TIME Military

The Budget Trick That Made the Pentagon a Fiscal Functioning Alcoholic

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Erik Simonsen / Getty Images The Pentagon's $391 billion, 2,443-plane F-35 program is the costliest in history.

Bookkeeping gimmick creates a `co-dependency'

If the Pentagon needs more money—and that’s debatable—the Republicans have chosen the worst possible way to do it in the budgetary roadmaps both the House and Senate have recently approved.

That’s because they’ve kept in place the budget caps in place for defense and domestic discretionary spending for the proposed 2016 budget. While that keeps domestic spending in check, they’ve opted to fatten up the Pentagon’s war-fighting account by about $90 billion, which isn’t subject to the budget limits. Even President Obama, under heavy pressure from the Joint Chiefs, has blinked and said military spending should be boosted above the caps set in 2011. But he wants domestic spending increased as well.

The idea of special war-fighting budgetary add-ons makes sense, because while the Pentagon’s base budget trains and outfits the U.S. military, it doesn’t pay for it to wage war. But such Overseas Contingency Operations accounts are supposed to go away when the wars end, as they have in Afghanistan and Iraq (the current U.S.-led small-scale air war against the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria, like the 2011 air war over Libya, can be funded out of the base budget). But the Republicans have basically perverted a responsible approach to funding the nation’s wars into an annual, multi-billion-dollar slush fund subject to even less congressional scrutiny than regular military budgets get.

CSBAThe Pentagon budget increasingly is being inflated with war funding that has little to do with funding wars.

“There’re a lot of different opinions about whether there should be an overseas contingency account or not, and whether it’s a slush fund or not,” then-defense secretary Chuck Hagel said last September.

The account, whatever it’s called, has become a rhetorical device: pump it up, defense hawks say, or risk crippling national security. Of course, that’s flat-out wrong. If the nation believes it needs to spend more on the military, it should hold an honest debate on the topic and then vote accordingly, without budgetary chicanery.

Hagel’s successor, Defense Secretary Ash Carter, is warning that the military needs more money beyond the $499 billion permitted by the 2011 law. But he says that force-feeding the Pentagon like a foie gras goose doesn’t solve the problem. “Current proposals to shoe-horn DOD’s base-budget funds into our contingency accounts would fail to solve the problem,” he said Thursday, “while also undermining basic principles of accountability and responsible long-term planning.”

So as the defense-budget debate continues, here are some facts to keep in mind:

1. With the Pentagon’s base-budget caps in place, its funding would rise slightly in coming years. Accounting for inflation basically makes for flat spending through 2024. The U.S. military budget today, under those caps, is higher than the Cold War average. That’s because even as the U.S. military shrinks, the cost of each remaining weapon bought and troop recruited has soared.

2. The reason the Pentagon is having trouble living within those levels is that it has grown used to pilfering its war-fighting accounts to fund normal operations, including purchasing weapons. A recent congressional report said that the Pentagon spent $71 billion of its war accounts on non-war spending from 2001 to 2014.

3. The war-fighting accounts have accounted for 23% of Pentagon spending over the past decade. Like a functioning alcoholic, the U.S. military has gotten used to the constant buzz, and is petrified of being forced to put the bottle away.

But here’s why it should stop cold turkey and get back to basic budgets:

1. Without standard congressional scrutiny, the money will be spent with even less oversight than normal Pentagon spending.

2. Because it is an annual appropriation that has to be renewed each year, there is no way the Pentagon can wisely budget for it in advance, and spent it smartly when and if it gets it.

3. Finally, counting on such a loophole sends the wrong signal. Troops are being paid and weapons bought, in part, with the equivalent of payday loans.

It also leads allies to question U.S. commitments. “We’re putting things in the Overseas Contingency Operations fund like the European Reassurance Initiative,” says Todd Harrison, a defense-budget expert at the nonprofit Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments think tank. “If we’re really trying to reassure our European allies in the face of a more-assertive Russia that we’re going to be there for them, why are we putting that into an account that’s only one year at a time?”

TIME Aviation

Germanwings Flight’s Final Moments Heard on Cockpit Recordings

"For God's sake, open the door," the captain, Patrick Sonderheimer, can be heard demanding

The pilot of the doomed Germanwings plane desperately struggled to get into the cockpit that the co-pilot had locked him out of before the plane crashed into the French Alps, killing all 150 on board, a German newspaper reported Sunday.

“For God’s sake, open the door,” the captain, Patrick Sonderheimer, can be heard demanding in cockpit voice recordings salvaged by investigators probing Tuesday’s crash, according to the German publication Bild am Sonntag.

The 27-year-old co-pilot, Andreas Lubitz, doesn’t reply, even as the pilot’s pleas are accompanied by screams of terrified passengers, Bild am Sonntag reported. Lubitz also ignored bangs on …

Read more from our partners at NBC News

TIME Baseball

Mariners Pitching Prospect Victor Sanchez Dies at 20

Victor Sanchez
Mike Janes—AP Seattle Mariners pitcher Victor Sanchez during practice before an Instructional League game on Oct. 4, 2013 at Peoria Sports Complex in Peoria, Arizona.

He died from head injuries sustained in a boating accident in Venezuela six weeks ago

Seattle Mariners minor league pitcher Victor Sanchez has died, the team announced on Saturday.

Sanchez was 20 years old. He died from head injuries sustained in a boating accident in Venezuela, his home country, six weeks ago.

“The Seattle Mariners are saddened to learn of the passing of Victor Sanchez,” Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik said. “Victor was a tremendous young man and a wonderful teammate. He was a very talented player who was close to fulfilling his promise as a Major Leaguer. He will be missed by his teammates, and the coaches and staff at the Mariners.”

According to the team, Sanchez was unconscious in a medically induced coma since the accident and underwent brain surgery after sustaining a double skull fracture and brain hematoma. He had been in critical condition in a hospital.

Sanchez signed with Seattle as an international free agent when he was 16 years old. MLB.com ranked him as the team’s No. 11 prospect last year and he spent the 2014 season at Double-A Jackson, going 7-6 with a 4.19 ERA.

This article originally appeared on SI.com

TIME Australia

Australia Dedicates Cricket World Cup Win to Late Teammate

Australia v New Zealand - 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup: Final
Ryan Pierse—Getty Images Michael Clarke of Australia celebrates with the trophy during the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup final match between Australia and New Zealand at Melbourne Cricket Ground on March 29, 2015 in Melbourne.

Phillip Hughes died after being struck in the head by a ball in November

Australia captain Michael Clarke dedicated his team’s Cricket World Cup victory to the memory of teammate Phillip Hughes, who was killed during a match in November.

“I think for everybody in Australian cricket it’s been really tough few months,” Clarke said, according to the BBC. “Tonight is certainly dedicated to our little brother and our teammate Phillip Hughes.”

Hughes was struck in the head by a ball and was rushed to a hospital for emergency surgery. He remained a medically-induced coma for two days before his death. He was 25.

Australia defeated New Zealand by seven wickets in the World Cup final on Sunday. It was a record fifth World Cup victory for the Australians, and their fourth in the last five tournaments. No other country has won more than twice.

This article originally appeared on SI.com

Read next: Australia Cricketers to Test New Helmet Design Following Phillip Hughes’ Death

TIME Tunisia

Leading Suspect in Tunisia Museum Attack Is Killed

APTOPIX Tunisia Attack
Michel Euler—AP Tunisians holding candles pray at the entrance gate of the National Bardo Museum where scores of people were killed after gunmen staged an attack, Tunis, March 18, 2015. According to Tunisia's Prime Minister, the leading suspect in the attack has been killed.

Twenty-two people and two gunmen were killed in the March 18 attack

(TUNIS, Tunisia) — Tunisia’s prime minister said Sunday a leading suspect in a deadly museum attack on foreign tourists has been killed in anti-terrorist operations, as tens of thousands of Tunisians marched through the capital to denounce extremist violence.

State news agency TAP cites Prime Minister Habib Essid as saying that Khaled Chaieb, also known as Abou Sakhr Lokman, was one of nine terror suspects killed overnight in an operation near the Algerian border. ne people were killed in the operationds of people

Chaieb is believed a prominent Algerian militant in al-Qaida’s North African arm, and suspected of leading or helping lead the March 18 attack on the National Bardo Museum.

Twenty-two people, mainly foreigners, and two gunmen were killed in the March 18 attack on the National Bardo Museum.

French President Francois Hollande, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and several foreign ministers and legislators from other countries are joining an anti-terrorism ceremony in Tunis after the march.

The Tunisian government called on all major political parties to join the march from the seat of government at Bab Es-Saadoun to the museum.

The international visitors are showing solidarity with Tunisia, whose fragile new democracy was deeply shaken by the museum attack, for which the Islamic State group claimed responsibility.

Tunisian protesters unleashed revolts across the region known as the Arab Spring, and Tunisia is the only country to have built a democratic system as a result.

Authorities are struggling with scattered extremist violence linked to various radical Islamic groups, largely linked to neighboring countries Algeria or Libya.

Interior Ministry spokesman Ali Aroui said Sunday that nine suspected “terrorists” were killed when security forces clashed with the suspects in the southwest region of Sidi Aich, near the Algerian border. He said several extremists were wounded in another clash in the northwest region of Kef, as part of security operations around the country ahead of the march.

TIME France

Struggle to Explain Motivation of Co-pilot in Germanwings Crash

"We don't have a clue what was going through his mind"

(LONDON) — A disgruntled worker shoots up a workplace. A student opens fire at a high school. A pilot crashes a planeload of people into a mountainside.

There may never be a convincing explanation for such devastating acts of violence, but experts say certain personality disorders such as extreme narcissism can help push people who want to take their own lives to take those of others at the same time.

But as German prosecutors search for what might have motivated co-pilot Andreas Lubitz to deliberately smash the Germanwings plane carrying 149 other people into the French Alps, many experts caution against speculating on a diagnosis.

“We don’t have a clue what was going through his mind,” said Dr. Simon Wessely, of the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London. “Even if we had all of his medical records and had conducted interviews with him, it would probably still be impossible to explain such an inexplicable act.”

Ripped-up sick notes from a doctor found at Lubitz’s home by German prosecutors suggest the27-year-old had an illness he hid from his employers at Germanwings. Medical documents showed he had an existing illness — which wasn’t specified — but no suicide note was found. A Dusseldorf hospital confirmed Friday that Lubitz had been treated recently, but didn’t say for what.

Neighbors of Lubitz were shocked at allegations he could have deliberately smashed the plane and said he had seemed thrilled with his job at Germanwings. They described a man whose physical health was excellent and records show Lubitz took part in several long-distance runs. Germanwings said he had passed all required medical check-ups.

Some experts said it was possible that people who commit such horrific acts of violence might be suffering from mental illnesses like narcissism or psychosis.

Dr. Raj Persaud, a fellow of Britain’s Royal College of Psychiatrists, says that in cases of mass murder, people sometimes suffer from personality disorders that make them extremely self-centered. He and others were speaking generally and had no personal knowledge of the Lubitz case.

“People feel that something so terrible has been done to them that this catastrophic act is warranted in exchange,” he said. “To them, it feels like the correct balance to equal what they suffered.”

Others said that preventing such chilling acts of violence may be nearly impossible if there aren’t any obvious warning signs or if the person is able to hide their symptoms.

“People can become quite skilled at masking their problems because it’s socially undesirable,” said Dr. Paul Keedwell, a psychiatrist who specializes in mood disorders at Cardiff University.

Keedwell said it would be unwise to assume Lubitz’s deliberate plane crash was an aggressive act.

“It’s difficult to understand, but what if he was just so wholly preoccupied with ending his own life he didn’t have any regard for the other people on the airplane?” he said.

He likened it to people who throw themselves in front of trains without considering the trauma that might inflict on the driver and other passengers.

