Category Archives: Middle East

California soldiers ordered to repay enlistment bonuses

messed up

From SF Gate: Nearly 10,000 California National Guard soldiers have been ordered to repay huge enlistment bonuses a decade after signing up to serve in Iraq and Afghanistan, a newspaper reported Saturday.

The Pentagon demanded the money back after audits revealed overpayments by the California Guard under pressure to fill ranks and hit enlistment goals. If soldiers refuse, they could face interest charges, wage garnishments and tax liens, the Los Angeles Times said.

Faced with a shortage of troops at the height of the two wars, California Guard officials offered bonuses of $15,000 or more for soldiers to reenlist.

A federal investigation in 2010 found thousands of bonuses and student loan payments were improperly doled out to California Guard soldiers. About 9,700 current and retired soldiers received notices to repay some or all of their bonuses with more than $22 million recovered so far.

Soldiers said they feel betrayed at having to repay the money. “These bonuses were used to keep people in,” said Christopher Van Meter, a 42-year-old former Army captain and Iraq veteran who was awarded a Purple Heart. “People like me just got screwed.”

Van Meter said he refinanced his home mortgage to repay $25,000 in reenlistment bonuses and $21,000 in student loan repayments that the military says was improperly given to him.

The California Guard said it has to follow the law and collect the money.

“At the end of the day, the soldiers ended up paying the largest price,” Maj. Gen. Matthew Beevers, deputy commander of the California Guard told the Times. “We’d be more than happy to absolve these people of their debts. We just can’t do it. We’d be breaking the law.”

The Pentagon agency that oversees state Guard groups has said that bonus overpayments occurred in every state, but more so in California, which has 17,000 soldiers.

California Guard officials said they are helping soldiers and veterans file appeals with agencies that can erase the debts. But soldiers said it’s a long process, and there’s no guarantee they’ll win.

Retired Army major and Iraq veteran Robert D’Andrea said he was told to repay his $20,000 because auditors could not find a copy of the contract he says he signed. D’Andrea appealed and is running out of options. “Everything takes months of work, and there is no way to get your day in court,” he said. “Some benefit of the doubt has to be given to the soldier.”

tired soldier


Indian Actress Apologizes for “Refugee” T-Shirt Magazine Cover Shoot


From MSN: Priyanka Chopra has apologized for posing for a magazine cover in a T-shirt that caused a Twitter backlash, with people accusing her of being insensitive toward refugees.

The Quantico star was featured on the cover of the Indian edition of Conde Nast Traveler magazine, or Conde Nast Traveller in the British spelling used in India.

The cover showed Chopra wearing a white T-shirt, which had the words “refugee,” “immigrant” and “outsider” crossed out, leaving only the word “traveller.” The 34-year-old actress soon found herself at the center of a social media storm.


“Extremely insensitive in midst of biggest #refugeecrises. All other options listed [on theT-shirt] are forced on people, not chosen,” tweeted Savita Pawnday. “Oh, I’m sorry, I wasn’t aware that being a refugee is a matter of choice… What were you thinking?!” posted Anum R Chagani. And another Twitter user, HannanMust, echoed the sentiment, saying: “I’m quite upset. Really stupid thing to do to just grab attention u don’t need. Wise up.”

In an interview that aired Monday on Indian news network NDTV, Chopra said the magazine’s publisher “specially got this [T-shirt] made and implored me to wear it. They said they were addressing xenophobia, which is a big issue that is happening.”

She added that it was the magazine’s idea, “and I bought into it, I guess.” Continued Chopra: “And I am really, really apologetic about the fact that sentiments were hurt.… The point the magazine wanted to make was actually something good.” Chopra also said that she was “really affected [by the backlash], I felt really horrible.”

Conde Nast posted a statement on its website, explaining the intended message behind the cover.

It’s about how our labeling of people as immigrants, refugees and outsiders is creating a culture of xenophobia.… It’s about how we are allowing some powerful leaders to build barriers that make it more difficult for bright, motivated and hardworking people to see more of the world, learn from it and make it better for us all.”

