Illustration of US dollar bills. (photo credit: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash 90)
Taxi driver Moshe Barkat, like many other cab drivers, is used to passengers forgetting items in his vehicle, but what he found in the back of his cab on Friday was truly unforgettable: some $60,000 in American cash.
Barkat, from the city of Bat Yam near Tel Aviv, told Channel 12 that he had worked as usual on Friday, with his passengers including an elderly woman in a wheelchair accompanied by two young men who asked to be taken to Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv.
At the end of his work day he noticed a black bag left on his back seat, and was surprised to find the money in organized stacks of $100 bills.
With the help of his wife he tried to figure out which of his passengers had left the money behind, and eventually managed to locate the owners, who said it was intended to fund medical treatments at Ichilov Hospital.
“It’s funny, actually, they weren’t very excited to get the money back,” Barkat said. “I thought they would cry from joy, but it didn’t happen.”
“I am a man of faith,” he explained. “The money isn’t mine, and I returned it wholeheartedly.”
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On our way to Qamishli, the largest Kurdish city in northern Syria, we see a US military convoy escorted by fighter jets heading east towards the Iraqi border. They are leaving the Kurdish region.
The first time I saw an American in Syria was in 2016. He was part of US special forces, sent to support the Kurds fighting the Islamic State (IS) group. Locals were excited to see them arriving.
But it was in stark contrast this time around. Now you could see the fear and anxiety in the faces of onlookers.
We were only a few kilometers from the Turkish border as one of the jets circled overhead, leaving a trail of white smoke as it passed in and out of Turkish airspace.
One of our guides sighed. “Trump bi namoose,” he said to me in Kurdish. “Trump has no honor.”
The Kurds have every reason to be worried. On one side they face neighboring Turkey, on the other, Syrian government forces.
Now the US is leaving, Kurds here are convinced they have no friends other than the mountains they inhabit.
‘Trump sold us’
From the moment we arrived in Qamishli, ordinary Kurds from baker to waiter asked, “why did Trump sell us out?” This is a traditional society that prides itself on a code of honour and does not understand why it has effectively been cut loose.
“America stabbed us in the back… Trump sold us… we were betrayed,” we heard, again and again.
Qamishli ‘s squares and electricity poles are decorated with the pictures of the fallen – men and women killed in the war against IS.
Every day there are funerals somewhere in this tiny region. It has been this way since IS attacked the Kurds in 2014. But now the victims are those who have been killed since Turkish and allied forces launched their cross-border attack earlier this month.
At the funerals, many mourners hide their tears. Instead they lead the caskets to graveyards with dances and chants.
At one such ceremony, for a fallen fighter of the Kurdish YPG, a tall man in his 60’s approaches me and calmly says: “Erdogan doesn’t like the Kurds. He wants us to leave,” referring to the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who regards the YPG as terrorists.
The Kurds lost 11,000 men and women battling against IS. “The fight wasn’t ours only, we fought on behalf of humanity,” the man says. “Where is the international community? Why don’t they stop Erdogan?”
‘What’s the point?’
In a bakery sits a pile of bread, baked for fighters on the front line. Bahouz, a 16-year-old boy who is cutting dough, asks me my opinion of Americans and Europeans.
“Do you think they will stop Erdogan from massacring us?” An older boy shouts: “Trump sold us – oil is more important than our lives.”
The young boys are clearly frightened. They know if the pro-Turkish Islamist militias arrive here, they would be prime targets. Already videos have emerged apparently showing Turkish-backed militias shouting “Allahu Akbar” (“God is greatest”) and shooting handcuffed young men just like them.
At a hospital treating wounded YPG fighters, a doctor, Rojda, runs from one operating theatre to another. Rojda, a petite woman in her 30s, is also the director of the facility.
“What’s the point of filming?” she asks wearily. “Don’t waste your time. The world has closed its eyes on us.”
One of the patients I meet there is 23-year-old Jiyan. She sits on her bed, staring into the distance. There are dark circles around her eyes. Her head has been surgically pinned, her skull fractured; a hand and both legs are injured.
She laughs derisively. “I survived fighting IS in Kobane, Manbij, and Raqqa, but it was the Turks who almost killed me!”
Jiyan was in Ras al-Ain when Turkey attacked the border town. Her unit came under extensive Turkish artillery and bombardment.
“We put up a good fight against Turkish-backed thugs, but we couldn’t match Turkish firepower,” she tells me, adding: “I lost many friends.”
