Wednesday August 27th, 2014

"It Is Not A Question of Who Is Right Or Wrong But What Is Right Or Wrong That Counts."
--Geoff Metcalf

Updated 1241 PDT                               
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World & National                 
Obama Pursuing Climate Accord Without Congress?
          

The Obama administration is working to forge a sweeping international climate change agreement to compel nations to cut their planet-warming fossil fuel emissions, but without ratification from Congress.

In preparation for this agreement, to be signed at a United Nations summit meeting in 2015 in Paris, the negotiators are meeting with diplomats from other countries to broker a deal to commit some of the world’s largest economies to enact laws to reduce their carbon pollution. But under the Constitution, a president may enter into a legally binding treaty only if it is approved by a two-thirds majority of the Senate.



IMF Chief charged over graft case
              


IMF chief Christine Lagarde, one of the world's most powerful women, announced Wednesday she had been charged with "negligence" over a multi-million-euro graft case relating to her time as French finance minister.

The shock announcement came a day after she was grilled for more than 15 hours by a special court in Paris that probes ministerial misconduct, the fourth time she has been questioned in a case that has long weighed upon her position as managing director of the International Monetary Fund.



IRS ethics lawyer facing possible disbarment, accused of lying

A lawyer in the IRS ethics office is facing the possibility of being disbarred, according to records that accuse her of lying to a court-appointed board and hiding what she’d done with money from a settlement that was supposed to go to two medical providers who had treated her client.

The disciplinary arm of the D.C. Court of Appeals has recommended that Takisha McGee, a section manager in the IRS Office of Professional Responsibility, lose her law license over the charge, which stems from a personal injury case she worked about a year before she joined the tax agency.



Professor Bans College Students From Saying 'Bless You' in Class

One professor at the College of Coastal Georgia has banned students from saying “bless you” in his class.

Campus Reform reports that Dr. Leon Gardner, assistant professor of chemistry at the College of Coastal Georgia, pointed out his six rules on behavior on his Introductory Physics class syllabus.

According to the #6 under the “Behavioral Deduction” section of the syllabus, students’ grades will be lowered for: “Saying ‘bless you.’ We are taught that it is polite to say ‘bless you’ when someone sneezes. However, if you say this while I am talking, it is NOT polite, it is very rude!”



Cease-Fire Extended, but Not on Hamas's Terms

After 50 days of fighting that took some 2,200 lives, leveled large areas of the Gaza Strip and paralyzed Israel’s south for the summer, Israeli and Palestinian leaders reached an open-ended cease-fire agreement on Tuesday that promised only limited change to conditions in Gaza and left unresolved the broader issues underpinning the conflict.

Hamas, the militant Islamist faction that dominates Gaza, declared victory even though it had abandoned most of its demands, ultimately accepting an Egyptian-brokered deal that differs little from one proffered on the battle’s seventh day. In effect, the deal put both sides back where they were at the end of eight days of fighting in 2012, with terms that called for easing but not lifting Israeli restrictions on travel, trade and fishing in Gaza.



Netanyahu's cabinet in revolt over Gaza ceasefire
Israel's fragile coalition government is threatened by the Gaza ceasefire, which the prime minister agreed without putting it to a vote
                Mr Netanyahu produced a legal opinion which stated that a vote on the Gaza ceasefire was not necessary

Israel's acceptance of an Egyptian ceasefire proposal may have temporarily ended the war with Hamas – but the move has sparked a row within Israel's security cabinet that now threatens the future of the country's coalition government.

Over half of Israel's cabinet members are said to have opposed the ceasefire deal which entered into effect on Tuesday evening, with many members furious that Mr Netanyahu opted not to bring it up to a vote.

Discussions over the ceasefire between Israel, Egypt and the Palestinians have been going over the weekend – but during this time, Mr Netanyahu is said to have kept his cabinet out of the loop, Israeli daily Haaretz reported.



Syrian Rebels Seize Crossing Point With Golan Heights

Islamist opposition fighters in Syria, including members of an Al Qaeda affiliate, took control of the Quneitra crossing point on the demarcation line with the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, activists said on Wednesday.

The move could bring Islamist forces within 200 yards of territory controlled by Israel. An activist in the area, contacted by Skype, said a coalition of Islamists, including members of the Qaeda-linked Nusra Front, opened an assault on the government-held crossing early Wednesday. The status of a United Nations force that is supposed to monitor the crossing point was unclear.



Rand Paul: Hillary's 'War Hawk' Policies Led to Beghazi Attack, Rise of ISIS

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) certainly has a knack for boldness. On Sunday's Meet the Press, he dubbed U.S. military engagement in Libya “Hillary’s war” and stated the rise of the Islamic State (ISIS) is not a result of President Obama's inaction in the Middle East but the unintended consequence of the U.S. military engagement in Libya.

