Before Tom Cruise starred in Mission: Impossible he was known for appearing in a number of dramas and romantic comedies. When he took on the role of Ethan Hunt in 1996 – 25 years ago – his career changed completely. He was then looked at as the action hero movie star, going on to appear in seven M:I films as well as some other thrilling hits including Jack Reacher, Minority Report and Edge of Tomorrow. The beginning to Mission: Impossible was drastically different, however, before George Lucas got involved.
Director of the 1996 spy movie, Brian De Palma, recently spoke out about the opening scene of the film.
During the scene, Jim Phelps (Jon Voight) collected his agents together and discussed the mission at hand in Prague.
This was not in the original script, he revealed.
He said: “When George saw Mission: Impossible he said: ‘There’s no setup to this thing. You’ve gotta set this thing up!'”
Brian continued: “[Lucas said:] ‘You’ve gotta have that scene where they’re all sitting around the table and everybody gets their instructions about what’s gonna happen.'” (Via Light The Fuse Podcast)
The creation of this scene has become a staple in the M:I franchise and its foundation is still used in its films to this day.
Lucas’ advice, De Palma revealed, prompted him to reshoot the opening scene entirely.
He continued: “In the beginning, we had this very strange scene – it’s hard for me to remember now – with Voight and somehow the jealous thing with the wife and Tom, and then we got into the first mission.”
What do you think?
Should Mission: Impossible have included the new scene?
Even as many left the city for the Fourth of July weekend, pockets of activity provided a glimpse of post-pandemic life.
This Fourth of July, Iyabo Boyd did two things that she said would have been unthinkable a year ago. She went to a barbecue in a stranger’s yard, and she met new people.
Reading on a blanket in Franz Sigel Park in the South Bronx on Monday, Ms. Boyd, 36, said she had kept mostly to her pod during the pandemic. Finally, over the weekend, that changed. “Getting to know people again was really lovely,” Ms. Boyd said. “It was like, ‘Hey, maybe we can be friends.’”
In Times Square, Ryan Bowen, 28, was making his second pandemic-era visit from Tampa. Last October, he said, he and his girlfriend found little to do because everything was shut down. Now there were restaurants, fireworks, the tram to Roosevelt Island — not exactly a return to old times, but a distinct step in that direction.
“It feels great to be out,” he said.
It was once possible to envisage the city coming back entirely. Now, whatever lies next for New York feels more like a giant collective improvisation, a city taking shape on the fly. The holiday weekend was a time to rediscover what New York was, and glimpse what it might become.
For many, the three-day weekend came as an occasion to do things they had not done for more than a year. Tourists arrived, while New Yorkers themselves crammed into airports, highways and sought-after getaway spots. Some parks were empty and street parking was plentiful. But for those who stayed and gathered, nothing beat the sheer cathartic joy of being able to hug friends or elders again.
For some, the holiday was an opportunity to leave home. Close to 50 million Americans were expected to travel in the first five days of July, the second-highest Fourth of July volume on record, according to AAA Northeast. Air travel has climbed back to 90 percent of prepandemic levels.
The city, once the epicenter of the pandemic, with thousands of new cases daily, last week saw a daily average of 193 new cases and only three deaths per day. The Delta variant, which has spread through much of the country, accounted for 17 percent of the new cases.
But the city is not the same. The pandemic killed 33,000 New Yorkers, and some question whether the city could ever truly recover. In the South Bronx, Daniel Derico, 43, a photographer, said despite the “big change” of seeing fewer masks, he does not feel like New York will ever return to the way it was.
“For instance, getting into an elevator with 10 or 15 people, I don’t think people are ever going to do that again without thinking about it,” he said. “And I think the second we forget and get too comfortable with that pre-Covid normal, it’ll be a wake-up all over again.”
Offices are still deciding how and where people will work. The city’s fiscal hole — and what it means for your commute, your park, your child’s school — seems to change daily. The next mayor is still unnamed. Is it time to ride the subways — every day? Return to church, synagogue, mosque? Is crime heading back to the bad old days? A year after the confluence of Covid-19 and the protests following the murder of George Floyd, the city is a changed and changing place, with scars and fears and hopes all competing for primacy.
