Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Neighbors for Sale: Modern Slavery in Atlanta

Hey! Do you live near Atlanta, Georgia? Are you interested in human trafficking (eradicating it, not how to engage in it)? Then you should attend the EPIC Conference.

Conference schedule

Details from the announcement

Date: Saturday, September 21, 2013

Time: 10:00 AM to 4:45 PM (continental breakfast served 9:30 to 10:00 AM)

Location: Emory University School of Law, 1301 Clifton Road, Atlanta, GA 30322

The Emory Public Interest Committee (EPIC) invites you to attend its tenth annual conference, “Neighbors for Sale: Modern Slavery in Atlanta,” on Saturday, September 21, 2013. Led by keynote speaker Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens, a host of state and local government and non-government organization leaders will assemble to discuss the realities of modern slavery in Atlanta, to share their own stories of modern abolition, and to share how attendees can become involved in the fight against slavery.


Please register via the link below by Tuesday, September 17. A continental breakfast and boxed lunch will be provided for as many as funding permits on a first-come, first-served basis. Attendance is capped at 250 registrants.


What to expect:

Attorney General Olens will begin the morning discussing the local realities of sex trafficking and all that can be done to combat it. After this primer, attendees will chose two from among a series of panel discussions addressing victim rescue, victim aftercare, the changing face of forced prostitution, criminal investigation, criminal prosecution, and structural transformation through lawmaking. The day will close with a full-conference panel on what more can and should be done to combat sex trafficking in Atlanta, beginning with the Attorney General’s “Georgia’s Not Buying It” campaign.

Selected Panelists:

Georgia Bureau of Investigation Director Vernan Keenan will discuss the work of GBI's Human Trafficking Unit.

Georgia Department of Education Chief of Staff Joel Thornton will discuss the DOE's efforts to identify trafficking victims in public schools.

Fulton County Prosecutor Camila Wright and DeKalb County Prosecutor Dalia Racine will discuss their work trying sex trafficking cases.

Representatives from Atlanta-based organizations Mary Frances Bowley, founder of Wellspring Living, as well as others from StreetGrace and Nightlight, will discuss their efforts to find and rescue trafficking victims.

It must be spring coz rape is in the air today...

Originally published on Facebook Notes on 18 March 2009


While I'm definitely glad Ms. Mai had the courage to stand up and formally accuse her attackers for their vicious crime, news of her upcoming nuptials leaves me with mixed feelings. Yes, I'm all for breaking the taboo of a raped woman being ineligible for a good marriage in Pakistan. The story even sounds heart-warming in a Lifetime movie kind of way when you find out her suitor, Mr. Gabol, is one of the cops assigned to protect her after her case sparked a worldwide news frenzy. Then you get to the part where he blackmails her to marry him by threatening to kill himself if she refuses. Did I mention he's already married so Ms. Mai will be his second wife? Mr. Gabol's first wife even came to plead with Ms. Mai not to reject the offer. Not to equivocate here, but it seems like she's being victimized all over again by the same cultural expectations of women.

I simply feel like throwing up my hands and exclaiming WTF.



Usually when we think about American Marines, rape, and foreign policy fiascos, the victim at the other end of our embarassment lives in the vicinity of the Ryukyu islands. This case, however, involves a young Filipino woman who has expressed some doubts about her story since emigrating to the United States from the Phillipines. While not a full on retraction as the headline seems to imply, she admits that she "may have been so friendly and intimate" with the accused after drinking, kissing, and dancing at a Subic City bar that when they later went to a van, he proceeded to have sexual relations (in the broadest sense of those words) with her under the assumption that his advances were not unwelcome or unwanted.

Here is what is purported to be a copy of her sworn statement:

As you can plainly read, she does not deny that anything untoward may have happened. In fact, she asserts very little at all, only raises questions and wonders. Of course, if the alleged victim was in fact drunk and/or possibly under the influence of other substances (no accusation implied there), could this not in fact account for her hazy memory of the exact nature of the events which transpired? And what about the shame and guilt she mentions at the end of the statement? A combination of the two seems a heady cocktail for questionable recollection.

