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Military’s sexual-assault problem has deep roots


Military’s sexual-assault problem has deep roots
Posted: Monday, June 3, 2013 4:30 am
Associated Press

NEW YORK — Sexual assault occurs in myriad settings and the perpetrators come from every swath of U.S. society. Yet as recent incidents and reports make clear, it’s a particularly intractable problem in the military, with its enduring macho culture and unique legal system.

The most significant factor, according to advocates, is the perception by victims in the military that they lack the recourses available in the civilian world to bring assailants to justice.

“The military says they have zero tolerance, but in fact that’s not true,” said Dr. Katherine Scheirman, a retired Air Force colonel with more than 20 years of service in the U.S. and abroad. “Having a sexual assault case in your unit is considered something bad, so commanders have had an incredible incentive not to destroy their own careers by prosecuting someone.”

Insisting it takes the problem seriously, the military has put in place numerous policies and programs to reduce the assaults, notably since the 1991 Tailhook scandal in which Navy pilots were accused of sexually abusing female officers at a Las Vegas convention.
Posted by unhappycamper | Tue Jun 4, 2013, 09:21 AM (1 replies)

Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair's court-martial postponed; 1 pornography charge is dropped


Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair's court-martial postponed; 1 pornography charge is dropped
By Paul Woolverton
Published: 07:29 AM, Tue Jun 04, 2013

Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair's sexual misconduct court-martial has been postponed until July, and a source close to the case said one of the pornography accusations against him has been dropped.

A pre-trial hearing for Sinclair is scheduled to begin today at the Fort Bragg courthouse. Three generals may testify this week.

Sinclair, a former deputy commanding general of the Army's 82nd Airborne Division, is accused of twice committing a sexual assault on a captain under his command and with whom he had a three-year extra-marital affair. The affair itself is a crime in the military.

Also, Sinclair is accused of additional inappropriate behavior - although none of it was physical - with several other women in violation of military law and of using taxpayer money to pay for personal travel expenses.
Posted by unhappycamper | Tue Jun 4, 2013, 09:07 AM (0 replies)

Afghan protesters display newly dug-up bodies, demand arrest of US troops accused in killings


Afghan protesters display newly dug-up bodies, demand arrest of US troops accused in killings
By Associated Press, Updated: Tuesday, June 4, 8:54 AM

KABUL, Afghanistan — Hundreds of Afghans blocked a major highway south of Kabul on Tuesday, carrying freshly dug-up bodies they claimed were victims of torture by U.S. special forces and demanding the Americans be arrested, officials said.

Violence erupted at the rally and two of the demonstrators were killed but the cause of their deaths was unclear, said Mohammand Hussain Fahimi, a provincial council member in Wardak, 45 kilometers (27 miles) south of Kabul.

The three bodies displayed at the rally were dug up earlier on Tuesday morning near a former U.S. special forces base in Nirkh district, according to Attaullah Khogyanai, the provincial governor’s spokesman. Six other bodies were unearthed there in the past few weeks.

Khogyanai said an investigation was underway but that it was too soon to say if the three were among at least nine people who villagers say disappeared into American custody and were never seen again.
Posted by unhappycamper | Tue Jun 4, 2013, 09:01 AM (0 replies)

U.S. military chiefs balk at taking sex-assault cases out of commanders’ hands


Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, speaks during a Pentagon news conference about sexual assaults in the military, among other topics May 17, 2013.

U.S. military chiefs balk at taking sex-assault cases out of commanders’ hands
By Craig Whitlock, Published: June 3

The nation’s military chiefs have told Congress in writing that they oppose or have strong reservations about a controversial bill that would reshape military law by taking sexual-assault cases out of the hands of commanders, setting up a likely clash with lawmakers who are pushing the idea.

In a rare joint appearance, the uniformed leaders of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps, as well as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, are scheduled to testify Tuesday before a Senate panel about what the Pentagon has described as an “epidemic” of sex crimes in the ranks. Lawmakers are floating a variety of bills to attack the problem but have not settled on a single approach.

The service chiefs, however, made clear in recent letters to the Senate panel’s leadership that they do not favor a leading proposal that would give uniformed prosecutors, instead of commanders, the authority to open criminal investigations into ­sexual-assault cases and bring them to trial. Such a change, they argued, would undermine the foundation of military culture by sending a message that commanders cannot be trusted to make good decisions.

