MintPress News Independent, non-partisan journalism Fri, 19 Sep 2014 18:45:10 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Independent, non-partisan journalism Mint Press News clean Mint Press News (Mint Press News) All Rights Reserved Independent, non-partisan journalism MintPress News France Begins Bombing Iraq Fri, 19 Sep 2014 15:48:35 +0000 French defence ministry sources said two jets dropped laser-guided GBU-12 bombs in the Mosul area. Continue reading

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A Caracal helicopter with French commandos, second left, is escorted with attack helicopters as they perform during a military exercise in a display of the French assets used in NATO-led operations over Libya, at the Mont-de-Marsan military base, southwestern France, Thursday, Nov.10, 2011. France and Britain, the European Union's most militarized nations, emerged as standouts in the campaign that ended with the death of Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi. (AP Photo/Bob Edme) Ê

A Caracal helicopter with French commandos (AP /Bob Edme)


Updated at 2:41 pm (GMT +3) France said on Friday its jets had launched strikes inside Iraq for the first time since the country promised to join military action against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria insurgents who have taken over parts of the country.

“This morning at 9:40 (0740 GMT) our Rafale jets launched a first strike against a logistics depot of the terrorists,” said a statement from President Francois Hollande’s office on Friday shortly after the raids.

His office said the target was in northeastern Iraq, without specifying exactly where, only adding: “The objective was hit and completely destroyed.”

French defence ministry sources said two jets dropped laser-guided GBU-12 bombs in the Mosul area.

Kurdish military spokesman Halgord Hekmat identified the location as Tal Mus, between the city of Mosul and Zumar.

“We are very happy that France started its raids,” he told AFP.

France, as well as Britain, had already sent aircraft into Iraq’s skies for surveillance missions but Friday’s strike was its first against the jihadists.

US aircraft have carried out more than 170 strikes since August 8 but President Barack Obama has been keen to build a broad international coalition.

Jihadists who had already controlled large swathes of land in neighbouring Syria led a militant offensive that took the city of Mosul, Iraq’s second largest, on June 10.

French President Francois Hollande said that France would join the United States in conducting air strikes against Islamic State — but only in Iraq.

“As soon as we have identified targets, we will act… within a short timeframe,” he vowed.

US President Barack Obama on Thursday hailed France for signing off on air strikes in Iraq.

US warplanes meanwhile hit an ISIS training camp in Iraq in their first strike not directly supporting Iraqi or Kurdish forces as Washington cranked up pressure on the extremist group.

Hitting back in the propaganda war, the jihadists posted their latest video of a Western hostage, British journalist John Cantlie.

Unlike previous grisly postings of two American journalists and a British aid worker being beheaded, Cantlie was only shown speaking to camera in the style of a news report.

Washington estimates that IS has 20,000 to 31,000 fighters, including many foreigners, and there are concerns that returning jihadists could carry out attacks in Western countries.

Australia said it had detained 15 people in connection with a plot to behead random civilians, in the country’s largest ever counter-terrorism raids.

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VIDEO: Israel Polluting Seized Palestinian Land Fri, 19 Sep 2014 15:25:33 +0000 The Palestinian city of Tulkarm is now being squeezed by illegal Israeli settlements and the land is being slowly destroyed. There is also an Israeli chemical factory which has poisoned the land and air. Continue reading

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US Senate Approves $500 Million To Arm Syrian Militants Fri, 19 Sep 2014 15:11:26 +0000 Lawmakers back president's plan to expand new war in the Middle East.
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Syrian rebels aim during a weapons training exercise outside Idlib, Syria, Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2012. Syrian government forces renewed their assault on the rebellious city of Homs on Tuesday in what activists described as the heaviest shelling in days, as the U.N. human rights chief raised fears of civil war. (AP Photo)

(AP Photo)

Despite loud warnings from many quarters—including foreign policy experts, the anti-war left and dissenting CIA analysts—that such a move could prove disastrous, the U.S. Senate on Thursday voted overwhelmingly to approve $500 million in government funds to help arm, train, and support so-called moderate military forces inside Syria.

