5 months ago

Air Force warns it is short 1,926 pilots

(US Air Force/Flickr)

The U.S. Air Force is being stretched to the limit, with budget constraints and a growing pilot shortage, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson and Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein told a news briefing on Thursday.

“The fiscal year ’18 continuing resolution is actually delaying our efforts to increase the readiness of the force,” Wilson said. “And risk accumulates over time, and you just don’t know exactly when things will break. But we are stretching the force to the limit, and we need to start turning the corner on readiness.”

Wilson said restoring readiness means lifting sequestration and hiring more people:

Last summer, we were reporting to people that we were about 1,500…pilots short in the Air Force, and we expected it to get worse.

As the fiscal year closed, we assessed where we were with respect to pilots. And I’m announcing today that, at the close of the last fiscal year, we were 1,926 pilots short. So almost…2,000 pilots short of a force that has 20,000 pilots. So that’s one in 10 that we’re short.

It’s not just pilots, though, and air crew, when it comes to readiness. It is spare parts and flying hours and munitions. So increasing the readiness of the force so that we win any fight, any time, is our top priority.

Wilson said burnout is one reason for the pilot shortage: “We are too small for all the missions that we’re being asked to carry out on behalf of the nation,” she said. “And as a result, we’re burning out our people.”

“Surge has become the new normal in the United States Air Force, and you can do that for a year, or two years, or maybe even three or four years. But we’re asking — I met someone last week who was on — who has just come back from his 17th deployment — 17 deployments,” Wilson said.

“Less than one percent of Americans serve in uniform and protect the rest of us, and they are carrying a very heavy burden. And at some point, families make a decision: that they just can’t keep doing this at this pace, and I think that’s — that’s the biggest thing we’re facing, is we’re burning out our people, because we’re too small for what the nation is asking.”

To make up for some of the pilot shortfall, President Trump on Oct. 20 signed an executive order allowing the Air Force to recall (on a voluntary basis) as many as 1,000 retired pilots to active-duty staff positions.

“You may have heard that we got authority to welcome back retirees,” Goldfein told reporters. “I will tell you that my 85-year-old dad, who flew F-4s in Vietnam, and his fellow retiree — they are all excited about coming back.”

Goldfein added that boosting the number of pilots will be a “longer-term investment.”

And Wilson noted that “you can’t train a pilot in just a year.”

“You have to absorb them into a squadron and get them — you know, get them qualified on a weapon system.

“I was talking to a parent last week, out in Colorado, whose son is a — is a director of operations up in Alaska for the F-22. And he’s flying, you know? He’s — and his dad said, ‘Gosh, you’re a pretty senior guy to be flying. Why are you flying with your squadron?’

“He said, ‘Dad, we only have three instructor pilots in the whole squadron. We’ve got all these youngsters, and they have to be trained to be able to do the mission.’ So we’re just really short of people who can teach in the squadron.”

The manpower shortage also extends to Air Force ground and maintenance crews, the people who work on airplanes and their weapons systems before takeoff.

Goldfein gave the following example:

You know, when I started flying airplanes as a young F-16 pilot, I would meet my crew chief and a — dedicated and a secondary crew chief at the plane. We’d walk the airplane — walk around the airplane. I’d taxi out. I’d meet a crew that was in the runway, and they’d pull the pins and arm the weapons and give me a last-chance check. I’d take off. I’d fly to a destination. A different crew would meet me.

Here’s what often happens today. You taxi slow because the same single crew chief that you met has to get in the van and drive to the end of the runway to pull the pins and arm the weapons.

And then you sit on the runway before you take off and you wait, because that crew chief has to go jump on a C-17 with his tools to fly ahead to meet you at the other end.

This the level of — of numbers that we’re dealing with here. We’re making the mission happen but we’re having to do it, very often, on the backs of our airmen.

And so we’re going to have — the — the tension on the force right now is significant. And so we’re looking for all these different ways to not only retain those that we have invested in but increase production so we can provide some reduction on the tension on the force right now.

Wilson said the Air Force has created an Air Crew Crisis Task Force to come up with solutions to the pilot shortfall and training deficiencies. She said the most important thing is to get rid of the Budget Control Act (sequester).

(By Susan Jones, courtesy CNSNews.com)

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10 mins ago

Steve Marshall and Troy King most well-known, well-liked Republican candidates for Alabama attorney general, according to poll

New polling obtained by Yellowhammer News offers a peek into Alabama’s attorney general race, with the edges in the Republican primary bid at-the-moment being given to current Attorney General Steve Marshall and former Attorney General Troy King.

The poll, conducted by WPA Intelligence, found that 24 percent of Republican primary voters have a favorable view of Marshall and 26 percent have a favorable view of King, while 5 percent have an unfavorable view of Marshall and 15 percent have an unfavorable view of King.

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The other two Republicans running, former U.S. Attorney Alice Martin and Judge Chess Bedsole, have 13 and 8 percent favorability, respectively.

