3 days ago ·
by HealthInsurance4Everyone ·
Comments Off on DOD Deploying More Troops to Afghanistan in 2018
The Department of Defense (DOD) is planning to send 3,000 more troops to its Afghanistan operations in early 2018. The NATO contribution would boost the training mission, called Resolute Support, to around 16,000 US troops. About half of the additional troops would come from the United States and the rest from NATO allies and partner countries. The additional personnel will not have a combat role but the alliance hopes more soldiers can train the Afghan army and air force.
In August a new strategy in Afghanistan was unveiled which includes providing more troops, a stronger Afghan army, support from regional allies such as India and a harder line with Pakistan. The latest announcement of 3,000 more troops is in addition to the September announcement that another 6,000-plus ground troops from Fort Carson are slated for a future deployment to the country.
NATO allies have already promised almost $3 billion to help the United States fund the Afghan military until 2020, which is developing an air force to complement its ground forces. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told a news conference “We have decided to increase the number of troops to help the Afghans break the stalemate, to send a message to the Taliban, to the insurgents that they will not win on the battleground.” Stoltenberg said an attack on a television station in Kabul underlined the importance of fighting militants and supporting Afghan security forces. Islamic State claimed responsibility for the assault, without giving evidence.
Gen. John Nicholson, the top U.S. commander for Afghanistan, told reporters “My plan is to have U.S. forces focused on the things that only U.S. forces can do, so I would not like to have to divert U.S. forces to do things that allies could perform.” “We have made it very clear to the allies that we really need their help in filling these billets that we’ve identified.”
Hundreds of soldiers with the U.S. Army’s first security force assistance brigade are expected to deploy to Afghanistan in early 2018 as part of that ANDSF training mission. The Army intends to have a total of six brigades by 2022 with the primary mission is to train and advise foreign troops. In Afghanistan, the focus will be bolstering government forces, which have sustained heavy losses and huge swaths of territory to the Taliban since the U.S. combat mission ended in 2014.
In New York City, eight people were killed and 11 injured when a man intentionally drove a rented Home Depot pickup truck 12 blocks down a bike path along Manhattan’s Hudson River on Halloween. The attacker, 29-year-old Sayfullo Saipov drove the truck down the bicycle lane, killing multiple people before crashing into a school bus. He then reportedly jumped out of the car, waving a pellet gun and a paintball gun. Police say he yelled “Allahu Akbar” which means “God is Great” in Arabic before being shot in the stomach by police. He survived the shooting and is in custody.
Authorities say they uncovered handwritten notes near the truck that suggest Saipov had declared allegiance to ISIS and that he had planned the attack for weeks. There is not yet any evidence that Saipov had direct connections to or support from terrorist groups. Prosecutors say he waived his Miranda rights and confessed during a hospital interview to having carried out the attack after being inspired by ISIS videos he watched on his cellphone. During the interview, he requested to display the black flag of ISIS in his room at Bellevue Hospital, where he is recovering from the gunshot wound in the abdomen.
Saipov made a court appearance shackled and in a wheelchair where did not ask to be released on bail. A criminal complaint filed by federal prosecutors accuses Sayfullo Saipov of carrying out the truck attack that killed 8 and injured 12 others. In the document, he is charged with providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization. A second count charges him with violence and destruction of a truck that was used in interstate and foreign commerce. He faces up to life in prison if convicted of the charges.
Saipov is originally from Tashkent, Uzbekistan and immigrated to the United States in March 2010 and has lived in Florida, Ohio and is believed to have been most recently living in Patterson, New Jersey with his wife and three children. He is a green card holder with a “diversity immigrant visa,” meaning he arrived in the country through a lottery program. Authorities say he worked as a commercial truck driver in the US but had been struggling to find work. They believe that he was radicalized by information he saw on the internet about a year after arriving in the US.
Saipov worked as an Uber driver for more than six months and recorded more than 1,400 trips for the service, an Uber spokesperson said. Saipov was subsequently banned from the app but Uber did not immediately specify why Saipov was banned from the service. The company is now aggressively reviewing Saipov’s Uber history, but had not found any concerning safety reports, so far. Uber says it is cooperating with the FBI as the investigation continues. A media outlet reported that Saipov has received four previous traffic violations.
The eight people killed in the attack were two young Americans, a Belgian mother and five Argentine tourists visiting New York City to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their high school graduation. Police identified the victims as Darren Drake, 32, of New Milford, NJ; Nicholas Cleves, 23, of New York, NY; Ann-Laure Decadt, 31, of Belgium; Hernan Diego Mendoza-Espino, 47, of Argentina; Alejandro Damian Pagrucco, 47, of Argentina; Herman Ferruchi, 47, of Argentina; Diego Enrique Angelini, 47, of Argentina and Ariel Erlis, 48, of Argentina.
