Archive for the ‘Headlines & Breaking Stories’ Category

What is in a Name?

Saturday, July 30th, 2016

shapiro_namingBy Rabbi Yair Hoffman for the Five Towns Jewish Times

This past Shabbos, many girls were named at the reading of the Torah. One of the most common names that is given to baby girls of late is “Shira.” The name, however, is not without controversy.

Once, Jewish names used to be relatively easy to identify. Moshe and Dovid, these were Jewish names. Chris, Winston, Thaddeus, and Peter – these were not Jewish names. True, there was one of the Baalei HaTosfos whose name was Rabbeinu Pehter, but by and large this was an aberration.

Having a Jewish name is important. Chazal tell us (BaMidbar Rabba 20:22) that the reasons the Jewish people were redeemed from Egypt was because they did not change their names, their language, and their mode of dress. Indeed, the Maharam Shick (YD responsa 169) and the Darchei Teshuvah (YD 178:14) understand that the prohibition of naming a child a non-Jewish name is a biblical one stemming from the prohibition of UbeChukosaihem lo sailachu.
[As a parenthetic note, it is said of the Maharam Schick that when the temporal authorities decreed that every family must take on a last name, he specifically chose Schick – which is an acronym for Shaim Yisroel Kodesh. ]

Clearly, having a Jewish name is important.


The Sefer Chassidim (244) writes of the tremendous importance for the parents to think carefully as to what to name their child. The name itself can not only cause or remove psychological barriers, it can also become a factor in the spiritual growth of the child too. The Midrash Tanchuma in Parshas HaAzinu explains that a person should look to give a name that would help the child become a Tzaddik – because at times the name can be influential in this. The Gemorah in Brachos 7b cites Rabbi Elazar that there is a verse to this effect that Shma Garim – names do matter.

So what has happened of late?

There are a number of Torah observant Jews that, when visiting Eretz Yisroel, try to get an audience with the Gedolei Torah of Klal Yisroel. Rav Chaim Kanievsky shlita is recognized as one of the Gedolei HaDor and receives visitors on a regular basis. When people ask for a bracha for a Shidduch, however, they are sometimes in for a shock. Rav Kanievsky is of the opinion that the names “Shira” and “Rina” are actually not Jewish names at all. He advises that they should be changed immediately. Thus Rinas become Raizels or Rachels and Shiras become Saras or Shifras. And we are witnessing these changes by the dozens. The word “Shira” means joyous song and the word Rina also means a musical joy.

But is this idea universally held?


Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l in Igros Moshe (OC IV #66) clearly learns that names can become Jewish names by virtue of their use among Jews. He cites as an example the name of Maimon, father of the Rambam as well as Vidal the author of the Maggid Mishna. Originally, these were decidedly not Jewish names. He discusses it further in Orech Chaim Vol. V 9:10. In these responsa he explains that the initial people who named their children with non-Jewish names were in violation of this idea. However, gradually when more Jews began doing it, the names attained a Jewish flavor. The Gedolei Torah that this author has consulted with are of the opinion that Rav Moshe would have ruled that Shira is now indeed a Jewish name.


Perhaps one could counter to these Poskim that Rav Kanievsky’s view is that the problems with the names Shira and Rina are not that they are not Jewish names, but that they are not names at all. In order to address this possibility it may be worthwhile to examine some of the names found in the Mishna and Gemorah. We find in Pirkei Avos that Ben Hay Hay tells us “Lefum Tzaara Agra – according to the level of difficulty involved in observing a Mitzvah is the reward.” Most people focus on his message, but let’s take a moment to focus on the Rabbi’s name. What kind of name is Ben Hay Hay? The Torah Lishma (Responsa #402) cites this very notion as a proof that one may even name someone after a Hebrew letter. If this is the case, then it would seem plausible that one can also name after a full Hebrew word as well – not just a Hebrew letter. This is especially true when we have so many people doing it – there are thousands of Shiras and Rinas. There are also quite a few Gilas and Ditzas too, but it is not known whether Rav Chaim has expressed an animadversion to these names.

There is a Tosfos in Chagigah 9b that states that Ben Hay Hay was actually a Ger Tzedek and that this name was given to him because it alludes to the fact that he is a descendant of Abraham and Sarah. Both Abraham and Sara received the extra letter Hay from Hashem. But this does not negate the idea that one may name after non-names. The Tosfos merely provide a reason why it was done, but no one is questioning whether it may be done or not.


