Monday, November 5, 2012

General and Military "suicide epidemics" are in fact one and the same | NYT: Increase Seen in U.S. Suicide Rate Since Recession - November 4, 2012

General and Military "suicide epidemics" are in fact one and the same."


The New York Times

November 4, 2012

Increase Seen in U.S. Suicide Rate Since Recession

The rate of suicide in the United States rose sharply during the first few years since the start of the recession, a new analysis has found.
In the report, which appeared Sunday on the Web site of The Lancet, a medical journal, researchers found that the rate between 2008 and 2010 increased four times


The parallel between general and military "suicide epidemics" is striking. Statistical approximation of military samples to general might not be truly "corrective", the "controlling" factors, such as age and gender might not in fact be controlling and having any particular significance.
The servicemen might strongly absorb, "incorporate",  the perceptions and moods of their families and a community at large; a sense of sharing the same informational and emotional space is quite strong in the collective American psyche.

The comparison of both "epidemics"

"Suicide epidemics" are in quotation marks, because the very notion of "psychiatric epidemic" is rather questionable, it is copied from general epidemiology without much accounting for the specifics and complexities of "psychiatric epidemiology". The "truer" concept might include the very relative  socially mediated perceptions, values and variables, since the true baseline figures for suicide as a statistical phenomenon are not known to us, and more than this: they do not even exist and cannot exist in principle. The numbers simply reflect the current state of affairs with very relative and arbitrary "baselines". The short term dynamics of these numbers, the statistical pattern and their underlying mathematical model might be more important than the significance of nominal baselines. And this pattern, as we see it on statistical graphs for both epidemics, is the same: the one of exponential growth, increase in a geometric progression. This might signify that general and military suicide epidemics are in fact one and the same epidemic, with mostly the same factors, and with some additional specific factors for military suicides, mentioned earlier, at play.
The onset of this epidemic appears to be the second half of 2001. The effects of traumatic events of 9.11.01 on American national psyche have to be considered as causative factors in both general and military suicides, with potentially more severe impact on military and similar type of services.
The effects of economic crisis and unemployment probably are mediated by the psychological trauma of the loss of social status, a significance of which, due to other contributing factors and psychology of military service, might be more pronounced and direct in the cases of suicides in the military, and, apparently, the study of this phenomenon in this particular very large group cannot be divorced from its studies in a community, culture and the country at large.
If this reasoning about the roles of causative factors is correct, we should expect gradual levelling off, platoing and eventually decrease of suicide rates to their relative baseline level, with wearing off the effects of social trauma on younger generations.
Like any "crisis", it stimulates thinking about the direction of the Nation and its role in the world and also about the role of the military in the extended peacetime, its potential role as a leading educational, cultural and scientific institution and a model of efficient management and rational and balanced social policies.
What is the relative significance and role, the degree of their "relative causative load", "relative weight" of these and other social, psychological and medical - neurological factors in the causation of various suicidal and self-injurious behaviors and what are the best ways of managing them? This has to be accurately measured, assessed and evaluated: conceptually and socio-psychometrically.


Increase in state suicide rates in the USA during economic recession
Correspondence The Lancet (online November 5)

CDC data

Suicidology - Links List

The latest data available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that 38,364 suicide deaths were reported in the U.S. in 2010. This latest rise places suicide again as the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. Nationally, the suicide rate increased 3.9 percent over 2009 to equal approximately 12.4 suicides per 100,000 people. The rate of suicide has been increasing since 2000. This is the highest rate of suicide in 15 years.

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9/11 and national psyche - GS


Anxiety After 9/11


National Experiment on American Emotions Reveals Impact of Fear, Anger

PITTSBURGH-An unusual national experiment on American emotions conducted by Carnegie Mellon University scientists reveals a national psyche deeply influenced in opposite ways by anger and fear and enormously impacted by media coverage of events post 9-11.

The scientists, all experts in studying the way people think and behave, were able to quickly pull together an experiment that studied the emotions and perceptions of the risks of terrorism of nearly 1,000 American women, men and teens following the terrorist attacks on America.

The results have been presented to NATO officials assessing the carryover impact of terrorism and are in press with the journal Psychological Science. The experiment results may have implications for better understanding of consumer behavior, the role of the media, and public support for the war on terrorism.

Jennifer Lerner, an assistant professor of Social and Decision Sciences at Carnegie Mellon and lead author of the paper, commented that the emotional responses of Americans "clearly influence everything from future support for military action to decisions to travel."

The Carnegie Mellon team drew four major conclusions from the study:

1) Americans who experience anger are more optimistic about the future, less likely to take precautionary actions, and more likely to favor aggressive policy responses than those who experience fear.

