Khyra Ishaq

Prepare yourself for an angry rant, because this story I just read about on BBC really ticked me off:

Khyra Ishaq was a seven year old girl living in Birmingham, England who was starved to death by her mother and mother’s boyfriend over a period of 5 months back in 2008.  So why is this story coming up 2 years later?  Because her mother’s plea of manslaughter was accepted, meaning she’s cleared of murder, when all the evidence proves that she deliberately starved Khyra and her five other children.  The saga started in December 2007, when Khyra was pulled from school.  In January, a concerned administrator contacted social services, asking them to check on the child.  They weren’t allowed in the house, didn’t see Khyra, and over the next few weeks, made half-ass attempts to see her, finally declaring that “everything was fine” after seeing her for a brief moment through the doorway.  They never got up close, never talked to her alone.  Even when a neighbor called social services, reporting that Khyra looked “abnormally thin,” they barely made an effort to investigate.  Five weeks later, she was dead.

Clearly, this whole thing was a failure of the system.  In fact, the social systems service claimed that it “was stretched thin and under pressure at the time, and Khyra’s was a ‘one-off’ case.”  Are you f*ing kidding me?  This is a child who you had the opportunity to save if you had just put in a little more effort.  And apparently Khyra wasn’t the only victim of this “pressured” organization: over the previous four years, eight children entrusted to their care had died.

This was also a failure of the justice system.  The reason that Khyra’s mother was able to escape murder charges is that she was “extremely depressed” during the episode, and therefore somehow had “diminished responsibility.”  I think that’s bs.  Yeah, I get that depression is usually the result of a chemical imbalance in the brain, but just because you’re depressed doesn’t mean you can deliberately kill your child.  Why didn’t the mother get help?  Why didn’t acquaintances or social services pick up on how “disturbed” she was?  I mean, if she was really depressed enough to supposedly justify murdering the child she was supposed to love, don’t you think there would have been something ‘off’ in her behavior?

But the story gets better as Khyra’s biological father comes into the mix.  Apparently he had up and left England to go live in Spain and hadn’t seen his children in over a year. He came back after the murder ranting about how he had been “let down by the authorities” and threatening “repercussions.”  On the one hand, yes the system failed.  On the other, as a father it was his obligation to take care of his children.  He was alive and healthy, knew very well about his children’s existence, and he had to have known the mother was unbalanced, yet he just left them there with no regard to their physical safety.  He never even tried to check up on them, and now he wants “reparations” for the pain this has caused him.  Pain?  Please.  He doesn’t know pain.  It was his seven year old daughter and her equally maltreated siblings who did.

Silver Lining? Not yet.

This afternoon was the epic ice hockey match-up of the US. vs. Canada in the Olympic Gold Medal Game.  We beat Canada the first time, but just weren’t able to finish during this rematch.  It was an exciting game, especially when Zach Parise scored in the final 24 seconds of regulation to force the game to sudden death over time.  But then Sid “the kid” Crosby just had to ruin it by scoring first.  (Side note: the reason they call him “the kid” is that he’s suck a little crybaby.  Literally.  If he gets called on a penalty or makes a mistake, you can see him on the bench wiping away tears.  You’re a 20 year old hockey player for crying out loud, man up!)

I suppose I should be happy with a silver, since we were predicted to come in fifth, and I am proud of the team, but it just ain’t gold and the wound is too fresh to celebrate right now. It would have been amazing to defeat Canada on Canadian soil twice in one Olympics, but it looks like we’ll have to wait four years for the next showdown.  Sigh.  Though, one post on textsfromlastnight.com did make me feel a little better:

“(940): Canada: barely better than America at a sport they invented…..”

So true, lol:)

Argentina

Now that busy season is (almost) officially over, I have the time to start watching documentaries again.  I couldn’t find anything on Antigua and Barbuda, so the next country on the list was Argentina. Honestly, I didn’t know much about Argentina before–I had no idea they had such an economic meltdown in late 2001.  I suppose the fact that I was only 12, and the fact that I was more concerned with my own country immediately post 9/11 played a role in that.

