In contrast to the budget maneuver employed by its House counterpart, the Senate Armed Services Committee does not rely on DOD’s wartime account to sidestep the statutory spending caps and bolster the Pentagon’s base budget, under the fiscal 2017 defense authorization bill the panel approved Thursday.After the committee finished marking up its annual defense policy bill in closed session, Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) told reporters he planned to seek additional funding when the measure goes to the Senate floor, reported Defense News.“We went to the president’s mark, and then we will be looking to increase funding for much-needed programs on the floor,” McCain said.The committee adhered to the Obama administration’s request and shifted only $5 billion from the overseas contingency operations (OCO) account, which is not subject to the Budget Control Act limits. The House Armed Services dedicated an additional $18 billion from the uncapped account to base budget needs in an effort to restore shortfalls in military readiness.The Senate version, however, would authorize an increase of $2 billion for additional training, depot maintenance and weapons sustainment.“While the committee believes this is a positive step in the right direction, these additions were not enough to address the nearly $23 billion in unfunded requirements identified by the military services, almost $7 billion of which alone were considered readiness-related,” according to a committee summary of the measure.“Artificial budget constraints … have limited the committee’s ability to authorize a strategy-based level of defense funding demanded by the threats facing the nation and the ever-growing demands they impose on our military service members,” the committee said.The Pentagon and White House have criticized the budget maneuver employed by House Armed Services, saying it would shortchange overseas operations and force the next administration to request supplemental war funding before it runs out at the end of April.The conflicting approaches to funding the Pentagon adopted by the two panels could be difficult to resolve and likely set up a contentious budget battle at the end of the year.“This is a hard thing to resolve,” Todd Harrison, director of defense budget analysis at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told Defense News. “We have a significant disagreement, and looking at the legislative calendar, there will not be that much time to resolve it.” Dan Cohen AUTHOR
FacebookA journalist working with a Malayalam newspaper was killed after his bike was hit by a car allegedly driven by Sriram Venkataraman, an IAS officer from Kerala. The incident happened at midnight in Thiruvananthapuram. Several regional media outlets reported eyewitness claims that the IAS officer was completely drunk during the time of the accident.According to eyewitnesses, Venkataraman was at the wheel at the time of the accident. He was accompanied by a lady passenger. At around 01.35 AM, the car hit the bike and skidded to the wall of a public office. The journalist, KM Basheer, who works with ‘Siraj’, died instantly after sustaining serious head injuries. Shafeeq, an auto driver who was apparently present at the time of the accident, revealed that Venkataraman was drunk. “After the car hit the two-wheeler, a man came out from the driving seat. He was in a drunken state and his car was running at high speed,” he said, according to the Indian Express. It has been reported that the police did not subject Venkataraman or his friend to a medical examination. Instead, they booked a prepaid cab and sent the woman home. Venkataraman, who had some injuries on his hand, was later admitted to the general hospital. However, police officers did not insist on collecting the blood samples of the IAS officer even after doctors informed them that he was under the influence of alcohol.It was on August 01 that Sriram Venkataraman got posted as the Director of Survey and Land Records. The accident has already created an uproar on social media. Meanwhile, unconfirmed reports said the police plan to arrest the IAS officer.Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala have condoled the death of the journalist.
