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Armed Texas Homeowner Stops Two Female Thieves

One would think that anyone who is considering theft as an occupation would not consider Texas to be thief-friendly territory. Not only are firearms commonplace here, we have a strong castle law too. Homeowners are empowered to protect themselves and their property. Texans tend to believe that gun control is putting lead on target where you intend to put it, not keeping law-abiding people from owning guns at all.

Two female would-be thieves in the Houston area learned all this the hard way on Wednesday.

Harris County Precinct 4 Constable’s Deputies responded around 1:30 p.m. to the 8700 block of Rolling Rapids Road after receiving calls that two people were trying to break into a house in the area.

The homeowner, who was not identified, called law enforcement to report that two females were throwing rocks at his windows in an attempt to break in, said Harris County Precinct 4 Lt. Walter Stensland.

“The homeowner never answers the door during the day,” Stensland explained.

The suspects were able to break the glass near the front of the residence and reach into the house to unlock the door.

At that point, the homeowner responded with a shotgun.

“Shots were fired. Both suspects were hit in the upper torso,” Stensland said.

One of the unidentified thieves is in critical condition, the other is in stable condition. They had reportedly stolen a car earlier, which they used to drive to the home where they were shot. So if they recover from their wounds, they can look forward to some jail time.

Posted at 7:04 am on October 30th, 2014 by

Holder, Rice Pick Their Movie Doppelgängers

denzel-halle-oscars

National Security Advisor Susan Rice and Attorney General Eric Holder had no problem coming up with actors to portray them in the movie version of the administration.

Rice and Holder were separately asked the question at Wednesday’s Washington Ideas Forum.

“Halle Berry,” Rice quickly answered, adding, “I should be so lucky.”

“There’s only person,” Holder replied. “Denzel.”

The last movie Holder saw? “I re-watched The Godfather. The greatest movie of all time.”

He also admitted he likes to “binge watch not-too-serious television.”

“Boardwalk Empire, I’m going to be working on that pretty soon,” Holder said of the HBO series that just ended its five-season run. “Homeland. These are the things that I just love to sit down, and, you know, just go for like hours.”

Asked which political series “gets Washington mostly right” — Homeland, Scandal, Veep, or House of Cards — Holder picked the Netflix series.

“Depending on the administration, I’d say House of Cards,” he said. “There was a pretty bad vice president in House of Cards, but I’ll leave it at that.”

“And I like Joe Biden, so I’m not talking about him,” Holder added.

Posted at 6:40 am on October 30th, 2014 by

Treating Israel Like ‘Chickensh*t’ is Official Obama Administration Policy

Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) says he is “shocked” that senior Obama administration officials call Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “chickensh*t.”

“I was shocked and disappointed on reading the comments in The Atlantic,” Engel said in a statement. “I call upon the Administration to reassert the importance of the relationship between the United States and Israel, and to reaffirm that the bonds between our two countries are unbreakable.

“I realize that two allies, such as the United States and Israel, are not going to agree on everything, but I think it is counterproductive and unprofessional for Administration officials to air their dirty laundry in such a public way,” he added. “I am getting tired of hearing about the leaks and denials. This ought to be the last time we hear of such talk because it is getting to a point where nobody believes the denials anymore.”

Engel is a pro-Israel Democrat but, tellingly, he didn’t call for an apology. He did not call for anyone to be ejected from the administration. He called for words to undo the damage that other words are doing.

The Obama administration, given two chances to apologize for the remark and make amends Wednesday, chose not to. And, both Josh Earnest at the White House and Jen Psaki at the State Department were clearly singing from the same sheet of music when both said that the administration would not even bother to try to find out who made the remarks. So they were operating off of official Obama administration policy, which attempted to assert that the smears are not reflective of the administration’s stance, but no one will be punished for undermining what is the official administration stance, with regard to a key ally.

There could be a behind-the-scenes effort to get to the bottom of it, if one supposes that hating Israel is not the pervasive attitude in the Obama administration. But Jeffrey Goldberg’s article in the Atlantic makes it clear, despite most readers and pundits’ failure to pick up on this, that the anti-Israel attitude is widespread in the Obama administration.

That’s right up top before the article officially starts:

The Obama administration’s anger is “red-hot” over Israel’s settlement policies, and the Netanyahu government openly expresses contempt for Obama’s understanding of the Middle East. Profound changes in the relationship may be coming.

That’s not one official — the whole administration is said to be “red-hot” against Israel.

In the article itself, we have the unnamed senior administration official dubbing Netanyahu a “chickensh*t” and another agreeing with that (in paragraph six of the story), adding that he is a “coward.” That second official brags that the Obama administration’s pressure has worked against Netanyahu, long enough to stall him and allow Iran’s nuclear program to proceed. That’s right here:

The official said the Obama administration no longer believes that Netanyahu would launch a preemptive strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities in order to keep the regime in Tehran from building an atomic arsenal. “It’s too late for him to do anything. Two, three years ago, this was a possibility. But ultimately he couldn’t bring himself to pull the trigger. It was a combination of our pressure and his own unwillingness to do anything dramatic. Now it’s too late.”

“Now it’s too late,” the Obama administration official bragged, for Israel to stop Iran from building deployable nuclear weapons. Iran, by the way, has vowed in the past to use those weapons to annihilate Israel.

So that’s two Obama administration officials hiding behind anonymity while insulting Netanyahu, and one evidently tilting toward Iran.

There are more, many more, than just those two according to Goldberg.

Over the years, Obama administration officials have described Netanyahu to me as recalcitrant, myopic, reactionary, obtuse, blustering, pompous, and “Aspergery.” (These are verbatim descriptions; I keep a running list.)

How many Obama officials are on that list? Does it include the president, the vice president, current and former secretaries of state? Is it two? Is it ten? Does the list include the likes of Valerie Jarrett? How about Ben Rhodes, brother of CBS News president David Rhodes? Don’t the American people deserve to know how rife the Obama administration is with anti-Israel officials?

The question is relevant because of some recent incidents, and one from three years ago. In the recent ones, Vice President Joe Biden said some negative things about Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates. He chided them for funding ISIS, which they have.

Those countries objected, and they each got personal apologies from Biden by phone.

But no apologies now for Israel.

