2 women publicly accuse Indiana attorney general of groping
By BRIAN SLODYSKO
Saturday, July 7
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Two women came forward Friday to publicly accuse Attorney General Curtis Hill of groping them during a party earlier this year, increasing pressure on the embattled Republican to resign.
Democratic state Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon published her account of the March 15 incident, which occurred at an Indianapolis bar, in The (Northwest Indiana) Times newspaper.
Gabrielle McLemore, the Indiana Senate Democrats’ communications director, told The Associated Press that she decided to go public partly out of frustration that Hill issued a defiant statement Friday calling the allegations false.
The two women also said they acted because they wanted to give other women the courage to confront inappropriate conduct.
Candelaria Reardon described Hill’s behavior as “deviant” when she encountered him in the early morning hours after the legislative session ended for the year. She says he leaned toward her, put his hand on her back, slid it down and grabbed her buttocks. The Munster lawmaker says she told Hill to “back off,” but he approached again later in the night, put his hand on her back and said: “That skin. That back.”
Hill said he has no intention of stepping down despite calls to do so.
“I am not resigning. The allegations against me are vicious and false,” he said in a statement Friday. “At no time did I ever grab or touch anyone inappropriately.”
That’s at odds with the accounts of both Candelaria Reardon and McLemore.
McLemore said Hill cornered her at the party and asked, “Do you know who I am?” and proceeded to massage her back, while she worried what others who noticed Hill’s unwanted advances would think.
Eventually her intern intervened by asking if she wanted to go to the bathroom.
McLemore said she never wanted to come forward, but changed her mind after seeing that earlier on Friday Candelaria Reardon had come forward, and that Hill continued to deny he did anything wrong.
“Women go through this stuff all the time,” McLemore told The Associated Press. For Hill “to deny it again and again is so frustrating. If my story can help other women feel like they don’t have to hide, that they don’t have to feel like they did something wrong — that’s my goal.”
Several other women shared similar stories with investigators who looked into the matter, according to a confidential memo that was leaked this week.
The AP does not identify alleged victims of sexual misconduct or assault unless they come forward publicly, as the two women did.
Indiana’s sexual battery statute says it’s a felony to touch “another person’s genitals, pubic area, buttocks, or female breast when that person is unaware.”
That’s what Candelaria Reardon has accused Hill of doing.
“I am not anonymous. I am a wife, mother, business owner and a state representative. I am also a victim of sexual battery, perpetrated by Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill,” she wrote in the piece.
Hill is a staunch social conservative who is married and had been viewed as a rising star in the Republican Party since his election in 2016. The former Elkhart County prosecutor is an Elvis impersonator who has relished punditry appearances on Fox News. In May, he warmed up the crowd during a rally held in his hometown by President Donald Trump, who gave Hill a shoutout for being a “good man” who’s “done a great job.”
But he has also had a fraught relationship with fellow Indiana Republicans, including Gov. Eric Holcomb, whose policies he has criticized for not being tough enough on drug users.
On Thursday night, Hill found himself without allies as Holcomb and other top GOP leaders called for him to step down.
“The findings of the recent legislative report are disturbing and, at a minimum, show a violation of the state’s zero tolerance sexual harassment policy,” Holcomb said.
While Republican legislative leaders tried to stay mum about the claims against Hill earlier in the week, they voiced outrage over the leak of the memo calling it an “egregious breach of confidentiality” that they pledged to investigate.
That led some Democrats to charge that they cared more about the allegations against a fellow Republican being aired out than the well-being of the employees and lawmaker involved.
If Hill doesn’t resign, majority Republicans could take action to remove him.
Indiana’s constitution allows for a public official to be removed from office, “for crime, incapacity or negligence” either by “impeachment by the House of Representatives, to be tried by the Senate,” or by a “joint resolution of the General Assembly” with two thirds voting in favor.
