John Kasich: Women ‘left their kitchens’ to back himYesterday
Washington( CNN) Ohio Gov. John Kasich told a Virginia crowd Monday that women “left their kitchens” for him in an early statehouse race, promptly inspiring a retort from one female voter there.
“And how did I get elected? Nobody was, I didn’t have anybody for me. We just got an army of people who, um, and many girls, who left their kitchens got to go and run door-to-door and to set yard signs up for me, ” the Republican presidential nominee said Monday, describing moments from his early career in the 1970 s, during a town hall in Fairfax, Virginia.
A woman voter subsequently shot back.
Marin Alsop appointed first female artistic director of top Vienna orchestraYesterday
Exclusive: American conductor greeted new role at ORF but hopes being the first woman will shortly no longer be news
Earth Day has embraced hysteria and abandoned science2 days ago
Sunday is Earth Day, a festivity conceived by then-U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson and first held in 1970 as a “symbol of environmental liability and stewardship.” In the spirit of the time, it was a touchy-feely, consciousness-raising, New Age experience. Most activities were organized at the grassroots level.
In recent years, however, Earth Day has devolved into an occasion for professional environmental activists and alarmists to warn of apocalypse, dish anti-technology dirt, and proselytize.
Passion and zeal now trump science, and provability takes a back seat to plausibility. The Earth Day Network, which coordinates Earth Day events and advocacy, regularly distorts science and exaggerates dreads in order to advance its Big Government agenda.
With a topic of “End Plastic Pollution, ” this year’s event is no exception.
The Earth Day organizers have created a “Plastic Pollution Primer and Action Toolkit, ” which enumerates all the scary warnings that activists should use to “empower journalists” to frighten the public and spur politicians to drastic regulatory action.
How dire is the plastics threat?
According to the Earth Day website, about as serious as you can possibly get: “From poisoning and injuring marine life to the ubiquitous presence of plastics in our food to disrupting human hormones and causing major life-threatening diseases and early puberty, the exponential growth of plastics is threatening our planet’s survival.”
Threatening our planet’s survival? This isn’t hyperbole- it’s hysteria. Even Chicken Little didn’t claim the falling sky would destroy Earth.
The Earth Day campaign forfeits a good opportunity by injecting a toxic mixture of politics and junk science into “opposition to pollution”- that rare issue where we might have broad consensus. It turns genuine environmentalists( like us) into Earth Day skeptics.
The Earth Day campaign itself isn’t about aiming pollution; it’s about aiming plastics, foregoing their important applications- and stirring panic.
Consider Bisphenol-A, or BPA, the chemical component of many plastics that environmentalists love to demonize. One prominent environmental group claims BPA is “capable of interfering with the body’s hormones, particularly estrogen, and scientists have linked BPA exposure to illness, such as cancer and diabetes.”
The above assert is not true. It is science fiction , not science.
Repeated independent analyzes have found that BPA poses no danger to humans at the levels at which we are exposed. The most recent analysis of a study conducted by the federal government and published in February by the Food and Drug Administration received “minimal effects” for the BP-Adosed groups of rodents. And the doses were far higher than humans are ever likely to encounter.
The various marches and demonstrations this Earth Day won’t be limited to the supposed cataclysm of plastic pollution, of course; they’ll feature many other causes as well.
But instead of a genuine concern for nature, many of those stumping for Earth Day on Sunday will more broadly resist environment-friendly advances in science and technology, such as fracking, nuclear power, and genetic engineering to make new harvest plants.
And if past is prologue, another recurrent theme will be dislike for the capitalist system that provides the resources to expend on environmental protection and conservation.
This Sunday will likely also be heavy on vitriol towards the regulatory rationalization and reforms of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA’s new leadership has begun to correct the incompetence, dislike for science and corruption of recent decades.
The Earth Day Network has a “Greening Our Schools” initiative, so it’s not surprising that kids holding signs they’re too young to understand are a fixture of Earth Day events.
A frequent Earth Day assignment kids get in schools is to read Rachel Carson’s best-selling 1962 book “Silent Spring, ” an emotionally charged but deep flawed condemnation of the widespread spraying of chemical pesticides for the control of insects.
As described by Roger Meiners and Andy Morriss in their scholarly yet eminently readable 2012 analysis, “Silent Spring at 50: Reflections on an Environmental Classic, ” Carson exploited her reputation as a well-known nature novelist to advocate and legitimize “positions linked to a darker tradition in American environmental thinking: neo-Malthusian population control and anti-technology efforts.”
Carson’s proselytizing and advocacy led to the virtual banning of the pesticide DDT and to restrictions on other chemical pesticides, even though “Silent Spring” was replete with gross misrepresentations and scholarship so atrocious that if Carson were an academic, she would be guilty of misconduct.
Carson’s observations about DDT were meticulously rebutted phase by point by Dr. J. Gordon Edwards, a prof of entomology at San Jose State University. He was also a longtime member of the Sierra Club and the Audubon Society, and a fellow of the California Academy of Sciences.
