Showing posts with label US Military. Show all posts
Showing posts with label US Military. Show all posts

August 30, 2017

Def.Sec. Mattis Will Allow Transgender Troops to Serve Pending Study

 Defense Secretary Jim Mattis late Tuesday announced that transgender troops will be allowed to continue serving in the military pending the results of a study by experts. 
The announcement follows an order from President Trump — first announced in a tweet — declaring that transgender service members can no longer serve in the military, effectively reversing an Obama administration policy. The order also affects the Department of Homeland Security, which houses the Coast Guard.
"Once the panel reports its recommendations and following my consultation with the secretary of Homeland Security, I will provide my advice to the president concerning the implementation of his policy direction," Mattis said in the statement. "In the interim, current policy with respect to currently serving members will remain in place."
Mattis' move buys time for the Pentagon to determine how and if it will allow thousands of transgender troops to continue to serve, whether they will receive medical treatment, or how they will be discharged.
As Defense Secretary, Mattis has emphasized that he has little tolerance for policies that detract from military readiness or the Pentagon's effectiveness on the battlefield. At the last moment in June, he delayed the Pentagon's plan to accept new transgender troops. His reasoning: He demanded more study to determine the effect of recruiting them on the Pentagon's ability to fight and win wars.
Under the Obama administration, the Pentagon rescinded a longstanding ban on transgender troops from serving. It also outlined how those troops could receive medical treatment, including gender reassignment surgery, if it was deemed medically necessary.
Trump's order by tweet on July 26 caught the Pentagon by surprise. The tweets said there was no room in the ranks for transgender troops and that the government would no longer pay for their medical treatment.
Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, responded by saying that the Pentagon would not change its policy until it was notified officially by the White House.
The president issued that notification Friday night. It directed Mattis to study the issue and determine how to implement Trump's direction. It was assailed by advocates for transgender troops who called it discriminatory, and the American Civil Liberties Union has filed suit against it.
Last year, the Pentagon commissioned a study by the nonpartisan RAND Corp. to examine the effects on military readiness of allowing transgender troops to serve openly and the cost of providing them medical treatment. The study estimated that a few to several thousand transgender troops are in the active duty force of 1.3 million. Researchers found that paying for their health care needs would amount to about $8 million per year and their effect on readiness would be negligible. 

August 27, 2017

NYT: 'Trump Gives Mattis Wide Discretion Over Transgender Ban'

