Burberry’s Kiddy Porn Ad

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My first reaction was shock, when I saw the back page of the January 14th New York Times Style section. After staring at the two girls in Burberry floppy coats over skimpy underpants, I realized the same-ole dictum exists for selling stuff. Sex.

I have no problem with real women dressed in sexy outfits or who are partially nude. But I have a big problem with models that appear to be under age and provide temptation for men who are excited by kiddy porn.

Every advertiser in the country, must be aware of stories that appear almost daily about men trapped in child pornography stings, arrested and shamed for life. The two girls in the Burberry advertisement were dressed to appeal to men who are attracted to the very young. I don’t doubt that they are legally old enough to model such outfits. Burberry would be careful about that, but they look years younger than their probable real ages.

I’m again up in arms with the respected New York Times for allowing a full page, full color ad of two girls in Burberry coats casually draped over their bodies, dressed only in panties. Why would we tempt the pedophile who thinks he’s going to be reading America’s foremost newspaper and there is an advertisement coaxing him to action that can only cause him problems, including arrest and incarceration?

A photograph, such as this one, reminds me of an alcoholic going into a diner, and upon glancing at the menu, doesn’t see sandwiches and chops but wine, mixed drinks and beer screaming up at him. He can leave the restaurant and go elsewhere, but he may find he is unable to resist the allure of his drug of choice – booze. The drug of choice for a pedophile is a scantily clad girl.

Shame on Burberry. Shame on the prestigious New York Times.

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Thursday December 17th, 2015

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One of my fellow authors in the Fairfield Library Writer’s Group reminds me, at regular intervals, that “There’s not enough of Jane” in the piece I’ve just shared. “We want to know what you feel,” she tells me, with an encouraging smile. I know what she means. I often tend to write as if I’m reporting on an event. It comes from all those years of writing business letters to some man— always a man—about a contract or technical issue to do with airfoils or other parts of a jet engine.

There was never anything personal in such a letter. I certainly didn’t want it to sound as if a woman had composed it. I never wrote of feelings, of course, but also no descriptive words — just the facts. My standards of letter writing were higher than most of the engineers who attempted to communicate on paper. I would either correct their grammar, or cringe and let the poor composition go.

Today, I feel pulled to write about my fear for my daughter. I know I can’t write from a distance, because the emotion has taken over my being so much that my body hurts. Often, I push the distressing thoughts away. I need to keep my emotions under control so I don’t cry during a choir rehearsal or when I lead a business meeting.

Until today, I thought about her upcoming surgery about five times an hour. Now it’s more frequent. I manage to nudge such thoughts out of my consciousness because I have to hold myself together. Even so, I cannot stop them. I have a lot of work to do before Thursday, the date of her surgery. Too many people count on me.

Fear, Anxiety, Worry. I feel them all myself, but mostly for my daughter. When my emotions attempt to overwhelm me, I force myself to think of how this surgery will improve her life. She’ll be seizure free, her depression should improve and she’ll be able to drive. That alone will give her the freedom to go where she longs to, a job, to visit other people, to a store.The results of this nine hour operation, performed in an MRI machine, by two superb surgeons, should make her life truly new.

The incision will be small – only a drill through the back of the skull, to allow the laser into the brain. Her earlier surgery, performed five years ago, was before this new technique had been developed. This recent procedure has been done at Yale only three times before on patients with seizures, but I keep reminding myself that the same method has been used successfully in treating brain cancer. The MRI will more accurately pinpoint the location of the old scar tissue in her brain and the laser will focus on the smaller area that needs to be removed. If it all works out perfectly, she should be seizure free.

Thinking of this goal and how it really is possible makes my shoulders relax and sometimes a small smile creeps onto my lips. I desperately want her to have happiness and freedom to expand her life and be active in a way she now can’t, dealing with almost-daily seizures.

I contemplate this dramatic improvement, which I have every reason to expect will take place, but then concern about a possible bad outcome creeps into my awareness. Too much fear pushes aside the optimism I attempt to keep foremost in my mind and I inch closer to the precipice of panic.

As I think about my daughter, who I so hugely love, there’s no pressure on me to keep a calm demeanor. All there is before me is the time before the operation takes place. How many hours will I sleep, before she is sedated? How many breaths will I take before the operation begins? I don’t want her to read this until afterwards, so I’ll wait to post on my blog. I’ll wait until I speak with her in the Intensive Care room. I’ll wait until I hear her say, “Hi Mom” and curve her lips in that sweet smile I love to see.

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Hosta Seeds and Salamanders

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I stand in my garden and gaze at graceful grasses that shimmer in the sun. Droplets of dew sparkle like the ring on my finger. I gather paper bags and scissors and collect clusters of hosta seeds from stalks that still stand. Black seeds rattle against the sides of the paper bags, clattering to the bottom like bits of sand.

Pulling aside frost-killed leaves, now papery white, a fat, glistening salamander wiggles away from my hand. I watch him escape. I can tell by his size that he’s young and I think will have a good life in front of him. After all, he escaped from me, and I could have caught him.

Later that day, after blowing out dust and leaves brought into the garage by car tires and wind, I find a tiny dried-out creature. He’s delicate, perfect. No tire has driven over him. I can’t remember when I last discovered a salamander, and then two, in one day.

Cradling the salamander’s stiff, lifeless body in the palm of my hand, I wonder what he experienced during the time he was alive. I carry his desiccated remains upstairs to save for my grandson and glance at the newspaper, with screaming headlines about the terrorist attack in Paris.

The families of the dead are stunned. In shock and rage, France screams to the attackers, to all of us. Youthful Parisians scurry about, fearful for their future.

What will happen to us? Will ISIS win its war of terror? Will we, in response, kill innocent souls in the Middle East? Where is our world heading?

I much prefer thinking about the hosta seeds I will plant in a few weeks and then watch germinate under lights in the basement. Today, I’d rather contemplate the life of a salamander than worry about the danger that humans create that may change everything forever.

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Federal Agents Retreat from Initial Beliefs – Again

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Reality has caught up with the federal agents who were all set to prosecute Robin L. Raphel, a long-time State Department advisor. They believed that she had been spying for Pakistan and passing along American secrets to her Pakistani counterparts. As a result, agents were ready to pounce on her. For a year, the Justice Department was sure she was guilty, but in spite of such certainty, their information proved to be false.

This scenario is similar to my experience with federal agents who snooped around me for more than a year and a half, after arresting my husband. They searched for something – anything for which I might be guilty, but found nothing. There was nothing to find. I was innocent of every possible crime they tried to dream up.

During this time, I panicked every time my lawyer said, “The prosecutor is thinking of putting you before a grand jury.” Or, “You’re going to receive a Target Letter.” Or, “They say they’re going to arrest you.” Or, “You’re a person of interest.” My heart would leap to my throat and then slam into my stomach.

Always, there was the first threat that kept being repeated, which was that the federal government was going to seize my home. The child pornography for which my husband was arrested, was in the house, so that gave them motive to take possession of the place where it had been found. Like the seizure of a car or house belonging to the family of a drug dealer, it would have been gone and sold at auction.

As if to mock me, I was told that I could always buy my house back from them. It seemed as if the feds were just playing around, seeing what results they could get from throwing such a threat at me. Sleep was often impossible, as I worried about what was going to happen to my home and what was going to happen to me.

Agents searched Raphel’s home and her State Department office. They cancelled her security clearance, but wouldn’t give her any details of what they found or what they believed.

I had agents hunt through everything in my home, confiscate my computers and go through all my files. They took photo CDs that I’d made of my grandson. After all, he was a child and they were looking for child pornography. The fact that all my husband’s photos were of little girls didn’t stop them from taking my pictures of a two-and-a-half-year-old boy. None were returned. I was told that if I attempted to go through the procedure to get my personal items returned, they would seize my house. That may have been a baseless threat, but I wasn’t willing to take a chance.

I understand that when bad things happen, law enforcement personnel investigate every possible scenario to find others who might be involved in the crime. My lawyer often told me that they were just trying to upset me to see if I knew something else that would help them in their case against my husband. I knew nothing, besides what happened that day they invaded my home.

After all, if federal officers think someone is guilty of a crime, they aren’t going to pussy-foot around those who associate with the suspect. They don’t concern themselves with the effects that such roughshod treatment creates for family members of the accused.

I had no involvement in my husband’s activities. However, they thought that perhaps I knew something that would help them make a stronger case or believed I was hiding important information. After all, we were married; I must know something.

The argument sounds reasonable, unless you’re the one being investigated and threatened and your world is destroyed. I imagine that’s the way Robin Raphel feels as well.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/11/world/asia/spying-case-against-us-envoy-is-unraveling-and-following-a-pattern.html?_r=0

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Personal Tragedies Compete with Public Tragedies

ChallengerAll possible sadness was sucked out of me because of sixteen-year-old Joanne’s suicide. She seemed to have everything, including a high achieving, yet supportive family, who valued education and encouraged creativity. She was my daughter, Susan’s friend and they both played in the school orchestra. It seemed unfathomable that Joanne would intentionally hook-up the family car’s exhaust to end her life. Her mother and father, the rabbi, her teachers, her friends — no one could comprehend why she killed herself. The rabbi spoke with wrenching anguish, wishing someone had known what demons she was experiencing, so that she could have been helped.

January 28, 1986 was the day the space shuttle Challenger blew up. Television and newspapers showed people crying across America, for the crew, but especially for the young New Hampshire teacher who was aboard. Christa McAuliffe had touched the hearts of so many Americans, as if we knew her personally. There was also grief for what many Americans felt was our loss of excellence in a new, technologically experimental field. Many thought we failed as a nation, when the United States Space Shuttle exploded.

When I heard about the Challenger disaster, I was at work. I felt resentful that this tragedy attempted to vie with my own personal pain. How could anything compete with the suicide of a sixteen year old girl, just nine days earlier? My sorrow was all used up and I didn’t have any feelings left over for the Challenger’s explosion.

A similar situation occurred with the arrival of Hurricane Katrina, at the end of August 2005. This was the costliest natural disaster in the United States, resulting in enormous damage to Louisiana, as well as tragedy in many other locations. The tenth anniversary of this hurricane is being marked now. Loss of life and property and the destruction of whole cities remain a horror and disgrace for those incompetent officials in charge. The slow pace of rebuilding in some localities is still shocking.

I sympathized with those experiencing this horror and followed the story, but my mind and body, less than a month earlier had been slammed in an entirely different way. Battered emotionally, and in shock with the entry of federal officers into my home and the arrest of my husband, I was unable to fully commiserate with those living in the wake of Katrina.

There was no way anyone could anticipate that the hurricane’s devastation could last for ten years. I couldn’t foresee that my emotional trauma would last almost as long.
My personal experiences of upset and catastrophe have pushed aside some of the empathy I might have felt about other disasters and deaths. I feel conflicted, in this way, when personal and public tragedies collide. I can’t begin to explain this phenomenon, but know it’s profound and real for me.

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Small Claims Court

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I laughed at first when I received the letter from Judge Judy’s producer inviting me to fly to California and to appear on that scandalous television program. The show’s producer had found Paul’s small claims lawsuit and realized how entertaining it would be to see people like us making fools of ourselves as we debated the ownership of plants in a garden.

I considered, after refusing Judge Judy’s invitation, that the small claims hearing in tiny Bantam, Connecticut would be just one more unusual and entertaining life experience. During the week leading up to the court date, anxiety made my heart pound and my mind whirl around. No serious thought remained in my consciousness long enough for me to complete even a routine task.

So what if my guts were in knots for a whole week before the Friday hearing? It was my chance to show that my ex-husband is out of his fucking mind. Did I say that? No, of course not; a lady of my background and age would never say something so vulgar.

I was upset from Monday through Thursday, and on Friday afternoon, drove eight miles to my friend Sharon’s house. I’ve known Sharon for more than twenty-five years. She’s a fellow choir member, smart and caring, who has a son my son’s age. As soon as she heard about the upcoming trial, she offered to accompany me and I gratefully accepted.

We drove through a rural, scenic part of northwestern Connecticut, to the Bantam Court complex. As we pulled into the parking area, I glanced to my left and there he was, in a small Honda — Paul, who I hadn’t seen in ten years. At first glance, I didn’t recognize him. After all, it had been ten years since his arrest in August 2005 and he didn’t look the same as on that infamous date. I most likely didn’t either, although I really thought I looked better than during that time of sheer horror.

After I parked, I shared that I felt like throwing up. Sharon sounded a bit concerned, but I assured her I wouldn’t actually throw up; I just felt apprehensive and a bit terrified. We sat for a while in the car, the air-conditioning keeping out the July heat.

Then, we entered the building, which was just like other court houses, only much smaller, with an x-ray for purses and a metal detector to walk through. We walked along the narrow hall to join others waiting to enter the courtroom. Most everyone wore casual clothing or the work clothes of a mason or painter. One woman wore shorts and a tank top and had a large, but delicate, tattoo of five portraits across her tanned upper back. She and I had caught each other’s eyes earlier and smiled, in mutual support, although I knew nothing about her.

Paul wore a long sleeved lavender shirt and sported a small gray ponytail He carried a thicker middle, which must have concealed his colostomy bag and whatever else he had to wear after his bladder was removed.

The judge, a small, elderly man who had to strain in order to climb up to the judge’s platform, appeared pale and frail. As soon as he began speaking, his words flung that impression aside. He was sharp and kind and focused on what was important. He missed nothing.

The first thing the judge did was to tell everyone to leave the courtroom and go out into the small, narrow hall to discuss the issue that brought them to the court. He directed everyone to make every attempt to work it out. Those who were able to come to an agreement had their cases heard first. Usually it was just a payment schedule of $40 a week, or some such arrangement.

Paul and I and Sharon stood in a corner. I was barely breathing.

“Are you a lawyer?” he asked Sharon.

“No,” she replied.

“A friend, for moral support?”

“Yes,” she said.

Sharon had a pleasant, neutral expression on her face. I could feel tension stiffen my mouth and eyes.

I could see he recognized Sharon but didn’t remember her name. He was more stubborn and sure of his position than I expected and after a few words it was clear that we weren’t going to come to any agreement.

