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Friday July 31st, 2015
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Congress heds off on vacation. putting off messy decisions
Congress is heading out for a five-week summer recess in anything but a cheerful vacation mood, leaving behind a pile of unfinished business that all but guarantees a painful fall.
Not long after they return in September, lawmakers must vote on President Barack Obama's nuclear deal with Iran, a brutally divisive issue that many lawmakers expect will dominate voter town halls during their annual August break.
U.S. Intel fears hundreds of secrets leaked in Hillary's private emails
The U.S. intelligence community is bracing for the possibility that former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s private email account contains hundreds of revelations of classified information from spy agencies and is taking steps to contain any damage to national security, according to documents and interviews Thursday.
The top lawmakers on the House and Senate intelligence committee have been notified in recent days that the extent of classified information on Mrs. Clinton’s private email server was likely far more extensive than the four emails publicly acknowledged last week as containing some sensitive spy agency secrets.
A U.S. official directly familiar with the notification, who spoke only on the condition of anonymity, said the notification of possibly hundreds of additional emails with classified secrets came from the State Department Freedom of Information Act office to the Office of Inspector General for the Director of National Intelligence.
Obama's climae change policy driven by outside forces
The Obama administration’s controversial climate change agenda is being driven largely by outside forces in the environmental community, and powerful activist groups have played a major — and perhaps illegal — role in crafting key Environmental Protection Agency policies, a detailed report released Thursday charges.
Emails obtained by the Energy and Environment Legal Institute (EELI), an environmental policy watchdog and frequent critic of the EPA, show that powerful environmental groups such as the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council and others engaged in secret discussions with top administration officials. Much of the EPA’s climate agenda, including its looming regulations limiting carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants, is being crafted by those outside groups, the report says.
White House calls Planned Parenthood videos 'fraudulent', rejects calls to strip funding?
The White House described undercover videos of Planned Parenthood officials selling fetal tissue as “fraudulent” Thursday and said President Obama will reject efforts to strip federal funding from the organization, setting up yet another potential shutdown showdown for September.
Senators will vote early next week on a bill to defund the organization, though that’s likely to fail. But some Republicans are already vowing to try to use the annual spending deadline of Sept. 30 to force the issue, saying they won’t vote for any spending bills that include money for Planned Parenthood.
Insolvency feared for Obamacare co-ops after $376 million in losses in first year
Obamacare’s co-ops, designed to give more choices for insurance, lost hundreds of millions of dollars in their first year and didn’t attract anywhere near as many customers as they had hoped, meaning they may go insolvent and default on taxpayer-funded loans, according to a government audit released Thursday.
One co-op already went belly-up, and all but one of the 22 others lost money in 2014, the Department of Health and Human Services inspector general said. Maine’s co-op was the only one to make money, reaping $5.86 million after it won 80 percent of the state’s Obamacare consumers.
VA whistleblower disappointed, would tell other doctors to stay away
The doctor who blew the whistle on shamefully poor treatment of veterans at the Phoenix VA medical clinic said Thursday that she is disappointed by the lack of progress in improving care and said she would tell new doctors not to sign up with the beleaguered agency.
Dr. Katherine Mitchell, who reported secret wait lists with names of as many as 40 patients who died while waiting for care, told Congress that the Department of Veterans Affairs failed to protect her confidentiality as a whistleblower, reassigned her to a different department and left her open to retaliation by fellow employees after she spoke out. She also said the department’s inspector general failed to follow up on her accusations of medical malpractice and wait lists.
Ashton Carter orders gun policy reviews at military bases
In his first policy response to the killings of five American troops at a Tennessee reserve center, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter released a memo Thursday that will let more service members carry guns stateside while on base or at more vulnerable satellite offices.
A two-page memo tells service secretaries to review rules and revise as needed to meet security threats. It could mean that more armed security personnel are added to a base or center and that, in some cases, regular personnel are told to carry guns because of a heightened threat environment.
The Islamic State group, based in Syria and Iraq, has put great effort into trying to persuade Muslims via social media to kill U.S. military personnel.
Man arrested after shooting down drone hovering over sunbathing daughter
A Kentucky man shot down an $1,800 drone hovering over his sunbathing daughter and was then arrested and charged with first degree criminal mischief and first-degree wanton endangerment.
“My daughter comes in and says, ‘Dad, there’s a drone out here flying,’ ” William H. Merideth, 47, told a local Fox News affiliate reported Tuesday. The Bullitt County father shot at the drone, which crashed in a field near his yard Sunday night.
The owner of the drone claims he was only trying to take pictures of a friend’s house, the station reported.
Trump Promises to Play Nice in Debate
Donald Trump promises to be "very nice and highly respectful" at the first Republican presidential candidates' debate next week in Cleveland.
Trump is expected to be among the 10 contenders making the cut for the prime-time debate, which is sponsored by Fox News and the Republican National Committee.
Since the June 16 start of his campaign, the billionaire developer has slammed fellow candidates South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
Beijing Wins Bid to Host the Winter Olympics in 2022
Beijing was awarded the 2022 Winter Olympics on Friday, beating Kazakhstan's Almaty in an International Olympic Committee (IOC) vote, and becoming the first city to host both the summer and winter editions of the world's biggest multi-sports event.
The Chinese capital confirmed their favorites tag, coming out on top only seven years after hosting the Summer Olympics in 2008.
Despite reservations regarding their bid, split between the capital and the mountain venues of Zhangjiakou and Yanqing that will rely almost exclusively on artificial snow, Beijing cruised to victory in the vote, held in Malaysia.
Growing Biden Buzz
A meeting between Joe Biden's chief of staff and a major Democratic donor has reportedly put aides to Hillary Clinton on edge about the vice president's possible entry into the 2016 White House race.
According to Fox News, citing unnamed sources, Steve Ricchetti was spotted at a breakfast meeting with donor Louis Susman, a friend of Clinton who served as U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom under President Barack Obama.
After the meeting, there was speculation in the Clinton camp that Biden's team appeared to be sounding out top fundraisers about whether Biden could raise the necessary cash to compete with the Democratic front-runner, Fox News said.
DNC chair can't name differences between Democrats solcialists
Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz was at a loss for words Thursday night after MSNBC’s Chris Matthews pressed her on the differences between Democrats and socialists.
“What’s the big difference between a Democrat and a socialist?” Mr. Matthews asked again. “You’re chairman of the Democratic Party. Tell me the difference between you and a socialist.”
Life's a scream on the slippery slope
“The slippery slope” doesn’t frighten very many people in Washington because that’s where a lot of politicians live. Life can be comfortable there, and it’s usually quite profitable. But it’s a dangerous piece of real estate for the rest of us.
You don’t have to stand with the right-to-life folks to be outraged by the callousness and coldness of Planned Parenthood executives defending their abortion business and its subsidiary, the selling of baby parts — tiny hearts, livers, lungs and the occasional brain — acquired from the abortions performed in Planned Parenthood clinics.
Give all children the education choice Secretary Duncan's kids have
The public learned recently that US Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan is sending his children to an elite private school in the fall.
Considering that President Obama has opposed school choice in the nation’s capital and sends his own children to private school, the Secretary’s decision presents another dose of irony regarding the administration’s approach to education.
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.