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World & National     

Court rules Obama must rewrite pollution rules


President Obama’s environmental agenda suffered another loss in court Tuesday when a federal appeals panel ordered the administration to rewrite rules limiting cross-state pollution.

In its ruling, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia affirmed the Environmental Protection Agency’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, meant to stop upwind states from producing pollution that drifts into neighboring states and pushes them out of compliance with federal standards. But while the court upheld the plan itself, the judges said the EPA’s limits on 13 states, mostly in the South and Midwest, were far too strict and must be redone.



Earth Will Only Have 12 Hours to Prepare for Massive Solar Storm
                         Earth Will Only Have 12 Hours To Prepare For Massive Solar Storm

Trains will be disrupted, power will go out, satellite signals will go wonky - that’s what we have to look forward to when the sun next has a melt down, and we’re unlikely to get more than 12 hours warning.

In a new government document, the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills has laid out its Space Weather Preparedness Strategy, outlining the risks of unsettled space weather as well as what it plans to do about them.

The document explains that the worst case scenario is a ‘coronal mass ejection’ - huge eruptions on the sun which cause parts of its corona to detach. The corona is the pearly glow around the sun that you can only usually see during a total solar eclipse, made up of plasma and rarefied gases.



John Boehner coup: Motion to oust House Speaker
                         House Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, "has endeavored to consolidate power and centralize decision-making, bypassing the majority of the 435 Members of Congress and the people they represent," said Rep. Mark Meadows, North Carolina Republican, in his motion. (Associated Press)

Tea party champion Rep. Mark Meadows filed a motion Tuesday to oust House Speaker John A. Boehner from his leadership post, escalating the feud between a faction of conservative lawmakers and the Republican leadership.

Mr. Meadows, North Carolina Republican, filed a motion to “vacate the chair,” which could force a no-confidence vote by the full chamber and result in the removal of Mr. Boehner as speaker.



Judge threatens to hold Obama's lawyers in contempt over Lerner's IRS emails

A federal judge rebuked the Obama administration’s IRS Wednesday for refusing to divulge documents, including Lois G. Lerner emails, and warned he would hold those who break his orders in contempt.

Judge Emmet G. Sullivan called the administration’s defense “nonsensical” and said the IRS must release documents every Monday to Judicial Watch, a conservative public interest law firm that requested the documents under open-records laws, and then sued after the IRS didn’t comply.



Newly recovered Lois Lerner emails shows IRS tried to cover up tea party targeting
                      Lois G. Lerner, who was head of the IRS division that scrutinized the tea party applications until she retired while under investigation in 2013, suffered a computer hard drive crash that cost potentially thousands of emails that should have been part of the record. (Associated Press)

The IRS sent one of its intrusive scrutiny letters to a nonprofit group in order to throw up a smokescreen and prevent the group from complaining to Congress about poor treatment, according to one of Lois G. Lerner’s apparently lost emails, which were recovered by auditors and released by an interest group Tuesday.

Judicial Watch, which sued to force the production of the Lerner emails, said the emails confirm that Ms. Lerner, the central figure in the targeting probe, and her colleagues were aware of the sensitive nature of the cases but appeared to hide details of the massive backlog they were amassing as they held up hundreds of tea party and conservative group applications for nonprofit status.



John Kerry grilled over nuclear deal
Lawmakers stress lack of trust in Iran

Iran’s long record of evading and concealing its nuclear programs from U.N. inspectors hung like a specter over Capitol Hill on Tuesday, as Secretary of State John F. Kerry and other top administration officials faced their second sharp grilling in as many weeks from lawmakers weighing whether to support the Iranian nuclear deal.

The question of how the U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, will truly be able to verify that Iran is not secretly pursuing nuclear weapons took center stage — with the House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Edward R. Royce, California Republican, questioning early in a hearing on the nuclear accord whether Tehran has “earned the right to be trusted.”



Fox News tweaks debate rules to allow more candidates to participate


The trailing candidates in the crowded Republican presidential field can now more easily qualify for Fox News’s pre-debate debate next week in Cleveland.

According to multiple news outlets, Fox News is dropping the requirement that potential candidates average 1 percent support to get into the earlier candidate forum, which lasts one hour and starts at the much less attractive 5 p.m. time slot on Aug. 6. Only the 10 highest-polling candidates will appear in the 90-minute prime-time 9 p.m. main event.

