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Iran Deal Is 'Lodestar' of Obama Foreign Policy
Secretary of State John Kerry's "unorthodox" lead role in the negotiations with Iran is highly unusual, according to retired Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden, former director of both the National Security Agency and the CIA.
"Usually the secretary of state is the closer," Hayden said Monday on Newsmax TV's "America's Forum."
"You notice as we're getting into this final stretch here, other foreign ministers are now coming into the loop. Kerry's there all the time.
Netanyahu lashes out as Iran nuke talks intensify
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a dire warning Sunday about a possible nuclear accord with Iran as talks in Switzerland towards the outline of a deal intensified days before a deadline.
"The dangerous accord which is being negotiated in Lausanne confirms our concerns and even worse," Netanyahu said in remarks broadcast on public radio.
He said the "Iran-Lausanne-Yemen axis" was "dangerous for all of humanity" and that combined with Tehran's regional influence, a nuclear deal could allow Iran to "conquer" the Middle East.
'Iran maneuvering to take over entire Middle East'...
Iran Wants More Nuke Concessions
Iran urges ‘flexibility’ is it seeks to force more concessions
Iranian negotiators are becoming rigid and unmoving in their stance on a range of key nuclear issues in talks, according to multiple sources familiar with the negotiations who said Tehran is angling to elicit as many concessions as possible from the United States as the talks reach a critical stage ahead of the looming March 31 deadline.
Iran is pushing for major relief from economic sanctions and the ability to continue sensitive research and development on the nuclear and weapons fronts, according to sources quoted in the Iranian state-controlled press on Sunday.
The Iranian side is said to be digging in its heels over these issues as U.S. diplomats rush to finalize a tentative agreement ahead of a self-imposed March 31 deadline.
Iranian Defector: US Working 'On Behalf' of Iran
An Iranian journalist and top media aide to Iran's President Hassan Rouhani defected while covering the nuclear talks in Switzerland and has accused the United States' team of acting on Iran's behalf in the negotiations.
Amir Hossein Motaghi defected late last week, saying he no longer saw any point in his profession in a country whose government told him what to write, the U.K.'s Telegraph reported.
Motaghi told the London-based Irane Farda, an Iranian opposition television station, that the American team is working to convince the other members of the U.N. Security Council nations and Germany – the P5+1 powers.
"The U.S. negotiating team are mainly there to speak on Iran’s behalf with other members of the P5+1 countries and convince them of a deal," he said.
Supreme Court rejectws free speech appeal over Cinco de Mayo school dispute
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday left intact an appeals court ruling that school officials in California did not violate the free speech rights of students by demanding they remove T-shirts bearing images of the U.S. flag at an event celebrating the Mexican holiday of Cinco de Mayo.
The court declined to hear an appeal filed by three students at Live Oak High School in the town of Morgan Hill, south of San Francisco. School staff at the May 5, 2010, event told several students their clothing could cause an incident. Two chose to leave for home after refusing to turn their shirts inside out.
Supreme Court may hear case on school barring American flag shirts on Cico de Mayo
A California school dispute that arose when students wore shirts emblazoned with the American flag on Cinco de Mayo could prompt the Supreme Court to take a new look at free-speech rules for high schools.
Ever since students protested the Vietnam War by wearing black armbands, the justices have said the 1st Amendment protects the rights of students to peacefully protest at school, so long as their actions do not lead to a "substantial disruption."
In recent years, however, some school officials have moved to curtail political fashion statements such as wearing T-shirts with Confederate flags or anti-gay slogans. They have argued that some limits were necessary to avoid offending other students and possibly provoking violence.
One Dead, Two Injured in Shooting at Gate of NSA HQ
One person is dead and two are injured after an incident at the gate of National Security Agency headquarters in Maryland Monday morning, Fort Meade officials say.
A senior U.S. official says preliminary reports from the scene indicate that one person is dead after a car with two people inside tried to ram a gate at the base.
The official says a firefight ensued after the car tried to crash the gate, and at least one of the two people in the car is dead.
Republicans see Obama as more imminent threat than Putin?
A third of Republicans believe President Barack Obama poses an imminent threat to the United States, outranking concerns about Russian President Vladimir Putin and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
A Reuters/Ipsos online poll this month asked 2,809 Americans to rate how much of a threat a list of countries, organizations and individuals posed to the United States on a scale of 1 to 5, with one being no threat and 5 being an imminent threat.
The poll showed 34 percent of Republicans ranked Obama as an imminent threat, ahead of Putin (25 percent), who has been accused of aggression in the Ukraine, and Assad (23 percent). Western governments have alleged that Assad used chlorine gas and barrel bombs on his own citizens.
White House Can't Explain Difference Beetween Indiana Law and One Obama Backed?
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest balked when asked Sunday how the Indiana religious freedom law opposed by President Barack Obama differs from a similar law Obama voted for when he was a state senator in Illinois.
"If you have to go back two decades to try to justify something that you're doing today, it may raise questions," Earnest told host George Stephanopoulos.
But National Review's Patrick Brennan on Sunday afternoon called that a "weak, unserious argument."