My chief complaint here isn't about whether this particular rape did or did not occur but rather how these recent developments will effect our opinion of all previous and future reports of such unlawful acts by American servicemen abroad not only in the Phillipines, but stationed in Japan, South Korea, and all other points across the globe. Will it make it easier for military commanders to sweep such incidents under the rug and transfer the accused out of the country to avoid criminal prosecution in the host country? It seems easier to dismiss future accusations as mere female histrionics that will destroy a young man's military career and wreck his life without a fair airing of the facts. Will it evaporate the pressure of the government of a host country to leverage modifications to Status of Forces Agreements so that American servicemen can be held accountable for their misconduct? Representatives of the Phillipines government are already expressing their displeasure with the alleged victim's recent statements because of the huge consequences pursuing a trial, conviction, and negotiated sentencing have had on foreign policy.

Rape is an ugly thing, no matter where it happens. Unfortunately, when it happens at the intersection of a super-power's global strategic interests, "good liberty" abroad for American servicemen, and the oft-exploited human resources of the host country, things get that much uglier, ambiguous, and political. My only hope is that the truth will set the innocent(s) free in this case, whomever that may be.

cross examination jokes

The following quotations are from a book called Disorder in the American Courts by Charles M. Sevilla and are things people actually said in court, word for word, taken down and published by court reporters that had the torment of staying calm while these exchanges were taking place. Regardless of originations, they can be eye openers as to the mentality of those engaged in the drill...

ATTORNEY: What was the first thing your husband said to you that morning?
WITNESS: He said, 'Where am I, Cathy?'
ATTORNEY: And why did that upset you?
WITNESS: My name is Susan!

ATTORNEY: What gear were you in at the moment of the impact?
WITNESS: Gucci sweats and Reeboks.

ATTORNEY: Are you sexually active?
WITNESS: No, I just lie there..

ATTORNEY: This myasthenia gravis, does it affect your memory at all?
ATTORNEY: And in what ways does it affect your memory?
WITNESS: I forget.
ATTORNEY: You forget? Can you give us an example of something you forgot?

ATTORNEY: Do you know if your daughter has ever been involved in voodoo?
WITNESS: We both do.
WITNESS: Yes, voodoo.

ATTORNEY: Now doctor, isn't it true that when a person dies in his sleep, he doesn't know about it until the next morning?
WITNESS: Did you actually pass the bar exam?

ATTORNEY: The youngest son, the twenty-year-old, how old is he?
WITNESS: He's twenty, much like your IQ.

ATTORNEY: Were you present when your picture was taken?
WITNESS: Are you shitting me?

ATTORNEY: So the date of conception (of the baby) was August 8th?
ATTORNEY: And what were you doing at that time?
WITNESS: getting laid

ATTORNEY: She had three children, right?
ATTORNEY: How many were boys?
ATTORNEY: Were there any girls?
W ITNESS : Your Honor, I think I need a different attorney. Can I get a new attorney?

ATTORNEY: How was your first marriage terminated?
WITNESS: By death.
ATTORNEY: And by whose death was it terminated?
WITNESS: Take a guess.


ATTORNEY: Can you describe the individual?
WITNESS: He was about medium height and had a beard.
ATTORNEY: Was this a male or a female?
WITNESS: Unless the C ircus was in town I'm going with male.

ATTORNEY: Is your appearance here this morning pursuant to a deposition notice which I sent to your attorney?
WITNESS: No, this is how I dress when I go to work.

ATTORNEY: Doctor, how many of your autopsies have you performed on dead people?
WITNESS: All of them. The live ones put up too much of a fight.

ATTORNEY: ALL your responses MUST be oral, OK? What school did you go to?

ATTORNEY: Do you recall the time that you examined the body?
WITNESS: The autopsy started around 8:30 p.m.
ATTORNEY: And Mr. Denton was dead at the time?
WITNESS: If not, he was by the time I fini shed.

ATTORNEY: Are you qualified to give a urine sample?
WITNESS: Are you qualified to ask that question?

