[VIDEO] North Korea’s Satellite-Launch Plan Condemned

The U.S., South Korea and Japan condemned North Korea’s plan to launch a long-range rocket that Pyongyang says is carrying an earth-observation satellite. Photo: Airbus Defense & Space and 38 North satellite imagery.


Author of Benghazi Book Mitchell Zuckoff Stands by Pivotal ‘Stand-Down’ Scene

Bay

Jocelyn Noveck reports: “Stand down,” says the actor playing the CIA station chief in Michael Bay‘s new film, “13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi.” He’s speaking to the security team that wants to go help Americans under siege less than a mile away in a U.S. diplomatic compound under fierce attack. His order keeps the team from leaving for a crucial 20 minutes, before they decide to ignore him and go anyway.

“We worked very hard to get the facts right from the research of the book that Mitch did to the amazing access I have from working 20 years with the military, from the boots on the ground, the people who were in country to the CIA, at a high-level meeting to get just the facts right, the recently released emails. We just had to get it right.”

— Director Michael Bay

It’s the pivotal — and most controversial — scene in the new film, a movie that Bay insists steers clear of politics, but which is bound to spark much political discussion nonetheless. On Friday — the movie’s opening day — the Washington Post quoted the now-retired CIA station chief, identified only as Bob, as strongly denying he ever issued such an order or anything like it.

“There never was a stand-down order,” the base chief was quoted by the Post as saying. “At no time did I ever second-guess that the team would depart.”

The author of the book upon which the film is based, Mitchell Zuckoff, stood by his depiction of the scene on Friday, saying in a telephone interview with The Associated Press that he’d based it on several firsthand accounts. Zuckoff collaborated on his book, “13 Hours,” with some of the surviving security contractors.

[Read the full story here, at US News]

“It’s not credible what he’s claiming,” Zuckoff said of the station chief, whom he said he had tried to interview when writing the book, but his request was denied.

Four Americans died in the attacks, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens. Read the rest of this entry »


Bahrain Cartoons: Iran & the American Sailors

CYvVwxyWkAABEeM

via Twitter – @YusufAlJamri via 


This Day in History: Continental Congress ratifies the Treaty of Paris – Jan 14, 1784

aa_adams_leader

On this day in 1784, the Continental Congress ratifies the Second Treaty of Paris, ending the War for Independence.

In the document, which was known as the Second Treaty of Paris because the Treaty of Paris was also the name of the agreement that had ended the Seven Years’ War in 1763, Britain officially agreed to recognize the independence of its 13 former colonies as the new United States of America.

In addition, the treaty settled the boundaries between the United States and what remained of British North America. U.S. fishermen won the right to fish in the Grand Banks, off the Newfoundland coast, and in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. Both sides agreed to ensure payment to creditors in the other nation of debts incurred during the war and to release all prisoners of war. The United States promised to return land confiscated during the war to its British owners, to stop any further confiscation of British property and to honor the property left by the British army on U.S. shores, including Negroes or slaves. Both countries assumed perpetual rights to access the Mississippi River.

Ratification_of_Treaty_of_Paris_1784

Despite the agreement, many of these issues remained points of contention between the two nations in the post-war years. The British did not abandon their western forts as promised and attempts by British merchants to collect outstanding debts from Americans were unsuccessful as American merchants were unable to collect from their customers, many of whom were struggling farmers.

In Massachusetts, where by 1786 the courts were clogged with foreclosure proceedings, farmers rose in a violent protest known as Shay’s Rebellion, which tested the ability of the new United States to maintain law and order within its borders and instigated serious reconsideration of the Articles of Confederation.

Source: HISTORY.com


[VIDEO] After Watching the Movie ’13 Hours’, Benghazi Victim’s Mother: ‘Hillary Is a Liar!’

Pat Smith, mother of Sean Smith who was murdered at the Benghazi Consulate on 9-11-3012, screamed out “Hillary is a liar!” after watching the movie ’13 Hours.’

