Senate Calls For Independent Review of Air Force Academy Rape Scandal
After Senators from both sides of the aisle demanded that a climate of hostility toward women at the nation's Air Force Academy be addressed, the Senate voted unanimously Wednesday to appoint an independent panel to investigate the academy's handling of close to 60 sexual assault allegations from female cadets over the past decade. If approved by the House, a seven-member panel – made up of individuals with “knowledge or expertise in matters relating to sexual assault, rape and the United States military academies” - will begin meeting May 1 and submit a report within 90 days, the Washington Post reported. Three internal investigations are currently underway. “It is abundantly clear the secretary of the Air Force has showed himself totally incapable of handling this issue,” said Senator John McCain (R-AZ), according to the New York Times.
Earlier this week, Air Force Secretary James Roche told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee that Air Force officials would be open to an outside review of the issue. In addition, Roche also announced that there would be leadership changes at the Academy – after female cadets said that they had been reprimanded for reporting sexual assault to their supervisors. Women cadets quoted Brig. Gen. S. Taco Gilbert III, the commandant of cadets, as forcefully insisting they face responsibility for bringing on sexual assaults, according to the Times. Senators demanded that Gilbert, who is being transferred to a job at the Pentagon, face responsibility for his actions.
Lawmakers also questioned changes proposed by Air Force officials - including housing male and female cadets in separate dormitories and training Air Force nurses and investigators to deal with sexual assault. “This is not about segregating women from men,” Rep. Heather Wilson (R-NM), who graduated in the first class of women cadets at the academy in 1980, told the Times. “It’s about segregating rapists from the academy.”
Media Resources: Washington Post 4/3/03; Associated Press 4/3/03; New York Times 4/2/03, 4/1/03; LA Times 4/1/03
8/31/2015 Chicago Activists Continue Hunger Strike to Save Predominately Black Public High School - Chicago residents have entered the second week of their hunger strike protesting the closure of Dyett High School, in the predominately African-American Bronzeville neighborhood located on the South Side of Chicago.
Parents and community members are calling on the Chicago Board of Education to keep Dyett - the only open-enrollment, neighborhood school in its area - open and accept a community plan to revitalize the school with a focus on science and green technology. . . .
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .