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NEWS EXTRA

This segment provides the viewer / reader with news they might have missed and focuses on key issues related to current and past events. These articles are provided courtesy of our many contributing sources. We ask that you enjoy these stories and continue your support of beenetworknews.com, our contributing sources and publishers.

ASSIGNMENTS / APPOINTMENTS / ANNOUNCEMENTS

SOURCE:  Office of Senator Mitch McConnell

mcconell

McConnell Office Statement on EPA Regulation

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Robert Steurer, Communications Director for Senator Mitch McConnell, released the following statement today regarding the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule to regulate “the waters of the United States” (WOTUS):

“Senator McConnell is still reviewing the rule. However, he has heard from Kentuckians in the agriculture community, coal industry, and manufacturing that any attempt to expand federal power over waters would be detrimental to the economy by limiting the ability of landowners to make decisions about their property, inviting litigation, threatening jobs and ultimately impacting state and local governments’ abilities to make decisions regarding economic development.”

NOTE: Senator McConnell cosponsored bipartisan legislation introduced by Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) that would prohibit the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from implementing their proposed rule expanding federal authority over waterways across the country.

Also, an op-ed by Senator Mitch McConnell appeared in the Somerset Commonwealth-Journal on April 29, 2015.  In the op-ed, Senator McConnell wrote about the WOTUS regulation that would classify nearly all wetlands—including small ponds and ditches—as ‘navigable’ waters, and thus subject to interference by Washington bureaucrats. If the regulation takes effect, it would wreak havoc on the coal, agriculture, commercial development, real estate, construction, and contracting industries statewide. It would be detrimental to traditional farming practices. And it would trample the private property rights of individual Kentuckians.  By expanding the definition of a wetland, the EPA aims to subject vast new areas in Kentucky to its will. The regulation will trigger confusing requirements that property owners obtain even more permits—on top of those permits they are already responsible for—before undertaking new construction. Forcing more areas that were not previously regulated to go through the EPA permitting process just because there are ditches or streams on the property will only discourage new construction by the individual property and business owners. This hurts job creation, as many property owners across various industries will choose to forego new projects due to the uncertainty and hassle caused by the EPA.”

STUDY SHOWS VOLKSWAGEN CHATTANOOGA EXPANSION COULD ADD 9,800 JOBS AND $370 MILLION TO THE TENNESSEE ECONOMY

SOURCE:  VOLKSWAGEN GROUP OF AMERICA

—University of Tennessee Study Underscores the Role of Incentives as a Driver of Economic Growth—

Herndon, VA – A University of Tennessee Center of Business and Economic Research (CBER) study released today indicates that the expansion of Volkswagen’s Chattanooga manufacturing facility to produce a new midsize-SUV and the opening of a North American Engineering and Planning Center could create approximately 9,800 jobs and add $370 million in additional annual income, once the plant is fully operational. 

“The findings in the CBER study demonstrate that the incentive package recently passed by the Tennessee legislature will result in an economic growth multiplier of several times the state’s investment,” said David Geanacopoulos, Executive Vice President for Public Affairs and General Counsel, Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. “We would like to thank Gov. Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Randy Boyd for their leadership in fostering a business environment within Tennessee that is mutually-beneficial for the state and local economy as well as for companies like Volkswagen that have operations in the state.”

In addition to the 2,400 Tennessee workers directly employed by Volkswagen, the study projects that Volkswagen’s $704 million investment in the Chattanooga plant expansion, including the opening of a new North American Engineering and Planning Center, has the potential to:

  • Generate $217 million of new income and more than 5,300 indirect and direct jobs in Tennessee during the construction and tooling phase
  • Create roughly 9,800 jobs, once the plant is fully operational, including 1,800 potential jobs at the production plant, 200 engineering jobs at the VW North American Engineering and Planning Center, as well as positions at auto parts suppliers, and other jobs throughout Tennessee
  • Be responsible for $370 million in additional annual income, once the plant is fully operational 

“Extensive supplier linkages and good incomes earned by Volkswagen employees account for the significant employment gains and economic multiplier effects in Tennessee,” said William Fox, the study’s author and Director of the Center for Business & Economic Research at the University of Tennessee. “This includes jobs in many industries across the state, such as grocery stores, restaurants, shopping malls and construction.”