The statement concluded that the cover was not about Chopra “being a refugee or immigrant or outsider; it’s about her, like us, recognizing the power of travel, and joining us in asking everyone to do better for each other.”

Chopra can currently be seen in the second season of Quantico. She will make her Hollywood feature debut in next summer’s Baywatch.


Islamic State flag free to fly on Facebook in Sweden, prosecutor rules


From Fox News: A Swedish prosecutor may have set a dangerous precedent last week in regards to the Islamic State flag.

Prosecutor Gisela Sjovall announced last week that a 23-year-old man wouldn’t be charged after posting the flag to his Facebook page in June, according to The Local. Authorities in Laholm had investigated the man, who came to Sweden from Syria, on suspicion of committing “hate speech.”

In comparison to the Nazi symbol which has come to be a symbol for prejudice against Jewish people, the same couldn’t be said for the Islamic State flag, Sjovall added. “Up until now, we haven’t come to that point,” she told the Hallandsposten, a local newspaper. “That could change in ten years.”

The Local noted that under Sweden’s hate speech laws, for an image to be considered “hate speech,” it needs to threaten or disparage a group of people in connections to their race, nationality, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation.

No disparagement here...

No disparagement here…

“If there had been anything in the text (posted alongside the flag) with more specific formulations about certain groups, for example homosexuals, the ruling could have been different,” Sjovall said.  “For me, there are no doubts about the decision not to prosecute.”

Sjovall said the man told authorities in June that he does not support ISIS. The man’s lawyer said that what he posted wasn’t an ISIS flag, but a symbol of what had been used within Islam for hundreds of years before ISIS misconstrued its meaning.

The flag had already been banned in the Netherlands and Germany. Former British Prime Minister David Cameron had also said that anyone displaying the ISIS flag should be arrested, but there wasn’t a law barring people from displaying it.


State Department tried to bribe FBI to unclassify Clinton emails

And yet I’m sure nothing will become of this. Corruption is the new norm in DC.

Hillary Clinton what difference does it make

Via NY Post: A top State Department official offered a bribe — a “quid pro quo” — to an FBI official in an attempt to declassify certain emails from Hillary Clinton’s private server that were previously deemed classified, according to FBI documents released Monday.

The documents allege Patrick Kennedy proposed the deal in exchange for the FBI being allowed to operate in countries where it’s currently banned.

Patrick Kennedy

Patrick Kennedy

“[Redacted] indicated he had been contacted by PATRICK KENNEDY, Undersecretary of State, who had asked his assistance in altering the email’s classification in exchange for a ‘quid pro quo,’” states the FBI document, a summary of an interview the agency conducted in investing Clinton’s email server.

“[Redacted] advised that in exchange for marking the email unclassified, STATE would reciprocate by allowing the FBI to place more Agents in countries where they are presently forbidden,” the document adds.

The redactions in the FBI documents strike the name of the official who was talking with Kennedy.

During a later meeting with the FBI, CIA and other agencies, Kennedy was asked whether any of the emails in question were classified. “Making eye contact with [redacted] KENNEDY remarked, ‘Well, we’ll see,’” Kennedy responded.

Donald Trump’s campaign pointed to the new documents as proof that the State Department and FBI worked together to protect Clinton. “These FBI documents provide undeniable proof that Hillary Clinton colluded with the FBI, DOJ and State Department to cover up criminal activity at the highest levels. Hillary Clinton has recklessly put our national security at extreme risk,” Trump surrogate Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn said in a statement to the press.

We have men and women putting their lives on the line for this country. If any person had done a fraction of what she has done with our sensitive information, they would be criminally charged and those in our military would be court-martialed. Hillary Clinton acts as though she is above the law and therefore, she is not fit to serve as commander in chief,” Flynn added.

The FBI documents come from the more than year-long FBI investigation into Clinton’s handling of classified information on her private email server.

FBI Director James Comey announced in July that he would recommend the Justice Department not pursue criminal charges against Clinton.

It's good to be a demorat...