‘They are coming for us’
On our way out of Syria, I meet Kino Gabriel, spokesperson for the SDF, the Kurdish-led alliance of militias.
A tall man with a big smile, he is the founder of the Christian Syriac Military Council, part of the SDF. He avoids criticising President Trump, hoping, it seems, that the US will change course and come back to the SDF’s aid.
“Those jihadists backed by Turkey are not only coming for our land, they see us as infidels. They are coming for us,” he says.
As US troops withdrew from Qamishli last week on Donald Trump’s orders, one picture in particular – of a US soldier in his armoured vehicle wearing YPJ (the Kurdish women’s fighting force) insignia on his sleeve – resonated with the Kurdish allies they were leaving in haste.
“The American soldiers are just like us – shocked and disappointed with this political decision,” Kino Gabriel says. “But it is not their fault. We honour their sacrifices too.”
If President Trump doesn’t demonstrate the leadership that America needs, then it is time for a new person in the Oval Office.
By William H. McRaven
Admiral McRaven is a former commander of the United States Special Operations Command.
Last week I attended two memorable events that reminded me why we care so very much about this nation and also why our future may be in peril.
The first was a change of command ceremony for a storied Army unit in which one general officer passed authority to another. The second event was an annual gala for the Office of Strategic Services (O.S.S.) Society that recognizes past and present members of the intelligence and Special Operations community for their heroism and sacrifice to the nation. What struck me was the stark contrast between the words and deeds heralded at those events — and the words and deeds emanating from the White House.
On the parade field at Fort Bragg, N.C., where tens of thousands of soldiers have marched either preparing to go to war or returning from it, the two generals, highly decorated, impeccably dressed, clear eyed and strong of character, were humbled by the moment.
They understood the awesome responsibility that the nation had placed on their shoulders. They understood that they had an obligation to serve their soldiers and their soldiers’ families. They believed in the American values for which they had been fighting for the past three decades. They had faith that these values were worth sacrificing everything for — including, if necessary, their lives.
Having served with both officers for the past 20 years, I know that they personified all that is good and decent and honorable about the American military with genuineness of their humility, their uncompromising integrity, their willingness to sacrifice all for a worthy cause, and the pride they had in their soldiers.
Later that week, at the O.S.S. Society dinner, there were films and testimonials to the valor of the men and women who had fought in Europe and the Pacific during World War II. We also celebrated the 75th anniversary of D-Day, recognizing those brave Americans and allies who sacrificed so much to fight Nazism and fascism. We were reminded that the Greatest Generation went to war because it believed that we were the good guys — that wherever there was oppression, tyranny or despotism, America would be there. We would be there because freedom mattered. We would be there because the world needed us and if not us, then who?
Also that evening we recognized the incredible sacrifice of a new generation of Americans: an Army Special Forces warrant officer who had been wounded three times, the most recent injury costing him his left leg above the knee. He was still in uniform and still serving. There was an intelligence officer, who embodied the remarkable traits of those men and women who had served in the O.S.S. And a retired Marine general, whose 40 years of service demonstrated all that was honorable about the Corps and public service.
But the most poignant recognition that evening was for a young female sailor who had been killed in Syria serving alongside our allies in the fight against ISIS. Her husband, a former Army Green Beret, accepted the award on her behalf. Like so many that came before her, she had answered the nation’s call and willingly put her life in harm’s way.
For everyone who ever served in uniform, or in the intelligence community, for those diplomats who voice the nation’s principles, for the first responders, for the tellers of truth and the millions of American citizens who were raised believing in American values — you would have seen your reflection in the faces of those we honored last week.
But, beneath the outward sense of hope and duty that I witnessed at these two events, there was an underlying current of frustration, humiliation, anger and fear that echoed across the sidelines. The America that they believed in was under attack, not from without, but from within.
These men and women, of all political persuasions, have seen the assaults on our institutions: on the intelligence and law enforcement community, the State Department and the press. They have seen our leaders stand beside despots and strongmen, preferring their government narrative to our own. They have seen us abandon our allies and have heard the shouts of betrayal from the battlefield. As I stood on the parade field at Fort Bragg, one retired four-star general, grabbed my arm, shook me and shouted, “I don’t like the Democrats, but Trump is destroying the Republic!”