An armed man waves his rifle as buildings and cars are engulfed in flames after being set on fire inside the US consulate compound in Benghazi late on Sept. 11, 2012. The alleged ringleader in the attack has been captured by involving Special Operations forces. (AFP/Getty Images)

An armed man waves his rifle as buildings and cars are engulfed in flames after being set on fire inside the US consulate compound in Benghazi late on Sept. 11, 2012. The alleged ringleader in the attack has been captured by involving Special Operations forces. (AFP/Getty Images)


New York Times: ‘Iran’s Swift Release of U.S. Sailors Hailed as Sign of Warmer Relations’

WARMER-IRANCYneIXIWwAMk1Ci.jpg-largeiran


Two US Navy Boats Reportedly in Iranian Custody

141023-n-pj969-057

“Earlier today, we lost contact with two small U.S. naval craft en route from Kuwait to Bahrain. We subsequently have been in communication with Iranian authorities, who have informed us of the safety and well-being of our personnel. We have received assurances the sailors will promptly be allowed to continue their journey.”

— Senior administration official

Two Navy boats are reportedly in Iranian custody, according to the Associated Press.

Iran has reportedly told the US that the crew will be returned “promptly.”

“Earlier today, we lost contact with two small U.S. naval craft en route from Kuwait to Bahrain,” a senior administration official said in a statement.

 

map for tasha

Google Earth/Amanda Macias/Business Insider

“We are working to resolve the situation such that any US personnel are returned to their normal deployment. We are hopeful it will be resolved.”

— White House Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes

“We subsequently have been in communication with Iranian authorities, who have informed us of the safety and well-being of our personnel. We have received assurances the sailors will promptly be allowed to continue their journey.” Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] GUNFIGHT: Mexican Navy Special Forces Armed Raid on Drug Lord Drug Lord Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán & Sinaloa Cartel


‘We Caved’: How Barack Obama’s Idealistic Rhetoric Collided With the Cold Realities of War and Dictatorship in the Middle East

we-caved

The persistent problem of how to deal with American-allied strongmen has long tripped up an inflexible president who boasts of his preference for ‘pragmatic solutions’ over moral purity but has been unable to find much of either in the Middle East.

Michael Crowley writes: On a late July day this past summer, a roar filled the sky over Cairo. It was the sound of Barack Obama’s capitulation to a dictator.

Eight new American fighter jets, freshly delivered from Washington, swooped low over the city, F-16s flying in formation. As they banked hard over the city’s center, they trailed plumes of red, white and black smoke—the colors of the Egyptian flag.

“The rhetoric got way ahead of the policymaking. It … raised expectations that everything was going to change.”

— Michael Posner, who served as Obama’s top State Department official for human rights and democracy in his first term

For Egypt’s brutally repressive president, General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the spectacle was a triumph, symbolizing not only his militaristic power at home, but also his victory over an American president who had tried to punish him before surrendering to the cold realities of geopolitics.

obama-c

“He’s never quite melded his rhetoric with his policies.”

— Dennis Ross, who served as Obama’s top Middle East aide in his first term

Just two years earlier, Sisi had seized power in a military coup, toppling Mohamed Morsi, the democratically elected successor to Hosni Mubarak, himself a strongman of 30 years pushed out in early 2011 by mass protests in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. In the summer of 2013, Sisi followed his coup with a brutal crackdown that would have done Saddam Hussein proud. His security forces arrested thousands of people, including much of his political opposition, and in one bloody day that summer, they gunned down some 1,000 pro-Morsi protesters (or more) who were staging peaceful sit-ins. The massacre was shocking even by the standards of Egypt’s long-dismal human rights record.

“It seems like we are swinging back to the idea that we must make a choice between supporting dictators or being safe.”

— Robert Ford, who was Obama’s ambassador to Syria before resigning in frustration over the president’s policy there

Obama was appalled. “We can’t return to business as usual,” he declared after the slaughter. “We have to be very careful about being seen as aiding and abetting actions that we think run contrary to our values and ideals.”

[Read the full text here, at POLITICO Magazine]

Several weeks later, Obama halted the planned delivery of U.S. military hardware to Cairo, including attack helicopters, Harpoon missiles and several F-16 fighter jets, as well as $260 million in cash transfers. He also cast doubt on the future of America’s $1.3 billion in annual military aid to Egypt—a subsidy on which Cairo depends heavily, and much more than the United States sends to any country in the world aside from Israel.

