Posts Tagged Mexico
Sins of a “Good Mormon Boy”
Each year, the church asked me the same question: “Do you touch yourself?” Each year I lied, and hated myself more.
September 18, 2012
I grew up Mormon, and every year I endured a hair-raising interview to get my “temple recommend.” (Think of it like Mormon “security clearance.”) It was a firewalk in the guise of an annual interrogation. Everyone in my life would know if I failed. I’d be excluded from joining my family and friends in Temple rituals. Rumors would flood my neighborhood in Utah Valley. And every year, the same question threatened to consume me with shame.
“Do you touch yourself?”
Each time I lied, I plunged into a very Mormon kind of hell.
I was not born a bad Mormon. My great-great-grandparents were among Utah’s earliest Mormon pioneers. Like Mitt Romney, I have ancestors who fled to Mexico to practice polygamy after Utah outlawed it. Other ancestors were martyred during the Mormons’ 1,300-mile westward trek to “Zion” in search of religious freedom. Others fought against U.S. armed forces in the 1857 Utah War to protect this freedom.
My path was also clear. From the time we’re in kindergarten, Mormon boys know that when we turn 19, we’ll serve a mission for the church somewhere in the big world. When adults asked my playmates and me where we wanted to serve, most of us said, “China!” Even then we knew that after we returned from our mission, we would look for a wife. Few of us would turn 23 unmarried.
But at the age of 12, one autumn afternoon in 1997, along with my cohort of 12- and 13-year-old neighbor boys, I received my first copy of “For the Strength of Youth.” We sat in a circle of metal folding chairs in our Sunday school classroom and each of us read aloud a section from the pamphlet. My turn came:
The Lord specifically forbids certain behaviors, including all sexual relations before marriage, petting, sex perversion (such as homosexuality, rape, and incest), masturbation, or preoccupation with sex in thought, speech, or action. Homosexual and lesbian activities are sinful and an abomination to the Lord.
I read the last sentence in a croaky whisper.
As if the point weren’t clear enough, my Sunday school teacher hammered it home by explaining that sexual sins were among the most grievous, and as proof cited a passage from the Book of Mormon:
Know ye not, my son, that these things are an abomination in the sight of the Lord; yea, most abominable above all sins save it be the shedding of innocent blood or denying the Holy Ghost?
Until that autumn afternoon, I’d thought of myself as a good kid. I didn’t cheat in school. I seldom lied. I never stole so much as an extra Tootsie Roll from an unguarded bowl of Halloween candy. (In my neighborhood, older folks who didn’t stay up late could leave Halloween treats by their doorsteps without worrying that a trick-or-treater might grab more than his or her fair share.)
“For the Strength of Youth,” however, said I was guilty of a sin far worse than lying, cheating, or candy stealing. My sin was only a little less severe than murder. And I sometimes did it twice daily. And my close calls with spiritual homicide involved lurid imaginings of Bruce Willis and, of all people, Dan Lauria from “The Wonder Years.”
I walked into that Sunday school lesson a light-hearted Mormon boy, and I walked out of it a very unhappy young man, but one possessed by the resolve — the determination — to move forward no matter how high the cost. I was a grizzled Mormon pioneer.
I spent no time complaining. I didn’t ask why God had saddled me with seemingly impossible circumstances. I got to work. I kept “For the Strength of Youth” beside my bed. I read from it on long nights when I lie awake alone in my room listening to the clock tick, my squirmy adolescent body denying me any sleep.
To stay my hand, I convinced my mother to take me to our local branch of Deseret Book, a church-owned chain, and buy me a thick silver ring decorated with a shield emblazoned with the letters “CTR,” meaning “Choose the Right.” When temptation haunted me, I twisted the ring until the skin beneath chaffed and bled.
I also kept a record of my progress on a calendar I had squirreled away in my nightstand. On days when I managed to refrain from touching myself, I awarded myself a star. But according to popular Mormon belief, if you repent of a specific sin and then repeat it, all your previous sins return to weigh on your conscience. My calendar’s pages didn’t shine like the Milky Way. They were filled with black holes.
