Sixty troops have been fired as sexual assault counselors, recruiters or drill instructors after the military investigators found they had committed violations ranging from alcohol-related offenses to child abuse and sexual assault, USA TODAY has learned.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered that the records of recruiters and sexual assault counselors be examined on May 17. That action came in light of the Pentagon’s report in May that estimated 26,000 troops had been sexually assaulted in 2012, a 35% increase since 2010, with offenses ranging from groping to rape. Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has called sexual assault in the military a crisis.

The records of at least 35,000 troops have been screened or are under review, according to the services.

Each of the services appears to have interpreted Hagel’s directive differently. The Marines screened recruiters, for example, against a public database, while the Army considered criminal records for sexual assault, child abuse and alcohol-related offenses.

The Army has suspended 55 soldiers, according to figures compiled through mid-July, said George Wright, an Army spokesman. In all, it is looking at 20,000 recruiters, sexual-assault counselors and drill instructors and expects to have completed its screening by Oct. 1. More suspensions could occur as the review continues.

It is unclear whether the suspended soldiers have been discharged, Wright said, or if they can be reassigned to other units.

"We only want the very best to be in these positions of special trust," Wright said. “The steps we are taking are in keeping with our commitment to maintaining the special bonds of trust and confidence between the leader and his or her soldiers."

The Navy disqualified three of 5,125 recruiters it reviewed, and two of 4,739 counselors. It reviewed records of 869 recruit instructors; none of them was disqualified.

"We are committed to this process and routinely screen personnel for any conduct that could warrant decertification," said Tammy O’Rourke, the Navy’s sexual assault prevention and response program manager.

The Air Force reported no airmen were disqualified but did not report an overall number. The Marines screened its recruiters against the National Sex Offenders Public website, according to a memo, and found no matches. About 6,000 Marine recruiters were screened.

Several high-profile sex scandals have rocked the military this year. The Air Force relieved the lieutenant colonel in charge of its Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office following his arrest in May after police said he drunkenly groped a woman outside a bar not far from the Pentagon.

Also in May: The Army announced that it was investigating a sergeant in charge of a battalion’s sexual assault prevention program at Fort Hood for suspicion of sexual assault. He is suspected of running a small-scale prostitution ring there, according to sources briefed on the case.

Congress summoned the service chiefs to Capitol Hill to explain their response to sexual assault, and a number of measures to address the issue could become law. Among them is a proposal to enhance oversight of commanders who make decisions about prosecution and discipline in sex crimes.

(Source: thepoliticalfreakshow)


With implementation of the Affordable Care Act inching closer by the day, there’s been a slow but steady stream of employers claiming that the law is forcing them to cut back workers’ hours and rely more heavily on part-time employees. But for all the talk, very few companies have actually cut hours because of Obamacare, according to a new analysis by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR).

Obamacare requires firms that have 50 or more employees to provide a minimum level of health coverage to their full-time workers — defined as those who work 30 hours or more per week — or pay a $2,000 per employee fine after the first 30 workers. Since the overwhelming majority of companies that size already offer health care benefits, the provision only affects about 10,000 firms. Nonetheless, reform critics have latched onto the narrative that the requirement is a job-killer, citing the example of retail and service sector companies like Regal Theaters that are cutting back hours to avoid paying for workers’ health care benefits.

The CEPR report shows that to be a minority position among larger employers. Since 30 hours per week is the threshold for employees receiving benefits under the law, researchers expected companies that didn’t want to comply with Obamacare to roll back workers’ hours to just below that threshold. But only about 0.6 percent of the labor force worked between 26 and 29 hours per week in 2013. Since 2012, the number of part-time employees working that range of hours actually stayed statistically the same. Furthermore, less than a third of workers say they are working less than 30 hours because of an employers’ decision — most choose to work the limited number of hours. That led the authors to conclude that the trend “is in the wrong direction for the ACA as job-killer story.”

“While there may certainly be instances of individual employers carrying through with threats to reduce their employees’ hours to below 30 to avoid the sanctions in the ACA, the numbers are too small to show up in the data,” the CEPR researchers write. “It appears that in setting worker hours employers are responding to business considerations in much the same way as they did before the ACA took effect.”

Researchers also contend that the Obama administration’s recent decision to delay the employer coverage requirement by a year should have little effect on the numbers, since it was only announced earlier this month.

Companies had been shifting towards part-time workers and cutting those workers’ benefitslong before the health care law was around, and part-time employment has been propping up the economic recovery. But as this report shows, few firms are changing their workers’ hours in the way one would expect them to if they were really that worried about Obamacare.

(Source: thepoliticalfreakshow)

Killing in Self-Defense: You Better Be White


Black defendants rarely get a ruling of justifiable homicide, whether the victim is white or black.


(The Root) — It doesn’t hurt to have a little white privilege on your side.

If you can get it.

And George Zimmerman got the most out of what privilege he had after being found not guilty in the murder of Florida teen Trayvon Martin. After the verdict, Zimmerman’s attorneys held a press conference, and attorney Mark O’Mara, while answering a reporter’s question, remarked that if Zimmerman had been black, “He never would’ve been charged with a crime.”

O’Mara couldn’t be more wrong.

I don’t know which justice system O’Mara’s been operating in, but black people are more likely to get a conviction no matter who they kill — black or white — even if they claim self-defense. Especially since most of them can’t afford O’Mara to represent them in the first place.

