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World & National

Putin ignores Obama as Russia launches first airstrikes in Syria
President Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin dispensed with pleasantries as they headed into a bilateral meeting Monday at U.N. headquarters. Mr. Putin later said the discussion was "surprisingly" constructive and frank. (Associated Press)

Russia has conducted its first airstrike in Syria, near the city of Homs, a senior U.S. official confirmed Wednesday.

Russia had warned the U.S. not to fly warplanes in Syria, but gave no geographical information on where they planned to strike, CNN reported.

The U.S. official told CNN that U.S. missions in the region are continuing as normal.

The strike came after the upper house of the Russian parliament granted President Vladimir Putin approval to use the Russian air force in Syria on Wednesday, according to state media.

Hurricane Joaqin to Track Near EAst Coast

Joaquin may converge with another slow-moving storm in the East to add to a serious flooding situation into early next week.

According to AccuWeather Chief Meteorologist Elliot Abrams, "The dry spell and local drought conditions will be washed away by heavy rain and flooding."

JUMP TO: Joaquin's Potential Impact on the East Coast

Small stream and urban flooding are a given in this case. How significant river flooding becomes will depend on duration, intensity and location of the subsequent rounds of rain.

Double Dipping Hillary aide Huma

Hillary aide paid by private firm to stage event with Bill Clinton while at State
             Huma Abedin, long-time aide of former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, was paid by a private firm to help stage an event with former President Bill Clinton. (Associated Press)

While still working at the State Department, Hillary Rodham Clinton confidante Huma Abedin was paid by the private consulting firm Teneo Holdings to help stage a star-studded reception that included her boss’ husband, Bill Clinton, along with George W. Bush and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair as speakers just days after the Benghazi tragedy, The Washington Times has learned.

Ms. Abedin’s work on the Sept. 20, 2012, event at the glamorous Essex House in New York City, helped entertain potential Teneo clients, wowing them with access to three former world leaders on a single stage.

Senate approves temporary spending bill; House to follow

The Senate voted Wednesday to fund federal operations through Dec. 11, pressuring the House to follow suit before a midnight deadline to avert a government shutdown.

Thirty-two Republicans and 46 members of the Democratic caucus teamed to pass the continuing resolution, or “CR,” on a 78-20 vote, buying several weeks for top congressional leaders and the White House to strike a potential deal on spending.

Islamic State, al Qaeda gains in Afghanistan test security force

Both al Qaeda and an emerging Islamic State are making gains simultaneously in Afghanistan, providing the biggest test to date for an Afghan National Security Force handed the operational lead by the U.S.

The Institute for the Study of War in Washington reported on Tuesday that Taliban militants now control Kunduz province. They are members of the Islamic Jihad Union, which supports Taliban leader Mullah Mansour and al Qaeda.

David Cameron slams Obama: 'Barack, biggest problem we have is Islamist extremism'

British Prime Minister David Cameron challenged President Obama with some blunt talk on Islamist extremism Tuesday during a gathering of world leaders at the United Nations to develop an international strategy for defeating the Islamic State and other terrorist groups.

Well aware that Mr. Obama shuns the term “Islamist extremists,” the Conservative British prime minister reacted strongly at the meeting when the president, who chaired the session, advised the assembled foreign leaders to avoid profiling Muslims because “violent extremism is not unique to any one faith.”

“Barack, you said it and you’re right — every religion has its extremists,” Mr. Cameron said. “But we have to be frank that the biggest problem we have today is the Islamist extremist violence that has given birth to ISIL, to al-Shabab, to al-Nusra, al Qaeda and so many other groups.”

House Conservatives Pushsing Rep. Gowdy for Top Leadership

House conservatives are pushing for South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy as the No. 2 leader in the chamber following last week's surprise resignation of Speaker John Boehner.

"He is the kind of smart fighter our country needs and the American people deserve," Utah Rep. Mia Love said in a statement to The New York Times on Tuesday. "With impressive communication skills, genuine compassion and the tenacity of a prosecutor, he will unite the party and the people around a truly American agenda."

House panel votes to scrap Obamacare mandates

The House Ways and Means Committee moved Tuesday to chip away at Obamacare by using a fast-track budget tool to repeal the law’s most unpopular taxes and provisions, including the mandate requiring Americans to hold insurance.

