Saturday, February 9, 2013

Jack Lew's investment in Cayman Islands flagged by Senate Finance Committee

Jack Lew
Alex Wong / Getty Images
Jack Lew
Jack Lew, President Barack Obama’s Treasury Secretary nominee, previously held up to $100,000 in investments in an offshore hedge fund located in the Cayman Islands, according to financial disclosure forms.
Lew’s financial disclosure forms, filed in 2008 and 2010, showed that Lew had invested between $50,000 and $100,000 in a fund called Citigroup Venture Capital International Growth Partnership (Employee) II, L.P. -- the very type of fund President Obama has repeatedly criticized.
The fund is an international venture capital fund for employees of Citigroup. According to his official White House biography, Lew served as managing director and chief operating officer of Citi Global Wealth Management and then Citi Alternative Investments (CAI) from 2006 to 2008.
Lew himself isn't commenting, but a person familiar with Lew’s investment told NBC News that Lew invested a total of $56,000 and sold it at a loss for $54,418 in November 2010 after being confirmed as director of the federal Office of Management and Budget.
The source also told NBC News that Lew had no role in creating, managing or operating the fund, and that Citigroup had organized the fund in the Cayman Islands and made it available to other employees. The source said that many other Citigroup employees had investments in the fund.
According to the financial disclosure forms, the fund was registered at what has been called a notorious address in the Cayman Islands, located in the Caribbean in the British West Indies. Specifically, the fund’s address was a post office box in a building called Ugland House, in the capital city of George Town on Grand Cayman, the largest of the three Cayman islands.
In 2007 as a presidential candidate and in 2009 as president, Obama identified Ugland House as part of an outrageous tax scam, because according to filings, it housed 12,000 businesses that all claimed the building as their headquarters.
“For years, we've talked about shutting down overseas tax havens that let companies set up operations to avoid paying taxes in America,” Obama said in remarks about tax reform in 2009. “Either this is the largest building in the world, or the largest tax scam in the world. And I think the American people know which it is. That's the kind of tax scam that we need to end.”
A political ad targeting Republican candidate Mitt Romney during the 2012 presidential campaign asked, “Why would Mitt Romney invest millions in the Cayman Islands?”
Tonight, after NBC News asked for comment, White House spokesman Eric Schultz issued a lengthy statement:
“Jack Lew paid all of his taxes and reported all of the income, gains and losses from the investment on his tax returns. The existence of Mr. Lew’s investment is not news to the Senate.
“Mr. Lew disclosed the investment in his prior confirmations, before three separate committees, for Deputy Secretary of State in 2009 and Director of the Office of Management and Budget in 2010, and he was confirmed by the Senate unanimously on both occasions.
“Twelve Members of the Finance Committee, including five Republicans, were members of the three committees that previously reviewed Mr. Lew’s nominations. All three committees reported Mr. Lew’s nomination to the Senate unanimously.
“Mr. Lew disclosed the investment to the Office of Government Ethics and to ethics officials at the State Department and OMB, including on his public financial disclosure forms, in connection with both of his previous confirmations. He played no role in creating, managing or operating the fund and he sold his investment in 2010 at a net loss.
“There are no new facts that provide a basis for Senators to reach a different conclusion about Mr. Lew’s nomination than they reached twice before in this Administration.”
A Democratic spokesman for the Senate Finance Committee, which will hold a confirmation hearing on Lew’s nomination on Wednesday, said that Lew’s investment had come up again through its current vetting process, raised by both Republican and Democrat members. The spokesman said once the committee had looked into the matter, it had determined the investment was not an issue. The spokesman said Lew had been completely transparent and forthcoming through any and all questions that have been posed.
But Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley, a Republican member of the Senate Finance Committee, disputed the Obama administration’s and the Democratic committee spokesman’s statements.
“It was disclosed only if you knew where to look and then were able to put the pieces together,” Grassley said in a statement late Friday. “To say this information was fully disclosed to the public is misleading, at best.”
Grassley noted Obama’s criticism of Ugland House-based investment funds came while Lew, now his Treasury Secretary nominee, had investments in one of those funds. Lew didn’t divest his Cayman Island investment until almost the end of 2010, when he was already working for the administration, and a year after the president publicly railed against such offshore accounts as tax havens.
“The irony is thick,” Grassley said.
NBC News' Ali Weinberg contributed to this report.

Brides Walk Miami to raise awareness of domestic violence

J Pat Carter / AP
Josie Asaton, walking behind a police car and dressed in a wedding dress, leads a group of students in protest walk against domestic violence in Miami, Feb. 8, 2013. Barry University hosted its third annual “Brides Walk,” an event to raise awareness about domestic and dating violence among college and high school students, Women in wedding gowns made the six-mile walk. The walk is in memory of Gladys Ricart, who was murdered in 1999 by her ex-boyfriend while preparing for her wedding.

Milwaukee Mujeres Against Domestic Violence Brides Walk Video

Uploaded on Apr 13, 2009
Milwaukee Mujeres Against Domestic Violence Brides Walk... I hope You enjoy the video that I made..

