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In The News

Feb 9, 2009

NATIONAL – Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) will chair the newly created Foreign Relations Subcommittee on International Operations and Organizations, Human Rights, Democracy and Global Women’s Issues. “This new Subcommittee assignment offers a tremendous opportunity to shine the light of day on a very overlooked issue,” Senator Boxer told the New York Times. “Too often, we turn our eyes away as women are persecuted, abused and treated as second-class citizens.” The Subcommittee will include two women who have just joined the Senate: Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). Its ranking member is Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN), who co-sponsors the International Violence Against Women Act, is an ex officio Member.

NATIONAL – A Task Force created by State Attorneys General finds that, while adult sexual predators “remain a concern,” bullying and harassment, most often by peers, are the most frequent threats that minors face both online and offline. The Internet Safety Technical Task Force released its report in January, finding that minors are not equally at risk online. “Those who are most at risk often engage in risky behaviors and have difficulties in other parts of their lives.” Enhancing Child Safety & Online Technologies is available online here.  

MILITARY – The Army will add prosecutors, rearrange its criminal investigation unit, and increase sexual assault training to better address the high rates of sexual assault, officials announced in late January. Army Secretary Pete Geren told the Associated Press that, “We see the crime of sexual assault as a crime that goes beyond just the criminal act…we see it as a crime that destroys unit cohesion.” The new plan includes sexual assault prevention training for commanders. Army Criminal Investigation Command will hire 30 special investigators to focus on sexual assault and harassment cases. There was a 24 percent rise in reports of sexual assault in the Army in 2006, following a near-40 percent increase in 2005.

VA – Virginia Tech graduate student Xin Yang was decapitated in an on-campus café last month, the first slaying on that campus since the mass killings in April of 2007. Fellow student Haiyang Zhu has been arrested in Yang’s grisly murder. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that, ten days before the attack, Zhu told a fellow student that he was attracted to Yang. Virginia Tech Police Chief Wendell Flinchum said he will not offer any more details about the relationship between Yang and Zhu.