For the latest developments on this story: https://www.apnews.com/1fa777e91d774ac6b513e5cfc886764d
2 suspects arrested, 2 more sought in rape of teen sisters
Friday, July 6
BOWLING GREEN, Ohio (AP) — A second suspect has been arrested and two others are being sought for the kidnapping and sexual assault of two teen sisters at an Ohio motel, authorities said Thursday.
The U.S. Marshals Service arrested David Contreras, 28, in Lubbock, Texas. Bowling Green police say he’s been charged with rape and kidnapping for the June 28 sexual assault of the sisters, ages 13 and 14, at a Days Inn where they were staying with their mother.
Authorities continue to search for 19-year-old Juan Garcia Rios Adiel and Arnulfo Ramos, whose age isn’t known. Both are charged with rape and kidnapping.
Juan Simon, 24, was arrested shortly after the alleged assault and is charged with unlawful sexual conduct with a minor. Court records don’t indicate whether he has an attorney.
Peter Elliott, U.S. Marshal for Northern Ohio, said Contreras was told by Immigration and Customs Enforcement last year to leave the U.S. after being twice arrested for driving under the influence and once for theft. Contreras was freed on bond and never left the country, Elliott said.
Adiel was found with a legal resident card under a false name and is believed to be in the U.S. illegally, Elliott said.
It’s unclear what Ramos’ immigration status is. Elliott said he suspects Ramos also is in the country illegally.
Simon had an identification card identifying him as a Guatemalan citizen. Elliott said Simon has been previously removed from the U.S. four times.
WTVG-TV in Toledo has reported that Bowling Green police spoke with the four men shortly after the sexual assault allegations were reported but before investigators had interviewed the girls or their mother.
Bowling Green police Major Justin White told WTVG the four men were living at the motel, as were the girls and their mother.
A reward of as much as $10,000 is being offered for information leading to the arrest of Adiel and Ramos.
We Subsidize the Wrong Kind of Agriculture
We should be supporting the small farmers who sell at farmers markets, not the corporate giants that hurt our health and environment.
By Brian Wakamo | Jun 20, 2018
Summer: the season of barbecues, baseball games, and backyard fun. It’s also the time of year when the American farming industry comes into full swing producing the crops we hold near and dear.
The pastoral ideal of golden fields of corn and wheat is what comes to mind for most people, and they’d be on the right track. Corn, soybeans, and wheat are the three biggest crops grown in this country, and — along with cows, pigs, and chicken — make up the bulk of our farming output.
There’s a reason for this: The federal government heavily subsidizes those products. In fact, the bulk of U.S. farming subsidies go to only 4 percent of farms — overwhelmingly large and corporate operations — that grow these few crops.
For the most part, that corn, soy, and wheat doesn’t even go to feed our populace. More of it goes into the production of ethanol — which is also heavily subsidized — and into the mouths of those cows, pigs, and chickens stuffed into feedlots. Those grains purchased by the feedlots are also federally subsidized, allowing producers to buy grains at below market prices.
When we do eat these foods, they’re sold back to us in unhealthy forms, pumped full of high fructose corn syrup and growth hormones. Large corporate farms and feedlots also poison waterways, drain aquifers, and pollute the air.
Meanwhile, small farmers continue to go broke, thanks to the low cost of foods subsidized by the government for corporate buyers. Even the few companies that provide seeds and equipment for farmers receive their own tax breaks from state governments, while farmers are stuck with the bill of goods sold to them from companies like John Deere and Monsanto.
Does this help feed America? Not really: We still buy most of our food from far-flung places. So why is our government subsidizing this production model?
Plain and simple: Corporations buy these subsidies for pennies on the dollar.
In 2011, the agribusiness industry spent around $100 million to lobby and campaign for federal support. They got billions in subsidies in return, making them the biggest recipients of corporate welfare.
This is disgraceful. Why should our government support big businesses that poison us and our environment?
Congress is now considering a new Farm Bill. The recently shot-down first draft cut funding for rural development and conservation programs, while opening up loopholes for corporate farms to access more subsidies. That should open the field for newer, better ideas.