President Trump signed a long-awaited directive on Friday that precludes transgender individuals from joining the military but gives Defense Secretary Jim Mattis wide discretion in determining whether those already in the armed forces can continue to serve.
Mr. Mattis’s decisions will be based on several criteria, including military effectiveness and budgetary concerns, a senior White House official said in briefing reporters.
Left unclear was how many of the thousands of transgender service personnel estimated to be in the military might keep serving. By putting the onus on Mr. Mattis, the president appeared to open the door to allowing at least some transgender service members to remain in the military.
Dana W. White, the chief Pentagon spokeswoman, said that Mr. Mattis had received the guidance but did not indicate how he would proceed.
Mr. Trump abruptly announced the ban last month, helping to resolve a fight in Congress over whether taxpayer dollars should be used for gender transition and hormone therapy for transgender service members. Objections from conservatives had threatened a $790 billion defense and security spending package. Mr. Mattis has six months to develop a plan to implement Mr. Trump’s directive, which also applies to the Department of Homeland Security, where the Coast Guard is housed.
The White House official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity under White House ground rules for the briefing, described the memo as a return to policies in place before the Obama administration moved last year to allow transgender people to serve openly in the military without fear of punishment.
The official also said that the military would no longer pay for sex reassignment surgeries unless withholding such funds would harm the health of someone already transitioning.
Mr. Trump’s directive precludes transgender people from joining the military unless Mr. Mattis, in consultation with the secretary of homeland security, “provides a recommendation to the contrary that I find convincing.”
The president surprised much of the Pentagon last month when he tweeted that the American military could not afford the “tremendous medical costs and disruption” of including transgender members.
Advocates for transgender service members vowed to push back, arguing that the president was disguising discrimination as concern for military readiness.
“Imagine, if you would, if the president tried to pull the same prank on Jewish soldiers or gay and lesbian soldiers or Chinese soldiers or African-American soldiers,” said Aaron Belkin, the director of the Palm Center, an organization that successfully lobbied in 2016 to lift the ban on transgender service in the military. “To pull the rug out from under a group of service members who have been defending our country is inconsistent with two centuries of American history.” Mr. Trump won praise from social conservatives.
“President Trump is doing what he promised: putting the military’s focus where it belongs — fighting and winning wars,” Tony Perkins, a Marine veteran and president of the conservative Family Research Council, said in a statement. “Political correctness doesn’t win wars — and the president is ending policies that pretend it does.”
Capt. Jennifer Peace, 32, said Mr. Trump’s announcement of the ban last month prompted her to tell her new brigade commander that she transitioned three years ago — a fact that she said was not relevant to the policy change.
“The only thing that I’ve ever asked for is to be treated like every other soldier,” said Captain Peace, who has been deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan.
She said that the ban has brought anxiety both to her family and to the unit of 70 people she leads at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington State and that the new directive fell short of allaying their concerns.
“The clarity isn’t there yet,” Captain Peace said of the memo. “How is my deployability any different from anyone else’s? I am as capable as anyone in my unit.”
Mr. Trump cast himself as a defender of gay and transgender rights during the 2016 presidential campaign. But more recently, he has sought to address the concerns of conservatives in Congress, who objected to paying for gender transition and hormone therapy for transgender service members.
The directive requires Mr. Mattis to submit a plan by Feb. 21 for implementing the new policy, including how to address transgender individuals already serving in the armed forces.
In deciding whether any transgender service personnel can stay in the military, the directive says, Mr. Mattis must weigh considerations of “military effectiveness,” “lethality” and “budgetary constraints.”
“Until the secretary has made that determination, no action may be taken against such individuals,” adds the directive.
Late Friday night, Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona and chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said that the Pentagon should finish reviewing the impact of transgender recruits before any policy changes were made.
“It would be a step in the wrong direction to force currently serving transgender individuals to leave the military solely on the basis of their gender identity rather than medical and readiness standards that should always be at the heart of Department of Defense personnel policy,” Mr. McCain said in a statement.
An estimated 2,000 to 11,000 active duty and reserve troops are transgender, according to a 2016 study by the RAND Corporation.
Mr. Mattis’s plan, which is to be developed in consultation with the secretary of homeland security, is to take effect by March 23.

August 25, 2017

Military Ban on Transgenders Will Focus on New Enlistments Only

Transgender members of the U.S. military would be subject to removal at Defense Secretary James Mattis' discretion — and the service would bar transgender people from enlisting, under new White House guidelines for the Pentagon. President Trump announced the ban via a tweet last month.
Rough details of the guidelines were confirmed by NPR's Tom Bowman after the White House plan for the Pentagon was reported by The Wall Street Journal.
Gay and lesbian troops have been able to serve openly in the U.S. military since 2011; transgender service members were allowed to do the same in 2016, through an order from then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter. That order deferred setting policy on new enlistments.
The Obama administration had set a deadline of July 1, 2017, for the U.S. military to decide how to handle transgender recruits. But as NPR's Phil Ewing has reported, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis put off that deadline in June.
Mattis hasn't spoken much about the plan, and it's not known how rigorously he would enforce a policy on transgender troops. Tom reports, "The big issue for Mattis is service. If you're in the military, people who know him say, he'll give a lot of leeway for keeping transgender people in — unless there's some huge medical issue that prevents deployability."
On July 26, Trump stated in a series of tweets that the U.S. would not allow transgender people "to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military." 
The president added, "Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail."
As for the scope of the issue, Tom says that the question of transgender service members hasn't been a hot topic in America's military. It doesn't approach the scale, for instance, of the "Don't ask, don't tell" policy that once governed how lesbians and gays should be treated in the service, Tom reported on Morning Edition on Thursday.
"One officer I spoke with yesterday estimated 1,000 transgender folks in the military, of more than 2 million," Tom said. "Advocates say the number could be up to 15,000."
An estimate by the Rand Corp. suggested there could be as many as 6,600 transgender troops on active duty and more than 4,100 in the reserves.
When President Trump spoke about the issue two weeks ago during a briefing at his golf club in New Jersey, here's what he said:
"Look, I have great respect for the community. I think I have great support — or I've had great support from that community. I got a lot of votes. But the transgender — the military is working on it now. They're doing the work. It's been a very difficult situation. And I think I'm doing a lot of people a favor by coming out and just saying it. As you know, it's been a very complicated issue for the military. It's been a very confusing issue for the military. And I think I'm doing the military a great favor."