SecDef sees military recruitment challenges ahead
The U.S. military faces a challenge recruiting people with the high-tech skills it needs for the future as those who joined after the Sep. 11, 2001 attacks leave the service and the U.S. economy creates more jobs, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said on Monday.
Carter, in a speech at his former high school, said the military has to attract about 250,000 people a year just to keep up with those who retire or leave the service to pursue jobs, education and other opportunities in the civilian world.
At the same time, only about a third of the 21 million Americans age 17 to 21 are eligible to join the military, with half unable to pass the entry examination and the rest ineligible because they are unable to meet the physical fitness or character standards, he said.
Lifting the covers on 'Obamoogle'
An antitrust probe went away while Google snuggled with Obama
During this past week as we’ve been swamped with bad news pouring out of every corner of the globe, it wouldn’t be surprising if you missed one of the more shocking revelations about White House actions that would make even Richard Nixon blush.
The Wall Street Journal revealed that it had obtained a 2012 Federal Trade Commission report detailing the closeness of Google and the Obama administration while the FTC was engaging in an antitrust investigation of the Internet giant.
It’s usually the case that you get more interesting information when the details were supposed to remain secret, and that’s the case here. The FTC, responding to an open-records request, accidentally sent 160 pages of a private 2012 report to the The Wall Street Journal, detailing their antitrust investigation into Google.
Not hard at work but hardly working
The great conundrum of the U.S. economy today is that we have record numbers of working-age Americans out of the labor force at the same time we have businesses desperately trying to find workers. For example, the American Transportation Research Institute estimates there are about 35,000 trucker jobs that could be filled tomorrow if workers would take these jobs — a shortage that could rise to 240,000 by 2022.
For skilled and reliable mechanics, welders, engineers, electricians, plumbers, computer technicians and nurses, jobs are plentiful. If you’re good at a trade and a reliable worker, you can often find a job in 48 hours. Says Bob Funk, president of Express Services, which matches almost a half-million temporary workers with employers each year, “If you have a useful skill, we can find you a job. But too many are graduating from high school and college without any skills at all.”
The lesson, to play off the famous Waylon Jennings song: Momma, don’t let your babies grow up to be philosophy majors.
Medal of Honor
The Medal of Honor is the highest award for valor in action against an enemy force which can be bestowed upon an individual serving in the Armed Services of the United States.
GeneTrerally presented to its recipient by the President of the United States of America in the name of Congress.
The first award of the Medal of Honor was made March 25, 1863 to Private JACOB PARROTT.The last award of the Medal of Honor was made September 15, 2011 to Sergeant DAKOTA MEYER.
Since then there have been: • 3458 recipients of the Medal of Honor.
• Today there are 85 Living Recipients of the Medal of Honor.
BENAVIDEZ, ROY P.
Rank: Master Sergeant
Organization: U.S. Army
Company: Detachment B-56
Division: 5th Special Forces Group
BENAVIDEZ, ROY P.
Master Sergeant (then Staff Sergeant) Roy P. Benavidez United States Army, who distinguished himself by a series of daring and extremely valorous actions on 2 May 1968 while assigned to Detachment B56, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), 1st Special Forces, Republic of Vietnam. On the morning of 2 May 1968, a 12-man Special Forces Reconnaissance Team was inserted by helicopters in a dense jungle area west of Loc Ninh, Vietnam to gather intelligence information about confirmed large-scale enemy activity. This area was controlled and routinely patrolled by the North Vietnamese Army. After a short period of time on the ground, the team met heavy enemy resistance, and requested emergency extraction. Three helicopters attempted extraction, but were unable to land due to intense enemy small arms and anti-aircraft fire. Sergeant Benavidez was at the Forward Operating Base in Loc Ninh monitoring the operation by radio when these helicopters returned to off-load wounded crewmembers and to assess aircraft damage. Sergeant Benavidez voluntarily boarded a returning aircraft to assist in another extraction attempt. Realizing that all the team members were either dead or wounded and unable to move to the pickup zone, he directed the aircraft to a nearby clearing where he jumped from the hovering helicopter, and ran approximately 75 meters under withering small arms fire to the crippled team. Prior to reaching the team's position he was wounded in his right leg, face, and head. Despite these painful injuries, he took charge, repositioning the team members and directing their fire to facilitate the landing of an extraction aircraft, and the loading of wounded and dead team members. He then threw smoke canisters to direct the aircraft to the team's position. Despite his severe wounds and under intense enemy fire, he carried and dragged half of the wounded team members to the awaiting aircraft. He then provided protective fire by running alongside the aircraft as it moved to pick up the remaining team members. As the enemy's fire intensified, he hurried to recover the body and classified documents on the dead team leader. When he reached the leader's body, Sergeant Benavidez was severely wounded by small arms fire in the abdomen and grenade fragments in his back. At nearly the same moment, the aircraft pilot was mortally wounded, and his helicopter crashed. Although in extremely critical condition due to his multiple wounds, Sergeant Benavidez secured the classified documents and made his way back to the wreckage, where he aided the wounded out of the overturned aircraft, and gathered the stunned survivors into a defensive perimeter. Under increasing enemy automatic weapons and grenade fire, he moved around the perimeter distributing water and ammunition to his weary men, reinstilling in them a will to live and fight. Facing a buildup of enemy opposition with a beleaguered team, Sergeant Benavidez mustered his strength, began calling in tactical air strikes and directed the fire from supporting gunships to suppress the enemy's fire and so permit another extraction attempt. He was wounded again in his thigh by small arms fire while administering first aid to a wounded team member just before another extraction helicopter was able to land. His indomitable spirit kept him going as he began to ferry his comrades to the craft. On his second trip with the wounded, he was clubbed from additional wounds to his head and arms before killing his adversary. He then continued under devastating fire to carry the wounded to the helicopter. Upon reaching the aircraft, he spotted and killed two enemy soldiers who were rushing the craft from an angle that prevented the aircraft door gunner from firing upon them. With little strength remaining, he made one last trip to the perimeter to ensure that all classified material had been collected or destroyed, and to bring in the remaining wounded. Only then, in extremely serious condition from numerous wounds and loss of blood, did he allow himself to be pulled into the extraction aircraft. Sergeant Benavidez' gallant choice to join voluntarily his comrades who were in critical straits, to expose himself constantly to withering enemy fire, and his refusal to be stopped despite numerous severe wounds, saved the lives of at least eight men. His fearless personal leadership, tenacious devotion to duty, and extremely valorous actions in the face of overwhelming odds were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service, and reflect the utmost credit on him and the United States Army.
