ABOARD A U.S. NAVY SHIP IN THE PERSIAN GULF — It’s a time for ritual, renewing family bonds, reminiscing and eating too many sweet potatoes.
But if you’re one of nearly 340,000 active duty U.S. Navy personnel deployed on 81 ships and submarines around the world this Thanksgiving, it’s about this: sailors looking after sailors.
“We’re a warship, 24-7, but every Thanksgiving I’ve had at sea is special,” said Cmdr. Jason Lester, the commanding officer of USS Farragut, a 500-foot destroyer deployed here to help maintain maritime security for one of the world’s busiest transit points for oil tankers.
“Full bellies and sound hearts make strong war fighters,” he said.
Preparations for Thursday’s holiday meal on USS Farragut began several days ago. There’s turkey, ham, roast beef, shrimp cocktail and pies, all made in super-sized pans, pots and ovens to feed 320 service members from every corner of America.
“Some of my guys have been working all night,” said Lt. Alex Xia, 34, from Anaheim, California, who is responsible for buying all the ship’s supplies.
“This is a big deal for all us – being in the middle of nowhere really. We’re away from our families, but we’re here with the Farragut family. It’s a huge morale booster,” he said.
Cmdr. Eric Meyers, the executive officer of the guided-missile destroyer USS Farragut, serves Thanksgiving dinner to sailors.
On Thanksgiving, the ship’s senior officers serve the entire crew.
“This is about us looking after our own,” said Lester, 42, who is from Georgia.
The ship’s mess hall had been made festive with decorations, including fall-colored streamers, paper leaves and pictures of pumpkins hung from USS Farragut’s intricate interior of steel panels, pipes and wires.
In one room, sailors had their pictures taken on Polaroid while standing in front of bunting that read “Give Thanks.” These will be mailed home, although it might take six to eight weeks to reach some locations.
“Whether I’m in the south Atlantic or the Arabian Gulf, the Navy family makes Thanksgiving a wonderful and enjoyable experience,” said Lt. Alex Cornell du Houx, 36, a public affairs officer who spent last Thanksgiving helping Argentina’s military search for a missing submarine.
At remote forward operating bases in Afghanistan, Iraq or Syria, America’s military can spend months planning for Thanksgiving meals and this year, the Department of Defense said that it delivered more than 300,000 pounds of traditional Thanksgiving fare to U.S. service members in the Middle East, Europe and Africa.
This includes: 4,925 whole turkeys, 66,741 pounds of roasted turkey, 80,546 pounds of beef, 43,648 pounds of ham, 44,384 pounds of shrimp, 27,605 pounds of sweet potatoes, 39,797 pies, 7,032 cakes and 5,804 gallons of eggnog, according to the Defense Logistic Agency, the Pentagon department that oversees the ordering and shipments.
The U.S. Navy has been celebrating Thanksgiving aboard vessels even before it became an official holiday, when President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of thanksgiving during the Civil War on Oct. 3, 1863. The menu has changed a little, however.
In 1917, “Mayonnaise Salad,” described as a “cold, layered sweet-savory dish that included mayonnaise, sugar and lettuce” was served on the the USS Arizona. “Oyster dressing,” a sauce that included the juice of shelled oysters, was a component of the Thanksgiving menu on the USS Case in 1929. Not that long ago, post-dinner cigars and cigarettes were available.
But no amount of turkey and cranberry sauce can substitute for being with friends and family on a day that has become synonymous with showing your gratitude for all that you have in life.
“It’s bitter-sweet. You have to make the best of it. You know you have to be here,” said Imani Bradley, 25, from St. Petersburg, Florida. Bradley is a signals analyst who monitors communication frequencies.
Back home in Florida, her three-year-old son is spending the day with his dad and grandparents. And, in a way, she’s keeping an eye on them, too.
“I miss them. But there will be more Thanksgivings. And I know what they’ll be doing anyway: stuffing their faces with food, and watching a lot of football,” she said.
WASHINGTON — The Pentagon is requesting $4.5 billion in funds for the European Deterrence Initiative, the second straight year that the department has cut its request for the program.
