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President Donald Trump’s decision last week to declare a national emergency related to the security of the Southwest border has created confusion and concern on military bases across the country, which could be facing unexpected cuts in funding for major construction projects and drug interdiction programs.
In all, the White House is planning to use authority given to the president in times of national emergencies to redirect $6.1 billion from the Pentagon’s budget to help fund more than 320 kilometers (200 miles) of the wall the president has promised to build on the southern border to stanch the flow of illegal immigrants and drugs. The money would come from the military construction budget ($3.6 billion) and a Department of Defense drug interdiction fund ($2.5 billion.)
The military construction budget, in particular, is a tempting target for the administration, but tapping into those funds is politically fraught. Unlike other money appropriated by Congress, which must be spent (or “obligated,” in budget-speak) in the year it is authorized, military construction funds can be spent over a period of five years. This means there are billions of dollars sitting in Pentagon accounts right now that haven’t been officially spent.
“To my knowledge it’s unprecedented, particularly in military construction,” said Stephen Ellis, executive vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, a government watchdog. “As opposed to some other accounts, every dollar in that has a target. Every dollar that is appropriated in military construction — there is no slush fund — is actually going to build a particular project on a particular installation at a particular time. There is a victim for every dollar that is taken from that account and directed to the wall.”
Redirecting that money to other purposes will have painful real-world effects on communities across the country that were expecting — even depending on — those funds being spent on contracts with local construction firms and other service providers. And all of those communities have members of Congress who carefully monitor federal spending in their districts, many of whom pride themselves on delivering such projects to their constituents.
In Kentucky, for example, more than $140 million in funding was on the books for Fiscal 2019, according to Department of Defense budget documents. That includes a $62 million project to fund a new middle school for the children of service members at Fort Campbell.
In an appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe Tuesday, Kentucky Democratic Congressman John Yarmuth, who chairs the House Budget Committee, criticized the president’s proposal.
“[T]hese are military families,” he said. “These are the kids of our soldiers, probably some of whom are at the border right now enforcing Donald Trump’s fallacious strategy.”
In Ohio, where construction, among other things, was expected to begin on a new intelligence production complex at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and a new machine gun range at the Army National Guard’s Camp Ravenna, federal funding is now in doubt.
Ohio Republican Congressman Mike Turner, who said in a statement that he generally supports the president’s border strategy, nevertheless added, “I strongly believe securing our border should not be done at the expense of previously funded military construction projects.”
In Texas, home to Republican Congressman Mack Thornberry, the ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, more than $250 million allocated for military construction projects, including infantry training grounds and medical facilities, is suddenly in question.
Thornberry also said in a statement that he generally supports the president’s goals at the border, but like many other members of Congress, he balked at taking the funds from the military. Doing so, he said, will “undercut one of the most significant accomplishments of the last two years beginning to repair and rebuild our military.”
Because of rules governing the federal appropriations process, money that has been “obligated” through a federal contracting process cannot be taken back by the administration, so contracts in effect before the declaration of a national emergency will not be affected.
The confusion surrounding what impact the move would have on military facilities was only made worse by conflicting signals from the administration.
In a Rose Garden appearance in which he announced his plan, Trump suggested that he had identified programs that would lose funding. He said that he had spoken to unnamed “generals” who told him they believed the border barrier to be more important than other projects to which funds had been allocated.
The president himself seemed to say that he had been made aware of programs that could be cut, adding they “didn’t sound too important to me.”
A day later, however, Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan told Reuters that he would be meeting with service chiefs to identify projects that would lose funding in order to accommodate the administration’s plans.
As of Tuesday morning, a staff member on the House Armed Services Committee said that Congress had still not been made aware of the programs that would be cut to make funding available for the border wall.
Trump’s decision to declare a national emergency has provoked a complex set of reactions from members of Congress.
Many Republicans, including senior figures in the Senate such as Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, have expressed support for the declaration, saying they agree that the situation on the border amounts to a crisis.
Funding method a problem
Even among Republicans who are generally sympathetic to Trump’s insistence that a wall is necessary on the Southwest border, his chosen method of funding is the problem.
The U.S. Constitution specifically grants Congress the sole ability to authorize federal spending, and for more than two years, Congress has specifically refused to provide the president with funding for a border wall. A number of Republican lawmakers are unhappy at what they see as an attempt to end-run the legislative branch.
