TIME Military

Fissure Opens Between Pentagon and White House Over Assad’s Fate

WASHINGTON (Oct. 30, 2014) -- Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel holds a press briefing with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey at the Pentagon Oct. 30, 2014. DoD Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Sean Hurt/Released.
DoD Photo / Sean Hurt Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Thursday that internal Administration debate over what to do in Syria must be "honest" and "direct."

Hagel told Rice a lack of clarity is complicating U.S. efforts to combat ISIS

President Barack Obama declared in August 2011 that Syrian leader Bashar Assad must “step aside” for the good of his country after his forces had killed nearly 2,000 fellow citizens. More than three years later, with Assad still in power, the Syrian civil war has killed some 200,000 people and given Islamic extremists territory to occupy. That has led Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to warn the White House that the U.S. has to stop ignoring the Syrian dictator.

In a two-page memo to National Security Adviser Susan Rice two weeks ago, Hagel said the lack of clarity is complicating U.S. efforts to combat the militant group Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria, Pentagon officials say. The memo’s existence was first reported in the New York Times on Thursday.

It’s no secret that there’s much teeth-gnashing inside the Pentagon because of a belief that U.S.-led air strikes against ISIS have transformed the U.S. military into a Syrian air force, of sorts. And after more than three years of increasing violence—including Assad’s brazen use of chemical weapons against his own people that Obama vainly warned was a “red line” that he’d better not cross—frustration is mounting among the U.S. military.

They say plans to train 5,000 “moderate”—i.e., non-ISIS—Syrian rebels annually to fight the militants is complicated by the civil war inside Syria, even if much of the training is slated to take place outside the country. So long as Assad remains in power, they fear the moderate rebels’ attention could be diverted from fighting ISIS to battling Assad.

Hagel wouldn’t say much about his concerns. “This is a complicated issue,” he told reporters Thursday. “We are constantly assessing and reassessing and adapting to the realities of what is the best approach.”

Such internal debates are the “responsibility of any leader,” he added. “And because we are a significant element of this issue, we owe the President and we owe the National Security Council our best thinking on this. And it has to be honest and it has to be direct.”

Unsurprisingly, a White House spokesman agreed. “The President wants the unvarnished opinion of every member of his national-security team,” Josh Earnest told CNN on Friday. “That’s the way he thinks we are going to reach the best outcomes.”

TIME Transportation

How Daylight Saving Time Can Be Dangerous

Beware traffic accidents

When you’re enjoying your extra hour in bed Sunday morning, spare a thought for what that 60 minutes might cost.

While some dislike the seasonal shifts of Daylight Saving Time (DST) for the minor inconvenience to their sleep cycles and busy schedules, there’s a more serious side to the scheme: the loss of an hour of afternoon sunlight when it ends—as it does this weekend—may increase the likelihood of traffic accidents.

“Darkness kills and sunlight saves lives,” said University of Washington Law Professor Steve Calandrillo, who has studied the effectiveness of different DST policies. “The question is ‘when do you want sunlight?'”

For Calandrillo, who advocates for DST to be implemented throughout the year, the answer is simple: more people are active during the evening, including kids, and the additional sunlight that DST provides helps provide drivers with the visibility necessary to see pedestrians. “At 5 pm virtually everyone in society is awake,” he said. “There are far more people asleep at 7 in the morning than at 7 in the evening.”

In addition to leading to poor visibility in darkness, some experts say the requirement for people to abruptly adapt to a time change overnight may lead to dangerous driving. “Even though it’s dark, you’re still behaving like it’s light,” said Lawrence University economist David Gerard, of the first weeks after a time change. People may drive faster, he said, and pedestrians may be less attentive.

Advocates of perpetual DST have some statistics on their side. Adding an hour of sunlight in the evening year-round would save the lives of more than 170 pedestrians annually, according to a 2004 study in Accident Analysis and Prevention. The lives of nearly 200 vehicle occupants would also theoretically be saved by the change.

But despite this data, some child advocacy groups such as the National PTA have argued for more sunlight in the morning hours when children will be traveling to school. In 2005, the group opposed bringing DST forward into March from April. “People who take their kids to school in the morning, they kind of like Daylight Saving Time,” said Gerard. “They can deal with [darkness] at the end of the day, but in the morning it’s tough getting going.”

Both advocates and opponents of DST can agree, however, that better light equals greater safety — which is why some child safety advocates say that communities need to focus on providing better artificial street lighting, regardless of whether it’s used in the morning or evening. “The more visible kids are,” said Margaux Mennesson, a spokesperson for the group Safe Routes to School,”the safer they are.”

TIME ebola

Judge Rejects Maine’s Attempt to Forcibly Quarantine Ebola Nurse

A victory for Kaci Hickox

A judge in Maine rejected the state’s attempt to forcibly quarantine a nurse who has been clashing with officials over her defiance of a voluntary Ebola quarantine on Friday, reversing a court order that briefly mandated she avoid public places and transportation. The nurse still must continue daily temperature monitoring and approve travel with state officials, the judge ordered.

The order came Friday following a temporary order Thursday. The state has been pushing the nurse, Kaci Hickox, to follow quarantine guidelines laid out by federal officials for people at “some risk” of Ebola.

“I’m humbled today by the judge’s decision and even more humbled by the support that we have received from the town, the state of Maine, across the U.S. and even across the globe,” Hickox told reporters. “I know that Ebola is a scary disease. I have seen it face to face. I know that we are nowhere near winning this battle. We’ll only win this battle as we continue this discussion, as we gain a better collective understanding about Ebola and public health, as we overcome the fear and most importantly as we end the outbreak that is still ongoing in West Africa today.”

Maine Gov. Paul LePage described the decision as “unfortunate,” but promised to enforce it.

MORE: The CDC has less power than you think and likes it that way

Hickox, who recently returned from West Africa to Ebola patients suffering from the outbreak that has killed almost 5,000 people, went for a bike ride with her boyfriend Thursday in defiance of Maine’s voluntary quarantine guidelines. District Court Chief Judge Charles LaVerdiere cared for Ebola patients “generously, kindly and with compassion,” CNN reports. “We owe her and all professionals who give of themselves in this way a debt of gratitude,” he wrote in his decision.

Hickox has not shown any symptoms and has tested negative for the disease, which has a 21-day incubation period. She was fiercely critical of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie when she was first quarantined on a state order there before being allowed to return home to Maine, calling it a violation of her human rights. Health advocates have criticized quarantine measures put in place as putting fear over science and potentially hampering efforts to contain the outbreak in West Africa by making it harder for health workers to travel to and from the region.

“I’m fighting for something much more than myself,” Hickox said this week. “There are so many aid workers coming back. It scares me to think how they’re going to be treated and how they’re going to feel.”

TIME National Security

Former Navy SEAL Who Wrote Bin Laden Raid Book Under Investigation

Book Review No Easy Day
AP "No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission that Killed Osama Bin Laden," by Mark Owen with Kevin Maurer.

Matt Bissonnette wrote 'No Easy Day' (2012) under the pen name Mark Owen

A former Navy SEAL is being investigated by the Justice Department for potentially outing classified material in his best-selling book about the 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden, according to a new report.

An attorney for Matt Bissonnette told The New York Times that his client, who wrote No Easy Day under the name Mark Owen, had apologized for not allowing the Pentagon to sign off on his book and offered to relinquish a portion of the millions in royalties he earned from it. Others familiar with the probe said investigators are also interested in Bissonnette’s paid speeches at corporate events.

The report of an investigation comes as Bissonnette readies to release a second book called No Hero: The Evolution of a Navy SEAL.

[NYT]

TIME The Brief

#TheBrief: Why Is the Military So Strict With Quarantines?

These are three reasons the U.S. military is being quarantined

President Barack Obama thinks states like New York, New Jersey and Illinois are too harsh with their quarantine or isolation protocols for health workers returning from Ebola-affected countries in West Africa, yet the military he commands is similarly strict.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced a mandatory 21-day quarantine this week for all returning service members, meaning all military personnel can’t return home until after the outer limit of their holding period passes.

Watch #TheBrief to understand the three reasons why the military has such strict Ebola quarantine regulations.

TIME weather

Eastern U.S. Set for Weekend Cold Snap, Record Lows

A car runs past fall foliage in Washington D.C., capital of the United States, on Oct. 28, 2014.
Yin Bogu—Xinhua Press/Corbis A car runs past fall foliage in Washington D.C., capital of the United States, on Oct. 28, 2014.

An arctic blast gave millions of people a real reason to shiver early Friday, bringing a deep chill to Halloween festivities from the Midwest and the Mississippi Valley through to the East Coast. Strong, freezing winds took hold across the Great Lakes and converted rain into the season’s first lake-effect snow. The southern Appalachians were also expected to get up to eight inches of snow by Saturday morning, forecasters said. Areas as far south as Miami faced record low temperatures this weekend.