A few months into my experiment in the astronomy of chasteness, my Sunday school teacher announced that, for the first time, I would join my fellow young men on a trip to the temple to perform baptisms for the dead, one of Mormonism’s most sacred and, for better or worse, distinctive rituals. To give dead non-Mormons a last-chance, take-it-or-leave-it opportunity to convert to Mormonism and secure a place in the Mormon hereafter, a volunteer would immerse himself in the baptismal font’s cozy water while pronouncing or, more often, horribly mispronouncing the earthly name of some lucky non-Mormon soul, choosing at random from one or another far-flung corner of the world.
In order to save legions of imperiled non-Mormon souls and demonstrate beyond doubt the purity of my own soul, I had to ace the worthiness interview.
On the Saturday morning of our trip to the temple, I dressed in my Sunday clothes — my no-iron white shirt, my no-iron black slacks, my red-and-blue-striped clip-on tie — and made my way to the empty church classroom where my bishop waited to kindly, patiently, methodically grill me about the most intimate aspects of my private life.
Rather than make eye contact with my bishop, I preferred to study the framed print hanging on the wall behind him: a colorful painting of Christ preaching atop a Mayan pyramid to a throng of rapt listeners.
“Do you keep the Law of Chastity?” my bishop asked.
“Yes.” I worried that I answered too quickly.
“Have you engaged in any sexual activity with others?”
“Do you touch yourself?”
Satisfied, my bishop filled out my temple recommend card, a slip of stiff paper that stated my name, gender, age, and the temple rituals I was allowed to perform (indicated by a checked box next to the words “baptism for dead only.”) He handed me the card to sign. I signed it with my sweaty little hand.
I stepped into the hallway where the other boys were waiting to do their interviews. They marveled at my temple recommend. I tucked it into its plastic protector and sat silently until we left for the temple.
As we entered the chilly white-granite building, I expected that the sweet granny volunteering at the front desk would detect my imposture and call security to perp-walk me off the premises. After all, the people I most loved and respected had taught me that God would never allow His temples to be violated. Surely, the pious little grannies volunteering at the temple had a godly knack for separating chaste sheep from randy, impure goats.
Yet somehow I — a randy, impure adolescent goat — managed to fool the grannies, and myself. My shame and self-disgust convinced me I was the only adolescent boy in Mormon history to have first-hand knowledge of a great orgasm.
My secret knowledge made me sometimes want to kill myself.
As I lied and lied in my annual worthiness interviews, my fear grew exponentially. When my aunt had a mastectomy, I was relieved to think of my sin like a cancer, something that could be cut out of me. I was so addled that I found it soothing to think that if I worked hard enough and long enough at part-time jobs, I could to give myself a secret present on my 18th birthday: surgical castration.
This weirdly mechanical solution, this idea of my body as a machine vulnerable to sabotage, was inspired by a famous talk on puberty and procreation that was given by General Authority Boyd K. Packer in 1976, and later published as a pamphlet and routinely given to Mormon boys everywhere.
Packer began his talk by likening the male reproductive system to a “little factory” that manufactures a “life-giving substance”:
For the most part, unless you tamper with [your little factory,] you will hardly be aware that it is working at all.
After matter-of-factly covering various “release valves” and their care and maintenance, Packer ventured into a hair-raising prognosis. A young man who fiddles with his release valves is a young man who dooms himself to doing so again and again:
This you should not do, for if you do that, the little factory will speed up … You can quickly be subjected to a habit, one that is not worthy, one that will leave you feeling depressed and feeling guilty … Keep it in reserve for the time when it can be righteously employed.
In this context, my castration plan wasn’t unreasonable. It was a practical way for me to serve my mission, to share a bedroom with other young missionaries, without betraying my sin to my church, my family, my friends, my neighborhood, the whole Mormon world at large.
And who knows what might have happened if I had stayed on that path. I might be married now, or I might be a Mandarin-speaking eunuch. But instead, I came across Andy Warhol’s silkscreen of Marilyn Monroe in a high-school art textbook.