August 4, 2017

Generals say Trumps' Transgender Ban Will Hurt the Military

Fifty-six retired generals and admirals have a message for the president: His proposal to ban transgender troops would weaken the U.S. military, not make it stronger.

“This proposed ban, if implemented, would cause significant disruptions,” the retired generals wrote in a letter released Tuesday, “and compromise the integrity of transgender troops who would be forced to live a lie, as well as non-transgender peers who would be forced to choose between reporting their comrades or disobeying policy.” 

Trump’s sudden, three-part tweet last Wednesday about the ban caught the Pentagon off-guard and plunged the future of thousands of active-duty transgender service members into uncertainty. The following day, the Department of Defense pushed back against the president’s abrupt proclamation reversing an Obama-era policy.

“We don’t have guidance. We have a tweet,” Pentagon spokesperson Capt. Jeff Davis said. “We don’t execute policy based on a tweet.” The Pentagon told VICE News Tuesday that it still hasn’t received any further information from the Trump administration about the ban.

Hours after Trump’s tweets, Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee explained that Trump believed transgender troops were disruptive and expensive. “This was about military readiness,” Huckabee told reporters. “This is about unit cohesion.”  

“We respectfully disagree and consider these claims to be without merit,” the retired generals and admirals wrote Tuesday. Their letter cites Pentagon-commissioned research by the RAND Corporation and the New England Journal of Medicine that estimates the annual cost of providing healthcare to transgender service members to be about $8.4 million — one-hundredth of one percent of the military’s annual healthcare budget.

“As for ostensible disruptions, transgender troops have been serving honorably and openly for the past year,” the letter continued. The Obama administration last year ended the ban on transgender individuals serving in the military.

Separately, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen compared the ban on transgender troops openly serving to the “flawed ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy” (which the Obama administration also repealed in 2011). Mullen said he “saw firsthand the harm to readiness and morale when we fail to treat all service members according to the same standards.”

Some active-duty generals and officials have also taken a public stand. The commandant of the Coast Guard said Monday that he had no intention of leaving transgender Coast Guard personnel high and dry.

“I will not turn my back,” said Adm. Paul Zukunft during remarks at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “We have made an investment in you, and you have made an investment in the Coast Guard, and I will not break faith.”

The letter, however, is not necessarily representative of the shared position held by former military officials. There are more than 4,000 generals and admirals enjoying retirement; 56 is just a tiny fraction. Still, a Reuters/Ipsos poll found that 58 percent of Americans supported transgender troops in the military, while 27 percent were actively opposed to the idea.

The Obama administration faced heavy criticism from some top-ranking military personnel when it first announced its policy change regarding transgender troops. Some accused President Obama of social experimentation at the expense of military readiness. Even some conservative lawmakers weighed in.

“How about having military focusing on hunting down and killing the bad guys,” Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz said,  “instead of treating it as this crucible for social justice innovations. We’ve lost sight of what their job is.”

