Friday September 12th, 2014

"It Is Not A Question of Who Is Right Or Wrong But What Is Right Or Wrong That Counts."
--Geoff Metcalf



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                         The Cold Tower: The Dark Heritage Saga, Book 1 | [Michael J Bertolini]

The Cold Tower: The Dark Heritage Saga, Book 1

Publisher's Summary

Peace. Prosperity. Freedom. After 50 years it ends. In the world of Scyllia darkness is coming. The evil sorcerer Enlokirim has risen from the grave, seeking revenge against those that destroyed him. He searches for the Triangles of Power: nine magical stones that are individually powerful, but even more dangerous together. Amras Oronar, an outcast elf warrior, leads a group of adventurers in hope of stopping Enlokirim. He is joined by Isla Solwen, a vampire hunter and priestess of the dead; Zara Wolf, a barbarian with a mysterious heritage; and Ginerva Page, a witch that knows the history and power of the Triangles. Together they'll face monstrous creatures both living and dead in an effort to save their world... but is that enough?

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World & National                 

Fears About Ebola
          

THE Ebola epidemic in West Africa has the potential to alter history as much as any plague has ever done.

There have been more than 4,300 cases and 2,300 deaths over the past six months. Last week, the World Health Organization warned that, by early October, there may be thousands of new cases per week in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Nigeria. What is not getting said publicly, despite briefings and discussions in the inner circles of the world’s public health agencies, is that we are in totally uncharted waters and that Mother Nature is the only force in charge of the crisis at this time.

There are two possible future chapters to this story that should keep us up at night.



Militia Threatens to Block Traffic at International Birdge
 
Law enforcement officials and city leaders from across the Rio Grande Valley are preparing for what they say could result in tense moments or violence.

Officials say they received word that members of a militia are threatening to block ports of entry.

Officials received word that members of a militia plan to protest illegal crossings by blocking traffic on Sept. 20.



Obama inevitably will need to use U.S. ground troops to defeat Islamic State

President’s plan to rely on airstrikes, Iraqi troops to combat terrorists doomed to fail

Trying to uproot and destroy the Islamic State’s army of terrorists in Iraq without American ground troops, as President Obama promoted Wednesday night, is doomed to failure, national security experts say.

At the least, the president needs to get ground troops closer to the fight, say some politicians and analysts. He should introduce special operations units to advise and join the Iraqis on hunt-and-kill missions against Islamic State leaders, as well as insert controllers to point out targets for warplanes.

“What a waste of time,” said Larry Johnson, a former CIA analyst and counterterrorism official at the State Department. “We have not learned a thing in 80 years. [The Islamic State] is an army. The air power is not going to get the job done. Until you put troops in and kill these guys, they’re going to continue. They adjust to tactics. They meld into [the] civilian population.”



Pistorius found guilty of culpable homicide
        South African Olympic and Paralympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius leaves the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, September 12, 2014.  REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

Olympic and Paralympic track star Oscar Pistorius was convicted of culpable homicide on Friday, escaping the more serious charge of murder for the killing of his girlfriend, and will now battle to avoid going to prison.

The 27-year-old double amputee, who became one of the biggest names in world athletics, stood impassively in the dock, his hands folded in front of him, as Judge Thokozile Masipa delivered her verdict.



Dems Worried About Obama's Plan to Arm Rebels in Syria

Senate Democrats have serious concerns about President Barack Obama's plan to arm Syrian rebels to serve as ground troops in the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS), according to Politico.

The lawmakers believe the challenges of identifying moderate rebels could be too great. They signaled their reluctance following a two-hour classified briefing Thursday attended by top intelligence officials and representatives from the Defense and State Departments.

"They were telling me that they were doing everything they can to vet to make sure that the people that are trained are the right people for the right reasons," West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin said, according to Politico.



10 arrested in shooting of teen activist Malala Yousafzai

Pakistan's army announced Friday that it had arrested 10 militants suspected of involvement in the 2012 attack on teenage activist Malala Yousafzai, who won world acclaim after she was shot in the head by the Taliban for advocating gender equality and education for women.