president-barack-obama-speech-democratic-national-convention-2

But a fierce internal debate soon broke out over whether and how to sanction Egypt further, a fight that many officials told me was one of the most agonizing of the Obama administration’s seven years, as the president’s most powerful advisers spent months engaged in what one called “trench warfare” against each other. It was an excruciating test of how to balance American values with its cold-blooded security interests in an age of terrorism. Some of Obama’s top White House aides, including his deputy national security adviser, Ben Rhodes, and the celebrated human rights champion Samantha Power, now U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, urged the president to link further military aid to clear progress by Sisi on human rights and democracy. But Secretary of State John Kerry, then-Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Hagel’s successor, Ash Carter, argued for restoring the aid. Trying to punish Sisi would have little effect on his behavior, they said, while alienating a bulwark against Islamic radicalism in an imploding Middle East. “Egypt was one of the most significant policy divides between the White House and the State Department and the Department of Defense,” says Matthew Spence, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense for Middle East policy. Read the rest of this entry »


Hillary Clinton’s Nightmare: Hollywood Feature Brings Benghazi Reality Back to Life

hillary-gunz-trippy

Owen Boss writes: The release next week of “13 Hours: the Secret Soldiers of Benghazi” — which tells the true story of the security contractors who responded to the attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya — may force Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton to wade back into a debate she hoped would be behind her, political watchdogs said.

“This takes an issue that is not good for her out of her control and pushes it out into popular culture, which is much worse for her than having it discussed on cable news.”

— Cornell University law professor William Jacobson

“Anything that keeps the Benghazi issue alive is a negative for Hillary Clinton. Period,” said Cornell University law professor William Jacobson. “Whether it’s a movie, or an event, or a hearing — anything that keeps this alive is not good for her. That’s not what she wants to be talking about.”

The big-budget action-drama,
 directed by Michael Bay, is 
focused on the American contractors who valiantly battled the terrorists who overran the compound on Sept. 11, 2012, and killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, U.S. State Department communications expert Sean Smith and former Navy SEALs Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty, a Winchester native.

Benghazi-Michael-Bay-Movie-13-hours

“Anything that keeps the Benghazi issue alive is a negative for Hillary Clinton. Period. Whether it’s a movie, or an event, or a hearing — anything that keeps this alive is not good for her. That’s not what she wants to be talking about.”

— Cornell University law professor William Jacobson

Clinton, who was U.S. secretary of state at the time of the 
attack, has been roundly criticized for not doing enough to secure the consulate, and was forced to defend herself against the allegations during a grueling, daylong appearance before the Republican-led Select Committee on Benghazi in October.

The movie, starring Newton native John Krasinski and Toby Stephens, will be released by Paramount Pictures on Jan. 15,
less than a month before the Iowa caucus, an inopportune time for Clinton’s campaign, 
Jacobson said. Read the rest of this entry »


Marine Corps Boot Camp: Job Titles to Be ‘Gender Neutral’ by April

635876750450625837-031813mc-female-recruits09

Gina Harkins reports: The Marine Corps has been ordered to come up with a plan to make its enlisted entry-level training coed, and to make its job titles more gender-neutral following the recent move to open all military combat roles to women.

“It requires a look at … how much personnel to bring, how many drill instructors to bring, the leadership and support cadre that comes along with that.”

In a Jan. 1 memo to Marine Commandant Gen. Robert Neller, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus requested a “detailed plan” on how the service will fully integrate its boot camp and Officer Candidate School. The plan is due Jan. 15 and will be implemented by April 1, the memo states.

“The barracks in San Diego are H-shaped, for example, so you can see everything that’s going on. If women are living in them, do you black out the windows or make an entire building that’s theirs? Do you do a floor for men and a floor for women?”

“The Department of the Navy’s implementation plan must include gender integration of Marine Corps enlisted recruit training and officer candidate school,” Mabus wrote. “In this submission, identify where, if anywhere, this training is already integrated, where it is separate, and specific steps that you will take to fully integrate these trainings.”

In a second memo from Mabus to Neller on the same day, the SecNav directed the Marine Corps to conduct a full review of its military occupational specialty titles in an effort to ensure that they are gender neutral.

“Please review the position titles throughout the Marine Corps and ensure that they are gender-integrated as well, removing ‘man’ from the titles and provide a report to me as soon as is practicable and no later than April 1, 2016.”