It’s good to be a demorat…

Days later, Attorney General Loretta Lynch released a statement saying she agreed with Comey’s assessment — and that charges against Clinton would not be filed.


This is why Obama & Hillary demonize Russia

On August 31, 2016, Hillary Clinton threatened Russia with war. Accusing Russia of “hacking into the Democratic National Committee and even some state election systems,” she said:

“So we’ve got to step up our game, make sure we are well defended and able to take the fight to those who go after us. As President, I will make it clear that United States will treat cyber attacks just like any other attack. We will be ready with serious political, economic, and military responses.“

The Obama administration has accused Russia of hacking the emails that WikiLeaks has been releasing to the public, but we are not told or shown the evidence that Russia is the culprit.

Last night, WikiLeaks‘ founder and editor-in-chief Julian Assange’s Internet connection was cut off, severing the only connection Assange has with the world outside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London where he’d sought refuge. (See “The Evil Empire strikes back: WikiLeaks’ Internet connection severed; RT’s bank accounts frozen“)

Obama gave orders to the CIA to prep for a cyber attack on Russia, while Russians recently prepared for war with a massive nation-wide civil defense drill.

The latest: Speaking for the Obama administration, Vice President Joe Biden threatened Russia with nuclear war.

On NBC’s Meet the Press yesterday (Oct. 16), Biden said that “We have the capacity to do it [nuclear war], and, uh,… it’ll be at a time of our choosing, and under circumstances that have the greatest impact,” and that “Obama had sent a message to Putin”.  When asked by NBC’s Chuck Todd “will the public know?,” Biden replied, “Hope not.”

Writing for Russia Insider, historian Eric Zuesse gives his take on what Biden said and meant:

“In other words: what Biden is saying, is that, if Trump wins this election, then there is going to be some sudden, unannounced, U.S. government response against Putin, and that only after it is over, will the U.S. government explain to the public why it did what it did.” […]

There have been many reports in the U.S. press saying that Obama has, ever since at least October 6th, been contemplating an all-out U.S. bombing campaign to bring down Assad. But that would mean war with Russia, which has been actively bombing Nusra and all the other jihadists in Syria.

Hillary Clinton is urging a “no-fly zone” in Syria, so that we can do to Assad what we did to another ally of Moscow, Muammar Gaddafi. However, when that was done to Gaddafi, Putin stood aside and wasn’t supplying military assistance to Gaddafi, which would have enabled Gaddafi to wipe out the fundamentalist Muslims who were trying to overthrow him. Russia is involved actively, this time, to prevent happening in Syria what happened in Libya. A no-fly zone in Syria would thus mean U.S. war against Russia.

These are tense times. Any escalation that the U.S. can do against Russia, can be met by an escalation that Russia can do against the United States.

Consequently, whatever escalation Obama is now threatening against Putin, might be met by an escalation on the other side. Where will it stop, or would it even be able to stop?

Whatever escalation Obama might consider to be ‘proportionate’, could consequently end up ending the world as we know it — and not for the better. Hillary Clinton has threatened Putin with war; now Barack Obama has done likewise.

Whatever Biden’s assignment here actually was from Obama, one thing about it is clear: this President is determined that Hillary Clinton be his successor, and Obama will target anyone who gets in his way if he doesn’t get his way on this. And Obama wants the American public to know that this is how he feels about the matter.

This Biden-interview is really intended, in that sense, to be a threat aimed at America’s voters, telling them, telling each one of us: Vote for Hillary Clinton, or else! He’s not telling us what that “or else!” is going to be — and maybe he himself has no accurate idea of how far it will ultimately cycle and go. Ultimately, whatever he thinks it would be, might not turn out to be the last step in this cycle of escalation — unless it’s going to go directly to a blitz attack against Russia.

Obama is thus coercing us, before he coerces Putin. He’s telling us: If we vote against Hillary Clinton — if she loses this election — then President Obama has something in mind that we won’t like — and he won’t wait until the next President is inaugurated on 20 January 2017 to do it, whatever ‘it’ might be.