Three years ago, a hot mic caught President Obama griping about Netanyahu with then French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

“Obama began by reproaching Sarkozy for not warning him in advance that France would vote in favour of Palestinian membership of  UNESCO,” the website reported. “The conversation turned to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, with Sarkozy saying ,’I don’t want to see him anymore, he’s a liar.’

“To which President Obama replied: ‘You’ve had enough of him, but I have to deal with him every day!’ Obama then asked Sarkozy to try  to convince the Palestinians to slow down with their UN membership drive.”

The Obama administration’s anti-Netanyahu attitude goes all the way to the top. That’s why the administration won’t even pretend to hunt down the officials who talked with Jeffrey Goldberg. They won’t reprimand or fire someone for saying what they’re all thinking and saying behind closed White House doors. President Obama will order Vice President Biden to apologize for saying an unpleasant but true thing about Arab countries, but will not go after anyone around him for smearing the Prime Minister of Israel. Because in his heart of hearts, Barack Obama agrees with the smear.

Posted at 6:02 am on October 30th, 2014 by

Massive Non-Citizen Voting Uncovered in Maryland

An election integrity watchdog group is suing the state of Maryland, alleging that it has discovered massive and ongoing fraudulent voting by non-U.S. citizens in one county. But because of the way that the non-citizens are able to cast votes in elections, the fraud is likely happening in every single county and subdivision across the state. The group believes that the illegal voting has been happening for years.

The group, Virginia Voters Alliance, says that it compared how voters in Frederick County filled out jury duty statements compared with their voting records. The group’s investigation found that thousands of people in Frederick County who stated that they are not U.S. citizens on jury duty forms went on to cast votes in elections. Either they failed to tell the truth when they were summoned for jury duty, or they cast illegal votes. Both are crimes. The same group previously found that about 40,000 people are registered to vote in both Virginia and Maryland.

It is a federal crime to cast votes if you are not legally eligible to vote. Non-citizens, whether in the country legally or not, are prohibited from voting in most local and all state and federal elections. Yet the VVA investigation found that hundreds of non-citizens have been voting in Frederick County, Maryland. One in seven Maryland residents are non-U.S. citizens.

“The lawsuit is the equivalent of the lookout spotting the iceberg ahead of the Titanic,” state Del. Pat McDonough told the Tatler. He added that the group’s investigation found a voter fraud “smoking gun.”

Maryland state law makes it easier for non-citizens, both those present legally and those in the country against the law, to vote. Maryland issues drivers licenses to legal and illegal aliens. Driver’s licenses in turn make it easier under the Motor Voter law to register to vote. Maryland also offers copious taxpayer-funded social programs to non-citizens in the state.

The group filed suit in Baltimore’s U.S. District Court on Friday. They are suing the Frederick County Board of Elections and the Maryland State Board of Elections.

Del. Pat McDonough (R-Baltimore and Harford Counties) detailed the alleged fraud in a Maryland press conference today. He is calling for a special state prosecutor because the fraud may be taking place statewide, with significant impact on Maryland elections. Maryland currently holds 10 electoral votes in presidential elections. McDonough is also proposing legislation including voter ID to close the loopholes that he says non-citizens are using to cast votes.

Posted at 11:45 pm on October 29th, 2014 by

Ebola: Austin Nurse Self-Quarantines After Arriving from West Africa

It’s called “doing the right thing.” Plus, “thinking of others.” Defiant nurse Kaci Hickox would do well to look into it.

A Texas nurse who recently returned from treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leone has agreed to self-quarantine at home for 21 days and undergo frequent monitoring from state health officials, Gov. Rick Perry announced Wednesday. The unnamed nurse will remain in her Austin home despite not showing any signs of the deadly disease.

Texas health officials met the nurse after she landed at Austin-Bergstrom Airport. She has not been named to protect her privacy. Perry spoke with the nurse over the phone to thank her for working to fight Ebola. “In Texas, we have a great tradition of welcoming our heroes back home, and this heroic individual deserves our appreciation, our compassion and our utmost respect,” he said in a statement. “The tremendous work that she and so many other health care workers are doing in West Africa is making life better for those in afflicted countries and helps protect the rest of the world from the spread of this terrible disease; they are doing vitally important work that makes us all proud.”

Earlier today, California joined the ranks of states that are imposing some form of quarantine on American medical personnel who return from the Ebola zone.

Posted at 3:10 pm on October 29th, 2014 by

NATO Tracking ‘Unsual’ Russian Air Activity in Europe

Passed along without much comment, other than the obligatory nod to Hillary Clinton’s failed “reset.”

MONS, Belgium – NATO detected and monitored four groups of Russian military aircraft conducting significant military manoeuvers in European airspace over the Baltic Sea, North Sea/Atlantic Ocean, and Black Sea on 28 and 29 October 2014.  These sizable Russian flights represent an unusual level of air activity over European airspace.

Eight Russian Aircraft Intercepted over North Sea / Atlantic Ocean on 29 October 2014
At approximately 3:00 a.m. CET on 29 October, NATO radars detected and tracked eight Russian aircraft flying in formation over the North Sea. F-16 aircraft from the Royal Norwegian Air Force were scrambled, intercepted and identified the Russian aircraft, which included four Tu-95 Bear H strategic bombers and four Il-78 tanker aircraft. The formation flew from mainland Russia over the Norwegian Sea in international airspace.  Six of the Russian aircraft then turned back to the north-east towards Russia, while two Tu-95 Bear H bombers continued south-west, parallel to the Norwegian coast, heading to the south-west. The Russian aircraft continued over the North Sea, and  Typhoon fighters from the United Kingdom were scrambled in response.  While over the Atlantic Ocean west of Portugal, the two Russian aircraft were intercepted and identified by F-16s from the Portuguese Air Force. The Russian aircraft turned back heading north-east, flying to the west of the United Kingdom. NATO aircraft from the United Kingdom and Norway were standing by and NATO assets on the ground and in the air tracked the Russian aircraft throughout. At present, the two Tu-95 bombers appear headed back to Russia, but as of 4 p.m. CET the aircraft were still airborne.

Much more at the link.

The raised Russian military aircraft activity isn’t limited to Europe.

