By Jennifer Davis
Trump’s Friday executive order would allow the military to institute a “mini-draft” on about 1,000 retired pilots.
Citing emergency powers, President Donald Trump signed an executive order late in the day on Friday that would allow retired military pilots to be recalled to active duty.
But the broad wording of the executive order seemed to imply that the executive branch would have the power to call up retired military officers and force them back into service for any reason, as the “emergency” Trump used to justify the executive order was extremely vague: “the continuing and immediate threat of further attacks on the United States.”
This executive order is officially an amendment to Executive Order 13223, signed by George W. Bush in September 2001 in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Trump’s executive order claimed to be “in furtherance of the objectives of Proclamation 7463… which declared a national emergency by reason of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.”
Stay with me, because this gets confusing. So Trump basically wrote an amendment to Bush’s 2001 executive order. All Bush’s executive order really said, though, was that an emergency existed and the president had authorization to use a variety of statutes in the federal code. It then listed those statutes, of which there are many; let’s just say they mostly involve the executive abilities to send the military around the world and limit troops’ ability to retire.
In any case, Trump’s executive order specifically invoked two of the sections of the United States Code. Here’s what Trump's order says specifically:
Section 1 of Executive Order 13223 is amended by adding at the end: "The authorities available for use during a national emergency under sections 688 and 690 of title 10, United States Code, are also invoked and made available, according to their terms, to the Secretary concerned, subject in the case of the Secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force, to the direction of the Secretary of Defense."
So he’s referencing Bush's executive order, and then referencing sections 688 and 690 of the United States Code. If you go to those codes, you’ll see that title 10, section 688 of the United States Code says
Under regulations prescribed by the Secretary of Defense… a [retired member of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, or Reserve] may be ordered to active duty by the Secretary of the military department concerned at any time. … The Secretary concerned may, to the extent consistent with other provisions of law, assign a member ordered to active duty under this section to such duties as the Secretary considers necessary in the interests of national defense.
Section 688 (d) then states that certain retired officers — specifically, those who retired on “selective early retirement basis” — may not be ordered to active duty by the “Secretary of the military department.” Furthermore, in section (e), the code notes that members “ordered to active duty” under this code will be limited to 12 months of active duty.
But then, the final section of 688 states that the aforementioned two exclusions are “waived” in “periods of war or active emergency” — which is exactly what Trump has just affirmed exists right now.
This means that this executive order is a bit of a “micro-draft”: It allows the military to recall retired officers to active duty. A USA Today article about this executive order (or rather, this amendment to an existing executive order) noted that the Air Force has been particularly crucial in military operations against ISIS in Syria and Iraq. Moreover, the Air Force has had a pilot shortage brewing for over a decade. In September 2017, military leaders interviewed by United Press International (UPI) that the military was in a crisis. “We're 1,500 pilots short, and if we don't find a way to turn this around, our ability to defend the nation is compromised,” Gen. David L. Goldfein, Air Force Chief of Staff, told UPI. Likewise, a report by the RAND corporation, a think tank, stated that the shortage was partially because “employment opportunities are excellent in the private sector.”
There has been little media coverage of the executive order as of Friday evening, beyond the aforementioned USA Today piece. Around the internet, some social media users were alarmed at the nonspecific nature of the term “national emergency,” which seemed to hint at executive overreach. In the /r/Military subreddit, a nonpartisan US military forum with many veterans and enlisted officers, debate raged over the ramifications of the order. “Can someone convince me this isn’t a prelude to war in Korea,” wrote one user with the handle "NotARandomNumber." Others were less conspiratorial. “My guess is that this is the most deficit neutral way to maintain Air Force staffing in the face of upcoming tax cuts. At least that's what I hope,” wrote user "TheBigRedSD4."
By Drew Williams
House Republicans are considering a plan to sharply reduce the amount of income American workers can save in tax-deferred retirement accounts as part of a broad effort to rewrite the tax code, according to lobbyists, tax consultants and congressional Democrats.
Proposals floating around Washington to cap the amount that Americans can contribute before taxes to 401(k) plans and individual retirement accounts are unsettling professionals in the retirement industry.
Republicans are looking for ways to generate revenue to support broad reductions in individual tax rates. One idea is to limit the amount of pretax money households can sock away for retirement saving. Such a move would likely generate significant political blowback, but it hasn’t been explicitly ruled out, stirring worry among the middleclass Americans.
Members of the House Ways and Means Committee are widely expected to release a version of the tax bill by mid-November. Specifics on a wide range of issues remain unclear. Emily Schillinger, a spokeswoman for the Ways and Means Committee, declined to comment.