A combat pilot shortage has prompted the invoking of the National Emergencies Act as an executive order was signed that allows the Air Force to voluntarily recall up to 1,000 retired aviators for active duty. The order could help ease the combat pilot shortage in the force and improve military readiness as the administration steps up its new Afghanistan war strategy to defeat the Taliban and terrorists. The new strategy includes additional U.S. troops going to Afghanistan as well as increased U.S. air support for the Afghan military.
According to the Pentagon, the Air Force is currently short by about 1,500 pilots. Before the order was signed, the Air Force was allowed to rehire up to 25 retired officers under what’s known as the Voluntary Retired Return to Active Duty program and bring them back to active duty in critical aviation-related staff positions. The executive order now allows the Air Force to temporarily exceed the limit of 25 rehires. Other branches of the U.S. military also need more pilots, including the Navy, and the executive order could be used later to help address those challenges.
A release issued by the Air Force said they are now looking to have retired pilots return to the service for up to 12 months in positions that require qualified pilots. The service is looking for retired fliers of any pilot specialty code — which includes bomber, fighter, helicopter, tanker, and remotely operated aircraft pilots — to fill “critical-rated staff positions” and allow active-duty pilots to stay with units where they are needed to meet mission requirements.
The Air Force is combating the pilot shortage with various incentive programs to keep officers in uniform longer. A program launching later this year includes a 100 percent promotion opportunity and an aviator retention pay bonus worth up to $350,000 over a 10-year term that is already in effect. Pay for officers and enlisted personnel will increase for the first time since 1999. Incentive pay, also called flight pay, will increase for all officers, with those who have over 12 years of service potentially seeing the biggest boost, up to a maximum of $1,000 a month. Incentive pay will also increase for enlisted aircrew members — up to a maximum of $600 for those with over 14 years of service.
An Air Force official indicated they had no current plans to act on the authority granted to them by the president’s order. “The Air Force does not currently intend to recall retired pilots to address the pilot shortage,” “We appreciate the authorities and flexibility delegated to us.”
The blackout in Puerto Rico is now the worst in US history with at least 80 percent of Puerto Rico still without electricity, and about a quarter of the island still lacking clean drinking water. Experts say the entire power grid needs to be rebuilt and that could take at least six months. Congress recently approved a $36.5 billion emergency spending plan to fund the recovery from Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. The spending plan gives Puerto Rico access to $4.9 billion in loans. The plan also gives billions to FEMA and the National Flood Insurance Program. A contract with the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) is in place to restore parts of Puerto Rico’s devastated electrical power grid.
CEO of Tesla, Elon Musk, donated a quarter million dollars of his own money to relief efforts in Puerto Rico. He also sent a few hundred Powerwall battery packs to the island where the electric grid was destroyed by hurricanes last month. Tesla’s Powerwall can bring individual rooftop solar installations back online for homes and small businesses.
The Powerwall battery packs were sent to help restore power to areas most needed like hospitals that have been running on unreliable generators since the storms hit. The company also provided certified employees to help install the batteries, and Musk pledged that even more qualified workers would be sent from the mainland to train local installers and combat opportunistic price gougers on the island. The Powerpacks are on loan for free during the crisis, paving the way for the possibility of a deal that could make that donation permanent. The Powerpacks can serve as grid storage during Puerto Rico’s transitional period and is helpful in remote locations like Puerto Rico, where all fuel has to be brought in by cargo ship.
Musk recently held talks with Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello on ways for Tesla Energy to help rebuild the power grid destroyed by the hurricanes. Soon after the talks, shipments of another of Tesla’s products were seen at the San Juan airport. Tesla’s Powerpack units can store large amounts of energy generated by the sun and other means, to the island. They have the potential to bring larger parts of the grid online by working with the electric utilities and combining the energy storage systems with solar farms or other renewable energy sources. A single Powerpack 2 battery pack has the same energy capacity (210 kWh) as almost 16 Powerwall 2 battery packs combined (each 13.5 kWh).
The 3,575-pound Powerpacks have been used in Tesla’s projects on the Hawaiian island of Kauai and American Samoa’s Ta’u to create sustainable power grids. The units could conceivably be pressed into service in Puerto Rico to help rebuild the grid using what power can be produced. Building a brand-new energy grid based on Tesla’s tech would take far longer than a few months and would require a large number of Powerpacks. The Kauai project, which is on a much smaller scale, depends on a network of more than 270 units. Still, Musk has helped restore power to more than a few of Puerto Rico’s hospitals in a time of crisis.
