A newly released study conducted by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) found that more than one in four undergraduate women have experienced sexual assault, further debunking right-wing media's repeated assertions doubting the the frequency and severity of sexual violence on college campuses.
The January 20 BJS report found that on average "21 percent of female undergraduates at the unnamed colleges and universities told researchers they had been sexually assaulted since starting their higher education," while "[o]ne in four female seniors reported being sexually assaulted in their undergraduate years." Huffington Post senior editor Tyler Kingkade wrote that the results of this latest study are "similar to the results of earlier research" and confirmed an earlier "survey of 300,000 collegiate women in 2007 that concluded 5 percent were raped annually, and 13 percent were raped before college or by the time they graduated."
Kingkade wrote that researchers believe the study to be "a major advance in the research about sexual assault on campus" and quoted John Foubert, a researcher at Oklahoma State University, who said that "the study is well done" and researchers "have many excellent reasons to trust the results."
This latest study once again rebuts conservative media's campaign of misrepresenting and outright rejecting studies demonstrating the frequency of campus sexual assault, casting previous, similar findings as "ridiculous" or "bizarre and wholly false." In December 2015, Fox News host Martha MacCallum criticized the earlier statistic that one in five women are sexually assaulted while in college, claiming that "other studies contradict that finding," and that "[n]o one really knows for sure." National Review's Rich Lowry previously alleged that studies documenting the severity of campus sexual assault are "bogus" because the measure "is based on a survey that includes attempted forced kissing as sexual assault."
Among female sexual assault victims, only 12.5 percent of rapes and 4.3 percent of sexual battery incidents were reported to any official, defined as a university administrator, law enforcement or crisis centers.
A majority of women who experienced sexual assault reported only one incident happening to them, while about one-third said they experienced two incidents.
An average of 21 percent of female undergrads had experienced sexual assault since entering college, and 34 percent had experienced it in their lifetime.
An average of 7 percent of men said they had been sexually assaulted since starting college, and 11.2 percent experienced it in their lifetime.
- Those who identified as LGBT or non-heterosexual reported sexual assault at higher rates than their heterosexual classmates.
From the January 20 edition of Fox News' Outnumbered:
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National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent called for President Obama and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to be hanged over their supposed malfeasance during the 2012 Benghazi, Libya terrorist attacks.
In a January 20 post published on his Facebook page, Nugent wrote that Clinton and Obama "should be tried for treason & hung" while pushing the conservative media myth that Obama or Clinton issued a "stand down" order during the September 11, 2012, attack:
From the January 20 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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In a January 18 article for New York Magazine, writer-at-large Rebecca Traister joined other media figures in criticizing a lack of questioning on reproductive rights in the January 17 Democratic debate in South Carolina. Traister characterized the silence as "particularly galling" given the prioritization of questions about Bill Clinton's sexual indiscretions and potential duties as "First Gentleman" over discussion of Hillary Clinton's "breathtakingly comprehensive" reproductive rights agenda. According to Traister, there have been "three questions in four debates that somehow relate to the masculinity of a guy who wasn't even on the stage, but not one about the millions of Americans who experience restricted access to legal abortion services," many of whom "also have limited access to sex-education programs, and affordable contraception."
Traister pointed out that the exclusion of reproductive rights from the debates was also notable because of Clinton's recent efforts "campaigning vocally and without apology against the Hyde Amendment," a budgetary rider that bans the use of federal Medicaid funds for abortion, making the procedure prohibitively expensive for many women. According to Traister, Clinton's stance on the Hyde Amendment "dropped a bomb on the political conversation about abortion...[y]et no one at any of the four official Democratic debates has asked Clinton about her remarkable amplification of feminist argument." Traister wrote (emphasis added):
There was a question, directed at Hillary, about the role her husband, former president Bill Clinton, would play in her administration, and one directed at Bernie about what he thought about Bill Clinton's past sexual indiscretions. If you include the previous debate's question about whether Hillary would have her husband do flower-arranging as First Gentleman, that makes three questions in four debates that somehow relate to the masculinity of a guy who wasn't even on the stage, but not one about the millions of Americans who experience restricted access to legal abortion services, many of them Americans who also have limited access to sex-education programs and affordable contraception, not to mention the jobs, educations, state benefits, affordable child care, and early schooling options that would make decisions about if, how, and under what circumstances to start or grow a family more just.