Those words echoed with me throughout the week. It is easy to destroy an organization if you have no appreciation for what makes that organization great. We are not the most powerful nation in the world because of our aircraft carriers, our economy, or our seat at the United Nations Security Council. We are the most powerful nation in the world because we try to be the good guys. We are the most powerful nation in the world because our ideals of universal freedom and equality have been backed up by our belief that we were champions of justice, the protectors of the less fortunate.
But, if we don’t care about our values, if we don’t care about duty and honor, if we don’t help the weak and stand up against oppression and injustice — what will happen to the Kurds, the Iraqis, the Afghans, the Syrians, the Rohingyas, the South Sudanese and the millions of people under the boot of tyranny or left abandoned by their failing states?
If our promises are meaningless, how will our allies ever trust us? If we can’t have faith in our nation’s principles, why would the men and women of this nation join the military? And if they don’t join, who will protect us? If we are not the champions of the good and the right, then who will follow us? And if no one follows us — where will the world end up?
President Trump seems to believe that these qualities are unimportant or show weakness. He is wrong. These are the virtues that have sustained this nation for the past 243 years. If we hope to continue to lead the world and inspire a new generation of young men and women to our cause, then we must embrace these values now more than ever.
And if this president doesn’t understand their importance, if this president doesn’t demonstrate the leadership that America needs, both domestically and abroad, then it is time for a new person in the Oval Office — Republican, Democrat or independent — the sooner, the better. The fate of our Republic depends upon it.
Opinion | Alan Kennedy, Alexander Stockton and Nayeema Raza
I Did Not Join the Army to Abandon Our Allies
William H. McRaven, a retired Navy admiral, is a former commander of the United States Special Operations Command and former chancellor of the University of Texas system.
“That was a big day, Medal of Honor. Nothing like the Medal of Honor,” he continued. “I wanted one, but they told me I don’t qualify, Woody. I said, ‘Can I give it to myself anyway?’ They said, ‘I don’t think that’s a good idea.’”
Amid scattered chuckles, Trump concluded: “Great, great people. These are great, great men and women that get congressional Medal of Honor. Thank you, Woody.”
The president’s assessment that he should receive the nation’s highest award for acts of military valor followed his statement earlier Wednesday afternoon that he is “the chosen one” in relation to his administration’s trade conflict with China — a proclamation he turned to the sky to deliver.
Trump never served in the military and was granted five draft deferments — four for college and one for bone spurs in his heel.
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)
Government, civic bodies, cops to review Delhi public officials’ integrity
Government officials say that the Lieutenant General wants tainted officials compulsorily retired.
DELHIUpdated: Jul 29, 2019 05:42 IST
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
The Delhi government, Delhi Police, the capital’s three municipal corporations and the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) have set up review committees for the periodical assessment of the probity of government servants, after Lieutenant Governor (L-G) Anil Baijal told top government officials to ensure the compulsory retirement of “tainted” officials, senior government officials said on Sunday.
The Delhi government has circulated a form to all departments demanding details such as leaves availed by employees in last five years, their state of health and whether that has a bearing on discharge of duties, status of “integrity”, details of “doubt” on integrity (if any), details of promotion, annual performance reports of the last five years as well as details of penalties levied.
“The frequency of the periodical assessment will be decided by the review committee. This exercise is separate from the routine annual process under which performance reports are prepared for all government servants. As part of the first review, all departments have been asked to send the reports by the end of this month,” a senior Delhi government official said.
On July 9, the services department of the Delhi government wrote to the social welfare department about setting up the review committee and elaborated upon its objectives.
The letter stated: “Government employees whose integrity is doubtful will be retired… Government employees who are found to be ineffective will also be retired… While the entire service record of an officer should be seen at the time of review, no employee will ordinarily be retired on grounds of ineffectiveness if his service in the past five years is found to be satisfactory… No employee shall ordinarily be retired on grounds of ineffectiveness, if, in any event, he is retiring on superannuation within one year from the date of consideration of his case.”
The reports from the individual departments, however, were initially sought by July 15, but were delayed. On July 24, the Delhi government’s social welfare department issued a circular regarding the “review of mechanism to ensure the probity of government servants”.
The 0.2 million-odd government workforce is under the ambit of the review.
The workforce includes employees of the Delhi administrative subordinate services (DASS) cadre, steno cadre, officers directly under the various departments’ administrative control as well as DANICS officers working on an ad-hoc basis, senior government officials said.
It also applies to over 80,000 police officials, 4,000-odd employees of the DDA and more than 0.30 million people employed with the municipal bodies, senior officials said.
