December 15th, 2011

Marines promoted inflated story for Medal of Honor winner

By McClatchy Newspapers, Wednesday, December 14, 9:53 PM

WASHINGTON — With Dakota Meyer standing at attention in his dress uniform, sweat glistening on his forehead under the television lights, President Barack Obama extolled the former Marine corporal for the “extraordinary actions” that had earned him the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest award for valor.

Obama told the audience in the White House East Room on Sept. 15 that Meyer had driven into the heart of a savage ambush in eastern Afghanistan against orders. He’d killed insurgents at near-point-blank range, twice leapt from his gun turret to rescue two dozen Afghan soldiers and saved the lives of 13 U.S. service members as he fought to recover the bodies of four comrades, the president said.

But there’s a problem with this account: Crucial parts that the Marine Corps publicized and Obama described are untrue, unsubstantiated or exaggerated, according to dozens of military documents McClatchy Newspapers examined.

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This is sort of long, so here's the tl;dr version:

The military and Pentagon had been pushing for more Medals of Honor to be awarded for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Meyer did some courageous stuff that might have landed him a MoH anyway, but the Marines decided to make shit up to make it sound even more courageous - and actually impossible - in order to seal the deal. They apparently did this because they had submitted a non-embellished medal packet earlier and were pissed that it was turned down. Meanwhile, a former senior Pentagon official wrote a book that included the embellished story, based partially on an interview he had with Meyer just days after the attack, the book became a bestseller and he entered into a contract to co-write Meyer's biography. And the Army also submitted a medal packet for an officer who may have done things incorrectly attributed to Meyer, but while Meyer's medal packet was fast-tracked (to get it in before the previous Commandant of the Marine Corp retired), this dude's packet was "lost" for a year and a half. Oh, and the stuff in his packet conflicts with the stuff in Meyer's official citation.

Also, the Corp is trying to pretend like it's all Meyer's fault that the official citation was wrong, and that they had nothing to do with it being screwy. So far, it looks like the White House's only fault was not questioning the citation once the Marines and the Pentagon finalized it.

Liusaidh - sylvari mesmer

Census shows 1 in 2 people are poor or low-income

Census shows 1 in 2 people are poor or low-income

WASHINGTON (AP) - Squeezed by rising living costs, a record number of Americans - nearly 1 in 2 - have fallen into poverty or are scraping by on earnings that classify them as low income.

The latest census data depict a middle class that's shrinking as unemployment stays high and the government's safety net frays. The new numbers follow years of stagnating wages for the middle class that have hurt millions of workers and families.

"Safety net programs such as food stamps and tax credits kept poverty from rising even higher in 2010, but for many low-income families with work-related and medical expenses, they are considered too 'rich' to qualify," said Sheldon Danziger, a University of Michigan public policy professor who specializes in poverty.

"The reality is that prospects for the poor and the near poor are dismal," he said. "If Congress and the states make further cuts, we can expect the number of poor and low-income families to rise for the next several years."
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A friend of mine just linked this on twitter, and I found myself completely unsurprised.

Also, I'm so fucking sick of the whole "you can't be poor, you have a car and a home!" thing, and side-eyed it popping up in this. Having a house, or a car, or a TV does not mean someone's not poor or low-income; are people who lose their jobs supposed to just immediately give up anything nice they might have had? Not to mention that cars are a necessity in a lot of areas...
  • mschaos

Obama abandons veto on security bill that will give U.S. military powers to arrest Americans and hol

President Barack Obama has dropped his plan to veto a new security law that would see American citizens arrested in the U.S. and detained indefinitely without trial.
The failure of Mr Obama to stand in the way of elements contained in the National Defense Authorization Act was immediately criticised by human rights groups.
Opponents of the bill say Mr Obama has lost his principles by disregarding the long-held belief that the military should not be used as a domestic police force.

Critics also say it is a clear dilution of Americans' human rights in a seemingly never-ending war on terror.
The House of Representatives voted 283-136 for the $662 billion measure on Wednesday night, a rare bipartisan vote that reflected the strong support for annual legislation that authorises money for the men and women of the military, as well as weapons systems and the millions of jobs they generate.
The Senate was expected to clear the bill today and send it to Mr Obama.