Anyway, here’s a very brief summary of what happened courtesy of Wikipedia (I could rewrite it in my own words, but why bother when they state it so nicely?): “Record foreign debt interest payments, tax evasion and capital flight resulted in a balance of payments crisis that plagued Argentina with serious stagflation from 1975 to 1990. Attempting to remedy this, economist Domingo Cavallo pegged the peso to the U.S. dollar in 1991 and limited the growth in the money supply. His team then embarked on a path of trade liberalization, deregulation and privatization. Inflation dropped and GDP grew by one third in four years; but external economic shocks and failures of the system diluted benefits, causing the economy to crumble slowly from 1995 until the collapse in 2001. That year and the next, the economy suffered its sharpest decline since 1930; by 2002, Argentina had defaulted on its debt, its GDP had shrunk, unemployment reached 25% and the peso had depreciated 70% after being devalued and floated.

The repercussions of the rapid economic decline were still felt years later.  The documentary I watched, called Insight Argentina, which was filmed in 2005 started by stating that 50 years ago, Argentina was one of the wealthiest nations on the planet.  Now 50% of the adult population and 70% of the youth population live in poverty. The people don’t trust the government–who would?–or banks, since Citibank, Bank of America, and countless other huge companies literally froze the accounts of all Argentinian clients in December of 2001, the height of the crisis.

The documentary was a fairly short one, and it followed two volunteer groups in Argentina–Insight and ph15.  The Insight group were in a small village in northern Argentina helping to raise money to buy a stove for the soup kitchen, school materials for the kids, and costumes for the murga carnival.  A murga is basically a community group used to keep youths off the streets and away from drugs.  Once a year all the murgas from nearby villages get together and have a carnival with a dancing competition.

The second group, ph15, works in the slums of Buenos Aires, teaching underprivileged youths about photography.  It’s a three year program designed to 1) keep kids off the streets and away from gangs; 2) give them a chance to interact with other children in a safe environment; and 3) give them an opportunity for a better life.

This documentary was really more about the efforts of these groups than the lives of the people they were helping, but it was good nonetheless, especially since it was one of the only free ones I could find.  There was another called Argentina’s Economic Collapse on youtube, but I found it to be a little too boring for me.  Hey, even if this wasn’t National Geographic quality, at least I learned something, which is the entire point of this exercise.  Next up: Armenia.

Shenell

I’ve never really blogged about Shenell (SJ for short) that I can remember, because we really don’t talk that much, but we haven’t gotten along almost since day one and some days, like today, that becomes apparent.  I didn’t really work on the same projects as SJ until last hearing season, and she was really cold to me right from the beginning.  JChin later said that she was “jealous that I got more work than she did when she’s been here for years and you’ve only been here a few months,” to which I shrugged and replied “it’s not my fault I’m quick and like doing work.  I’m not going to slack for her sake.”  Our relationship didn’t exactly improve when she started calling out a lot during the hearing season.  She would call out the day before the hearing for the box that she had been preparing and JChin, E, and I would be left scrambling to put together a box which she had claimed was “completely under control” when there was really nothing done.  I can’t tell you how many times I had to rush to do 30+ comps in an hour or two the morning of the hearing on boxes that she had supposedly prepared.

It’s not like I go out of my way to be rude to her, but why should I be kind to her when she’s cold and somewhat bitchy towards me?  I don’t play that way.  The reason I’m even thinking about our “relationship” is that today I was clipping a whole bunch of files, and she would come over to the water cooler, see them piling up, and just walk away, but then when she was clipping ten or so, she snapped at me to come put them away.  I did, but not without giving her a little attitude.  Then she snapped at me later telling me to go pull applications, even though JT and JP were already back there and it just made everything more crowded for everyone–and why exactly couldn’t she go pull them?  Especially since she had taken out the back of the borough I was pulling and put them in boxes down the hallway without telling me.  She asked me if I knew about the box, and since I was counting and assumed she meant the box that we put the applications in when we’re done, I said yes, then she came and snapped at me about how she had “axed” me about the boxes and “why didn’t you pull them.  Fine, I’ll do it,” before storming off.  Whatever.  If she had been a little more clear, the whole thing could have been avoided.  I mean, we only have dozens of boxes at LJB, how was I supposed to know which particular one she was talking about if she didn’t specify?  Annoying.