College Brides Walk 

On her wedding day just hours after this picture was taken Gladys Ricart was murdered by an ex-boyfriend. A year later Josie Ashton walked in her own wedding dress to commemorate the death of Gladys and bring attention to issues of domestic violence. On February 11, 2011 college students representing various campuses in South Florida will unite and partake in the first college brides walk. Please join us is this active demonstration to educate our youth that violence never leads to love

What is the purpose of the College Brides Walk?
The College Brides' Walk was developed in order to bring awareness to the problems of domestic and dating violence on and off college campuses. The latest statistical report from the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence concluded that almost all violent crime is down in the state but domestic violence incidents increased 3.7%. Domestic Violence related murder increases 15.6% from last year and Domestic Violence manslaughter increased 71.4%. Domestic Violence stalking increased 31%, forty percent of all violent crimes were domestic violence-related and one-fifth of all murders were domestic violence-related. These statistics are alarming and have a tremendous impact on our youth.

Josie Ashton, a local activist, organized the first Brides March after she heard about the brutal murder of Gladys Ricart, a Dominican woman who was killed by an abusive ex-boyfriend in front of her family, on her wedding day. After obtaining permission from the Ricart family to walk in Ricart's memory, Ashton donned her own wedding dress and walked from the New Jersey home where Ricart was killed to Miami, Florida. She stayed in 14 domestic violence shelters and visited 22 cities. Her trip has since inspired annual Brides Marches in New York, Florida, Wisconsin and Washington, D.C.

Who can participate?
Anyone and everyone! Participants are encouraged to wear bridal gowns or tuxedos, if possible. Plain white t-shirts for women and black for men are acceptable in lieu of a bridal gown.

What is the distance?
The walking route is approximately 7.5 miles, starting at Barry and moving toward Biscayne Blvd, heading north on Biscayne, and turning around at 151st St. Participants may walk the entire route or may make arrangements to walk a portion of it. A police escort from N. Miami Police Department will accompany walkers throughout.

When will the event take place?
February 11th, 2011. The event will kick off at Barry University at 1:00 pm with opening remarks. The walk will begin at 2:00 and will be followed by a dinner and program at Barry University. Local service providers and organizations working to end domestic violence will be asked to table at the event.

For more information go to:

Hundreds In Step For Annual Brides' Walk Against Domestic Violence

Uploaded on Sep 15, 2009
Hundreds In Step For Annual Brides' Walk Against Domestic Violence

Latest on Nemo: State by State

Published: Feb 9, 2013, 4:43 PM EST
As travel around New York City and New Jersey slowly started moving again Saturday morning, Winter Storm Nemo continued to slam a large swath of the coast from eastern Massachusetts to Maine.

Nemo Photos: A Blizzard in the Making

Published: Feb 8, 2013, 11:03 PM EST
Portland, Maine

Jet Traver, 3, tries to catch snowflakes in his mouth as he walks with his mother Casey Traver, of Plains, along East Carey Street in Plains Township, Pa., Feb. 8, 2013. (AP Photo/The Citizens' Voice, Kristen Mullen)
Portland, Maine
A truck tries to get past a trailer that was left by the side of the road during a snowstorm in Toronto on Friday, Feb. 8, 2013. Toronto was also in the path of Winter Storm Nemo. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Frank Gunn)
Portland, Maine Two weather systems collide to create Winter Storm Nemo, a potentially historic February storm in the Northeast corridor. (Courtesy: NASA)
Somerville, Mass. 
Pedestrians on the campus of University Wisconsin-Madison make their way through a steady snowfall under the cover of umbrellas, in Madison, Wis., Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013. (AP Photo/State Journal, John Hart)

Somerville, Mass.
 NOAA captures this image on Thursday, the even of the winter storm. (AP Photo/NOAA)

The worst of Winter Storm Nemo has pulled away from New York City and Boston and travel is slowly crawling back to life.

Four people lost their lives, including an 11-year-old-boy who died in Boston of carbon monoxide in a running car as his father tried to shovel it free.

The storm is one for the record books. Five states -- Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, New York and Maine -- have reported snow totals of 30 inches and higher.

Portland, Maine, set its all-time snow record by morning, recording more than 29 inches of snow. Winter Storm Nemo now ranks as Boston's fifth-highest snowstorm on record. Meteorologists expect updated snow totals to trickle in throughout the afternoon.

Despite road crews working through the night, heavy, blowing snow was still making roads impassible across New England. Rhode Island and Massachusetts were under a full travel ban Saturday morning. The governor of Connecticut closed all roads until further notice.
Police in Suffolk County, NY, said they're making a little headway removing about 100 stranded cars from the Long Island Expressway.

Approximately 660,000 homes and businesses were without power - and without heat - from New Jersey to Maine.

Here's how states and major cities are handling the epic winter threat.

New York State

Somerville, Mass.