Chairman Paul Ryan said the tool, known as reconciliation, offered congressional Republicans their best chance to voice their objections to the Affordable Care Act of 2010, as they only need majority support in the Senate to send a bill to the White House.

Outsiders Trump, Carson, Carly Dominate GOP Field

Political outsiders Donald Trump, Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina dominate the GOP presidential field's top tier, but their favorability with voters vary widely, a new poll finds.

In the Washington Post-ABC News survey released Wednesday morning, retired pediatric surgeon Carson gets a better overall positive rating, 45 percent favorable to 27 percent unfavorable, while Trump has a 35 percent favorable and 60 percent unfavorable split, and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Fiorina comes in with a 35 percent favorable and 30 percent unfavorable rating.

A rush to fill the power vacuum

Putin and friends seize the international role that Obama relinquished

For every nuanced policy argument over isolationism versus interventionism, the unavoidable truth — however unpleasant it may be — is this: If the United States is not the world’s foremost power, someone else will be. And the story of the Obama administration’s foreign policy doctrine consists of example after example of President Obama choosing to disengage from the rest of the world, leaving behind a power vacuum that various bad actors have been more than eager to fill. His latest foreign policy initiative, a deal to lift sanctions against Iran in exchange for a pause in their nuclear weapons development, is no exception and spells bad news for America and her allies.

The first six months of Mr. Obama’s presidency were spent circling the globe on an apology tour seeking forgiveness for the “darker period in our history,” throughout which “America has shown arrogance” and gone “off course” by “sacrificing [our] values.” During this same time, he dispatched Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Geneva with a bright, red “reset” button to make peace with the Russians, quickly caving to their demands by canceling our missile defense system in Eastern Europe. This betrayal of our allies in pursuit of finding common ground with an obvious adversary would be a harbinger of things to come. It wouldn’t take long before the administration announced its “pivot” to Asia, making official what the world had long suspected: America no longer had an interest in Europe or the Middle East.

Arming military personnel will deter terrorists

Potential targets at bases and recruiting centers deserve protection

The current Department of Defense practice of not arming guards at military facilities such as recruitment centers must be changed to safeguard our military personnel against terrorists. This policy made it easy for Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez to exploit the lack of perimeter security at the Chattanooga, Tenn. recruiting center to easily shoot his military victims from his car last July, killing four Marines and a Navy sailor. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Timothy White was able to use his personal weapon to engage the attacker at the second facility.

                 Medal of Honor
Army Medal of HonorNavy Medal of HonorAir Force 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.

Rank: Captain
Organization: U.S. Army
Date of Issue: 07/08/2002

Captain Humbert R. Versace distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism during the period of 29 October 1963 to 26 September 1965, while serving as S-2 Advisor, Military Assistance Advisory Group, Detachment 52, Ca Mau, Republic of Vietnam. While accompanying a Civilian Irregular Defense Group patrol engaged in combat operations in Thoi Binh District, An Xuyen Province, Captain Versace and the patrol came under sudden and intense mortar, automatic weapons, and small arms fire from elements of a heavily armed enemy battalion. As the battle raged, Captain Versace, although severely wounded in the knee and back by hostile fire, fought valiantly and continued to engage enemy targets. Weakened by his wounds and fatigued by the fierce firefight, Captain Versace stubbornly resisted capture by the over-powering Viet Cong force with the last full measure of his strength and ammunition. Taken prisoner by the Viet Cong, he exemplified the tenets of the Code of Conduct from the time he entered into Prisoner of War status. Captain Versace assumed command of his fellow American soldiers, scorned the enemy's exhaustive interrogation and indoctrination efforts, and made three unsuccessful attempts to escape, despite his weakened condition which was brought about by his wounds and the extreme privation and hardships he was forced to endure. During his captivity, Captain Versace was segregated in an isolated prisoner of war cage, manacled in irons for prolonged periods of time, and placed on extremely reduced ration. The enemy was unable to break his indomitable will, his faith in God, and his trust in the United States of America. Captain Versace, an American fighting man who epitomized the principles of his country and the Code of Conduct, was executed by the Viet Cong on 26 September 1965. Captain Versace's gallant actions in close contact with an enemy force and unyielding courage and bravery while a prisoner of war are in the highest traditions of the military service and reflect the utmost credit upon himself 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.