Other apostates might find their epiphany in jazz, punk rock or abstract expressionism. For me, Pop Art highlighted what was exaggerated in the mundane. My first glimpse of Andy Warhol made me begin to look at my life — and my surroundings — in a startling new way. It gave me the distance necessary to see that what I considered normal and everyday was suffused with unnatural color and unreal appearances.
Something seen can’t be unseen.
Subverted by Warhol’s Marilyn, I gobbled up Anthony Burgess’s “A Clockwork Orange” before I was old enough to rent the movie. I bought Sonic Youth records and listened to them late into my starless nights, filled with a growing sense that in order for me to shoehorn myself into Utah Valley and Mormon life, castration would be insufficient. I’d have to have my brain surgically removed.
I reached the point of do or die.
When I was 17 years old, I chose, like my Mormon ancestors, “do” over “die.” Would they have expected anything less of me?
I walked away from all that was everyday and commonplace. I walked away from Utah Valley, family, friends, and everything that was lovingly, or otherwise, familiar. I headed into a world for which my previous life had never prepared me — a degree in secular, foreign literatures and romances of my own choosing.
The Church has changed since my days. It has tried to update and soften its teachings on masturbation, issuing new versions of its literature for youth with slightly less condemning language, but it cannot help the culture of shame and denial embedded inside the faith (for instance, Packer’s pamphlet about little factories and release valves is still distributed on the Church’s website.)
Blogs like The Mormon Therapist offer regular challenges to these aspects of the Church’s doctrine, which I watch from the sidelines, glad that there are still people with the patience, faith and resolve to change it from within.
But all of that is in my rear-view mirror now.
While making my way to my own private Zion, I heard a song by Michelle Shocked, another Mormon who walked away, but whose lyrics I think my Mormon ancestors would have appreciated:
What the hell’d you let them break your spirit for?
You know, their lives ran in circles so small.
Ah, they thought they’d seen it all.
And they could not make a place for a girl who’d seen the ocean.
I had seen the ocean, and I wasn’t going back to the desert ever again.
- Sins of a “Good Mormon Boy” (alternet.org)
- Sins of a good Mormon boy (salon.com)
- Mitt Romney’s Role as Mormon Bishop Shows His Extremist Religious Beliefs | Alternet (mbcalyn.com)
- How the Mormon Church Tried to Stop Me From Touching Myself (alternet.org)
- Carl Schneider: Romney seems to favor needy Mormons over needy non-Mormons – South Florida Sun-Sentinel.com (mbcalyn.com)
- The Mormon’s Magic Underpants (zen-haven.dk)
- Mormon Writer Threatened With Excommunication For Criticizing Romney (alan.com)
- Mormons were a Cult Thirty Years Ago and Now? (brucegerencser.net)
- Mormon Moment (miamiherald.com)
- How come you can mock Mormons, but not Muslims? (riehlworldview.com)
August 24, 2012
Romney’s Energy Plan
Evan Vucci/Associated Press Mitt Romney on Saturday, Aug. 18, 2012.
Ridiculing a campaign document is like shooting unusually large fish in a barrel, but Mitt Romney’s new energy “plan” is so fantastical and extreme that I feel compelled to fire away.
Let’s start first with the premise of the plan, which is also its promise: that energy independence is an achievable goal for America by 2020. Presidents have been talking about energy independence since Richard Nixon and haven’t come close. The simple truth, as President Obama has recognized, is that a country that holds less than 3 percent of the world’s reserves but consumes more than 20 percent of the world’s supply cannot drill its way to energy independence. More production will help, but true independence from foreign imports – not to mention fewer greenhouses gases and a safer climate, a subject Mr. Romney never touches upon – will depend on developing alternative fuels and more efficient vehicles.
Mr. Romney’s position paper says that independence can be achieved if we “partner closely with Canada and Mexico. “ But that wouldn’t do the job either, even if Mexico and Canada sent every single barrel they produce to the United States—highly unlikely since they might want to use some of it for themselves.