Construction for the Volkswagen Chattanooga expansion project is currently underway, and is expected to be completed during the summer of 2016. Production of the Volkswagen midsize-SUV is scheduled to commence at the end of 2016, marking the second Volkswagen model to be produced in Chattanooga, in addition to the Passat.

“The study underscores Volkswagen’s commitment to Tennessee, and we are excited to grow our team and the Chattanooga plant as we gear up for the production of our first-ever seven-passenger SUV for the U.S. market,” said Christian Koch, President and CEO, Volkswagen Chattanooga. “We appreciate our partnerships with Hamilton County Mayor Coppinger and Chattanooga Mayor Berke, as well as Governor Haslam, for their ongoing support of Volkswagen’s expansion in Chattanooga.”

The CBER study is commissioned by Volkswagen Group of America. Findings within the study are independent calculations by CBER researchers.

A full copy of the new study is available here:

Department of the ArmyGeneral Officer Assignments

SOURCE: DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE

The chief of staff, Army announced the following assignments:

Maj. Gen. Daniel P. Hughes, program executive officer, command, control and communications (Tactical), Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, to deputy commanding general, support, Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan, Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, Afghanistan.

Maj. Gen. Camille M. Nichols, director, business operations, Office of Business Transformation, Office of the Under Secretary of the Army, Washington, District of Columbia, to director, Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office, Department of Defense Human Resources Activity, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Personnel and Readiness), Alexandria, Virginia.

Maj. Gen. Jeffrey J. Snow, director, Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office, Department of Defense Human Resources Activity, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Personnel and Readiness), Alexandria, Virginia, to commanding general, U.S. Army Recruiting Command, Fort Knox, Kentucky.

Brig. Gen. (Promotable) James E. Rainey, commandant, U.S. Army Infantry School, U.S. Army Maneuver Center of Excellence, Fort Benning, Georgia, to commanding general, 3d Infantry Division and Fort Stewart, Fort Stewart, Georgia.

Brig. Gen. Francis M. Beaudette, deputy commanding general, operations, 1st Armored Division, Fort Bliss, Texas, to assistant commander, support, Joint Special Operations Command, U.S. Special Operations Command, Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

Brig. Gen. Richard C. Kim, deputy commanding general, maneuver, 2d Infantry Division, Eighth Army, Republic of Korea, to director, CJ-35, Resolute Support Mission Joint Command, Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, Afghanistan.

Wisconsin Army Guard’s top officer now a top diversity advocate

SOURCE:Vaughn R. Larson, Wisconsin Department of Military Affairs

Brig. Gen. Mark Anderson, Wisconsin’s deputy adjutant-general for Army and the senior officer of the Wisconsin Army National Guard, began an additional assignment earlier this month as the special assistant for diversity to Gen. Frank Grass, the chief of the National Guard Bureau.

In this three-year assignment — known as a dual-hat assignment — Anderson will advise Grass and other senior National Guard Bureau leaders on policies or programs that will impact diversity in the National Guard. He will also recommend new policies or programs — or changes to existing programs — that increase diversity

Brig. Gen. Mark Anderson, Wisconsin's deputy adjutant general for Army and the senior officer of the Wisconsin Army National Guard, began an additional assignment earlier this month as the special assistant for diversity to Gen. Frank Grass, the chief of the National Guard Bureau. Wisconsin National Guard file photo

Brig. Gen. Mark Anderson, Wisconsin’s deputy adjutant general for Army and the senior officer of the Wisconsin Army National Guard, began an additional assignment earlier this month as the special assistant for diversity to Gen. Frank Grass, the chief of the National Guard Bureau. Wisconsin National Guard file photo

and fosters an inclusive environment. This responsibility, Anderson explained, aims to develop a stronger organization which reflects the communities the National Guard serves.

“Personally, I view it as a fantastic opportunity,” Anderson said, adding that he views the diversity initiative as one of the most significant cultural changes being implemented in the National Guard. A long-time diversity advocate — he has already served for more than four years on the National Guard Bureau Chief’s Joint Diversity Executive Council, including time as the north-central region chairman, and co-chaired the Wisconsin National Guard’s State Jooint Diversity Council — Anderson said he recognizes the tangible and intangible value that understanding and embracing diversity and inclusion brings to an organization.

“Diversity is so much more than what we see on the outside,” he said, noting that the National Guard views diversity as creating an environment where every service member has the same opportunities to reach their full potential. While gender, race and ethnicity are important factors to pay attention to, Anderson said intangible elements such as societal, economic, education, religion, sexual preference and personal values are attributes which truly define diversity.

“Diversity of thought is just as important,” Anderson said. “Organizations [that bring] a multitude of differing opinions and ideas when tackling an issue will generally achieve a more positive outcome. Strategically, organizations that embrace differences of opinion, background, gender and race are going to be more proactive and agile in adapting to change.”

Anderson said embracing this understanding of diversity throughout the National Guard should lead to a better command climate, troop retention and, ultimately, mission readiness. He sees a direct correlation with the Army value of respect.

“I think most people can understand how diversity is central to living the value of respect,” Anderson said. “Respecting others opinions, values, ideals and backgrounds not only leads to better harmony within a unit but better training, and a more inclusive environment for Soldiers or Airmen to develop and achieve the goals for which they joined the military in the first place.”

Diversity training is an area where Anderson said the Army, and the National Guard, can improve.

“Within the National Guard community there is an effort currently underway to provide tools to states and territories to aid in promoting diversity and inclusion, as well as articulate why diversity is important to each and every service member as well as the unit and our organization as a whole,” Anderson said.

Maj. Gen. Don Dunbar, Wisconsin adjutant-general, said Anderson brings a wealth of experience to this new role.

“Brig. Gen. Anderson is an exceptional officer and I’m proud of him,” Dunbar said. “His leadership of the Wisconsin Army National Guard has been stellar, and he is a perfect fit for this new assignment on the national stage.”

This is Anderson’s second dual-hat assignment since becoming deputy adjutant-general for Army seven years ago. In 2009 he served for three years as the deputy commanding general for the Army National Guard at the Field Artillery Center in Fort Sill, Oklahoma. In this role he was the advisor and personal representative of the U.S. Army Fires Center of Excellence commanding general in matters of doctrine, training, leader development, force structure, resource management and operational execution.

PHOTO(s) OF THE DAY

SOURCE:  Department of Defense /Defense News Lead Photo

United States Army Spc. Edgar, Pinpena, left, a native of Chicago, Ill., sprints back to his base with the opposing team’s flag while Spc. Jesse Bray, a native of McDonough, Ga., both assigned to Team Eagle, Task Force 2-7 Infantry, covers his retreat during a force on force competition with Team Eagle’s Lithuanian partners, the Iron Wolf Brigade, at the Great Lithuanian Hetman Jonusas Radvila Training Regiment, in Rukla, Lithuania, May 28, 2015. The Soldiers of Team Eagle are part of Operation Atlantic Resolve, an ongoing multinational partnership focused on joint training and security cooperation between the U.S. and other NATO allies. (U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. James Avery, 16th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.)

United States Army Spc. Edgar, Pinpena, left, a native of Chicago, Ill., sprints back to his base with the opposing team’s flag while Spc. Jesse Bray, a native of McDonough, Ga., both assigned to Team Eagle, Task Force 2-7 Infantry, covers his retreat during a force on force competition with Team Eagle’s Lithuanian partners, the Iron Wolf Brigade, at the Great Lithuanian Hetman Jonusas Radvila Training Regiment, in Rukla, Lithuania, May 28, 2015. The Soldiers of Team Eagle are part of Operation Atlantic Resolve, an ongoing multinational partnership focused on joint training and security cooperation between the U.S. and other NATO allies. (U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. James Avery, 16th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.)