And the best for last:

ATTORNEY: Doctor, before you performed the autopsy, did you check for a pulse?
ATTORNEY: Did you check for blood pressure?
ATTORNEY: Did you check for breathing?
ATTORNEY: So, then it is possible that the patient was alive when you began the autopsy?
ATTORNEY: How can you be so sure, Doctor?
WITNESS: Because his brain was sitting on my desk in a jar.
ATTORNEY: I see, but could the patient have still been alive, nevertheless?
WITNESS: Yes, it is possible that he could have been alive and practicing law.

Economic recovery diagnosed with March Madness, expected casualties 63

Originally published in Facebook Notes on 19 March 2009


It's that time of year again. The flowers are blossoming, the birds are returning, and a young boy's fancy turns to thoughts of how well 10 men can handle their balls for 40 minutes. You have to be extra furtive when checking the brackets this year; with the economy slumping and so much coverage available on the web, you don't want to be the fellow who wins the office pool and a trip to the unemployment line all in the same week. But reports of major productivity declines due to the NCAA tourney are just bunk.

Let's face it, if you and I weren't stealing away to see check on the scoreboards and reading up on scouting reports, we'd be wasting work hours doing something else equally useless like going for the high score on Scramble or complaining about what a douche Simon Cowell was last night. Work sucks. It's tedious. Companies know this and expect a certain amount of listlessness on the clock. But some a-holes, let's call them the Bobs, make a buck every year shopping around this nonsense that college hoops costs our nation billions (with a B) of dollars of each year in lost productivity. I didn't check any scores until I got home this afternoon but guess what, I wasted enough time to read this article and a couple of others, too.

So enjoy your NCAA tourney this year and let's lay the blame for the recession on those who are truly resposible: those AIG a-holes who got paid their contractually-obligated bonuses ;)



However, I do care (a little. Don't let that get out. Everything thinks I'm an a-hole, too) about the economy. Here's a handy little tool to know when it's safe to turn off the tv, close your browser, and pretend like you're working again because the game is a lock.

Note: there is no Reggie Miller exception.

New Sex Scandal Rocks Catholic Church

Originally published in Facebook Notes on 6 May 2009

Popular Catholic priest Alberto Cutie was relieved of duties by the Archdiocese of Miami and suspended from his radio talk shows for photos showing him 'in flagrante' on the beach. While the Archdiocese was appalled and disgusted to see the adult man kissing, holding, and fondling a young, comely brunette woman's buttocks under her bathing suit on Miami Beach, parishioners seem to have taken a different view. They are standing by "Father Oprah," dismissing his inappropriate behavior because he is a "good, good man" and "hey, he's Cuban, those guys don't got any control. And with a name like Cutie, what did you really expect to happen?"

A spokesman for the Archdiocese said the church would be praying for Father Cutie on his spiritual journey to Las Vegas, Rio de Janeiro, Bangkok, and Subic City this summer. "We hope to put this whole sad, sordid affair behind us as soon as possible so that Father Cutie can get back to his sacred duties of molesting altar boys and leaving deep, deep emotional scars that last until legal charges are filed and the Cardinals shuffle him around to another diocese to avoid scandal."

studying up to be a good judas, ahem, jurist...

Originally posted to Facebook Notepad 11 May 2009


It looks like the first ever Republican Tech Summit in February of this year is finally yielding fruit. The revolution will not be televised; it will instead be redistributed via youtube. You silly, silly libs. You actually thought moveon.org and the Daily Kos made you the "hip, techno-savvy party" while the GOP was still stuck with swift boat tactics? Those old, angry white men still own more than half the world. They might not know how to tweet but they can pay millions to a handful of MBA tech assassins to engineer muckraking campaigns for the digital age. That's why they call them the 'Grand' Ol' Party, you know. They can afford to toss more than a grand at any problem. Where was this sleaze mining when Roberts and Alito were being considered? I'm sure those two assholes have opened their mouths wide enough on camera to drive an Enterprise-class aircraft carrier through more than once. Too bad Demoncrats didn't have a Karl Rove or Fox News type to open fire with all salvos at the Bushies. Now we're stuck with Pain & Panic at the helm for 20 years.

Here's to torpedoing many fine jurists in the court of public opinion. They don't learn quick but that's what money is for. Never underestimate a billionaire and the depths he will stoop to in order to pander to the hysterical, foolish masses.

