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U.S. and Cuba to Start Talks on Normalizing Relations
The United States will open talks with Cuba aimed at
restoring full diplomatic relations and opening an embassy in Havana for
the first time in more than a half century after the release of an
American contractor held in prison for five years, American officials
President Obama plans to make a televised statement from the White House
at noon about the breakthrough, which opens the door to a major
international initiative that could help shape his legacy heading into
his final two years in office.
Mr. Gross, who has been serving a 15-year sentence in a Cuban prison for
trying to bring Internet services to Cuba, was released and put on an
American government airplane bound for the United States, officials
said. His captivity has been a longstanding obstacle to Mr. Obama’s
desire to transform relations with the island nation.
Will make surprise announcement at White House today...
Seeks to 'normalize' relationship...
RUBIO: 'Terrible setback for the oppressed'...
Dem: Rewards 'brutal behavior'...
Pope Heavily Involved...
Anger and grief as Pakistan buries students massacred at school
A shocked Pakistan on Wednesday began burying 132 students killed in a
grisly attack on their school by Taliban militants that has heaped
pressure on the government to do more to tackle the insurgency.
People across the country lit candles and staged vigils as parents bade
final farewells to their children during mass funerals in and around
Peshawar, the volatile city on the edge of Pakistan's lawless tribal
belt where the school was located.
Federal Judge Rules Obama's Amnesty Edict is Unconstitutional
A federal district court judge in Pennsylvania has ruled parts
of President Barack Obama's executive immigration orders
unconstitutional, accusing him of bypassing Congress in granting
deportation relief and work permits to as many as 6 million illegal
The decision on Tuesday by Judge Arthur Schwab in Pittsburgh dismisses
the White House's legal reasoning in granting the orders, which Obama
announced in a prime-time speech on cable television on Nov. 20.
Schwab's ruling, described by The Washington Times as "scathing," said
that the president had the authority to issue executive orders and
interpret the law. But "Obama’s unilateral legislative action violates
the separation of powers provided for in the United States Constitution
... and therefore is unconstitutional," Schwab said in his 38-page
Obamas on Race: We've Been Treated Like the Help
President and Michelle Obama personally identify with everyday
experiences of racial bias in America that have underpinned recent
protests across the country, they told People magazine in an interview
to be released Friday.
“Barack Obama was a black man that lived on the South Side of Chicago,
who had his share of troubles catching cabs," Michelle Obama told the
On one occasion, she said, her husband “was wearing a tuxedo at a black-tie dinner, and somebody asked him to get coffee.”
Consumer Prices in U.S. Decline by Most in Six Years on Fuel
The cost of living in the U.S. fell in November by the most in almost
six years, depressed by falling energy prices that signal inflation will
stay below the Federal Reserve’s goal well into 2015.
The consumer-price index dropped 0.3 percent, the most since December
2008, after being little changed the prior month, a Labor Department
report showed today in Washington. The median forecast of 84 economists
surveyed by Bloomberg called for a 0.1 percent fall. Costs rose 1.3
percent over the past year, the least since February. Excluding volatile
food and fuel, the so-called core measure rose at a slower pace than in
What did Hillary say about the torture report?
Hillary Rodham Clinton said Tuesday she's proud to have been part of an
administration that "banned illegal renditions and brutal
interrogations" and said the U.S. should never be involved in torture
anywhere in the world.
Clinton spoke about the importance of the nation acting in accordance
with its values after receiving an award from The Robert F. Kennedy
Center for Justice & Human Rights at a gala in New York.
"Today we can say again in a loud and clear voice that the United States
should never condone or practice torture anywhere in the world,"
Clinton told the audience. "That should be absolutely clear as a matter
of both policy and law, including our international treaty obligations."
Hillary Could Be Called to Defend Embassy Security
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton could be called to testify
before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in the next
Congress, said the incoming committee chairman, Rep. Jason Chaffetz.
According to The Hill, the committee intends to investigate the issue of
embassy security in the coming congressional session, and the Utah
Republican said that Clinton's record in managing it as secretary of
state will be examined.
He said Clinton, "changed the way we do embassy security and how we
build the infrastructure there and she created a mess. It's a disaster!"
The Hill reported.
Ruble Slide Resumes as Russian Govt Purchases Fail to Halt Decline
The dramatic fall in Russia's ruble slowed on Wednesday, with the
government selling foreign currency to prop it up after a 50 percent
fall against the dollar this year.
Losses were partly contained by exporters selling dollars in preparation
for paying their monthly tax bills but the slide was less precipitous
than in the past two days when it fell about 20 percent against the
At 1008 GMT, the ruble was down around 1.6 percent against the dollar at
68.58 rubles per dollar and was 0.3 percent weaker versus the euro at
Israel suffers sharp rebuffs from Europe
Israel suffered back-to-back diplomatic setbacks in Europe on Wednesday
as Palestinians headed to the United Nations to try to set a two-year
deadline for an Israeli withdrawal.
In Geneva, the international community delivered a stinging rebuke to
Israel's settlement construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem,
saying the practice violates Israel's responsibilities as an occupying
"This is a signal and we can hope that words count," said Swiss
ambassador Paul Fivat, who chaired the conference of the Fourth Geneva
Convention, which governs the rules of war and military occupation. The
U.S. and Israel did not take part in the one-day meeting.
The truth about the CIA, torture, and congressional ingratitude
unconscionable torture in Senator Diane Feinstein’s Senate Intelligence
Oversight Committee Report is to the public forced to hear of this
shameless betrayal of those who, following explicit orders from these
same members of Congress, bravely did their bidding and served the
country post-9/11 after the death of more than 3,000 Americans.
More than a
decade later the overthrown Democratic Congress has decided to give
parting shots at those it deems responsible for being tossed out of
office. The Senate CIA Torture Report was picked up worldwide —
unblinkingly swallowed whole – and handed to a gullible public who sees
the spectacle as Pin the Blame on Another Government Scapegoat…the
latest episode of the program they saw last year when it was the
National Security Agency (NSA) which Congress and the White House
betrayed and pilloried.
Democrats' wasteful torture report
release of a Senate report commissioned by Democrats regarding torture
of terrorism suspects in order to obtain vital information was, in my
opinion, a waste of $40 million of taxpayer money.
It already had
been documented extensively that three suspects were waterboarded and
that techniques such as sleep deprivation were used to extract vital
information from terrorists. That information played a part in the
apprehension or annihilation of many upper-echelon terrorist leaders,
including Osama bin Laden. The high-profile release of this information
at a time when we are engaged in war with various terrorist groups
demonstrates a profound lack of wisdom, since this information will be
undoubtedly used as an effective recruitment tool by our enemies.
Medal of Honor is the highest award for valor in action
enemy force which can be bestowed upon an individual serving
Armed Services of the United States.
to its recipient by the President of the
United States of America in the name of Congress.
first award of the Medal of Honor was made March 25, 1863 to
JACOB PARROTT.The last award of the Medal of Honor was made
September 15, 2011
to Sergeant DAKOTA MEYER.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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