Posted at 2:55 pm on October 29th, 2014 by

Say No to Obama Kicking Israel Curbside

Oops. They did it again. Only this time president Obama’s senior staffer called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “chickensh*t” then tacked on this egregious disparagement “worthless coward” in Jeffrey Goldberg’s underhanded article in the Atlantic.

Seemingly Phony Support of Israel

Think there was no response? Hardly. Israeli Economic Minister Nafatali Bennett had these choice words in response to Goldberg’s article in the Atlantic:

“The United States administration is planning to throw Israel under the bus.” He added “Israel is stronger than all those who curse it.” Then he let Obama’s staff have it by saying, “Neither the leader of Syria, who has slaughtered 150,000 of his citizens, nor the leader of Saudi Arabia who stones women and gays, have been called chickensh**t. If what is written is true, then the current administration intends to throw Israel under the wheels of the bus.”

There is no damage control or morning-after chill-pill that will correct or erase Obama’s staffer’s comments either. The Internet lives 24×7. In fact, one word describes this kind of demonization and defamation besides political suicide (as that’s two words): sham. Actually, it sounds a lot like roadkill to me (or as my pre-teens like to term it road pizza). And I’m not talking about Obama as much as I am about Democrats running in the shadow of our POTUS’s train wrecked economy and hemorrhaging foreign policy blunders that are currently twisting and turning into a taut noose around just about every Democrat trying to get elected.

So what was Obama’s staffer thinking when he slandered America’s chief Middle East ally? His critics would likely say “not much.” This most recent disparagement of Netanyahu doesn’t even sound close to the “unshakeable bond” Obama campaigned on and publicly paraded, purported and shoved down our throats at AIPAC.

Repairing Obama’s Trainwreck

It will easily take years if not decades to undo the damage Obama has caused Israel. It will definitely take years to rewind and repair the apathy caused by the Occupy Movement, the wreckage left by race card division, Wall Street’s mortgage fiasco, our flatlined economy, and once and for all kill the albatross known as Obamacare. It’s the only way America can defibrillate our foreign policy, cauterize our bleeding economy and regain credibility among world leaders.

Sick of supporting an administration that prefers the Muslim Brotherhood rules Egypt over its liberal intellectuals, rewards its cousin Hamas with financial aid while the regime lobs rockets at Israelis from U.N. schools? Or maybe you’re tired of an Administration who kicks the can on Syria, gives stateside carte blanche access to Ebola-infected airline passengers, turns its head on ISIS (ISIL) and arms countries like Qatar and Turkey who fund terrorism like Iran?

And Netanyahu? Isn’t time we had a POTUS who employed staffers who acted like patriots or at least like adults and understood the value of embracing and emboldening our allies instead of harpooning them and embarrassing us?

Posted at 2:45 pm on October 29th, 2014 by

The State Department Isn’t Interested in Finding Out Who Called Netanyahu a ‘Chickensh*t’ Too

It’s now official Obama administration policy not to punish people who run to the press to undermine its relations with Israel. Josh Earnest said as much during today’s White House press briefing.

And Jen Psaki, sporting a necklace that resembles a large bunch of grapes, has reiterated it at the State Department press briefing.

The AP’s Matt Lee and another reporter queried Psaki about the statement — which was made by one senior official and agreed with by another — but the most she would offer is “There are anonymous sources in all of your stories every single day. If we spent all of our time focused on that effort, we wouldn’t be working on diplomacy.”

Working on diplomacy, and specifically repairing the damage made by the controversial remarks, might also involve punishing the officials who made the statements.

Posted at 1:35 pm on October 29th, 2014 by

Where in the World is the Ebola Czar? White House ‘Won’t Rule Out’ Letting Klain Talk

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said today that Ebola czar Ron Klain might soon show his face and maybe even speak with the press corps.

Earnest was asked if the administration has kept Klain so low-profile that no quite understands what his role is supposed to be.

“I will not try to speculate on which aspects of the things that I try to describe here are clearly understood by you or are not understood by you,” the press secretary replied. “I — and on those occasions in which the policy that I’m trying to explain is not well understood, I would be happy to take more — a healthy shared responsibility for that.”

“What I will point out is that even before Ron started in this job, we were clear — at least I was clear — about describing his role as one that was principally behind-the-scenes, one that would be focused on coordinating the activities of the wide variety of federal government agencies that are involved in this response. And that the need for him to play that coordinating role would limit his ability to make a large number of public appearances,” Earnest said.

“That all said, I certainly wouldn’t rule out future opportunities for Mr. Klain to speak with all of you or with other journalists. Right now, the most important thing for him to be focused on is ensuring that this whole-of-government approach that the president has pursued to respond to this Ebola situation is one that meets the very high standard that the president has set for his team and for the American people.”

Earnest was asked Monday what exactly fell under Klain’s area of responsibility.

“We’ve tried a couple of times I think to describe what Mr. Klain’s role is here at the White House and in the federal government, and he is responsible for coordinating the whole-of-government approach that the president has suggested is necessary,” he replied.

Since Klain started last week, “We have seen a significant number of announcements related to the whole-of-government approach that the president has ordered to dealing with the Ebola situation,” Earnest added.

“…Obviously, some of that Mr. Klain was very closely involved with.  Some of it he wasn’t, because it reflected work that had been done before he arrived.  But I do think that what you see here is intensive coordination among a range of federal agencies to respond to this very difficult challenge.”

Klain didn’t go up to New York after a doctor tested positive for the disease, and Earnest didn’t “anticipate that he has the plans to do that any time soon.”

“I anticipate we’ll limit the amount of time that he can dedicate to making the case publicly about our response.  But if that need arises, I’m confident that he will do that if necessary.”

Posted at 1:24 pm on October 29th, 2014 by

Double Digit GOP Gains in House Now Possible: Cook

The Cook Political Report, a subscriber-only newsletter closely followed by Washington insiders, is now predicting that Republicans have an opportunity to score double digit gains in the mid term election next Tuesday.

Via Andrew Clark of the National Republican Campaign Committee, 26 districts from Hawaii to New York — 19 of them Democratic — are now classified as “toss-ups.” This is forcing the Democrats to pour increasing amounts of cash into districts that as recently as a few months ago were believed to be safe.