“It’s certainly unusual,” Weather Channel lead meteorologist Michael Palmer said. “It’s early for snow in many areas and…

Read the rest of the story at NBC News

TIME ebola

Aid Groups See Fallout From Quarantine Debate

Kaci Hickox, a nurse who arrived in New Jersey on October 24 after treating Ebola patients in West Africa, seen in a hospital quarantine tent in Newark, New Jersey, Oct. 26, 2014.
Reuters Kaci Hickox, a nurse who arrived in New Jersey on October 24 after treating Ebola patients in West Africa, seen in a hospital quarantine tent in Newark, New Jersey, Oct. 26, 2014.

The fight over Ebola quarantines in the United States is already discouraging doctors, nurses and other health workers from signing up to go to Africa and battle the outbreak where help is needed most.

Would-be volunteers are worried about losing three additional weeks of work when they return to the United States, about still-evolving isolation rules and about being holed up in an unfamiliar place, aid organizations say.

They also worry about mistreatment generated by the public fear of Ebola, the organizations say.

“We have seen a big deterrence,” said Margaret…

Read the rest of the story at NBC News

TIME space

Operator in Rocket Blast Hit Self-Destruct When Problem Became Clear

The Antares rocket exploded and scattered debris over a wide area

The unmanned rocket that exploded seconds after liftoff Tuesday on its way to the International Space Station did so because the operator hit self-destruct once problems with the launch became apparent, the company that owns it said.

The Antares rocket, operated by Orbital Sciences Corp., crashed in a large fire Tuesday night, scattering debris over a wide area. It was carrying more than 5,000 pounds of scientific instruments, food and other supplies for the astronauts aboard the space station when down with the rocket. NASA says the space station is equipped with plenty of food to last while additional resupply missions are organized.

Orbital spokesperson Barron Beneski told CNN the crash was initiated by the flight termination system. Such an order is typically given after it’s clear the rocket will not meet its intended trajectory in order to ensure that it goes down over a relatively small and unpopulated area. No injuries were reported in the crash.

The problem occurred in the first stage of launch, Orbital said late Thursday, in a possible sign that its vintage, Russian-designed engines could have been the cause.

[CNN]

TIME Terrorism

U.S. Military Ups Vigilance as Fears Mount of Fresh ISIS-Inspired Attacks

William Mayville
Cliff Owen—AP Army Lt. Gen. William Mayville, Jr., speaks about the operations to target the Khorasan Group in Syria on Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014, during a news conference at the Pentagon.

Defense officials are fearful that their personnel may be targeted after receiving public threats from terrorists operating in the Middle East

The American military is warning service members and their families to be a bit more vigilant amid threatens directed from or inspired by ISIS, according to a report on Thursday.

Law enforcement officers and service members were described by the Pentagon, in an internally circulated memo last week, as “legitimate targets” by the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria, the Military Times reports. The message came days after a lone gunman went on a shooting rampage at the Canadian Parliament in Ottawa, killing one soldier.

The Marine Corps was also reported to send out an announcement that called on troops to report “even the most minor suspicious activity” and to be prudent when posting updates on social media. And officials at MacDill Air Force Base, overseeing the 6th Air Mobility Wing in Tampa, Fla., were said to have instructed troops to keep a low profile and avoid public affiliation with the military.

According to a dossier compiled for the U.N. Security Council, an estimated 15,000 individuals have traveled to Syria and Iraq to fight alongside ISIS and other militant organizations. The large number of fighters receiving training with such groups has raised fresh fears in the U.S. and abroad of domestic attacks should they return home.

[Military Times]

TIME Courts

Kimberly-Clark Faces $500 Million Lawsuit for Ebola Protection Claims

Law firm Eagan Avenatti says millions of the gowns have been sold since 2011, putting health care workers and patients at “considerable risk"

Kleenex tissue maker Kimberly-Clark Corp. is being sued for more than $500 million for allegedly falsely claiming their surgical gowns protect against Ebola.

California law firm Eagan Avenatti filed the suit Wednesday saying Kimberly-Clark continued to claim the ” Breathable High Performance Surgical Gown provided the highest protection, despite failing industry tests for protection against infectious diseases, including Ebola.

The law firm says millions of the gowns have been sold since 2011, putting health care workers and patients at “considerable risk,” reports Reuters.

“Kimberly-Clark needs to immediately recall these gowns and come clean with the FDA, CDC, healthcare professionals and the general public,” lead attorney Michael Avenatti said in a statement. “The risks associated with continued concealment of the truth are far too great.”

Eagan Avenatti is seeking a class-action lawsuit alleging fraud, false advertising, negligent misrepresentation and unfair business practices and is brought on behalf of lead plaintiff and surgeon Hrayr Shahinian and 500,000 others.

Kimberly-Clark has said it does not comment on ongoing litigation cases.

[Reuters]

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