Showing newest 22 of 23 posts from August 2009. Show older posts
Showing newest 22 of 23 posts from August 2009. Show older posts

Friday

Belize Survivor, part 95

Over the course of the next few months, the manufacture of the wooden moons became a successful venture. Back in the States, the man named John received the first order and was so pleased with the workmanship, he placed a second order immediately, creating the need for Max to streamline production. Eventually, he realized that the only way to improve and maintain production would be to have a constant source of 110-volt current. Jordan would also need to start school soon. He discussed the situation with Alexis, and together they decided to put Emoyeni for sale and move into San Ignacio as soon as possible.

At this point, Alexis was doing an outstanding business with the British Army. Between wholesale and retail, she was bringing home anywhere from a thousand to fifteen hundred Belize dollars per trip. On each visit, she sold first to the Officers' Mess, then the Sergeants' Mess. Then, if she had enough nerve to withstand the brazen catcalls, she went to the Corporals' Mess. She drew a line at catering to the "lads" however. Because the Privates obviously didn't see many white women, she felt too much like meat on the block. If they wanted her jewelry, they could buy it from the old Sri Lankan shopkeeper at the gift shop on the base, who was also her customer.

Surprisingly enough, the farm sold within a month. A group of five young Swiss expressed their interest and, for perhaps
the only time in Belizean history, a rapid transaction took place. Max encouraged the Swiss to buy the machinery that was an integral part of bush living, and although Hans, Franz, Moritz, and the rest of the gang were smart enough to take the piston pump, they refused to buy the lawnmower.

"You don't understand," Max told them. "You'll need this lawnmower to keep back the bush. You have no idea how fast it grows."

Moritz spoke for all of them when he made chopping motions with his hand and smiled good-naturedly.

"No, it's okay," he said. "We will use machete. We like, we make, we chop."

Max nodded cheerfully to Alexis as the Swiss people drove away after making the down payment. "They bloody well better ‘we like, we make, we chop.’

When they get out here, and they have no lawnmower, they'll be doing precious little else. By the way, Ntombi, I found a house for us to rent in Cayo, better than the one I was looking at originally. Up on the hill going out toward Benque Viejo. Not far from the San Ignacio Hotel. A guy at the lumber mill told me about it."

"That’s fantastic, Max! Is anybody living there now?"

"No. An old woman named Miss Carmen was living there, but she died and now her nephew wants to rent it out. It's a two-story frame building with a living room, kitchen, two bedrooms, and a work room for your jewelry. We can put the woodworking shop downstairs. I guess it was a mess while the old lady was living there, but the landlord's got it all cleaned up now. He'll even repaint it before we move in."

"Did she die in the house?"

"Yeah, I guess so. So what? She had to die somewhere. But it's perfect, and the landlord only wants a hundred Belize a month. We'll have a flush toilet, with water and electricity twenty-four hours a day. Won't that be great?"

It did sound great. In fact, life was feeling pretty good again. Money was coming in from the moon manufacturing and the jewelry. The Swiss paid the balance for Emoyeni in cash and on time; they were ready to move in as soon as the Lord family moved out. Even the weather had been reasonable.

During the past year, they had experienced a dry wet season and a wet dry season, striking a pleasant and temperate balance. Once again, Max had made good his promise. There were still periods when he mistreated her, and fell into black moods, but overall, things were improving. It was an answered prayer for Alexis.

Thursday

DHHS, Responsible Fatherhood, the Family Court: Your Tax Dollars Being Wasted On an Illegal Hype

August 2, 2005

California Member of Congress,

California National Organization for Women (CA NOW) is respectfully requesting that you join the call for a federal investigation, by the U.S. Government Reform Committee, into the operations of Health and Human Services (HHS) Administration of Children and Families’ Access/Visitation and “Responsible Fatherhood” programs, including those operating in California.

CA NOW believes that these fatherhood programs misuse funds, do not account for their spending nor evaluation of their programming, and encourage illegal court practices that result in harm to women’s safety and well-being. We believe that fathers’ child support arrears are frequently abated by these groups, in violation of the Bradley amendment. We also believe that Wade Horn, Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), Administration of Children and Families, has a conflict of interest serving in this capacity, and operates from a dangerous political ideology that actively favors fathers’ rights and seeks to minimize mothers’.

CA NOW believes an investigation would expose serious system failure and fraud in these fatherhood programs. They are funded with federal money intended for resolving parental disputes, but instead give legal representation to fathers, which often results in high conflict litigation against perfectly fit mothers. CA NOW believes many fathers use these resources in order to avoid paying child support, and that many batterers do so in order to continue to abuse and manipulate their spouses and children through financially draining and emotionally devastating litigation, that often stretches on for years and years.

Fatherhood programs operate on the false premise that there is a “crisis in fatherlessness,” which is contradicted by Census data. CA NOW asked HHS, and the National Fatherhood Initiative (the most cited program on the HHS website) to justify this claim of crisis, and to date have not received an answer from them. We believe the entire premise for the programming is erroneous, and that mothers and their children are suffering harm from the consequences of such a focus.

Through political connection, legal trainings, and funding diversions, these fatherhood programs emphasize false syndromes, such as Parental Alienation Syndrome as a technique to remove children from their mothers. Fatherhood groups train court appointed minors’ attorneys, mediators and evaluators to discriminate against mothers, and create a vacuous draining of mothers of funding, faith in the system, and ability to fight to protect their children. These are primary caregiving mothers. Single mothers whose children’s fathers come back after years without contact, and demand and receive full or partial custody. Mothers are losing custody to their abusers, to men who have abused or neglected their children, and men with criminal backgrounds. Often fathers are awarded custody based on frivolous justifications, such as insufficient cooperation with the father, while documented evidence of domestic violence and abuse, even sexual abuse, goes ignored.

In 2002 California NOW analyzed 300 complaints from California mothers who believed family courts ignored laws, procedures and evidence in their cases. We used this analysis as the basis of our report, the CA NOW Family Court Report 2002. The report shows that in these particular cases, where women had lost custody of their children, there was a high correlation between grounded evidence of child abuse by the father and the mother losing custody. 86% could prove that their children’s father had a history of domestic violence, child abuse, or a criminal record. In many cases, illegal maneuvers, such as the labeling of mothers with false syndromes, as well as the use of ex parte hearings, and biased and unqualified extra-judicial personnel, were used to remove children from their primary care-giving mothers, thus violating the woman’s parental rights and injuring the child(ren) by loss of contact with their non-offending mother. Other professional comprehensive studies show similar results, including the Wellesley Women’s Center Battered Women’s Testimony Project, and sociologist Amy Neustein, PhD and attorney Michael Lesher’s book, Madness to Mutiny: Why Mothers Are Running from the Family Courts—and What Can Be Done About It.

In addition, CA NOW believes that Wade Horn, current Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services, has a major conflict of interest in his role overseeing such programs, given his past affiliation as president of the National Fatherhood Initiative. Horn, as President of National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI), promoted (in collaboration with fathers rights groups) during 1999 and 2000, "Fathers Count" legislation, which would have mandated $10,000,000 in total annual funding to fathers organizations. According to the legislative language, only NFI and the leading fathers’ rights group, Children's Rights Council, would have qualified for the grants. The bill passed the Congress, but was stalled by the Senate Finance Committee.

In March 2001, NFI received a $500,000 non-competitive grant, shortly after Horn became "Acting" HHS Assistant Secretary ( February 2001), while he was still NFI President (not resigning until July 2001). This grant was authorized by a December 2000 Congressional "ear-mark" inserted in an appropriations bill after the "Fathers Count" bill failed to pass the Senate Finance Committee. NFI refuses to disclose how this money was used. Also, Horn conceals he has on-going conflicts-of-interest with NFI and the implementation of the fatherhood programs.

California NOW has HHS evaluation reports that show that the "Responsible Fatherhood" program is used for unauthorized practices such as soliciting fathers through the child support system with offers of abatements on their child support arrears (in violation of the Bradley Amendment) and free attorneys for their custody litigation. Some litigating mothers have provided us with county payment records that show the attorney of the litigating farther was paid from these programs.

