Trump aims to stem vet suicide with outreach, local grants
By HOPE YEN
Tuesday, March 5
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump signed an executive order Tuesday aimed at stemming a persistently high number of veteran suicides, urging expanded outreach by awarding grants to community programs.
The order creates a Cabinet-level task force that will seek to develop a national roadmap for suicide prevention, bringing in state and local organizations to raise awareness among the high-risk group. It directs the task force led by Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie to finalize a plan in 12 months.
“Veterans suicide is a tragedy of staggering proportions,” Trump said at a signing ceremony surrounded by military families and veterans’ organizations. “Today we can help end this crisis.”
He said the problem of veteran suicide can only be solved if the entire country works together to build communities that support and protect veterans from the first moment they return to civilian life.
“They courageously fulfill their duties to our nation, now we must fulfill our duties to them,” Trump said.
Currently, about 20 veterans die by suicide each day, about 1.5 times higher than those who haven’t served in the military. The government says about 14 of those 20 were not under VA care, pointing to a need for improved outreach.
According to the White House, the new task force will look to create a grant system similar to the Housing and Urban Development-VA Supportive Housing program, which provides funding to state and local programs. The effort, which is being dubbed the PREVENTS Initiative, will also aim to better coordinate research on suicide prevention across agencies, including Veterans Affairs, Defense and Homeland Security. PREVENTS stands for “President’s Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End a National Tragedy of Suicide.”
The White House did not indicate the expected costs of the proposed grants, which would require congressional approval.
Trump has sought to boost suicide prevention, part of his campaign pledge to improve health care for veterans. Still, the order follows a report by the Government Accountability Office last December that found the VA had left millions of dollars unspent that were available for suicide prevention efforts. The report said VA had spent just $57,000 out of $6.2 million available for paid media, such as social-media postings. The VA has blamed the missteps on leadership turmoil at the VA that has since stabilized now that Wilkie is VA secretary.
Sexism has long been part of the culture of Southern Baptists
March 6, 2019
Author: Susan M. Shaw, Professor of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Oregon State University
Disclosure statement: Susan M. Shaw does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
Recent media reports have revealed decades of abuse by Southern Baptist pastors.
Denominational leaders are offering apologies and calling the sexual abuse “evil,” “unjust” and a “barbarity of unrestrained sinful patterns.” Many Southern Baptist leaders are considering action.
As a scholar who has written a book on Southern Baptist women and the church, I’d argue that this scandal has its origins in how Southern Baptists have long and purposefully pushed back against women’s progress.
The ‘woman question’
Since the Southern Baptist Convention’s founding in 1845, Southern Baptists have had a complicated history with women.
Historian Elizabeth Flowers explains that questions of women’s roles as preachers, teachers and deacons were frequent subjects of disagreement among Baptists.
Women were not allowed to serve as messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention until 1918. A messenger is a member of a local Southern Baptist church who is appointed by the congregation to attend the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention and vote on Southern Baptist Convention business. The church doesn’t instruct the messenger how to vote, nor does the messenger represent the church. Messengers attend as individuals who vote based on their own conscience.
When Southern Baptist women formed a national organization to support missionary work in 1888, they had to hold their first meeting in a Methodist church down the street from the Baptist church where the Southern Baptist Convention was meeting. Until the 20th century, only men gave the organization’s report to the Southern Baptist Convention.
Indeed, women in the U.S. did not have the right to vote at this time. The Southern Baptist Convention’s practices certainly reflected larger social norms around gender, but its reasoning was also theological. These beliefs formed a basis for gender hierarchy that ultimately triumphed in the late 20th century.
Southern Baptist controversy
In the 1970s, greater numbers of women entered the six Southern Baptist seminaries, many professing a calling to the pastorate, even though most churches still refused to ordain them.
I grew up Southern Baptist and was a student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in the 1980s. By that time, women were about a third of the student body, although very few women were professors.
