POGO Calls for Justice Department Investigation of Flynn for False Statements

The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) calls on the Justice Department to immediately investigate and consider for prosecution the failure of Michael Flynn, the former National Security Advisor, to disclose payments he received from foreign governments on his security clearance questionnaire, known as an SF-86. Furthermore, the Defense Department should consider whether he violated any provision of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

The questionnaire makes it clear that omitting material information can result in criminal penalties up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine under 18 U.S. Code § 1001, the section of the criminal code addressing false statements. General Flynn, as a former flag officer in the U.S. military and former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, should have been more familiar than most incoming administration officials with the need to be fully upfront about his financial and other relationships with foreign governments.

The Russian government paid $45,000 to General Flynn for a speaking engagement in December 2015, and a pro-Turkish government consulting firm paid him more than $500,000 for lobbying in 2016. In both cases, General Flynn did not disclose information about these foreign government payments on his SF-86, which asks a number of detailed questions on foreign contacts and foreign business dealings, including whether an applicant has received a “benefit from a foreign country.” (General Flynn also failed to report his Turkish lobbying activities in a timely manner pursuant to the Foreign Agents Registration Act.) His omissions were significant since the payments he received were large, recent, and from countries in which the United States has an especially high national security interest.

„Accountability and justice help ensure our national security as well as our government’s integrity,” said Danielle Brian, POGO’s executive director. „As someone who occupied one of our country’s most important national security positions, General Flynn should face a penalty for failing to disclose the substantial sums he was paid by foreign governments. The higher you climb in power, the higher the standards should be.

The bipartisan leadership of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee have stated that General Flynn may have broken the law based on their review of documents obtained from the Defense Department. “Personally I see no evidence or no data to support the notion that General Flynn complied with the law,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), chairman of the committee, at a press briefing. The White House has not provided information on General Flynn in response to the committee’s requests, stating that it is does not have information relevant to its investigation and that Trump transition documents about Flynn before January 20—Inauguration Day—are not in its possession.

„Moving forward, the Flynn case should be a lesson for White House attorneys, who clearly need to better vet candidates for sensitive positions before they embarrass the administration,” added Ms. Brian. „The White House also needs to fully cooperate in any probes and not shield information about illegal acts from investigators by hiding behind dubious rationales.”

Founded in 1981, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is a nonpartisan independent watchdog that champions good government reforms. POGO’s investigations into corruption, misconduct, and conflicts of interest achieve a more effective, accountable, open, and ethical federal government.


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The Japanese American National Museum has developed a series of lesson plans for teachers to complement its Instructions to All Persons: Reflections on Executive Order 9066 exhibition and enhance student learning of the 75th anniversary of President Franklin Roosevelt’s signing of the order that led to the tragic and unlawful incarceration of 120,000 individuals of Japanese ancestry during World War II. Now available on the museum’s website, the lessons are intended for middle and high school students and can be used both when visiting the museum and in the classroom. Development of the lesson plans was funded by The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, which also funded a two-day teacher workshop at the museum March 31–April 1.

Each of the six lessons now available at janm.org/instructions-to-all/resources is intended to encourage reflection and discussion about the experience of Japanese Americans during World War II and its continuing relevance today. The lessons are:

Bill of Rights: Violated of Upheld?

Instructions to All Persons: Document Analysis

Do Words Matter? Civilian Exclusion Order

A Dream Deferred
Instructions to All Persons

Looking at Current Executive Orders

“We hope that the lessons we’ve developed will help educators guide their students into meaningful thought and conversation about what happened during World War II, what similarities and differences they observe in the world today, and why it’s important for everyone to be vigilant about protecting the democracy of the United States,” said Allyson Nakamoto, the museum’s Director of Education. “The Japanese American National Museum opened to the public 25 years ago and while the World War II experience has always been at the core of our mission and work, making sure that younger generations connect with what happened and understand the ramifications of certain actions, or lack of action, seems especially vital right now. We’re grateful to The Broad Foundation for its support in helping us bring these lesson plans to fruition.”

The two-day teacher workshop brought together educators from the Los Angeles Unified School District and local charter schools, experts, and first-person voices to gain a better understanding of how listening to and learning about other people’s stories is so important when teaching young people. A first-grade teacher reflected, “This workshop inspired me to bring more marginalized voices and histories to my classroom and gave me concrete tools and support to do so. The speakers were amazing and discussion was quite mind-opening. It’s such an important time to be doing this work. I feel incredibly grateful to have had this experience.”

“The incarceration that resulted from Executive Order 9066 75 years ago is increasingly relevant today, and it’s vitally important that parents and teachers instill lessons of the past in our children so that shameful injustices never happen again,” said Gerun Riley, president of The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation “We are pleased to support lesson materials and professional development that allow teachers to make learning even more impactful for their students.

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Instructions to All Persons: Reflections on Executive Order 9066
Through August 13, 2017
Instructions to All Persons: Reflections on Executive Order 9066, commemorates the 75th anniversary of President Franklin Roosevelt’s signing of Executive Order 9066, which led to the tragic and unlawful incarceration of 120,000 individuals of Japanese ancestry during World War II. Instructions to All Persons is intended to engage visitors in critical discussions of the Japanese American incarceration experience and its continuing relevance today. It aims to examine the social impact of language and encourage viewers to contemplate the lessons of the past, as well as to compare World War II experiences with current events.

