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Blackwater USA | Daily Brief

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Coming Up This Week

  • China celebrates Singles Day—the biggest shopping frenzy of the year—today. Alibaba has already sold $24 billion worth of goods in just the first nine hours of the day, and is on track to blow way past last year’s record haul of $30 billion for the day. That makes the $8 billion that U.S. e-commerce sites sold on Cyber Monday last year look puny.
  • Today is also Veterans’ Day, but before you text all your veteran friends thank them for your service, read the Newsweek article below about a Cohen Veterans Network study that found 49% of U.S. veterans and active duty soldiers are uncomfortable hearing “thank you for your service,” and prefer to get real gestures of support over empty words.
  • In addition, today will be the first day of public impeachment hearings in the U.S. House.
  • Pres. Trump will host Turkish Pres. Erdogan at the White House on Wednesday, and reportedly plans to confront Erdogan about Turkey’s decision to buy the Russian S-400 air defense system. Trump will then meet with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on Thursday, and may ask Stoltenberg to evict Turkey from the alliance if Erdogan doesn’t agree to reject the S-400.
  • Afghanistan is due to finally announce the results from its Sep. 28th presidential election on Thursday, though there are rumblings of discontent from candidates that expect to lose…see below.


  • Evo Morales resigned as President of Bolivia, following weeks of protests over an irregular election he claimed to have won. OAS declined to certify the poll yesterday, due to evidence of widespread vote tampering.
  • The final straw for Morales was when the head of the armed forces called on him to step down, and said he would send the army to “neutralize” any Morales backers who harassed protesters .
  • Morales’s Vice President and Senate President quit, too.
  • Morales is calling for a new election as a Hail Mary to try to get back into office, but it seems unlikely that voters would forgive him and put him back in power. His main opponent, Carlos Mesa, is trying to make sure he’s not even on the ballot.
  • Morales was Latin America’s longest-serving leader, with 14 years in office.


  • The Congolese Army says it killed Musabimana Juvenal, a senior leader of the FDLR Hutu rebel group, in North Kivu. The FDLR has terrorized eastern Congo since its Hutu members escaped Rwanda after perpetrating the genocide there in 1992.
  • Juvenal is the second FDLR leader the FARDC has killed this fall: it took out Sylvestre Mudacumura in September.

Hong Kong

  • A Hong Kong policeman shot a protester who approached and threatened him, and—in response—demonstrators staged some of their largest weekday protests so far.


  • Afghanistan’s Chief Executive, Abdullah Abdullah—who is Pres. Ghani’s main challenger—withdrew his team’s observers from the recount of the presidential vote, and demanded that the Independent Election Commission stop recounting. Sounds like he was probably losing.
  • Fellow candidate and Hizb-i-Islami leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar told a press conference that all 1.2 million non-biometric votes—44% of the total—are fraudulent, and accused his rivals of stealing biometric devices from polling stations where they were losing.


  • The Financial Times reports that Venezuela is being forced to sell its oil at cut-rate prices, since sanctions block it from selling to its usual customers.


  • Over 100 of the LeBaron family Mormons who’d been living in Mexico have fled to the U.S. after last week’s brutal attack on its women and children.
  • Pres. AMLO announced that he’s working through the process of releasing Mario Villanueva, a former governor of Quintana Roo, from prison. Villanueva is in year three of a 22-year sentence for laundering money for a drug cartel; but in May 2019, Quintana Roo’s state Congress determined that he was innocent, and had been falsely accused as part of a political vendetta.


  • San Francisco elected Chesa Boudin—a prison reform activist whose parents have spent a majority of his life behind bars for murdering a security guard—to be its new District Attorney.


  • Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley said the U.S. will leave up to 600 troops in Syria “for several more years” to prevent an IS resurgence.


  • A roadside bomb wounded five Italian soldiers returning from an operation against IS in northern Iraq.

Other News

  • Socialists won Spain’s fourth election in four years, while the far-right Vox party doubled its number of seats—and became the third-most powerful base in the country.
  • Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand are complaining about Laos’s plans to dam the Mekong River, over concerns that a dam would negatively affect the fish and sediment the downstream countries receive.


Almost half of U.S. veterans and active service members feel uncomfortable with being thanked for their service, a new survey has revealed.

According to a poll commissioned by the Cohen Veterans Network (CVN), a national not-for-profit network of mental health clinics for post-9/11 veterans and military families, 49 percent of active and former members of the armed services feel uneasy with the expression “Thank you for your service.”

It comes as 91 percent Americans used the expression, according to the survey, and as the country prepares to commemorate its former military service members on Monday for Veterans Day.

“I feel very uncomfortable when civilians say thank you for your service, because I don’t know what to say back,” said a veteran employed at a Cohen Clinic in Washington.

The poll found that instead of saying the simple thank you, most veterans and service members preferred gratitude that went beyond simple platitudes and that tried to connect with them on a more personal level.

Commenting on the survey, Dave Gowel, CEO of RallyPoint Networks, a digital platform for the military community, said: “What we’ve learned is if you’ve met one veteran, you’ve met one veteran. We are as diverse in our interests as are civilians. When it comes to being thanked for our service, this diversity still applies and you can’t make everyone happy.

“We challenge you to show appreciation in additional ways for those who have repeatedly stepped in harm’s way on your behalf; think about why you are saying thanks and realize you need to do more than check the block with a simple phrase.”

The survey revealed that veterans preferred questions about when they served, where were they stationed and what specific jobs they did while serving.

Its results were released alongside a new initiative launched by CVN titled “Beyond Thank You for Your Service,” an awareness campaign aimed at connecting veterans and civilians in more meaningful ways.

“Taking an interest in a veteran’s story about their time in the military is one way to engage beyond just saying thank you for your service,” CVN CEO and president Dr. Anthony Hassan said.

Some former service members said it would be more meaningful if people did more for the veteran community as opposed to simply saying thanks.

“Instead of hearing ‘thank you for your service,’ I would like to see civilians in our community give back to military families,” a veteran from Tennessee said. “Either by coaching a sport, giving a class, or going to a veterans home and just sitting and listening to the stories of our older generations.”

According to CVN: “The CVN Veterans Day Survey 2019 was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of Cohen Veterans Network from October 10-14, 2019 among 2,019 U.S. adults ages 18 and older, among whom 218 are U.S. military veterans or active-duty service members. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.”

The graphic below, provided by Statista, shows that in 2018 the number of veterans aged 65 or above living with an income below the poverty level was 494,000. For the 55 to 64 age group, 304,000 veterans live with an income below poverty level. For 35 to 54, it is 252,000 living with an income below poverty level.

Veterans Poverty Statista

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