Draw a line through Sotomayor. She's done. There ain't no way she can make it through the tarring and feathering of being labeled a "damn liberal activist judge." Her own words have hung her.


And now for something completely different. This story sucks. Come on, now, kidnapping kids so Americans can have their precious "rescued foreign babies"? And we're not even talking Madonna or Angelina Jolie here. Are we now appeasing white guilt by paying brown people to steal babies from other brown people so we can manufacture a smug & superior sense because we can't stand to see a perfectly healthy baby be "thrown away"? Well of course they weren't going to throw away a healthy baby (except in China, where not having a penis is still considered a birth defect). But I need to feel progressive and better than foreigners some how. Here, let me pay white people to pay some brown people to do some awful, illegal stuff. The white guy with the nice teeth and dapper suit said it was ok so it must be ok. Well if those people would actually do such a thing as kidnapping for the small sum of 10x what the entire town makes in a year, then maybe this baby is better off with me.

WTF, America? It's this kind of shit that's gonna end up dragging me into some "public interest-y" area of the law like human rights and anti-trafficking. I need to make a visit to Bohemian Grove next year and sacrifice up all my tender feelings to a giant owl.


the love affairs of nathaniel p.: a novel

There is something particularly flattering about an entire book dedicated to the kind of person you are, even if that portrait itself isn't very flattering. I felt reading Adelle Waldman's debut novel The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. that slight swelling of the chest, as Hitler's ghost must whilst browsing the WWII section of every decent American library, to see so many words about one such as me. All kidding aside, I've steamrolled over a number of objectively decent relationships in the past few years for the same reasons as the titular literary Brooklynite at the center of this novel: because despite initial interest, after awhile, I just didn't feel it. And following simple laws of physics, Nate (and myself) finds that feelings of the other sort rush in to fill the void in ways that are often insufferable.

The novel opens with Nate running late to a party and running into a former lover, Juliet, on the street. Her reaction to the random encounter is less than civil and Nate seems stunned by it. True, the last time he saw her he did accompany her to the abortion clinic and pay for the procedure because of his role in that state of affairs. And then he had remained the whole of the day to comfort her before summarily abandoning Juliet because he hadn't truly liked her that much in the first place. But we, Nate included, shouldn't take this to mean Nate is heartless or cruel or indifferent to the sensibilities of women. After all, he is the "product of a postfeminist 1980s childhood and politically correct, 1990s college education. He had learned all about male privilege. Moreover, he was in possession of a functional and frankly rather clamorous conscience." This self-reassurance, by the way, is a quote you will see snipped and inserted into almost every review. And for good reason. It neatly summarizes Nate's opinion of himself (it is, after all, relayed to us through our ongoing privileged access to Nate's headspace) while also revealing his blind spots.

But I get ahead of myself. Nate is on the way to his ex-girlfriend's house for a dinner party consisting mostly of his friends. With this Elissa, the ex, Nate has not extricated himself from a frequent ritual of conversations and recriminations punctuated periodically by backsliding. This inability to let go, Nate tells us, stems from both his guilt over ending the relationship and his sympathies for Elissa's career plight as he sees it. At this party, he meets Hannah, an acquaintance of Elissa's that he initially downplays.

A few flirtatious emails later, thanks to the highbrow, left-leaning social conscience that defines and operates Nate's inner circle of friends, Nate and Hannah go out, followed by sex and a relationship, and ultimately, another breakup. The novel narrates the rise and demise of the couple through a series of set piece conversations and Nate's internal monologues staged at coffee shops, diners, parties, and the couple's respective apartments.

Despite eavesdropping on Nate's internal monologues, we actually learn very about him and his motivations directly from him. Sure, he tells us his irritation at Hannah is irrational or his cruelty is often perverse. He repeatedly complains to himself about the stifling realities of a relationship (the other person there all the time! they ask you things! you have to care about their emotional well-being!). And yet his relationship with Elissa lasted several years, through both career and personal highs and lows. And transitioning out of his relationship with Hannah, he takes up with Greer, an autobiographer of her sexual and other flittering, a woman with much the same jejune personality as Elissa without the real-word albatross of a stalled career to weigh Nate down (Elissa's dinner guests at the novel's opening gossip negatively about Greer's very sizeable advance for her next book).

