Pentagon releases plan to combat sexual assault in military

Published: Thursday, August 15, 2013 @ 3:45 PM
Updated: Thursday, August 15, 2013 @ 3:45 PM

Responding to intense pressure from Capitol Hill, the Pentagon today unveiled a series of new steps aimed at curbing the epidemic of sexual assault in the military.

At a news conference, senior Pentagon officials said they would immediately offer legal help to sexual assault victims, guarantee that all pre-trial hearings into sexual assault would be conducted by judge advocate general officers, and offer commanding officers the authority to protect victims by transferring the service member accused of the crime.

Although Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton and other lawmakers said the Pentagon’s plan falls short of what they believe is necessary, Pentagon spokesman George Little told reporters that “we are all accountable to fix this problem and we will fix it together.’’

Jessica L. Wright, acting undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness said that “the bottom line is sexual assault is not tolerated, not condoned, it’s not ignored and everyone in the department from the newest enlistee to the secretary of defense and everyone in between are responsible to uphold our values and continue an environment of dignity and respect for all.’’

The Pentagon has faced mounting criticism because of its inability to stop or at least dramatically reduce the thousands of cases of sexual assault that take place every year. The Department of Defense acknowledged that there were 26,000 cases of sexual assault in the military last year.

In particular, the Pentagon has tried to devise a system where victims of sexual assault – who for the most part have been women soldiers – could safely report the attacks and not have to continue serving in the same unit with the soldier accused of the assault.

“All of these measures will provide victims with additional rights, protections and legal support and help ensure that sexual assault related investigations and judicial proceedings are conducted thoroughly and professionally,’’ Little said.

“Sexual assault is a stain on the honor of our men and women who serve our country as well as a threat to the discipline and the cohesion of our force,’’ he said. “It must be stamped out.’’

White House press secretary Jay Carney said in a statement that “the initiatives announced today are substantial, but only a step along a path toward eliminating this crime from our military ranks.’’

Carney said that President Barack Obama “expects this level of effort to be sustained not only in the coming weeks and months, but as far into the future as necessary.’’

Turner, a member of the House Armed Services Committee who has led an effort to reduce sexual assault in the military, said he was “glad’’ that the Pentagon was “beginning to talk about sexual assault as a crime,’’ but he said senior Defense officials are “very far from recognizing the grave problem they have at’’ at the Pentagon.

Turner said he was “not confident’’ that the Defense Department “understands what needs to be done,’’ adding that the new plan “does not go far enough, but it’s definitely a start.’’

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., described the Pentagon’s announcement as “positive steps,’’ but she said “it is not the leap forward required to solve the problem.’’

“As we have heard over and over again from the victims, and the top military leadership themselves, there is a lack of trust in the system that has a chilling effect on reporting. 302 prosecutions out of an estimated 26,000 cases just isn’t good enough under any metric,’’ Gillibrand said in a statement. “It is time for Congress to seize the opportunity, listen to the victims and create an independent, objective and non-biased military justice system worthy of our brave men and women’s service.”

(Jessica Wehrman of the Washington bureau contributed to this story.)

Manchester explosion: Ariana Grande's mother reportedly helps fans to safety 

Published: Tuesday, May 23, 2017 @ 3:33 PM

As fans and others around the world continue to try to make sense of the aftermath of the explosion outside Manchester Arena Monday night after an Ariana Grande concert, hero stories are beginning to emerge.

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According to TMZ, Ariana Grande’s mother, Joan, is among them.

The site reported that, according to multiple witnesses, Joan Grande was about to go backstage to see Ariana when the incident occurred. She told the group of 10 or so kids seated around her to come backstage.

>> Police: At least 22 dead after explosion near Ariana Grande concert in Manchester

Us Weekly, which  reported it confirmed the news through a source, said that the mother and members of Ariana Grande’s security team took the fans backstage and waited with them until they were cleared to exit the arena.

The attacker has been identified by officials as Salman Abedi, 22. The explosion injured more than 50 and killed 22, including an 8-year-old girl.

Manchester explosion: Here’s what we know about the victims

Published: Tuesday, May 23, 2017 @ 10:13 PM

Armed police stand guard at Manchester Arena after reports of an explosion at the venue during an Ariana Grande gig  in Manchester, England Monday, May 22, 2017. Police says there are

Authorities continue  to sort out what happened Monday night when a man who police believe was a suicide bomber detonated an explosive device outside an arena in Manchester, England.

The explosion happened moments after the conclusion of a concert by pop star Ariana Grande.

At least 22 have been confirmed dead and 59 injured as of 2:30 a.m. ET Tuesday.

Here's what we know now about some of the victims:

Theresa May upgrades UK terror threat to highest possible level

Published: Tuesday, May 23, 2017 @ 9:41 PM

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 23:  Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May leaves Downing Street after addressing the media (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
Carl Court/Getty Images

In the wake of yesterday’s suicide bombing in Manchester, Prime Minister Theresa May has warned the United Kingdom that another attack may be “highly likely,” if not “imminent.” May also announced that the nation had raised the national terror threat level to its highest possible level: critical.

>> Read more trending news

The prime minister also announced that military units would be deployed alongside police to maintain order and public safety, the BBC reported. Armed service members will patrol concerts, sports matches and other high-priority targets to add additional security.

>> RELATED: President Trump won’t call terrorists monsters — he’s got a much harsher term for them

It is only the third time in history that the United Kingdom has formally raised the threat level in this manner. The threat level also reached critical in 2006 and 2007.

May and other politicians temporarily suspended campaigning in the wake of the suicide bombings. The United Kingdom is scheduled to vote on June 8, which is year, just two weeks from now.

The death toll stands at 22, with nearly 60 people still hospitalized.

Amanda Seyfried is in love with being mom

Published: Tuesday, May 23, 2017 @ 9:55 PM

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 19:  Actress Amanda Seyfried attends the premiere of

In March, Amanda Seyfried and husband, Thomas Sadoski, welcomed their first daughter together.

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And it’s been a dream come true for the new mother, according to a red carpet interview with E! Online.

“Man, I love being a mother... I love my family so much. I couldn’t, like, be more in awe of my life right now,” she told a reporter from the website at the debut for the “Twin Peaks” relaunch.

>> RELATED: It’s a girl for Amanda Seyfried and Thomas Sadoski, who just welcomed their first child together

One question is on everyone’s mind: When will we see the baby? Seyfried, of “Mean Girls,” “Mamma Mia!,” “Veronica Mars” and “Twin Peaks” stardom, has always kept her private life just that: private.

Even her wedding was witnessed by just a minister and her dog.

It seems as if it might be some time before we see pictures of her daughter, whose name we don’t even know yet. E! asked when to expect her to debut their baby, she said “I probably never will. I probably never will. She’s a secret.”