These unauthorized practices are so common that flyers soliciting fathers into 'litigation assistance' groups have been found displayed in county court buildings, while some state court web sites display links to their fatherhood programs. This practice violates the mission of the judicial system, as it provides special litigation assistance to one-side of a legal dispute.

While being funded by federal money, these court-based fatherhood services do not admit non- custodial mothers into their programs. (In fact, a search of the HHS website includes 286 references to “motherhood” and 824 references to “fatherhood.”) California NOW has copies of internal HHS e- mail showing Wade Horn's staff have obstructed investigations of mothers' complaints about the Responsible Fatherhood and related programs.

California NOW is asking for you to join the call for a thorough investigation by the Government Reform Committee into the fatherhood programs—including those in California-- and HHS Assistant Secretary, Wade Horn's conflict of interest in these programs. We implore you to support the Government Reform Committee’s investigations--already now underway--by contacting the staff investigator and urging that California be included in the investigation. The staff director is David Marin, phone number 202-225-5074, address c/o Government Reform Committee, 2157 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20515.

Thank you for your time and immediate attention to this matter.


For Justice,

Helen Grieco
Executive Director
California National Organization for Women (CA NOW)

_____

This was 2005. What came of this? Where is NOW, now?

See below this post for other posts of mine on topics that are covered in this letter (or click directly on the individual labels of this post for full listings).

Wednesday

Belize Survivor, part 94

"Daddy!" cried Jordan. "Mummy, look! Daddy's home!"

They both heard the honking of the horn and watched as the new little Chevy Luv headed up the long driveway toward the house.

Jordan went running happily to his father. Alexis gave Max a dutiful hug and kiss.

"Hi, you guys. Boy, I missed you. Well, this is our new truck. Do you like it?"

"I wanna drive, Daddy! Let me drive it!" Max put Jordan on the driver's side. The little boy wrenched the wheel back and forth and made truck noises.

"It's real cute,” said Alexis. “You must be exhausted."

"I'll sleep well tonight, that's for sure, but first things first. Give me a hand taking in all the goodies from the truck. I brought presents for everybody and some very good news."

It was a treat to see all the store-bought items from the States. Max brought a portable cassette player and some new tapes of their favorite artists. He gave Jordan a pair of Oshkosh overalls and a big yellow Tonka bulldozer with a backhoe. Alexis got an elegant rust-colored skirt, a pretty frilly blouse, and a stylish pair of leather shoes. Max had an uncanny knack for picking out beautiful things that fit.

"Those are for your army trips, Alexis, so you can look good, and make lots of money. And here's your jewelry stuff. I got you a rotary unit with a flexible shaft. Here's an assortment of burrs and bits, mostly dentist-type stuff, and a bunch of fine-grade sandpaper, buffing wheel, and jeweler's rouge."

"That's fantastic," Alexis said. She really was pleased. So far the black coral had been completely handmade. Now she would be able to work the raw material much faster.

"Now for the real surprise." Max was grinning as he gave Alexis another small box to unwrap. She opened the tissue paper and found the lovely teardrop of crystal. As she lifted it to the light, she saw that it hung inside a crescent-shaped moon made out of wood.

"It's lovely. What is it? A window ornament?"

"Exactly. The wooden moon catches the breeze and turns it in the wind. The crystal reflects the light and throws rainbows on the walls. I met a guy named John who markets these wholesale." Alexis thought of Mark with his crystals so long ago. Berkeley now belonged to another lifetime.

"There's more." Max opened the two large boxes. "This is a band saw, and this is a router," he said. "With them comes an order from a man named John for one thousand crescent moons made out of Belizean mahogany. We are now in the crescent moon business, and I'm the ‘moon man.'"

Max's mood was expansive that night as they lay in bed together.

"It's a whole new ball game. This is just the break we needed. With a financial link to the U.S. we can live here in Belize and still enjoy the best of both worlds."

"Are you going to run this moon operation here on the farm?"

"Why not? We've got the generator. That way, you can use the electricity for your black coral work at the same time. We'll have the new little truck for comfort and the old Toyota for the rough stuff. Tomorrow I'll check the lumber mill for prices on one-inch mahogany. Generally, ‘shorts’ are no good for construction anyway. I'm sure I can get them cheap." He paused. "Alexis? Did you miss me while I was gone?"

She paused, perhaps a fraction too long. "Yes, I missed you."

"I've been rough on you lately. I guess I can be a real bastard sometimes."

She held her breath, not daring to say anything. This was as close as Max had ever gotten to an apology.

"Come here, Ntombi," he said gently, reaching for her. "Let's make love."

Monday

Belize Survivor, part 93

Alexis' friend, Anita, surprised her by catching a ride on a passing dory to Emoyeni for a visit. It was a rare opportunity to speak openly with another woman without Max’s presence. She found herself telling Anita things she had never admitted to anyone. They sat together on the back steps, facing the green majestic river valley. Alexis talked and Anita listened sympathetically.

"I'm scared to death to let anyone know,” said Alexis. “Max threatened me. Says it's nobody's business but ours. He's always careful to beat me where the bruises won't show. I don’t understand how our relationship has degenerated into this."

"I don't know what to tell you," Anita replied. "I'm shocked. Don Elijio says that sometimes people are possessed."

“Possessed? By evil spirits? Like Matthew’s dwendes and sisimite?"

"Perhaps the two worlds are not so far apart. Even in contemporary theory, it has been suggested that some people become victims – providing fertile ground for evil manifestations. Is there something in his past that made him so belligerent?"

"It's possible,” Alexis said thoughtfully. “His girlfriend back in Africa left him for his best friend. His mother was a tough disciplinarian; she was really hard on him. Is that enough to turn a man into a monster?"

"Maybe he holds a grudge against all women; maybe he isn't even conscious of it. But, to tell you the truth, it's hard for me to see any of this in Max. He always seemed like a decent guy to me, and I've never heard anything different from anyone else. Don’t get me wrong; I believe you. Max is obviously very good at keeping his other side hidden."

"He is, believe me. I know the image he projects to Rick and Suzy and our other friends back at Baron's Creek," Alexis agreed. "I see it all the time. But when we're home alone, he's somebody else."

Anita put her hand on Alexis' shoulder. "You still love him, don't you?"

"Yes," she replied. "That's why it hurts. If I didn't care, it wouldn't matter. I remember who he used to be. I just can't accept that this is the way life was meant to be for us. And I don’t mean the lifestyle, or the isolation. If Max and I were cooperating as a team, living here would still be the realization of our dream. It's the conflict that eats me up inside. We're not living happily-ever-after inside the Garden of Eden; this isn't how the story is supposed to go. I hold on to the past because I want to believe that one day that same man will come back to me."

"Have you ever considered leaving him?"

"I've left him twice already,” said Alexis, “once before Jordan was born and again when we were living in Michael Whitmore’s house. The first time I invited him back. The second time I took Jordan with me. Max found me before I could get away and threatened that if I ever left again, it would be without my son.”

“The longer you stay together, the greater the investment.” Anita shook her head sadly. “You’ve had six years together and now you have Jordan as well. At what point do you cut your losses?”

“That's why I hang on. I just have to believe that, one day, things will come right again."

"And if they don't?"

Alexis shook her head. Tears came to her eyes. "The alternatives are unthinkable."

Oh, Those Restraining Orders...They Don't Work Well With Incompetent Judges and Violent Men

About a week ago I entitled a post Family MembersFriends and Co-Workers of Victims are Often Aware of Problems because I was sick of the media's portrayal of these murder-suicides as lone actions of some depressed, but otherwise "nice" man.

Shortly after that post, I wrote up on Judge Tim Barnack in Oregon being responsible for the murder of Calah Trostel after denying her restraining order petition.

Well, that same week, I failed to write up about the murder of Letizia "Lisa" Zindell in Toms River, New Jersey. I couldn't write that one up just yet....because I was JUST VACATIONING IN TOMS RIVER DURING THAT SAME TIME PERIOD!!!!

Letizia was murdered by her boyfriend, well, they were about get married but the wedding was called off. Her dear ex-fiance was becoming more and more enraged. She had a restraining order place against him. He likely had a not-so-good relationship in his previous relationship because he owed child support.