A Navy official said that the service received a similar memo pertaining to its MOS titles and descriptions. Mabus doesn’t intend to require iconic titles like “infantryman,” “rifleman” or “midshipman” to be changed, however, according to the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Read the rest of this entry »


U.S. Rep ‘Baghdad Jim’ McDermott Retires 

Jim McDermott Retires – Seattle Times

[Also see – Before he reached out to the IRS, Rep. Jim McDermott reached out to Saddam Hussein – spectator.org]

[More – We don’t call him “Baghdad Jim” for nothing – Michelle Malkin]

mcdermott iraq

REWIND: March 26, 2008, Michelle Malkin writes:

Back in 2002, Stephen Hayes reported on how Baghdad Democrats David Bonior, Jim McDermott, and Mike Thompson took a trip to Iraq in the run up to the invasion and followed up with a report on how Saddam’s cash paid for the junkets.

Now, the AP has a new report on the payments:

Federal prosecutors say Saddam Hussein’s intelligence agency secretly financed a trip to Iraq for three U.S. lawmakers during the run-up to the U.S.-led invasion.

An indictment in Detroit accuses Muthanna Al-Hanooti of arranging for three members of Congress to travel to Iraq in October 2002 at the behest of Saddam’s regime. Prosecutors say Iraqi intelligence officials paid for the trip through an intermediary.

In exchange, Al-Hanooti allegedly received 2 million barrels of Iraqi oil. Read the rest of this entry »


[PHOTO] Iran-Iraq Border: Iranian Female Students Play Around an Abandoned Tank in Shalamcheh, Khuzestan, Iran

06honorablemention_yananli_edit

‘There are relics left along the Iran-Iraq boarders. A group of Iranian female students play around an abandoned tank [in Shalamcheh, Khuzestan, Iran]. Among them, one girl stands on the tank with her arms open.’ (Yanan Li / National Geographic 2015 Photo Contest)

See more here

Source: Winners of 2015 National Geographic Photo Contest


[VIDEO] #ShiiteClericsLivesMatter Protesters Storm Saudi Embassy, Set it On Fire 

CXuo1f9WAAA99R4

TEHRAN, Jan. 2 (UPI) — Following the execution of an outspoken Shiite cleric in Saudi Arabia on Saturday, protesters ransacked the Saudi embassy in Tehran, setting fire to part of the building.

IMG_0337.JPG

Rocket fire on the Saudi Embassy

The New York Times reported protesters gathered outside of the embassy and began throwing Molotov cocktails at the building. They proceed to break windows and smash furniture.

IMG_0336.JPG

Molotov cocktail, anyone?

Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr was executed along with 46 others convicted of terrorism-related offenses in Saudi Arabia Saturday. The mass-execution one of the largest in Saudi Arabia in decades. The Saudi kingdom executed 157 people in 2015, its most in nearly 20 years.

Sheikh Nimr was a vocal critic of the monarchy. During the Arab Spring, Shiite protesters adopted Nimr as a symbolic leader. Because of this, his execution is seen as part of a rivalry. Amnesty International had warned of the impending execution in November…(read more)

Developing…

Source: UPI/Breitbart


[VIDEO] Trashing Obama, Praising Reagan: Jerry Lewis on ISIS, Refugees, Trump

lewis-oscars

“Refugees should stay where the hell they are. Hey, no one has worked harder for the human condition than I have, but they’re not part of the human condition. If 11 guys in the group of 10,000 are ISIS—how can I take that chance?”

Lewis then said that President Obama was “never prepared” for ISIS and suggested that he was not a real leader…

…The clip concludes with Lewis praising Trump for his “showmanship.”

“I think he’s great,” said Lewis of Trump. “He’s a showman and we’ve never had a showman in the president’s chair.”

jerry-lewis-trump-575x314

“You can’t make do a comparison on Ronald Reagan because I can do three hours on him with just praise, he was so good.”

“Well, we had Ronald Reagan,” Arroyo interjected….(read more)

gatewaypundit has more…


OH YES THEY DID: U.S. Carrier Harry S. Truman Has Close Call With Iranian Rockets

uss_harry_s_truman

 and The U.S. aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman came about 1,500 yards from an Iranian rocket in the Strait of Hormuz last week, two U.S. military officials told NBC News on Tuesday.

As the Truman was transiting the strait, which connects the Arabian Sea and the Persian Gulf, Iranian Revolutionary Guards conducted a live-fire exercise right near the U.S. carrier Saturday, officials said.

obama-hawaii-ice-cream

Meanwhile, in Hawaii

A U.S. military official said an Iranian navy fast and short attack craft began conducting a live-fire exercise at the same time the carrier was nearing the end of the strait, firing off several unguided rockets. A French frigate, the U.S. destroyer USS Buckley and other commercial traffic were also in the area.