New Frontiers: The Many Worlds of George Takei
Through August 20, 2017
New Frontiers: The Many Worlds of George Takei explores the life and career of pioneering actor, activist, and social media icon George Takei. By examining Takei’s diverse experiences and achievements, this entertaining exhibition creates a portrait of a unique individual while offering an innovative means of engaging with the social history of America.

Common Ground: The Heart of Community

Incorporating hundreds of objects, documents, and photographs collected by JANM, this exhibition chronicles 130 years of Japanese American history, from the early days of the Issei pioneers through the World War II incarceration to the present.

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About The Broad Foundation

The Broad Foundations, which include The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation and The Broad Art Foundation, were established to advance entrepreneurship for the public good in education, science and the arts. For more information, visit www.broadfoundation.org.

About the Japanese American National Museum (JANM)

Established in 1985, the Japanese American National Museum promotes understanding and appreciation of America’s ethnic and cultural diversity by sharing the Japanese American experience. Located in the historic Little Tokyo district of downtown Los Angeles, JANM is a hybrid institution that straddles traditional museum categories and strives to provide a voice for Japanese Americans as well as a forum that enables all people to explore their own heritage and culture. Since opening to the public, JANM has presented over 70 exhibitions onsite and traveled 17 of its exhibitions to locations around the world, including the Smithsonian Institution and the Ellis Island Museum in the United States, and several leading cultural museums in Japan and South America.

JANM is located at 100 N. Central Ave., Los Angeles. Museum hours are Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Thursday from noon to 8 p.m. General admission is $10 adults, $6 students and seniors, free for members and children under age five. Admission is free to everyone on Thursdays from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. and every third Thursday of the month from noon to 8 p.m. General admission prices and free admission times may not apply to specially ticketed exhibitions. Closed Monday, 4th of July, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. For more information visit janm.org or call 213.625.0414.

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What the world needs to do about Venezuela

Demonstrators clash with riot police during the so-called „mother of all marches” against Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas, Venezuela April 19, 2017.

© 2017 Reuters

Tens of thousands of Venezuelans who have reached a breaking point over the country’s humanitarian and political crisis poured into the streets all over the country on Wednesday. They demanded that the government let aid enter Venezuela to help the many people who are desperate for food and medicine. They demanded that the government hold elections, free political prisoners, and reestablish judicial independence and the powers of the National Assembly.

The Venezuelan government’s harsh reaction — complete with a show of force — was a hugely irresponsible replay of its response to previous protests. The government’s response to these protests is further evidence of the need for strong international pressure, especially from other states in the region, to push for the restoration of human rights and democracy in Venezuela — and a demonstration of the potential cost of a failure to act.

Before the demonstration, President Nicolás Maduro — invoking his „defending peace” slogan — accused the opposition of engaging in „violence, conspiracy, [a] coup d’etat, and interventionism.” He announced he would multiply the number of pro-government militias and arm them. All of this happened amid explosive tensions, in a country where security forces have brutally repressed anti-government demonstrations, sometimes in collaboration with armed pro-government groups.

The government organized a counter-rally in downtown Caracas, precisely where the opposition marchers were heading.

Security forces used  and tear gas against the anti-government demonstrators — available images show dramatic parallels to the outbreak of clashes in early 2014 that led to a wave of arbitrary arrests and abuse against anti-government protesters and bystanders.

Journalists covering the protests said that security forces harassed them. The government took two cable channels that reported on the protests off the air. More than  people were detained nation-wide on April 19, most of whom are still being held. A total of more than 1,000 have been detained at anti-government protests since early April, the Venezuelan Penal Forum, a local group that provides legal support to detainees, reported on Twitter.

Three people were killed on April 19, with the month’s death toll in protests and related incidents at 22 so far.

Carlos Moreno, a 17-year-old boy who according to media reports was not participating in the demonstrations died after being shot in the head in Caracas. Armed civilians in Táchira state shot at Paola Andreina Ramírez, a 23-year-old university student, killing her, an attack that a bystander caught on  and posted on Twitter. A sniper in Miranda state killed Sgt. San Clemente Barrios Neomar, a member of the National Guard. The attorney general’s office said it was investigating the cases, and that it had identified who had shot Ramírez.

When the demonstrations ended, Diosdado Cabello, the powerful politician from Maduro’s party who once headed the National Assembly, said in his weekly TV show that he „wouldn’t want to be in the shoes of those delinquents who are calling to destabilize [the country],” according to local media. He also  a booklet with the title „Manual of the Revolutionary Combatant” and photographs of opposition leaders with their home addresses, telling the audience that they knew „where they live, where they go.” In a country where impunity is the norm, and where the government has repeatedly taken advantage of the lack of judicial independence to arbitrarily prosecute and jail political opponents, these implicit threats must be taken very seriously.

In spite of the deaths and the environment of threat, many Venezuelans — although fewer than on Wednesday –took to the streets again on Thursday to push for change in their country. There has been more tear gas and there have been more , local groups said

On Thursday night, at least 12 people died during incidents of looting in two low-income areas in Caracas. Eleven people were killed or electrocuted in El Valle, according to the Venezuelan Attorney General’s Office.After security forces and armed civilians with links to the government entered El Valle, there was repeated gunfire and the children’s and maternity hospital in the area had to be evacuated after tear gas entered the building, according to some residents.