Hundreds of trials for activists who stood against the Dakota Access Pipeline have seen the courtroom but only two have received jail time so far. A judge in North Dakota has sentenced two water protectors to jail time after they were convicted on misdemeanor charges over an October 2016 protest at Standing Rock against the Dakota Access pipeline.
Twenty-seven-year-old Alexander Simon, a school teacher from New Mexico was sentenced to serve 18 days in jail for obstruction of a government function. Mary Redway, a 64 year old retired environmental biologist from Rhode Island was sentenced to six days in jail for disorderly conduct. The sentences were imposed by Judge Thomas Merrick despite the fact that the prosecution had not recommended the two serve jail time.
Journalist Sara Lafleur-Vetter, who was filming for The Guardian at the time of her arrest, was acquitted on misdemeanor charges stemming from her reporting on the protest on October 22. Hundreds of unresolved criminal cases related to the months-long resistance at Standing Rock remain open. Hundreds of cases have been
The Water Protector Legal Collective- an indigenous-led legal team defending activists arrested during the months-long Dakota Access Pipeline controversy is currently fighting over 427 criminal cases in North Dakota, according to the legal team’s website. Another 272 cases have been dismissed due to lack of evidence of any crime being committed. Morton County has put out warrants, dismissed cases, recharged water protectors, and failed to send mail or contact arrestees regarding scheduled court dates-all resulting in new warrants being issued for accused water protectors without their knowledge.
Three water protectors are currently imprisoned while awaiting trial: Red Fawn Fallis, Little Feather and Dion Ortiz. Fallis, the most seriously charged water protector, was arrested at Standing Rock on October 27, 2016 accused of possessing and discharging a firearm as she was being restrained by police near construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Fallis, the organizer of the “Frontline Camp” was arrested during the October 27th raid on the camp when over 300 police officers—some carrying M16 rifles and clad in flak vests advanced to remove all remaining protestors. Four officers left formation and tackled Fallis to the ground, holding her face down. Four additional officers assisted in trying to handcuff her as she was being tased. In the course of the raid, the police fired tear gas and concussion grenades and peppered the water protectors with rubber-tipped bullets and bean bag pellets, causing dozens of injuries. Fallis was held in a Rugby, North Dakota jail until her transfer to a halfway house in Fargo in June 2017. Her jury trial was originally slated to begin on July 17, but it has now been postponed until December 5.
1 month ago ·
by HealthInsurance4Everyone ·
Comments Off on Many In Puerto Rico Still Without Water or Electricity
People fill containers with water from a stream near the Puerto Rico Highway 52 in Cayey on Tuesday. People have been without water service in their homes after Hurricane Maria roared through a week ago.
Three weeks after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico as a Category 4 storm, officials are warning the island’s health system is in dire condition as the island still has severely limited electricity and running water. Many residents have contracted bacterial diseases, likely as a result of their exposure to contaminated floodwaters but without electricity and clean water-treatment is scarce. The official death toll from Hurricane Maria has now risen to 45.
Hurricane Maria knocked out the water system for more than half the island’s 3.4 million people, leaving many reusing what little water they can get their hands on. Medical experts say it is one of the factors that make them deeply concerned over a possible spike in infectious diseases in coming weeks. Twenty of the island’s fifty-one sewage treatment plants are still out of service allowing raw sewage to contaminate rivers, streams and reservoirs. Those without running water bathe and wash their clothes in contaminated streams, and some islanders have been drinking water from condemned wells.
Nine out of 10 homes on the island still have no electricity, leaving fans and air conditioning units unavailable to stave off mosquitos carrying illness in the storm’s aftermath. Neither electricity nor running water is expected to be fully restored for months. The Federal Emergency Management Agency says 64 of the island’s 68 hospitals are open but only 25 are hooked up to the power grid. The remaining hospitals are running off of generators that aren’t meant to be used for such long periods and rely on erratic diesel supplies.
Some 11,000 U.S. military personnel have come to Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria, and convoys of military vehicles carrying pallets of bottled water and meals are visible in the interior. Mosquito control units deployed in six municipalities, officials said, and five temporary biomedical waste stations have been set up.
FEMA has 16,000 federal and military assets are on the ground in Puerto Rico and about 350,000 Puerto Ricans have registered so far in the FEMA system to receive financial assistance. Roads and highways have been washed out, hampering relief efforts to the interior of the island. Some remote areas have not received any help since the storm. Food and basic supplies remain scarce in the mountainous interior making the threat of waterborne diseases grow.
