Thursday March 26th 2015

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


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World & National     

Iran may run centrifuges at fortified site?

AP Photo

The United States is considering letting Tehran run hundreds of centrifuges at a once-secret, fortified underground bunker in exchange for limits on centrifuge work and research and development at other sites, officials have told The Associated Press.

The trade-off would allow Iran to run several hundred of the devices at its Fordo facility, although the Iranians would not be allowed to do work that could lead to an atomic bomb and the site would be subject to international inspections, according to Western officials familiar with details of negotiations now underway. In return, Iran would be required to scale back the number of centrifuges it runs at its Natanz facility and accept other restrictions on nuclear-related work.



US Declassifies Documents Revealing Israel's Nuclear Program
Obama revenge for Netanyahu's Congress talk? 1987 report on Israel's top secret nuclear program released in unprecedented move.
             Dimona nuclear reactor circa 1960s

In a development that has largely been missed by mainstream media, the Pentagon early last month quietly declassified a Department of Defense top-secret document detailing Israel's nuclear program, a highly covert topic that Israel has never formally announced to avoid a regional nuclear arms race, and which the US until now has respected by remaining silent.

But by publishing the declassified document from 1987, the US reportedly breached the silent agreement to keep quiet on Israel's nuclear powers for the first time ever, detailing the nuclear program in great depth.

The timing of the revelation is highly suspect, given that it came as tensions spiraled out of control between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama ahead of Netanyahu's March 3 address in Congress, in which he warned against the dangers of Iran's nuclear program and how the deal being formed on that program leaves the Islamic regime with nuclear breakout capabilities.



Saudis begin aiirstrikes against rebels in Yemen
                   

Saudi Arabia began airstrikes Wednesday against Houthi rebel positions in Yemen, vowing that the Sunni kingdom will do "anything necessary" to restore a deposed government that has been routed by the Iranian-backed group.

In an unusual tableau, Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States announced the rare military operation by his country at a Washington news conference about a half-hour after the bombing began. The strikes started at 7 p.m. EDT, he said.

Loud, house-shaking explosions could be heard in the Yemen capital of Sanaa and fire and smoke could be seen in the night sky, according to an Associated Press correspondent whose home is near the military airbase in the capital.

The Houthis said in a statement to reporters that Saudi jets are hitting the military base, known as al-Duleimi, in Sanaa. They said they fired anti-aircraft missiles in response.
Bombs Sanaa...
Proxy war with Iran...
Other Gulf states consider intervention...
Air base used by American troops attacked...
Severe damage to intel networks after Iran-backed rebels seize files...
Crashing drones spilling secrets...


Germanwings Co-Pilot Appears to Have Intentionally Brought Airbus Down

The co-pilot of the crashed Germanwings plane appears to have "intentionally" brought the plane down while his captain was locked out of the cockpit and banging to be let back in, prosecutors said Thursday.

First Officer Andreas Lubitz, 28, was alone at the controls of the Airbus A320 as it began its rapid descent, Marseille Prosecutor Brice Robin told a news conference.

Passengers' cries were heard on the plane's cockpit voice recorder in the moments just before the plane slammed into the French Alps, Brice said.

"Banging" sounds also were audible, he said, suggesting the captain was trying to force his way back into the cockpit. However, the reinforced cockpit door was locked from the inside and could not be overridden, even with a coded entry panel.



'Islamist extremists,' phrase rejected by Obama, embraced by allies


While President Obama and his aides insist that Muslim extremists have nothing to do with Islam the religion, other world leaders are leaving that approach behind.

British Home Secretary Theresa May on Monday announced a get-tough policy that includes a comprehensive strategy to combat what she called “Islamist extremists,” a phrase the Obama administration officials have repeatedly refused to use.

Ms. May said the new counter-extremism measures include the power to close sites “that are owned or occupied by extremists or are used to host extremist meetings or speakers.” It was widely interpreted in Britain to mean closing Islamic centers and mosques that foment intolerance and violence.



FTC says regrets release of documents on Google probe

Three U.S. Federal Trade Commission members said on Wednesday they regretted the inadvertent release of part of an agency report about its probe of Google Inc as the company continues to face antitrust scrutiny from European authorities.