In his stunning 1992 essay, “The Lies of Rachel Carson, ” Edwards demolished her arguments and affirms and called attention to critical omissions, faulty premises, and outright fabrications in the book. Consider this from Edwards 😛 TAGEND
“This implication that DDT is horribly deadly is completely false. Human volunteers have ingested as much as 35 milligrams of it a day for nearly two years and suffered no adverse effects. Millions of people have lived with DDT intimately during the mosquito spraying those programmes and nobody even got sick as a result. The National Academy of Sciences concluded in 1965 that’ in a little more than two decades, DDT has prevented 500 million( human) demises that would otherwise have been inevitable.’ The World Health Organization stated that DDT had’ killed more bugs and saved more people than any other substance.’”
One of the United Kingdom’s great contemporary thinkers, Dick Taverne- also known as Lord Taverne of Pimlico- discusses in his book, “The March of Unreason, ” the New Age philosophy that underlies the organizers of Earth Day.
Taverne deplores the “new kind of fundamentalism” that has infiltrated many environmentalist campaigns- an undiscriminating back-to-nature movement that views science and technology as the foe and as a manifestation of an exploitative, rapacious and reductionist attitude toward nature.
That eco-fundamentalism is out of step with current events. Congress, the Trump administration and many Americans are now securely on the side of more sensible, more limited regulation. So it would behoove the Earth Day activists to collaborate in good faith and to subsistence advances in environment-friendly technologies and business models.
Among these advances, we would include ridesharing services, Airbnb , modern genetic engineering applied to agriculture, and state-of-the art agricultural chemicals. All these things enable us to do more with less- but they have been vilified by activists.
Perhaps adding Lord Taverne’s book to the Earth Day curriculum would allow students to consider the issues in a more thoughtful style. But we are not sufficiently naive to expect that to happen.
Rather, we suspect that activists prefer that their eco-fundamentalism continue to go unchallenged. They don’t want reason, science and respect for differing positions to interfere with their agenda.
As far as Earth Day is concerned, a more egalitarian, evidence-based approach might advance civil society, alleviate human suffering and even help protect the planet.
Jeff Stier is a senior fellow at the Consumer Choice Center .
Read more: www.foxnews.com
Bella Hadid Dedicates The Perfect One Finger Salute Amid Drama With The Weeknd And Selena Gomez!3 days ago
Honestly, Bella Hadid ‘s posture right now is giving us life !!
Spotted out in New York City last night, the model was not in the mood to chat with the paparazzi — and as you know based on what’s been happening to her recently, well, that makes some sense!
The hottie strutted her stuff in a playful route while out to dinner( above ), but the further she strolled, the more she wanted to deliver a message to either the paps, or Selena Gomez and The Weeknd …
YA’S, girl !! Feisty, feisty, feisty — love it !!
Girl’s obviously got one supposed front and center.
Hey, you can’t blame her!
[ Image via AKM-GSI .]
Read more: perezhilton.com
Has José Mourinho already got third-season syndrome at Manchester United? | Jamie Jackson3 days ago
The Portugueses criticism of his players after defeat to Fenerbahce on Thursday provoked memories of his unravelling at both Chelsea and Real Madrid
Jos Mourinho may have felt he had to give his Manchester United players a very public rollicking following Thursday nights debacle at Fenerbahce. To get to this point so early in his tenure, though, shows the crisis that threatens to engulf United unless results and performances are turned around quickly.
In his 16th competitive fixture, Mourinho oversaw a 2-1 loss in a Europa League group game that was a quasi-disaster of disjointedness that featured his players losing the plot 69 seconds in when Moussa Sow opened the scoring.
Mourinho decided he had no option but to question the teams commitment and effort: the base elements any professional footballer has to possess. It shows the slide Mourinho and his side are on. For any manager, the exposure of players the men on whom their own success or failure depends in the media is the nuclear option. Sir Alex Ferguson rarely did this during 27 years at the club.
Yet afterwards the Portuguese compared Uniteds effort to that of a summer friendly. These are strong words which may be deserved but was this really the cutest play given footballers fragile egos and his own high-maintenance style?
The problem Mourinho has is his track record of blowing up at clubs. Some may view his response at the Sukru Saracoglu Stadium as evidence he is entering his own particular thirdseason syndrome two years early.
Read more: www.theguardian.com
Dear Mr. Know-It-All: Someone Is Hate-Retweeting Me. What Should I Do?4 days ago
I think someone is hate-retweeting me. She has 25 K followers! Should I call her out?
Easy. Couldn’t be easier. Hate-favoriting and hate-retweeting is childish behavior. So if you want to be bold, by all means call her out. And if you want to be less bold but perhaps guys more efficient, only block her: Game over.
And yet, can I be honest? This may be the most subtly amazing topic I’ve ever had to pretend to be a know-it-all about. Because if I push merely a bit on your premise, it all goes soft. I can see ancillary dilemma, qualifications, and niggling unknowns pile up until the kind of clear, objective truth I’m required to find get hopelessly boxed in. There’s a lot here to pick apart. Let’s start with the corrosive, discombobulating nature of spite.