An Amalgamated Transit Union report released May 17 excoriates the District for using contractors to create the D.C. Circulator and the D.C. Streetcar, two premium transit services the report says deepen racial bias in the city.The Fool D.C. Twice: Why D.C. Must Abandon Private Sector Control of Public Transit}report alleges both systems cater to wealthy Whites and tourists, while relying on taxpayers – who don’t use the services – to subsidize them when rider expectations fall short.The ATU released a report that claims private sector control of the D.C. transit system is benefiting wealthy Whites. (Courtesy Photo)“These services tend to exacerbate existing patterns of inequality,” Michael McCall-Delgado, the union’s strategic researcher, said on a conference call with reporters. He added that the streetcar was specifically designed to hasten gentrification along the H Street corridor in the city’s Northeast quadrant.The report primarily focuses on labor issues, safety standard violations, and failures to meet stated ridership and service goals – matters the union says besieged both systems after the city contracted them to for-profit companies.The union has been against the privatization of bus routes, the Circulator and the Streetcar for some time. In 2013, the union was against privatization of the systems. The union’s initial complaint against privatization was job loss, rider dissatisfaction and loss of public input.The transit union supports mass transit and represents more than 190,000 transit and allied workers in the U.S. and Canada.It’s up to residents to demand that public officials implement a transportation system that serves the community, instead of one that “only subsidizes the leisure of city elites,” the report said. District riders should also tell city officials to stop attempting to save money by contracting services out to for-profit companies. The private sector becomes a barrier between city officials and riders that officials “hide behind” when things go awry, Delgado said.“Each one gets to use the other as a shield for what the other is supposed to be doing,” Delgado said.Essie Jackson lives in Anacostia and has cleaned offices at the U.S. Department of Housing for 14 years. She relies on the A8 bus to get her from her home to the Anacostia Metro station and then on the Green Line to take her to work. Jackson, 61, then takes the reverse route to get home.Officials from the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority should set the schedules so that the buses are waiting for riders as soon as they get off the train, she said. “They shouldn’t have to wait an hour and a half,” Jackson said.When the bus does come, it’s jam-packed with people, she said, forcing her to stand. She said she is already battling several injuries, is blind in her left eye, and is afraid of hurting herself if she falls on the bus.Ty Johnson, also a resident of Anacostia, wishes WMATA ran trains more frequently on the Green Line. She added that the ongoing Safe Track program on the Red Line frequently makes her late for her retail job in Friendship Heights. “It’s ridiculous how long the surges are,” Johnson, 27, said.Labor groups’ fight against privatization efforts within transit continued this week. On May 22, Metro Washington Council AFL-CIO held a news conference urging labor leaders to reject privatization and to endorse ATU Local 689’s proposal to stabilize and improve WMATA.Certain parts of the Fool D.C. Twice calls out the Circulator for serving an average census tract that is 15 percent Whiter and 18 percent less Black than the District’s population. The Circulator runs six routes that go through Georgetown, Navy Yard, DuPont Circle, the National Mall, Adams Morgan, Woodley Park, and others. It only costs $1 to ride. “The decision to run the Circulator in areas with a wealthier, Whiter population created a politically influential constituency for the service,” the report said. “This in turn has created pressure on local politicians to defend the service and expand it, even into neighborhoods that are already covered by the existing Metrobus network.”Meanwhile, three Metrobus lines already serve the rapidly gentrifying H Street corridor and transport more than 17,400 riders every weekday, according to the report. Those routes link commuters to job centers and serve residents living east of the Anacostia River in Wards 7 and 8, the report said.“These routes already provide broader service than the streetcar does with the added flexibility of being able to maneuver around obstructions,” the report said.According to the Washington Post article in July 2013, a privatization deal was supposed to include building a streetcar system in Anacostia and along H Street. To date, McDonald Transit Associates, the contractor behind D.C. Streetcar, has only completed the H Street streetcar system.First Transit, the contractor that operates D.C. Circulator, and McDonald Transit Associates did not respond to the AFRO’s requests for comment.Ron Holzer, a WMATA spokesman, cautions against condemning all contracts.To maximize efficiency while maintaining or enhancing service, General Manager Paul Wiedefeld’s has called for additional public sector support for Metro where it makes sense. “With regard to Circulator, DDOT (District Department of Transportation) and WMATA are working cooperatively to improve the performance of this particular contract,” Holzer told the AFRO via email.Terry Owens, a DDOT spokesman told the AFRO via email that the agency continuously evaluates its transit services to determine where improvements can be made. He declined to comment further, saying he had not read the ATU report.Yet for all of WMATA’s problems, Jackson, who doesn’t drive, says she’s grateful for the system.“I thank God for Metro, because it takes me to where I need to go.”