Wednesday April 1st, 2015

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World & National     

Israeli leader says world needs 'better deal with Iran
                  Speaker of the United States House of Representatives John Boehner, left, and Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, make statements during a pre...

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday made a last-ditch appeal for world powers to call off an emerging nuclear agreement with Iran, saying the world must insist on a "better deal" that links concessions to a change in Tehran's behavior.

His remarks came as U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, arrived as part of a regional visit. U.S. Republicans share Netanyahu's concerns and have pushed for tougher sanctions on Iran, which the White House says would scuttle the talks. Last month, Boehner helped engineer a speech to Congress by Netanyahu, against the White House's wishes, in which the Israeli leader harshly criticized the possible nuclear deal.

As negotiators continued talks in Switzerland a day after abandoning a March 31 deadline to reach the outline of a deal, Netanyahu said world powers were looking to ease sanctions on Iran while it continued to wreak havoc in the Middle East and threaten Israel with annihilation. He said a weak deal will reward Iran's intransigence and endanger not only Israel but other nations in the region.



Iran Nuke talks hit impasse on details

                 French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius (C) walks with others during a break in a meeting with world representatives seeking to pin down a nuclear deal with Iran at the Beau Rivage Palace Hotel in Lausanne March 31, 2015. REUTERS/Brendan Smialowski/Pool

Major powers and Iran were closer to a preliminary accord on reining in Tehran's nuclear programme as marathon talks ran into Wednesday, but they hit an impasse over key details such as the lifting of U.N. sanctions and Iran's future atomic research.

The negotiators ended talks in the Swiss city of Lausanne in the early morning hours with an air of chaos, disunity and cacophony as delegations scrambled to get contradictory viewpoints across.

The six powers - the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China - aim to stop Iran from gaining the capacity to develop a nuclear bomb in exchange for easing international sanctions that are crippling its economy. Iran says its nuclear programme is peaceful.

Bibi Blasts Talks After Iranian General Says 'Israel's Destruction Is Non-Negotiable'...
'But Evidently Giving Iran's Murderous Regime a Clear Path to the Bomb Is Negotiable'...
HOWARD DEAN: Walk away!
Iranian plane buzzes Navy copter...
PAPER: Even Chamberlain would not make deal Obama eager to conclude...
REPORT: Obama Advisor Worked for Pro-Khamenei Lobbying Group...
Saudis Make Own Moves...
Yemen nears 'total collapse' as Mideast powers trade blame...



Obama Plans 'Executive Order' for UN Climate Rules


The Obama administration's plan for U.N. climate change talks encountered swift opposition after its release Tuesday, with Republican leaders warning other countries to "proceed with caution" in negotiations with Washington because any deal could be later undone.

The White House is seeking to enshrine its pledge in a global climate agreement to be negotiated Nov. 30 to Dec. 11 in Paris. It calls for cutting greenhouse gas emissions by close to 28 percent from 2005 levels within a decade, using a host of existing laws and executive actions targeting power plants, vehicles, oil and gas production and buildings.

But Republican critics say the administration lacks the political and legal backing to commit the United States to an international agreement.

"Considering that two-thirds of the U.S. federal government hasn't even signed off on the Clean Power Plan and 13 states have already pledged to fight it, our international partners should proceed with caution before entering into a binding, unattainable deal,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said.



16 Major Companies Protesting States' New Anti-Gay Laws
               tim cook apple

The passage of an Indiana law that critics warn could lead to business owners refusing service to LGBT customers has triggered protests from some of the biggest companies in the country. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act will allow individuals and corporations to use religion as a defense if they are sued.

The Arkansas Senate last Friday approved a similar bill aiming to protect religious beliefs.

Here are some of the biggest businesses speaking out against these laws.
                                                             


Obama New Spending Website Rolls Back Transparency

A redesign of a transparency website that provides information on federal spending by the Obama administration now makes it much more difficult to see how taxpayer dollars are spent.

Usaspending.gov, a website mandated by law to provide detailed information on every federal contract over $3,000, received a makeover on Tuesday. Users can no longer search federal spending by keywords, sort contracts by date, or easily find detailed information on awards, which are delivered in bulk.

Information, such as how much the Pentagon spends on Viagra, used to be available at the click of a button. Locating those same contracts on the new website is virtually impossible, akin to finding a needle in a haystack.



Arkansas Governor Asks Lawmsakers to Recall Contentious Religious Freedodm Bill

Gov. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas on Wednesday called on the state lawmakers to recall or amend legislation billed as a religious freedom measure to make it mirror a federal version passed in 1993.

Mr. Hutchinson, a Republican, said he understood how divided the state and the country was over same-sex marriage and religious freedom — his own son, Seth, had asked him to veto the bill, which critics say could allow individuals and businesses to discriminate against gay men and lesbians.

He said he was also considering using an executive order that would make “Arkansas a place of tolerance.”



Iraqi defense minister declares vicgtory in city of Tikrit

A top Iraqi official on Wednesday declared victory in the fight to push the militant group Islamic State out of Tikrit, though there were reports that gunfire continued in the northern city.

Defense Minister Khaled Obeidi made the declaration in a pomp-ridden video broadcast on state channels and social media, saying pro-government forces had achieved a "brilliant victory" not only in the city about 90 miles north of Baghdad but in surrounding Salahuddin province.



Returning to 'Made in the USA'


Now that the presidential race is in full swing, it’s time for robust talking about issues and creating awareness about problems, which only seem to come to light when the American public is focused choosing a new national leader.

We’ve already heard some suggestions that are music to my ears, like radical overhaul of the Internal Revenue Service, repealing Common Core and restoring America’s position as a country that’s secure at home and respected abroad.

There’s one key issue, though, which both candidates and the press haven’t paid nearly enough attention to and, in my view, could be the determining issue for who sits in the White House in January of 2017: restoring manufacturing jobs.

During the past 20 years, it’s estimated that America has lost more than 6 million manufacturing jobs. Think about that. These were real jobs with real wages. These weren’t jobs flipping burgers or stacking shelves at a department store. These were jobs that allowed you to feed your kids, save for retirement and maybe go out to dinner occasionally.



Adding corruption to Obamacare incomptence


Deception and unaccountability have plagued Obamacare from the start. First, millions of Americans found out that, contrary to promises, they couldn’t keep the health insurance plans they liked. Then a botched website rollout spoiled the law’s enrollment debut. Now, in the law’s first real tax season, the federal government sent 800,000 enrollees incorrect tax forms.

These episodes can be chalked up to government incompetence at best, broken campaign promises at worst. But the latest Obamacare mishap in Oregon has the makings of a real scandal, and shows the law is not only unworkable, but has been a platform for serious government back-dealing and corruption.

John Kitzhaber, the now disgraced ex-governor of Oregon, recently resigned amid various charges of corruption involving his fiancee Cylvia Hayes, who allegedly used their relationship to secure consulting jobs for her firm and for personal financial gain.



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.