Lobbyists and others in the retirement and financial services industries who have spoken to congressional staff and committee members say lawmakers are looking at proposals that would allow 401(k) participants to contribute significantly less than what is currently allowed in a traditional tax-deferred 401(k). An often-mentioned amount is $2,400 a year. It isn’t clear whether that would only apply to 401(k)s or IRAs or both.
Workers may currently put up to $18,000 a year in 401(k) accounts without paying taxes upfront on that money; that figure rises to $24,000 for workers over 50. When workers retire and begin to draw income from those accounts, they pay taxes on the benefits.
Trump’s Former HHS Tom Price’s Wife A Republican Georgia Law Maker Says People With HIV/AIDS Should Be Quarantined
By Jake Rogers
People with HIV should be quarantined, and the U.S. would be safer if they “died more readily,” according to Betty Price, a Republican state representative and wife of former Health Secretary Tom Price.
The Georgia-state lawmaker and former anesthesiologist, who now represents people who live in the northern Atlanta area, was asked in a hearing what the U.S. is “legally able to do” to limit the spread of HIV throughout the state.
“It’s almost frightening, the number of people who are living that are carriers with the potential to spread,” Price said during a Georgia House of Representatives committee meeting on access to health care in the state (around the one-hour mark of the video). “Whereas in the past, they died more readily, and at that point they’re not posing a risk. So we’ve got a huge population posing a risk if they’re not in treatment.”
Price also said that while she didn’t necessarily want to quarantine people with HIV, that is exactly what she wants to do.
“I don’t want to say the quarantine word—but I guess I just said it,” Price said to Dr. Pascale Wortley, director of the Georgia Department of Public Health’s HIV epidemiology section, according to STAT News.
“Is there an ability, since I would guess that public dollars are expended heavily in prophylaxis and treatment of this condition, so we have a public interest in curtailing the spread. … Are there any methods legally that we could do that would curtail the spread?”
In 2014, about 50,000 people were diagnosed with HIV in the state—the second-highest rate of new diagnoses among all states the following year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Price’s “incredibly disturbing” comments were condemned for perpetuating “the stigma that still exists around HIV,” Jeff Graham, executive director of Georgia Equality.
“It’s very troubling to hear comments like that,” he told STAT News. “It shows the amount of work that still needs to happen to educate elected officials on the reality of the lives of people living with HIV. I’m hoping Representative Price would be open to sitting down, meeting with folks, hearing how those comments sound and recognizing that’s not the direction we need to go in.”
Price's husband, Tom, was the health secretary under President Donald Trump who has faced his own share of condemnation. Price, who served less than a year, was forced to resign after facing criticism for taking private planes at the taxpayers' expense.
By Drew Daniels
Donald Trump has again praised an extreme pastor who claims gay people are likely to sexually abuse children. Trump took to Twitter to praise controversial pastor Robert Jeffress, of Dallas First Baptist Church. The President of the United States used his official Twitter account to promote the pastor’s new book, writing: “Great book just out, ‘A Place Called Heaven’, by Dr. Robert Jeffress – A wonderful man!”.
Jeffress, who has had a shadowy influence in the Trump administration, had directly equated gay people to pedophiles in the past.
Speaking on his radio show previously, Jeffress claimed: “Gay activists don’t even try to hide the link between homosexuality and pedophilia. “There are some who are right now are actively involved in trying to legalize sex between adults and children by lowering the age of consent or removing it altogether. “It would be wrong to even suggest that a majority of homosexuals are pedophiles, but the truth nevertheless is there.
“There are a disproportionate amount of assaults against children by homosexuals than by heterosexuals, you can’t deny that, and the reason is very clear: homosexuality is perverse, it represents a degradation of a person’s mind and if a person will sink that low and there are no restraints from God’s law, then there is no telling to whatever sins he will commit as well.”
The influential pastor has been shunned by moderate Republicans due to his hateful public comments about gay people, but Trump has maintained close ties to him while in the White House. Back in January, Jeffress led a private prayer ceremony for Trump’s inauguration, while in May the pair were pictured posing together in the Oval Office. Trump attended a rally led by Jeffress in July, and hailed him as a “great guy” in a TV interview.
Jeffress has also compared homosexuals to people who rape animals, claiming: “God’s plan for sexuality is one man with one woman in a lifetime commitment called marriage. Any deviation from that is sin. “Of course, I’m always, the retort to that is ‘oh! Are you pulling a Rick Santorum and saying that homosexuality is like bestiality, uh, incest, or pedophilia’? And I say ‘Yes.’. It is just as immoral as those practices.”