Ever heard of the Spite Fence? Go back to 1876. San Francisco’s Big Fourthe four main bazillionaire railroad baronsall decided to build mansions on a scenic, empty hilltop: Nob Hill. At least, it was mostly empty. Bounded within the large property purchased by one of these magnates, Charles Crocker, was a little house on a small, separate parcel owned by an undertaker named Nicholas Yung. Crocker wanted Yung gone; Yung wouldn’t sell. Crocker, bewildered that his fund hadn’t made this inconvenience go forth, maintained making offers. Yung maintained declining. So Crockerovercome with spitestarted a flame war. Or a wall war.
Crocker constructed his manor. Then he built a 30 -foot-high wall on his land that effectively surrounded Yung’s property. It shut out the sunlight. It shut Yung in. It was ridiculous appearing, and people came from all over to gawk at it. There was a kind of class warfare brewing in the city at the time, and one activist pamphlet singled out Crocker’s fence as a very obnoxious symbol of the domineering spirit of the wealthy. The San Francisco Chronicle called the Spite Fence an inartistic monument of bitternes and a commemoration of malignity and malevolence. Yet Yungthe simple mortician, just wanting to live their own lives, in his housedidn’t sell. The mortician was himself essentially buried, though still aboveground. But he just took it, took the high road, and let that towering manifestation of Crocker’s out-of-control id speak for itself. Yung never even retaliated, though he thought about it. His wife said, There are some things to which people like ourselves do not care to stoop.
You must feel like Nicholas Yung: tweeting through their own lives in a pure, happy-go-lucky route, only to ensure a wall of spite building up in this other person’s timeline, one hateful retweet at a time, to rebuke you. And like I told at the outset: How nasty that is; how immature. But why do you think these likes and retweets are hate-likes and hate-retweets, as opposed to supportive likes and supportive retweets? What would result you to this conclusion? I can’t help but wonder if there’s something you’re not telling meif you yourself fret there’s an arrogant, airheaded, obnoxious, or self-congratulatory tone to what you’re tweeting, the sort of stance that typically elicits that kind of resentment online. Are you, for example, relentlessly issuing tidbits like So lucky my newborn sleeps for 12 hours each night !!!!!! Almost enough time for tantric sexuality with my amazing partner! or Just had lunch with Bon Jovi! #blessed?
I’m not saying you are. I’m just wondering. Honestly. I don’t want to blame the victim. My phase is, the victim of one various kinds of obnoxiousness can be a perpetrator of another. You ought to give that a hard suppose and figure out which side of this Spite Fence you’re actually standing on, before you poke your head over and start shouting.
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Why did two mothers murder their adopted child? | Giles Tremlett4 days ago
The long read: Asunta Fong Yang was adopted as a baby by a wealthy Spanish couple. Aged 12, she was found dead beside a country road. Not long after, her mother and father were arrested
One day in late June 2001, Rosario Porto, a petite, dark-haired lawyer from Santiago de Compostela, northern Spain, sat nervously on a flight to China beside her husband Alfonso Basterra, a quiet man from the Basque country, who worked as a freelance journalist. The couple, both in their mid-30s, were on their way to adopt a baby girl. Porto swallowed two tablets of Orfidal a common anti-anxiety medicine that she had used before then but remained too agitated and excited to sleep.
The couple had had no trouble persuading local Spanish authorities that they would make good parents and that their child would be surrounded by a loving extended family. Portos father was a lawyer who had been honorary consul for France in Santiago, and her mother was a university lecturer in history of art. They had given their daughter a flat that occupied a whole floor of a four-storey block in what some call Santiagos VIP zone, home to the citys upper middle class. The flat was decorated in the bold tones blues, greens and yellows that Porto liked, and full of art, curiosities and colourful rugs from around the world. The childs bedroom would have wallpaper covered in clouds and suns.
At that time, adopting from China was unusual. Nobody in Santiago, a solidly bourgeois city of 93,000 people, had done so before, and only a few Chinese children had been adopted in the wider region of Galicia, a mostly rural area of 2.7 million people. But Spanish parents wanting to adopt were beginning to cast a wide net. With a plummeting birth rate and strict adoption laws, there were relatively few Spanish children needing homes, while adopting abroad was relatively quick and easy at least for couples who could afford the costs of 10,000 or more. By 2004, Spain would rank second in the world for foreign adoptions behind only the United States. The following year, adoptions of Chinese children peaked at 2,750. Of these children, 95% were girls (the one-child policy placed an added premium on boys).
Adopting a baby girl from abroad brought the satisfaction and, for some, the moral cachet of rescuing a child in need. In the progressive, cultured environment in which the Basterra Porto family moved, they could expect nothing but praise. Porto, who inherited her fathers role as honorary consul, even appeared on local television to share her wisdom and experience about adopting.
