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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Israeli Official To Obama: ‘Leave Us Alone’


WASHINGTON 
(CBS News CBSDC/AP) — A top Israeli official wants President Barack Obama to stop meddling with the Jewish state during its conflict with Hamas in Gaza.

Speaking to Israel’s Army Radio, Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel criticized Obama telling Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that there should be an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.
“Leave us alone,” Ariel told Army Radio, directing his words at Obama. “Go focus on Syria.”
“Building on Secretary Kerry’s efforts, the President made clear the strategic imperative of instituting an immediate, unconditional humanitarian ceasefire that ends hostilities now and leads to a permanent cessation of hostilities based on the November 2012 ceasefire agreement,” the White House said in a statement, adding that the president reiterated that Israel has a right to defend itself from rocket attacks from Hamas.
Obama spoke with Netanyahu Sunday about the rising number of Palestinian deaths in Gaza and the worsening humanitarian crisis.
Ariel told Army Radio that Israel’s offensive should be more aggressive.
“It was obvious that international pressure would mount eventually,” Ariel stated. “We should have acted faster, harder and with more determination. The rocket threat needs to be tackled. The tunnel threat is being addressed, but it is not enough.”
Ariel claimed that the pressure from the White House for an immediate ceasefire was “outrageous” and would “help Hamas,” according to Breitbart News.
“[W]e never thought it would be the Americans who would lead the pressure,” Ariel told Army Radio.
The Obama administration pushed back Monday against a torrent of Israeli criticism over Secretary of State John Kerry’s latest bid to secure a cease-fire with Hamas, accusing some in Israel of launching a “misinformation campaign” against the top American diplomat.
“It’s simply not the way partners and allies treat each other,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.
Her comments were echoed by the White House, where officials said they were disappointed by Israeli reports that cast Kerry’s efforts to negotiate a cease-fire as more favorable to Hamas.
Israel had accepted an Egyptian call for an unconditional cease-fire early in its Gaza campaign, but Hamas rejected the idea.
Netanyahu said Monday that Israel won’t end its offensive until Hamas’ network of tunnels under the Gaza-Israel border has been neutralized. “We need to be ready for a prolonged campaign,” he said. “We will continue to act aggressively and responsibly until the mission is completed to protect our citizens, soldiers and children.”
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri responded defiantly. “His threats do not scare Hamas or the Palestinian people, and the occupation will pay the price for the massacres against civilians and children,” he said.
Israel’s last major Gaza invasion ended in January 2009 after 23 days, one-third of that time with troops on the ground. Already, the current ground operation, which began 11 days ago, has lasted longer than the one in 2009.
In recent days, Israeli leaders have debated whether to withdraw from Gaza after the tunnels are demolished, or to expand the ground operation to deliver a more painful blow against Hamas. Those in favor of an escalation have argued that unless Hamas is toppled and disarmed, a new round of Israel-Gaza fighting is inevitable. Opponents say attempting to reoccupy densely populated Gaza, even if for a short period, could quickly entangle Israel politically and militarily and drive up the number of dead.
In his remarks Monday, Netanyahu didn’t let on which way he is leaning. However, he insisted that “preventing the arming of terror groups and demilitarizing Gaza must be part of any solution,” indicating that Israel’s aims are broader than initially stated.
For now, ground forces have largely operated on the edges of Gaza.
The Israeli military has said it has located 31 tunnels, is aware of the existence of 10 more and has so far demolished close to 20.
Gaza militants have repeatedly used the tunnels to sneak into Israel, including on Monday when several infiltrated into southern Israel.
The army said five Israeli soldiers and one Hamas militant coming through a tunnel were killed in a firefight, but that searches in the area were continuing, the Reuters news agency reports.
The Hamas military wing said nine of its fighters infiltrated and attacked an army post.
After three weeks of battle, “our fighters still have a lot of surprises in store for the leaders of the occupation and their elite soldiers,” the group said in a statement.
The blast at the Gaza park occurred within minutes of a separate strike Monday afternoon on nearby Shifa Hospital, Gaza City’s largest medical facility. Several people were wounded in the blast near one of the hospital’s outpatient clinics, Hamas health officials said.
Lerner, the army spokesman, denied Israel was involved in the two attacks. “This incident was carried out by Gaza terrorists whose rockets fell short and hit the Shifa Hospital and the Beach (Shati) camp,” he said, adding that the military had identified 200 “failed launchings” so far.
Early Tuesday, the military released aerial photographs that it said showed the paths of two misfired Hamas rockets it said hit the park and Shifa Hospital. It said the rockets were detected by Israeli military radar and sensors.
Gaza’s police operations room and civil defense department blamed the attacks on Israeli airstrikes.
Gaza’s Interior Ministry spokesman Eyad al-Bozum said he believes that shrapnel found in the dead and wounded is evidence of Israel’s role in the incident.
More than 1,100 Palestinians have been killed during the conflict, along with 53 Israeli soldiers. Two Israeli citizens were also killed from Hamas rockets