“We have to be careful about endorsing broad uses of executive power,” Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida said in an appearance on CNBC Tuesday. “If today, the national emergency is border security … tomorrow, the national emergency might be climate change.”
Across the aisle, Democrats have been almost uniformly dismissive of the president’s calls for a border barrier and are even more united in their opposition to his use of emergency authority to fund it.
Democratic Congressman Joaquin Castro of Texas announced Tuesday that he had secured 78 co-sponsors for a proposed Joint Resolution terminating the president’s emergency declaration. If Democrats are able to pass the resolution in the House, it would force the Republican-controlled Senate to vote on the bill as well.
This would, at the very least, force many Republican senators to go on the record as supporting or opposing Trump’s actions.
If it were to pass the Senate — not impossible, given the number of Republican lawmakers who have said they are opposed to the state of emergency declaration — President Trump would still have the ability to veto it. (VOA)
Developed by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune, a Decision Support System (DSS) that extends the ability of the existing air quality early warning system (AQEWS) to have decision-making capability for air quality management in Delhi-NCR was launched on Tuesday.
The website for the DSS (https://ews.tropmet.res.in/dss/) is designed to help the Commission for Air Quality Management for NCR and Adjoining Areas (CAQM) by delivering quantitative information about the contribution of emissions from Delhi and its 19 surrounding districts; the contribution of emissions from eight different sectors in Delhi; and the contribution from biomass-burning activities in the neighbouring states.
These information would assist in managing the air quality in a timely manner, a release from the Ministry of Earth Sciences said.
The need was stated by the CAQM, which was formed by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, during a meeting held in January 2021.
Recently, the Commission reviewed the progress made by IITM and had in principle approved the current version of DSS for air quality management in the Delhi-NCR. The IITM has also developed a new website for DSS with the entire system made operational, the release said.
Union Minister of State for Earth Sciences, Jitendra Singh, while launching the website for AQEWS on the occasion of 'Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav' week organised by the Ministry of Earth Sciences, said, "DSS is a significant contribution to 'Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav' on behalf of MoES and IITM and suggestions are invited on this issue."
The website also has a feature whereby the users can create their own emission reduction scenarios (from 20 different districts, including Delhi) so as to examine the possible projected improvement in air quality in Delhi for the next five days.
"This information would explicitly highlight the most important emission sources responsible for the degradation of air quality in Delhi and suggest possible solutions to ameliorate the same. With a plethora of quantitative data, the AQEWS integrated with DSS could become a user-friendly tool for air-quality management in and around Delhi," the release said. (IANS/JB)
Keywords: Delhi, India, Pollution, IITM, Ministry of Earth Sciences
On the first day of the two-day meeting of BJP and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) leaders on Tuesday, discussions were held on important issues related to education and the National Education Policy-2020. Apart from senior RSS leader Suresh Soni, representatives of various organisations associated with the Sangh Parivar -- working in the field of education -- were present in the meeting in New Delhi.
According to sources, Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, who attended the meeting on behalf of the government, shared information related to the National Education Policy-2020 and the government's policy on important issues related to the education sector. Pradhan also shared details of the efforts being made by the government in the field of education.
Discussions were also held regarding the impact of the situation arising out of Corona and how much it has affected the education sector. In the meeting, the RSS leaders asked several questions and provided suggestions to the Union Minister regarding the education policy of the government.
According to the sources, RSS wants the policy to be implemented expeditiously. All aspects related to the policy were discussed in Tuesday's meeting. On the second and the last day of the meeting on Wednesday, special issues related to education will be discussed in which representatives of various organisations of the Sangh, Union Ministers and several BJP leaders will be take part.
Meanwhile, in order to convey its point of view to the government on various issues, the Sangh keeps on calling such coordination meetings related to specific issues, in which RSS representatives -- working in that particular area -- provide feedback to the government. (IANS/JB)
Keywords: BJP, RSS, New Education Policy, Education, India
An old saying, "prevention is better than cure" should be the first scoop in the cup of excitement if you are out to explore the world. To make traveling safe, make sure you check some practical safety tips before and while on the journey.
