Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Last in Line

Last thing I remember was spending the night at the Taj and when I woke up the first thing I did was check my pockets for whatever change I had left.

"Veterans Affairs under fire after comparing health care delays to Disney lines" by Daniel Victor New York Times  May 25, 2016

NEW YORK — Robert A. McDonald, the secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, drew bipartisan criticism after comparing the waiting times for veterans receiving medical care to standing in line for a ride at Disney parks at an event with reporters on Monday.

The comparison to an amusement park experience did not sit well with some veterans and politicians.

McDonald said Tuesday that he regrets the remarks.

‘‘It was never my intention to suggest that I don’t take our mission of serving veterans very seriously,’’ McDonald said in a written statement. ‘‘If my comments Monday led any veterans to believe that I, or the dedicated workforce I am privileged to lead, don’t take that noble mission seriously, I deeply regret that. Nothing could be further from the truth.’’

The department has come under heavy criticism and congressional scrutiny for a backlog of hundreds of thousands of benefits claims fostered by repeatedly canceled appointments, unreturned calls, and the rapid turnover of physicians.

All so bureaucrats with six-figure salaries could get performance raises and bonuses.

Even worse, nothing has changed. Congre$$ through a load of money at the problem to make the pre$$ go away, that's all.

In 2014, Eric Shinseki resigned as VA secretary as the scandal mushroomed.

Dale Barnett, the national commander of the American Legion, said in a statement: “People don’t die while waiting to go on Space Mountain.”

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin said of McDonald’s comments. “They are indicative of a culture of indifference at the VA.”

Senator Roy Blunt, Republican of Missouri, has called for McDonald’s resignation.... 

Might as well just wait for the next president to appoint a new one.


What the comment shows you is the complete arrogance surrounding the elite that have foisted these wars upon you. It's like an amusement park to them!


VA restored benefits to 4,200 veterans wrongly declared dead

That will certainly reduce wait times!

Veterans Dept. worker resigns amid controversy

Executive of sham ‘veteran-owned’ firm found guilty of $100m fraud 

I wonder how much the VA fraud cost in terms of dollars and not lives.

TSA chief: Help is on the way to address long airport lines

Not at Logan.

Holiday airport lines were minimal, TSA says

No one hovered around but one woman was asked to leave.

"Intruders breach airport fences about every 10 days" by Justin Pritchard Associated Press  May 27, 2016

LOS ANGELES — Under pressure to prevent people from sneaking onto runways and planes at major US airports, authorities are cracking down — not on the intruders who slip through perimeter gates or jump over fences, but on the release of information about the breaches.

A year after an Associated Press investigation first revealed persistent problems with airports’ outer defenses, breaches remain as frequent as ever — about once every 10 days — despite some investments to fortify the nation’s airfields.

As Americans wait in ever-longer security screening lines inside terminals, new documents show dozens more incidents happening outside perimeters than airports have disclosed.

At the same time, leaders at some airports and the US Transportation Security Administration are saying some of the 345 incidents shouldn’t count as security breaches, even when intruders got deep into secure areas.

Was it a perimeter security breach in March 2015 when a woman walked past a vehicle exit gate at San Francisco International Airport and onto the tarmac, where she tried to flag down a jet for a trip home to Guatemala? No, it was not, said the airport and TSA officials, who also tried to suppress information about the case.

After discussing intrusions openly at first, officials at several airports and the TSA started withholding details, arguing the release could expose vulnerabilities.

Following a two-year legal struggle with the TSA, the AP has now used newly released information to create the most comprehensive public tally of perimeter security breaches. The 345 incidents took place at 31 airports that handle three-quarters of US passenger travel. And that’s an undercount because several airports refused to provide complete information.

The count shows that an intruder broke through the security surrounding one of those airports on average every 13 days from the beginning of 2004 through mid-February; starting in 2012, the average has been every 9.5 days. Many intruders scaled barbed-wire-topped fences or walked past vehicle checkpoints. Others crashed cars into chain link and concrete barriers.

Airport officials point out that no case involved a known terrorist plot.

Which is very, very odd considering all this time after 9/11 and what has happened in other parts of the world -- if you accept the conventional narrative as supplied by authority and its pre$$. Once you understand that the terrorists are created, funded, and directed by the U.S. and its allies does it make sense.

Or is this the next staged and scripted crisis drill event we are going to be subjected to this summer being telegraphed by the pre$$ to prepare you and me for it?

