Wednesday, July 23, 2008


GOP hopeful Sen. John McCain flubbed again and this time it was on the impact of "the surge" on security conditions in Iraq. McCain failed to mention the Sunni Awakening had already started clearing Al Qaeda and other terrorist elements from Iraqi neighborhoods before "the surge" was initiated.


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Iraqis cast doubt on elections

Disputes stall draft law setting guidelines, allocating funds for election

The Associated Press

BAGHDAD - Iraq's parliament passed a law Tuesday meant to pave the way for provincial elections despite a Kurdish boycott, but critics warned it's unlikely the vote will be held this year as had been expected.

U.S. officials see the voting as another key step in national reconciliation, but the draft law setting guidelines and allocating funds for the elections has been stalled by political disputes as Iraq's myriad ethnic and sectarian factions jockey for power.

The sticking point on Tuesday was a Kurdish objection to an item in the new law that calls for a secret ballot to decide on a power-sharing arrangement in the disputed oil-rich city of Kirkuk.
The Kurds and two deputy parliamentary speakers walked out of the chamber in protest, but the parliament went ahead with the line-by-line vote and passed the law with a quorum.

Deputy parliamentary speaker Khalid al-Attiyah, a Shiite, said the secret ballot was unconstitutional and accused the lawmakers of "arm-twisting."

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Female troops have been raped, sexually harassed while on duty in Iraq

15 percent walking into VA test positive for military sexual trauma

VA opens 16th inpatient ward specializing in treating military sexual victims

Female veteran to daughter in military: Don't let your guard down with male soldiers

YORK, Pennsylvania (AP) -- It took Diane Pickel Plappert six months to tell a counselor that she had been raped while on duty in Iraq. While time passed, the former Navy nurse disconnected from her children, and her life slowly unraveled.

Carolyn Schapper says she was harassed by a fellow Army National Guard soldier in Iraq to the extent that she began changing clothes in the shower for fear he'd barge into her room unannounced, as he had on several occasions.

Even as women distinguish themselves in battle alongside men, they're fighting off sexual assault and harassment. It's not a new consequence of war.

But the sheer number of women serving today -- more than 190,000 in Iraq and Afghanistan -- is forcing the military and Department of Veterans Affairs to more aggressively address it.

The data -- incomplete and not up-to-date -- offer no proof that women in the war zones are more vulnerable to sexual assault than other female service members or American women in general. But in an era when the military relies on women for invaluable and difficult front-line duties, the threat to their morale, performance and long-term well-being is starkly clear.

Of the female veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan who have walked into a VA facility, 15 percent have screened positive for military sexual trauma,

The Associated Press has learned. That means they indicated that while on active duty, they were sexually assaulted, raped or sexually harassed, receiving repeated unsolicited verbal or physical contact of a sexual nature.

In January, the VA opened its 16th inpatient ward specializing in treating victims of military sexual trauma, this one in New Jersey. In response to complaints that it is too male-focused in its care, the VA is making changes such as adding keyless entry locks on hospital room doors so female patients feel safer.

Rape victim felt numb when returning home

Depression, anxiety, problem drinking, sexually transmitted diseases and domestic abuse are all problems that have been linked to sexual abuse, according to the Miles Foundation, a nonprofit group that provides support to victims of violence associated with the military. Since 2002, the foundation says, it has received more than 1,000 reports of assault and rape in the U.S. Central Command areas of operation, which include Iraq and Afghanistan.

In most reports to the foundation, fellow U.S. service members have been named as the perpetrator, but contractors and local nationals also have been accused.

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