Authorities hope the arrival of the USNS Comfort will help ease problems at hospitals around the island. The hospital ship has one of the largest trauma facilities in the United States and is equipped with three operating rooms, 50 ICU beds along with another 200 other beds, and some 500 medical personnel. Two MH-60 helicopters sit on its landing-pad deck.
The ship will treat patients and also provide services to other hospitals such as refilling tanks for medical-grade oxygen and re-sterilizing hospital gear. The ship’s staff had already treated 64 patients shortly after its arrival and medical personnel expected to see many others with chronic conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension and lung problems.
Tom Petty has died at the age of 66, after he was found unconscious and in cardiac arrest at his California home. Longtime manager of Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Tony Dimitriades released a statement “On behalf of the Tom Petty family, we are devastated to announce the untimely death of our father, husband, brother, leader and friend Tom Petty. He suffered full cardiac arrest at his home in Malibu in the early hours of this morning and was taken to UCLA Medical Center but could not be revived. He died peacefully at 8:40 p.m. PT surrounded by family, his bandmates and friends.”
The music legend was rushed to UCLA Santa Monica Hospital where he was put on life support and his pulse returned. Later the decision was reportedly made to remove him from life support after it was found that he was lacking brain activity. Petty is survived by his wife, Dana; daughters Adria and AnnaKim, from his earlier marriage to Jane Benyo; and a stepson, Dylan.
Petty rose to fame in the 1970s as leader of The Heartbreakers and is best known for hit songs including “I Won’t Back Down,” “Don’t Come Around Here No More,” “American Girl” and “Refugee.” Together, they released 13 albums over their 40 years together and Petty released 3 solo albums as well. He was also a member and co-founder of the late 1980s super-group the Traveling Wilburys which included George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, and Jeff Lynne. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1999, for their contribution to the recording industry. In 2001, they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
In 2005, Petty received the Billboard Century Award, their highest honor for creative achievement. Over the span of his music career, he won three Grammys, had 18 nominations and sold more than 33 million albums in the U.S. alone. In interviews he frequently credited his early interest in music with meeting Elvis and watching The Beatles perform on The Ed Sullivan Show.
On Sept. 25th, Petty and the Heartbreakers had just finished their 40th anniversary tour. Earlier this year, in an interview Petty told Rolling Stone Magazine it would be the last major tour for the group but that it would continue to play concerts. “I’m thinking it may be the last trip around the country,” he told the outlet. “We’re all on the backside of our sixties. I have a granddaughter now I’d like to see as much as I can. I don’t want to spend my life on the road.”
In an effort to broaden the company’s “social interaction” with our clients and FaceBook fans, Daily Trivia Questions are posted on both of our business pages. Here are the weekly standings for this past week, and the winner of the Sunday night Weekly Drawing for an AmEx gift card!
Congratulations – To this past week’s Trivia Contest Winner!! Our latest contest winner for the weekly FaceBook HealthInsurance4Everyone/Health & Life Solutions, LLC Trivia Contest, drawn randomly by computer late Sunday evening, October 1st, 2017 was:
Winner Of A $25.00 AmEx Gift Card
Each day, fans who have “liked” either of our company FaceBook pages (HealthInsurance4Everyone or Health & Life Solutions LLC) are able to test their skills with our Daily TRIVIA QUESTION. The first 20 winners who post the correct answer to the TRIVIA QUESTION, will then get entered into the weekly drawing held late on Sunday evenings for a $25.00 Am Ex Gift. Card
Weekly Gift Card winners will be posted in our blog at this site. Remember to become a FaceBook “fan” on either of our company pages to enter and post your answers.
Here are the daily contestants from last week’s Trivia Contest that were entered into the Sunday drawing:
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Anne Delos Reyes-Villafuerte
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Mary Ann Cody
Emily Rice Bowersock
Heather Lynn Rood
Kelly Jo Francisco
Heather Marie Stacy
Amy Marie Wilkinson
Sunney Michelle Johnson
Sarah Bellestri Shih
Kelly Jo Francisco
Brandy MaRie Williams
Misty Dawn Moores
Amy Marie Wilkinson
Michelle R. Carlino
Brittany Marie Thompson
Brandy MaRie Williams
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Sunney Michelle Johnson
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Three powerful earthquakes that have hit Mexico in the month of September have killed nearly 400 people. The death toll is expected to rise as rescuers work around the clock to search for survivors who may be trapped in the rubble. Homes and structures already damaged by the first earthquake, have collapsed after the 2nd and 3rd quake, leaving more devastation.
