Monday, March 31, 2008

Other Items

The stories are shocking in their simplicity and brutality: A female military recruit is pinned down at knifepoint and raped repeatedly in her own barracks. Her attackers hid their faces but she identified them by their uniforms; they were her fellow soldiers. During a routine gynecological exam, a female soldier is attacked and raped by her military physician. Yet another young soldier, still adapting to life in a war zone, is raped by her commanding officer. Afraid for her standing in her unit, she feels she has nowhere to turn.
These are true stories, and, sadly, not isolated incidents. Women serving in the U.S. military are more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than killed by enemy fire in Iraq. The scope of the problem was brought into acute focus for me during a visit to the West Los Angeles VA Healthcare Center, where I met with female veterans and their doctors. My jaw dropped when the doctors told me that 41% of female veterans seen at the clinic say they were victims of sexual assault while in the military, and 29% report being raped during their military service. They spoke of their continued terror, feelings of helplessness and the downward spirals many of their lives have since taken.
Numbers reported by the Department of Defense show a sickening pattern. In 2006, 2,947 sexual assaults were reported -- 73% more than in 2004. The DOD's newest report, released this month, indicates that 2,688 reports were made in 2007, but a recent shift from calendar-year reporting to fiscal-year reporting makes comparisons with data from previous years much more difficult.

The above is from US House Rep Jane Harman's "Rapists in the ranks" (Los Angeles Times) and if Harman is truly concerned she could take action now to explore the case of Suzanne Swift.nne Swift -- something and she and all other members of Congress refused to do in real time. If Harman's sincere, great. This is an ongoing crisis and it would be wonderful to see her show some leadership. "Women and the military" (The Third Estate Sunday Review) focused on this topic in February of last year so it's not a new one. It is one that needs some strong leadership in the House -- which is supposed to practice oversight so if Harman's going to follow up the column with action, great.

Lloyd notes an article by Walter Pincus in the Washington Post. The "Awakening" Council are hired thugs put on the US payroll (usually $300 a month) who would be considered turncoats were this the revolutionary war (though they were already attacking fellow Iraqis, hence the term "thughs"). A p.r. effort has attempted to change the name of the thugs repeatedly and the US military has been especially pushing "Sons of Iraq" in the last few months. "Sons of Iraq" makes it appear turncoats who turned for coin are something more than they actually are. From Pincus' article:

While public attention has been focused on Shiite-vs.-Shiite fighting in Basra and Baghdad, U.S. military leaders are taking a cold second look at the future intentions of the roughly 90,000 "Sons of Iraq" -- the locally recruited and primarily Sunni security forces that are armed and supported by the United States at $300 per person each month.
At a Pentagon briefing last Wednesday, the commander of the 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team in Diyala province, Col. Jon Lehr, told reporters via videoconference that the Sons of Iraq "are not a permanent security solution," although, he added, "they have been an integral part of our strategy."
That strategy, Lehr said, was "getting people to stand up and assume security of their own given area." Starting in Anbar province, and with U.S. money and American-supplied arms, they were happy to turn on their former allies and fight alongside U.S. Marines, their former enemies. Together they chased al-Qaeda elements out of Anbar. That same idea -- buying off the Sunnis and renegade Shiites with money and arms, and empowering them to provide security in their tribal areas -- began to be applied in other parts of Iraq, including Baghdad.
However, as Lehr put it last week, "not all Sons of Iraq are created equally." In Diyala, the local Sons of Iraq groups have split in two. "One is a tribally based," he said. "They tend to be associated with rural areas . . . [and] are there to protect their villages. " The other half, which he described as "the politically based ones," are in Baqubah, the province's main city of about 300,000, which less than a year ago was considered an al-Qaeda-driven battleground.

Turning to US politics, Kayla notes Michael Virtanen's "Poll finds that Americans are more ready for woman president" (AP):

While two-thirds of voters nationally say the United States is ready for its first woman president, a new poll shows Democratic Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton running neck-and-neck with Republicans Sen. John McCain and former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani for the White House.
Many voters believe a woman would handle domestic issues like health, education, social security, energy policy and responding to natural disasters better than a man, doing worse only as commander-in-chief of the U.S. military, according to the Siena Research Institute poll commissioned by Hearst Newspapers.
"Three factors have converged to bring us to this moment in U.S. public opinion," said Douglas Lonnstrom, institute director and statistics professor. "Increasing acceptance of the concept of a woman president, the extended losses of the unpopular Iraq War and an instantly recognizable woman candidate-- the United States Senator from New York and former First Lady of the United States,"
The telephone survey of 1,120 registered voters nationwide was conducted from Feb. 5-9. Its margin of error was 2.9 percentage points.

And Latrice notes "HUBdate: For the Long Run" (

For the Long Run: In an interview yesterday, Hillary said "I know there are some people who want to shut this down and I think they are wrong...I have no intention of stopping until we finish what we started and until we see what happens in the next 10 contests and until we resolve Florida and Michigan." Read more.

If You Read One Thing Today: From the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: "Walking into our conference room, not knowing what to expect (or even, perhaps, expecting the worst), took courage and confidence. Not many politicians have political or personal courage today, so it was refreshing to see her exhibit both." Read more.

A Friend in Murtha: Representative John Murtha on Hillary: "I am convinced that we're probably in the worst situation in my 35 years in Congress…[and] we need somebody with experience."..."Usually, it's wise to follow Murtha's lead." Read more.

Recapping Yesterday: Hillary hosted “Solutions For The American Economy” events in Indianapolis and New Albany, IN, followed by a rally in Louisville, KY and the annual Ruby Laffoon Dinner in Madisonville, KY.

Listening in New Albany, Indiana: Hillary was greeted by “her fan club packed into a cozy dining room.” They “were excited she didn't just come to talk to them, but listened.” Read more.

Kentucky Counts: Yesterday, Hillary “spoke to a packed high school gym in Louisville.” One supporter said, “I'm ready for a change and I want someone who will work for the common people. I think she's the one who can do it.” Read more. See more.

Hoosiers for Hillary: Twelve new offices are opening across Indiana this week. On Monday, Campaign Chairman Terry McAuliffe will headline four of the office openings.

On Tap: Tomorrow, Hillary kicks off a three-day trip to Pennsylvania, where she will continue to discuss real solutions on her economic tour.

And Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Stumbling for Maturity" went up yesterday
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