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The U.S. military says an Idaho soldier assigned to Fort Carson, Colorado, has died in a noncombat incident in Iraq.

The Defense Department said Wednesday that 20-year-old Spc. Michael T. Osorio died Tuesday in Taji, Iraq. No details were released, and the military said an investigation was underway.

Osorio was from Horseshoe Bend, Idaho. He was an intelligence analyst in Fort Carson’s 3rd Armored Brigade, part of the 4th Infantry Division.

He enlisted in the Army in July 2017 and was on his first deployment.

His decorations included the Army Commendation Medal and the Army Achievement Medal.

Source: Fox News National

Dan Caldwell, the executive director of Concerned Veterans for America, said on “America’s Newsroom” Wednesday that while many Americans get quality health care from the Department of Veterans Affairs system, those who served in the military and wish to join private networks should have that choice.

He said that New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez “is really off base” with her contention at a Town Hall last week that the veterans health care system is efficient and “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

“In many cases, yes, the V.A. is performing well, it is giving veterans high-quality care, but in other cases they aren’t,” Caldwell said. “Just because some veterans are getting good care isn’t an excuse not to fix the V.A. for the veterans who aren’t getting good care. And that’s why we support giving veterans a choice, so if a veteran wants to access care in the community because he or she feels they aren’t getting good care in the V.A., they can do that. And that’s what President Trump supports — not privatizing the V.A., not dismantling the V.A.”

The V.A. Mission Act, which Congress passed in June and President Trump signed into law, allows veterans the option of using their benefits at a network of private health care providers.

OCASIO-CORTEZ DECLARES VA ‘ISN’T BROKEN,’ ALREADY PROVIDES TOP-NOTCH CARE 

“Through legislation like the V.A. Mission Act, they’re trying to put the veteran at the center of the V.A., not the bureaucracy,” Caldwell said. “Giving veterans a choice will force the private sector and the V.A. to compete for veterans, this will give veterans the power to choose.”

The department was plagued by scandal during the Obama administration — including secret wait lists, systemic neglect and veterans dying while waiting to see a doctor.

Caldwell credited Trump, Congress and V.A. Secretary Robert Wilkie for getting the measure passed. Wilkie is the fourth secretary to lead the VA in the past four years, while the VA’s $200 billion budget has doubled in the past decade.

“If implemented properly, it will fix a lot of the long-term systemic problems in the V.A.,” he said, adding “You’re seeing more people like Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez inside and outside trying to stop the implementation of the bill and keep veterans trapped in many cases in failing V.A. hospitals. And that’s not just wrong, that’s immoral.”

President Trump on Wednesday took aim at Ocasio-Cortez’s V.A. remarks, tweeting: “Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is correct, the VA is not broken, it is doing great. But that is only because of the Trump Administration. We got Veterans Choice & Accountability passed.”

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Ocasio-Cortez said at the Town Hall: “They are trying to fix it. But who are they trying to fix it for, is the question we’ve got to ask. And this is who they’re trying to fix it for. They’re trying to fix the V.A. for insurance companies. They’re trying to fix it for insurance corporations, and ultimately they’re trying to fix the V.A. for the for-profit health care industry that does not put people or veterans first.”

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Source: Fox News Politics

Iran’s foreign minister says President Donald Trump’s aim “is to bring us to our knees to talk” — but national security adviser John Bolton and U.S. allies in the Mideast want “regime change” and the “disintegration of Iran.”

Mohammad Javad Zarif said he doubts Trump wants conflict, but what he called “the B team” of Bolton, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Saudi and Abu Dhabi crown princes is trying to push Iran into measures that would be a pretext for “crazy” and “adventurous” actions.

He told the Asia Society Wednesday that “it’s not a crisis yet, but it’s a dangerous situation, adding: “Accidents, plotted accidents are possible.”

Zarif warned if the U.S. tries to prevent Iran from selling oil, it must be prepared “for the consequences.”

Source: Fox News National

The U.S. had no prior knowledge of the Easter bombings in Sri Lanka that killed over 350 people, the American ambassador said Wednesday, despite local claims that foreign officials had been warned an attack was looming.

As the investigation into Sunday’s Islamic State-claimed attack continues, FBI agents and U.S. military personnel are in Sri Lanka assisting the probe, Ambassador Alaina Teplitz said.

While declining to say whether U.S. officials had intelligence on the local extremists and their leader who allegedly carried out the assault, Teplitz said America remained concerned over militants at large.

She also said that “clearly there was some failure in the system” that caused Sri Lankan officials to fail to share the warnings they received prior to the attack.

“I can tell you definitively we were not warned and we did not have any prior knowledge of this,” Teplitz told foreign journalists from her office at the U.S. Embassy in Colombo. “We did not know because believe me, if we had, we would have tried to do something about it.”