The initiative is in line with a policy recently implemented in several Central government departments under which 27 income tax officials and 15 custom department officials were forced to retire in June.
Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal on July 4 told top government officials in the city to “weed out deadwood” by ensuring the compulsory retirement of “tainted” officials. The directions were issued to the Delhi government, Delhi Police, Delhi Development Authority and commissioners of the three municipal corporations.
POLICE, DDA & MCD
In a circular issued this week, the Delhi Police stated it has entrusted screening committees that already exist in the 11 police districts in the city as well as all special units to carry out the review exercise.
“It is stated that a comprehensive exercise is to be carried out to screen the record of police officers to weed out deadwood—officials suitable for compulsory retirement on a premature basis,” the circular said. It added that the parameters for screening would include doubtful integrity, moral turpitude, habitual absence, alcoholism and drug addiction, and indiscipline.
“The parameters of assessment are at par with instructions drafted by the union government’s department of personnel and training,” DDA vice-chairman Tarun Kapoor said. In the DDA’s case, he added, the review was being conducted by two committees—the screening committee that already exists, and another one that approves findings and recommendations of the screening committee.
A senior MCD official said, “We have taken up the assessment process as per the L-G’s directives.”
HAMAS CONDEMNS VISIT OF BOLSONARO AND SAYS HE VIOLATES INTERNATIONAL LAW
Palestinian organization Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, has condemned President Jair Bolsonaro’s visit to Israel. By way of note, Hamas said that Bolsonaro’s trip, which announced the opening of a business office in Jerusalem and visited the Wailing Wall alongside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, violates international law and represents a contradiction in attitude history of Brazil for the Palestinian cause.
APRIL 1, 2019 AT 3:16 P.M.
247 – The Palestinian organization Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, condemned President Jair Bolsonaro’s visit to Israel. By way of note, Hamas said that Bolsonaro’s trip, which announced the opening of a business office in Jerusalem and visited the Wailing Wall alongside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, violates international law and represents a contradiction in attitude of Brazil for the Palestinian cause.
In the text, Hamas, which is qualified by the United States and Israel as a terrorist group, says “to demand that Brazil immediately withdraw from this policy that violates international legitimacy and goes against the historical position. the security of the region and threatens Brazil’s ties with Arab and Muslim countries. “
During his visit to Israel, Bolsonaro was the first head of state to break the protocol by going to the Wailing Wall accompanied by the Israeli prime minister. Not even the president of the United States, Donald Trump, a close ally of Israel and of whom Bolsonaro is a self-confessed admirer, practiced such an act.
Can We Respect The Office Of Our President: Even If We Don’t Respect The President?
The first President I remember was the day President John Kennedy got murdered. Since then I have known of all of these Presidents, while they were Our President, some of whom I have little personal respect for. Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, B-1, Clinton, B-2, Obama, Trump. So, that means that I have known 10 Reins of power in my time. Some of the Men who have held this position were Democrats and some were Republicans, some of each were good, some were very not good. Even if we like, or dislike a certain man can we still respect the Office Of The Presidency of Our Country while they were holding it? I have known 10 Presidents, 4 of them Democrats, 6 Republicans. Personally I would give passing grades to 3 of these 10 men at doing at least an okay job of being Our President, of Our Country. The Passing grades would go to 2 Democrats and 1 Republican. Yes I may be a bit harsh on this issue, but shouldn’t we all be, at least on this issue?
Now that I got that pet peeve out of the way there are 2 others that I would like to talk with you about. One of these I remember seeing somewhere recently here online. Disrespectful things, at least to me, in my opinion.
Does the Nations Media ever refer to Our President as President, in at least as far back as George Bush Senior? Nowadays we pretty much only hear Obama or Trump did or didn’t do this or that, almost never it seems do I see or hear, President Obama or President Trump, do you?
The other pet peeve is how political type posters start off their slogans on how they want you to remember them, when is the last time you ever seen or heard them simply start their slogan or request with the simple word Please? The word Please is meant to simply refer to as a Request. Why is it wrong to say ‘Please vote for me’ instead of simply ‘vote for me’? Why is showing kindness for each other now out of style? Why not say ‘Please Support Our Troops’? is to do so being weak in your eyes? Would you not rather be asked to do something over being ordered to do the same thing?
Well, I guess that’s it for my pet peeve quipes of the day, I hope it gave you a moment or two of mental relaxation. I do hope that you are each able to have a good and a safe weekend.
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