for Trump.”

Other presidents and their staff have lobbied SCOTUS justices to see if retirement was being thought of by them. I do not recall any of the justice’s family having a business relationship with the president pre-presidency and perhaps others who are closer to the courts can offer up more information. “During Justin Kennedy’s tenure, Deutsche Bank became Trump’s most important lender, dispensing well over $1 billion in loans to him for the renovation and construction of skyscrapers in New York and Chicago at a time other mainstream banks were wary of doing business with him because of his troubled business history.”

The loans occurred when other banks felt Trump and his businesses were too much of a liability with his multiple bankruptcies. Deutsche Bank (holding company) was also one of several banks which was also placed under tighter scrutiny because of its past practices. Most recently, Deutsche Bank failed a Fed stress test.

Even though I disagree with some of his opinions, I would not call Justice Anthony Kennedy a fool. He is an intelligent man who has swung the court in the direction he wishes it to go with each of his votes. Given that, he also knows his retirement from SCOTUS will have an adverse impact upon the citizens of this nation which will result from the candidate Mr. Trump selects to replace him. Justice Kennedy simply does not care and his timing was intentional.

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Recent SCOTUS Decisions

“I have rarely seen so much inconsistency and even hypocrisy from the Supreme Court as in its decision to uphold President Trump’s travel ban.”

On the Colorado SCOTUS Decision

A few weeks ago, the court found that members of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission had expressed impermissible hostility to religion because of relatively mild statements that every business in Colorado should serve all customers regardless of the owner’s religion, and that terrible things have been done in world history in the name of religion. By contrast, the court in upholding the travel ban essentially ignored repeated statements from Trump and his top advisors that he wanted to ban Muslims from coming to the United States.”
The president initially promulgated the travel ban by executive order on Jan. 27, 2017. It suspended immigration from seven countries for a period of 90 days and suspended the refugee program for a period of 120 days. It had an exception for those who were from minority religions in these countries. The seven countries shared three things in common: All were more than 90% Muslim, Trump had no economic investments in any of them, and none ever had been linked to terrorist activity in the United States.”

On the Travel Ban Scotus Decision

“Of even greater significance is the court’s contention that great judicial deference must be paid to the president in immigration policies, and that his actions will be upheld so long as they are supported by a conceivable legitimate purpose. With this premise, the court made irrelevant all the statements Trump and his advisors made about their desire for, as candidate Trump put it, a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” The government’s claim that there is a national security justification for the ban is all that mattered. The dissenting justices in the travel ban case rightly analogize the majority’s ruling to the Supreme Court’s infamous decision in Korematsu vs. United States, which upheld the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. Both policies were based on prejudice, not national security. In 1944, there was no evidence linking Japanese Americans to any threat to the country; there is now no evidence linking immigrants or visitors from the designated travel ban countries to terrorism. Although Roberts’ majority opinion repudiated Korematsu, the court ignored its crucial lesson.

Korematsu and now Trump vs. Hawaii represent the false assumption that danger to the nation can be determined by a person’s nationality or country of residence. In the United States, dangerousness should never be determined by race, ethnicity, national origin or country of residence. The Supreme Court ignored that fundamental American principle and created a precedent that gives the president vast powers to discriminate. It may be a victory for President Trump, but it is a huge loss for the Constitution and the rule of law.” Erwin Chemerinksy

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Just a “stab at humor”

The ACLU’s Ría Tabacco Mar reviewed a recent SCOTUS decision in the NYT. South Dakota is being allowed to murder a man rather than commit him to a life time of hell in a natural life sentence . Charles Rhines was convicted of murdering a man while robbing a Dunkin Donut store he used to work at and was fired from a couple of weeks earlier.

The jury in deciding Charles Rhines fate in deliberation sent questions to the judge asking;

Would Rhines have a cellmate? Would he be allowed to “create a group of followers or admirers”? Would he be allowed to “have conjugal visits”? They apologized if any of the questions were “inappropriate,” but indicated that they were important to their decision-making.

The judge declined to answer, telling the jurors everything they needed to know was already in the jury instructions they’d received.

Eight hours of deliberation later and the jury sentenced Charles Rhines to death. It was not until 2016, when the newly appointed federal capital defenders found the jury note and restarted the appeals process and they interviewed the jurors learning what can be described as a preconceived bias of the jury towards Charles Rhines because he was gay.