Mild July Temperatures Make, Tie Record Lows At BWI


by Meteorologist Chelsea Ingram 
BALTIMORE (WJZ)– Mild July temperatures are making and tying record lows set at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport.
Meteorologist Chelsea Ingram reports the pattern of the jetstream has been bringing us unusually cool weather this month.
As the jet stream dips well to our south, it pulls down cooler Canadian air along with it.
When temperatures fell to 57 degrees last Friday, a record low was set–beating the old record low of 59 degrees set in 2008. The same temperature set a record low on July 18, beating the old record of 58 degrees set in 1976.
And when the chilly conditions aren’t breaking records, they’re tying them.
Tuesday’s low of 59 degrees ties with a record set in 1978.
During the Fourth of July weekend, Saturday’s record low of 55 degrees tied with that of 1979.
Temperatures Wednesday morning are forecast to bottom out around 56 degrees, meaning another unseasonably cool night and morning is on tap for Baltimore.
With the cool air sticking around, conditions will be favorable for another record low temperature to either be tied or broken. The current standing record low temperature for July 30 is 56 degrees.

Rick Perry Says Deploying Troops to Border Sends a ‘Powerful Message’

by Josh Siegel / 
Texas Gov. Rick Perry compares the role of National Guard troops at his state’s border to the deterring effect that cop cars stationed along neighborhood roads have on crime.
Perry, in an exclusive interview with The Daily Signal, said even though the 1,000 military troops he activated to help manage the border crisis in his state will not be authorized to make arrests, the sheer presence of the military will deter illegal activity.
“It’s a powerful reminder that what you are doing is a crime,” said Perry, who has been a critic of the White House’s response to the border crisis. “It’s just like a law enforcement effort in your neighborhood, where you see a parked patrol police car on the corner, and the bad guys see it and don’t commit a crime.”
By announcing plans to deploy the National Guard to the border on his own rather than through the federal government, Perry has the power to order the troops to make arrests and apprehensions.
But Perry, perhaps responding to critics who worry about the troops’ lack of training in immigration law, told The Daily Signal he has decided not to give arrest power to those deployed to Texas’ border with Mexico.
“Their real job is not apprehension,” Perry said. “Border Patrol apprehends.”
National Guard on the Border
In 2006, President George W. Bush sent 6,000 troops to the four border states. They repaired and built fences and roads, and conducted surveillance, among other duties.
“What you are doing is a crime,” says @GovernorPerry of illegal immigrants.

