Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Boston Globe In a Bit of a Tiff

"Tiff over judge delays military cases" by Roxana Hegeman |  Associated Press,  December 24, 2013

WICHITA — Dozens of military criminal cases have been thrown into limbo because of a legal challenge over whether Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel improperly appointed a judge to the Air Force’s highest court, with attorneys raising questions about the judge’s independence.

The military’s top court, the US Armed Forces Court of Criminal Appeals, has sent at least 37 cases back to the Air Force Court of Appeals this month that were handled by former Judge Laurence Soybel. Soybel was a civilian when Hagel — who has publicly criticized the Air Force’s handling of sexual assault cases — appointed him this summer to help alleviate a mounting backlog of criminal cases.

‘‘The secretary of defense has been making a lot of statements related to sexual assaults, and here he is appointing Judge Soybel at will,’’ said attorney Philip Cave, whose client was convicted in a sexual assault case now on appeal. ‘‘That creates not just an appointment problem, but a perception problem of whether or not Judge Soybel will be fair.’’

The Air Force insists Soybel, who left the court in October, was unbiased and properly appointed. No hearings have been scheduled in the dispute.

The resulting delays have infuriated attorneys and their clients, many of whom have waited years for their appeals to be heard. Defense attorneys say if dozens of Soybel cases have to be reargued in the lower court, it could add six months to a year to each appeal.


RelatedMilitary sex assault reports jump by more than 50 percent

Also seeMilitary Sex Abuse Investigation Sequestered 

Still behind closed doors.

"For Tsongas and GOP colleague, a long fight on military sexual assault; Tsongas, colleague spur many safeguards" by Bryan Bender |  Globe Staff, December 27, 2013

WASHINGTON — Shocked to learn of an unchecked culture of sexual violence in the ranks of the US military — amounting to tens of thousands of cases reported each year — they committed to a common goal: ridding an epidemic of predation that they came to see as deeply ingrained and virtually ignored by Pentagon leaders.

Much of the public credit for the historic changes to how the Pentagon deals with sexual assault has recently gone to more high-profile senators who have advocated for many of the new regulations. But nearly all of the new laws enacted in recent years — including a sweeping set of laws signed by President Obama Thursday — are the result of the quiet diligence of Representative Mike Turner, a Republican from Ohio, and Representative Niki Tsongas, a Massachusetts Democrat, representing a rare example of bipartisanship in Congress....

Bullshit! It's been nothing but biparti$an$hip down there lately.

Turner and Tsongas took on an institution with a deep-seated male culture where objectifying women has long been part of its macho creed, such as stenciling scantily clad women onto fighter jets or displaying pin-up posters in the barracks.

See: AmeriKan Military Bans Sex Magazines

They were driven by the knowledge that the gender makeup of the military has changed dramatically but the treatment of women has not. Women, who will soon be allowed to serve in combat units for the first time, make up about 15 percent of the ranks, a share that is expected to grow to as much as 25 percent over the next decade....

You have come a long way, baby! What a terrible idea putting life-givers into war situations. I know I'll be called sexist, but that special and unique quality women have should be safeguarded and protected. Let's face it, none of us are here without them.

20-year-old Lance Corporal Maria Lauterbach’s attacker initially fled to his native Mexico, was ultimately extradited, tried, and sentenced to life in prison....

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates exhibited little understanding....

Among a host of new measures contained in the annual Department of Defense spending bill is....

"The compromise measure totals $632.8 billion, including funds for military pay, ships and planes, and $80.7 billion for overseas operations such as the war in Afghanistan.... The legislation also would authorize funds for the destruction of chemical weapons in Syria and provide money to study the feasibility of establishing a missile defense site on the East Coast.""

At least it made the military whole.


"Former executive who stole $1.2m in Tiffany jewelry gets 1-year sentence" by Tom Hays |  Associated Press, December 24, 2013

NEW YORK — A former executive from Tiffany & Co. was sentenced to one year and one day in prison Monday for stealing more than $1.2 million in jewelry from its famous Fifth Avenue location, a crime a judge called an inexplicable act of self-destruction by someone who did not need the money....

They didn't need it, but the money junkies can't (and obviously can) help themselves.

US District Judge Paul G. Gardephe rejected prosecutors’ arguments that the 46-year-old defendant, Ingrid Lederhaas-Okun, was motivated by greed, noting that she came from a privileged background and made $360,000 a year at Tiffany. Her attorney claimed she suffered from depression and cracked under the pressures of not being able to have children, getting passed over for a promotion at Tiffany, and seeing her marriage crumble.


Also seeTiffany told to pay Swatch $449m

Now I'm in a bit of a tiff.