King has the highest name identification at 61 percent, with Marshall’s at 43 percent. Martin’s name identification is at 32 percent and Bedsole’s at 28 percent.

(WPA Intelligence)

Survey Methodology: WPA selected a random sample (n=500 Republican primary voters) of registered voters from the Alabama voter file using Proportionate Probability Sampling (PPS) who were contacted by phone April 15-17, 2018. The sample was stratified based on geography, age, and gender, and the study has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percent in 95 out of 100 cases.

The primary election is on June 5, and the state-wide general election is November 6.

Rep. Byrne: A tax code that works

Each April, Americans across the country face great frustration and inconvenience in filing their taxes.

Fortunately, this Tax Day marked the last time Americans would file their taxes under the old tax code. Thanks to passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, Americans will now have a simpler and fairer tax code. I was proud to work with President Trump to reform our tax code and make the process easier for taxpayers.

Starting next year, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will bring Americans relief when filing their taxes under a more streamlined, straightforward tax code. However, making the overall filing process simpler and more convenient was just one of the many ways we worked to create a tax code that benefits and works for the American people.

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One of the most important reforms under the new tax code is the doubling of the standard deduction. This provision increases the standard deduction to $12,000 for individuals and $24,000 for married couples. Combined with new lower tax rates, almost every Alabamian should see a tax decrease.

Also important, the new tax code prioritizes American families by doubling the Child Tax Credit from $1,000 to $2,000 per child. It is no secret that raising a family is not cheap; so, this increase provides additional support for families struggling to pay for childcare and other necessary expenses associated with parenting.

To provide even more support for families, the bill preserves the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit, as well as the Adoption Tax Credit. Even more, the bill makes improvements to saving options for education by allowing parents to use 529 accounts to save for elementary, secondary, and higher education.

Most people will not have to wait until the next tax season to see the impact of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Already, many hardworking Alabamians are seeing more money in their paychecks each month. That means your hard-earned money is ending up back in your pockets, rather than the coffers of the federal government.

Tax reform has also helped spur overall economic growth. Our bill helps to level the playing field for American businesses, creating new job opportunities and finally causing wages to rise after years of stagnation.

Many businesses have also handed out bonuses and improved benefits to their workforce. Since passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, I have had the pleasure of personally handing out bonus checks at multiple businesses in Southwest Alabama. Trust me, these workers were thrilled with the extra money.

We aren’t stopping now either. The House passed a package of bills last week to help cut down on identity theft and to hold criminals accountable for IRS scams. It is important that these crooks be punished for trying to defraud hardworking Americans, including our nation’s senior citizens.

Equally important, the House also passed bills to make the IRS more efficient, effective, and accountable. The IRS should be a customer-friendly organization that responds to the questions and concerns of the American people.

In the past four months, we have seen tremendous growth right here in Southwest Alabama because of the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act. From our small business owners handing out bonus checks to our single-income families taking home extra money in their paychecks, evidence shows that allowing Americans to keep more of their hard-earned money is a huge boom for our economy.

As we bid farewell to an old, outdated tax code, Americans can rest easy knowing they have a simpler, fairer tax code to work with in the future.

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne is a Republican from Fairhope.

40 mins ago

Abortion is not a human right, says State Dept. official

The State Department released its Human Rights Report for 2017 on Friday, and State Department officials acknowledged it purposely left out a section on “women’s reproductive rights,” which had been included in previous reports during the Obama administration, noting that the administration does not consider abortion a human right under international law.

“When the State Department is talking about this represents our values as Americans, the removal of sections on women’s reproductive rights – why is that not included in values as Americans?” a reporter asked State Department officials.

“I’m going to explain why it was removed. It was introduced six years ago into the report. It hadn’t been there before,” Michael Kozak, ambassador for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, said.

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“It’s one of the few terms that are used in the report that isn’t derived from an international treaty that has a definition or derived from U.S. law, where there’s a clear definition to the term, and in this case, the previous administration intended it to mean look at the availability of contraception, at the – whether the government tried to impose or coerce people in making decisions about reproduction,” Kozak said.

“In the statements that were made – this was derived from the Beijing Declaration that was done in the ‘90s. At that time, it was very clear and our delegation made a very clear statement that this has nothing to do with abortion. It doesn’t mean abortion,” he said.

Kozak said the use of the term “reproductive rights” means different things to people on both sides of the issue.

“Unfortunately, over the last few years, groups on both sides of that issue domestically have started to use the term, and both seem to think it does include abortion and then argue about it,” he said. “So our thought was let’s just not use a term that has the opposite meaning from the one we intend.

“We went back to the term that’s used in the U.S. statute that requires the Human Rights Report, which is coerced family planning, namely coerced abortion or involuntary sterilization,” Kozak said. “I might mention too, because I went back and looked at last year’s report, the question being asked was, ‘Were there obstacles opposed to getting contraception information and means?’

“The answer in virtually every country was no, there were no obstacles other than, in almost every country, including our own, the availability in rural areas is less than it is in urban areas. But we were taking a lot of space to explain that,” he said.

