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US troops are going to make Trump's wall look pretty with fresh paint on a month-long working party
In a scene torn straight from Mark Twain's The Adventures Of Tom Sawyer, U.S. military personnel deployed to the U.S.-Mexico border will spend the next month painting a mile-long section of border fence to enhance its "aesthetic appearance."
According to a Department of Homeland Security email sent to lawmakers and obtained by CBS News on Wednesday, the 30-day project's main purpose is to "improve the aesthetic appearance of the wall," although "there may also be an operational benefit based on our experience with painted barrier [sic] in Nogales, Arizona."
The news comes weeks after a U.S. government lawyer disclosed in a court filling that U.S. Customs and Border Patrol personnel had only managed to erect 1.7 miles of fencing along the U.S.-Mexico with the $1.57 billion Congress authorized out for construction in 2018.
In a Wednesday tweet, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) called the expenditure a "disgraceful misuse" of taxpayer money:
Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Tex.) put it a little more succinctly in a statement to CBS News: "These are soldiers, they are not painters."
Well, sort of: the Pentagon takes the responsibility of a proper paint job for major assets very seriously for various operational reasons. Just consider the Navy's detailed cleaning and painting requirements for naval vessels, which, as a critical part of warships' defense against rust and corrosion, everyone knows sailors take seriously — right?
U.S. Navy Sailors aboard the amphibious dock landing ship USS Carter Hall (LSD 50) send a shot line to USNS Joshua Humphreys (T-AO 188) during a replenishment-at-sea. Carter Hall is underway with the Bataan Amphibious Readiness Group participating in Composite Training Unit Exercise. (U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Darren M. Moore)
Whatever unspecified "operational benefit" painting the border fence may provide, it seems likely that the average enlisted soldier or Marine will perceive the assignment as the busywork and shit-shoveling that U.S. service members have been relishing for more than a year — especially when Mexico was supposed to pay for all of this.
That's what makes the new DHS directive such a delicious slice of Americana. Recall that in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Aunt Polly orders the titular rascal to whitewash a picket fence as punishment, only for Sawyer to enlist his neighborhood friends to pay him for the pleasure of doing it. It's exploitation passed off through a silver-tongued con job as honest, meaningful work.
WATCH NEXT: Border Deployments In A Nutshell
The White House doctor still under investigation for doling out pills like a ‘candy man’ is now running for Congress
Ronny Jackson, the former White House physician and retired Navy rear admiral who had a short run as the nominee for the Department of Veterans Affairs in 2018, now plans to run for a seat in Congress.
University of Phoenix to pay $191 million for lying to troops about its close ties with major companies
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The University of Phoenix, which is owned by Apollo Education Group, has agreed to pay $191 million to settle charges that it falsely advertised close ties with major U.S. companies that could lead to jobs for students, the Federal Trade Commission said on Tuesday.
The University of Phoenix will pay $50 million to the FTC to return to consumers and cancel $141 million in student debt.
Some of the advertisements targeted military and Hispanic students, the FTC said.
As UCF research associate Shane Reynolds guides his avatar over a virtual minefield using his iPad, small beeps and whistles reveal the location of the scourge of the modern war zone: Improvised Explosive Devices, or IEDs. He must take his time to sweep every last inch of the playing field to make sure his character doesn't miss any of the often-deadly bombs.
Despite his slow pace, Reynolds makes a small misstep and with a kaboom! a bomb blows up his player, graphically scattering body parts.
The Navy has posthumously awarded aviator and aircrewman wings to three sailors killed in last week's shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola.
"The selfless acts of heroism displayed by these young Sailors the morning of Dec. 6 are nothing short of incredible," Chief of Naval Air Training Rear Adm. Daniel Dwyer said in a statement.