Crime has remained a concern — for New Yorkers, but especially for people looking at the city from afar, wondering whether it is safe to visit.
Year to date, a wave of gun violence is still making the city uneasy. The number of shooting victims in the city has increased by more than 30 percent compared to the same time period last year, from 670 to 885 as of Sunday — the highest since 2002, though well below the highs of the 1990s. In Times Square, a recently-commissioned U.S. Marine was shot by a stray bullet last month.
But after last year’s Independence Day weekend, which started one of the bloodiest 12-month stretches in New York City in nearly a decade, this year’s holiday was somewhat more peaceful. In all, 26 people were shot this July 2 to 4, compared with 30 last year.
Signs of an awakening city were easy to find. In Carroll Gardens on Monday, the sidewalk outside Dolce Brooklyn, a tiny homemade-gelato shop, felt like a pop-up party.
“People in Brooklyn really want to get out,” Kristina Frantz, the shop’s owner, said, expressing relief that the business had survived and even thrived through the pandemic. “People are feeling like the pandemic is on the other side. We’ve watched this occur day by day.”
Business is way up from a year ago, Ms. Frantz said — but it was also up last year, as people from the neighborhood, stuck close to home, flocked in. “Gelato is a comfort food,” Ms. Frantz said. “People want to treat themselves a little bit.”
In Branch Brook Park in Newark on Monday, Michael Casares and Gabriella DiGenova spoke wistfully about the feeling of community that had grown strained over the last year.
The couple, both 24, started dating during the pandemic, but they said that among the people they knew in their New Jersey towns, many were not comfortable socializing yet.
The previous night, setting off fireworks in front of Mr. Casares’s home in Belleville, they said people stayed on their own lawns, watching, keeping their distance instead of coming together.
“Nobody talked to each other,” he said. “People aren’t as social as they used to be.”
In an uncharacteristically empty Fort Greene Park in Brooklyn, two friends from Houston, Claire de Blanc, 23, and Mary Brodeur, 22, were enjoying the open space and the catharsis of finally traveling again, after such a dark year.
Both had contracted the virus, they said, and both were now fully vaccinated. Still, when they went bar hopping with friends over the weekend in Manhattan, they were pleasantly surprised at the number of people still wearing masks.
“Houston is a lot different,” Ms. de Blanc said. Back home, they had to chase down customers who refused to wear masks in their restaurant, even at the height of the pandemic’s wave in Texas. People in New York seemed to be more conscientious.
“People are just less,” she said, continuing, “Texas.”
David Manzano, 36, in the South Bronx, celebrated the holiday with a friends and family, indoors and unmasked. At one point, he said, he wanted to reflect on what he had done the year before, only he couldn’t. The pandemic had been such a blur he could not even remember the Fourth of July.
Still, he was not ready to say that New York was back to normal. But it was a good start.
Anne Barnard, Nate Schweber, Tracey Tully and Ali Watkins contributed reporting.
Given the array of symptoms a vitamin B12 deficiency can cause, the condition can be overlooked or confused with something else.
Vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms may include strange sensations, numbness or tingling in the hands, feet or legs, a swollen, inflamed tongue, difficulty thinking and reasoning, weakness, fatigue anaemia or difficulty walking including staggering and balance problems.
If a vitamin B12 deficiency is left untreated, the damage to the nervous system could cause these changes to the way a person walks and moves.
It may even affect a person’s balance and coordination, making you more prone to falling.
The language isn’t meant to be strictly enforceable, but rather to introduce a conversation that investors usually don’t have. In other words, it’s pretty toothless, something Guerrero acknowledges. “The diversity rider is not a silver bullet,” he says, “but it is a framework.” Talking about how white the industry is can be awkward, which is why Guerrero thinks firms need to standardize a diversity check in each deal. “Sometimes it’s difficult to find a moment for like, when do we bring this up, how do we bring this up?”
Industrywide, however, there’s still a long way to go. “Every time there’s a conversation about how there are people who have been left out, there are other people who just want to move on,” he says.
