This is what happened when the VA tried to slash money for homeless veterans - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

This is what happened when the VA tried to slash money for homeless veterans

Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin told a group of veteran advocates that he was cutting funding to a program that addresses veteran homelessness, according to a Dec. 6 report from Politico.


The conversation reportedly happened over the phone, with “advocates for veterans, state officials, and even officials from HUD” reacting to the news from Shulkin in outright anger.

The program, co-sponsored by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), allocates $460 million a year to housing homeless veterans. It seems to have been working, too, as veteran homelessness is down 46 percent from 2010.

This is what happened when the VA tried to slash money for homeless veterans
First, La Crosse. Next, the country? (Photo from Tomah VA Medical Center)

Nevertheless, Shulkin determined that nearly $1 billion should be moved from “specific purpose” funds to “general purpose” funds. This means moving all of the funding used specifically to ameliorate veterans homelessness.

According to a Sept. 2 memo, the VA believes that money designated to specific programs, like addressing veteran homelessness, transplant programs, amputation care, and women’s health, would be better used in a general fund, leaving veterans hospitals to decide for themselves how to use the money. The memo states that the move is designed to support “the Secretary’s five priorities” and could be used for administrative things, like hiring more VA employees.

The memo does not state how each individual hospital must use its newfound funds. Rather, it simply notes that network directors will have control over how much (if any) to give to specific programs.

Also Read: This city ended veteran homelessness in just 100 days

The Senate Committee on Appropriations responded to Shulkin’s plans to move the funds with a bipartisan, strongly worded letter signed by every member. In it, the committee reminded the Secretary of Veterans Affairs that his department had previously been extended the privilege of flexibility to move money without review because of its willingness to be transparent. That transparency, the letter argued, would all but disappear should Shulkin divert the specific purpose funds.

The letter closed with what seemed like a warning in the form of a suggestion: Stop, think, and before you do anything, submit to us a detailed “funding allocation plan” in the future.

This is what happened when the VA tried to slash money for homeless veterans
Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin. Photo courtesy of VA.

It didn’t take long for Shulkin to shift gears and reverse his earlier statements. “There will be absolutely no change in the funding to support our homeless programs,” Shulkin wrote in a statement released Dec. 6.

However, Shulkin added, “we will not be shifting any homeless program money to the Choice program.” It is not immediately clear whether the Choice program is where Shulkin suggested the funds would go in his Dec. 1 phone call.

Upon further review of the VA’s budget brief, the department does, in fact, plan to cut funding from “certain Veterans’ benefit programs” to offset the cost of money borrowed from the nearly bankrupt Veterans Choice Program, a program designed to offer veterans medical care closer to where they reside.

The brief does not specify which programs will be cut.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russia is sending heavy naval firepower to the Mediterranean

The US and Russia have become engaged in an increasingly hot war of words over the warfare and suffering in Syria, and Russia was seen sending heavy naval firepower to the region around the same time it threatened to retaliate to any US strikes.


Russia has supported Syrian President Bashar Assad for years during his country’s seven-year-long civil war. Russia provides military support and airpower to help Assad cling to power as he fights off Islamist insurgents and a popular uprising in a war where his forces have reportedly killed the wide majority of the half-million now dead.

Also read: Russia needs more mercenaries to go fight in Syria

Russia agreed to remove Syria’s stockpile of chemical weapons in 2013, but international inspectors concluded in 2017 that Syria had used sophisticated chemical weapons in a massive attack on civilians.

The US responded with a naval strike that destroyed much of the airbase the Pentagon alleges carried out the attack. The next day, Russia vowed to retaliate if the US struck Syria, by destroying any missiles or launchers used.

This is what happened when the VA tried to slash money for homeless veterans
Vladimir Putin with the president of Syria, Bashar al-Assad. (Photo from Russian government)

After verbally sparring with Russia at the UN, the US, on March 12, 2018, said in no uncertain terms that if Russia could not hold to the UN-backed ceasefire, as multiple reports indicate it had not, the US would strike Syria again.

On both March 13 and 14, 2018, Devrim Yaylali, the man behind TurkishNavy.net and the popular Bosphorus Naval News, spotted Russian Navy frigates transiting the Bosphorus Strait into the Mediterranean.

Related: Turkey vows to defiantly attack US allies in Syria

The frigates specialize in anti-submarine warfare, according to Yaylali, who told Business Insider that the deployments may or may not be routine, as sometimes Russian ships continue on past the Suez Canal.

But tensions between Russia and the West are peaking after Russia’s threats to fight back against the US in Syria and the UK accused the Russian state of carrying out a nerve agent attack on a former spy in the British countryside.

Sub hunting in the Mediterranean or routine deployment?

This is what happened when the VA tried to slash money for homeless veterans
Sailors load a Tomahawk cruise missile into the USS Michigan, a US Navy submarine capable of launching missiles while submerged. (US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Samuel Souvannason)

When the US attacked Syria as punishment for the chemical weapons attack in April 2017, it did so with Navy destroyers firing 59 cruise missiles.