The EDI is a special part of the department’s Overseas Contingency Operations funding, focused on reassuring allies in Europe and deterring Russian aggression on the continent.
The Pentagon requested $4.8 billion for EDI in FY18, a request which grew to $6.5 billion in FY19. The FY20 request, however, dropped it down to $5.9 billion. Congress plussed up the funding to $6.5 billion, meaning the department’s request for this year would be a $1.5 billion cut.
Click here for more coverage of the FY21 budget rollout.
Funding will go towards rotational force deployment and the implementation of previously funded multiyear agreements. It will also support additional exercises in Europe and the prepositioning of U.S. equipment on the continent.
Two European officials contacted by Defense News downplayed concerns, with one saying that a drop in funding is normal given the number of infrastructure projects that are being completed.
Included in the EDI funding is $250 million for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, which can be used to replace any “weapons or defensive articles” provided to Ukraine by the U.S. government. Such funding became a flashpoint in 2019, eventually leading to the impeachment of President Donald Trump, who was acquitted in the Senate last week.
In the last National Defense Authorization Act, Congress requested that the Pentagon submit a five-year plan for EDI in FY21.
File photo of a U.S. Navy cable-controlled undersea recovery vehicle (CURV-21). (U.S. Navy/Lt. Alex Cornell du Houx)
PACIFIC OCEAN – A U.S. Navy salvage team aboard a contracted vessel completed its mission supporting search and recovery operations with the Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) after locating debris from the downed Japan Air Self-Defense Force F-35A off the coast of Japan, May 8.
Working closely with JSDF forces, the salvage team deployed a U.S. Navy remotely operated vehicle, CURV 21, to survey the area where debris was located.
Prior to the salvage team mission, guided-missile destroyer USS Stethem (DDG 63) and multiple P-8A Poseidon aircraft joined JSDF-led search efforts from Apr. 9-17, covering more than 5,000 square nautical miles.
The aircraft first went missing 85 miles east of Misawa Air Base, April 9.
The U.S. Navy’s thoughts continue to be with the pilot’s family, friends and colleagues.
The close coordination and cooperation between the U.S. military and JSDF during this operation serves as a reflection of a strong alliance, forged over decades of mutual support and friendship.
Published at: https://www.cpf.navy.mil/news.aspx/110736
CounterPoint, A weekly public affairs radio program —
Interview with Alex Cornell du Houx, president of Elected Officials to Protect America and former Maine state legislator and Vice Mayor of Culver City, California, Meghan Sahli-Wells, who serves as co-chair of Elected Officials to Protect California and is also on the steering committee of Elected Officials to Protect America, conducted by Scott Harris
Alex Cornell du Houx and Meghan Sahli-Wells will discuss their group’s views on important issues addressed and unaddressed at the recently concluded COP 24 UN Climate Change Conference in Katowice, Poland.
December 17, 2018
Published at: https://btlonline.org/over-300-us-elected-officials-support-transition-to-100-renewable-energy/
Check out my interview with Canadian Public Radio if you want to practice your French speaking skills 🙂
Tara Copp and Kyle Rempfer
The top commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan said Thursday they would respect a week-long ceasefire with the Taliban in honor of Eid.
The holiday marks the end of Ramadan fasting and a ceasefire was called for by Afghanistan’s president Ashraf Ghani.
“We will adhere to the wishes of Afghanistan for the country to enjoy a peaceful end to the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, and support the search for an end to the conflict,” said Gen. John Nicholson, U.S. Forces-Afghanistan and the NATO-led Resolute Support commander.
The holiday would run from about June 12 through June 19.
However, the ceasefire does not include U.S. counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan against the Islamic State or other terror groups, Nicholson said.
The U.S. decision came after Ghani said he would follow the decree of 3,000 Afghan religious scholars, the Ulema, calling for a cessation of hostilities between the Afghan government and the Taliban during the holiday.
The development seems welcomed by many Afghanistan policy experts.
Jarrett Blanc, former acting special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, wrote over Twitter that it is vital U.S. and NATO forces abide by the ceasefire, using the exception to strike other terror groups “as narrowly as possible, and ideally not at all.”