Here are some tips that can keep you safe, ignoring the hurdles and risks during traveling.
Health issues are of major concern while traveling. These risks are common especially when you are traveling to a place where the diet is different from what you are used to. Health conditions like stomach infections, climatic diseases like flu, cold, etc can knock at your door.
Before traveling, make sure you did complete research about the weather conditions of those destinations where you planned to stay. Keep all the stuff with you, like basic medications, and clothes that will be helpful to keep you safe from the weather and ensure safe travelling.
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Travelers sometimes encounter the risk of being scammed at the departures or during the flights. This risk becomes more obvious when you don't speak the familiar language or don't have complete knowledge about the complex procedures.
Any stranger can come to you regarding the procedure completion and take advantage of your ignorance and fool you. Stay alert for these scams and keep these things in mind.
●Always use the ATMs that are linked to the banks.
●Know the basic procedure of checking
●Do not wear expensive jewelry to show off
●Keep the emergency services phone numbers
●Put the locks on the suitcases
To avoid transportation mishaps, you should search for all forms of transportation before leaving the place that can take you to the planned destination Photo by Guilherme Stecanella
The transportation you choose for your trip can be a blessing or sometimes a tricky tournament. To avoid transportation mishaps, you should search for all forms of transportation before leaving the place that can take you to the planned destination. And especially when traveling to faraway places.
Choose the one that is comfortable and free of hassles. For example, while choosing to travel by air, make sure you know the flight schedules. Make sure you book your flights with trusted airlines. International flights from Australia, Cathay Pacific, is the one of the best in this regard.
Apart from checking the flight's schedule, try to book your ticket in advance so you don't end up stranded on the ticket booth asking for tickets and no time slot is spared for a specific time.
Whether you are traveling domestically or internationally, you need identification. When traveling outside the country, your passport is the most important thing to carry and keep a check on. The most valuable traveling documents you should check on are:
Keep copies of these documents in case they get lost by mistake. In the case of stolen documents, the copies of these will help to make the process of getting them back a bit easier.
To avoid trouble, check out the guidelines such as rules and regulations. Follow the policies that are required. Before zipping your bags, check the customer's reviews to see what they faced worse while traveling through certain transportation if you chose the same one and what advice they shared. This will help you avoid those things that can put you in the same situation.
Before traveling, know the surroundings. Be aware of how the locals of that area talk and dress. Usually, tourists or travelers carry lots of cash and other valuables with them. That brings them under the spotlight. Those people who show off their appearances as a traveler from a different place and culture are more at risk of being scammed.
You can avoid those scams by:
●Dressing yourself like a local
●Don't show off yourself by standing in the middle of a crowd and take pictures
●Don't make it apparent if you get lost in the streets
Before traveling to some new place, especially when you are traveling outside the country, make research about the language spoken there. It helps you a lot, especially when you get lost or injured. Try to learn the basic phrases in the language being spoken in that particular area you are traveling to. Phrases like:
●I need help
●Where is the hospital
●Please guide me on the way to my hotel, etc.
If you are traveling outside the country, getting traveling insurance is recommended Photo by Denise Jans on Unsplash
Experiences matter. It is a bit hard to know the place you planned to visit if you have not visited it before. Make sure you find the experienced travelers who already have visited. Take advice from them. Ask them about their experience and what things you should do and what not. Do's and don'ts of that particular area. You can watch youtube videos that tell the lifestyle of a specific place.
Also read: 5 Must-Haves to Travel Light
If you are traveling outside the country, getting traveling insurance is recommended. It covers all unexpected injuries. Unfortunately, if you get a trip to the hospital or in case you lose your belongings, traveling insurance covers everything for you.
ATMs are the common places for thieves to steal the information of travelers. No doubt, they are the most convenient spot to take the money in the right currency. But it is recommended to stay cautious while using ATMs.
Check your back if anyone is stalking you or the person standing behind the mirrors waiting for his move, is not too close to finding out all the figures and info you entered.
You might not be familiar with the new place you are traveling to. To avoid uncertain situations like moving in the wrong direction, make sure you set the GPS in your phone so you reach your destination safely and on time without going through any hassle.
(Disclaimer: This article is sponsored and contains some commercial links)
Keywords: Travel, Tips, Apps, Language, Guidelines,