Obama here is threatening not only Vladimir Putin, but the American people. Even if Obama truly believes that he alone possesses all the power, he does not, unless he possesses the power to terrorize America’s voters to elect Hillary Clinton, even if we otherwise would not.”

To sane people, the enmity that the Obama administration and Hillary Clinton have toward Russia and their eagerness to go to war against Russia appear irrational, bordering on madness.

Here’s why.

From (via Russia Insider), Oct. 17, 2016:

gay-pride-2016-tel-aviv10 Cities in Central Russia Refuse to Hold ‘Gay Pride’ Parades

The events are incompatible with the moral values held by the majority of Russians

The Administrations of Voronezh and Tambov do not approve of LGTB activists’ applications for holding meetings and marches in support of sexual minorities in Russia planned for early October.

The Voronezh administration received notification about a gay pride parade planned for October 10 and a meeting against the Federal Law banning the promotion of non-traditional sexual relations among minors on October 13.

“Considering the fact that they wanted to promote non-traditional sexual relations among minors, they were refused as there is a ban on spreading information inflicting harm to children’s health and development,” the press service of the Voronezh mayor’s office told Interfax.

The Tambov administration also told the agency that they did not agree to hold events aimed at “attracting public attention to non-traditional sexual relations.”

Authorities of certain cities of the Central Federal District – Tula, Kaluga, Ivanovo, Belgorod, Vladimir, Oryol, Ryazan and Kursk refused to allow representatives of the LGTB community to hold gay pride parades.

See also “Joe Biden tells 13-year-old girl he’s ‘horny’?“.

And then, of course, there are these:


Putin reverently kisses icon of Madonna and Child Jesus


An Orthodox Christian priest blesses military conscripts at a conscription point in downtown Moscow, Nov. 26, 2010. (AP Photo/Mikhail Metzel)

An Orthodox Christian priest blesses military conscripts at a conscription point in downtown Moscow, Nov. 26, 2010. (AP Photo/Mikhail Metzel)


It’s war: CIA prepping for cyber attack on Russia

The Obama administration has been itching to go to war with Russia — first, over Ukraine/Crimea; then, over Syria because the Russian military actually attacks ISIS and the jihadist Syrian “rebels” while Obama (and Israel and Saudi Arabia) wants to topple Syria’s Assad government who is friendly toward Christians.

See “U.S. breaks off talks with Russia, as Russians prepare for war with massive civil defense drill

The latest “reason” is the Obama administration’s accusation that Russia hacked the emails of the DNC, then-secretary of state Hillary Clinton, and John Podesta, the chair of Hillary’s presidential campaign campaign — emails that WikiLeaks has been leaking, to the Dems’ embarrassment.

See, for example:

But according to WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange, it was a murdered DNC staffer who was the source of leaked DNC emails.

Now comes ominous news that the CIA is preparing to launch a cyber attack on Russia.

cyberwarNBC News reports, Oct. 14, 2016:

The Obama administration is contemplating an unprecedented cyber covert action against Russia in retaliation for alleged Russian interference in the American presidential election, U.S. intelligence officials told NBC News.

Current and former officials with direct knowledge of the situation say the CIA has been asked to deliver options to the White House for a wide-ranging “clandestine” cyber operation designed to harass and “embarrass” the Kremlin leadership.

The sources did not elaborate on the exact measures the CIA was considering, but said the agency had already begun opening cyber doors, selecting targets and making other preparations for an operation. Former intelligence officers told NBC News that the agency had gathered reams of documents that could expose unsavory tactics by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Vice President Joe Biden told “Meet the Press” moderator Chuck Todd on Friday that “we’re sending a message” to Putin and that “it will be at the time of our choosing, and under the circumstances that will have the greatest impact.” [But] When asked if the American public will know a message was sent, the vice president replied, “Hope not.”

[…] Sean Kanuck, who was until this spring the senior U.S. intelligence official responsible for analyzing Russian cyber capabilities, said not mounting a response would carry a cost.