The US also has submarines that can mount a similar attack, and if the US wanted to repeat the assault, it may be wiser to send a submerged vessel. A submarine would likely not create the obvious red flag of US destroyers returning to the shores where they once laid waste to a significant portion of Assad’s air force.

More: Why American submarines feared this Russian destroyer

But the US has plenty of options to strike Russia in Syria if they chose, including air power and ground systems.

Additionally, it’s standard practice for any military to move supporting platforms into an area where it bases troops, so Russia’s introduction of naval power into the Mediterranean may be simple protocol for protecting Russian servicemen in Syria.

Articles

How the feds used prison labor to build defective combat helmets

Spoiler Alert: This is not an Article 107 News article.  The federal government paid over $53 million to two companies to build combat helmets between 2006 and 2009.  The cost is not the problem.  The problem is almost 150,000 Army and Marine Corps combat helmets were defective.


And oh by the way, prisoners made the helmets.

First of all, the prisoners came from the Federal Bureau of Prisons, working under… wait for it… a federally owned company called Federal Prison Industries.  But wait, there’s more!  FPI, also known as UNICOR, received the sub-contract from a privat vendor, ArmourSource LLC.

So, a private company was awarded a government contract to make combat helmets after normal bidding procedures. No problem.

The private company then sub-contracted out a federally owned company for cheap prison labor and reaped a $30.3 million windfall as a result. That’s a problem, even if just from a perception viewpoint.

Furthermore, FPI received its own contract to make helmets for the US Marine Corps.  A federally owned company received a contract from its “owner,” and all without competitive bidding.  True to form, the government recalled the helmets after multiple deficiencies. This isn’t a case of “lowest bidder;” this is a case of negligence.  It is negligent to entrust the lives of American soldiers with equipment made by federal prisoners.

This is what happened when the VA tried to slash money for homeless veterans
Army photo by Spc. Alexandra Campo

A recently released Justice Department summary details the negligence and lack of quality control. Deficiencies included:

  • Scrap kevlar used in between layers (therefore, won’t stop bullets)
  • Blisters and bubbles which caused decreased effectiveness (therefore, won’t stop bullets)
  • Prisoners pried off kevlar pieces to use as potential weapons against guards (less material means, yep, won’t stop bullets)

And my personal favorite:

  • Prisoners prepared and conducted quality certifications on order from the FPI staff, and FPI staff signed the certifications without checking the prisoners’ work.

This is what happened when the VA tried to slash money for homeless veterans
Advanced Combat Helmet. Photo from US Army.

Consequently, ArmourSource settled for $3 million and still makes products for the military. The loss to the military was over $19 million. That seems like an unfair trade if you ask me.

If ever there was a time for people to call for accountability in the government contracting process, this is it. Discuss it, debate it, and actually support the troops you say you support.  War is a money-making machine and if you didn’t understand that after the $5 billion “Universal Combat Pattern” debacle then you do now.

I understand prison industry is a vital tool for teaching job skills and reducing recidivism rates.  What I do not understand is how anyone with a simple knowledge of course of action analysis felt it was a good idea to allow federal criminals to build US military equipment and put soldiers’ lives at risk.

MIGHTY TRENDING

What water vapor on the moon means for deep space exploration

Researchers from NASA and the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, report that streams of meteoroids striking the Moon infuse the thin lunar atmosphere with a short-lived water vapor.

The findings will help scientists understand the history of lunar water — a potential resource for sustaining long term operations on the Moon and human exploration of deep space. Models had predicted that meteoroid impacts could release water from the Moon as a vapor, but scientists hadn’t yet observed the phenomenon.

Now, the team has found dozens of these events in data collected by NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer. LADEE was a robotic mission that orbited the Moon to gather detailed information about the structure and composition of the thin lunar atmosphere, and determine whether dust is lofted into the lunar sky.


Water Released from Moon During Meteor Showers

youtu.be

Water Released from Moon During Meteor Showers

“We traced most of these events to known meteoroid streams, but the really surprising part is that we also found evidence of four meteoroid streams that were previously undiscovered,” said Mehdi Benna of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and the University of Maryland Baltimore County. Benna is the lead author of the study, published in Nature Geosciences.

The newly identified meteoroid streams, observed by LADEE, occurred on Jan. 9, April 2, April 5, and April 9, 2014.

There’s evidence that the Moon has water (H2O) and hydroxyl (OH), a more reactive relative of H2O. But debates continue about the origins of the water, whether it is widely distributed and how much might be present.

“The Moon doesn’t have significant amounts of H2O or OH in its atmosphere most of the time,” said Richard Elphic, the LADEE project scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley. “But when the Moon passed through one of these meteoroid streams, enough vapor was ejected for us to detect it. And then, when the event was over, the H2O or OH went away.”