Tow truck operator Shawn Juhre sets up road safety reflectors before towing a car out of a ditch during a winter snow storm in Buffalo, N.Y., Feb. 8, 2013. (AP Photo/David Duprey)
  • Long Island Expressway remains closed, as police try to remove 100 vehicles stranded during the storm.
  • Two deaths reported. One in Germantown, the other in Poughkeepsie.
  • Hurricane-force wind gusts reported in Suffolk County.
  • 11,000 customers without power.
  • Snow report: 28" in East Setauket.
  • State of Emergency continues.
  • Interstate 84 closed to trucks between Pennsylvania and Connecticut.
(FORECAST: 2 Feet of Snow Possible )

New York City

Portland, Maine

A bird takes refuge on a snow-covered branch in New York's Central Park, Feb. 9, 2013. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

  • Mayor Bloomberg says "an enormous amount of resources" out on the streets.
  • 2200 salting and plowing equipment on the road.
  • All Saturday school activities are cancelled.
  • Snow reports: 1" in the Bronx; 10" in Upper Manhattan; 11.4" in Central Park.
  • Updates on the MTA website.
  • FDNY keeping extra firefighters on duty through Saturday.
  • Mayor says primary roads have been plowed, but asks people not to drive Saturday. Track the progress of snow plows on the city's website.
  • Amtrak cancels Saturday's service for the Acela Express train between NYC and Boston.



Portland, Maine

Nicole Lacoursiere of North Andover, Mass., falls back to make a snow angel in some 24 inches of snow that had fallen in her yard, Feb. 9, 2013. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
  • Seawall breached in Scituate.
  • Significant flooding possible this morning. Evacuations encouraged around Hull.
  • Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant in Plymouth shut down after losing off-site power. No threat to the public.
  • About 410,000 customers without power.
  • On Cape Cod, shelters opened at high schools in Sandwich, South Yarmouth, Eastham and Falmouth after a flood warning was issued.
  • Winds 30 to 50 m.p.h. forecast this evening off Cape Cod.
  • State of Emergency continues.
  • STATEWIDE DRIVING BAN remains in effect.
  • As many of 5000 National Guard troops could be working in the state this weekend.
A pedestrian walks into wind-driven snow in Boston, Massachusetts on Friday, Feb. 8, at the beginning of what is forecasted to be a major winter snow storm.

  • Snow, high winds continue to pound the city Saturday morning.
  • Snow report: 21.8" at Logan International Airport. The airport remains closed.
  • Blizzard warning is posted.
  • Amtrak cancels Saturday's service for the Acela Express train between NYC and Boston.
  • City shelters are open through the duration of the storm.
  • Previous Boston snowfall records: Feb. 17-18, 2003: 27.5 inches; Feb.  6-7, 1978: 27.1 inches; Feb. 24-27, 1969: 26.3 inches


Somerville, Mass.

Willimantic, Conn. (iWitness/Yaradiz Vargas)
  • TOP SNOW REPORTS: 38" in Milford; 36" in Oxford; 34" in New Haven.
  • All roads are CLOSED until further notice, according the governor.
  • National Guard troops are removing snow in New Haven.
  • About 38,000 customers without power.
  • State police confirm a pedestrian was hit and killed in Prospect, according to local media.
  • Bradley International Airport is closed.
  • State of Emergency continues.
  • Widespread power outages across the state.
  • All CT TRANSIT busses have suspended service.
  • Snow will wind down on Saturday, but it will remain windy.
  • Out-of-state utility crews are moving in to help.
 Rhode Island
  Portland, Maine
A Providence plow abandoned downtown. No occupant, on a 30 degree angle. (Tom Winter, Producer for NBC News based in New England)
  • Providence received 19.5", marking its third all-time highest snowfall on record.
  • About180,000 without power statewide.
  • Travel ban remains posted.
  • State of Emergency issued.
  • All RIPTA service is suspended.
(MORE: Notorious February Snowstorms)

New Hampshire


Cars are stuck in traffic as a winter storm arrives Feb. 8 in Newington, N.H. Snow began to fall around the Northeast on Friday at the start of what's predicted to be a massive, possibly historic blizzard, and residents scurried to stock up on food and supplies ahead of the storm. 
  • Gov. Hassan urges people to stay off the roads Saturday morning, because high winds and blowing snow will continue create dangerous driving conditions.
  • State of Emergency issued.
  • Liberty Utilities has initiated an emergency readiness plan in anticipation of Nemo.
  • Concord's biggest snowfall on record was 27.5 inches in the Blizzard of 1888. That storm is followed by 22.5 inches in a December 2003 storm and 22.2 inches in the Halloween nor'easter of 2011.


 Portland, Maine

Steve Hull digs out his car after it was covered by drifting snow in Portland, Maine, on Feb. 9, 2013. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
  • Portland sets a brand new snowfall record with 29.3" so far, easily beating the previous record of 27.1" set in January 1979.
  • Snow report: 33" in Gorham.
  • About 13,000 customers without power.
  • Blizzard conditions forecast through Saturday afternoon.
  • Gov. LePage issued a limited emergency declaration, which focuses on allowing more utility crews to help restore power.
  • The weather is blamed for a 19 car pile-up on I-295 in Falmouth Friday. Several people were injured.
  • The heaviest snow is expected to end between 9 a.m. and noon Saturday.

