Is Kerry Letting Iran Off Scot-Free Again?

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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced from Vienna on Monday that the yearlong Iran Nuclear Talks will be extended by seven months after efforts to reach an enduring accord fell short.  There has been little progress over the past few days leading up to Monday’s deadline to reach a final nuclear deal that will cap some of Iran’s nuclear work in exchange for lifting economic sanctions.  Iran’s economy has been crippled by sanctions from six world powers that have cut its daily exports by 60% and frozen the ability of its banks to conduct international transactions.

The six countries, Germany, France, Russia, China, the United Kingdom, and the United States, have been in negotiations with Iran to finalize a preliminary deal to curb its nuclear program.  However, Iran claims that it is seeking atomic energy, not nuclear weapons.  Kerry called for patience, saying the added few months is the safe path forward.

We would be fools to walk away from a situation where the breakout times have been expanded.

Opponents of the extension argue that Iran has the ability to stage a breakout, or the production of one bomb’s worth of fuel.

Iran will receive $700 million per month in frozen assets through the end of June.

Jeremy Bash, former Chief of Staff at the U.S. Department of Defense and the C.I.A. under Leon Panetta, said that Iran will be able to amass additional know-how and new technology in developing nuclear weapons during the seven month extension.  Speaking on CNBC’s Squawk Box, the former Obama official said:

So they’re continuing to basically reap the benefits of being in this negotiation.  All the while, they are not making additional concessions.  So I think it’s a pretty dangerous game that shows you that Iran, frankly, wasn’t ready to make a deal.

(h/t: Washington Free Beacon)

Photo credit: Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (Flickr)

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

Please Join Me On The Next Fallen Soldiers 32 Mile Honor March

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The Fallen Solders March‘s roots originate from the humble actions of a returning member of the 269th Military Police Company, Tennessee Army National Guard whose deployment lasted 20 months in Iraq for operations Iraqi Freedom. Master Sergeant Jim Williams has survived a Humvee explosion.  In 2005, after recovering from his physical injuries, he sought out to confront the emotional trauma resulting from his service in Iraq by initiating the “Nine Mile March” in August of 2005, and to draw attention to the families that grieve the loss of a husband or wife who paid the ultimate sacrifice defending the interests and principle of the United States of America that all men and women should live freely. The Nine Mile March incorporated a nine mile course beginning at the National Guard Armory in Lebanon, TN, to the opening day of the Wilson County Fair, reported to be one of the largest county fairs in the country, with attendance exceeding over half a million people some years.

Up until 2009, the Nine Mile March had been loosely attended; in fact, Williams professed (tongue-in-cheek), “people thought I was hitchhiking”.  On Veterans Day 2009, a promise was fulfilled after a challenge had been met. Master Sergeant Williams issued a challenge: if at least 100 soldiers showed up for the Annual Nine Mile Fallen Soldiers March™ in Lebanon, TN, he would march from the square in downtown Lebanon, TN, along the Cherokee Nation Trail of Tears down Highway 70 to Legislative Plaza in downtown Nashville, Tennessee, to honor our United States Military Veterans.  The Fallen Solders March “Thirty Mile March” was born!  I asked Master Sergeant Williams if I could join him on the March.

I had been raised to love, respect, and value our military men and women and the sacrifices made by the Founding Fathers of our great country. I was not prepared for the range of emotions God had providentially assigned to me that day.

Throughout the day, the radio coverage encouraged people to stop and make donations to the families of Fallen Soldiers.

Many people pulled over to the side of the road with handwritten notes chronicling stories of fallen family members along with charitable contributions. We were greeted by an entire elementary school along the route, receiving high fives from the children leaning over a cyclone fence defining a border between the school and the road!  Horns honked nearly the entire day as drivers passed by us displaying the American Flag in all of its glorious colors.  The most touching event of the day involved a limo driver who held up traffic alongside a side street in downtown Nashville. He stepped outside of his running vehicle and stood tall with his hand over his heart as we marched by him, ignoring the traffic backing up behind his vehicle as music fans ventured out to attend the Country Music Awards Ceremony.