Brian Dixon, a partner at Kapor Capital, wrote a blog post last summer encouraging firms to look beyond their own networks to hire talent, including partners. “If you do not publicize the jobs that are available at your venture firm, then you are intentionally being exclusionary,” he wrote. The blog struck a chord with the VC firm First Round, which held an open call for its latest partner search. It ended up hiring its first Black investment partner, Meka Asonye, this year.
Groce says he has seen concerted efforts to recruit Black VCs at the junior level. BLCK VC launched a program called the Black Venture Institute in 2020, which has now trained more than 100 operators on how to make venture and angel investments. A separate program, called Breaking Into Venture, is designed to train would-be Black investors on the basics of crafting an investing thesis, sourcing deals, and performing due diligence. Groce says 70 percent of people in that program have secured jobs as analysts or associates at venture funds.
Other initiatives aim to provide support to a diverse set of emerging fund managers. Screendoor, a new $ 50 million investment vehicle backed by ten general partners at prominent VC firms, will provide capital to a class of underrepresented investors who are raising their first institutional fund. “Waiting for today’s venture capitalists to embrace diversity will take too long,” the partners wrote in a blog post. “Our goal isn’t just to raise funds, but to help build lasting firms.”
Programs like these aim to support and grow a new class of investors. But the industry has a long way to go, especially at the partner level. “The reality is that there are only 34 Black investors that can write a $ 3 million check,” says Groce, based on BLCK VC’s data. “That’s a seed round.”
Wealth requirements placed on investors are another barrier to entry in the field. Most venture firms require a “GP commit,” meaning that between 1 and 5 percent of the committed capital comes from the fund’s general partners. The requirement is meant to ensure that partners have skin in the game, but also reserves power in venture capital to those with the highest amount of wealth. Similarly, angel investors have long been required by the SEC to meet income and wealth criteria that exclude all but the wealthiest people. And in the US, the wealthiest people tend to be white: The net worth of a typical white family in 2016 was nearly 10 times greater than a Black family, according to research from Brookings. Racial disparities, discrimination, and wealth inequality feed off each other, exacerbating problems in so many facets of American life, including VC.
Some investors have turned to nontraditional platforms to help close the racial funding gap. Clarence Wooten, a longtime entrepreneur and investor, created the venture studio Revitalize last year to “change the complexion of tech” by investing specifically in Black founders at very early stages. The firm leverages equity crowdfunding platforms, like Republic, as a way to diversify the cap table. Those platforms let people invest small checks into startups, which Wooten says can help Black founders engage their communities, as well as help those communities in turn to benefit from their success. “We don’t just want to make wealthy people wealthier,” says Wooten. “That’s why we’re bullish on crowdfunding. We want to democratize wealth-building opportunities.”
Amanda had written books as far back as 2014 and they’ve only grown in popularity as fans have seen more of the Shepherdess on their screens.
In the debut episode of the show, the family battled the Beast From The East, which they told viewers was one of the worst storms in a generation.
Next, the family tackled Christmas and before enduring one of the hottest summers on record.
It’s a far cry from the most recent series where the events have been broken down into more episodes as fans clamour for more.
It’s also where watchers were first introduced to the children and their unique childhoods.
So we know Clive is constantly hard at work and remains on the farm.
His work life has changed very little, but Amanda’s has branched out to appearances on shows such as Steph’s Packed Lunch and to give talks at festivals and events.
It’s estimated that now, Amanda has roughly a million pounds in the bank and viewers of season 4 will know the couple have invested in new land and property.
But it’s the kids who have really changed beyond all recognition.
Back in 2018, Raven was the older sister who looked after all of the little ones.
She was Amanda’s right-hand woman, helping shift the workload and create the happy family atmosphere we all love.
Since then, however, Raven has moved out.
She studies at the University of York and hopes to help work on the Covid-19 vaccine as she nears the end of her degree.
Series 4 has seen her return home periodically for holidays and to check in with the family.
Reuben was 14 when the show began and had a reputation for always tinkering with something.
He was still known as the hero with the little kids, helping them battle the cold weather and getting them home when they needed.
Series 4 saw Reuben gets his GCSE results, which he passed with flying colours and he began an apprenticeship as a mechanic.
