Finance News

7 January, 2019 08:37 | Arizona Dept. |

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Good morning, Legionnaires and veterans advocates, at present is Monday, January 7, 2019, which is Orthodox Christmas Day, Harlem Globetrotters Day, I’m Not Going to Take It Anymore Day, Worldwide Programmers Day, Nationwide Previous Rock Day, and Nationwide Cross Fuel Day.

At the moment in American Legion Historical past:

· Jan. 7, 1921: The American Legion Weekly journal proclaims among the many members to serve a one-year time period on the brand new nationwide Americanism Fee is Fiorello H. La Guardia, future governor of New York and eventual mayor of New York Metropolis.

· Jan. 7, 1927: Initially sponsored by George L. Giles American Legion Submit 87 in Chicago and generally known as the South Aspect Giles Staff, the all-black basketball stars who would grow to be the Harlem Globetrotters make their debut in a recreation at Hinckley, Ailing. Later sponsored by the Savoy Ballroom and recognized briefly because the “Savoy Big Five,” the Harlem Globetrotters would go on to entertain greater than 144 million followers in 122 nations worldwide.

· Jan. 7, 2014: On a windy, 7-degree morning, future American Legion Nationwide Commander Brett Reistad of Virginia presents new Carhartt cold-weather put on to the caisson platoon of the Military’s third Infantry Regiment – the famed “Old Guard” – at Arlington Nationwide Cemetery. A former member of the Previous Guard himself, Reistad delivers jackets, shirts and underwear donated by Carhartt for troopers who work with horses across the clock to organize and practice them for funeral providers on the nationwide army cemetery.

At the moment in Historical past:

· On this present day in 1789, America’s first presidential election is held. Voters forged ballots to decide on state electors; solely white males who owned property have been allowed to vote. As anticipated, George Washington gained the election and was sworn into workplace on April 30, 1789.

· On January 7, 1999, the impeachment trial of President Invoice Clinton, formally charged with mendacity beneath oath and obstructing justice, begins within the Senate. As instructed in Article 1 of the U.S. Structure, Supreme Courtroom Chief Justice William Rehnquist was sworn in to preside, and the senators have been sworn in as jurors. Congress had solely tried to take away a president on one different event: the 1868 impeachment trial of President Andrew Johnson, who incurred the Republican Get together’s wrath after he proposed a conservative Reconstruction plan.

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

· Army Occasions: VA Sec. on GI Invoice issues: ‘We owe you every penny that you’ve earned’

· Army.com: Senators Need Solutions on Unspent VA Suicide Prevention Funds

· Army Occasions: As shutdown continues, lawmakers look to pay Coast Guard

· Related Press: Nationwide safety adviser Bolton outlines circumstances for US pullout from Syria

· Protection Information: The highest three Pentagon officers are ‘acting’ of their jobs. Does that matter?

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Army Occasions: VA Sec. on GI Invoice issues: ‘We owe you every penny that you’ve earned’

By: Natalie Gross | 2 days in the past

ORLANDO, Fla. — Veterans Affairs Sec. Robert Wilkie advised a big gathering of scholar veterans Friday that his No. 1 precedence for the VA in 2019 is high quality customer support.

That’s why the VA will right inaccurate funds made to hundreds of scholar veterans final fall. Stymied by technical issues, the division has been giving college students the improper housing stipend quantities for months and continues to take action — lengthy after the Aug. 1 deadline Congress gave VA to calculate housing stipends beneath revised guidelines.

“The bottom line is: We owe you every penny that you’ve earned. That is what the nation has promised you, and that is what you deserve,” Wilkie stated, addressing some 2,300 scholar veterans attending the annual Scholar Veterans of America Nationwide Convention by way of livestream, after his plans to attend in-person have been cancelled final minute due to journey restrictions amid the federal government shutdown.

The Eternally GI Invoice, which turned regulation in 2017, required VA to vary the best way it calculates housing stipends in two methods. One mandated that VA alter stipends for brand spanking new college students to match what the Division of Protection pays its E-5s with dependents. The opposite instructed VA to calculate stipends based mostly on the campus the place college students take most of their courses, slightly than the varsity’s most important campus, which has historically been used to find out housing stipends.

VA wasn’t capable of make both change by the preliminary deadline. However fixes are on the best way, in accordance with Wilkie.

GI Invoice customers who have been shorted because of the primary of these issues will obtain a examine within the mail for the distinction by the top of the month, Wilkie stated. Any veterans who have been overpaid will probably be allowed to maintain the additional cash.