One juror said Rhines was gay “and thought that he should not be able to spend his life with men in prison.” A second recalled another juror making a comment “sentencing Rhines to life in prison would be sending him where he wants to go.” A third said “there was lots of discussion of homosexuality” in the jury room. Another juror said, “There was a lot of expressed disgust. This is a farming community. There were a lot of folks who were like, Ew, I can’t believe that.” All of which is not pertinent to the sentencing. The jury sentenced Charles Rhines to death because he was gay and not because he murdered someone.

To provide for the integrity of the jury and what they discuss in deliberation in the jury room; there is what is known as the no-impeachment rule. It says testimony from jurors during jury deliberations may not be used to impeach a verdict during an appeal. In this case as one of Charles Rhines attorney’s Shawn Nolan argues, “the juror misconduct violated constitutional protections — so the rule should not apply.” The rule was overturned once before when considering racial prejudice in Peña-Rodriguez v. Colorado;

Miguel Angel Peña-Rodriguez was convicted of unlawful sexual conduct and harassment, two jurors came forward to tell his lawyer that another juror had made racially charged statements about Peña-Rodriguez and an alibi witness, commenting about the likelihood that Peña-Rodriguez was guilty and the witness was not credible because both were Hispanic. Peña-Rodriguez sought a new trial based on the jury misconduct, but the courts said no because of the no-impeachment rule. The U.S. Supreme Court disagreed. “A constitutional rule that racial bias in the justice system must be addressed — including, in some instances, after the verdict has been entered — is necessary to prevent a systemic loss of confidence in jury verdicts, a confidence that is a central premise of the Sixth Amendment trial right,” the court wrote. As such, the court concluded that “where a juror makes a clear statement that indicates he or she relied on racial stereotypes or animus to convict a criminal defendant, the Sixth Amendment requires that the no-impeachment rule give way” so that the court can consider whether the misconduct tainted the promise of a fair trial.

The Law is meant to punish “people for what they do and not who they are.”

Jurors Thought a Man Would Enjoy Prison, So They Sentenced Him to Death Jordan Smith, The Intercept, June 13, 2018

A Jury May Have Sentenced a Man to Death Because of What He Is And the Justices Don’t Care. Ría Tabacco Mar, NYT, Jume 19, 2018

author; run75441 @ Angry Bear Blog

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Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Cartoonist Rob Roberts Fired for Depicting the Real Trump

Cartoonist Rob Rogers was fired from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette for refusing to do cartoons extolling the virtues and accomplishments of Trump. According to The Association of American Cartoonists; “Rob Rogers is one of the best in the country and his cartoons have been a wildly popular feature of the Post-Gazette. Readers looked forward each morning to opening their papers to see Rogers’ latest pointed commentary.”

Things changed for Rob when the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette hired Keith Burris as its Editorial Page Editor. Just weeks earlier and before Rob Rogers was let go, Editor Keith Burns had written about meeting a self-proclaimed classical liberal; ”To be a liberal: five principles

2) Free speech is essential.

Freedom of speech and expression is the sine qua non of tolerance and pluralism — the grammar of tolerance; the way we make the principle work.

Liberals fight for the right of every thinker and seeker to pursue his truth, to share it, and to be heard.

The greatest liberal thinker of the 20th century, Isaiah Berlin, said: “The first people totalitarians destroy or silence are men of ideas and free minds.”

Perhaps this rational by Mr. Burris did not apply to Rob Rogers and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette had a different idea of what liberalism meant within the confines of its employment. One commenter to Burris’s editorial claimed “Keith wants us to be the ‘right’ kind of liberals” and another said “Keith Burris defining a liberal is like Donald Trump defining femininity.”

Keith Burris in an editorial for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette came out in defense of Donald Trump calling some nations “shithole countries.” Entitled “Reason as racism,” Keith Burris argued that calling someone a racist is “the new McCarthyism” defending the sentiment behind President Donald Trump’s reported suggestion the United States take immigrants from an overwhelmingly white country such as Norway rather than “shithole countries” like Haiti or from continents such as Africa.

Representing 150 employees at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh in a letter to the editor it was “collectively appalled and crestfallen by the repugnant editorial.”

It may be that Rob Roberts no longer meets the qualifications of being a cartoonists at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette by not conforming to the political stance taken by Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Keith Burris and the publisher John Robinson Block. “Cartoonists are not illustrators for a publisher’s politics,” Rogers quips in reply to Blocks and Burris’s critique of his performance at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

“If I drew Trump more often than Block would have liked, it was because I base my cartoons on the most urgent topics at hand. Sadly, Trump provides that fodder every day.”