New Jersey

Portland, Maine

People on Journal Square in Jersey City brace against gusty winds and sleet as winter storm Nemo bears down on Hudson County on Feb. 8, 2013, in Jersey City, N.J. (AP Photo/The Jersey Journal, Reena Rose Sibayan)
  • NJ TRANSIT resumes bus service Saturday morning. Check out full details.
  • Newark Airport is reopening.
  • 5000 customers without power.
  • Toms River office of emergency management issued a voluntary evacuation order for residents in barrier island homes or low lying mainland areas through high tide.
  • State Emergency Operations Center continues operating.


Portland, Maine

Lilah Watt gets some interference from her 6-month-old puppy, Willa, as she shovels out from the snowstorm on Feb. 8, 2013, in Montpelier, Vt. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot)
  • Snow reports: 16" in Springfield; 9.6" in Burlington.
  • State Police say 2 people were taken to the hospital with minor injuries after a crash in I-89 in South Burlington.

– Information from the Associated Press, Hartford Courant, (N.H.) Union Leader, Asbury Park Press, Providence Journal, New York Times  Portland Press Herald and Burlington Free Press was used in this report.

Winthrop, Mass.

Winthrop, Mass.
A man shovels snow along Winthrop Shore Drive on Feb. 9, 2013, in Winthrop, Mass. (Darren McCollester/Getty Images)

Human Rights Watch World Report 2013


Published on Jan 31, 2013


Recent Multimedia

DC Police Miserably Fail Rape Victims
February 6, 2013
We find it deeply disturbing that the MPD did not produce these records sooner, and it still hasn’t. The MPD was legally required to provide all of this documentation to Human Rights Watch and repeatedly assured us that it had done so.
Victims of sexual assault in Washington, DC, are not getting the effective response they deserve and should expect from the district's Metropolitan Police Department (MPD). Sexual assault cases are too often not properly documented or investigated and victims may face callous, traumatizing treatment, despite official departmental policy to the contrary.

(Washington, DC) – Comments by the Washington, DC Police Chief Cathy Lanier reported in the news media suggest that the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) may not have provided documents it was legally obligated to release in response to a freedom of information request and a settlement agreement, Human Rights Watch said today in a letter to Chief Lanier. The reported comments also raise troubling questions about the department's commitment to addressing serious problems in its treatment of sexual assault victims, Human Rights Watch said.

In a report released on January 24, 2013, Human Rights Watch said that, based on a review of police department records from between 2008 and 2011, the police had failed to investigate or even document at least 170 sexual assault complaints from victims who went to the Washington Hospital Center, the hospital designated for forensic examinations of sexual assault victims. The report also concluded that the department did not follow up adequately on a significant number of other complaints, and in several cases treated sexual assault victims callously.

In comments this week to The Washington Post and NBC, Chief Lanier claimed to have located “documentation” for either 109 or 116 of the missing cases. The MPD has not provided the documentation to Human Rights Watch or explained what it includes, Human Rights Watch said.

“We find it deeply disturbing that the MPD did not produce these records sooner, and it still hasn’t,” said Alison Parker, Director of the United States program at Human Rights Watch. “The MPD was legally required to provide all of this documentation to Human Rights Watch and repeatedly assured us that it had done so.”

Both under Freedom of Information Act requirements and terms of an August 21, 2012 settlement agreement with Human Rights Watch, the MPD was legally obligated to provide all relevant documentation to Human Rights Watch, including all “incident reports” – known as PD-251s, which are required for any case to be investigated – for the cases under analysis. Over several months of communication with Human Rights Watch, MPD representatives said that they had produced all relevant PD-251s.

Chief Lanier should hand over any newly discovered records, Human Rights Watch said.

In addition, contrary to Chief Lanier’s statements to the news media, Human Rights Watch provided the MPD with lists of cases for which documentation was missing more than seven months before the report was published.

“Human Rights Watch offered the MPD many opportunities to provide additional data or witnesses, and we have responded immediately to MPD requests for information about specific cases and data on which we were basing our findings,” Parker said.

Human Rights Watch also expressed concern over statements in which Chief Lanier appeared to minimize the experiences of victims reporting mistreatment by the police.

“The MPD should be aware that publicly undermining or dismissing the concerns of individual victims brave enough to come forward reduces the likelihood that others will feel comfortable speaking to the MPD about their experiences,” Parker said. “The MPD should take steps to regain the trust of victims, not further damage it.”

Meet Omar, the face of Egypt's 'unfinished revolution'

Two years after nationwide protests forced President Hosni Mubarak from office, NBC News catches up with Omar Sedky who explains why his country's revolution hasn't met the expectations of many Egyptians.
By Yuka Tachibana, Producer, NBC News

CAIRO, Egypt -- Two years ago, chants of "Irhal! Irhal! (Leave!, Leave!)" resonated through Cairo's Tahrir Square, the epicenter of Egypt's fledgling revolution.

Longtime dictator Hosni Mubarak listened. And on Feb. 11, 2011, thousands of joyful Egyptians poured onto the streets to cheer his resignation in anticipation of an exciting future.

Newly liberated Egypt must work hard to “make magic happen,” protester Omar Sedky told NBC News just hours after Mubarak's downfall.