There may be another issue here as well. Often, when a child is named – it is because the father and mother both agreed upon that particular name. To opt not to use the name which the parents had originated and decided upon may border upon issues of Kivud Av v’Aim – especially when there are halachic authorities that would have clearly permitted it. There are also a number of Seforim that state that the name given a child by the parents constitutes the will and expression fo Shamayim (See Sefer HaGilgulim chapter 59).

It is this author’s understanding that most of the time, it is not the parents or the child who first pose the question. If, however, one had actually asked the question to Rav Chaim Kanievsky Shlita, then the principle of following the ruling of a Rav when one had posed the question comes into play. Generally speaking, if someone poses a question to one Rav, he should not ask a different Rav for a ruling. In such circumstances, one should weigh all the elements together in consultation with one’s Rav or Posaik.


On the other hand, there have been many situations where young women who have not successfully found their bashert have gone to Rav Chaim Kanievsky and were told that they should change their name to Sara and within a very short time span they have found their bashert. One should not discount such stories and this author is aware of more than one such case. Regardless, we see the power of listening to our Gedolei Torah.

The author can be reached at

Trump, Clinton Spar For National Security Upper Hand

Saturday, July 30th, 2016

hilIn their struggle for the upper hand on national security, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are emphasizing strikingly different themes – he as the bold and cunningly unpredictable strongman who will eliminate terrorism; she as the calm, conventional commander in chief who will manage all manner of crises.

Terrorism is Trump’s national security touchstone, and the Islamic State group is his target. He promises to wipe it out, and quickly.

Clinton accuses him of fearmongering and of denigrating the U.S. military as gutted and worn out. She presents herself as the anti-Trump.

“America’s strength doesn’t come from lashing out,” she said in accepting the Democratic nomination Thursday. “Strength relies on smarts, judgment, cool resolve, and the precise and strategic application of power.” By implication, Trump is cast as bombastic, scattershot, impulsive and fanciful.

National security has emerged as a key focus of the campaign — more the candidates’ temperaments than their plans

Trump says he is best suited because he would be a dealmaker and deliberately unpredictable, thus making it more difficult for adversaries to counter his military or diplomatic moves. Clinton pitches her steadiness and depth of experience from eight years in the Senate and four years as President Barack Obama’s secretary of state.

Each has zeroed in on what many consider the most worrisome issues: terrorism and an assertive Russia. The next president, however, will face a wider range of problems, to include ending the war in Afghanistan, managing the nuclear ambitions of Iran and North Korea, coping with a rising China and ending a cycle of bloody instability in Iraq and Syria. There also are challenges in cyberwarfare, nuclear weapons and the modernization of the U.S. military.

Trump calls his approach “America first,” meaning alliances and coalitions would not pass muster with him unless they produced a net benefit to the U.S. He drew rebukes from much of the national security establishment when he suggested in a recent newspaper interview that as president he might not defend certain NATO member countries against outside attack if they were falling short of the alliance’s defense spending targets. He also has been accused of being too easy on Vladimir Putin, the Russian president whom Trump has openly admired.

Clinton sees international partnerships as essential tools for using American influence and lessening the chances of war. That is an approach rooted in a U.S. tradition of bipartisan support for institutions such as NATO, whose value and future Trump says should not be taken for granted.

Trump has tried to keep his focus on fear. In his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention he decried “war and destruction.” He said the long-volatile and often violent Middle East is now “worse than it has ever been before,” suggesting Americans are increasingly at risk.

He mocks Clinton’s experience as a member of Obama’s war Cabinet, labeling her legacy at the State Department as “death, destruction, terrorism and weakness.”

She questions Trump’s reliability. “He loses his cool at the slightest provocation,” she said in her acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention. “Imagine him in the Oval Office facing a real crisis. A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons.”

The commander in chief’s responsibility in the nuclear arena is not traditionally a hot-button issue on the campaign trail. But it has arisen more regularly this time, mainly because the Democrats see Trump as vulnerable to voter doubts about whether he could be trusted to use nuclear restraint. He raised eyebrows during a Republican primary debate when he seemed unaware of the nuclear “triad,” the bombers, submarines and long-range missiles that have comprised the three basic pieces of the American nuclear arsenal for more than 50 years.

Through her supporters, including retired military officers, Clinton has pushed back on Trump’s claim that he alone has the right formula for keeping America secure.

“She, as no other, knows how to use all instruments of American power, not just the military, to keep us all safe and free,” John Allen, the retired Marine general and former presidential envoy to the international coalition aligned against the Islamic State, told the Democratic National Convention.

Allen presented a counterpoint to Trump’s top military supporter, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. In his address to the Republican National Convention, Flynn doubled down on Trump’s portrayal of Clinton as unqualified to be president. He blamed her for “bumbling indecisiveness, willful ignorance and total incompetence.”


