U.S. Politics

10 things you need to know today: August 4, 2014

An Israeli drone circles over Gaza City. 
An Israeli drone circles over Gaza City. | (AP Photo/Dusan Vranic)

The Week

Israel launches a Gaza ceasefire, the Air Force Academy investigates sexual assault allegations, and more

1. Israel says it will hold fire in most of Gaza for seven hours
Israel declared a unilateral seven-hour humanitarian ceasefire for Monday in most of the Gaza Strip. The announcement came after unusually strong criticism of Israel by the U.S. and the United Nations over apparent Israeli shelling that killed 10 people at a U.N. shelter. Palestinian health officials accused Israel of bombing a refugee camp west of Gaza City, injuring 30, after the ceasefire started. [Reuters, ABC News]


2. Air Force Academy investigates reports of sexual assault
The superintendent of the Air Force Academy has launched an investigation into allegations of sexual assault, drug use, cheating on exams, and other misconduct by cadet athletes, academy officials said Sunday. The accusations were partly based on reports of a December 2011 party where witnesses said athletes used synthetic marijuana, and raped a woman who had been drugged. [The New York Times]


3. Islamic State extremists advance in Iraq’s Kurdish north
Sunni extremist militants seized two towns in northern Iraq on Sunday — after taking another on Saturday — overwhelming Kurdish forces and sending thousands of people fleeing on foot. The offensive marked the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria’s first major push into Kurdish territory. The advance put the Sunni fighters within reach of the Mosul hydroelectric dam, the largest in Iraq. [The Washington Post]


4. American spy plane flew through Sweden’s air space to dodge Russian aircraft
A U.S. surveillance plane flew into Swedish air space last month to avoid possible interception by Russian jets, American military officials said Sunday. The incident took place a day after Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down by a missile over rebel-held territory near Russia’s border with Ukraine. It was the latest brush between the U.S. and Russia over Moscow’s support of separatists rebels in Ukraine. [The New York Times, Fox News]


5. Toledo goes a second day without drinkable tap water
More than 400,000 people in and around Toledo were without drinkable tap water for a second day on Sunday, as the city awaited tests by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. “This is not over yet,” Mayor D. Michael Collins said. Levels of toxins — possibly due to algae on Lake Erie — appear to be decreasing, but city officials say the water remains unsafe to drink, even if boiled, or to use to bathe children. [Los Angeles Times]


6. China reports rising death toll from earthquake
The death toll from a magnitude-6.5 earthquake that struck in southern China’s Yunnan province on Sunday rose to at least 398 people, more than double the earliest count. The temblor destroyed 12,000 homes in the provincial capital of Ludian alone. A resident of Zhaotong told the stateXinhua news agency that the streets of her city were like a “battlefield after bombardment.” [The Associated Press]


7. Second Ebola patient being returned to U.S. for treatment
A second American missionary infected is due to be flown to the U.S. for treatment. The patient, Nancy Writebol, was scheduled to leave Liberia early Tuesday. A member of her mission team, Dr. Kent Brantly, showed signs of improvement on Sunday after being flown back to the U.S. and admitted to the quarantine unit of Emory University in Atlanta. The Ebola outbreak has killed 826 people in West Africa. [The Associated Press, Financial Times]


8. Portugal announces a $6.6 billion bailout of a major bank
Portugal is bailing out Banco Espirito Santo, one of Europe’s oldest banks, with $6.6 billion from a fund set up during the eurozone’s financial crisis, Bank of Portugal governor Carlos Costa said late Sunday. The move was meant to keep the bank from collapsing and dragging down the rest of the country’s financial system. The bank’s stock crashed last week after it reported a record half-year loss of 3.6 billion euros. [The Associated Press]


9. Mudslides cut off California mountain towns
Torrential rain triggered mudslides in Southern California mountains on Sunday, killing one person and leaving more than 2,000 people trapped, including 500 children and adults at a church camp. Crews were bulldozing a path to the camp. About 1,500 people in the town of Oak Glen, and another 1,000 in Forest Falls in the San Bernardino Mountains are blocked from leaving by mud, rocks, and debris covering roads. [CBS News, CNN]