He’s been given a moped as he now has a long commute.
Back at Ravenseat, Sidney has stepped into his shoes for helping to fix things.
When the show began, Miles was said to love farming. He still very much loves Ravenseat but he’s added a new string to his bow.
Fell running is now his strength, with series 4 showing his talents for running through rivers and across steep gradients.
The Mucker Show in the nearby village has seen Miles win a fair few trophies, and when the Owen family created their own, Miles came out on top too.
Miles is incredibly proud of his skills, telling viewers: “the most time people have won this cup is three times, but obviously I can’t do this year so hopefully I can do it next year.
“I want to win, and I want my parents to be proud of me.”
Edith is one of the quieter Owen kids and is one that began quietly getting on with the farm chores, and has continued to do so.
She helps both with farm animals and the younger kids.
She’s known, just like she was at the beginning to be good with sheep and is thought to be wanting to pursue a career as a vet eventually.
Violet was initially know as the tomboy of the family, and as the show has developed, she has really come into her own.
She’s had viewers in stitches in the most recent episode as she attempt to teach the resident cow Ciara some manners.
The calf has convinced herself she’s human and now Violet is attempting to teach the cow not to eat socks.
Violet is also known, and has been from the start, great with helping the younger ones and was seen giving Clemmy guidance as she began at school.
Sidney was considered the cute one of the family, appearing on the show at just six years old and playing the part of shadow to older brother Reuben.
Now with Reuben gone from the farm, he’s really come into his own.
He’s been given more responsibilities in recent years including now having his own sheepdog to train and a whole flock of sheep to tend for.
Another of the quieter Owen children, Annas has remained so.
She likes to stay out of the limelight, much like elder sister Edith.
She’s been seen on recent episodes joining in the Muker race with little sisters Clemmy and Nancy as they made their own, shorter version.
Clemmy was introduced as the baby of the family and she still very much is, alongside little Nancy.
She’s stolen the hearts of all fans, as the little one’s personality has really begun to shine, alongside her love for Tony the pony and her tendency to make remarks that cause viewers fits of giggles.
It’s not every child that will confuse baby Jesus with a baby named Bob.
Nancy was just a baby when she first appeared on the show and was often overshadowed by her elder siblings.
Yet in recent episodes, we’ve finally been able to see her personality.
Now the only child remaining on the farm during work days, she’s the apple of her mum’s eye, taking care of Tony the pony whilst Clemmy is at school and many viewers consider her a mini-Raven.
This week has seen Respawn make some interesting changes to Apex Legends Season 9.
Having had such a wobbly start, it’s probably not surprising that there would need to be a few more patches to level everything out.
Today’s Apex 1.68 patch includes several important fixes, including the removal of issues that left gamers unable to log in.
This was the first of the two-part update that was released today, and includes the following changes:
These updates were followed by another patch, this time bringing playlist tweaks to Apex Legends across all platforms.
And the most notable tweak was saved for the new Bocek Bow, which was seen as too overpowered when Season 9 launched.
This has led to the Bocek Bow being nerfed in important ways, leaving a much less powerful weapon to wield.
The official description for the weapon reads: “The new Bocek (pronounced bow-check) compound bow is a precision marksman weapon that rewards a skilled and confident hand.
“Holding down fire will draw the bow over a short time, increasing the power of the shot, with maximum power giving optimal damage and projectile speed. Repeatedly firing the Bocek right as it reaches max power provides the best sustained damage.
“The Bocek uses a new ammo type, Arrows, which are unique to this weapon. Arrows are more rare on the battlefield, but fired arrows will stick into surfaces and remain in the world for players to pick back up and reuse.
“The 1x hcog classic, 1x holosight, 2x hcog, 1x-2x variable, and 3x hcog optics can all be equipped. The Bocek can also be further modified with the two new hop-ups entering the game, Shatter Caps and Deadeye’s Tempo; it can even equip both hop-ups simultaneously.”
This should help highlight how this week’s changes will have changed the original plan for the Bow now available in Season 9.
State pension calculations for those who move to the EU, EEA or Switzerland who have also lived in Australia (before March 1 2001), Canada or New Zealand will be changing going forward. This change specifically concerns if a person qualifies for a UK state pension at all.