Police reports suggest many trespassers were disoriented, intoxicated, or delusional. Some came on skateboards and bikes, while others commandeered vehicles on the tarmac. One man got into a helicopter cockpit and was preparing to take off.

Five intruders brought knives and one a loaded gun.

Over the past year, the TSA and airports have been focused less on perimeter security than on stopping weapons that passengers or baggage handlers try to sneak onto planes.

“It doesn’t surprise me that people sometimes try to jump over fences to see what they can get away with,” TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger said. “The question is: What’s your ability to detect it and . . . what might you do to mitigate that happening in the future?”

Representative William Keating, Democrat of Massachusetts, said the TSA must extend its focus beyond screening passengers and help airports protect their perimeters. “It’s like saying your door is locked but your window’s wide open,” he said.

Should just screen them all outside then.

Airport officials would not discuss how much they are spending on fortifying perimeters. Some that added security in the past year saw fewer intruders; others had more.

There were at least 39 breaches nationwide in 2015, which also was the annual average from 2012 through 2015. The low was 34 in 2013 and the high 42 in 2012, when incidents spiked after several years hovering around 20 breaches.

Aviation security consultant Jeff Price said the TSA and airports have not done enough to address gaps in perimeter security.

“The straight-up honest answer as to why it’s not being vigorously addressed? Nothing bad’s happened. Yet,” Price said.

And now some terrorist just got an idea!

Airport officials stress that the miles of fences, gates, and guardhouses protecting their properties are secure and say many intruders are quickly caught.

Perimeters are not “a gaping vulnerability,” said Christopher Bidwell, vice president of security at the advocacy group Airports Council International-North America. When intruders are quickly caught, “their ability to do anything nefarious isn’t really there,” Bidwell said. “It’s being neutralized because they are actively being surveilled.”


Best thing to do is avoid airports at all costs.

"Officer shoots, wounds rock-wielding man at Dallas airport" Associated Press  June 10, 2016

DALLAS — A police officer shot and wounded a man Friday outside baggage claim at a Dallas airport after the man attacked a woman believed to be the mother of his children and then threatened the officer with a large rock, police said.

“There doesn’t appear to be any other weapon present than the rock,” Dallas Police Assistant Chief Randall Blakenbaker said.

Video posted by Instagram user @flashyfilms_ and credited to Bryan Armstrong shows people scattering on the sidewalk outside the baggage claim door at Dallas Love Field. An officer in a yellow vest is seen pointing his gun, and at least nine gunshots can be heard. A man repeatedly yells “stand down!” and a woman is heard screaming.

Asked why the officer fired so many rounds at a man holding a rock, Blankenbaker said only that he did not know how many shots were fired.

“We have to conduct an investigation over those types of speculation.”

Some airport operations were temporarily disrupted, but the airport remained open.

Spokesman Jose Torres said some people after hearing shots ran through security so everyone had to be rescreened. Officials warned that delays could last several hours.

The man, who was not identified, was taken to a hospital. Torres said he was not critically wounded.


Meanwhile you are waiting in line:

"For the first time in more than a decade, the Massachusetts Port Authority is looking to hire a new company to oversee the concessions at its four Logan Airport terminals — a decision that could remake the vast array of retailers and restaurants there for years to come. Many of the country’s biggest airport concessionaires and developers are jockeying for the business: About 160 stores, restaurants, and newsstands operate in the terminals now, together generating about $175 million in revenue a year. A new management team could usher in a range of new tenants over the next several years. The people who run Logan have hinted they are looking for more of a regional theme among the concessions, meaning that the 100,000 or so people who trek through Logan every day could see more Boston brands...."

It is “really significant because the whole makeup at Logan is going to change.”

"‘We really thought we were going to die’: mechanical problem diverts flight out of Logan" by Michael Levenson and John R. Ellement Globe Staff  June 20, 2016

The first boom came about 30 minutes into the flight. Moments later, another shook the plane as it flew Sunday night from Boston to Miami with 180 passengers aboard. That’s when passengers reported seeing fire shooting out of the engine on the left wing, and the cabin filled with smoke.

Those on board described a much more terrifying ordeal, with passengers — and at least one crew member — weeping and fearing for their lives before Flight 1086 made an emergency landing at Kennedy International Airport in New York....

“Everybody was happy to be alive, it’s just the way they felt mistreated.”


Also see:

Pilots reporting fewer drone sightings

Clammer vs. drone: A Cape Cod saga

That's going to be my final flight.

