Archive | Veterans

New Mexico Supreme Court Blocks Governor From Violating Constitution for Polluters

New Mexico's Republican Gov. Susana Martinez. (Photo: Steve Terrell / Flickr)

New Mexico's Republican Gov. Susana Martinez. (Photo: Steve Terrell / Flickr)

On January 26, New Mexico’s Republican Gov. Susana Martinez was dealt a serious blow by her state’s Supreme Court, when it ruled unanimously that Governor Martinez had violated the state Constitution when she prevented a rule that reduced carbon pollution from being published as codified state law.

The lawsuit was filed by the nonprofit group New Energy Economy (NEE) and reflects a growing number of claims that Governor Martinez arbitrarily and illegally sought to suppress the aforementioned rule in an attempt to appease major carbon polluters, which made huge financial contributions to her gubernatorial campaign.

NEE’s lawsuit also brought to light emails showing deep collusion between Governor Martinez and TJ Trujillo, a lawyer who represents the dairy industry, and who is also a lobbyist for the Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM), which is by far and away the state’s largest producer of greenhouse gas emissions. (PNM produces more than half of the greenhouse gas emissions for the State of New Mexico.)

“TJ Trujillo is a lobbyist for sale,” Mariel Nanasi, the executive director of NEE explained to Truthout, “He is a lobbyist for PNM. Governor Martinez ran her campaign on the whole idea of transparency, and here she is literally getting an email from an industry lawyer [Trujillo] on one day, and stopping the rules scheduled for publication the very next day.”

The revelation of the emails is also troubling because the dairy industry in New Mexico, which Trujillo lobbies for as well, was a large contributor to Martinez in the run up to her election.

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Military sexual abuse ‘staggering’

In part two of our series, Al Jazeera examines the often hidden world of rape and abuse in the US military.

”]Sexual abuse happens in the US military at rates twice the national average, according to reports [GALLO/GETTY]

In fact, due to raw demographics, one can roughly surmise that most victims of sexual abuse in the military are male.

Regardless of gender, reports of victims of military sexual assault have been increasing. In 2007, there were 2,200 reports of rape in the military, whilst in 2009 saw an increase up to 3,230 reports of sexual assault.

Many of the victims suffer from Military Sexual Trauma (MST) and are shamed into silence, with numerous cases not even reported.

A disturbing trend, however, is how military officials seem to be sweeping this damaging issue under the rug and deflecting blame.

Blaming the Victim

Kira Mountjoy-Pepka of Pack Parachute, a non-profit organisation which assists sexually abused veterans, explains that the military system favours the perpetrator. “What we’re seeing now, and what we’ve seen for decades, is when someone is assaulted, the military investigators create false or misleading crime reports. Then the case is dismissed, and the command persecutes the victim for false reporting.”

Read the rest of this story at Al-Jazeera English.

Also see Part One here.

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Rape rampant in US military

Statistics and soldiers’ testimonies reveal a harrowing epidemic of sexual assault in the US military.

Earlier this year a house subcommittee held a hearing focused on sexual assault and violence against women in the military and at the academies (Getty)

Earlier this year a house subcommittee held a hearing focused on sexual assault and violence against women in the military and at the academies (Getty)

Sexual assault within the ranks of the military is not a new problem. It is a systemic problem that has necessitated that the military conduct its own annual reporting on the crisis.

A 2003 Air Force Academy sexual assault scandal prompted the department of defense to include a provision in the 2004 National Defense Authorization Act that required investigations and reports of sexual harassment and assaults within US military academies to be filed. The personal toll is, nevertheless, devastating.

Military sexual trauma (MST) survivor Susan Avila-Smith is director of the veteran’s advocacy group Women Organizing Women. She has been serving female and scores of male clients in various stages of recovery from MST for 15 years and knows of its devastating effects up close.

“People cannot conceive how badly wounded these people are,” she told Al Jazeera, “Of the 3,000 I’ve worked with, only one is employed. Combat trauma is bad enough, but with MST it’s not the enemy, it’s our guys who are doing it. You’re fighting your friends, your peers, people you’ve been told have your back. That betrayal, then the betrayal from the command is, they say, worse than the sexual assault itself.”

Al-Jazeera English's companion TV coverage of this report.

Al-Jazeera English's companion TV coverage of this report.

On December 13, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other groups filed a federal lawsuit seeking Pentagon records in order to get the real facts about the incidence of sexual assault in the ranks.

The Pentagon has consistently refused to release records that fully document the problem and how it is handled. Sexual assaults on women in the US military have claimed some degree of visibility, but about male victims there is absolute silence.

Pack Parachute, a non-profit in Seattle, assists veterans who are sexual assault survivors. Its founder Kira Mountjoy-Pepka, was raped as a cadet at the Air Force Academy. In July 2003 she was member of a team of female cadets handpicked by Donald Rumsfeld, at the time the secretary of defense, to tell their stories of having been sexually assaulted. The ensuing media coverage and a Pentagon investigation forced the academy to make the aforementioned major policy changes.

Read the rest of this article on Al-Jazeera English.

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Military Neglecting Fort Hood Soldiers’ Medical Needs

(Image: Lance Page / t r u t h o u t; Adapted: AfghanistanMatters, assbach)

(Image: Lance Page / t r u t h o u t; Adapted: AfghanistanMatters, assbach)

At least 50 soldiers from Fort Hood who have medical profiles that should prohibit them from military training have been sent to the National Training Center (NTC) at Fort Irwin, California, regardless of their conditions.

Truthout spoke with some of these soldiers on June 7, before they were to fly back to Fort Hood the next day.

“We were brought out here to NTC after being told we would be given some of the best medical treatment out here,” a soldier who is an Iraq war veteran diagnosed with post-traumatic-stress disorder (PTSD), speaking on condition of anonymity because he feared military reprisals, told Truthout. “But when we were here at Ft. Irwin, nobody would see us. It took my wife calling the Chaplain to get my medication refilled. We’ve gone a month without seeing a psychiatrist. Some of us see them weekly, some twice a week and we haven’t been able to receive any of this.”

This, despite the soldier having been given his PTSD diagnosis by the military itself.

He admitted to Truthout that he needs the medication because of anxiety, depression and homicidal thoughts.

“There’re people out here who’ve had to cancel 17 psychiatric appointments to be out here,” the soldier added. “There are people needing physical treatment that have thrown out their backs.”

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