Monday, June 23, 2014

NYTimes Letter to Editor re, "If This Isn't Slavery, What Is," Nicholas Kristof (Jan. 4, 2009), Jan. 8

Posted by susan titus glascoff at 2/4/2009 11:33 PM
NYT letter re, If This Isn’t Slavery, What Is,  by Nicholas Kristof  Jan. 4, 2009, Jan. 8

Kristof is to be commended for his compassionate efforts to help stop sex trafficking.
However, I believe why his and other efforts don’t make more progress is because we don’t set a good enough example.  Even he downplays our own culpability by noting that “forced prostitution is remarkably similar from Pakistan to Vietnam – and, sometimes in the United States as well.”   Not long ago, maybe 3 years back, the NYT had a front cover magazine article about sex trafficking and reported an estimate of 700,000 per year worldwide, with about 60,000 right here.  60,000 is a LOT more than “sometimes!”  I was glad to see mentioned by Kristof that it is typical for brothel owners to be women.  However, he omitted what rarely is emphasized- that abusive practices often cycle.  It has been known for years that something like 80% of prostitutes were sexually abused, usually as children.

In somewhat the same timeframe the video “Breaking the Silence,” about abusive custody here was aired by PBS across the country, though not nearly widely enough, plus there was too little or innocuous advertising, and some airings were after 11 PM.   I emailed you the web link.  At the same time a 2-part 4 hour TV film ran starring Donald Sutherland with quite graphic depictions of forced sex trafficking right here.  This weekend in Albany will be the sixth annual national Battered Mothers’ Custody Conference.  Cases include whenever custody is taken from good mothers and unfair financial settlements.  (Impoverishment promotes dysfunctional behavior, which is part of our entire financial crisis on multiple fronts.)  Many concerned men are panel speakers.  I have suggested for years to the NYT and other major media that they attend, but to date coverage has been scant at best by any major media.   We sorely need legal accountability, no matter the topic.
                                     OUR KIDS KANT WAIT SO NEITHER CAN WE!

Susan Titus Glascoff, 4 Who’s Whos, Masters- Health Advocacy and Math, Exec. Dir. of Advisory Bd. to Nat’l Coalition for Justice, lifetime assorted advocacy,3 sons, 2 stepsons, 5 grandchildren, (1st married to high-powered attorney for 23 years)

203-454-3193,  10 Manitou Road, Westport, CT 06880

PS- Meant to get this to you a couple days ago, but I had informed you earlier re above conference.
I have reported elsewhere that I received a personal letter, June 24, 2005, from Barack Obama thanking me for sending the long, but outlined and broadly researched report depicting increasingly urgent need for legal accountability, most especially as it pertained to families in distress.  He said “It is unfortunate that family courts can often be places that hinder, rather than help, the broken families who enter them, and this situation must be addressed….. I can tell you care deeply about this situation and have many good insights on what can, and should, be done.”  You also received a copy of that report and in it was a paper from the Founding Fathers, established on Fathers’ Day in 2003 with Joseph Biden as one of the founders.  I included their opening  statements- “It’s Fathers’ Day.  Sit back, Relax, and Change the World- We know the realities of violence against women and children – as witnesses and victims, as friends and companions of those who have suffered.  That’s why we, men in support of our families, communities and workplaces, have committed to turn our private concern into public action.”   I also included a page from the group, Manhood and Violence (Michael Thompson, Harvard PhD and clinical psychologist specializing in children and families, assists them) which noted “Men’s near monopoly on the perpetration of violence is the elephant in the room of this national and local discussion on the epidemic of violence (not necessarily physical, can be emotional and financial) in our communities.  Generic descriptions of violence seem to be a careful attempt NOT to see this crucial piece of evidence and a careful way of avoiding the gendered source of violence.”
           I also included several statements from an Expose- “The Failure of Family Courts to Protect Children from Abuse in Custody Disputes” by a very high-powered group.  It stated that it is a resource book for lawmakers, judges, attorneys, and mental health professionals.  It quoted Gloria Steinem exhorting readers to “get angry and act vs the courts treating children as commodities.”  It quoted Alan Rosenfeld, Esq.- “ Some analysts have suggested that if we intended to create a system that would guarantee that the smallest number of sexually abused children would be protected – that system would look very much like our current family court system.”    Yet you in your Oct. 5, 2008 Key Magazine article, supposedly focusing on real estate, implied Simon Taub and his stepdaughter, Chana Taub’s daughter from first marriage, were justified in suing Chana for sexual libel re Simon’s allegedly sleeping with this stepdaughter.  You knew  greater detail, and this just added to the abuse, as did the comment that the youngest son just decided to go live with the father.  You knew the father simply took him. You knew, too, that renowned expert witness, Dr. Evan Stark, had his testimony barred from the jury hearing it by Judge Carolyn Demarest.   Dr. Stark testified that after 7 hours of interview, he concluded Chana exhibited all the four major parameters of an abuse.
        I suspect you are never going to correct the misrepresentations in the Oct. 5, 2008 Key magazine article resulting from 7 hours of interview with Chana Taub, her sister, me, &Katalin Pota who has PhD but is on disability & was being unfairly evicted from one of Simon Taub’s apts.   Katalin wrote to me that she wondered if we were all at same interview since article differed so markedly.  I especially conclude you are not going to issue a correction since you have a new article Jan. 8, “When a Tolerable Solitude Turns Intolerable, Help Arrives.”  The man, 60, depicted surely is in a sad state at this time and needed the help he is getting from the Neediest Cases Fund.  But you make a point of noting his funds were depleted from child support and alimony payments (which I suspect ended awhile ago).   He had lost his job not too long ago because of disability from surgery, but prior to that you noted that “he was active, going to Jets and Mets games, visiting museums, making annual pilgrimages to the Six Flags amusement park in NJ and of course, playing golf.”  That all takes a fair amount of money, esp. playing golf, so he surely had not been impoverished by his requirement of paying maintenance and child support.
         How about a more level playing field re your reporting on family issues?  You never seem to write about the many more women who often find themselves totally destitute while still at home with dependent children and who have gotten very inequitable settlements and/or been subject to physical violence here, unless it is a sensational case.  Keep in mind that the U.S. census stats note that the average woman’s lifestyle drops 45% after divorce, and the men’s organizations above note that treating domestic violence issues (inequitable finance is included in the DV category) as harming both sexes equally hinders finding solutions.  This all has a very negative impact on kids, boys and girls, and lots of research shows such kids have far higher rates of growing up to be dysfunctional adults, so the cycle goes on and on & costs society plenty, including financially.   It is part of our financial crisis.

Comments re a few other articles-
1)       12/31/08 Washington Post- “The Big Bailout Lessons,”  “one of the major lessons of the year is that unregulated and underregulated capitalism ends up confronting democratic governments with a subprime choice: either let a major institution go down & watch as chaos follows or funnel gobs of the public’s money into such institutions to avoid Lehman-like chaos.”  Re ANY big ticket item, unregulated and underregulated capitalism doesn’t work.  It surely doesn’t work with our legal system and healthcare. 
2)     1/2/09 South Florida Sun-Sentinel.com- “Put an End to lawsuit Abuse,” noted that Florida has been “classified as the #2 judicial hellhole in the country and is recognized nationally as a place you wouldn’t want to do business…… more than1 in 3 small businesses say lawsuit abuse has raised their costs, made products more expensive, or forced them to restrict, reduce or change their product and service offerings….. 1 in 10 have had to consider shutting down their business due to the threat of a lawsuit……The current legal climate is driving up healthcare costs and driving doctors out of state.”  All I can say is those stats  are by no means confined to Florida and we’d better wake up soon to including establishing legal accountability as part of our top priority for solving our financial crisis.
3)     12/26/08 Galesburg.com- “Put an End to Lawsuit Abuse,” notes “Cook County, Illinois was named the #3 judicial hellhole in the country with Madison and St. Clair’s Counties being troublesome jurisdictions to watch…. They import lawsuits and export jobs and opportunities.”    Hmmmmmm………
4)     12/16/08 setexasrecord.com-  Report: Southeast Texas courts improve, but still on ‘Hellhole’ watch list.  The American Tort Foundation has moved the Texas Gulf Coast and the Rio Grand Valley to the #1 spot on the hellhole watch list.  The article stated that some trial courts are indifferent to legislative changes enacted in 2005.  It defined ‘Judicial Hellholes’ as “places where judges systematically apply laws and court procedures in an inequitable manner, generally against defendants in civil lawsuits…. The report shows that lawsuit abuse remains ‘alive and well’ in many jackpot jurisdictions….. Lisa Rickard, pres. of U.S. Chamber Institute fro Legal Reform said ‘During this global economic downturn, we encourage state leaders to commit to reforming these trial-lawyer dominated jurisdictions that are driving away local jobs, revenue and opportunity….  The state of West Virginia ranks as #1 on the judicial hellhole list.”
                 HOW, I ask, can any legal area be allowed to get so bad as to be classified as a judicial hellhole, while essentially no credible efforts are made to correct it?  One prime ex. where many know the court system remains mired in corruption is in Brooklyn, NY.  They jailed Judge Garson, but seem loathe to pursue anyone else, even knowing he could not have done all he did with only the help of the one other lawyer convicted.  Part of the problem is that rules of evidence need to be made more realistic, prosecutors need more scrutiny, recusals must be made far easier to demand, and impeachment must become a viable reality, etc, etc,.    Dec. 17, 2008 Judge Carolyn Demarest boldly declared she shouldn’t have to recuse ( 48 formal pages had been filed against her) because she wasn’t biased against Chana Taub in pursuit of her divorce for 3 ½ years.  Let’s just take one partial set of items – part of the case is now before a bankruptcy judge who noted that Simon Taub is worth at least $41 million and has gotten 3 properties in the wife’s name into foreclosure proceedings and failed to pay child support and even the $350/wk maintenance ordered for her (hence causing the bankruptcy).  HOW can the judge be doing her job when she enforces hardly any of her own orders and allows a multimillionaire to say he can’t afford maintenance or child support and has to allow the home and other properties to go into foreclosure, yet he has reported ample rental income to support it all and then some?  Don’t keeping a case in court a long time and allowing bankruptcies and foreclosures cost taxpayers and creditors, including our ailing banks, tons of money??
5) April 23, 2008 TENNESSEAN.COM,  Tennessee Voices- Invest in preventing child abuse to avoid future human financial costs.   “The human costs of child abuse and neglect are, indeed, terrible.  There are also monetary costs.  In 2007, the direct and indirect costs for Tennessee were estimated at greater than $676 million.  If that number seems high, consider that the costs of all the following are directly or indirectly affected by child maltreatment: hospitalization, chronic health problems, our mental health and child welfare systems, law enforcement, the judicial system, special education, juvenile delinquency, lost productivity and adult criminality…..One study showed that for every dollar invested in prevention, there was a cost savings of $4 to public agencies later on…. Former Vanderbilt University professor Isaac Prilleltensky wrote: ‘ It is only by massive investment in prevention that we can reasonably expect less suffering.   Such an investment, while costly at first, will more than pay for itself in dollars saved for remedial services in special education, welfare, health, and the criminal justice system.  In human terms,  savings simply defy calculation.’ “   I sent this in April.

