CNN, via Scanner: A Missouri Army base dismissed 60 soldiers on the basis of sexual orientation last year -- more than any other base in the country. Scanner says it best: "Good thing there's not a war on."
Indian Express: Once again bringing their A-game to the AIDS fight, Bill and Melinda Gates tell participants at the 16th annual International AIDS Conference that prevention efforts should focus on ways for women to shield themselves from the disease. Quoth Bill, "We need tools that will allow women to protect themselves. This is true whether the woman is a faithful married mother of small children, or a sex worker trying to scrape out a living in a slum. No matter where she lives, who she is, or what she does -- a woman should never need her partner's permission to save her own life." Damn right.
Related, from the Washington Post: The good news is that most people now agree that the cost of treatment shouldn't prevent anyone with HIV/AIDS from being treated. The bad news, writes Holly Burkhalter, is that "HIV/AIDS prevention strategies have stunningly failed African women and girls. Rape of women and children by partners, husbands, relatives, neighbors and strangers has put hundreds of thousands at risk of violent transmission of HIV."
AlterNet: "It tells you how bad things are when wrenching approval for contraception out of the Bush administration counts as a smashing victory." The always awesome Ellen Goodman on what passes for a victory in our secularly challenged era.
In These Times: Feminist scholar Susan J. Douglas sounds off about the scourge of the celebutante: "We are not the target market for celebrity culture, our daughters are. And while many of them are not dupes and take pleasure in making fun of celebrities -- especially the PR and spin processes by which celebrities seek to stay in the public eye -- the messages about women's proper roles remain insidious and ensnaring."
Los Angeles Times: A thought-provoking feature on a foster-care program for girls from Compton, touching on issues of maternal hate and unease among women, class differences and tattoos. At the end of the of the girls' three-week program at Pepperdine University, they all attend a debutante gala.