Army spokesman Gen. Asim Saleem Bajwa said the detained men attacked Yousafzai, then 16, on orders from Mullah Fazlullah, the head of the Pakistani Taliban. The army is currently waging a major offensive against the extremist group in North Waziristan, a tribal region along the border with Afghanistan that has long been a militant stronghold.



US, EU Impose New Sanctions on Russia

The European Union and the United States have imposed a new package of economic sanctions against Russia over its actions in Ukraine. 

The new EU sanctions that went into effect Friday target firms in Russia's energy sector, including Rosneft, Russia's largest oil company, Gazprom Neft, the oil unit of Russia's giant natural gas monopoly Gazprom, and Transneft, Russia's pipeline operator, and three large defense firms, preventing the companies from raising money in the EU market.

They also target individuals, including leaders of Ukraine's pro-Russian separatists, and leading Russian businessmen and politicians, including Sergei Chemezov, a close associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin who heads the arms and technology holding Rostec, and veteran ultra-nationalist politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky.



ISIS won't be destroyed without Syria change

On Wednesday, President Barack Obama outlined the elements of a strategy to confront Islamic State (IS) that he hopes to build on the fly in the coming months.

While it's better than not having a strategy at all, what Mr Obama described is not likely to achieve the objective he identified, even if everything works as he hopes.

Mr Obama detailed a "comprehensive and sustained counterterrorism strategy" for a broad regional and international coalition to "degrade and ultimately destroy" IS.

The caveat "ultimately" suggests degrading IS in Iraq first - a process that has already started - and Syria later.



President Obama Over-Ruled His Commanders on Ground Troops

[Campaigns in Somalia and Yemen]  have dragged on for years and involve far smaller and less-well-financed adversaries than the Islamic State. Although Obama promised a “steady, relentless effort” in a nationally televised address Wednesday night, he also said that “it will take time to eradicate a cancer like ISIL,” using a common acronym for the Islamic State.
   
Such a mission was not the U.S. military’s preferred option. Responding to a White House request for options to confront the Islamic State, Gen. Lloyd Austin, the top commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East, said that his best military advice was to send a modest contingent of American troops, principally Special Operations forces, to advise and assist Iraqi army units in fighting the militants, according to two U.S. military officials. The recommendation, conveyed to the White House by Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was cast aside in favor of options that did not involve U.S. ground forces in a front-line role, a step adamantly opposed by the White House. Instead, Obama had decided to send an additional 475 U.S. troops to assist Iraqi and ethnic Kurdish forces with training, intelligence and equipment.
   
Recommitting ground combat forces to Iraq would have been highly controversial, and most likely would have been opposed by a substantial majority of Americans. But Austin’s predecessor, retired Marine Gen. James Mattis, said the decision not to send ground troops poses serious risks to the mission.



Army is worried too many white men lead combat units

U.S. Army sociologists are worried that a lack of black officers leading its combat troops will have detrimental effect on minorities and lead to fewer black officers in top leadership posts.

“The issue exists. The leadership is aware of it,” Brig. Gen. Ronald Lewis toldUSA Today on Thursday. “The leadership does have an action plan in place. And it’s complicated.”



Al-Qaeda India branch's first attack ends in dismal failure
The group established only last week attempted to storm a ship in the Karachi port on the anniversary of 9/11, but reports suggest the mission ended in disaster

Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent, the new group announced last week by Ayman al-Zawahiri to bolster his flagging fortunes, suffered a setback when three of its fighters were killed and seven arrested in its first ever terror attack.

Heavily armed militants attacked a naval dock in Karachi's sea port on Saturday night and targeted what they believed was an American aircraft carrier, but instead found a Pakistan Navy frigate and were overwhelmed before they could cause any damage, investigators said.



Don't Give the Masters of the Universe Their Amnesty
The Senate isn’t doing anything to stop Obama’s plans — thank the plutocrats.

