First Black Woman, First Latina Win Gubernatorial Nods in Georgia, Texas

Photo by Kerri Battles

(From UPI)

Four states — Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky and Texas — held primary voting Tuesday, further setting the stage for midterm elections this fall, as well as making history.

In Georgia, Stacey Abrams became the first black woman to win the nomination of a major party for governor. In Texas, Lupe Valdez became the first Latina to have that opportunity.

Abrams, a former state legislator in Georgia, easily won the Democratic primary with more than 76 percent of the vote.

This fall, Abrams’ Republican opponent will be either Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle or Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp. Cage won 40 percent and Kemp got 25.6 percent Tuesday, so they will compete in a July runoff to decide the GOP nomination.

In Texas, Valdez, a former Dallas County Sheriff, won the Democratic Party nomination with 53 percent of the vote. She beat Andrew White, the son of former Texas Gov. Mark White, who held the office between 1983 and 1987.

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Amphibious Vehicles Are the Military’s Latest Tax Dollar Sinkhole

One of the worst symptoms of the paralysis in Washington and at the Pentagon has been the inability to correctly match weapon systems with current enemy threat capabilities. Hence the United States Marine Corps is set to announce the final winner between defense contractors BAE Systems and SAIC to build and field their new Amphibious Combat Vehicle, or ACV.

Or should we say the old Amphibious Combat Vehicle? Because after 46 years and tens of billions of dollars, the Marines are right back where they started with this technology, which leaves no one—except maybe the contractors feeding off this farcical routine—feeling very satisfied.

So how did we get here?

The naval campaigns in the Pacific theater of World War II were successful due to the capability of the Marine Corps to conduct amphibious assaults against Japanese-held islands. Following the war this capability was written into law via the National Security Act of 1947, which stipulated that the Marine Corps was responsible for the seizure of advanced naval bases.

In order to move from Navy ships to enemy-held territory, the Marines must be transported across a distance of water and rely on what is generally called a connector. Both the Navy and Marine Corps operate various connectors from ship to shore, while the job of the Marines is to fight their way into enemy territory. Marine connectors only carry one weapon: Marines. Step one is to take the beach.

During World War II, the Navy ships could move to within a few miles of the Japanese-held islands before loading Marines into connectors. But with the advent of ballistic missile technology during the Cold War, a new weapon made its debut: the anti-ship missile.

The idea is simple. If Navy ships are within range of an anti-ship missile, they risk being severely damaged or even sunk. The solution is standoff. The Navy ships must stay outside the effective range of the missiles or use defensive measures to shoot the missiles down. This forces the ships further out to sea and increases the distance the connectors must travel over the open ocean to transport the Marines.

The connector vehicle the Marines adopted in 1972 was the Amphibious Assault Vehicle or AAV. AAVs are stored in hollow lower sections of naval ships known as well decks, which can be flooded so the AAV can exit the aft end of the ship into the ocean. The vehicle moves through the water using two traditional water propellers and also has tracks similar to a tank in order to drive on land. The AAV can carry around 20 Marines, swim through the water at seven knots (nautical miles per hour; seven knots is eight mph for comparison), and has an advertised water range of approximately 20 nautical miles, which in reality is closer to five nautical miles.

But anti-ship missile technology advanced in the 1980s, and proved deadly in the 1982 Falklands War between Great Britain and Argentina as the British lost two ships* to French-built Exocet missiles. So the Marine Corps and Navy rewrote their doctrine to move their ships over the horizon to approximately 12 nautical miles.

This strategy necessitated a new connector vehicle. Marine amphibious doctrine requires a “swift introduction of sufficient combat power ashore.” If the AAV can only swim at seven knots and the ships are 12 nautical miles away, you are looking at close to a two-hour ride to the beach. Time equals distance divided by speed. For the Marines stacked like sardines in full combat gear in the sweltering troop compartment of the AAV, this bumpy two hours becomes a rather nauseating and incapacitating experience.

So work began in earnest on the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle, or EFV, in the 1980s. It was designed with a powerful jet propulsion system that allowed it to plane above the water like a speedboat and achieve 25 knots, three times as fast as the AAV with a water range of approximately 65 nautical miles. Over the course of 20 years, more than $3 billion was invested in the program. Operational EFVs were due to be in service by 2015, completely replacing the aging AAVs.

But potential adversaries didn’t stagnate. They developed a defensive Anti-Access/Area Denial (A2/AD) strategy. Waters around potential landing sites would be mined, and the range, speed, and lethality of anti-ship missiles enhanced significantly.