On another occasion on his radio show, he claimed that homosexuality is “the most detestable” act in the world. The pastor claimed: “Why is there such a high incidence of disease among homosexuals? They are engaged in the most detestable, unclean, abominable acts you can imagine.
“Because what they are doing is unnatural, it goes against nature, because of that filthy practice; there is a natural result to it. There is natural, physical consequences to homosexual behavior. That’s why God says don’t engage in it, you are going to harm your bodies in doing so.”
Speaking on a further occasion the preacher cited the 2003 Supreme Court ruling that struck down sodomy laws banning gay sex as one of three laws that have destroyed America.
He fumed: “The third explosion that has weakened the social and spiritual infrastructure of our nation, making our collapse I believe inevitable, is the Supreme Court decision Lawrence v. Texas in 2003. “Sometimes God destroys a society immediately. But other times, as in our case, there is a series of seemingly unrelated explosive choices, followed by a delay, and then followed by the sudden and dramatic collapse, just as in an implosion.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I am convinced that we are living in that in between time right now. We are living in that in between time between these explosive, wrong choices our country has made and the inevitable implosion of our country.”
The pastor also previously suggested gay sex is like plugging an electrical cord into the wrong outlet.
He said: “You know, in the instruction manual, it said, now plug this into a 120 [volt] outlet. Suppose I said, ‘Oh, I’m not going to follow those instructions, those are antiquated instructions. I’m going to plug it into a 220 [volt] outlet. It’s my TV and I can do whatever I want to with it.”
Jeffress added: “Well, it is my TV to do what I want to with it, but I’m going to blow that TV to smithereens if I put it in a 220 outlet.”
It is the latest in a gathering storm of evidence of links between homophobic extremists and the Trump White House. The Republican became the first sitting President in modern history to address the summit of a listed anti-LGBT hate group last month, when he spoke at the Family Research Council’s Values Voter Summit earlier this month.
Trump heaped praise on FRC leader Tony Perkins, who has been condemned by the Jewish Anti-Defamation League for repeatedly linking gay rights to the Holocaust and comparing gay people to Nazis. He was widely condemned by LGBT rights groups for speaking to the FRC activists, who accused him disgracing the office of President of the United States.
By Drew Williams
The Orlando Sentinel is being praised for a months long investigation on Florida’s school voucher program, inspecting fifty percent more schools than state education officials inspected in all of last year.
The newspapers three-part, Schools Without Rules expose on the state’s nearly $1 billion tax credit scholarship program.
“That is what real journalism looks like — a team of journalists doing shoe-leather reporting, conducting the kind of inspections, investigations and interviews that even the state’s education officials don’t,” Sentinel columnist Scott Maxwell explained. “This little-regulated system needs an overhaul. And the world needs more real journalists.”
Reporters Beth Kassab, Leslie Postal and Annie Martin reported that “private schools in Florida will collect nearly $1 billion in state-backed scholarships this year through a system so weakly regulated that some schools hire teachers without college degrees, hold classes in aging strip malls and falsify fire-safety and health records.”
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos refused to visit any public schools during an August trip to Florida. In March, DeVos joined President Donald Trump in touring a voucher school.
“The number of children using the scholarship programs has tripled in the past decade to 140,000 students at nearly 2,000 private schools. Many of those schools, which are subject to little state oversight, are heavily reliant on the state scholarship programs to keep their doors open,” the Sentinel found.
The Sentinal discovered an alarming lack of oversight.
“After Palm Bay Police began investigating principal Samuel Vidal Jr., who was accused last year of lifting the shirt of a 15-year-old student and putting his mouth on her breast, Vidal shut down his private Christian school,” the Sentinel found. “But the police investigation didn’t stop Vidal, 41, from winning approval from the Florida Department of Education to open a new private school in Palm Bay and collect nearly $200,000 in state-backed scholarships. And even after Vidal was charged with felony lewd or lascivious molestation, prompting the state to pull scholarships from the second school, it approved yet another school this year with ties to Vidal.”
Maxwell, who writes the Sentinel‘s “Taking Names” column, was openly disgusted by the response to the series by voucher supports.
“If voucher supporters actually cared about the safety and education of these children, they wouldn’t make excuses for all the problems exposed here. They wouldn’t attack the journalists who discovered them,” Maxwell noted. “Whining that the media ignored swell schools to focus on problematic ones is like whining that the media ignore planes that fly safely to report on ones that crash.”
After touring a voucher school with Secretary DeVos, President Trump said he wanted to expand the “great success” of Florida’s program nationwide.
Read the entire Orlando Sentinel expose on Florida’s Florida Tax Credit Scholarship and Step Up for Students, which administers most of the scholarships.