By Tess Owen 

July 24, 2017

US Soldier Arrested in Hawaii for Helping ISIS- No, Not a Muslim

Army Sgt. 1st Class Ikaika Erik Kang is accused of pledging allegiance to ISIS on July 8 in Honolulu. Images taken from an FBI video and provided by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Hawaii show him kissing an ISIS flag (left) and holding it to his forehead.
U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Ikaika Erik Kang is facing four charges of attempting to provide material support to ISIS related to accusations of sharing secret information and supplying a drone and other gear to undercover FBI agents he believed were affiliated with the terrorist group.
Kang, 34, first met the agents in Hawaii, where he has been stationed. He faces a maximum of 20 years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine for each of the four counts if convicted, the Justice Department said in a release on Saturday. He is slated to appear in court for an arraignment and plea on Monday.
Kang was arrested on July 8, after he swore an oath of loyalty to ISIS and its leader, according to the affidavit that was filed last week. That FBI document quoted him as saying he wanted to take his rifle and kill "a bunch of people."
At the time, the soldier possessed two firearms that were registered in his name — an AR-15-style weapon and a .40-caliber pistol.
The Justice Department filed a grand jury indictment against Kang in Hawaii's District Court this week. He had been stationed at Schofield Barracks, part of a large military complex that includes Wheeler Army Airfield, about 20 miles northwest of Honolulu. The indictment accuses Kang of sharing military documents, some of which were classified as secret. It also says he provided "a GoPro Karma drone, a chest rig (which is a piece of military-style equipment worn over the shoulders that have chest pouches and is typically used to hold tactical equipment, ammunition, and other military gear), and other military-style clothing and gear."
In the Army, Kang had served tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Classified as an air traffic controller, he is also an expert in hand-to-hand combat. The government says he wanted to use those skills to help ISIS by making a combat training video and offering advice about correcting artillery fire.
The FBI affidavit against Kang described him making a string of threatening statements that went back as far as 2011.
"He was reprimanded on several occasions for threatening to hurt or kill other service members, and for arguing pro-ISIS views while at work and on-post," the affidavit said, adding that his remarks led to his security clearance being revoked in 2012. It was reinstated one year later.
The affidavit also describes Kang being angry at someone outside of the military whom Kang blamed for the loss of his air traffic controller's license.
Kang was arrested on July 8; news of his detention didn't emerge until the government filed court documents last week. Here's how NPR's Barbara Campbell laid out the start of the case against him:"An FBI agent named Jimmy Chen's affidavit filed with a federal court in Honolulu says Kang's superiors became concerned that he had been radicalized and called in the FBI. Agents secretly examined his computer hard drives and found [classified] documents, along with videos and other materials that led them to go undercover to make him think he was in touch with the extremist group."Kang told the agent, who posed as the guest lecturer, that ISIS was 'just fighting people who were committing genocide.' But he said he was wary of meeting with ISIS in person or on the Internet because he was afraid the FBI 'will show up at my door.' "


July 15, 2017

Trump Considers to End 8 Yr Citizenship for Military Which Brings Those the Services Lack

The U.S. Army has an ongoing critical need for medical personnel and native speakers of foreign languages. It fills that need in part with recruits who are not U.S. citizens. In exchange, those recruits get to become Americans at the conclusion of their military service. The future of that program, however, is now unclear. And to talk about it, we are joined now by NPR's Pentagon correspondent Tom Bowman, who's been following this.
Hey, Tom.
MARTIN: First, explain how this program has worked.
BOWMAN: Well, first of all, it's a military program, so you have to use an acronym. It's called MAVNI, Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest.
MARTIN: (Laughter) OK.
BOWMAN: And it's an 8-year-old program. In essence, it was created to bring in those with critical skills. Languages, strategic languages - there are some three dozen languages here. And also medical skills, too - I'm told about two thirds of the Army Reserve dentists are in this program. Now after eight years, those in the program, if they serve honorably, they get U.S. citizenship. And that's the draw for these folks who have green cards or are on visas.
And about 4,000 to 5,000 have already been through the program, are in uniform and serving. And I'm told around 4,000 or more are awaiting basic training. They're just kind of in limbo now.
BOWMAN: By the way, the program has been frozen. So let's say if I'm from Guatemala, I go to a recruiting station...
BOWMAN: ...They're basically going to say, you know, sorry, we've frozen this program.
MARTIN: Frozen the program.
MARTIN: All right. So on its face, that sounds like a great deal. Right? The U.S. Army gets these people who have these valuable skill sets. These people get to become U.S. citizens, which is what they want. What are the problems?
BOWMAN: Well, what's changed now from the Obama administration to the Trump administration is some in the Pentagon now - in the intelligence community say, listen, the vetting of these recruits is just not strong enough. And there have been, I'm told, possible security issues - some investigations of some of these recruits with possible ties to foreign intelligence agencies. So there's talk of...
MARTIN: Spies? They think they're spies?
BOWMAN: Possible spies, right. So I'm told there's talk of improving the vetting, but that's time consuming and expensive. And of course, the thousands of recruits could tie up those doing security clearances. I'm also told there are problems with poor management of the program. Some of these recruits with language skills aren't being used as linguists. So while there are problems, you know, those in the Army say, listen, this is vital.
BOWMAN: We really need this. This is a good thing to do.
MARTIN: Are there specific countries that are more worrisome than others, specific recruits from places who are more worrisome?
BOWMAN: Well, I'm not sure about that. But what we do know is that most of the folks in this program are from China or Korea. But there are about three dozen other languages here, everything from Arabic to Thai to Swahili and Urdu. And...
MARTIN: So these are not recruits coming from Central America, South America?
BOWMAN: No, they're from all over the world. And here's the thing that the Army will say in support of this program. They're saying, these recruits from other countries have educational levels that exceed the Army average. And also, they have higher re-enlistment rates compared to recruits who are already citizens. So the Army's really hot on this program.
MARTIN: So then where is this going? I mean, if there are supporters of the program in the Army at the same time they're calling for this thing to be cut, what's the endgame?
BOWMAN: Well, the Army is pushing back. They want to retain as many of these folks as possible. They say the program's important. But there's a concern, again, with vetting of these folks. Congress is also weighing in now as the Pentagon tries to decide the way ahead.
Congressman Steve Russell, a Republican from Oklahoma, says there are some major issues when it comes to vetting these immigrant recruits. And then you have Senator Mark Warner of Virginia who says, listen, the U.S. should honor the contracts signed by these recruits, and these language and medical skills are necessary. He doesn't want to end this program.
And I'm told that this has reached Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. He's struggling with this, too. But we expect some sort of decision in the next several weeks. And again, they would like to keep some of these folks in the program, as many as possible.
MARTIN: In the meantime, as you note, there are people who already made this deal, they believed, with the U.S. government - with the U.S. military. And now their status is unclear.
BOWMAN: Absolutely. And some could be deported, by the way, if they get thrown out of this program and the visas expire. Some who raised their hand and want to serve the United States military could be deported.
MARTIN: NPR's Pentagon correspondent Tom Bowman - thanks so much, Tom.
BOWMAN: You're welcome Rachel.