During the entire day, I fought back tears as I began to realize the resolve and tenacity our soldiers exemplified when ordered to march all night long through a rigorous jungle, desert, and mountainous terrains–arriving at their destination not to replenish their energy with food and sleep, but to fight an enemy that was determined to terminate their existence. These men and women carried not only weapons and artillery; often, they were burdened with 70+ pound packs.  It was humbling to recognize that at the age of 47, and in exceptional shape, I could barely stand up on the top of the stairs at Legislative Plaza by the end of our journey because of the intense muscle cramping that seized my legs–and nearly caused me to fall backwards down the steps. It took me several days to fully recover.

That day was a deeply convicting spiritual experience for me. However, despite all the airplay we received over the radio and the attention we had received along our march down highway 70, I was deeply troubled by the realization that the optimism and anticipation Master Sergeant Williams was looking forward to experiencing all day when we marched up Second Avenue towards our destination was not going to be fulfilled.  Prior to crossing Broadway from the east end of Second Avenue to the west end Tourist District, Master Sergeant Williams and I had observed a helicopter following us; and we were extremely excited about the prospects of people being lined up on both sides of Second Avenue, supporting our cause and making contributions to the Fallen Soldier’s families.  I cautiously kept my reservations to myself. Unfortunately, my intuition was correct. There was no fanfare, nor cheers. There was no support along the entire march up Second Avenue; the silence was deafening. Master Sergeant Williams remained optimistic, hoping that there would be a crowd at Legislative Plaza to greet us. My heart grieved for Master Sergeant Williams as we both realized that the only person to greet us was his father, a retired Veteran of the United States Air Force. Despite the brief joy Master Sergeant Williams expressed towards his father for greeting us, his countenance was crushed.

During the drive back home, the reception our military men and women of Vietnam had received when returning home to the United States haunted me and continued to grieve my soul. I made a personal commitment that evening; the reception Master Sergeant Williams received at the end of a very long day would not happen next year. I committed that we would reverse the route in 2010, beginning in downtown Nashville and ending in our hometown of Lebanon, Tennessee, banking on a warmer reception in small town America. Unfortunately, Master Sergeant Williams never did participate again in the “Thirty Mile March”. However, over the course of six years, the march eventually attracted the support of hundreds of patriotic supporters.

Businessman Tom Needham sent out a “scout” five years ago, after reading in a local paper that the Fallen Soldiers March would pass by his business in Mt. Juliet, TN. We have been greeted with “patriotic acts of kindness & support” in numerous ways every year in honor of military sacrifices.  Tom and his father both served.  Tom’s father served as a member of Carlson’s Raiders. He always provides each march participant with a buckeye form his father’s beloved “Buckeye Tree” in memoriam of his father.  Marchers this year (the march date was November 11, 2014) included: US Army Desert Storm Signal Corp Veteran Dwayne Wright, U S Army Chief Warrant Officer 4 Operation Iraqi Freedom; Hurricane Katrina & Hurricane Gustavo Veteran Michael Jones; Lebanon Fire Department Engineer Joe Huddleston; Lebanon Firefighter Brad Forrest; Lebanon Fire Department Lieutenant & Fallen Soldiers March Director Chip Vanatta; and yours truly.

Special appreciation for our “little patriot” Cooper, leading by example for the second year in a row, undeterred by a recalcitrant School System Board’s refusal to acknowledge our Veterans’ disdain for not declaring Veteran’s Day a formal holiday.

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Jim Retzke is President of the Fallen Soldiers March. 

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

Faith-Based Voters And The 2014 Midterm Elections: Is The GOP The Religion Party?

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National exit polling from Congressional races tells us some interesting things about the role of religious values in the 2014 midterm elections. It also sends a signal to the Republican Party about its supporters now and in the future.