An answer to the campus drawback won’t come till December 2019. VA lately ended its contract with Booz Allen Hamilton, its preliminary associate for this a part of the undertaking. The division plans to have a brand new contract awarded by subsequent month to a different vendor, which it expects to right the campus-based stipend issues in time for the spring 2020 semester.

At that time, the division will retroactively right funds for college kids who would have acquired a bigger housing allowance attending a department campus, fairly than their faculty’s important campus.

In his remarks after the secretary’s, Scholar Veterans of America President Jared Lyon referred to as final fall’s delays “unacceptable” and stated the “reset will permit the VA to step off on the best foot and create a greater path that may higher serve college students and faculties.”

“Whereas the reset was wanted, our work shouldn’t be executed. This new state of affairs means a brand new course of, and SVA will proceed to be there prepared to talk up on behalf of these most immediately impacted by VA’s selections,” Lyon stated.

Wilkie assured scholar veterans that underneath his management, they’ve a everlasting seat on the desk on the VA and are “now at the center of our operations.”

He urged any veterans experiencing monetary hardship due to the delays to succeed in out to the division to get their funds expedited.

Army.com: Senators Need Solutions on Unspent VA Suicide Prevention Funds

four Jan 2019 | Army.com | By Patricia Kime

A gaggle of 21 Democratic senators has requested the Division of Veterans Affairs to elucidate why it spent simply $57,000 of $6.2 million budgeted for paid media promoting campaigns directed at suicide prevention in fiscal 2018, a deficiency they referred to as “appalling” for its lack of oversight.

The lawmakers, led by Senate Veterans Affairs Committee rating member Sen. Jon Tester of Montana, demanded a full accounting of the $17.7 million budgeted by VA for suicide prevention outreach, which incorporates each paid promoting comparable to radio spots, billboards and digital advertisements, in addition to unpaid outreach akin to public service bulletins, social media and the VA’s personal Disaster Line web site.

Based on the Authorities Accountability Workplace, the VA developed 47 items of social media content material in 2018, down from 339 in 2016; did not air any public service bulletins on radio or TV for greater than a yr; and didn’t develop any new paid promoting for 2018 regardless of having a price range of $6.2 million.

A GAO report revealed in November blamed the decline in outreach on management turnover and reorganization inside the VA.

Throughout the time-frame examined by the GAO, the VA’s suicide prevention efforts shifted from suicide prevention to psychological well being outreach, primarily because of reorganization of the suicide prevention workplaces in 2017. For 3 months, the job of nationwide director for suicide prevention was vacant. In October 2017, Keita Franklin, then the top of the Protection Suicide Prevention Workplace, was detailed to the VA as appearing nationwide director. She was named everlasting director in April 2018.

VA staffers informed the GAO that, for an prolonged interval, management merely wasn’t obtainable for conferences to debate outreach actions.

In response, the senators wrote a letter to VA Secretary Robert Wilkie on Dec. 20, calling the lapse in outreach resulting from staffing points a “dereliction of VA’s responsibility to veterans.”

“Dysfunction at VA cannot be the excuse for the lack of a plan to execute suicide prevention outreach,” the senators wrote. “Efforts to prevent suicide must remain at the forefront of the Department’s care of veterans.”

In congressional testimony and response to the GAO report, VA officers stated they used $1.5 million — not $57,000 — of the $6.2 million and have carried out outreach occasions and created a PSA that wasn’t included within the GAO report, a partnership with Johnson & Johnson that includes Tom Hanks, a part of the “Be There” marketing campaign.

In response to the VA, its suicide prevention coordinators reached almost 2 million individuals at 18,836 occasions; touched 18 million individuals by social media throughout one week in October alone; and assist almost 2,000 callers a day to the Veterans Disaster Line, the division’s suicide prevention hotline.

“This year, I’m making sure that we are spending the funding 100 percent,” Dr. Steven Lieberman, the chief in command of the Veterans Well being Administration, stated at a joint Senate and Home Veterans Affairs Committees listening to Dec. 19. “We certainly have obligated all the dollars, and we have plans to reach out, including social media, this year. We have to get it right.”

In accordance with VA knowledge, veterans account for 14 % of all suicides within the U.S., and the suicide fee amongst veterans is 1.5 occasions larger than for non-veterans, when adjusted for age and gender.

Between 2015 and 2016 — the newest years for which knowledge can be found, and earlier than the substantial slide in outreach, based on the GAO — the suicide fee amongst younger veterans ages 18 to 34 climbed considerably, from 40.four deaths per 100,000 inhabitants to 45 suicides per 100,000.

