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Entries in women in military (8)


Kurdish Women Fighters In Syria Say ISIS Fears Women Soldiers So Much They Shake

YPJ soldiers carry the casket of Evrim, a female soldier who died while fighting ISIS militants, during her funeral in Derek City, Syria. About 24 soldiers from the YPJ and the YPG, a men’s unit, were buried during the month of August in this cemetery. Family members consider it an enormous honor when their children are killed in combat, calling the soldiers “Sehid” which means “marytr” in Kurdish. A popular saying in the community is “Sehid na merin,” which means “The martyr will never die.” Image by Erin TriebIn a media world assaulted with ISIS videos and threats of yet another beheading, the most fabulous story of heroism has emerged around a group of about 7,000 young Kurdish women in Syria who have armed themselves and joined the Women’s Protection Unit, or YPJ, “which grew out of the wider Kurdish resistance movement.”

I’ve covered this story in small bullet points on Eye, but this NBC News feature of dramatic images by New York-based photographer Erin Trieb are an inspiration for our ISIS media-weary souls.

Unlike the Iraqi soldiers who ran from ISIS, the Women’s Protection Unit is fighting to keep their people safe against attacks from Bashar Assad’s government, ISIS militants and the al Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front.

YPJ recruits cry and embrace a fellow soldier who they thought had been sent to the front line. Image by Erin Trieb

The BBC writes that around a third of the Syrian Kurdish force is comprised of women, who fight alongside the men, exposing themselves to all the same dangers.

“Women are the bravest fighters,” says Diren in her BBC interview, taking refuge from the scorching heat in the cool of an underground bunker.

She and three comrades are having lunch: flatbread, cheese and watermelon. Many of the fighters, like Diren, 19, are still teenagers.

“We’re not scared of anything,” she says. “We’ll fight to the last. We’d rather blow ourselves up than be captured by IS.”

Unintentionally, perhaps, Diren points out the greatest weakness of the ISIS fighters.

Diren says that, to the fanatics of IS, a female fighter is “haram”, anathema: a disturbing and scary sight.

“When they see a woman with a gun, they’re so afraid they begin to shake. They portray themselves as tough guys to the world. But when they see us with our guns they run away. They see a woman as just a small thing. But one of our women is worth a hundred of their men.”

Update Oct. 5, 2014 Dirren means ‘resist, the name chosen by Ceylan Ozalp. I’ve been tracking these young women each week and my heart dropped for a moment just now. Ceylan is ALIVE and is not the brave young Kurdish woman who committed suicide in Kobane last week, rather than be captured by ISIS fighters, say the newest reports. Just to confirm how integrated the women fighters are against ISIS, seven men and three women fighters were beheaded in Kobane earlier in the week. End of update.

Update Oct. 7, 2014 Definitive reports about the status of Ceylan Ozalp remain hard to some by. Follow the story on AOC’s home page End of update.

Israel’s Haaretz newspaper writes today of major fighting between ISIS and the YPG fighters in the area near Kobani, Syria Turkey opened its border on Friday so that 60,000 Syrian Kurds could flee the area in a period of 24 hours. See also Kurdish fighters rush to Syria to stand with brethren against Islamic State via Haaretz.

YPJ soldiers eat a breakfast of peppers, tomatoes, cheese, flatbread and tea at their post in Til Kocer, Syria. Their meals are often modest since most of their supplies, including food, are donated by the local community. Image by Erin Trieb


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Senate Showdown Over Military Assaults | Marijuana Arrest Rates Target Blacks | Komen Cancels 2014 Races

French Roast News

Anne is reading …

Military leaders agreed on the need to do more to prevent sexual assaults while resisting any and all attempts to institute reforms, including removing the handling of sexual assault cases from the chain of command.

Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, described the sexual assaults “like a cancer” in the military. But he said only the commanders — who resulted in a 1% conviction rate in last years’ estimated 26,000 sexual assaults — can change it.

