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Author: TriSec    Date: 04/05/2016 10:02:27

Good Morning.

I briefly stalked our airborne bloggers last night - they are on the ground in Paris! (And they had a whale of a tailwind - the flight graph shows many hours of them flirting with Mach 1, or 660 mph at FL370)

But on to the business at hand.

We'll start today in my backyard. You may be able to complete the little ditty "Lynn, Lynn; the city of sin..." but today they are the national leader in wiping out veteran's homelessness.

LYNN (CBS) – Army Veteran David Sequera sits in his kitchen and pours a glass of juice. It’s the little things, he has learned to cherish.

“I returned in June,” says Sequera.

After nine years of service and reaching the rank of sergeant after a tour of duty in Iraq, Sequera returned to the United States divorced, jobless and homeless.

“Being considered this hero and then all of a sudden, to not having a place to stay, it’s kind of like a big fall,” he explained.

After couch surfing with friends and battling PTSD, Sequera found help. He joined a veterans program designed by the city of Lynn to house homeless vets.

He landed an apartment in November. Federally funded services paid his security deposit and several months’ rent.

“They set me up with a bed,” expressed Sequera as he entered his bedroom. “I really appreciate it.”

His office along with others have been recognized nationally by the federal government.

“What David is, is a great example of what happens when you give a veteran a hand,” said Lynn Veterans Services Director Michael F. Sweeney.

The city of Lynn is now the first commonwealth in Massachusetts to end homelessness among veterans, which means the city has provided services and housing for all identified homeless veterans.

Sweeney credits a registry the city uses to track homeless veterans and a policy that all identified homeless veterans must be housed within 30 days.

David Sequera is just one of 90 vets who have been placed.

Now on his way to getting back on his feet, he hopes to return to college. “I’m going start in June.”

Compare and contrast if you will, to a city some 2,700 miles from here that can't quite seem to get it's act together. This has been, and remains, Ground Zero for the multitude of problems within the VA.

Three top officials at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Phoenix, Arizona, are being targeted for removal.

VA Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson on Tuesday identified the three as Associate Director Lance Robinson, Chief of Health Administration Service Brad Curry, and hospital Chief of Staff Dr. Darren Deering.

The Phoenix VA became ground central to the wait-times scandal that eventually revealed that officials across the VA system were hiding their inability to meet appointment standards by keeping secret lists of veterans seeking care.

"It is vitally important to veterans in Phoenix and across the nation to understand that we will take appropriate accountability action as warranted by the evidence," Gibson said in a statement. "Frankly, I am disappointed that it took as long as it did for proposed actions to be made, but I am satisfied that we carefully reviewed a massive amount of evidence to ensure the accountability actions are supported."

The VA did not detail the allegations against the three but The Arizona Republic reported last month that the executives were under investigation to determine their "knowledge, involvement and culpability" in the wait-times manipulation and retaliation against whistle-blowers who exposed the problem.

Gibson said the cases against the three distracted from progress being made to improve veterans care, but removing them is an important step in getting past the past controversy and "refocusing solely on caring for our nation's veterans."

Two months ago Gibson changed VA policy to allow him to place officials subject to an administrative investigation into non-patient care where they could carry out duties as assigned. Previously, VA policy was to put the officials on paid administrative leave.

Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Florida, chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, said he applauded Gibson and VA Secretary Bob McDonald's move to fire the three, saying it "is clearly the right thing" to do for the veterans depending on the hospital's care and employees working there.

"But we cannot forget the fact that it took nearly two years of investigations just to get to this point, and this is just the beginning of the disciplinary process," said Miller, who has been the leading voice in Congress demanding accountability for the wait-time delays.

"The truth is, because of arcane civil service protections that put the job security of corrupt bureaucrats before the safety of veterans, it will take many months and possibly years for VA to complete these proposed disciplinary actions."

Changing gears, and with bloggers on the ground not very far from Belgium, let's revisit something Herr Trumpler said in the days following the attacks in Brussels. I will remind everyone that Americans were once on the receiving end of such torture during prior wars; the perpetrators of said torture later had experience with short ropes and long drops.

WASHINGTON (CNN) —Donald Trump suggested Tuesday that Belgian authorities could have thwarted Tuesday's terrorist attack in Brussels by torturing Salah Abdeslam, the suspected terrorist who was captured days earlier.

Trump argued in an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer that Abdeslam, a suspect in last year's terrorist attacks in Paris who fled to Belgium, knew of the plot that ISIS-linked terrorists carried out Tuesday and would have talked "a lot faster with the torture."

"If he would've talked you might not have had the blow up -- all these people dead and all these people wounded because he probably knew about it," Trump said. "We have to be smart. I mean it's hard to believe. We can't waterboard -- listen, nothing's nice about it, but it's your minimal form of torture."

Terrorists killed at least 30 people and wounded about 230 more in Tuesday's attacks at an airport and metro station on Tuesday in the Belgian capital.

Trump has argued that he would authorize waterboarding and "far worse" forms of torture against suspected terrorists as president after first broadening existing laws banning torture.

"We have to change our laws and we have to be able to fight on an almost equal basis," Trump said Tuesday arguing in favor of torture and pointing to ISIS' far more brutal treatment of its prisoners.

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said Tuesday it was too early to tell whether there was a link between Abdeslam and Tuesday's attacks, though two senior U.S. officials told CNN they believe the Brussels attack was carried out by the same terrorist network to which Abdeslam belonged.

We'll finish up this morning with a quick look at the Cost of War, which we find passing through:

$ 1, 680, 083, 200, 000 .00

Speaking of which, how'd you like a nice interest-free loan of $1bn? Not all of it is cash; some of it is buildings and equipment. You never have to pay it back, either.

After WWII, England luckily had most of its lease-lend debt written off, but another postwar loan wasn't repaid until 2006. We'll never see a dime back from Afghanistan, I'd wager.

Between January 2010 and February 2015, the Defense Department donated roughly $858 million worth of real property to the Afghan government through the transition of military bases it operated in Afghanistan over the course of the war, a government watchdog agency said Monday.

The former bases, ranging from small, tactical combat outposts to large operational bases, cannot be sold to the government of Afghanistan, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction said in a fact sheet.

If it is not transferred to another military department or federal agency, it can be abandoned, dismantled or donated. Transferring the property to the Afghan government is more cost effective than the other options in most cases, Christine Abizaid, deputy assistant secretary of defense for Afghanistan, Pakistan and Central Asia, wrote in a letter attached to the report.

For example, during the transfer of Camp Leatherneck in October 2014, when NATO formally ended its mission in Helmand province, roughly $236 million worth of property was donated to the Afghan government. About $39 million worth was dismantled.

Of the 715 bases the U.S. operated over the course of the war, 391 were turned over to the government of Afghanistan, with the majority -- 57 percent -- going to the Afghan National Army, the report found. The Afghan National Police received 30 percent of the transferred bases, the second-largest share. Other bases were transferred to other components of the Defense Ministry and the Interior Ministry.

SIGAR found that the U.S. closed 219 bases, and the total value of property destroyed or abandoned on all of the transitioned bases amounted to roughly $48 million. Six bases were transferred to other U.S. government agencies. There were other bases where U.S. forces shared locations with coalition or Afghan forces, SIGAR said.

Wouldn't it be nice to have a candidate worrying about America for a change, instead of every other nation on earth? (Wait, that's Trump, isn't it? Oh, poop.)

15 comments (Latest Comment: 04/05/2016 20:29:53 by Mondobubba)
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