Troops in that deployment did not have apprehension and arrest powers.
Troops were similarly limited when President Obama eventually extended that deployment while ordering a second wave of National Guard forces to Texas, California, Arizona and New Mexico in 2010.
With troops’ responsibility likely to be limited again this time, Border Patrol agents who are responsible for apprehending and arresting illegal immigrant crossers argue that the National Guard will make little impact.
Border Patrol union representatives told The Daily Signal last week they worry the troops will interfere with agents’ work.
Perry, who says he has talked to Border Patrol agents about his decision, believes otherwise.
“They aren’t displacing Border Patrol,” Perry said. “It’ll be just like how we partner with law enforcement. They want to see the border secure, so they won’t resist the assistance. Just the presence and knowledge that they’re deployed will have a powerful message.”
The troops that are due the border next month will actually work side by side with police officers of the Texas Department of Public Safety, not alongside Border Patrol.
The state officers are there as part of Operation Strong Safety, a Perry initiative approved last month that sent state troopers to the border to assist local law enforcement.
Just like the National Guard, state and local law enforcement officers can only defer to the Border Patrol those they suspect have entered the country illegally.
Stopping Smuggler and Criminals
Not including the deployment of the 1,000 troops, Perry said there are already 300 state and National Guard troops at the border for Operation Lone Star, an annual joint military and civil humanitarian medical mission.
Can the National Guard help Texas stop the surge of crossings on the border?
“For those who say, ‘This is very out of the ordinary,’ the National Guard being at the border is not an unusual situation,” Perry said. “There’s troops at the border every year and there’s troops there now.”
Perry hopes the new troops will send a message to drug cartels and other criminal groups that he says have exploited the latest border trend — the surge of Central American children coming across the Rio Grande Valley.
“There has not been as much focus on the drug smugglers and other criminals because of these children,” Perry said. “There’s been an effort by the cartels to distract Border Patrol into taking care of these kids. The danger that this situation presents for ordinary Texans and Americans has not been a focus of the mainstream media.”
Perhaps realizing the threat, President Obama dispatched a team to the border last week to determine whether a federally organized National Guard deployment was necessary.
No matter what Obama decides to do, Perry has said he intends to ask the federal government to pay for his deployment of 1,000 troops, estimated to cost $12 million a month.
Perry, who warned the Obama administration about the border crisis in his state more than two years ago, did not speak with the president’s team while it visited Texas.
“This [the National Guard deployment] is important for the peace of Texas and the country,” Perry said. “I had to make a decision.” 

VA Officials Will Get Millions of Dollars in Bonuses Under House-Senate Agreement

VA Veterans Affairs health care scandal Bernie Sanders Jeff Miller
by 
A House-Senate agreement on how to reform the broken Department of Veterans Affairs will let the VA hand out up to $360 million in bonuses to its employees each year, even though the House voted just weeks ago to strip all VA bonuses through 2016.

The compromise bill announced Monday by the chairmen of the House and Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committees says VA bonuses will be capped at $360 million annually for the next ten years. But that cap is just 10 percent below the $400 million in bonuses the VA has distributed in recent fiscal years, and will allow up to $3.6 billion in bonuses to be awarded over the next decade.
“In each of fiscal years 2015 through 2024, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall ensure that the aggregate amount of awards and bonuses paid by the Secretary in a fiscal year… does not exceed $360,000,000,” the bill says.
A description of the bill adds that members expect the VA to implement this cap in a way that does not “disproportionately impact lower-wage employees,” although the legislation itself does not include any restriction on how to award the money.
The $360 million cap on bonuses is a far cry from the House’s unanimous vote in June to eliminate all VA bonuses, and use the $400 million savings to provide expanded health care options for veterans.
The House voted 421-0 in June to strip VA bonuses in retaliation for what they saw as an incompetent VA that was handing out millions to senior officials. The bonuses outraged members of both parties, since they were being given out even as officials conspired to make it look like veterans were not waiting very long for health appointments, and then covered up their efforts to manipulate this data.

“Our latest estimates suggest that a temporary elimination of bonuses and other incentives will free up roughly $400 million per year that can be immediately utilized for the expanded patient choice options under this bill,” House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) said at the time.
The bill stripping VA bonuses was so popular, the House held the vote again because some members missed the vote — members approved it later the same day 426-0.
Aside from language on bonus awards, VA employees also won a major victory in the bill when it comes to how they are disciplined for poor performance in the health care scandal.
The House-Senate agreement includes Senate-passed language that says senior officials can be fired or demoted, but also gives these officials access to an appeal process. Specifically, the final agreement gives officials seven days to appeal firings or demotions to the Merit Systems Protection Board, which much decide these cases within 21 days.
The bill does say that officials will not receive pay while appealing to the Merit Systems Protection Board.
Still, the final agreement is a lot kinder to VA officials than the original House bill, which would have allowed the VA secretary to immediately fire officials for poor performance, with no appeal.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Making a Mark: LJA architect designs 1,000th hotel




His first hotel was a Super 8 built in Waterloo, Iowa, by local hotel developer Gary Tharaldson in 1988.