The lack of interest in the topic of reproductive justice is particularly galling, since this primary season -- which has included talk of political revolution coming mostly from Sanders -- has lately also featured some revolutionary language coming from Clinton, not a candidate usually known for being on the radical edge of debate.
But as too few people seemed to have noticed, Hillary Clinton has spent the past ten days campaigning vocally and without apology against the Hyde Amendment. Hyde, a legislative rider first passed in 1976 and added to appropriations bills every year since, prohibits the use of federal funds to pay for abortion, which means that the low-income women, many of them women of color, who rely on Medicaid for health insurance cannot use their insurance to terminate their pregnancies except in cases of rape, incest, or their life being in danger.
It is a discriminatory law that perpetuates both economic and racial inequality.And the notion of repealing it has remained a third rail in American politics until about five minutes ago ... or, more precisely, until this summer, when California representative Barbara Lee introduced the EACH Woman Act, which would effectively repeal Hyde. So far, the bill has 109 co-sponsors but a vanishingly small chance of going anywhere.
Clinton, in her lengthy, thorough statements about the relationship between reproductive-health-care access and economic inequality, dropped a bomb on the political conversation about abortion. It would be difficult to overstate how radical it is to hear a mainstream politician address the inability of women to make reproductive choices about their bodies and lives as an economic issue, central to class and racial discrimination in America. Yet no one at any of the four official Democratic debates has asked Clinton about her remarkable amplification of feminist argument.
An Associated Press profile of GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz's history of firearm ownership and views on firearm regulation failed to mention that Cruz is closely associated with Gun Owners of America (GOA), an extremist group that was once linked to white supremacists and whose leader has repeatedly said pro-gun safety politicians should fear being shot.
The Associated Press chronicled Cruz's history with guns in a January 19 article that noted "Cruz has made the defense of Second Amendment rights a cornerstone of his presidential campaign," but also raised questions about his bona fides as an anti-gun regulation absolutist, characterizing a legal brief filed by Cruz in the landmark 2008 District of Columbia v. Heller Supreme Court case as "nuanced" because it accepted that prohibitions on felons owning firearms, and some other restrictions on gun ownership, are constitutional.
(The AP article glossed over Cruz's record in the Senate, failing to mention that he has repeatedly credited himself as the driving force behind defeating overwhelmingly popular legislation in the U.S. Senate to expand background checks on gun sales following the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting.)
The article also noted that the first written reference to Cruz owning a gun occurred in 2003 and that Cruz's first hunting license on record was issued in 2006, suggesting that Cruz's "passion for the issue emerged relatively recently in his life, coinciding with his ascent in Republican circles in Texas."
The article devoted a great deal of space to establishing whether Cruz is or is not a devoted hunter, garnering comments from a campaign spokeswoman, but failed to mention Cruz's relationship with GOA, only noting support from the National Rifle Association on his campaign website. Cruz has significant ties to GOA, a gun rights group that is widely considered to be to the right of even the NRA, and which has called for the abolishment of all background checks on gun sales.
During a May 2015 GOA "Tele-Town Hall" event, Cruz -- the only Republican presidential candidate to participate -- said GOA was "critical" to his election as a U.S.Senator and said "one of the things I love about GOA is GOA has never been accused of painting in pale pastels." GOA in turn endorsed Cruz in September 2015 in a statement filled with conspiratorial and anti-immigrant undertones. Cruz has touted GOA during GOP debates, stating that he is "honored" to be endorsed by the group.
It is hard to overstate the extremism of GOA head Larry Pratt, who has repeatedly suggested that politicians should fear being shot by a GOA supporter, has claimed the Second Amendment was "designed" for people like President Obama, has supported putting guns in kindergarten classrooms, and has warned the federal government that "we'll point our guns at you if you try to act tyrannically."
Pratt has also flirted with conspiracy theories that suggest the 2012 Aurora, Colorado movie theater massacre and 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School were staged by the government to build support for more gun regulation, and has given credence to the claim that Obama will start a race war.
Pratt was forced to leave the presidential campaign of Republican Pat Buchanan in 1996 after The New York Times reported he "had spoken at rallies held by leaders of the white supremacist and militia movements" during the rise of the militia movement in the 1990s. Pratt has been a "contributing editor" to an anti-Semitic publication, and his articles on gun ownership have appeared in a white supremacist "tabloid" published by the racist Christian Identity movement. The GOA donated "tens of thousands of dollars" to a white supremacist group during the 1990s, under Pratt's direction.