Sunday’s bombings ripped through Christian worshippers at church celebrating Easter and at hotels in Sri Lanka, an island nation off the southern tip of India. The attacks killed at least 359 people and wounded some 500 others, marking Sri Lanka’s worst violence since its 26-year civil war ended a decade ago.

Authorities have blamed a local Islamic extremist group called National Towheed Jamaat, whose leader, alternately known as Mohammed Zahran or Zahran Hashmi, became known to Muslim leaders three years ago for his incendiary speeches online.

On Tuesday, the Islamic State group asserted responsibility for the attack, sharing images of the leader and other men with their face covered before an IS flag to bolster its claim. The extremist group, which has lost all the territory it once held in Iraq and Syria, has made unfounded claims previously.

Asked about whether American officials received warnings or knew about the group and its leader before the bombings, Teplitz declined to comment, saying she would not discuss intelligence matters.

“If you look at the scale of the attacks, the level of coordination, again, the sophistication of them, it’s not implausible to think there are foreign linkages,” she said. She added that the U.S. believes “the terrorist plotting is ongoing” and said that’s why America continued to warn its citizens in Sri Lanka to be careful.

Prior to the bombings, Sri Lankan officials received intelligence reports and warnings that such an attack could be looming. However, that information failed to stop the assault.

Teplitz said the current political situation in Sri Lanka could have exacerbated that. President Maithripala Sirisena ousted Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in October and dissolved the Cabinet, but Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court later reversed his actions.

“Certainly the fractious and fragmented political environment has not been good on a number of fronts,” Teplitz said.

She later added: “The Sri Lankans themselves have said they received information . and they had their own lapses that resulted in a failure to either mitigate or warn. So that’s incredibly tragic.”

Wickremesinghe has said some people might lose their job over the intelligence failures.

Teplitz also acknowledged that she heard “legitimate” concerns about civil rights in Sri Lanka after the government announced that it was allowing the military to conduct warrantless searches and hold prisoners for 14 days before bringing them before a judge.

“There is a legacy from that conflict era of human rights abuse, again an issue that the government here has been struggling to move past,” she said. “We definitely remain concerned about human rights here and democratic policing; the ability to respect people’s rights even in the midst of a crisis like this.”

Teplitz said the U.S. also was concerned that the bombings could spark reprisals targeting Muslims in Sri Lanka. The Buddhist-majority country of 21 million, which includes large Hindu, Muslim and Christian minorities, is rife with ethnic and sectarian conflict.

“I think the recognition that this could be a spark is out there and that there’s a pretty significant effort to try and blunt that,” Teplitz said.

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Follow Jon Gambrell on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jongambrellap

Source: Fox News National

The U.S. Navy is updating its protocol for how pilots and other personnel report encounters with “unidentified aircraft” in response to strange aerial sightings and the need to destigmatize the reporting of them.

“There have been a number of reports of unauthorized and/or unidentified aircraft entering various military-controlled ranges and designated air space in recent years,” the Navy said in a statement to Politico. “For safety and security concerns, the Navy and the [U.S. Air Force] takes these reports very seriously and investigates each and every report.

COULD MYSTERIOUS ‘ALIEN SPACECRAFT’ BE NOTHING MORE THAN COSMIC DUST?

“As part of this effort, the Navy is updating and formalizing the process by which reports of any such suspected incursions can be made to the cognizant authorities,” it added. “A new message to the fleet that will detail the steps for reporting is in draft.”

The new protocol doesn’t mean the Navy believes its personnel has seen UFOs, but rather that the strange sightings warrant an investigation and need to be formally documented.

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“Right now, we have situation in which UFO (unidentified flying objects)s and UAP (unexplained aerial phenomena)s are treated as anomalies to be ignored rather than anomalies to be explored,” Chris Mellon, a former Pentagon intelligence official and ex-staffer on the Senate Intelligence Committee, told the news site. “We have systems that exclude that information and dump it.”

The military has been criticized in the past for paying little attention to such sightings. The Navy said that it has provided briefings on the matter in response to requests from Congress, but declined to identify who was briefed.

Source: Fox News National

U.S. officials say two American soldiers in a remote area of Texas were confronted by Mexican soldiers who thought they had crossed into Mexico.

The Mexican troops reportedly took the weapon from the American soldier who was armed.

U.S. defense officials say the Americans were in a Customs and Border Protection vehicle in a remote area southeast of El Paso, Texas, when the incident occurred.

The incident happened on April 13 and was first reported by Newsweek.

A Northern Command statement to The Associated Press on Tuesday said the Mexican military members believed they were on Mexican territory at the time they confronted the Americans.

The U.S. troops are at the border as part of a Trump administration effort to reduce illegal crossings.

Source: Fox News National

The U.S. government is moving forward with plans to use military funds to build border barriers in Arizona and New Mexico.

