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Thousands of Student Veterans Underpaid in GI Bill Benefits for Months

The Department of Veterans Affairs, facing backlash, said it's because a 50-year-old computer system is used to process payments.

Veterans attempting to pursue an education received checks used for tuition and housing late because —in 2018 — the Department of Veterans Affairs said it's still using a 50-year-old computer system, and problems arose when attempting to add new commands. Yet, the agency wasn't willing to retroactively pay veterans — until it faced backlash.


After pressure from members of Congress, the Department of Veterans Affairs did an about-face and announced that it would pay veterans the full amount of benefits they are due under the Forever GI Bill – a major expansion of veterans' education benefits that Congress passed last year.

Veterans Affairs officials privately told congressional staffers on Wednesday that they would not retroactively pay veterans whose checks were less than they were owed. But as backlash mounted, the VA said on Thursday it would fully compensate the veterans.

Veterans like Shaye Washington felt this error while struggling to pay for housing and tuition. Washington told CBS News that the VA had not given her $7,000 she was expecting, including $3,000 that she needed for tuition.

"The GI Bill is something we worked for. I've been deployed and been to wars, so I feel like I shouldn't have to stress over something that I worked for and risked my life for," Washington said.

Trevor Noah, host of "The Daily Show" on Comedy Central, slammed the Department of Veterans Affairs on Thursday.

"Seriously? America can't pay its veterans because it's using a 50-year-old computer?" Noah said. "When it comes to going to war, America always finds the money… But when the soldiers get home, America is all of the sudden like, 'Yeah, we can't pay you. Our computers are running Windows B.C., so sorry.'"

To amend the problem, the VA originally ordered for veterans to be reimbursed under the old rate of pay.

Paul Lawrence, the VA Under Secretary for Benefits, questioned if it was worth the work involved to calculate the new rate of pay.

"It's not our intention to harm veterans, but we also have to think about the broad veteran population and whether what you're describing yields any benefits, just work," Lawrence told Congress on Thursday morning.

Just hours later, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie backtracked and said veterans would receive back payments under the new rates as required by law.

"To clear up any confusion, I want to make clear that each and every post-9/11 GI Bill beneficiary will be made 100 percent whole – retroactively if need be – for their housing benefits for this academic year based on Forever GI Bill rates, not on post-9/11 GI Bill rates," Wilkie said in a statement.

Lawmakers are calling for an investigation in the continuing issues in paying student veterans the benefits.

"Sens. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, and John Boozman, R-Ark., along with five Democratic and three Republican senators and one Democratic congressman, signed the letter requesting the inspector general look into allegations that VA did not intend to reimburse veterans 'for missed or underpaid benefits' related to the Forever GI Bill," according to NBC News.

Miami Beach Police Officer Adriel Dominguez sucker-punched a Black man identified as Lowell Poitier Jr., a 35-year-old homeless man, at a hotel in Miami.

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Jasmine Headley, age 23, was carrying her child into a city agency building in Brooklyn where SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) is located, and sat on the floor to wait as there were no more chairs. A bystander, Nyashia Ferguson, who goes by the name Monae Sinclair on Facebook, reported she saw a security guard confront Headley and the two got into an argument. Security called the police, and when they arrived, Headley tried to explain, but they cut her off. That's when things got ugly.

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John Kelly Owes Frederica Wilson an Apology Before He Leaves the White House

"I hope he will offer a long overdue apology to Congresswoman Frederica Wilson for lying about her in the press," tweeted Rep. Barbara Lee.

White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly will exit his post by the end of the year. During his tenure, Kelly has contributed to the administration's perpetual disrespect of Black women, including Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.). He made up a lie about her.

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Kevin Hart Steps Down from Hosting Oscars

The Academy gave Hart the ultimatum to apologize or step down over past homophobic tweets. But the Academy has its own issues it needs to face.

REUTERS

Comedian Kevin Hart tweeted on Tuesday that being selected to host the 2019 Oscars was the "opportunity of a lifetime." On Friday, Hart said that he was stepping down over past anti-gay tweets.

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Viral Video Sparks Debate on Racial Disparities in How Police Use Force

A video of a white man yelling at a white cop, without physical consequences, has more than 1 million views.

Botham Jean, Jemel Roberson and Emantic Bradford Jr. were all minding their own business, not mouthing off, and they were shot dead by police. Sandra Bland questioned an officer and wound up dead in a jail cell.

So when a video of an unidentified white man spewing expletives at an officer, throwing his license at the officer, and threatening to kill the officer, without any physical consequences, started circulating on Twitter, it went viral with more than 1 million views this week.

People of color on Twitter commented that had it been them in the video, they would've had bullets in the chest by the time the truck passed:

There are studies that well document how Blacks have been treated differently by police. In the case traffic stops, whites were 57 percent more likely to be spoken to with respectful language, whereas Black drivers were 61 percent more likely to experience an exchange that was the least respectful. Officers language with the least respect included calling people, "dude, bro, boss, man, brotha, sista or chief".

FBI data found that U.S. police kill Black people at disproportionate rates: Black people accounted for 31 percent of police killing victims in 2012, even though they made up just 13 percent of the U.S. population. And 62.7 percent of unarmed people killed by police are Black.

Yet racists, and some conservatives believe the treatment is deserved because Blacks did something wrong.

For example, in Orlando's International Airport in August, a white male Trump supporter tackled to the ground by police for being a disruptive passenger knew his privilege, when he said, "You're being rough with me. You're f***ing treating me like a Black person."

Reader Question: How does the video of the white man berating the white officer make you feel?

VA Diversity Official's Statement Against White Supremacists Rejected by Trump Appointee

Georgia Coffey reached a tipping point when her request to condemn white supremacists after the deadly Charlottesville, Va., rally was squashed by a Department of Veterans Affairs communications official, according to emails

A white supremacists carries the Confederate flag in Charlottesville, Va., on Aug. 12, 2017. / REUTERS

The top communications official at the Department of Veterans Affairs reportedly told Georgia Coffey, the chief diversity officer, not to condemn white supremacists after the deadly rally in Charlottesville, Va. Coffey chose to rock the bigot boat, but frustrated by lack of support from the Trump administration, she jumped ship.

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NYPD Discovery Hearing Set for Cop Who Killed Eric Garner

Thursday's hearing could result in Daniel Pantaleo being terminated from the force.

Officer Daniel Pantaleo, the NYPD officer who put Eric Garner in a chokehold which killed him, is scheduled for a disciplinary conference on Thursday that could result in the termination of his job.

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ICE Tried to Deport an American Citizen to Jamaica, He's Suing

Peter Sean Brown was released from ICE custody after a friend sent a copy of his birth certificate to ICE, according to the suit.

Peter Sean Brown was detained by Florida authorities and flagged for deportation after a request from ICE. Brown was born in Philadelphia and a Florida Keys resident.

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