The usually mild-mannered businessman is still shouting today.

“The revolution is still going,” Sedky said when NBC News caught up with him in front of the presidential palace ahead of Monday’s two-year anniversary of Mubarak’s downfall.

NBC's Ron Allen reconnects with protester Omar Sedky and his family, who, despite their euphoria, remain focused on the task at hand: rebuilding their nation.

Since the heady days in the immediate aftermath of Mubarak's fall, political division has dimmed much of the optimism, but there is still the sense of a work in progress.

“I’m not disappointed,” said the 33-year-old digital media worker. “There are ups and downs…but each time I get disappointed I stick to what I believe in.”

So what has changed?

“At least I can write blogs, I can Tweet without the fear of having the state police running after me,” Sedky said.

But with greater political freedom has come a degree of instability. Elections last year ended in a narrow victory for Islamist Mohammed Morsi over a former general, and tensions remain between Islamists and secular rivals.

There are concerns that hardline Islamists are taking over Morsi's government, and many Egyptians don't want to live under the strict rule that Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood party might impose.

Despite the end of the military state, Egypt’s police were last month accused of a return to Mubarak-era abuses after a video showed riot police stripping and beating a middle-aged man.

And a series of missteps by Morsi -- including a bid to grab sweeping powers even before the dust had settled on the country’s constitution -- have brought protesters back onto the streets.

Some of them -- including Sedky -- were among those originally demonstrating in the run-up Mubarak’s downfall.

"Freedom is about what you want and being heard and being assessed, and this is not shown from this government,” he said. “So, it’s like a time bomb… it’s going to explode.”

The number of protesters is smaller than two years ago, but it is the level of violence which has many people here worried -- more than 60 people died in January alone in clashes across the country.

Related pictures: Tempers flare in Egypt

The turmoil has kept foreign investors at bay, leaving the economy in a tailspin, while ordinary Egyptians fear for their safety on the streets.

Sedky said the country’s instability would end “when we have a proper constitution, when we have a parliament that reflects the actual Egyptians, not just the wing that [Islamists] represent.”

Crowds in Tahrir Square erupted in jubilant cheers on Friday after Vice President Suleiman, appearing briefly on Egypt state TV, announced that President Mubarak has stepped down from presidency. NBC's Brian Williams, Richard Engel and Ron Allen report.

“We're going to celebrate when I find this government empowers women, when I see that police are not attacking civilians due to political pressure. This is when I celebrate but until then, I will be marching on the streets. I will be protesting until this happens."

It’s a distinctly less optimistic tone than the one he struck right after Mubarak fled from power.

Back then, NBC News shared tea and cakes with him at his home in Cairo with his family including father Hussein, mother Moushira and younger brother, Tarek.

All were savoring the new political dawn that millions of Egyptians had long awaited.

But even then, Sedky had acknowledged the enormity of Egypt’s task ahead: “We don't have a magic wand -- we have to work hard to make magic happen to real life,” he said then.

These days Sedky is a member of the Positive Movement, a secular and liberal non-governmental organization founded soon after the revolution, which encourages Egyptians to become more engaged in their country’s political transition. But while the last two years of turmoil and disappointment have dampened his euphoria, he holds on to hope.

“I have faith that we’re going to build this country properly again," he said.

Within minutes of speaking with Sedky, a previously peaceful protest turned ugly. Some protesters threw Molotov cocktails at the presidential palace, which was met with teargas and water canons from the police. The grounds of the palace were set alight. At least one protester was shot and killed.

Another long night began for what many like Sedky call their "unfinished revolution."
Ahmed Youssef / EPA
Eighteen days of popular protest culminated in the downfall of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak on Feb. 11, 2011.

Analysis: Egypt violence is rooted in the economy, not just politics
Egypt could 'collapse,' army chief warns
Analysis: Egyptians fear decades of Muslim Brotherhood rule
Pay the Rent or Face Arrest
Abusive Impacts of Arkansas's Draconian Evictions Law
February 5, 2013
This 44-page report tells the stories of Arkansas tenants who were dragged into criminal court for transgressions that would not be a crime in any other US state.
Arkansas is the only US state where tenants can end up as convicted criminals because they did not pay their rent on time. The state’s unique “failure to vacate” law sees tenants charged as criminals purely on their landlords’ say-so, without any independent investigation by prosecutors. Tenants who run afoul of the law face fines—sometimes in excess of the rent they could not pay to begin with—as well as possible jail time, and can be saddled with a criminal record. On top of all that, the law is written in a way that tramples on tenants’ due process rights, punishing those who do not plead guilty with harsher sentences. One woman was berated in open court by a district judge, who compared her to a bank robber.


Police, Doctors, Courts Need to Change Policies and Mindset to Support Victims
February 7, 2013
India’s system to combat child sexual abuse is inadequate because government mechanisms fail to ensure the protection of children. Children who bravely complain of sexual abuse are often dismissed or ignored by the police, medical staff, and other authorities.
Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director
(New Delhi) – The Indian government should improve protections for children from sexual abuse as part of broader reform efforts following the gang rape and murder of a student in New Delhi in December 2012, Human Rights Watch said in a new report released today.

