Soldiers and slumlords: The privatization of U.S. military housing

Profiting from the misery of service members and their families:

The Corvias homes are among 206,000 now under private management in the 22-year-old U.S. Military Housing Privatization Initiative, the largest-ever corporate takeover of federal housing. The military says the effort has enhanced the lives of service members and their families.

Some of Corvias' tenants strongly disagree. They accuse Picerne's company of renting them poorly maintained homes riddled with health hazards that can trigger illness or childhood developmental delays.

Some background: In the late 80's & early 90's, defense budgeting overall continued to increase, but that was more about high-ticket items like fighter jets and such. The budget allotments for housing and other personnel-related issues suffered, and base housing deteriorated. In 1996 Republicans took over both the US Senate and the House, and (of course) their solution for this problem was to privatize military housing. And since the only rents that could be collected from troops had to match the BAH (Basic Allotment for Housing) rates, it was inevitable the quality would suffer:

Thursday News: Abusing public trust

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FORMER BUNCOMBE OFFICIAL PLEADS GUILTY TO FRAUD & CONSPIRACY: The Asheville Citizen-Times reports the plea by former Buncombe County assistant manager Mandy Stone was part of a deal in which she agreed to assist a federal county corruption probe. The deal with the U.S. Attorney's Office was reached last week, and a judge is set to rule Wednesday on whether to accept the deal. Stone's plea means she admits to conspiring with former county staffers Jon Creighton and Michael Greene, both of whom have pleaded guilty. Greene's mother and former county manager Wanda Greene has pleaded not guilty to charges in the scheme. Prosecutors say they took bribes from Georgia-based contractor Joe Wiseman, who hasn't been charged.
https://www.wral.com/ex-north-carolina-official-pleads-guilty-to-fraud-conspiracy/18088123/

Culpable in genocide: American involvement in Saudi war crimes

We need to get out of the war business:

American mechanics service the jet and carry out repairs on the ground. American technicians upgrade the targeting software and other classified technology, which Saudis are not allowed to touch. The pilot has likely been trained by the United States Air Force.

And at a flight operations room in the capital, Riyadh, Saudi commanders sit near American military officials who provide intelligence and tactical advice, mainly aimed at stopping the Saudis from killing Yemeni civilians.

It's likely readers found the above headline verging on hyperbole. I do not use the term "genocide" as freely as others do when discussing military conflicts, but here's another word that may help you understand why I arrived at that conclusion: "Knowingly." It is often used in war crimes trials to demonstrate the difference between intentional acts of brutality and collateral damage. War criminals *always* claim that latter occurred, and proving it's the former makes all the difference. Case in point:

Wednesday News: The plot thickens

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DOWLESS WAS GIVEN SPECIAL ACCESS TO CONFIDENTIAL VOTER INFORMATION: Bladen County election board staff allowed Dowless to “take and copy unredacted absentee ballot request forms, which include social security numbers, driver’s license numbers, state ID numbers, and signatures,” according to Lutz, who resigned in mid-December. Lutz also claims in the affidavit that Dowless used public records laws to determine when voters would receive absentee ballots, “allowing Mr. Dowless to send his workers to those voters right after the ballots arrived.” Because the race of voters is included on the county reports about absentee ballot requests, “Mr. Dowless could have used it to target African American voters,” Lutz testified. On another occasion, Lutz witnessed Dowless “pressuring Board staff to provide this information to him,” according to his affidavit. Lutz then “confronted Mr. Dowless and told him that the Board office was closed,” Lutz reported. Dowless “responded angrily, and my fellow Board of Elections member, Mr. (Bobby) Ludlum, went outside to explain the situation, after which he left the Board of Elections.”
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article223514905.html

Black Sheep Christmas: Tips for recovering addicts during the holidays

Facing the family can be a terrifying prospect:

Terri Edwards’ first Christmas home after entering an addiction recovery program was “very uncomfortable.” She had been away from her family for five years while she was using substances.

“I didn’t know exactly what my place was anymore because I had removed myself from the family unit for so long,” she said. “I was still trying to figure out who I was in recovery, and how I fit in with my family now.”

I have experience from both sides of this issue, and you *definitely* need some sort of a plan to get through it. And that doesn't just apply to the recovering addict's approach; whoever's hosting the gathering needs to take some steps too. You can't assume everybody is on the same sheet of music. Especially when opioids are involved, some of the family members or friends in attendance may have been hurt more than others, with outstanding loans or even money and other valuables stolen by the addict. And they may view this gathering as an opportunity to vent their frustration. So sending out a group e-mail (that way everybody knows that everybody knows) asking people to avoid the subject might be wise. Here's some more helpful tips:

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