Bill Clinton And Tim Kaine: Trump Lacks Empathy For Khans

Saturday, July 30th, 2016

clinHillary Clinton’s top surrogates are taking aim at rival Donald Trump for criticizing the bereaved mother of a Muslim Army captain, a comment that sparked outrage across the political spectrum on Saturday.

Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine expressed shock that the GOP nominee would attack Ghazala Khan for not speaking during her husband’s address to the Democratic convention.

“He was kind of trying to turn that into some kind of ridicule,” Kaine said after a campaign event in Pittsburgh. “It just demonstrates again kind of a temperamental unfitness. If you don’t have any sense of empathy than that, then I’m not sure you can learn it.”

Former President Bill Clinton, who joined Kaine and his wife at the event, agreed: “I cannot conceive how you can say that about a Gold Star mother.”

Lawyer Khizr Khan gave a moving tribute to their son, Humayun, who received a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart after he was killed by a suicide bomber in Iraq in 2004. During the speech, Khan’s wife, Ghazala, stood silently by his side, wearing a headscarf.

“If you look at his wife, she was standing there. She had nothing to say. She probably, maybe she wasn’t allowed to have anything to say. You tell me,” Trump said, in an interview with ABC’s “This Week.”

Ghazala Khan has said she didn’t speak because she’s still overwhelmed by her grief and can’t even look at photos of her son without crying.

Trump also disputed Khan’s criticism that the billionaire businessman has “sacrificed nothing and no one” for his country.

“I’ve made a lot of sacrifices. I work very, very hard. I’ve created thousands and thousands of jobs, tens of thousands of jobs, built great structures,” Trump said. He added: “Sure those are sacrifices.”

Trump’s comments sparked immediate outrage on social media, including from Republicans, who criticized Trump both for attacking a mourning mother and because many considered them racist and anti-Muslim.

In a statement that made no mention of Trump, Hillary Clinton said she was “very moved” by Ghazala Khan’s appearance.

“This is a time for all Americans to stand with the Khans and with all the families whose children have died in service to our country,” she said. “Capt. Khan and his family represent the best of America and we salute them.”

Trump’s comments about Khan came a day after he criticized retired four-star Gen. John Allen and slammed a Colorado Springs, Colorado, fire marshal for capping attendance at the event. The fire marshal, Brett Lacey, was recently honored by the city as “Civilian of the Year” for his role in helping the wounded at a 2015 mass shooting at a local Planned Parenthood.

“Our commander in chief shouldn’t insult and deride our generals, retired or otherwise,” Clinton told a crowd gathered Saturday on a factory floor in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. “That should really go without saying.”

Trump also accused Clinton via Twitter of “trying to rig” the fall presidential debates by scheduling two of the three debates on the same night as NFL games. The schedule was set last September by a nonpartisan commission, which said the campaigns were not consulted about dates. Trump also said the NFL complained to him about the debate schedule in a letter, but the league said it sent no such letter.

Post-convention it has become clear the presidential race will be fought in the struggling manufacturing towns, cities and rural farming communities of the Rust Belt, as Clinton used the days following her convention to try and win back some of the white working class voters that once made up a key piece of the Democratic Party’s electoral coalition. Trump’s anti-trade message has appealed to those voters, who feel frustrated with an economic recovery that’s largely left them behind.

On Saturday, Clinton made stops in rural western Pennsylvania, a largely white part of the swing state that traditionally votes Republican.

Clinton is playing up economic opportunity, diversity and national security. Democrats hammered home those themes this week with an array of politicians, celebrities, gun-violence victims, law enforcement officers and activists of all races and sexual orientation. Their goal is to turn out the coalition of minority, female and young voters that twice elected Obama while blunting some of the expected losses among the white men drawn to Trump’s message.

At a rally in Pittsburgh, she was introduced by Mark Cuban, the Dallas Mavericks owner, technology investor and television personality who recently endorsed her. “Leadership is not yelling and screaming and intimidating,” he said.

Trump has made plans to visit some of the same areas Clinton is campaigning in during her three-day bus tour through Ohio and Pennsylvania, scheduling Monday stops in Columbus and Cleveland.

The Trump campaign swaggered out of the convention weeks, feeling bullish about the bump the nominee received from his own nominating convention.

While Clinton and Kaine attempted to sell their positive economic message, much of their strategy centers on undermining Trump, particularly the business record that makes up the core of his argument to voters.

Clinton highlighted Trump’s use of outsourcing to manufacture some of his branded products, arguing he’s profited from the same foreign labor he now blames for killing U.S. jobs.