“A commander is responsible and accountable for everything that happens in his or her unit,” Gen. James F. Amos, the commandant of the Marine Corps, said in a May 17 letter to Sens. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and James H. Inhofe (R-Okla.), the Senate Armed Services Committee’s chairman and ranking Republican. “Victims need to know that their commander holds offenders accountable, not some unknown third-party prosecutor.”

unhappycamper comment: Yes General, “Victims need to know that their commander holds offenders accountable". Which is precisely the reason for this legislation.
Posted by unhappycamper | Tue Jun 4, 2013, 08:28 AM (5 replies)

Two Months Later, Arkansas Residents Still Hurting From ExxonMobil Tar Sands Spill


Two Months Later, Arkansas Residents Still Hurting From ExxonMobil Tar Sands Spill
by Rocky Kistner
Published on Tuesday, June 4, 2013 by Switchboard / NRDC Blog

More than two months after ExxonMobil’s 65-year-old Pegasus pipeline burst and spewed a gusher of thick Canadian tar sands oil through Mayflower, AR, and into a marsh on Lake Conway—the state’s most popular fishing spot—residents are still complaining of health problems and are worried about poisonous impacts on wildlife and in the environment. Many locals and some scientists have little faith in the continuous rosy assurances from Exxon and the Unified Command that testing results show the environment is safe and that tar sands oil has not contaminated the lake.

These include Mayflower residents Christina and Michael Seville, who were looking forward to visits this summer from grandkids at their modest home on Lake Conway. Their lives were suddenly turned upside down by the release of an estimated 200,000 gallons of noxious Canadian tar sands crude, much of which ended up in the marshy cove portion of Lake Conway near their home. They complain of constant headaches and coughs that have persisted since the spill occurred just before Easter, ailments they blame on the jet black tar sands crude that snaked through culverts past a shopping center and under the Interstate into the marsh on Lake Conway.

“We can’t have our grandkids over to visit anymore,” Christina says. “They’re covering up what’s really going on. There are fewer squirrels, birds, and ducks than we normally see around here. Fish are not jumping in the water and they’re not catching anything around here. It’s not like it used to be.”

Watch this video of Arkansas residents talk about impacts of the Mayflower tar sands oil spill on wildlife and the environment.

Posted by unhappycamper | Tue Jun 4, 2013, 07:57 AM (0 replies)

U.S. sits on sidelines as more than 60 countries sign arms trade treaty


U.S. sits on sidelines as more than 60 countries sign arms trade treaty
By Agence France-Presse
Monday, June 3, 2013 17:35 EDT

More than 60 countries on Monday signed a landmark conventional arms trade treaty, but the United States held back from joining the first wave of signatories while Russia and China are expected to stay out of the accord.

The UN-brokered treaty is the first covering weaponry of any kind for more than a decade and aims to bring transparency and protection of human rights into the often dubious $85 billion-a-year global trade.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said the treaty will “put an end to the ‘free-for-all’ nature” of weapons dealing, according to his spokesman Martin Nesirky.

The treaty covers tanks, armored combat vehicles, large-caliber artillery, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, missiles and missile launchers, as well as the vast trade in small arms.
Posted by unhappycamper | Tue Jun 4, 2013, 06:58 AM (1 replies)

Monsanto baffled by reappearance of GMO ‘zombie wheat’ in Oregon


Monsanto baffled by reappearance of GMO ‘zombie wheat’ in Oregon
By David Ferguson
Monday, June 3, 2013 20:33 EDT

The company that engineered an herbicide-resistant strain of wheat which was never cleared for commercial use is baffled as to how the genetically modified organism (GMO) came to be growing in an Oregon wheat field. According to New Scientist, Monsanto, which says it abandoned research on the wheat in 2004, claims it has no idea how the wheat got there, but that it is urgently trying to find out.

An Oregon farmer who found the wheat only realized that it was a genetically modified crop when he tried to clear the field where it was growing by using the Monsanto herbicide Roundup. To his amazement, the plants simply refused to die.

A U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) fact sheet about the contamination said:
An Oregon farmer noticed some volunteers, or plants that had germinated and developed in a place where they were not intentionally planted, in his wheat field, were resistant to glyphosate and sent the samples to the OSU scientist. She received the samples on April 30, 2013, and conducted tests on the samples. Based on her preliminary tests, the samples she received tested positive for the glyphosate trait and the farmer was informed of the testing results.
Posted by unhappycamper | Tue Jun 4, 2013, 06:27 AM (5 replies)

Drone Surveillance Contract Called Off by U.S. State Department


Drone Surveillance Contract Called Off by U.S. State Department
By Nick Taborek - 2013-06-01T19:26:30Z

The U.S. State Department canceled its $1 billion surveillance drone competition, saying none of the proposals met its requirements, according to the U.S. government’s Federal Business Opportunities website.

