Officials at Sheppard Air Force Base in northern Texas say a $3.5 million project by the city of Wichita Falls to improve the area around the installation’s main entrance is needed to improve security and accessibility.“The recent opportunity for grant funding presented by the Texas Military Preparedness Commission has opened the doors to finally addressing some post-9-11 concerns with the land parcels immediately adjacent to the main gate,” Lt. Col. Jeffrey White, deputy commander of the 82nd Mission Support Group, told the Times Record News.The city plans to apply to the state’s defense economic adjustment assistance grant program for a $1.75 million grant. Other sources of funding for the effort include a $1.25 million loan from the Wichita Falls Economic Development Corp. and $500,000 in federal transit funds.The city plans to demolish seven buildings outside the gate, and build a bus shelter and parking area for the Sheppard Express Bus Route.The base will contribute to the partnership with the city as well, implementing a scaled-down version of a previous plan to improve traffic flow as well as security. The Sheppard side of the project calls for enhancing the roadway, traffic flow, guardhouse and overall aesthetics of the corridor leading to its main gate, according to the story.“This gateway is also the first impression for thousands of our international partners participating in the Euro NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training and technical training, as well as tens of thousands of U.S. airmen and families each year,” White said. Dan Cohen AUTHOR
Army leaders broke ground Wednesday at Fort Belvoir in northern Virginia on the site of the long-awaited National Museum of the U.S. Army.The 186,000-square-foot facility will cost about $200 million and is scheduled to open in 2019. The Army Historical Foundation, which has worked more than a decade on the project, has raised more than $135 million, primarily from individuals. The organization hopes to raise the additional funds as quickly as possible to keep the construction on track, reported Stars and Stripes.The Army is the only branch of the military without a national museum covering its entire history. The museum, which will be located just outside Fort Belvoir’s gates, will cover the Army’s history from the initial militias formed in Massachusetts in 1663 that would become the foundation for the National Guard through to the modern-day Army. It will feature about 30,000 artifacts and documents — including uniforms, weapons, protective equipment and letters — and more than 15,000 pieces of artwork.Officials estimate the museum will attract 500,000 to 700,000 visitors a year.Army Secretary Eric Fanning said the museum will honor the service and sacrifice of the more than 30 million Americans who have served in the regular Army, the National Guard and the reserves, but it will especially serve to honor men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice in battle, according to the story.“This museum will serve as a monument to them — a memorial to all who we have lost and to war’s incredible cost,” Fanning said. “From the Revolutionary War to our fights in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is the Army that has borne the greatest share or our nation’s loss — fully 85 percent of all Americans who have given their lives in our nation’s wars.” Dan Cohen AUTHOR
ADC AUTHOR House Armed Services subcommittees are continuing to mark up the fiscal 2020 defense policy bill. Recent subcommittee actions include:The Readiness subcommittee plans to increase oversight of privatized military housing in its fiscal 2020 defense policy legislation, but current provider contracts are limiting its reach. The subcommittee has dropped language addressing the contracts for fear of sparking litigation, according to a CQ report.The Readiness panel’s draft bill would prohibit installations from using PFAS-based firefighting foam in nonemergency situations. It also would require DOD to transition away from using the chemicals, which have been found in drinking water.The Military Personnel subcommittee advanced its portion of the bill Tuesday. It authorizes a 3.1% pay raise for troops, a basic needs allowance for certain low-income troops and higher reimbursements for military spouses earning new job certifications and licenses when moving base to base.The Personnel panel’s draft approves the administration’s request to increase troops by 7,700 next year. Active-duty levels would increase by 6,215, and reserve levels would increase by 1,507.The Seapower subcommittee’s draft language would block the Navy from retiring the aircraft carrier USS Truman early. The Navy had requested retiring the Truman in its 2020 budget and using the savings to pay for advanced technologies such as unmanned vessels. President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have both said the administration supports refueling the Truman instead of retiring it.
Paul AllenMark Wilson/Getty ImagesWhile many knew Paul Allen as the co-founder of Microsoft, several recalled him for his contribution to the world of sports. Allen, a jack of all trades, was indeed a visionary when it comes to the Portland Trail Blazers fans who were close to their enigmatic chairman. Allen has truly left behind an unfillable void in the world of sports but the ultimate trail brazer was also one of the biggest names to emerge from Silicon Valley, California.Little did Allen knew when he co-founded Microsoft with Bill Gates in 1983 that his startup venture would make him worth tens of billions. Interestingly, the name ‘Micro-soft’ was also suggested by Allen and he has also been credited with devising the two button mouse.However, the apparent fallout with Bill Gates made him follow a different path by investing in a multitude of side projects and charitable ventures spanning from buying World War II memorabilia and owning a museum of one of his biggest idols — Jimi Hendrix. Meanwhile, there is an interesting anecdote on the billionaire philanthropist, courtesy legendary music producer Quincy Jones. Jimi HendrixEvening Standard/Getty ImagesDuring an exclusive interview with New York magazine’s Vulture, Quincy sang the praises of the tech mogul’s guitar skills. Wait, that is not all. The Grammy Legend Award winner also likened Allen to Hendrix.While crediting the music of Eric Clapton’s band Cream, he asked the interviewer, “But you know who sings and plays just like Hendrix?” “Paul Allen,” Jones exclaimed.”I went on a trip on his yacht, and he had David Crosby, Joe Walsh, Sean Lennon — all those crazy motherf—–s. Then on the last two days, Stevie Wonder came on with his band and made Paul come up and play with him — he’s good, man.”Allen had expressed his affinity to Jimi Hendrix quite a few times in the past as well. In his write up — Idea Man: A Memoir by the Cofounder of Microsoft — Allen mentions that he was obsessed with the ‘Purple Haze’ rocker and had also talked about mimicking his guitar skills.”I knew I’d never play it the way Jimi did, but I was satisfied,” he wrote.The Microsoft co-founder was also known to keep a few guitars in his yacht and enjoyed quite a few jamming session with his musician mates.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks at the US Embassy in London on 14 September, 2017. Photo: AFPUS Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Thursday condemned violence against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar as “unacceptable”, as thousands of refugees continue to stream across the border into Bangladesh.“We need to support Aung San Suu Kyi and her leadership but also be very clear and unequivocal to the military power sharing in that government that this is unacceptable,” Tillerson said.“This violence must stop. This persecution must stop. It has been characterised by many as ethnic cleansing. That must stop,” he said during a visit to London, speaking alongside British counterpart Boris Johnson.“I think it is a defining moment in many ways for this new emerging democracy,” Tillerson said, acknowledging that Myanmar’s leader Suu Kyi found herself in a “difficult and complex situation”.A crackdown by Myanmar’s army, launched in response to attacks by Rohingya militants on August 25, has pushed vast numbers of refugees from the stateless Muslim minority across the border.Some 389,000 are estimated to have crossed since then.