Child sexual abuse is disturbingly common in homes, schools, and residential care facilities in India. A government-appointed committee set up after the New Delhi attack to recommend legal and policy reform has found that child protection schemes “have clearly failed to achieve their avowed objective.”

The 82-page report, “Breaking the Silence: Child Sexual Abuse in India,” examines how current government responses are falling short, both in protecting children from sexual abuse and treating victims. Many children are effectively mistreated a second time by traumatic medical examinations and by police and other authorities who do not want to hear or believe their accounts. Government efforts to tackle the problem, including new legislation to protect children from sexual abuse, will also fail unless protection mechanisms are properly implemented and the justice system reformed to ensure that abuse is reported and fully prosecuted, Human Rights Watch said.

“India’s system to combat child sexual abuse is inadequate because government mechanisms fail to ensure the protection of children,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Children who bravely complain of sexual abuse are often dismissed or ignored by the police, medical staff, and other authorities.”

The report uses detailed case studies rather than a quantitative analysis to examine government mechanisms to prevent and respond to child sexual abuse. Human Rights Watch conducted more than 100 interviews with victims of child sexual abuse and their relatives, government child protection officials and independent experts, police officers, doctors, social workers, and lawyers who have handled cases of child sexual abuse.

Addressing child sexual abuse is a challenge all over the world, but in India shortcomings in both state and community responses add to the problem, Human Rights Watch said. The criminal justice system, from the time police receive a complaint until trials are completed, needs urgent reform. Poorly trained police often refuse to register complaints. Instead, they subject the victim to mistreatment and humiliation.

Doctors and officials said that the absence of guidelines and training for sensitive medical treatment and examination of victims of child sexual abuse contribute to trauma. In four of the cases documented by Human Rights Watch, doctors had used the “finger test” as apart of the examination of girl rape victims, even though forensic experts say that the test has no scientific value,and a top-level government committee has called for it to be abolished.

“It is hard enough for a sexually abused child or their relatives to come forward and seek help, but instead of handling cases with sensitivity Indian authorities often demean and re-traumatize them,” Ganguly said. “The failure to implement needed police reforms to be more sensitive and supportive to victims has made police stations places to be dreaded.”

The sexual abuse of children in residential care facilities for orphans and other at-risk children is a particularly serious problem, Human Rights Watch said. Inspection mechanisms are inadequate in most parts of the country. Many privately run facilities are not even registered. As a result, the government has neither a record of all the orphanages and other institutions operating in the country nor a list of the children they are housing. Abuse occurs even in supposedly well-run and respected institutions because of poor monitoring.

Set up by the government in December 2012 in the wake of the Delhi attack, a committee headed by Justice J.S. Verma has made several recommendations to address sexual assault and expressed particular concern over the plight of children in residential care institutions.Instead of facilitating investigations into allegations of child sexual abuse, managers of facilities engage in denials and dismissal of complaints. After investigating allegations of abuse in one such facility, Vinod Tikoo of the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights said that it revealed a massive breakdown. “It is not neglect. It is systemic failure,” he told Human Rights Watch.

“Shockingly the very institutions that should protect vulnerable children can place them at risk of horrific child sexual abuse,” Ganguly said. “State governments should immediately implement a more effective system to register and rigorously monitor government, private, and religious child care institutions.”

Human Rights Watch welcomed the enactment of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act in 2012. By adopting this law, the Indian government took a significant step in acknowledging and attempting to address the widespread sexual abuse of the country’s children. Under the law, all forms of child sexual abuse are now specific criminal offenses for the first time ever in India. The law also establishes important guidelines for the police and courts to deal with victims sensitively and provides for the setting up of specialist child courts.

However, the government needs to ensure proper implementation of the act and other relevant laws and policies so that there is a vigilant safety net, Human Rights Watch said.This is particularly vital because children are often sexually abused by people known to them and regarded as authority figures, such as older relatives, neighbors, school staff, or the staff and older children in residential care facilities for orphans and other at-risk children. Implementation of existing measures to improve the well-being of the country’s children, including the Integrated Child Protection Scheme, the Juvenile Justice Act, and creation of independent child rights commissions, remains a challenge.

The Indian government should provide training and resources to ensure that the police, doctors, court officials, and government and private social workers, including child welfare authorities, managers of children’s residential care institutions, and school authorities, respond properly when there are allegations of child sexual abuse. The government should take immediate steps to address the lack of faith in government institutions that prevents many people from reporting child sexual abuse by holding to account those that fail to handle such cases in a prompt and sensitive manner.

India is a party to the core international human rights treaties that protect children, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. These treaties impose an obligation on states at all levels of governmentto take measures to protect children against sexual violence and abuse, and to provide a remedy where fundamental protections have been violated. The ICCPR not only holds a state responsible for protecting individuals from abusive state action, but for responding appropriately and effectively to abuses committed by private actors.

“The Indian government at the highest levels recognizes that much more needs to be done to protect the country’s children from sexual abuse, but it has yet to take significant steps to address problems of discrimination, bias, and sheer insensitivity,” Ganguly said. “As many officials have pointed out to us, creating laws or providing training is an important step, but this has to be followed up with concrete action. Just as important, a change in mindset is needed where both abusers and those who protect them by neglecting their duty are held accountable.”