Psychologists reports painted a positive picture of the couple. Porto was friendly, relaxed, emotionally expressive, cooperative, adaptable and solicitous, they said. I am a passionate woman, she told them, describing her husband as patient, easy-going, understanding and with a sense of humour, a strong character who makes his own decisions. The Porto family, one of their friends told me, were aristocracy.
In China, an underweight, undersized nine-month-old baby girl from Hunan province called Asunta Fong Yang awaited them. It was, Basterra would recall, an incredible trip. Two weeks later, after navigating the Chinese red tape and making the required payments, they brought the little girl home to Santiago. Her new Spanish identity documents showed that she was now Asunta Fong Yang Basterra Porto.
The child grew and began to gain weight, though she remained slight and suffered the routine ailments of childhood: fevers, gastroenteritis and other illnesses that scare parents but pass quickly. In the circles in which Porto Charo to friends and family moved, friendly doctors were always on hand. There was no need to go to the public health centre, where a paediatrician had been assigned to Asunta. They went, instead, to the citys major hospital, where a friendly consultant would oversee future care. Even prescription-only medicines could be obtained from friendly pharmacists. It was a privilege of class, but this was how things worked in Santiago a charming, tranquil city that functions as the capital of the increasingly self-governing region of Galicia. Like other provincial cities, Santiago can be very complacent, the Galician writer Miguel Anxo Murado told me. The couple were happy to use their contacts. They were simply doing their best for Asunta.
Over time it became apparent that Asunta was special. By the time she reached secondary school she was deemed so bright that she skipped an academic year. Her parents both pushed her and fretted about her abilities. Well-handled, they are a good thing, Porto told friends after reading up on gifted children. But they can be a problem. There were private classes in English, French and Chinese, plus German at school. Asunta already spoke Spanish and Galician, the Portuguese-tinged language of this green, damp corner of Atlantic Spain. There were also private classes in ballet, violin and piano often demanded by Asunta herself.
She once told us what her Saturdays were like, Asuntas ballet teacher, an English woman named Gail Brevitt, recalled. She got up at 7am, did Chinese from 8 until 10, came to ballet from 10.15 to 12.30, then did French until lunchtime. And then there was violin and piano. Asuntas proud parents followed her progress carefully. The girl was timid with strangers, but exuberant at home playing practical jokes, haranguing her parents with mock political speeches or flouncing around in her ballet costumes. There were concerts and theatre trips, while her mother became involved in the Ateneo, a liberal cultural club that arranged talks, debates and concerts.
By the time she turned 12 in September 2012, Asunta might have been expected to be getting fed up with being, to all appearances, a project child someone who was determinedly being shaped into a prodigy. Once, when her mother was going through a list of after-school activities in front of acquaintances, the girl snapped: Thats one that Im doing because you like it! But mostly Asunta seemed happy. She was talented, disciplined and enjoyed what she did. She was also reserved, sharing her few concerns with Carmen González, the familys cleaner and nanny, or with her elderly but active godmother, María Isabel Veliz. She was now five inches taller than Porto, and on the verge of womanhood. To me they seemed an idyllic family, said González.
* * *
But the family had started to show some cracks. In 2009, Porto spent two nights in a private psychiatric hospital, saying she felt suicidal, apathetic and guilty. Her mind was a high-speed whirl, she said, and she felt in competition with her own mother. She [Porto] gets very irritable with her daughter, who is a bother, a psychiatrist wrote in her notes. After two days, however, Porto discharged herself and only returned for one of the regular checkups that had been scheduled for her.
Two years later, in 2011, Porto had recovered her balance and began to think about sending her daughter away to school in England for a year. This would allow her to polish her English and help ensure that Asunta lived up to her natural brilliance. Porto had done something similar, spending a year at school in Oxford as a teenager and, as a 22-year-old student, travelling to France as an Erasmus exchange student. She had lasted only a few months in France. Nobody knew who I was. Here in Santiago, as my father was a faculty teacher, they treated me with greater consideration, she explained later. Her self-esteem was brittle, and it was during her time in France that a cycle of occasional tailspins into acute anxiety or depression had started. Porto began working in her fathers law practice after graduating and later posted a CV online in which she claimed to have completed her Erasmus year and studied at the London High School of Law, an institution that does not exist.
In September 2013, aged 12, Asunta started back at school after a long summer holiday that included several happy weeks with her nanny in her home village and with her godmother at a local beach resort, swimming in the sea and going to local fiestas. She had a wonderful time, said Veliz. Her parents were nearby in Santiago or at their own beach apartment, but spent only a week of that six-week period with Asunta. They were recovering from an emotionally draining 18 months. This black period had started with the deaths of Portos mother and, seven months later, her father. Both had died in their beds. Asunta had spent lots of time with her grandparents, strolling through the citys Alameda park with her grandfather, who would walk her home from ballet class. Her maternal grandmother had been the familys driving force. She had a personality like a lawnmower, said one acquaintance. Porto called her charmingly awful.