The idea that the Bible is without error in history, science or theology was used as a test for theological faithfulness by Southern Baptist fundamentalist leaders. claire.whetton/Flickr.com, CC BY-NC-ND
This was also a time when fundamentalists took charge of the Southern Baptist Convention. The Southern Baptist Convention owns six seminaries and numerous publishing and missionary agencies worth billions of dollars.
Fundamentalists used biblical inerrancy, the idea that the Bible is without error in history, science or theology, as a test for theological faithfulness.
Beginning with the denomination’s annual conference in 1979, these fundamentalists were able to inspire voters to elect fundamentalist leaders. They claimed that moderate Baptists who did not accept inerrancy were also the ones who did not believe the Bible.
The new leaders purged the moderates from Southern Baptist Convention employment and leadership.
While fundamentalists claimed this takeover was about biblical inerrancy, in reality, it was as much, if not more, about women. As historian Barry Hankins also concludes, the “gender issue” eventually became a central issue for Southern Baptist fundamentalists as their takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention proceeded.
So even as these Baptist leaders claimed their movement was about the Bible, they specifically targeted women and worked to reverse women’s progress in church and home.
First in the Edenic fall
In 1984, as fundamentalists gained greater control, the Southern Baptist Convention passed a resolution against women’s ordination. The resolution reasoned that women are excluded from ordained ministry to “preserve a submission God requires because the man was first in creation and the woman was first in the Edenic fall.”
In other words, because Eve was the first to eat the fruit that led to the humans’ expulsion from Eden, they argued, God compels all women to submit to men.
Furthermore, the resolution argued for the preservation of “God’s delegated order of authority” – “God the head of Christ, Christ the head of man, man the head of woman.”
In Baptist polity, local churches are autonomous and free to ordain and call as pastor whom they will. The Southern Baptist Convention has no official control over local churches.
As, however, local churches did ordain and call women to the pastorate, local Baptist associations “disfellowshipped” these congregations, excluding them from participating in the local association.
Fundamentalists appointed a president of Southern Seminary in 1993 who forced Molly Marshall, the first woman to teach theology at a Southern Baptist seminary, to resign in 1994, primarily over her support for women in ministry.
In 2000, reinforcing fundamentalist beliefs about women, the Southern Baptist Convention changed its statement of faith, noting that women and men “are of equal worth before God” while insisting “A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband.”
In 2003, an administrator at Southern Seminary explained that in response to women’s desire to rule over men men must exercise their rightful “rulership” over women. What this administrator interpreted as a desire to “rule over” was actually a simple demand for equality in the home and the ability to serve as pastors and leaders in church and society.
For Southern Baptists, the statement of faith is not a creed but rather a set of largely agreed-upon beliefs. The statement is not binding on any individual or local church. Seminaries and denominational agencies, such as the International Mission Board, however, must work within the guidelines of the statement.
The 2000 statement of faith also asserts, “While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.” In response, in 2004, Southern Baptists’ North American Mission Board stopped endorsing women as chaplains. Prior to the controversy, more moderate Southern Baptists had supported women in ordained ministry, including chaplaincy.
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary then used this statement in 2007 to remove Sheri Klouda from its faculty, where she taught Hebrew, simply because she was a woman. Klouda was not ordained and did not support the ordination of women. In their thinking, however, she was teaching men the Bible, which they forbid women to do.
They were able to remove her on the basis of gender because religious institutions are exempt from gender-based nondiscrimination laws for positions that have an explicit religious function, such as pastor or seminary professor, if their beliefs sanction such discrimination.
Sexual abuse among Southern Baptists
As early as the 1980s, Dee Ann Miller, who had survived sexual assault by a Southern Baptist missionary, tried to call attention to the problem of sexual abuse but found a denomination unwilling to address it.
