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    From ‘True Detective’ To ‘Fort Bliss’

    The actress sat down to discuss her award-worthy performance as an Army veteran and single mother in Fort Bliss and the difficulties of being a woman in Hollywood.

    There is, rather unfortunately, a preponderance of evidence that numerous Hollywood stars were generated in a farcical, fame-seeking incubator buried beneath Mount Lee. When you speak to them, they speak at you, regurgitating vacuous mini-monologues about, say, “the great script” or “the amazing time” they had making their latest pile of processed, gold-plated dung. Michelle Monaghan is, thankfully, not one of those people.

    Perhaps it’s her small-town Midwest upbringing, emerging from the cornfields of Winthrop, Iowa—population 850—or the knowledge imparted by her blue-collar parents (her mother ran a day care center out of the family home and her father was a factory worker), but Monaghan feels, well, real. And not in the J. Lo featuring Ja Rule sense. She also, as The New York Times’ Manohla Dargis recently put it, is “one of those performers you’re always happy to see” who “radiates intelligence.” For all these reasons and more, the 38-year-old actress has become one of the premier portrayers of working-class women onscreen. Take her first big role as Kimberly Woods, a “Teach For America” instructor in over her head on the Fox drama Boston Public; or as a miner opposite Charlize Theron in North Country; her Bahstin private investigator in search of a missing girl in Gone Baby Gone; the vodka-swilling long-haul truck driver in Trucker.

  • Chris Keane/Reuters

    Sex & the Military

    How Did the General Get Off?

    A top Army officer faced life imprisonment on sexual assault charges and other crimes but walked away Thursday with a minor reprimand. How did that happen?

    Army Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair, who had been charged with sexually assaulting a female captain who worked for him, walked free Thursday.

    Sinclair received a surprisingly light sentence given that he had originally faced life imprisonment and his own defense lawyers seemed resigned to some jail time, asking this week that he not be imprisoned for more than 18 months. Instead, in a decision that surprised many, Sinclair was docked $20,000 in pay and received a letter of reprimand, but was allowed to remain in the military and keep his pension and benefits.

  • Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty

    New leader: “Find meaning in adversity.”

    Some good news for women in the military: Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson took command on Monday as the first woman to lead the U.S. Air Force Academy in the 59-year history of the Colorado school. “We can find meaning in adversity, and there are lessons from overcoming negative experiences and to grow stronger through them,” she said. Johnson, who graduated the academy in 1981, takes over for Lt. Gen. Mike Gould. Johnson was the academy’s first female cadet wing commander. She comes to command after serving as the deputy chief of staff of operations and intelligence at the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Johnson is an Oxford University Rhodes Scholar graduate, earning her master’s degree in politics and economics.

  • J. Scott Applewhite/AP


    McCaskill vs. Gillibrand on Military Sex Assault

    The issue of how to handle rape in the military is dividing senators.

    Sexual assault in the military is still a very real problem—diving senators, reformers, and now putting two Democratic senators on the Senate Armed Services Committee in different corners. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) is promoting a proposal, backed by Armed Service Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), that would keep assault in the military within the chain of command—despite a bad record of dealing with the problem. But Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand  (D-N.Y.) has a plan to remove sexual assault from the chain of command and set up a separate prosecutor’s office to deal with issues of sexual assault such as rape. Her plan is supported by Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), but also Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas). McCaskill’s plan passed 17-9 in committee last month—and Gillibrand aims to offer her plan as an amendment when the bill comes up this fall.

  • Scott Olson/Getty


    Author: Women ‘Unsuited’ for Combat

    Robert Maginnis makes argument against females in certain military roles.

    Women are facing yet another obstacle to being in combat: Robert Maginnis, a former army lieutenant colonel and West Point graduate. Maginnis recently released a book, Deadly Consequences: How Cowards Are Pushing Women into Combat. In a Q&A with Time, he says women are being forced into combat by “political masters and radical feminists.” He says his main concerns are that the military will lower its standards, that women combatants will suffer disproportionate harm, and that the problem of sexual assault in the military will get worse. He says, “The scientific evidence and the lessons of combat experience are utterly one-sided: women are unsuited for ground combat service.” Maginnis says this argument has become more about politics than about finding the best fighters.

  • In this June 22, 2012, image made from video, female airmen march during graduation at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio. A widening sex scandal has rocked Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, one of the nation's busiest military training centers, where four male instructors are charged with having sex with, and in one case raping, female trainees. (AP Photo/John L. Mone)
    John L. Mone/AP


    Sexual Assault Remains Problem in Military

    Senate wants to address problem in defense bill.

    It’s become common, but that doesn’t make it any less horrifying: a former sailor remembers being sexually harassed by shipmates and eventually was forced to leave the Navy after reporting a subordinate's rape. One male sergeant said he’s seen people gang rape and get away with it. The Senate is drafting the annual defense bill, and they hope to strengthen how the Pentagon handles sexual assaults in harassment, but military leaders are against a plan that would disallow commanders to overrule the decision of juries. Though one thing everyone agrees on is that problems with sexual assault in the military won’t stop until commanders of the people committing assault no longer “have the power to decide who is punished.”

  • From left, Senators Rand Paul and Ted Cruz. (Kevin Dietsch/UPI, via Landov)


    A Brave Move

    As women turn away from the GOP, Rand Paul and Ted Cruz join Kirsten Gillibrand’s crusade against military sexual assault.

    This morning Sens. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul are expected to announce support of Sen. Kristin Gillibrand’s crusade to bring in special military prosecutors for sexual-assault cases. It’s the right thing to do, and Cruz and Paul represent the next generation of Republican leadership when it comes to standing up to the Pentagon.