We returned to the small courtroom and waited, listening to others argue their positions. As I watched the clock, every five minutes seemed like an hour. Contractors protested about non-payment for work done and homeowners complained about work their contractor hadn’t finished that they’d paid for. The compassionate judge paid close attention to all of these cases. Finally, he called Held vs. Sherman.

He really didn’t know which of us was which and said that Paul’s past legal issues had no bearing on this case, a fair statement. Paul said right away that he had been in prison, so the subject was out in the open. I sensed that no one paid attention to what was being said and the conversation was only between Paul and me and the judge.

Paul’s illogical reasoning was that we had a pre-nuptial agreement where we agreed what was his was his and what was mine would remain mine in case of a divorce, but when I filed for divorce he didn’t get a chance to go after my assets and I had so much more than he. The only thing he said that was relevant was that he had paid for plants and wanted them back.

I responded that he had no right to them, as the house had been mine from the beginning and he had never shared in the cost for anything, whether household bills or major constructions, like the addition to the house and swimming pool. The judge said that he thought we might be in the wrong court. After hearing us speak, he said we’d be notified of his decision whether or not I would have to pay Paul $5000.

Thursday’s mail brought the Notice of Judgment or Disposition which stated that the case has been dismissed. The judge wrote that the reason was that there was a failure to present a prima facie case.

On Sunday, Paul wrote a long, threatening email, stating his intention to sue me in a jury trial for access to his plants. When I consider how upset I was the week before the small claims court event, I think I may allow him access to remove what he wants and just get it over with. Afterwards, he can gloat about how he won and forced me to allow him to dig up whatever plants he still dreams about after all these years. I can survive an hour or so to be rid of him. I know I would suffer way too much to engage in any more court appearances.

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Judge Judy

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A few weeks ago, I received a phone call, one of the many, unidentified calls that’s usually a solicitation. I picked it up and then immediately hung up, to silence the ringer. But the phone rang again and it was the same number. Curious, I answered it. As soon as I said hello, a pleasant woman told me that she was a producer for the television program,  Judge Judy.

She said she was calling to invite me to appear on the show, where I would face my ex-husband Paul, and respond to his lawsuit, in front of Judge Judy and nine-million daily viewers. She informed me that Judge Judy is a retired Supervising Judge of the New York City Family Court and the justice that she deals out is legally binding. A few times, I’d seen her ream out one of the people appearing before her on TV. She scolded, permitted no whining and verbally whipped the guilty party. She was tough.

I listened to the producer’s whole presentation, laughing inside, a huge grin on my face.  Since receiving the Summons from the Small Claims Court, I fleetingly thought that this dispute, for money and plants, was the sort of ridiculous lawsuit that would fit well on the show.

Judge Judy’s producer told me that the way they find entertaining cases is to search lists of upcoming small claims suits, in courts all over the country. She also said that they would pay for me (and a friend) to fly to Los Angeles. A limo would take us to a hotel, which they would pay for. The next day, my friend and I would be driven to the studio in Hollywood and, if I lost, they would pay the $5000.00 to my ex-husband. I actually laughed, not at her, but because the situation was so bizarre. It felt like a comical, yet significant dream.

She implied that my ex-husband had accepted the offer and was willing to travel to California. This time, he could be a different kind of media celebrity, from what he was in 2005, when newspapers and television news programs announced his arrest for receipt of child pornography.

Amused at the absurdity of the lawsuit, I laughed to myself the rest of the day, walking around with a silly smile.

Then I stopped laughing.

In the mail, I received a letter informing me the date of the hearing and that Small Claims suits were held in the Superior Court. Me! I’ve never been to court (except to witness Paul’s arraignment) and before this, have never been sued. Until I opened that envelope giving me a real date, the threat of having Paul traipse through my garden making cuttings of what he wants and collect a $5000 check from me seemed like an amusing prank. I believed that the court would see it as a ridiculous demand and throw it out before it happened. I was wrong.

The date of the trial is scheduled for June 26th at 2:00 PM. This afternoon I wrote to the clerk of the court and requested a change of date, because I have a conflict. It’s the ‘Pass the Gavel’ party, where I will become the president of Westport Rotary. I also informed the clerk about the trip my grandson and I have planned right after the 4th of July.

I’m relieved that the event is postponed and I don’t have to anticipate driving fifty-nine miles to confront Paul right now.

While searching Google for information and comments from people who have appeared on Judge Judy, numerous sites showed up. They detail outrageous personal experiences people had on the show. I’m glad I won’t suffer a similar horrific event. http://www.consumeraffairs.com/misc/judge_judy.html

I’ll just have to wait until the trial is re-scheduled and learn what happens then. I’ll let you know. But it will be on hostileentry.com/- not Judge Judy.

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