Wait, wait, stop right here! You see...we have all of these poorly written media stories reporting that the economy is causing men's violence to escalate. Wrong. The thinking that is prevalent is causing men's violence. It seems that men do kill because of financial issues (debt, child support)...but this is related to them NOT having CONTROL!!!! Women have financial issues, too! Women with children are the poorest in the United States. But there is no rash of woman murder-suicides...especially in which the media reports that the woman/mother was depressed, or suffering from financial woes. No.

Anyway, Letizia was a highly educated woman who had access to many resources, and yet, her ex-fiance decided her fate. He had JUST gotten out of jail for violating the restraining order and for child support arrears.

Who is the judge on this case?

New Jersey, what is going on?

Yes, concerned citizens in New Jersey, you should organize and protest at the courthouse.

Saturday

Fatherlessness "Research" is Overly Simplistic, Biased, and Sexist

MICHAEL E. LAMB ON FATHER ABSENCE:

THE EFFECTS ARE NOT WHAT FATHERHOOD AND FATHER'S RIGHTS GROUPS TELL YOU THEY ARE

For more information, please see this page of excerpts of Michael Lamb's research.

Most researchers past and present looked at father absence in an overly simplistic fashion. Early father absence studies were weakened by researchers not taking the role of the father within the context of the family and society at large. They were also weakened by techniques used to determine the development of masculinity and femininity in children. A bad or inadequate father is worse than no father at all. The fathers' attitude towards his children and the way he interacts with them is important. Data indicated that "quality of the father-son relationship is a more important influence on the boy's masculine development than the amount of time the father spends at home."

Children are not irreparably harmed by the absence of their biological fathers, so fatherhood initiatives that seek to bring the bio-father into the family, regardless of the costs, are short-sighted. The absence of the father may be mellowed by the presence of other positive male role models: "Paternal absence or paternal inadequacy does not rule out the possible presence of other male models. A brother, uncle, grandfather, or male boarder may ensure that the boy has much interactions with a competent adult male. An important role can be played by male neighbors and teachers. Male teachers, particularly, may influence father-absent boys."

Early studies found that fathers away from their children for more than two years regarded them as "sissies." Lamb agreed with this assessment, stating that "boys were less assertively aggressive and independent in their peer relations than boys who had not been separated from their fathers. They were more often observed to be very submissive or to react with immature hostility, and they were actually more aggressive in doll play than boys who had not been separated from their fathers. However, the facts that the fathers were present in the home at the time of this study and that the father-child relationships were stressful make it difficult to speculate about what influence father absence per se had on the children's personality development."

Lamb also found that "Studies of the effects of father absence have been said to show an element of sexism in that more attention has been given to effects on boys than on girls."

Father absence studies began to assess the effects on children of the absence of their fathers due to military service during World War II. Comparisons between war time father absence and father absence due to divorce or single parenthood are so far removed from each other that the differing conditions between these situations must be taken into account before using father absence research to describe (and especially to malign) divorced and single mother homes.

Most importantly, "well-socialized and successful adult males were likely to have had highly involved fathers and to have come from homes where their parents had compatible relationships. Some very extensive longitudinal data underscore the importance of both the father's behavior and the father- mother relationship in the personality adjustment of the child. In general, block (1971) found that males who had achieved a successful emotional and interpersonal adjustment in adulthood had both fathers and mothers who were highly involved and responsible in their upbringing. In contrast poorly adjusted males had fathers who were typically uninvolved in childrearing and mothers who tended to have a neurotic attachment."
____

Michael Lamb was once a prominent researcher for fathers' rights ie Kelly and Lamb....

Friday

Belize Survivor, part 92

Thousands of miles separated Alexis from her family in the U.S., but they kept in touch through the post office in San Ignacio and the occasional phone call made from the local Belize Telecommunications Authority. On the next trip to town, Alexis received the news that her grandparents’ estate was breaking up in order to allow the old folks to enter a Senior Living Facility, and she had some inheritance coming. It was a badly-needed windfall.

"Well, I think we ought to use the money to get some more jewelry equipment and supplies for you,” said Max. “Then we ought to use the rest to buy another vehicle."

Alexis' mouth twisted. "But it's my inheritance. They're my grandparents." She knew she was taking a chance by voicing her opinion.

"So what’s your objection to using it for something worthwhile?" he asked sarcastically. “I suppose you want to put it into a bank account and let it earn some interest, right? Well, that's just more crap your parents put into your head. Work a job, put it in the bank, the only life they know. Self-employed people don't save money for a rainy day, they invest it. When you're in business for yourself, you can't let money sit around in a bank account. You have to turn it over. Banks are for people who don't know how to invest their money; they get the bank to do it for them. Do you know how many times we could invest and reinvest within a few years?"

"I understand what you're saying." She was on dangerous ground. "But I still think I should have some—“

"Oh. So what's yours is yours, and what's mine is ours, huh? Well, guess what, Mama? I'm running this show. You don't have a choice. I'm the brains in this outfit, and I’m going to tell you what's going to happen. I'm going to take that money, fly to the States, buy a new vehicle, get some more jewelry supplies for your army business, then drive back down. I'll be gone about ten days. That ought to be enough time. If you have any objections, then I suggest, in the best interests of your continued health and well-being, that you keep them to yourself."

June arrived during Max's absence, and the renewing rains of Yum Kax, the Mayan god of spring, brought forth the greening of the land. Overnight, the flowering trees burst forth in their tropical rendition of spring. Royal Poincianas opened their flame-red flowers among the feathery mimosa-like leaves. Giant Crepe Myrtle bloomed in flowers of lacy purple, and bukut trees opened their tiny delicate blossoms of the palest mauve.

Jordan was turning into a robust little boy. Almost four now, he was intelligent and strong. He had learned to swim almost before he learned to walk and had quickly developed sturdy leg muscles from hikes to the river. Basically, Jordan was a happy child. The only dark cloud in his young mind was the friction he felt between his parents. He loved both of them, but was hurt and confused by the constant strife. Often he heard them when they thought he was asleep and, somehow, felt it was his fault. He thought that if he could be a really good boy, they would stop arguing.

While Max was gone, Alexis thought she might feel lonely or afraid, but instead she found herself having a wonderful time with her young son. Every day, from morning until night, they worked and played together. It was a time of discovery for both. Jordan helped her feed the chickens, milk the goats, cook the meals, and clean the house. He carried the basket from the chicken coop when they collected eggs, and helped her hang the clothes on the line. Later, in the cool of the evening when day was done, Alexis and Jordan sat together on the back step overlooking the river valley and she sang to him. He laid his head in her lap while she stroked his platinum hair and ran her finger over the outline of his ear. To Jordan, there was no sweeter sound than his mother's singing.

Wednesday

Belize Survivor, part 91

Inside the fenced-in garden perimeter, the family began the arduous task of preparing the hard-packed ground for planting vegetables. Max had found an old abandoned single-share plow on the property, so he borrowed a draft horse, horse collar, and harness from a neighboring farmer, and began to break up the stubborn earth. Guiding the horse to hug the edge of the broken ground, he forced it to plow in straight even furrows, and even Alexis had taken a turn at the reins. Now, the clods of earth, matted deep with grass roots, had been baked in the hot sun to the consistency of bricks, and since they had no disc harrow attachment, the next step had to be done by hand. Alexis hacked at the clods and pulled the heavy hoe until her stomach muscles burned. Encrusted with dirt from head to toe, insect bites made her itch, and the salty sweat streamed down her body, burning the red scratches on her bare legs left behind by the tall harsh grasses.

"I can't do this anymore," Alexis told him at last. "I'm exhausted. I'm itchy and tired and dirty. I've just got to quit. I feel like I'm on the verge of passing out."

"It's soil, not dirt,” Max corrected her, “and you give up too easily. When you feel like you can't go on, that's exactly when you’ve got to keep going. Only when you’ve felt that way ten times over, can you feel righteous about stopping. It's good training; it'll make you tough and will teach you not to give up. But go ahead and take a break for five minutes, sit in the shade, and drink some water. Then get back to work. I suggest you draw on your inner chi; make your inner strength work for you. You need to learn some work ethic. Don’t be a wimp. Let's see you endure a little."