Mr. Romney further suggests that oil production in the United States would magically increase if the states were allowed “to oversee the development and production of all forms of energy on public lands within their borders.” An act of Congress would be required to transfer to the states hundreds of millions of acres now managed by the Interior Department and the Forest Service. But, setting that aside, Mr. Romney’s federalist plan echoes an election year perennial, the idea (dating all the way back to the Sagebrush Rebellion a generation ago, and fostered by the oil and gas and timber interests) that all will be well if we allow the states to reclaim public land originally ceded as a condition of statehood, or acquired by act of Congress .
At one campaign stop, Mr. Romney said he did not know the “purpose” of the public lands. The purposes, under established law, are various: recreation, preservation, resource development. States, as a rule, tend to be interested mainly in resource development. In the energy future envisioned by Mr. Romney, that is precisely what would prevail.
Finally, Mr. Romney would have us believe that domestic oil and gas production has fallen off a cliff during the Obama administration. That too is ridiculous. Domestic crude oil production is actually up slightly from 2004, to 5.6 million barrels a day. And despite a necessary slowdown in the Gulf of Mexico after the BP oil spill, the number of rigs in American oil fields has quadrupled over the last few years.
Mr. Romney has raised millions of dollars in Texas over the last few days, and it would be tempting to draw a connection between this bonanza and his energy policy were it not for one fact: Fossil fuels have been front and center in Mr. Romney’s energy policy since the beginning of this race.
- Romney’s Energy Plan (takingnote.blogs.nytimes.com)
- Mitt Romney’s plan for energy independence (news.yahoo.com)
- Energy Donors Fete Romney Days Before His Drilling Plan Released (bloomberg.com)
- Romney’s New Energy Plan Would Doom Humanity (alternet.org)
- Four Reasons Why Romney’s Energy Plan Won’t Work (alan.com)
- Romney to declare goal of North American energy independence by 2020 – @Reuters (reuters.com)
- Mitt Romney: “I have a vision for an America that is an energy superpower” (hotair.com)
- Romney To Unveil Energy Plan (huffingtonpost.com)
- Romney promises energy independence by 2020 (kansascity.com)
- Romney: North American energy independence by 2020 (riehlworldview.com)
Raging Moderate, by Will Durst
And now, your report from the front lines of the G-20 summit recently concluded in Los Cabos, Mexico. And the good news is… no knife fights. Very little broken furniture; and for the very first time in recent memory, the proceedings were judged to be more boring than watching varnish harden, which is considered a huge coup for the host country. So, Viva Mexico!
Dave Granlund / PoliticalCartoons.com (click to view more cartoons by Granlund)
The G-20 meets once a year and is made up of 15 or 16 of the top 20 countries with the largest economies in the world, excluding Norway, the Netherlands, Spain and a couple others, but including the European Union and some other countries with special ties to the organizers. You know, like in high school. If you help decorate Prom, you know who’s compiling the guest list.
Of course, Spain is allowed to crash the festivities every year even though they’re not actually members. Like the quarterback who gets suspended for the food fight in the cafeteria, everybody loves Spain and will sneak them through the back door of the party. Besides, they always bring the Sangria. And come on: they’re Spain!
An important thing to remember is the huge, intractable distinctions between competing governmental conventions. The G-20 has absolutely nothing to do with the G-8, which is made up of eight of the world’s top 10 economies excluding China and Brazil. And once in a while, the European Union wanders by, but that’s about it. Don’t even think of letting Spain in. We have our own Sangria, thank you very much. And we call it gin.
Like the G-20, the G-8 also meets once a year and was originally known as the G-6 and then G-7. So it would not take that great of a leap to put a couple of Euros down on another eventual name change to G-9. G-Double Digits, right around the corner.
And, as everybody knows, the G-20 replaced the G-33, which itself superceded the G-22, leading to speculation that the G-8 and the G-20 will someday merge and produce a mutant love child to be known as the GG-28, which will meet twice a year and hopefully be as boring as Day Three of hospital pudding.
This was the seventh meeting of the G-20, and the politics involved were breathtaking in a stupendously vapid way. Then nothing happened. And for nothing to happen on a global scale, with markets around the world as precarious as a glass sculpture above a nuclear test site located on an earthquake fault in a sandstorm, is exactly what everyone was praying for.