Overall, we are adjusting our outlook from a GOP gain of four to ten seats to a GOP gain of six to 12 seats, with slightly larger GOP gains not out of the question. With ten ratings changes today, there are 19 Democratic seats and just seven GOP seats in Toss Up or worse. If Republicans were to pick up 13 seats, they would win their largest majority since 1928, when Herbert Hoover was elected president.

Of particular concern for Democrats are several races in DCCC Chair Rep. Steve Israel’s New York backyard, where there is no competitive statewide race driving turnout. Although Reps. Tim Bishop (NY-01), Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18), and Dan Maffei (NY-24) are all very much still in contention, their leads are no longer large enough to keep them out of the Toss Up column.

Of the three, Maffei occupies the most Democratic district, yet he has never established a strong personal brand in Syracuse and took just 49 percent of the vote in 2012 while President Obama was winning 57 percent. Bishop and Maloney may have the opposite challenge: both won with 52 percent in 2012, but they occupy more GOP-leaning seats and could lose in the event of a big Republican night.

There are also places where problematic statewide races are reverberating negatively for down-ballot Democrats. Now that GOP nominee Joni Ernst has the momentum in Iowa’s Senate race, both parties view the race for Democratic nominee Bruce Braley’s open IA-01 as a pure Toss Up. “Bruce Braley is almost a bigger drag than President Obama,” said one consultant familiar with polling in the race.

It appears that the enemy of the Republicans now is not so much the Democratic party is it is complacency. All the close Senate races as well as contests involving this handful of House districts will depend on a maximum effort to turn out core GOP voters — even if many of them have to hold their nose to vote for someone less ideologically pure than they might prefer. Conversely, RINO’s who may not be enthusiastic about a Tea Party candidate are going to have to bury their doubts and pull the lever for the Republican.

Some in the Tea Party might feel the GOP has the Senate in the bag and registering a protest by not voting won’t matter. Others may think their vote isn’t needed, for what ever reason. With so many races that will be decided by one or two percent of the total vote, it doesn’t take a lot of people with those attitudes to turn victory into defeat.

If that kind of scenario were to unfold, it wouldn’t be for lack of money. The GOP has poured more than $100 million into building a sophisticated voter identification infrastructure that is being used to target their voters in key battleground states. They’re still playing catch-up to the Democrats in this regard, but it’s light years beyond what was available to Republicans in 2012. The army of volunteers has also grown, impressing even long time Republican operatives.

In the end, it will come down to the individual voter motivating themselves to get to the polls. With the state of the economy, the nation, and the world the way it is, most will have all the motivation they need.

Posted at 12:55 pm on October 29th, 2014 by

Earnest: Boehner’s Penchant for ‘Salty Language’ Means He Can’t ‘Lecture’ Over Bibi Insults

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said today that House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) wasn’t qualified to “lecture” a senior administration official who called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanayhu a “chickenshit” because he uses bad words himself.

Boehner issued a statement today decrying the “fundamental failure” of “the disrespectful rhetoric used time and again by this administration with respect to the special relationship the United States has with the state of Israel.”

“The administration scoffs at the enduring willingness of members of both parties to maintain commitments to our friends and allies, contending that those commitments are mere sentiment, while all the while the administration and the president himself are taken aback that friends and allies won’t support him when he ignores them and, in some cases, belittles them,” Boehner said.

“When the president discusses Israel and Iran, it is sometimes hard to tell who he thinks is America’s friend and who he thinks is America’s enemy. The House of Representatives has no trouble drawing that distinction. Over the last several months, I have watched the administration insult ally after ally. I am tired of the administration’s apology tour. The president sets the tone for his administration. He either condones the profanity and disrespect used by the most senior members of his administration, or he does not. It is time for him to get his house in order and tell the people that can’t muster professionalism that it is time to move on.”

At today’s briefing, Earnest called the statement “an interesting observation by the speaker of the House, whom you all know has a penchant for using some pretty salty language himself.”

“So it’s a little rich to have a lecture about profanity from the speaker of the House,” the press secretary added.

“Has he ever said that about a prime minister or a president?” Earnest was asked.

“I don’t know. You’d have to ask him,” Earnest replied. “…He’s reportedly said that about the majority leader of the United States Senate. And as long as we’re talking about respect, I think that’s notable.”

Boehner has told Harry Reid “go f–k yourself” and called the cap-and-trade bill a “pile of s–t” — on the record.

“But I will say as a general matter that I am not aware of who made those comments to Mr. Goldberg,” Earnest said of The Atlantic article. “I do not know if the president knows who made those comments. I would be surprised if he did. But the fact is anonymous comments like that on a range of issues are not particularly unique. A lot of you spend a lot of time talking to administration officials and trying to discern what those individuals have to say, or what those individuals have to say and how it reflects on United States policy.”

Earnest was asked if Obama had or would call Netanyahu to apologize for the comment.

“I don’t have any calls on the president’s schedule to tell you about,” he said. “But I think — I can confidently say that, based on the numerous conversations that President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu have held, that the prime minister is well aware of the value that President Obama personally places on the strength of the relationship between the United States and Israel.”

Earnest said he doesn’t “know of any effort” underway to find or punish the official who insulted Netanyahu.

“Again, there are anonymous comments like this that are shared with reporters like yourself on a pretty regular basis, and what we have found to be the most effective tactic is to help all of you understand the proper context for those comments,” he said.

“In this case, I’m not sure there is a proper context for those comments, because they are so directly in opposition to the true view and policy of this administration.”

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) stressed that the comments were “not isolated insults.”

“They are part of a pattern of disrespectful and profoundly counterproductive behavior that has strained the critical alliance between the United States and Israel,” McCarthy said. “I call on President Obama to firmly repudiate these views and to instruct his staff that such comments are completely unacceptable.”

Posted at 11:52 am on October 29th, 2014 by

Obama White House: We Don’t Know and Won’t Try to Find Out Who Called Netanyahu a ‘Chickensh*t’

White House spokesman Josh Earnest was asked about the “chickensh*t” comment during today’s press briefing. That comment allegedly came from a senior administration official, and another official agreed with it, according to the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg.

Earnest answered the question with typical opacity: The White House doesn’t know and doesn’t want to know who said it, because according to him it does not reflect White House policy.

