"A military judge found a former U.S. Naval Academy football player not guilty of a sexual assault charge Thursday at the conclusion of a three-day trial,” reports the AP’s Jessica Gresko. http://abcn.ws/NxNoh6
Victims’ advocates said the verdicts showed the military justice system is broken and called for Congress to pass Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s Military Justice Improvement Act, which failed to win enough support to advance in the Senate earlier this month.”
"Brig. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sinclair, whose court-martial made him the public face of the military’s struggle to prevent and police sexual misconduct in the ranks, dodged a jail sentence," yesterday, reports The Washington Post’s Craig Whitlock.
Instead, a military judge reprimanded him and fined him $20,000. Sinclair admitted to having an extramarital affair with a junior officer, but denied assaulting or threatening her. He also pled guilty to having improper relationships with two other women. http://wapo.st/1gKIitf
"The Pentagon has put the brakes on an environmental assessment of the effects of eliminating potentially dozens of intercontinental ballistic missile silos as defense officials sort out two conflicting provisions in the fiscal 2014 omnibus spending bill.
"Last month, Pentagon officials asked the Air Force to proceed with the study, which could be the firststep toward decommissioning silos at sites in Montana, North Dakota and Wyoming. But in an interview Thursday, a defense official said the department has put that assessment on hold as officials review whether they can proceed with the study.” http://goo.gl/0zRPws
"In February, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) asked the services to give Congress lists of items they’d buy if given more money. Of course, this is on top of the extra $26 billion the Pentagon is already requesting for fiscal 2015.
Yesterday, Kirby said what Hagel “has asked is that the [military] services coordinate the unfunded lists with him, not for chop or editing, just so he has a sense of what they’re going to submit.”
He said he did not know when they would be submitted to Congress.”
Call it the Global War on Terror account or the Overseas Contingency Operations fund, it doesn’t matter. The separate bill for war funding has always been an attractive place for the Pentagon and Congress to fence off dollars for their priorities.
But this year’s $79 billion “placeholder” request for these funds “has triggered criticism, disapproval and plenty of attention from industry, Congress and analysts alike,” report POLITICO’s Austin Wright and Philip Ewing. “A top House appropriator has warned the unusual request could delay passing the appropriations. Analysts have decried the military’s dependence on the dollars. And contractors continue to lobby for a piece of the pie.” http://politico.pro/1ijInUM
The new sanctions target 20 individuals and a Russian bank. Plus, the president “signed a new executive order on Thursday that ‘gives us the authority to impose sanctions not just on individuals but on key sectors of the Russian economy,’ he said. It could lead to sanctions on Russia’s financial services, energy, metals and mining, defense and related material, and engineering sectors.”
“In response to sanctions from the U.S. and the E.U., Russia announced its own sanctions list yesterday, and it quickly became a badge of honor for those who were targeted.
"While I’m disappointed that I won’t be able to go on vacation with my family in Siberia this summer, I am honored to be on this list," said Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.) in a statement."
"Kirby declined to specify the kind of military assistance the Defense Department was considering, though he acknowledged both lethal and nonlethal aid had been requested.
A shipment of military prepackaged meals was “in process,” Kirby said, adding Ukraine had also asked for “medical supplies, uniform equipment and that sort of thing.”
"We’re working it expeditiously," he said."
“In a conversation that lasted about an hour, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel spoke by phone yesterday with Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu.
Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby told reporters that Hagel pressed “Shoygu to explain Russian intentions with respect to forces they have aligned near Ukraine’s eastern and southern borders.” And Shoygu told Hagel that “the troops he has arrayed along the border are there to conduct exercises only, that they had no intention of crossing the border into Ukraine,” Kirby said.”
Hunger crisis: 1 in 5 New Yorkers depend on food pantries
March 18, 2014
It’s a quiet crisis. In a city of plenty, a staggering number of people are struggling to feed themselves and their families.
Nearly one in five New Yorkers, 1.4 million people, now rely on a patchwork network of 1,000 food pantries and soup kitchens across the city to eat.
That represents an increase of 200,000 people in five years — straining the charities that are trying to help.
The two biggest, City Harvest and the Food Bank for New York City, now provide nearly 110 million pounds of food to soup kitchens and food pantries a year.
Yet those working on the front lines of the hunger crisis say it’s still not enough.
“It’s an astounding surge in need, and it’s because it is so hard for people to find jobs, or find a decent-paying job. They are turning to us for emergency help,” said Msgr. Kevin Sullivan, 63, executive director of 90 free food outlets run by Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York.
“So many people, too many people, don’t have enough money to pay for rent and also eat.”
At the Washington Heights Ecumenical Food Pantry, bags packed with milk, juice, rice, pasta, tomato sauce, dry beans and other staples fly off the shelves.
Located in a small church vestry, the pantry is open one day a week, serving a steady clientele of 275 people. It could easily help three times as many, if only it had the food, volunteers said.
From soup kitchens in the Bronx, to mobile food markets on Staten Island and in Brooklyn, to pantries in Queens, the story is the same: lines stretching longer and longer, people arriving earlier and earlier, even in the depths of winter.
“Our Lady of Grace, in the northeast Bronx, saw the number of new households double in November — a 100% increase,” said Paul Costiglio, spokesman for Catholic Charities. “Across the board, our programs are reporting a continued increase in the number of working people, unemployed and families.”
The hunger crisis erupted when the Great Recession set in.
The number of city residents receiving aid under the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as food stamps, soared from 1.3 million in 2008 to 1.8 million today.
Yet, with so many people in need, the biggest benefit reduction in the 50-year history of food stamps took effect Nov. 1.
That’s when a temporary increase in benefits — pushed through by President Obama in 2009 as part of his economic stimulus program — lapsed.
New York households receiving food stamps saw their benefits decrease by an average of $30 to $50 a month, depending on a complex formula that takes into account family size and income.
For a typical family of three, that meant a drop to $189 a month, down from about $220.
Food pantry and soup kitchen operators said the impact was swift and dramatic: Although the economy had rebounded since the financial crisis, those at the bottom of the ladder had not fully shared in the recovery.
And so, on a frigid and windy Wednesday recently, a cluster of about 30 men and women stood outside — sometimes for as long as an hour — to get into the Food Bank for New York City’s Community Kitchen and Food Pantry in Harlem.
In the cramped basement, families took turns moving through a makeshift supermarket, picking what they liked from the small selection on the shelves.
“I got fish today. They gave me salmon,” said Alejandro Medina, 54, a maintenance man at a homeless shelter who earns about $24,000 a year.
His wife works part-time and brings in $8,000. With four kids at home — two of their own and two nephews they care for — they also get $189 a month in food stamps.
But after spending $1,200 a month in rent for their two-bedroom apartment in the Bronx, and paying their other bills, there’s never enough left for food, he said.
Your rights matter, because you never know when you’re going to need them.
Edward Snowden's TED 2014 talk on how we can take back the internet. Transcript here.
David Horsey article .. here .. about which group may be more motivated to vote outside of Presidential elections .
ex-gov. ‘mama-grizzly’ Sarah Palin v the Russian bear .. the mind boggles ..