March 18, 2017

Bracing for A Scorched Land as Trump Takes the Money Away from the Arts for More Nukes

National Public Radio could lose federal funding under proposed Trump budget © AFP Share on Twitter (opens new window) Share on Facebook (opens new window) Share on LinkedIn (opens new window) 20 Save MARCH 16, 2017 by: Shannon Bond in New York President Donald Trump’s proposal to eliminate federal funding for public media and the arts has public broadcasters, local radio and television stations, and arts groups bracing to fight for their lives.

 Sample the FT’s top stories for a week You select the topic, we deliver the news. Select topic Enter email addressInvalid email Sign up By signing up you confirm that you have read and agree to the terms and conditions, cookie policy and privacy policy. The prospective cuts would bring on “the collapse of the public media system itself”, warned Patricia Harrison, president of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which funnels federal dollars to nearly 1,500 TV and radio stations across the country as well as NPR and PBS, the non-profit broadcasters. 

 Salman Rushdie, Jasper Johns and Rosanne Cash added their names to a PEN America petition to protect funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, which support artists, writers, musicians, academics, museums, libraries and non-profit organisations. “Eliminating these vital agencies would lessen America’s stature as a haven for free thinkers and a global leader in humanity’s shared quest for knowledge,” the petition states. Federal support for media and culture has long been a target of conservatives, and these organizations have faced defunding threats before. 

Ronald Reagan intended to eliminate the NEA in 1981 but ultimately scrapped his plan. Newt Gingrich, then Speaker of the House, tried to abolish both the NEA and NEH in the mid-1990s but settled for a compromise with Bill Clinton for steep cuts to their budgets. Related article Trump’s budget slashes EPA and state department spending The scale of what Mr Trump aims to do, as part of a sweeping re-evaluation of spending across the federal government, is different, said Suzanne Nossel, executive director of PEN America, the writers association. “In the past it’s been caught up in the culture wars. It was a debate about what was art and what art deserved taxpayer dollars,” she said.  

“This is much more of a scorched earth strategy . . . So many functions of the state are in jeopardy now and arts and humanities are one of them,” she added. PEN and other advocates argue that the US already spends very little on arts and culture compared to other countries. In 2016, the NEA and the NEH each received $148m and the CPB received $445m from the government — adding up to less than one-tenth of one per cent of the annual federal budget. In the UK, the BBC is funded by £3.7bn in annual television licensing fees. Countries such as China, Russia and Qatar have recently expanded state-backed media outlets China Central Television, RT and Al Jazeera in a bid to extend their influence through soft power.

