Tuesday April 7th 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     

Rand Paul is 'Running for President'


Sen. Rand Paul launched his 2016 presidential campaign Tuesday with a combative message against both Washington and his fellow Republicans, declaring that "we have come to take our country back."

The fiery message, delivered in his home state of Kentucky before he jetted to four early-nominating states, was set to motivate legions of supporters from his father's two earlier unsuccessful bids for the Republicans' presidential nomination, as well as broaden his appeal outside of the typical GOP coalition.



California Water Authorities to Use New Tool in Fight Against Water Wasters

Water authorities are using a new tool in a major effort to crack down on people and businesses wasting water in light of new water restrictions issued by Gov. Jerry Brown to fight the drought.

The Long Beach Water Department says sprinklers at a McDonald’s restaurant on Bellflower Boulevard went on for 45 minutes at a time, twice a night, for an undefined number of nights. Complaints continued to mount as water pooled and wasted. The department, however, could do little about the wasting.

That was before the smart meter.



Germany rejects 'stupid' Greek demand for reparations
Greece says €279 billion owed by Berlin arising from second World War Nazi occupation

Germany’s economy minister branded Greece’s demand for €278.7 billion in reparations from the second World War as “stupid“ on Tuesday, while the German opposition said Berlin should repay a forced loan dating from the Nazi occupation.

Greece’s deputy finance minister Dimitris Mardas made the demand on Monday, seizing on an emotional issue in a country where many blame Germany, their biggest creditor, for the tough austerity measures and record high unemployment connected with two international bailouts totalling €240 billion.



Snowden says, NSA holds info over US citizens like loaded gun,, but says 'trust me'

Edward Snowden (Still from YouTube video)
The National Security Agency has a gun aimed at the head of each and every American, Edward Snowden says in a new interview, and they’re being asked to accept the NSA’s vast surveillance operations in the name of counterterrorism.

The NSA contractor turned whistleblower met comedian John Oliver at a Moscow hotel opposite the KGB’s former HQ in a room with all windows covered.

During the frank interview, which aired Sunday on Oliver’s ‘Last Week tonight’, Snowden tells the comedian-host “The NSA has the greatest surveillance capabilities that we have ever seen in history. Now what they will argue is that they don’t use this for nefarious purposes against American citizens."



Jury begins delibertions in Boston Marathon bombing trial

A federal jury began deliberations Tuesday on whether Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is guilty of carrying out the bombing of the Boston Marathon nearly two years ago, a likely prelude to the crucial sentencing phase that will determine if the ethnic Chechen immigrant from Russia is sentenced to death or gets life in prison.

A guilty verdict appeared to be a foregone conclusion after one of Tsarnaev’s defense attorneys, Judy Clarke, told the jury that her 21-year-old client carried out the bombings with his brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, who was killed after a shootout with police.

The jury of seven women and five men is considering a list of 30 charges, and Tsarnaev could face the death penalty if convicted on any one of more than a dozen of those counts. They include using a weapon of mass destruction that resulted in the deaths of three people, including an 8-year-old boy, and, separately, the killing of a Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer.



Obama says woukd move fast to take Cuba off Terrorism sponsor list

President Barack Obama vowed on Tuesday to act quickly once he receives a State Department recommendation on whether to remove Cuba from the U.S. list of terrorism-sponsoring countries, a remaining obstacle to the restoration of relations between Washington and Havana.

With just days to go before a hemispheric summit in Panama where Obama will come face-to-face with Cuban President Raul Castro, he offered no clear sign of how he was leaning or the timeframe for his decision. He ordered the review immediately after announcing a diplomatic breakthrough with Havana on Dec. 17.

Obama, in a Reuters interview in early March, said he hoped the United States would be able to open an embassy in Cuba by the time of the April 10-11 Summit of the Americas, and U.S. officials have since said the review was being expedited.



Laurence Tribe Fights Climate Case Against Obama

Laurence H. Tribe, the highly regarded liberal scholar of constitutional law, still speaks of President Obama as a proud teacher would of a star student. “He was one of the most amazing research assistants I’ve ever had,” Mr. Tribe said in a recent interview. Mr. Obama worked for him at Harvard Law School, where Mr. Tribe has taught for four decades.

Mr. Tribe went on to serve in the Justice Department during Mr. Obama’s first term and has argued in favor of the legal standing of Mr. Obama’s signature health care law and executive orders on immigration.

Which is why so many in the Obama administration and at Harvard are bewildered and angry that Mr. Tribe, who argued on behalf of Al Gore in the 2000 Bush v. Gore Supreme Court case, has emerged as the leading legal opponent of Mr. Obama’s ambitious efforts to fight global warming.



IRS assault on Tea Party saved Obama's presidency?


The administration-ordered persecution of Tea Party groups shut down the movement in time to save President Obama's reelection and starve Republican Mitt Romney of the 4,262,296 votes needed to take the White House, according to an explosive new book from tax foe Grover Norquist.

In End The IRS Before It Ends Us, a clarion call for a new, fairer tax system, Norquist pieces together the IRS scandal and scholarly electoral studies to show that plot worked to stifle the expanding Tea Party movement in the nick of time to help Obama.

