Last June, 16-year-old Hailey Burns walked out of her home in Charlotte, leaving behind a distraught and frantic family who searched for her for the last 12 months.
Hailey, who was found alive this week in Georgia in the home of 31-year-old Michael Wysolovski, a man she allegedly met online, was among the 465,676 cases of missing children reported to the FBI in 2016, a number that has decreased significantly over the past 10 years. There were 662,228 reported cases in 2006.
The vast majority of missing children are runaways, said Nancy McBride, the executive director of Florida Outreach at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). In 2016, NCMEC worked with law enforcement and families on more than 20,500 cases of missing young people — 90% were cases of runaways.
One of the disturbing aspects in cases of missing kids, experts say, is the number who are lured away through technology.
Found one year later:
North Carolina teen missing for a year found alive in Georgia
At the time of her disappearance, Hailey’s family said they had tried to limit their daughter’s use of computers after they discovered she’d been talking to strangers online. Hailey, now 17, did not even have a cellphone, they said, but they thought she was still communicating with someone and had left to meet with him.
“(Technology) has great benefits and some potential risks,” McBride said. “It’s important to stay plugged into their lives.”
David Finkelhor, the director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire, said parents should work on having a strong relationship with their children. “When relationships deteriorate with kids . . . dangers really come into play,” he said.
When the child’s relationship with their parents isn’t strong, their communication breaks down and that makes the child vulnerable to online predators, McBride said.
A good relationship is important for communication, which is important for developing trust, she said. “If something is going on, it’s important for parents to be able to tell their kids: ‘If someone approaches you and makes you feel uncomfortable, you can come to me.’ Then they can work to prevent a situation.”
She doesn’t think cutting the child off from social media is the answer. “Kids are going to do it anyway,” she said.
“Talk it out with them,” she said. “Get your kids to show them where they like to go (online). Talk to them about how the dangers in the virtual world can translate into the real world.”
Technology and social media have their protective elements, too, Finkelhor said.
Abductions are rare, he said, but if such cases do come up, technology can be helpful. For instance, cellphones can be used to help locate children, he noted. And McBride said NCMEC works with law enforcement to harness the power of social media tools such as Twitter to get more eyes looking out for missing persons.
However, both agree the best safeguard is a strong home environment.
“The best thing parents can do is to have a good relationship with their kids,” Finkelhor said.
FYI, I am not a conservative and from 1978 to 1980 I participated in 13 civil rights marches and was seriously injured four times. I bled for the cause.
I don’t share this information with you to brag but to justify what I am about to say.
For several decades, I was a member and ardent supporter of the SPLC. As a USDOJ instructor and adviser I would advise federal and state law enforcement agencies to use the SPLC data for investigations.
Then several years ago I noticed a disturbing trend, Southern Poverty Law Center was not covering leftist domestic terrorist organizations. And more importantly they began to move outside of white supremacy and adding other topics that were contrary to the focus of their original charter.
These topics aligned with the standard rhetoric of leftist groups in the U.S.
The foundational focus of the organization had blurred.
I made my concerns known to them and was politely responded to but nothing changed.
Several federal, state and regional police agencies that I work with also noticed the trend and mentioned their concerns to me.
SPLC was clearly not going to change.
Sadly, I had a similar experience in 1980 when I gave up my membership with the NAACP.
I have never been an arm-chair critic of racism, anti-government actions or extremist violence. I have been in the fight for decades personally and professionally and my body bears the scars of that fight.
Otto Warmbier, the American college student imprisoned and tortured by North Korea who died this week after being returned to his parents in a coma, was active in his campus Jewish community.
Yet Jewish groups, the Anti-Defamation League chief among them, were all but silent on Warmbier’s ordeal. Asks Tablet’s Liel Liebovitz: Why?
Liebovitz points out that Warmbier had aroused not sympathy but angry attacks from the social-justice left: “When the young college student was arrested last year, the regressive left’s flagships, from Salon to the blessedly defunct Nightly Show, gleefully mocked Warmbier, arguing that white privilege was the real reason for his predicament.”