Lunar scientists often use the term “water” to refer to both H2O and OH. Figuring out how much H2O and how much OH are present is something future Moon missions might address.

This is what happened when the VA tried to slash money for homeless veterans

This infographic shows the lunar water cycle based on the new observations from the Neutral Mass Spectrometer on board the LADEE spacecraft. At the lunar surface, a dry layer overlays a hydrated layer. Water is liberated by shock waves from meteoroid impacts. The liberated water either escapes to space or is redeposited elsewhere on the Moon. Some water is created by chemical reactions between the solar wind and the surface or delivered to the Moon by the meteoroids themselves. However, in order to sustain the water loss from meteoroid impacts, the hydrated layer requires replenishment from a deeper ancient water reservoir.

Credits: NASA Goddard/Mehdi Benna/Jay Friedlander

LADEE, which was built and managed by NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley, detected the vapor using its Neutral Mass Spectrometer, an instrument built by Goddard. The mission orbited the Moon from October 2013 to April 2014 and gathered detailed information about the structure and composition of the lunar atmosphere, or more correctly, the “exosphere” – a faint envelope of gases around the Moon.

To release water, the meteoroids had to penetrate at least 3 inches (8 centimeters) below the surface. Underneath this bone-dry top layer lies a thin transition layer, then a hydrated layer, where water molecules likely stick to bits of soil and rock, called regolith.

From the measurements of water in the exosphere, the researchers calculated that the hydrated layer has a water concentration of about 200 to 500 parts per million, or about 0.02 to 0.05 percent by weight. This concentration is much drier than the driest terrestrial soil, and is consistent with earlier studies. It is so dry that one would need to process more than a metric ton of regolith in order to collect 16 ounces of water.

Because the material on the lunar surface is fluffy, even a meteoroid that’s a fraction of an inch (5 millimeters) across can penetrate far enough to release a puff of vapor. With each impact, a small shock wave fans out and ejects water from the surrounding area.

When a stream of meteoroids rains down on the lunar surface, the liberated water will enter the exosphere and spread through it. About two-thirds of that vapor escapes into space, but about one-third lands back on the surface of the Moon.

These findings could help explain the deposits of ice in cold traps in the dark reaches of craters near the poles. Most of the known water on the Moon is located in cold traps, where temperatures are so low that water vapor and other volatiles that encounter the surface will remain stable for a very long time, perhaps up to several billion years. Meteoroid strikes can transport water both into and out of cold traps.

The team ruled out the possibility that all of the water detected came from the meteoroids themselves.

“We know that some of the water must be coming from the Moon, because the mass of water being released is greater than the water mass within the meteoroids coming in,” said the second author of the paper, Dana Hurley of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory.

The analysis indicates that meteoroid impacts release water faster than it can be produced from reactions that occur when the solar wind hits the lunar surface.

“The water being lost is likely ancient, either dating back to the formation of the Moon or deposited early in its history,” said Benna.

NASA is leading a sustainable return to the Moon with commercial and international partners to expand human presence in space and bring back new knowledge and opportunities.

MIGHTY CULTURE

5 ways parenting changes when your child joins the Army

I held on to my son until it was time for him to go. My heart felt empty as he walked through the departure gates on his way to Army Basic Combat Training (BCT.)

Although I was happy for him as he left to live his lifelong dream of serving our great nation, I felt lost with an emptiness that filled my heart. Despite the tears that streamed down my face, I was proud to see my son started his journey with strength and determination.

It’s far from easy to watch as your child embarks on a journey aimed at transforming them from civilian to soldier; where you won’t hear from them and don’t know what they’re doing.

As your child goes on this journey, you go on a journey too.


You may not have planned for this or even wanted it, and yet here you are, transitioning to becoming the parent of a soldier.

Parenting changes in unexpected ways when your child joins the army. Instead of feeling stranded in a place of sadness, let your child’s hard work, dedication, and patriotism, inspire you to be your best. Here are some ways that parenting changes when your child joins the army.

This is what happened when the VA tried to slash money for homeless veterans

Photo by Sgt. Philip McTaggart/Released

1. You’re no longer in control.

Parenting never stops, but when your child joins the army a new set of challenges emerges. After spending 18+ years preparing them for life and protecting them, a parental shift happens.

One day they’re home with you, the next day they’re thousands of miles away with little communication.

The casual calls, endless chore reminders, and days spent together are sweet memories of another season of life.

Take a step back and realize how your role is different now. Instead of taking the wheel for them, your role may be to just be there for them, to support their decision to join the Army or to help keep them moving forward.

You may not hear from your Soldier as often as you like but that’s part of your new normal.

Instead of resisting it, lean into it. It can be truly wonderful if you let it. Just think: you raised a child with the passion, courage, and grit to do one of the most important jobs in our nation. Make sure your child knows that you have confidence in them as a soldier and defender of freedom.

