Tagged: duty

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Mattis expected to back allowing transgender troops to stay in the military

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is expected to propose to President Trump that transgender members of the U.S. military be allowed to continue serving despite the president’s call last summer for a ban on all transgender service members, according to two U.S. officials with knowledge of the issue.

The defense secretary was scheduled to brief the president Wednesday, but the meeting was postponed and will occur soon, officials said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss policy deliberations. Dana White, a spokeswoman for Mattis, said the secretary will provide his recommendation to Trump this week and the president will make an announcement at some point afterward.

Officials at the White House and Pentagon declined to comment on the recommendations until Mattis delivers his plan.

“This is a complex issue, and the secretary is taking his time to consider the information he’s been given,” White told reporters Thursday. “It’s an important issue, and again, he sees all of his decisions through the lens of lethality.”

Trump surprised many Pentagon officials on July 26 by issuing a string of tweets in which he said he was banning all transgender people from the military, despite not having a plan in place. Trump tweeted that he had reached his decision “after consultation with my Generals and military experts,” citing the “tremendous medical costs and disruption” he believed it would cause.

Marine Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, moved afterward to stop any changes from taking place until a new policy was adopted, and Mattis backed the move. The Obama administration began allowing transgender people to openly serve[1] in the military in June 2016, prompting some people to come out for the first time.

It’s unclear whether Trump will adopt Mattis’s recommendations, which the president requested[2] in an Aug. 25 executive order. Trump directed the military at the time to “return to the longstanding policy and practice on military service by transgender individuals that was in place prior to June 2016,” but left an opening under which Mattis could advise him in writing on changing Trump’s new policy. The order gave Mattis until Wednesday to establish a plan.

A Rand Corp. study[3] commissioned by the Pentagon ahead of its 2016 policy change found that there were between 1,320 and 6,630 transgender service members among 1.3 million people on active duty — less than 1 percent of the force. The study concluded that it would cost between $2.4 million and $8.4 million to treat them annually, a “relatively small” amount. Mattis questioned last year whether the numbers in the Rand study were accurate, but said he wanted to study the issue further.

It is not clear how Mattis’s recommendations will address how transgender recruits are processed.

Before the Obama administration’s policy change, the Pentagon for years considered gender dysphoria a disqualifying mental illness. The policy adopted in 2016 banned the services from involuntarily separating people in the military who came out as transgender, and gave the Pentagon a year to determine how to begin processing transgender recruits.

But Mattis delayed allowing transgender recruits for an additional six months as the deadline neared. The decision “in no way presupposes an outcome,” but needed additional study, Mattis wrote at the time. Trump issued his ban on Twitter a few weeks later.

Since then, the Trump administration has been challenged in lawsuits, and federal judges required the Pentagon to open the military to transgender recruits beginning Jan. 1. The Pentagon indicated in December that it would not stand in the way of the court’s ruling and issued new policy guidance to recruiters[4] on how to enlist transgender men and women.

The policy paper “shall remain in effect until expressly revoked,” the memorandum said. Allowing transgender people to serve in the military is “mandatory,” it added, repeating Dunford’s earlier directive that all people will be “treated with dignity and respect.”

Dunford, testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee last fall, said transgender troops already in the military have served with honor.

“I believe any individual who meets the physical and mental standards, and is worldwide deployable and is currently serving, should be afforded the opportunity to continue to serve,” he said.

He added that he would continue to advise Trump that transgender service members who follow rules and regulations should not be ejected on the basis of their gender identity.

“Senator, I can promise that that will be my advice,” he said, in response to a question from Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.). “What I’ve just articulated is the advice I’ve provided in private, and I’ve just provided in public.”

References

  1. ^ began allowing transgender people to openly serve (www.washingtonpost.com)
  2. ^ requested (www.whitehouse.gov)
  3. ^ Rand Corp. study (www.rand.org)
  4. ^ issued new policy guidance to recruiters (www.washingtonpost.com)
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Mattis expected to back allowing transgender troops to stay in the military

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is expected to propose to President Trump that transgender members of the U.S. military be allowed to continue serving despite the president’s call last summer for a ban on all transgender service members, according to two U.S. officials with knowledge of the issue.

The defense secretary was scheduled to brief the president Wednesday, but the meeting was postponed and will occur soon, officials said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss policy deliberations. Dana White, a spokeswoman for Mattis, said the secretary will provide his recommendation to Trump this week and the president will make an announcement at some point afterward.