John Westwood, the Group Managing Director at Blacktower Financial Management, commented on this.
He said: “The UK Government intends to change how UK state pensions are calculated for some of those living abroad, affecting UK expats during an already turbulent time.
“If the Government goes ahead with this change in rule, they need to lay out clear foundations for UK expats on the new state pension breakdown.
“We urge UK residents to do their research before moving abroad and have already lived in Australia, Canada and New Zealand.”
James Andrews, a senior personal finance editor at money.co.uk, also commented on the changes: “The recent changes to state pensions serve as a timely reminder that you have to put a comprehensive financial plan in place if you’re intending to retire abroad.
“For starters, the process of moving your money overseas can take quite some time, so it’s best to start as early as possible.
“In some countries for example, you can’t even set up a bank account without a residential address there, so it might be worth applying for a prepaid travel card or current account to act as a stop-gap while you sort out the Ts and Cs.The quickest and easiest way to get an overseas bank account set up is to speak to your existing bank to see if they have a presence abroad – it’ll make moving your money to your desired country much easier.
“The other issue that needs careful consideration is your credit history. When you emigrate, your credit history unfortunately doesn’t move with you – meaning you’ll be starting completely from scratch.
“In practice, this will likely mean a massive reduction in your borrowing potential, so you need to have a plan in place in case of unexpected bills. Since you might not be able to rely on a credit card or qualify for a loan, it’s a good idea to have some emergency funds in place to see you through any financial difficulties.”
In examining data from the DWP, it appears UK pensioners are losing interest in retiring abroad in the face of Brexit.
Salisbury House Wealth examined data from the Government and found the number of UK pensioners living in the EU fell to 463,774 during 2020, down from 474,721 in the aftermath of the Brexit referendum in 2016.
Even the more popular retiree destinations saw decreases, as the following details:
Italy – falling 10 percent to 33,435 in 2019/20, down from 37,135 in 2015/16
Cyprus – falling nine percent to 17,219 in 2019/20, from 18,768 in 2015/16
Spain – falling five percent to 103,382 in 2019/20, from 108,442 in 2015/16
Lewis Hamilton: Jenson Button makes joke about F1 star
Button will feature on Sunday Brunch this morning, alongside Johnny Vegas, Charlie Higson and Anthony Boyle – as well as hosts Tim Lovejoy and Simon Rimmer. The British racing driver won 15 of his 306 races and the 2009 Formula One World Championship when he drove for the Brawn GP team. He joined McLaren ahead of the 2010 season and partnered with Hamilton until the end of 2012 – where the duo proved to be very productive, but Button admitted he found his teammate “a bit weird” during his autobiography ‘Life to the Limit’.
He said the seven-time world champion was “unpredictable” and he “regretted that, despite our similarities, we were never friends”.
But Button praises Hamilton for “really coming on over the past few years,” adding: “He’s matured, become a bit of a statesman and a great representative of the sport.”
And speaking during the Collecting Cars podcast last year, Button said the Hamilton he raced against was nothing compared to the one dominating today with Mercedes.
Back when the Britons were together at McLaren, Button said Hamilton’s antics made him “lightning” in qualifying but less convincing on a race day.
Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button (Image: GETTY)
Button won a world championship in 2009 (Image: GETTY)
Now, he said that could not be further from the truth.
He said: “You look at his race pace compared to Valtteri [Bottas], Lewis is a different Lewis to what I knew.
“Lewis, when I knew him, was lightning quick in qualifying like Valtteri can be. In the race he was quick, sometimes he could get one over on you, but a lot of the time he would make mistakes or he wouldn’t understand how to get from A to B as quickly as possible.
“He’d try to do every lap as fast as he could and he’d destroy tyres, over-use fuel, choose the wrong strategy.
“But now it’s a completely different Lewis, he doesn’t do that. And also because he doesn’t have a Max Verstappen pushing him, he doesn’t have a Nico Rosberg pushing him either.”
Hamilton and Button were bitter rivals (Image: GETTY)
During his 2017 book, Button described Hamilton as “one of the greats” but admitted their personal relationship was marked by tension throughout their three years together.