There is no privilege in claiming self-defense while black — even when killing another black person. When the verdict came down not guilty, Zimmerman had not just the jury but also statistics on his side.

A 2012 study by PBS’s Frontline is getting a second look post-Zimmerman’s exoneration, and it reveals that if you’re going to kill in self-defense in America, you’d better be white. By analyzing data from a study by John Roman, senior analyst at the Urban Institute’s Justice Policy Center, Frontline found that in “Stand your ground” states, white people who kill black people are 354 percent more likely to be found justified in their killings. And it doesn’t get much better in non-“Stand your ground” states, where that number goes down only to 250 percent.

But even when it comes to black-on-black crime or black-on-white crime, a black defendant is unlikely to get a self-defense ruling in his or her favor, whether or not the state has “Stand your ground” laws on the books, as shown in this graph.



But is this proof of bias? Not necessarily, according to Frontline:

So the disparity is clear. But the figures don’t yet prove bias. As Roman points out, the data doesn’t show the circumstances behind the killings, for example whether the people who were shot were involved in home invasions or in a confrontation on the street.

Additionally, there are far fewer white-on-black shootings in the FBI data — only 25 total in both the Stand Your Ground and non-Stand Your Ground states. In fact, the small sample size is one of the reasons Roman conducted a regression analysis, which determines the statistical likelihood of whether the killings will be found justifiable.

Anecdotally, we can name the names — Oscar Grant III, James Byrd, Amadou Diallo, Jordan Davis, Trayvon Martin — some killed by police, others by civilians. Sometimes the perpetrators were punished, as in the case of Byrd’s lynching. Others were sentenced, but leniently, like former police officer Johannes Mehserle, who killed Oscar Grant. He received two years with credit for time served and served only 11 months. Trayvon’s killer is now free, and it’s yet to be seen what will happen to Michael Dunn, who shot Florida teen Jordan Davis over an alleged dispute involving “loud music.”

So the fact that black life, again, isn’t valued as much as the lives of others — and that if you’re a black person claiming self-defense, you are unlikely to be believed — is not shocking. It’s depressing, but a depressing reality that we have lived under for centuries.

How can these statistics be surprising when post-Reconstruction lynchings were rampant? There were rarely arrests, and almost never any trials. Just death. And how can anyone raise an eyebrow after witnessing the 1950s and ’60s, when, even if, on the off-chance, someone who killed a civil rights worker or any black person did end up in court, that person was unlikely to be punished? After all, all these black victims had dared to “step out of line,” “not know their place” or “be uppity,” which is all code for “They were acting like they had rights or something.” And you can’t have black people acting, thinking, living, breathing, being a free people.

They might marry your daughter, and their kid might become president of the United States. Can’t have that.

Privilege is real. White privilege is especially real, especially when it comes to our courts of law, especially when it comes to death. No matter if you’re the victim or the perp, if you want justice, the only thing you don’t want to be is the black one.


Corporate profits are at an all-time high, workers’ share of the economy is at an all-time low.
We can afford to raise wages for American workers. In fact, we can’t afford not to.


Corporate profits are at an all-time high, workers’ share of the economy is at an all-time low.

We can afford to raise wages for American workers. In fact, we can’t afford not to.

(via odinsblog)

"In conversations with members of the Federal Reserve, the Obama administration, financial reporters and the broader monetary-policy community, I’ve had a surprising number of discussions that follow the same pattern: “Yellen is great,” my interlocutor will say. “But … ” The “but” is a variation on a theme. She lacks “toughness.” She’s short on “gravitas.” Too “soft-spoken” or “passive.” Some mused that she is not as aggressively brilliant or intellectually probing as other candidates — though they hasten to say she’s clearly very knowledgeable about monetary policy. Others have wondered whether she could handle the inevitable fights with Congress…. What the complaints share is an implicit definition of leadership based on stereotypically male qualities. They aren’t qualities that all men have, or all women lack, but they’re qualities that tend to be more rewarded in men than in women, and thus more prevalent among men than women. And because every chairman of the Federal Reserve (as well as every Treasury secretary) has been male, such qualities have steadily, perhaps subconsciously, informed the portrait etched in many minds of high-level economic policy makers."

The subtle, sexist whispering campaign against Janet Yellen

(via dendroica)

"I do not remotely suggest that all conservatives opposed Zimmerman’s trial. The National Review’s Rich Lowry agreed with a handful of conservatives like myself that Trayvon Martin’s killer should be tried in a court of law. But I remained confused by a political party that desperately tries to expand its minority outreach by considering the granting of citizenship to millions of illegal immigrants while refusing to even give the benefit of the doubt to a young black man gunned down for no good reason in a suburban Florida neighborhood. I just don’t get it.

What I do get is why over 90 percent of African American voters have been voting against GOP presidential candidates for most of my life. Conservative commentary and GOP stand-your-ground laws only exacerbated that divide. If Republicans are to take back the White House anytime in the next generation, that reality has to change. After this week, it has definitely become a longer, harder slog."

— Joe Scarborough, warning that Republicans continue to politicize the Trayvon Martin killing at their own peril.

(Source:, via quickhits)


Ian Floyd 
March has become a rally, @CecileRichards to speak shortly #HB2 #txlege


Immigration reform would be awesome for our economy —> Share this to spread the word.

(via odinsblog)