2) Individuals see themselves as less vulnerable than the "average American," while still perceiving strikingly high personal risk in the wake of September 11.

3) Men experience more anger about terrorism than women, leading them to be more optimistic than women.

4) Media portrayals of the terrorist attacks strongly influence emotional responses, producing anger in some instances and fear in others.
The experiment involving nearly 1,000 American men and women ages 13 to 88, suggests that heightened emotions of fear and anger affect responses to the threat of terror currently facing the nation, with anger promoting greater optimism and more aggressive policies.

Feelings of fear likely fueled the sense of pessimism that contributed to the national economic downturn after September 11 and the call for tighter security; feelings of anger likely fed the sense of optimism, contributing to support for military action and the sense that threats could be controlled.

Scientifically, the experiment plows new ground. Scientists say that this is the first time that the effects of emotion have been studied in a national sample, using the random assignment to conditions of fear or anger.

The experiment also underscored the profound impact that media coverage has on the American public, Lerner said.

Because emotions often affect economic decisions and the formation of policies, team members stressed the importance of undertaking further studies like this one.

"Citizens need to understand these processes in order to apply their hearts and minds to what might be a protracted struggle with the risks of terror," said Carnegie Mellon University Professor of Social and Decision Sciences Baruch Fischhoff, a member of the scientific team.

In addition to Lerner and Fischhoff, the team included doctoral students Roxana Gonzalez and Deborah Small, all of Carnegie Mellon's Department of Social and Decision Sciences.

Grants from the National Science Foundation and the American Psychological Association funded the study.

Details of the Scientific Experiment Dealing with Emotional Response to Terrorism
In contrast to the common view that negative emotions lead to pessimism, the researchers hypothesized that the negative emotion of anger would lead to optimism, relative to the negative emotion of fear. They also hypothesized that simply asking people to reflect on fear or anger while viewing a fear- or anger-inducing media clip would elicit emotions that were strong enough to shape perceptions of twenty different risky events. Finally, they hypothesized that males would experience more anger and females would experience more fear, leading males to make relatively optimistic risk estimates.

These hypotheses were tested and supported in a national field experiment with almost 1,000 American citizens, ages 13 to 88. The sample's demographics corresponded to those of the U. S. Census, so the results would generalize to the U.S. population. Using WebTVs supplied by the research corporation Knowledge Networks, the project initially asked respondents about their reactions only nine days after the attacks. Eight weeks later, using TV imagery and newspaper reports from major media organizations (e.g., CNN, the New York Times) broadcast on the Web TVs, the researchers surveyed the same people again. For this second survey, half of the sample was exposed to a fear-inducing media clip, while the other half was exposed to an anger-inducing clip.

Anger Led to Optimism; Fear Led to Pessimism
Carnegie Mellon researchers found that Americans randomly assigned to the "fear condition" perceived greater risks from terrorism, while those in the "anger condition" perceived less risk.

"Brief reminders of media stories elicited emotions that shaped Americans' perceptions of their own level of risk. Stories that induced fear increased their perception that they would be hurt in a terrorist attack, while stories that induced anger reduced their perception of personal risk," Lerner explained.

She added that the differential effects of fear and anger were not limited to emotions induced experimentally. Naturally-occurring fear and anger measured in the week after the attacks had the same pattern as the experimentally-induced fear and anger.

"Regardless of whether we randomly exposed people to emotion-inducing media stories or if we measured naturally-occurring emotions, greater anger led to greater optimism," Lerner said.

Fear, Anger Trigger Different Precautionary Responses and Policy Preferences
Fear and anger not only produced different risk perceptions, but also different precautionary responses and different policy preferences. The Carnegie Mellon scientific team contends that these findings have important implications for the health of the U.S. economy and public support for the war against terrorism.

Americans who saw a fear-inducing media story were more likely to say that they would take personal precautions, such as reducing their air travel. Americans who saw a fear-inducing media story were also more likely to support conciliatory public policies. By contrast, Americans who saw an anger-inducing story were less likely to say they would take precautions and less likely to support conciliatory policies.

Overall, Americans strongly supported the public policies of "providing Americans with honest, accurate information about the situation, even if the information worries people," "investing in general capabilities, like stronger public health, more than specific solutions, like smallpox vaccinations," and "deporting foreigners in the U.S. who lack visas." There was somewhat weaker, but still positive support for "strengthening ties with countries in the Moslem world."

Men Perceive Less Risk than Women Because They Are Angrier
The Carnegie Mellon study also discovered that males (ages 13-88) were less pessimistic about risks than were females-because they were angrier. "The striking difference in risk perception between males and females is due to males experiencing greater anger and females greater fear," Lerner said.