Monster storm dumps more than 3 feet of snow on parts of Northeast

Two giant storms have met up to form one large storm over the Northeast, bringing very heavy snow across the region. NBC's Al Roker reports.
Updated at 8:55 a.m. ET: Parts of New England woke up Saturday to the largest snowfall on record — more than 3 feet in places, with more to come — after a monster blizzard that packed hurricane winds, knocked out power and marooned cars.
At least two deaths were blamed on snow-related car accidents, but transportation in much of the Northeast was at a standstill. The governors of Connecticut and Rhode Island ordered all roads closed so plows could work.
“This is a record-setting storm,” Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy said. “Unless you face an emergency, please stay put.”

The East Coast blizzard will bring about extreme coastal flooding, gusts up to 70 mph on the coasts and storm surges as high as 4.5 feet. Then, the big dig out will kick in on Sunday. The Weather Channel's Mike Seidel reports from Revere Beach, Massachusetts.
At least 645,000 people were without power, including almost 400,000 in Massachusetts and 187,000 in Rhode Island.
Most major airports were closed — either officially or practically, with no flights taking off or landing. More than 5,300 flights were canceled, according to the website FlightAware. The government said Newark Liberty International Airport would struggle back to life at 8:30 a.m.
Portland, Maine, had 29.3 inches of snow at 8 a.m. ET, making it the worst snowstorm in that city’s history, the National Weather Service said. Milford, Conn., had 38 inches on the ground, and the town of Hamden, outside New Haven, reported 34 inches.
Boston had 20 to 25 inches at different spots in the city, and Central Park in New York recorded 8.1.
The National Weather Service recorded peak wind gusts of 83 mph in Cuttyhunk, Mass. — the strength of a Category 1 hurricane. There were gusts of 72 mph in Westport, Conn., and 76 mph in East Boston. Plum Island, N.Y., had gusts of 75 mph.
Coastal residents, still weary from Hurricane Sandy in October, were worried about the prospect of flooding.
“I’m really nervous,” Kathy Niznansky, a teacher in coastal Fairfield, Conn., told The Associated Press. She said was out of her house near the beach for two months after Sandy. “I just don’t want any more flooding.”
As traffic snarled and officials issued warnings for residents to stay home, the coastal areas prepared for a major storm surge. NBC's Ron Mott reports.
The National Weather Service, in a notice posted at 4 a.m. ET, warned of “hurricane force wind gusts across New England and Long Island” in addition to heavy snow. The blizzard was expected to bring extreme coastal flooding.
On the Long Island Expressway, 60 to 100 cars were stuck in the snow, said Lt. Daniel Meyer of Suffolk County Police. He said officers had worked through the night to get people out of the cars and take them to safety. Meyer said no one was killed.
“The plows cannot plow because of all the disabled motorists. and the snow keeps piling and piling up,” Meyer said.
On Friday, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick had ordered non-essentially vehicles off the roads and said people should brace to be snowed in for two days. He said the storm was "profoundly different" from others the state has endured in recent years.
In Connecticut, Malloy also banned car traffic on limited-access highways from 4 p.m. Friday. He ordered all roads closed Saturday morning, and notice was sent over the state’s Emergency Broadcast System.
LaGuardia was virtually empty Friday evening as 4,700 flights were canceled nationwide. NBC's Rehema Ellis reports.
The winter storm was  fueled by two weather systems — a so-called clipper pattern that swept across the Midwest and a band of rain that churned up from the South. They clashed explosively over the Northeast on Friday.
The storm arrived in earnest Friday night. The governors of New York, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island all declared states of emergency.
More than 800 National Guard soldiers and airmen were activated in Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York to provide roadway support, emergency transportation and back-up for first responders, the Department of Defense said.
In Poughkeepsie, N.Y., a car driven by an 18-year-old female went out of control in the snow and struck Muril M. Hancock, 74, who was walking near the shoulder, police said Friday. Hancock died from his injuries at the hospital.
As residents scrambled to prepare in the event of a power outage, some gas stations in New York and New Jersey have already run out of gas. NBC's Brian Williams reports.
There was also a fatal crash in Prospect, Conn., at about 9 p.m. ET Friday, state police told
A 19-car pileup on Interstate 295 in Falmouth, Maine, was blamed on the storm. Police said there were minor injuries.
In New York, the Metro-North commuter railroad suspended service Friday night. The Long Island Rail Road shut down service to eastern Long Island about 9 p.m.
New York City’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg warned people to stay in, encouraging New Yorkers to cook a meal or read a good book.
Police search mountains for LAPD murder suspect Christopher Dorner, release new image

Irvine Police Department
This Jan. 28 image shows Christopher Dorner, police say. It was taken by a surveillance video camera at an Orange County hotel.
By Tracy Connor, Staff Writer, NBC News

Updated at 8:51 p.m. ET: Dozens of police officers went door-to-door in the snowy California mountains on Friday, searching 200 cabins and other buildings for ex-LAPD officer Christopher Dorner, suspected of killing three people in a revenge-fueled rampage he mapped out in an online manifesto.

