Panetta calls for new steps to stop assaults

Panetta calls for new steps to stop assaults


Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced Monday new steps to combat sexual assaults in the military, with serious offenses such as rape and forcible sodomy subject to a court-martial review at the authority level of Army colonel or Navy captain.

The Pentagon said Friday that the number of reported sexual assaults had increased slightly last year, with 3,192 cases involving service members as either victims or perpetrators. But the Defense Department also has estimated that 86 percent of sexual assaults go unreported, a reflection of the fear some have for the prosecutorial system or their own standing in the service.

UN: Syria must give observers access


U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Monday the Syrian government is responsible for guaranteeing U.N. observers full freedom of movement to monitor the country’s tenuous cease-fire, which appeared to be unraveling as regime forces pounded the opposition stronghold of Homs, activists said. Even though overall violence in Syria has dropped significantly since the truce took effect Thursday, the government’s shelling of the central city of Homs over the past four days has raised doubts about President Bashar Assad’s commitment to special envoy Kofi Annan’s plan to end 13 months of violence and launch talks on the country’s political future.

Boy alerts school to dead mom, sister


A 9-year-old boy arrived at school Monday with a grisly story: His mother and sister were dead at their home.

Minutes later, police found the bodies of a 10-year-old girl and her mother — along with a blood-covered father and an unharmed 4-year-old boy — in a modest home in West Las Vegas, authorities said.

The man, who was hospitalized with a head injury, was not immediately identified as a suspect or charged.

Seeking new judge


The neighborhood-watch volunteer charged with killing an unarmed black teenager in Florida asked a judge in the case to step down Monday after she revealed a potential conflict of interest.

George Zimmerman’s attorney, Mark O’Mara, filed the request concerning Circuit Judge Jessica Recksiedler.

Zimmerman was charged last week with second-degree murder in Trayvon Martin’s Feb. 26 death. He is pleading not guilty, claiming self-defense.

Recksiedler’s potential conflict involves her husband, who works with attorney Mark NeJame. Zimmerman’s family first approached NeJame about representing Zimmerman. He declined and referred them to O’Mara.

Associated Press

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