The 78-22 vote—which came packaged as part of a continuing resolution for broader government spending—received bipartisan support with only 9 Democrats,  12 Republicans, and one independent (Sen. Bernie Sanders) voting against it. (See the full roll call vote here.)

Approved earlier in the week by the House of Representatives, the legislation is now headed for President Obama’s desk where he is likely to sign it.

Obama has said that he does not think he needs Congressional approval for his overall strategy to confront the militant group known as the Islamic State (or ISIS) that has no taken over large swaths of territory in both Iraq and Syria. Simultaneously, however, the president has tried to garner as many visible signs of support from lawmakers as possible. The votes this week offer him plenty of cover as the Pentagon continues to make plans for expected, though deeply controversial, airstrikes against ISIS targets inside Syria.

As Obama has deployed increasing numbers of ground troops back into Iraq in recent weeks and expanded the U.S. bombing campaign, lawmakers have largely stood aside.

Explaining his vote against Thursday’s measure, Sen. Sanders said, “I fear very much that supporting questionable groups in Syria who will be outnumbered and outgunned by both ISIS and the Assad regime could open the door to the United States once again being dragged back into the quagmire of long-term military engagement.”

On Thursday, filmmakers at Brave New Films released a succinct anti-war video arguing against Obama’s flawed strategy in Iraq and Syria, saying that the president and those who back him are making the very same mistakes that have plagued U.S. foreign policy for decades.

“Since 1980,” the narrator of the films states, “we have militarily intervened at least 35 times in more than 27 countries. We keep bombing, we continue spending trillions of dollars, but we’re no safer as a result.”


This article was published by Common Dreams.

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VIDEO: It’s No: Scotland Votes To Stay In UK Fri, 19 Sep 2014 14:57:36 +0000 Scots have voted to stay in the UK, following an intense campaign which saw both pro-independence and pro-union campaign groups scraping for last-minute support. The ‘No’ campaign rallied 55 percent of votes against 45 percent ‘Yes’ votes. Continue reading

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Biology Major Bobby Jindal Pleads Ignorance On Evolution And Climate Science Fri, 19 Sep 2014 14:44:58 +0000 As an aside, recall that last year, Jindal gave a big speech saying the GOP “must stop being the stupid party.” Continue reading

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In this Friday, July 27, 2012 file photo, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal speaks at a Republican Party of Arkansas fundraising dinner in Hot Springs, Ark. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston, File)

AP Photo

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) says he can’t be expected to know about climate science because he is “not a scientist.” Same for Florida Governor Rick Scott (R), Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY), and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL).

But what happens when a highly educated guy who did study science in college wants to run for national office in a party that increasingly stands against facts and science? In the case of Louisiana Governor and perennial presidential wannabee Bobby Jindal (R), you act dumb and make tortuous statements.

How dumb?

At a breakfast organized by The Christian Monitor, Jindal was introduced as a biology major, Rhodes Scholar, and former President of the University of Louisiana System. Naturally, at one point HuffPost’s Howard Fineman said, “I want to ask a couple of science questions.”

Jindal cluelessly fails to see what’s coming and excitedly interjects “I’m a biology major.” Fineman is happy to repeat that point and, of course, then asks him a bunch of obvious science questions, including whether he accepts evolution.

So Jindal now feels compelled to explain, “I was not an evolutionary biologist.” Yeah, Jindal apparently got one of those Biology degrees from Brown University (with honors at the age of 20!) that doesn’t require learning about evolution — the central organizing principle of modern biology.

Jindal also launches into the standard conservative talking point that “local schools should make the decision about how they teach biology,” which is dog-whistle for “let them teach creationism if they want.” But Fineman gets Jindal to admit “I want my kids to be taught about evolution in their school.”

And why should Jindal care about what other people’s kids get taught — just because university scientists say that students who accept creationism “as scientifically valid are unlikely to succeed in science courses at the college level”? It’s not like Jindal was President of “the nation’s 16th largest system of higher education” is it?

As an aside, recall that last year, Jindal gave a big speech saying the GOP “must stop being the stupid party.”

Before asking the evolution question, Fineman pressed Jindal on his absurd assertion that the Obama administration is “comprised of science deniers” supposedly because the record rate of expansion of U.S. coal, oil, and natural gas production isn’t fast enough for him.