10. Australia looks into Thai surrogacy dispute
Australia is reviewing its regulations and considering intervening in the case of a baby with Down syndrome allegedly left with his Thai surrogate mother by his Australian biological parents. The Thai woman, Pattaramon Chanbua, says the biological parents left the 7-month-old baby, who also has a heart condition, and took home his healthy twin sister. The parents say they were never told there were two babies. [Financial Times]

U.S. Politics

Chambliss blames military rapes on ‘the hormone level created by nature’

Saxby Chambliss speaks at a Senate hearing
Saxby Chambliss speaks at a Senate hearing

This guy is my Senator but I always knew he was a TEApublican based on his voting record

The Raw Story

Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) on Tuesday suggested that the “hormone level created by nature” was to blame for rapes in the military and that all pregnant servicewomen should be investigated to make sure their condition was the result of consensual sex.

At a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on sexual assaults within the military, Chambliss opined that the Pentagon’s decision to allow women in combat roles was only going to make the problem worse.

The Georgia Republican recalled that “several years ago when we had the first females go out on an aircraft carrier, when they returned to port, a significant percentage of those females were pregnant.”

“Was any investigation made by the Navy following that incident to determine whether or not all of those pregnancies occurred as a result of consensual acts?” he asked Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Jonathan Greenert.

The admiral replied that he did not have details of the incident immediately available, but he pledged to follow up.

Chambliss noted that Democratic proposals to modify the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) and take sexual assault reporting outside of the victim’s chain of command might not work because young servicemen were being driven by their “nature.”

“The young folks coming in to each of your services are anywhere from 17 to 22 or 23,” he pointed out. “Gee-whiz, the hormone level created by nature sets in place the possibility for these types of things to occur. So, we’ve got to be very careful on our side.”

Watch the video from NBC News, broadcast June 4, 2013.

Blog Roundup · U.S. Politics

Monday Blog Roundup – June 3, 2013

What’s Happening In Turkey?

U.S. and China to Hold Talks on Hacking

The 11 Biggest Conservative Scandal Flops

Storm Chasers Killed by Oklahoma Tornado

Monsanto Messes with World Wheat Market

Chelsea Clinton’s mother-in-law seeks House seat

Goals to Fulfill and Foes to Foil Keep Holder Going

Four Years After Murder of Dr. George Tiller, His Wichita

Cigarette Maker Funded Dark-Money Conservative Groups

Boxer, with more women in Senate, pushes military to end sexual assaults

Blog Roundup

Monday Blog Roundup – 5-20-2013

Welcome to the Darrell Issa Hall of Shame

Gingrich Warns Republicans About Overreach

Harry Reid eyeing July for the `nuclear option’

Obama, lawmakers tackle military sexual assault

North Korea Fires Three Missiles Off Its East Coast

 New Audit Allegations Show Flawed Statistical Thinking

The most vulnerable House members in 2014, in two charts

In IRS scandal, why is any political group exempt from taxes?

1,200 Harvard Students Demand Investigation Into Jason Richwine’s Thesis On Hispanic IQ

CNN’s Crowley Adopts False Right-Wing Claim That Obama Didn’t Call Benghazi A Terrorist Attack


Donald Trump

Donald Trump’s Awful Tweet About Sexual Assault In The Military

Donald Trump is as ignorant as he looks…

The Huffington Post

Donald Trump

On Tuesday, the Pentagon released a report about the rampant sexual assault taking place within the United States military. The figures the report laid out were shocking to read. From the Associated Press:

The Pentagon report says that the number of sexual assaults reported by members of the military rose from 3,192 to 3,374 in 2012, while the department estimates that as many as 26,000 service members were assaulted, based on anonymous surveys, according to officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the report.

Politicians from President Obama on down condemned the findings. For noted military theorist Donald Trump, however, the study sent a different message:

It’s quite the classy response! Is Trump saying that men are all prone to rape? Or that women shouldn’t be allowed in the military because they’ll inevitably be assaulted? This seems like a very dark view of the world. Trump has threatened to run for president in the past, but it’s possible that he just lost the women’s vote. And men’s. And military families. And everyone, everywhere.


Blog Roundup

Tuesday Blog Roundup – 5-7-2013

Background Checks Bill

No, the gun fight is not over

Online Sales Tax Bill Passes Senate

And in America, the religious wars go on

The NRA moves dangerously far to the right

Three Women, Gone for Years, Found in Ohio

Is South Carolina ready to take Mark Sanford back?