“Not every single commander necessarily wants women in the force. Not every single commander believes what a sexual assault is. Not every single commander can distinguish between a slap on the ass and a rape because they merge all of these crimes together,” said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.

Frustration among the senators was obvious in a unified group of seven women senators from both parties. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz, a Navy veteran of Vietnam, said he could no longer give his unqualified support that women are safe in the military. Note that 50% of sexual assault victims are men. Proportionally, women are more likely to be assaulted, representing a much smaller number of service members.

The Washington Post summarizes that “More than 40 senators are sponsors or co-sponsors of the proposals, several of which have overlapping provisions. A bill by Sens. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., would provide any victims with a special military lawyer who would assist them throughout the process. Another, sponsored by Sens. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, would require any service member found guilty of rape or sexual assault receive a minimum punishment of a dismissal or a dishonorable discharge. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., introduced a bill with provisions that require commanders to submit reports of sex-related offenses to more senior officers within 24 hours.”

Drug Use & Drug Arrest By Race

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A major study by the ACLU reports the huge disparity between the number of black Americans and whites arrested for marijuana possession. The report confirms that blacks and whites use marijuana at about the same rates. Among young people ages 18-25, usage rates are higher for whites.

Iowa leads the country, arresting blacks at 8.34 times the rate of whites, while DC arrests blacks at 8.05 times the rate of whites for marijuana possession. Nationally, blacks are 3.5 times more likely to be arrested. Graphs via Washington Post.

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Komen Cancels 2014 Races

Dayna Smith/For The Washington Post - Walkers in the The Komen Global Race for the Cure, an annual run/walk event in Washington, D.C. that raises funds and awareness for the fight against breast cancer, which was held on the mall near the Washington Monument, May 11, 2013.The Susan G. Komen foundation has cancelled for 2014 its signature 3-Day walk in Washington DC and six other cities: Arizona, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, the Tampa Bay area and San Francisco. 

Komen will continue to host the 3-Day events in 2014 in Atlanta, Dallas-Fort Worth, Michigan, Philadelphia, San Diego, Seattle and Minneapolis-St. Paul.

Komen’s annual Race for the Cure in Washington took place a week later. It had fewer participants than in previous years — about 21,000 people, down from 27,000 last year and nearly 40,000 in 2011. The race raised $5 million in 2011, $2 million last year and about $1.5 million this year, although this year’s tally is not final, writes The Washington Post.

Komen has never recovered from the fury caused by founder Nancy Brinker when she unsuccessfully attempted to deny Komen funds to Planned Parenthood. The Komen 3-day events, which requires participants to raise at least $2,300, previously attracted a significant number of Planned Parenthood supporters. 

Avon’s 2014 Walk for Breast Cancer will take place in the same eight cities as this year. They are Houston, Washington, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, New York, Charlotte and Santa Barbara, Calif. Avon’s walk in Washington which took place in May raised $4.5 million, compared to $5 million in May.

Despite trademarking the phrase race “for the cure”, Komen gave only 16 percent of the  2011 $472 million raised to research vs the $231 million spent on education and screening. The actual value of mammograms was recently covered by the New York Times in Our Feel Good War on Breast Cancer by Peggy Orenstein. 


Military Women Are 'Putting Up With Too Much Crap' Says Sen. Lindsey Graham

1. The Army faces yet another potentially embarrassing scandal with the investigation of Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Miley, the commander of the Alaska Army National Guard’s 49th Missile Defense Battalion in Alaska.

The new complaints come on top of an earlier investigation for Miley promoting a WWII-style pin-up calendar with photos of his wife and female soldiers in pinup model. (See #2)

Miley advised subordinates in a Jan. 4 meeting that adultery isn’t punishable under military law, ignoring Article 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which states that adultery is a criminal offense if the affair is prejudicial to maintaining good order and discipline.

“The modern military is an environment where sexual misconduct is commonplace,” Miley said at the meeting, according to comments cited in the e-mail and confirmed by one of the people who was in the audience. Bloomberg News obtained a copy of the e-mail, which was unsigned, and the account was confirmed by three people who worked on the base and are familiar with the events.