Such bigotry “is toxic to all Americans, but it’s particularly hazardous to Jews, whose suffering is too often explained away these days as an acceptable byproduct of excessive power and influence.” All of which makes Jewish groups’ “silence” on Warmbier’s murder “shameful.”
Bronson points out that there’s one Vegas hospital that can process the kits, and two nurses trained in doing so — clearly insufficient for the 718 sexual assault examination performed last year. Ideally, victims shouldn’t go to the bathroom or shower or change clothes before the rape kit is taken, which is a tall order if they have to drive across a state to do so.
“It’s impossible to know how many victims may have chosen not to obtain a rape kit because of these limitations,” she writes.
So Stone “resorted to an age-old bigotry: blame the Jews — or, in its current incarnation, shift the blame” to Israel. As Page Six reported, Stone replied: “Israel had far more involvement in the US election than Russia” — an “absurd” claim Dershowitz says would be “laughable” if it didn’t reflect “a growing anti-Semitism by the intolerant hard left, of which Stone is a charter member.”
Says Dershowitz: “The essence of anti-Semitism is the bigoted claim that if there is a problem, then Jews must be its cause. This is the exact canard peddled by Stone — and is extremely dangerous if unrebutted.”
Most people are “unaware that extreme poverty has been declining over time” across the globe — a development economist Charles Hughes at Economics21 hails as “one of the greatest accomplishments of the modern world.” Fact is, “more people live longer, healthier, more peaceful lives today than anytime in the past.”
Yet polls show most Americans actually believe global poverty is increasing, rather than having been “halved in the past 20 years.” True, many nations in Africa are moving in the wrong direction.
But the fact remains that “in 1970, about 60 percent” of the planet was “still relegated to extreme poverty. Now, the figure is under 9 percent.”
So Hodgkinson had a long history of violence and anti social behavior. But I want to focus on his clueless family members who did nothing to stop his actions that led to the serious injury of numerous people.
James Hodgkinson, the Illinois man accused of shooting lawmakers and aides during a congressional baseball practice Wednesday, was pronounced dead by the president. Here’s what we know so far.
Michael Hodgkinson, the suspect’s brother, told the New York Times that James had become upset about the election of President Donald Trump and had moved to the Washington DC area “out of the blue” to protest.
Former Alexandria mayor Bill Euille told the Washington Post that he had seen James Hodgkinson every morning for the last month and a half at the local YMCA gym, using the showers.
Mr Euille said he was helping Hodgkinson look for a job in the area and that it appeared he may have been homeless.
“He’d open up his gym bag and in it, he had everything he owned. He was living out of the gym bag,” the mayor told the paper. “He sat in the Y’s lobby for hours and hours.”
Hodgkinson’s wife told the ABC News that her husband moved to Virginia two months ago.
A history of trouble with the law
On March 19, police responded to reports of shots fired in the woods near Hodgkinson’s home. Hodgkinson was advised not to discharge his weapon in the area.
Hodgkinson letters: “I have never said ‘life sucks,’ only the policies of the Republicans.”
Derik Holtmann/Belleville News-Democrat, via AP
Hodgkinson has written a number of letters to the editor of the Belleville News-Democrat.
In them, he often railed against Republicans and tax policies, and at least once advocated for legalizing marijuana. A sampling is below.
AUG. 28, 2012
An idea worth repeating
“…We need to bring our country out of today’s recession by raising the number of tax brackets from six to 20 or more and the top marginal rate of 35 percent on $380,000 to 60 percent on $20 million or more. In 1938 we had 33 brackets from 4 percent for most of the country to 79 percent for income over $79 million.
JULY 8, 2012
Obama’s for U.S. workers
“I can’t believe how many people are upset with our president. You’d think that the world was full of rich millionaires. Why else would these people talk badly about a guy who has their best interest at heart?
I believe anything near these rates would be fair and balanced. In rebuttal: I have never said “life sucks,” only the policies of the Republicans.”
JAN 24, 2012
“I believe to stimulate the economy, it is time to legalize or at least decriminalize marijuana use.