“What part of America first leads Trump to make Trump dress shirts in Bangladesh not Ashland, Pennsylvania,” said Clinton. “I just find it so maddening that Trump goes around saying this and all the stuff he makes in other countries.”


Officials: 16 People Killed In Texas Hot-Air Balloon Crash

Saturday, July 30th, 2016

haA hot air balloon carrying at least 16 people caught on fire and crashed in Central Texas on Saturday, and there did not appear to be any survivors, authorities said.

Authorities would not confirm the exact number of deaths, but Lynn Lunsford with the Federal Aviation Administration said the balloon was carrying at least 16 people and the Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement that it didn’t look like anyone survived.

If 16 people were killed, it would be the one of the worst such disasters, possibly the worst in U.S. history. The deadliest such disaster happened in February 2013, when a balloon flying over Luxor, Egypt, caught fire and plunged 1,000 feet to the ground, crashing into a sugar cane field and killing at least 19 foreign tourists

Saturday’s crash happened at about 7:40 a.m. in a pasture near Lockhart, which is about 30 miles south of Austin. The land near the crash site is mostly farmland, with corn crops and grazing cattle. Cutting through that farmland is a row of massive high-capacity electrical transmission lines about 4 to 5 stories tall. The site of the crash appears to be right below the overhead lines, though authorities haven’t provided further details about what happened. Ariel photos showed an area of charred pasture near an electrical transmission tower.

Margaret Wylie lives about a quarter-mile from the crash site and told The Associated Press that she was letting her dog out Saturday morning when she heard a “pop, pop, pop.”

“I looked around and it was like a fireball going up,” she said, noting that the fireball was under large power lines and almost high enough to reach the bottom of them.

Wylie, who called 911, said the weather seemed clear and that she frequently sees hot air balloons in the area.

Erik Grosof with the National Transportation Safety Board said at a news conference that the agency has deemed it a major accident and a full-bore investigation will begin Sunday when more federal officials arrive. “This will be a difficult site for us to work through,” Grosof said.

The balloon was operated by Heart of Texas Hot Air Balloon Rides, according to two officials familiar with the investigation. The officials spoke on condition that they not be named because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly.

Heart of Texas’ website said it offers rides in the San Antonio, Houston and Austin areas. The company’s Facebook page features photos of a hot air balloon with a smiley face with sunglasses on it up in the air, people waving from a large basket on the ground and group selfies taken while up in the air.

The operation does not appear to be registered with the state of Texas.

Authorities have not released the names of those who were on board.

Warning about potential high-fatality accidents, safety investigators recommended two years ago that the Federal Aviation Administration impose greater oversight on commercial hot air balloon operators, government documents show. The FAA rejected those recommendations.

In a letter to FAA Administrator Michael Huerta in April 2014, the National Transportation Safety Board urged the FAA to require tour companies to get agency permission to operate, and to make balloon operators subject to FAA safety inspections. The FAA’s Huerta responded that regulations were unnecessary because the risks were too low.

After Huerta’s reply, the NTSB classified the FAA’s response to the two balloon safety recommendations as “open-unacceptable,” which means the safety board was not satisfied with the FAA’s response.

Speaking to the AP just before leaving for Texas to lead the crash investigation, NTSB board member Robert Sumwalt said he was studying the board’s recommendations from previous hot air balloon accidents. “I think the fact that it is open-unacceptable pretty much speaks for itself,” he said.

He also noted that the team was still trying to gather basic information about the accident.

FAA spokesman Lynn Lunsford said it’s difficult to say whether the Texas crash will cause the agency to reconsider NTSB’s recommendations “until we’ve had a chance to gather and examine the evidence in this particular case.”


Pentagon Says No US Military Support For Turkey Coup

Friday, July 29th, 2016

turkThe Pentagon on Friday flatly rejected allegations by Turkey’s president that the U.S. military was somehow involved in or in any way supported the recent failed coup in that country.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at the U.S. Friday and criticized a senior military commander who had expressed concerns that the violent July 15 coup could have longer-term impact on U.S. relations with the Turkish military. Erdogan said the U.S. was taking sides with coup plotters.

Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said any suggestion that the U.S. supported the coup was absurd and wrong.

He said Defense Secretary Ash Carter received assurances from his Turkish counterpart that the fight against Islamic State militants won’t be affected. The U.S. launches airstrikes, surveillance aircraft and other missions out of Turkey’s Incirlik air base.

Cook said that while U.S. and Turkish officials “talk every day,” he could not say whether or not any senior U.S. defense or military officials had reached out to Erdogan Friday to specifically discuss or refute the latest accusations.

