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Obama Defends Prisoner Swap; Says Congress Was ‘Consulted’

Via Washington Post:

President Obama on Tuesday strongly defended his administration’s decision to return five detainees held at Guantanamo Bay to the Taliban in exchange for the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl after five years of captivity, though he acknowledged that some of the released detainees could once again try to harm the United States.

“We have consulted with Congress for quite some time about the possibility that we might need to execute a prisoner exchange in order to recover Bergdahl,” Obama said on a trip to Poland to discuss Eastern European security. “We saw an opportunity, and we were concerned about Bergdahl’s health. We had the cooperation of the Qataris to execute an exchange and we seized that opportunity.” He added that “the process was truncated because we wanted to make sure we would not miss that window.”

Amid mounting congressional criticism about the operation, Obama said both the United States and authorities in the Persian Gulf emirate of Qatar, who helped organize the trade, would closely monitor the released Guantanamo detainees.

“Is there the possibility of some of them trying to return to activities that are detrimental to us? Absolutely,” Obama said in a news conference with Poland’s president. “There’s a certain recidivism rate that takes place.”

But Obama added that he would not have authorized the trade if he “thought it was contrary to U.S. national security.”. . .

- Greg Pollowitz

Nigerian Government Bans #BringBackOurGirls Support Rallies

Via BBC:

Nigerian police have banned public protests in the capital, Abuja, for the release of more than 200 schoolgirls seized by Islamist militants in April.

Abuja police commissioner Joseph Mbu said the rallies were “now posing a serious security threat”.

Nigeria has seen almost daily rallies calling for the government to take firmer action to rescue the girls.

Boko Haram militants snatched the girls from the remote Chibok village near the Cameroon border on 14 April.

The ban comes after scuffles broke out last week between the demonstrators organised under the #BringBackOurGirls and a new government-sponsored group called #ReleaseOurGirls.

In a statement, Mr Mbu said that public protests had “degenerated” and were now a security threat.

He was also quoted by the state-run Agency of Nigeria as saying that “dangerous elements” could join the demonstrations.

Nigeria’s government has been facing growing pressure both at home and abroad to do more to tackle the group and bring about the girls’ release. . .

And the incompotent government of Nigeria strikes again. - Greg Pollowitz
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Parents of Officer Killed While Searching for Bergdahl Say They Were Lied To

Via Daily Mail:

The furious parents of an officer who they claim was killed while searching for freed Taliban prisoner Bowe Bergdahl today said that they have been lied to as part of a ‘cover up just like Benghazi’.

The mother and father of Second Lieutenant Darryn Andrews are angry that they have been told different stories about how their son died.

First his commanders said that their son was blown up while hunting a Taliban commander – but only now that Bergdahl has been freed after five years in captivity are they learning the truth. . .

The Pentagon just needs to come clean. - Greg Pollowitz

#YesAllChicagoans: 7 Dead, 23 Others Wounded in Weekend Shootings

Via Sun-Times:

Seven people were killed and at least 23 others have been wounded in separate shootings across the city since Friday evening, including eight shot within the first 30 minutes of June. . .

- Greg Pollowitz

GOP Candidate Changes Name to ‘Cesar Chavez’; Now Running as a Dem

Via Fusion:

A twice-failed Arizona Republican political candidate is going to extreme lengths to get elected this year; he legally changed his name to share one with famed Hispanic labor leader Cesar Chavez.

The office-seeker, Scott Fistler, lost a write-in bid against Rep. Ed Pastor (D-Ariz.) in 2012. Victory escaped him last year too in a race for a Phoenix city council seat now occupied by Pastor’s daughter, Laura. Fistler is gunning for the elder Pastor’s seat yet again, but under his new name. The Arizona Capitol Times reported Monday that Fistler successfully petitioned a state court last November to change his name, and he switched his party affiliation from Republican to Democrat.

Pastor is retiring from his seat in Arizona’s 7th congressional district, where more than six in ten residents are Hispanic, according to census data. The district is deep blue, and the winner of the Democratic primary is expected to win the general election. . .

Note: Real Cesar Chavez pictured above. -
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DoD Source: Bergdahl May Have Collaborated with the Enemy

Via Fox News:

A senior official confirms to Fox News that the conduct of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl — both in his final stretch of active duty in Afghanistan and then, too, during his time when he lived among the Taliban — has been thoroughly investigated by the U.S. intelligence community and is the subject of “a major classified file.”

In conveying as much, the Defense Department source confirmed to Fox News that many within the intelligence community harbor serious outstanding concerns not only that Bergdahl may have been a deserter but that he may have been an active collaborator with the enemy.

The Pentagon official added pointedly that no relevant congressional committee has sought access to the classified file, but that if such a request were made, key committee chairs would, under previous precedent, likely be granted access to it. Separately, the Pentagon confirmed Monday that it is looking into claims Americans died during the search for Bergdahl. 

