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U.S. Marines turn to female executives for advice on recruiting more women

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Last spring, U.S. Marine Corps Commandant General James Amos did not even know who Sheryl Sandberg was.

Six months later he is good friends with Sandberg, the chief operating officer of social media company Facebook Inc , a top advocate for empowering women to take on leadership roles.

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Amos, who retired Friday after 44 years of service, met Sandberg in March, and has since hosted her and other Facebook executives at several events aimed at brainstorming ways to boost the number of female Marines from the current 7.5 percent.

“The relationship is very strong. I think the world of her. It’s based on mutual respect for leadership and character development,” the four-star general and former pilot told Reuters at his Pentagon office days before his retirement.

Women account for about 15 percent of the entire active duty U.S. military. Their representation in the Marine Corps has been lower than the other services, but that may change as more front-line combat jobs are opened to women, beginning in 2016.

The Pentagon has also launched a fresh drive to end sexual assault in the military and review its alcohol policy, amid a series of embarrassing incidents in which officers have been accused of tolerating and even encouraging sexual misconduct.

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Amos began reaching out to female executives this spring as the Marine Corps grappled with decisions about opening ground combat roles to women, stamping out sexual assaults, and how the smallest military service could attract and retain more women.

He first met with Marillyn Hewson, chief executive of Lockheed Martin , and then Linda Hudson, the former CEO of the U.S. unit of Britain’s BAE Systems Plc , two executives who worked their way up the ladder in the male-dominated weapons industry.

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“They helped me see what I’m not seeing, simply because I’m a guy, and as my wife tells me, an old, white guy,” Amos said.

Amos also went to Bentonville, Arkansas to meet with Gisel Ruiz, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Wal-Mart Stores Inc , and other Wal-Mart executives.

When they asked him if he knew about Sandberg and her bestselling book “Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead,” Amos says, “I had to display my ‘cave man’ prowess and say no.”

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But he quickly caught up by reading the book, watching Sandberg’s 2010 famous talk to the TED group about women in leadership, and finally meeting with her at Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park, California.

Since then, Sandberg has twice visited the Marines’ officer candidate school to meet with future leaders. Amos also asked all 15 three-star generals in the Marines, all male, to read Sandberg’s book ahead of a meeting with her at the Pentagon.

“She hit it out of the park,” he said, as he described the impact of Sandberg’s firsthand account of her experiences as one of the very few women at the C-level of business.

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Facebook declined to comment.

Amos said the outreach to corporate leaders has prompted new discussions among Marine Corps officials about how to encourage women stay in the military even when they decide to have children, and other ways to promote leadership among women.

Several months ago, he convinced a female major who was thinking of quitting to stay in the service by helping her get a transfer together with her husband, who is also a Marine.

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“It was a small thing, but it’s important,” he said, noting that a dearth of young women officers was reducing the size of the “bench” for future leaders.

The Marine Corps has also set up a special office to focus on “talent management” and coordinate a range of diversity efforts under way across the service. It is also reviewing standards for a wide range of jobs as it prepares to comply with the Pentagon’s 2013 decision to open combat roles to women.

Bringing in Sandberg has generated important discussions among Marines, one female officer told Reuters.

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“You’d think our sectors would be very different, but we face a lot of the same challenges. Sheryl told us that when she looks across her company, she looks five lines deep and there is not a woman in sight.”

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Ros Krasny and Meredith Mazzilli)

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… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

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Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro takes on Norway for whaling, but bungles it

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Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Monday responded to Norway's decision to halt its forest protection subsidies, taking to Twitter to criticise the Scandinavian country for its whaling practice and post spectacular -- albeit misleading -- images.

"Look at the killing of whales sponsored by Norway," Bolsonaro wrote on Twitter.

The post includes a video and photographs of a spectacular whale hunt, where mammals in the shallow waters of a bay are slaughtered by people wading on shore, armed with hooked knives. The whales' blood turns the waters red.

However, the images, reportedly taken on May 29 in Norway, illustrate a "grind", a type of pilot whale hunt practised exclusively in the Faroe Islands -- a Danish territory in the North Atlantic.

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Orange County teens busted for singing obscure Nazi song while giving Hitler salutes

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Nearly a dozen high school students from Southern California delivered Nazi salutes and sang a Nazi marching song in a video posted on social media.

The video was uploaded to Instagram by one member of the boys’ water polo team at Pacifica High School in Garden Grove, California, along with lyrics to the song played for German troops during World War II, reported The Daily Beast.

A spokesperson for the Garden Grove Unified School District told the website administrators learned of the incident in March, four months after the video was posted, but declined to say whether any of the students were disciplined.

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History provides us with no shortage of clowns and buffoons who were in politics

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“The problem with political jokes,” Groucho Marx once said, “is that they keep getting elected.” Never has that been more true than today.  We live in a world ruled by clowns.  I mean that both literally and figuratively.  Our century has ushered in the Age of the Clown Politician.

In Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, who played a Ukrainian president on the popular television comedy SERVANT OF THE PEOPLE, was elected to be the real president with over 70 percent of the vote. Zelensky is literally a clown.  In Great Britain, Boris Johnson, who will replace Theresa May as prime minister, is a buffoon who elicits laughter –usually unintended- wherever he goes.  Mr. Johnson is figuratively a clown.

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