The increasing complexity of the operating environment did not go unnoticed. During the Obama administration’s first term, Undersecretary of the Navy Robert O. Work envisioned an either/or type of scenario for the future of amphibious conflict. Either Marines would land essentially unopposed as in Grenada in 1983 or the A2/AD posture of our enemies would be so preventative as to require a massive bombardment using long-range stand-off weapons like Tomahawk missiles and bombers to clear out anti-ship missiles and other defenses. Neither situation necessitated the use of a high-speed, heavily armored connector like the EFV.

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates canceled the EFV program in 2011. Immediately afterwards, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Amos, decided to pursue the next iteration of troop connector named the Amphibious Combat Vehicle, or ACV. High speed on water remained a top priority as late as 2013.

After some research proposals were explored, General Amos decided in January 2014 that the ACV would be developed in a phased approach with a decreased need for speed on water. The ACV 1.1 was to be an off-the-shelf, armored, wheeled vehicle that met requirements for armor protection on land but would rely on connectors like the Navy’s Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC, aka Hovercraft) to move it swiftly from over the horizon at 40 knots to a few miles from its objectives, where it would then swim the last few miles. The LCAC has a large deck area that can accommodate several ACVs. Traditionally the LCAC would bring in heavy equipment like tanks or trucks after Marines secured a beach since the LCAC lacks armor protection.

The phased acquisitions approach was a tacit admission that you can’t have your cake and eat it too. The Marine Corps asked industry for a vehicle that offered protection first and then speed on the water at some point in the future.

The ACV 1.1 would not be able to self-deploy and swim from a ship like the AAV or EFV. The Marine Corps would buy a smaller number of the ACV 1.1, upgrade older AAVs and keep them in service until 2030, and research and develop ACV 1.2, a high-speed, fully amphibious vehicle.

But this solution appears to have been smoke and mirrors. In March 2015, Marine Commandant Joseph Dunford testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee concerning the program. He said industry might merge the ACV 1.1 and ACV 1.2 requirements together.

BAE Systems and SAIC were awarded $100 million each in December of 2015 to develop 16 test vehicles for ACV 1.1. And lo and behold, abracadabra, both company’s test vehicles could self-deploy and swim from a ship at, wait for it, seven knots—as fast as, you guessed it, the 1972 version.

Since the introduction of the AAV, almost 50 years have passed and many billions have been spent in research and development. And now the taxpayer will be footing the bill for a connector that holds fewer Marines than in 1972 (13 versus 20), swims at the same speed, and is more expensive.

The Marine Corps and industry are touting the fact that the ACV is under cost and ahead of schedule. The program is projected to cost $1.2 billion with 204 vehicles operational by 2020.

In October 2017, deputy Marine commandant Lieutenant General Beaudreault stated that “we have to find a solution to getting Marines to shore, from over the horizon, at something greater than seven knots. We’ve got to have high-speed connectors.”

It appears the deputy commandant didn’t get the memo. As the F-35 and USS Gerald Ford programs have shown, whenever the system wins, the warfighter and taxpayer lose.

*Story has been changed to reflect the British loss of one destroyer and one container ship during the Falklands War in 1982.

Jeff Groom is a former Marine officer. He is the author of American Cobra Pilot: A Marine Remembers a Dog and Pony Show (2018).

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Betsy DeVos Stirs Uproar by Saying Schools Can Call ICE on Undocumented Kids

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos provoked an outcry Tuesday when she said schools can choose to call Immigration and Customs Enforcement on potentially undocumented students.

“I think that’s a school decision, it’s a local community decision,” DeVos told the House Education and the Workforce Committee. “I refer to the fact that we have laws and we also are compassionate. I urge this body to do its job and address and clarify where there is confusion around this.”

DeVos was responding to a question from Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.) about whether she thinks school leaders should call ICE on students or their parents.

Advocacy groups immediately protested her answer, pointing out that under the Supreme Court case Plyler v. Doe, all children ― undocumented or not ― are entitled to a free public education. {snip}

Elizabeth Hill, press secretary for the U.S. Department of Education, provided HuffPost with a clarification of DeVos’ remarks on Wednesday. “Her position is that schools must comply with Plyler and all other applicable and relevant law,” said Hill.

{snip}

MALDEF, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, issued a statement saying that DeVos should resign for “abject incompetence” if she does not “issue an immediate clarification that emphasizes the holding in Plyler.” The organization also said it “stands ready to hold accountable through legal challenge anyone in public education who attempts to report a student to ICE.”