Transition takes great effort and doesn’t happen overnight. Know how you are changing as a parent. Put your feelings to paper where you can look back in a few months or a year and see how far you’ve come on this incredible military parenting journey.

This is what happened when the VA tried to slash money for homeless veterans

Photo by Master Sgt. Michel Sauret

2. You learn resilience.

Awful thoughts will undoubtedly run rampant through your mind. At some point, your Soldier will transition from BCT to Advanced Individual Training (AIT) or may deploy somewhere in the world.

I wasn’t as excited as my son when he deployed; he thought of it all as a big adventure while I cringed at the thought of him flying high in his helicopter over the Afghanistan Mountains.

Holding on to his enthusiasm through my range of emotions, and looking at this as an adventure was my first step to building resilience.

Embracing change and learning to adapt as a parent of a Soldier is one way to build resilience and manage your emotions. Resilience gives you the ability to cope with stressful situations (there will be some) and carry on with your life. You can’t change the fact that your child is now a Soldier, one of the few who chose to defend our country. Nor can you change where they go next. But you can learn resilience, become more confident in your ability to deal with tough emotions, and find joy in your journey.

This is what happened when the VA tried to slash money for homeless veterans

Photo courtesy of 2nd Cavalry Regiment

3. You find new ways to enjoy the holidays.

Christmas brings with it sweet memories, family gatherings, and lots of food. It’s always a happy occasion, except for that first year my son joined the Army. He would be celebrating at his first duty station in Germany, while we all missed him terribly at home.

In subsequent years, we found new ways to celebrate. We’ve had Thanksgiving dinner, a Christmas tree, gifts, and holiday decorations in the middle of November or birthdays celebrated a month before or after the event.

Don’t forget technology, which creates new ways to enjoy your Soldier. You can engage with your loved one, whether it’s a text message, phone call, or video and open up communications in a positive way.

Is it the day that is more important or the gathering of loved ones to celebrate events? Learning to enjoy celebrations on days other than the event is a unique way to celebrate. After all, any time you can gather with your Soldier is time for celebration!

This is what happened when the VA tried to slash money for homeless veterans

4. Oh, the places you’ll go.

That first 9 weeks of basic training seemed like forever. With over 2,000 miles between us, how would I ever see my son? As the years passed, the miles expanded as his duty stations took him to Germany, South Korea, and far-flung states.

Let the adventure begin! With passport in hand, I visited my Soldier son in every country and state he lived in. We traveled through Europe and had a grand time experiencing new places and cultures.

Keep an open mind about the places you can visit and explore with your Soldier. The best part is your child can be your tour guide as you trek off together with enthusiasm and curiosity, creating new grown-up memories.

This is what happened when the VA tried to slash money for homeless veterans

Photo by Sgt. Philip McTaggart

5. You see your child in a different light.

When my son left for basic training, I clung to our past relationship where I was the mom and protector. Clearly that wasn’t going to work.

As time progressed, it dawned on me one day that my son is a Soldier. He spoke to me about his passion for defending our freedoms and how much it meant to him. As I slowly began to understand him as a grown man and Soldier, I began to see, appreciate, and respect this side of him.

You may not realize it but your Army Soldier is a skilled and highly-trained warrior, ready to defend our nation on a moment’s notice. That’s a lot to take in but it’s true.

No matter how much you want your child to be five years old again, they’re not. They left their childhood behind and went out into the world armed with all the loving ingredients you instilled in them. When you look at them as grown-up, you give way for a new relationship to blossom—one that includes the sweet memories of yesteryear and new adventures of today.

New Beginnings

Throughout a successful 15-year Army career, my son’s story isn’t finished and neither is mine. Every “see ya later” hug at an airport is another building block towards mental toughness and staying ready for the changes ahead (and there will be many.)

When your child joins the Army, your parent-child relationship adapts and grows as both your lives change over the years. I wouldn’t change a thing about being the mom of my Soldier son. From the people I’ve met, to the things I’ve learned, and the places I’ve been, this army mom life has been amazing.

You control your journey or your journey controls you. Enjoy the adventure!

This article originally appeared on Sandboxx. Follow Sandboxx on Facebook.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The hilarious reason Winnie the Pooh is banned in China

Many Chinese citizens responded in a peculiar way to Feb. 25, 2018’s announcement that the Chinese Communist Party may get rid of presidential term limits — by posting images of Winnie the Pooh on social media.


The pictures target Xi Jinping, who could now stay in power for decades and potentially paves the way to one-man rule that China has not seen since the days of Mao Zedong.

Also read: China’s president is kind of a big deal

The joke is that Winnie the Pooh, the fictional, living teddy bear made by English author A. A. Milne, looks strikingly similar to Xi, supposedly because both of them look somewhat chubby. Critics of the Chinese leader often use the cartoon character in a derogatory way.

 

The meme has been circulating around Chinese and Western social media since Xi became president in 2013, and has been out in full force since the CCP’s announcement.