From the January 17 edition of Fox News' America's Election HQ:
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The New York Times editorial board called for stronger state and federal gun laws after highlighting "shortcomings" that in many cases allow domestic abusers to acquire a firearm even after being determined to be a threat by a court.
Noting that in 2013 61 percent of women killed by gun violence were killed by former or current intimate partners, The Times explained "people convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors against partners with whom they never lived are not prohibited from owning guns under federal law, nor are those convicted of misdemeanor stalking."
The editorial also noted that current federal law does not require so-called "private sellers" of firearms to run background checks on customers, creating another avenue for domestic abusers to obtain firearms.
From The Times January 16 editorial:
While the gun violence debate often focuses on mass shootings of strangers, hundreds of Americans are fatally shot every year by spouses or partners. In 2013, 61 percent of women killed with guns were killed by husbands, ex-husbands or boyfriends. And in 57 percent of shootings in which four or more people were killed, one of the victims was the shooter's partner or family member, according to an analysis by the group Everytown for Gun Safety.
Yet shortcomings in federal and state law allow many domestic abusers to have access to firearms, even after courts have determined that the abusers pose a threat to their partners.
Federal law prohibits anyone convicted of any felony, or of misdemeanor domestic violence against a spouse, from owning a gun. People subject to a domestic violence restraining order issued after a hearing (not a temporary order issued before a hearing can take place) are also prohibited from owning guns. But people convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors against partners with whom they never lived are not prohibited from owning guns under federal law, nor are those convicted of misdemeanor stalking. Senator Amy Klobuchar and Representatives Debbie Dingell and Robert Dold have introduced bills to close these loopholes, but the bills have gained little traction.
Some states, like California and Connecticut, allow police to confiscate guns from someone who is determined by a court to be a threat to a partner, even if a domestic violence restraining order is not in place.
State and federal lawmakers need to follow the example of states that have closed loopholes and enacted surrender laws to prevent the dangerous from possessing deadly weapons.
A CNN report on a federal lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood against the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) repeated the debunked smear that a series of undercover videos released by CMP show Planned Parenthood officials "discussing the sale of fetal tissue." In fact, the officials were discussing reimbursement costs for tissue donation, and multiple state and federal inquiries into that allegation have shown it to be without merit.
It's true: campaign finance law is absurdly difficult for media to explain to American voters. The numbers are abstractly large, the rules are complicated, and everyone wonders if American voters actually care.
The polls certainly seem to say Americans are concerned. Across the political spectrum, voters consistently tell the media the tidal wave of money in politics is a grave problem and the case that opened the flood gates -- Citizens United -- should be overturned. Whether it's Republicans complaining about the "special interests" of Washington, D.C. or Democrats warning about the billionaires running our campaigns, the message is clear: clean elections matter.
The editorial boards and television pundits seem to agree. Like clockwork, with every new discouraging development handed down by the courts on campaign finance law, every new revelation of the monied power brokers pulling politicians' strings, every new failure to effectively enforce the election regulations on the books, solemn editorials are written and monologues are delivered warning American voters that the system has become at-risk to rampant corruption and conflicts of interest.
And yet here we are: live on Fox Business Network during their televised presidential debate, under questioning from FBN's Maria Bartiromo, a major presidential candidate just admitted he violated a basic campaign finance transparency rule in a fashion that runs antithetical to his core political image and he seems to think no one cares. He certainly doesn't seem to be afraid of the media calling him out, although some are trying. How else do we describe the embarrassing image of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), ostensibly one of the most intelligent legislators in Congress, brazenly admitting in a live presidential debate he broke the law as a senatorial candidate by taking a roughly million dollar campaign loan from Goldman Sachs and Citibank without properly disclosing the sources to the Federal Election Commission (FEC)?
Maybe the reason Bartiromo didn't follow up her original question with anything more than a "thank you" was that she was as stunned as the rest of us.
Yes, the candidate also misled about the details of his election violation on national television and media fact checkers duly called out the bait-and-switch after. Disclosing the possible conflict of interest in receiving a million dollars from Goldman Sachs (this Goldman Sachs) and Citibank while you're campaigning as a man of the people railing against the big bad establishment is not the same thing as disclosing the possible conflict of interest after you've been elected, a conflation the candidate nevertheless attempted to sell with a straight face during the debate. That's like a voter explaining they didn't properly register before they cast a ballot but did so afterwards, so it's all good.