All politicians champion small businesses, especially those in the heartland where most agricultural production takes places. If they’re going to subsidize agriculture, why not give more support to family farms, which often farm more sustainably and grow much healthier foods?
Instead of supporting factory farms and mono-crops, we could provide incentives for crop rotations, reduced usage of pesticides and herbicides, pasture-raised meat, and organic practices. Studies show that practices like organic farming produce only marginally less than conventional farms.
These practices are a part and parcel of a growing segment of the agricultural industry bolstered by health and environmentally conscious consumers. Farmers who sell their products at farmers markets and through community supported agriculture groups should be heralded and paid for their support of the community.
This could also lower the costs of healthier foods, which often are priced prohibitively for the people who need them most. Expanding the market for food farmed sustainably and ethically grown would benefit all consumers — and address the health crisis brought on by the mass consumption of unhealthy foods.
Why should we subsidize things that harm us all when we can help out the farmers who support a better life and environment for us all?
Brian Wakamo is a Next Leader on the Global Economy Project at the Institute for Policy Studies.
Unions Have Survived Tough Times Before
The Supreme Court just dealt unions a crushing blow, but they’ve endured worse — and come out stronger.
By Sarah Anderson | Jun 29, 2018
The U.S. Supreme Court has just dealt unions a bruising blow. In a 5-4 vote, the court ruled that public sector employees who benefit from unions’ collective bargaining services will no longer have to pay for them.
At least initially, this is expected to result in a steep drop in union resources and bargaining capacity, which will likely reduce employee pay. One Illinois university study, for example, predicts that public school teacher salaries in that state will drop by an average of 5.4 percent.
But over the course of its turbulent history, the American labor movement has survived much worse. And it will find a way to get back on its feet.
One of my ancestors was in the center of the drama during one of labor’s most roiling eras. Albert G. Denny, my great-grandmother’s brother, started out as a child laborer in a glass factory. He eventually became the national organizer for the Knights of Labor, the leading voice for U.S. workers in the 1880s.
Compared to the challenges Albert faced in the 19th century, the new threat against organized labor still seems bad — but not as bad.
Teachers in several states have already been striking over low pay and school under funding. In my great-uncle’s day, that could get you shot.
As a young glass blower in Pittsburgh in 1877, Albert witnessed one of the most violent attacks on labor in our nation’s history. When railroad workers there joined a nationwide strike, the governor sent in militia who opened fire on the workers, killing 20. After more than a month of conflict, federal troops marched in and crushed the strike.
Within a few years of this tragedy, the labor movement began to rebound. Albert became secretary of a glass workers union that effectively negotiated over wages, apprenticeships, and other labor conditions. Later he became the lead organizer for the Knights of Labor, which grew rapidly to represent 20 percent of all U.S. workers by 1886.
The anti-union violence, however, didn’t end.
I have a copy of a telegram Albert sent the head of the Knights of Labor after learning that railroad baron Jay Gould’s goons had shot into a crowd of strikers in East St. Louis, killing six. “You should have Gould arrested and tried for accessory to murder,” Albert wrote.
Instead, the strike failed, Gould got richer, and the Knights of Labor began to implode. Membership plummeted from 800,000 in 1886 to 100,000 in 1890 — an even faster nosedive than the modern labor movement’s decline, from 17.7 million in 1983 to 14.8 million in 2017.
But out of the Knights’ ashes, new forms of organizing took shape. By the 1930s, the movement was powerful enough to push President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to enact landmark labor legislation that workers still benefit from today, including the minimum wage and the 40-hour week.
Once again, American workers will need to find new ways to build power against big money interests. Fortunately, this is already beginning.
In anticipation of the Supreme Court ruling, public sector unions have been much more proactively reaching out to their members, hearing about their needs and concerns, and broadening the scope of their efforts beyond pay and benefits to immigrant rights, racial justice, and other social issues.
Traditionally non-unionized workers are also making some progress. Advocates for restaurant servers, for example, just won a Washington, D.C. ballot vote to eliminate the sub-minimum wage for tipped workers.