When asked whether the climate is changing and whether human activity plays a role, Jindal says, “It’s not controversial to say that human activity is contributing in some way. The question is how serious that is.”

Okay, so how much of a contribution does human activity make to climate change and how serious is it? Jindal — who was “named to the 1992 USA Today All-USA Academic Team” and got a Masters degree from Oxford — pleads total ignorance:

I’d leave it to the scientists to decide how much, what it means, and what the consequences are…. Let the scientists debate and figure that out.

Memo to Jindal: The scientists figured all that out a while ago and have been repeating the answers year after year in an increasingly vocal chorus. For the record, the best scientific estimate is that human activity is responsible for all the warming since 1950. It “means” we have run out of time for the kind of anti-scientific BS you are pushing. And the consequences of inaction are catastrophic— especially for your home state of Louisiana.

Here, for instance, is a mid-range projection of what the state will look like by century’s end, especially if Jindal’s brand of “science” continues to be practiced by the GOP.


I don’t think you need to be a scientist or Rhodes Scholar to figure out that isn’t a desirable outcome.

This article was published  by the Center for American Progress Actions Fund.

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VIDEO: Missouri Students May Soon Have To Pass U.S. Citizenship Test To Graduate Fri, 19 Sep 2014 14:32:12 +0000 Students statewide may soon be required to pass the U.S. citizenship test. It's all part of an initiative by the Missouri Civics Education Initiative to ensure future generations understand American Government and U.S. History. Continue reading

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Move Over Radar Gun, Here Comes A New Revenue Collector: The Text Message Detector Gun Fri, 19 Sep 2014 14:23:07 +0000 As if the police don’t have enough tools at their disposal to steal the hard earned money of the public, a new device is being developed to tell if a person in a vehicle is texting. Continue reading

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The Free Thought Project Reports:

A Virginia company, ComSonics, is working on development of a device that detects radio frequencies that come from a cell phone inside of a car, according to the Virginia-Pilot.

Text messages emit unique frequencies that differ from the radio waves emitted by other activities on a phone. This new device would allow officers to determine if someone were texting from inside the vehicle.

Texting while driving is outlawed in 44 states so this radar gun like device would be a welcome addition to many law enforcement agencies around the country.

ComSonics manager, Malcolm McIntyre, said the text-detecting gun is “close to production,” but that it still needs to gain legal approval for law enforcement agencies to utilize it.

This technology seems ripe for abuse by law enforcement, as anyone in the car could be texting not simply the driver. Regardless, the device would alert officers that texting was happening. Would that then equate to reasonable suspicion to stop a vehicle?

In addition, if a person is utilizing hands free texting, the radio waves emitted would still be the same but it’s clearly not breaking the law.

If history is any indicator, what this would mean is that any time officers detect texting in a vehicle, regardless of who was texting, the car would be pulled over and the occupants questioned.

Officers are constantly looking for any excuse to make contact with individuals in an attempt question people as a means of starting a criminal investigation. They want to search people’s cars and will use any excuse possible to get their proverbial foot in the door.

It seems that this technology is simply another means to rob the hard working American taxpayers and to allow stops of vehicles that wouldn’t otherwise be subject to stop by law enforcement.

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ACLU Sues Philadelphia Police For Using Force To Stop Citizen Recording Of Police Fri, 19 Sep 2014 14:11:12 +0000 “I was shocked when Officer Brown pushed me against a column and restrained me by my neck, just for recording the activities of her colleagues as they arrested someone.” Continue reading

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The confrontation between Amanda Geraci and Philly police.

The confrontation between Amanda Geraci and Philly police.


PHILADELPHIA – The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania and co-counsel filed a federal lawsuit today on behalf of a Philadelphia woman who was forcefully restrained across the neck by a civil affairs officer to prevent her from recording Philadelphia police officers arresting a protestor on the other side of a glass wall.

This is the fifth in a series of ACLU-PA lawsuits aimed at stopping the Philadelphia Police Department’s illegal practice of retaliating against individuals who observe or record the police performing their duties.