The most obvious piece of information about religious voters is that a majority of them voted for Republican candidates a few weeks ago. Of voters who identified themselves as Protestants, 61 percent voted Republican and 37 percent Democrat. Catholics voted 54 percent Republican, 45 percent Democrat. Conversely, those who identified their religion as “None” voted 69 percent Democrat and 29 percent Republican.

The correlation between religious faith and voting Republican was even more pronounced among certain subgroups. White Protestants voted 72 percent Republican and 26 percent Democrat; white Catholics voted 60 percent Republican and 38 percent Democrat. White voters who identified themselves as evangelical/born-again Christians made up 26 percent of the electorate and voted 78 percent Republican, 20 percent Democrat. It should be noted that voter turnout was abysmal, about 36 percent. This is the lowest turnout since World War II.

The more often the voter attends church, the more likely the voter is to vote Republican. Voters who attend church weekly broke Republican 58 percent to 40 percent; those who attend occasionally leaned 52 percent to 46 percent Republican. Protestants who attend religious services weekly voted Republican 67 percent and Democrat 31 percent. Catholics who celebrate Mass weekly voted Republican 55 percent and Democrat 43 percent. On the other hand, those who never attend church services voted Democrat by a 62 percent to 36 percent margin. The Democratic Party is the home of those with a secular worldview.

The exit polling asked questions on two moral issues: same-sex marriage and abortion. In response to the question, “Should your state recognize same-sex marriage?” 48 percent of voters said yes and 48 percent said no. Among the yes votes, 67 percent were Democrats and 31 percent were Republicans. The no votes strongly tilted Republican, 72 percent to 27 percent. The exit polling confirmed that Democrat voters are at least twice as likely to have a positive opinion on same-sex marriage.

On abortion, exit polls showed that 52 percent of voters thought abortion should be legal. Of these voters, 65 percent were Democrat and 33 percent Republican. Of those voters who said abortion should be illegal, 73 percent were Republicans and 25 percent were Democrats. These results conform to the stated platform positions of the two major parties.

Among this data, given the clear teachings of the Catholic Church against homosexual conduct and abortion, one wonders why the split in the overall Catholic vote only favors Republicans by nine points, 54 percent to 45 percent. One reason is that 2014 voters identified the economy as the most important issue, and that same-sex marriage and abortion played only minor roles in the campaigns. The candidate who tried to make abortion rights a centerpiece of his campaign, Democrat Mark Udall, lost in the Colorado senate campaign to pro-life candidate Cory Gardner. Gardner blunted the “war on women” attack not by speaking out against abortion, but by calling for contraceptives to be available over-the-counter. Gardner’s approach typified an election cycle where Republicans spoke very cautiously about moral issues.

A number of atheists sought political office in 2014; all were Democrats. Daniel Moran lost a race for the Texas House of Representatives, James Woods lost a Congressional race in Arizona, and atheist Juan Mendez won reelection to the Arizona legislature.

In the state of Washington, state senate candidate Mark Miloscia ran as a pro-life Republican after serving as a Democrat state representative for 14 years. Miloscia, a Catholic, was attacked in a Democrat political ad that depicted him wearing a papal mitre, praying the rosary, and taking orders from the Vatican. He won his race by 13 points.

The Democratic Party continues to advocate abortion, same-sex marriage, and secularism. It continues to be the political home of Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, and the Freedom from Religion Foundation. As a result, it continues to push religiously faithful voters to the GOP. Two questions face religious voters going forward:

First, will the GOP maintain social as well as fiscal conservatism so as to give religious voters a lasting home? Substantial numbers of Republicans polled in 2014 favored abortion and same-sex marriage, and the eastern establishment of the party deliberately downplays moral issues. Second, can a Republican Party platform reflecting the traditional views of Christian conservatives attract enough young and independent voters to win elections with a higher turnout than the 2014 mid-term?

 

Brad Tupi is an attorney in Pittsburgh, Pa. He has spoken at Grove City College’s 2008 and 2014 Vision and Values Conference on the subject of Religious Freedom and the First Amendment, and has published in the Grove City Journal of Law and Public Policy.