6)     1/6/09 The Justice Hour weekly radio program, hosted by atty., Lisa Macci.  I spoke on the show 2 ½ yrs ago.  I recently updated her re the Taub case, emphasizing what I said she knew- that this is but one case among thousands of judicial abuse cases across the country.  She wrote back- “My own case was a classic example of legal abuse by the judge.  There are more than thousands of cases of judicial abuse across the country.”  Yes, indeed, per usual I was downplaying the issue somewhat as I usually do.  The number is “millions” and it will be the undoing of the U.S. if we don’t seriously curtail it and make our courts again a place where justice doesn’t depend on which judge you get, how much money and influence you have, gender, color, religion, etc.  How can we lead??

7)     I attended a local official  (part of nat’l effort) gathering in Dec. to discuss ideas we want Obama to address.  The hostess was a lawyer who had held a prominent legal gov’t job in Wash. for 5 years.  When I said I wanted to mention getting legal accountability discussed, she said this was not the appropriate forum to bring up that topic!  When having each person introduce themselves, she saved me till last (and she had never met me before), closing the meeting before I got introduced.  Maybe that was a good thing because it emphasized my point which I then made very obvious by handing out papers to everyone and explaining what had happened.

8)     1/07/09 The National Law Journal- Cravath’s presiding partner: Time to kill the billable hour.  “The billable hour makes no sense, not even for lawyers, Chesler a prominent litigator writes: If you are successful and win a case early on, you put yourself out of work.  If you get bogged down in a land war in Asia, you make more money.  That is frankly nuts…..The point I am trying to make is that at the start we should define what the goals are and what the value of the matter is to the client.  We need to create an alignment of interests between the client and the lawyer.”  Article noted that Aug. 2007 ABA journal said “The Billable Hour Must Die.”  It also noted that at Cravath a midcareer litigation partner posted his billable rate at $875 an hour, a $205 increase since 2004.”
                         Keep in mind, too, that anyone ever receiving a legal bill knows it is impossible to verify how many minutes were spent on research, on phone calls, on travel, etc., and with little incentive to finish quickly, such a system is ripe for abuse.

9)  March 16, 2008, NYT Emonomics- a book review of “Predictably Irrational- The Hidden Forces that Shape Our Decisions,” by Dan Ariely, a behavioral economist.  I think it ought to be required reading for everyone, including periodic rereads!  Ariely’s  simple but creative experiments clearly prove what he maintains, but hardly any of us want to believe- “we aren’t cool calculators of self-interest who sometimes go crazy; we’re crazies who are, under special circumstances, sometimes rational.”  It was at least nice to learn that being reminded of any moral code- the Ten Commandments or the non-existent “M.I.T. honor system- caused cheating to plummet.  But we also need to pay attention to his simple experiment to see how arousal alters sexual attitudes.  He asked young men to answer a questionnaire, then answer it again while watching internet porn on a laptop wrapped in Saran.  He found that “in that state, their answers to questions about sexual tastes, violence, and condom use were far less respectable.”   The review states that “the book is far more revolutionary than its unthreatening manner lets on.  It’s a concise summary of why today’s social science increasingly treats the markets-know-best model as a fairy tale.”          I maintain that this further strengthens the plea that human inherent self-interest requires checks and balances re all serious topics.  
              Everything is interrelated.  Our Kids Kant Wait, So Neither Can We!

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