“So what we’ve done, we’ve kept that information in there. We’ve done it now by a hyperlink. We used to take that information from the WHO report and put it in. We said let’s just use a hyperlink, and then there’s actually more information available that way. So that’s the rationale behind that,” Kozak said.

“It’s not a diminishment of women’s rights or a desire to get away from it; it was to stop using a term that has several different meanings that are not all the ones we intend,” he added.

A reporter later questioned whether Kozak was saying “there are no obstacles for women to get contraception in any country except for if there’s a remote issue.”

“I said with some exceptions, and the exceptions were and still are – and we’ve really gotten at it by flipping back to the original U.S. statutory language. It’s in places like China, where in order to enforce their two – now two-child policy, that there are reports of coerced abortion and involuntary sterilization,” Kozak said.

The ambassador said North Korea also engages in forced abortion, although it’s usually used for political punishment. Also in the country of Belarus, women in state hospitals or who are institutionalized are forced to have abortions or if the woman or baby has disabilities.

“In North Korea, where the government also coerces or forces abortion – although sometimes that’s for political punishment rather than family planning, and we uncovered it,” Kozak said.

“So as we were digging through trying to reduce the bulk of some of this report, I found in the old country I served in, in Belarus, that it turns out that the doctors in the state hospitals, and particularly in the institutions there, if they have a woman who is pregnant and who is a woman with disabilities, the doctors insist on an abortion. Or if they believe the fetus has a disability, they’ll insist on an abortion. So we’ve called that out too,” he said.

“So it’s not – those were the cases, though, in the – under the previous formula where you would say there was a restriction on family planning, freedom of family planning. For most countries, it said, there isn’t any restriction except for the ones imposed by economics and rural-urban type thing,” Kozak said.

“So just to be clear just on that, so taking out the language about those cases therefore means that the U.S. doesn’t believe that the inability for women to get an abortion physically or by law is an abuse of human rights?” a reporter asked.

“Correct, under the previous administration and this one and the one before that. We have never taken the position that abortion was a right under – a human right under international law,” Kozak said.

“This is supposed to be internationally recognized human rights, and it’s an issue on which – some countries prohibit abortion. Some countries, like our own, pretty much no restriction on it, and we don’t say one of those is right and one of those is wrong. We don’t report on it because it’s not a human right,” he said.

“It’s an issue of great policy debate. You can have a good discussion, but there’s no internationally recognized standard as to what’s the right treatment, but the other, yes. The – it is internationally recognized that somebody shouldn’t coerce you to have an abortion or force you to be sterilized,” Kozak added.

(Courtesy of CNSNews.com)

1 hour ago

Alabama Waffle House deserves kudos for their handling of #WaffleHouse boycott

Corporate boycotts are all the rage. Last week we have a boycott of the notoriously liberal Starbucks because two men wouldn’t leave when asked and now Starbucks is closing stores to do “implicit bias training”.

In Alabama, a Waffle House in Saraland came under attack after a video showed an intoxicated and angry Chikesia Clemons being arrested for not leaving a restaurant when requested. The evidence indicated the original story about an argument over utensils was a lie. The woman was asked to leave because she was drunk and brought alcohol into the restaurant.  She also reportedly told the staff “Bitch, you don’t know what I’ve got going on. … I may have a gun, I may have anything, I can come back and shoot this place up if I need to.”

In light of this new evidence Waffle House took the anti-Starbucks position:

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Why this matters: The press likes chaos, they thrive off racial chaos, and they are fomenting it at every turn. Most corporations want no part of this. They want controversy to go away and they want to be seen as good corporate citizens, so they take the PR hit and promise to do better if the mob will just stop screaming. Waffle House stood up for the truth here, they supported their employees, they supported law enforcement, and for that they should be applauded.

The details:

— Clemons and two friends were asked to leave the Waffle House after entering with an alcoholic beverage. Her two friends left but Clemons yelled at staff and threatened them.

— When police arrived Clemons refused to leave and then resisted arrest.

— To show her level of intoxication, police released a video of Clemons appearing to vomit into a garbage can during her booking.

— Nothing good happens at a Waffle House after 2 AM. The arrest took place at 2:45 AM.

@TheDaleJackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a conservative talk show from 7-11 AM weekdays on WVNN in Huntsville.

2 hours ago

4 Alabama men arrested on drug trafficking charges

Four men accused of trafficking meth in Cullman County, Alabama, have been arrested in a raid.

AL.com reports the men are each charged with trafficking methamphetamine, unlawful possession of marijuana and unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia.

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County Sheriff Matt Gentry says the Cullman Narcotics Enforcement Team executed a search warrant on Friday. The team found drug paraphernalia, marijuana and 4 ounces of methamphetamine.

Thirty-seven-year-old David Jerry Reynolds, 39-year-old Damian Alan Blair and 58-year-old Robert Earl Brock are being held in jail. Thirty-two-year-old Steven Ray Moore is out on bail.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)