Alexis was so angry and frustrated at his lack of compassion, she didn't even notice that he was manipulating her. Max had shamed her into it, and her humiliation served him well. Attacking the job with renewed vigor, she chopped at the stubborn chunks. I’ll show him.

Soil, my ass, she thought. It was freakin’ dirt.

Outside the garden, they had used machetes to clear a large acreage for corn. Refusing to victimize the virgin forest, Max and Alexis had elected instead to tackle a section of shorter bush and wamill. The chopped vegetation had lain on the ground since early April, and now the torrid heat had dried it into a hardened tangle. For the first time Alexis understood why Belizeans resorted to burning. If they didn't, the new growth of weeds and grasses would simply grow up through the dried-out snarl and create a permanently impenetrable barrier.

Burning was a job best done in the heat of the day, and with the rain clouds gathering on the horizon, they could see that the distant neighbors were already laying fire to their plantations. The smoky dry season haze drifted lazily over the Macal river valley, creating a strangely-colored sky that was more pink than blue. No one wanted to take a chance on missing a clean burn before the June rains. So, with the wind at his back, Max lit a match at the far corner of the field, and together, the couple watched as the blaze began to sparkle and snap, fueled by the steady breeze. But, unlike the locals, they were careful to keep this fire within the perimeter of the chopped area, so it did not run wild. Steadily, the blaze crept along the ground, burning everything in its path, consuming the smaller branches until it reached the heaped piles of thicker limbs and underbrush. As the open areas burned out, they consolidated the brush piles using two fresh-cut green poles as levers.

It was already ninety-five degrees in the shade. In the sun, temperatures were over one hundred. But even that seemed insignificant compared to the scorching fire. It was so hot near the flames that when Alexis stepped back and merely stood in the sun, it felt like shade. Working close to the inferno, she adjusted the wet bandanna that protected her hair from catching fire, but her arms and legs still burned red in the heat. Sweat poured from her face as she wedged the pole under the burning brush and boosted it, little by little, toward the flames. Suddenly, a large limb burned through and the entire pile shifted. Out of nowhere, the tip of a hot poker sprang forward and touched lightly on Alexis' face just below her left temple, narrowly missing her eye. The skin hissed as she felt the hot sting and smelled her own burning flesh. Screaming, she jumped backwards.

"What happened, Ntombi?" said Max as he ran toward her. Within seconds, a blister the size of a nickel had formed. “Are you OK? It looks bad! Go into the house right away and put a wet cloth on it, as cold as you can get it. I'll be right in."

As Alexis ran towards the house for relief, she realized that, although the tiny butane refrigerator was cool enough to preserve goats' milk for a day or two, it did not provide the luxury of ice. Anxiously, she drew water from the tank, but it was tepid at best. She wet a cloth and laid it on her blistered face. It did nothing for the pain.
Jordan had been watching from the front steps, his little face full of concern. "What happened, Mommy?" asked Jordan. "Fire burn you?"

“Yes, honey. Come give Mommy a hug."

The little boy crawled up into her lap. For the moment he was the big man, the comforter. "Sorry, Mommy," he said, patting her. "Kiss and make better?"

"Thank you, sweetie," murmured Alexis. She dipped the rag again, bitterly. Living in the jungle, the most basic therapy for burns was simply unavailable.

Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Tim Barnack Is Obligated to Follow the Law, Even if It Means Putting Women and Children in Danger

First off, when did judges start following the law?

Calah Trostel asked for a restraining order and temporary custody of her son.

Judge Tim Barnack denied her petition around 1 pm.

Why?

Judge Tim Barnack asked if there was recent abuse, within the past 6 months, and asked if she had lived in California for the past 6 months. Answers, negative.

Calah took her 3 year old for his father-visitation, meeting him at a park.

At around 4 pm, Calah's ex boyfriend, Cory Allen Breaux, tried to kidnap son, pointed a gun to Callah's head, and got into an altercation with her friend.

She did things right, according the to law, and yet there was no law to protect her. She asked for protection, she chose to proceed with visitation that would place her in danger, she met, accompanied, at a public location. What more could she have done?

I'd hate to think that now that the babydaddy has been charged with assault and endangerment, he will still get his child visitation. What a great reward our society gives to abusers.

In my own case, I remember the judge asking me if there had been any abuse within the past 6 months. This wasn't during a restraining order hearing--it was a child visitation modification done by the father, who hadn't really bothered to visit, or even communicate. In answering truthfully, I had to tell the judge "no."

Why?

Because we hadn't seen "the father" in 9 months, thus, there could not have been any abuse in the past 6 months. But I knew there would be if given the chance.

My answer wasn't good enough either.

When Men and Women Abuse Children

Back to the old debate about whether mothers, or fathers, abuse children more. The fathers' groups point to the women, and the feminist groups point to the menz. I have written this up umpteen billion times (see recent dialogue with links on my Fathers and Families Use McNair's Death post).

Here' yet another take, well, not take, but a STUDY sponsored by dear ol' DHHS ACF (do they ever utilize these studies when they create policy?) (emphasis mine):

Distribution of Child Abuse and Neglect by Perpetrator Characteristics

Perpetrator's Relationship to the Child. The majority of all children countable under the Harm Standard (78%) were maltreated by their birth parents, and this held true both for children who were abused (62% were maltreated by birth parents) and for those who were neglected (91% experienced neglect by birth parents).

Birth parents were the most closely related perpetrators for 72 percent of the physically abused children and for 81 percent of the emotionally abused children. The pattern was distinctly different for sexual abuse. Nearly one-half of the sexually abused children were sexually abused by someone other than a parent or parent-substitute, while just over one-fourth were sexually abused by a birth parent, and one-fourth were sexually abused by other than a birth parent or parent- substitute. In addition, a sexually abused child was most likely to sustain a serious injury or impairment when a birth parent was the perpetrator.

Perpetrator's Sex. Children were somewhat more likely to be maltreated by female perpetrators than by males: 65 percent of the maltreated children had been maltreated by a female, whereas 54 percent had been maltreated by a male. Of children who were maltreated by their birth parents, the majority (75%) were maltreated by their mothers and a sizable minority (46%) were maltreated by their fathers (some children were maltreated by both parents). In contrast, children who were maltreated by other parents or parent-substitutes, or by other persons, were more likely to have been maltreated by a male than by a female (80 to 85% were maltreated by males; 14 to 41% by females).

Abused children presented a different pattern in connection with the sex of their perpetrators than did the neglected children. Children were more often neglected by female perpetrators (87% by females versus 43% by males). This finding is congruent with the fact that mothers and mother-substitutes tend to be the primary caretakers and are the primary persons held accountable for any omissions and/or failings in caretaking. In contrast, children were more often abused by males (67% were abused by males versus 40% by females). The prevalence of male perpetrators was strongest in the category of sexual abuse, where 89 percent of the children were abused by a male compared to only 12 percent by a female.

Among all abused children, those abused by their birth parents were about equally likely to have been abused by mothers as by fathers (50% and 58%, respectively), but those abused by other parents, parent-substitutes, or other, nonparental perpetrators were much more likely to be abused by males (80 to 90% by males versus 14 to 15% by females). This general pattern held for emotional abuse, but was slightly different in the area of physical abuse. Children who had been physically abused by their birth parents were more likely to have suffered at the hands of their mothers than their fathers (60% versus 48%), while those who had been physically abused by other parents or parent- substitutes were much more likely to have been abused by their fathers or father-substitutes (90% by their fathers versus 19% by their mothers). For sexual abuse, the child's relationship to the perpetrator made very little difference, since males clearly predominated as perpetrators, whatever their relationship to the child. Moreover, the severity of the injury or impairment that the child experienced as a result of maltreatment did not appear to bear any relationship to the sex of the perpetrator.
Note the language/categories...abuse versus neglect and maltreatment.

Now are you confused more, or is it settled?

Black People Are the Worst Child Abusers? Well, Not Really

I have heard plenty an older White feminist, and of course the menz, state that Black women participate in some of the worst forms of child abuse. Every time I hear this, I have to stop and think for a minute: Are White people serious? And what are they basing this off of?