Also to fund the government deficit I hope the Obama administration raises the income tax rate for the rich to 70 percent or more. If a person has an annual income of more than $10 million, he should be proud to be an American and proud to live in a country that would allow this kind of income, and proud to pay his fair share of taxes.
JAN 28, 2011
Greedy instead of grand
“There’s a new version of what GOP stands for. It’s not the Grand Old Party anymore. It’s the Greedy One Percenters….
…We need to vote all Republicans out of office. Let’s work to get this country back. Let’s all push for 20 brackets to $20 million with a top marginal rate of 60 percent.
On October 16, 2015, Hodgkinson “liked” this anti-Scalise cartoon on Facebook, posting “Here is a Republican who should Lose His Job, but they Gave Him a Raise.” Hodgkinson’s Facebook page has since been deactivated.
“Trump is a Traitor”
On March 22, Hodgkinson posted that he had just signed a Change.org petition calling on the Senate to remove the president and vice president. “Trump is a Traitor,” he wrote, “Trump Has Destroyed Our Democracy. It’s Time to Destroy Trump & Co.”
“I want Bernie to Win the White House”
On August 12, 2016, Hodgkinson posted his support for Bernie Sanders.
The Link Between Detached Dads and
How much do fathers matter to the personal development of their daughters? Scientists studying families have long suspected that domestic instability and insufficient fathering predispose girls to risky sexual behavior, but there was no hard evidence for this view.
A study published in the journal Developmental Psychology in May used an ingenious research design to get some answers. Danielle DelPriore and Bruce Ellis of the University of Utah, working with Gabriel Schlomer of the State University of New York at Albany, teased
apart the effects of fathers within families.
They studied 101 pairs of adult sisters from families that had either remained intact or had broken up by the time the younger sister turned 14. In each family the sisters were distant enough from each other in age—at least four years—that they would have had different experiences of their father, especially if he had separated from the family before the younger one reached maturity.
This research design made it possible to control for variables that might interfere with clear conclusions about the effects of fathering. Both sisters randomly received half their genes from the mother, half from the father, so inherited genes couldn’t explain systematic
differences. Sibling order could matter: As teens, younger sisters could for some reason be more risk-prone. But that was the point of including intact families. If the sisters differed in sexual risk-taking only in the disrupted families, it would be possible to zero in on how the difference arose.
The researchers used retrospective questionnaires to probe parenting and sexual experiences that the women—who were between 18 and 36 at the time of the study—recalled from high school. Sexual risk-taking included promiscuity, unprotected sex and sex while intoxicated.
Older and younger sisters reported similar levels of mothering quality, whether their families were intact or disrupted.
But the most striking finding was in older sisters with a large age gap in the disrupted families. The father’s behavior, for better or worse, usually affected the older sister much more than her younger sibling. If these older sisters communicated well with their fathers and felt close to them, they experienced much more parental monitoring and hung out far less with sexually risk-prone peers. But this kind of fathering had much less effect on the younger sisters, many of whom didn’t have enough contact with their father for him to make much of a difference.
These factors explained the older sisters’ behavior. “The prolonged presence of a warm and engaged father can buffer girls against early, high-risk sex,” Dr. DelPriore said. This doesn’t mean that divorced fathers can’t provide quality care. “A silver lining,” she adds, “is that what dad does seems to matter more than parental separation.” In other words, a divorce may be less harmful for a girl than more years with a bad dad.
The growing field of evolutionary child psychology adds interesting context to these findings. Biologists find that organisms in unstable environments grow up faster and start reproducing earlier than those in stable ones. Theoretically, in a stable environment you can take more time growing into your reproductive activities, focusing on longterm quality rather than on getting an early start. Conversely, in an unstable situation, it might “pay” (in Darwinian terms) to begin reproducing earlier, since in those girls’ worlds, a good man is hard to find.
This doesn’t rule out more familiar psychological explanations, but in a child’s development, family instability—which, again, is something different from divorce—might provide a catalyst setting off a psychological change and risky behavior.