 As Mr Trump’s budget plans were unveiled on Thursday, US public media and arts organisations were ready with data and lobbying plans to push back. “The cost of public broadcasting is small, only $1.35 per citizen per year, and the benefits are tangible: increasing school readiness for kids ages 2-8, support for teachers and homeschoolers, life-long learning, public safety communications and civil discourse,” chided Paula Kerger, president of PBS, the public TV broadcaster. 

 PEN America is opening its first office in Washington to support its lobbying efforts, which will focus on working with local organisations around the country to urge their representatives to protect their federal funding. Advocates argue that public support is most critical for the community theatres, local library programmes and rural broadcasters that the NEA, NEH and CPB support. “The idea in the past that these were elite institutions in service of other elite institutions is not the case this time around,” Ms Nossel said. Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017

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February 1, 2017

Trumps Threatens Mexico’s Peña with Military

 Trump threatens Pena with Military invasion

President Donald Trump threatened in a phone call with his Mexican counterpart to send U.S. troops to stop “bad hombres down there" unless the Mexican military does more to control them itself, according to an excerpt of a transcript of the conversation obtained by The Associated Press.

The excerpt of the call did not make clear who exactly Trump considered "bad hombres," — drug cartels, immigrants, or both — or the tone and context of the remark, made in a Friday morning phone call between the leaders. It also did not contain Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto’s response.

Still, the excerpt offers a rare and striking look at how the new president is conducting diplomacy behind closed doors. Trump’s remark suggest he is using the same tough and blunt talk with world leaders that he used to rally crowds on the campaign trail.

A White House spokesman did not respond to requests for comment.
The phone call between the leaders was intended to patch things up between the new president and his ally. The two have had a series of public spats over Trump’s determination to have Mexico pay for the planned border wall, something Mexico steadfastly refuses to agree to.

"You have a bunch of bad hombres down there," Trump told Pena Nieto, according to the excerpt seen by the AP. "You aren't doing enough to stop them. I think your military is scared. Our military isn’t, so I just might send them down to take care of it.”

A person with access to the official transcript of the phone call provided an excerpt to The Associated Press. The person gave it on condition of anonymity because the administration did not make the details of the call public.

A Mexican reporter's similar account of Trump's comments was published on a Mexican website Tuesday. The reports described Trump as humiliating Pena Nieto in a confrontation conversation.
Mexico’s foreign relations department denied that account, saying it "is based on absolute falsehoods."

"The assertions that you make about said conversation do not correspond to the reality of it," the statement said. "The tone was constructive and it was agreed by the presidents to continue working and that the teams will continue to meet frequently to construct an agreement that is positive for Mexico and for the United States."

Trump has used the phrase "bad hombres" before. In an October presidential debate, he vowed to get rid the U.S. of "drug lords" and "bad people."
"We have some bad hombres here, and we're going to get them out," he said. The phrase ricocheted on social media with Trump opponents saying he was denigrating immigrants.

Trump’s comment was in line with the new administration's bullish stance on foreign policy matters in general, and the president's willingness to break long-standing norms around the globe.

Before his inauguration, Trump spoke to the president of Taiwan, breaking long-standing U.S. policy and irritating China. His temporary ban on refugees and travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries, aimed at reviewing screening procedures to lessen the threat of extremist attacks, has caused consternation around the world.

But nothing has created the level of bickering as the border wall, a centerpiece of his campaign. Mexico has consistently said it would not pay for the wall and opposes it. Before the phone call, Pena Nieto canceled a planned visit to the United States.

The fresh fight with Mexico last week arose over trade as the White House proposed a 20 percent tax on imports from the key U.S. ally to finance the wall after Pena Nieto abruptly scrapped his Jan. 31 trip to Washington.

The U.S. and Mexico conduct some $1.6 billion a day in cross-border trade, and cooperate on everything from migration to anti-drug enforcement to major environmental issues.
Trump tasked his son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner — a real estate executive with no foreign policy experience — with managing the ongoing dispute, according to an administration official with knowledge of the call.

At a press conference with British Prime Minister Theresa May last week, Trump described his call with Pena Nieto as “friendly."

In a statement, the White House said the two leaders acknowledged their “clear and very public differences” and agreed to work through the immigration disagreement as part of broader discussions on the relationship between their countries.