My great-uncle Albert Denny’s union hall is still standing in Pittsburgh’s South Side neighborhood, but it’s a deli/whiskey bar now. Some things change. But the need for working people to be able to come together to negotiate over conditions that affect their lives will not.
Sarah Anderson directs the Global Economy Project at the Institute for Policy Studies and co-edits Inequality.org. Follow her at @Anderson_IPS. Distributed by OtherWords.org.
Guns Don’t Make Us Safer — And Here’s the Proof
As a victim of gun violence myself, I’ve never liked guns. But I thought the issue deserved some serious research.
By Norah Vawter | Jul 4, 2018
Once again, Americans are trying to wrap our heads around another mass shooting. On June 28, a man gunned down five people at the office of The Capital Gazette, a small Maryland newspaper.
My conservative friends and family are passionate about gun rights, convinced that guns make us safer. Personally, I’ve never liked firearms, because I was a victim of gun violence as a child.
The day my mother and I were shot, nobody died. We didn’t make the homicide statistics. I recovered, but my mother was permanently paralyzed from the neck down. My childhood was forever changed. Our story is far too common, and I don’t want other families to suffer like we did.
But I can understand why a person could feel secure owning a gun.
Not wanting to dismiss conservative ideas out of hand, or be ruled by my emotions, I decided to research the issue. The data convinced me that guns don’t make us safer. They make our world less safe.
Here’s what I learned.
Our country is safer with fewer guns and more restrictions.
In the U.S., it might be normal to have school shootings all the time, and over 90 people killed with guns every day, but that’s not normal in other countries. Our gun homicide rate, per capita, is sky high compared to other developed countries, and higher than a host of developing countries.
With just 4.4 percent of the world’s population, the U.S. has almost half of the world’s civilian-owned guns. You’re 21 times more likely to be killed with a gun in the U.S. than in strictly regulated Australia.
More guns create more crime.
Economist John Lott’s theory of “more guns, less crime” has been widely refuted.
States with concealed carry laws aren’t safer places to live, research shows. There are also fewer gun-related deaths in states with stricter gun laws.
Gun control does work.
Between 1994 and 2014, the Brady Bill background checks stopped 1 million felons, 291,000 domestic abusers, and 118,000 fugitives from buying a gun — an average of 343 per day. But when Missouri’s permit-to-purchase handgun law was repealed in 2007, the state’s murders increased sharply.
So why is Chicago so dangerous, when it has such strict gun laws? Look to bordering states, like Indiana, where weak laws allow guns to travel across state lines.
Owning a gun actually puts you in more danger.
Studies show a link between you owning a gun and someone that you know getting shot.
While the risk of a home invader killing you is 0.0000002 per capita, having a gun in your home doubles your risk for homicide and triples it for suicide. What about conceal carry? A study on assault victims showed gun-armed victims were 4.46 times more likely to get shot.
Guns make it easier to kill people.
We hear a lot that “guns don’t kill people, People kill people.” But guns make that killing much easier!
U.S. crime rates are fairly average compared to other developed nations. What’s different is that firearms are more prevalent here and used more often, which leads to more deaths.
Surprisingly, mental health isn’t a deciding factor in gun-related homicides. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t advocate for better mental healthcare or restrict firearm sales to people with certain mental illnesses. It means we also have to focus on guns, directly.
All over the world, there’s a clear pattern: more guns mean more homicide.
Guns aren’t good for us.
They make us more violent. In 2015, 3,641 Americans were killed by guns as a result of an argument, brawl, or a romantic triangle.
We can do better. Look at every other developed nation. We don’t have to live like this, and we shouldn’t take it lying down.
Norah Vawter is a freelance writer living in Northern Virginia. Distributed by OtherWords.org.
Chairman John Zody said the allegations against Hill are "beyond troubling and wildly inappropriate." Indiana Republican Party Chairman Kyle Hupfer says the GOP has "zero tolerance for sexual harassment," but stopped short of calling for Hill’s resignation. Hill’s office did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday, July 2, 2018. (Robert Scheer/The Indianapolis Star via AP)