"Had the Tea Party repeated and built on their activism of 2009 and 2010 in 2011 and 2012, Obama would have lost the election. What happened to the Tea Party boost? It didn't grow from 2010. It appeared to weaken," writes Norquist, president of the influential Americans for Tax Reform.

But, he adds, "The Tea Party didn't fall down the stairs. It was pushed."



Kansas governor signs nations 1st ban on abortion procedure

Republican Gov. Sam Brownback has signed legislation making Kansas the first state to ban a common second-trimester abortion procedure that critics describe as dismembering a fetus.

Brownback signed the measure Tuesday in a private ceremony at the governor's residence. A photo posted by his office on Twitter shows him flanked by anti-abortion leaders and large photos of fetuses.

The new law, which takes effect July 1, bans the dilation and evacuation procedure, and redefines the method as "dismemberment abortion."



President Obama casts a stone, condemns 'less-than-loving Christians'

President Obama appeared to break from his script for a moment at Tuesday morning’s Easter Prayer Breakfast to opine on Christians who espouse “less-than-loving” views.

“On Easter, I do reflect on the fact that as a Christian, I am supposed to love,” Mr. Obama said toward the end of his speech. “And I have to say that sometimes when I listen to less-than-loving expressions by Christians, I get concerned.”

“But that’s a topic for another day,” the president said, receiving laughter and applause.



A late education in rape culture in Charlottesville

We’re getting a lesson in the politically correct way to conduct journalism in contemporary media, with a retraction and the admission by Rolling Stone magazine that it made up the story about gang rape at the University of Virginia. But nobody is paying a price. Not yet.

Rolling Stone — which is to journalism what rock, even with the roll, is to music — says it has its regrets, too bad, sorry and all that, but nobody will be punished.

The magazine published the sensational story last fall, high crimes beyond misdemeanors in the upper class, as if it had beaten the supermarket tabloids to a story (and no offense intended to those supermarket tabloids): A young woman had been gang-raped at a drunken party at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. Tom Jefferson’s old school.



Decoding the Obama doctrine

James Jeffrey, Barack Obama’s former ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary to Iraq, has this to say about the administration’s current record in the Middle East: “We’re in a goddamn free fall.”

Count the mistakes: Helping overthrow Muammar Qaddafi in Libya, leading to anarchy and civil war. Pressuring Husni Mubarak of Egypt to resign, then backing the Muslim Brotherhood, leading now-president Sisi to turn toward Moscow. Alienating Washington’s most stalwart ally in the region, the Government of Israel. Dismissing ISIS as “junior varsity” just before it seized major cities. Hailing Yemen as a counterterrorism success just before its government was overthrown. Alarming the Saudi authorities to the point that they put together a military alliance against Iran. Coddling Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey, encouraging his dictatorial tendencies. Leaving Iraq and Afghanistan prematurely, dooming the vast American investment in those two countries.

And, most of all: Making deeply flawed deals with the nuclear-ambitious mullahs of Iran.


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.
CAVAIANI, JON R. Photo
Jon R Cavaiani
  Citation

S/Sgt. Cavaiani distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty in action in the Republic of Vietnam on 4 and 5 June 1971 while serving as a platoon leader to a security platoon providing security for an isolated radio relay site located within enemy-held territory. On the morning of 4 June 1971, the entire camp came under an intense barrage of enemy small arms, automatic weapons, rocket-propelled grenade and mortar fire from a superior size enemy force. S/Sgt. Cavaiani acted with complete disregard for his personal safety as he repeatedly exposed himself to heavy enemy fire in order to move about the camp's perimeter directing the platoon's fire and rallying the platoon in a desperate fight for survival. S/Sgt. Cavaiani also returned heavy suppressive fire upon the assaulting enemy force during this period with a variety of weapons. When the entire platoon was to be evacuated, S/Sgt. Cavaiani unhesitatingly volunteered to remain on the ground and direct the helicopters into the landing zone. S/Sgt. Cavaiani was able to direct the first 3 helicopters in evacuating a major portion of the platoon. Due to intense increase in enemy fire, S/Sgt. Cavaiani was forced to remain at the camp overnight where he calmly directed the remaining platoon members in strengthening their defenses. On the morning of S June, a heavy ground fog restricted visibility. The superior size enemy force launched a major ground attack in an attempt to completely annihilate the remaining small force. The enemy force advanced in 2 ranks, first firing a heavy volume of small arms automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenade fire while the second rank continuously threw a steady barrage of hand grenades at the beleaguered force. S/Sgt. Cavaiani returned a heavy barrage of small arms and hand grenade fire on the assaulting enemy force but was unable to slow them down. He ordered the remaining platoon members to attempt to escape while he provided them with cover fire. With 1 last courageous exertion, S/Sgt. Cavaiani recovered a machine gun, stood up, completely exposing himself to the heavy enemy fire directed at him, and began firing the machine gun in a sweeping motion along the 2 ranks of advancing enemy soldiers. Through S/Sgt. Cavaiani's valiant efforts with complete disregard for his safety, the majority of the remaining platoon members were able to escape. While inflicting severe losses on the advancing enemy force, S/Sgt. Cavaiani was wounded numerous times. S/Sgt. Cavaiani's conspicuous gallantry, extraordinary heroism and intrepidity at the risk of his life, above and beyond the call of duty, were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself and the U.S. 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.