Americans Perceived High Risk of Terrorism-But Also Say Risk Is Higher for "Other"Americans than for Themselves
The experiment found that subjects saw "average Americans" as facing much higher risks than they did personally. The researchers said these results did not, however, reflect unrealistic personal optimism. According to Lerner, many risk estimates last November reflected profound pessimism.

On average, respondents saw a 21 percent chance of being injured in a terrorist attack within the next year as opposed to the 48 percent chance assigned to the average American. "This is still a very gloomy view," Lerner commented.

Respondents had realistic expectations about more-everyday happenings, such as the likelihood of getting the flu.

Carnegie Mellon scientists say a follow-up study will assess whether Americans' estimates of risk will have changed a year later, as well as examining the accuracy of their initial risk estimates.

NATO workshop Focuses on Terrorism
The meeting at NATO headquarters, where the findings were presented, was the first scientific workshop co-sponsored by NATO and Russia to gather scientists from around the world to consider the psychological and social consequences of chemical, biological, and radiological terrorism - and to advise policy makers on prevention and mitigation measures. A preliminary summary of the meeting and this report appears on the NATO Web site,

Study Advances New Experimental Methods for Examining Emotion and Judgment
Many studies have looked at correlations between emotional responses and risk perceptions. However, no studies with a national sample have experimentally manipulated emotions. According to the researchers, only experimental manipulation, with random assignment to condition, allows one to conclusively examine causal relationships. Other national studies have typically involved correlational designs without experimental manipulations and random assignment, while experimental studies have typically been conducted only in the laboratory. Scientists say the Carnegie Mellon study breaks new ground by marrying the virtues of both methods: It takes experimental methodology outside the laboratory to a nationally representative sample of Americans.
---Carnegie Mellon University


The New York Times

November 4, 2012

Increase Seen in U.S. Suicide Rate Since Recession

The rate of suicide in the United States rose sharply during the first few years since the start of the recession, a new analysis has found.
In the report, which appeared Sunday on the Web site of The Lancet, a medical journal, researchers found that the rate between 2008 and 2010 increased four times faster than it did in the eight years before the recession. The rate had been increasing by an average of 0.12 deaths per 100,000 people from 1999 through 2007. In 2008, the rate began increasing by an average of 0.51 deaths per 100,000 people a year. Without the increase in the rate, the total deaths from suicide each year in the United States would have been lower by about 1,500, the study said.
The finding was not unexpected. Suicide rates often spike during economic downturns, and recent studies of rates in Greece, Spain and Italy have found similar trends. The new study is the first to analyze the rate of change in the United States state by state, using suicide and unemployment data through 2010.
“The magnitude of these effects is slightly larger than for those previously estimated in the United States,” the authors wrote. That might mean that this economic downturn has been harder on mental health than previous ones, the authors concluded.
The research team linked the suicide rate to unemployment, using numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Every rise of 1 percent in unemployment was accompanied by an increase in the suicide rate of roughly 1 percent, it found. A similar correlation has been found in some European countries since the recession.
The analysis found that the link between unemployment and suicide was about the same in all regions of the country.
The study was conducted by Aaron Reeves of the University of Cambridge and Sanjay Basu of Stanford, and included researchers from the University of Bristol, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and the University of Hong Kong.

via NYT > Home Page by By BENEDICT CAREY on 11/4/12
The rate of suicide in the United States rose sharply during the first few years since the start of the recession, a new analysis has found.
Aaron Reeves suicide - GS

  1. US suicide rates up since crisis began
    Independent Online‎ - 3 hours ago
    Suicide rates in the United States have risen sharply since the ... recession,” said Aaron Reeves of Britain's University of Cambridge, who led ...


US suicide rates up since crisis began

Suicide rates in the United States have risen sharply since the economic crisis took hold in 2007 and political leaders should do more to protect Americans' mental health during tough times, researchers said on Monday.
In a letter to The Lancet medical journal, scientists from Britain, Hong Kong and United States said an analysis of data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that while suicide rates rose slowly between 1999 and 2007, the rate of increase more than quadrupled from 2008 to 2010.
“There is a clear need to implement policies to promote mental health resilience during the ongoing recession,” said Aaron Reeves of Britain's University of Cambridge, who led the research and submitted it in a letter to The Lancet.
“In the run-up to the US presidential election, President Obama and Mitt Romney are debating how best to spur economic recovery, (but) missing from this discussion is consideration of how to protect Americans' health during these hard times.”
According to Reeves' analysis, around 1500 more people a year in the United States have committed suicide since 2007 compared to numbers that would have been expected if the 1997 to 2007 trends had continued.
The model used to analyse the data - one also recently used to estimate the effect of recession on suicide rates in England - showed unemployment may account for around a quarter of the excess suicides in the US since 2007, Reeves said.
Similar rises in suicide rates have also been found in Greece, Spain, Britain and other countries hit by economic recession and rising unemployment in recent years.
“Suicide is a rare outcome of mental illness, but this means that these data are likely the most visible indicator of major depression and anxiety disorders among people living through the financial crisis,” Reeves said. - Reuters