An official declaration recognized that agreements may very well be forthcoming but not until a framework can be forged to accommodate international justifications to absolve interested parties of any blame and/or responsibility. And Greece and Spain were never mentioned by name. But we all know who they are.
Internally, it was heartily agreed that decisive action will definitely be required. Someday. By someone. But not now. And definitely not by anybody here. Then Asia and Latin America quietly bailed out Europe, and nobody commented on the ignominy of it all, and they all retired to the big balcony overlooking the sea to dance and smoke and drink Sangria.
The New York Times says Emmy-nominated comedian and writer Will Durst “is quite possibly the best political satirist working in the country today.” Check out the website: Redroom.com to buy his book or find out more about upcoming stand- up performances. Or willdurst.com.
- World Cup? Fill It Up! (Part II) (foodservicewarehouse.com)
- Debt crisis: Spain and Italy to be bailed out in £600bn deal (telegraph.co.uk)
- Spain’s crisis turns families into squatters (worldnews.msnbc.msn.com)
- Martin Wolf: What Should Spain Have Done in the Mid-2000s? (delong.typepad.com)
- Spain’s economic crisis turns middle-class families into illegal squatters (worldnews.msnbc.msn.com)
- Debt crisis: EU leaders set to announce €750bn Spain and Italy bailout deal (telegraph.co.uk)
- Mix Red Wine and Fruit Tea for a Summery Sangria! (alisonamazed.wordpress.com)
- Bottled Up: Sangria on the Spot (thesuburbandiary.com)
- Faces of Spain’s economic crisis (photoblog.msnbc.msn.com)
- Spain forced closer to precipice as divisions open among G20 leaders (independent.co.uk)
June 18, 2012
Something of a changing of the guard seems to be occurring at the G20 summit in Los Cabos, Mexico, today, where the big developing countries are taking on the role of wise, engaged parent while our leading politicians in the U.S. and Europe continue to act like children in denial.
Consider: In TV interviews yesterday, Mitt Romney–who may now be the frontrunner in the U.S. presidential race–made clear he wants nothing to do with Europe’s troubles, though they are already lapping at the front steps of the White House. Romney, sounding very much like a CEO who never really left Bain Capital in sensibility and spirit, told CBS: “I surely don’t believe that we should expose our national balance sheet to the vagaries of what’s going to be happening in Europe.”
OMG. “Our national balance sheet?”
What Romney seems to be saying is not just that he has no interest in bailing out Europe–as was reported yesterday–but also that he doesn’t even want to invest in Europe. Let’s avoid “exposure” in what is clearly a bad investment, my fellow men of Bain, and let the eurozoners go down together. Our “balance sheet” will be fine.
The problem with this view, of course, is that the president of the United States must oversee a globalized U.S. economy, not merely a national balance sheet, and its health is already intimately bound up in Europe’s similarly globalized economy in multifarious ways. According to a report from Citigroup last year, the correlation between U.S. quarterly GDP growth and that of the largest European economies has risen to 70 percent in the last decade, a leap upward from less than 20 percent correlation previously.
Romney’s Bain-esque appraisal of Europe’s problems seems even more benighted compared with that of other G20 countries such as China, Mexico and even Indonesia, which are issuing tough but well-nuanced advice to their former colonial masters.
China President Hu Jintao, in a written interview with a Mexican newspaper posted on the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s website today, urged the G-20 to adopt a “constructive and cooperative approach” and “encourage and support the European efforts and jointly provide confidence to the markets, “Bloomberg reported today.
Indonesian President Yudhoyono, meanwhile, expressed his hope in a speech that “our European colleagues will reach an agreement on rigorous methods to manage the crisis,” because otherwise the consequences will be “unsettling.”
Unsettling indeed. If the eurozone collapses, the U.S. and the world face not just the prospects of another economic downturn now, but a longer-term geopolitical future that could be far more unsettling. One only has to recall that, pre-unity, Europe turned the 20th century into one of the darkest in history, largely because of two European-generated world wars.
Will yet another American CEO president, if we end up with one, understand these stakes as well as he does America’s balance sheet?