The administration announced over the weekend that Bergdahl’s release had been secured, in exchange for five Taliban prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. President Obama was joined by the soldier’s parents in making a public statement on the release Saturday evening from the Rose Garden. 

Sources told Fox News that many officials in the Executive Branch are “quite baffled” by the White House’s decision to allow the president to stand alongside Bergdahl’s father this past weekend, given the father’s history of controversial statements, emails and online posts. . .

How does the Pentagon now know if soldiers died searching for him? - Greg Pollowitz

NRA Not Happy with Open Carry Advocates in Texas

Via NRA-ILA:

Good Citizens and Good Neighbors: The Gun Owners’ Role

. . .The second example comes to us from the Lone Star State, which is second to none for its robust gun culture.  We applaud Texans for that, but a small number have recently crossed the line from enthusiasm to downright foolishness.

Now we love AR-15s and AKs as much as anybody, and we know that these sorts of semiautomatic carbines are among the most popular, fastest selling firearms in America today.  Texas, independent-minded and liberty-loving place that it is, doesn’t ban the carrying of loaded long guns in public, nor does it require a permit for this activity.  Yet some so-called firearm advocates seem determined to change this.

Recently, demonstrators have been showing up in various public places, including coffee shops and fast food restaurants, openly toting a variety of tactical long guns. Unlicensed open carry of handguns is legal in about half the U.S. states, and it is relatively common and uncontroversial in some places. 

Yet while unlicensed open carry of long guns is also typically legal in most places, it is a rare sight to see someone sidle up next to you in line for lunch with a 7.62 rifle slung across his chest, much less a whole gaggle of folks descending on the same public venue with similar arms.  

Let’s not mince words, not only is it rare, it’s downright weird and certainly not a practical way to go normally about your business while being prepared to defend yourself. To those who are not acquainted with the dubious practice of using public displays of firearms as a means to draw attention to oneself or one’s cause, it can be downright scary.  It makes folks who might normally be perfectly open-minded about firearms feel uncomfortable and question the motives of pro-gun advocates.

As a result of these hijinx, two popular fast food outlets have recently requested patrons to keep guns off the premises (more information can be found here and here).  In other words, the freedom and goodwill these businesses had previously extended to gun owners has been curtailed because of the actions of an attention-hungry few who thought only of themselves and not of those who might be affected by their behavior. To state the obvious, that’s counterproductive for the gun owning community.

More to the point, it’s just not neighborly, which is out of character for the big-hearted residents of Texas. Using guns merely to draw attention to yourself in public not only defies common sense, it shows a lack of consideration and manners.  That’s not the Texas way.  And that’s certainly not the NRA way.

In summary, NRA certainly does not support bans on personalized guns or on carrying firearms in public, including in restaurants.  We think people are intelligent enough to resolve these issues in a reasonable way for themselves. But when people act without thinking, or without consideration for others – especially when it comes to firearms – they set the stage for further restrictions on our rights. Firearm owners face enough challenges these days; we don’t need to be victims of friendly fire.

- Greg Pollowitz

The WKRP Moment of the Ukraine Separatist Movement Has Arrived

Via Washington Post:

The conflict in eastern Ukraine has been fought in recent days with bullets, bombs and mortars. But Sunday, the weapons of choice were chocolate, caramel and lemon-lime.

What started as a separatist publicity stunt ended in one angry, gooey mess.

First, the PR stunt: The rebel government staged a rally for children in Donetsk’s Lenin Square to highlight what it claims are indiscriminate Ukrainian army attacks on civilians. Under sunny skies, mothers and fathers flocked to the square, kids in tow, to hear speakers rail against the “bloodthirsty Kiev junta.”

At the end, there was a special surprise: A white van pulled up and militants dressed in green camouflage hopped out. But rather than their usual assault rifles, the fighters were bearing candy. Big brown boxes of candy that they said had been plundered from a local warehouse.

Kids squealed with delight. Parents rushed to claim their share. There was applause as happy children walked off bearing bags of sweets wrapped in blue, yellow and red plastic. It seemed the Donetsk People’s Republic, as the separatist movement here is known, had won a victory in the all-important battle for hearts and minds.

But in Ukraine these days, even candy is political.

Some in the crowd noticed that the sweets were made by Roshen, the company owned by the Ukrainian tycoon known as the Chocolate King, Petro Poroshenko. He became the country’s president-elect last month in an overwhelming vote, but rebel supporters here blame him for the violence that has engulfed the country’s southeast.

The mood turned in a flash from exultant to furious. The carnival became a mob.

“It’s a provocation!” some in the crowd began to yell.

“The candy is poisoned!” screamed others.

“No to blood candy!” they chanted. . .

