Michigan National Guard troops who are protecting the U.S. Capitol have been fed undercooked and underwhelming meals, according to reports from over the weekend.
These new complaints from soldiers come after similar reports dating back to last month.
The complaints from National Guard troops reached members of the Michigan delegation and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D), whose office said she called Acting Secretary of the Army John E. Whitley about the problem on February 17 as soon as the first reports of the food were received, as The Detroit News explained.
The governor was assured the problem would be corrected, and guard officials last week told lawmakers the issue had been resolved, according to the publication. Another round of complaints cropped up over the weekend of poorly prepared and undercooked food again, Whitmer’s office said.
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ABC News affiliate WXYZ Detroit reported Monday about the complaints regarding the quality of the meals, with one staff sergeant on Sunday telling the station’s Brian Abel that “metal shaving” were found in meals.
“Yesterday for instance, there were 74 different meals found with raw beef in them,” the unnamed staff sergeant said. “Just yesterday, […] soldiers had found metal shavings in their food.”
Following dozens of soldiers being put on sick call due to undercooked food, with some being sent to the hospital, the complaints climbed up the chain of command and changes were made to the boxes, WXYZ reported.
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“They said alright we’re going to make sure we spot check them. And we’re also going to start having them add temperatures to it,” the staff sergeant also said. “At 140, you cook that chicken, undercook it to 140, and now […] you’re telling us that it’s… 30-minute drive. But these meals are, and this is what they say on the little placard that’s (inaudible) good for four hours. No it’s not. It wasn’t good from the start and now it’s had hours to become even more dangerous.”
On Monday, following the new round of meal complaints, WXYZ reported that soldiers are being given dry MREs meals for the next few days.
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The Michigan National Guard on Monday issued a statement regarding meal complaints and slammed the soldiers’ apparent conditions, saying, “The firsthand accounts and pictures of undercooked food being served clearly shows that what is being given to Michigan’s service members is unacceptable.”
“It’s not only a Michigan guard problem. I stop and talk to all the guard out there, and they said it’s improved, but still far from perfect,” said Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), who has been visiting the soldiers every couple of days, according to The Detroit News. “Ultimately, it’s the National Guard that hired the contractor — not those of us on the Hill.”
The office of Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-Mich.) similarly reported about soldiers’ complaints over the weekend of metal shavings being found and of at least 74 meals being tossed out and subsequently replaced by MREs, according to the publication.
There are also complaints, according to The Detroit News, of lunch arriving many hours late, a lack of options for vegetarians, and breakfasts consisting of a piece of fruit and a hard roll without any protein, a detail which WXYZ also reported. Vegetarians were instructed to remove the meat and to eat the sides served with the meals, the publication reports.
Following the violent January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol that resulted in five deaths, about 1,000 troops from the Michigan National Guard are assisting in providing security at the complex. Of the 5,200 guard soldiers and airmen helping civilian law enforcement at the Capitol, 20% originate from Michigan, according to The Detroit News.
You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.
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Cuomo says he’ll ‘fully cooperate’ with NY AG’s review of sexual harassment claims
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said Wednesday that he will “fully cooperate” with the state attorney general’s independent review into sexual harassment allegations made against the currently scandal-ridden governor, saying, “I fully support a woman’s right to come forward.”
Last Wednesday, Lindsey Boylan, who served in his administration for over three years, accused Cuomo of suggesting to her on a 2017 flight that they play strip poker, inappropriate touching, and kissing her on the lips without her consent.
Following Boylan’s accusations, 25-year-old Charlotte Bennett alleged the governor indicated interest in having an affair with her while she was serving in his administration as a health policy adviser. In a Saturday New York Times report, Bennett told the newspaper that Cuomo asked her if she had “ever been with an older man,” adding that “age doesn’t matter” in relationships.
At Wednesday’s press briefing, the Empire State governor addressed the accusations leveled against him over the past seven days by three women and New York Attorney General Letitia James’ (D) independent review into those claims, which she announced on Monday was formally proceeding.
“As you probably know, the attorney general is doing an independent review, and I will fully cooperate with that review,” Cuomo said at the beginning of his statement. “Now, the lawyers say I shouldn’t say anything when you have a pending review until that review is over. I understand that, I’m a lawyer, too. But, I want New Yorkers to hear from me directly on this.”
“First, I fully support a woman’s right to come forward,” the governor began. “And I think it should be encouraged in every way. I now understand that I acted in a way that made people feel uncomfortable. It was unintentional and I truly and deeply apologize for it. I feel awful about it, and frankly I am embarrassed by it, and that’s not easy to say. But that’s the truth.”
This echoes what Cuomo said in a Sunday statement about the allegations, in which he stated he “may have been insensitive” during his tenure but charged his accusers of misinterpreting his actions, saying, “I acknowledge some of the things I have said have been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation… I am truly sorry about that.”
During his Wednesday remarks, Cuomo iterated “I never touched anyone inappropriately,” repeated that sentence, then said “I never knew at the time that I was making anyone feel uncomfortable” and repeated that one too.
“And I certainly never, ever meant to offend anyone or hurt anyone or cause anyone any pain. That is the last thing I would ever want to do,” he continued. “I ask the people of this state to wait for the facts from the attorney general’s report before forming an opinion. Get the facts, please, before forming an opinion.”
“I also want you to know that I have learned from what has been an incredibly difficult situation for me as well as other people, and I’ve learned an important lesson,” the governor said at the end of his statement. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry for whatever pain I caused anyone, I never intended it, and I will be the better for this experience.”
Amid Boylan and Bennett’s allegations, another report of Cuomo sexually harassing a woman has cropped up. On Monday, a woman named Anna Ruch accused the governor of placing his hands on her cheeks—without her consent—at a 2019 wedding reception and asking if he could kiss her. A photograph of the two together at the event has also been circulating on social media.
Asked at Wednesday’s briefing about the pictures that have resurfaced of him being touchy with people, particularly that of him and Ruch, the governor claimed that it is his way of greeting people.
“I understand the opinion of—and feelings of—Ms. Ruch,” Cuomo said. “You can find hundreds of pictures of me making the same gesture with hundreds of people—women, children, men, etc. You can go find hundreds of pictures of me kissing people. […] It is my usual and customary way of greeting.”
Moreover, the governor said that his father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo, would do the same thing.
“By the way, it was my father’s way of greeting people,” Cuomo said, explaining, “You’re the governor of the state, you want people to feel comfortable, you want to reach out to them.”
He also mentioned that he kisses and hugs legislators and noted that at an event in Queens the other day he hugged pastors and state assembly members.
Furthermore, the governor said that his intent “doesn’t matter,” saying, “What it matters is if anybody was offended by it.”
“But if they were offended by it, then it was wrong,” he added, going on to say that if they were offended or hurt by it, he apologizes.
You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.
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