As Dr. DelPriore phrased the question, “What is it that dad does that shields a daughter from sexual risk?” Dr. Ellis phrased the answer: “It’s all about dosage of exposure to dads; the bigger the dose, the more fathering matters—for better and for worse.”
A low-profile confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill this week raised eyebrows when the questioning turned to theology — specifically, damnation.
Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont pressed Russell Vought, nominated by President Trump to be deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, about his beliefs.
“Do you think that people who are not Christians are condemned?” Sanders repeatedly asked, challenging that belief as Islamophobic.
Christian organizations have denounced Sanders’ questioning as amounting to a religious test for public office — one that would disqualify millions of people.
Polls show about half of all Christians in the U.S. believe that some non-Christians can go to heaven. But particularly among evangelicals, the traditional view of damnation remains widespread.
A confirmation showdown rooted in college dispute
How did hellfire come up in a confirmation hearing in the first place?
In 2015, an evangelical Christian college suspended a tenured professor who said that Muslims and Christians worship the same God. That’s a belief shared by many Christians, but not all; Wheaton College said it contradicted the school’s statement of faith.
Vought, an alumnus of Wheaton, wrote a blog post last year expressing support for his alma mater. He quoted a theologian who said non-Christians have a “deficient” theology but could have a meaningful relationship with God. Vought disagreed.
“Muslims do not simply have a deficient theology,” Vought wrote. “They do not know God because they have rejected Jesus Christ his Son, and they stand condemned. ”
Ahead of Vought’s confirmation hearing, that quote was picked up by advocacy groups concerned about whether Vought could serve all Americans fairly.
Sanders brought up the passage, again and again, in the hearing. He asked Vought if he thought his statement was Islamophobic.
“Absolutely not, senator,” Vought said
“Do you believe people in the Muslim religion stand condemned?” Sanders asked. “What about Jews? Do they stand condemned, too?”
“I’m a Christian,” Vought repeatedly responded.
“I understand you are a Christian,” Sanders said, raising his voice. The senator is Jewish and has said he’s not particularly religious. “But there are other people who have different religions in this country and around the world. In your judgment, do you think that people who are not Christians are going to be condemned?”
“I believe that all individuals are made in the image of God and are worthy of dignity and respect regardless of their religious beliefs,” Vought said, while also emphasizing “the centrality of Jesus Christ in salvation.”
“This nominee is really not someone who this country is supposed to be about,” Sanders said, announcing that he’d vote against him.
Did focus on a nominee’s faith cross a line?
Sanders was criticized almost immediately for focusing on a nominee’s religious principles instead of qualifications or behavior. His office has defended the senator’s questions.
“The question at hand is not about Mr. Vought’s freedom to hold certain religious beliefs,” a spokesman for Sanders said. The spokesman said Vought’s post expressed his views in an “inflammatory way” and said Sanders is concerned if Vought can “carry out the duties of his office in a way that treats all Americans equally.”
Many news outlets — religious, conservative and mainstream — highlighted the exchange as a possible application of a religious test, which is prohibited under the Constitution. U.S. News & World Report spoke to legal experts who say Sanders is on solid legal ground. “Senators can vote against nominees for any reason or no reason at all,” one law professor told the magazine. “It may be atrocious, but it’s not unconstitutional,” another said
Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, called Sanders’ comments “breathtakingly audacious and shockingly ignorant,” and deeply troubling even if they are legal.
“This is not some arcane or obscure private opinion being held by this one individual,” Moore told NPR. “The language that Sen. Sanders, finds so disturbing — ‘stands condemned’ — is language right out of the New Testament.”
Moore says there’s nothing hostile about Vought’s comments. “In Christian theology, no one is righteous before God,” he said. “[Evangelical] Christians don’t believe that good people go to heaven and bad people go to hell. Christians believe that all of humanity is fallen.”
And Moore argues there’s a fundamental misunderstanding at play: Secular people often assume that beliefs are “just ideas and opinions” that can shift. But for religious people, he says, “we don’t believe that we are constructing our faith. We believe that it’s been handed to us by God.”