The first earth quake, a magnitude 8.1, struck off Mexico’s southern coast on Thursday, September 7th. It was the most powerful to hit the country in a century and was felt as far as Mexico City and Guatemala City by an estimated 50 million people. The quake’s epicenter was in the Pacific Ocean, some 600 miles southeast of Mexico’s capital and 74 miles off the coast. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) reported multiple aftershocks, including at least six with tremors measuring above 5.0 in magnitude. Ninety people were confirmed dead after the quake and the death toll was expected to rise as searchers dug through rubble for survivors.
Eleven days later, on Tuesday September 19th, a magnitude 7.1 earthquake struck central Mexico. Dozens of buildings in Mexico City collapsed and over 200 people were reported dead and almost 2,000 injured. The disaster caused extensive damage across Mexico, leveling at least 44 buildings in the capital alone, including homes, schools and office buildings. Its epicenter was located 74 miles south-east of Mexico City at a depth of 31 miles and roughly 400 miles from the first quake. Experts say the second earthquake was not an aftershock but a separate quake entirely. Exactly 32 years ago, on 19 September 1985, a magnitude 8.0 earthquake devastated Mexico City and killed 10,000 people.
The third quake, on September 23rd, which was one of hundreds of aftershocks from the second quake, had a 6.1 magnitude, according to the US Geological Survey. It was centered about 11 miles south-southeast of Matias Romero in Oaxaca state, a region worst hit by the first earthquake this month.
The quakes were sparked by heightened tension between the Cocos tectonic plate, which borders the western coast of Mexico, and the North American tectonic plate. As the Cocos plate slid underneath the North American plate, it fractured in two different places, known as faults. The two fractures were several hundred miles apart -both caused by bending and tension in the Cocos plate, but in different ways.
The depth of the subduction zone – where the Cocos plate is thrusting under the North American plate – makes it difficult to assess how the strain is building up but the fear is that it will cause another sequence of aftershocks that will cause additional deaths and damage. Mexico qualifies as highly active because the country sits at the boundary of three tectonic plates which are pieces of the Earth’s crust that fit together like a jigsaw puzzle.
Unlike most natural disasters, there’s no way to predict earthquakes, making preparations extremely important, whether it’s through building codes or earthquake drills-planning ahead is still the only defense for earthquakes.
A federal judge in Michigan has blocked the deportation of more than 1,400 Iraqi nationals, giving them time to make their cases in court before the government may deport them. U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith granted a preliminary injunction request made by attorneys for the Iraqi nationals who had asked him to halt their deportation, saying they would be persecuted in Iraq. Goldsmith said the possible deportees, many whom are Chaldean Christian, would face “grave harm and possible death” in Iraq because there they are members of a persecuted minority.
In June, 234 Iraqi nationals were arrested and detained on removal orders that in most cases had been dormant for five to 10 years. For many years Iraqi has refused to accept deportees from the U.S. but they recently agreed to start accepting them after their country was taken off of the travel ban.
In addition to the 114 arrested during the ICE raids in Michigan in June, the judge’s order applies to 85 other Iraqis arrested outside the state. In total, there are 1,444 Iraqi nationals in the U.S. with final orders of deportation who could be affected by the judge’s ruling.
Judge Goldsmith entered a preliminary injunction to give the Iraqis 90 days to argue their cases before the Board of Immigration Appeals and the courts before the government can deport them back to Iraq. Goldsmith said that the government made legal representation of the immigrants difficult because many of them have been moved around from state to state to different immigration centers. Many of those targeted entered in the U.S. as children, and more than half of them have been in the country for more than a decade because Iraq refused to take them back, according to the ruling.
The court said that those detained have been housed around the country in federal detention facilities with limited access to legal advocates and their families. Most of them are from Detroit, which has a large Chaldean Christian population. They were targeted for deportation because they overstayed their visas or committed crimes — typically misdemeanors, according to advocates.
Clarence Dass, an attorney who represents about 25 of the 114 Iraqis arrested last month said “For people who have been learning their fate every two weeks, 90 days is a lifetime,” Dass said. “All we are asking is for a chance to show that deportation of these particular individuals is a death sentence, and the judge’s decision today allows us to do that. Once we show those facts and circumstances, I am hopeful we will be able to save their lives.”
A spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said the agency declined to comment on the ruling. ICE has said previously that the Iraqis detained have criminal records, pose safety threats, and have already had their cases heard in courts. The crimes they were convicted of range from marijuana possession to homicide.