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.)

Thieves using new trick to lure victims at gas stations

Published: Tuesday, February 28, 2017 @ 3:34 AM
Updated: Tuesday, February 28, 2017 @ 3:34 AM


            Thieves using new trick to lure victims at gas stations

Criminals are using decoys to rip off unsuspecting people at gas stations.

“It’s a new twist to an old crime,” Fairburn, Georgia, police Sgt. Mario Jones said.

The crime was caught on tape when three people threw a handbag out the window of a silver Lexus at a South Fulton County gas station and waited for their victim to take notice.

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“When he picked it up to take it inside the store here, that's when the crooks moved in,” Jones said.

Surveillance video captured the 54-year-old man as he stepped away from his car to take the purse inside. Within seconds, a man can be seen jumping from the back of the Lexus and into the victim’s car, stealing a wallet and iPhone.

Harold Byrd told WSBTV.com that he rents his basement apartment to the victim in the video.

“He thought he was being a good Samaritan by taking this handbag to a store clerk, thinking someone had dropped it at the gas station off Senoia Road. But the store’s surveillance video shows something different,” Byrd said.

>> Read more trending news

The Lexus also was stolen, and police believe the handbag tossed from the window was taken the same way just an hour before, Jones said.

“They got his pocketbook, all his information, my address on it. I worry about that. I’m 82 years old,” Byrd said.

Jones said this could become a new trend.

Byrd told us he won’t rest easy until the suspects are caught.

Anyone who may know the suspects are urged to call police. 

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Trump to renew call for Obamacare repeal as GOP struggles with details

Published: Tuesday, February 28, 2017 @ 3:45 AM
Updated: Tuesday, February 28, 2017 @ 3:59 AM

As President Donald Trump goes to Capitol Hill tonight for his first address to a Joint Session of Congress, both parties fully expect him to again sound the call for action on a repeal of the Obama health law, though GOP lawmakers in Congress admit they still don’t have an internal agreement on how best to replace the Obama health law.

“There is no consensus, whether it be in the Senate or in the House at this particular point,” said Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), the head of the more conservative House Freedom Caucus, as he vowed to vote against a plan currently being floated by GOP leaders.

Meadows and other Republicans were raising red flags over how refundable tax credits might be used to help people afford health care coverage, along with how the GOP might funnel money to states to pay for Medicaid coverage.

“There are serious problems with what appears to be our current path to repeal and replace Obamacare,” said Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC), who heads another House GOP group, the Republican Study Committee.

“What we don’t want to do is create a fourth column of entitlement, when we are already trying to reform the others,” Walker said, who was trailed by a pack of reporters in a U.S. Capitol hallway, trying to figure how serious these health care disagreements may be within the GOP.

“Every member in this body on the Republican ran to repeal and replace Obamacare; for us not to do that would be irresponsible,” said Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL), who expressed confidence that the GOP will find a way forward, despite some differences at this point.

“I feel very confident,” Yoho said from the Speaker’s Lobby just off the House floor. “The President, the Vice President is committed to it.”

Republicans like Yoho acknowledge the next month and a half of action on health care reform won’t be simple.

“We’re going to be working for the next six weeks on Obamacare,” said Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA). “I think we’re going to hear his (Trump’s) support on that.”

On Monday, President Trump talked health care with the nation’s Governors, as he admitted finding an agreement might not be the easiest political move.

“I have to tell you, it’s an unbelievably complex subject,” Mr. Trump said.

“Nobody knew that health care could be so complicated.”

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It’s not clear what exactly the President would support in a bill, as Capitol Hill waits for GOP leaders to reveal the fine print of their health bill.

“There are a number of plans that are working their way through Congress and the Administration,” said Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH), who like many other lawmakers is waiting to see what is produced.

President Trump will amplify that call for action on health care tonight before Congress – whether the GOP can follow through is still a question mark.

“We have to do what’s right,” the President said Monday.

“Obamacare is a failed disaster.”

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Oscars 'In Memoriam' tribute mistakenly uses photo of living producer

Published: Tuesday, February 28, 2017 @ 1:52 AM
Updated: Tuesday, February 28, 2017 @ 1:52 AM


            Oscars 'In Memoriam' tribute mistakenly uses photo of living producer

An Australian movie producer was accidentally featured in the "In Memoriam" segment at Sunday night’s Oscars despite the fact that she is “alive and well.”

According to People, an image of Jan Chapman was used to remember Janet Patterson, an Australian costume designer who died in October 2016.

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“I was devastated by the use of my image in place of my great friend and long-time collaborator Janet Patterson,” Chapman told Variety. “I had urged her agency to check any photograph which might be used and understand that they were told that the Academy had it covered.”

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Chapman, who reportedly worked with Patterson on “The Piano” and “The Last Days of Chez Nous,” was “very disappointed” that the mistake wasn’t realized ahead of the ceremony.

>> Read more trending stories

“I am alive and well and an active producer,” she said.

Federal investigation uncovers multi-million dollar drug ring out of Tulsa auto shops

Published: Monday, February 27, 2017 @ 11:39 PM
Updated: Monday, February 27, 2017 @ 11:47 PM


            Federal investigation uncovers multi-million dollar drug ring out of Tulsa auto shops

A federal investigation into two Tulsa auto shops uncovered a massive drug ring last week.

>> Read more trending news 

Federal law enforcement raided the Elite Auto Group and R&R Auto Group Thursday, and they say a criminal organization was running millions of dollars in meth and heroin through the businesses.

Documents show 11 people known to call themselves "DTO" are accused of running a $4 million drug business out of the two separate auto shops.

They face 77 drug-related counts. A federal indictment says they were buying and selling large amounts of drugs.

Police say suspects used code words like "pizza" and "dark" to refer to meth and heroin, respectively. Other code words included "ice cream," "bottle," "work," "paper" and more.

Investigators also say the suspects sold firearms to raise funds to buy illegal drugs, buying four pounds of heroin at the same time.

Investigators say they made a substantial income.

Many of the suspects previously faced drug-related charges.

A federal indictment says the suspects tried to evade the law by constantly changing phones, but investigators were still able to build up quite a bit of evidence against them.