“I endorse this tweet by my former colleague,” Barnett Rubin, a leading expert on Afghanistan and South Asia at New York University, said in a message to Military Times.
“The U.S. cannot avoid direct negotiations with Taliban if it wants a political solution,” Rubin said. “This could be a way to back into them through a process led by the Afghan [government].”
Even if the US rigorously adheres to this brief cease fire, the Taliban will still (reasonably) doubt Government of Afghanistan control. If the US is cute about adherence, the Taliban will be entirely, maybe permanently convinced of the pointlessness of negotiating with Kabul.
Blanc explained over Twitter that the Afghan government has always insisted the Taliban negotiate directly with them. Meanwhile, the Taliban have always insisted that negotiations should first start between the Taliban and the United States — as it is international forces that do the most damage to Taliban fighters.
“Even if the U.S. rigorously adheres to this brief cease fire, the Taliban will still (reasonably) doubt Government of Afghanistan control,” Blanc wrote. “If the U.S. is cute about adherence, the Taliban will be entirely, maybe permanently convinced of the pointlessness of negotiating with Kabul.”
Regardless of where the peace process starts, it must include the United States in some way, according to Blanc.
“One point to remember: even if the Taliban and Kabul do start talking, the U.S. has security requirements that can only — only — be addressed in direct negotiations with the Taliban,” he wrote. “Our [counter-terrorism] demands in any peace process can not be outsourced to Kabul.”
By Mary Jordan
Feb. 8, 2018 at 12:28 a.m. GMT+9
Alex Cornell du Houx, center, has Joe Tate of Detroit, right, participate in an exercise during a session he was leading at the Veterans Campaign Political Leadership Workshop. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post)
In Amy McGrath’s pitch to voters in Kentucky, she wears a bomber jacket and stands next to an F/A-18, the fighter jet she flew as a Marine to drop bombs on Afghanistan.
In Mikie Sherrill’s political ad in New Jersey, the camera lingers over a whirring Sea King helicopter, like the one she piloted on Navy missions.
And in Martha McSally’s video announcing her run for Senate in Arizona, she is crouched in the cockpit of an Air Force fighter jet to underscore that she was the first woman to fly in combat.
Women who served in the military are running for elective office in greater numbers than at any time in history. Many broke gender barriers in uniform and say it’s time to make their mark in politics. For generations, military veterans who become elected officials have overwhelmingly been male and Republican, but these female veterans, many of whom served in pioneering combat roles in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, are overwhelmingly Democrats and critical of President Trump.
“Many of us felt like we really had to focus on some of the areas that needed further groundbreaking, such as the House of Representatives and the Senate,” said Sherrill, 46, a Democrat running in New Jersey’s 11th Congressional District. Sherrill said she and other female veterans are motivated to run for office by what she calls a “lack of respect” for women by the Trump administration and by the dearth of women on Capitol Hill. She said she was astounded to see an all-male Senate panel debating last year whether to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
Sherrill is considered a strong contender who could flip the Republican seat being vacated by Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee who surprised many by dropping out of the race in January after 24 years in Congress. His district voted for Trump by less than one percentage point.
Only four of the 535 members of Congress are female veterans, two Republicans and two Democrats. But at least 32 more women who served in the military are now campaigning for the House and Senate — 25 Democrats and seven Republicans, said Debbie Walsh, director of the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University.
Scores more are campaigning for statewide office and state legislative seats, many with the aim of running for Congress later.
The increase in veterans running — the number of men is rising, too — is beginning to reverse the long decline of veterans in Congress. In the 1970s, more than 70 percent of House and Senate members had served in the military. Today, about 20 percent have.
Although the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan created a larger pool of potential candidates, it is no coincidence that at a time of sinking regard for politicians, bomber jackets, Bronze Stars and aviator wings are showing up in so many 2018 campaign ads. A recent Gallup poll showed that 72 percent of people had “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in the military, but only 12 percent did for Congress.
Combat veterans in Congress have a long history of commanding attention when discussing war. Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), who lost her legs when a rocket-propelled grenade hit her Black Hawk helicopter in Iraq, was widely quoted recently when she called Trump a “five-deferment draft dodger” and accused him of goading North Korea.