Some experts said mass murders are intended by the killer to do maximum damage, to draw attention to themselves.

“The subject wins fame by doing something the world will remember, even if it’s as a negative hero,” said Dr. Roland Coutanceau, president of the French League for Mental Health.

He said such acts are sometimes committed by paranoid people angry with their employer or with society at large.

“This is a destructive act that (gives) him some kind of immortality,” Coutanceau said. “Death is therefore part of his script.”

___

Philippe Sotto in Paris contributed to this report.

Read next: German Co-Pilot Visited Alps Near Crash Site as a Child

TIME Nigeria

Nigerians Continue Voting After Violence and Technical Hitches

Millions have cast ballots in an election that analysts say is too close to call

(ABUJA, Nigeria) — Voting in Nigeria’s elections continued in certain areas on Sunday after technical problems prevented some people from casting their ballots on Saturday.

More than 40 people were killed in election-related violence Saturday, though millions were able to cast ballots in a presidential election that analysts say is too close to call.

Voting was extended in about 300 of the country’s 150,000 polling stations, including some areas of Lagos, Nigeria’s megacity of 20 million on the Atlantic coast, according to the country’s electoral commission. The extended voting was necessary because new voting equipment failed to confirm voters’ identities.

Boko Haram extremists killed 41 people, including a legislator, and scared hundreds of people from polling stations in the northeastern Nigeria. In electoral violence elsewhere, three people including a soldier were shot and killed in southern Rivers state and police said two car bombs exploded at polling stations in the southeast but no one was injured.

Nearly 60 million Nigerians have cards to vote and for the first time there is a possibility that a challenger can defeat a sitting president in the high-stakes contest to govern Africa’s richest and most populous nation.

The front-runners among 14 candidates are President Goodluck Jonathan, a 57-year-old Christian from the south, and former military dictator Muhammadu Buhari, 72, from the predominantly Muslim north.

Voters also are electing 360 legislators to the House of Assembly, where the opposition currently has a slight edge over Jonathan’s party. Voting for 13 constituencies was postponed until April because of shortages of ballot papers, electoral officials said.

Nigeria’s political landscape was transformed two years ago when the main opposition parties formed a coalition and for the first time united behind one candidate, Buhari. Dozens of legislators defected from Jonathan’s party.

Even the president was affected by the technical hitches on Saturday. Three newly imported card readers failed to recognize the fingerprints of Jonathan and his wife. Biometric cards and readers are being used for the first time to discourage the kind of fraud that has marred previous votes.

Afterward, Jonathan wiped sweat from his brow and urged people to be patient as he had been, telling Channels TV: “I appeal to all Nigerians to be patient no matter the pains it takes as long as if, as a nation, we can conduct free and fair elections that the whole world will accept.”

Most Nigerians exercised extraordinary restraint, waiting hours in heat that rose to 100 degrees (37 degrees Celsius) in some places. Many remained for more hours after voting ended to witness the ballot count, determined to do their part to try to keep the elections honest.

“The high voter turnout and the dedication and patience of Nigerian voters is, in itself, a triumph of Nigerian democracy,” said the national counter-insurgency spokesman, Mike Omeri. He praised the bravery and commitment of military and security agencies that he said made the elections possible.

Struggling with power blackouts that are routine, some officials counted ballots by the light of vehicles and cellphones.

A major campaign issue has been Boko Haram’s Islamic insurgency. The failure of Jonathan’s administration to curb the rebellion, which killed about 10,000 people last year, has angered many Nigerians.

International outrage has grown over another failure — the government’s inability to rescue 219 schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram nearly a year ago. The extremists have abducted hundreds more people since then, using them as sex slaves and fighters.

The Islamic uprising has exacerbated relations between Christians like Jonathan, who dominate the oil-rich south, and Muslims like Buhari, who are the majority in the agricultural and cattle-herding lands of the north. Nigeria’s population of 170 million is almost evenly divided between Christians and Muslims.