On Saturday, Venezuelans organized a demonstration to honor people who had been killed in during demonstrations in April.

Even before these most recent protests, the region’s eyes were already on Venezuela. The Organization of American States (OAS) is currently debating Venezuela’s compliance with the Inter-American Democratic Charter. Over the past few weeks, the OAS secretary general and key member states have voiced serious concern regarding the humanitarian crisis that Venezuela is facing, with basic food and medical supplies in drastically short supply.

The international community has also criticized the ongoing arbitrary detention of Leopoldo López, an opposition leader who was sentenced to almost 14 years in prison, the comptroller general’s decision to bar Henrique Capriles Radonski, another opposition leader, from running for office for 15 years, and a Supreme Court ruling that effectively shut down the National Assembly. The international pressure  even after the court partly reversed its ruling responding to a request by the president.

Those willing to criticize the actions of the Venezuelan government should take their disapproval one step further. Latin American leaders should immediately convene a high-level meeting to address the Venezuela crisis and press the Maduro administration to welcome independent monitors when organizing the country’s next elections. They must demand that he release political prisoners, reestablish the independence of the judiciary and National Assembly, and most of all, allow sufficient humanitarian aid into the country to relieve the suffering of the Venezuelan people.

Commandant Jodi Tymeson to return as Executive Director of the Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs

Today, Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds announced that Iowa Veterans Home Commandant Jodi Tymeson will take over as the new Executive Director of Veterans Affairs on May 1.  Previously, Tymeson was named Chief Operating Officer of the Iowa Veterans Home in May 2013, and then promoted to Commandant in October 2013.    

“I want to thank Gen. Tymeson for her great work as Commandant of the Iowa Veterans Home,” said Gov. Branstad.  “She provided incredible leadership in caring for our veterans in Marshalltown.  I am pleased that Gen. Tymeson is once again answering the call to service for her fellow Iowans as she returns as Executive Director of the Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs.

Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds added, “Gen. Tymeson is the right person to lead the Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs and be the chief voice an advocate for Iowa veterans and their families.  I’m thankful she has taken the responsibility once again to ensure that every veteran has the opportunity to receive the benefits they are entitled to.”

“It’s been an incredible honor to serve as Commandant of the Iowa Veterans Home.  I will leave IVH knowing the staff will continue to provide exceptional care and services to our residents.  I want to express my personal appreciation to the staff, volunteers, veteran service organizations, civic organizations and businesses, and many generous citizens who have contributed so much to support the mission of the Iowa Veterans Home. I look forward to continuing to serve Iowa’s veterans.”

Tymeson served in the Iowa Army National Guard from 1974-2007. While there, she graduated from officer candidate school and was commissioned a second lieutenant in 1982. She served as platoon leader, company commander, battalion commander and troop command commander – responsible for 3,450 soldiers.  Tymeson was selected to attend the Army War College as a national security fellow at Harvard University’s JFK School of Government, graduating in 1999. She is the first female promoted to brigadier general in the Iowa Army National Guard. She retired in 2007 with 33 years of service.

Tymeson also served as a full-time 6th grade teacher at Cedar Heights Elementary in Cedar Falls from 1988-1992, and taught as a substitute teacher from 1993-1998.  From 2001-2010, Tymeson served nearly 30,000 constituents as a state representative for Madison, Warren and Dallas Counties. She served as House Education Committee chair for four years, in addition to a number of other committee assignments.

Interested candidates wishing to apply to be the next Commandant of the Iowa Veterans Home can apply here

Illinois State Fair Adds To Its Diverse, Dynamic Grandstand Line-Up

SPRINGFIELD, IL – The hottest concert line-up of the summer is nearly complete as State Fair Manager Kevin Gordon announces four more nights of entertainment at Grandstand for the 2017 Illinois State Fair.  One final concert announcement is still pending at this time.  Meanwhile, tickets for this blockbuster lineup will go on-sale Saturday, April 29th via Ticketmaster, and at the Emmerson Building on the Illinois State Fairgrounds on Monday, May 1st.  

The Illinois State Fair will open the eleven day showcase with a FREE concert in the Grandstand.  On Thursday, August 10, all fairgoers with paid admission to the fair will be treated to a free concert by the classic rock group Foghat.  Best known for their hit songs “Slow Ride,” and “I Just Want to Make Love to You,” the group has earned eight Gold records, one Platinum record and one Double-Platinum record.  The group, formed in 1971, continues to tour each year and release new music on a regular basis.

Chase Rice will be the headlining act on the Grandstand stage on Friday, August 11th.   Chase Rice is a singer/songwriter who has toured the world with the likes of Kenny Chesney and Dierks Bentley.   While he may be best known for his hit songs “Ready Set Roll,” and “Everybody We Know Does,” Chase Rice is also a talented songwriter.  Rice co-wrote the song “Cruise” which was recorded by Florida Georgia Line and was dubbed the best-selling country digital song of all time in the United States in January 2014.  Opening for Chase Rice will be Runaway June and Chris Cavanaugh.