{snip}

The American Civil Liberties Union also blasted DeVos’ comments at the hearing.

“Let’s be clear: Any school that reports a child to ICE would violate the Constitution. The Supreme Court has made clear that every child in America has a right to a basic education, regardless of immigration status{snip} ,” said Lorella Praeli, director of immigration policy and campaigns for the ACLU, in a statement,

The post Betsy DeVos Stirs Uproar by Saying Schools Can Call ICE on Undocumented Kids appeared first on American Renaissance.

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Prof Hawking said in December: “The NHS must be protected from those who want to privatize it.”

Stephen Hawking backed legal action against Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s plans for privatising the NHS – and now the legal battle is finally in court. Campaigners have told a High Court judge that “radical and significant” plans for the NHS could allow private firms to make decisions about healthcare.

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What’s going on in Baltimore’s juvenile system? Teen cop-killer suspect arrested 4 times in 6 months

Dawnta Anthony Harris, the 16-year-old suspect in a Baltimore County police officer’s death, had reportedly been arrested four times in the last six months leading up to the officer’s death.

His fifth and latest arrest was for allegedly killing Officer Amy Caprio, 29, who was a four-year veteran of the police force.

How did the officer die?

Caprio died after she was reportedly run over by a vehicle driven by Harris during an incident Monday.

The officer was purportedly responding to a suspicious vehicle in the area and reportedly stumbled upon a burglary in process.

Despite Caprio ordering the car’s occupants to empty out of the vehicle — a black Jeep — eyewitnesses said that the driver, later identified as Harris, threw the car into gear and ran Caprio over before fleeing the scene.

Police are charging Harris and three other suspects — also reportedly teens — as adults.

What is Harris’s background?

According to WJZ-TV, police arrested Harris in December, January, February, and March.

WJZ also reported that Harris was “detained as recently as April 17.”

The outlet noted that Harris was “essentially” put on house arrest, but then “went missing” and police were unable to locate him in the time leading up to Caprio’s murder.

According to WJZ, who obtained the relevant court documents, Harris was placed on community detention on May 10. He was ordered to wear a monitored bracelet and was only permitted to leave his home to attend school.

Authorities attempted to locate Harris at school on May 14, but the “rapid response team” was unable to do so.

The team found Harris at home on May 15.

On May 16, his bracelet notified authorities that he had left his home again, and when officers were dispatched, they were unable to locate him once again.

Baltimore’s Department of Juvenile Services attempted to have Harris hauled into court for noncompliance.

He didn’t show up to the Friday hearing, but his mother did. The court did not issue a bench warrant, but instead postponed the matter until Tuesday.

Officer Caprio was killed Monday.

Anything else?

If you think that Harris’s evasion of the law is simply unacceptable, you aren’t the only one. Baltimore County Police Chief Terrance Sheridan feels the same way.

“Did the system not work? It sounds like it could’ve worked better in this particular case,” Sheridan said Tuesday, according to WJZ.

“Perhaps this 16-year-old should not have been out,” Sheridan added. “Now we are treating him as an adult because of the gravity of the offense committed.”

According to WJZ, the Department of Juvenile Services isn’t happy with Marilyn Mosby, the Baltimore state’s attorney, and the court system.

Mosby, according to WJZ, said that the Department of Juvenile Services bears the burden, and noted that the system is “broken down.”

“If the court imposes community detention with electronic monitoring over our objection, the knowledge, the issuance, the responsibility of monitoring home detention is then on the Department of Juvenile Services,” Mosby said during a Wednesday news conference.

“This incident sheds light on an inherently broken juvenile justice system,” she added, “which provides a recurring door for troubled youth to graduate to more severe crimes without the opportunity for appropriate rehabilitation and care.”

The Department of Juvenile Services fired back with a statement of their own, according to the outlet.

We are surprised by the defensiveness in Ms. Mosby’s recent comments. Secretary Abed has made no accusations about the Office of the State’s Attorney for Baltimore City doing or not doing anything in the Harris matter. We have always maintained and continue to maintain that the State’s Attorney‘s Office serves an important role in the juvenile justice system.

The department takes juvenile confidentiality very seriously. However, details about Mr. Harris’ juvenile matters have already been publicly released and confidentiality is no longer applicable.

If the juvenile justice system is going to improve, all of the partners must work together.

