Domestic Policy

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  Widespread Rape Of Indigenous Women In USApril 25, 2007 15:12 Native American and Alaska Native women in the United States suffer disproportionately high levels of rape and sexual violence, yet the federal government has created substantial barriers to accessing justice, Amnesty International (AI) asserted in a 113-page report released today. Justice Department figures indicate that American Indian and Alaska Native women are 2.5 times more likely to be raped or sexually assaulted than women in the United States in general; more than one in three Native women will be raped in their lifetimes.

The United States government has created a complex maze of tribal, state and federal jurisdictions that often allows perpetrators to rape with impunity -- and in some cases effectively creates jurisdictional vacuums that encourage assaults. It is necessary to establish the location of the crime and the identity of the perpetrator to determine which authorities have jurisdiction, during which critical time is lost. This leads to inadequate investigations or a failure to respond.

Further complications are the lack of trained Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANEs) at Indian Health Service (IHS) facilities to provide forensic exams, and the potential for law enforcement to mishandle evidence when rape kits are used.

  Tillman Case Cover-Up AllegedApril 24, 2007 22:23 In a poignant condemnation of one of the compelling myths of the current wars, the brother of Pat Tillman bitterly accused the U.S. military Tuesday of consciously deceiving the public and the family of the football-star-turned-Army-Ranger to promote a story of heroism that suited its purposes.

Kevin Tillman, the brother of Tillman who served in the same platoon in Afghanistan, told a House committee that the military was going through a particularly rough patch when his brother was killed in a friendly fire incident on April 22, 2004.

"Revealing that Pat's death was a fratricide would have been yet another political disaster in a month of political disasters," Tillman said. "So the truth needed to be suppressed."

The Army portrayed the specialist's killing as the result of a heroic firefight with enemy fighters in the mountains of Afghanistan, and the Silver Star was awarded to Tillman. But it later turned out Army officials had been aware almost immediately that Tillman was probably killed by fellow American soldiers.

Kevin Tillman, who has since left the Army, spoke before a hearing that dealt a double blow to the U.S. military's public relations machinery. Jessica Lynch, an Army private who was captured in Iraq soon after the 2003 invasion, also testified about the early military and press accounts depicting her as a "girl Rambo from the hills of West Virginia" who had emptied her gun as enemy soldiers closed in. In fact, she was captured without firing a shot.
  New Study Suggests Ethanol Bad For EnvironmentApril 19, 2007 08:55 Iowa produces 36 percent of the nation's ethanol. Many believe it's not only a boost for the economy, but also the environment.

But, a new study shows that might not be the case.

Professor Mark Jacobson looked at what would happen if all vehicles in the U-S ran on an ethanol fuel blend by 2020. The result? Higher ozone levels and more smog, especially in Los Angelos and the Northeast.

And the study says the switch could cause 200 more people to die each year from respiratory problems.

The study appears today in the online edition of Environmental Science and Technology.

Meantime, President Bush is pushing to reduce gas consumption by 20 percent within the next 10 years by using alternative fuels.

Since ethanol is a main staple of Iowa's economy, this study may cause concern among state leaders.
  MT Governor Signs Bill Defying U.S. ID LawApril 18, 2007 15:46 Gov. Brian Schweitzer said "no, nope, no way, hell no" Tuesday to national driver's licenses, signing into law a bill supporters say is one of the strongest rejections to the federal plan.

The move means the state won't comply with the Real ID Act, a federal law that sets a national standard for driver's licenses and requires states to link their record-keeping systems to national databases.

Though several states have either passed or are considering resolutions or bills against the act, Montana is the first state to outright deny its implementation, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

"This is the first one saying, 'We're not doing it,' " said Scott Crichton of the Montana ACLU.

  Bush Renews Call For Us Immigration ReformApril 09, 2007 16:58 President Bush is making a renewed push for big changes in U.S. immigration laws. VOA's Paula Wolfson reports it is one major issue where Mr. Bush believes he can work well with the new Democratic Party majority in Congress.

The president says now is the time for comprehensive immigration reform.

"This is a matter of national interest and it is a matter of deep conviction for me," he said. "I have been working to bring Republicans and Democrats together to resolve outstanding issues so that Congress can pass a comprehensive bill and I can sign it into law this year."

Mr. Bush spoke in Yuma, Arizona, a town close to the U.S. border with Mexico. It is an area that sees numerous crossings - many of them by illegal immigrants trying to sneak into the United States without getting caught.
  Dobbs: We'Re On A 'Fast Track' To Bad Trade PolicyApril 04, 2007 09:50 The powerful chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Charlie Rangel, and I sat down together last night to talk about, among other things, his new book, "And I Haven't Had a Bad Day Since."

For 36 years, Rangel has served the constituents of Harlem -- what the new Ways and Means chairman calls "the capital of black America." The chairman's new book is a terrific read and tells the fascinating story of his rise from the impoverished streets of New York to the corridors of power on Capitol Hill.

You'll love the book and the story of Rangel's life. And I suspect you'll have the same thought I did when you finally set the book down: How many more Charlie Rangels will be denied their shot at the American dream because Capitol Hill's corridors are now filled with corporate America's lobbyists, who are working to assure that our middle class and those who aspire to it have as little representation as possible?

Chairman Rangel and other House and Senate leaders face an early test of the Democratic Party's commitment to restoring the vigor of the world's most successful political economy. The test will come in the form of the mind-numbingly dull piece of legislation called Trade Promotion Authority, or "fast track." But there is nothing dull about the impact of the legislation, through which Congress cedes its constitutional authority on trade policymaking to the White House (as cited in Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution).

Thirty-one years of consecutive trade deficits and the loss -- in just the last six years -- of millions of manufacturing and good-paying middle-class jobs to outsourcing have been the result of what I consider this unconstitutional ceding of power to the executive branch in the form of fast-track authority.

  Peta :: Fda Likely Wrong About Wheat Gluten As Sole Source Of Pet Food PoisoningApril 03, 2007 23:16 Although the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continues to blame tainted wheat gluten for recent cat and dog illnesses and deaths, a mounting number of complaints about sick and dying animals who ate only dry food that did not contain wheat gluten strongly suggests another source of contamination. Evidence from reputable laboratories indicates that an excessive amount of vitamin D in pet food may be to blame. Vitamin D overdoses produce symptoms similar to those seen in animals who recently have become sick or died after consuming only dry foods.

This morning, PETA Vice President Bruce Friedrich made an urgent appeal to Stephen Sundlof, director of the FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine, asking the agency to refocus its investigation beyond wheat gluten -- which is used almost exclusively in wet foods -- and consider other possible contaminants. In his letter, Friedrich points out the following:

-- Last year, a manufacturing error in the production of Royal Canin pet
food resulted in excessive amounts of vitamin D-3 in the food, causing
hypercalcemia, an abnormally high level of calcium in the blood that
caused animals' kidneys to malfunction.
-- Research in endocrinology at Cleveland Clinic has confirmed that high
levels of vitamin D-3 in animals' blood causes kidney malfunction.
-- Symptoms associated with excessive vitamin D-3 intake appear identical
to the symptoms that are being reported in dogs and cats now, leading
PETA to believe that vitamin D-3 may be implicated in the current spate
of pet food contamination.

On Monday, PETA called on FDA Commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach to resign over the agency's mishandling of the pet food crisis.