On Saturday, August 12th, the acapella group Pentatonix will wow fairgoers with a performance on the Grandstand stage.  In just five years, Pentatonix has sold more than six million albums in the United States alone.  The Grammy award winning group has performed in front of sold out shows across the globe, collaborated with legends such a Dolly Parton, and was featured it a network television Christmas special. 

Returning to the Illinois State Fair Grandstand on Sunday, August 13th is country music superstar Brad Paisley.   The singer/songwriter is a member of the Grand Ole Opry Hall of Fame and known for songs such as “Crushin’ It,” “Today,” and “Riverbank.”  Paisley received rave reviews on his 2005 Illinois State Fair performance, and he has since gone on to win numerous Grammy Awards, appear in national television commercial campaigns and hosted television award programs.  Opening for Brad Paisley will be Dustin Lynch, Chase Bryant and Lindsay Ell.

Monday, August 17th will once again be a FREE concert in the Grandstand. The sounds of the 60’s will once again fill the air when Herman’s Hermits starring Peter Noone performs on the Grandstand stage.   The self-proclaimed ‘Original British Invasion Band’ is best known for hits such as, “Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter,” and “I’m Henry the Eighth, I Am.”  The group has seen success at the top of the charts overseas and here in the United States.  The group previously appeared in various movies and on television shows such as The Ed Sullivan Show, Dean Martin Show, and Jackie Gleason Show.

On Wednesday, August 16th the legendary group Alabama will perform on the Grandstand stage.  The band broke a record that may never be duplicated by any musical genre by releasing 21 straight number one singles.  The trio has 43 number one singles to their credit, nearly 200 industry awards, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and an exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame.  The band, while still cranking out hits, has inspired many of today’s brightest stars, including Kenny Chesney, Luke Bryan, Ed Sheeran and Jon Bon Jovi.  Fairgoers of all ages will enjoy singing along with Alabama classics such as “Song of the South,” “I’m In a Hurry (And Don’t Know Why),” and “If You’re Gonna Play in Texas (You Gotta Have a Fiddle in the Band).”   Opening for Alabama on Wednesday, August 16 will be Neal McCoy

Also scheduled to perform at the 2017 Illinois State Fair is singer/songwriter/dancer Jason Derulo.  The 27-year-old has already sold over 50 million singles worldwide and has worked alongside a variety of artists ranging from Demi Lovato to Snoop Dogg.  Jason Derulo is best known for his songs “Talk Dirty,” “Whatcha Say,” and “Want to Want Me.”   In addition, Derulo was honored in 2011 as BMI’s Songwriter of the Year.  He has penned hits for artists such as Lil Wayne, Pitbull, Sean Kingston and others.  Opening for Derulo on Thursday, August 17th will be up and coming artist from St. Louis, Chel.   

The Southern Uprising Tour rolls into Springfield on Friday, August 18th featuring four fan-favorite country performances.  Headlining the tour at the Illinois State Fair will be Montgomery Gentry. The group has become one of the most identifiable duos in country music with more than a decade of hits, concerts and accolades under their belt.  The award winning duo is known for hits such as “Something to be Proud of,” “Where I Come From,” and “Hell Yeah.”  Meanwhile, few artists have left a more lasting mark on America’s musical landscape than The Charlie Daniels Band.  


As an outspoken patriot and road warrior, Charlie Daniels has transformed his passion for music into a multi-platinum career and a platform to support the military, underprivileged children and others in need.   Daniels is best known for songs such as, “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” “In America,” “Uneasy Rider,” “The South’s Gonna Do It,” and “Long Haired Country Boy.”  Rounding out the Southern Uprising Tour will be performances from The Marshall Tucker Band and The Outlaws.

Building on the successes from last year, the Illinois State Fair is bringing another heavy metal band to the Grandstand.  On Saturday, August 19th fairgoers will have the opportunity to see Five Finger Death Punch perform on the Illinois State Fair’s biggest stage.  The band recently wrapped up an Arena Tour where fans raved about the band’s over-the-top production value and crowd pleasing sets featuring songs like, “I Apologize,” and “Wrong Side of Heaven.”  The band is also a supporter of the Badge of Honor Memorial Foundation often raising funds to help survivors and departments of officers who have been killed in the line of duty.   Opening for 5FDP will be All That Remains and Nonpoint.

Closing out the 2017 Illinois State Fair on Sunday, August 20th will be Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, John Mellencamp.   The iconic classic rocker has been cranking out hits and performing in front of live audiences for the last 40-years.  While most known for songs like “Paper in Fire,” “Small Town,” and “Pink Houses,” Mellencamp was among the founding members of Farm Aid.  The annual event, co-launched by Willie Nelson and Neil Young, helps make people aware of the issues facing farmers and how those issues impact the entire nation.  Opening for John Mellencamp will be Carlene Carter.

Ticket prices for each of the shows are listed below.  Please note, ticket prices have been adjusted for the Friday, August 11th Chase Rice concert.