The losses exposed the faultlines in Portos marriage. Early in 2013, she and Basterra had suddenly divorced, much to the surprise of their friends. In fact, Portos enthusiasm for a man she saw as excessively puritan, antisocial, apathetic and unpredictable had run out long before. She admitted to a friend that she had tired of her underachieving house-husband. Porto had taken a lover a self-assured, energetic and successful businessman called Manuel García. When Basterra discovered the affair, after rummaging through his wifes emails, the marriage crumbled. He moved away, staying with relatives in the Basque country, but returned three weeks later, taking a tiny apartment around the corner. His only aim, he said, was to see Asunta grow up happy.
Porto had sat Asunta down and given her the divorced parents talk, full of reassurances that her parents adored her but that mummy and daddy no longer loved each other. So who will cook? Asunta wanted to know. It was a pertinent question. Her father, whose freelance work was erratic, had been chef and chief housekeeper. Basterra bombarded his ex-wife with emails reminding her of all the household tasks that would now fall on her, knowing that her inability to organise herself would make her anxious. I doubt if she has ever even boiled an egg, said one friend. Without Portos money, Basterra had come down in the world. His wifes choice of lover García, who was still married and who Basterra regarded as vulgar only added to his sense of resentment.
No one knows how Asunta, entering adolescence, reacted to all this. The perfect certainties of her world were being dismantled, and her trust in her parents must have been shaken.
In June 2013, Porto had a nervous breakdown that provoked acute physical symptoms, including dizziness and the seizing up of one side of her face. Basterra rushed to his ex-wifes hospital bed and, a week later, helped to set her up again at home. In some ways, it was a return to their old life. They had meals at his place and he even thought they might move back in together.
Meanwhile, Asunta carried on with her many extra activities. When she laid her study books out in a fan shape across the colourful rug on her bedroom floor on the afternoon of Saturday 21 September 2013 after she and her mother had eaten lunch at her fathers flat, followed by a game of cards and an episode of The Simpsons it seemed that the family had overcome its recent traumas and that Asuntas life was firmly back on course.
* * *
Alfredo Balsa is well-known to police in and around Santiago de Compostela. An assiduous visitor of clubes de alterne the legal, neon-lit bar-brothels that sit on the edges of every Spanish town he had the habit of driving around drunk in his home parish of Teo, a sprawl of villages outside Santiago. By September 2013 he had been caught so often that his driving licence had been taken away, but the nearest club de alterne the Satay was only a mile away, down well-maintained dirt tracks, and the chances of being caught driving there were almost non-existent.
In the early hours of 22 September, he and a friend rolled out of a bar in the village of Feros, got into Balsas white Volkswagen Golf, and drove down the broad track to the back of the Satay. It was a remarkably bright night, but the oak and pine trees cast deep, black shadows, and it was among these that Balsa glimpsed something strange. It looked like a scarecrow. He stopped the car, reversed, pointed the headlights towards the spot and, sure enough, a human shape lay stretched out on a gently-sloping bank just two metres from the track.
They got out of the car and stepped cautiously towards it. A girl lay on the bed of fallen pine needles, dressed in mud-stained grey sweatpants, with one arm half-inside a matching top and a white T-shirt pulled above her stomach. She was barefoot. The girls left arm was curled up to her shoulder, a large wet stain ran around her crotch, and there was a small amount of blood-tinged mucus under her nose. It was a shocking find, made stranger in this quiet country area because the girl was Asian. The men felt for a pulse, but there was none.
* * *
Police knew immediately who the victim was. Rosario Porto and Alfonso Basterra had appeared at the main Santiago police station, a honey-coloured stone building in a manicured barrio near the cathedral, at 10.17pm that night to report that Asunta had gone missing. The police record noted that Asunta had been left at her mothers apartment doing her homework at 7pm while Porto went to the familys country house a walled retreat built by her parents, with a swimming pool and tennis court. The house was also in Teo parish, 20 minutes from Santiago and some four kilometres from where the body was found. When Porto returned at 9.30pm the girl had disappeared.
Asunta was a disciplined, obedient child not the sort to wander off so her mother had rung Basterra and they had waited a few minutes to see if she was walking from one parents apartment to the other. They told the duty police inspector, Javier Vilacoba, that they had called a few of Asuntas friends, but nobody had heard from her since Porto had gone to the country house. Just before they left the police station, Basterra reminded Porto to tell Vilacoba about a strange incident from earlier in the summer. At 2am on a July night, she said, she had been woken by Asunta screaming. When she rushed to the girls room she found a man dressed in black with latex gloves, bending over the child. As the man ran out, he pushed past Porto and bruised her cheek. They had left the keys in the outside lock of the apartment by mistake, though Porto did not know how the man who she assumed knew about a safe box containing thousands of euros in cash had entered the building.
Porto had consulted police at the time but decided not to make a formal report of the incident. Break-ins were rarely solved, she reasoned, and nothing was missing. Asunta was a fearful girl. I did not want her to feel unsafe in her own home, Porto said. It was an odd explanation, made stranger by the fact that she did not inform her neighbours. But witnesses noticed Portos bruised face and the fact that something very frightening had obviously happened. Today someone tried to kill me! Asunta texted to a friend. Two months later, it seemed, someone had succeeded.