Figure Skating Follow-up

A few posts ago, I wrote about Joannie Rochette, the Canadian figure skater whose mother died unexpectedly from a heart attack just days before Joannie was to skate at the 2010 Olympics.  After the short program, Joannie was in third.  She defended that spot with her excellent long program. There were a couple stumbles, but nothing major, and while I would have preferred that she had won silver or gold, the fact that she was even able to compete, let alone that she earned the bronze, is a testament to her amazing strength and character.

As a side note, as much as I supported Joannie, Kim “Queen” Yu-na who won the gold definitely deserved it.  If you haven’t seen her program, you should go to nbcolympics.com and watch it right now.  It was mesmerizing and flawless.  Completely flawless.  I have a feeling we won’t be seeing another performance like that for a very long time…..well, at least until she skates in 2014 🙂

Cruel and unusual

Brian McKeever is a Canadian cross country skier who is legally blind.  Due to Stargardt disease, he lost 90% of his sight by age 21.  What remains is only peripheral.  When he was named to the Olympic cross country team in January, he was poised to become the first athlete to compete in both the Olympic  and Paralympics games.  The story received national attention—the whole country rooting for him.  Until he was suddenly dropped from the line up.

See, just because you make an Olympic team doesn’t mean you’ll get to compete–only the athletes who do the best leading up to the race get to make the run–and McKeever was deemed not good enough by the coaches and GM.  Okay, I get the whole you came to win medals, not make heart-warming stories, and you treated him like any other athlete, but I still completely blame the Canadian Olympic officials for this horrible story.  They knew when they chose him that a legally blind athlete was not going to be as good as fully healthy athletes.  They knew this, so why did they get his hopes up only to crush his dreams a month later?  It was unnecessarily cruel, and I hope the shame follows them for a very long time.

Toxic Workplace

I’m super pissed at SER and work in general right now.  So they found some Ez (his real name’s longer, but for the sake of this blog, it’s Ez) files on M’s desk, and apparently there were problems with the rent rolls that no one had noticed because M hadn’t gotten to them yet.  SER, who thinks Ez is King on earth, started flipping out.  He storms up to AC and starts yelling about “didn’t she get the fucking email he sent with the rent rolls weeks ago” blah blah, and which point E speaks up and is like “you sent that to me” so he starts yelling at her about how “she didn’t notice that they didn’t make sense and why didn’t she do anything about it?”  E, quite rationally, is like “that’s not my job.  My job is to make the files, print out the rent rolls, and pass them onto M to be analyzed.”  But SER doesn’t quit.  He starts yelling that she “has to start thinking and use the thing in her head called a brain.” Blah blah blah.

Then he goes up front and starts fighting with LJB about how “he doesn’t need twelve stupid people around him who can’t fucking think.  He doesn’t even need one.  You’re different, you like to fucking copy.  You’re out of your mind, I need competent people.”

There are several thing about this outburst that piss me the fuck off.  For one thing, we are not your verbal punching bags.  Act like an adult goddamn it.  For another, it’s one thing if you’re bitching about people like LQ, who don’t do the jobs they’re supposed to, or do them poorly, but E did exactly what she was supposed to do.  She did her job exactly the way it’s supposed to be done, so why are you fucking yelling at her for not doing M’s and R’s job and your job too?  Maybe we should all just fucking analyze every single fucking case if it’ll make you happy.  Oh, but if we did that, you’d bitch about us doing it wrong. Technically, this was M’s fault, but he analyzes hundreds of cases every day, so if he doesn’t get to some right away, I don’t blame him.  Ez has one $25 mil assessment and a handful over a million, but the rest are virtually useless cases, so why are you being such a fucking bitch about it?  Oh, and SER also yells at us if we ask “who is calling” when Ez calls, because we’re all apparently supposed to recognize his voice and worship the ground he walks on too.  Yet if we thought it was Ez and were wrong, he’d bitch even more.  There’s no way to win, and he likes it that way, because he just loves to abuse those who surround him.  I’d pity his wife, if I didn’t think it was so pathetic that she stays with him.