Officials at the White House and Pentagon declined to comment on the recommendations until Mattis delivers his plan.

“This is a complex issue, and the secretary is taking his time to consider the information he’s been given,” White told reporters Thursday. “It’s an important issue, and again, he sees all of his decisions through the lens of lethality.”

Trump surprised many Pentagon officials on July 26 by issuing a string of tweets in which he said he was banning all transgender people from the military, despite not having a plan in place. Trump tweeted that he had reached his decision “after consultation with my Generals and military experts,” citing the “tremendous medical costs and disruption” he believed it would cause.

Marine Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, moved afterward to stop any changes from taking place until a new policy was adopted, and Mattis backed the move. The Obama administration began allowing transgender people to openly serve[1] in the military in June 2016, prompting some people to come out for the first time.

It’s unclear whether Trump will adopt Mattis’s recommendations, which the president requested[2] in an Aug. 25 executive order. Trump directed the military at the time to “return to the longstanding policy and practice on military service by transgender individuals that was in place prior to June 2016,” but left an opening under which Mattis could advise him in writing on changing Trump’s new policy. The order gave Mattis until Wednesday to establish a plan.

A Rand Corp. study[3] commissioned by the Pentagon ahead of its 2016 policy change found that there were between 1,320 and 6,630 transgender service members among 1.3 million people on active duty — less than 1 percent of the force. The study concluded that it would cost between $2.4 million and $8.4 million to treat them annually, a “relatively small” amount. Mattis questioned last year whether the numbers in the Rand study were accurate, but said he wanted to study the issue further.

It is not clear how Mattis’s recommendations will address how transgender recruits are processed.

Before the Obama administration’s policy change, the Pentagon for years considered gender dysphoria a disqualifying mental illness. The policy adopted in 2016 banned the services from involuntarily separating people in the military who came out as transgender, and gave the Pentagon a year to determine how to begin processing transgender recruits.

But Mattis delayed allowing transgender recruits for an additional six months as the deadline neared. The decision “in no way presupposes an outcome,” but needed additional study, Mattis wrote at the time. Trump issued his ban on Twitter a few weeks later.

Since then, the Trump administration has been challenged in lawsuits, and federal judges required the Pentagon to open the military to transgender recruits beginning Jan. 1. The Pentagon indicated in December that it would not stand in the way of the court’s ruling and issued new policy guidance to recruiters[4] on how to enlist transgender men and women.

The policy paper “shall remain in effect until expressly revoked,” the memorandum said. Allowing transgender people to serve in the military is “mandatory,” it added, repeating Dunford’s earlier directive that all people will be “treated with dignity and respect.”

Dunford, testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee last fall, said transgender troops already in the military have served with honor.

“I believe any individual who meets the physical and mental standards, and is worldwide deployable and is currently serving, should be afforded the opportunity to continue to serve,” he said.

He added that he would continue to advise Trump that transgender service members who follow rules and regulations should not be ejected on the basis of their gender identity.

“Senator, I can promise that that will be my advice,” he said, in response to a question from Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.). “What I’ve just articulated is the advice I’ve provided in private, and I’ve just provided in public.”

References

  1. ^ began allowing transgender people to openly serve (www.washingtonpost.com)
  2. ^ requested (www.whitehouse.gov)
  3. ^ Rand Corp. study (www.rand.org)
  4. ^ issued new policy guidance to recruiters (www.washingtonpost.com)
0

Mattis expected to back allowing transgender troops to stay in the military

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is expected to propose to President Trump that transgender members of the U.S. military be allowed to continue serving despite the president’s call last summer for a ban on all transgender service members, according to two U.S. officials with knowledge of the issue.

The defense secretary was scheduled to brief the president Wednesday, but the meeting was postponed and will occur soon, officials said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss policy deliberations. Dana White, a spokeswoman for Mattis, said the secretary will provide his recommendation to Trump this week and the president will make an announcement at some point afterward.

Officials at the White House and Pentagon declined to comment on the recommendations until Mattis delivers his plan.

“This is a complex issue, and the secretary is taking his time to consider the information he’s been given,” White told reporters Thursday. “It’s an important issue, and again, he sees all of his decisions through the lens of lethality.”

Trump surprised many Pentagon officials on July 26 by issuing a string of tweets in which he said he was banning all transgender people from the military, despite not having a plan in place. Trump tweeted that he had reached his decision “after consultation with my Generals and military experts,” citing the “tremendous medical costs and disruption” he believed it would cause.

