Tuesday September 16th, 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                 

Dempsey: If campaign fails, ground troops possible
             Image: Gen. Dempsey: US Ground Forces Possible if ISIS Airstrikes Fail

The nation's top military leader told Congress on Tuesday that if President Barack Obama's expanded military campaign to destroy Islamic extremists fails, he would recommend that the United States consider deploying American ground forces to Iraq.

Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a Senate panel that the goal for American advisers is to help Iraqi forces with planning, logistics and coordinating military efforts by coalition partners to take out members of the Islamic State group.



Obama Orders Boots on the Ground!
            

We're at war. We're putting boots on the ground. We're not waiting around for the host nation's government to get its affairs in order, or for a regional coalition to commit first. The president has apparently overcome his reluctance to use the military, his worries about a commitment to intervene without an exit strategy, and his usual reluctance to acknowledge (even implicitly) that his administration was wrong when it assured us that there was nothing much for us to worry about.
Obama snob

Of course, the enemy the president has boldly and unhesitatingly sent our troops to fight is the Ebola virus.

Aren't there other parts of the U.S government suited to carry on this fight? If not, shouldn't there be? Max Boot suggested building such a non-military civilian ability in the pages of this magazine over a decade ago. Surely an administration committed to smart power would have developed the civilian capabilities to fight a virus without deploying 3,000 troops?



US to deploy up to 3,000 military personnel to fiight Ebola in West Africa

President Obama is expected to announce Tuesday that he's sending up to 3,000 military personnel to combat the Ebola virus in West Africa.

Obama will announce the stepped-up offensive against the outbreak, which has killed more than 2,200 people in five West African countries, in an appearance at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

Administration officials said that the U.S. would help to provide medical and logistical support to overwhelmed local health care systems and to boost the number of beds needed to isolate and treat victims of the epidemic. The Defense Department has asked Congress for nearly $500 million in existing funds to be put toward the effort. The money would otherwise be used to support overseas contingency operations, such as the drawdown of troops in Afghanistan.



U.S. military will lead $750 million fight against Ebola in West Africa

President Obama will announce Tuesday that the U.S. military will take the lead in overseeing what has been a chaotic and widely criticized response to the worst Ebola outbreak in history, dispatching up to 3,000 military personnel to West Africa in an effort that could cost up to $750 million over the next six months, according to senior administration officials.

By the end of the week, a general sent by U.S. Africa Command will be in place in Monrovia, Liberia — the country where transmission rates are increasing exponentially — to lead the effort called Operation United Assistance. The general will head a regional command based in Liberia that will help oversee and coordinate U.S. and international relief efforts while a new, separate regional staging base will help accelerate transportation of urgently needed equipment, supplies and personnel.

In addition, the Pentagon will send engineers to set up 17 treatment centers in Liberia — each with a 100-bed capacity — as well as medical personnel to train up to 500 health-care workers a week in the region.



Obama's Lonely Climate Summit--world leaders are staying home

Eric Worrall writes: The imminent climate summit in New York is rapidly turning into an utter embarrassment for President Obama and UN Secretary General Bank Ki-Moon, in addition to becoming a bit of a punishment round for national deputy leaders.

Aussie PM Tony Abbott today defended his decision not to hop on an earlier flight to America, so he could attend the UN climate conference in New York, because he has more important matters to attend to, such as running the country.



ISIS, in Magazine Warns of 'Armageddon' Against US, West
 
An Islamic State (ISIS) magazine called Dabiq has warned that the United States and other Western “crusaders” are facing Armageddon at the hands of the terror group’s  fighters.

The publication is packed with disturbing pictures of bloody corpses, bombed-out buildings and knife-wielding jihadists, while one issue even has a section devoted to the beheading of American journalist James Foley, The Washington Post reports.

Filled with snazzy graphics and printed in English and other languages, the  magazine is being used as a recruitment tool by the terror insurgents to enlist and radicalize foreigners around the world.



Foley Family: US 'Didn't Help Us Much' After Kidnapping

The Obama administration gave little hope to the family of James Foley, the journalist beheaded by the Islamic State (ISIS), following his kidnapping by the militant group, The New York Times reported.

After Michael Foley, James' brother, received an email a year after he was captured asking for pay off in exchange for his release, the U.S. government made it clear that a ransom was an impossibility, even though a number of European governments offered payments in exchange for the release of their citizens who were captured.

"The F.B.I. didn't help us much — let's face it," Diane Foley, James' mother, said in an interview with the Times.



VA Secretary Announces Further Reforms

Veterans Affairs Secretary Bob McDonald said that he plans to raise the pay for VA doctors and nurses as part of the effort to clear the backlog of appointments at veterans' healthcare facilities.

McDonald also made a commitment to increase clinic and hospital space, hire more employees, and offer better pay for providers so as to resolve the widespread issue of long wait-times throughout the VA system, Stars and Stripes reported.

"We have a lot of work to do," McDonald said in an address to the National Association of State Directors of Veterans Affairs Convention in San Diego on Monday. "I think we're well on our way, though, to ending the backlog by 2015."



London Repeats Offer of New Powers if Scotland Votes No

With two days of fevered campaigning left before Scotland votes in a referendum on independence, the leaders of the three main British political parties renewed a pledge on Tuesday to grant Scots “extensive new powers” if they reject secession.