Similarly, in 2009 another survivor, Christa Brown, critiqued the denomination’s minimizing and enabling of abuse. Southern Baptist churches often allowed abusers to move onto a new and unwitting congregation without reporting abuse, and the Southern Baptist Convention refused to create a registry of abusers for churches to consult.
A scandal at Baylor University brought Baptists’ inaction on sexual assault to the fore. A 2016 report on the university’s handling of sexual assault found a “fundamental failure by Baylor to implement Title IX.” The report noted “that Baylor’s efforts to implement Title IX were slow, ad hoc, and hindered by a lack of institutional support and engagement by senior leadership.” The report was specifically in response to the sexual assault problems in athletics.
Baylor was not alone in institutional mishandling of abuse. In 2018, trustees of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary fired President Paige Patterson, an architect of the fundamentalist takeover of the SBC, over statements he had made encouraging abused wives to return to abusive husbands and discouraging seminary students from reporting rapes to police.
Sexism and rape myths
Research suggests that sexist beliefs affect men’s attitudes toward sexual coercion. In particular, men who hold sexist beliefs are more likely to accept the myths that “women ask for it” or “if a woman is wearing provocative clothes, she wants sex” or “lots of women lie about being raped.”
Most significantly, research also suggests that fundamentalist and sexist clergy also tend to have more negative attitudes toward rape victims.
Apologies will not be enough
In my view, Southern Baptists’ history in relation to women provides important context for the current moment and helps explain the denomination’s inaction on sexual abuse by pastors.
The Southern Baptist Convention has fostered a culture in which sexual abuse and inadequate responses are not at all surprising. Apologies will likely do little to change that culture as long as beliefs about women’s submission stay in place.
Ira More: “Eve was the first to eat the fruit that led to the humans’ expulsion from Eden, they argued, God compels all women to submit to men.”
How is it possible that a reasoning person can believe the above statement? Further, how it possible that a reasoning person can believe in the story of Noah’s ark, Jonah, or virtually any other biblical story?
Volunteers face prison after leaving food and water in desert where migrants died
By Ray Sanchez, CNN
Updated Tue January 22, 2019
Illegal border crossing can be a dangerous journey
Now Playing Illegal border crossing can be a dangerous journey
(CNN) Four aid volunteers are facing prison time after leaving food and water inside an Arizona national wildlife refuge where undocumented migrants have died trying to enter the United States.
The volunteers, who are part of the No More Deaths ministry of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Tucson, could be sentenced to up to six months in prison and fined up to $500 after they were convicted Friday by Federal Magistrate Bernardo Velasco.
The volunteers — Natalie Hoffman, Oona Holcomb, Madeline Huse, and Zaachila Orozco — were charged with entering a national wildlife refuge without a permit and abandonment of property, according to a statement from the aid group.
Five other No More Deaths volunteers face charges for “efforts to place life-saving food and water” inside the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge, the aid group said. Those volunteers will have trials in February and March.
Cabeza Prieta is Arizona’s largest wilderness area, spanning 803,418 acres of isolated and rugged landscape of the Sonoran Desert. A joint investigation was launched by US and Mexican authorities in 2001 after at least 14 migrants died in a single incident after crossing the border in the refuge. They probably were abandoned in the desert by people smugglers, authorities said at the time.
No More Deaths says 155 migrants have died in the area since 2001.
Jugs of water and cans of beans
Hoffman was also charged with operating a motor vehicle in a wilderness area. The offenses are all misdemeanors. A sentencing date was to be set within the next week.
“This verdict challenges not only No More Deaths volunteers, but people of conscience throughout the country,” No More Deaths volunteer Catherine Gaffney said in a statement. “If giving water to someone dying of thirst is illegal, what humanity is left in the law of this country?”
Velasco said in his ruling that the refuge is “littered with unexploded military (ordnance), the detritus of illegal entry into the United States, and the on-road and off-road vehicular traffic of the US Border Patrol.” He also noted that the water and food left by volunteers “erode the national decision to maintain the Refuge in its pristine nature.”