He claimed he was warned by several people about joining McLaren because of Hamilton’s talent and the way the team was perceived to be focused on him.
Describing their relationship in their first season together, Button stated: “Personally, he was fine with me, no issues at all at this stage of the game, but you could just tell he was a little bit peeved.
“That thing about it being his team? It was right on the money. And, if you ask me, he was finding it difficult to get a handle on the fact that it was our team now.”
Hamilton won one World Championship with McLaren in 2008, but Button feels either of them could have won the title during their time together if the other had played a supporting role rather than the pair of them scrapping for the gold.
Hamilton has now won seven world championships (Image: GETTY)
He admitted in November: “He beat me in qualifying, he won more races than me. I think I won eight races and he won 10 races.
“So it was pretty close. We had a lot of great races in our time together. For me, he was quicker than me in qualifying.
“I out-qualified him a few times, but in the race that’s when I would come into my own and I knew how to work with the car, work with the tyres, work the strategy in mixed conditions especially.
“I loved our fights and it was sad when he left the team. And I wish I had the opportunity to race against him in a winning car, a Championship-winning car. We weren’t good enough to win the Championship.
“To be fair though, if one of us wasn’t in the other car we might have won the Championship. We took so many wins off each other.
“One year we won six races, three each, imagine if the other guy wasn’t there.”
Button retired from the sport after his father died (Image: GETTY)
Button retired from F1 in 2016, and says he will never race in the format again.
The death in 2014 of his father, with whom he was very close and who accompanied him to nearly all his races, took its toll on him.
He told the BBC in 2017: “I’ve been offered drives in F1 but I’m not interested, although I will race in the future, just not F1. Not without dad.”
Jenson Button: Life to the Limit is published by Blink Publishing and available to buy here.
Sunday Brunch airs on Sunday morning at 9.30am on Channel 4.
Army Spc. Vanessa Guillén’s murder at Fort Hood in Killeen last year exposed a pattern of violence and abuse against soldiers at the U.S. military’s largest active-duty base and sparked national outrage over federal officials’ handling of sexual harassment and noncombat deaths.
Guillén told her family she was being sexually harassed by several fellow soldiers at Fort Hood before she went missing, which happened one year ago Thursday. In the year since her death, lawmakers have filed bills aimed at strengthening responses to sexual harassment, and the military has launched investigations into the base’s culture. Fourteen U.S. Army leaders, including commanders and other leaders at Fort Hood, were fired or suspended.
But even as the U.S. Army rolls out new policies, including some announced last week, her family, advocates and lawmakers are still calling for more changes to how military officials respond to sexual harassment and violence against soldiers.
“My frustration, my anger is the same, because it’s not fair my sister was murdered the way she was,” Guillén’s 17-year-old sister, Lupe Guillén, said at a press conference Tuesday. “She had to be murdered for everyone to realize all of these issues. … This has happened for decades.”
The secretary of the army acknowledged during a press briefing in August that the base had “the most cases for sexual assault and harassment and murders for our entire formation of the U.S. Army.” At least 159 Fort Hood soldiers died out of combat between 2016 and last year, including seven homicides and 71 suicides, according to an analysis by The New York Times.
Vanessa Guillén was 20 years old when she was bludgeoned to death in an armory room where she worked. Her body was carried away, mutilated and buried in a shallow grave nearby. It took weeks for investigators to find her body.
Aaron Robinson, who investigators allege killed Guillén, fled Fort Hood and killed himself when police confronted him. His girlfriend, Cecily Aguilar, faces a charge of conspiracy to tamper with evidence, but no official court date has been set.
Guillén’s family said she hadn’t reported the sexual harassment from her fellow soldiers out of fear of retaliation. The Army’s investigators said they found no evidence of sexual harassment.
Advocates say that the military creates a siloed environment that allows sexual harassment and sexual violence to occur, many times unnoticed, and often unreported. And when there are reports, the military itself investigates them.
“If you are sexually assaulted as a service member, you cannot just leave. You cannot just quit your job and leave, and so there’s a level of power and control that exists within this structure that happens nowhere else,” said Amy Franck, founder of Never Alone, an advocacy group working to end sexual harassment in the military. “They have the ability to punish you. They own you 24/7. It’s like a bad domestic violence relationship.”