Thursday, August 10:  Foghat / TBA

Free Concert – General Admission

Friday, August 11:  Chase Rice / Runaway June / Chris Cavanagh

Tier 3 – $13 / Tier 2 – $18 / Tier 1 – $23 / Track – $23 / VIP – $33

Saturday, August 12: Pentatonix / TBA
Tier 3 – $32 / Tier 2 – $37 / Tier 1 – $42 / Track – $42 / VIP – $52

Sunday, August 13:  Brad Paisley / Dustin Lynch / Chase Bryant / Lindsay Ell

Tier 3 – $45 / Tier 2 – $50 / Tier 1 – $55 / Track – $55 / VIP – $65

Monday, August 14:  Herman’s Hermits starring Peter Noone
Free Concert – General Admission

Tuesday, August 15:  TBA

Wednesday, August 16:  Alabama / Neal McCoy
Tier 3 – $38 / Tier 2 – $43 / Tier 1 – $48 / Track – $48 / VIP – $59

Thursday, August 17:  Jason Derulo / DJ / Chel
Tier 3 – $19 / Tier 2 – $24 / Tier 1 – $29 / Track – $29 / VIP – $39

Friday, August 18: Southern Uprising Tour featuring Montgomery Gentry / The Charlie Daniels Band / The Marshall Tucker Band / The Outlaws

Tier 3 – $15 / Tier 2 – $20 / Tier 1 – $25 / Track – $25 / VIP – $30

Saturday, August 19:  Five Finger Death Punch / All That Remains / Nonpoint
Tier 3- $17 / Tier 2 – $22 / Tier 1 – $27 / Track – $27 / VIP – $39

Sunday, August 20:  John Mellencamp / Carlene Carter

Tier 3 – $42 / Tier 2 – $47 / Tier 1 – $52 / Track – $52 / VIP – $62     

This year, the Illinois State Fair will offer a dynamic deal that allows fairgoers to create their own Grandstand concert experience.  The Score with More ticket package allows fairgoers to customize their visit to the Illinois State Fair by selecting three or more concerts to attend plus receive free gate admission for each concert.  Fairgoers cannot duplicate concert selections when personalizing their package. The price for the Score with More package will be dependent upon each fairgoer’s concert selection.  This exclusive offer sets aside a limited number of track tickets for each concert.   Special Note:  All ticket packages must be purchased by phone or in person on the Illinois State Fairgrounds by July 31st.   This offer is not available via Ticketmaster.

Also back by popular demand, the Illinois State Fair will once again offer Stage Side Parties for each of the Grandstand concerts. An additional $30 ticket will provide fairgoers access to an exclusive pre-show party that includes a food buffet, beer and wine for purchase, entertainment, giveaways and early entry into the concert.  The Stage Side Party is only available to those who have purchased a concert ticket to attend that night’s concert – BOTH concert & party ticket will be required to enter the party tent.   These tickets can be purchased via Ticketmaster once tickets go on-sale.

To be the first to know about all of the 2017 Illinois State Fair announcements, you can also sign up for email updates on our website www.illinois.gov/statefair.   We look forward to seeing you at the 2017 Illinois State Fair, August 10-20th in Springfield.

Policy Exchanges John Bew says Britain was right to bet on America

This article was featured on CapX

Of the crimes for which British politicians are most often put in the stocks, “poodleism” – the act of being perceived to sit obediently at the feet of the United States, with not so much as a whimper of dissent – ranks particularly high.

This was the image with which Britain’s political cartoonists had the most fun during the premiership of Tony Blair – though the fashion for depicting British Prime Ministers as different species of canine sycophants really took off with Margaret Thatcher. She was frequently denounced as subservient to Ronald Reagan, no matter how hard she swung her handbag in European capitals.

And although Theresa May is generally more focused on the home front than the international stage, she was not spared the same ritual condemnation following her visit to the White House shortly after President’s Trump inauguration, charged with accepting a steadying hand while navigating a treacherous step.

Now Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, has experienced a full blast of the same treatment, churned up in one of those familiar angst-ridden national post-mortems of Britain’s place in the world.

The two-part saga began with the Foreign Secretary’s decision, taken in the wake of the Syrian regime’s latest chemical weapons attack on civilians, to cancel his own visit to Moscow to meet his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov.

Just hours before his flight departed, he stepped aside to allow Rex Tillerson, the US Secretary of State, who has not been a hyperactive holder of the office so far, to lead the charge. This was so that the West could present a united front to Russia, in expressing condemnation of Putin’s continued support of the Assad regime.

Then followed the G7 meeting in Italy two days later, when Mr. Johnson attempted to put some meat on the bones of this new approach. He led calls for new sanctions on Russia, on the grounds of its support of Assad, but was not able to achieve the necessary consensus. In the view of Italy’s foreign minister, Angelino Alfano, who vetoed the move, Russia “must not be pushed into a corner”. The united front was not so united after all.

Within the space of a few days, Boris found himself chided for stepping out of the spotlight for Tillerson, and chided for stepping back in, with his attempt to lead on new sanctions. It also meant that another favourite canard of the commentariat – that Britain should give upon on its delusional attempts to “punch above its weight” – was regurgitated and repeated ad nauseam in the dissection of the G7 meeting that followed.

On BBC’s Newsnight, Evan Davis rolled out an old favourite: that it would be better if the UK stopped pretending to be anything other than a medium-sized power like Norway. Poor Norway: it rarely escapes these periodic lashes of British self-flagellation unscathed.

It was left to Emily Thornberry, the Shadow Foreign Secretary – not famed for her nostalgia for Empire – to demur, listing the long line of British international assets from a seat on the UN Security Council to, of course, deep reserves of “soft power”.

