Hearing highlights gender roles


Staff & Wire Reports

In this photo combination, Christine Blasey Ford testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018 in Washington. (Pool Image via AP)

In this photo combination, Christine Blasey Ford testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018 in Washington. (Pool Image via AP)

In this photo combination, Supreme court nominee Brett Kavanaugh testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018. (Pool Image via AP)

Kavanaugh-Ford hearing: A dramatic lesson on gender roles


AP National Writer

Friday, September 28

NEW YORK (AP) — He let his anger flare repeatedly, interrupted his questioners and cried several times during his opening statement. She strived to remain calm and polite, despite her nervousness, and mostly held back her tears.

Throughout their riveting, nationally televised testimony on Thursday, Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh served as Exhibits A and B for a tutorial on gender roles and stereotypes. Amid the deluge of reaction on social media, one prominent observation: Ford, as a woman, would have been judged as a far weaker witness had she behaved as Kavanaugh did.

“Imagine a woman openly weeping like this on a national stage and still getting elected to the Supreme Court. Or any office,” tweeted Joanna Robinson, a senior writer with Vanity Fair.

Kavanaugh, nominated to fill a vacant seat on the U.S. Supreme Court, mixed tears with fury in his statement forcefully denying Ford’s allegation that he sexually assaulted her in 1982 when they were both in high school. He choked up at several points when referring to how his family has been affected by the tempest surrounding allegations by Ford and other women.

Opponents of Kavanaugh’s nomination said his behavior demonstrated a lack of judicial temperament. Some supporters said they were moved to tears when he broke down.

Later, during questioning by some of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Democratic members, Kavanaugh aggressively interrupted his interrogators and even asked sharp questions of his own.

“Have you ever drank so much you didn’t remember what happened?” asked Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat.

“Have you?” countered Kavanaugh. He later apologized.

Ford, in contrast, sought to present herself as cooperative and respectful, expressing her wish that “we could collaborate in a way that could get at more information.”

“I’m used to being collegial,” she said at one point.

At another, she said when asked about her emotional state: “I think that’s a great question.”

Zoe Chance, a marketing professor at Yale School of Management, said that in terms of winning over public opinion, Ford and Kavanaugh “are both doing the right thing.” She cited research indicating that men could seem more influential and competent through shows of anger, and women less so.

“When women express strong emotions, we judge them to be emotional — or, in the extreme, ‘hysterical,’” Chance said in an email. “When men express strong emotions, we infer that they must be facing extreme situations.”

However, Chance was unsure that Kavanaugh’s anger was effective in this case.

“In this particular situation, the emotional display casts doubt on his ability to be dispassionate and objective as a judge,” Chance suggested. “If we value the ability to separate emotion from facts, then Ford has behaved more judge-like than Kavanaugh has. “

Kathleen Hall Jamieson, communications professor and director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, said some of Kavanaugh’s statements “were more consistent with one’s expectations of a partisan than a judge or prospective associate justice of the Supreme Court.”

“It is unusual to see a middle aged professional —male or female_experience the range of emotions in public in a formal setting expressed by Judge Kavanaugh,” Jamieson said in an email. “We expect judges to sound and seem dispassionate.”

Michael Cunningham, a psychology professor at the University of Louisville, said he found Ford’s body language and tone of voice to be persuasive.

“Her generally calm and soft-spoken, yet firm, voice seemed consistent with the feminine sex-role,” he said. “At the end, I believe she retained her credibility.”

As for Kavanaugh, Cunningham said the nominee “was successful in conveying the emotions of a man who has convinced himself that he has done nothing wrong.” But the professor had doubts about the impact of Kavanaugh’s show of emotions.

“Judge Kavanaugh tearing up when mentioning his daughter conveyed a man who was feeling sorry for himself,” Cunningham said. “Society wants men to be sympathetic, and even tearful at times, but not for themselves.”

Glenn Sacks, a commentator who writes often about men’s issues, expressed dismay at social-media derision being directed at Kavanaugh due to his emotional displays.

“The mocking of his demeanor is indicative of the restraints still upon men — no weakness allowed, suck it up or get laughed at,” Sacks said in an email. “Men are taught this at an early age — when women cry, we sympathize. When a man cries, it’s so unseemly we can barely stand to look at it.”

Jo Langford, a Seattle-based therapist who works with men and boys who have committed sexual offenses, said he was struck by the contrast between Kavanaugh’s anger and Ford’s “stable and straightforward cadence.” He concluded that Ford may have fared better in the court of public opinion.

Among those closely following the hearing was Danielle Campoamor, a New York-based writer and editor who says she was sexually assaulted by a co-worker five years ago.

Ford “was calm in a way every sexual assault victim is asked to be, lest they be written off as ‘unhinged’ and ‘emotional’ and, as a result, no longer credible,” Campoamor said. “Kavanaugh, by contrast, was unapologetically angry. … He embodied the anger so many sexual assault victims fear; the anger that keeps so many of us from coming forward.”