Erdogan at a speech Friday criticized Gen. Joseph Votel, the top U.S. commander for the Middle East, who noted that some Turkish military leaders whom the U.S. had relationships with have been jailed in the wake of the attempted coup.

“So I’m concerned about what the impact is on those relationships as we continue to move forward,” Votel said during the Aspen Security Forum on Thursday.

Cook echoed Votel’s comments, saying the key point is that “we have excellent military-to-military cooperation, have had for some time with the Turkish military. If you are no longer able to talk to a counterpart that you’ve dealt with for some time, there’s a concern that there might be some breakdown in communication. We are trying to work through that with the Turks and have every confidence we’ll be able to do that.”

Senior U.S. leaders, including President Barack Obama, have spoken with their Turkish counterparts in the last two weeks since the coup attempt.

Erdogan has accused the U.S. of harboring the coup’s alleged mastermind, Fethullah Gulen, a cleric living in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania. Turkey has demanded the U.S. extradite Gulen.

There were 290 people killed in the coup, and thousands have been detained.


Donald Trump Speech Beats Hillary Clinton In TV Viewership

Friday, July 29th, 2016

trhilDonald Trump pulled off the upset — at least in television popularity.

Hillary Clinton’s acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention was seen by 29.8 million people on the commercial networks, the Nielsen company said Friday. That fell short of the 32.2 million people who watched Trump speak to the Republicans a week before.

Trump, who used to carefully watch television ratings during his days as star of “The Apprentice,” immediately boasted about the victory during a campaign appearance Friday in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

“We beat her by millions on television. Millions!” he said. “Honestly, the numbers were incredible.”

Although Trump has been a proven ratings draw throughout his campaign, the Democratic convention had proven more popular with viewers than the Republicans for its first three nights. Stars like Alicia Keys, Katy Perry, Lenny Kravitz and Paul Simon performed for the Democrats, and President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama and former President Bill Clinton showed off their oratorical skills.

Meanwhile, star power was much dimmer at the Republican meeting. One night, the convention even ended 15 minutes earlier than planned, leaving television networks scrambling to fill time.

But viewers turned up to hear Trump: his audience was watched by 9 million more people than it was for any other night of the Republican convention, Nielsen said. Meanwhile, the Democrats actually had slightly more viewers for the first night of its convention than it did for the nominee’s speech, typically the highest-rated night of convention coverage.

Four years ago, the audience for Obama’s acceptance speech was 35.7 million, while 30.2 million saw Republican challenger Mitt Romney.

Nielsen’s count did not include PBS’ commercial-free coverage, which made the margin closer. PBS said its viewership for Clinton’s speech was 3.91 million people, and 2.75 million the week earlier for Trump.

Fox News Channel went from first to worst during a tumultuous two weeks that included the resignation of its chief executive, Roger Ailes, on the day Trump spoke. An estimated 9.4 million people watched Trump on Fox, the most popular network for Republicans, and Fox took out newspaper ads touting its first-place finish among those covering the convention.

Just over 3 million people watched Clinton on Fox. Perhaps sensing its audience’s level of interest, Fox showed fewer live events from the convention floor than its rivals, preferring discussions hosted by anchors Bill O’Reilly and Megyn Kelly. Sean Hannity was brought in for analysis immediately after the convention closed each night.

Meanwhile, it was a coup for CNN, whose 7.51 million viewers topped all of the networks Thursday by a comfortable margin. This convention marked the first time the cable network beat the broadcasters in head-to-head competition. The relatively newsy events appeared to benefit the networks that followed them throughout the prime time hours, as opposed to ABC, CBS and NBC, which came on at 10 p.m. ET each night.

MSNBC was seen by 5.27 million, NBC had 4.52 million, ABC had 3.85 million and CBS had 3.65 million, Nielsen said. It was measuring the time all of the networks competed head-to-head, from 10 p.m. until the convention’s close.

For politicians, the true measure of the speech’s effectiveness will come in about a week, when polls indicate whether or not the convention gave Clinton a bump in popularity.


Trump’s Russia Reset Ideas Alarming Allies, Many In US

Friday, July 29th, 2016

Donald TrumpDonald Trump’s flurry of offhand remarks and abrupt zingers on Russia -” praising Vladimir Putin, dismissing NATO – have jolted the world, not to mention the U.S. presidential campaign.

With Russia’s behavior rattling nerves in the U.S. and abroad, the Republican presidential nominee is accused of cozying up to a “dictator.” Of threatening the very underpinnings of America’s relationship with Europe. And of naivete.