The change is expected to benefit such candidates as Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Sen. Lindsey Graham and businesswoman Carly Fiorina, all of whom have struggled even to breach consistently the 1 percent mark in polling, but who are now ensured of appearing to a national audience.



Convicted Israeli spy Johnathan Pollard wins parole


Convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard will be released in November after being granted parole, his lawyers said Tuesday, sparking outrage in the national security community over the man who stole so many U.S. military secrets that he needed suitcases to deliver them.

Both Pollard’s lawyers and Obama administration officials denied that his planned release from a federal prison in North Carolina on Nov. 21 is connected to the administration’s nuclear deal with Iran, which has infuriated the Israelis. The administration didn’t oppose Pollard’s bid for parole.



Trump: No Debate Coach; 'I Am What I Am'

Donald Trump told CNN on Tuesday he has no debate coach as the first GOP presidential debate approaches next week. Instead, he'll just be himself.

"I am what I am," Trump told CNN's Don Lemon in an interview set to air Tuesday night.

"Romney had a debate coach, and Obama had a debate coach," Trump said in a preview aired on CNN's "The Situation Room." "I thought Obama was terrible, but Romney got worse and worse every time there was a debate. By the time they had third debate he was catastrophic."



Baptists, Mormons Both Slam Boy Scouts Over Gay Leadership

A decision by the Boy Scouts of America to allow gay leaders was met with indignation by the largest U.S. Protestant group on Tuesday along with criticism from a leading gay rights group that the move did not go far enough.

About 70 percent of the roughly 100,000 U.S. Boy Scout units are sponsored by religious institutions, and many said the Monday decision runs counter to the moral standards set by the 105-year-old youth organization.

"We express consummate sadness that this once vibrant organization continues to cave to social pressure, compromising its long-held, constitutionally protected tenets," said Roger "Sing" Oldham, a spokesman for the Nashville-based Southern Baptist Convention.



Tom Brady: I Replaced Broken Cell Phone, Not Hiding Texts

Tom Brady lashed out at the NFL on his Facebook page, accusing the commission that investigated him of unfair treatment and saying he did not attempt to destroy texts on his cell phone during the probe.

The full text of his statement is here: 

I am very disappointed by the NFL's decision to uphold the 4 game suspension against me. I did nothing wrong, and no one in the Patriots organization did either.

Despite submitting to hours of testimony over the past 6 months, it is disappointing that the Commissioner upheld my suspension based upon a standard that it was "probable" that I was "generally aware" of misconduct. The fact is that neither I, nor any equipment person, did anything of which we have been accused. He dismissed my hours of testimony and it is disappointing that he found it unreliable.



State Spokesman Repeatedly Refuses to Answer Whether There Are 'Side Dea' Btween Iran and Nuclear Watchdog

State Department spokesman John Kirby repeatedly refused to answer direct questions from MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough Wednesday over whether he knew about reported “side deals” between Iran and the nuclear watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that would not be subject to scrutiny by Congress or the American public.

“I won’t speak for the IAEA,” Kirby said. “What I can tell you is that all relevant documents to this deal, certainly all those in our possession, have been delivered to Congress. They were delivered over the weekend, and they’ll have access to everything that we have access to.”

The U.N. nuclear watchdog plays the critical role of verification in the agreement by seeking to ensure Iran is not violating it with illicit nuclear activity.



China's Rigged Marekts Will Ultimately Destabilize Global Capitalism

Beijing’s efforts to engineer a strong stock rally and the recent Shanghai market collapse have had quite limited effects on western markets, but going forward the fallout from Chinese market meddling will likely be less benign.

Unlike western corporations, Chinese businesses are much more dependent on bank financing than selling stock to raise capital. And ordinary Chinese workers have more of their savings in banks and less in equities than Americans.

Chinese banks are predominantly state owned, and funding for projects too often reflects the goals of the State Council — a political body, analog to a western government’s cabinet, that also sets broad monetary, fiscal and industrial policy goals.



Reviving 'peace through strength'

Ever since the Ayatollah Khomeini and his Islamist storm troops took over Iran in 1979, the driving force of the country’s rulers has been (1) destroy Israel; (2) establish Iran as the hegemonist of the Middle East; and (3) drive out all Western influences from the region. Their efforts to create a nuclear arsenal has been part of their strategy to accomplish these goals.

Sanctions and endless negotiations have been speed bumps, but the porous “deal” President Obama has engineered will probably amount to no more than another speed bump to such a determined adversar



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.