Posted at 10:47 AM on August 24, 2011
by Eric Ringham
It sounds like the East Coast came through the quake with most of its people, property and dignity intact. Even so, it's scary to see normally stationary fixtures start to sway, so I don't blame people for freaking out.
My colleague Molly Bloom came up with the wording we settled on for Today's Question: Does the risk of natural disaster shape where you live or travel? I knew it was a good choice because it made me want to answer.
Long ago I took a geology course at the University of Minnesota from a professor who, I distinctly remember, warned us about the danger of traveling to San Francisco. The Big One was coming, he said. If it doesn't happen today, that only increases its chances of happening tomorrow. And if not tomorrow, then the day after. The professor said that he wouldn't visit the Bay Area until after the major, killer earthquake that he knew was coming.
Then and there, I resolved to follow his example.
Years later, after a moderate earthquake on the West Coast, I decided to give my old prof a call and invite him to write a commentary about his personal decision not to visit San Francisco until after the next big quake.
"I said what?" he said. "No. I'm sure I never said that. I love San Francisco. I go there all the time."
But ... but ... I've been avoiding San Francisco for 20 years because you told me to.
"I'm sorry," he said, "but I never said that."
There's a lesson in here somewhere.
A New York judge yesterday dismissed the rape charges against Dominique Strauss-Kahn, He is free to return to France. This comes after he was forced to give up his job leading the International Monetary Fund. The allegations brought against him are likely to complicate his chances to win the French presidency.
Columnists including Janis Turner of The Times were quick to jump on Strauss-Kahn as the allegations emerged.
Hookers, journos, mistresses, aides, maids.... How did Strauss-Kahn find time to run the IMF? No wonder global economy tanked.
If an apology is due, Fox News' Lis Wiehl says it shouldn't come from the prosecutors.
Did the prosecutors do the right thing in arresting DSK, and taking the evidence to a grand jury? Absolutely. They had a complaining victim with a compelling story, physical evidence of a sexual encounter, and a possible rapist about to board a plane for France. They had to act fast and ask more questions later. And the grand jury found the evidence convincing enough to meet the lower standard of probable cause, and to issue the charges.
James Cohen, a professor of law at Fordham University, tells BBC News, "The system is supposed to get it right and it did get it right. There was a charge made and no reason not to accept it. The defense raised the consensual sexual encounter issue, the [district attorney] investigated the background of the victim and found she had credibility issues. ... So it's not a perfect process, but it worked as it's supposed to."
Tracy Clark-Flory examined the case against dismissal in Slate.
Jaclyn Friedman, author of "Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and a World Without Rape," says the major problem here is "the way the adversarial justice system works," she told me by phone. "Prosecutors only like to bring to trial cases they feel they can win, which makes them reluctant to bring difficult cases, which usually works against anyone alleging rape." As a result, that "sends the cultural message that most rape victims are lying, which makes it even harder to convince a jury because we're all jurists."
The system is imperfect writes U.S. News' Susan Milligan.
Sexual assault is the one crime in which the victim is as much on trial as the alleged attacker, and Diallo learned this lesson about U.S. jurisprudence the hard way. Strauss-Kahn got his own unfortunate lesson as well about the criminal justice system here, the perp walk and media frenzy surrounding his arrest were appalling and prejudicial. But while Strauss-Kahn was indeed unfairly treated in that manner, that doesn't mean he didn't attack anyone.(8 Comments)