In response to Trump calling Democrats “treasonous” for not clapping during his State of the Union address, Duckworth countered that she swore an oath to the Constitution and did not have to “mindlessly cater to the whims of Cadet Bone Spurs,” a reference to Trump receiving a Vietnam War-era deferment because of bone spurs.
Democrats want to highlight the fact that many military veterans are appalled by Trump, who has filled his inner circle with retired generals and is planning a huge military parade later this year.
Studies have shown that veterans in office are more reluctant to vote to go to war, but that once war is declared, they back an all-out effort, said Rebecca Burgess, who studies veterans in public office for the American Enterprise Institute.
In half a dozen interviews with female candidates who are veterans, health care was a key reason they wanted to run. Many also talked about the need to improve education, to gain greater gender parity and to institute paid maternity leave. Wanting strong national security, they said, was a given and rarely mentioned first.
“Women look around and see what is happening, and they want to see change,” said Maura Sullivan, 38, a Marine veteran who served in Iraq and is a Democrat running for an open House seat in New Hampshire. She said many issues need to be addressed, including child care, mental health and maternity leave.
Sullivan, who worked at the Pentagon in the Obama administration, also said she has seen firsthand the devastating consequences of war, and thinks that Trump “puts the national security of this country at risk” with his “erratic and bizarre” behavior.
McGrath agreed that many veterans are upset with the commander in chief: “A lot of us are saying this isn’t the country we fought for.”
The former combat pilot singled out the need for better affordable health care for her candidacy. She first must win the Democratic primary — a field that includes Lexington Mayor Jim Gray — for the chance to unseat Rep. Garland “Andy” Barr (R). A viral campaign video has boosted her bid. In it she says that at age 13, she wrote to her members of Congress saying she wanted an opportunity to fly fighter jets. Her House member wrote back saying that women were not allowed in combat, and her senator, Mitch McConnell (R), never replied.
McGrath ended up flying 89 combat missions against al- Qaeda and the Taliban.
Several Republican Party officials acknowledged that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and liberal groups, including VoteVets.org, are increasing their efforts to recruit veterans who are critical of Trump.
“Democrats have made a concerted effort because of the stigma attached to them since the 2016 election, which showed them to be out of touch with voters, a party of coastal elites,” said Jesse Hunt, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee.
But Hunt said that although military service is admirable, “biography is not everything, and a Democrat is a Democrat.”
Voters are swayed by where a candidate stands on issues such as single-payer health care and tax cuts, Hunt said.
But many Democrats see the effectiveness of having combat veterans speak out on deeply partisan issues, including those involving guns.
Burgess, of the American Enterprise Institute, said veterans have an identity apart from political party. Many grew up in middle-class and rural areas, and that helps them “get away from the hated image of the elite politician,” she said.
Jeremy Teigen, author of a new book, “Why Veterans Run,” said Republicans have had more success in getting their veterans elected. Democrats have a history of backing veterans in long-shot races. But he said there are signs this year that Democrats are being more strategic.
Of 36 veterans who attended a two-day workshop run by the nonpartisan Veterans Campaign in Washington last month, 14 were Democrats, nine were Republicans and the rest were undecided or independents.
Erica Courtney, a former Army helicopter pilot and a Democrat living in Virginia, was one of those who attended sessions such as “Bulletproofing Your Service Record & Avoiding Common Pitfalls.” She said the military taught her to lead by example and to be inclusive, adding, “Now I am embarrassed to watch the nightly news with my children.”
In Arizona, McSally is embracing Trump as she seeks the seat being vacated by Sen. Jeff Flake (R).
Elected to the House in 2015, McSally faces former sheriff Joe Arpaio, another Trump ally, in the Republican primary. The retired Air Force colonel is flying herself to campaign stops, telling voters she will work with Trump on border security, a top issue in her Arizona district.
She also uses “salty language,” as she calls it — just like the guys she served with in the military. She got people’s attention last year when as a House member, she stood up in a GOP conference room during discussions about replacing the Affordable Care Act and said “let’s get this f—ing thing done.”