Some recent cartoons by Rob Roberts the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette would not publish:

Originated and authored by Rob Roberts

Publisher John Robinson Block is a Trump supporter who said during a 2013 community forum on racism that people of color need to pull themselves up “by their bootstraps” like they did in the “old days.” Both Block and Burris met with Trump on his private plane at Toledo Express Airport in September 2016 after a campaign rally.

It is pretty obvious which way the wind blows today at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

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Sessions Quoting Scripture to Us?

AG Jeffrey B. Sessions: “‘I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13, to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained them for the purpose of order,’ he said. ‘Orderly and lawful processes are good in themselves and protect the weak and lawful.'”

I would quote back to the hypocrite Sessions.

Leviticus 19:33-34:

33 “When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them.
34 The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt.”

or perhaps?

Matthew 25: 41-45:

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.’
42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink,
43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44 They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45 He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’”

We were all once foreigners . . . except for Sessions, Trump and many politicians who despise Mexicans and others.

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Healthcare Insurance Companies Lose in Court on ACA Risk Corridor Program

Healthcare Insurers Lose in Court Over Risk Corridor Funds

I have written a couple of times about Sessions, Upton, Kingston, and Republicans sabotaging the ACA Risk Corridor Program with the insertion of Section 227 in the CRomnibus Bill signed in December 2014. Not only did Senator Sessions, Representative Upton (MI), and Representative Kingston (CO) block the funding of the Risk Corridor Program; with the insertion of Section 227 by Representative Kington, they blocked any transfer of funding from other programs as well. A rehash of the results of Republican sabotage shows, it caused a rise in premiums for the unsubsidized (others were picked up), Coops to go bankrupt, and insurance companies to withdraw from the healthcare exchanges.

Today a Federal Appeals Court ruled; “the U.S. government does not owe health insurers $billions in unpaid risk-corridor funds meant to offset losses during the early years (3 years) of the Affordable Care Act exchanges.

More than three dozen insurers claimed the federal government owed them more than $8 billion in risk corridor payments. Ruling 2-1 the COA determined the payments were not necessary since Congress deemed the program had to be budget neutral after the legislation was passed.”

In other words, the court decided a different Congress and/or the administration made up of different political interests can change the intent of another Congress or Administration.

A similar Risk Corridor Program exists in the Medicare Part D program for drugs which has no life time limit and was put in place by Republicans and Bush to cover any risk which may occur from getting too many higher cost insured.

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Sister Survivors

The Detroit News story, January 2018 “What MSU Knew” details when the abuse started. For twenty years, the female athletes who engaged in the Michigan State Gymnastics program complained of Dr. Larry Nassar to university representatives. MSU President Lou Anna Simon was amongst those who were informed and had known of the 2014 Title IX complaint and police report filed against an unnamed physician.

According to university records and victim’s accounts, amongst those who knew of the abuse were athletic trainers, coaches, a university police detective, the local police and an official who is now MSU’s assistant general counsel. Larissa Boyce is believed to be the first to complain in 1997 to the head Gymnastics Coach Kathie Klages at MSU. Klages then told Larry Nasser, no one else, and advised Larissa there could be serious consequences in filing a report. A fellow female Gymnast had also confirmed she had also been touched while being treated by Nasser.

A runner, Christie Achenbach told her coach Kelli Bert about Nassar’s behavior in 1999 while seeking treatment for a hamstring injury. Christie recalled coach Kelli Bert words; “he is an Olympic doctor and he should know what he is doing.” According to Kelli Bert, she does not remember the conversation and did not know Nasser was an Olympic doctor.

Spartan softball player Tiffany Thomas Lopez went to Nassar to be treated for lower back pain. She later told MSU Trainer Lianna Hadden of Nassar’s treatment regime. Hadden advised Tiffany to talk to MSU trainer Destiny Teachnor-Hauk. Destiny told Tiffany she could file a report if she was uncomfortable; but, there may be consequences.

Two years after Tiffany’s abuse, Jennifer Rood Bedford complained to Destiny Teachnor-Hauk about being uncomfortable with Nasser’s treatment. As told by Jennifer, Hauk said “that filing a report would involve an investigation, making an accusation against Nassar, and requires a statement that I felt what Nassar did was unprofessional or criminally wrong.” Rood could not say with certainty the treatment was wrong or unprofessional.