Hannah is the type of girl Nate feels he should be attracted to: smart, successful, witty. She is not, however, the girlish kind of pretty Nate typically pursues. Nor is she the histrionic sort. Despite what Nate might say and perhaps even believe for a time, the high maintenance and conventionally attractive is the kind of girl he is interested in. To put it bluntly, the novel winds up and then unwinds Nate's punishment of Hannah for falling in love with him when she is none of those things. He comes to loathe her "neediness," her simple desire to make things work with him and pain caused by his failings; his failure to try, his failure to recognize what he wants, and his biggest failure, the inability to be honest with either himself or her.

For all the robustness of Nate's inner life, his careful reflections of why he did and harsh assessments of what motivates others, he actually tells us precious little about his desires. His contradictory desires are expressed through his two friends Aurit and Jason. In various conversations throughout the book, Aurit and Jason's advice rather than Nate's own thoughts give voice and reflection to Nate's inner life.

Aurit: female, intelligent, articulate. A woman of which Nate uses the word "maternal" as an insult. She and Nate have never dated. Their relationship is purely Platonic. Aurit blames men for relationships breaking down and attributes these failures to men's personal, often psychological, disorders. Nate chafes at her insistence that the normal state of a man and a woman is in a relationship and men who are not in relationships are somehow pathological. Aurit likes Hannah and feels Nate should work on the relationship. Nate, not openly, feels Hannah is too much like Aurit.

Jason, on the other hand, is priggish and prickish. He is controversial for the sake of controversy, to perform so as to suck the spotlight squarely onto himself at all times. He unironically suggests that pretty but not too bright women should marry the rich and litterati so as to prevent these upper classes from being dominated by uggies. Jason suggests to Nate that he doesn't want a smart but only moderately attractive as a mate; that he doesn't seek a mate who can be an equal, who can challenge him. In fact, he secretly desires pretty, melodramatic women of whom he can complain about the "pains" they cause him on the surface. Nate initially prickles at such a suggestion. By the end of the book, as he settles into his life with Greer, their petty fights, her demands for indulgences, his sidelining her thoughts for the much more serious and sober verbal sparring when out with his friends, confirms Jason's diagnosis.

Aurit and Jason, with Nate in the middle, do not represent the Freudian triumvirate of superego, id, and ego. Rather, Aurit and Jason are external manifestations of Nate's internal wrestling with what he truly wants out of life. And this struggle plays out as Nate stands at the threshold of success, the publication of his first novel. The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. shows this seemingly bright, capable, and modern man to be rather boorish and superficial but with the good manners not to be blunt about it.

Slate's Katie Roiphe describes the novel as "deftly skewer[ing] the new literary man, the bookish, ambitious, N+1ish young man, with his stylish torment, his self-seriousness, his dangerous admixture of grandiosity and insecurity, and old fashioned condescension toward women gussied up as sensitivity, his maddening irony, his very specific way of treating people badly while worrying about liberal politics." Said targets would be the protagonists of Keith Gessen and Benjamin Kunkel's recent novels. Perhaps she's right, but only from the perspective of the jilted ex.

At her best, Waldman's novel feels less like grinding her own personal ressentiment axe against all the Nathaniel Piven's of the world. The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. is nominally about Nate, as it is through his eyes, ears, and voice that we experience the world. But where Keith Gessen's All the Sad Young Literary Men treats women merely as the overlapping props that connect the three male protagonists (Sam, Keith, and Mark) post-college, Waldman seems instead to give a voice to women who come into contact with the "sad young literary man" type; Hannah, confused and hurt by a Nate that runs erratically hot/cold; Elissa, whom he keeps on a leash through emotional affairs and backsliding; and even brief Juliet, whose reprimand "You could have at least—oh, never mind." truly baffles Nate.

Adelle Waldman's debut novel is indeed a reaction against the N+1 ilk, but not an agressive takedown. Instead, in clever, witty, and insightful prose, she not only examines a bright man, a type really, for whom Socrates' maxim to do so is merely an empty refrain, but also surveys the landscape for emotional craters left on a country's single female population as these self-assured, ambitious solipsists pass untouched and unaware over their lives.