Perennial presidential candidate Lyndon LaRouche dead at 96
Thursday, February 14
LEESBURG, Va. (AP) — Lyndon LaRouche Jr., the political extremist who ran for president in every election from 1976 to 2004, including a campaign waged from federal prison, has died. He was 96.
LaRouche’s political action committee confirmed Wednesday on its website that LaRouche died a day earlier.
The cult-like figure, who espoused a wide range of conspiracy theories and advocated for an overhaul of the world’s economic and financial systems, ran first as a U. S. Labor Party candidate and later, after an apparent shift to the right, as a Democratic or independent candidate.
In 1986, LaRouche described himself as being in the tradition of the American Whig party, a forerunner of the Republican Party in the first half of the 19th century. In 1990, he ran unsuccessfully to represent Virginia in Congress.
His views evolved throughout his life, but a central tenet of his apocalyptic platform warned of an inevitable global downward slide into crisis.
His PAC described him as a “philosopher, scientist, poet, statesman” who died on the birthday of President Abraham Lincoln, whom he celebrated in his writings.
“Those who knew and loved Lyndon LaRouche know that humanity has suffered a great loss, and today we dedicate ourselves anew to bring to reality the big ideas for which history will honor him,” the organization said in a statement posted online.
LaRouche grew up in Lynn, Massachusetts, and in the late 1940s and early 1950s was a member of the Socialist Workers Party, taking the name “Lyn Marcus.”
He ran his 1992 campaign from a prison cell after a 1988 conviction for mail fraud and conspiracy to defraud the IRS by defaulting on more than $30 million in loans from campaign supporters. During a 1984 libel trial, LaRouche said he had no income and had filed no tax returns for 12 years. He said he did not know who paid his bills.
His conspiracy theories included a claim that the International Monetary Fund was “engaged in mass murder” by spreading AIDS through its economic policies, that former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and former Vice President Walter Mondale were Soviet “agents of influence” and that the Queen of England was involved in the drug trade. He said former Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos “was opposed to me and he fell as a result.”
LaRouche called for a quarantine of AIDS victims and said most medical warnings about how the disease was spread were lies. He also referred to Zionism as “cult nonsense” and said the Holocaust was “mythical.”
The Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith once characterized LaRouche’s organization as an anti-Semitic political cult.
After his conviction, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison but was released in 1994.
Based outside Washington in Leesburg, Virginia, LaRouche’s organization continued to operate during the years he was in prison. His followers could be found at major airports, where they distributed publications and tried to raise money.
The commitment of LaRouche followers reportedly inspired some people to hire so-called “deprogrammers” to kidnap his devotees to stop them from giving him their fortunes. One high-profile case involved a supposed conspiracy to kidnap DuPont heir Lewis duPont Smith and his wife to deprogram them. In 1992, a federal jury in Alexandria, Virginia, acquitted Smith’s father, E. Newbold Smith, and three other men.
Second Fairfax accuser is intensely private single mother
By MICHAEL KUNZELMAN and MICHAEL BIESECKER
Friday, February 15
GLEN BURNIE, Md. (AP) — The Maryland woman who has accused Democratic Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax of raping her while they were students at Duke University in 2000 is a single mother who values her privacy, worked for several years as a school fundraiser and had a sometime-turbulent personal life, according to friends and court records.
Before going public last week as the second woman to accuse Fairfax of sexual assault, Meredith Watson, a 39-year-old from the Baltimore suburbs, took steps to maintain her privacy, including taking down her social media accounts. Her legal team, which previously represented three female Fox News employees suing host Bill O’Reilly for defamation, has declined interview requests on her behalf. Online searches haven’t yielded current photos or even signs of current employment.
A review of court records by The Associated Press found that Watson has a history of financial disputes and accusations of stalking from an ex-boyfriend.
Watson’s lawyer, Nancy Erika Smith, said it was not attention but civic duty that motivated her client to speak out just days after California political science professor Vanessa Tyson accused Fairfax of forcing her to perform oral sex on him while both were attending the Democratic National Convention in Boston in 2004.
“Ms. Watson’s principal goal for coming forward at this time was to support another victim of sexual assault who was being smeared by Fairfax,” Smith said Wednesday. “Her second goal is to not have a man who is a rapist rise to hold high political office in this country.”