Palestinian protestors clash with Israeli security forces following the weekly Muslim Friday prayers in the West Bank city of Ramallah on 29 December, 2017. Photo: AFPIsraeli tanks and aircraft hit the Gaza Strip on Friday after rocket fire from the Palestinian enclave targeted a southern community, the army and Palestinian sources said.Clashes also erupted in the West Bank as Palestinians marked another “day of rage” following US president Donald Trump’s controversial 6 December recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.There were no immediate reports of casualties in the exchange of fire, the first in more than 10 days.Palestinian militants fired three rockets at southern Israel, two of which were intercepted by the Iron Dome aerial defence system, the army said.Police said the third rocket hit a structure in a community near Gaza, causing damage but no casualties.”In response to the rockets fired towards Israel, IDF (Israel Defence Forces) tanks and IAF (Israel Air Force) aircraft targeted two posts belonging to the terrorist organisation Hamas in the northern Gaza Strip,” the army said in a statement.Witnesses said Israeli tanks shelled a position controlled by Gaza’s Islamist rulers east of Gaza City. A spokesman for the Hamas-run health ministry said nobody was injured by the Israeli fire.Both Hamas and fellow militant group Islamic Jihad had labelled Friday a “day of rage”, as in previous weeks.In the West Bank small groups of Palestinians clashed with Israeli forces, including north of Ramallah and in the Hebron area, where two were wounded by live fire, Palestinian medical and security sources said.The Israeli army said there were “very small clashes” in a number of sites.Militants in Gaza have fired more than a dozen rockets or mortar rounds at southern Israel in the latest wave of violence that erupted after Trump’s decision.Before Friday, the last rockets fired from Gaza were on December 18, one of which hit a home in a border town.Trump’s announcement was followed by protests across the West Bank and on Gaza’s border with Israel, with 12 Gazans killed in clashes with Israeli forces on the border or by Israeli strikes following rocket fire.The rockets are often fired by fringe Islamist groups but Israel holds Hamas responsible for all attacks from the territory.
Belgian cable operator Telenet and TV broadcasters RTL and VRT have acquired the TV rights to UEFA Champions League football for the 2012-15 seasons.Free-to-air broadcaster RTL has won the French-language rights to the best match in each kick-off slot every match week. RTL will show both live matches as well as a highlights programme each match week on Club RTL.Flemish-language broadcaster VRT will show live the best match of the week on its channel Canvas, while Telenet will broadcast a selection of matches each match night in both kick-off slots on its three Sporting Telenet-branded channels. Both VRT and Telenet will broadcast highlights programmes each match week in the Flemish language.“UEFA is delighted to continue its successful relationship with VRT in respect of the UEFA Europa League in Belgium and also to welcome each of RTL and Telenet in to the UEFA Europa League family of broadcasters. Each of the three broadcasters has significant experience of working on the UEFA club competitions and their extensive broadcast knowledge and strong programming commitments will ensure significant exposure of the competition across Belgium,” said UEFA.Current rightsholders AB3 and EXQI Sport will continue to distribute UEFA Europa League games.
Phillip LuffPay TV operator M7 Group has extended its existing agreement with channel provider Scripps Networks UK & EMEA for the European launch of the latter’s Fine Living HD channel on its platforms.Fine Living HD will be made available to subscribers of M7 Group’s pay-TV platforms in the Czech Republic and Slovakia via Skylink, The Netherlands via Canal Digitaal and Flanders on TV Vlaanderen. The other HD channels of Scripps Networks, Travel Channel HD and Food Network HD, are already available on the platforms.M7 Platform Services will also arrange for the satellite delivery of Fine Living HD to third party operators within the footprint of Astra 3B at 23.5° East. This service scheme includes the provision of smartcards and CI modules, 24/7 quality monitoring and help desk support to third party operators. M7 Platform Services already provides these services for other available channels of Scripps Networks: Travel Channel HD, Food Network HD and SD, Fine Living SD.“Following the success of Travel Channel HD and Food Network HD in in these territories, we are pleased to expand our partnership with the M7 Group with the delivery of our Fine Living programming also in HD,” said Phillip Luff, managing director, Scripps Networks UK & EMEA. “Our alliance with M7 Group allows us to distribute our channels in a cost-effective and high-quality manner to both direct-to-home viewers and third-party operators in Europe.”Bill Wijdeveld, VP business development at M7 Group said: “We are very proud on this further extension of our distribution agreement with Scripps Networks UK & EMEA, now including all the Scripps Networks channels. We are also pleased that our direct-to-home viewers in the Benelux and CEE markets will have the chance to enjoy Fine Living in full HD quality. We look forward to a continued successful partnership with Scripps Networks.”