2. In September 2012 the Army Times newspaper reported that pinup calendars like the one connected to the first investigation of Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Miley are not unique. Other military units have sold calendars of military spouses and soldiers to raise money for charities including the American Cancer Society’s ‘Relay For Life’ and veterans’ programs.

It was determined by the military chain of command that while the photo of Mrs. Tracy Miley is risqué, it’s not pornographic. The photo was taken for charity and considered a private matter.

“Somebody needs to get a life,” said Patsy Ewing, co-owner of a local bar in Fort Greely, Alaska. “I have seen the whole thing, and I thought it was nice, tasteful retro pin-up girls.”

Model Gina Elise, of the Pin-ups For Vets nonprofit, which raises money for many veterans-related causes said that many military wives give pin-up photos to their husbands.

Army wives at Fort Benning, Ga., created a nostalgia-themed 2010 calendar for the Wounded Warrior Project, and wives at Fort Bliss, Texas, sent a sexy calendar to their husbands in 2011.

Ashley Wise, founder of Battling Bare, based at Fort Campbell, Ky, raises awareness about PTSD using photos of Army wives writing messages to their husbands on their bodies.

3. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel spoke at West Point Military Academy graduation on Saturday, calling the increasing reports of sexual assault a “scourge” on the military. Urging the Army’s newest officers to help build “a culture of respect and dignity” in the armed forces, Hagel said that sexual harassment and sexual assault in the military are “a profound betrayal of sacred oaths and sacred trusts.”

Acknowledging budget cuts that are forcing the “Army — along with all our other services — to curtail training and cancel exercises”, the secretary continued “Meanwhile, other threats to the health and quality of the all-volunteer force are increasing — alcohol and drug abuse, suicide and mental illness, sexual harassment and sexual assault.

It was revealed recently that a sergeant responsible for advising cadets had been charged with secretly videotaping 12 West Point women naked in the bathroom or in the showers. See #4

On Friday President Obama delivered a commencement speech at the US Military Academy urging graduates to follow their “inner compass” and understand that the rising numbers of sexual assaults in the military threatened to erode America’s faith in the armed forces.

Sgt. 1st Class Michael McClendon faces numerous charges for allegedly gathering inappropriate photos and videos of women at the US Military Academy at West Point — charges which were discovered by the New York Times but not officially announced by the US Army. The paper says it “learned of the inquiry from several current and former members of the West Point community who said they were alarmed by the allegations and wanted to learn of the academy’s plans to investigate and prevent future violations.”

The Army has contacted the female cadets and offered them counseling. The sergeant first class has served int he Army since 1990 and was deployed to Iraq from 2004 to 2005 and 2007 to 2009.

Concerns have arisen that although McClendon was assigned alternate military duties, largely unspecified, in May 2012, the Army delayed charging him. According to Army officials, the delay is associated with the effort of recovering forensic evidence and complexities associated with the case.

Critics say the delay demonstrates the military’s ongoing lack of action in addressing the prevalence of sexual assault and harassment among its ranks.

5. Brig. Gen Bryan Roberts, the Army’s top general at Fort Jackson, has been suspended over allegations of assault and adultery. A 29-year veteran who previously served as head of a unit training Iraqi soldiers, Roberts has been replaced at the South Carolina base with Brig. Gen. Peggy Combs, Commandant of the US Army Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear School at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, will take over as interim commander while the investigation is ongoing.

NBC News reported that the altercation involved Roberts and the woman he allegedly cheated on his wife with, and that the two were involved in a violent argument. After making up, Roberts allegedly bit the woman’s lip, which caused her to seek medical help, a US military official told the news agency.

Fort Jackson conducts basic training for 60% of the Army’s incoming women recruits.

Sen. Lindsey Graham told Fox News Sunday today: “I want to salute the women who serve and are putting up with too much crap,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.” “This needs to end. When a victim comes forward, they should have an advocate to walk them through the military justice system. And commanders who allow this to continue to flourish, quite frankly, should be fired.”