The House vote came just hours after the Obama administration abandoned its veto threat.
Mr Obama and senior members of his national security team - including Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton - had sought modifications in the detainee provisions.
Specifically, the bill would require that the military take custody of a suspect deemed to be a member of al Qaeda or its affiliates, and who is involved in plotting or committing attacks on the United States.
It is essentially the difference between treating someone as a criminal, who has the right to legal representation, or a prisoner of war - who can be held without charge for the duration of a conflict.
Unnerving many politicians on both sides, the legislation would deny suspected terrorists the right to trial and subject them to the possibility of years of detention.
Crucially, this also applies to Americans arrested within the U.S.
While House and Senate negotiators say the new provision will not affect domestic policing in the U.S., FBI Director Robert Mueller has expressed serious reservations about the detainee provisions.
Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Mr Mueller said a coordinated effort by the military, intelligence agencies and law enforcement had weakened al Qaeda, leading to the capture or death of many of its leaders.
He said handing over power to the military from the FBI or local police agencies would be divisive and impractical

He told Congress: 'The possibility looms that we will lose opportunities to obtain co-operation from the persons in the past that we've been fairly successful in gaining.'
The head of the CIA, the director of national intelligence, the attorney general and the Pentagon were all against the legislation.
But many senators supported the new powers, saying al Qaeda was already acting inside the U.S. and that followers should be treated as combatants, not civilians with constitutional protections.


we are so very very screwed
MISC - moustache

Over 507,000 signatures collected in first 28 days

Just four weeks into the recall campaign, and as Scott Walker continues to mislead voters, United Wisconsin announced that 507,533 people have already signed a petition to recall Scott Walker and is releasing its new signature collection goal of 720,277 – nearly 200,000 more than needed.

“Scott Walker continues to spend millions on misleading TV ads trying to convince voters that his drastic cuts to education and other “reforms” are working,” said Meagan Mahaffey, United Wisconsin’s Executive Director. “But the people of Wisconsin are not buying his lies, and are moving at record pace to stop Walker’s destruction, and recall him from office.”

The movement to recall Walker continues to move quickly. In the first 28 days, Wisconsin voters signed the petition at a rate of over 18,000 per day. In the first 12 days, more than 300,000 signatures were collected from all 72 counties in Wisconsin.

Specific signature totals from selected counties include the following:

8,007 signatures or 128% of Walker’s 2010 vote total in Douglas County
22,365 signatures or 124% of Walker’s 2010 vote total in Eau Claire County
21,558 signatures or 91% of Walker’s 2010 vote total in Rock County
7,375 signatures or 84% of Walker’s 2010 vote total in Oneida County
6,972 signatures or 81% of Walker’s 2010 vote total in Grant County

The newly released signature collection goal of 720,277 is equal to 33% of the 2010 General Election turnout. Only 540,208 signatures or 25% of the 2010 General Election turnout is required to trigger a recall election.


What is Victoria's Secret? Child Labor

Bloomberg Markets went to Burkina Faso, where Victoria's Secret usually buys up the entire fair trade and organic-certified cotton crop to make the lingerie it sells in the West. There, the magazine found children of 12 and 13, laboring in the fields on pain of being whipped with switches by their bosses the cotton farmers. Burkina Faso-grown cotton is shipped to India and Sri Lanka, where it is milled into cloth, cut, sewn and finished (Sri Lanka and India, it is worth pointing out, also have their issues with child labor in the garment industry). From there, finished underwear is shipped to the U.S., where it used to be sold by Victoria's Secret with hang-tags that read, "Pesticide-free, 100% rain-fed cotton. Good for women. Good for the children that depend on them." (The company has since dropped the "good for children" part.)

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Original report. Long, but seriously worth a read.
Murasaki Shikibu
  • homasse

Why Are Indian Reservations So Poor? A Look At The Bottom 1%

Why Are Indian Reservations So Poor? A Look At The Bottom 1%

When customers who live and work on the nearby Crow Indian reservation don’t make their car payments, there’s not much Square One Finance of Billings, Montana, can do. Going to state court to repossess the car or garnish wages is not an option. Instead, Square One enters the murky realm of international affairs. The reservation is a separate nation—judgments in American courts can’t be enforced. And the chances of finding the customer and the car on the sprawling rural reservation, or winning in the unpredictable Crow courts, are slim. “We take on such a huge extra risk with someone from the reservation,” says Square One’s Nancy Vermeulen. “If I knew contracts would be enforced, then I could do a lot more business there.”