Inspector Vilacoba gave Asuntas parents the news at 4.45am. He and Basterra had smoked a cigarette together outside the apartment building in the warm night air a few hours earlier. Basterra had muttered that Asunta must be dead and that he hoped she had not been raped.
The next two days were a blur of police interrogations, pain and pills. Portos parents had both been cremated and on 24 September, for the third time in 18 months, she was back in the crematorium. Wakes are public affairs in Spain and the crematorium was packed. Porto and her ex-husband took mobile phone photographs of the closed white coffin which had been displayed behind a glass screen, surrounded by large wreaths of white roses and lilies before it went into the incinerator.
News reporters gathered outside. A veteran local television journalist, Tareixa Navaza, stepped forward as the familys spokeswoman and when someone suggested that the parents were under investigation, she reacted angrily. She knew the family, she said, and would walk through fire to prove her belief in Portos innocence. While Basterra wept, a man approached Porto. He whispered something into her ear and they walked off together. It took a while for anyone to notice her absence.
Soon news came through from Spains Civil Guard police, which investigates crimes committed in rural areas. Porto had been arrested at the funeral. To anyone who knew her, the idea that Rosario Porto might kill her own daughter was ridiculous. I just dont understand. I never saw Charo mistreat Asunta in any way, a neighbour, Olga Fachal, told me.
Not everyone agreed. An energetic and controversial investigating magistrate named José Antonio Vázquez Taín, who sometimes writes novels based on his cases, was detailed to oversee the investigation. It was the maverick Taín famous for bounding out of his office in jeans and T-shirts to greet visitors who had ordered the arrest.
* * *
Even though there was no physical evidence, such as fingerprints or fibres, to link Porto to the girls corpse, the police had sound reasons for arresting her. The most compelling evidence came from a CCTV camera at a petrol station near her apartment. The footage showed Porto driving the familys old, green Mercedes Benz on a route that led towards their country house. A long-haired girl sat beside her. The timecode revealed that the footage had been taken at a time when, according to Portos versions of events, Asunta was meant to be at home.
When shown the video, Porto admitted that the passenger was her daughter, blaming nerves, pills and shame at the girls death for blurring her memory. They had briefly gone to the country house in Teo, she explained, but Asunta felt ill and had insisted on being taken home. She had dropped her off near the apartment in Santiago. Porto claimed to have then spent most of the evening driving around on errands that, because of her scattiness, she failed to complete.
Portos behaviour had already seemed suspicious. When police had taken her to the country house hours after the body was found, she had rushed towards a room that contained a wastepaper basket with snippets of orange baler twine inside. The twine was similar to some found next to the body, which, investigators concluded, must have been used to tie Asuntas limbs together. A roll of the same kind of twine which is common in rural areas was discovered in a storeroom, but forensic scientists were unable to say if the bits found by the corpse came from that particular roll.
If Porto had murdered Asunta, it seemed likely that she must have had an accomplice. At barely 4ft 8in tall, Porto would have had trouble lifting Asuntas corpse and laying it neatly by the roadside without leaving drag marks. So, the day after Porto was arrested, Judge Taín ordered the arrest of Basterra.
The public was understandably shocked. Santiago is a small city, a place where anonymity is impossible and appearances count. Porto and her husband were a popular, considerate couple. She had made a point of hiding her problems behind a cheery disposition. She was intense and absent-minded, but not at all snobbish and given to sudden, unsolicited generosity. When Asunta grew out of her clothes, her mother rang around friends with smaller daughters. They wouldnt just offer the clothes, they would package them up and bring them round, said Demetrio Peláez, a journalist who worked with Basterra at El Correo, the local newspaper, in the late 1980s. Karen Duncan-Barlow, a university lecturer who gave English classes to Porto as a teenager, found herself spontaneously invited round for Christmas dinners after running into her decades later.
Basterra specialised in travel journalism, but made no mark on the citys media. He attempted to build a career in radio but his speaking voice was notoriously dull. He was like a dead mosquito, said another person who worked with him. When he was first courting Porto, Basterra irritated his fellow journalists at El Correo by abandoning half-written news items in order to make sure he was at the theatre or concert hall on time. There was also envy at his lifestyle. We couldnt afford to go to the Caribbean, said one.
Basterras family came from the Basque city of Bilbao and had been well-off before his father frittered away the money. He, nevertheless, clung onto the importance of class and gentlemanly conduct as part of what he called the honour of the Basterras. Those who knew the couple well were aware that Porto could be capricious and demanding and some saw Basterra as a mousy, dominated man. But he also had haughty, disdainful side, with what Duncan-Barlow called a condescending attitude to his little woman. On various occasions Basterra had lashed out and hit Porto, though investigators did not find this out until much later.
There was very little physical evidence to implicate Basterra, who claimed to have been alone in his apartment, cooking or reading a book with his phone turned off, when the murder happened. His wife, too, said that her phones battery had run out, meaning their movements could not be tracked from data picked up by cellphone towers.
Asunta had spent the final night of her life in a bunk bed at her fathers flat after Porto had called to say she would be late back from an exhibition that was being held out of town. Her absence was a sign that Basterras hopes of a return to normal family life were fantasy. He had demanded, when offering to care for Porto after her breakdown, that she ditch her lover García who had originally hired her to help with real estate deals in Morocco. She had agreed, but secretly took up with him again on the day before the murder, sailing off in his boat for an afternoon of lovemaking.
In addition to the CCTV footage, there was one more reason to suspect the couple. Forensic scientists had tested Asuntas blood and urine, revealing highly toxic levels of lorazepam the main active ingredient in the Orfidal pills that Porto had long used to calm anxiety attacks. Initial results suggested that Asunta had been drugged and then smothered.
Teachers at two music academies recalled that in the months before her death, Asunta had sometimes been dopey and stumbling, unable to read her sheet music or even walk straight. I took some white powders, she told Isabel Bello, who ran one of the academies. I dont know what they are giving me. No one tells me the truth, she complained to a violin teacher. Unusually, on the Wednesday before her death, Asunta had also missed school. Porto wrote a note explaining that she had reacted badly to some medicine.
Forensic scientists tested a strand of Asuntas hair and discovered the presence of lorazepam along the first three centimetres. Since hair grows at about a centimetre a month, they concluded that she had also been ingesting smaller doses of the drug for three months. This matched the stories told by her teachers.
Investigators began to develop their theory. Asuntas adopted parents, they decided, had grown tired of the girl they had bought a decade earlier. The killing had been a carefully planned attempt to rid themselves of an increasingly bothersome pre-adolescent child. The plot had included experimental dosing of the girl with Orfidal, careful disabling of their mobile phones, and an arrogant belief that they would be able to convince people that Asunta had been abducted and murdered. Porto was the driving force behind the crime, they suspected, and had been unhinged by the recent deaths of her parents. A psychologist who had treated her in the weeks before the murder said that she had felt overwhelmed by Asunta.
Immediately after his arrest, Basterra was put in a police cell next to his wife, separated by a flimsy partition through which they could speak and be secretly recorded on video. The police amassed hours of tape but at no point in the recorded conversations was there any admission of guilt or any other evidence to use against Basterra and Porto (a court would also later declare the recordings inadmissible). Look what trouble your overheated imagination has got us into, was one of several enigmatic phrases used by Porto.
But the tape did reveal something unexpected. When left alone, Basterra was no longer submissive. Silence! he commanded Porto when it seemed she was talking too much.
That was a surprise, Taín told me. It seems they took it in turns to be dominant. Basterra, investigators decided, was just as likely to be the main instigator. They are two of the most selfish people I have met, one of the interrogators told me. She is a spoilt child. He thinks he is superior to the rest of the world.
* * *
For the next two years, as the police investigation proceeded sluggishly, Spains popular tabloid television shows speculated wildly about guilt, motive and evidence, while spreading unsubstantiated rumours that Basterra was a paedophile or that Porto had murdered her parents. Details of the police investigation were leaked and rumours circulated freely. Everybody seemed to have an opinion about the guilt or innocence of Porto and Basterra, yet nobody could explain such an apparently motiveless crime.
Cases in which children are murdered by adoptive parents are exceedingly rare. In the few instances where parents kill children, the crime is typically the result of a moment of rage or overpowering feelings of inadequacy.Obedient and gifted, Asunta did not fit the profile of a victim of this kind of crime. Nor did her parents fit the profile of child-murderers. Porto may have suffered depression and anxiety attacks, but those do not turn mothers into killers.
It was not until 1 October 2015 that the prosecution finally laid out its case before a jury, in the anodyne surroundings of Santiagos smartest courtroom. Two years of prison had taken their toll on Porto and Basterra, who had suffered the taunts and insults that prisoners reserve for child abusers. Porto had spent much of her jail time in a weepy, pharmaceutical daze. Basterra, now almost fully bald and white-bearded, had developed a fierce hatred of Taín and the police investigators. In court, he was openly confrontational, maintaining an indignant and occasionally sneering attitude during questioning and mouthing silent expletives his dark eyebrows bouncing up over thick-rimmed glasses when upset. Porto was confused and tearful, with sudden moments of coherence and a determination to persuade the jury that her memory lapses were part of wider nervous troubles. Both wore black.
Over the next month, through long sessions that started at 10am and sometimes lasted until evening, a jury of nine men and women listened to the evidence, although like most Spaniards they had probably already heard or read vast amounts about the case. Other than the music and ballet teachers who had seen Asunta dazed or upset, all the witnesses described Porto and Basterra as model parents. To me they were always a perfect family, said González, the nanny.