__Associated Press writer Mark Stevenson in Mexico City contributed to this report

November 5, 2016

Active and Retired US Military Backing Clinton in Greater Numbers

Active and retired members of the military have been showing far more support for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton than for her Republican rival, at least as measured by the checks they’ve written to her campaign.
Individuals who listed their employers as the U.S. Department of Defense or major branches of the military, or who say they’re retired from one of those, have contributed a total of $972,709 to both nominees so far this year. Clinton has claimed $771,471 of the contributions, or nearly 80 percent.
All major branches of the armed forces – including the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard – have favored Clinton to a much greater degree than GOP nominee Donald Trump. Members of the Army have contributed more than other branches of the service this cycle, giving a total of $191,712 to the two presidential hopefuls, 72 percent of which went to Clinton.
Meanwhile, it’s the Air Force that has given the largest portion of its contributions to Trump, though it still favors Clinton by a lot. Trump received 39 percent of the $110,711 given to the two candidates by people connected to the Air Force.
(Our analysis includes donors giving more than $200; candidates don’t have to provide identifying information about smaller donors to the public.)
If this seems surprising, consider this: Up until the primaries were over, the military favorite was Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.), who received $374,600. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) came in a close third after Clinton.
“People assume the military leans Republican, but I think that has fundamentally changed in the 21st century,” retired Rear Adm. Jamie Barnett said.
Barnett, who has contributed $600 to Clinton campaign so far this cycle, also said that since a single person in the Oval Office can commit the country to war, those in uniform are certainly willing to put some money on the line to help elect a leader they believe has the right skill set. “The last thing we want to see is our men and women in uniform going into a war we don’t need” due to ego, lack of judgment or some other personal flaw, Barnett added.
Retired members of the military seem particularly aghast at the thought of a Trump presidency, based on their contributions this cycle. Of the $135,392 that came from former service members so far, only 2 percent has gone to the brash businessman’s campaign.
Of course, history has shown that campaign contributions don’t necessarily reflect the results at the polls. Despite Obama’s victory in contributions from the military, 2012 Gallup data showed that veterans preferred Romney by 24 points over Obama.
Ramapo College Professor Jeremy Teigen, who studies military and politics, warned that while Clinton — and before her Obama — may be more popular with members of the military who donate to candidates, “that does not mirror the partisan voting tendencies of the military overall. We know, for instance, that the officer ranks trend substantially toward the GOP while the enlisted ranks trend less so but still toward Republicans.”
That Republican leaning has become more pronounced since the draft ended in the 1970s, Teigen said. “Now that the military is entirely self-selected, mostly male, and somewhat more likely to come from conservative social contexts, the men in the armed forces vote for Republican candidates and identify with the Republican Party more than not,” he said. (Teigen noted that less is known about the political leanings of women in the military.)
The New York Times reported on Thursday that veterans are turning to Trump, feeling abandoned by establishment politicians. Veterans featured in the story have called the nominee, “genuine,” and “a breath of fresh air.”
But University of Maryland Professor Emeritus David Segal said he’s seen more veterans against Trump than for him.
“Honestly, there’s not much enthusiasm for Clinton either, but veterans around me seem to have far less distaste for [Clinton] than Trump,” Segal said. “Trump does not value veterans, and in fact, insults families of veterans who have died in combat,” a reference to Trump’s tirades against the Khan family, who spoke at the Democratic National Convention in July.
Segal, who directs the Center for Research on Military Organization, said there are also concerns among military members that Trump is likely to get the U.S. into another war. He said Clinton, though somewhat hawkish herself, has a good understanding of working diplomacy, having served as secretary of state,
Earlier this year, Trump showed strong support for the use of nuclear weapons during a television interview, saying, “Somebody hits us within ISIS, you wouldn’t fight back with a nuke?” He continued, “Then why are we making them? Why do we make them?”
Early in the 2012 cycle, Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, too, suffered from lack of support from military donors, raising only $45,738 by March, compared to the $333,134 for GOP primary rival Ron Paul and $184,505 for President Barack Obama. By the end of the cycle, though, Romney had managed to raise $753,691 from these donors, much closer to Obama’s $947,338.
As different as the two candidates may seem, Trump and Clinton are actually fairly similar in the sense that both back strong defense spending. The GOP nominee has been vocal about spending extra dollars on the military, and according to Center for Strategic and International Studies’ estimates, Trump’s proposals would cost $640 billion per year, about $80 billion over President Obama administration’s projection.
“Trump talks about increasing the defense budget, but he’s not paying his taxes,” Segal said. He said it’s difficult for the Republican to win respect from military members when he’s not paying his fair share of the cost of what he’s proposing to spend.
The fate of the Budget Control Act of 2011, which severely restricts spending for various priorities including defense, will be key in determining whether Trump can actually implement his expensive proposals, but he hasn’t made his position clear on the budget cap through 2021 yet. Clinton however, has implied support for repealing the budget restraint in her vague policy statement that supports “ending the sequester for both defense and non-defense spending in a balanced way.”