The stories being told by female athletes stopped with those who should have been advocating for them. Larissa Boyce had hoped this would come from a female coach. Over seventeen years, Destiny Teachnor-Hauk claims she never heard a complaint about Larry Nasser. The system failed, it failed at the coach/teaching level and not with the athletes who sounded the alarm of sexual abuse at the hands of a doctor. The abuse also happened outside of the MSU system.

The first to publicly testify against Nassar about abuse outside of MSU, Kyle Stephens said he began molesting her in 1998 by exposing himself in the basement of his home. She was 6. In 2004, she told her parents who told MSU Clinical Psychologist Dr. Gary Stollak. The parents met with Nassar and Stollak. Nassar denied everything and her parents believed the doctors. A retired Dr. Stollak testified he had a stroke in 2016 and could not remember any details of the meeting.

Upon leaving the second visit for back pain with Nassar in the Spring of 2004, Brianne Randall-Gay went to local police. She told them he had touched her bare breast and put his hand between her legs. A few weeks later, police asked Randall-Gay and her parents to meet with Nassar. Randall-Gay‘s parents went without her. Nassar said and the police confirmed what she experienced was a legitimate treatment.

Doctors and the police did not believe the young women and girl’s complaints.

Lindsey Lemke is a “Sister Survivor,” the name taken by the 256 survivors of Larry Nassar’s physical sexual assault. She and the others spent the last 18 months fighting “not just for justice for Nassar;” but, they also fought for accountability, “the accountability of Michigan State University who enabled Nassar’s continued abuse” by not reacting.

April of this year found Lindsey attending a dinner at Michigan State, an Athletic Gala sponsored by the university hosts and meant to honor student athletes having a GPA of 3.0 or higher. Lindsey was happy to have a night out celebrating her athletic accomplishments. It turned to a night of frustration and anger as the host talked about the disappointment the Michigan Spartans experienced over the last 16 months because of one man. And no, they were not going to let him bring it down for the University and the remaining Sister Survivors at the university.

Lindsey grew angry as she listened to the comparison being made by the speaker about the hard time MSU was having answering questions and explaining for 16 months about Nasser’s physical sexual abuse of Lindsey and the other female athletes. As explained in The Detroit News, the abuse continued over 20 years. It continued even though Lindsey and the other athletes went to their coaches and others . . . nothing was done.

A false equivalency was being made by the speaker as if the spotlight on Michigan State was the equivalent of the sexual abuse, or worse, then what the women athletes experienced, and endured again as they told their stories in public. The speaker spoke as if there could be an equivalency to each experience endured . . . making the University’s reputation more important than the sexual abuse at the hands of a MSU employee. There was no apology being made to Lindsey Lemke or her Sister Survivors.

In the same week as the dinner and in a Jane Doe investigation, Michigan State University allowed a female witness to be identified as a complainant. This can be a violation of federal law in response to a Title IX lawsuit.

A federal lawsuit filed Monday alleges a former female student was raped by three unnamed members of the school’s basketball team in April 2015. Following that alleged assault, the woman said the school’s counseling center discouraged her from reporting, telling her to “just get yourself better.”

The university responded by posting a detailed response online, raising concerns about student privacy.

Again, MSU failed to take into regard the importance of a student’s safety, their privacy, and the care required to protect them while answering various questions and reports. MSU acts according to its own best interest at the expense of its students.

Between 1997 and 2015, young women, girls, and older women alike raised concerns about Nassar’s treatments. It started to come to a head when Amanda Thomashow filed a formal Title IX complaint about Nassar in 2014. The complaint still did not result in the removal of Nassar.

Over 20 years, Nassar abused hundreds of women while at MSU. The University, its athletic department, and it’s president would continue to deflect responsibility for not taking action. In her letter of resignation, Lou Anna K. Simon the President in charge 13 of the 20 years in her letter of resignation stated:

“I have been told it is virtually impossible to stop a determined sexual predator and pedophile, that they will go to incomprehensible lengths to keep what they do in the shadows. As tragedies are politicized, blame is inevitable. As president, it is only natural that I am the focus of this anger.”