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Netanyahu thanks U.S. for new Iran policy outlined by Pompeo

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu applauded US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s speech on Monday outlining the 12 steps Iran must take for sanctions relief, saying this is “the right policy.” The prime minister, speaking at a Foreign Ministry …

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Ex-prisoners could help fulfil jobs demand after Brexit’

David Gauke unveiled plans that could see more inmates let out temporarily to go to work to improve their job prospects after release Ex-offenders could help bolster the UK’s workforce after Brexit, the Justice Secretary has suggested, as he called for a “culture change” in how employers perceive former prisoners. David Gauke unveiled plans that could see more inmates let out temporarily to go to work to improve their job prospects after release.

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NYT: Say, Iran may be building ICBMs after all

Surprise! The Iranians may have been cooking up long-range ballistic missiles all during the time that both Tehran and the Obama administration downplayed those possibilities. As far back as 2011 or earlier, Iran has operated a secret missile-development site near Shahrud, the New York Times reported. For those keeping score, that would be four years before the US agreed to a deal that did nothing to restrain such activities:

When an explosion nearly razed Iran’s long-range missile research facility in 2011 — and killed the military scientist who ran it — many Western intelligence analysts viewed it as devastating to Tehran’s technological ambitions.

Since then, there has been little indication of Iranian work on a missile that could reach significantly beyond the Middle East, and Iranian leaders have said they do not intend to build one.

That might explain why the Obama administration didn’t link missile development to the “bar” on Iran’s nuclear-weapons programs. That’s pretty weak sauce, though, considering how many test launches Iran made both before and after the JCPOA. They clearly were working toward some missile development, and they already had medium-range missile systems operational. Remember, Iranian leaders also insisted for two decades that they had no intention of building a nuclear weapon either, demonstrating the credibility of the regime when it comes to its stated military goals.

If that truly was the basis of ignoring missile development in the JCPOA, it’s not a very comforting thought. The truth behind the secret facility turned out to be fairly easy to uncover … once anyone put some effort into it:

So, this spring, when a team of California-based weapons researchers reviewed new Iranian state TV programs glorifying the military scientist, they expected a history lesson with, at most, new details on a long-dormant program.

Instead, they stumbled on a series of clues that led them to a startling conclusion: Shortly before his death, the scientist, Gen. Hassan Tehrani Moghaddam, oversaw the development of a secret, second facility in the remote Iranian desert that, they say, is operating to this day.

This raises serious questions, such as: Did the Obama administration know about this facility when it agreed to the JCPOA? If not, how did it get missed? Does this facility have other purposes, such as, oh … nuclear-weapons development? The outsiders who managed to connect dots to the Shahrud facility can’t answer all the questions from satellite photos alone:

It is possible that the facility is developing only medium-range missiles, which Iran already possesses, or perhaps an unusually sophisticated space program.

But an analysis of structures and ground markings at the facility strongly suggests, though does not prove, that it is developing the technology for long-range missiles, the researchers say.

For its part, Tehran refuses to discuss any kind of limitation on missile development — at least for now:

Defense Minister Amir Hatami said on Wednesday that Iran would never compromise on its missile power, reiterating Tehran’s long held position that Iran’s missile power is of defensive nature, Fars reported.

Responding to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s remarks on Iran’s missile power, Hatami said, “If the Islamic Republic wanted to pay attention to such delusional remarks over the past 40 years, it wouldn’t have gained such power, glory and dignity.”

ICBMs are not defensive weapons. They are by nature offensive weapons, used as a deterrent in some contexts, but the deterrent value lies in their offensive nature. They are designed to strike long distances away from borders and frontiers as a means of extending offensive capabilities. Paired with a nuclear-weapons program, they become an even greater offensive threat, one that would destabilize the entire region.

Defenders of the JCPOA will argue that the deal eliminated the threat of that pairing, but that’s nonsense. Even if Iran abided by the terms of the JCPOA, it would only have had to wait ten years to produce a nuclear weapon. Having an ICBM platform available for a nuclear warhead to fit it would fit perfectly into a strategy of dominating the region by nuclear blackmail, and would force others in the region to develop or acquire their own systems to counter it.

This is just another reminder that we cut a deal with a terrorist state that didn’t do anything to restrict its terrorist or its ability to develop platforms for later use against us. If anything, the JCPOA provided financial support for these efforts and others in the region, fueling conflict and pushing Iranian hegemony all the way to the Mediterranean, all without getting anything in return other than a piece of paper. We didn’t even get American detainees out of Iran. It’s a complete debacle, only becoming even more apparent with the passage of time.

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