Soo Rin KimSoo Rin covered environmental issues for the Investigative Reporting Workshop during the summer of 2016 before joining CRP as a fall reporting intern. She received her B.A. in May 2016 from the Missouri School of Journalism, where she studied investigative and data journalism. While at Missouri, she also covered community environmental and housing issues for local publications. Soo Rin, who is originally from South Korea, has also written about media law issues while interning at The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

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August 3, 2016

Trump’s Phony Deferments to Keep Him from Serving the Country

Donald J. Trump, center looking fit and healthy as a high school senior in 1964 
at the New York Military Academy.


Mr. Trump addressed the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Charlotte, N.C., last week.CreditTodd Heisler/The New York Times 

He received subsequent student deferments during his sophomore, junior and senior years.
At Fordham, Mr. Trump commuted from his parents’ home in Queens and played squash, football and tennis. He remembered Fordham for its “good sports.”
At Wharton, Mr. Trump began preparing in earnest for his career in real estate by buying and selling fixer-upper townhouses in Pennsylvania and driving home to New York on weekends to work for his father.
During the Wharton years, he said, he had less time for sports but stayed physically active, playing pickup golf at public courses near campus.
At Penn and other universities, Vietnam dominated discussions. Mr. Trump said Wharton, with its business focus, had been somewhat different. Although he “hated the concept of the war,” he said, he did not speak out against it.
“I was never a fan of the Vietnam War,” he said. “But I was never at the protest level, either, because I had other things to do.”
As Mr. Trump’s graduation neared, the fighting in Vietnam was intensifying. The Tet offensive in January 1968 had left thousands of American troops dead or wounded, with battles continuing into the spring.
On the day of Mr. Trump’s graduation, 40 Americans were killed in Vietnam. The Pentagon was preparing to call up more troops.
With his schooling behind him, there would have been little to prevent someone in Mr. Trump’s situation from being drafted, if not for the diagnosis of his bone spurs.
“If you didn’t have a basis to be exempt or postponed, you would have been ordered for induction,” said Mr. Flahavan of the Selective Service. Many men of Mr. Trump’s age were looking for ways to avoid the war, said Charles Freehof, a draft counselor at Brooklyn College at the time, noting that getting a letter from a physician was a particularly effective option.
“We had very little trouble with people coming back saying, ‘They wouldn’t accept my doctor’s note,’” Mr. Freehof said.
Mr. Trump had a 1-Y classification, which was considered a temporary exemption. But in practice, only a national emergency or an official declaration of war, which the United States avoided during the fighting in Vietnam, would have resulted in his being considered for service.
Neither occurred, and Mr. Trump remained 1-Y until 1972, when his status changed to 4-F, permanently disqualifying him.
“For all practical purposes, once you got the 1-Y, you were free and clear of vulnerability for the draft, even in the case of the lottery,” Mr. Flahavan said.
Still, Mr. Trump, in the interviews, said he believed he could have been subject to another physical exam to check on his bone spurs, had his draft number been called. “I would have had to go eventually because that was a minor medical — it was called ‘minor medical,’” he said.
But the publicly available draft records of Mr. Trump include the letters “DISQ” next to his exam date, with no notation indicating that he would be re-examined.
Since Mr. Khan publicly addressed him in the Democratic convention speech last week, Mr. Trump has been pressed about his sacrifice, including by George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday.
“I think I’ve made a lot of sacrifices,” Mr. Trump said to Mr. Stephanopoulos. “I work very, very hard. I’ve created thousands and thousands of jobs, tens of thousands of jobs, built great structures. I’ve had tremendous success. I think I’ve done a lot.”

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