Prosecutors continued to insist that the pair had spent months devising a cold-blooded conspiracy to eliminate their own daughter though they eventually downgraded the charges against Basterra, depicting him as an accomplice to his ex-wifes murder plot. Porto was still unable to explain her initial lies about her movements on the day of Asuntas death. The weak spot in Basterras defence, apart from the violence towards his wife, (described in a perfunctory manner during the trial by his ex-wife, who insisted he had been a marvellous father) was the Orfidal. During the trial it was revealed that he had obtained at least 175 pills over 10 weeks some legally with his wifes prescription, others without a prescription, and still more with a prescription he obtained after lying to his own doctor. Porto, however, insisted that she had only used them occasionally. Asunta, the jury was told, had somehow been made to swallow at least 27 ground-up pills nine times as powerful as a strong adult dose on the day she died. Neither parent could explain how or why, and both claimed that they had only given her pills to treat hayfever on the days she appeared dizzy.
After three and a half days of deliberation, the jury produced a verdict that was even harsher than that sought by the prosecutor. They accepted the evidence of a 15-year-old acquaintance of Asunta who claimed to have seen her in the street with Basterra on the day of the crime when he was meant to be alone at home. Basterra, their spokesman said, may have hidden in the back seat of the car when Asunta was driven to the country house. She had been smothered there, then dumped at the country track. The judge handed Basterra and Porto 18-year sentences, as the crime was committed before a new law introduced life sentences for child-murderers. Both have appealed to have their convictions overturned.
The guilty verdict threw up a fresh set of unanswerable questions. Investigators can only guess at why the couple decided to adopt. Basterra had never wanted children, according to Porto. Pressure from her parents was part of it. I think they wanted to project the stereotype of a happy family, said one investigator, who saw both as arrogant and selfish. If she wants something, she thinks she can just buy it. And if she doesnt want it, she gets rid of it. He helps her to satisfy her whims. But when she is dependent, he becomes violent. It is impossible to say whether, if true, any of this might have been spotted earlier. Court-appointed psychologists who interviewed Porto after the crime (Basterra refused to be profiled by them) deemed her narcissistic and depressive, but capable of distinguishing between right and wrong.
It is understandable that those who assessed their suitability as adoptive parents never imagined Porto and Basterra turning into child-murderers. But the guilty verdict ought to have provoked some soul-searching. It is now clear that Portos psychiatric problems began well before the adoption, but they were either kept secret by Porto or discounted by the psychologists who assessed her adoption application. Officials from the regional government of Galicia repeatedly refused to say whether they had carried out an internal enquiry or revised procedures in light of Asuntas death.
According to adoptive parents of other Chinese children in the region, the selection process for parents in Galicia wanting to adopt is now exhaustive. China has since tightened its adoption rules and far fewer girls like Asunta are leaving the country. In fact, across the world, international adoptions have fallen to below half their 2004 peak of 45,288, reflecting concerns about both trafficking and the new levels of protection offered by host countries. Events as shocking as the murder of Asunta Fong Yang remain, thankfully, few and far between.
A 12-year-old child has had few opportunities to leave a lasting mark on the world. On death, almost everything disappears. Asunta Fong Yang is no exception. Only a few things now remain. One is a blog she used to practise her written English, where she showed a taste for murder mysteries. Once upon a time there was a happy family; a man, a woman and a son, starts one. One day the woman was assesinated (sic).
The site where Asuntas corpse was found has become a small shrine, populated by slowly disintegrating cuddly toys, candles, plastic flowers and the occasional fresh bunch of chrysanthemums. You showed no compassion, no feelings, no heart, reads a rough, hand-painted sign, chastising her parents. Her ashes also remain. After the arrests, the crematoriums manager had to ask Taín what he should do with them. They were eventually given to a friend of Rosario Porto. It will be up to her adoptive parents also now her convicted murderers to decide what happens to them.
Read more: www.theguardian.com
Chronicling homelessness: Amazon primes itself to work with shelter5 days ago
One of the companys houses will host Marys Place, a Seattle homeless shelter but not everyone in the US is happy at the prospect of one next door to them
Until last week, the most famous build at the Amazon headquarters in Seattle was probably its giant glass-covered domes, which will house a botanical garden when complete. That may change with the companys announcement that in three years one of its houses will host a homeless shelter, Marys Place. Amazon employees and Marys Place residents will move in together in early 2020, CEO Jeff Bezos said in a statement.
The national conversation about homelessness this month has been inflected by talk of big new projects such as shelters, and predictably not everyone is happy at the prospect of one next door. Salt Lake City residents, for instance, have been embroiled in a rancorous debate over the location of three new ones. San Francisco, meanwhile, is celebrating a $100 m pledge to combat chronic homelessness, and one of its own shelters is enjoying a surprisingly positive reception.
I actually am a Yimby, a San Francisco resident named Mc Allen told me lately, the Yes In My Back Yard moniker signifying a development-friendly stance.( His first name, by the way, is pronounced Mac ). Allen was referring to a shelter that is due to be built in the citys bayside Dogpatch neighborhood, where he lives, and where members of a local neighborhood association voted 24 -6 in favor of it. You have to be utterly blind not to know that San Francisco is a long, long way from gratifying its responsibility for people who are experiencing homelessness, he said. Greeting the shelter is his route of contributing. On this, at least, he might agree with Amazon.
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What we wrote
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