Stacey Sickels Locke, who hired Watson in 2004 as a fundraiser for St. Timothy’s School, a private all-girls boarding high school in suburban Baltimore, said Watson confided in her a year into the job that she had been raped at Duke “by someone she had considered a friend.” Sickels Locke said it was not surprising that Watson would be telling her story again now.
“This is something that was a quality, standing up for someone who needed advocacy,” Sickels Locke said. “She was a private person. She was not someone who spoke a lot about her life to me or to other people.”
Fairfax acknowledges he had sex with Watson while they were students at Duke, but says the encounter was consensual. He has described her accusations, as well as those of Tyson, as being part of a political smear campaign to prevent him from succeeding Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam if he is forced to resign amid a racist photo scandal.
Watson’s statement said she and Fairfax were friends but had not dated when he carried out the “premeditated and aggressive assault in a Duke University fraternity house in 2000, when she was a junior and he was a senior. Smith said her team has statements from classmates that Watson told at the time, though those statements have not been released.
It was not the first time she was assaulted, her lawyer said. Smith said Watson was raped by Duke basketball player Corey Maggette, who she had dated briefly, when she was a sophomore in 1998. Watson at the time told a high-ranking administrator at the university about it, but was dissuaded from filing an official complaint or notifying police, the attorney said.
Smith added that Watson told friends, including Fairfax, about the alleged attack by Maggette, and that Fairfax later used that information against her.
In their only conversation after the alleged attack, Smith said, Watson saw Fairfax at a graduation party and asked him, “Why did you do this?”
“And he said, ‘I knew that after what happened with Corey, you would be too scared to say anything,’” Smith said.
R. Stanton Jones, a friend of Watson’s from the Baltimore prep schools they attended across the street from each other, said Watson told him during the summer of 2001 that she had been raped twice at Duke. He recalls that Watson had identified Maggette as one of the men who raped her but never mentioned the name of the second attacker.
Maggette, who left Duke in 1999 after one season and went on to have a decade-long career in the NBA, did not respond to phone messages or emails from AP seeking comment. The New York Times reported Tuesday that Maggette, now a television sports analyst, issued a brief statement through a spokesman denying the rape accusation.
Around 2006, Sickels Locke went to work for Anne Arundel Community College in Maryland and soon recommended Watson for a fundraising position there. Watson got that job, too, and worked there for about two years.
“She was a very successful fundraiser. She knew her job very well,” Sickels Locke said. “She was excellent, thorough, really smart.”
Online searches haven’t yielded any signs of current employment for Watson and Maryland court records indicate she has had money troubles in recent years.
She lost a home in Baltimore to a 2015 foreclosure sale after failing to make payments, owing a total balance of more than $265,000. In 2012, a Baltimore hospital sued her over unpaid medical bills. That same year, Watson sued the father of her daughter for nearly $3,500 in child support. She had sole custody of her daughter, who is now 7 years old.
“I have been her sole caretaker since birth,” Watson wrote in a court filing. “(The father) has said that he does not wish to have custody of or visitation with our daughter.”
Court records also show Watson was also once ordered to stay away from a man who accused her of stalking and threatening him. In his July 2008 petition for a “peace order” against Watson, Maryland resident Jason Galloway accused her of detaining him against his will at a vacation home, denting the trunk of his car with her fist and sending him a string of threatening text messages.
“I am going to enjoy tearing you down just as much as you enjoyed tearing me down. Hang on tight because you are in for a ride!” one of the messages said, according to Galloway’s complaint.
On his petition, Galloway checked a box under the heading “dating violence” to say Watson’s actions had placed him in “reasonable fear of death or physical harm.” Another text message cited in Galloway’s complaint said, “Hopefully when I am through with you, you will feel as worthless as you made me feel.”
A judge in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, ordered Watson to stay away from Galloway’s Glen Burnie home and refrain from contacting him. Galloway asked for the case to be dismissed less than a week later.
Galloway did not respond to a phone message seeking comment on Tuesday. There was no answer at a Maryland address listed as his current home.