“Sorry if I offended you, but that is who I am,” McSally said in an interview. She said most voters appreciate her candid, straightforward, “even a little edgy” approach.
“Like our president, I am tired of PC politicians and their BS excuses,” McSally said in a video announcing her Senate bid. “I am a fighter pilot, and I talk like one. That’s why I told Washington Republicans to grow a pair of ovaries and get the job done.”
McGrath, the Kentucky Democrat, said the male-dominated world of politics makes sense for female veterans like her. “Success in combat as a fighter pilot is not gender-dependent,” she said. “A lot of women out there kicked butt.”
Alex Cornell du Houx, center, has Joe Tate of Detroit, right, participate in an exercise during a session he was leading at the Veterans Campaign Political Leadership Workshop. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post)
What can we learn for this presidential election to help protect the issues and values we care about? Climate change, women’s rights, economic equality, health care, and many more are likely to become headlines under the new administration.
A campaign can’t take their base for granted and needs to inspire and motivate people through a clear vision that encompasses their values. Momentum builds. When you motivate a base, others don’t want to be left out. It’s human nature to join the team and not be left behind.
In Clinton’s campaign, we saw a message that relied heavily on: vote for me because the other guy is unfit to lead – not a vision with values that inspired the Democratic base to vote. The frame became about Trump. Successful campaigns make the campaign about the voters values and build empathy with them. Ironically, Trump was a broken record talking to his base. He motivated his base through their shared values and they voted in the key states needed to win.
Trump won two million fewer votes than Romney did in 2012, compared with Clinton who won seven million fewer votes than Obama – both not great, but one inspired more action.
When it came to white voters, surprisingly there was little change between elections. Clinton won 37 percent of the white vote, compared to Obama’s 39 percent. Trump also captured 58 percent of the vote to Romney’s 59 percent. White voters made up 70 percent of the electorate this year, down from 72 percent four years ago. Overall, the percentage in support did not change greatly, but the number of voters who were inspired and motivated to vote did in the targeted states.
Then how do you inspire someone to act? You don’t tell voters what to do or that the world is coming to an end, so to speak. People need a positive solution that relates and builds empathy with them through shared values. And the best way to convey your values and vision is through stories – a good story is lasting, creates empathy, entertains and leads to action.
So what’s a good model to inspire voters? Most marketing follows a “have, do, be” pattern. If we have a product like a new Tesla, we will do something with it like drive ludicrous speeds, and be happy. However, we all know one could have all the money in the world, do stuff with it and still be unhappy – additionally many become unsatisfied and end up looking to have the next best product. The impact is short term.
During this election cycle many ended up focusing on having the candidate, not the candidate being those values and vision. The narrative went: if we have Clinton, we will govern, and we will be happy.
To inspire and motivate long-term change the pattern should read the opposite: “be, do, have.” Dr. King did not have a five-point plan, he had a dream that inspired people to take action. He started with a clear vision and values and became a symbol of them. He repeated this vision and repeated it through inspiring stories. When we start with the vision that encompasses our values, we do things like vote and then have a president that will live that vision.
Let’s stop selling candidates and issues. Let’s be and live our vision to improve our world.
Originally Published on the Huffington Post
We organized this initiative to highlight the important work state and local governments are doing to promote clean energy and combat climate change, despite many in Congress’ complete lack of leadership to protect our families and communities.
The initiative was headlined in Paris by California Senator President Pro Tempore Kevin De León. California recently passed legislation to achieve 50 percent clean energy by 2030 and is the world’s 7th largest economy.
“California’s example shows that climate action can be an engine for broadly shared economic prosperity,” said De León. “By promoting the development of clean energy resources, we are simultaneously reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving air quality, and creating jobs that can lift families out of poverty. If Congress won’t act, it’s incumbent on state and local leaders to do the job for them.”
Another example of state and local governments leading the way to a clean energy future came from Des Moines, Iowa Mayor Frank Cownie.
“Our region used to be coal country, and now is powered by 40 percent wind. That’s the future that cities and states are creating,” said Cownie. “Where there used to be 23 coal mines 100 years ago in and around the city, now we are building a green space corridor and new industries. It’s time for cities, states, the United States and the world to aggressively commit to creating a better, clean energy future.”