Don't get me wrong, I've seen plenty Black folk whooping that ass and cursing their kids out, in public AND in private. But when it comes to what I've observed about White families, their kids run all over them in public, from having temper tantrums, to cursing them out, kicking and slapping. I cannot account for what happens behind closed doors. But where do the public displays of the children come from?

It is common knowledge about what Child Protective Services (CPS) does to Black families with children. Upon writing the previous sentence, I have just figured out that if White women, or White people in general, hold these beliefs [about Black women/families], it's no wonder about the CPS. Hmmmm.

This makes me feel bad that I actually almost fell for these lies. Just like Black people falling for fatherhood/fatherlessness lies.

From the 1996 Executive Summary of the Third National Incidence Study of Child Abuse and Neglect (yes, I know a bit dated, but the next one has not concluded), under contract by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families Administration on Children, Youth and Families National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect (emphasis mine):

Race. The NIS-3 found no race differences in maltreatment incidence. The NIS-3 reiterates the findings of the earlier national incidence studies in this regard. That is, the NIS-1 and the NIS-2 also found no significant race differences in the incidence of maltreatment or maltreatment-related injuries.

Service providers may find these results somewhat surprising in view of the disproportionate representation of children of color in the child welfare population and in the clientele of other public agencies. However, it should be recognized that the NIS methodology identifies a much broader range of children than those who come to the attention of any one type of service agency or the even smaller subset who receive child protective and other child welfare services. The NIS findings suggest that the different races receive differential attention somewhere during the process of referral, investigation, and service allocation, and that the differential representation of minorities in the child welfare population does not derive from inherent differences in the rates at which they are abused or neglected. It is also important to recognize that while there are no overall race differences in the incidence of child abuse and neglect in the NIS-3 findings, subsequent analyses that simultaneously consider multiple characteristics may reveal race differences in maltreatment incidence among specific subsets of children (e.g., for children of certain ages, for one sex but not the other, etc.).


And so another racist statement, down the drain.

Tuesday

The Abused Women Are Killing

Two cases are currently in the news with women murdering their spouses. Domestic violence? Yes. Against men? Not quite. As it turns out, both women were survivors of violence at the hands of their spouses.

In Washington D.C., Kristin Kozak-Burnett shot her husband in the head and in the back. She reported that he was unarmed. They had been married for two years. There is a 20-year age difference between them. The husband, Michael Burnett, previously was charged with assaulting his wife and also making threats. The judge found him not guilty of the former, and the latter was dismissed. Justice at its best.

In Michigan, Joni Holbrook shot her police officer husband, Sergeant Melvin P. Holbrook, in his sleep. Neighbors and anonymous others are coming forward with reports that Joni had been previously beaten. Joni refused to report it because, well, because her husband was the police. Neighbors also failed to report...but what were they to do, report it against her wishes?

This is that "element of surprise" that the father's rights groups always mention when referring to women as domestic violence perpetrators. To quote them:

Studies by researchers R.I. McNeeley and Coramae Richey Mann show that women are much more likely than men to use weapons and the element of surprise. These weapons often include guns, knives, boiling water, bricks, fireplace pokers and baseball bats.


Well, no shit, Sherlock. If someone has physical power over you and you have no chance of winning, what do you do? If someone has been beating your ass, how can you get them back?

Quoting an article on SELF-DEFENSE and martial arts:

A woman’s best defense includes the element of surprise so use it to your advantage and don’t stop or pause until you are free.



I just wrote a post in which I stated that the media should back off from interviewing neighbors who don't know shit. At this time, I'm not retracting my statement, but I am taking note of this: When a man commits murder/murder-suicide, the neighbors ALWAYS say that he was a "nice guy." When a woman commits murder, somehow, the neighbors are NOT so surprised.

Furthermore, when men commit murder, their supporters always talk about what a great man he was, and how he was just experiencing a hard time in his life. When a woman commits murder, it seems as though her supporters come out of the woodworks and recount YEARS of abuse at the hands of her boyfriend/husband.

What is wrong with this picture?

The abused women are killing. It should never have to go this far. Women can learn martial arts, women can carry guns...someone is still going to die if it comes to having to kill or be killed. I don't know any other way of looking at this other than men's thinking has to be changed. Anything less is blaming the victim. What is going to be done?

Scotland Implementing New Plans for Domestic Violence Abusers

If you keep getting the same results, you must do something different.


Targeting serial domestic abusers

An innovative way of tackling domestic violence is being pioneered in the west of Scotland.

Strathclyde Police has set up a dedicated unit to target some of the region's most dangerous serial abusers.

Last year 27,000 domestic incidents were reported across the force area. Seven of them were murders.

A special BBC Crimewatch programme has been following the officers involved with the new task force as they arrest and disrupt known abusers.

The 17 highly experienced detectives who make up the domestic abuse task force said they hoped to intervene before abuse escalates.

Chief constable Stephen House said: "We simply have to reduce the carnage in relation to domestic abuse in the west of Scotland.

"In the past 12 months, we have had seven domestic abuse murders and we can't let that continue.

"This task force is in place to try to intervene to stop that before it actually happens."

The Crimewatch on the Streets programme will feature a reconstruction of the case of 18-year-old mother Laura Thomson from Ayr, who was murdered by her ex-boyfriend Stuart McDonald.

He stalked her almost obsessively before stabbing her to death.

The night before the attack he came into a bar where she was drinking and told a friend he was "going to do her in".

The young mother's friend, Toni Spiers, told Crimewatch: "She wasn't allowed to talk to people or meet people.

"Drinking in pubs she wasn't allowed to sit anywhere near a guy...

(read the rest by clicking the article's title)

Family Members, Friends and Co-Workers of Victims Often are Aware of Problems...

...so, dear media, stop asking the fucking neighbors for their "nice guy" commentary.



Murder-suicide is often about control

Tuesday, August 11, 2009 3:09 AM
By John Futty
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH

The death of a 39-year-old Columbus man and his 32-year-old girlfriend in a murder-suicide yesterday morning was the third such tragedy in central Ohio in the past week.

All three fit the pattern seen by a researcher who has studied murder-sui-

cides in the U.S. for the past 15 years.

In the majority of cases, a man is the perpetrator and the victim is a current or former spouse or girlfriend, said Donna Cohen, a professor at the University of South Florida.

"The perpetrator is extremely attached" to the victim with "a strong sense of control," she said. "Usually what precipitates the act is a belief that there's something imminent that is going to take away that control."

No national database exists to track murder-suicides, so Cohen monitors the cases through newspaper accounts.

Her survey counted 145 murder-suicides in Ohio from 2000 to 2008, ranking the state eighth in the nation. Florida led the nation with 575 such cases, many of which involved older men who were distraught about the failing health of their spouses, she said.

Of the roughly 20,000 homicides and 30,000 suicides each year in the U.S., between 1,500 and 2,500 deaths are due to murder-suicide, Cohen estimated.

"It is relatively rare, but it affects families and communities for years to come," she said.

Based on a review of Dispatch archives, authorities have investigated at least 20 murder-suicides in central Ohio since January 2006. Of those, 15 involved current or former spouses or partners.

The perpetrators usually are suffering from depression or other "significant mental-health problems" and have contemplated the act "for a long period of time," Cohen said.

Statistics suggest that cases of murder-suicide might be increasing slightly, which Cohen said could be attributed to increasing mental illness in the population as well as growing stress in society.

She said family members, friends and co-workers of victims often are aware of problems that precede murder-suicide. But, she said, they don't intervene.

"There are a lot of things that can be done to increase awareness," Cohen said. "People shouldn't be afraid to recommend resources, to know where a shelter is or how to contact a domestic-violence program."

Dispatch information specialist Julie Albert provided research for this story.

Victims of domestic violence can seek help by contacting the Buckeye Regional Anti-Violence Organization at 1-866-862-7286 or CHOICES for Victims of Domestic Violence at 614-224-4663.



[email protected]

____

Murder-suicide is ALWAYS about control.

Eugene C. says,
Sucide is cultural, so is homicide. The only way to stop this is to make it societally unacceptable and shameful for the perpetrators. We need to label these people as the losers they are so they won't feel any sense of victory in calling 911 and announcing their deeds. That's my personal opinion, anyway.