Associated Press writer Elizabeth Kennedy in Washington contributed to this report.

OPINION: Lie and deny

By Steve Klinger


It is difficult to keep my head from exploding with each new day’s political developments. So now Rod Rosenstein is quitting or may be fired, leaving Mueller’s Russia investigation in grave jeopardy. Or maybe not. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh faces an increasing number of allegations of sexual misbehavior which may derail his nomination to the high court. Or maybe not. Trump addresses the United Nations and gravely blames all the world’s ills on Iran. Sounds like a recipe for a Trumped-up invasion/October surprise. Or maybe not. In any case the waves of breaking news wash over us with relentless ferocity, keeping us locked in hypnotic distraction.

That said, though the Democrats are not blameless, the Republicans continue to astound me with the temerity they summon to lie to the American people, and mostly get away with it, while Trump spews bombast and orchestrates more distractions. The hypocrisy and the distortion of reality are mind-boggling. After stonewalling Merrick Garland for over a year the GOP now expects us to believe there is great urgency to install Kavanaugh, essentially ignoring and denying credible accusations that would have had them performing exploding flying pinwheels if they had been leveled at a Democratic nominee or elected official at any level.

Mitch McConnell, one of the most immoral and hypocritical human beings to haunt the halls of Congress in recent memory, proclaims the Senate will quickly proceed to an “up or down vote” on Kavanaugh regardless of accusers’ testimony that Kavanaugh may have committed attempted rape and other sexual assaults as a teenager.

Trump boasted a while back that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and face no consequences, and now a comparable range of behavior apparently is permissible to anyone so designated by the Grand Old Party.

What is happening here is the attempted establishment of an authoritarian state, where truth is what the leader(s) declare it to be, and all accusations to the contrary are branded as “unfair” political conspiracies. I have no doubt that if Republicans hold both houses of Congress in the midterm elections, there will be a wholesale purge of White House and Cabinet officials, the dissolution of the Mueller investigation and a full-speed assault on the shreds of our remaining institutions. My fears were echoed by Hillary Clinton last week when she spoke with Rachel Maddow. To wit, how can any rational adult believe Trump will relinquish power under a Republican majority, even if he should lose his re-election bid in 2020? He said he was prepared to cry fraud if he lost in 2016. Ironically, now he would blame the Russians for an unfavorable outcome, as he may well do if the Democrats take back the House (and/or Senate) this November. Is there anything in his past behavior to indicate he would accept a negative election outcome?

All he needs to do then is declare a national emergency (or invent one, such as a war someplace) and take the executive actions to bury Justice Department investigations of his campaign’s or administration’s behavior regarding conspiracy or obstruction of justice.

The Republicans in power have shown zero inclination to block or even seriously object to Trump’s outrageous and perhaps treasonous assaults on the limits of executive power. They have corrupted the process of judicial nominations with arrogance and impunity. Why would anyone believe there is a thread of decency in the moral fabric of any elected official who would any longer bear the Republican label? Is there, as some have asked, a line they would not cross?

The sexual excesses and crimes of men who covet political and entrepreneurial power are very much expressions of their obsession with power, so I suppose it should be no surprise that sexual misbehavior from a Supreme Court nominee is described as “a hiccup” or in other terms by members of Congress implying no consequence. News flash: Even hiccups can have consequences when they increase in frequency and severity.

If Kavanaugh’s nomination is railroaded through, there needs to be a national strike. If Rosenstein is fired, there needs to be a million-strong march on Washington and acts of civil disobedience. Even if nothing similarly egregious happens before election day, there needs to be a national awakening that brings women and youth and minorities to the polls like never before to cast their votes in what truly seems like a last chance to save American democracy.

Steve Klinger is a veteran community journalist and college English instructor based in southern New Mexico.

Police chief ‘heartbroken’ after body discovered in creek

Thursday, September 27

GASTONIA, N.C. (AP) — The chief of a North Carolina police department said Thursday he was “heartbroken” over the discovery of a body believed to be that of a missing 6-year-old boy.

Gastonia Police Chief Robert Helton fought back tears and a breaking voice during a news conference in which it was announced officials believed the body searchers found was that of Maddox Ritch.

“Our community’s heartbroken. This is not the end that we hoped for,” Helton said. “I’ve lost a lot of sleep this week worrying about Maddox.”

Gastonia Fire Chief Phil Welch said the body was found in a creek, slightly more than a mile (1.6 kilometers) east of Rankin Lake Park, by a searcher who was walking down the middle of the creek as his partners stood on the bank. He said the area had been searched previously by drones, all-terrain vehicles and foot patrols.

Welch said a crew of 15 searchers returned to the creek and discovered the body.