But proponents of independence seized on the pledge’s lack of specifics and on the recent differences among the three party leaders in their approach to the Scottish question to dismiss the appeal as empty rhetoric.



U.S. Pushes Back Against Warnings That ISIS Plans to Etner from Mexico

Militants for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria have traveled to Mexico and are just miles from the United States. They plan to cross over the porous border and will “imminently” launch car bomb attacks. And the threat is so real that federal law enforcement officers have been placed at a heightened state of alert, and an American military base near the border has increased its security.

As the Obama administration and the American public have focused their attention on ISIS in recent weeks, conservative groups and leading Republicans have issued stark warnings like those that ISIS and other extremists from Syria are planning to enter the country illegally from Mexico. But the Homeland Security Department, the F.B.I. and lawmakers who represent areas near the border say there is no truth to the warnings.



Ukraine ratifies EU deal

Ukraine ratified a sweeping agreement with the European Union on Tuesday - an issue at the heart of the Russia-West crisis over its future - and sought to blunt the independence drive of Russian-backed separatists by offering them temporary and limited self-rule.

But though Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko savored a historic triumph with parliament's seal of approval for the EU deal, his peacemaking efforts drew derision from separatists and some mainstream politicians, while his military reported three more deaths of Ukrainian servicemen despite an 11-day ceasefire.



NASA Inspector Blasts Asteroid Protection Program

NASA's effort to identify potentially dangerous space rocks has taken a hit.

On Monday, the space agency's inspector general released a report blasting NASA's Near Earth Objects program, which is meant to hunt and catalog comets, asteroids and relatively large fragments of these objects that pass within 28 million miles of Earth. The purpose is to protect the planet against their potential dangers.

Most near-Earth objects harmlessly disintegrate before reaching Earth's surface. But there are exceptions, like the nearly 60-foot meteor that exploded over Russia in 2013, causing considerable damage.

In a 44-page report, Inspector General Paul Martin said the Near Earth Objects program needs to be better organized and managed, with a bigger staff.



Scorland the brave, on the brink

Old Blighty and Scotland the Brave have a lot of friends in places where it won’t do the kingdom much good this week. The vote on whether to break up the United Kingdom, which seems unbelievable to outsiders, is so close that even the queen is getting into it.

On her way out of church in Scotland on Sunday, she stopped to tell a knot of churchgoers, in a carefully set-up encounter, to think not just “carefully,” but “very carefully” before they cast their votes on Thursday. Ordinarily, the queen does not deign to do that, rarely talking to anyone as she leaves the tiny Presbyterian chapel not far from Balmoral Castle in the Scottish highlands. A newspaper photographer assigned to the queen beat says it happens “once or twice in a generation.”



Obama vs. the generals

Pity poor Gen. Lloyd Austin, top commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East.

Rarely has a U.S. general given his commander in chief better military advice, only to see it repeatedly rejected.

In 2010, Gen. Austin advised President Obama against withdrawing all U.S. forces from Iraq, recommending that the president instead leave 24,000 U.S. troops (down from 45,000) to secure the military gains made in the surge and prevent a terrorist resurgence. Had Obama listened to Austin’s counsel, the rise of the Islamic State could have been stopped.

But Obama rejected Austin’s advice and enthusiastically withdrew all U.S. all forces from the country, boasting that he was finally bringing an end to “the long war in Iraq.”




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.

PETRY, LEROY A. Photo

PETRY, LEROY A.

Rank: Staff Sergeant

Organization: U.S. Army
Company: Company D
Division: 2d Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment
Place / Date: 26 May 2008, Paktya Province, Afghanistan

Citation

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty: Staff Sergeant Leroy A. Petry distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty in action with an armed enemy in the vicinity of Paktya Province, Afghanistan, on May 26, 2008. As a Weapons Squad Leader with D Company, 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, Staff Sergeant Petry moved to clear the courtyard of a house that potentially contained high-value combatants. While crossing the courtyard, Staff Sergeant Petry and another Ranger were engaged and wounded by automatic weapons fire from enemy fighters. Still under enemy fire, and wounded in both legs, Staff Sergeant Petry led the other Ranger to cover. He then reported the situation and engaged the enemy with a hand grenade, providing suppression as another Ranger moved to his position. The enemy quickly responded by maneuvering closer and throwing grenades. The first grenade explosion knocked his two fellow Rangers to the ground and wounded both with shrapnel. A second grenade then landed only a few feet away from them. Instantly realizing the danger, Staff Sergeant Petry, unhesitatingly and with complete disregard for his safety, deliberately and selflessly moved forward, picked up the grenade, and in an effort to clear the immediate threat, threw the grenade away from his fellow Rangers. As he was releasing the grenade it detonated, amputating his right hand at the wrist and further injuring him with multiple shrapnel wounds. Although picking up and throwing the live grenade grievously wounded Staff Sergeant Petry, his gallant act undeniably saved his fellow Rangers from being severely wounded or killed. Despite the severity of his wounds, Staff Sergeant Petry continued to maintain the presence of mind to place a tourniquet on his right wrist before communicating the situation by radio in order to coordinate support for himself and his fellow wounded Rangers. Staff Sergeant Petry's extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service, and reflect great credit upon himself, 75th Ranger Regiment, 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.