One image showed Pooh Bear hugging a large pot of honey, with the words “Wisdom of little bear Winnie the Pooh” in Chinese and “Find the thing you love and stick with it” in English. Another image showed a screenshot from an episode that shows the bear wearing a crown and other royal regalia.

China censors Winnie the Pooh

The memes have provoked Chinese censors to clamp down on the circulation of the cartoon bear on social media apps like WeChat and Sina Weibo.

It appears the censors are going beyond just taking down pictures of Winnie the Pooh. Entire messages relating to the topic of Xi as a dictator or negative talk about him serving for life are being deleted minutes after being sent to friends or posted online.

Related: 11 classic banned books written by veterans

“I’ve posted this before but it was censored within 13 minutes so I will post it again,” one micro-blogger wrote according to What’s on Weibo, an independent news site that reports on Chinese digital and social media. “I oppose to the amendment of the ‘no more than two consecutive terms of office’ as addressed in the third section of Article 79 of the Constitution.”

This is what happened when the VA tried to slash money for homeless veterans
Chinese President Xi Jinping. (Photo from Moscow Kremlin)

China Digital Times and Free Weibo have reported that some of the phrases that Chinese censors are scrutinizing include “I don’t agree,” “election term,” “constitution rules,” “Winnie the Pooh,” and “proclaiming oneself an emperor.”

“Migration” and “emigration” are also subject to heavy censorship.

More: The 25 most ruthless leaders of all time

State censorship is not new in China and censors have gone after Winnie the Pooh images in the past. The country has also notably gone to great lengths to make sure the Tiananmen Square Protests of 1989, in which hundreds of unarmed Chinese citizens were gunned down by the Peoples Liberation Army, are not discussed — either in person or on the internet.

Articles

Osprey crash shows how dangerous Marine aviation can be

The Dec. 13 crash of a MV-22B Osprey off the coast of Okinawa is the eighth involving this plane – and the fourth since the plane was introduced into service in 2007. Over its lengthy RD process and its operational career, 39 people have been killed in accidents involving the V-22 Osprey.


Sounds bad, right?

Well, the Osprey is not the first revolutionary aircraft to have high-profile crashes. The top American ace of World War II, Richard Bong, was killed while carrying out a test flight of a Lockheed YP-80, America’s first operational jet fighter.

The top American ace of the Korean War, Joseph McConnell, died when the F-86H he was flying crashed.

That said, the V-22 came close to cancellation numerous times during the 1990s, and killing it was a priority of then-Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney. He failed, and the United States got a game-changing aircraft.

This is what happened when the VA tried to slash money for homeless veterans
(Photo: U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Brandon Maldonado)

It should be noted that most of the 39 fatalities happened during the RD phase of the Osprey program.

A 1992 crash near Quantico Marine Corps Base took the lives of several personnel, according to a report by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

The July 2000 crash was the worst, with 19 Marines killed when the V-22 they were on crashed during a simulated night assault mission. According to an article in the September 2004 issue of Proceedings, the Osprey involved crashed due to a phenomenon known as “vortex ring state.”

The December 2000 Osprey crash that killed all four on board had a more mundane cause. The plane suffered a failure in its hydraulic system, causing the tiltrotor to start an uncontrolled descent.

Wired.com reported in 2005 that a software glitch caused the plane to reset on each of the eight occasions that the crew tried to reset the Primary Flight Control System. The Osprey’s 1,600-foot fall ended in a forest.

Since entering service in July 2007, the Osprey’s track record has been much stronger.

Counting the most recent crash, there have been four Osprey accidents in the nine years and four months the V-22 has been operational. Two of those crashes, one in April 2010 that involved a special operations CV-22 in Afghanistan and an MV-22 in Morocco that crashed in April 2012, killed six personnel.

The crashes in December 2012 and the one earlier this week, resulted in no fatalities.

Three other personnel died in accidents: A Marine died in October 2014 when a life preserver failed, according to the San Diego Union Tribune. In May 2015, a fire after an Osprey “went down” killed two Marines per an Associated Press report.

This is what happened when the VA tried to slash money for homeless veterans
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Brandon Maldonado

Despite the recent incidents, the V-22 has been remarkably safe, particularly in combat.

None have been lost to enemy fire, a distinction that many helicopters cannot boast. The CH-53 series of helicopters, saw over 200 personnel killed in crashes by the time of a 1990 Los Angeles Times report, which came 15 years before a January 2005 crash that killed 31 personnel.

The BBC reported at the time that the helicopter was on a mission near Rutbah, Iraq.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Why John McCain accused Trump of emboldening Assad in Syria

US Senator John McCain, on April 8, 2018, criticized President Donald Trump for recently saying he is in favor of pulling US troops out of Syria.

McCain said Trump’s comments, that he wants to “get out” of Syria and “bring our troops home,” emboldened Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad to launch a suspected chemical attack against civilians on April 7, 2018.