Marine Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, moved afterward to stop any changes from taking place until a new policy was adopted, and Mattis backed the move. The Obama administration began allowing transgender people to openly serve[1] in the military in June 2016, prompting some people to come out for the first time.

It’s unclear whether Trump will adopt Mattis’s recommendations, which the president requested[2] in an Aug. 25 executive order. Trump directed the military at the time to “return to the longstanding policy and practice on military service by transgender individuals that was in place prior to June 2016,” but left an opening under which Mattis could advise him in writing on changing Trump’s new policy. The order gave Mattis until Wednesday to establish a plan.

A Rand Corp. study[3] commissioned by the Pentagon ahead of its 2016 policy change found that there were between 1,320 and 6,630 transgender service members among 1.3 million people on active duty — less than 1 percent of the force. The study concluded that it would cost between $2.4 million and $8.4 million to treat them annually, a “relatively small” amount. Mattis questioned last year whether the numbers in the Rand study were accurate, but said he wanted to study the issue further.

It is not clear how Mattis’s recommendations will address how transgender recruits are processed.

Before the Obama administration’s policy change, the Pentagon for years considered gender dysphoria a disqualifying mental illness. The policy adopted in 2016 banned the services from involuntarily separating people in the military who came out as transgender, and gave the Pentagon a year to determine how to begin processing transgender recruits.

But Mattis delayed allowing transgender recruits for an additional six months as the deadline neared. The decision “in no way presupposes an outcome,” but needed additional study, Mattis wrote at the time. Trump issued his ban on Twitter a few weeks later.

Since then, the Trump administration has been challenged in lawsuits, and federal judges required the Pentagon to open the military to transgender recruits beginning Jan. 1. The Pentagon indicated in December that it would not stand in the way of the court’s ruling and issued new policy guidance to recruiters[4] on how to enlist transgender men and women.

The policy paper “shall remain in effect until expressly revoked,” the memorandum said. Allowing transgender people to serve in the military is “mandatory,” it added, repeating Dunford’s earlier directive that all people will be “treated with dignity and respect.”

Dunford, testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee last fall, said transgender troops already in the military have served with honor.

“I believe any individual who meets the physical and mental standards, and is worldwide deployable and is currently serving, should be afforded the opportunity to continue to serve,” he said.

He added that he would continue to advise Trump that transgender service members who follow rules and regulations should not be ejected on the basis of their gender identity.

“Senator, I can promise that that will be my advice,” he said, in response to a question from Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.). “What I’ve just articulated is the advice I’ve provided in private, and I’ve just provided in public.”

References

  1. ^ began allowing transgender people to openly serve (www.washingtonpost.com)
  2. ^ requested (www.whitehouse.gov)
  3. ^ Rand Corp. study (www.rand.org)
  4. ^ issued new policy guidance to recruiters (www.washingtonpost.com)
0

Mattis expected to back allowing transgender troops to stay in the military

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is expected to propose to President Trump that transgender members of the U.S. military be allowed to continue serving despite the president’s call last summer for a ban on all transgender service, according to two U.S. officials with knowledge of the issue.

The defense secretary was scheduled to brief the president on Wednesday, but the meeting was postponed and will occur soon, officials said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss policy deliberations. Dana White, a spokeswoman for Mattis, said the secretary will meet with Trump this week and the president will make an announcement at some point afterward.

Officials at the White House and Pentagon declined to comment on the recommendations until Mattis delivers his plan.

“This is a complex issue, and the secretary is taking his time to consider the information he’s been given,” White told reporters Thursday. “It’s an important issue, and again, he sees all of his decisions through the lens of lethality.”

Trump surprised many Pentagon officials on July 26 by issuing a string of tweets in which he said he was banning all transgender people from the military, despite not having a plan in place. Trump tweeted that he had reached his decision “after consultation with my Generals and military experts,” citing the “tremendous medical costs and disruption” he believed it would cause.

Marine Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, moved afterward to stop any changes from taking place until a new policy was adopted, and Mattis backed the move. The Obama administration began allowing transgender people to openly serve[1] in the military in June 2016, prompting some people to come out for the first time.

It’s unclear whether Trump will adopt Mattis’s recommendations, which the president requested[2] in an Aug. 25 executive order. Trump directed the military at the time to “return to the longstanding policy and practice on military service by transgender individuals that was in place prior to June 2016,” but left an opening under which Mattis could advise him in writing on changing Trump’s new policy. The order gave Mattis until Wednesday to establish a plan.

A Rand Corp. study[3] commissioned by the Pentagon ahead of its 2016 policy change found that there were between 1,320 and 6,630 transgender service members among 1.3 million people on active duty — less than 1 percent of the force. The study concluded that it would cost between $2.4 million and $8.4 million to treat them annually, a “relatively small” amount. Mattis questioned last year whether the numbers in the Rand study were accurate, but said he wanted to study the issue further.

It is not clear how Mattis’s recommendations will address another issue: What to do with transgender recruits.

Before the Obama administration’s policy change, the Pentagon for years considered gender dysphoria, the medical term for wanting to transition gender, a disqualifying mental illness. The policy adopted in 2016 banned the services from involuntarily separating people in the military who came out as transgender, and gave the Pentagon a year to determine how to begin processing transgender recruits.

But Mattis delayed allowing transgender recruits for an additional six months as the deadline neared. The decision “in no way presupposes an outcome,” but needed additional study, Mattis wrote at the time. Trump issued his ban on Twitter a few weeks later.

Since then, the Trump administration has been challenged in lawsuits, and federal judges required the Pentagon to open the military to transgender recruits beginning Jan. 1. The Pentagon indicated in December that it would not stand in the way of the court’s ruling, and issued new policy guidance to recruiters[4] on how to enlist transgender men and women.

The policy paper “shall remain in effect until expressly revoked,” the memorandum said. Allowing transgender military service is “mandatory,” it added, repeating Dunford’s earlier directive that all people will be “treated with dignity and respect.”

Dunford, testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee last fall, said transgender troops already in the military have served with honor.

“I believe any individual who meets the physical and mental standards, and is worldwide deployable and is currently serving, should be afforded the opportunity to continue to serve,” he said.

He added that he would continue to advise Trump that transgender service members who follow rules and regulations should not be ejected on the basis of their gender identity.

“Senator, I can promise that that will be my advice,” he said, in response to a question from Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.). “What I’ve just articulated is the advice I’ve provided in private, and I’ve just provided in public.”

References

  1. ^ began allowing transgender people to openly serve (www.washingtonpost.com)
  2. ^ requested (www.whitehouse.gov)
  3. ^ Rand Corp. study (www.rand.org)
  4. ^ issued new policy guidance to recruiters (www.washingtonpost.com)
0

Giving troops a pay raise might be hurting the military

The 2019 budget proposal, if enacted, would give service members their biggest pay raise in eight years, a 2.4 percent increase in pay. But despite how good it sounds in the headlines, an across-the-board pay raise may not be what the military needs right now.

The military already saw a 2.1 percent pay increase request for 2018, and as military personnel costs are rising, some experts in military personnel are asking if across-the-board pay raises are the right approach to better the force.

Jim Perkins, former executive director of the Defense Entrepreneurs Forum and an Army reservist, says military pay is outpacing the inflation rate and civilians doing the same job, education and experience as troops are only paid 83 percent to 90 percent what service members are paid.

A 2013 Center for New American Security (CNAS) study[1] suggests the same thing.

“One of the largest contributors to the trend of rising military personnel costs is the growth in cash compensation. Military personnel cash compensation increased by 52 percent between 2002 and 2010, adjusted for inflation. Over the past 12 years, pay increases for military personnel have grown much faster than both inflation and private sector compensation,” the study stated.

Service members are at an even bigger financial advantage because of housing and food subsidies through basic allowance for housing (BAH) and commissaries.

The study stated the Defense Department could save $25 billion over 10 years if Congress issued more reasonable pay increases.

A Feb. 5 Congressional Budget Office report[2] stated personnel costs have increased 46 percent since 2000. A total of 42 percent of that growth is from BAH and basic pay.

The study stated that personnel costs were $142.3 billion in 2014.

Perkins thinks the across-the-board raises are harmful to the military’s search for talented individuals, while keeping less motivated individuals in the service.

“As much as I want to say paying the military more is great. It’s not necessarily,” Perkins said. “Throwing money at this problem is not going to solve it or not in the way that we want it to be solved.”

Perkins used a personal example to explain. An officer he knew was laid off from the Army after being passed over for promotion from captain to major. He left the military and couldn’t find equivalent compensation in the civilian sector based on his experience. He ended up joining the reserves and became an activated reservist for a year. He was promoted to major in the reserves.

“Now he is doing the same job as an active-duty captain, but getting paid more to do it as a major. A role for which he was previously deemed not qualified and the whole reason he was doing this was the fact that he couldn’t be paid as well if he wasn’t in the military,” Perkins said. “This epitomizes the fact that for the low performers in the military, if they stay in the military they may be staying because they’re afraid of losing this wonderful paycheck and benefits package.”

On the other hand, high-performing service members feel their effort is not being compensated; instead they are getting the same treatment as a low-performer for doing more work.

High performers “are seeing their hard work and talent is not being rewarded and differently than the lazy shirker who is sitting next to them,” Perkins said.

Those high performers can easily find jobs in the private sector that will pay them the equivalent compensation and benefits or much higher.

Perkins added that in the few exit surveys the military conducts, troops say pay is not the reason they are leaving, but rather the rigidity of military life.

Perkins suggested more flexibility in how Congress pays people in the military.

“We need to be able to compensate and reward people for taking on different roles that are more highly demanded or places that are bigger hardships. We need to have more flexibility in how we retain very specific skill sets,” Perkins said. “Raising pay across the board doesn’t necessarily do anything to solve the specific problems of a pilot shortage.”

The military is catching on to this as it watches some of the most needed employees like pilots, cyber experts and people trained in nuclear skills.

The military is offering modest bonuses to pilots and other occupations and creating some programs to make the work-life balance more flexible.

But, not many have caught on or are still in the pilot phase.

Meanwhile, the military is missing out on talented individuals it needs.

“Propensity to serve is declining, and each of the services, as well as the civilian sector, are vying for the same limited talent pool. We are clearly in a war for talent. Current forecasts based on leading economic indicators suggest difficult times ahead,” Vice Adm. Robert Burke, the deputy chief of Naval Operations of Manpower, Personnel, Training and Education, told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Feb. 14.

Military pay may be one of the issues hurting the effort.

Paying the military more across the board “is reflective of the divide and the guilt that exists between the civilians and the military. They don’t need to be paid more for what they’re doing and throwing money at this problem is not the way to solve it. Don’t say ‘Thank you for your service’ and then not realize we are sending troops to Niger. Don’t throw more money at the problem, get involved in the process,” Perkins said.

References

  1. ^ study (www.files.ethz.ch)
  2. ^ report (www.cbo.gov)
0

Brazil's Military Takeover Of Security In Rio De Janeiro Is A Looming Disaster

SÃO PAULO ― Brazilian President Michel Temer made the unprecedented decision Friday to give the country’s military all public security responsibilities in Rio de Janeiro, the beleaguered city that has been plagued by rising rates of violent crime since it hosted the Olympic Games nearly two years ago.

Temer’s decision will put the military in near-total control of security in Rio through the end of the year, marking the first time a Brazilian president has mobilized the armed forces to take over a city or state’s public security efforts since the country’s military dictatorship ended in 1985.

The announcement has sent shockwaves across country, where the prospect of any sort of military intervention is already an unsettling topic[1] for many, and yet Temer argued in an official statement and again on television Friday that it was the only possible maneuver still available in a desperate time for both Rio and Brazil.

After nearly a decade of declining crime rates, Rio has seen a dramatic spike in violent crimes and homicides in the past two years[2]. In 2016, the Rio state was home to more than 5,000 homicides, including nearly 1,000 killings committed by police.

Though it is far from Brazil’s most violent area, the second-largest but most prominent city in the country has become a barometer for the nation as a whole, which saw its number of homicides increase nearly 4 percent, to roughly 62,000, in 2016. (By comparison, in 2016, there were around 17,000 homicides in the United States, which has roughly 100 million more people than Brazil.)[3]

There were another 688 shootings in Rio in January, but it is no coincidence that Temer made the announcement last week, at the close of Carnival. As the annual pre-Lent festival ended, videos of tourists being beaten and robbed on Rio’s streets and beaches circulated online and on Brazilian cable news, driving home the perception that violence in the city had spiraled out of control.[4]

There is no doubt that Rio and Brazil in general are in dire need of a policy shift  to address the outbreaks of violence.

But there is little reason for optimism that Temer’s plan to send in the big guns of the Brazilian military will work, and the concerns around his decision are plentiful and obvious. Most notably, allowing the military to take control of Rio for up to 10 months raises pertinent questions about the health of Brazil’s democracy some three decades after the end of the country’s military dictatorship: Since his announcement, there has been open worry in Rio and across Brazil that Temer’s military intervention could be a test run for more aggressive military involvement in policing and public security in the future.

And Temer’s escalation in policing is happening in a state with one of the deadliest police forces in a country with one of the world’s deadliest police forces. It’s folly, human rights groups and security experts say, to think the move will do anything but add to the bloodshed and put the lives and rights of Rio’s poorest and most vulnerable residents at even greater risk.

“It is the equivalent of a public-policy ‘Hail Mary,’ and the results are far from certain,” said Dr. Robert Muggah, a co-founder of the Igarapé Institute, a Rio-based public security think tank. “There is a real danger of militarizing public security in Rio de Janeiro even further.”

In 2016, Brazil law enforcement killed more than 4,200 people. Rio’s police, meanwhile, are among the deadliest even by the country’s standards. Police there killed 925 people in 2016, a 43 percent increase from the year prior, and an amount roughly equal to the number of people killed by police in the U.S. in the same year, even though the American population is nearly 20 times larger than the Rio state’s. The number of people killed by police in Rio likely topped 1,000 for 2017.[5]

The violence has taken a toll on police officers, too. In 2016, more than 400 officers died on duty across Brazil, and police deaths rose 34 percent, to 132, in Rio state. But the vast majority of the victims of violent crime and homicide in Rio and across Brazil ― both by police and otherwise ― are not Carnival-going tourists or middle-class people, but the poor and mostly black residents of favelas, the informal, impoverished neighborhoods that have suffered decades of government neglect and are often controlled by drug gangs. Black Brazilians are 23.5 percent more likely to die in homicides than members of other racial groups, and more than three-quarters of the victims of police killings in 2016 were black.[6][7]

Sending in a military that has little training in urban policing and virtually no time to plan for the complexities of Rio and its favela neighborhoods may only exacerbate those problems, human rights groups warn.

“The decision of the federal government to intervene in the state of Rio de Janeiro´s public security … reinforces mistakes that have already been made in the past,” Jurema Werneck, the executive director of Amnesty International Brazil, said in a statement. “Rio de Janeiro state has already experienced actions of the Army, none of which have reduced homicides and aggravated human rights violations. The possible 10 months [of] federal intervention puts at risk mainly the lives of those living in the favelas and peripheries, [especially] black youth.”

The military has indeed proven unable to bring such areas under police control in previous, less-sweeping interventions.

In June 2015, the Brazilian army ended a 14-month occupation of the Complexo da Maré ― a sprawling favela network that is home to an estimated 140,000 people ― having done almost nothing to root out the drug gang that controls it or to curb the violence that plagues the daily lives of its residents. And last year, the military helped Rio police lock down Rocinha ― the largest of Brazil’s favelas ― after a sustained period of shootouts between police and rival drug gangs. The army left two weeks later with Rocinha still ringing with gunfire.[8][9]

That has led to widespread opposition from favela residents and organizations that work within the neighborhoods. Over the weekend, they started an opposition campaign on social media that branded the intervention “a farce.”[10][11]

“In our history, we’ve had one soldier for every 55 inhabitants, but we never had a doctor or a teacher for every 55 inhabitants,” said Gizele Martins, a journalist and community activist in the Maré favela. “We suffer with war tanks at our doorstep. Imagine having your house being searched everyday. [We have] many cases where people get murdered.”

“Now Rio is suffering again with military intervention,” Martins added. “So we that live in the favelas and the peripheries of Rio are completely opposed [to military intervention], because we suffer more than everybody.”

The way to curb the violence, human rights groups and favela residents argue, is not further military intervention, but comprehensive policies that would provide resources like education, health care, infrastructure and economic opportunities that the neighborhoods have long lacked.

“The public security crisis is structural,” Werneck, of Amnesty International, said. “Its not by increasing the number of weapons, militarization nor the continuation of the ‘war on drugs’ that we’ll overcome it.”

Jean Wyllys, a Rio congressman from the leftist Socialism and Freedom Party, echoed that sentiment on Twitter[12].

“The attack on public safety problems goes far beyond a police organ,” Wyllys said. “It goes through urban policies, the reaffirmation of citizenship of the most vulnerable populations, change in drug policy, improvement in public education and the end of underemployment.”

Political leaders in both Rio and Brazil, though, have had little interest in such efforts. The last major initiative aimed at reducing crime in the favelas ― a program called “pacification,” originally launched in 2008 ― collapsed shortly after the Olympics thanks to budgetary shortfalls. Once intended to deliver major social programs and reforms to the favelas, the primary legacy of pacification[13] was instead widespread police corruption, an increase in violence and homicides (including those committed by police), and the further stigmatization of favela residents as little more than poor criminals.

And since he assumed office after the impeachment of former President Dilma Rousseff in 2016, Temer has pushed austerity policies that have cut health, education and welfare programs that once helped many of Brazil’s poorest residents escape poverty. Rio state Gov. Luiz Fernando Pezão and Rio Mayor Marcelo Crivella, meanwhile, “have shown little interest or appetite in developing and implementing a serious public security agenda” amid the outbreaks in violence, Muggah said.

And so Rio gets what it got on Friday, a decision based not in responsible or meaningful public policy, but in politics.

Putting the army in charge may win some votes in the short term. But the potential long-term consequences are exceedingly dangerous.
Dr. Robert Muggah, co-founder of the Igarapé Institute.

Temer has spent the last year pushing an unpopular overhaul of Brazil’s public pension system, and some have speculated[14] that he is using the military intervention as a political smokescreen to distract attention from that legislation while he plots a path forward on how to pass it.

Meanwhile, polls have shown that violence and public security are among the chief concerns of voters heading into general elections later this year, when Brazilians will choose Temer’s successor. Temer won’t be a candidate for president, but with approval ratings that have languished in the single digits for more than a year, the intervention is an opportunity to show that he and the parties within his governing coalition are willing to adopt the tough-on-crime stance many Brazilians say they want.

But Temer’s plan also carries substantial risk, even beyond the most immediate human rights concerns, by creating a political vacuum for those advocating for even more aggressive methods. Rio congressman Jair Bolsonaro, for instance, has emerged as a popular presidential candidate on a platform of giving Brazilian police more leeway to shoot and kill criminals. Bolsonaro, a former army parachutist who has previously praised Brazil’s military dictatorship, blasted Temer’s intervention plan, suggesting that the military likewise won’t have enough latitude to conduct the sort of all-out war he believes the country needs to wage.

“Everyone says we’re at war. Rio is at war. But what kind of war can only one side fire?” Bolsonaro asked in an interview with a Brazilian web site, suggesting again that the police and military need more impunity to shoot and kill.[15]

Polling in recent years has also shown increasing support for the idea of returning to military rule — a 2015 poll showed that 47.6 percent of Brazilians saw a military intervention as justifiable under certain circumstances of major governmental corruption, and support for democracy is among the lowest in the region — and Bolsonaro’s star continues to rise in pre-election surveys, largely on the back of his public security platform. So if Temer’s plan fails to reduce the violence, as it most likely will, the continued lack of a true strategy could further exacerbate the problem and the risk to the lives and human rights of poor, black Brazilians like those that populate Rio’s most dangerous areas. [16][17]

“Putting the army in charge may win some votes in the short term,” Muggah said. “But the potential long-term consequences are exceedingly dangerous.”

References

  1. ^ already an unsettling topic (www.newyorker.com)
  2. ^ dramatic spike in violent crimes and homicides in the past two years (www.forumseguranca.org.br)
  3. ^ to roughly 62,000 (www.huffingtonpost.com)
  4. ^ another 688 shootings (gulfnews.com)
  5. ^ Police there killed 925 people in 2016 (www.huffingtonpost.com)
  6. ^ 23.5 percent more likely (www.telesurtv.net)
  7. ^ more than three-quarters (www.huffingtonpost.com)
  8. ^ 14-month occupation of the Complexo da Maré (edition.cnn.com)
  9. ^ the military helped Rio police lock down Rocinha (www.theguardian.com)
  10. ^ opposition campaign on social media (twitter.com)
  11. ^ a farce (twitter.com)
  12. ^ echoed that sentiment on Twitter (twitter.com)
  13. ^ the primary legacy of pacification (www.huffingtonpost.com)
  14. ^ some have speculated (www.nytimes.com)
  15. ^ asked in an interview with a Brazilian web site (www.oantagonista.com)
  16. ^ 2015 poll (www.businessinsider.com)
  17. ^ among the lowest in the region (gobernanza.udg.mx)
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Off-duty homeland security officer helps catch gunman

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SAN DIEGO – An off-duty homeland security officer came to the rescue Monday afternoon when an armed felon took off running.