A question of belief, or a question of behavior?
Scott Simpson, public advocacy director for Muslim Advocates, defended Sanders’ questions and said it’s important to keep Vought’s comments in context — both his original post and the broader political climate. “This isn’t some personal expression of how he feels in his heart about theology,” Simpson said. “This is the type of speech that was being used against somebody” to argue a professor should lose her job.
He also says the Trump administration has a “pattern of appointments” of people with anti-Muslim views and rhetoric. “We’re very sensitive to the concept of religious liberty, because Muslims’ religious liberty is under attack every day,” Simpson said. “But we’re talking about something very specific. … When a nominee calls the faith of millions of Americans deficient, that is something that should be questioned. That is what hearings are for.”
Meanwhile, James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute, said the belief that vast swaths of people are damned might, in fact, be inherently problematic for certain government positions. “If [someone] believe these people are to be condemned … is that the person who ought to be making budgetary decisions for the country as a whole?” asked Zogby, who is a Maronite Catholic. “Can you be a fair adjudicator of decisions?” he asked.
Hussein Rashid, founder of the religious literacy consultancy Islamicate L3C, doesn’t agree that the belief itself is a problem.
“I think we have to accept that there are theologies that are what I would call exclusionary, that only certain people will go to heaven and certain people will go to hell. They are not inherently Islamophobic or anti-Semitic,” Rashid said. “It’s when it turns into action that we start getting worried. ”
He, like Moore, emphasized that these beliefs are not particularly unusual.
“Exclusionary theologies are far more prevalent than I think we realize,” Rashid said, noting many Americans’ reticence to talk about religion in public. A substantial number of Christians believe Catholics are going to hell, he noted.
Belief in hell is widespread, but views differ on who is damned
Different Christian sects, and individuals, have varying interpretations of damnation. The traditionalist view is that eternal suffering awaits all who do not accept Christ; on the other end of the spectrum is the universalist belief that everyone will be saved. And then there are disagreements about what hell actually is.
In short, it’s hard to pin down exactly how many Americans believe non-Christians are going to hell — but polling data suggests a strong minority.
The Pew Research Center’s Religious Landscape Study in 2014 polled more than 35,000 adults.
The Pew Research Center recently found that nearly 60 percent of Americans surveyed believe in hell. And among Christians, 48 percent of Protestants and 56 percent of evangelicals believe Christianity is the only path to eternal life. (Catholics and mainline Protestants were far more likely to believe that other faiths can get into heaven.)
A LifeWay Research survey, conducted online with a much smaller sample, found that 40 percent of Americans believe those who do not accept Jesus are bound for hell. But it’s complicated: Some of those people appear to also believe other faiths can attain salvation.
At any rate, Vought’s belief is not a fringe view. “Most conservative evangelical churches believe that faith in Christ is necessarily for salvation,” Moore says.
And it’s not unique to evangelicalism or Christianity. The Quran is quite clear that there is a hell, says Mohammad Hassan Khalil, a professor of religious studies at Michigan State University and author of Islam and the Fate of Others. The general view is that those who reject the message of Muhammad are damned, he says, but just like in Christianity, there’s a vast spectrum of beliefs.
You’ll see “a popular preacher who has many YouTube hits saying that all non-Muslims go to hell,” he says, and at the same time, “you’ll get other people who say there are multiple paths to heaven.”
Khalil says belief in hell does not have a clear-cut implication for behavior on Earth. “If I believe all non-Muslims go to hell … it can lead me to look down upon them, see them as just fuel for hell, and not really take them too seriously. Or I could be motivated to want to save them,” he says, “and be unusually kind and nice to them in the hopes that they will convert.”
NPR asked Sanders’ office if the senator would have challenged a devout Muslim who believed non-Muslims are condemned to hell, in the same way he challenged Vought. Sanders’ spokesman said yes.
Moore of the Southern Baptist Conference says Sanders confronting a Muslim would be equally problematic.