“President Trump last week signaled to the world that the United States would prematurely withdraw from Syria,” McCain, who is also the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in a statement.

“Bashar Assad and his Russian and Iranian backers have heard him, and emboldened by American inaction, Assad has reportedly launched another chemical attack against innocent men, women, and children, this time in Douma. Initial accounts show dozens of innocent civilians, including children, have been targeted by this vicious bombardment designed to burn, and choke the human body and leave victims writhing in unspeakable pain,” he said.

According to reports, at least 40 people suffocated to death and hundreds more were injured from a suspected chemical attack in the rebel-held town of Douma in eastern Ghouta on April 7, 2018. Some estimates put the death toll closer to 150.

Local pro-opposition group Ghouta Media Center said the attack was carried out by a helicopter, which dropped a barrel bomb containing sarin gas. The US State Department confirmed reports of the attack and “a potentially high number of casualties” on April 7, 2018.

Graphic images from the attack have been posted on social media.

This is what happened when the VA tried to slash money for homeless veterans

President Trump was quick to call out Assad for the violence in a tweet on April 8, 2018: “President Putin, Russia and Iran are responsible for backing Animal Assad. Big price … to pay.” It was also the first time Trump has called out Putin by name on Twitter.

In his statement, McCain acknowledged Trump’s quick response on Twitter but said, “the question now is whether he will do anything about it.”

McCain said the president needs to “act decisively” in his response to Assad’s alleged involvement in the chemical attack, and to “demonstrate that Assad will pay a price for his war crimes.”

Some US lawmakers have called on the president to respond militarily to the use of chemical weapons, and have suggested a “targeted attack” on chemical weapons facilities.

Veterans

5 reasons birds make the best support animals

Birds make excellent support animals because they have advantages that dogs and cats do not have. They’re fun to raise and they’re fun to play with – especially if you’ve taught them a few tricks. Birds can be affectionate, loyal and goofy. An investment in a bird as an Emotional Support Animal can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience.

1. Birds are low maintenance

They love cleaning themselves. Unlike a cat or a dog, birds like to take baths or showers under faucet. Set it to a slow, steady stream and they’ll hop around and splash away. Clean feathers are essential for them to fly. Cage cleaning is simple too. Take out the tray, dump out the detritus, wipe the tray down with hot soapy water or disinfectant, rinse thoroughly, replace, done!

2. You can teach them songs and tricks

One of the birds I owned was a Gold Parakeet named Frank. He used to sit on chairs like a person to which I reacted with ‘aww he thinks he’s people’. Birds train with repetition and positive reinforcement. They cannot learn with negative reinforcement, so, you have to be patient.

You can train a bird to not squawk and sing instead when it wants attention. Frank would scream when he wanted attention. You ignore them. When he would whistle, I would come into the room and give him positive attention and treats. He would scream and I would leave. I did this repeatedly until it clicked in his tiny brain that, ‘oh, only beautiful sounds attract humans.’

When giving them positive attention whistle or sing to them for them to learn a new song. I tried teaching Frank the Marine Corps Hymn but he didn’t like it. He did learn the whistle from Pumped Up Kicks. I guess the Corps don’t get one.

3. Birds are unbearably cute

cute bird
Just look at his little face!

Birds puff up, dance, fall over and get into mischief. Discovering their unique personalities is a lot of fun. Also, if you have guests over, after the pandemic, they’ll fawn over your little friend.

4. They’re really smart

According to scientific research, birds are the only animals who are able to replicate human speech. Birds are really intelligent creatures. This is the best reason to get a bird as your emotional support animal. Especially, parrots. If you teach your parrot how to speak, you will always have a communication partner with you. Your bird will be there for you to respond to you and talk to you using the words you taught it.

realesaletter.com

This is very true. Tried to teach my little sister’s bird, a lovebird named Rose, a bad word and it didn’t take. Rose did learn how to sit down, play hide and seek, not to bite, call commands and more. We can call our pets individually from another room and they would arrive to perch on our shoulders. It’s an awesome party trick.

You can teach them to play with objects like little soccer balls or place a tiny basketball in a hoop.

5. Birds are sensitive to emotions

When I’m feeling not my best, my little buddy knows it. They’ll flutter over and give all the love you require. You’re happy, they’re happy. You’re more than a source of food, you’re their flock. Birds, when cared for correctly, have long lifespans ensuring your sidekick will be there for the long haul.

Here’s a tip!

My favorite trick is teaching them how not to bite. Remember the ‘no negative reinforcement’ from earlier? When a new bird is biting you, do not yell to it or you will give it what it wants – a reaction. They are acutely aware of emotions and will sense fear. You have two options.

Option one, my go to: stare right at it as it’s biting showing no pain and the bird will think ‘damn, nothing I do is going to hurt this thing.’ They will give up on biting completely. You’re a warrior and it’s a tiny, frightened bird in a new home. Suck it up. It doesn’t hurt.