The Department of Homeland Security issued waivers to environmental laws last week to build and replace 46 miles (74 kilometers) of barriers near Columbus, New Mexico, and 11 miles (17 kilometers) near Yuma, Arizona.

The barriers are being funded by the Department of Defense following President Donald Trump’s emergency declaration in February.

Last month, the federal government announced it had awarded contracts of nearly $1 billion to replace short barriers with tall fences in those areas.

The southern border has seen an influx of immigrants over the last several months and officials say they expect to make up to a million arrests by the end of the year.

Source: Fox News National

North Korea on Tuesday confirmed that leader Kim Jong Un will soon visit Russia to meet with President Vladimir Putin. The summit would come at a crucial moment for tenuous diplomacy meant to rid the North of its nuclear arsenal, following a recent North Korean weapons test that likely signals Kim’s growing frustration with deadlocked negotiations with Washington.

The North’s state-run Korean Central News Agency released a terse, two-sentence statement that announced Kim “will soon pay a visit to the Russian Federation,” and that he and Putin “will have talks.” A date for the meeting was not immediately released, and it wasn’t clear if Kim would fly or take his armored train. There are some indications that the meeting will be held in the far-eastern port of Vladivostok, not too far from Russia’s border with the North.

The Kremlin said in a brief statement last week that Kim will visit Russia “in the second half of April,” but gave no further details.

Russia is interested in gaining broader access to North Korea’s mineral resources, including rare metals. Pyongyang covets Russia’s electricity supplies and wants to attract Russian investment to modernize its dilapidated industrial plants, railways and other infrastructure.

Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump have had two summits, but the latest, in Vietnam in February, collapsed because North Korea wanted more sanctions relief than Washington was willing to give for the amount of disarmament offered by Pyongyang.

As the standoff continued, the North last week announced that it had tested what it called a new type of “tactical guided weapon.” While unlikely to be a prohibited test of a medium- or long-range ballistic missile that could scuttle the negotiations, the announcement signaled the North’s growing disappointment with the diplomatic breakdown — and its apparent willingness to turn back to the kinds of missile tests that in 2017 had many in Asia fearing war.

The North also demanded that U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo be removed from the talks, and on Saturday criticized White House national security adviser John Bolton for calling on North Korea to show more evidence of its disarmament commitment before a possible third leaders’ summit.

Source: Fox News National

A federal appeals court on Monday rejected a bid by former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to be released from jail for refusing to testify to a grand jury investigating Wikileaks.

The three-paragraph, unanimous decision from a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond rejects both Manning’s argument that she was erroneously found in civil contempt of court and her request for bail while the contempt decision is litigated.

Manning has been jailed at the Alexandria Detention Center since March 8 after refusing to testify to the Wikileaks grand jury.

Since her incarceration, criminal charges against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange have been unsealed and U.S. officials have requested his extradition . Manning’s lawyers argued that her testimony is unnecessary in part because Assange has already been charged.

Manning served seven years in a military prison for leaking a trove of military and diplomatic documents to Wikileaks before then-President Barack Obama commuted the remainder of her 35-year sentence.

Manning’s lawyers also argued that she told authorities everything she knew during her court-martial investigation and that her incarceration was unnecessarily cruel because the jail is unable to provide adequate medical care in connection with gender-reassignment surgery Manning underwent.

Prosecutors responded that they believe Manning, who was granted immunity for her grand jury testimony, may have more to say about her interactions with Wikileaks than has been previously disclosed, and that Manning is out of line for disrupting the grand-jury process simply on her speculation that she is being singled out for harassment. They also say that the jail has gone out of its way to accommodate her medical needs.

Prosecutors have called Manning’s leak to Wikileaks one of the largest compromises of classified information in U.S. history.

Monday’s opinion was issued by judges Allyson Duncan, a George W. Bush appointee; Paul Niemayer, a George H.W. Bush appointee; and Robert King, a Bill Clinton appointee.

Manning’s lawyer said she expected to issue a statement later Monday.

Under the terms of the judge’s contempt finding, Manning will remain jailed until she agrees to testify or until the grand jury’s term is concluded. That date is unknown.

Source: Fox News National

The U.S. Coast Guard is offloading marijuana and cocaine with an estimated street value of $62.5 million dollars at The agency said in a news release that the drugs seized in international waters in the Eastern Pacific Ocean will arrive in Fort Lauderdale Thursday morning on the Coast Guard Cutter Bear, which is based in Portsmouth, Virginia.

The stash includes some 14,000 pounds of marijuana and 3,660 pounds of cocaine.

Crewmembers on the flight deck of Coast Guard Cutter Bear. Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Brandon Murray.

Crewmembers on the flight deck of Coast Guard Cutter Bear. Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Brandon Murray. (U.S. Coast Guard)

Officials say operation involved two Coast Guard cutters and a Navy ship off the coasts of Mexico and Central and South America.

Source: Fox News National


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