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Domestic violence and US midterms

Published:Sunday | September 28, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Egerton Chang
In this May 1, 2014 file photo, Baltimore Ravens football player Ray Rice holds hands with his wife, Janay Palmer, as they arrive at Atlantic County Criminal Courthouse in Mays Landing, New Jersey.-AP
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Egerton Chang, GUEST COLUMNIST

With the spotlight being shone on the National Football League (NFL) and the Ray Rice matter, other cases of domestic abuse have received attention. The video of Rice, the Baltimore Ravens' running back, punching his fiancée (now wife) out cold in an Atlantic City casino elevator was published by TMZ and went viral.

Other cases of domestic abuse have surfaced. Indeed, Meghan Keneally of ABC News states:

"The National Football League's policy, when it comes to domestic violence against a player's spouse or girlfriend, varies dramatically from case to case. Since Goodell took over as commissioner in August 2006, USA Today reports that there have been 57 cases of alleged domestic violence incidents. While 10 players were cut from their teams as a result of the incidents, only 12 others received any form of suspension from the league. That means that the remaining 34 cases went unpunished ... .

"In fact, the cases are coming so fast and furious that one is not sure if those figures include that of Arizona Cardinals backup running back Jonathan Dwyer, who was recently arrested in connection with domestic abuse allegations."

Institute of Management and Production

All this reminds me of a friend of mine in the late 1970s. Then, I used to work at the ICD Group of Companies. Aaron Matalon was kind enough to appoint me to the first board of governors of the Institute of Management and Production, now University College of the Caribbean, founded by him. I was also made the course leader of the American Management Association's 'Finance for Non-financial Managers'.

She (I will call her DB) was one of the participants on this course, which was held at the converted former Unimotors (now Isuzu) showroom on Half-Way Tree Road.

We became quite friendly thereafter. We used to go to the pub at the newly completed 388-room Inter-continental Hotel at the foot of King Street, for their happy hour, fairly regularly.

Because I was married and since DB was engaged at the time to a fellow, the friendship remained platonic.

Anyway, one day DB said she was filling her old-but-in-good-condition Ford Anglia at a gas station on Windward Road when she met a guy who was riding a motorcycle. She said she had got friendly with him.

From time to time, she would complain about the number of women he had, and how he used to "bad her up" to borrow her car to transport his women. Often, he would not return the car until hours after agreed, and a few times, a day or two after. DB also told me that she heard a girl in Mandeville was pregnant for him.

Time passed and soon my friend got pregnant for this fellow and had a son. All this time, her complaining about his behaviour never subsided.

One day, DB called to tell me that she was admitted to Medical Associates Hospital. The guy had not returned her car and she had gone for it the night before. She said that she had tried to call me, but because she hadn't got through, she went with her mechanic instead.

She saw her babyfather, who said he didn't have her car because he had given it to his other woman and if DB wanted it, DB would have to go for it.

Pot of Boiling Water

She went to the girl's upstairs apartment in New Kingston. On reaching and asking for her car, the girl threw the keys at her. Starting to walk back down the stairs, her instincts told her to look back, only to see a pot of boiling water being thrown on her. Her back and side were scorched, and because her face was slightly turned, the scalding water caught part of her head and face. She was scarred for life.

Apparently, her babyfather had called the girl, who had enough time to boil the water.

To her credit, my friend had the courage to testify against the woman in court, and a sentence of six months was handed down. Because of his involvement, it is a pity that DB's babyfather wasn't jailed, too.

Nevertheless, that was a life-altering experience. No amount of plastic surgery could bring back her face to anything approaching normal.

She migrated to the US, and the last time I spoke to her, around nine years ago, DB reminded me that her son was in his 20s then (more than 30 now). How time flies!

Such is the face of domestic violence in Jamaica.

Battle for Senate

America's midterm exams take place November 4, 2014.

While all House seats are up for grabs, it is generally conceded that the Republicans will definitely take the House, but the real contest is in the Senate.

The Senate consists of 100 members, two from each state, with 33 seats being now contested in regular elections. Additionally, special elections will be held to fill vacancies that occurred during the 113th United States Congress. Therefore, there are a total of 36 Senate seats to be decided in November 2014, 15 of those now held by Republicans and 21 by Democrats.

Half of the Democratic seats are considered vulnerable. These seats were won during the 2008 sweep year when President Barack Obama brought millions of first-time voters to the polls, thus helping many of the down-ticket candidates along the way.

Bear in mind that a 50-50 split in the Senate still means control by the Democrats, as the vice-president has the deciding vote in a deadlock.

Until now, the conventional wisdom has been that the Republicans would almost certainly take over control of the Senate. Most polls have confirmed that conviction, but recent developments have cast some doubt (albeit not overwhelming) on this prognosis.

Nate Silver vs Sam Yang

The well-respected Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight's latest article dated September 16, 'Senate Update: Democrats Draw Almost Even. Is It The Money?', states:

"When we officially launched our forecast model two weeks ago, it had Republicans with a 64 per cent chance of taking over the Senate after this fall's elections. Now Republican chances are about 55 per cent instead (update issued Tuesday, September 23, increases the chances of a Republican win back to 59%)."

On the other hand, Sam Yang, founder of the Princeton Election Consortium, states that, as of September 24, 2014, the probability of the Democrats + Independents gaining 50 or more seats is 70 per cent.

Egerton Chang is a businessman. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and e_rider69@hotmail.com.