Ann Simonton, an advocate for rape victims who is director of Media Watch, a media literacy organization, said it is not uncommon for victims of sexual assault victims to struggle with intimate and professional relationships, and those difficulties don’t necessarily speak to the legitimacy of the abuse allegations.
“When rape occurs, especially at a young age,” she said, “the impacts are severe and life lasting.”
Associated Press investigative reporter Michael Biesecker reported from Washington.
Follow Kunzelman at http://twitter.com/Kunzelman75 and Biesecker at http://twitter.com/mbieseck
Contact the AP’s investigative team with tips about this or other matters: https://www.ap.org/tips
‘Back-burner relationships’ are more common than you’d think
February 9, 2018
Jayson Dibble, Associate Professor of Communication, Hope College
Michelle Drouin, Associate Professor of Psychology, IUPUI
Disclosure statement: The authors do not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and have disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
Partners: IUPUI provides funding as a member of The Conversation US.
Valentine’s Day tends to make people think about their romantic relationships.
Single? Maybe there’s someone you’ve been texting regularly whom you realize you want to ask out on a date.
In a relationship? You might start thinking that your current flame is your one and only.
But no matter what your relationship status is, if you’re like the average young adult, chances are you’ve also been chatting with other potential partners, or back burners. These aren’t people you’re cheating on your partner with. Instead, they’re prospects you keep in touch with just in case your number one option falls through.
Shocked? You shouldn’t be. Researchers have long known that people commonly keep tabs on the availability and suitability of other potential partners. But what once required a furtive phone call or some face-to-face catching up is now doable with the swipe or a click of a digital device.
Smartphones have made it possible for both singles and those in committed relationships to keep up with relationship alternatives – so easy, in fact, that more than 70 percent of our sample said that they had at least one back burner.
Research inspired by ‘me-search’
In our study of college students, singles averaged about six back burners, while those in committed relationships averaged almost five. What’s more, people seem to be able to distinguish back burners from other options – for example, crushes we’re quietly attracted to, but don’t act on.
In other words, these prospects we regularly stay in touch with are in their own separate category.
It’s certainly not a new phenomenon. What we call back burners were once the people listed in one’s proverbial “little black book.”
But researchers have only recently begun to study their prevalence and how they operate within the context of other relationships.
In our case, the experiences of Jayson inspired the study. As a graduate student, he was single and happy to mingle.
It happened at a typical campus hot spot – he met a woman, they hit it off, and they traded phone numbers. And every couple of weeks or so, a text message from one to the other would be exchanged: “Hey, stranger, how are you?”
The idea wasn’t to dive into a full-blown romance, but to fan an ember, to keep a faint glow, because – as comedian Chris Rock famously said – “You never know.”
So the study of back burners was born. And it came at a time when scholars were already taking note of new ways people were navigating romantic and sexual relationships. (Consider, for example, the way that “hookups” and “friends with benefits” have become part of the mainstream vernacular.)
Keeping your options open
Our research suggests that many people keep back burners even when they’re already committed to someone else.
But does having lots of back burners mean we feel less committed to our romantic partners? One relationship theory suggests that commitment is determined, in part, by the quality of one’s romantic alternatives.
With this in mind, we predicted before gathering the data that the more back burners someone has, the less committed they should be to their partner.
Surprisingly, the number of back burners people reported did not predict how committed they were to their partners. We can’t infer how committed people are just by knowing how many back burners they may or may not have.
What might this mean? Of course, this is only one study, so more research is needed to determine how reliable this finding is.
But we have some theories. For example, back-burner relationships today are easier to hide and sustain. Facebook friends lists can be hidden, phone contacts can be given different names, and direct messages can be deleted. Contrast this to older forms of communication, like the family landline telephone.
Similarly, we wonder if smartphones create a situation where people are able to separate their online communication from their offline lives.
Some evidence already suggests that the contours of face-to-face interactions/relationships don’t always apply to online communication. Maybe texting with back burners over a mobile phone creates a layer of distance that allows the admirer to still maintain a strong, devoted relationship with his or her partner.
Do they mean a doomed relationship?
One obvious question we haven’t addressed yet is whether back burners are harmful to relationships. You might think that if someone’s excited about or thinking about other potential partners, the relationship he or she is in isn’t great to begin with.