The turkey drop is next I think. - Greg Pollowitz

The Military Community’s Reaction to the Bergdahl Release

Via Army Times:

Though Americans may be celebrating the release of the only American soldier held prisoner in Afghanistan by the Taliban, the reaction of the military community has been mixed at best.

Within an hour of the announcement that Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was handed over to U.S. special forces by the Taliban Saturday evening, Army Times’ Facebook page lit up with hundreds of comments reacting to the news.

Most centered on the circumstances surrounding Bergdahl’s capture, which remain something of a mystery. There has been some speculation that he willingly walked away from his unit, raising 

the question of whether he could be charged with being absent without leave (AWOL) or desertion.

Many angrily called Bergdahl a traitor or a deserter. Stephen Kirouac, calling Bergdahl a “dirtbag” and “sympathizer,” was among many who seized on that speculation to criticize the rescued soldier. . .

Of note, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel dodged the question if Bergdahl is a deserter. Via CNN

Also unclear is how Bergdahl fell into the hands of the Afghan militants. When a reporter asked if Bergdahl had deserted, Hagel didn't answer directly.

"Our first priority is assuring his well-being and his health and getting him reunited with his family," he said. "Other circumstances that may develop, they will be dealt with later."

 

- Greg Pollowitz

Florida Man Turned Suicide Bomber in Syria

Via CNN:

he truck was loaded with munitions, then driven up a hillside in northern Syria. Moments later, there was a massive blast followed by cries of “Allahu Akbar,” or “God is great” in Arabic, and the rattling of gunfire.

The suicide attacker in the bombing depicted in this online video was an American jihadi, radical Islamists claiming responsibility for the blast have said.

Late Thursday, two U.S. officials confirmed their boast.

The man called by the nom de guerre Abu Hurayra Al-Amriki was a U.S. citizen, who grew up in Florida and went to school there.

Neither official would disclose the bomber’s real name. Investigators are interviewing family members. . .

Why's he holding a cat in his jihad-video? Did he blow up the cat, too? - Greg Pollowitz

Shrinkage: Revised GDP Number Shows 1% Contraction in Q1 2014

Via Time:

The U.S.’ Gross Domestic Product contracted by 1 percent in the first quarter of 2014, marking the first contraction in years as government economists revised earlier figures by taking stock of additional glum measures

The U.S. economy contracted by 1% in the first quarter, marking the first GDP contraction in three years, according to revised estimates released by the Commerce Department on Thursday.

The figure was revised downwards from an earlier estimate of 0.1% growth, as government economists took stock of additional glum measures. The Commerce Department noted that on top of a winter wallop to retail and construction, real GDP was dragged down further by a rise in imports and a marked decline in inventory growth. The last time real GDP contracted was in the first quarter of 2011 at the tail end of a punishing recession. . .

Let's see them try to blame bad weather on this new number. - Greg Pollowitz

CNN: Obama Placed Shinseki on ‘Probation’ Last Week; Is on ‘Thin Ice’

Via Steve Brusk, CNN:

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On the day President Obama addressed the future leaders of the Army, he had a lackey go out and through a retired four-star Army general under the bus. This is an Obama problem, not a Shinseki problem. - Greg Pollowitz

Twitter Co-Founder on the Leadership Lessons of Star Trek TNG

Via Washington Post:

Awaiting comment from William Shatner. . . - Greg Pollowitz

WaPost Editors on POTUS at West Point: ‘Obama Continues His Retreat’

Via Washington Post:

PRESIDENT OBAMA has retrenched U.S. global engagement in a way that has shaken the confidence of many U.S. allies and encouraged some adversaries. That conclusion can be heard not just from Republican hawks but also from senior officials from Singapore to France and, more quietly, from some leading congressional Democrats. As he has so often in his political career, Mr. Obama has elected to respond to the critical consensus not by adjusting policy but rather by delivering a big speech.

In his address Wednesday to the graduating cadets at West Point , Mr. Obama marshaled a virtual corps of straw men, dismissing those who “say that every problem has a military solution,” who “think military intervention is the only way for America to avoid looking weak,” who favor putting “American troops into the middle of [Syria’s] increasingly sectarian civil war,” who propose “invading every country that harbors terrorist networks” and who think that “working through international institutions . . . or respecting international law is a sign of weakness.”. . .

- Greg Pollowitz

The Only Thing That Stops a Bad Man with a Gun Is a Cowboy with a Lasso?

Via NY Daily News:

A gun-touting Georgia man was lassoed and then tied up by a cowboy after he fired shots at a church-organized Memorial Day weekend rodeo.

Celestino Moras, 25, reportedly showed up uninvited — and extremely drunk — to the Cassville, Bartow County, picnic event Sunday.

When asked to leave, he allegedly pulled out a pistol and started shooting — causing 300 of the guests to take off running.

Three people suffered minor injuries.

