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Sunday, Dec 17th

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VA cuts program for homeless vets after touting Trump's commitment

David Shulkin: VA cuts program for homeless vets

Four days after Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin held a big Washington event to tout the Trump administration’s promise to house all homeless vets, the agency did an about-face, telling advocates it was pulling resources from a major housing program.

The VA said it was essentially ending a special $460 million program that has dramatically reduced homelessness among chronically sick and vulnerable veterans. Instead, the money would go to local VA hospitals that can use it as they like, as long as they show evidence of dealing with homelessness.

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U.S., South Korea Launch Large-Scale Joint Aerial Drills

War games: US and S. KoreaThe United States and South Korea went ahead with large-scale joint aerial drills on Monday, a move North Korea had said would push the Korean peninsula to “the brink of nuclear war,” ignoring calls from Russia and China to call them off.

The drills come a week after North Korea said it had tested its most advanced intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the United States as part of a weapons program that it has conducted in defiance of international sanctions and condemnation.

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Trump's military buildup still a mirage

Trump' military buildup a mythPresident Donald Trump came into office pledging the largest defense spending spree since the administration of Ronald Reagan — assuring the troops that they would see "beautiful new planes and beautiful new equipment."

But that vision remains little more than a mirage, top Pentagon officials, lawmakers and defense industry executives lamented during a gathering this weekend at Reagan's presidential library — undermined by congressional gridlock on spending priorities and a tax overhaul expected to add more than a trillion dollars to the national debt.

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Former U.S. Marine jailed for raping and murdering woman on Japanese island of Okinawa

US marine jailed for rape, murder

A U.S. military contractor was found guilty of raping and murdering a Japanese woman on Okinawa and sentenced to life imprisonment Friday. The case caused outrage among locals about the presence of the U.S. military on the southern Japanese island.

The Naha District Court also found Kenneth Franklin Shinzato, 33, a former Marine, guilty of abandoning the body of Rina Shimabukuro, 20. She was discovered in a forest, three weeks after disappearing while taking a walk.

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Air Force didn't report dozens of convictions to background check database

Air Force didn't report dozens of convictions to gun data base
The Air Force did not report the convictions of dozens of service members to a national background check database used for gun sales, The New York Times reported Tuesday, highlighting a gap that’s come to light in the wake of this month’s deadly Texas church shooting.

Officials identified the cases while conducting a review of reports to the system, after authorities found that the Air Force had failed to report the domestic violence conviction of Devin Kelley, the gunman behind the mass shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs.

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U.S. Coast Guard operating secret floating prisons in Pacific Ocean

War on Drugs: US Coast Guard floats secret prisons

If you've followed the War on Terror at all, you're almost certainly familiar with the U.S. detention facility at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba — a U.S. prison that exists outside the realm of the U.S. justice system.

Now, it turns out, there's a secret U.S. detention system in the War on Drugs, too — and this one is aboard U.S. Coast Guard cutters sailing in the Pacific Ocean.

In an effort to staunch the flow of cocaine and other hard drugs from South America to Central America and points north, Coast Guard cutters have been deployed farther and farther from the shore in the Pacific Ocean. When these cutters capture a boat carrying drugs, the smugglers are brought onto the ships and kept shackled to the deck, sometimes outside in the elements, until the Coast Guard makes arrangements for them to be transported back to the U.S. for trial.

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Second Federal Judge Blocks Trump's Ban On Trans Service Members

Judge blocks ban on military transgender troops

A federal judge in Maryland has temporarily blocked all of President Trump's would-be ban on transgender Americans serving in the U.S. armed forces or receiving transition-related health care through the military.

The decision comes just weeks after another federal judge, based in Washington, D.C., blocked most of the policy change.

Last year, after extended study of the issue, the military announced that trans service members could sign up for the military, serve openly and receive medical care related to their transition. This summer, Trump announced on Twitter that the policy would be reversed, which was followed by an official memo.

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