Thank you, Eugene.

What's Happening in Our Family Court System and What Should Be Done?

(excerpt from the 2007 Truth Commission, emphasis mine, my commentary is interspersed.)

I. Court appointees, state actors and other professionals are frequently biased, particularly gender-biased, misogynistic, incompetent, and inadequately trained in domestic violence and child abuse. Many exhibit a shocking lack of knowledge about incest and child sexual abuse, and how domestic violence affects parenting, and may lie with impunity. They appear to have scant understanding of, or interest in, the negative effects of substance abuse as it pertains to parenting. There is a lack of training and availability of qualified, ethical professionals, particularly attorneys to represent non-abusive protective parents.. This problem is mostly hidden from the general public.

We live in a misogynistic society, therefore, most of the players are subject to beliefs that are against women's best interest. Contrary to fatherhood propaganda, there is no assault on fatherhood. No pendulum has swung. The problem is hidden from the general public only because the thoughts are ingrained into us to the point of invisibility to the average mind.
Public Education: The situation of family courts endangering children and punishing women must be exposed in the media. State and national policymakers in all 3 branches of government and other allies must be advised of the problem of family courts placing children in the unsupervised custody of abusive parents, and be told that this is happening with alarming frequency.

The media is part of the problem. They ARE aware of what goes on but they continue to report it the way they see fit. Men dominate the media outlets. The government is part of the problem because they feign ignorance, pass the buck, and more importantly, they are responsible for giving money to organizations that promote misogyny.
Research: More and better research on family court cases with allegations of DV and child abuse is needed to determine how many children are sent to live with abusers and how often custody scandal cases occur. Research should be done about how jury trials might work in custody cases to determine if this method of family court adjudication improves children’s safety. Any changes to the law must be examined to rule out unintended consequences of the abusers using the law to assist their cause.

Plenty of research is available. In fact there is so much million-dollar research going on, funded by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), that little action is taking place. And with the action that is taking place, there is little-to-no accountability. The actions are not evidence-based. Social-engineering is taking place.
Training: Effective, quality, in depth training on recognizing domestic violence, effects of domestic violence on children, gender bias, child sexual abuse, child physical abuse, substance abuse, and the negative effects of abuse and violence on parenting and healthy child development must be developed and provided to all court professionals. A standard national training curriculum must be developed by a consortium of nationally recognized experts in domestic violence, child physical and sexual abuse, substance abuse, parenting, and child development. The approved curriculum must be taught by qualified experts who must pass rigorous examinations in the subject matter. . This training must be based on publications such as the 2006 Navigating Custody and Visitation Evaluations in Cases with Domestic Violence: A Judge’s Guide and 1996 American Psychological Association Presidential Task Force must be required for and provided to all court personnel and associated professionals, including judges.

This is major...as there are competing organizations and large groups like the AFCC that disseminate and promote harmful practices which endanger women and children. They claim domestic violence is equal between men and women. They advocate for mediation and psychotherapies that are counterindicated in family abuse. We need one system.

Monday

Belize Survivor, part 90

As a child, Alexis had loved holidays and the family traditions surrounding them. Every year, she was in the Nativity pageant, and later she participated in the church’s musical presentations with the youth group. Frank put up the lights on the house and Liz baked cookies and made decorations out of papier-mâché. On Christmas Eve, instead of watching TV, the family played cards or board games together while listening to carols on the hi-fi. On Christmas morning, Frank presided over the opening the presents, one by one. Later, Grandma and Grandpa arrived and the wonderful smells of turkey and pumpkin pies filled the air.

Of course, in her rebellious teenage years, Alexis had gone through a stage when the family environment had become too square; she wanted to spend Christmas or Easter with her friends. But her father had insisted that those holidays were reserved for family. He had said that, in the future, the friends would be all but forgotten, while family would remain.

"Family is the only thing that counts; the only thing that lasts," Frank had said. "Only your family really loves you." How wise Dad had been on that count, she thought.

In those days of young innocence, when Alexis had dreamed of the future, she had imagined herself to be the kind of wife and mother Liz had been, and her husband would be like her father, funny and caring, kind and giving. Max was none of these things. Instead, he had become the enemy, the opponent. Anti-love, anti-trust, anti-laughter. Now she dreaded the holidays. There was no tradition, no cohesion in the family, and the contrast to her childhood made the pain greater.

Compounding the problem was the radically different climate in Belize; it was virtually impossible to create a typical holiday ambiance. There were none of the usual props. No grandparents were due to arrive from over-the-river-and-through-the-woods. There was no church pageant, and no snow. During the previous Christmas, Alexis had made a trip to the Pine Ridge and cut a scraggly long-needled pine, but then she had fretted that there were no decorations. So she'd strung some popcorn and hung it on the tree, only to find that, by morning, ants had invaded the house and eaten it. Chicken was abundant in Belize, but turkey was scarce. Orange pumpkins were unknown, and even if Alexis had been able to obtain such delicacies, she had no oven in which to cook them.

Now it was Easter, and Alexis wanted to show Jordan some of the traditions she had enjoyed as a child. She searched the shops in Cayo to find an Easter basket, jelly beans, and a chocolate rabbit, but found nothing. Colored dye for Easter eggs was unheard of; no one even knew what she was talking about. Disheartened, she went home and put some eggs on the stove to hard-boil. Then, while Jordan was napping, she looked through his toy box for some crayons. The art work would be crude, but she would do her best. But, of course, Max took issue with her.

"What the hell are you doing?" he said, as he saw the tray of eggs with Crayola faces.

"I just wanted to do something for Jordan for Easter. I thought it would be fun to have an egg hunt."

"That's stupid,” Max said, unequivocally. “All that holiday stuff you're so attached to is pointless."

It seemed that everything had become either pointless or stupid to Max, unless it revolved around him, or directly related to making money. Alexis felt utterly invalidated by his contempt, and it extended to anything she held sacred or meaningful. But it wasn't just the holidays. It was more far-reaching than that.

Gradually, Alexis' image of what family life should be was fading into a charade. Except for her son, and the beauty of the verdant jungle around her, life had become colorless. The dream of a utopian farm had degenerated into a jaded monotony of daily chores. Alexis felt her horizons shrinking. She was lonesome for human companionship. Fear and boredom directed her wooden movements as her verbal creativity became first stifled, then crushed. She no longer wrote poetry. She hadn't kept a journal for years. Life was no longer an open book, full of promise. Max was unbearable and hounded her like a drill sergeant. He cross-examined her every word, thought, and deed, then nit-picked her answers. When she spoke, he wanted to know what she was insinuating, instead of taking her word at face value.

Sadly, Alexis learned one very valuable lesson: that a plausible falsehood was often more useful than an unworkable truth. She wasn't a dishonest person, but it simply became more practical to tell the man whatever he wanted to hear. If openness and honesty were the trademarks of a healthy marriage, then Max had effectively educated her on the value of deception. He’d taught her to become a liar by making the truth a punishable offense.

How Can Domestic Violence Be a Private Crime If It Is Hurting EVERYBODY

(Old post I'm pulling out of draft)

Family violence happens behind closed doors. Victims may try to leave, one, two, three, four, five plus times. Family and friends may never know. Neighbors don't have a clue. Sometimes, all of us find out at the same time--when everyone's dead.

The media often portrays these incidences as a sudden event, however they are escalations. Digging through court records, a picture is often painted, dating several years back. Family and friend probably knew. Neighbors know only what they choose to know based on what they think they have seen. All of us who are survivors recognize the events before the media's discovery is complete.

If family violence is nobody's business, why are the children of violent households sitting in class with your children, depressed or anxious or hyperactive or learning disable or trouble-maker or attention-seeker, causing quite a stir?

Why are your loved ones minding their own business, living their lives when suddenly interrupted by some lone, crazed gunman or sniper?

Why are police officers responding to their domestic disturbance calls of duty and winding up dead from shoot outs?

Suspect's wife sorry for NC nursing home shooting
The estranged wife of a man charged with gunning down seven residents and a nurse at a North Carolina nursing home said Wednesday she wishes she had been the victim instead. Wanda Gay Neal told WRAL-TV she has apologized to some families of those killed.