“There is no sense of accomplishment here today,” Welch said. “There is grieving down at our command post.”

FBI agent Jason Kaplan, also fighting tears, said the investigation into what happened to Maddox will continue. He said the water wasn’t more than 3 feet (0.9 meters) deep at the spot where the body was found, adding that it’s too early to say whether foul play was involved. Neither he nor the other officials would provide additional details regarding the body being found, including how long the body had been in the creek.

Last Saturday, Maddox Ritch’s father said the boy ran off from him and a friend at the park and disappeared before he could catch up to him.

The news release says the boy’s parents have been notified about the body being found, and police scheduled a news conference for later in the afternoon.

Both parents went before the media this week to plead for any information that would lead to the discovery of Maddox, who was autistic. On Wednesday, Ian Ritch appeared on national television and at a news conference to repeat the pleas.

According to the boy’s father, Ian Ritch, Maddox was about 25 feet to 30 feet (7 meters to 9 meters) away before he broke into a sprint just as a jogger passed them. The father said he is a diabetic and because he has neuropathy in his feet, he has trouble running.

“He likes running,” Ritch said. “I couldn’t catch up with him. I feel guilt for letting him get so far ahead of me before I started running after him.”

Ritch said the boy looked back at him and laughed, adding that he would slow down and then speed up again. With the help of the friend, Ritch searched for his son but couldn’t find him. Park personnel also joined in the search but didn’t see Maddox, either. After an hour, Ritch called 911, saying he delayed that call because he thought he would find his son and there was no reason to call police.

The Conversation

US generosity after disasters: 4 questions answered

September 28, 2018


Patrick Rooney

Executive Associate Dean for Academic Programs, Professor of Economics and Philanthropic Studies, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis

Disclosure statement

Patrick Rooney and the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy receives funding from numerous charities, foundations, and donors. He serves on numerous boards, task forces, and advisory committees for charities.


Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis provides funding as a member of The Conversation US.

After 9/11, Americans responded with the kind of outpouring of generosity usually reserved for the most powerful hurricanes and earthquakes. Ever since those terrorist attacks, the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy has tracked donations from people, businesses and foundations after natural and man-made disasters. Here are some of the highlights of what we’ve learned.

1. How quickly do donations roll in?

Most Americans who donate to support disaster relief act quickly. They give to charities that can help with relief efforts when they see photos and video clips that capture the fury of the storms and the devastation wrought by hurricanes and earthquakes.

Americans typically make these donations within six weeks of a big disaster, when media coverage is the most intense. Their contributions usually slow to a crawl within two or three months and typically dry up by the six-month mark, once the cameras stop rolling and news cycle moves on – even as the needs remain significant.

Giving after Hurricane Katrina marked an exception to this rule. The cumulative total donations for relief efforts after that storm almost doubled from the second month to the sixth month, rising from US $2.2 billion to almost $4.5 billion.

2. How much do Americans give after disasters?

While massive donations from celebrities get the most attention, most of these disaster relief contributions are small and from people you’ve never heard of. Almost half of Americans reported giving money to charities for disaster relief after Katrina, and almost three-fourths donated after 9/11, we found.

The typical, or median, gift following both emergencies was $50 per household, and few households donated more than $100, according to data we analyzed from the Conference Board, a business research group.

3. What kind of people give?

To learn more about who gives to relief efforts, we studied the demographics of people who made donations to charities that raised money to support victims of the 9/11 attacks.

We found that older people were more likely to contribute. For each additional year of age, individuals were 3.4 percent more likely to donate for 9/11 relief, regardless of their income, education and marital status.

Households with higher incomes tended to give more than lower-income families. For example, households earning $80,000 or more gave an average of $242 to cover 9/11 relief efforts, more than three times that of households earning $40,000 or less.

We detected few other statistically significant differences among donors. That is, Americans gave the same way whether they were men or women; white, black, Latino, Asian-American or Native American; if they were high school dropouts or had graduate degrees; if they had young children, grown children or no kids at all.

Still, religious people, those with at least some college education and families with college students were more likely to donate and to volunteer than everyone else. Those with more education and higher incomes were significantly more likely to donate blood, food or clothing – but not more likely to give money.

We also found that men were significantly less likely to donate in-kind items than women.

4. How much do Americans donate for big relief efforts?

Americans often give on a big scale to major relief efforts within our borders and abroad.

Within six months of the emergencies that arose from Hurricane Katrina in August 2005, U.S. donors wrote checks totaling $4.5 billion, which we believe is the highest total ever. Americans gave $2.8 billion after 9/11, $2 billion after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and $1.6 billion following Haiti’s 2010 earthquake, the three other largest waves of donations since 2001.

Significant but smaller sums were raised after hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria in 2017, the earthquake and tsunami that rocked Japan in 2011 and Superstorm Sandy in 2012.