    Military commanders have clearly failed to address sexual assault among the ranks. We’ve become familiar with stories about suffering in the military—veterans afflicted with post-traumatic stress, an alarming rise in suicides among soldiers, heroes who’ve lost limbs in battle trying to make their lives whole again. But Gillibrand and Rep. Jackie Speier in the House have refocused attention on the horrific amount of sexual violence against women military personnel. There are over 200,000 active-duty women serving in the armed forces, or about 15 percent of the force. According to a 2011 study, one out of five of them are sexually assaulted during their careers. (The figures are grim, too, when it comes to men: in 2012, the Department of Defense reported around 53 percent of victims of sexual assault were men.)  

  • Ralph Orlowski/Getty


    Military Men Are Also Victims

    Most troops who are assaulted are men, according to the Pentagon.

    As more cases of sexual assault in the military continue to emerge and bills are introduced to protect females, one thing is overlooked—most people who are sexually assaulted in the military are men (around 53 percent), according to the Pentagon. Many male troops say they were attacked by other men. Men are also less likely to file formal reports (though many assaults, on women and men, still go unreported). Before “don't ask, don't tell” was repealed, many men feared that they would be discharged for admitting that they had engaged in sexual contact, even if it was unwanted. Several veterans admitted being assaulted during the Vietnam War, when "you didn't dare say a word."

  • "Quite simply, our service women deserve better than James Taranto. They deserve a government and a country that address this ongoing crisis, instead of denying it." Female Marine recruit at boot camp, MCRD Parris Island, South Carolina, Feb. 27, 2013. (Scott Olson/Getty)


    Our Service Women Deserve Better

    WSJ writer James Taranto called the crusade to end sexual assault in the military a "war on men"—and now women are fighting back.

    Our military is facing a sexual assault crisis. And this week a prominent opinion writer for The Wall Street Journal, James Taranto, made it worse. In a piece about Sen. Claire McCaskill’s ongoing effort to hold military leaders accountable for their failure to address sexual assault, Taranto sharply criticized McCaskill and spent hundreds of words on what boils down to rape apologia.

    In an absurd and frankly disgusting twist of logic, Taranto framed McCaskill’s effort—and the overall campaign to end sexual assault in the military—as a “war on men.” He refers to a potential sexual assault as “hanky-panky” and “sexual recklessness,” an attempt to create a veneer that’s so misguided it nearly left us breathless. On its face, this type of denial is flatly offensive, but it also points to a much larger problem. Language like Taranto’s is at the very heart of the ongoing sexual-assault crisis facing our military and its servicewomen.



    Women’s Role in SOCOM Unclear

    Special Ops is weighing whether female soldiers will be admitted.

    Most military combat jobs could be open to women by 2016, according to plans released by the Pentagon on Tuesday, but it’s not yet clear whether women will be fully integrated into elite Special Operations units. Maj. Gen. Bennet Sacolick of the U.S. Special Operations Command Force Management Directorate “admitted that SOCOM has concerns about letting women into its elite ranks because their units are often small teams working in remote areas,” ABC News reported. The command is undertaking several studies on the impact of integration before making final recommendations to the secretary of Defense in 2015. Still, Sacolick said that intellect is increasingly more important than physical strength in elite units and that there’s a need for recruits who can speak foreign languages and operate in culturally alien environments. “The days of Rambo are over,” he said.

  • Scott Olson/Getty


    Columnist Decries ‘War on Men’

    Wall Street Journal opinions writer dismisses military sexual assault.

    Despite a report that nearly 26,000 U.S. military members were victims of sexual assault, one Wall Street Journal writer claims that the crackdown is “a political campaign against sexual assault in the military that shows signs of becoming an effort to criminalize male sexuality.” Uh, OK. As part of the mounting “war on men,” he uses the example of Lt. Gen. Susan J. Helms, who pardoned an officer found guilty of sexual assault. James Taranto said that Sen. Claire McCaskill has blocked Helms’s promotion. But as Hannah Groch-Begley of Media Matters puts it, McCaskill is just trying to find out why Helms “ignored her legal advisers and overturned a jury of five Air Force officers.” In his column, Taranto argues that commanders should retain the right to offer clemency, since the Helms case “demonstrates that the authority offers crucial protection for the accused.”

  • As Congress investigates the growing epidemic of sexual assaults within the military, the Senate Armed Services Committee holds a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, to demand answers from top uniformed leaders about whether a drastic overhaul of the military justice system is needed. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)


    Sexual-Assault Measure to Be Cut

    Senate sides with military commanders.

    Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, struck down a measure by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand regarding oversight of sexual assaults in the military. Under Levin’s measure, senior officers would be able to review decisions concerning sexual-assault crimes. Gillibrand’s measure would’ve given that power to military prosecutors—not commanders. This would change the current system, but keeps cases within the chain of command. Levin’s phone number was recently posted on Twitter by MoveOn.org, allowing people to call and demand he campaign for change in how the military handles sexual assault. The Pentagon estimates that 26,000 assaults occurred last year.


    Navy SEAL Comes Out as Transgender

    After retiring.

    Will this change the military's policy? After 20 years of service as a Navy SEAL, Kristin Beck has come out as transgender—the first member of the military’s most elite force to do so publicly. Born as a male and named Chris, Beck was on SEAL Team 6, the unit famous for killing Osama bin Laden, although she retired a few months before that mission. Beck has written a new memoir, Warrior Princess, that details her service and her post-SEAL life as a transgender woman. Despite the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” in 2011, transgender individuals are still barred from serving in the military.