Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Pakistan: Pakistani media reported that the retirement announcement by Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani was a surprise. Kayani said, "My tenure ends on 29th November 2013. On that day I will retire." He made the public statement to quell speculation that he might seek extension. 

The post of the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC) also is vacant. The outgoing CJCSC General Khalid Shameem Wynne retired on 7 October, after 42 years of service.

In the statement today, Prime Minister Sharif said that while expectations regarding the announcement of the successor to the outgoing CJCSC before 8 October were reasonable, the issue needed comprehensive consideration due to the fact that the office of the COAS also was becoming vacant on 29 November.

Comment: Prime Minister Sharif is likely to follow seniority in promoting a new Chief of Army Staff. The last time he was prime minister, he promoted a less senior general to the position of army chief. That general was Pervez Musharraf who staged the coup that overthrew Sharif in October 1999. In light of that experience, most Pakistani commentators expect Sharif to promote the most senior of the three-star generals, Lieutenant General Haroon Aslam, the current Chief of Logistics.

As for Kayani, most observers judge that Sharif wants to retain Kayani in a senior position because of his connections to the US, his prestige in the Pakistan Army and abroad and because he has been supportive and loyal to the Constitution and elected, civilian government.

One rumor is that Sharif might reorganize and upgrade the CJCSC. It is far less powerful than the Chief of Army Staff, who has authority over combat forces nearly comparable to that a military commander-in-chief, rather than a chief of staff.

In a new set up, Sharif might try to strengthen the authority of the CJCSC. In order to succeed, a restructuring would require a general of unparalleled stature to lead it, such as Kayani. In the process Sharif would attempt to reduce the army's inclination to meddle overtly in internal politics, including any temptation to overthrow the government.

Afghanistan: Germany "handed Afghanistan's security forces control Sunday of a key military base" in Konduz Province in northern Afghanistan. The Germans have led the northern regional command for ten years and have about 4,000 soldiers in Afghanistan, including the 900 that will depart the Konduz base this month.

Comment: Ten years ago the German politicial leadership agreed to lead the northern regional command because it expected limited combat action, low costs and little risk of casualties. In fact, Konduz proved to be the hub of Taliban expansion in the north, operating mainly from Pashtun enclaves in the districts of Konduz Province and in Konduz City.

Some 20,000 German troops were deployed in Konduz during the 10-year operation. At the peak of their deployment, more than 5,300 German troops were stationed in Afghanistan, most in the north. Twenty of Germany's 35 combat deaths in Afghanistan occurred in the province. Another 17 died of noncombat injuries, including seven who were killed in a 2002 helicopter crash in Kabul. German authorities said 245 soldiers and 4 policemen were injured by hostile fire.

Konduz was the location where the Bundeswehr saw its first combat action. The German forces tried hard on multiple occasions, but never succeeded in stopping the Taliban expansion. Germany devoted much energy and treasure to nation building projects in the north. Now those will be left to the Afghans, along with security. German officials today promised to continue providing non-lethal support. German forces will scale back to 800 soldiers who will support Allied operations after 2014.

Could this be the end of Monument Syndrome? Across the country, ordinary Americans are rising up in revolt against the old Washington tactic of closing public parks and memorials during selective government "shutdowns" to score political points. Tax-paying tourists are tossing off the orange traffic cones and "Barrycades." Enough is enough.

The movement started with waves of World War II veterans who flew to D.C. last week as part of the Honor Flight Network. (The nonprofit group brings our surviving heroes to visit the memorials that honor their service and sacrifice.) The vets and volunteers breached the fences last week, exposing the tone-deaf tactics of President Obama's Spite House. Honor Flight visits continue this week, and more vets vowed to defy the cynical closures.

They are not alone. At Gettysburg National Military Park, tourists broke through barriers and posed for pictures on the battlefields with notes reading, "Catch us if you can." One visitor reported that motorists formed impromptu caravans as rangers chased them. "Strength in numbers," they tweeted.