From the Archives
American Fairness to a Fault — a Deadly One
Tuesday, 10 Nov 2009 02:28 PM
American’s tragic flaw is our unbridled fairness, which has been corrupted ever more by the cancer of political correctness to the point we put ourselves at risk rather than create even the perception of prejudice.
Sometime after the VOLAR (all volunteer) Army, the military veered from the “yes sir, yes sir, three bags full” blind adherence to all orders to the concept of refusing “unlawful orders” and that was ostensibly a good thing.
However, the uniformed services do not set or get to pick and choose foreign policy. The civilian leadership sets foreign policy, and the U.S. military enforces it — with a big, honking combined arms stick.
Retired Lt. Col. Ralph Peters has been one of the rare pundits with the courage to target the “culture of political correctness” in leadership of the military. In at least two interviews on Fox, Peters (correctly) blamed the culture of political correctness for the Army’s diffidence in taking action against Nidal Malik Hasan in the wake of knowledge of the problem.
Many mechanisms exist for dealing with matters of deep conscience — all without killing those one might think disagree with in principle.
However, it is not prejudice to discriminate based on threat facts in evidence. Refusal to act judiciously for fear of a tainted perception is just plain dumb.
Notwithstanding the articulated fears of the Army chief of staff and the secretary of Homeland Security, officials made an epic mistake in handling suspicions about Hasan. A mistake founded on political correctness and sustained by diffidence that cost the lives of innocents.
Reportedly, U.S. intelligence agencies were aware (months ago) that Hasan was attempting to make contact with people associated with al-Qaida. He spoke openly to too many people about his angst and misdirected sympathies. He was apparently a poster child for suspicion, and the Army failed bigtime to intervene.
“It is not known whether the intelligence agencies informed the Army that one of its officers was seeking to connect with suspected al-Qaida figures," the officials said.
But you damnbetcha they SHOULD have done so.
Investigators want to know whether Hasan maintained contact with a radical mosque leader from Virginia, Anwar al Awlaki, who now lives in Yemen and runs a Web site that promotes jihad around the world against the United States.
In a recent blog posting titled "Nidal Hassan Did the Right Thing," Awlaki calls Hasan a "hero" and a "man of conscience who could not bear living the contradiction of being a Muslim and serving in an army that is fighting against his own people."
Increasingly we are told people who knew or worked with Hasan say he seemed to become gradually more radical in his condemnation of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Subordinates and superiors had a responsibility to flag the inappropriate rhetoric, and they apparently did not.
The fear to speak out is a symptom of the PC disease fueled by recriminations and implied threats of discrimination — a fear that indirectly resulted in mayhem.
Sen. Joseph Lieberman said, "If Hasan was showing signs, saying to people that he had become an Islamist extremist, the U.S. Army has to have a zero tolerance," and despite the echo of shutting the barn door after the horse got out, he is right.
Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey Jr. is concerned that speculation about the religious beliefs of Hasan could “cause a backlash against some of our Muslim soldiers.” He’s right, but such a backlash would be a direct result of the failure of command — not prejudice.
When confronted about whether he thought the Army “dropped the ball” in not responding to warning signs, Casey replied that the Army needs to be careful not to jump to conclusions based on early tidbits of information.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R.-S.C., and Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., both of whom are veterans, took pains to say that Muslims have served honorably in the military and at risk to their lives.
“At the end of the day, this is not about his religion — the fact that this man was a Muslim,” Graham said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
But, hey, it is (kinda/sorta) about religion (when the FBI says 10 percent of American Mosques preach jihad) — at least from a risk analysis perspective.