Tuesday February 24th, 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     

VA Secretary Apologizes for Misstating He Served in Special Forces
               PHOTO: President Barack Obama listens as former Procter and
      Gamble executive Robert McDonald, his nominee as the next Veterans
      Affairs secretary, speaks at the Department of Veterans Affairs in
      Washington, June 30, 2014.

Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald apologized today for mistakenly saying in a videotaped exchange with a homeless man that he had served in the special forces, though his service was entirely with the 82nd Airborne Division.

"Secretary McDonald has apologized for the misstatement and noted that he never intended to misrepresent his military service," a White House officials told ABC News. "We take him at his word and expect that this will not impact the important work he's doing to promote the health and well-being of our nation's veterans."



Team Bibi schools Team Obama in speech boycott showdown
                 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu listens as President Barack Obama speaks in the Oval Office of the White House Oct. 1, 2014. The two leaders have long had a prickly relationship. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Team Barack started strong, but Team Bibi is showing it knows how to finish, as supporters of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pick up steam against those urging a boycott of his speech next week before Congress.

About 20 House and Senate Democrats announced early on that they would not attend the March 3 speech, which is being cast as a rebuke to President Obama, but since then only a handful have joined them as pro-Netanyahu advocates counter by hinting at political consequences for the no-shows.

Christians United for Israel, for example, sent out an action alert a few weeks ago urging its members to contact their representatives in support of the Netanyahu speech. The result was a blast of more than 30,000 emails asking lawmakers not to let “partisan politics and petty excuses keep you from fulfilling the most basic of responsibilities of your office.”



J.P. Morgan to start charging big clients fees on some deposits


J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. is preparing to charge large institutional customers for some deposits, citing new rules that make holding money for the clients too costly, according to a memo reviewed by The Wall Street Journal and people familiar with the plan.

The largest U.S. bank by assets is aiming to reduce the affected deposits by billions of dollars, with a focus on bringing the number down this year, these people said. The move is the latest in a series of steps large global banks have been discussing in recent months to discourage certain deposits due to new regulations and low interest rates.



Mother Fed: Don't Audit Me!
             

U.S. Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen testified before Congress on Tuesday after presenting her semiannual monetary policy report.

The Federal Reserve will not hike rates for the next few Federal Open Market Committee meetings, according to Yellen's prepared remarks.

During the question-and-answer session, Yellen addressed a range of questions from the committee about the Fed's structure, its inflation measurement and the movement to "audit the Fed."



Drones Spook Paris at Eiffel Tower and US embassy

Paris is on alert for a new terror attack after 'at least' five drones were spotted illegally flying around city landmarks, including the Eiffel Tower, Bastille Square and the U.S. embassy building.

Unmanned aircraft were also spotted flying overnight near the French capital's Place de la Concorde and the Invalides military museum, where Napoleon Bonaparte is buried.

French security sources where unable to catch the operators of the drones, which are typically fitted with video recording equipment and can be used for surveillance of a terror target to assess security levels and any spikes in pedestrian football ahead of a planned attack.



Ex-NBC Bureau Chief Backs Up O'Reilly's Account of Falklands Ware Riot

Two former CBS reporters have strongly disputed Bill O’Reilly‘s accounts of what happened one night when they covered a riot in Buenos Aires, but on The Factor tonight, O’Reilly brought on a former NBC News bureau chief who backed up his story.

Don Browne was the NBC News Miami bureau chief at the time, and he oversaw the network’s Falklands coverage. And Browne told O’Reilly his account was accurate. As opposed to some of the other accounts, which have to some extent downplayed the danger, Browne said the situation “got progressively more intense” and there were demonstrations in Buenos Aires every day.

Both O’Reilly and Browne recalled a “very intense situation where people got hurt” and how “this was an extremely violent and volatile situation” where reporters were in danger.

Mother Jones Reporter Under Fire
O'Reilly threatens NYT reporter


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Islamic State in Syriua abducts at least 90 Christians


Islamic State militants have abducted at least 90 people from Assyrian Christian villages in northeastern Syria, a monitoring group tracking violence in Syria said on Tuesday.

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said they carried out dawn raids on rural villages inhabited by the ancient Christian minority west of Hasaka, a city mainly held by the Kurds.



FCC chief pressed to release net neutrality rules

A key Republican lawmaker in Congress called for Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler to make proposed net neutrality regulations public before a planned Thursday vote on the measure.

In the latest wrinkle in the Republicans' battle to quash Wheeler's proposals, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, who's also the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, sent a letter today to Wheeler, questioning whether the FCC has been "independent, fair and transparent" in crafting the rules to protect content on the Internet.



After U.S. court blames PLO for terror, Israel hails verdict
U.S. jury orders PLO to pay $218 million

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed a controversial U.S. federal court decision that found the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority liable for backing six terrorist attacks more than a decade ago that left a number of American citizens dead or wounded.

Netanyahu’s office released a statement late Monday after the decision, saying Israel expected the wider international community “to continue to punish those who support terrorism just as the US federal court has done and to back the countries that are fighting terrorism.” The statement said, however, that there was “no justice that can console” the families of those who lost their loved ones in the attacks.

A jury in Manhattan awarded the victims of the 2002 and 2004 attacks $218.5 million in damages Monday — a figure that lawyers said would automatically be tripled under the U.S. Anti-Terrorism Act.



A job too big for Cupid

Rudy Giuliani would shoot Cupid, and not with an arrow dipped in Love Potion No. 9. He would use a Smith & Wesson .358 with a slug bathed in garlic.

Mr. Giuliani thinks Barack Obama does not love America in the way that most of the rest of us do. This makes every liberal’s teeth itch and every pimple break out in acne. All the party hacks demand that His Former Honor be put against the wall for saying what nearly everybody else thinks is obvious, that the president never wastes an opportunity to lecture, knock, slam, snipe and swipe at the object of his love all sublime, and that’s not what a smitten lover does.

Mr. Obama dispenses only tough love. He understands the first article of tough love, why send a rose when you can send a cactus? But tough is not always appreciated as a synonym for love. A woman wants an occasional Valentine, not a bucket and a mop. The president’s country would appreciate an occasional kind word, too.



Hail the college dropouts

At one time in American history, “Go West, young man” described the idea that the frontier was the place to build a new life. For the past few decades, we’ve settled instead for the far less pioneering “Go to college, young man.” Not nearly as exciting, is it?

For decades, it’s been implied — strongly — that a college degree is necessary to be successful. After age 18, students are supposed to “continue their education,” as if an apprenticeship, a career and life itself cannot do that. The thinking has been that without that college diploma, how can anyone get a job?

Unless, of course, they make their own, like Mark Zuckerberg. The billionaire did attend Harvard but never graduated because he was learning more in his dorm room starting Facebook than he was sitting in his Ivy League classes.



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.