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Tuesday November 25th, 2014
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Ferguson burning after grand jury announcement
A white police officer will not face charges for fatally shooting an unarmed black teenager in a case that set off violent protests and racial unrest throughout the nation.
Protestors, angry over the grand jury decision not to indict Michael Brown, take to the streets in cities across the nation.
A St. Louis County grand jury declined to indict officer Darren Wilson, 28, for firing six shots in an August confrontation that killed 18-year-old Michael Brown, St. Louis County prosecutor Robert McCulloch said Monday night.
Crowds of protesters filled streets near the Ferguson police station following the announcement. A police car and stores were set on fire, other stores were looted, gunfire was heard and bricks were hurled. Police said they had been fired on and responded with smoke bombs and pepper spray before using tear gas.
'Duty of grand jury to separate fact from fiction'...
'Rethinking' of National Security Policy Needed After Hagel Exit
National security policy – specifically as it pertains to the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) – will undergo a “broad re-examination” following the resignation of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, The Wall Street Journal reports.
“This personnel change must be part of a larger rethinking of our strategy to confront the threats we face abroad, especially the threat posed by the rise of ISIL,” House Speaker John Boehner said.
According to The New York Times, citing aides, President Barack Obama pushed Hagel out after weeks of “rising tension over a variety of issues,” including delays in transferring detainees from the military prison in Guantanamo Bay and a dispute with National Security Adviser Susan Rice over Syria policy.
Iran's Supreme Leader Dismisses Westeern Pressure on Nuke Issue
Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said on Tuesday that the West had failed to bring Iran “to its knees” over its nuclear program.
Meeting with Muslim clerics in Tehran, the Iranian capital, Mr. Khamenei dismissed the diplomatic and economic pressure that world powers have brought to bear on his country over its nuclear ambitions. He spoke the day after a deadline for concluding an agreement was extended for seven months.
“In the nuclear issue, America and colonial European countries got together and did their best to bring the Islamic Republic to its knees, but they could not do so — and they will not be able to do so,” Mr. Khamenei’s personal website quoted him as saying.
Kerry on Diplomatic Hot Seat
The pressure increases on Secretary of State John Kerry over failure to secure a deal during this week's historic nuclear talks with Iran.
After working for a year without any sort of outward progress, some wonder if Kerry's style of diplomacy is not working, even as talks were extended Monday for another seven months, Politico reports.
While the Obama administration and Kerry continue to hope for a future agreement — which Kerry described in recent days as "real and substantial progress" that would limit Iran's development of nuclear weapons amid world sanctions — the call for patience is wearing thin, Politico noted.
Colombia's FARC rebels hand over two soldiers to Red Cross
The FARC rebel group on Tuesday handed over two Colombian government soldiers captured in battle earlier this month, the International Committee of the Red Cross said.
Pvts. César Rivera and Jonathan Díaz were released near the town of Tame in the northeastern province of Arauca, where they were captured Nov. 9, the ICRC said in a statement.
A Red Cross doctor briefly examined the men and certified that both were fit for travel before they were brought aboard a helicopter for the short flight to Tame, from where they are expected to fly to Bogotá to be reunited with their families.
Chuck Schumer: Passing Obamacare Was a Mistake
Democrats made a mistake by passing President Barack Obama’s health-care law in 2010 instead of focusing more directly on helping the middle class, third- ranking U.S. Senate Democrat Charles Schumer said today.
“Unfortunately, Democrats blew the opportunity the American people gave them” in electing Obama and a Democratic Congress in 2008 amid a recession, Schumer of New York said in a speech in Washington. “We took their mandate and put all our focus on the wrong problem -- health care reform.”
Schumer said Democrats should have addressed issues aiding the middle class to build confidence among voters before turning to revamping the health-care system. He said he opposed the timing of the health-care vote and was overruled by other party members.
Benghazi Panel on Despite Report Clearing White House
House Speaker John Boehner has vowed to go ahead with a special panel to probe the Benghazi attacks even though a new GOP-led report claims that there was no attempt at a coverup by the White House.
Boehner said that a select committee headed by Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina will still investigate the terror attacks in Libya on Sept. 11, 2012, that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans, according to The Wall Street Journal.
"The American people still have far too many questions about what happened that night and why," Boehner said in a statement. "I look forward to the definitive report Chairman Gowdy and the select committee will present to the American people."
Dumping Hagel at Defense
The abrupt resignation of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has a few important facts behind it, but it is probably tied to a shift in President Obama’s strategy in Afghanistan.
Mr. Hagel, the only Republican in the Obama Cabinet, served less than two years and left few, if any, accomplishments. His lack of accomplishments is unsurprising. When Mr. Hagel went before the Senate Armed Services Committee for his confirmation hearing, his performance wasn’t just puzzling — it was nearly incomprehensible. He acknowledged not knowing much about some important subjects and promised to learn about them. His performance as defense secretary was on-the-job training.
Hillary's dreams turn a trifle sour
The laughter has yet to turn to tears, but the applause for Hillary Clinton is beginning to sound a little thinner than it did only yesterday.
The lady may still be the way to bet, but only the foolish would throw in the deed to the farm. Hillary has got to be feeling little butterflies in the pit of her tummy. Bubba, too. She has been here before.
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.