Externalities in the Classroom: How Children Exposed to Domestic Violence Affect Everyone’s Kids
The costs of this dysfunction are even more profound. Kids exposed to domestic violence definitely do have lower reading and math scores and greater disciplinary problems. But the effects of this dysfunction are not limited to the direct victims of this violence: kids exposed to kids exposed to domestic violence also have lower test scores and more disciplinary infractions.


Suspect in Shooting of 2 Officers Identified
Police have identified a man who they say wounded two city officers in a shootout Saturday as Shawn Sinclair, a 34-year-old West Baltimore resident with a history of domestic assault accusations. Sinclair, who was also injured in the shootout, remained hospitalized Sunday but was expected to be charged with attempted murder and domestic violence-related counts, said Baltimore police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi.

Friday

Belize Survivor, part 89

She arrived back at the ranch late, and when she walked in the door, Max was not amused. "Where the hell have you been? I expected you home hours ago. I had to do all the evening chores, cook dinner, and give Jordan his bath. It would be nice if you could make it home in time to take care of your responsibilities." With a three-day growth of beard and an inverted "V" in his two front teeth, Max looked horrible. Although he had made an appointment for the repair the following week, he had yet to see the dentist.


"I've been selling in Belize City since yesterday. I was at the army base last night. Then I picked up supplies in town this morning, and established a new wholesale outlet this afternoon. By the time I got to Cayo it was already dark. Then I had trouble getting the truck up Monkey Fall Hill by Cristo Rey. That road is becoming impossible. I had to rev it at the bottom to get enough speed to get up the hill, and I nearly tore the bottom out, high clearance and all."

"You bloody liar."

"You've been drinking," said Alexis in surprise.

"So what if I have? You're still a liar."

"Whiskey. I can smell it – the twelve-year-old scotch the soldiers left behind, no doubt. Why do you drink it, Max? It doesn't agree with you."

"No, you're the one who doesn't agree with me. I'll drink if I feel like it. Who do you think you are anyway? My fuckin' mother?"

Alexis tried to distract him. "Is Jordan sleeping?"

"I asked you a question," he persisted.

"Please, I don't want to fight. I'm exhausted. I just don't think you should drink alone. It's not good for you."

"I'll tell you what's not good for me. You're not good for me. You've been screwing soldiers, haven't you?"

"Of course not.” Alexis almost laughed at the absurdity, but checked herself in time. “Here, look at this money. I sold eight hundred dollars worth."

"And I need to know if you made the money lying on your back."

"What? That’s crazy. Why are you quarrelling with me? We've been making good money for the first time since we've been in Belize. It sure beats the hell out of selling tomatoes. At first it was every six weeks, then once a month. Now I'm going down every two weeks, and I’m knocking myself out making the jewelry in between. After all, you encouraged me."

"Oh, so it's my fault then?"

"No. OK, let me word this more carefully – it's what we agreed on."

"I don't like it," Max growled. "You're putting yourself in a position to be tempted."

"I don’t desire other men." Of course, by this time, she had no desire for Max either. "The only thing I enjoy is the fact that they're nice to me."

"Quite a contrast to life with me, isn't it?" Max leered at her, purposefully, with his grotesque broken teeth. Alexis knew the situation was getting dangerous, and started to move to the bedroom where Jordan lay sleeping.

"Stay away from that kid. Get your ass outside. Now!"

It was too late. Alexis knew what was coming. A horrible sickening sensation came over her as Max came behind and shoved her roughly out the door. The smell of whiskey was strong and sour. She stood facing the full moonlight. Given the circumstances, it could have been a romantic evening. He stood behind her breathing heavily.

“Please don't overreact," she said, turning to face him. Couldn't we just–” With one powerful blow, he buried his fist into her solar plexus. She collapsed; her lungs unable to draw the next breath.

"Fuckin’ slut," he mumbled, as he walked back into the house.

Alexis lay there and gasped for air, unable to breathe. The bitter taste of bile rose in her throat and she retched in the dirt. Her mind cried out to God, to the sky, to the moon, to anyone. But there was no answer. All she could feel was the cold ground under her body. She felt utterly helpless and alone. Her only comfort was that this abuse had been short-lived. After perhaps twenty minutes of recovery, she was able to get up and go into the house. Max was in the bedroom lying down in bed. She walked into the room and took off her clothes.

"You're not going to be lying down tonight."

"Please. I'm hurt and I'm tired. I need to sleep."

"You're not going to lie down here or anywhere else. Or sleep. You're going to stand right there and do absolutely nothing."

Alexis started to cry. "Please, Max! What do you want from me? I'm begging you. Let me lie down. At least let me sit down."

"Stand there and stop your blubbering. If you don't shut up, you'll wake the baby." Alexis stood there for several minutes in silence, and then began to put her clothes back on.

"Leave your clothes off."

"But I'm getting chilled and I have to pee."

"Good. Uncomfortable, isn’t it?"

It was almost two hours later when Max let Alexis lie down beside him, demanding that she first perform fellatio. Within one minute of his climax, he passed out. Alexis lay down beside him and cried herself to sleep.

Wednesday

Belize Survivor, part 88

It had been a full month since Alexis had visited the city. As she stepped out into the courtyard from the Fort George Hotel, she breathed a sigh of relief. Just previous to the hurricane, jewelry sales had been brisk, and the buyer still needed to replenish his stock. Max had built her a beautiful jewelry display case, which helped to improve her presentation. The rich red velvet inside the case set off the black coral and silver to perfection. Tucking the money carefully inside a special inner pocket, she hailed the green Chevy Impala taxi in front of the hotel. As she got in the back

, Alexis recognized the driver. Unlike the young black troublemakers who roamed the city streets, he was a gentleman, one of the "old school," raised in respectable British colonial tradition.

"Joseph?" she asked politely. "You're Joseph, aren't you?"

"Yes Miss, dat's me. How yu know me?"

"I rode with you before. Remember? The jewelry lady?"

"Oh yes, yes, of course. Good to see yu again, Miss. From Cayo, no true? Yu should ride wit me every time yu come to Belize. My car is in good repair, and I am a safe driver."

"I appreciate that Joseph."

"So which part of de city yu wan go today, Miss?"


"Please take me out to Airport Camp. Time to sell to the soldiers.”
"Let's refresh the lady's drink, Derek," said Captain Pearson, as they all sat in the Officers' Mess that evening. "We may be starved for entertainment, but let's not be rude."

"May I see this necklace, Alexis?" said a young flight lieutenant.

"Just a minute, I'm buying her the drink," Captain Pearson said as he handed her the glass, "so I get to monopolize her time for a moment. How much is that black coral dolphin please?"

Alexis settled back in the chair and smiled. The Officers' Mess was not fancy, but it was clean and comfortable, a pleasant change from the farm. She was glad they had invited her to come on a regular basis. Far away from the land of Greenwich Meantime, the officers rarely had the opportunity to enjoy the company of a white woman. Like school boys, it seemed, they all competed for her attention, making Alexis feel like Scarlett O'Hara at the Twelve Oaks barbecue.

The trips were not only fun but profitable, and it was turning into quite a trade since the officers had begun asking Alexis for custom carvings. A challenge to her artistic ability, it was becoming her favorite aspect of the business.

Tuesday

Found What You're Looking for Yet?



Monday

Belize Survivor, part 87

Meanwhile, Alexis paced nervously in the yard, keeping an ear out for Jordan to awake, and an eye out for Max’s return. She couldn’t conceive of what he might be facing down at the river’s edge, and an errant thought made her vaguely consider what might happen if her husband simply failed to return altogether. Even though only about forty minutes had passed, it seemed like a lifetime before he finally re-emerged out of the bush at the top of the hill. He was soaked and filthy with muddy water from head to foot.

"This flood must be the highest in anyone's memory. It's completely covered the pump house.” Max was maintaining his calm. Having handled many natural disasters in Africa, Alexis had to admit he was a good man in a crisis, and was determined to step up to the same level of self-control. “As far as I can tell the structure is still in one piece, so the two machines are probably still inside, right there under the water. I'm going down with some rope and see if I can fish them out." Concentrating on his non-emotional focus, Alexis asked him if he wanted her to come with him. "Not yet,” he replied. “Wait about a half hour, and then come down. I should have the machines out of the water and on the bank by that time. You can help me bring them up the hill. If Jordan’s awake, you’ll have to bring him with you. We won’t have a choice."