Senator Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.), the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, delivered a speech on the Senate floor Wednesday evening about Senate Democrats’ refusal to support legislation to block the president’s proposed executive actions on immigration policy, and the interests supporting amnesty. Following is an adapted version of his remarks.

Earlier this week I spoke about the president’s promise that he would issue an executive amnesty to 5 or 6 million people. The planned amnesty would include work permits, photo IDs, and Social Security numbers for millions of people who illegally entered the U.S., illegally overstayed their visas, or defrauded U.S. immigration authorities.

The Senate Democratic conference has supported and enabled the president’s unlawful actions and blocked every effort to stop them. Not even one of our Democratic colleagues has backed the House legislation that would stop this planned executive amnesty or demanded that Senator Reid bring it up for a vote. Every Senate Democrat is therefore the president’s partner in his planned lawless acts.



Pondering an independent Scotland

On Sept. 18, the people of Scotland will go to the polls to vote on whether or not to leave the United Kingdom and end more than 300 years of union with England. The outcome could have substantial impact on this side of the Atlantic as well. At stake is nothing less than the nature of our relationship with our most trusted ally, international monetary issues, British military capabilities, world oil markets and perhaps the future of the European Union itself.

The second of two debates before the elections was broadcast live on BBC throughout the entire United Kingdom last week. Alex Salmond, the leader of the Scottish Nationalist Party, argued for the Scottish pro-independence “Yes Scotland” campaign. He was seen as the clear winner in a “snap poll” conducted by The Guardian newspapers, 71 percent to 29 percent over Alistair Darling, former chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Salmond’s counterpart and the leader of the anti-independence “Better Together” campaign. To the participants, the central issues are whether Scotland can keep the British pound as its official currency, how much oil is left in the North Sea and the effect Scotland’s independence would have on energy and taxes, Scottish participation in the British national health service, and who, if anyone, would benefit from a breakaway.



Off to a war, maybe
Obama’s rhetoric alone won’t get the job done

Douglas MacArthur got it right, two or so generations ago. “In war,” he said after he was sacked by President Truman for wanting to spend the blood and muscle of young Americans for something greater than stalemate in Korea, “there is no substitute for victory.”

Barack Obama, for all his gifts of $2 dollar-a-word rhetoric, can’t bring himself to say anything as heroic and inspiring as that, though his vow to “degrade and destroy” the Islamic State (or ISIS) has a ring to it. It would have been more convincing if he had not added the ritual promise never to consider sending boots on the ground (isn’t it time to retire this tiresome cliche?) or reassurance to the barbarians that he intends to get tough, just not too tough.

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.
CARPENTER, WILLIAM KYLE Photo

CARPENTER, WILLIAM KYLE
Rank: Lance Corporal
U.S. Marine Corps
Citation

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as an Automatic Rifleman with Company F, 2d Battalion, 9th Marines, Regimental Combat Team 1, 1st Marine Division (Forward), 1 Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward), in Helmand Province, Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom on 21 November 2010. Lance Corporal Carpenter was a member of a platoon-sized coalition force, comprised of two reinforced Marine squads partnered with an Afghan National Army squad. The platoon had established Patrol Base Dakota two days earlier in a small village in the Marjah District in order to disrupt enemy activity and provide security for the local Afghan population. Lance Corporal Carpenter and a fellow Marine were manning a rooftop security position on the perimeter of Patrol Base Dakota when the enemy initiated a daylight attack with hand grenades, one of which landed inside their sandbagged position. Without hesitation, and with complete disregard for his own safety, Lance Corporal Carpenter moved toward the grenade in an attempt to shield his fellow Marine from the deadly blast. When the grenade detonated, his body absorbed the brunt of the blast, severely wounding him, but saving the life of his fellow Marine. By his undaunted courage, bold fighting spirit, and unwavering devotion to duty in the face of almost certain death, Lance Corporal Carpenter reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.



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.