US suicide rates have risen sharply since economic crisis

Christine Bohan
by Christine Bohan - in 244 Google+ circles - More by Christine Bohan
6 hours ago – The research is published today in The Lancet. Aaron Reeves of the University of Cambridge who led the research said that the data followed ...


US suicide rates have risen sharply since economic crisis

Researchers found that the number of suicides more than quadrupled in the United States between 2008 and 2010, echoing the findings of similar research in Ireland.

Image: ChameleonsEye via Shutterstock
SUICIDE RATES IN America have risen sharply since the economic crisis kicked in almost five years ago, according to a major study published today.
Researchers found that the number of suicides more than quadrupled in the United States between 2008 and 2010.
The study found that an estimated 1,500 additional suicides have taken place in the US every year since 2007 compared to the number that would have been expected if trends from the previous decade had continued. The research is published today in The Lancet.
Aaron Reeves of the University of Cambridge who led the research said that the data followed trends in other countries which have been hit hard by the economic crisis.
“In the run-up to the US Presidential election, President Obama and Mitt Romney are debating how best to spur economic recovery,” he said.
“Missing from this discussion is consideration of how to protect Americans’ health during these hard times. Suicide is a rare outcome of mental illness, but this means that these data are likely the most visible indicator of major depression and anxiety disorders among people living through the financial crisis, as revealed by recent research in Spain and Greece”.
The study also echoes similar research in Ireland which has found that suicide rates have increased as the economy has tumbled and unemployment rates have increased. Figures from the Central Statistics Office show 525 people took their own lives in Ireland in 2011, an increase of 7 per cent on the previous year.
A recent study by the National Suicide Research Foundation examined almost 200 cases of suicide in Cork over three years and found that the recession has had a direct impact on suicide rates. Almost one third of suicide victims had worked in construction or related areas which have been disproportionately affected by the downturn. Almost 40 per cent of suicide victims in the study were unemployed.
The authors of the report on the US suicide rates pointed out that some countries such as Sweden have managed to avoid increased rates of suicide during the economic downturn, suggesting that some countries have been better at promoting mental health resilience during difficult times.
If you have been affected by the issues discussed in this article please call Aware at 1890 303 302 or the Samaritans at 1850 60 90 90, or email


Selected Online First articles from The Lancet journals ahead of print publication.
  • Increase in state suicide rates in the USA during economic recession
    Correspondence The Lancet (online November 5)

Increase in state suicide rates in the USA during economic recession - GS


 suicide unemployment - GS


suicide unemployment loss of social status - GS


suicide loss of social status - GS


Rise in suicides blamed on impact of recession | Society | The ... › NewsSocietySuicide ratesCached
14 Aug 2012 – Male suicides increased by 3.6% as joblessness rose 25%, with unemployment ... on their lives of the economic recession, according to a new analysis. ... She said: "This research gives us credible evidence that the suicide rate in England is ... policies can mitigate the increase in suicide during recession.

Rise in suicides blamed on impact of recession

Male suicides increased by 3.6% as joblessness rose 25%, with unemployment linked to 1,000 deaths from 2008-10