The second part of Boris’s manoeuvre – the attempt to nudge the G7 towards new sanctions – was certainly a gamble. But it is hard to see that it did any lasting damage to British foreign policy. The role of diplomatic lieutenant to the US is one which the UK has played many times before, in much more controversial circumstances. Tony Blair’s attempts to add multilateral legitimacy to the Iraq War, by seeking a second Security Council resolution at the UN, is just one example of just how vexatious such efforts can be.

By contrast, it is a vast exaggeration – and one which is not unconnected to the fact that feelings over Brexit still run so high – to suggest that the G7 summit is the moment at which the wheels fell off British diplomacy, or the final nail was hammered into the coffin of national decline. After all, the UK was taking a lead on a matter of principle rather than playing a dastardly game.

Nor, it should be noted, was the Foreign Secretary going off piste, as he has been accused of doing in the past. In this case, he had the full encouragement of the Foreign Office, who thought agreement could be reached.

It is worth considering this in a wider context. In the first instance, the willingness of the United States to do something – even something more symbolic than substantive, in the form of a limited airstrike on the Assad regime – was so welcome that Britain had no problem stepping aside.

Let us be honest about the sequence of events. The UK was not as closely involved as it has been with past American military actions in the Middle East. In fact, the Foreign Secretary had suggested taking the matter to the UN Security Council before Trump launched the strike, and had no thought of pursuing that route. The Defence Secretary, Michael Fallon, was reportedly “consulted” by his counterpart, General James Mattis, but the UK was not asked for its opinion, or to play any part in the operation.

Nonetheless, paving the way for American leadership is rarely a problem for a British Foreign Secretary. It is the absence of American leadership that causes sleepless nights – and has been the greatest concern about the likely course taken by the Trump administration.

After all, the British experiment of “leading from the front” in the Middle Easter and North Africa has not been a happy one. It was trailed in Libya in 2011 – a direct product of President Obama’s desire to “lead from behind” – and again with Syria in 2013, the last time the “red line” on chemical weapons was crossed.

In both cases, David Cameron was far more eager to take action than Barack Obama. In both cases, due to the force of circumstances, the choreography was botched and the results were deeply damaging.

Contrary to the lazy assumption that Trump is a narrow isolationist, it is quite clear that he takes a certain enjoyment from setting the international agenda. The nature of his foreign policy worldview is not yet fully formed, but there is – at the very least – greater elasticity to his understanding of “America first” than has previously been assumed. It is more expansive, for example, than that of his adviser Steve Bannon, who is said to have opposed the strike and therefore been further sidelined.

There are many reasons why Trump decided to carry out the missile strike against the airbase from which the chemical weapons were launched. Most have to do with perceptions of power and prestige. Undoubtedly, one consideration was the opportunity to distinguish himself from Obama and to demonstrate the continued virility of America power.

In this respect, the timing was better still for the fact that he was enjoying chocolate cake with President Xi when his generals informed him that the attack had been carried out successfully. Most important, arguably, is his willingness to give those generals greater latitude of action than they have had for decades.

Still, very few observers expected Trump to emphasise such a clearly stated humanitarian rationale in his first serious foreign policy act as president. And it is unlikely that this is the dawn of a new era of liberal benevolence from the United States, with Britain once again faithfully by its side.

Of course, those that are most allergic to perceived poodleism will continue to make their case for an alternative course. Thus Emily Thornberry, in a chapter for a newly published Fabian Society pamphlet, The Age of Trump, urges the UK to distance itself from America and stand up for “human rights” by working more closely with European powers.

But what better humanitarian outcome would this have entailed? At the G7, it was those European powers who were swiftest to fall back into a version of “realpolitik” when it came to sanctions on Russia.

There is still potential for an unsettling swing in Trump’s foreign policy – back towards Russia, for example – in a way that leaves the UK unprepared and exposed. Trump has already sent out a tweet keeping the door open to such a rapprochement.

The certainties of previous eras are not so entrenched as before, and we would be foolhardy to presume that the world will go back to type after a succession of political earthquakes.

Nonetheless, the British government’s decision to embrace the Trump administration looks prescient. While there was undoubted discomfort about Trump’s tone, it was calculated that America was not quite ready to give up on leading on issues such as Syria, that it remained the best guarantor of some of sort of international order, and that the denunciation of Nato as “obsolete” would soon simmer down once its members showed some mettle.

Added to this was a conviction that cooler heads in the national security establishment, such as General Mattis, would make their voices held.

In the short term, too, the elevation of H.R. McMaster as National Security Advisor has proved even more stabilising than the most optimistic commentators suggested.

When the bigger picture is considered, the situation does not look as bad as so many feared. Certainly, it hardly encourages the latest efforts – now advocated by Emily Thornberry, but a periodic obsession for many in the British foreign policy debate – to bet on a post-American world.

Airmen participate in Army exercise, prep for joint deployment


About 30 Airmen, who recently completed the first-ever Air Force Rear Mission Support Element course here in February 2017, participated in the Army’s Warfighter Exercise 17-4 April 3-11 at Fort Hood, Texas.

 WFX 17-4 prepared Airmen for an upcoming deployment to Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve headquarters and was designed to train Airmen and Soldiers on how to build a JTF headquarters from the ground up.

 “It’s very important for us to conduct war fighting functions with joint partners, specifically with the Air Force, who we’re going to be working with during our OIR mission,” said Army Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Bradshaw, a WFX 17-4 participant from III Corps.