- Will President Romney be the Bain of Europe’s Existence? (decoded.nationaljournal.com)
- Could This Stat Sink His Campaign? (dailyfinance.com)
- Byron York: Bain will be back in Romney-Obama fight (appeal-democrat.com)
- Romney: No Bailing Out European Economy – Billy House – NationalJournal.com (mbcalyn.com)
- The Bain muddle (politico.com)
- Do the Bain Hustle (truthdig.com)
- Politics – Major Garrett – Can Romney Play Defense Against Bain Attacks? – The Atlantic (mbcalyn.com)
- Private Equity Can Do Good, Says Clinton on Romney’s Bain Career (dailyfinance.com)
- President Obama Directly Seeks to Make Romney’s Business Experience the ‘Bain’ of His Existence – ABC News (mbcalyn.com)
- Why Can’t We Question Bain and Capitalism? (talkingunion.wordpress.com)
Romney: No Bailing Out European Economy
Candidate also declines to say whether he’d repeal Obama immigration action.
Updated: June 17, 2012
June 17, 2012
Mitt Romney said on Sunday that the U.S. should not take any steps to “bail out” the European economy, and that he hopes whatever happens there, “our banking sector is able to weather the storm.”
Asked what he would be doing during the crisis as president, Romney insisted in an interview Sunday on CBS’s , “We’re not going to send checks to Europe. We’re not going to bail out the European banks. We’re going to be poised here to support our economy.”
In his first appearance on a non-Fox News Sunday show, Romney’s comments come as some analysts suggest Europe’s financial crisis could be the single biggest threat to the U.S. economy, at a time when Romney and President Obama appear locked in a tight election where U.S. recovery could be a deciding issue.
President Obama is in Mexico with other world leaders in the Group of 20 summit meeting, where debt problems in Greece — which held elections on Sunday that are seen as — and banking problems in Spain are sure to be a focus.
On another topic, Romney also said during the interview that the “timing is pretty clear” for why President Obama’s decided last week to stop the deportation of hundreds of thousands of undocumented young immigrants. He called presidential politics “a big part of the equation,” and that if Obama was serious about it, he would have done it beforehand. He declined to flat out say whether he would repeal what Obama has done, instead suggesting he would work for a longer-term approach.
In a separate appearance Sunday on ABC’s , White House Senior Advisor David Plouffe acknowledged economic “headwinds from Europe” that are affecting the global economy. He said the White House continues to encourage Europeans themselves to act, and that “first of all, it’s the Europeans’ responsibility to deal with this.”
During his CBS interview, Romney said the U.S. can “certainly offer our counsel and we can look nation-by-nation and talk about the kinds of things we think are appropriate for them to do, which actions we think are too challenging for them to deal with, which actions would have the best chance in shoring up their banking sector.”
But he insisted, “I surely don’t believe that we should expose our national balance sheet to the vagaries of what’s going to be happening in Europe.”
“Europe is capable of dealing with their banking crisis if they choose to do so. Obviously this is going to depend enormously on Germany. But they and others will have to make that decision but we don’t want to go in and start providing funding to European banks,” said Romney.
He added, “Our banks are on a much stronger basis than they were at the time of the last economic crisis and they have built their capital base and their equity base and worked through a lot of their toxic assets, their toxic loans. And hope that regardless of what happens in Europe, that our banking sector is able to weather the storm.”
In a separate interview with C-SPAN airing Sunday evening, Romney questioned whether the austerity programs in Europe have gone too far, as some Democrats have suggested. “I can surely tell you that what we would never do would be to dramatically slash spending by a trillion or two trillion dollars as I came into the White House,” he said.
“Instead, I would look to eliminate programs which overtime are going to be growing and taking up a larger and larger scale of our economy. Get rid of some of those programs, like Obamacare, that’s the easiest one to get rid of, and thereby balance our budget, but don’t cut it all in the first year or you could in fact cause a slow down of our economy,” said Romney.
On ABC, Plouffe said in response to Romney’s comments, “Europe doing the right things here to stabilize their situation is important to our small businesses, our workers, the middle class here, and overall economy. And to inject yourself in this for some short-sighted partisan gain, perhaps, is really unbelievable.”