, health editor

  • The Guardian,

    More than 1,000 people in the UK may have killed themselves because of the impact on their lives of the economic recession, according to a new analysis.
    Suicides tend to rise in hard economic times, and there has been evidence of the numbers increasing in Greece and more recently in Italy as people have lost their jobs and struggled to support themselves and their families.
    A paper published in the British Medical Journal suggests that the same pattern is now visible in Britain.
    The suicide rate had been dropping steadily in the UK for 20 years before the recession hit, but in 2007-2008 it rose by 8% among men and 9% among women.
    Academics from the Universities of Liverpool and Cambridge, and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, investigated the figures to try to establish whether the recession was the cause.
    They looked at information on suicides in 93 regions held by the National Clinical and Health Outcomes Database for the decade from 2000-2010, and also examined from the Office for National Statistics the numbers of unemployed people claiming benefits.
    They found that the suicide rate among men rose by 1.4% for every 10% increase in unemployment.
    Between 2008-2010, they say, 846 more men ended their life than would have been expected had the downward trend continued; the corresponding number for women was an extra 155 suicides.
    On average, male unemployment rose by 25.6% in each of those years, while the male suicide rate rose by 3.6% each year. When male employment rates rose briefly in 2010, the suicide rate dropped slightly.
    Ben Barr, of the public health department at Liverpool University, one of the study's authors, said joblessness, financial worries, debt and housing issues were probably all factors behind the suicide rise. But he said: "There has been a large amount of evidence from other studies and other countries that shows that unemployment is a particular risk factor for suicide."
    There was a need for policies to promote employment and also to safeguard services that could help those who had lost their jobs, Barr said.
    He added: "In some areas, where cuts are occurring they are affecting services that might help mitigate the effects of job loss on mental health. A lot of the charities working in the poorest parts of the country, or on mental health problems and people out of work, are potentially at risk.
    "There are countries where you don't see such a relationship [between unemployment and suicide]. Those countries tend to be those [with] good employment protection and wellbeing support, such as those in Scandinavia."
    Clare Wyllie, the Samaritans' head of policy and research, said the link between increased suicides and unemployment was well established.
    She said: "This research gives us credible evidence that the suicide rate in England is linked to the current recession. We've seen calls to the helpline from people worried about financial difficulties double since the onset of the economic crisis. In 2008, one in 10 calls to the helpline were about financial issues, now that's one in five.
    "There is evidence that government investment in welfare and active labour market policies can mitigate the increase in suicide during recession.
    "The research also points to important gender differences in suicide. Samaritans is researching how social expectations of men contribute to the considerably higher rate of suicide in men."



    On Psychiatric Epidemiology

    On Psychiatric Epidemiology

    References and Links

    psychiatric epidemiology - GS

    Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology
    The International Journal for Research in Social and Genetic Epidemiology and Mental Health Services
    Editor-in-Chief: P. Bebbington
    ISSN: 0933-7954 (print version)
    ISSN: 1433-9285 (electronic version)
    Journal no. 127
    Read online on SpringerLink



    Saturday, November 3, 2012

    Mike Nova's starred items - 12:39 PM 11/3/2012

    12:39 PM 11/3/2012
    via A List's Facebook Wall by A List on 11/3/12

    I Heart Unpredictable Love
    Why our brains push us toward unexpected affection and rewards.

    via NYT > Arts by By BEN BRANTLEY on 11/2/12
    A new staging of “The Heiress,” adapted from a Henry James novella, stars Jessica Chastain in a bluntly drawn outline of the title character.

    Mitt Romney’s advance team has emerged one of the few consistently high-functioning arms of his campaign.

    via NYT > Internet by By BRIAN STELTER and JENNIFER PRESTON on 11/2/12
    Governors and others from North Carolina to Maine are using Twitter, Facebook and YouTube to reach constituents unable to watch television.

    via NYT > U.S. by By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS on 11/1/12
    A federal audit of the authority that runs two of metropolitan Washington’s major airports has criticized how the agency is managed.

    via NYT > U.S. by By ETHAN BRONNER on 11/2/12
    Thousands of lawyers from both presidential campaigns will enter polling places next Tuesday with one central goal: tracking their opponents and, if need be, initiating legal action.

    via NYT > U.S. by By JAMES RISEN on 11/2/12
    One sergeant’s account of abuse suggests that more than 20 years after Tailhook, the infamous 1991 scandal involving Navy fighter pilots, little has changed in the insular fighter pilot culture.

    via NYT > U.S. by on 11/2/12
    About four days after Hurricane Sandy, long lines for gas and crowded commutes dominate daily life.

    Residents of Long Beach, N.Y., begin the cleanup after Hurricane Sandy.