Which begs the question: If there is someone inside the White House who is undermining our relationship with a key ally — let alone two people doing this — shouldn’t they be found out and punished?

The Obama White House says no. Take a look.

Earnest’s reponse suggests that the official is very senior indeed. A low-level staffer would be summarily fired if they were found to be giving comments off the record that indicated their desire and ability to undermine key foreign policies. Higher level staffers, and especially loyalists who either lead government agencies or are close presidential advisers, might be more problematic and embarrassing to fire.

And if it’s either the president or vice president, well, that’s a whole new ballgame. If that’s the case, Earnest is part of a cover-up.

Posted at 11:20 am on October 29th, 2014 by

Ebola Doc Lied About His Travels. Should He Face Prosecution?

New York’s Ebola doctor, Craig Spencer, reportedly lied to authorities when he was first diagnosed with the disease according to the NY Post.

“He told the authorities that he self-quarantined. Detectives then reviewed his credit-card statement and MetroCard and found that he went over here, over there, up and down and all around,” a source said.

Spencer finally ’fessed up when a cop “got on the phone and had to relay questions to him through the Health Department,” a source said.

Spencer was becoming symptomatic when he rode mass transit, dined out and went bowling in Brooklyn. Ebola carriers who are symptomatic are contagious.

When he lied to police, he wasn’t under any criminal investigation but he probably caused them to lose valuable time tracing his moves. He clearly intended to deceive them, and if he had succeeded, may have left an untold number of New Yorkers exposed to Ebola. He could have unknowingly left bodily fluids in any number of places, and according to the science, Ebola can survive for hours to days on surfaces even after the fluids that carried the virus have dried. So the doctor could have been exposing New Yorkers through sheer negligence.

Fortunately, he failed and does not appear to have exposed anyone to Ebola. But his actions plus those taken by Dr. Nancy Snyderman, nurse Amber Joy Vinson, and the CDC that cleared her to fly commercially even though she had been exposed and was showing a fever, should inform what Maine does with nurse Kaci Hickox. While she should not be directly punished for Spencer’s lie and Snyderman’s violation of quarantine, their actions have to be taken into account in her case. Too many so-called experts have not put the public’s health above their own.

Posted at 10:16 am on October 29th, 2014 by

Houston Mayor Annise Parker Gives Up On Church Subpoenas

If there had been no national blowback, Houston Mayor Annise Parker would not be backing down on this.

The City of Houston will withdraw its controversial subpoenas of five pastors tied to a lawsuit over the city’s equal rights ordinance, Mayor Annise Parkerannounced at a news conference Wednesday.

The announcement came amid a national firestorm about the subpoenas, which have prompted outrage among Christian conservatives. Parker said two meetings yesterday, one with local pastors and another with national clergy, persuaded her to pull the subpoenas altogether.

“The goal of the subpoenas is to defend against the lawsuit and not to provoke a public debate,” Parker said.

Another lie from a mayor who has been caught lying numerous times recently.

The subpoeanaed pastors are not even parties to the lawsuit. The original subpoenas sought sermons, internal church communications, communications between the pastors, and forced the pastors to appear in the law offices of a known leftwing law firm in Houston. The original intent of those subpoenas was to intimidate the pastors, and all others who might dare oppose Parker. But it all blew up in her face. Though it should be noted that no Texas Democrat stepped up to condemn her actions publicly.

Make no mistake, Parker will be back on the attack soon enough. She already tried to attack the state’s marriage laws. She is in her final term as mayor and cannot run again. Her church attack has poisoned any chance that she might win anything statewide. So Parker has a year to cause more trouble, and she likely will.

Posted at 9:51 am on October 29th, 2014 by

Is This NARAL Ad the Most Ridiculous Ad of the Year?

Well, here’s the script. It’s for a NARAL anti-Cory Gardner ad that’s running in Colorado.

Hopefully no voter is actually dumb enough to believe anything in the ad.

Woman: Did you try the corner market?
Man: Of course.
Woman: Grocery store?
Man: Sold out?
Woman: Drug store?
Man: Come on.
Woman: So *everyone’s* sold out of condoms? Hmm. How did this happen?
Man: Cory Gardner banned birth control. And now, it’s all on us guys. And you can’t find a condom *anywhere*. And the pill was just the start. Pell grants my little brother was counting on for college? Cory cut them. Climate change that *everyone* knows is weirding our weather, Cory flat-out denies it. Sweet Pea, Cory denies science.
Woman: Come on!
Man: This guy has no idea what’s going on in the real world.

Sweet Pea?

Apparently NARAL has no idea what’s going on in the real world, or they’re banking on their voters not having a clue. In the real world, Rep. Gardner advocates over-the-counter birth control, which obviously means that he isn’t going about to ban anything.

Posted at 9:29 am on October 29th, 2014 by

Obama Campaigns Against Walker: ‘Republicans are Patriots’ but Like Family Members with ‘Bad Ideas’

President Obama compared Republicans to family members that you want to relegate to the back burner as he campaigned against Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker yesterday.

Obama met donors at a DNC fundraiser at a Milwaukee sushi restaurant first for a $16,200-per-plate nosh. He then headed to North Division High School for a rally with Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke.

Walker only holds a less than 1 percent lead over Burke in the latest Real Clear Politics polling average.

The Dems also got some celebrity help from former West Wing star Bradley Whitford, addressing the crowd of more than 3,500.

“She’s been an amazing candidate and I think it’s really important race to repudiate the union-busting, access-to-health care-resisting agenda that’s going on here. It doesn’t feel like Wisconsin,” the actor and Madison native said.

“Look at him,” Whitford said of Walker. “He’s scared. He looks nervous. He has that look of a control freak losing control.”

He added that a “Democratic disease” is “apathy around midterms.”

“There are two undecided people in the entire state and they are bipolar,” Whitford quipped, according to the White House pool report. “So for both sides, it is all about getting out the vote.”

Obama told the crowd that “Republicans are patriots, they love their country just like we do.”

“But they’ve got some bad ideas. That doesn’t mean that we don’t appreciate them as Americans,” the president continued. “I’ve got family members who have got bad ideas — they’re still part of the family, but you don’t want to put them in charge, right?”