The comments predictably caused heads in the GOP's foreign policy establishment to explode. The Washington Post's Jennifer Rubin called the rhetorical gambit “ludicrous” and said Paul holds the same views as his father, the libertarian former-Rep. Ron Paul. In an email to me, John Yoo, the former top Justice Department official in the Bush administration, said Paul is the Republicans' “own version of George McGovern.”



Congressman: Md. Health Exchange Under Review For Possible Fraud

A Maryland Congressman says subpoenas are being issued in a federal investigation into Maryland’s health exchange. He believes there was fraud in the system that cost taxpayers millions but didn’t work right at the start.

Congressman Andy Harris says there appears to be evidence of fraud. He is Maryland’s only Republican in Congress and has fought Obamacare. But this investigation—if it’s happening—is being conducted by what is supposed to be a non-political government agency.



Border chaos: 375,000 pending immigration cases, Obama lawers AWOL

Two top federal judges Wednesday said the nation’s immigration courts are in chaos, with the backlog of cases at an historic high of 375,000 for just 227 judges, leading to a minimum three-year delay in hearings for illegal immigrants.

In Washington to take advantage of the current crisis to demand a new court system, the judges accused the Justice Department of treating their courts like Cinderella’s abusive family by starving them of money and support and blamed the insufficient Justice funding for letting illegals “linger” in the country.



Mother Pleads to ISIS Leader for Son's Release
 
The mother of an American journalist held captive by militant group Islamic State released a video on Wednesday appealing directly to the group's leader for his release.

"I am sending this message to you, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi al-Quraishi al-Hussaini, the caliph of the Islamic State. I am Shirley Sotloff. My son Steven is in your hands," Sotloff said in the video, obtained by the New York Times.

"I ask you to use your authority to spare his life and to follow the example set by the Prophet Mohammed, who protected people of The Book (Christians and Jews)," she said. She added that her son is an "honorable man and has always tried to help the weak."



Bobby Jindal Suing Feds Over Common Core

Gov. Bobby Jindal planned to file a lawsuit Wednesday against the Obama administration, accusing it of illegally manipulating federal grant money and regulations to force states to adopt the Common Core education standards.

The U.S. Department of Education has used a $4.3 billion grant program and federal policy waivers to encourage states to adopt uniform education standards and testing. The Republican governor says that "effectively forces states down a path toward a national curriculum" in violation of the state sovereignty clause in the Constitution and federal laws that prohibit national control of education content.

A draft copy of the lawsuit was provided to The Associated Press by the governor's office. Jindal planned to file it Wednesday in the federal court based in Baton Rouge.



Media earn failing grade for poor Common Core coverage

If concerned citizens want to inform themselves on one of the most important issues in their lives — the education of their children — they would be hard-pressed to get any significant help from the national media.

Take, for example, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s decision this week to file a lawsuit against the federal government over Common Core, the set of national educational guidelines many people have found wanting. Only a handful of news organizations reported on Mr. Jindal’s legal action, which maintained the Obama administration planned to nationalize public education — an institution usually under the purview of state and local governments.



Obama's anti-business tax agenda chasing Burger King to Canada

Burger King’s effort to acquire Tim Horton‘s, a Canadian purveyor of coffee and doughnuts, is a good business decision, but its choice to locate corporate headquarters north of the border would be the direct result of President Obama’s anti-business tax policies.

Burger King is a well managed global enterprise with stores in nearly 100 countries, and half its profits earned abroad. Like rival McDonald’s, its sales are declining, as millennials turn away from hamburgers, and it is seeking other avenues to expand.

McDonald’s is getting into coffee—a high margin business—in a big way, and Tim Horton’s java knowledge offers Burger King the opportunity to do the same.



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.
CARPENTER, WILLIAM KYLE Photo

CARPENTER, WILLIAM KYLE
Rank: Lance Corporal
U.S. Marine Corps
Citation

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as an Automatic Rifleman with Company F, 2d Battalion, 9th Marines, Regimental Combat Team 1, 1st Marine Division (Forward), 1 Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward), in Helmand Province, Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom on 21 November 2010. Lance Corporal Carpenter was a member of a platoon-sized coalition force, comprised of two reinforced Marine squads partnered with an Afghan National Army squad. The platoon had established Patrol Base Dakota two days earlier in a small village in the Marjah District in order to disrupt enemy activity and provide security for the local Afghan population. Lance Corporal Carpenter and a fellow Marine were manning a rooftop security position on the perimeter of Patrol Base Dakota when the enemy initiated a daylight attack with hand grenades, one of which landed inside their sandbagged position. Without hesitation, and with complete disregard for his own safety, Lance Corporal Carpenter moved toward the grenade in an attempt to shield his fellow Marine from the deadly blast. When the grenade detonated, his body absorbed the brunt of the blast, severely wounding him, but saving the life of his fellow Marine. By his undaunted courage, bold fighting spirit, and unwavering devotion to duty in the face of almost certain death, Lance Corporal Carpenter reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.



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.