    NYT: The Final Reckoning - By DAVID BROOKS - November 1, 2012

    The New York Times

    November 1, 2012

    The Final Reckoning

    Jan. 20, 2009, was an inspiring day. Barack Obama took the oath of office and argued that America was in a crisis caused by “our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age.”
    It was time, he said, to end the false choices between the orthodox left and the orthodox right. He called for “an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas that for far too long have strangled our politics. ... In the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things.”
    Obama acknowledged that some people questioned the scale of his ambitions, the scope of his grand plans. But, he continued, “What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them, that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply.”
    In some ways, President Obama has lived up to the promise of that day. In office, he has generally behaved with integrity and in a way befitting a man with his admirable character. Sure, he has sometimes stooped to the cynical maneuver. Contemptuous of his opponents, he has given himself permission to do the nasty and negative thing. But politics is a rough business and nobody comes out unsullied.
    In moral terms, he hasn’t let us down. If he’s re-elected, his administration would probably remain scandal-free. Given the history of second terms, that is no small thing.
    Moreover, Obama has been a prudent leader. He’s made no rash or disastrous decisions. He’s never acted out of some impetuous passion. His policies toward, say, China, Europe and Iran have had a sense of sober balance. If re-elected, he would probably commit no major blunders, which also is no small thing.
    But the scope of Obama’s vision has contracted over the years. It has contracted politically. Four years ago, Obama won over many conservatives and independents. But he’s championed mostly conventional Democratic policies and is now mostly relying on members of his own party.
    It has contracted managerially. Four years ago, Obama went to the White House with a Team of Rivals — big figures with big voices. Now the circle of trust is much smaller and political.
    The mood has contracted. The atmosphere of expansive hope has often given way to a mood of aggrieved annoyance. He seems cagier, more hemmed in by the perceived limitations of his office. The man who ran on hope four years ago is now running one of the most negative campaigns in history, aimed at disqualifying his opponent.
    Most of all, the vision has contracted. The arguments he made in his inaugural address were profoundly true. We are in the middle of an economic transition, a bit like the 1890s, with widening inequality, a corrupt and broken political system, an unsustainable welfare state, a dangerous level of family breakdown and broken social mobility.
    The financial crisis exposed foundational problems and meant that we were going to have to live with a long period of slow growth, as the history of financial crises makes clear.
    If Obama had governed in a way truer to his inauguration, he would have used this winter of recuperation to address the country’s structural weaknesses. He would have said: Look, we’re not going to have booming growth soon, but we will use this period to lay the groundwork for a generation of prosperity — with plans to reform the tax code, get our long-term entitlement burdens under control, get our political system working, shift government resources from the affluent elderly to struggling young families and future growth.
    When people say they wish Obama had embraced the Simpson-Bowles deficit-reduction plan, they don’t mean the specific details of that proposal. They mean the largeness that Obama’s inauguration promised and the Simpson-Bowles moment afforded. They mean confronting the hard choices, instead of promising more bounty for everyone with no sacrifice ever.
    But the president got sucked in by short-term things — the allure of managing the business cycle so that the economy would boom by re-election time. Instead of taking the midterm defeat as a sign he should move to the center, or confound the political categories, he seems to have hunkered down and become more political. Washington dysfunction now looks worse than ever.
    Sure, House Republicans have been intransigent, but Obama could have isolated them, building a governing center-left majority with an unorthodox agenda. Instead he’s comforted the Democratic base and disappointed sympathizers who are not in it.
    One final thing. No one is fair to President Obama. People grade him against tougher standards than any other politician. But his innate ability justifies that high standard. These are the standards he properly set for himself. If re-elected, he’d be free from politics. It’d be interesting to see if he returns to his earlier largeness.

    via NYT > Global Opinion by By DAVID BROOKS on 11/2/12
    President Obama began big but is ending small. If he’s re-elected, would he reach the high standards he once set for himself?

    NYT: Secret Service Agent Who Hid Affair Kills Himself - via NYT > Home Page - By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS on 11/2/12

    The New York Times

    via NYT > Home Page by By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS on 11/2/12
    For nearly six years, a senior Secret Service agent kept his extramarital affair with a Mexican woman a secret from the agency responsible for protecting the president.