Yet for all that, Trump’s words are consistent with some long-held U.S. views, many experts say. The idea of fostering U.S.-Russian cooperation isn’t outlandish — after all, Hillary Clinton tried to “reset” relations with Russia as secretary of state. And past U.S. administrations of both parties have quietly complained that other NATO members should pay their share to the alliance.

It’s really Trump’s way of expressing his views that has shocked many foreign policy experts.

On Wednesday, Trump offered this vision for rosier U.S.-Russian relations:

“I would treat Vladimir Putin firmly but there’s nothing that I can think of that I’d rather do than have Russia friendly — as opposed to the way they are right now — so that we can go and knock out ISIS together along with other people and with other countries,” he said. “Wouldn’t it be nice if we actually got along with people?”

Trump also praised the Russian president for having “better leadership qualities” than President Barack Obama and indicated he’d consider lifting sanctions against Moscow and recognizing Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

As for NATO, Trump said the basic idea of the alliance was OK but that “it’s got to be modernized. And countries that we’re protecting have to pay what they’re supposed to be paying.”

Days earlier, he suggested that he would decide whether to protect NATO allies against Russian aggression based on whether they had “fulfilled their obligations” financially.

And his offhand invitation for Russia to help unearth the deleted emails from Clinton’s State Department years appeared to violate a cardinal rule against foreign meddling in U.S. politics.

Foreign policy experts of all stripes “are left slack-jawed” by Trump’s pronouncements, said Derek Chollet, a senior adviser at the German Marshall Fund and former Pentagon official in the Obama administration.

“He looks at the world solely through the prism of business transactions, talking about allies as if they’re Atlantic City contractors that he can bilk,” said Chollet, who spoke out in favor of Clinton during her Democratic primary campaign against Sen. Bernie Sanders.

But Steven Cohen, professor emeritus of Russian studies at Princeton and New York University, credits Trump for homing in on issues that are ripe for discussion. He said that while Trump talks “elliptically” and “just can’t wonk,” the GOP nominee “in his own way seems to be advocating detente,” which Cohen sees as an admirable goal.

Cohen said it’s time for critics to stop using “McCarthyite” language to demonize Trump and have a serious discussion about the issues he’s raising.

“It’s called a debate,” said Cohen. “You’re supposed to have them in a presidential campaign.”

And yet Democrats are not the only ones to recoil at Trump’s remarks. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, among other top Republicans, swiftly expressed disagreement with the nominee and promised that other NATO members can count on the U.S. to defend them.

David Kramer, who was a State Department official in the George W. Bush administration, said he and many other foreign policy thinkers see “a Russia that poses a threat. He (Trump) sees a leader in Vladimir Putin who he thinks he can develop a good relationship with.”

Trump’s comment about Crimea and Russian sanctions, says Kramer, sent “terrible signals and will be interpreted not only as a betrayal by the United States of our allies but as rewarding aggressive behavior by Russia.”

In the 2012 presidential campaign, the dynamic over Russia was switched: Republican nominee Mitt Romney then criticized Obama for being too accommodating toward Russia. And Democrats were the ones faulting Romney for saying that Russia was America’s “No. 1 geopolitical foe.”

Obama’s early hope for that reset with Moscow had largely evaporated even before Russia’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula and its military intervention in eastern Ukraine, which unnerved countries on NATO’s eastern flank that fear they also may be targets of Russian intimidation or aggression.

Against that backdrop, Trump’s remarks raising doubts about honoring U.S. NATO commitments created an international uproar.

Julianne Smith, a former deputy national security adviser to Vice President Joe Biden, said Trump doesn’t seem to grasp the complexities of the U.S. relationship with Russia, reflecting both inexperience and a lack of strong advisers.

“It’s not a question of whether Putin is good or bad,” she said. “It’s about handling a very delicate and volatile situation that can go sour very quickly.”

Yet others note that even the current Obama administration depends on Russia and seeks its help with many world crises.

In Syria, despite deep mutual frustration, the U.S. and Russia are trying to work together to end a five-year civil war that has led to global terrorism fears. They’re even discussing a military alliance against the Islamic State group. Cooperation extends to the Iran nuclear deal, North Korea and more.


Florida Zika Cases Likely First In US Transmitted By Mosquitoes

Friday, July 29th, 2016

mosqFlorida likely has the first cases of Zika transmitted by mosquitoes on the U.S. mainland, the state’s governor said Friday.

No mosquitoes in the state have tested positive for Zika, but one woman and three men in Miami-Dade and Broward counties likely contracted the virus through mosquito bites, Gov. Rick Scott said during a news conference in Orlando.

More than 1,650 Zika infections have been reported in the U.S., but the four patients in Florida would be the first not linked to travel outside the U.S. mainland.

