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Author: TriSec    Date: 08/29/2017 10:14:05

Good Morning.

There appears to be a lone bright spot in the Trump administration. Of course, it's an Obama holdover.

VA Secretary David Shulkin has proved to be something unique in President Donald Trump's Washington: an Obama appointee nominated by Trump who is beloved by almost everyone and getting stuff done.

By tweaking regulations, he has managed to fire hundreds of allegedly incompetent employees, publicized waiting times at Veterans Affairs clinics, gotten money to expand vets’ treatment by private doctors, and expanded care for isolated vets through telemedicine and mobile phones, while promising to close 430 vacant VA buildings and speed up benefit awards. Shulkin also made a bold — and risky — decision to bypass contracting rules to buy a $16 billion digital health record system.

“What motivates me and what motivates Dr. Shulkin is the same, to provide the best care to veterans,” said Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Veterans Affairs Committee. “I don’t know whether he’s a Republican or Democrat, and I could care less.”

I suppose competence shouldn't need to come with the "right" letter after the name, no matter who is in charge. But given the fact that Trump destroys everything he touches, we'll see how long this lasts.

We'll next look in on the United States instead of Overseas today. Of course, your mileage may vary, but Mr. Trump has reversed an Obama-era ban on selling surplus military equipment to domestic police. I suppose I would know better than others how useful that material could be in certain situations. (See: Boston Marathon), but do we really need APCs, or Tanks, or battle armor and assault weapons out on the street for normal police work?


WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump is preparing to lift restrictions on surplus military equipment that can be passed on to local law enforcement agencies in spite of past concerns that armored vehicles and other gear were escalating confrontations with protesters.

Documents obtained by The Associated Press indicate Trump is preparing to sign an executive order undoing an Obama administration directive that restricted police agencies' access to grenade launchers, bullet-proof vests, riot shields, firearms, ammunition and other surplus military equipment.

Trump's order would fully restore the program under which "assets that would otherwise be scrapped can be repurposed to help state, local, and tribal law enforcement better protect public safety and reduce crime," according to the documents.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions could outline the changes during a Monday speech to the national conference of the Fraternal Order of Police in Nashville, Tennessee, a person familiar with the matter said. The person insisted on anonymity to discuss the plan ahead of an official announcement.

The changes would be another way in which Trump and Sessions are enacting a law-and-order agenda that views federal support of local police as a way to drive down violent crime.

National police organizations have long been pushing Trump to hold to his promise to once again make the equipment available to local and state police departments, many of which see it as needed to ensure officers aren't put in danger when responding to active shooter calls and terrorist attacks. An armored vehicle played a key role in the police response to the December 2015 mass shooting in San Bernardino, California.

In 1990, Congress authorized the Pentagon to give surplus equipment to police to help fight drugs, which then gave way to the fight against terrorism.

Groups across the political spectrum have expressed concern about the militarization of police, arguing that the equipment encourages and escalates confrontations with officers.

Staying domestic, Harvey spins on and on in Texas, still wreaking havoc. Of course they won't be helped by today's planned visit from Hurricane Trump, but that's another story. In what is perhaps an unprecedented move, the entire state National Guard of Texas has been activated to help in the relief efforts. This still appears to be a rescue mission; there has been no word about FEMA or other government agencies moving in to help with recovery yet.

All 12,000 members of the Texas Army and Air National Guard were mobilized Monday and active duty units were on standby to deal with the catastrophic flooding and continuing hard rain triggered by Hurricane Harvey.

"It is imperative that we do everything possible to protect the lives and safety of people across the state of Texas as we continue to face the aftermath of this storm," Gov. Greg Abbott, R-Texas, said in quadrupling the number of Guard personnel activated.

About 900 Texas Guard members were mobilized before Harvey hit the Gulf Coast Friday and Abbott increased the number to 3,000 on Sunday.

On Monday, the Pentagon said that active duty units were heading to staging areas in anticipation of a formal request for help while National Guard units from other states readied cargo jets and UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters to help with the response.

An active duty search and rescue team already was deploying to Fort Worth, Texas, to join first responders, said Army Col. Robert Manning, a Pentagon spokesman.

U.S. Northern Command also was poised to provide Department of Defense support to the Federal Emergency Management Administration, and state and local response efforts, Manning said.

Texas authorities said Monday afternoon that at least eight people appear to have died as a result of the storm battering the state.

That toll includes six people in Harris County, home to Houston; one person in Rockport, near where Harvey made landfall; and another person in La Marque, near Galveston, the officials said.

About 30,000 persons whose homes have been flooded were expected to seek shelter in Texas, and another 450,000 were expected to apply for disaster relief, officials said.

Abbott's activation of the entire Texas Guard followed warnings from federal officials that government resources could be overwhelmed by the magnitude of the crisis.

And as if Texans don't have enough problems right now, their insurance laws are changing as of September 1. Lawyers are urging affected parties to file their claims by Friday or risk losing money.

Timing is everything, I suppose.


11 comments (Latest Comment: 08/29/2017 21:35:47 by TriSec)
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