COLORADO SPRINGS, Col.: Air Force covering up rape charges?

Since the winter over 60 women cadets the Air Force Academy have charged their co-cadets with rape, but remedies proposed by the Air Force will only worsen the dangerous atmosphere for women. Former Rep. Tillie Fowler (R) heads a seven-member panel investigating the charges and reviewing Air Force proposals, including the proposal to remove the shield of confidentiality from female cadets reporting sexual assault. Fowler says that female cadets will be less likely to report sexual crimes and that will result in phony statistics from the Air Force.

“The female cadets have told us that they are going to be even less willing to come forward if they can’t do it confidentially,” said Fowler. “The command structure will announce great progress because the number of reported incidents are down. But that will be because a lot of women won’t report. We talked to victims who were scared to report they were raped, or pressured not to report. The result is these women saw their assailants graduate from the Air Force Academy the next spring. We are sending into our Air Force these predators.”

Military politics pollutes the air at the Academy. Air Force Secretary James Roche proposed stripping the confidentiality shield. The Bush administration has nominated him to become Secretary of the Army. His senate confirmation hearing is later this summer.

Currently, 16 percent of the 4,200 cadet corps are women.

WASHINGTON, D.C.: Job losses hit Blacks hardest

It used to be that African Americans were the last hired and the first fired, and now entire plants are closing throughout the country, including the South, and the unemployment rate among Black workers is soaring.

The government reports that 2.6 million jobs, 90 percent of them in manufacturing, have been wiped out in 28 months. The unemployment rate among Black workers is rising at twice the rate as white workers. While 10 percent of white workers are now in the street, 15 percent of Black workers’ families are wondering where their next meal is coming from. There are 20 million manufacturing workers in the U.S. Of that group, 1.7 million white workers are unemployed and 300,000 Black workers are unemployed, a disproportionately high number.

A case in point is Autoliv in Indianapolis. The Swedish company which makes seat belts is closing, putting 350 workers, 75 percent of whom are African American, back in the street. “They were taken from the street into decent paying jobs; they were making $12 to $13 an hour,” Michael Barnes, director of the AFL-CIO training program that assisted workers in finding jobs, told a reporter from The New York Times. “These young men started families, dug in, took apartments, purchased vehicles. It was an up from the street experience and now they are being returned to their old environment.”

It is not just the most recently hired workers that are seeing their future evaporate. Throughout the South, tens of thousands of textile workers, most of whom are Black men and women, are seeing companies send their work to China and India. Workers earned $11 an hour plus a full benefit package, a good wage for small communities.

“This is not like the cyclical downturns in the old days,” said Jared Bernstein, senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute. “These jobs are gone and that represents a potentially significant slide in living standards.”

HARTFORD, Conn.: Governor vetoes same-day registration

Despite overwhelming support in the state legislature, Gov. John Rowland vetoed a bill which would have enabled voters to register and vote on election day.

“The legislation had broad bipartisan support,” said Bettye Jo Pakulis, regional director for the Center for Policy Alternatives. “It passed the Senate 27-9 and the House of Representatives 83-63. We had a real opportunity to involve many more of our citizens in the democratic process.”

Americo Santiago, program and policy director of Democracy Works, agreed. “This is a crushing blow for everyone who is working to open the democratic process in Connecticut,” he said. Gov. Rowland’s concerns about the integrity of the system had been addressed with passage of the statewide voter system, signed into law June 18. The Connecticut law had been hailed as a model of reform to encourage greater voter participation. Connecticut slipped from the top third of states in voter participation to the bottom half since 1996.

Six states, Idaho, Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Wisconsin and Wyoming, have same-day voter registration.

National Clips are compiled by Denise Winebrenner Edwards (dwinbr696@aol.com).
Roberta Wood contributed to this week’s clips.

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