Coast Guard Cadet Sentenced for Extortion, Sodomy, and Indecent Assault
Coast Guard cadet Webster Smith, 23, was sentenced yesterday to six months in prison for extortion, sodomy, indecent assault, and other charges. He was also expelled from the Coast Guard Academy. Smith is the first Coast Guard cadet to be court-martialed in the history of the academy.
Smith was accused by four female cadets of sexual misconduct, including rape, in addition to the charges of extortion, sodomy, and indecent assault, but was acquitted of the sexual misconduct charges. The extortion, sodomy, and indecent assault charges were based on the testimony of one of the female cadets, who claimed that Smith knew a secret about her that would threaten her military career. The female cadet was afraid that Smith would reveal her secret if she said no to his requests, according to the Associated Press.
Though Smith is the first to be court-martialed from the Coast Guard, sexual assault and harassment at military academies is a well-documented problem. The Department of Defense Task Force on Sexual Harassment and Violence at the Military Service Academies studied the issue at the US Naval Academy and the Military Academy at West Point and released its findings in a report issued in August of 2005. The report found that “harassment is [a] prevalent and corrosive problem, creating an environment in which sexual assault is likely to occur.” The report concluded that procedures for sexual assault in the military academies were ineffective and called on Congress to bring military sexual assault codes more in-line with current civilian laws.
10/30/2014 Medication Abortion Access Threatened by Oklahoma Court Ruling - An Oklahoma state district court judge has refused to block a state law restricting medication abortion, clearing the way for the law to go into affect on November 1.
The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, together with a local abortion clinic in Tulsa, challenged HB 2684 in September, arguing that the law was an unconstitutional restriction on non-surgical abortion in the earliest weeks of pregnancy. . . .
10/30/2014 UPS Switches Pregnant Worker Policy Ahead of Supreme Court Case - The United Parcel Service (UPS) is changing its policy on light duty assignments for pregnant workers, even though the company will stand by its refusal to extend accommodations to a former employee in an upcoming Supreme Court case.
UPS announced on Monday in a memo to employees, and in a brief filed with the US Supreme Court, that the company will begin offering temporary, light-duty positions to pregnant workers on January 1, 2015. . . .
10/30/2014 North Dakota Medical Students Speak Out Against Measure 1 - Medical students at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences are asking North Dakotans to vote no on Measure 1, a personhood measure on the state ballot this fall.
The students issued published a letter in the Grand Forks Herald stating that they opposed Measure 1 in part because they are against "the government's taking control of the personal health care decisions of its citizens." Nearly 60 UND School of Medicine students signed the letter, citing concerns over the "very broad and ambiguous language" used in the proposed amendment, which has no regard for serious and life-threatening medical situations such as ectopic pregnancies.
Measure 1 would change the North Dakota state constitution to create an "inalienable right to life" for humans "at any stage of development" - including the moment of fertilization and conception. . . .