The document, which was at the center of a report by The Wall Street Journal, indicated that key staff members at the FTC were in favor of suing Google for allegedly breaking antitrust law. The agency settled with the search and advertising company in early 2013.

In a statement the commissioners -- Chairwoman Edith Ramirez, Julie Brill and Maureen Ohlhausen -- defended the final outcome.



Hillary's Supporters 'Warn' Reporters words they can't use?


Do you work in the media and have the gall to think that the entire Webster’s dictionary is at your disposal? Think again, you sexist.

When it comes to reporting on Hillary Clinton, George Carlin’s “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television” have turned into “Twelve Words You Can Never Say About a Powerful Politician.”

“We will be watching, reading, listening and protesting coded sexism,” the pro-Hillary group HRC Super Volunteers warned The New York Times’ Amy Chozick Wednesday.



Federal Taxes Hit Record...Gov't Still Runs $386B Deficit

              February Treasury Statement

Inflation-adjusted federal tax revenues hit a record $1,185,613,000,000 in the first five months of fiscal 2015, but the federal government still ran a $386,537,000,000 deficit during that time, according to the latest Monthly Treasury Statement.

Each month, the Treasury publishes the government’s “total receipts,” including all revenue from individual income taxes, corporate income taxes, social insurance and retirement taxes (including Social Security and Medicare taxes), unemployment insurance taxes, excise taxes, estate and gift taxes, customs duties, and “miscellaneous receipts.”



Bergdahl desertion charges rekindle debate over Taliban swap

Some Afghanistan veterans charged that soldiers had been killed or hurt while searching for Bergdahl.

Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is facing life in prison on charges of desertion and “misbehavior in the face of the enemy” — and President Barack Obama is facing more blowback over his handling of the case.

The Army on Wednesday referred Bergdahl’s case to the military equivalent of a grand jury, known as an Article 32 proceeding. And Col. Daniel King, a spokesman for the U.S. Army Forces Command, said that process will determine whether the case goes to a full court martial, which would finally try him and determine any potential punishment.

If convicted Bergdahl, who left his post in Afghanistan in 2009 and was held by the Taliban and other terrorist groups for five years, faces prison, demotion and forfeiture of the back pay he earned as the Army promoted him in his absence during his time in terrorist hands. Army officials in Texas will determine when the Article 32 moves forward, King said.



Ex-Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. Released from Prison

Former U.S. Representative Jesse Jackson Jr. was released from an Alabama prison on Thursday after serving time for misusing about $750,000 in campaign funds on luxuries including fur capes and a Rolex watch, local media reported.

Jackson, a former Illinois lawmaker and the son of civil rights leader the Reverend Jesse Jackson Sr., spent roughly half of the 30-month sentence he received in August 2013 behind bars.

His father told reporters that the younger Jackson was doing well when he left the prison facility in Montgomery early Thursday.

"I was so sad the day he left," the elder Jackson said, according to the CBS affiliate in Chicago. "I'm so glad he'll be returning. It excites me to no end."



Tom Cotton, tragic hero
His warning to Iran would make him a scapegoat if the nuclear talks fail

The snarky quip attributed to 19th-century French Foreign Minister Charles Maurice de Talleyrand — “It was worse than a crime; it was a blunder” — has recently been making the rounds to deride a letter written by Republican Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and signed by 46 other senators.

They wrote to the Iranian theocracy that any agreement on nuclear proliferation negotiated with President Obama will not constitutionally bind the next administration — unless it is properly ratified by Congress.

Democrats were outraged. They charged that Mr. Cotton’s letter is a crime, a violation of the 216-year-old Logan Act. That law bars unauthorized individuals from conducting negotiations with foreign governments.

Even some Republicans sighed that the letter was a political blunder. It supposedly plays into President Obama’s caricature of right-wing and obstructionist conservatives.

In fact, the letter was not a crime or a blunder.

Senators and House members have a long history of freelancing in foreign policy. Sometimes they do it wisely, sometimes stupidly.



A better 2016 agenda

“In your heart you know he’s right,” was Barry Goldwater’s presidential campaign slogan in 1964.

The critics of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who announced Monday he is running for president, are effectively saying of him: “In your head you know he’s nuts.”

Even before his announcement, Cruz was labeled with the typical modifiers the left uses to scare people who don’t pay much attention to politics — extreme, far right, out of the mainstream.



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.
 
Citation

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.