U.S. Marines Lance Cpl. Jasmine Castaneda, left, and Lance Cpl. Karina Navarro-Aguilera practice blocking techniques during Marine Corps Martial Arts Program training aboard the USS Rushmore (LSD 47) at sea in the Pacific Ocean, May 26, 2015. Castaneda is a supply warehouse clerk and Navarro-Aguilera is a supply administrative clerk, both with Combat Logistics Battalion 15, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit. MCMAP focuses on hand-to-hand combat training essential to mission readiness while deployed with the 15th MEU. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Emmanuel Ramos/Released)

U.S. Marines Lance Cpl. Jasmine Castaneda, left, and Lance Cpl. Karina Navarro-Aguilera practice blocking techniques during Marine Corps Martial Arts Program training aboard the USS Rushmore (LSD 47) at sea in the Pacific Ocean, May 26, 2015. Castaneda is a supply warehouse clerk and Navarro-Aguilera is a supply administrative clerk, both with Combat Logistics Battalion 15, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit. MCMAP focuses on hand-to-hand combat training essential to mission readiness while deployed with the 15th MEU. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Emmanuel Ramos/Released)

President Proclaims June as LGBT Pride Month

SOURCE:  DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, DC – The federal government, including the Department of Defense, is leading by example to ensure that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender citizens “are judged by the quality of their work, not by who they love,” President Barack Obama said in his statement issued today proclaiming June as National Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month.

The president’s proclamation reads as follows:

From the moment our Nation first came together to declare the fundamental truth that all men are created equal, courageous and dedicated patriots have fought to refine our founding promise and broaden democracy’s reach. Over the course of more than two centuries of striving and sacrifice, our country has expanded civil rights and enshrined equal protections into our Constitution. Through struggle and setback, we see a common trajectory toward a more free and just society. But we are also reminded that we are not truly equal until every person is afforded the same rights and opportunities — that when one of us experiences discrimination, it affects all of us — and that our journey is not complete until our lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law.

Across our Nation, tremendous progress has been won by determined individuals who stood up, spoke out, and shared their stories. Earlier this year, because of my landmark Executive Order on LGBT workplace discrimination, protections for Federal contractors went into effect, guarding against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The Federal Government is now leading by example, ensuring that our employees and contractors are judged by the quality of their work, not by who they love. And I will keep calling on the Congress to pass legislation so that all Americans are covered by these protections, no matter where they work.

In communities throughout the country, barriers that limit the potential of LGBT Americans have been torn down, but too many individuals continue to encounter discrimination and unfair treatment. My Administration supports efforts to ban the use of conversion therapy for minors because the overwhelming scientific evidence demonstrates that it can cause substantial harm. We understand the unique challenges faced by sexual and gender minorities — especially transgender and gender non-conforming individuals — and are taking steps to address them. And we recognize that families come in many shapes and sizes. Whether biological, foster, or adoptive, family acceptance is an important protective factor against suicide and harm for LGBTQ youth, and mental health experts have created resources to support family communication and involvement.

For countless young people, it is not enough to simply say it gets better; we must take action too. We continue to address bullying and harassment in our classrooms, ensuring every student has a nurturing environment in which to learn and grow. Across the Federal Government, we are working every day to unlock the opportunities all LGBT individuals deserve and the resources and care they need. Too many LGBT youth face homelessness and too many older individuals struggle to find welcoming and affordable housing; that is why my Administration is striving to ensure they have equal access to safe and supportive housing throughout life. We are updating our National HIV/AIDS Strategy to better address the disproportionate burden HIV has on communities of gay and bisexual men and transgender women. We continue to extend family and spousal benefits to legally married same-sex couples. And because we know LGBT rights are human rights, we are championing protections and support for LGBT persons around the world.

All people deserve to live with dignity and respect, free from fear and violence, and protected against discrimination, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation. During Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month, we celebrate the proud legacy LGBT individuals have woven into the fabric of our Nation, we honor those who have fought to perfect our Union, and we continue our work to build a society where every child grows up knowing that their country supports them, is proud of them, and has a place for them exactly as they are.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim June 2015 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month. I call upon the people of the United States to eliminate prejudice everywhere it exists, and to celebrate the great diversity of the American people.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-ninth day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand fifteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-ninth.

BARACK OBAMA

How will financial ties with Cuba change now that it’s off the terrorism list?

SOURCE:  PBS NEWSHOUR

Published on May 30, 2015

The State Department on Friday officially lifted its designation of Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism, in one of the many recent steps by the Obama administration to reestablish diplomatic ties between Cuba and the U.S. Carla Robbins of the Council on Foreign Relations joins Hari Sreenivasan to discuss the implications.

 

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