At a time when there’s a spotlight on America’s richest 1%, a look at the country’s 310 Indian reservations–where many of America’s poorest 1% live–can be more enlightening. To explain the poverty of the reservations, people usually point to alcoholism, corruption or school-dropout rates, not to mention the dusty undeveloped land that doesn’t seem good for growing much and the long distances to jobs. But those are just symptoms. Prosperity is built on property rights, and reservations often have neither. They’re a demonstration of what happens when property rights are weak or non-existent.

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It must be "Rich Douchebags Whitesplain What Minorities Are Doing Wrong" Week at Forbes or something, I swear.

Also, wow, the "they don't know how to use the land" argument, gee, where have I heard THAT one before from white people towards Native Americans...

Oh, and, READ THE COMMENTS. The comments are full of wonderful, glorious knowledge and call-outs. Forbes writers may have their douchegoggles on, but a lot of their readers seem to be on the ball. :Db
john stewart shocked
  • aviv_b

Arizona Sheriff’s Office Unfairly Targeted Latinos, Justice Department Says

Arizona Sheriff’s Office Unfairly Targeted Latinos, Justice Department Says
Published: December 15, 2011
PHOENIX — In a harshly worded critique of the country’s best-known sheriff, the Justice Department accused Joe Arpaio of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office of engaging in “unconstitutional policing” by unfairly targeting Latinos for detentions and arrests and retaliating against those who complain.
After an investigation that lasted more than three years, the civil rights division of the Justice Department said in a 22-page report that the sheriff’s office has “a pervasive culture of discriminatory bias against Latinos” that “reaches the highest levels of the agency.” The department interfered with the inquiry, the government said, prompting a lawsuit that eventually led Mr. Arpaio and his deputies to cooperate.
“We have peeled the onion to its core,” said Thomas E. Perez, the assistant attorney general for civil rights, noting during a conference call with reporters on Thursday morning that more than 400 inmates, deputies and others were interviewed as part of the review, including Mr. Arpaio and his command staff. Mr. Perez said the inquiry, which also included jail visits and reviews of thousands of pages of internal documents, raised the question of whether Latinos were receiving “second-class policing services” in Maricopa County.
The report stems from a civil inquiry and Mr. Perez said he hoped that Mr. Arpaio would cooperate with the federal government in turning the department around. Should he refuse, a lawsuit will be filed and his department could lose millions of dollars in federal funding, Mr. Perez said.
A separate federal grand jury investigation of Mr. Arpaio’s office is continuing, focusing on accusations of abuse of power by the department’s public corruption squad.
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Lets see, we have a sheriff who openly and unconstitutionally discriminates against Latinos, fails to prosecute rape and child abuse cases if they involve undocumented workers or their families, and is still under investigation for abuse of power. And people keep supporting him. I'm shocked, I tell you, shocked.

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Colorado Rep. Jared Polis on SOPA

Rep. Jared Polis, Web entrepreneur, on SOPA (Q&A)
Rep. Jared Polis probably knows more about how Internet businesses work than does any other member of the U.S. Congress.

Which is why it should be no surprise that Polis, 36, a Colorado Democrat who has founded a series of successful Web businesses including the electronic greeting card company, has become an ardent foe of the Stop Online Piracy Act. SOPA will "destroy the Internet as we know it," he warns.

SOPA represents the latest effort from the Motion Picture Association of America, the Recording Industry Association of America, and their allies to counter what they view as rampant piracy on the Internet, especially offshore sites such as It would allow the Justice Department to seek an order making allegedly piratical Web sites virtually vanish from the Internet. (See CNET's FAQ on SOPA.)

That approach has attracted criticism from Internet engineers, Web companies including Facebook, Twitter, Google, and Zynga, and civil liberties and human rights groups. Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe says SOPA violates the First Amendment and "should not be enacted by Congress."

Polis, who also founded Web hosting company American Information Systems and whose district includes Boulder and some of Denver's suburbs, is the newest member of the House Judiciary committee. He's planning to put his position to good use this Thursday, when the committee meets to vote on a revised version of SOPA.

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Today Polis introduced two amendments to SOPA: One to exempt universities and charities, and the other to exempt dynamic IP addresses. Both amendments were voted down, and at first I was like "WTF Jared" but now I think he did it to demonstrate how Congress doesn't know anything about the internet and how far-reaching SOPA is. Which is exactly what the MPAA is counting on, of course.

Anyway, after today's fuckery with the security bill, I thought we could use a little bit of good news that there's someone on Capitol Hill fighting the good fight.