 The sentiment was echoed by 9th Air Force leadership.

Participation in the Warfighter Exercise ensures the joint team works together to learn the headquarters functions, processes and authorities,” said Air Force Col. Rhude Cherry III, the 9th AF vice commander. “It also allows members to meet and get acquainted prior to deployment. The relationships made and job knowledge gained at WFX 17-4 better enables our Airmen to nest into their deployed positions faster, reducing deployment angst.”

 Additionally, the exercise met Joint Mission Essential Task List requirements.

 “The WFX 17-4, in conjunction with RMSE training, is geared specifically for Airmen deploying to CJTF-OIR headquarters,” Cherry explained. “Deploying Airmen must meet over 100 requirements to be considered ‘qualified and ready.’ The three-week RMSE course provides most of those, and WFX provides the remainder of the requirements.”

 According to Air Force Senior Master Sgt. John Mayo, an exercise participant from the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, one challenge Airmen faced during the exercise included breaking through the military language barrier to create a common language the Army and Air Force could use to accomplish the mission together.

 “(The exercise) demonstrated that as a team we can get out there, pick out a spot on the battlefield, take over and establish a level of dominance, and still maintain the information capabilities we have in garrison,” Mayo added. “Looking at the equipment and people (who) put it together, it was impressive to see and be a part of.”

 Though many Airmen who participated in the exercise had already attended RMSE, some had only been notified of their participation in the exercise days before it started and had received no RMSE training — something Cherry said the Air Force is working on fixing as 9th AF continues to refine the process.

 Although the primary function of the exercise was deployment training, 9th AF had a secondary reason for sending Airmen to WFX 17-4.

According to Cherry, the 9th AF director of operations and Airmen from the 93rd Air Ground Operations Wing attended to learn what it takes to form a JTF headquarters, including what’s involved in exercises to meet Tier 1 training requirements in the hopes of standing up this kind of training either as part of RMSE or separately at Shaw Air Force Base.

 “Participation in the WFX 17-4 will enhance our JTF forming capabilities by enlightening our participating Airmen on headquarters structures, organizations, functions and processes,” he added.

 Tier 1 training instills knowledge, skills and abilities so Airmen can survive, operate and succeed in a contingency environment.

 Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein directed 9th Air Force in December 2016 to stand up RMSE and train Airmen deploying in support of CJTF-OIR headquarters. The three-week course includes two weeks of instruction on military doctrine, joint planning and OIR specific products, and a week of expeditionary skills training such as chemical warfare and small arms qualification (Tier 2 training). RMSE deployment training culminates with a week of field training during an exercise like WFX 17-4.

Private Papers of Robert E. Lee Go Online Via ProQuest

ProQuest collaborations with historical societies and universities bring new insights to Civil War research

ANN ARBOR, MI, April 11, 2017 – “Columns of enemy accompanied by artillery and wagons passing for hours today to our left. Also, two trains crowded with troops in same direction – be on the alert,” wrote Robert E. Lee in a telegram dated November 29, 1864, to General James Longstreet, his principal subordinate.

Longstreet had just rejoined the campaign after being accidentally shot by one of his own men, and President Abraham Lincoln had just won his reelection by a landslide.

The sense of urgency in the telegram was more than a warning from Lee. It was a realization that the Civil War would soon end in a Southern defeat.

This document, along with other wartime telegrams, orders, battle reports from subordinates and correspondence (including personal letters to his wife) comprise the Robert E. Lee Papers, curated in a new addition to ProQuest History Vault™: Confederate Military Manuscripts and Records of Union Generals and the Union Army.

By collaborating with the Virginia Historical Society, ProQuest unlocks rare documents from their print and microfilm formats, making them broadly accessible online. Researchers will find new insight into Lee’s career and life as head of the Army of Northern Virginia, the Confederacy’s principal field command, military adviser to Confederate President Jefferson Davis and as general-in-chief of all Confederate forces, as well as a husband and father.

The Civil War continues to inspire research as a trigger of pivotal social, cultural and political change in the United States. The materials in this new History Vault module made available online for the first time – address researchers’ thirst for what they’ve never seen.

The Virginia Historical Society is greatly pleased to see this release of digital versions of collections long held by this institution and appreciated by onsite researchers,” said Lee Shepard, Vice President for Collections, Virginia Historical Society. “Making these rich and still underused resources available broadly to a diverse audience promises to fuel fresh analyses of a period of American history that continues to fascinate and instruct.”

ProQuest has also collaborated with the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Virginia and Louisiana State University to include their collections in this History Vault module. Researchers will discover soldiers’ letters and diaries from the war along the Mississippi River, eyewitness accounts of the combat at Shiloh, Port Hudson and Vicksburg, and papers from civilians who endured battles around their homes.

“These primary sources provide access to unique collections and enable exploration into fresh avenues of scholarship,” said Susan Bokern, ProQuest Vice-President, Product Management. “We’ve curated a collection that offers a combination of the records and papers of those in high command as well as the documents that capture experiences of everyday enlisted men.”