This is a necessary and achievable goal. The initiative supports the implementation of President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, as it will bring the U.S. within seven percent of the stated goal. With additional leadership at the federal, state, and local levels, our country will successfully reach the 50 percent by 2030 goal.
Clean energy is an American success story. It is one of the fastest growing economic sectors in the United States and already provides 360,000 jobs. The solar industry alone employs 143,000 people—more individuals than work in coal mines — and grew 20 percent in 2014. Last year a new solar project was installed every 2.5 minutes.
“The political will to act on climate change exists in every state and community. But it’s been drowned out by the millions of dollars dirty energy companies spend to sow doubt and denial,” said former Caroline New York Council member and Deputy Town Supervisor Dominic Frongillo, who helped organize the letter. “The decades of deception are over: science is clear on the necessity to move off fossil fuels, and Exxon-Mobil is under investigation for misleading shareholders and the American people. We need elected officials to lead a fair and swift transition to 100 percent clean energy. The transition to renewables can create jobs and prosperous opportunities across the United States and the world. Now it’s time to lead.”
This year, the United States has hit many clean energy milestones. America has added more clean power than natural gas, with clean energy generation up 11 percent while natural gas generation declined. Demonstrating the opportunity, solar jobs grew 20 times faster than the rest of the economy.
“We want the rest of the world to know that the climate-denying, anti-science voices in Congress do not represent America,” said Nick Rathod, Executive Director of the State Innovation Exchange, who works with lawmakers across the nation. Innovations at the state level often drive our national policy forward and that is exactly what is happening in the fight against climate change. States are leading the way.”
The investment of New England Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) estimates a return of more than $2.9 billion in lifetime energy bill savings to more than 3.7 million participating households and 17,800 businesses. In California, a similar program generated $969 million in revenue for the state through the end of 2014, and is expected to generate $2 billion a year or more in the future.
The RGGI states have experienced over a 40 percent reduction in power sector carbon pollution since 2005, while the regional economy has grown eight percent. “This proves that we can reduce pollution that’s putting our communities’ health at risk while growing jobs and prosperity. From East Coast to West Coast – states and local communities are leading the way,” said California East Bay Municipal Utility District Director Andy Katz, who helped organize the letter.
“Cities and states and on the front lines of climate change. As sea levels rise, our city is in danger,” said West Palm Beach, FL Mayor Jeri Muoio. “To protect our future and lead by example, we have made a commitment to power all our city vehicles without fossil fuels.”
The launch of this letter is only the beginning and will continue to add signatures. We will be working with state and local elected officials across America to ensure a healthier and safer future for our children. As leaders responsible for America’s present and future prosperity, we must take action now.
Alex specializes in value-based strategic communications and leadership evaluation and implementation for social impact and public sector organizations.
Alex is currently working on a documentary and short videos on water security as it relates to climate change to educate lawmakers and the public. By creating empathy through storytelling, he aims to inspire community action, the media and lawmakers to combat climate change and promote water security. A short preview can be viewed here.
Alex is responsible for award-winning media strategies. The Special Assistant to the President and Deputy Director of Intergovernmental Affairs at the White House said the guide to the Clean Power Plan he created for lawmakers was, “Huge. Seriously appreciate your efforts on this—and the messaging/points/examples are phenomenal.”
He is as a professional photographer and continues to shoot events, as well as operations for the Navy. He’s filmed, edited and produced videos for campaigns, businesses, nonprofits and for the Navy. He has organized and participated in press conferences at the White House, state capitols across the nation, and internationally – recently during the U.N. Paris Climate Change Conference.
Alex has appeared on NBC Nightly News, Good Morning America, NPR, international media, and countless local and regional outlets. He blogs for the Huffington Post, and is published in Newsweek and numerous local papers.
Alex created countless messaging documents, media advisories, press releases, and speeches for Navy admirals and lawmakers and organizations. He is proficient at Photoshop and Premiere, as well as creating digital media. He has extensive knowledge in running social media campaigns, email platforms, and content management platforms. In addition, he has created, updated and managed websites.