Some 1,000 people were killed in rioting after Buhari lost to Jonathan in the 2011 elections. Thousands of Nigerians and foreign workers have left the country amid fears of post-election violence.

In 2011, there was no doubt that Jonathan had swept the polls by millions of votes. Now the race is much closer. Results are expected 48 hours after voting ends. If no clear winner emerges, a runoff will be held.

___

Umar reported from Maiduguri. Associated Press writers Jerome Delay in Kaduna, Shehu Saulawa in Bauchi, Adamu Adamu in Potiskum, Lekan Oyekanmi in Yola, Hilary Uguru in Port Harcourt, and Ben Curtis in Daura, also contributed to this report.

TIME Canada

Jet Skids Off Halifax Runway, Sending 25 to Hospital

Air Canada
Andrew Vaughan—AP Air Canada flight 624 rests off the runway after landing at Stanfield International Airport in Halifax, Canada on, March. 29, 2015.

After a "hard landing" in Nova Scotia

An Air Canada passenger jet skidded off the runway after a “hard landing” at the Halifax airport in Nova Scotia, authorities said, sending 25 people to the hospital.

The airline said that Air Canada Flight 624 from Toronto — an Airbus A320 — “exited the runway” upon landing. It said a preliminary count showed 133 passengers and five crew were on board when the incident took place just after midnight local time.

Halifax Stanfield International Airport said its airfield was closed and 25 people were taken to the hospital. The airline said later that 18 had been treated and released.

“We are thankful no serious…

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

TIME Singapore

Singapore Bids Farewell to Lee Kuan Yew in Elaborate Funeral

"He did everything for us Singaporeans regardless of race, language or religion"

(SINGAPORE) — Tens of thousands of Singaporeans undeterred by heavy rains lined a 15 kilometer (9 mile) route through the Southeast Asian city-state to witness an elaborate funeral procession Sunday for longtime leader Lee Kuan Yew.

Lee’s coffin, protected from the downpour by a glass casing, lay atop a ceremonial gun carriage that was being led solemnly past city landmarks from parliament to a cultural center where the state funeral will be held. Walking slowly in the coffin’s wake as it exited parliament were Lee’s son, the current prime minister Lee Hsien Loong, other family members and government officials.

Crowds of people that began forming not long after dawn for the early afternoon funeral cortege chanted “Lee Kuan Yew” and waved Singapore’s national flag. Four howitzers fired a 21-gun salute, air force fighter jets streaked over the island and navy patrol ships blasted horns.

During a week of national mourning that began Monday after Lee’s death at age 91, some 450,000 people queued for hours for a glimpse of the statesman’s coffin at Parliament House. A million people visited tribute sites at community centers around the city.

The expansive show of emotion is a rare event for Singapore. The island nation about four times the size of Washington D.C. is known around the world as a wealthy trade and finance center with a strict social order including a ban on chewing gum and caning for some crimes.

Lee was Singapore’s prime minister for more than three decades, ruling with an iron grip until 1990, and is regarded by Singaporeans as the architect of their nation’s prosperity and harmonious race relations. But his authoritarian rule has also left a legacy of restrictions on free speech, a tame media and a stunted democracy.

“He did everything for us Singaporeans regardless of race, language or religion,” said Jennie Yeo, a 58-year-old teacher, who arrived at 7 a.m. to stake out front row positions with two friends. “Education, housing, everything you can think of, he’s taken care of for us,” she said.

Leaders and dignitaries from more than two dozen countries are attending the state funeral. The U.S. delegation is led by former President Bill Clinton. Abroad, India has declared a national day of mourning and in New Zealand, the government is flying flags at half-staff.

During the funeral service, civil defense sirens will blare across the island to begin a minute’s silence.

TIME Aviation

Grim Recovery Mission Underway at Germanwings Crash Site

"We have not found a single body intact"

SEYNE-LES-ALPES, France (AP) — The ravine echoes with helicopter rotors, the scrape of metal on stone, the rumble of sliding scree as the remnants of Germanwings Flight 9525 dislodge from the mountainside.