“So like a broken record, they just keep on offering the same worn-out, tired theory of the economy that has already shown itself to undermine the middle class. You give more tax breaks to folks at the top. You start cutting investments in things like education. You kind of loosen up regulations and rules on big banks and credit card companies and polluters and insurers. You make the safety net a little thinner for folks who fall on hard times. We’ve tried these things the last decade and we know they won’t work. We know they don’t work.”

At this point, Obama was interrupted by an immigration-reform protester.

“The young lady is expressing her concern about immigration and the fact that we don’t have a comprehensive immigration bill. The problem is she should be protesting the Republicans who are blocking it in Congress. That’s what she should be doing,” he said. “That’s what she should be doing. Because I’m for it. Because I’m for it.”

Obama tried to stoke turnout, noting “Democrats lost the governor’s race in Wisconsin by just 10 votes per ward” four years ago.

“So don’t let anybody tell you your vote doesn’t matter. It’s just not true. It is an excuse,” he said. “Don’t let anybody stand in your way. Unless you’re registering on Election Day, you can vote even if you don’t have photo ID. Don’t let anybody mislead you.”

Posted at 8:19 am on October 29th, 2014 by

Pentagon Imposes Quarantine on All Troops Returning from the Ebola Zone

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has bucked the Obama White House and the Centers for Disease Control, ordering a mandatory 21-day “controlled monitoring” program on all troops returning from deployment in the Ebola zone.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff had recommended the quarantine, but Hagel took a day to deliberate before siding with them. The decision should lead to another round of Josh Earnest trying to explain why military members, most of whom will have no contact with Ebola patients, should be quarantined but civilian doctors and nurses, who do come into direct contact with Ebola patients, should not.

Just two days ago, White House spokesman Josh Earnest described New Jersey’s effort to quarantine nurse Kaci Hickox as “disrespecting her service.” Will the Pentagon’s quarantine of troops “disrespect” their service? Why or why not?

Posted at 8:06 am on October 29th, 2014 by

Obama Admin Anonymously Rejects ‘Chickensh*t’ Comments

Haaretz reporter Barak Ravid tweets that the Obama White House is rejecting the “chickensh*t” comments that a senior official lobbed at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. But no official has attached their name to that rejection.

Ravid does not identify the source, just as Jeffrey Goldberg does not identify the “senior official” who slammed Netanyahu in the first place. So at this point, we have Obama officials using anonymity to slander Israel’s leader, and using anonymity to back off from that cricitcism. Leading to this:

And this.

Buried in that controversial article, Goldberg relays Obama White House glee that Iran’s nuclear program is now unstoppable — because the Obama administration pressured Netanyahu not to strike it.

I ran this notion by another senior official who deals with the Israel file regularly. This official agreed that Netanyahu is a “chickenshit” on matters related to the comatose peace process, but added that he’s also a “coward” on the issue of Iran’s nuclear threat. The official said the Obama administration no longer believes that Netanyahu would launch a preemptive strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities in order to keep the regime in Tehran from building an atomic arsenal. “It’s too late for him to do anything. Two, three years ago, this was a possibility. But ultimately he couldn’t bring himself to pull the trigger. It was a combination of our pressure and his own unwillingness to do anything dramatic. Now it’s too late.”

We also learn in that paragraph that the Obama administration’s hatred for Netanyahu is not limited to just the one official whose comments form most of Goldberg’s article. And that none of these courageous officials will attach their name to the insults they are lobbing at the Israeli PM.

Posted at 7:42 am on October 29th, 2014 by

Human Rights Abuses Worsening in Country Being Trusted to Abide by Nuclear Deal

House Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) warned the administration, which is heading toward at Nov. 24 nuclear deadline with Iran, is proving its nefarious intentions simply in the way it treats its own citizens.

On Saturday at dawn, Iran hanged Reyhaneh Jabbari, 26, who stabbed a former intelligence officer as he attempted to sexually assault her.

The State Department issued a statement condemning the execution. “There were serious concerns with the fairness of the trial and the circumstances surrounding this case, including reports of confessions made under severe duress,” press secretary Jen Psaki said. “Iranian authorities proceeded with this execution despite pleas from Iranian human rights activists and an international outcry over this case.”

“We join our voice with those who call on Iran to respect the fair trial guarantees afforded to its people under Iran’s own laws and its international obligations.”

The United Nations issued a sobering report this week noting a “widening of the range of offenses” punishable by execution under the supposedly moderate regime, including political dissent and economic crimes.

“The main concerns in my report deal with issues of right to life,” Ahmed Shaheed, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, told reporters Monday. He said there has been a “surge” in executions in the country in the past 12 to 15 months.

Women’s rights are also deteriorating. University enrollment has dropped from 62 percent to 48 percent in the past two years, and girls as young as 9 are being forced into marriage.

Royce said the report is “troubling” yet “does not come as a surprise.”

“Under ‘reformist’ President Rouhani, the Iranian regime continues to commit grave human rights abuses against the Iranian people. All too often, women bear the brunt of this brutality,” he said.

“The regime’s response to the recent acid attacks on Iranian women is appalling but not surprising,” Royce continued. “When a number of young women such as 27-year old Neda were blinded by acid thrown from men on motorcycles, the regime responded to popular protests by detaining a prominent female human rights lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh, and passing a law that could incite, rather than discourage, similar heinous attacks.”

Neda Agha-Soltan was murdered by Basij militia during the 2009 Green Revolution protests.

“I fear that Iran’s Basij militia will see this new law as an even more liberal license to attack Iranian women for how they are dressed. Hopefully Iranian society will step up to these acts of cowardice,” the chairman said.

“The Obama Administration should keep these abuses in mind when negotiating with the Iranian regime —it is difficult, if not impossible, to believe that the regime would be a peaceful nuclear power when it behaves so violently towards its own citizens. Common sense says we must be intensely skeptical of Iran’s intentions.”

Posted at 7:36 am on October 29th, 2014 by

Kerry in Ottawa: ‘Legitimate and Beautiful Religion… Totally Distorted’ by Attackers

Secretary of State John Kerry met with U.S. Embassy staff in Ottawa on Tuesday, thanking them for getting through a “pretty jarring” lockdown after last week’s terrorist attacks, including on the parliament building.