Meanwhile, investigators released a new image of Dorner and searched the home of Dorner's mother, who police said was cooperating.

The image of Dorner was taken Jan. 28 by a surveillance video camera at an Orange County hotel, police say.

The search was focused on the mountains, where "it's extremely dangerous," San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon said at a news conference Friday after more than 100 cops spent a tense night patrolling the town of Big Bear Lake, where Dorner's burned-out truck was found a day earlier.

At a 4 p.m. news conference, sheriff's spokeswoman Cindy Bachman said the search of the cabins would be completed Friday night, reported.

Police say Dorner, 33, is on a mission to execute former LAPD colleagues and superiors and their families to avenge his 2008 firing. They believe he murdered a retired captain's daughter and her fiance in Irvine on Sunday, then killed one cop and wounded two others in shootings Thursday.

Chris Carlson / AP
San Bernardino sheriff's Officer Steven Spagon mans a checkpoint during the search for fired Los Angeles officer Christopher Dorner in Big Bear Lake, Calif.

The manhunt led investigators to the Big Bear ski resort, about two hours from Los Angeles, where the burning hulk of his dark-gray Nissan was discovered with footprints leading to two forest roads.

Police followed the tracks until they lost them on frozen ground. They said they have no idea if Dorner is still in the area or if he left the mountain on foot or with a different vehicle.

All night and into the next day, SWAT teams piled into snowcats and armored personnel carriers with snowchains and drove through eight square miles of mountain, checking cabins for signs of forced entry.

"We want to make sure he didn't find a place to hide for the night," McMahon said. "Certainly there has been time to get out of here, but we don't know if he has, in fact, left."

With the heavily armed suspect eluding capture for a second day, schools were closed Friday, though the ski resorts were open.

Credit: Los Angeles Police Dept. newsletter via NBCLosAngeles
This undated photo released by the Los Angeles Police Department shows suspect Christopher Dorner.

“There is no panic,” said Big Bear Mayor Jay Obernolte. “We're very hardy residents…and many people are armed.”

He said his biggest concern was that a gun-toting resident might spot Dorner and try to take him on themselves. He urged everyone to keep their distance from Dorner and call police for help.

The sheriff acknowledged that the hunt for a man who is effectively hunting them could be nerve-wracking.

"This business is not always safe," he said. "But this is what we train for."

Ex-cop's mom, sister cooperating
Friday afternoon, Irvine and La Palma police, joined by U.S. marshals, were at the home of Dorner's mother in La Palma, a small city in Orange County about 20 miles southeast of Los Angeles.

Dorner's mother and sister were at the home and were cooperating, officials told NBC 4 of Los Angeles.

"I knew they were here for something," neighbor David Pighin said. "I thought maybe he was coming back to say goodbye to his mother."

The LAPD believes Dorner, who is 6 feet and 270 pounds, has an arsenal of weapons that includes assault rifles.

Dorner earned a ribbon for rifle marksmanship and a medal for pistol expertise in the Navy Reserve, where he was a lieutenant until his honorable discharge last week.

Two bases in Nevada and California where Dorner worked were on heightened security over concerns that he might still have his military ID.

Dorner worked at Fallon Naval Air Station, Nev., from March to November 2009, Zip Upham, a spokesman at Fallon, told NBC News. He also oversaw some security operations at Stead Air Force Base, Calif.

Dorner previously served in the LAPD from 2005 to 2008 and was fired for making false statements after he accused a training officer of brutalizing a man.

During an internal review, he was represented by Randal Quan, a retired captain. His daughter Monica Quan, 28, and her fiancé, Keith Lawrence, 27, were fatally shot while parking their car at their apartment complex after a Super Bowl party.

In the 11,300-word manifesto, Dorner vented his rage at Quan and other police officials and made it clear he had no compunction about killing their loved ones.

"I never had the opportunity to have a family of my own, I’m terminating yours," he wrote in one chilling passage.

The father of the man who was allegedly roughed up by the training officer told that he thought Dorner made too big a deal of the 2007 incident by filing a formal accusation.

“He stood up for what he thought was right,” he said. “You could tell by the look on his face he was just a young, idealistic kid, who was proud of the badge," Richard Gettler said. "I commended him first. Then I got close to him and said, 'What is wrong with you? Weren't you thinking? ... It's the three musketeers, all for one and one for all!'"

Gettler called the recent killings horrible and urged Dorner to turn himself in.

"Back then, when he became a police officer, he wanted to do good," Gettler said.

In the manifesto, Dorner suggests that he believes he will be killed during his spree, but LAPD Chief Charlie Beck appealed to him to surrender.

"This has gone far enough," Beck said Thursday night. "No one else needs to die."

M. Alex Johnson and vivian Kim of NBC News contributed to this report.

Family at center of Dorner's manifesto urges surrender
Women shot by cops during manhunt had no warning, lawyer says

The tense search for a former cop who police say killed three people and vowed to murder more continued for a second day. NBC's Miguel Almaguer reports.