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VA Failed to Spend Millions of Dollars Available for Suicide Prevention: Report

A $6.2 million media budget was set aside for prevention efforts, but less than 1 percent was used. Each day, about 20 veterans commit suicide.

REUTERS

In the almost two years of the Trump administration, the rate of suicide by veterans soared. Each day, about 20 veterans end their lives. According to a report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), there's been mismanagement in the millions allotted for suicide prevention.


For the fiscal year 2018, $6.2 million has been earmarked by Veterans Affairs (VA) solely to advertise its crisis hotline. This is a multi-platform effort that includes suicide prevention efforts – online, on billboards, buses and trains and via local and national radio commercials. Through September, $57,000, less than 1 percent of those funds have been spent.

The Suicide Prevention Outreach Program was established in 2010, growing steadily, before dropping in 2017.

"At a time when 20 veterans a day still die by suicide, VA should be doing everything in its power to inform the public about the resources available to veterans in crisis," Rep. Tim Walz (D-Minn.) ranking member of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee said, in a statement. "Unfortunately, VA has failed to do that, despite claiming the elimination of veteran suicide as its highest clinical priority."

Walz had requested a study on the crisis and said the report "conveys a deeply troubling level of incompetence on the part of the Trump Administration."

Ironically, both VA Secretary Robert Wilkie and former VA Secretary David Shulkin listed suicide prevention as one of their main focuses for the department.

In this debacle, Wilkie is blaming Shulkin. His spokesman Curt Cashour said, "During former VA employee David Shulkin's brief tenure as secretary, VA's suicide prevention outreach dropped significantly, and the suicide prevention office had no permanent leader for nearly nine months."

Shulkin served from February 2017 to March 2018, before he was fired.

Wilkie was appointed a new permanent director for suicide prevention, shortly after arriving as acting secretary in April, and he is "reviewing the spending for this important program," Cashour stated.

From fiscal 2017 to fiscal 2018, social media content from VA officials on suicide prevention dropped by more than two-thirds. Two planned public service announcements were delayed. And, there were no outreach messages aired on television or radio for more than a year.

Black Student in Kansas Sues School District for Racial Discrimination

The dance team's choreographer told Camille Sturdivant that her skin was "too dark" to perform because she "clashed" with uniforms.

Camille Sturdivant has filed a racial discrimination lawsuit against the Blue Valley School District for the abuse she was subjected to as a member of the high school dance team.

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Cardi B. Delivers a More Effective Speech About Trump's Shutdown on Instagram Than Politicians

"Our country is in a hellhole right now," she said. "All for a f‐‐‐ing wall."

Rapper Cardi B. told her 39 million Instagram followers on Wednesday night what she really thought about President Trump's partial government shutdown, his wall and about his absurd request to force people who aren't getting paid to go back to work.

She didn't mince words (she uses explicit language in the video).

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Five Cops Fired, Two Suspended After Man in Custody Died

"I can't breathe," Christopher Lowe said before he died. But officers still failed to call for help.

The Fort Worth Police Department has terminated five officers and suspended two for their involvement in the death of Christopher Lowe, 55, while he was in police custody last July.

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Vermont Continues to Fail Black Legislator Racially Harassed By White Nationalist

Kiah Morris resigned from her position because of the harassment, but Vermont's attorney general said he will not file charges against the perpetrators, including Max Misch.

Kiah Morris was the only Black woman in the Vermont House of Representatives, until she resigned from her position in September, after enduring years of racially motivated harassment.

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Trump's Government Shutdown Closes MLK Historic Sites

Ebenezer Baptist Church and most of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park in Atlanta are closed. "I feel a bit of sadness...I didn't expect to cry over this," said Bernice King.

Tuesday was Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday and next Monday is our national celebration of the civil rights icon.

But school field trips, celebrations, families' visits to teach children about civil rights and the values of all people being created equally are being canceled due to President Trump's government shutdown.

Thousands of people who flock to Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, where Martin Luther King Jr. was pastor, and to his home, as well as the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in D.C., will be disappointed. They are all closed.

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Roku Pulls Racist 'Infowars' After Social Media Backlash

Alex Jones, founder of Infowars, has also been accused of sexual harassment. He allegedly grabbed a Black employee's backside saying: "Who wouldn't want a Black wife?"

Reuters

Six months after major social media channels such as YouTube and Twitter banned Alex Jones' Infowars, Roku, a streaming service, added a channel for the show's 24 million users. Apparently, there has been a channel for the show on Roku for years, according to Roku spokesman Eric Savitz.

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