At Mount Rushmore and in the Badlands of South Dakota, families barreled over hazard cones. Their photos went viral on Facebook. In Wisconsin, GOP Gov. Scott Walker defied the National Park Service and opened state parks that Obama-crats wanted closed because they receive some federal dollars. At the Mingo National Wildlife Refuge in southeast Missouri, a group of 20 protesters defied threats of arrest to enter the park.

"This is to get some knowledge out there that the federal government has its fingers in everything, including our own land in our own states, and, out of spite, they'll shut it all down," Jackson resident Brian Bollmann told the local press.

In Michigan, tourists crossed police-style yellow tape and construction barrels to get to Munising Falls in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Twitter users posted photos of the broken barriers over the weekend. The Mining Journal reported on one visitor who simply stepped over the tape: "'Well, that worked, huh?' she asked rhetorically." Take that, manipulative federal overlords.

At Zion National Park in Utah, hikers scaled the fences and wondered why so many supposedly furloughed workers were working to keep them out. One visitor, highlighted at my Twitter aggregator, described her experience to me last week at the scenic tourist spot:

"(W)e were advised by the park ranger at the gate that we couldn't stop our car at any time in the next 12 miles. To ensure that we didn't pull over at any of the scenic viewpoints, cones were placed at every turnoff. That didn't stop people, however, as many were getting out, moving cones and quickly taking pictures. People were incredulous at that restriction, as if they could somehow shut down our ability to enjoy our surroundings. ... I did enjoy seeing an elderly couple, in a display of civil disobedience, leave their car and walk hand in hand on the red rock."

Welcome to Occupy America. It's a protest movement for all ages against Washington business as usual. Thanks to social media, citizens outside the Beltway are now able to voice their disgust in an unprecedented way. Through Twitter, Facebook and blogs, they are directly disrupting the well-worn politics of government parks-and-wreck extortion.

From closing down parts of the ocean around Florida to booting elderly citizens from their private homes on Lake Mead to shutting down private restaurants and farms that just happen to sit on federal land, the Democrats' overreach has finally backfired.

The explanation for this ridiculous Obama obstructionism can be summed up in one word: Control. Control of the people. Control of the partisan narrative. Monument Syndrome, perfected under the Clinton administration, is about inflicting the most visible pain on citizens to demonize political opponents. Big-government advocates in the media enabled the manipulators.

For decades, taxpayers were passive pawns in this gamesmanship. No more. Monument Syndrome, R.I.P.

Netanyahu speaks forthrightly about "Palestinian" leadership's Nazi links

From Jihad Watch / Posted by Robert Spencer

MUFTi_himmler3.JPGThe Mufti of Jerusalem with Heinrich Himmler

This unpleasant bit of history is routinely ignored and glossed over, despite the blazingly obvious congruence of National Socialist anti-Semitism with modern-day Islamic jihadist anti-Semitism, which existed long before Nazism and helped fuel it.

(Photo courtesy Pamela Geller, who has more here.)

"Netanyahu Links Palestinian Leadership, Nazis," by Gil Ronen for Israel National News, October 7 (thanks to Pamela Geller):
In a surprisingly powerful and frank speech at Bar Ilan University, delivered in a calm and almost informal manner, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu pointed to a deep link between the Palestinian national movement and the Nazi regime in Germany. 
At the heart of the oration was the determination that Arab rhetoric notwithstanding, the “territories” and “settlements” are not the heart of the territorial conflict between Jews and Arabs – but that the conflict stems from the historic refusal of the Arabs to accept a Jewish state.
Netanyahu provided quotes and evidence showing that the supreme leader of the Palestinian Arabs in the first half of the 20th century, Mufti Hajj Amin al-Husseini, was actively involved in encouraging Adolf Hitler and his henchmen in their project of annihilating the Jewish people.
The Jewish-Palestinian conflict began, said the prime minister, in 1921, when Arabs attacked Beit Haolim in Yafo (Jaffa), which housed new Jewish immigrants. They murdered several Jews, including famed writer Yosef Haim Brenner.
"My own grandfather had arrived at Yafo, to the same house, one year earlier,” said Netanyahu. “This attack was not against territories or settlements,” he noted. “It was against the immigration of Jews to the Land of Israel.”
The prime minister went on to list Arab pogroms against Jews in 1929 – when the Jewish community in Hevron was annihilated “with endless cruelty" – and later in 1936-39. In 1947, the Arabs refused to accept a partition plan that gave the Jews a state, he said. In 1967, again, Arab nations formed “a ring of strangulation” around Israel – but then, too, “there were no territories. There was no occupation. Unless Tel Aviv and Yafo are occupied.”
Moving on to the present day, Netanyahu noted that he recently heard Iran's representative “muttering half heartedly” about the crimes of the Nazis, and then going on immediately to say that the Jews must not be allowed to use the Nazi issue in order to commit crimes against the Palestinians.
The historical truth is the opposite of this presentation, he said.
He then began quoting numerous historical sources showing that the Mufti was “one of the initiators of the Holocaust of the Jews of Europe,” and that he was constantly encouraging the Nazi leadership to annihilate the Jews, throughout the war. He cited evidence that the Mufti even visited the gas chambers at Auschwitz with Adolf Eichmann.
"The Mufti is still a greatly admired figure in the Palestinian national movement," said Netanyahu. "These are the weeds that need to be uprooted," he said. "The root of the conflict is the deep resistance among a hard core of Palestinians to the right of the Jewish people to its own state in Israel."
Netanyahu hinted that this is something that the Palestinian negotiators are unwilling to state in the current negotiations, and made it clear that unless they do so – the negotiations cannot succeed.
The Iranian fog
Regarding Iran's nuclear program, Netanyahu said: "The position of the international community should be like this: We are ready to reach a diplomatic solution but only one which dismantles Iran's ability to develop nuclear weapons.”
He explained that nuclear disarmament means "no centrifuges for the enrichment of uranium and no plutonium reactor, and as long as Iran has not dismantled from its centrifuges and reactors – do not ease the sanctions. On the contrary – add to them."
"The truth is simple and it cuts through the fog they are trying to spread around here,” he explained. “If they want peace they will agree. If they don't want peace, they won't agree.
If they dismantle, they'll receive [an easing of sanctions] – if they don't, they won't."
Rumsfeld: Denial of Benefits to Fallen Soldiers' Families 'Inexcusable'
By Lisa Furgison, Cathy Burke and Todd Beamon
Image: Rumsfeld: Denial of Benefits to Fallen Soldiers' Families 'Inexcusable'

Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld on Tuesday said it was "inexcusable" for the Obama administration to refuse to pay death benefits to families of the five soldiers who died in Afghanistan over the weekend.

"I just can't imagine a decision-making process that would produce those outcomes," Rumsfeld, who served as Secretary of Defense under Presidents Gerald Ford and George W. Bush, told Fox News' "On the Record."

"It's so unfair — to the families, to the veterans, to the soldiers."

He told host Greta Van Susteren that the White House was "clearly picking and choosing what they want to do. They're making decisions that clearly fit their political agenda."

The government shutdown has stopped families of fallen soldiers from receiving a $100,000 death benefit.

Shannon Collins lost her 19-year-old son to the war over the weekend. Marine Lance Cpl. Jeremiah Collins Jr. died Saturday while supporting combat missions in Afghanistan.

In total, the loved ones of five military members slain over the weekend will be denied the benefit because of the shutdown, The Washington Times reported.

After her son's death, Collins got a letter from the government saying the $100,000 death benefit typically issued within 36 hours of a soldier's death wasn't coming.

"The government is hurting the wrong people," she told NBC's Today Show.

"Families shouldn’t have to worry about how they’re going to bury their child," she said. "Families shouldn’t have to worry about how they're going to feed their family if they don't go to work this week."