“We have yet to see any indication that the leadership of the Philadelphia Police Department is requiring its officers to respect the First Amendment rights of Philadelphia residents in these situations,” said Reggie Shuford, executive director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania. “Until they get it right, we will continue to hold them accountable to the citizens they have sworn an oath to protect.”

Today’s lawsuit was filed on behalf of Amanda Geraci, a professional psychotherapist and a trained legal observer who was monitoring an anti-fracking protest outside the Pennsylvania Convention Center on September 21, 2012. Legal observers are trained volunteers who monitor the interactions between police and protestors.

After witnessing police take a protestor into custody and handcuff him inside the Convention Center, Geraci remained outside but walked over to a spot on the other side of the glass wall to record the incident. Then, according to the complaint, “Officer Brown approached her at a full run and threw her up against a pillar on the Convention Center’s facade.” Officer Brown then pushed her forearm against Geraci’s neck. Police officers quickly surrounded Brown and Geraci to block the ability of others in the crowd to witness or record the officer’s use of force against Geraci.

“I have been a legal observer for eight years at numerous protests and I have never experienced anything like this,” said Geraci. “I was shocked when Officer Brown pushed me against a column and restrained me by my neck, just for recording the activities of her colleagues as they arrested someone.”

“Once again, what happened to Amanda Geraci shows that the city of Philadelphia is not living up to its promise to protect the First Amendment rights of those who observe and record the police,” said Jonathan H. Feinberg of Kairys, Rudovsky, Messing, & Feinberg and one of the attorneys representing Geraci.

Information about filing a complaint with the ACLU-PA as well as background on the ACLU-PA’s previous lawsuits against the Philadelphia police department challenging the arrest and harassment of individuals for photographing police is available at:

The ACLU-PA also has a social media campaign running (#PAcopwatch) to encourage people to contact the organization with stories about police harassment for recording.

Geraci is represented by Molly Tack-Hooper and Mary Catherine Roper of the ACLU-PA; John Grogan and Peter Leckman of Langer, Grogan & Diver, P.C.; Feinberg of Kairys, Rudovsky, Messing, & Feinberg; and Seth Kreimer of the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

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Woman As Aggressor: The Unspoken Truth Of Domestic Violence Fri, 19 Sep 2014 13:14:08 +0000 There’s something very important that we’re not talking about when we talk about domestic violence.
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U.S. women’s soccer team goalkeeper Hope Solo appears in Kirkland Municipal Court on Monday, June 23, 2014, in connection with her domestic violence arrest.

I approach this writing with some trepidation because it will run counter in some areas to the current debate regarding domestic violence. When wading in these highly volatile and controversial waters, one finds that disclaimers – like life jackets – must be affixed to the body of the argument.


Violence against women

Women and girls make up 98 percent of the victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation globally, per a 2005 report, though a 2008 report revealed that boys make up half of those who are sexually exploited commercially in the United States.

In 2011, an estimated 19,000 rapes and sexual assaults — overwhelmingly against women — took place in the military.

Girls younger than 15 are five times more likely to die in childbirth than women in their 20s. And pregnancy is consistently among the leading causes of death for girls aged 15 to 19 worldwide.

Incidents of domestic violence against women occur every 15 seconds in the U.S.

Add to those glaring examples of epidemic-like violence against women figures college/university campus date rape statistics, the high rates of sexual assault in South Africa, the Save Our Girls campaign in Nigeria, and the list could go on and on. Yet, although violence against women and girls includes domestic violence, not all domestic violence features women and girls as the victims. Sometimes, the woman is the abuser.

Let me be clear, the hesitance in speaking about female-initiated domestic violence is rooted in a very real concern about what the discussion can give way to: a dismissal and abnegation of the actual dangers women face. That, however, fails to be a compelling reason not to discuss the role of women in domestic violence. For example, an honest discussion about Israel’s occupation of Palestine need not devolve into anti-Semitism. Neither does a hard look at real terrorism, perpetrated by entities such as the Islamic State, have to degenerate into Islamophobia. So, conversely, a sincere critique regarding the totality of domestic violence does not have to be reduced to a capitulation to misogyny and sexist insensitivity.