The somber mission to recover the remains of 150 people killed when their plane slammed full speed into the Col de Mariaud is not a quiet one, and evidence can be gathered only when the mountains cooperate.

From 8:30 a.m. until 6 p.m., while the light is good, the helicopters ferry the crews into the ravine. It is too steep to land, so the 40 crewmembers are winched down singly or in pairs with packs bulging with clear plastic bags, red and yellow evidence tags, and the ropes they will use to keep each other from slipping when the black Alpine stone crumbles beneath their feet. Each investigator is linked to a local mountaineer, familiar with the terrain and with the skills to keep them safe.

Few pieces are larger than a car door. Most are smaller. And with each step the recovery workers make, crucial pieces of evidence slide inexorably downward. Some slip into a mountain brook fed by the snow that has only just begun melting in the French Alps.

“We have not found a single body intact,” Col. Patrick Touron, one of France’s leading forensic investigators, said Friday from Seyne-les-Alpes. “DNA will be the determining element that will lead to identification.”

Between 400 and 600 biological elements have been retrieved and five scientists are in Seyne-les-Alpes to speed the process, he said. The families who arrived during the week provided objects such as toothbrushes, which belonged to the deceased, and some gave their own DNA samples to help cross-reference the forensic information found in the remains.

The moment a piece of human remains is found, forensic scientists have been taking a DNA sample immediately, from fears it could further decompose, and update the vast — 150-person-strong — DNA database pool they are compiling on-site, Touron said. Jewelry and dental information are also key to the identification process, he said.

Touron noted the bodies would be returned to the families as soon as possible, but warned the process would be long.

Just few kilometers (miles) away, ski stations are still full. The ground is bare where the A320 shattered, but “the pieces of wreckage are so small and shiny they appear like patches of snow on the mountainside,” said Pierre-Henry Brandet, the Interior Ministry spokesman, after first flying over the debris field.

Traveling by foot on the hiking paths that wind through the Alps, it’s possible to reach the site in about an hour. Police all-terrain vehicles have barred the way since the Tuesday crash, guarding against the curious and macabre.

Each load must be carried away by helicopter, and the operation halts at sundown and with the onset of rain or wind. It is likely to last weeks.

Evidence goes into the plastic bags, sealed with a drawstring for speed. Remains go into body bags which are hooked carefully onto the winch, sometimes alongside a helmeted recovery worker, arms spread wide as if in benediction, and everything goes soaring off to Seyne-les-Alpes. Just a few minutes in the air instead of hours overland.

French investigators have not outlined what will happen with the recovered plane pieces, though the focus of the investigation is no longer on technical issues with the plane now that prosecutors say the co-pilot deliberately crashed the plane.

In investigations conducted by the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board, all pieces of wreckage and other evidence are removed from the crash site and taken to a secure location, usually an aircraft hangar, where they remain during the course of the investigation. When the investigation is over, they are returned to the owner of the plane — usually that is either the airline or an insurance company.

Some personal effects that are clearly identifiable as belonging to an individual — a watch inscribed with a name, for example — are washed and returned to family members. Other personal effects — luggage, coats, shoes, etc. — are photographed and the photos placed in a catalog that family members can look through to identify the belongings of their family members.

The plane’s first black box, containing the cockpit recordings, was recovered within hours of the crash. Pulled from the battered orange casing, the audio files revealed almost unimaginable horror — the plane’s co-pilot locked his commander out of the cockpit and set the aircraft on a descent straight into the mountain, said Marseille prosecutor Brice Robin.

Somewhere on the mountain is the plane’s second black box, ripped from a casing designed to withstand an acceleration of 3,400 times the force of gravity or speeds up to about 310 mph (500 kph). It contains nearly 25 hours’ worth of information on the position and condition of almost every major part in a plane. Recovery crews know this — and the recovery of the bodies — is their priority.

“At this very moment, men are on site to keep looking, keep looking more,” French President Francois Hollande said on Wednesday. “They will continue until they get it.”

Read next: German Co-Pilot Visited Alps Near Crash Site as a Child

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