The competition had called for companies to operate small-scale unmanned aircraft that would supply real-time video of convoy routes and buildings. It was an opportunity for companies such as Aerovironment Inc. (AVAV) and Vanguard Defense Industries LLC to boost sales outside the Department of Defense, the biggest U.S. buyer of unmanned aircraft.

The State Department “plans to examine closely the requirements stipulated in the solicitation with the intent of developing and releasing a new” request for drone proposals, according to the notice.

To contact the reporter on this story: Nick Taborek in Washington at [email protected]
Posted by unhappycamper | Mon Jun 3, 2013, 09:44 AM (1 replies)

Corps boots 5 staff sergeants in sex case


Adultery, fraternization charges at Camp Pendleton courts martial a career ender

Corps boots 5 staff sergeants in sex case
Gretel C. Kovachnoon
June 1, 2013

As the armed forces put the spotlight on sexual misconduct in their ranks, the Marine Corps is kicking five senior non-commissioned officers from Camp Pendleton out of the military because of accusations of adultery and fraternization with a female lance corporal.

The staff sergeants dismissively called "The Fab Five" by some on base say they have been falsely accused by the woman, who is not being named because she has not been charged with a crime. They say they are unable to receive a fair trial, even in front of a jury of fellow Marines, because of undue "command influence"ť from their commanding general and pressure to eradicate sexual misconduct.

According to court documents, the woman was in the process of being separated from the Marine Corps for drug use and was in intensive outpatient treatment for suicidal depression before the allegations came to light. Other Marines reported last March that she was sexually involved with several men she worked with in Communications Company, Combat Logistics Regiment 17, 1st Marine Logistics Group.

The woman had reported being raped by her Marine recruiter and abused on other occasions before she joined the military in 2010. After the command began investigating her relationships in the company, she tried to commit suicide again, by cutting her arm with a kitchen knife in the Camp Pendleton barracks, according to court documents.
Posted by unhappycamper | Sun Jun 2, 2013, 07:41 AM (1 replies)

From Iraq, a Tragic Reminder to Prosecute the War Criminals


From Iraq, a Tragic Reminder to Prosecute the War Criminals
Friday, 31 May 2013 12:16 By John Pilger, Truthout | Op-Ed

The dust in Iraq rolls down the long roads that are the desert's fingers. It gets in your eyes and nose and throat; it swirls in markets and school playgrounds, consuming children kicking a ball; and it carries, according to Dr. Jawad Al-Ali, "the seeds of our death." An internationally respected cancer specialist at the Sadr Teaching Hospital in Basra, Dr. Ali share that quote in 1999, and today his warning is irrefutable. "Before the Gulf war," he said, "we had two or three cancer patients a month. Now we have 30 to 35 dying every month. Our studies indicate that 40 to 48 percent of the population in this area will get cancer: in five years' time to begin with, then long after. That's almost half the population. Most of my own family have it, and we have no history of the disease. It is like Chernobyl here; the genetic effects are new to us; the mushrooms grow huge; even the grapes in my garden have mutated and can't be eaten."

Along the corridor, Dr. Ginan Ghalib Hassen, a pediatrician, kept a photo album of the children she was trying to save. Many had neuroplastoma. "Before the war, we saw only one case of this unusual tumor in two years," she said. "Now we have many cases, mostly with no family history. I have studied what happened in Hiroshima. The sudden increase of such congenital malformations is the same."

Among the doctors I interviewed, there was little doubt that depleted uranium shells used by the Americans and British in the Gulf War were the cause. A US military physicist assigned to clean up the Gulf War battlefield across the border in Kuwait said, "Each round fired by an A-10 Warhog attack aircraft carried over 4,500 grams of solid uranium. Well over 300 tons of DU was used. It was a form of nuclear warfare."

Although the link with cancer is always difficult to prove absolutely, the Iraqi doctors argue that "the epidemic speaks for itself." The British oncologist Karol Sikora, chief of the cancer program of the World Health organization (WHO) in the 1990s, wrote in the British Medical Journal: "Requested radiotherapy equipment, chemotherapy drugs and analgesics are consistently blocked by United States and British advisers [to the Iraq Sanctions Committee]." He told me, "We were specifically told [by the WHO] not to talk about the whole Iraq business. The WHO is not an organization that likes to get involved in politics."

Posted by unhappycamper | Sun Jun 2, 2013, 06:36 AM (3 replies)
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