[Read the full report here, at NBC News]

The official said the U.S. ships were in the “internationally recognized maritime traffic lane” at the time, not in any territorial waters, when the Iranian navy announced over maritime radio that it was about to conduct a live-fire exercise and asked other vessels to remain clear. Read the rest of this entry »


Japan Grows an Island to Check China’s Territorial Ambitions 

Robin Harding reports: China’s artificial islands are fuelling a new struggle for control of Asia’s oceans, but while the regional superpower dredges military bases out of the ocean, Japan is growing an island in a bathtub.

The island is called Okinotorishima, or “distant bird island”; a remote, storm-wracked coral atoll in the Philippine Sea, where two small outcrops protrude at high tide. Japan regards the atoll as its southernmost point; China says it is no island, merely a rock.

“Our experiments with planting coral on Okinotorishima are ongoing. We’ve made progress in expanding the area of coral planted, but the death rate of the transplanted coral is high, so we can’t yet say the amount of coral on the island is increasing.”

— Makoto Omori, emeritus professor at the Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology.

For millennia, as the land beneath it sunk, layers of coral grew on top and kept the atoll’s head above water. But now Okinotorishima is dying. Climate change is raising the sea level and killing the coral. Typhoons bite at what remains.

“The ecotechnology established in Okinotorishima can be applied to all the small atoll islands in the Pacific and Indian Ocean. We have almost 500 atolls in the world, and some island countries such as the Marshalls, Tuvalu, Kiribati and the Maldives are completely formed of atolls.”

— Hajime Kayanne, a professor at the University of Tokyo.

Japan is therefore on a desperate quest to regrow the reef. The results will decide the fate of a strategic redoubt, with legal repercussions in the South China Sea, and could offer hope to other atolls threatened by climate change.

The bathtub, full of baby coral growing on iron plates, sits in a greenhouse at the Deep Seawater Research Institute on the island of Kumejima. Workers explain how they brought coral from Okinotorishima and harvested eggs. They will grow the baby corals in this laboratory for a year then transplant them back to the atoll.

South China Sea map

For the scientists working on the project it is a battle with the ocean. They have successfully cultivated coral from the reef and transplanted it back to the island, but it is not enough. “The next technology . . . is keeping up with the rising sea by coral growth and accumulation of coral gravels and sand,” says Hajime Kayanne, a professor at the University of Tokyo.

[Read the full text here, at FT.com]

“Our experiments with planting coral on Okinotorishima are ongoing,” says Makoto Omori, emeritus professor at the Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology. “We’ve made progress in expanding the area of coral planted, but the death rate of the transplanted coral is high, so we can’t yet say the amount of coral on the island is increasing.”

No amount of transplantation can revive a reef by itself, says Mr Omori. Rather, the goal is for the transplants to spread across the atoll. Working in such a remote place is challenging because it is hard to monitor the coral.

For the scientists, rescuing Okinotorishima means saving the world’s coral, and the many islands that exist because of it. In the past four decades, 40 per cent of the world’s reefs have died. Read the rest of this entry »


Japanese Journalist Held Hostage in Syria 

20151223 nusra

The Japanese government is seeking information after reports a Japanese freelance journalist is being held hostage in Syria and has been threatened with execution, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said on Thursday.

“Given the nature of the matter, I would like to refrain from commenting on details.”

Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said this week it had received information that an armed group holding journalist Yasuda Jumpei hostage had started a countdown for an unspecified ransom to be paid and had threatened to execute or sell him to another group if their demands were not met.

“The safety of our citizens is an important responsibility of the government, so we are making every effort and making full use of various information networks.”

— Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga

RSF said in a statement on its website that Yasuda was kidnapped in July by an armed group in an area controlled by the militant Nusra Front, al Qaeda’s Syria wing, shortly after entering Syria earlier that month.

It urged the Japanese government to do what was needed to save Yasuda. Suga said the Japanese government knew of the case but was not aware of any fresh developments.

“Given the nature of the matter, I would like to refrain from commenting on details,” he told a regular news conference. Read the rest of this entry »


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 6,759 other followers