Meanwhile, back on the ground:

A new mission: helping veterans land on college teams

US veteran seeks asylum for Iraqi man who saved his life

Melrose keeps Memorial Day traditions alive

A race against time to return World War I Purple Hearts

Harvey Sanford, 89; mechanic kept the Tuskegee Airmen flying

Jane Fawcett, 95, British codebreaker during World War II

MFA displays artworks by homeless, disabled on Memorial Day

Troops who made ‘ultimate sacrifice’ remembered at ceremonies

Remembering the living and the dead

German, French leaders mark 100 years since Battle of Verdun

Look who tried to make peace as others were on the march:

"Thousands of motorcyclists rumble into the city each Memorial Day weekend to honor US prisoners of war and missing-in-action troops, as well as raise awareness about veterans issues. Trump was invited by organizers to speak at the annual event and said, ‘‘It’s going to be America first.’’"

A gang of bikers, huh? 

Fort Hood officials were closing roads as truck overturned

Obama marks Memorial Day at Arlington National Cemetery

He now holds the record, does the peace prize winner who said he was going to end the wars.

"Those with multiple tours of war overseas struggle at home" by Benedict Carey New York Times  May 30, 2016

FORT WORTH — After 14 years of war, the number of veterans with multiple tours of combat duty is the largest in modern US history — more than 90,000 soldiers and Marines, many of them elite fighters who deployed four or more times.

New evidence suggests that these veterans are not like most others when it comes to adjusting to civilian life.

An analysis of Army data shows that, unlike most of the military, these soldiers’ risk of committing suicide actually drops when they are deployed and soars after they return home.

For the 85 percent of soldiers who make up rest of the service and were deployed, the reverse is true.

“It’s exactly the opposite of what you see in the trauma literature, where more exposure predicts more problems,” said Dr. Ronald Kessler of Harvard University, who led the study.

The findings may shed a clearer light on the need of this important group of veterans, whose experience is largely unparalleled in US history, in their numerous exposures to insurgent warfare, without clear fronts or predictable local populations.

The research team, led by Kessler and Dr. Robert Ursano of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, analyzed 496 suicides among men in the Army between 2004 and 2009.

How stop other than end wars based on lies?

“These are the guys, we think, who are getting into fights, or in trouble with the law, who are impulsive and don’t manage well when they’re back in a civilian world that seems boring and frustrating,” Kessler said.

Researchers are finding that these elite fighters do not easily fit into the classic mold of veterans traumatized by their experience in war. As psychologists and others grow to understand this, they are starting to rethink some approaches to their treatment.

The idea that these elite fighters can adapt solely by addressing emotional trauma, some experts said, is badly misplaced. Their primary difficulty is not necessarily one of healing emotional wounds.

It is rather a matter of unlearning the very skills that have kept them alive: unceasing vigilance; snap decision making; intolerance for carelessness; the urge to act fast and decisively.

“I don’t even leave my house much,” said Jeff Ewert, who served with the Marines in Iraq and now lives in Utah. “I’m scared not because I’m an uber-killer or anything. I just minimize my exposure because I know how easy it is to cross that line, to act without thinking.”

Ryan Lundeby’s battalion specialized in extractions — surprise raids on high-ranking insurgents. The soldiers usually struck at night — vampire work, some called it.

But returning home for good in 2010, he was a man on constant patrol. He raged at fellow drivers who he considered rude or careless. He confronted litterers, often by picking up the offending cigarette butt or fast-food wrapper and throwing it in their faces.

When a driver cut off Mary, then his fiancée, on her way home from work, he jumped on his motorcycle in nothing but running shorts and prowled the neighborhood to make the man pay.

“I don’t know what I would have done if I’d found him,” he said.

Lundeby has been lucky. He has a supportive family and group of friends, and a wife who understands his quirks and helps him manage them.

She was the one who demanded he visit a veterans clinic, which led to therapy with a former Marine who understood how to get him to think before acting — even if the urge was strong.

“He got me to ask, ‘Do I have time to do this — to right every wrong?’ ” said Lundeby, who several months ago landed his first post-deployment job, at a helicopter manufacturer.

“And he got me to see the humanity of the people I was confronting.

“So I may always be a Ranger, in some ways,” he said, “but I’ve stopped trying to be the world’s sheriff.” 

Until the next deployment.


Let the flags fly in honor of those lost.

New FAA rules make it easier for companies to use drones

My watch has officially ended.