“We’re living in an incredibly challenging time. It’s almost cliched now to sort of say that, because it doesn’t fully bring home to people the full measure of challenge that we all face. I’m sure some of you have served in Kabul or Baghdad, and the last thing you expected was to come to Ottawa, know that there were gunshots in the streets and that the parliament was potentially under siege and certainly assaulted by one individual with weapons,” Kerry said.

“That brings home to us that this is a different kind of challenge. This – the challenge of our generation is going to be to deal with religious radical extremism, which exploits a legitimate and beautiful religion that is being totally distorted, has nothing to do with what they purport to be pursuing, and nevertheless captures the minds of some of our young people, even in America. We have over a hundred people who’ve gone over there to fight with ISIL. Several hundred from France, from Germany, from Britain, from Holland, from the Netherlands, from Australia – run around the world.”

Kerry said the battled has to be won with “ideas” and not just ”our efforts on the ground in this coalition with kinetic efforts.”

“And we’re also going to win it with better alternatives for a whole bunch of young people who today live in places where they feel oppressed, where they don’t have a lot of opportunity, there’s not enough education, they don’t have jobs, but they know what the rest of the world has because they all have smart phones, they all have mobile devices, and they’re all seeing what’s going on and they trade thoughts,” he said.

“…So our challenge is to not make them think that modernity and rule of law and civil society and states that have long existed is somehow the enemy.”

Kerry warned the diplomats “it could get harder before it gets easier in some ways in certain parts of this journey.”

Posted at 7:21 am on October 29th, 2014 by

Ebola Nurse in Maine: ‘I won’t follow home quarantine rules’

Ebola nurse Kaci Hickox tells NBC’s Matt Lauer that she will not follow home quarantine guidelines.

Hickox was pulled out at Newark airport and put into mandatory quarantine under New Jersey state guidelines. She was put into a tent which was more comfortable than many quarters used by US troops serving overseas.

The former CDC nurse bucked that and threatened to sue. She described her treatment as “inhumane” and raised a fuss. New Jersey transferred her to Maine earlier this week.

Maine says that it expects Hickox to stick to a home quarantine for 21 days. But Hickox is having none of that.

“I don’t plan on sticking to the guidelines,” Hickox told Lauer. “I remain appalled by these home quarantine policies that have been forced upon me, even though I am in perfectly good health and feeling strong and have been this entire time completely symptom free.

“I truly believe this policy is not scientifically nor constitutionally just, and so I’m not going to sit around and be bullied around by politicians and be forced to stay in my home when I am not a risk to the American public.”

Whether she does pose a risk to others or not is not yet known, as Ebola’s incubation period can last around 21 days. During that time, a carrier can show no symptoms, until they do, at which point they become contagious.

Dr. Craig Spencer, a Doctors Without Borders physician, returned to the US from West Africa showing no symptoms at the time. He later came down with Ebola, and authorities were forced to expend major resources tracing his every move and warning people who had come into contact with him.

Hickox has ties to the Centers for Disease Control, which stridently opposes placing a travel ban on the Ebola-stricken countries.

Posted at 6:57 am on October 29th, 2014 by

Netanyahu on U.S. Insults: ‘I am Under Attack Simply Because I am Defending the State of Israel’

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said verbal attacks from the Obama administration — namely, being called “chickenshit” and a “coward” by an anonymous senior administration official in an article in The Atlantic — won’t dissuade him.

“Netanyahu will continue to uphold the security interests of Israel and the historical rights of the Jewish people in Jerusalem, and no amount of pressure will change that,” the prime minister’s office said, according to Haaretz.

Soon after, Netanyahu addressed the Knesset.

“When there are pressures on Israel to concede its security, the easiest thing to do is to concede. You get a round of applause, ceremonies on grassy knolls, and then come the missiles and the tunnels,” he said.

“I am not prepared to make concessions that will endanger our state,” Netanyahu continued. “Understand, our national interests, topped by security and the unity of Jerusalem, are not what top the interests of those anonymous forces attacking us, and me personally. I am under attack simply because I am defending the State of Israel. If I didn’t stand firm on our national interests, I would not be under attack.”

The prime minister added, “I respect and cherish the deep connection with the United States.”

“Since the establishment of the state, we’ve had our arguments and then some,” he said. “We have seen time after time, year and year, support rising among the American public. The strategic alliance between the stances is continuing and will continue.”

The founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center says President Obama needs to “name, apologize for, and repudiate” the anonymous official who said the insults.

“It is rather ironic that a senior American official is prepared to curse his friends, yet when it comes to the mortal enemies of the United States – as the Iranians discovered during the recent nuclear negotiation – praise is heaped on them,” Rabbi Marvin Hier told The Algemeiner.

“He said Netanyahu is a coward for not taking pre-emptive action against Iran, but I suppose this anonymous official who is hiding behind his desk is very brave.”

Whether or not the official is fired is “up to the president,” the rabbi said.

“A senior American official who doesn’t name himself and then hurls curse words at one of our strongest allies should be repudiated by the president. President Obama needs to make it clear that these officials don’t speak for him. Most of all, an apology is in order: That is not the way a senior American official should speak to the Prime Minister of Israel, that is not the way to conduct foreign policy,” Hier continued.

“There are no curse words on or off the record about the emir of Qatar for supporting Hamas and supporting Islamic State,” he noted. “The emir of Qatar is being rewarded for supporting Hamas and Islamic State. He is certainly not being treated in the way that Netanyahu is now.”

Posted at 6:51 am on October 29th, 2014 by

Three Women Dropped From Marines’ Infantry Officer Course

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The Marine Corps Times reports:

The three female Marine officers who made it through the grueling first exercise of Infantry Officer Course at the start of October were asked to leave after falling out of two hikes, Marine Corps officials said this week.

The second lieutenant and two captains were dropped from the 13-week course held aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, about two weeks after it began. The Marines got further in the course than any other women since IOC opened to female volunteers on an experimental basis in late 2012. Only one other female officer has gotten past the notoriously difficult combat endurance test that kicks off the course; she was forced to drop out about a week later due to stress fractures in her foot.

Capt. Maureen Krebs, a spokeswoman for Headquarters Marine Corps, said the three officers were dropped from the course after failing to keep up on two long hikes while carrying a load of up to 120 pounds. The load represents a day’s meals, clothing, supplies and assault gear for a 20-mile march into combat, according to Krebs.