Launched in 2011, ProQuest History Vault enables better research and learning about the most important and widely studied topics in 18th through 20th-century American history. The program curates rare, previously inaccessible content that provides insights into the triggers of social, political and cultural changes, bringing it online for simplified access. Continually expanding, History Vault encompasses primary sources that enrich coursework in African-American studies, women’s studies, history, political science, military and diplomatic history, immigration, workers and labor unions, American Indians, and other subjects. Institutions can build their collections over time to provide students and faculty with the means to achieve extraordinary research outcomes.

About ProQuest (http://www.proquest.com)

ProQuest connects people with vetted, reliable information. Key to serious research, the company’s products are a gateway to the world’s knowledge including dissertations, governmental and cultural archives, news, historical collections and ebooks. ProQuest technologies serve users across the critical points in research, helping them discover, access, share, create and manage information.

The company’s cloud-based technologies offer flexible solutions for librarians, students and researchers through the ProQuest®, Alexander Street™, Bowker®, Dialog®, Ex Libris® and SIPX® businesses – and notable research tools such as the RefWorks® citation and reference management platform, the Pivot® research development tool and the Ebook Central®, ebrary®, EBL™ and MyiLibrary® ebook platforms. The company is headquartered in Ann Arbor, Michigan, with offices around the world.

11 April 2017

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Goldfein: Continuing resolution detrimental to Air Force


With the threat of a yearlong continuing resolution lingering, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein and his fellow service chiefs called on Congress to approve an appropriation bill for fiscal year 2017 during a hearing on the topic April 5, 2017, on Capitol Hill.

Already six months into a CR, the prolonged budget challenges have impacted the Air Force’s ability to sustain warfighting capacity, improve readiness, modernize the force, and invest in research and development to maintain decisive advantage over near-peer competitors.

“It’s unfortunate that we are now discussing yet another extended continuing resolution, which has already been said is the equivalent of a mini-sequestration round,” Goldfein testified before the House Committee on Armed Services. “We still haven’t recovered from round one.”

A continuing resolution would leave the Air Force $2.8 billion short in the last five months of its 2017 budget and negatively affect our Airmen, our operations and maintenance, and our modernization efforts.

Flying squadrons not deployed or preparing to deploy would be grounded in June. Flight training would be impacted in July. Readiness exercises may be canceled. Thirteen thousand Air Force families would be delayed in their stateside moves. End-strength growth would halt. Retention bonuses would be deferred. Modernization efforts would stop and morale would decline.

“Pilots who don’t fly, maintainers who don’t maintain, air traffic controllers who don’t control– leave,” Goldfein said. “And, while we’ll never buy ourselves out of this shortage, an extended CR will also negate the pilot bonuses Congress authorized, which will break faith with the force.”

Even with the budget uncertainty, the Air Force’s senior leader said the joint force will answer the nation’s call, but made clear the committee understood his concerns.

“As a service chief, I have many obligations, but one remains paramount,” Goldfein said. “Every Airman we send into harm’s way must be properly organized, trained, equipped and led to succeed in their mission, and we must take care of their families while they’re gone. This is our moral obligation. A yearlong CR makes meeting this obligation extremely difficult.”

Keynote speakers announced for State Bar Annual Meeting in Dallas

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AUSTIN — Attorneys from across Texas will welcome three distinguished scholars as keynote speakers at the State Bar of Texas 2017 Annual Meeting June 22 and 23 in Dallas.

The Hon. Carl E. Stewart, Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit; Bryan A. Garner, a noted consultant on legal language and advocacy; and Joseph Jaworski, founder and chairman of Generon International and the Global Leadership Initiative, will speak separately over the two-day event.

“We are honored to have such a distinguished slate of speakers at the 2017 Annual Meeting,” said Christina Melton Crain, chair of the State Bar’s Annual Meeting Committee. “Texas lawyers look forward to the speakers’ diverse topics and backgrounds.”

The Hon. Carl E. Stewart is the first African-American to serve as the Fifth Circuit’s Chief Judge. He is a member of the Judicial Conference of the United States Executive Committee. Stewart will speak at the Bar Leaders Recognition Luncheon on June 22. Stewart was appointed to the court in 1994 by President Bill Clinton. Before that, he had a distinguished career as a district court judge and later on Louisiana’s Second Circuit Court of Appeals.

Bryan A. Garner, who has taught at Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law since 1990, is editor in chief of Black’s Law Dictionary and the author of many other works on law and language, including Garner’s Modern English Usage and The Elements of Legal Style. Garner also co-wrote two books with the late Justice Antonin Scalia: Reading Law: Interpretation of Legal Texts and Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges. He writes a popular monthly column, “Garner on Words,” for the ABA Journal. Garner will speak at the Bench Bar Breakfast on June 23.

Joseph Jaworski specializes in the design and execution of large-scale organizational change. The former Bracewell senior partner now advises executives at Fortune 500 companies on strategy formulation and implementation. He is the author of

Synchronicity: The Inner Path of Leadership and other titles on leadership and organizational change. He will speak at the General Session Luncheon on June 23.

Online registration for the 2017 Annual Meeting is now open. To register or learn more, go to texasbar.com/annualmeeting.

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The State Bar of Texas is an administrative agency of the Supreme Court of Texas that provides educational programs for the legal profession and the public, administers the minimum continuing legal education program for attorneys, and manages the attorney discipline system. For more information, follow us on Twitter and Instagram , like us on Facebook at , or visit texasbar.com.

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