“If you publicly accuse someone,” he said, “and don’t follow it up with a responsive action, that may weaken the credible threat of your response capability.”

President Obama will ultimately have to decide whether he will authorize a CIA operation. Officials told NBC News that for now there are divisions at the top of the administration about whether to proceed.

[…] Former CIA deputy director Michael Morell expressed skepticism that the U.S. would go so far as to attack Russian networks.

“Physical attacks on networks is not something the U.S. wants to do because we don’t want to set a precedent for other countries to do it as well, including against us,” he said. “My own view is that our response shouldn’t be covert — it should overt, for everybody to see.” [Good luck with that, Morrell, because this news of CIA prepping cyber war is out. -Eowyn]

The Obama administration is debating just that question, officials say — whether to respond to Russia via cyber means, or with traditional measures such as sanctions.

The CIA’s cyber operation is being prepared by a team within the CIA’s Center for Cyber Intelligence, documents indicate. According to officials, the team has a staff of hundreds and a budget in the hundreds of millions, they say. […]

While the National Security Agency is the center for American digital spying, the CIA is the lead agency for covert action and has its own cyber capabilities. […] According to documents leaked by Edward Snowden, the CIA requested $685.4 million for computer network operations in 2013, compared to $1 billion by the NSA.

Retired Gen. Mike Hayden, who ran the CIA after leading the NSA, wrote this year: “We even had our own cyber force, the Information Operations Center (IOC), that former CIA director George Tenet launched and which had grown steadily under the next spy chief, Porter Goss, and me. The CIA didn’t try to replicate or try to compete with NSA… the IOC was a lot like Marine Corps aviation while NSA was an awful lot like America’s Air Force.”

Does Obama seriously think Russia won’t counterattack if the U.S. launches a cyber attack? And are we prepared to withstand cyber war with Moscow (and perhaps China, too), given head of Cyber Command and director of the National Security Agency Gen. Keith Alexander’s warning in February 2014 that the U.S. military is not prepared for cyber war?

War with Russia will also be Obama’s perfect excuse to suspend the November election.


Hillary Clinton used variations of ‘I don’t recall’ 21 out of 25 times when answering questions about private email server

I guess some of us still care about this story. Proggies, not so much. Truth doesn’t matter to them unless they can screw republicans out of it.


From Daily Mail: Hillary Clinton used variations of ‘I don’t recall’ 21 times when asked 25 questions under oath about how she deleted 33,000 State Department emails.

Sworn written testimony obtained by Judicial Watch show the Democratic presidential candidate dodged virtually all of the questions about the correspondences she removed from her private server while she was Secretary of State.

A federal judge ordered Clinton’s legal team to turn over written responses to questions concerning the so-called ‘homebrew’ server. Clinton signed the document containing the answers, written by her lawyers on her behalf, on Monday under ‘penalty of perjury’.

The former First Lady sidestepped most of the questions, and insisted that she did not ‘recall’ if anyone told her she could be breaking the law by deleting the emails. She also said she could not remember ever being warned about hacking threats to her private account or server. But her campaign has insisted the answers are consistent with what she has said before.

The questions addressed a number of issues. She was asked why she used the private server,

‘Secretary Clinton states that she does not recall being advised, cautioned, or warned, she does not recall that it was ever suggested to her, and she does not recall participating in any communication, conversation, or meeting in which it was discussed that her use of a e-mail account to conduct official State Department business conflicted with or violated federal recordkeeping laws,’ her lawyers wrote for one answer.

Judge Judy shakes head rolls eyes

Most of the responses to questions begin with the phrase: ‘Secretary Clinton objects to the Interrogatories.’

Clinton’s answers provided no new information beyond what she told FBI agents during the recently closed investigation into whether she and her staff mishandled classified information. But it does suggest she has contradicted sworn statements she has made in the past.

According to the court documents filed this week, Clinton was asked when she decided to use her private email account to conduct government business and whom she consulted in making that decision. Clinton said she recalled making the decision in early 2009, but she ‘does not recall any specific consultations regarding the decision.’

Read the rest of the story here.