Option two: put them down and walk away. Do not acknowledge them and try to pick them up again later. When they feel lonely, they’ll stop pushing you away on their own. Also give them safe toys to bite instead.

MIGHTY TRENDING

U.S. reaffirms commitment to South China Sea after clash

The White House responded publicly on Oct. 4, 2018, to a heated confrontation between the Chinese navy and a US destroyer in the South China Sea.

“China wants nothing less than to push the United States of America from the Western Pacific and attempt to prevent us from coming to the aid of our allies,” Vice President Mike Pence said at the Hudson Institute. “They will fail.”


He explained that China prioritizes the erosion of American military power.

“China’s aggression was on display this week,” he said, referring to a dangerous encounter between the People’s Liberation Army Navy destroyer Lanzhou and the US destroyer USS Decatur in the hotly-contested South China Sea Sept. 30, 2018. “A Chinese naval vessel came within 45 yards of the USS Decatur as it conducted freedom-of-navigation operations in the South China Sea, forcing our ship to quickly maneuver to avoid collision.”

“Despite such reckless harassment, the United States Navy will continue to fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows and our national interests demand,” Pence explained. “We will not be intimidated; we will not stand down.”

Highlighting the Trump administration’s focus on renewed great power competition with China and Russia, the vice president insisted that the US will employ “decisive action to respond to China.”

China has accused the US of endangering regional peace and stability.

“The U.S. side has sent warships into waters near China’s islands and reefs in South China Sea time and again, which has posed a grave threat to China’s sovereignty and security, severely damaged the relations between the two militaries, and significantly undermined regional peace and stability,” the Ministry of Defense said in response to the latest clash.

“The Chinese military resolutely opposes such actions,” the ministry added.

The latest incident in the South China Sea comes amid heightened tensions between Washington and Beijing, and the situation could soon worsen, as the US military is reportedly considering a proposal for a major show of force as a warning to the Chinese, which perceive American actions moves to contain Chinese power.

While the vice president stressed the threats posed by China to American interests, he emphasized that the US desires a productive relationship with Beijing. “But be assured, we will not relent until our relationship with China is grounded in fairness, reciprocity, and respect for our sovereignty,” he said.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

WW2 Army dog receives posthumous medal for bravery

A U.S. Army dog that attacked a machine-gun nest during World War II was posthumously awarded Britain’s highest honor for animal bravery on Jan. 14.


Chips, a German shepherd-husky cross, was awarded the Dickin Medal for actions during a 1943 beach landing in Sicily. According to the U.S. soldiers, Chips raced into an Italian machine-gun nest, attacking an enemy soldier by the throat and pulling the gun from its mount.

The medal was awarded by veterinary charity PDSA in a ceremony at the Churchill War Rooms in London. The honor was accepted by 76-year-old John Wren of Long Island, New York, whose father donated Chips to the war effort in 1942.

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Chips, a U.S. Army dog, meets Eisenhower. (Photo from U.S. Army)

Lt. Col. Alan Throop, who attended on behalf of the U.S. Army, said that shortly after the battle Chips was recommended for the Distinguished Service Cross, the Silver Star, and the Purple Heart. The awards were later rescinded because army policy didn’t allow animals to receive medals.

Chips suffered scalp wounds and powder burns in the battle but survived the war, returning to his owners in Pleasantville, New York.

Also Read: 7 tales of heroism for cat people sick of all the military dog stories

The medal was awarded on the 75th anniversary of the Casablanca Conference, at which British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt plotted wartime strategy. Chips served as a sentry at the conference and met both leaders.

“It has taken over seven decades, but Chips can now finally take his place in the history books as one of the most heroic dogs to serve with the U.S. Army,” PDSA director general Jan McLoughlin said.

Since 1943, the Dickin Medal has recognized gallantry by animals serving with the military, police, or rescue services. Recipients include 33 dogs, 32 messenger pigeons, four horses, and a cat.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

How the Navy could arm Zumwalt destroyers with hypervelocity railgun rounds

The embattled Zumwalt-class destroyers still don’t have any ammunition, but the US Navy has an idea, or at least the beginnings of an idea.

The Navy has invested hundreds of millions of dollars and more than a decade into railgun research, which has run up against several technological roadblocks. But while the railgun may not turn out to be a worthwhile project, the railgun rounds seem to show promise.


The Navy fired nearly two dozen hypervelocity projectiles (HVPs) — special rounds initially designed for electromagnetic railguns — from the Mk 45 5-inch deck gun aboard the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Dewey at one point during 2018’s Rim of the Pacific exercises, USNI News first reported. The guns are the same 40-year-old guns that come standard on cruisers and destroyers.

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The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Jason Dunham (DDG 109) fires its Mk 45 5-inch gun.