“This is not just a Florida issue. It’s a national issue — we just happen to be at the forefront,” Scott said.

Health officials believe the infections occurred in a small area just north of downtown Miami, in the popular Wynwood arts district, Scott said.

It’s the only part of the state currently being tested for potential local transmissions of Zika, Scott said. Women in the area who are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant are urged to contact their doctors and the county health department for Zika prevention kits.

Federal health officials have not recommended that pregnant women avoid travel to South Florida.

“There are a series of factors we’ll have to look at. The number of cases, the relationship in geography of those cases, how closely linked they are in time, as well as a series of other factors that we will use to determine what recommendations we issue in terms of travel guidance,” U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said Thursday.

In most people, the virus causes only mild illness, but infection during pregnancy can lead to severe brain-related birth defects for the fetus. There is no vaccine.

Since February, over 380 Zika cases related to travel have been confirmed in Florida, including 151 cases in Miami-Dade and Broward counties.

The tropical mosquito that spreads Zika and other viruses is found in the southern U.S. While health officials have predicted that mosquitoes in the continental U.S. would begin spreading Zika this summer, they also have said they expect only isolated clusters of infections and not widespread outbreaks.

Florida should be able to contain the virus to an isolated area because its neighborhoods have better sanitation and living conditions than countries where Zika outbreaks have been widespread, said Adam Putnam, Florida’s commissioner for agriculture and consumer services.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has told blood centers in Miami-Dade and Broward counties to suspend collections until they can screen each unit of blood for the Zika virus with authorized tests. Neighboring counties have been urged to implement the same precautions, and visitors to South Florida in the last month are encouraged to defer donations as well.

The FDA previously advised U.S. blood banks to refuse donations from people who recently traveled to areas outside the country that have Zika outbreaks.

Florida’s main supplier of blood, OneBlood, said it was working as quickly as possible to comply with the FDA’s recommendation and would start testing all its collections for Zika on Friday.


Trump Goes After ‘Little Michael Bloomberg’

Friday, July 29th, 2016

trblDonald Trump is vigorously tweeting the morning after Democrats finished their presidential nominating convention. His targets? A few choice people who criticized him from the stage at the Democratic National Convention.

The Republican presidential nominee referred to former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, also a billionaire, as “Little Michael Bloomberg,” who “never had the guts to run for president” and whose final term as mayor was “a disaster.”

That’s a reversal from 2012, when Trump praised Bloomberg for reducing crime in New York City, declaring, “That’s leadership.”

Trump attacked Allen, saying he “failed badly in his fight against ISIS.” The former deputy commander of the wars in the Middle East had called Hillary Clinton the kind of “commander in chief America needs.”

As for Clinton’s claim that Trump can’t handle a political campaign, he noted that he defeated a field of Republican hopefuls to win the GOP nomination.


Computers Hacked At Democrats’ House Campaign Committee

Friday, July 29th, 2016

hackThe computers of the House Democratic campaign committee have been hacked in an intrusion that investigators say resembles the recent cyber breach of the Democratic National Committee, a spokeswoman for the committee said Friday.

Details were initially unclear about exactly who tapped into the computers and what information was accessed at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. The organization raises money and provides other assistance for the party’s House candidates.

President Barack Obama has said Russia was almost certainly responsible for the hack of the Democratic National Committee, an assertion with which cybersecurity experts have agreed. That breach led to the release by WikiLeaks on July 22 — just days before the Democratic national convention began — of 19,000 emails showing supposedly neutral party officials were favoring Hillary Clinton over Sen. Bernie Sanders during their primary contest for the presidential nomination.

As a result of that disclosure, party chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., announced her resignation this week.

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokeswoman Meredith Kelly said the organization is using CrowdStrike, a forensic investigating firm, and is “cooperating with the federal law enforcement with respect to their ongoing investigation.”

A House Democratic aide said late Thursday that the FBI is investigating the hack.

Computer hacking, emails and indications of Russian involvement have evolved into a political issue in the presidential campaign between Clinton and Republican candidate Donald Trump. This week, Trump encouraged Russia to seek and release more than 30,000 other missing emails deleted by Clinton, the former secretary of state.

Clinton deleted the emails from her private server, saying they were private, before handing other messages over to the State Department. The Justice Department declined to prosecute Clinton over her email practices, but FBI Director James Comey called her “extremely careless” in handling classified information.

The DCCC hack was first reported by Reuters.


Baltimore’s Far From Done Despite Collapse of Criminal Case

Friday, July 29th, 2016

fgrMany of this city’s deepest challenges remain unresolved after the collapse of the criminal case against six police officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray, the young black man whose broken neck in police custody caused so much upheaval. Here’s a look at the to-do lists of those involved.