It is too soon to say how much Americans will donate to support relief efforts after Hurricane Florence. But whether they’re large or small, these donations are extraordinarily generous and generally altruistic. They help strangers without expecting anything in return.

This is an updated version of an article originally published on Sept. 11, 2017.

The Conversation

Want to help after a disaster? Consider waiting a bit

September 27, 2018


Michelle Annette Meyer

Associate Executive Director, Hazard Reduction and Recovery Center, Texas A&M University

Gregory R. Witkowski

Senior Lecturer, Columbia University

Disclosure statement

This material is based in part upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1463847. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

Gregory R. Witkowski has received support for his research on disaster philanthropy from the Rockefeller Archive Center and the New York Public Library.


Texas A&M University provides funding as a founding partner of The Conversation US.

What’s the best way to help disaster victims?

We agree with other disaster experts that cash is more helpful than mounds of clothing, diapers and other goods. Giving money limits waste and makes it easier to address local needs, among other reasons.

In addition, supporting recovery efforts tied to disasters that occurred a year ago or waiting to give can be the best way to go. Our independent research across several states and disasters, including Hurricane Harvey and the 9/11 terrorist attacks, indicates that needs are often as big or even greater long after a disaster than in its immediate aftermath.

What aid covers

Disasters engender large amounts of philanthropic support, partially due to media coverage. Yet most of this aid is given quickly and addresses immediate needs, as opposed to longer-term recovery and reconstruction efforts.

Governmental and nongovernmental aid alike often cover relief efforts – that is, the shelter, food and health care needs of victims right after disasters. This initial funding may also pay the tab for repairing damaged infrastructure, like roads and utilities, which will meet some medium and long-term priorities.

However, people whose homes are destroyed or badly damaged by disasters as a result of disasters often contend with red tape and inadequate funding and can remain displaced long after major disasters.

The reasons for this problem are clear.

Affordable housing, whether rented or owned, is scarce and underfunded across the nation. Flood insurance only covers a small minority of homeowners. In most cases, homeowners and rental insurance policies do not go far enough to address all post-disaster needs. And the federal government provides little help for people to repair housing following emergencies.

Consider the situation in La Grange, Texas, a town of fewer than 5,000 people. While there is no full count of exactly how many local residents still lack housing, about 25 families are still living there in trailers provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency more than a year after Hurricane Harvey destroyed their homes. Many others in that community remain in hotels or are staying with friends and relatives.

The local long-term recovery organizations that help households in places like La Grange rebuild with donated supplies and volunteer labor must keep recruiting volunteers and seeking funds for years after disasters.

Setting priorities

Disasters also expose many inequities. Those who remain in need for years to come were likely to have been facing economic hardship beforehand. That was the case in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and New York City following Superstorm Sandy.

Despite the inevitable long-term needs, even foundations – organizations that aspire to make their giving strategic – too often focus on short-term disaster relief.

The largest 1,000 foundations together gave only 5 percent of their overall disaster-related funding specifically to reconstruction and recovery, about US $7 million, in 2015, according to the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, a nonprofit that tracks this data.

After disasters, nonprofits and donors alike should begin to think about the affected communities’ long-term needs. It is hard to reserve funds for later use in the midst of a crisis, but some nonprofits have done that.

For instance, in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, the New York Community Trust and the United Way of New York City formed the September 11th Fund to support the victims of the attacks. Its leaders knew that needs would be greater in the second and third years after the attacks, so they set money aside to disburse later.

What can you do?

Donors can give to nonprofits immediately after disasters that are bound to be involved in recovery efforts in the long run, such as community foundations and the local chapters of large national nonprofits.

Giving not just in the wake of disasters but also on the anniversaries of prior ones can make a big difference. At that point, the media will be reporting on how much progress has been made, as happened on the first anniversary of Hurricane Maria.

And by then you can vet the efforts of different charities by consulting their annual reports to see what they have accomplished so far. Many local long-term recovery organizations will share or post their financial information online, such as the Bastrop County Long Term Recovery Team, which rebuilt homes for under-insured survivors of Texas wildfires and floods.

Donating long after disasters addresses major unmet needs. It also gives you the chance to get more reliable information about how your gift will be used.

In this photo combination, Christine Blasey Ford testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018 in Washington. (Pool Image via AP)
https://www.sunburynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2018/09/web1_121456996-3e1b2996bb624cdc82a41cd68f931e85.jpgIn this photo combination, Christine Blasey Ford testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018 in Washington. (Pool Image via AP)

In this photo combination, Supreme court nominee Brett Kavanaugh testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018. (Pool Image via AP)
https://www.sunburynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2018/09/web1_121456996-776794bd18dd49daa6ba40af3bc4bb6c.jpgIn this photo combination, Supreme court nominee Brett Kavanaugh testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018. (Pool Image via AP)

Staff & Wire Reports