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US Air Force unveils criminal reporting reforms in wake of Texas shooting

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The U.S. Air Force is toughening its rules for reporting criminal records to the government’s gun owner background check database, after a man convicted of assault while in the service was able to purchase guns and later shot and killed 26 people in a Texas church.

Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson told lawmakers at a hearing on Wednesday that local offices now must loop in higher levels of command before closing criminal cases, and that case officers must verify that the records have actually been added to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s database.

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She also said the Air Force is reviewing past cases to determine whether they were properly shared with the FBI, after an ongoing inquiry revealed a “widespread” breakdown in reporting across both of the branch’s two law enforcement agencies.

“The Air Force is sharing all lessons learned with the other services,” Wilson testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee. “When we have all the facts, we will assess accountability for the breakdowns in this specific case and, more broadly, for any systemic deficiencies.”

Wednesday’s hearing was convened in the wake of two deadly shootings in the fall, one in Nevada and another in Texas.

The U.S. Department of Defense Inspector General on Tuesday released a report that found that all military services “consistently” failed to submit fingerprint data for 24 percent of the convicted offenders reviewed.

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One of the Air Force’s law enforcement arms in that review failed to report 60 percent of the fingerprint and final disposition reports for the convicts reviewed.

In the case of the Texas shooting, a former airman named Devin Kelley killed 26 people and wounded 20 others when he opened fire at a Sutherland Springs, Texas, church.

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He had been convicted by a general court-martial on two charges of domestic assault against his wife and stepson, which should have been reported to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS, database.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has since ordered the Justice Department to undertake a review of the system to help plug potential reporting gaps.

Lawmakers on Wednesday expressed frustration about a repeated failure by the military to report criminal records to the FBI, a problem that has been documented in multiple prior reports by the inspector general.

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“I am struck by the failure of the Department of Defense to comply with the law, year after year,” said Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut.

“There is really no excuse for it,” the Defense Department’s Acting Inspector General Glenn Fine replied. “It shouldn’t have happened.”

(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Dan Grebler)

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Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news outlets, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

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GOP in a panic about what to do with Steve King as Democrats can’t wait to face him in the election

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On Saturday, MSNBC's Garrett Haake broke down the nightmare situation Republicans are facing with Rep. Steve King (R-IA), who has faced outrage for years of white supremacist comments, and more recently suggested that rape and incest might be a good thing for society.

"What more recourse do Republicans have?" said host David Gura. "We had this cycle of condemnation in the past after comments were made. He was stripped of committee assignments. Is there more Republicans can do vis-a-vis Steve King?"

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Trump’s economic advisers baffled over how to hold off recession that his trade war set it in motion: report

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According to a report from ABC, Donald Trump's economic advisers are baffled about how to stop what appears to be a recession coming before the 2020 election after his trade war upset an already teetering worldwide economy.

With the report noting that Trump had hoped to run on a strong economy as part of his 2020 re-election strategy, warnings from economists that a recession may arrive before then has White House officials in a panic.

"The financial markets signaled the possibility of a U.S. recession this week, sending a jolt of anxiety to investors, companies and consumers. That's on top of concerns over Trump's plans to impose punishing tariffs on goods from China and word from the United Kingdom and Germany that their economies are shrinking," the report states, adding, "Trump advisers fear a weakened economy would hurt him with moderate Republican and independent voters who have been willing to give him a pass on some his incendiary policies and rhetoric."

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Race to remember Berlin Wall victims, 30 years on

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Where guard towers and barbed wire once stood, runners pounded the 100-mile (160 kilometer) path along the former Berlin Wall this weekend in a race with victims of the Cold War relic at its heart.

On Saturday at 6:00 am (0400 GMT), around 500 runners, started the 8th edition of the Berlin Wall Race, ahead of the 30th anniversary of the Wall's demise this November.

With weary legs, most runners will jog through Saturday night, aiming to reach the city centre stadium which doubles as both start and finish, in the early hours of Sunday.

The race is part ultra-marathon, part tribute to those who died trying to cross the Wall, which the East German communist regime hastily erected in 1961 and stood for 28 years.

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