But he soon ran out of bullets, and was then lassoed by one of the rodeo cowboys. . .

Yippee-ki-ya mother. . .

Well, you know the rest.

- Greg Pollowitz

Snowden Claims He Was an Undercover Spy For CIA, NSA

Via New York Post:

Former US spy agency contractor Edward Snowden, who leaked details of massive US intelligence-gathering programs, said in a US TV interview he “was trained as a spy” and had worked undercover overseas for US government agencies.

In an advance excerpt of his interview in Moscow with “NBC Nightly News” that aired on Tuesday, Snowden rejected comments by critics that he was a low-level analyst.

“Well, it’s no secret that the US tends to get more and better intelligence out of computers nowadays than they do out of people,” Snowden told NBC news anchor Brian Williams. . .

If this is true, then his going to Russia is much worse, no? More of a defection now. - Greg Pollowitz

Cliven Bundy Leaves the Republican Party

Via the Christian Science Monitor:

A Nevada rancher whose dispute with the US Bureau of Land Management drew national attention is no longer a Republican.

Cliven Bundy has switched his affiliation to the Independent American Party.

Bundy and his supporters, some of them armed militia members, thwarted a BLM roundup of his cattle nearBunkerville in April.

The BLM says he owes more than $1 million in grazing fees and penalties for trespassing without a permit over 20 years, but he refuses to acknowledge federal authority on public lands. . .

I guess this means no big cookout at the Bundy ranch if Las Vegas gets the 2016 GOP convention. -

U.S. Training ‘Elite Antiterror Troops’ For Libya, Niger, Mauritania and Mali.

Via New York Times:

United States Special Operations troops are forming elite counterterrorism units in four countries in North and West Africa that American officials say are pivotal in the widening war against Al Qaeda’s affiliates and associates on the continent, even as they acknowledge the difficulties of working with weak allies.

The secretive program, financed in part with millions of dollars in classified Pentagon spending and carried out by trainers, including members of the Army’s Green Berets and Delta Force, was begun last year to instruct and equip hundreds of handpicked commandos in LibyaNigerMauritania and Mali.

The goal over the next few years is to build homegrown African counterterrorism teams capable of combating fighters like those in Boko Haram, the Islamist extremist group that abducted nearly 300 Nigerian schoolgirls last month. American military specialists are helping Nigerian officers in their efforts to rescue the girls.

“Training indigenous forces to go after threats in their own country is what we need to be doing,” said Michael A. Sheehan, who advocated the counterterrorism program last year when he was the senior Pentagon official in charge of Special Operations policy. Mr. Sheehan now holds the distinguished chair at the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point.

As the United States military seeks to extend its counterterrorism reach in Africa, President Obama is expected to appear at West Point on Wednesday to emphasize a foreign policy that would avoid large land wars, like those in Afghanistan and Iraq, and instead stress the training of allied and partner nations to battle militants on their own soil.

 

As the recent coup in Mali was led by those trained by the U.S. trained military, I'm not sure we'll like the eventual outcome of this. - Greg Pollowitz

#YesAllWomen and #BringBackOurGirls Gets Support of Iran’s Khamenei

Via Twitter:

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We've reached peak-hashtag now. - Greg Pollowitz

Meet the Real Life ‘X-Men’ Among Us

Via PC Mag:

9 Humans With Real-Life X-Men Mutant Super Powers

Today, rabid fan boys and girls around the world will stand in line for hours to see X-Men: Days of Future Past. But if it’s mutant super powers they wanted to see, there’s no need to depend on some fictional, CGI-enhanced Hollywood make-em-ups. There are very real people with very real gene-based super abilities all around us!

First, let’s start off with the fact that mutations do not mean retractable adamantium claws nor the ability to control the weather. In fact, these little genetic typos typically result in very minor changes, which (when they aren’t deadly) are often not visible.

Mutations are the means by which nature adds new variants into the genetic pool. If these traits are advantageous (or at least benign), they are passed along through the generations until they become a normal part of a species’ grander gene pool.

Without mutations, evolution would not be possible—species could never gain new abilities or attributes. For example, in our species’ recent past (around 12,000 years ago), a single human had a mutation which gave him the “superpower” to drink cow’s milk and not get sick, which was then passed to half the world’s population. Now we have cheeseburgers.

Scientists believe that every time the human genome duplicates itself there are around 100 new mutations. They’re pretty common, and usually negligible. However, it would stand to reason that within the pantheon of human mutations, some would express themselves in the form of extraordinary superhuman abilities.

Check out our slideshow for nine examples of medically verified human abilities resulting from minute changes in genetic code. Or, to put it in a much more interesting way: Here are nine examples of real-life mutant super heroes. . .

I'm not a fan of listicle-journalism, but some of these were interesting. Like the Hulk-baby in No. 2. - Greg Pollowitz

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