One of the volunteers still awaiting trial is Scott Warren, who the group said also faces charges of felony harboring and conspiracy related to his “humanitarian aid work.” His trial will be in late May.
An affidavit in support of the summons for Hoffman, Holcomb, Huse and Orozco said the four volunteers entered the designated wilderness area without authorization in August 2017 to leave gallon jugs of water and cans of beans.
US ambassador slams Ukraine over corruption
Wednesday, March 6
KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — The U.S. ambassador to Kiev directed unusually scathing criticism at the Ukrainian government in remarks released Wednesday, urging authorities to replace a senior anti-corruption official and tackle the country’s corruption problem.
In a speech Tuesday, Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch said the government’s efforts have “not yet resulted in the anti-corruption or rule of law reforms that Ukrainians expect or deserve.” In the surprisingly blunt remarks, which were released Wednesday, the ambassador called on Ukrainian officials to fire the special anti-corruption prosecutor, Nazar Kholodnytsky, who has been accused of helping suspects avoid corruption charges.
“Nobody who has been recorded coaching suspects on how to avoid corruption charges can be trusted to prosecute those very same cases,” she said, referring to recent wiretaps that allegedly caught on tape Kholodnytsky giving advice to corruption suspects.
In late February, Ukraine’s Constitutional Court struck down a law against officials enriching themselves, raising concerns about the Ukrainian government’s resolve to fight endemic corruption.
The National Anti-Corruption Bureau issued a statement Wednesday saying that court ruling has forced it to close all 65 criminal inquiries it was pursuing into illegal enrichment, including a high-profile case against the mayor of the port city Odessa.
Ukrainian media also published an investigation last week into alleged embezzlement schemes in the country’s military industry. The report alleged that members of President Poroshenko’s inner circle were involved in the embezzlement.
Referring to that scandal, Yavonovitch called for a complete audit of a state-owned military procurement company and greater transparency for defense contracts.
Ukraine’s new government pledged to fight corruption when it came into power five years ago, and had set up several anti-corruption bodies. But corruption is still rampant in Ukraine.
The ambassador’s critical remarks appear to be timed to coincide with a visit by U.S. Under Secretary of State David Hale, who arrives in Kiev on Wednesday to discuss the country’s progress in fighting corruption among other things.
Pininfarina Battista: Rimac-powered 1874bhp EV shocks Geneva
Forget the teaser images and concept sketches, here’s the Pininfarina Battista in the metal, just unveiled at the 2019 Geneva motor show. Powered by a Rimac-produced powertrain, the new hyper EV produces 1874bhp, 1696lb ft of torque from four electric motors, and can launch from 0-62mph in under two seconds.
If you can take it, the Battista will get you to 186mph from a standing start in under 12 seconds. Top speed is over 217mph.
Pininfarina says the Battista can go for 280 miles between charges thanks to its 120KWh Li-ion battery pack. Yes, this is an all-electric car, remember.
What’s the name about?
As for the name? The badge is significant: it’s named after Pininfarina founder, Battista ‘Pinin’ Farina – and it’s ‘the first model in Automobili Pininfarina’s portfolio of luxury electric vehicles.’
When the first hand-crafted Battista rolls out of the Pininfarina’s Cambiano-based factory in 2020, it’ll be the most powerful road-legal car ever designed and built in Italy. No more than 150 will be made, and we’re expecting a price at around €2 million.
‘Soprattuto deve essere bella’
But forget the numbers – take a look around the new Italian pin-up. Despite its futuristic gubbins – which we’ll explain in detail later – the Battista looks like a thoroughbred Italian supercar. If it wasn’t for the lack of exhausts and engine on display, you’d expect to hear the growl of a naturally-aspirated V8 on startup.
But where you’d usually find a viewing port for a fire-breathing powerplant, there’s simply a glowing Pininfarina badge. All this car’s power comes from its T-shaped Rimac powerplant, and there’s no cylinders or sparkplugs involved.