The one-time lump sum of money is meant to help families with funeral expenses and offer financial support to the family until survivor benefits begin.

Across conservative circles, Rumsfeld and others voiced disgust with the refusal to the families.

Lt. Col. Oliver North called it "unconscionable."

"This isn't about the government shutdown," he told Fox News Channel's "The Kelly File"  on Tuesday. "It's about whether the commander-in-chief gives a damn about the morale of our troops."

An act of Congress is not required to authorize payments to families of the dead and wounded, North said.

"All it takes is a commander-in-chief with a conscience, because the chief executive of the United States can do it with the stroke of a pen on a presidential emergency action document."

Others agreed.

"Impacting grieving families when they are at their absolute weakest point is just disgusting," said Joe Davis, a spokesman for the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the largest organization of combat veterans in the United States.

"Veterans, military personnel, and now their families are not to be used as leverage in this political game of blame," he said.

The Department of Defense says it is aware of the problem.

"The department does not currently have the authority to pay death gratuities for the survivors of service members killed in action – typically a cash payment of $100,000 paid within three days of the death of a service member," a Pentagon news release said.

"Secretary [of Defense Chuck] Hagel assured the service leaders that he would work closely with them to address these challenges and support the service members and families impacted by these disruptions," the release said.

But one foreign relations official was shocked by the lapse.

"On the anniversary of America’s longest war, in Afghanistan, a battle that barely brushes against most Americans' lives, soldiers heading into the fight face greater uncertainty than ever before," Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, wrote on the website Defense One on Monday.

"That includes the central question of what happens to their families if they don’t make it home."

The death benefit is considered only transition aid until the military's survivor benefits begin, but Lemmon said the shutdown is even threatening that obligation.

"[If] the shutdown continues into November, monthly survivor benefits are in jeopardy because the Department of Veterans Affairs has warned it will be out of cash to pay them," she wrote.

"Never before has America faced a government at war and a government shutdown at the same time. Even if much of America forgets the former while enduring the latter, the grim truth of these dueling realities is that they should not coexist given Washington's central role in prosecuting America’s conflicts."

Pentagon Comptroller Bob Hale was distraught over the situation, The Hill reported.

"We have some heart-rending situations that we are not allowed, by law, to pay death gratuities," Hale told reporters last week, adding the "Pay Our Military Act" did not change the situation.

"We've had a number of people die recently and we will be able to pay them, but not until the lapse of appropriation ends," Hale said.

Besides the Marine's death Saturday, four other military members were killed Sunday by an IED in southern Afghanistan, Lemmon said.

Republican lawmakers such as Rep. Duncan Hunter of California say a bill passed right before the shutdown to keep military pay intact should include death benefits.

"The Department of Defense, through a careless legal interpretation, is now mistakenly denying payments of death gratuity and other benefits to the families of those who make the ultimate sacrifice," Hunter told The Hill.

"Since DoD has determined that it cannot provide this benefit, I am at a loss about why DoD did not take a more active role in notifying Congress and insisting that changes in law occur immediately," Hunter said.

House GOP aides said new legislation is now being drafted to specifically fund the death benefits during the shutdown, and one aide said it could be on the House floor as soon as Wednesday, The Hill reported.

Meanwhile, the shutdown also was affecting veterans' services.

The Department of Veterans Affairs on Tuesday furloughed 7,000 workers who process compensation claims, USA Today reported.

As a result, the VA cut off public access to all 56 regional offices where veterans routinely walk in to file claims for compensation of combat- or other service-related wounds, injuries or illnesses.

When Obama’s lips move lies are sure to follow 
By: Diane Sori

Yesterday, Barack HUSSEIN Obama’s lips were moving and as usual more lies spewed forth during his blame game of a statement and Q&A session from the White House.

As expected, his words were NOTHING but a rehash of his favorite rhetoric…place blame on everyone but himself for the mess we’re in right now. And he did so by zeroing in that blame on Speaker of the House John Boehner, House Republicans, and of course the TEA Party…and you just know what’s coming next…it’s all Bush’s fault.