Most of the senators who signed the letter have been current on the Dec. 19 listening to when Wilkie and Lieberman mentioned the GAO report and its suggestions. Most weren’t glad with the VA officers’ responses.

“Forgive me, but we’ve seen this movie before,” stated Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn. “We’ve seen a slew of secretaries who have made commitments and promises, and we are expressing the frustration and impatience that is well-founded in fact.”

Along with requesting a full accounting of the $17.7 million, the senators requested the VA to seek the advice of with specialists to develop metrics to trace public well being campaigns and measure their success.

Army Occasions: As shutdown continues, lawmakers look to pay Coast Guard

By: Leo Shane III | 2 days in the past

WASHINGTON — With fears the partial authorities shutdown might drag on for weeks, the Senate is shifting laws that might pay Coast Guard service members, even when the finances stalemate continues.

This week, Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., launched the “Pay Our Coast Guard Act” to maintain paying personnel even throughout a lapse in appropriations.

The exemption additionally would cowl Coast Guard retired advantages, demise gratuities and different associated payouts.

Seven different senators — three Republican and 4 Democrats — have already got signed on as co-sponsors of the invoice and Senate leaders fast-tracked the laws in order that the chamber might vote on it as quickly as subsequent week.

If the shutdown continues one other week, it is going to imperil paychecks scheduled for Jan. 15 to greater than 50,000 members of the Coast Guard.

About 42,000 of them are required to report back to work with out pay as a result of they’re deemed important staff.

Salaries for members of the Military, Navy, Air Drive and Marine Corps aren’t affected by the newest authorities shutdown as a result of the Division of Protection had its full fiscal yr funding accepted final fall.

However the Coast Guard is funded via the Division of Homeland Safety, one among a number of businesses whose budgets lapsed late final month amid a squabble between the White Home and congressional Democrats over President Donald Trump’s controversial southern border wall challenge.

After every week of warning that the shutdown would halt all Coast Guard paychecks, service officers introduced on Dec. 28 that Homeland Safety officers had discovered a piece round to cowl about $75 million wanted for the Dec. 31 pay interval.

However additionally they warned that if the shutdown continued they might be unable to repeat that motion for the mid-January paychecks.

On Friday, Trump referred to as his most up-to-date assembly with Democratic leaders on the price range deadlock “productive” but in addition confirmed that he informed lawmakers he was ready to maintain the federal government shutdown “for months or years” in the event that they don’t comply with adequately fund his border wall challenge.

“We won’t be opening the government until this (immigration problem) is solved,” he stated. “It’s a bigger problem.”

The Senate laws — which might additionally need to be adopted by the Home and signed by the president — is amongst a number of proposals being mentioned on Capitol Hill to blunt a few of the impression of the shutdown on about 800,000 federal staff.

Greater than half of the workers are required to proceed working with out pay. The others have been furloughed since Dec. 22.

Coast Guard officers insist most of their operations have continued uninterrupted through the funding lapse.

Service change places are scheduled to stay open for now, as will day care facilities on Coast Guard bases however a number of public affairs and public outreach workplaces have been shuttered.

Cuts to youngster care subsidies and non-essential journey additionally loom within the coming days.

Thune’s pay laws had drawn help from greater than a dozen veterans organizations, who say the Coast Guard must be safeguarded from political bouts.

“Many of our members have little tenure in the Coast Guard, which hasn’t allowed ample time for saving enough money to sustain the lapse in even one paycheck,” stated Coast Guard Enlisted Affiliation Nationwide President Casey Lawrence in a press release. “Many of our members feel that they have been overlooked due to the potential pay lapse.”

Mike Little, government director for the Sea Service Household Basis, stated passing the laws early within the new Congress would ship a robust message of help to the Coast Guard.

“This shutdown has taken away from valuable time (servicemembers) should have been using to enjoy their families, but instead they spent it stressed beyond belief,” stated Little, a Coast Guard partner.

The Senate is scheduled to return Tuesday to Capitol Hill.

Related Press: Nationwide safety adviser Bolton outlines circumstances for US pullout from Syria

By: Zeke Miller, The Related Press | 19 hours in the past

JERUSALEM — President Donald Trump’s nationwide safety adviser stated Sunday that the American army withdrawal from northeastern Syria is conditioned on defeating the remnants of the Islamic State group and on Turkey assuring the security of U.S.-allied Kurdish fighters.

John Bolton stated there isn’t a timetable for the pullout, however insisted the army presence isn’t a vast dedication.