The real Benghazi story: The dogs that aren’t barking

Bank of China Closes Account of Key North Korean Bank

Rachel Maddow talks to Joe Stiglitz, Frank Rich about income inequality (video)

Air Force Officer Tasked With Preventing Sexual Assault Arrested For Sexual Battery


Rick Santorum · Right Wing Extremism

Santorum To Rape Victims: ‘Make The Best Out Of A Bad Situation’

The absurdity from the far-right wing of the GOP is astounding…

Think Progress

Standing steadfast as the most socially right-wing candidate in the GOP presidential field, Rick Santorum has repeatedly touted his extreme anti-choice position, which dictates that abortion should be uniformly illegal, even in cases of rape or incest. He even suggested that physicians who provide abortions to such victims should be criminally charged.

Last Friday, CNN’s Piers Morgan asked Santorum to clarify his reasoning behind such a callous position. Insisting that “it’s not a matter of religious values,” Santorum explained that sexual assault victims should “accept this horribly created” pregnancy because it is “nevertheless a gift in a very broken way” and that, when it comes down to it, a victim just has “to make the best out of a bad situation“:

SANTORUM: Well, you can make the argument that if she doesn’t have this baby, if she kills her child, that that, too, could ruin her life. And this is not an easy choice. I understand that. As horrible as the way that that son or daughter and son was created, it still is her child. And whether she has that child or doesn’t, it will always be her child. And she will always know that. And so to embrace her and to love her and to support her and get her through this very difficult time, I’ve always, you know, I believe and I think the right approach is to accept this horribly created — in the sense of rape — but nevertheless a gift in a very broken way, the gift of human life, and accept what God has given to you. As you know, we have to, in lots of different aspects of our life. We have horrible things happen. I can’t think of anything more horrible. But, nevertheless, we have to make the best out of a bad situation.

Watch it:

The problem with Santorum’s sense of humanity is that it doesn’t seem to extend to the victim. The emotional and physical trauma endured during and after a sexual assault often leaves a woman feeling robbed of any control over her own body and welfare. Robbing a woman of the choice to decide what to do with such “horribly created” consequences only contributes to the victim’s trauma.

What’s more, Santorum’s argument forces a woman in these circumstances to share his religious beliefs and “accept what God has given to [her.]” A woman may very well share his belief and decide to carry the pregnancy to the term, but the fundamental point is that that should be her choice — not the government’s, and certainly not Santorum’s.

U.S. Politics

Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board Pulls Ad That Blames Women For Getting Date-Raped

What the hell is wrong with the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board?  Why did they publish that ridiculous ad in the first place?

Think Progress

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board provoked an enormous backlash by airing ads that tell women who are date-raped that they have only themselves and their friends to blame. The ad was part of a $600,000 campaign aimed at curbing excessive drinking.

After hearing from hundreds of rape victims that the ads were extremely upsetting, even traumatizing, the board has decided to pull them:

The ads send the message that women are not only at fault for getting themselves raped—a societal bias reflected in and re-enforced by too many court decisions—it’s your fault if your friend gets raped, too.

Last night, after receiving hundreds of phone calls and hundreds of email complaints, the PLCB has yanked the ads.

“We feel very strong, and still do, that when we entered the initial discussion about doing a campaign like this it was important to bring the most difficult conversations about over-consumption of alcohol to the forefront and all of the dangers associated with it—date rape being one of these things,” says PLCB spokesperson Stacey Witalec.

“That being said, due to the number of concerns that we heard about that specific ad, and the victims especially that we heard from talking about how the image … made them feel victimized all over again, we felt it was prudent to pull it.”

The board undoubtedly had good intentions when they launched their campaign, but there are better ways to go about it. As Jezebel pointed out, “Shock tactics aren’t necessary to increase awareness of the possibility of rape. We know what can happen after a night of drinking.”

And their blame-the-victim message reinforced the difficulty prosecuting rapists in the state. It’s easier to get away with sexual assault in Pennsylvania than anywhere else in the country because it’s the only state that doesn’t allow expert testimony in rape cases. Because experts aren’t allowed to educate jurors about the behaviors of sexual assault victims and assailants, “jurors are left making judgments based on the biases perpetuated in the PLCB ad.”