“We’ve been working for religious freedom for everyone,” said Moore, who has spoken up in defense of mosques. Rejecting a nominee for their religious doctrine is “a troubling trend, and if this were the direction that American public officials were to go this would be very dangerous for American democracy,” he said.
“We’ve seen what happens when the state sets itself up as a theological referee.”
‘Wonder Woman’ wins by being feminist without bashing men
Warner Bros.’ “Wonder Woman” continues to break records as the most successful female-led superhero action movie ever — with New York packing theaters along with the rest of the country.
So what, exactly, is winning everyone over?
What is it about this film that seems to be bringing together both men and women from all backgrounds and critics in praise?
The film’s well made, sure, with dazzling special effects and vivid scenes (see the 3-D version if you can) that create a striking contrast between worlds: from a breathtaking, female-only island where Amazons live in a fiercely athletic and secluded harmony, to the merciless front lines of World War I, where man’s inhumanity to man wrought great destruction and suffering.
The film features Israeli actress Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, whose dark eyes sparkle with mischief, mirth and, yes, wonder, and whose compassion and determination infuse her character with a depth beyond Hollywood’s standard spirited heroines’.
At New York City theaters this week, many girls and women said they turned out because the character of Wonder Woman has been a personal inspiration in their lives, and they wanted to support the film’s director, Patty Jenkins.
“It’s nice to see a woman director given a big-budget action film, not just a rom-com,” said Mariel Conway, 30, media manager for Discovery Studios TV network, who was visiting New York from Los Angeles and attended a daytime showing at a Kips Bay theater.
Conway said that in tapping a female director, Warner Bros. is not, in Conway’s view, pandering to women but choosing the individual whom they believe to be best skilled to bring Wonder Woman to the big screen, because the company “is staking its future on the DC Comics universe.”
But the film was also striking, some noted, for what was missing: the man-hating grievance politics that sometimes accompanies a projection of female empowerment.
“It’s not a negative film, not against men, but shows women and men working together,” said Elizabeth Liumbruno, 30, an architect from Forest Hills after an evening screening in Union Square.
“Her leadership style seemed more collaborative than the typical superhero’s,” said Ellie Bastani, 33, of Morningside Heights, an assistant dean at Columbia University. “It was more about working together . . . than one person being this hero.”
“Usually you see females in supporting roles or just as sex symbols [in action films], so it’s really important for little girls to see a female in the lead,” said Bhumika Dyal, 20, a student at FIT from Ozone Park, Queens.
The film resonated with women and girls of all ages. “She did what she believed and didn’t just follow her mom,” said Chelsea Brooks, 8, of the Lower East Side, adding: “She wasn’t actually fighting, because she did want to help.”
“I loved her determination, her strength, and her compassion,” said Josie Lawrence, a retiree in Murray Hill. “I thought, ‘Yay!’ when she crossed No Man’s Land.” Lawrence added that the film is a reminder that “being a hero is not male or female.”
The film’s workmanlike plot provides sufficient momentum to carry the viewer through charming scenes in which our heroine encounters a man for the first time (Chris Pine, who plays British spy Steve Trevor, Wonder Woman’s partner in the fight to save humankind), tries on dresses in early-20th-century London and uses both her superpowers and what appears to be krav maga to fight German spies and soldiers.
But what really distinguishes the story is its heroine’s idealism, and its suggestion that the good and evil that exist in human nature cross all divides, including gender (one of the film’s chief antagonists, the sociopathic scientist Dr. Poison, is a female).
“You don’t think I wish I could tell you it’s one bad guy to blame?” Steve Trevor pleads with Wonder Woman toward the end of the movie. “We are all to blame.”
We’re facing a time when political polarization threatens civil discourse, dehumanization of one side by another cuts both ways and culture wars have recently brought millions of Americans, women prominently among them, to the streets in protest.
Perhaps the resurrection of “Wonder Woman” — an icon of female strength whose righteous anger is driven, and tempered, by compassion and love for the world — is offering little girls and women a role model for cooperative leadership, and a positive vision of empowerment they’re not seeing enough of in the real world.