That's not how it works.
Election disclosure laws are supposed to inform Americans before they vote so they can make an educated decision. In fact, this principle of mandated disclosure may have been the only reason Citizens United was allowed in the first place -- as a counterbalance to the obvious conflicts of interest the Supreme Court was about to tempt politicians with. The entire point behind the legal argument that led the conservatives on the Supreme Court to allow the 1% more unfiltered access to campaigning politicians was the idea that at least Americans would know who was potentially buying influence. In the case of Cruz, who rails against big money and the elite as a point of pride, such information may have been particularly interesting to the Tea Partiers who voted for him.
But again, here we are. A major presidential candidate seems to think either voters are idiots, or the media are.
So it's a challenge. The number is a cool million, easy for the typical news consumer to grasp. The case law and implementing disclosure regulations are cut and dry -- if you take money from a bank for your campaign, you have to identify the bank to the FEC. It boils down to the third problem of campaign finance reporting -- does the American public care? They say they do, over and over again, and the media keeps telling us this is an important part of American democracy, so what's the disconnect, if any?
With this ridiculously clear campaign finance violation on display for all to see, we're about to find out.
If media can't get the American public to understand why this sort of behavior, certainly not unique to Cruz, is a big problem, it's no longer the fault of the American public. They aren't the experts. It's the media's job to provide the expertise. But if the media can't effectively explain this one to its audience -- it's time to rethink how campaign finance reporting is done.
After all, Cruz is basically daring you.
The National Rifle Association is claiming that CNN's recent "Guns in America" town hall event was "staged" by President Obama as it attempts to explain why NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre declined to participate in the event, but then days later challenged Obama to a TV debate.
The NRA leveled several accusations against the Obama administration and CNN in a January 15 article, including that Obama was able to see questions in advance, that Obama "personally selected" the anchor of the event, and that the White House "personally selected" questioners for the event.
On January 7, CNN hosted an hour-long primetime program on gun violence. During the broadcast Obama answered questions about guns posed by CNN host Anderson Cooper and eight audience members who were split along ideological lines. CNN conceived the event and invited President Obama and the NRA to participate in the event. Obama accepted CNN's offer and the NRA declined. In declining to participate, the NRA claimed the event was "orchestrated by the White House," a false claim that was corrected by CNN in a January 6 article.
Then on January 13, days after skipping his chance to go face-to-face with Obama on national television before millions of viewers, LaPierre released a video challenging Obama to "a one-on-one, one-hour debate -- with a mutually agreed-upon moderator -- on any network that will take it."
In order to deflect from questions about why the NRA did not participate in the CNN event, the gun group has become increasingly brazen in promoting a conspiracy theory that the event was not CNN's doing, but rather was organized by the Obama administration.
A January 15 article in the NRA's online magazine America's 1st Freedom leveled several allegations against the White House and CNN:
From the January 14 edition of MSNBC's All In with Chris Hayes:
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The image used by NRA Family to illustrate its version of Little Red Riding Hood
A new series from "NRA Family" reimagines children's fairy tales with a pro-gun message.
In the January 14 series debut -- Little Red Riding Hood -- NRA Family's editor asked, "Have you ever wondered what those same fairy tales might sound like if the hapless Red Riding Hoods, Hansels and Gretels had been taught about gun safety and how to use firearms?"
What followed was a gun-heavy version of Little Red Riding Hood that culminates with the protagonist and her grandmother holding the wolf at gunpoint until he is taken away by a "huntsman."
Here are some excerpts showing the role firearms play in the NRA's Little Red Riding Hood:
One birthday not long ago, Red was given her very own rifle and lessons on how to use it--just in case--to be sure that she would always be safe. So, with a kiss from her mother, rifle over her shoulder and a basket for her Grandmother in her hands, Red took a deep breath and entered the woods.
Red felt the reassuring weight of the rifle on her shoulder and continued down the path, scanning the trees, knowing that their shadows could provide a hiding place.
This was the biggest, baddest wolf Red had ever seen. His wolfish smile disappeared for a moment when his eyes fell on her rifle.
The wolf followed along, staying in the shelter of the trees, trying to get Red to respond. As she grew increasingly uncomfortable, she shifted her rifle so that it was in her hands and at the ready. The wolf became frightened and ran away.