“We’ve had several cases where juries have acquitted serial rapists because they felt the victims’ behavior after the assault was counterintuitive,” says Deborah Harley, chief of the Family Violence and Sexual Assault Unit of the District Attorney’s Office.

Related articles

Fox News · Lara Logan

Logan’s Sexual Assault Brings Wave Of Blaming The Victim And Other Ugliness

I’ll never understand the vitriol coming from so many people about Lara Logan’s horrendous ordeal in Egypt…

Media Matters

During a news brief on this morning’s Fox & Friends, Gretchen Carlson reported that CBS correspondent Lara Logan had been “beaten and sexually assaulted by a mob of men while covering the political uprising in Egypt.” While Carlson reported the story as nothing but factual, during her report, the onscreen text read, “Journalist Assaulted in Egypt? Report: Protesters Attacked CBS’ Lara Logan.” 

Is Fox really questioning the validity of the story? If not, why the question mark?

Fox isn’t alone in having a completely inappropriate response to Logan’s tragic assault. Others have seized on the story to attack Logan, suggesting that the reason this happened was because she was a pretty woman reporting in the middle of a war zone. As Salon’s Mary Elizabeth Williams observed:

In a stunningly offensive blog post titled “Lara Logan, CBS Reporter and Warzone ‘It Girl,’ Raped Repeatedly Amid Egypt Celebration” for LA Weekly, writer Simone Wilson managed to mention Logan’s “shocking good looks and ballsy knack for pushing her way to the heart of the action” before getting to the assault itself. She then went on to imagine how it happened: “In a rush of frenzied excitement, some Egyptian protestors apparently consummated their newfound independence by sexually assaulting the blonde reporter.” Well, sure, what other motive for an assault could there be, given that Logan is, in Wilson’s words, a “gutsy stunner” with “Hollywood good looks”? And how else do Egyptians celebrate anyway but with a gang assault?  It’s not like she deserved it, but well, she is hot, right?


Wilson wasn’t the only person out there to be wildly tone-deaf in response, either. When the news broke, Nir Rosen, a fellow at the New York University Center for Law and Security, promptly whined to Twitter, “It’s always wrong, that’s obvious, but I’m rolling my eyes at all the attention she’ll get,” adding, “She’s so bad that I ran out of sympathy for her.” He soon backpedaled, deleting several of his most offensive posts and tweeting, “I apologize and take it back. joking with friends got out of line when i didnt [sic] want to back down. forgot twitter is not exactly private.” Apparently he still hasn’t remembered that sexual assault isn’t great joking around material.

Rosen since resigned his post at NYU.

But he’s not alone.   Read more here…

Egypt · Egyptian Unrest · Lara Logan

Lara Logan Suffered ‘Brutal’ Sexual Assault In Egypt

Huffington Post

CBS News says correspondent Lara Logan “suffered a brutal and sustained sexual assault” while covering the resignation of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak.

The CBS statement:

On Friday February 11, the day Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak stepped down, CBS correspondent Lara Logan was covering the jubilation in Tahrir Square for a 60 MINUTES story when she and her team and their security were surrounded by a dangerous element amidst the celebration. It was a mob of more than 200 people whipped into frenzy.In the crush of the mob, she was separated from her crew. She was surrounded and suffered a brutal and sustained sexual assault and beating before being saved by a group of women and an estimated 20 Egyptian soldiers. She reconnected with the CBS team, returned to her hotel and returned to the United States on the first flight the next morning. She is currently in the hospital recovering.

There will be no further comment from CBS News and Correspondent Logan and her family respectfully request privacy at this time.

On Tuesday’s “CBS Evening News,” Katie Couric said that she was “pleased to report” that Logan is “recovering well in the hospital.”

Logan had previously been detained by Egyptian authorities while attempting to enter Cairo.

The Committee to Protect Journalists report on attacks on the press in Egypt in 2005 referenced female journalists facing sexual assault:

A report published in 2005 by the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights said that “journalists in Egypt suffer numerous forms of discrimination including unfairness in legislation, judicial prosecution of journalists for their writing and opinions, assault and death threats, and sexual assault of female journalists.”