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Associated Press
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, left, listens as President Obama discusses sexual assault in the military in the Cabinet Room of the White House on Thursday.


Getting tough on military sex assaults

A Department of Defense survey showing a 35 percent increase in sexual assaults within the military ranks over the past two years shows how little Pentagon leaders have accomplished in addressing a long-standing problem.

The survey found an estimated 26,000 cases of unwanted sexual contact, ranging from rape to groping, among troops in 2012.

While military leaders have expressed anger over the numbers and President Obama on Thursday ordered them to “leave no stone unturned” in stopping the abuse, the survey suggests an inexcusable culture of harassment. Reports that Army and Air Force officials assigned to carry out sexual harassment prevention programs have themselves been accused of sexual assault or domestic violence do little to inspire confidence.

Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-3rd, announced this week that he’s a co-sponsor of the “Military Whistleblower Protection Act,” which would give additional protections to those who report abuse. Reps. Niki Tsongas, a Massachusetts Democrat, and Mike Turner, an Ohio Republican, have introduced a bill that would prohibit officers from unilaterally dismissing court-martial convictions in major cases and would also require that service members found guilty of serious sex crimes be dishonorably discharged.

Without any sign of progress by the military in ending sexual assaults within its ranks, attention from Capitol Hill is welcome.

Tax boast? Not so fast

Indiana’s economic development community likes to boast of the state’s favorable business climate, but a new business tax ranking tells a different story.

Anderson Economic Group’s list places Indiana at 28th for lowest tax burden, with businesses paying 10.6 percent of operating margin on taxes. Delaware has the lowest tax burden, at 5.1 percent. The U.S. average for all states is 10.2 percent.

“Many casual observers of state and local taxes might think first of a state’s corporate income tax as being the most important,” the authors note. “Of the 11 categories of state and local business tax we identify for all states combined, corporate income tax accounts for the fifth largest share of the total tax burden, after property taxes, general sales taxes, unemployment compensation taxes and license fees.”

Indiana business owners might have gotten a break with the state’s property tax caps, but the 7 percent sales-tax rate couldn’t help. It’s among the highest in the nation and the highest among Indiana’s neighboring states.

Teen won’t soon forget his prom

It’s common in high school prom season for schools to team up with law enforcement officials for presentations on the hazards of drinking and driving. But details of a Portage teen’s recent prom night experience might be embarrassing enough to protect students unmoved by the threat of death or injury.

Eighteen-year-old Ryan Blakely was held in the Porter County Jail after a homeowner found him sleeping on a couch. When police officers arrived and were finally able to wake him, Blakely said some friends had dropped him off at the house after prom and he entered through an unlocked garage door. He told police he thought he was at the home of a friend named Ashley, who was “upstairs sleeping.”

But the homeowner told police that not only was there no one named Ashley living in the home, there was not even a second floor.

Blakely, dressed only in his underwear, told police he and his friends took a bus to Chicago as part of prom night activities. He registered a .10 blood alcohol level on a portable breath test.