Female-initiated domestic abuse

Women are three times more likely to be killed or seriously injured by their male counterpart than vice versa. Though those numbers suggest a more dire need, they do not connote that women are completely innocent when it comes to domestic violence.

More than 830,000 men fall victim to domestic violence every year. A man is the victim of domestic abuse every 37.8 seconds in America. These numbers are not inconsequential and the frequency is far from insignificant.

Jan Brown, executive director and founder of the Domestic Abuse Helpline for Men, stated that “domestic violence is not about size, gender, or strength. It’s about abuse, control, and power, and getting out of dangerous situations and getting help, whether you are a woman being abused, or a man.”

In 2001, the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health collected data about the health of a nationally representative sample of 14,322 individuals between the ages of 18 and 28. The study also asked subjects to answer questions about romantic or sexual relationships in which they had engaged during the previous five years and whether those relationships had involved violence.

From this information researchers found that of the 18,761 relationships, 76 percent were non-violent and 24 percent were violent. Of the 24 percent that were violent, half had been reciprocal and half had not — reciprocal meaning there was violence inflicted by both partners. Although more men than women (53 percent versus 49 percent) had experienced nonreciprocal violent relationships, more women than men (52 percent versus 47 percent) had taken part in ones involving reciprocal violence.

This statistic was undoubtedly the most striking: in committing acts of domestic violence, more women than men (25 percent versus 11 percent) were responsible. In fact, in the 71 percent of nonreciprocal partner violence instances, the instigator was the woman. This flies in the face of the long-held belief that female aggression in a relationship is most often predicated on self-defense.

Further, while injury was more likely when violence was perpetrated by men, in relationships that featured reciprocal violence men were injured more often (25 percent of the time) than women (20 percent of the time).

Great Britain’s Office of National Statistics also showed that while 1.2 million women experienced domestic violence, 800,000 men did as well — in the U.K., men comprise 40 percent of those who suffer from domestic violence.

The Department of Psychology at California State University, Long Beach, compiled a bibliography that examined 286 scholarly investigations, 221 empirical studies and 65 reviews and/or analyses demonstrating that which we are reluctant to discuss — the uncomfortable reality that women are as physically aggressive, or even more so, than men in their relationships with their spouses or male partners.

Let’s put this into perspective: a significant amount of the findings regarding male-as-victim intimate partner violence came about as the result of studies and surveys that were aimed at understanding domestic violence against women. These are not studies conducted by rabid anti-women men’s groups or right-wing think tanks. They were conducted by organizations like the Centers for Disease Control, National Institutes of Health, the American Sociological Association, Psychology of Women Quarterly and the American Journal of Public Health, to name a few.

And yet, these numbers prompt a resounding backlash. Accusations such as “You’re saying abused women are asking for it,” or “You’re blaming the victim,” get hurled. No person — female or male — is asking for it, and no victim — female or male — should be blamed for what is done to them. I’m merely broadening the definitions of abuser and victim.

If we are serious about addressing domestic violence, then we must deal with all of the incarnations of the realities of domestic violence.


Mixed messages

This writer does not pretend to have all the answers when it comes to this issue, but this can be said with a great deal of certitude: Confusing the very people one is trying to affect is not a sound strategy for change. If only one person in the relationship is supposed to exercise control, if both partners are not equally responsible for keeping a relationship respectful and free of violence, we will have succeeded in changing nothing.

In recent months we’ve seen that the NFL has a confused policy in regard to domestic violence. For quite some time we’ve known that our court system has had a confused policy about domestic abuse. Their confusion reflects our societal misunderstanding of domestic violence and our muddled perceptions about gender.

Men are told in one breath to shed their machismo and sexist leanings, and in the next they are told to “man up” and take the blows dealt to them by their female partners. Men are being told that phrases like, “You throw like a girl,” or “You hit like a girl,” have chauvinistic underpinnings, while simultaneously being told, “It doesn’t matter if she hits you because, essentially, she hits like a girl and you can handle it, big boy.” So, while we recognize there’s often a difference in the physical impact between male and females hitting each other, we completely disregard the emotional and psychological impacts — and often even the physical harm — of a woman hitting a man, whether it be with her hands, feet or objects.