    November 2, 2012

    Secret Service Agent Who Hid Affair Kills Himself

    WASHINGTON (AP) — For nearly six years, a senior Secret Service agent kept his extramarital affair with a Mexican woman a secret from the agency responsible for protecting the president.
    But in the wake of an embarrassing prostitution scandal involving 13 agents and officers, Rafael Prieto's secret was revealed by a fellow employee amid concerns the Secret Service wasn't enforcing its rules consistently. With an internal investigation ongoing, Prieto apparently committed suicide last week, people familiar with the matter told The Associated Press.
    Prieto, a married father assigned to the security detail for President Barack Obama, admitted the years-long relationship with a woman from Mexico to U.S. investigators when confronted. Before his death, he was the subject of an investigation focused on whether he violated agency rules that require disclosing relationships with foreigners, those familiar with the matter said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss Prieto's death or the investigation.
    Secret Service rules require that employees with a security clearance notify the agency about any relationship with a foreign citizen to ensure that the person is not a risk to national security. There is no evidence that Prieto's relationship posed any security threat. Failing to disclose such a relationship would be not be a crime, but a violation of the agency's administrative rules.
    Prieto was serving on the protective detail for Obama, though he was not on duty at the time of his death. As recently as 2009, he was identified as the resident agent in charge at the Secret Service's office in White Plains, N.Y. He had worked for the Secret Service for 22 years. He was 47, according to public records.
    Prieto's apparent cause of death was carbon monoxide poisoning. He was found in his car with the engine running. His death was being investigated by Metropolitan Police in Washington and the medical examiner's office.
    "Rafael Prieto had a distinguished 20-year career with the Secret Service that was marked by accomplishment, dedication and friendships," agency spokesman Edwin Donovan said in a statement. "The Secret Service is mourning the loss of a valued colleague."
    The Secret Service protects the lives of the president, vice president and their families, and also investigates counterfeiting, bank fraud, computer hacking and other financial crimes.
    The behavior of Secret Service agents and officers has come under scrutiny since 13 employees were implicated in a prostitution scandal in Cartagena, Colombia, in April.
    Those employees were in the Caribbean resort city in advance of Obama's arrival for a South American summit. After a night of heavy partying in some of Cartagena's bars and clubs, the employees brought women, including prostitutes, back to the where they were staying. The incident became public after one agent refused to pay a prostitute and argued with her in a hotel hallway. Prieto was never in Colombia during the scandal.
    Eight of those Secret Service employees have been forced out of the agency, three were cleared of serious misconduct and at least two are fighting to get their jobs back.
    The scandal prompted Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan to issue a new code of conduct that barred employees from drinking within 10 hours of the start of a shift or bringing foreigners to their hotel rooms.

    via NYT > World by By NICK CUMMING-BRUCE and RICK GLADSTONE on 11/2/12
    A new video that seems to show Syrian rebels summarily executing a group of captured soldiers or militiamen could, if verified, represent evidence of a war crime, the United Nations said on Friday.

    via NYT > World by By MARTIN FACKLER on 11/2/12
    Japanese leaders reacted angrily on Friday after the police on Okinawa said a United States Air Force serviceman was suspected of assaulting a 13-year-old boy. 

    NYT - November 2, 2012 - Military Has Not Solved Problem of Sexual Assault, Women Say

    The New York Times

    via NYT > U.S. by By JAMES RISEN on 11/2/12
    One sergeant’s account of abuse suggests that more than 20 years after Tailhook, the infamous 1991 scandal involving Navy fighter pilots, little has changed in the insular fighter pilot culture.