MODS: If there were a non-misogynistic equivalent of the "hot b*****s in the news" tag I would totes use it on this post, just sayin'. :)

Rep. King Proves How Seriously He Takes His Job By Tweeting His Ennui.

Representative Steve King (R-IA), while sitting in hearings for the SOPA bill, suddenly decided that... nah, civil liberties can take a backseat to taking a dig at a fellow congressman, Sheila Jackson-Lee [D-TX] via the very medium SOPA seeks to regulate.

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National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey results released

On December 14, 2011, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS) 2010 Summary Report. The findings show that, on average, Collapse )

Lots of horrible information, based on a telephone survey of about 9,000 women and 7,000 men. Unfortunately the numbers are, for the most part, as unsurprising as they are upsetting.

source; direct link to the Executive Summary [pdf]; direct link to the full Report [pdf]

Boy, 6, Accused of Sexual Assault for Playing 'Butt Doctor,' Gag Order Silences Parents

Possible triggers for sexual assault.

By Laura Matthews | November 28, 2011 7:15 PM EST

The parents of a 6-year-old Grant County, Wis., boy who has been accused of first-degree sexual assault have been prevented from discussing the case.

The Dubuque Telegraph Herald has reported that Iowa County Judge Bill Dyke, who is handling the case, has issued a gag order because the parents had plans to speak with a Madison television station.

According to that report, the parents of the accused boy intended to discuss how the accusation has emotionally affected their child. However, Grant County District Attorney Lisa Riniker, who has been sued by the boy's parents, asked Dyke for a gag order regarding the case. The order was granted.
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Christopher Hitchens, 1949-2011

Christopher Hitchens—the incomparable critic, masterful rhetorician, fiery wit, and fearless bon vivant—died today at the age of 62. Hitchens was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in the spring of 2010, just after the publication of his memoir, Hitch-22, and began chemotherapy soon after. His matchless prose has appeared in Vanity Fair since 1992, when he was named contributing editor.

“Cancer victimhood contains a permanent temptation to be self-centered and even solipsistic,” Hitchens wrote nearly a year ago in Vanity Fair, but his own final labors were anything but: in the last 12 months, he produced for this magazine a piece on U.S.-Pakistani relations in the wake of Osama bin Laden’s death, a portrait of Joan Didion, an essay on the Private Eye retrospective at the Victoria and Albert Museum, a prediction about the future of democracy in Egypt, a meditation on the legacy of progressivism in Wisconsin, and a series of frank, graceful, and exquisitely written essays in which he chronicled the physical and spiritual effects of his disease. At the end, Hitchens was more engaged, relentless, hilarious, observant, and intelligent than just about everyone else—just as he had been for the last four decades.

“My chief consolation in this year of living dyingly has been the presence of friends,” he wrote in the June 2011 issue. He died in their presence, too, at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. May his 62 years of living, well, so livingly console the many of us who will miss him dearly.


part of me is like "RIP smart man :(" and part of me is like "meh, goodbye perpetuator of dudebro atheism." idk, idk.

mods - not sure what to tag this with. any suggestions? 
model: dusky
  • myrana

Rape affects almost 20% of US women, study says

Nearly 20% of women in the US are raped or suffer attempted rape at some point in their lives, a US study says.

Even more women, estimated at 25%, have been attacked by a partner or husband, the Centers for Disease Control said.

The findings form part of the first set of results from a nationwide study surveying sexual violence by intimate partners against men and women.

More than 24 people a minute reported rape, violence, or stalking, it says, with 12 million offences reported.

Experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) described the results of the first year of the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey as "astounding".

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source: BBC News

You can read the full report (or just the summaries) here. Lots of really sad stats. :(
pigorth 1

London 2012: 13,500 troops to provide Olympic security

Up to 13,500 military personnel will help to provide security at the London 2012 Olympic Games, the Ministry of Defence has announced.

Security would be police-led but the military would make a "significant contribution", the MoD said.

Some 5,000 troops will support the police, up to 7,500 will provide venue security and 1,000 will provide logistical support.

Last week, ministers revised the Games security budget from £282m to £553m.

In addition to the 13,500 figure, there will be a 1,000-strong unarmed contingency force ready for deployment in the event of an "Olympics-related civil emergency".

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this makes me twitchy. civil deployment of miltary assets is a dodgy thing. i would be intrested to see what kind of miltary pressnes there were at the sydney and athens games...