“There are objectives that we want to accomplish that condition the withdrawal,” Bolton informed reporters in Jerusalem earlier than heading to Turkey on Monday, the place he can be joined by the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Employees Gen. Joseph Dunford. “The timetable flows from the policy decisions that we need to implement.”

These circumstances, he stated, included defeating what’s left of ISIS in Syria and defending Kurdish militias who’ve fought alongside U.S. troops towards the extremist group.

Bolton’s feedback have been the primary public affirmation that the drawdown has been slowed. Trump had confronted widespread criticism from allies about his choice, introduced in mid-December, that he was pulling all 2,000 U.S. troops from Syria. Officers stated on the time that though many particulars of the withdrawal had not but been finalized, they anticipated American forces to be out by mid-January.

“We’re pulling out of Syria,” Trump stated Sunday on the White Home. “But we’re doing it and we won’t be finally pulled out until ISIS is gone.”

Trump’s transfer, which led to the resignation of U.S. Protection Secretary Jim Mattis, has raised fears over clearing the best way for a Turkish assault on the Kurdish fighters. Turkey considers the Syrian Kurdish Individuals’s Safety Models, or YPG, a terrorist group linked to an insurgency inside its personal borders.

Bolton stated the U.S. is insisting that its Kurdish allies in Syria are shielded from any deliberate Turkish offensive — a warning he was anticipated to ship to Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, this week.

“We don’t think the Turks ought to undertake military action that’s not fully coordinated with and agreed to by the United States,” Bolton stated. He stated that in upcoming conferences with Turkish officers he’ll search “to find out what their objectives and capabilities are and that remains uncertain.”

Trump has made clear that he wouldn’t permit Turkey to kill the Kurds, Bolton stated. “That’s what the president said, the ones that fought with us.”

Bolton stated the U.S. has requested the Kurds to “stand fast now” and chorus from looking for safety from Russia or Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s authorities. “I think they know who their friends are,” he added, talking of the Kurds.

Jim Jeffrey, the particular consultant for Syrian engagement and the newly named American particular envoy for the anti-Islamic State coalition, is to journey to Syria this coming week in an effort to reassure the Kurdish fighters that they don’t seem to be being deserted, Bolton stated.

Turkey’s presidential spokesman referred to as allegations that his nation deliberate to assault the U.S.-allied Kurds in Syria “irrational” and stated Turkey was preventing terrorism for nationwide safety.

In feedback carried by the official Anadolu information company, Ibrahim Kalin stated the Kurdish fighters oppressed Syrian Kurds and pursued a separatist agenda underneath the guise of preventing ISIS. “That a terror organization cannot be allied with the U.S. is self-evident,” he stated.

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith, the incoming chairman of the Home Armed Providers Committee, informed ABC’s “This Week” that the circumstances raised by Bolton have been “obvious,” and Smith criticized the conflicting messages from the Trump administration.

“We don’t want ISIS to rise again and be a transnational terrorist threat and we don’t want our allies, the Kurds, to be slaughtered by Erdogan in Turkey,” stated Smith, D-Wash.

Bolton stated U.S. troops would stay on the important space of al-Tanf, in southern Syria, to counter rising Iranian exercise within the area. He defended the authorized foundation for the deployment, saying it’s justified by the president’s constitutional authority.

The U.S. can also be looking for a “satisfactory disposition” for roughly 800 ISIS prisoners held by the U.S.-backed Syrian opposition, Bolton stated, including talks have been ongoing with European and regional companions concerning the difficulty.

Bolton was to have dinner with Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, on Sunday to debate the tempo of the U.S. drawdown, American troop ranges within the area, and the U.S. dedication to push again on Iranian regional expansionism.

Bolton was anticipated to elucidate that some U.S. troops based mostly in Syria to battle ISIS will shift to Iraq with the identical mission and that the al-Tanf base would stay.

Bolton additionally was to convey the message that america is “very supportive” of Israeli strikes towards Iranian targets in Syria, in accordance with a senior administration official, who was not approved to publicly talk about Bolton’s plans earlier than the conferences and spoke on situation of anonymity.

Bolton on Sunday additionally toured the traditional tunnels beneath the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Previous Metropolis. He watched a digital actuality tour of the historic website and dined there together with his Israeli equal, in addition to U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and Israel’s ambassador to the U.S., Ron Dermer.

Visiting American officers sometimes keep away from holding official conferences in elements of east Jerusalem, which is contested between Israelis and Palestinians. Trump, nevertheless, additionally toured the world in a earlier go to.