Infantry officers are required to maintain a pace of 24.8 miles in eight hours, or approximately three miles per hour, carrying their approach-march loads. Marines who fall more than 100 meters behind the unit and are unable to catch up are taken the remainder of the distance in a vehicle.

“The big thing in this is, they’re expected to lead that tactical movement as an infantry officer,” Krebs said.

During the training, units took two marches, one seven-mile march at Quantico followed by a nine-mile march the following week.

“Three men and three women failed to complete those two tactical movements,” Krebs said. They were all asked to leave the Infantry Officer Course (IOC).

This course was the first since the Marines began to allow female officers to volunteer for the IOC. The change came as a result of the Department of Defense ordering the Marine Corp to collect data on women in combat fields ahead of a 2016 deadline to make a decision on opening these fields to women. The goal is to find ways to integrate women into combat roles without lowering standards.

According to a report out this month from the Center for Military Readiness, “Researchers are finding this difficult (actually, impossible) to do, owing to naturally-occurring physical differences that make men significantly stronger. Androgenic hormones that are not going to change account for greater muscle power and aerobic capacity for endurance.”

Some of the findings of the Center for Military Readiness interim report show significant gender-related differences in physical strength.  In 2013, the USMC Training and Education Command (TECOM) studied data from 409 male and 379 female volunteers, finding significant gender-related disparities on the Physical and Combat Fitness Tests (PFT and CFT) in events measuring upper-body strength and endurance, things that are essential for survival and mission success in direct ground combat, according to the report. The study found:

Posted at 12:03 am on October 29th, 2014 by

Hagel’s Made ‘No Decision’ on Dempsey’s Ebola Quarantine Recommendations

The Pentagon said today that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has received the recommendation from the Joint Chiefs of Staff to quarantine returning personnel from Africa, yet is still deciding how to proceed.

The Army is already using quarantine procedures. Maj. Gen. Darryl Williams, commander of U.S. forces in Africa, is undergoing the 21-day isolation with a dozen personnel.

Williams told CNN via video link that morale is high and accommodations are comfortable.

“The joint chiefs have made a recommendation to Secretary Hagel that he consider a regimented program of 21 days of controlled, supervised monitoring for all troops returning from Ebola response efforts in West Africa,” Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby told reporters.

“The secretary is in possession of that recommendation. He has made no decision yet.”

Kirby said Hagel “shares the concerns by the chiefs about the safety and well-being not only of our troops, but also of their families, and he appreciates the thoughtfulness and the gravity of the recommendations Chairman Dempsey sent to him.”

“When a decision has been made, we will certainly let you know,” he said. “In the meantime, the secretary supports the decision made by Army leadership to place Major General Williams and his team under this same quarantine-like program.”

On how the quarantine of service members would work, “I think there’s still some homework to be done on that.”

Despite the White House pushback on the decisions of New Jersey, New York and Chicago to quarantine high-risk passengers coming from the affected areas, such as healthcare workers treating Ebola patients, Kirby said he’s “not aware” of “outside advice” that Hagel “is seeking.”

“He greatly values the opinions and recommendations of Chairman Dempsey and the chiefs as well. But he’s going to take the time that he feels he needs to make a decision. And I think everybody understands the importance of that decision. And when he’s ready, when he’s made one, we’ll let you know.”

The group currently in quarantine in Italy is the “first installment” of troops coming back from Liberia.

“I think the secretary understands that Army leadership, supported by the recommendations of the joint staff, wanted to take a very conservative approach, particularly for this first group, and again, he understand that and didn’t feel it was necessary to step in the way of it,” Kirby said.

“But broadening it to the entire force and making a department-wide policy decision is something that he wants to take very seriously, and as I said, when — when he’s had time to consider it, we’ll let you know.”

Posted at 6:40 pm on October 28th, 2014 by

NASA-Contracted Rocket Bound for Space Station Suffers ‘Catastrophic Anomaly,’ Explodes

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A NASA-contracted rocket headed for the International Space Station carrying food and other needed supplies exploded upon liftoff from an island off the Virginia coast.

NASA said the Orbital Sciences Corp.’s Antares rocket, on its third resupply mission, “suffered a catastrophic anomaly shortly after liftoff” at 6:22 p.m. EST.

“The Orbital Sciences team is executing its contingency procedures, securing the site and data, including all telemetry from the Antares launch vehicle and Cygnus spacecraft,” the space agency said in a blog post that was posting live updates from the launch.

“Before launch the Orbital team was not tracking any issues. No injuries have been reported, and Orbital reports that all personnel around  the Wallops Flight Facility launch site have been accounted for.”

The launch and explosion were carried live on NASA’s online TV.

The rocket was loaded with nearly 5,000 pounds of supplies and experiments and was the first night launch of an Antares rocket.

Cargo included an experiment to test pea shoot growth in space and equipment to study size, density and chemical composition of meteor dust.

Food made up more than 1,300 pounds of the cargo, and spacewalk equipment accounted for 145 pounds.

Fifteen pounds of books were also on board.

UPDATE 8:30 p.m. EST:  ”This evening the President was briefed on the launch failure of the Antares rocket in Wallops, Virginia,” said deputy press secretary Eric Schultz. “The President was briefed by White House Deputy Chief of Staff Anita Decker Breckenridge and will continue to get updates as more information becomes available.”

UPDATE 10:30 p.m. EST: Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) tells CNN that he spoke to NASA and learned that  another rocket from Russia is going to launch soon with food and supplies.

“They’re not going to miss very much, even though it’s a setback,” Nelson said.

Associate Administrator of NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Directorate William Gerstenmaier said in a statement that the space agency is “disappointed,” but “we will continue to move forward toward the next attempt once we fully understand today’s mishap.”

“Orbital has demonstrated extraordinary capabilities in its first two missions to the station earlier this year, and we know they can replicate that success,” Gerstenmaier said. ”Launching rockets is an incredibly difficult undertaking, and we learn from each success and each setback. Today’s launch attempt will not deter us from our work to expand our already successful capability to launch cargo from American shores to the International Space Station.”

Posted at 4:44 pm on October 28th, 2014 by