"I understand,” she said, evenly. “Be careful."

Sliding down the hill once more, Max made his way to the water’s edge. He tied one end of the rope to a nearby tree and the other around his waist. Fighting his own buoyancy, it took six attempts to locate the door of the pump house and several more to get the key into the padlock while underwater. Pushing his lungs beyond capacity, he nearly drowned himself trying to force the door open, but it was crucial to retrieve the engines and strip them promptly. With a superhuman strength born out of necessity, he finally wrestled the outboard motor from the water, hoisted it to his shoulder, and carried it up the slippery bank.

Alexis met him at the top of the hill.

“Jordan is still sleeping. Do you want me to come help you get the other one?”

"Yes. We'll have to take a chance,” he replied. “The pump is much heavier than the outboard; I won’t be able to carry it alone."

The runoff from the distant mountains continued to funnel into the Macal. The great river was still rising, and Alexis was shocked when she came to the edge of the brown swirling torrent.

"It's okay,” said Max. “You don't have to go in. I've already done this a bunch of times. You stay here and watch the rope. This time I'm going to tie it on to the pump, rather than myself. When you feel me tug twice, start hauling. You'll be pulling the pump and I'll be pushing it, so keep this end wrapped around the tree. It will act as a winch so it won't backslide. We'll be out of here in five minutes." He paused. "Are you scared?"

"I'm worried about Jordan waking up in the house alone. And I’m worried about flash floods,” she said. “Look at the current out there. I know you’ll be close to the edge, but this time you won't even be tied to the rope."

"We don’t have a choice, so let's get it over with."

Once freed from the water, getting the heavy waterlogged piston pump back up the hill was one of the hardest physical efforts Alexis had ever made in her life. Four times she and Max stumbled and fell with the heavy piece of machinery. Once she slipped off the trail and would have disappeared over the bank if she hadn't latched onto a sturdy vine. When they finally reached the house, providence was on their side; Jordan was still asleep.

Immediately they launched into the next phase. There was no time to waste. Max started to strip the pump, and simultaneously coached Alexis on how to do the same with the outboard. Every minute out of the water compounded the likelihood of irreparable corrosion in the circuitry. When Jordan finally awoke three hours later, they were close to finishing, and although Max couldn’t be absolutely sure the machines were in working order until he had the opportunity to test them, it appeared that they had, most likely, averted any permanent damage.

By noon the next day, the river had receded enough to expose the pump house. Finding the end of the dory line still attached to a previously submerged tree, Max followed it, searching the riverbank until he located the craft. The swift water had carried the dugout to the full length of its long rope, the backwater eddies causing it to edge over and finally come to rest high in a bramble of thorny bamboo. Almost impossible to reach from any angle, Max hacked away with the machete until he could seize the heavy craft. Dragging it to the water's edge until it was free-floating, he went back to the pump house and hauled the rope hand-over-hand, until he was able to finally secure the dory beside the pump house. Then, determining that it was time to mount it on the boat for a test, Max hiked back to the house, picked up the motor and started to carry it back down the hill. Suddenly his foot slipped and, as he fell, the outboard shaft hit a rock and bounced up into his face, knocking out the center portion of his two front teeth, adding another element of horror.

It took a full twenty-four hours before Radio Belize came back on the air and only then did Max and Alexis begin to understand the enormity of the nationwide destruction. Listening to the reports of damage and death in the urban areas, the young family realized that, in many ways, they had been safer in the bush. At least they were self-contained and did not depend on public utilities. Taking stock of their situation, Alexis realized they had a full tank of rain water, butane for the stove, their own generator for electricity, and plenty of beans and flour. In addition, they had a good supply of fresh produce: a windfall of limes, hot peppers, and all the avocados they could eat. The best plan would be to sit tight for a few weeks until the rest of the country had a chance to recover.

In the town of San Ignacio, the aftermath of the hurricane was appalling. Floodwaters from the Macal River had risen so high that even the main streets were inundated with up to nine feet of water. The river had rushed through the lower stories of houses and shops, across backyards, and into the outhouse pits, and the water supply was contaminated with sewage and the bodies of dead animals. Power failure was widespread. Families huddled around candles in the darkness at night. Grocery stores on higher ground ran out of dry goods and staple foods immediately. Fresh fruits and vegetables were scarce as farmers found themselves with damaged crops, or the inability to transport their produce into town from outlying villages.

Seventy-five miles away on the east coast, the hurricane had created widespread havoc in low-lying Belize City. Amid gusting winds, a tidal wave had swept over the sea wall and demolished flimsy buildings of wood and cheap cinderblock. Huge trees, torn out by their roots, lay broken amidst the wreckage of walls, roofing, overturned cars, and power lines. Over a period of days, the water receded and a vile stench rose from the stinking carpet of saltwater mud left on the streets and the lower levels of buildings spared by the storm.

Sunday

Fathers Are Important, As Long As They're Paying Child Support

(emphasis mine)

If fathers are important figures in children's lives, then we would expect to find that children's well-being in mother-only families is related to the level of paternal involvement following divorce. Several studies in the United States have tested one aspect of this notion by looking at non-custodial fathers' payment of child support. The findings of these studies are quite clear in showing that when fathers comply with child support awards, children have higher academic test scores and fewer behaviour problems (Furstenberg et al. 1987). This effect is independent of the frequency of visitation: in other words, regardless of how often fathers visit, the more child support they pay, the better off are their children. Given the economic hardship experienced by many mother-only families, it is not surprising that the father's economic contribution is beneficial to children.


Contact With Non-custodial Fathers and Children's Wellbeing, by Paul R Amato
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In "those joint custody studies" (cited by fathers' groups which have infiltrated the government on every level, naturally, because they are men), "researchers" (heavily paid by DHHS/ACF grant monies) have tried to establish that if children do better when their fathers are paying child support, and fathers are more likely to pay child support when they are involved with their children's lives, then fathers must be involved with their children in order for the children to succeed. This is a FAIL on many levels.

First, children need money and resources. Period. No research required.

Second, fathers who are paying child support voluntarily are being....fathers. They already know the money is necessary, that's why they pay. And some of the best, give up the money with no questions asked. They bust their asses even if they are poor. They don't have 50-50% custody...and even if they do, they STILL pay child support, meaning, whatever the child needs even when the child is at the mother's house, the father will provide. Some of these fathers may not even see their children every weekend.

Third, the fathers that are voluntarily paying support, are the ones who are involved in their children's lives anyway. No court order required.

Fourth, forcing fathers to be involved with their children's lives is a lose situation. A "father" who has better things to do than be responsible for his child will be a liability to a single mother. The court makes the order on visitation, but now the mother must now handle all the repercussions that come with it. The court essentially has shirked responsibility, just like the father did. Mother and child both suffer and the "father" likely will get a break or cut in his child support payments, all in the name of creating a father-child relationship so that the child will do "better with both parents."

In another alarming child support news report:

Dad Threw Girl Off Cliff to Avoid Child Support

LOS ANGELES — A father who had no interest in his 4-year-old daughter did the unimaginable — hurling her off a 120-foot cliff to avoid paying child support, a prosecutor said Monday during the man's murder retrial.

Cameron Brown, 47, was charged with one count of murder and the special circumstance allegations of murder while lying in wait and murder for financial gain in the death of Lauren Sarene Key in November 2000. Brown, a former American Airlines baggage handler, has pleaded not guilty and faces life in prison without parole if convicted.

Deputy District Attorney Craig Hum said during his opening statement that Brown killed Lauren because he didn't want to pay about $1,000 a month in child support.

Defense attorney Pat Harris countered that it was an accident when the girl fell from Inspiration Point in Rancho Palos Verdes.

Hum portrayed Brown as an uncaring father who tried to shirk his parental responsibility at nearly every turn. After Brown learned the girl's mother, Sarah Key-Marer, was pregnant with Lauren, he first wanted her to have an abortion and then sought a paternity test that eventually proved he was the father, Hum said...