Goldade was working for a church builder at the time. He was licensed in several different states and Tharaldson needed an architect who could work in Iowa.

A longstanding business relationship developed. Goldade consulted on a number of additional hotels before moving to Fargo to accept a full-time position with Tharaldson Development in 1997.

In 2001, he joined LJA, where he continued to design for Tharaldson as well as a number of other hotel developers.

Goldade has designed hotels in 42 states, spanning from Alaska to Texas and California to New York. He has worked with franchises including Marriott International, Choice Hotels, Intercontinental Hotels Group, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, Hilton Worldwide, LaQuinta and Best Western International.

One of his favorite projects was a four-hotel complex constructed on one site just a few blocks off the Las Vegas Strip.

He said what still gets him excited about the job is the challenge.

“It’s fun to get a project done at a location where it’s extremely difficult to get in there,” he said.
Challenges include how much space there is to work with, getting the highest room count possible into a tight site and local jurisdictional covenants that restrict how and what can be built. All of these must be considered while still following the franchise’s guidelines for appearance.

While much of his focus today is on hotel design, Goldade has been involved in a number of other commercial projects over the years. His most recent was serving as the lead architect of the North Dakota Heritage Center’s multimillion-dollar expansion in Bismarck.

Honors: Under Goldade’s leadership, LJA has earned a number of honors including Top Architects & Designers, Top Hotel Design & Architecture Firms, Leading Commercial Architecture Firms and Top Commercial Architects.

Monday, July 21, 2014

'OUR CITIZENS ARE UNDER SIEGE': PERRY SENDS NATIONAL GUARD TO BORDER


on BREITBART TV

Monday, Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) announced he is deploying 1,000 Texas National Guard to the U.S. border with Mexico, saying he can not idly sit by while "our citizens are under siege."

Pointing out the tens of thousands pf unaccompanied minors only make up roughly 20 percent of those being apprehended illegally crossing the border, Perry said he can no longer wait for the president to act as gang members and drug cartels flood into Texas, causing crime to skyrocket. Perry pointed out Texas tax payers can not bear the expense of processing and housing the surge of illegal immigration caused by President Obama's 2012 executive action "Dream Act" which has given people in Central America the idea children will be allowed to stay once in the U.S.

Perry has repeatedly called on President Obama to visit the border, calling his refusal Obama’s “Katrina,” moment.

Follow Pam Key On Twitter @pamkeyNEN

Thursday, July 17, 2014

OBAMA TO RELEASE 6 MORE GITMO TERRORISTS

by 
WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has secretly notified Congress that the military intends to transfer six low-level Guantánamo Bay detainees to Uruguay as early as next month, according to people with knowledge of the communication. All six have been approved for transfer for more than four years.
Mr. Hagel’s formal determination that the transfer would be in the national security interest of the United States breaks a bureaucratic paralysis over a deal that has been waiting for his approval since March, but stalled amid the political uproar over a prisoner exchange deal that secured the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl from insurgents in the Afghanistan war.
The six detainees bound for Uruguay include a Syrian man who has brought a high-profile court challenge to the Pentagon’s procedures for forcibly feeding detainees who are on a hunger strike. His transfer would most likely render that lawsuit moot, although there are several similar challenges.
“The United States is grateful to our partner, Uruguay, for this significant humanitarian gesture, and appreciates the Uruguayan government’s generous assistance as the United States continues its efforts to close the detention facility at Guantánamo,” said Ian Moss, a State Department spokesman. “We remain very appreciative of the assistance of our friends and allies who have stepped up not just to receive their own nationals but also those countries who have accepted detainees for resettlement.”