The State of Michigan appointed former Governor John Engler as the interim president after former President Lou Anna K. Simon was asked to resign by the Board of Trustees. She is still being paid a $750,000 salary for one year and will return to teaching at $500,000 annually. The same Board of Trustees failed to take action in an earlier 2014 Title IX investigation complaint about Nassar is still in place. The abuse was allowed to continue. MSU maintains it did nothing wrong during that investigation the 2014 filing.

John Engler was the political choice;

I will move forward as though my own daughters were on this campus.”

were the words Engler used to help build trust with the MSU Sister Survivors and the public.

Instead of helping to provide greater protection for MSU women and Nassar’s victims, Engler personally campaigned in the legislature against bills meant to increase the statute of limitations for victims of sex abuse and make more authority figures mandatory reporters of child sex abuse. The 15 public universities in Michigan also opposed the bills. Engler claimed Nassar’s victims were only interested in leveraging MSU and were not interested in mediation.

Engler comment raises the question of how does the one responsible for taking action mediate the results of their failure with the victim? The outcome will always be in the mediator’s best intersts.

Engler argued publicly with Rachael Denhollander, the first woman to come forward publicly with allegations against Nassar. At a Trustee’s meeting early in April, “Engler publicly threatened Kaylee Lorincz when she shared the story about his attempt to buy her silence. Kaylee Lorincz also revealed during that meeting Engler lied to her about his settlement talks with other survivors, and downplayed the sexual harassment charges against Nassar’s boss, Dean William Strampel, calling them merely a ‘slap on the butt.’”

The Board of Trustees remains in place and reiterated their support for John Engler.

It is a pattern and a practice for MSU. As Think Progress points out “sexual assault allegations against football and basketball players have been ignored or mishandled by the athletic department and administration at MSU. Investigations into allegations have been shoddy and well hidden (if they happen at all). Victims have been encouraged not to come forward with allegations against high-profile players or coaches on campus due to potential backlash or retaliation.”

The same pattern and practice was experienced by the Sister Survivors as told by them about Nassar experienced by them with the Board of Trustees and the interim President John Engler. The Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights investigation confirmed MSU had not met multiple Title IX requirements, including notifying students of the name of the Title IX coordinator, conducting investigations within appropriate time frames, and following proper grievance procedures.

Jerry Sandusky’s sexual abuse case at Penn State received around-the-clock attention for weeks. The Sister Survivor’s case has disappeared from the public eye since MSU’s Nassar was sentenced. Attorney John Manly believes he knows why:

I think it’s sexism, misogyny, and you know, it’s not college football, it’s gymnastics. And the audience for gymnastics doesn’t generate hundreds of millions or billions of dollars.

Think Progress updated its initial report on Michigan State University. The law firm representing MSU sent a letter to the NCAA on May 4. The letter acknowledges Nassar, “under the guise of medical treatment, sexually assaulted at least 25 MSU student-athletes between 1997-2016, including six student-athletes since 2014, when MSU botched its Title IX investigation into Nasser’s abuse.”

The letter was sent to clarify and despite the sexual assaults that,

“no violations of NCAA rules occurred with regard to the criminal conduct of Dr. Larry Nassar, a former employee at the University.”

In spite of the many sexual abuse over 20 years, the assaults mostly occurring on the MSU campus, the deaf ear by MSU employees to female athletes, the condemnation by the Michigan state legislature of MSU for its failure to protect female athletes, and the Gymnastics Coach Kathy asking her team (including survivors of Nassar’s abuse) to sign a card of support for him after he was fired due to the allegations of sexual abuse in 2016; Michigan State University is more concerned about violations of NCAA rules and its image rather than Nassar’s female victims. There is no sympathy, morose, embarrassment when confronted with what was allowed to happen over the years. Business as usual.

The NCAA has not responded to the victims or Michigan State University.

References:

Michigan State still doesn’t care about victims of sexual assault Lindsay Gibbs, Think Progress, March 23, 2018

Michigan State is finding new ways to victimize the survivors of Larry Nassar’s abuse Lindsay Gibbs, Think Progress, April 18, 2018

Michigan State admits Nassar sexually abused student-athletes, but says he didn’t break NCAA bylaws? Think Progress, Lindsay Gibbs, May 4, 2018

What MSU knew: 14 were warned of Nassar abuse Kim Kozlowski, The Detroit News 2018

Michigan State ‘regrets’ providing an ‘unnecessary amount of detail’ in response to Title IX lawsuit‘ MLive, April 13, 2018

run75441 @ Angry Bear Blog

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