(U.S. Navy photo by Senior Chief Intelligence Specialist Matt Bodenner)

The same concept could presumably be applied to the 155 mm Advanced Gun Systems (AGS) aboard the Zumwalt-class destroyers. “That is one thing that has been considered with respect to capability for this ship class. We’re looking at a longer-range bullet that’s affordable, and so that’s one thing that’s being considered,” Capt. Kevin Smith, a program manager for the Zumwalt, revealed at the Surface Navy Association Symposium, USNI News reported Jan. 22, 2019.

“The surface Navy is really excited about this capability,” he added, saying that nothing has been decided.

This is apparently only one of several possibilities. “There are a lot of things that we’re looking at as far as deeper magazines with other types of weapons that have longer range,” Smith said. Previous considerations have included the Raytheon Excalibur 155 mm guided artillery, but that plan was abandoned.

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USS Zumwalt (DDG-1000).

(U.S. Navy photo)

The Zumwalt’s 155 mm AGS guns, intended to strike targets farther than 80 miles away, are ridiculously expensive to fire — a single Long Range Land Attack Projectile costs almost id=”listicle-2626896386″ million. Procurement was shut down two years ago, leaving the Zumwalt without any ammunition.

Since then, the Navy has been looking hard at other alternatives.

The Navy “will be developing either the round that goes with that gun or what we are going to do with that space if we decide to remove that gun in the future,” Vice Adm. William Merz, the deputy chief of naval operations for warfare systems, told the Senate Armed Services seapower subcommittee in November 2018, Breaking Defense reported at the time.

So, if the Navy can’t find suitable ammunition for the stealth destroyers, it may end up scrapping the guns altogether to be replaced with something else down the road.

Despite repeated setbacks, which include everything from loss of stealth to engine and electrical problems, the Navy said “the ship is doing fine.” Merz told Congress that the vessel should be operational by 2021.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

What the world’s top 25 militaries have in their arsenals

President Donald Trump has reemphasized military strength, reportedly planning to ask for $716 billion in defense spending in 2019 — a 7% increase over the 2018 budget (though spending is currently limited by budget caps).


US defense spending is the highest in the world, more than the combined budgets of the next several countries. But US plans to ramp up acquisitions of military hardware will only add to an already booming arms industry.

More: Everything you need to know about the massive new defense bill

Between 2012 and 2016, more weapons were delivered around the world than during any five-year period since 1990.

Below, you can see the world’s top 5 militaries, as ranked by Global Firepower Index.

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(Screenshot from GlobalFirepower.com)

The ranking assesses the diversity of weapons held by each country and pays particular attention to the manpower available.

“Balance is the key — a large, strong fighting force across land, sea, and air backed by a resilient economy and defensible territory along with an efficient infrastructure — such qualities are those used to round out a particular nation’s total fighting strength on paper,” the ranking states.

But a few defining aspects of those countries’ ability to muster military power are not directly related to their armed forces.

Geographical factors, logistical flexibility, natural resources, and local industry all influenced the final ranking, Global Firepower said.

Also read: NATO’s second-largest military power is threatening a dramatic pivot to Russia and China

Each of the top 10 countries have a labor force of more than 30 million people. Three of the top five — the US, China, and India — have more than 150 million available workers.

The following 15 countries vary more widely in labor-force size — from 123.7 million in Indonesia to 3.9 million in Israel — but they still have more than 37.2 million workers on average.

Industrial and labor capacity are complemented by robust logistical capabilities, including extensive railway and roadway networks, numerous major ports and airports, and strong merchant-marine corps. Extensive coastlines and waterways also facilitate the movement of goods and people.

For the US, those logistical capacities have been tested by increasing activity in Afghanistan as well as efforts to built up its presence in Europe.

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Vehicles and other cargo are unloaded from the USNS Bob Hope by the soldiers of the 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, November 1, 2017. (US Army by Sgt. Jaccob Hearn)

The US Army’s 1st Armored Division Sustainment Brigade served as the logistics headquarters in Afghanistan in 2017. During its six-month deployment, the unit distributed more than 380 million gallons of fuel throughout Afghanistan — a landlocked country roughly the size of Texas.

“It’s not easy to [transport] fuel. You have to get it to the right place at the right time. You have to make sure it’s of the right quality, and you have to make sure you have storage on one end and distribution capability on the other end,” Col. Michael Lalor, the brigade commander, said in late February. “That’s what always kept me up at night.”

US Military Sealift Command (MSC), which oversees the US Navy’s fleet of mostly civilian-crewed support ships, is adding ships to boost its presence around Europe and Africa, in response to both insurgent activity and growing tensions with Russia — all of which have added tension to the US’s already strained supply lines.

Also read: The 25 most powerful militaries in the world 2018

In 2017, MSC moved twice as much ordnance, three times as many critical parts, and one-third as much cargo in Europe and Africa as it did in 2016.

“I definitely don’t see (activity) going down anytime soon,” Capt. Eric Conzen, MSC commander in Europe and Africa, told Stars and Stripes of his unit’s workload. “There’s a desire for it to increase.”

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