It will have a distinct sound though. Pininfarina says the driver will be able to define their bespoke sound settings – though there won’t be any artificial sound amplification. Key factors in this signature sound will be the electric motors, air flow, HVAC system, and resonance of the carbon monocoque.
Above all it must be beautiful
At the front, headlights – which look a little like those on the recently shown Ferrari F8 Tributo are linked by a striking light bar – though we’re not sure if that feature will make it to the UK. Either way, it’s a stunning signature feature, and gives the car a futuristic, yet still classic, look.
Walk around the Battista, and you’ll find those sweeping lines we’ve come to expect from the Italian design house, and the ‘floating’ active rear-wing at the of the car is almost like a visual full stop. It’s integrated at lower speeds, but can pop up to increase downforce at higher-speeds, and even act as an air brake. It’s all a bit sci-fi.
All models will run on huge 21-inch rims smeared in Pirelli P-Zero rubber, and carbon-ceramic 6-piston brakes on the front and rear axles will get the Battista stopped. As this is still an EV, those brakes allow for energy recovery, eeking out and reclaiming as much energy as possible.
The Battista is being shown in three specifications at this year’s Geneva motor show, to highlight just how much customisation the oligarchs that buy it can spec. The white car shown in the majority of our pictures is the Bianco Sestriere – the most elegant and understated take – while the Blu Iconica (below) comes with more aggressive details to underline the car’s futuristic styling. The Grigio Luserna spec represents something of a halfway-house, with a satin grey finish combining with blue accents. Our pick has to be the former.
And the interior?
We’ve only got one picture of the car’s interior so far, but it shows a driver-focused cabin with dual-screens either side of the steering wheel. To avoid being saddled with infotainment and connectivity that quickly dates – an issue that super- and hypercars too often suffer – Automobili Pininfarina looked at suppliers who can provide future-proof software and also wanted to make sure the passenger has a good time as well.
We don’t want a cabin that is too tight and we want the passenger space to receive the right attention too.’ To that end, Pininfarina told us last year that the Battista will have serious ‘Internet of Things’ capability and Level 3 or higher autonomous driving ability.
Powered by Rimac
The hypercar’s 4WD underpinnings feature a Rimac-made T-shaped battery pack crammed between and behind the driver and passenger seats rather than below the floor. That way, the roof stays low and the major weight between the wheelbase for better handling. Originally, Pininfarina wasn’t keen to confirm the use of the Croatian start-up’s internals – but now the fact is featured in the Battista’s press release.
Pininfarina is keen to emphasise just how driveable this car should be despite its insane performance figures. As well as dialling down some of the reaction times of the EV’s powerplant, so it’s easier and more predictable to drive at lower speeds, the Italian marque also enlisted the help of the Mahindra racing Formula E team. That meant Nick Heidfeld helped make the Battista a little more manageable for its eventual owners.
With that in mind, the car will feature five drive-modes, and will also intelligently use its four electric motors for torque-vectoring; helping the driver get the most of the Rimac powertrain.
Pininfarina Battista at Geneva 2019
And what about those luxe SUV rumours to follow?
They’re true. After the Battista hypercar in 2020 which will be sold as a limited edition of fewer than 100 to keep up exclusivity – although the “Euro Millions” price tag should see to that – a range of Automobili Pininfarina-badged cars will follow. The first could well be a Lamborghini Urus fighter with smaller luxury SUV versions to follow.
Handily, 42-year old design director Luca Borgogno, also worked on the latter production model during a brief stint at Lamborghini between 2015-16, despite being a Pininfarina man for most of his career. We put it to him that Automobili Pininfarina’s luxe SUV ought to look a good deal different from the far-from-perfect Urus? ‘No car is perfect, I totally agree,’ he responded quickly and with a smile. ‘We want ours to be elegant, clean and pure, this is our basic idea of design.’ Phew!
By Curtis Moldrich & Guy Bird