We don’t have a firm answer to this question yet. We know that the practice of keeping an eye on alternatives is common (and probably a part of human evolution). So it’s hard to condemn the behavior at that level.
But people don’t always communicate with their alternatives. For a person to be a back burner, communication is necessary. So maybe this ups the ante. Our research showed that people in general don’t tell their partners about their back burners, which suggests that they may feel some uneasiness about getting caught.
At the same time, we found that the number of back burners people communicate with electronically says nothing about how committed they are to their current partner.
We also need to keep in mind our sample: college students. We don’t know how this plays out in, say, older married couples. Anecdotally, we’ve heard married individuals talk about a person or two whom they would probably end up with if their spouse died. But this hasn’t been tested in a scientific setting.
So maybe it’s still too early to sound the alarm until research can tell us more. Still, it would be interesting to know the point at which those with back burners decide to turn up the heat, how they use digital devices to do it, and what it means for our current relationships.
It’s time to require Liability Insurance for guns. Victims have rights, and a right to compensation. Let insurance companies determine the real danger of guns to society, and premiums to match….. Pretty high, don’t you think?
Cleaning routine shows promise in curbing superbug infection
By MARILYNN MARCHIONE
AP Chief Medical Writer
Thursday, February 14
Think of it as decontaminating yourself. Hospitalized patients who harbor certain superbugs can cut their risk of developing full-blown infections if they swab medicated goo in their nose and use special soap and mouthwash for six months after going home, a study found.
It’s a low-tech approach to a big problem: About 5 percent of patients have MRSA — antibiotic-resistant Staph bacteria — lurking on their skin or in their noses, putting them at high risk of developing an infection while recovering from an illness or an operation. These can affect the skin, heart, brain, lungs, bones and joints, and most of them land people back in the hospital.
The hygiene steps that researchers tested trimmed that risk by nearly one third.
“It’s a very simple solution. You don’t have to swallow a medicine, you just have to clean the outside of your body for a little while longer,” said Dr. Susan Huang of the University of California Irvine School of Medicine. She led the federally funded study, published Wednesday by the New England Journal of Medicine.
A lot has been done to curb infections in hospitals and attention is shifting to what happens after patients leave. Nine states — California, Washington, Nevada, Minnesota, Illinois, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Maine and New Jersey — require that hospitals test the most vulnerable patients, such as those in intensive care, for MRSA. Many other places do it voluntarily.
The study involved more than 2,000 patients at hospitals in southern California who were found to carry MRSA, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacteria. All were given information on ways to avoid infection, and half also got special products — mouthwash, liquid soap containing an antiseptic and an antibiotic ointment to swab in the nose. They were told to use these Monday through Friday, every other week for six months.
A year later, 6 percent of those in the deep-clean group had developed a MRSA infection versus 9 percent of the others. They also had fewer infections from other germs. Doctors estimated that 25 to 30 people would need to be treated to prevent one case.
There were no serious side effects; 44 people had dry or irritated skin, and most continued using the products despite that.
Heather Avizius was one. The 41-year-old nanny has had MRSA infections in the past and entered the study after severe complications of Crohn’s disease landed her in St. Jude Medical Center in Fullerton, California, eight years ago.
“I took the regimen very, very seriously” and has not had MRSA since, she said. “I felt cleaner and safer” and less worried about spreading germs to her children, she said.
Nearly half dropped out of the study early or couldn’t be found for follow-up.
“Many people may think ‘I feel fine, I don’t really need to do this,’” said Dr. John Jernigan of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But “the risk doesn’t end once you go home.”
Federal grants paid for the products. They would cost $150 to $200 for six months otherwise, Huang said. The antiseptic soap was a 4 percent chlorhexidine solution sold in many drugstores.
Other soaps, even ones labeled antibacterial, “may not have the active ingredients to remove MRSA,” said Dr. Robert Weinstein, another study leader and an infections specialist at Cook County Health and Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.
It’s worth it for patients to do whatever they can to prevent an MRSA infection, he said.
“You left the hospital, you don’t want to go back.”
Marilynn Marchione can be followed at http://twitter.com/MMarchioneAP
The Associated Press Health & Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.