On the topic of the administration’s plan to stop the deportation of young immigrants, Romney said on CBS that that if Obama “really wanted to make a solution that dealt with these kids or with illegal immigration in America, than this is something he would have taken up in his first three and a half years, not in his last few months.”
“This is something Congress has been working on, and I thought we were about to see some proposals brought forward by [Florida GOP] Senator and by Democrat senators, but the president jumped in and said, `I’m going to take this action,’ he called it a stop-gap measure. I don’t know why he feels stop-gap measures are the right way to go,” said Romney.
“What I would do, is I’d make sure that by coming into (the White House) I would work with Congress to put in place a long-term solution for the children of those that have come here illegally…” said Romney.
But Plouffe, during his ABC appearance, called such comments from Romney “ironic,” noting he had said he would veto the DREAM Act if passed by Congress. “We’ve tried as hard as we can to pass both the DREAM Act and comprehensive immigration reform. Congress has refused,” Plouffe said.
- Third Fed Stimulus Won’t Be Better Than QE2, Romney Says (bloomberg.com)
- Romney: US won’t send checks to Europe (vancouverdesi.com)
- Mitt Romney Stands By Anti-Tax Pledge (wibw.com)
- Mitt Romney Stands By Anti-Tax Pledge (wibw.com)
- Romney says politics a ‘big part’ of Obama immigration decision (thehill.com)
- Romney still stumbling on teachers, first responders (maddowblog.msnbc.msn.com)
- Mitt Romney criticizes President Obama over economy (boston.com)
- TV SoundOff: Sunday Talking Heads (huffingtonpost.com)
- Romney accuses Obama of political motivation on immigration – Reuters (reuters.com)
- US Sen. Jeff Sessions concerned over economy, seemingly lukewarm on Romney – al.com (blog) (al.com)
Discovery Channel crashes plane for documentary
April 29, 2012
Discovery Channel crashed a Boeing 727 passenger jet Friday in the Sonoran Desert in Mexico as part of its documentary series “Curiosity.”
The as-yet-untitled episode will look to “re-create a serious, but survivable, passenger jet crash landing with a real aircraft,” Discovery said in a statement. The plane was loaded with crash test dummies and cameras to examine impact. The plane was also followed by other planes filming the crash and by camera crews on the ground that also documented the event.
“This groundbreaking project features an actual crash of a passenger jet and explores the big questions about how to make plane crashes more survivable; it’s the ideal premiere episode for our ‘Curiosity’ series that stirs the imagination of our audience, bravely asking questions and fearlessly seeking answers,” said Eileen O’Neill, president of Discovery Channel.
Discovery said safety precautions were taken and that the Mexican military and police, as well as private security, staffed the area of the crash. The aircraft will eventually be salvaged and Discovery said an “extensive environmental cleanup operation is being carried out by a reputable agency with the full cooperation of the Mexican authorities.” The pilot ejected from the plane minutes before impact.
The episode will be shown on Discovery later this year.
Years ago, Fox considered crashing a plane for a reality special. However the project never got off the ground after critics complained the network was doing it for sensationalistic, rather than educational, reasons.
– Joe Flint
Photo: Discovery Channel’s crashed 727. Credit: Vance Jacobs / Discovery
- Discovery Channel crashes plane for documentary (latimesblogs.latimes.com)
- Discovery Channel Crashes a Boeing 727 For Science Documentary (science.slashdot.org)
- Discovery Crashes Plane … On Puprose (huffingtonpost.com)
- Discovery Channel Explores Chemtrails (wesmantoddshaw.wordpress.com)
- Plane Crash in Switzerland Kills 5 (abcnews.go.com)
- Discovery Channel Explores Chemtrails (cloverleafsky.wordpress.com)
- Five killed in Swiss plane crash (itv.com)
- Plane crash near Chaklala kills 118: Defence ministry (dawn.com)
- Scores feared dead in Pakistan plane crash (abc.net.au)
- The Discovery Channel and National Geographic Use VideoHive (notes.envato.com)
The executive at the heart of the company’s scandal made a fortune advising other businesses on corporate ethics
One has to pity poor Bloomberg reporter Andrew Frye, squelched by the constraints of his employer’s by-the-book writing guidelines from expressing his natural aghast incredulity at Castro-Wright’s well-compensated sinecure as “a member of MetLife’s Governance and Corporate Responsibility Committee.”
