The Fisher House Foundation, an organization long- known for caring for wounded troops and their families, will pay death gratuity benefits for the families of servicemembers killed during the government shutdown ““ and the Pentagon will back them pay once it’s over.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced the deal on Wednesday after massive public outrage that benefits ““ including a $100,000 payment to the family within 36 hours of the death notice ““ would not be paid while the government is shut down.
“Today I am pleased to announce that the Department of Defense is entering into an agreement with the Fisher House Foundation that will allow the federal government to provide the family members of fallen service members with the full set of benefits they have been promised, including a $100,000 death gratuity payment,” Hagel said in a statement released shortly after he and Army Secretary John McHugh traveled to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware for the dignified transfer ceremony for four soldiers who were killed by an IED in Afghanistan on Sunday. “After the shutdown ends, DoD will reimburse the Fisher House for the costs it has incurred.”
“I am offended, outraged and embarrassed that the government shutdown had prevented the Department of Defense from fulfilling this most sacred responsibility in a timely manner,” he said.
So is Ken Fisher, a New York City real estate developer who runs the Fisher House Foundation.
Fisher said he saw news reports that the benefits would not get paid during the shutdown and “I started just getting angrier and angrier.” The lapse in benefits became more urgent with five U.S. troops were killed in Afghanistan over the weekend
“We’re still working on how to implement this,” Fisher told Defense One. He said he’s in touch with Pentagon officials to figure out how to administer the checks. The foundation could give money directly to the families, but there’s an issue of privacy, or give the money to the Defense Department, but there’s uncertainty over whether DoD can process the checks during the shutdown. “At the end of the day if I have to drive it down myself and give it to them, I will,” Fisher said. “This segment of society, when they raise their hand, they give an oath and the oath is to defend this nation, with my life if necessary. But this country also takes an oath, that if you’re wounded, we’ll take care of you, if you don’t make it home, we’ll take care of your family.”
On Tuesday night, Fisher vowed to help the families of the fallen. But he said it was Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., who sits on the Armed Services Committee, who urged Fisher to coordinate with the Pentagon. “I can absorb it, but I can’t absorb it indefinitely. I’ll do what I can for as long as I can,” he said.
In his statement announcing the deal, Hagel said he warned Congress about the lapse in death benefits. “In the days after the shutdown, departmental lawyers and budget officials pursued every tool and option at our disposal in an effort to provide these benefits. Even under the Pay Our Military Act, we found that we lacked the necessary authority to make payments to the families directly,” he said. Pentagon Comptroller Bob Hale also mentioned the lapse during a press briefing at the Pentagon before the government shut down. But it wasn’t until troops were killed in Afghanistan that Congress and the White House acted to fix the problem.
The Fisher House Foundation was founded in 1990. It has built 63 Fisher Houses ““ living facilities near military hospitals that families of wounded troops can stay during recovery ““ and is planning to open another in Nashville, Tenn., next month.
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Before we get to the specifics of this exposé about escorts working the Iowa and New Hampshire primary crowds, let’s get three things out of the way: 1.) It’s from Cosmopolitan; 2.) most of the women quoted use fake (if colorful) names; and 3.) again, it’s from Cosmopolitan. That said, here’s what we learned:
- Business was booming: one escort who says she typically gets two inquiries a weekend got 15 requests in the pre-primary weekend.
- Their primary season clientele is a bit older than normal—”40s through mid-60s, compared with mostly twentysomething regulars” and “they’ve clearly done this before.”
- They seemed more nervous than other clients, because “the stakes are higher when you’re working for a possible future president” but “all practiced impeccable manners.”
- One escort “typically enjoy[s] the company of Democrats more, just because I feel like our views line up a lot more.”
No matter where you stand on mandating companies to include a backdoor in encryption technologies, it doesn’t make sense to allow that decision to be made on a state level. “The problem with state-level legislation of this nature is that it manages to be both wildly impractical and entirely unenforceable,” writes Brian Barrett at Wired. There is a solution to this problem. “California Congressman Ted Lieu has introduced the ‘Ensuring National Constitutional Rights for Your Private Telecommunications Act of 2016,’ which we’ll call ENCRYPT. It’s a short, straightforward bill with a simple aim: to preempt states from attempting to implement their own anti-encryption policies at a state level.”
Much has been made of David Brooks’s recent New York Times column, in which confesses to missing already the civility and humanity of Barack Obama, compared to who might take his place. In NewYorker.com, Jeffrey Frank reminds us how critical such attributes are to foreign policy. “It’s hard to imagine Kennedy so casually referring to the leader of Russia as a gangster or a thug. For that matter, it’s hard to imagine any president comparing the Russian leader to Hitler [as] Hillary Clinton did at a private fund-raiser. … Kennedy, who always worried that miscalculation could lead to war, paid close attention to the language of diplomacy.”
The New Covenant. The Third Way. The Democratic Leadership Council style. Call it what you will, but whatever centrist triangulation Bill Clinton embraced in 1992, Hillary Clinton wants no part of it in 2016. Writing for Bloomberg, Sasha Issenberg and Margaret Talev explore how Hillary’s campaign has “diverged pointedly” from what made Bill so successful: “For Hillary to survive, Clintonism had to die.” Bill’s positions in 1992—from capital punishment to free trade—“represented a carefully calibrated diversion from the liberal orthodoxy of the previous decade.” But in New Hampshire, Hillary “worked to juggle nostalgia for past Clinton primary campaigns in the state with the fact that the Bill of 1992 or the Hillary of 2008 would likely be a marginal figure within today’s Democratic politics.”
At first, “it was pleasant” to see Trevor Noah “smiling away and deeply dimpling in the Stewart seat, the seat that had lately grown gray hairs,” writes The Atlantic‘s James Parker in assessing the new host of the once-indispensable Daily Show. But where Jon Stewart was a heavyweight, Noah is “a very able lightweight, [who] needs time too. But he won’t get any. As a culture, we’re not about to nurture this talent, to give it room to grow. Our patience was exhausted long ago, by some other guy. We’re going to pass judgment and move on. There’s a reason Simon Cowell is so rich. Impress us today or get thee hence. So it comes to this: It’s now or never, Trevor.”