Just as we have done with women, we are trapping men in certain gender-based stereotypical straightjackets. This leads to two very important questions that are rarely asked: Is a woman ever responsible for a physical altercation that takes place between her and her male partner? Does a man ever have the right to tell a woman to not put her hands on him and expect her to respect that? Statistical and anecdotal data says the first question is barely acknowledged, and the second is treated by and large as an April Fools joke.

The same protocols that are used to address domestic violence against women are used to handle domestic violence against men, and the research tells us that the same abusive behaviors and tactics demonstrated by men (physical, verbal and emotional threats and intimidation) are also demonstrated by women. And the fear and shame that is felt as a result of being abused, as well as the excuses made to cover up the abuse, are not gender-specific. Additionally, some researchers estimate that about 20 percent of men who call law enforcement to report an abusive spouse or partner, are, in turn, arrested for domestic abuse.

There are signs, at least in the health care field, that these perceptions about men being the victims of intimate partner violence are beginning to change. The world-renowned Mayo Clinic has posted helpful information for men who have been victims of domestic violence. (I have practically lived at Mayo this year and can attest that the same questions that were once asked only of women in regard to domestic violence, are now being asked of men with great frequency.)


Child abuse

Courtesy of recent revelations surrounding NFL players, child abuse — another form of domestic violence — is also grabbing headlines. According to child welfare studies, mothers are almost twice as likely to be directly involved in child maltreatment as fathers. Mothers are more likely to abuse or neglect their children than fathers. I agree with those who say these numbers are as such because women are usually more involved with their children, and as single-parent homes are on the rise and women are increasingly the single parent, they become over-represented in the numbers on child abuse.

Interestingly, when former Minnesota Viking and NFL Hall of Famer Cris Carter spoke of being a victim of child abuse, he revealed that it was his mother who was the abuser. His central point about child abuse was well-received, but the fact that his mother was his abuser was either largely ignored or thought to have been of no consequence.

Meanwhile, one could also say that black males are over-represented in terms of homicide rates for various reasons (poverty, unemployment, education, etc), but the reasons why they are killed don’t make them any less dead than any other homicide victim. So it is with child abuse: The reasons why women are over-represented in the crime of child abuse does not make a child any less abused. And these abused children, half of which are male, live with that pain and become adults. As men, they are told to not talk about their pain or acknowledge that a woman hurt them.

“Man up. Don’t cry,” we tell them. And in doing so, we create the perfect conditions for a toxic relationship: men who can’t verbalize their very real pain and an ethos that says women can’t really hurt or traumatize men.


Is a woman every bit as capable as a man?

In terms of domestic violence and/or intimate partner violence, the conversation is, overwhelmingly, about what we need to talk about with our men and boys. This writer agrees: We need to talk to our boys and men about having respect for their partners in their relationships. Yet, that’s only part of the problem. Our girls and young ladies need to be taught what appropriate behavior is and what non-violent conflict resolution looks like.

We are paying the price for not having this conversation with our daughters because over the past 20 years or so we have been experiencing a disturbing trend. Meda Chesney-Lind points to this in her essay “Are Girls Closing the Gender Gap in Violence?”:

“Between 1989 and 1998, arrests of girls increased 50.3 percent, compared to only 16.5 percent for boys, according to the FBI’s 1999 report, Crime in the United States 1998. During that same period, arrests of girls for serious violent offenses increased by 64.3 percent and arrests of girls for ‘other assaults’ increased an astonishing 125.4 percent. In 1999, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention reported that the female violent crime rate for 1997 was 103 percent above the 1981 rate, compared to a 27 percent increase for males, prompting the statement that increasing juvenile female arrests and the involvement of girls in at-risk and delinquent behavior has been a pervasive trend across the United States.”

A later report further stated that by 2000, that proportion had grown to 18 percent, and by 2004 it had risen to 30 percent. Although arrest numbers remained higher for boys than girls during that period, arrest rates for girls increased as that for boys decreased.

The voices in our world that cry out for greater protections for women against sexual assault, human trafficking and spousal and/or intimate partner homicide must be heard. But we are taught by our mores, ideologies and politics that we can only recognize one reality at a time. If we talk about female-initiated domestic violence, then it takes away from addressing violence against women. Further, we worry that writings such as these only serve as distractions, smoke-screens and misdirections.