In response to Guillén’s death, the U.S. Army appointed an independent board to investigate sexual harassment claims at Fort Hood. The board came up with a 136-page report with recommendations. The Army has committed to adopting them all and announced last week several of the changes it has made so far.
“We have significant work to do to regain our Soldiers’ trust in our sexual harassment and sexual assault prevention program,” A U.S. Army spokesperson told The Texas Tribune in a statement. “We are working to ensure that all Soldiers are provided with a safe, professional environment and that they are empowered to raise any allegations of sexual assault or sexual harassment and be treated with dignity and respect throughout the process.”
The Army is restructuring its criminal investigation command, as well as redesigning its sexual harassment and assault response and prevention program as part of an initial swath of adopted changes. Officials have updated policies to require full investigations of off-post soldier drug overdoses, including of the source of the drugs, and investigations of all suspected solider deaths by suicide. Last year, the Army updated guidance on how to respond when a soldier goes missing.
Other changes proposed by the committee are specific to Fort Hood — requiring changes to improve the climate and requiring regular welfare checks. The committee said officials needed to spring into action during the “critical first 24 hours” when a soldier is absent — something officials were criticized for after lacking urgency in their search for Guillén when she went missing.
The U.S. military overall has also faced patterns of sexual abuse within its ranks. According to a 2015 RAND analysis, requested by the military, 15% of women and 2% of men said they were sexually assaulted at least once since joining the service.
“This issue is probably our greatest threat to national security,” said retired U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Robert D. Shadley, a board member of Never Alone. “It’s not China. It’s not Russia. It is the United States military itself.”
Retired Air Force Col. Don Christensen, a former chief prosecutor of the United States Air Force, serves as the president of Protect Our Defenders, an advocacy group for sexual assault victims. He said many of the changes the military is rolling out should have happened years ago and he’s glad they’re being adopted.
“The sexual assault problems are a cultural problem. It’s a lack of faith in the process problem. It’s a lack of accountability problem,” he said.
Franck said adopting the recommendations is not enough. There needs to be systemic change, she said.
Until there is outside accountability and transparency, sexual harassment and violence will continue unchecked, Franck said. The changes announced so far detract from the real issues, and some are marketing-based initiatives, she said. Real systemic change is needed to end the pattern of violence.
U.S. Rep. Sylvia Garcia, D-Houston, introduced the I Am Vanessa Guillén Act of 2020 last year, which would create a confidential reporting system for sexual harassment in the military and explicitly list sexual harassment as a crime in the military law constitution, the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
It would also require the Secretary of Defense to establish a process so service members can lodge confidential complaints and would move legal decisions outside the military chain of command to a new outside office in order to add external accountability.
State Sen. César Blanco, D-El Paso, also introduced Senate Bill 623, which aims to protect Texas military members — the Texas Army National Guard, the Texas Air National Guard and the Texas State Guard — from sexual assault. It establishes a state sexual offense prevention and response program to independently investigate reported assaults, as well as provide recovery for victims. On Tuesday, Blanco announced the state legislation would be renamed the Vanessa Guillén Act.
“I served in the military active duty for six years, and I’ve seen firsthand the culture in the military fails to protect women and men from sexual assault in the military,” Blanco said Tuesday. “While the Texas Legislature does not have jurisdiction over the United States military, [it] does have the largest state military forces in the entire county. And we can lead by example.”
The bill passed in the Texas Senate and awaits action in the Texas House. Texas lawmakers are also seeking to memorialize Guillén by naming part of a highway after her and designating her birthday, Sept. 30, as Vanessa Guillén Day in the state.
“For a year, our community has been calling for change,” said state Rep. Christina Morales, D-Houston, on Tuesday, noting that Guillén was one of her constituents. “For a year, Vanessa Guillén’s family has been calling for change. Our community is strong and our resilience unwavering. We will not stop calling, marching and mobilizing until there is real change. We will always remember Vanessa Guillén.”
Disclosure: The New York Times has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of them here.