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The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

Is Putin Blinking Or Preparing For War?

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Today, it was reported that fighting eased between pro-Russian forces and the Ukrainian military in East Ukraine. Shelling from Novorossiya was said to quiet almost completely.  Bloomberg also reported that Russian troops were observed repositioning themselves along the Russian border.

In addition, Moscow announced that an eighth convoy of humanitarian supplies would leave Russia for Ukraine shortly. So fighting is quiet along the eastern front.

This begs the question: is Russian President Putin blinking in the face of Western sanctions as has been suggested by some in the Western media? Or is he simply preparing for further conflict (or even all-out war.)

I vote for the latter. As I have said before, there is no way Putin can stop now. He would be seen as weak and eventually deposed.

He is all-in in Ukraine. The current lull in the fighting must be serving some type of tactical or strategic purpose. My guess is that the pro-Russian forces are preparing for a new offensive to pressure Kiev and take more territory for Novorossiya.

The Moscow Times in it’s opinion page today stated:

 Putin may have decided that full implementation of September’s Minsk agreements, leading to a stable cease-fire and a gradual restoration of full Ukrainian sovereignty, would ultimately diminish Russia’s leverage over Kiev’s foreign and security policies. This explains the latest military surge and sham elections in the Donbass. Now the task is to force Kiev to negotiate a new framework for the Ukrainian state directly with Russian proxies.

The immediate goal of a new offensive may be to take the airport at Donetsk. There have been multiple rebel offensives on this target recently. Obviously, the airport is a key objective.

Further strategic objectives could be to bring down the government in Kiev and replace it with a more Russian-friendly force. Tension between President Poroshenko and his Prime Minister has been in the news recently.  The Kremlin most likely sees this as an opening to exploit.

In any case, expect fighting to break out again shortly in Eastern Ukraine. Russia will not back down, sanctions and the West be damned.

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The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

Ted Nugent Shares The Lessons He Thinks America Should Learn From The Ferguson Riots

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As the community of Ferguson, Mo., devolves into a den of violence and destruction following Monday night’s announcement that charges will not be filed against police officer Darren Wilson, rock legend and outspoken conservative Ted Nugent shared his thoughts on the matter in a Facebook post.

Warning: The following contains graphic language.

Violence and rioting spiked Monday evening, fueled by protesters upset about the death of robbery suspect Mike Brown this summer. Such a vicious response, Nugent contended, is far from appropriate considering the ostensible motivation of the demonstrations.

In order to prevent similar scenarios from playing out elsewhere in the nation, he offered a few key lessons to take away from the Ferguson ordeal.

“Don’t let your kids growup [sic] to be thugs who think they can steal, assault & attack cops as a way of life & badge of black (dis)honor,” he wrote. “Don’t preach your racist bulls—t ‘no justice no peace’ as blabbered by Obama’s racist Czar All Not So Sharpton & their black klansmen.”

A particularly important point, he stressed, involves the proper manner in which citizens should interact with authority figures.

“When a cop tells you to get out of the middle of the street,” he wrote, “obey him & don’t attack him as brainwashed by the gangsta a—holes you hang with & look up to. It’s that simple unless you have no brains, no soul, no sense of decency whatsoever.”

Nugent concluded by questioning the sincerity of those protesters who claim they are led by a dedication to protecting black Americans.

“And don’t claim that ‘black lives matter’ when you ignore the millions you abort & slaughter each & every day by other blacks,” he continued. “Those of us with a soul do indeed believe black lives matter, as all lives matter. So quit killin [sic] each other you f—kin idiots.”

Nugent’s fiery tirade unsurprisingly ruffled a few feathers, including some readers who characterized his position as bigoted and racist. On the other hand, even some readers who disagree with his overall political position conceded that, in this case, he highlighted some painful truths.

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As of this writing, Nugent’s post has been shared more than 130,000 times and amassed over 410,000 ‘likes.’

 
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This post originally appeared on Western Journalism - Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom