Ft. Hood Victims Finally Receive the Honors So Deserved

Editor’s Note – Put very simply; it’s about time. After almost 5 1/2 years, the proper recognition has been bestowed upon the fallen and injured from the 2009 terror attack  at Ft. Hood.

The radical Islamic terror event was not officially recognized as such all this time but rather was called ‘workplace violence.’

That was an insult, and any clear thinking person knew it, but because of a couple of words in the military code, the law had to be changed to overcome obvious roadblocks forced by official policy on who the enemy was.

As Chuck Yarling at the Examiner explains:

“It’s long past time to call the Fort Hood attack what it was: radical Islamic terrorism. And, this recognition for Fort Hood terrorist victims is overdue.PurpleHeart2

The victims and their families deserve our prayers and support, and this legislation rightly honors them for defending our nation in the face of a heinous act of terror”
 – Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas)

Reps. John Carter (R-Texas) and Roger Williams (R-Texas) added words to legislation of the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that expanded “eligibility for the Purple Heart to include members of the Armed Forces who have been killed or wounded in an attack inspired or motivated by a foreign terrorist.”

The NDAA passed both houses and was signed by President Obama on December 16, 2014.

Previous government regulations stated (briefly), that the Purple Heart was limited to members of the Armed Forces of the United States who have been wounded or killed in any action against a U.S. enemy or opposing armed force of a “foreign country”.

Now we can finally put this argument to rest – Ft. Hood was an Radical Islam Terrorist act and our forces in uniform were victims of the greater war declared upon us long ago by radical Islamic forces but unrecognized by the White House.

Our warriors take an oath to protect and defend the Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic, and lay their life on the line to do so; many paid the ultimate price on our own soil that day in November of 2009. They lived up to their oath, we wish others who took a similar oath would live up to theirs.

Fort Hood Victims Awarded Purple Hearts After Long, Controversial Battle

By  – ABC News

Today the military awarded the victims and survivors of the 2009 Fort Hood attack with Purple Hearts and other medals, after a more than five-year-long bureaucratic struggle over whether the awards were deserved.

Kimberly Munley, the former police sergeant credited with stopping the attack, and civilian Michael Cahill, who was killed, were honored with Defense of Freedom Medals.

For years the survivors have fought to get the military to recognize the shooting by Maj. Nidal Hasan as a terrorist attack, which would make them eligible for the Purple Hearts and other combat-related benefits. But the military pushed back, likening the attack to workplace violence.

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A Pentagon position paper obtained by ABC News in April 2013 said that giving the victims the Purple Heart could “irrevocably alter the fundamental character of this time-honored decoration” and “undermine the prosecution of Major Nidal Hasan by materially and directly compromising Major Hasan’s ability to receive a fair trial.”

Thirteen people were killed and another 32 were injured when Hasan opened fire on his fellow soldiers at the Texas Army facility in November 2009. Hasan said during his trial the troops were about to deploy to Afghanistan where they would pose an immediate danger to the Taliban, whom he said he was defending.

Three years after the attack, Munley told ABC News she felt “betrayed” by President Obama, who had welcomed her as a hero at the 2010 State of the Union Address.

Ft. Hood

“Betrayed is a good word,” Munley said. “Not to the least little bit have the victims been taken care of… In fact, they’ve been neglected.”

Hasan was convicted and sentenced to death in August 2013. But still, the military pushed back on awarding Purple Hearts to the victims until last month.

 

The move was precipitated by a change in the law that broadened the strict eligibility rules for the medal, which is awarded to those wounded in combat.

Advocates for the victims gained support from members of Congress who succeeded in including legislation in the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act that broadened the definition of an attack by a “a foreign terrorist organization” to include contacts the perpetrator may have had with a foreign terrorist organization prior to the attack and “if the attack was inspired or motivated by the foreign terrorist organization.”


ABC News’ Luis Martinez contributed to this report.

Greek Tragedies, Bursting Bubbles, China and the AIIF

Editor’s Note – Is another Greek Tragedy about to rock the European Union? Has the United States lost its ‘Superpower’ status in the universe of global economics? Is there another bubble about to burst in the U.S. stock Market?

If you say yes to all three, we have much more than a Greek Tragedy; we could have a melt-down of epic proportions say several leading economic voices. In Greece, they have a hefty payment due Thursday to the International Monetary Fund that may cause another political crisis in their government:

The worsening Greek debt crisis has reanimated talk within the ruling Syriza party of a snap general election if discussions with creditors fail, as the country faces a Thursday deadline to repay a €450m (£330m) loan to the International Monetary Fund.

The Greek finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, during a parliamentary session in Athens on Thursday. He was scheduled to meet the IMF’s managing director, Christine Lagarde, in Washington DC on Sunday. Photograph: Alkis Konstantinidis/Reuters
The Greek finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, during a parliamentary session in Athens on Thursday. He was scheduled to meet the IMF’s managing director, Christine Lagarde, in Washington DC on Sunday. Photograph: Alkis Konstantinidis/Reuters

The Greek finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, held informal talks with the IMF’s managing director, Christine Lagarde, in Washington DC on Sunday, and Lagarde said he confirmed that the repayment would be made on Thursday.

Meanwhile, warnings of early elections underscored the political unrest in Athens. (Read more here at the Guardian.)

Their decisions and negotiations could ripple across the globe just as a bubble is about to burst here and some are calling it inevitable.

In addition, Larry Summers, the person once considered to take the job now held by Janet Yellin is telling us that he believes the U.S. has been surpassed by the likes of China already.

In his recent article entitled: “Time US Leadership Woke Up To New Economic Era,” he explains why he thinks the left and the right, and collectively all in Washington have really isolated the U.S. from global economic system and the ability to sway policy:

This past month may be remembered as the moment the United States lost its role as the underwriter of the global economic system. True, there have been any number of periods of frustration for the US before, and times when American behaviour was hardly multilateralist, such as the 1971 Nixon shock, ending the convertibility of the dollar into gold.

Larry Summers, former Secretary of the Treasury under Bill Clinton and former President of Harvard is now the President Emeritus and Charles W. Eliot University Professor of Harvard University
Larry Summers, former Secretary of the Treasury under Bill Clinton and former President of Harvard is now the President Emeritus and Charles W. Eliot University Professor of Harvard University

But I can think of no event since Bretton Woods comparable to the combination of China’s effort to establish a major new institution and the failure of the US to persuade dozens of its traditional allies, starting with Britain, to stay out of it.

This failure of strategy and tactics was a long time coming, and it should lead to a comprehensive review of the US approach to global economics.

With China’s economic size rivalling America’s and emerging markets accounting for at least half of world output, the global economic architecture needs substantial adjustment.

Political pressures from all sides in the US have rendered it increasingly dysfunctional.

Largely because of resistance from the right, the US stands alone in the world in failing to approve the International Monetary Fund governance reforms that Washington itself pushed for in 2009. By supplementing IMF resources, this change would have bolstered confidence in the global economy. More important, it would come closer to giving countries such as China and India a share of IMF votes commensurate with their new economic heft.

Meanwhile, pressures from the left have led to pervasive restrictions on infrastructure projects financed through existing development banks, which consequently have receded as funders, even as many developing countries now see infrastructure finance as their principle external funding need. (Read more here at Zero Hedge.)

Now read this take on that darn bubble:

Disaster Is Inevitable When The Two Decade-Old Stock Bubble Bursts

By Jesse Colombo – Forbes

Six years after the Global Financial Crisis, the U.S. stock market continues to soar to new heights with nary a pullback or correction. In this piece, I will explain why the stock market is experiencing a new bubble that is actually another wave of the bubble that has existed since the mid-1990s.

A two-decade old bubble? Yes, you’ve read that correctly. Most people will consider this assertion preposterous, but the facts don’t lie. Though the U.S. stock market has been experiencing a bubble for two decades, it will not last forever. I believe that the ultimate popping of this bubble will have terrifying consequences for both investors and the global economy that is tied so closely to the stock market.

The SP500 stock index has more than tripled since its low in 2009, but that doesn’t mean that we are out of the woods. On the contrary, this is the calm before the storm.

BubbleCoveryChart1

Source: St. Louis Fed

Since the mid-1990s, the U.S. economy and stock market has experienced three different bubbles: the 1990s Dot-com bubble, the mid-2000s housing bubble, and now another bubble that includes stocks, bonds, tech startups, certain segments of the housing market, higher education, and much more. I believe that this new bubble is creating what I call a “Bubblecovery” or a bubble-driven temporary economic recovery that will end in another crisis.

The U.S. Federal Reserve also created a Bubblecovery in the early-2000s to recover from the Dot-com bust, which led to the housing bubble. After the housing bubble burst, the Fed inflated the post-2009 Bubblecovery. After each bubble/Bubblecovery ends, the Fed simply inflates another bubble to recover from the last one. In essence, the U.S. economy and stock market has been in a bubble cycle for the past two decades. Each time, the bubble gets larger, and the Fed has to keep re-inflating it to avoid the economic Depression that would occur if asset prices were allowed to find their true value.

The incessant push to inflate our economy and financial markets has created an unprecedented situation in which stocks have been trading at overvalued levels for a record length of time. Nearly every stock market valuation indicator is giving the same reading: stocks are currently at levels that preceded other major historic busts.

For example, look at the Cyclically Adjusted P/E Ratio (CAPE), or the price-to-earnings ratio based on average inflation-adjusted earnings from the previous 10 years. The 1929 Stock Market Crash and 1970s stagnation occurred after the CAPE rose over 20 – a level that indicates stock market overvaluation. Incredibly, the CAPE has remained over 20 for much of the past two decades, aside from a few short months during the Global Financial Crisis. Without constant Fed intervention, there is no doubt that the U.S. stock market would have corrected violently like it has in the past.

BubbleCoveryChart2

 

Source: VectorGrader.com

‘The world is on fire’ – Boehner Interview in Israel

Editor’s Note – Lost in the anticipation of the “Iran Deal” completion which came today, John Boehner was interviewed in a wide ranging manner about his visit to Israel published yesterday and we recommend it highly for perspective.

John Boehner in Israel: ‘The world is on fire’

In an exclusive interview, the House speaker offers a blistering critique of U.S. policy in the Mideast.

JERUSALEM — John Boehner thinks the “world is on fire.” And America isn’t doing nearly enough to stamp it out.

The House speaker’s decision to invite Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak before Congress last month sparked criticism that Boehner was inappropriately injecting himself into foreign affairs and antagonizing President Barack Obama. But just hours after a friendly return visit with Netanyahu on Wednesday, Boehner made clear in an interview with POLITICO here he’s not backing down and will remain firmly engaged in the nation’s foreign policy.150401_john_boehner_israel_gty_1160_1160x629

“I wouldn’t have believed that I would be involved in as much foreign policy as I am today,” Boehner said in his hotel near Jerusalem’s Old City. “And it certainly isn’t by choice. It’s just that the world is on fire. And I don’t think enough Americans or enough people in the administration understand how serious the problems that we’re facing in the world are.”

Indeed, with the Middle East in a constant state of upheaval, and the relationship between Obama and Netanyahu at a low point, Boehner has emerged as an unlikely power center in U.S. foreign policy.

Sitting in his hotel suite on a chilly, gray day — after a lunch with Netanyahu in the prime minister’s office complex — the Republican leader said a six-country journey mostly across the Middle East has left him more worried than before. He said his theory that the U.S. doesn’t have a coherent foreign policy has been borne out. He’s concerned about the U.S.-led talks with Iran and has been most surprised by “the boldness of the Iranians” in exerting their influence throughout the region. The “trouble they’re causing,” he said, “raised my eyebrows.”

It’s quite a shift for Boehner, the nation’s top elected Republican, who is second in line to the presidency. He came to power envisioning shrinking government and slashing budgets, but foreign policy has emerged as a central element of his legacy. Boehner hasn’t opposed the White House at every turn on foreign policy — in several instances, he publicly aligned himself with Obama, but at other times he’s vocally challenged the president.

01firstdraft-boehner-israel-master675Indeed, instead of shying from the criticism he received after inviting Netanyahu to address Congress, Boehner offered a blistering critique of how the U.S. is dealing with growing uncertainty in the Middle East.

“We’ve got some big, serious problems, and there’s no overarching strategy to deal with it. You’ve heard me say this for two years. I am even more convinced of it today,” Boehner said. He added, “Here’s the essence of what I’ve learned on this trip: The problem is growing faster than what we and our allies are doing to try to stop it.”

Boehner did say that, one way or another, Congress will move to change U.S. policy toward Iran. If there’s no deal, he said, Congress would pass a bill imposing new sanctions. If there is a deal, he said he would have to review it, but he is “sure we’ll have a reaction.” As he watches the talks in Lausanne, Switzerland, Boehner said he thinks the Obama administration is too eager to cut a deal.

“What bothers me is it looks like the administration is so hungry for a deal just to have a deal so they can say they have a deal,” Boehner said. “The rest of the world wants something real out of this.”

Boehner said he expects to meet with Obama when he returns to America to discuss, among other topics, foreign policy.

“When you look at what we’re doing, we’re involved with some allies trying to hold Iraq together,” he said, describing the message he plans to deliver to the White House. “We’re involved with some of our allies in trying to deal with ISIL. And we’re in these talks with the people who describe us as Satan, like we’re going to come to some agreement with the Iranians, while they’re spreading terror all over the Middle East.

“We’ve got allies who are doing a little of this and a little of that. But when I talk about overarching strategy, what I’m talking about is a large plan that involves intelligence, it involves the military, it ought to involve Islamic leaders, there ought to be a communications operation — there are lots of components of this that need to happen and be coordinated with our allies if we’re going to tackle this problem.”

Boehner’s allies think he’s underappreciated when it comes to his savvy on foreign policy and his support of many of Obama’s initiatives on the global stage. People close to him say that despite the criticism from Democrats that he’s undermining the president, he still adheres to the belief that there is one commander in chief and he should be the one to set the nation’s foreign policy.

Indeed, they say, he stood up for the White House’s use of certain controversial surveillance techniques when they came under fire. He worked behind the scenes to ensure congressional approval of Obama’s plan to train and arm Syrian rebels. He supported some of Obama’s policies in Afghanistan and sent a memo to his colleagues laying out — with caveats — why he thought it was a good idea. He has, however, rejected Obama’s timeline for withdrawal. And he said Wednesday that he was pleased to hear that the Obama administration would lift the arms ban in Egypt — he said he has been “pushing” the administration to reconsider that policy.

But Boehner said he believes that Congress has a robust role in foreign policy that needs to be respected. When he is briefed, he wants to hear from Obama himself — not an aide. He has pressed the administration to provide detailed briefings — not just perfunctory phone calls — prior to a change in policy. He said in the interview that the White House’s outreach has been “adequate,” without elaborating, adding that he hasn’t heard much about the Iran talks.

While Boehner’s prime interest in Congress has been in cutting the budget and reducing taxes, he has long harbored a willingness to take action on foreign policy. On Obama’s inauguration day in 2009, White House adviser Greg Craig told a group of congressional leaders that the president planned to close Guantánamo Bay without the consent of Congress. With Democrats in control of the House, Boehner used the appropriations process to ensure that never happened. (Craig did not reply to an email seeking comment.)

In 2011, he gave what turned out to be a prescient speech about emerging problems in Russia. He had his staffers watch the movie “Miracle” at a staff retreat to remind them of the country’s spirit when the U.S. men’s hockey toppled the Russians in the 1980 Olympics.

Now, over the next few months, Boehner will have an opportunity to continue to have an outsized impact on foreign policy. The Obama administration is seeking a resolution explicitly authorizing military force against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. In meetings and conversations, Boehner personally pushed Obama to send a proposal to Capitol Hill, but he is now skeptical it will come together.

“If I see a strategy that I think can work, then you can write an [Authorization for Use of Military Force] that supports it,” he said. “But when the president asks for less authority than he has today, you begin to scratch your head. And, secondly, I think they’re looking at this entire problem with blinders on. They need to take a broader view of a bigger strategy to deal with these growing problems.”

With parts of Iraq falling to ISIL, Boehner said he told Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi that allowing Iranian soldiers to help patrol Tikrit was an “embarrassment to our country.” He said the U.S. should consider repurposing troops to help the Iraqi army fight more efficiently.

“We have nearly 4,000 troops there today,” Boehner said. “And they are mostly advising and training. But I think, frankly, if we had some of those people out in the field helping to direct, it would help the Iraqi forces in a big way. So those are boots on the ground, but we’re not talking about sending 100,000 people in there.”

While most people are fixated on a rift between America and Israel, Boehner used his time here to downplay it. He strode to a podium with Netanyahu here, and, in brief remarks, Boehner said “while we may have political disagreements from time to time,” the two nations share a strong bond.

During his visit, Boehner traveled with the Israeli Defense Forces to see the “terror tunnels” near Gaza. He ate lunch with Netanyahu and met with the U.S. Ambassador Daniel Shapiro and the staff at the American consulate in Jerusalem. He also spent time with Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon in the brand new Waldorf Astoria, located around the corner from the U.S. Consulate.

Boehner dismissed tensions between Obama and Netanyahu as a “little political spat.” The speaker said he doesn’t expect Netanyahu’s relationship with Obama “to get any worse.” Instead, “I do expect it will get better,” the Ohio Republican said.

“No one should look at big problems between Israel and America. There are big problems between Bibi and our president,” Boehner said. He did say Obama’s administration was trying to “impose a peace process on the prime minister of Israel when he has no partner to sit down and talk to.”

“At the end of the day, we need them and they need us,” Boehner said of Israel. “And OK, so you got two people who may not be in love with each other, but the fact is we’re great allies and there’s a lot going on in the world and we need each other.”