And by refusing to mention that he and his fellow Democratic cohorts are the true bearers of that blame because they have NOT allowed a budget to be approved and passed in years, Obama was able to spew out his words of blame and stack lie upon lie, while the leaning to left media that made up the bulk of the audience lapped up his every word.

Blames and LIES…and the main lie was his vastly overstated comments about the danger our country faces if the debt ceiling is NOT raised before the October 17th ‘doomsday’ deadline. Saying NOT raising the debt ceiling will send our county into default is beyond a mere lie and crosses over into the absurd as we are in possession of over five and a half times the monies needed to meet the interest on our loans…and the paying of the interest alone keeps the country out of default…and as president Obama should know that. As he should also know that monies to do so come from the 2012 fiscal debt service to the tune of around $420 billion, and from the 2012 IRS revenues collected totaling around $2.3 trillion. So he either has NO clue whatsoever as to what default really is or he willingly choosing to twist its definition to suit his own nefarious purposes.

And while in Obama’s case it’s probably the later, rest assured there is NOTHING to fear from the word ‘default’ because it just will NOT happen. A true default is simply NOT paying interest due to US bondholders…as in the ones who finance our bills…and as I pointed out above we have more than enough monies on hand to cover those obligations.

So while Obama tried over and over to claim that the sky would fall if we could NOT meet our debts, adding that he cannot give priority to one bill due over the other, the fact is that having to prioritize bills in NO way means you would default on your debt as prioritizing is done within government entities every day…from the most mundane of issues to the most important of issues.

And even as Obama bloviated that he “is happy to sit down with Speaker Boehner and other Republicans anytime”…sit down and even go over ObamaCare line by line he said…he made it perfectly clear that negotiations with Republicans will only happen AFTER a vote is taken to lift the government shutdown by raising the debt ceiling so that we don’t have this country’s first time ever default.

And having it happen on his watch are words his narcissistic self will NEVER say.

But…and this is basic politics 101…negotiations are done BEFORE anything is voted on because the simple fact is that there NEVER will be negotiations after a vote is taken.

And with that, Obama’s words that he ‘won’t let extortion become routine’…he’s once again made it clear that he’s only willing to negotiate as long as he gets everything he wants first, even as he called on Congress to work with him and that all sides should show some “civility, common sense, and give-and-take.” Yet over and over in words he either said outright or alluded to is the fact that he will NOT give in on his refusal to negotiate policy issues or will he negotiate on a short-term resolution to reopen the government.

“I’m not going to do it until the more extreme parts of the Republican Party stop forcing John Boehner to issues threats about our economy,” Obama said.

Guess what…those are NOT words conducive to negotiation…those are words that echo the classic definition of extortion...give me what I want or else I’ll give you NOTHING.

I will NOT do this…I won’t do that…a temper tantrum right before the cameras that those on the left will still refuse to see.

And so the blame game continued as Obama basically called Speaker  Boehner a liar because Boehner claims…and rightly so…that there aren’t enough votes in the House to pass a clean continuing resolution to fund the government.

“Put in on the floor and see what happens,” Obama croaked as his once again infamous smirk crossed his lips.

And herein lies the sum total of all the problems…problems of Obama's and the Democrats doing…as a clean continuing resolution would NOT link funding the government to funding ObamaCare, and thus would allow ObamaCare to be funded as is, case closed. Boehner knows this and as of now he…in his capacity as Speaker of the House…is standing strong against what Obama wants...standing strong as he should.

In his rebuttal to Obama’s bloviations, Boehner actually showed some backbone when he said, “What the president said today was, if there’s unconditional surrender by Republicans, he’ll sit down and talk with us. That’s not the way our government works.”

But sadly, unless ALL House Republicans stand strong…and I do mean ALL...that will be exactly how our government will work as long as Barack HUSSEIN Obama is at the helm of our country.