    November 2, 2012

    Military Has Not Solved Problem of Sexual Assault, Women Say

    WASHINGTON — Jennifer Smith, an Air Force technical sergeant, walked into the office of a senior officer at Kunsan Air Base in South Korea with an armful of paperwork. Instead of signing the documents, she said, he insisted that she sit down. “He said to me, ‘It’s Friday afternoon, why don’t you take off your blouse and get comfortable?’ ” Sergeant Smith recalled.
    In Germany, a master sergeant who offered to escort her home tried to sexually assault her, she said, and was deterred only when co-workers intervened. At Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina, where she eventually complained about pornography and other graphic material on her unit’s computers, a supervisor warned her to keep quiet, she said.
    During her 17-year career as an enlisted woman performing administrative work for Air Force fighter squadrons, Sergeant Smith said, she has endured repeated sexual assaults and harassment. She said she has decided to speak out now after keeping silent for many years because senior officers were involved or appeared to tolerate improper behavior by fighter pilots, one of the military’s most elite groups.
    “I learned quickly that the enlisted females who do well are the ones who keep their mouths shut,” said Sergeant Smith, who filed a formal complaint last month charging that the Air Force has turned a blind eye to pervasive sexual attacks and harassment against women. “It’s a career ender to come forward.”
    The Air Force declined to comment on her allegations, citing privacy laws, but said it acts to combat such misconduct. “The goal for sexual assault in the United States Air Force is zero,” Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, the Air Force chief of staff, said in a written statement. “If you’re a commander or a supervisor and you are not directly and aggressively involved in speaking up about this issue in your unit, then you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.”
    Faced with lawsuits and mounting evidence of widespread sexual abuse in the military, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta acknowledged this year that the number of sexual assaults in the military is probably far higher than the official statistics show, because so many episodes are covered up. More than 3,000 sexual assault cases were reported in 2011 throughout all of the military services, but Mr. Panetta said that the actual figures could be as high as 19,000.
    The Defense Department has found that about one in three women in the military has been sexually assaulted, compared with one in six civilian women. About 20 percent of female veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan have experienced some form of sexual assault or related trauma, according to the Veterans Administration. “Despite the implementation of prevention programs and improved reporting mechanisms, female soldiers continue to experience sexual harassment and assault and are reluctant to report incidences,” a 2011 Labor Department report concluded.
    Susan Burke, a Washington lawyer representing women who said they were victims of sexual assault or harassment and who have filed a series of lawsuits against the Pentagon beginning last year, said that since then more than 500 additional women, including Sergeant Smith, and a few men, have contacted her for help.
    The Air Force and other services have instituted programs to deter abuses and discipline those who commit them. But Sergeant Smith, who is still on active duty with the 20th Fighter Wing at Shaw, and others in the Air Force said that many women are skeptical.
    Air Force Technical Sgt. Kimberly Davis, assigned to Stewart Air National Guard Base in New York, said that after she reported being raped, officers on the base, including one assigned to handle sexual assault cases, conspired to cover up the episode. “The sexual assault program in the Air Force is a joke,” she said.
    Lola Miles, a former Air Force helicopter mechanic at Hurlburt Field in Florida, said that when she told senior officers that a male co-worker had repeatedly hit her at work and made vulgar remarks to her, they joked about it. Instead of taking action against her co-worker, she said, the leaders in her unit sought to discredit her and force her out of the Air Force. Both she and Sergeant Davis have filed lawsuits against the Air Force.
    Sergeant Smith, 35, has worked with fighter squadrons inside the United States and overseas for most of her career. Her account of abuse suggests that more than 20 years after Tailhook, the infamous 1991 scandal involving Navy fighter pilots, little has changed in the insular fighter pilot culture.
    “They can’t deal with women in fighter squadrons,” Sergeant Smith said. “The military is going ahead with getting rid of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ but they still aren’t even ready to deal with women.
    “The pilots know we think of them like our heroes,” she added. “It’s just a game to them, really.”
    Sergeant Smith’s allegations could not be independently confirmed because she had not formally reported the episodes, many of which happened years ago, until now. Several other people in the Air Force who she said knew of some of the episodes, including her husband, who is an enlisted man in the 20th Fighter Wing, declined to be interviewed for this article, citing fears of retribution. Her wing commander, Col. Clay W. Hall, did not address any specifics, but said in a written statement: “We take these matters with utmost seriousness. All allegations of misconduct are investigated immediately and actions are taken appropriately.”
    Sergeant Smith’s written administrative complaint filed with the Air Force notes that she has consistently received high marks in performance reviews. She joined the Air Force in 1995, out of high school in Salamanca, N.Y. The next year, during her first overseas temporary duty assignment at Sembach Air Base in Germany, she was assaulted by a master sergeant in his room after a night of drinking, she said. Male co-workers who came to the rescue warned that the sergeant had a reputation for preying on young enlisted women, she said.
    At Kunsan in South Korea in 2001, Sergeant Smith said, she was walking in the America Town bar district near the base when a group of fighter pilots rushed out of a bar, carried her inside and threw her on top of a table. About 30 pilots crowded around. She had been caught up in a “sweep,” when fighter pilots grab women off the street for “naming ceremonies,” or drinking parties to celebrate a pilot’s new nickname. “Some of the pilots called Kunsan ‘the land of do as you please,’ ” Sergeant Smith said. “They could get away with anything.”
    That same year, while attending a party at the base commander’s home at Kunsan, several pilots grabbed her and bound her and a pilot together with duct tape despite her resistance, she said. Twenty or more pilots gathered around, but nothing was done to stop it.
    When she was transferred to Luke Air Force Base in Arizona, Sergeant Smith, by then married to the enlisted man in her unit, attended a family event in 2003 with the squadron at the Arizona Diamondbacks stadium, where an Air Force pilot made sexual remarks to her in front of her husband. The couple went back to the base and complained to the operations director of their squadron about the harassment she endured, she said.
    Nothing came of it, but when she arrived at her next assignment at Shaw, a supervisor pulled her aside and said she had a reputation for being too outspoken. “He said he wanted to make sure I understood my place in the world, and if not, things could be harder on me,” she recalled.
    She said she finally got fed up and decided to go public after discovering large collections of pornography and other sexually graphic and offensive materials stored on the unit’s computers and in a vault supposedly reserved for classified documents at Shaw. She complained to senior officers, who promised they would get rid of the materials, but then did nothing.
    “I’ve been able to serve my country, but I’ve also had to put up with a lot,” the sergeant said. “I want it to be changed.”
    This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
    Correction: November 2, 2012
    A picture caption with an earlier version of this article misstated who had just returned from Iraq. Jennifer Smith, an Air Force technical sergeant, had just returned, not her husband, who, as the article noted, is an enlisted man in the 20th Fighter Wing.


    via NYT > U.S. by By JAMES RISEN on 11/2/12
    One sergeant’s account of abuse suggests that more than 20 years after Tailhook, the infamous 1991 scandal involving Navy fighter pilots, little has changed in the insular fighter pilot culture.

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