Israel annexed east Jerusalem after capturing it from Jordan within the 1967 struggle, a transfer not acknowledged by a lot of the worldwide group. Palestinians search east Jerusalem because the capital of their future state.

Protection Information: The highest three Pentagon officers are ‘acting’ of their jobs. Does that matter?

By: Aaron Mehta | 2 days in the past

WASHINGTON — When President Donald Trump introduced Deputy Secretary of Protection Patrick Shanahan would develop into the appearing secretary of protection, it created vibrations down the Pentagon chain of operations — instantly leaving the highest three spots on the division crammed by appearing people.

However functionally, does it matter?

Pentagon Comptroller David Norquist has been tapped to carry out the duties of the deputy secretary, leaving deputy comptroller Elaine McCusker to fill Norquist’s day-to-day job. In the meantime, the No. three within the division is meant to be the chief administration officer, however that job has been empty following the Nov. 9 resignation of Jay Gibson from that position; Lisa Hershman is at present the appearing CMO.

Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Joe Buccino informed reporters Friday that “Appearing Secretary Shanahan will serve on this capability on the pleasure of the President and in keeping with governing regulation.” which, mixed with current feedback by Trump, could also be a sign the president is in no rush to switch the appearing secretary.

The excellent news for the Division of Protection? Specialists consider the division’s inner mechanisms will maintain the constructing chugging alongside, a minimum of within the brief time period. The extra difficult information? These tabbed with the “acting” label typically wrestle with getting their means in that very same paperwork.

When it comes to authorities, Shanahan should not have any difficulty moving into the secretary position, because of work that was achieved within the late 1980s by way of the Goldwater-Nichols reforms, says Arnold Punaro, a retired Marine Corps common who served as employees director within the Senate in the course of the Goldwater-Nichols debates.

Goldwater-Nichols ready for a “disability or vacancy in the SecDef position and put in statute the succession of the Deputy and the statute is clear that individual exercises the full powers of the SecDef,” Punaro wrote in an e mail. “So every thing in DoD is now topic to the ‘authority, direction and control’ of Pat Shanahan.

“No one — adversary, ally, congress, American public, other members of the administration — should consider Pat Shanahan as a ‘caretaker’ or ‘hampered’ by the term ‘acting.’ He is, as we say in the Marine Corps, a ‘full up round.’ ”

Marc Cancian, a former Pentagon and Workplace of Administration and Finances official now on the Middle for Strategic and Worldwide Research, agrees Shanahan legally has the complete authorities. And extra broadly, Cancian stated, the opposite vacant or appearing positions gained’t matter as a lot if Shanahan is ready to successfully drive the ship.

“I’m one of those people not too impressed by arguments about vacancies, if there is strong leadership at the top,” he stated. However he factors out that simply because somebody has energy doesn’t imply that particular person is aware of how one can successfully use it, nor that everybody will pay attention. “The bureaucracy is just going to do its thing. It chugs along,” he added.

Cancian additionally wonders if Shanahan will be capable of successfully convey the division’s message to Congress, notably to Democratics, who now run the Home of Representatives and are skeptical of protection spending will increase.

And Loren DeJonge Schulman, a former Pentagon and Nationwide Safety Council staffer now with the Middle for a New American Safety, says to observe rigorously if Shanahan is successfully in a position to make use of the degrees of energy.

“In any instance where a DoD senior leadership role is held by someone with only temporary authority, you can be almost certain that they will lose every argument to anyone with bigger political, analytic or institutional guns,” Schulman stated.

Particularly, Schulman raises considerations concerning the civil-military divide, a problem that has been rising for years however one which specialists fear has been exacerbated in the course of the first two years of the Trump administration.

“With that being the case, it’s worth keeping an eye on how the Joint Staff and the services react to this new leadership dynamic, particularly given the sense that civilian oversight is waning in many instances,” she stated. “With Shanahan’s lack of military and policy experience, I hope he finds strong advisers in [the Office of the Secretary of Defense] to help him manage what is going to be a crazy spring.”

One space that can be impacted by the shifting obligations, Cancian stated, is the push for administration reform.

“I think that is going to lose momentum” with the CMO spot empty and Shanahan and Norquist taking over greater roles, Cancian predicted. “I don’t assume it had a lot momentum to start with, however no matter little momentum it had might be gone.

“Six months in the past there was a variety of speak about administration reform, however you don’t hear about any huge modifications which might be within the wind. In the event that they have been engaged on one thing really huge, you’d hear the screams from the Pentagon, which tells me no matter is coming shouldn’t be going to be that massive.”

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