I don’t believe that. I believe that we have an equal stake and an equal responsibility in making sure our relationships are healthy. I believe that we all have an equal right to not be assaulted or have our personal space disrespected. By bringing this largely unknown and very uncomfortable truth to light, it means we are serious about addressing violence — not just domestic violence — and its causes and effects.

“Is a woman every bit as capable as a man?” We are constantly answering the question across this country in our mayoral and gubernatorial elections and in our House and Senate races, and 2016 tempts us with that question in a national general election. Granted, not all elections and appointments come down to gender, but we have been able to see woman as CEOs, as leaders, and maybe soon we’ll even get to see woman as commander in chief.  That equality, though, also demands that we be able to entertain the thought of women as aggressors.

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Record Gas Project Depends On Diplomatic Balancing Act Fri, 19 Sep 2014 12:34:22 +0000 The world’s largest ever gas deal would transport fuel from Central Asia to Southern Europe, but the most impressive facet of the deal may be Azerbaijan’s ability to simultaneously please Europe, Iran and Russia.
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Hungary Russia Ukraine Gas

The biggest gas deal in history to deliver fuel from the Caspian coast off of Azerbaijan, through Georgia, Turkey, Greece, Albania, Bulgaria and into Italy, is fast approaching reality. The $45-billion project requires the collaboration of seven countries, 11 investment companies and 11 buyers, according to Joe Murphy, vice president of the Southern Corridor region at BP, based in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Strategically, the project has incorporated petrochemical companies from England, Norway, Turkey and Azerbaijan, as well as Iran and Russia, among others, to maintain geopolitical stability, Murphy explained at a panel at Georgetown University, titled “Southern Gas Corridor: Implications for European Security.”

He said that gas from Azerbaijan “has already been sold to the 11 buyers for the next 25 years.” A BP document says that those sales are worth $100 billion. The project is being touted as the next “contract of the century,” following a deal signed in 1994 between Azerbaijan and international companies.

The project has been lauded in the United States for its ability to circumvent Russia and bring gas into Europe. However, one of the main strategic partners in the development of the pipeline is Lukoil, Russia’s second largest oil company following Rosneft.

Another interesting aspect of the project is its inclusion of Naftiran Intertrade Company Sàrl (NICO), a Swiss-based subsidiary of the National Iranian Oil Company. The Southern Gas Corridor project has given NICO a 10 percent share in the deal and anticipates future collaboration with Iran.

Azerbaijan is being praised for its diplomatic balancing act with the Southern Gas Corridor project, reaching out to Europe while also maintaining good relations with both Russia and Iran. But its peculiar position geographically and geopolitically also allows it to curb American aspirations for its political future, according to Global Risks Insight, a website focused on political risk around the world.

“American foreign policy would like nothing better than to exert greater control in Azerbaijan,” an analyst writing on the site asserted. “Ironically, the Russian and Iranian presence serves helps Azerbaijan by serving as a deterrent to more aggressive U.S. meddling in the region. The last thing Russia would accept is a Western-backed revolution in Azerbaijan, tilting the balance power.”


The Trans/Caspian gas pipeline would run under the Caspian Sea from Türkmenbaşy to the Sangachal Terminal, where it would connect with the existing pipeline to Erzurum in Turkey, which in turn would be connected to the Nabucco pipeline, thus taking natural gas from Turkmenistan to Central Europe.

The project, due to be finished by January 2020, still has many hurdles to clear, including establishing contracts with and compensating up to 55,000 landowners and land users in the European section alone, said Michael Hoffman, external affairs director of the Trans Adriatic Pipeline, who also spoke on the Georgetown panel.

Another issue is that the gas has already “been committed for a period of 25 years” to Bulgaria, Greece and Italy, Hoffman continued. Thus, for other countries seeking to take advantage of the pipeline, it can act as a conduit for those commercial interests, but they will have to find another gas source.

Azerbaijan has 31 trillion cubic feet of proven natural gas reserves, while Iran, with the world’s largest, has 1,192.9 trillion cubic feet, according to BP’s 2014 Statistical Review of World Energy.

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