“We got the call at about 1:45, a woman told us her boyfriend was in her apartment and would not leave,” said Lt. Charles Lara, San Diego Police.

Lara said the woman reported her boyfriend was beating her and he also had a gun.

When police arrived, the suspect ran from the apartment. An officer chased the suspect on foot throughout Bankers Hill. The suspect ended up at the Chevron gas station, where tried to hide.

An off-duty homeland security officer was also at the gas station, pumping gas.

“Fortunately for us, there was an off-duty homeland security officer or agent who was here and assisted in taking him into custody,” said Lara. “He initially was non-compliant with the homeland security officer, but as more officers arrived, he decided it was in his best interest to surrender.”

Officers arrested 37-year old Gregory Hunter on charges of felony domestic violence and resisting arrest. Lara said Hunter also has two outstanding warrants.

Investigators said upon searching Hunter’s backpack, they found a gun, which turned out to be a BB gun.

“It was not a real gun, but it looked extremely realistic. It even had real looking bullets,” said Lt. Lara.

Lara also said Hunter complained of chest pains and was taken to a nearby hospital.

0

Off-duty homeland security officer helps catch gunman

Please enable Javascript to watch this video

SAN DIEGO – An off-duty homeland security officer came to the rescue Monday afternoon when an armed felon took off running.

“We got the call at about 1:45, a woman told us her boyfriend was in her apartment and would not leave,” said Lt. Charles Lara, San Diego Police.

Lara said the woman reported her boyfriend was beating her and he also had a gun.

When police arrived, the suspect ran from the apartment. An officer chased the suspect on foot throughout Bankers Hill. The suspect ended up at the Chevron gas station, where tried to hide.

An off-duty homeland security officer was also at the gas station, pumping gas.

“Fortunately for us, there was an off-duty homeland security officer or agent who was here and assisted in taking him into custody,” said Lara. “He initially was non-compliant with the homeland security officer, but as more officers arrived, he decided it was in his best interest to surrender.”

Officers arrested 37-year old Gregory Hunter on charges of felony domestic violence and resisting arrest. Lara said Hunter also has two outstanding warrants.

Investigators said upon searching Hunter’s backpack, they found a gun, which turned out to be a BB gun.

“It was not a real gun, but it looked extremely realistic. It even had real looking bullets,” said Lt. Lara.

Lara also said Hunter complained of chest pains and was taken to a nearby hospital.

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Petition demands military funeral for hero JROTC cadet

A petition to the White House is demanding military honors at the funeral of a “hero” JROTC cadet killed during the Florida school shooting[1] Wednesday.

The petition, which has garnered more than 20,000 signatures[2] Monday, asks for a “full honors” military burial for Peter Wang, who reportedly died helping others escape lunatic gunman Nikolas Cruz[3].

“He was a Jrotc Cadet who was last seen, in uniform, holding doors open and thus allowing other students, teachers, and staff to flee to safety,” the petition, started by someone named C.K., states.

“His selfless and heroic actions have led to the survival of dozens in the area. Wang died a hero, and deserves to be treated as such, and deserves a full honors military burial.”

Such burials are normally reserved for active-duty members, those in the Selected Reserve, or veterans not dishonorably discharged, according to the Department of Defense.

The honors include the playing of “Taps,” a folding ceremony for the American flag draped over a veteran’s casket, and the flag’s presentation to family members, according to the defense department.

The JROTC is an Army program that trains potential officers, and Wang hoped to attend the US Military Academy at West Point.

The Army, which administers the ROTC, did not respond to a request for comment.

The petition was filed on the White House’s We The People platform, where the Executive Office is supposed to respond to all petitions that gain more than 100,000 signatures in 30 days.

The Trump administration has not responded to any petitions filed to the Obama-era website, including ones garnering nearly a half-million names, according to a Washington Post report[4].

Wang’s funeral is set for Tuesday afternoon in Coral Springs, Florida.

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References

  1. ^ killed during the Florida school shooting (nypost.com)
  2. ^ garnered more than 20,000 signatures (petitions.whitehouse.gov)
  3. ^ lunatic gunman Nikolas Cruz (nypost.com)
  4. ^ according to a Washington Post report (www.washingtonpost.com)