Rep. Lewis passed over for powerful chairmanship

Republicans passed over  Rep. Jerry Lewis in favor of a veteran Kentucky lawmaker Wednesday to chair the powerful House Appropriations Committee.

The party’s steering committee rejected Lewis’s request to waive term limits that bar him from reclaiming the post he held when Republicans last held the majority.

The decision deprives Lewis of a position that would have given him control over the federal government’s purse strings and a heightened ability to direct millions of dollars to his home district, which includes some of the Pass area.

See also: CREW’s Most Corrupt: Rep. Jerry Lewis

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2 Army enlistees accused of killing female soldier

BARSTOW, CALIF. — Two men who served in the Army are accused of killing a fellow servicewoman in San Bernardino County.

Sheriff’s Sgt. Frank Bell says 23-year-old Melvin Satcher of Barstow and 22-year-old Phillip Franke of Las Vegas were arrested Monday.

Both are accused of killing 29-year-old Sandi Duncan, whose body was found Sept. 21 on a road in Apple Valley.

Bell says Satcher and Duncan were stationed at Fort Irwin Military Reservation and attended Barstow Community College. The sheriff’s office says Duncan was medically discharged after being injured while on duty.

Bell says there was an arrest warrant for Satcher for desertion.

Officials say Franke has also been in the Army, but his military status is unknown.

March crash of unmanned spy plane under Air Force investigation

Air Force investigators are probing the crash of an unmanned MQ-9 Reaper spy plane assigned to Creech Air Force Base that went down March 20 during a training mission over Fort Irwin, Calif., an Air Combat Command spokeswoman confirmed Tuesday.

“It did crash. Until the investigation is closed there’s not much we can say,” said the spokeswoman, Capt. Jennifer Ferrau, at command headquarters in Langley Air Force Base, Va.

She said a preliminary cause of the crash and a damage estimate were unavailable Tuesday.

See also: No one claiming crashed drone in the desert

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Former soldier charged in fatal child abuse case goes to trial

BARSTOW • The trial of a former Fort Irwin soldier accused of fatally abusing his infant son opened Wednesday at the Barstow courthouse.

Segieray Cooper, 21, faces a charge of child abuse resulting in death. Cooper was an active-duty soldier stationed at Fort Irwin in July of 2007 when his seven-month-old son died. He was not reporting to duty at the time, however, as he was caring for the child, Deputy District Attorney Barbara McClanahan said.

According to previous reports, the child’s mother lived in North Carolina, and Cooper had taken the boy with him to Fort Irwin rather than leave the child in the mother’s care.

The boy was rushed to Weed Community Medical Center at Fort Irwin, not breathing but with a slight pulse, on July 21, 2007, McClanahan said. He was airlifted to Loma Linda University Medical Center, where he died on July 26.

The cause of death was determined to be blunt force trauma to the head and abdominal area, she said.

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NSA Whistleblower Tells More on Illegal Wiretapping of US Citizens (videos)

On January 21, former National Security Agency analyst Russell Tice appeared Keith Olbermann’s MSNBC show. Tice, who helped expose the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping in December 2005, told Olbermann government programs designed to spy on the American people are more extensive and far reaching than previously admitted. “The National Security Agency had access to all Americans’ communications — faxes, phone calls, and their computer communications,” Tice said. “It didn’t matter whether you were in Kansas, in the middle of the country, and you never made foreign communications at all. They monitored all communications.”

[ click “Read more” for videos and related links ]

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Fort Irwin radio makes switch to live programming

FORT IRWIN • The radio station at Fort Irwin, which has melted into the background of life on post during the past few years, will return to the forefront when the station restarts live on-air programming for the first time in two years on Jan. 5.

The radio station, 88.3 FM (KNTC), which broadcasts to a potential audience of up to 25,000 total stationed and rotating soldiers, families and civilian workers on the fort, played a critical role as a mass communication tool when snow storms barreled down on much of the High Desert last week, leaving areas, including Fort Irwin, temporarily paralyzed.

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Army signs “Community Covenant with High Desert Cities

BARSTOW • Soldiers, community members, and government officials, including state senator of the 18th district Roy Ashburn and mayors from around the High Desert gathered Friday to recognize the signing of the U.S. Army’s first community covenant.The Army Community Covenant expresses the Army’s commitment to “building strong communities” which, it acknowledges, forms the foundation for strong soldiers.

Barstow Mayor: allegations of racial slursBarstow

Mayor chastised for actions to block Indian gaming

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