MetLife’s governance committee “oversees the management and mitigation of risks related to failure to comply with required or appropriate corporate governance standards,” the insurer said last month in a proxy statement. Castro-Wright, who also served on the compensation and investment committees, was paid $259,124 for his work at the insurer last year, including $145,000 in cash and $112,502 in stock awards, the filing shows.
Fox-guarding-hen-house clichés don’t come close to expressing the hypocrisy that rewards misbehavior with such largesse. Right about here, someone should be shrieking:
Yes, yes, I know, we’re not supposed to convict the innocent until proven guilty, but I defy anyone to read the Times’ masterful piece of investigative reporting and not come away convinced that Castro-Wright built his successful career at Wal-Mart by bribing government officials in Mexico to speed the approval process for building new Wal-Mart stores. In fact, the very news that Castro-Wright was forced to resign from the MetLife board is an eye-opening admission. Normal American corporate governance practice allows disgraced CEOs to after their dishonor is exposed.
It is amusingly enraging now to go back and look at the hype the business press poured on Castro-Wright as he ascended the ladder.
Eduardo Castro-Wright, the new CEO of Wal-Mart Stores USA, turned Wal-Mart’s publicly traded Mexican subsidiary, Wal-Mex, into the country’s best retailer and a jewel of Wal-Mart’s $56 billion international arm.
To make that happen, Castro-Wright’s team slashed prices and expenses, squeezed suppliers to get products into stores faster, and used smaller store formats (dubbed Bodega Aurrerá). He also showed a knack for public relations, defusing criticism by emphasizing jobs and low prices when merchants protested the construction of a Wal-Mex store near an archaeological site.
From the New York Times, 2012:
In September 2005, a senior Wal-Mart lawyer received an alarming e-mail from a former executive at the company’s largest foreign subsidiary, Wal-Mart de Mexico. In the e-mail and follow-up conversations, the former executive described how Wal-Mart de Mexico had orchestrated a campaign of bribery to win market dominance. In its rush to build stores, he said, the company had paid bribes to obtain permits in virtually every corner of the country….
Wal-Mart dispatched investigators to Mexico City, and within days they unearthed evidence of widespread bribery… [But] neither American nor Mexican law enforcement officials were notified. None of Wal-Mart de Mexico’s leaders were disciplined. Indeed, its chief executive, Eduardo Castro-Wright, identified by the former executive as the driving force behind years of bribery, was promoted to vice chairman of Wal-Mart in 2008.
Not only was he promoted, but he received cushy directorships at companies like MetLife, where his responsibilities included overseeing
On second thought, maybe it is isn’t necessary for Bloomberg’s Andrew Frye to have the opportunity to go all apoplectic on Castro-Wright. The facts pretty much speak for themselves. In the United States, the rewards for bribing your way to success include getting paid a quarter of a million a year to advise other corporations on how to behave responsibly.
- Wal-Mart executives, directors sued by shareholder over Mexico bribery probe (business.financialpost.com)
- Wal-Mart: A Prolonged Struggle Between the Company’s Commitment to the Highest Moral and Ethical Standards Against its Relentless Pursuit of Growth (Blog Post #6) (theprbuzz.wordpress.com)
- A New Aquisition for Wal-mart? (carlojaymbumanlag.wordpress.com)
- In Bentonville, Wal-Mart bribery scandal not causing too much concern (pri.org)
- WalMart Bribery in México and all over the World (doctoramarthacastro.wordpress.com)
- Options Take: Pressure To Remain On Wal-Mart Woes (WMT, TGT, DG, BIG) (247wallst.com)
- Wal-Mart faces big fines amid bribery charges (sacbee.com)
- Wal-Mart creates global compliance officer post (usatoday.com)
- MAP OF THE DAY: Wal-Mart’s Invasion Of Mexico (WMT) (businessinsider.com)