The wolf leaned in, jaws open wide, then stopped suddenly. Those big ears heard the unmistakable sound of a shotgun's safety being clicked off. Those big eyes looked down and saw that grandma had a scattergun aimed right at him. He realized that Grandmother hadn't been backing away from him; she had been moving towards her shotgun to protect herself and her home.
"I don't think I'll be eaten today," said Grandma, "and you won't be eating anyone again." Grandma kept her gun trained on the wolf, who was too scared to move. Before long, he heard a familiar voice call "Grandmother, I'm here!" Red peeked her head in the door. The wolf couldn't believe his luck--he had come across two capable ladies in the same day, and they were related! Oh, how he hated when families learned how to protect themselves.
From the January 14 edition of Fox News' Happening Now:
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After skipping his chance to go face-to-face with President Obama during CNN's January 7 "Guns in America" town hall, National Rifle Association executive vice president Wayne LaPierre has released a video challenging Obama to a nationally televised one hour debate.
While it might make an interesting spectacle to watch LaPierre confront Obama with his signature paranoid gun confiscation fantasies, what would be truly remarkable is a debate between 2016 Wayne LaPierre and adamant background check supporter 1999 Wayne LaPierre.
The NRA has gone apoplectic since Obama's January 5 announcement of executive actions on gun violence, a key component of which expands background checks on gun sales.
Having already positioned itself as a virulent opponent of expanding background checks following legislative battles in the wake of the Sandy Hook mass shooting, the NRA turned its rhetoric up even higher leading up to Obama's announcement, labeling the president "our biggest threat to national security" in a January 4 video posted to its NRA News website.
In a follow-up released on January 6, LaPierre strongly attacked the notion of expanded background checks, claiming in a video called "The Truth About Background Checks" that "the only thing the average American has heard about background checks is the absolute fallacy that what we need is more."
Now LaPierre has issued a challenge to Obama, stating in a January 13 video, "I'll tell you what. I'll meet you for a one-on-one, one-hour debate -- with a mutually agreed-upon moderator -- on any network that will take it. No pre-screened questions and no gas-bag answers."
Before LaPierre debates Obama, he may want to reconcile his organization's January 2016 position with what the NRA advocated for in 1999. During a May 28, 1999, appearance before the House Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Crime, LaPierre represented the NRA and said, "Let's talk about what's reasonable and what's not. We think it's reasonable to provide mandatory, instant criminal background checks for every sale, at every gun show no loopholes anywhere for anyone."
So are more background checks "reasonable" or are calls for more checks an "absolute fallacy"?
Also significant to LaPierre's debate challenge is that he already had the opportunity last week to confront Obama live, before millions of viewers. In trying to create cover for this telling fact, LaPierre and the NRA have repeatedly lied about the nature of CNN's town hall event on gun violence.
First, in declining to participate in the event, the NRA claimed the town hall was "orchestrated by the White House." That wasn't true; the event was conceived by CNN, which invited both Obama and the NRA. Only Obama accepted.
Then the NRA repeatedly advanced the notion that questions during the town hall were screened by the White House.
During a Fox News appearance that immediately preceded the end of the town hall, top NRA lobbyist Chris Cox attempted to explain the NRA's refusal to participate by telling Fox News host Megyn Kelly, "I know that you don't send your questions over to the White House so I would rather have a conversation with you that's intellectually honest than sit through a lecture and get one opportunity to ask a pre-screened question." At the time, Cox scoffed at the notion of the NRA meeting with the president to have a serious conversation about gun violence, saying, "So what are we going to talk about, basketball?"
The notion that the CNN event was stacked against the NRA also surfaced in LaPierre's January 13 video, where he claimed the NRA "won't get suckered into any of Obama's fixed fights" where "pre-screened questions that lead to [Obama's] long-winded answers are anything but an honest dialogue."
But for the NRA, the notion that CNN's event was "fixed" was debunked by a guest on their own NRA News program Cam & Company. The day after the event, NRA News hosted Kimberly Corban, a pro-gun sexual assault survivor, who unlike the NRA, did have the courage to challenge Obama with a question during CNN's town hall.
As Corban explained, the questions were screened by CNN (not the White House) and because the event was live she could have said whatever she wanted to the president. Host Cam Edwards asked Corban, "[CNN] said, 'Come up with a couple questions and we'll tell you which one we want you to use?" She replied: "Yup. Which isn't - to a point I was able to at least craft those questions on my own, those are my own words, and I could have gone as much off script as I wanted to as the event was live, but they knew basically what I was going to ask."