The young Baltimore prosecutor who commanded national attention by swiftly filing murder and manslaughter charges against the officers involved in Gray’s arrest was unrepentant as she closed the case without convictions this week. While even some of her allies called the evidence thin, she accused law enforcement colleagues of thwarting the prosecution, and rhetorically indicted the nation’s criminal justice system as incapable of holding police accountable. “The prosecution of on-duty police officers in this country is surprisingly rare and blatantly wrought with systemic and inherent complications,” she said. The statement thrilled some activists but could complicate her ability to work with police on resolving the city’s soaring homicide rate.


Stepping in as top cop after Anthony Batts was fired for his handling of the unrest provoked by Gray’s death, Commissioner Kevin Davis pledged to implement significant reforms while remaining loyal to the officers he commands. Davis overhauled the department’s 2003 policy on use of force to include de-escalation tactics and emphasize “the sanctity of life.” Davis also implemented software insuring that officers get quizzed on their responsibilities, such as buckling prisoners into seatbelts. The prosecutions failed in part because they couldn’t prove the officers even read their department’s rules. In response to Mosby’s accusations, Davis said Gray’s death stirred many emotions and opinions, but “we are not entitled to our own facts.” Still, he said, “we will continue to work together. That’s what we do.”


Equally crucial to policing’s future in Baltimore, the union has been steadfast in its support for the officers charged as well as its disdain for Mosby. Union President Gene Ryan has repeatedly accused her of “malicious prosecution.” Pushing back against reforms designed to provide citizens with more oversight, the union also has sued to block a civilian review board from having access to police disciplinary records. That would thwart the spirit of legislative reforms to the Law Enforcement Officers Bill Of Rights, which enable chiefs to add citizens to boards that review cases against officers.


The Black Lives Matter movement made Gray’s death a rallying cry, and Baltimore’s activists took to the streets by the thousands last year. Heartbroken by the outcome of the criminal cases, some advocates for police reform say new avenues of protest are necessary. Adam Jackson, a co-founder of Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle, is part of a coalition that occupied a vacant home, renamed it the Harriet Tubman House and transformed it into a community center across the street from the spot where Gray was put in the back of the police van. “People are fed up with the quick roll-in-the-streets protests,” Jackson said. “People want to focus on what they can do. We’re less concerned with the spectacle than what we can do to change the structures.”


Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake abandoned her bid for re-election amid searing criticism following the rioting and unrest, but she was back in the spotlight this week where she got the honor of tallying the votes at the Democratic National Convention. Responding there to the end of the criminal cases, she chided Mosby for claiming the justice system is rigged and said elected officials must work within the system to bring reform. She cited her efforts to make prosecuting police easier by changing the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights. The mayor also has championed body cameras, and all officers who work the streets will soon wear them.


The city preemptively gave Gray’s family a $6.4 million settlement — more money than all payouts to victims of police abuse in Baltimore in the previous four years combined. During tense moments since then, the family has urged protesters to remain peaceful, asserting their faith in the prosecution. Gray’s stepfather Richard Shipley pledged his continued support for Mosby despite the collapse of the cases, and vowed to advocate for police reforms. “We’re disappointed in the outcome of the trials, but we’re going to continue to be fighters for Freddie,” Shipley said. “We are going to see that new legislation is carried out, new laws that will help this community and other communities. We’re grateful that he didn’t die in vain.”


WATCH: Gingrich On ‘Hannity’ Says DNC Speeches Don’t Reflect Reality For Americans

Friday, July 29th, 2016

Erdogan Slams US Reaction to Failed Coup

Friday, July 29th, 2016

erdTurkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has slammed the United States for its reaction to a failed military coup in Turkey, accusing it of harboring the man behind the plot.

Ankara has demanded the United States extradite Fethullah Gulen, a cleric living in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania. The government has accused Gulen of having masterminded the failed July 15 coup, which left 290 people dead.

Gulen has denied any prior knowledge of the attempted putsch, while Washington has asked for evidence of his involvement.

The president lashed out at an American military official who he said commented on the detention of thousands of military personnel in the wake of the coup.

“It’s not up to you to make that decision. Who are you? Know your place…” Erdogan said.

“Instead of thanking this nation that quashed the coup in the name of democracy, on the contrary you are taking sides with the coup-plotters,” Erdogan said.

“Besides, the coup plotter is in your country anyway. You can never convince my people otherwise.”


Strike Disrupts Air France Flights Amid Summer Vacation

Friday, July 29th, 2016

afrAir France has cancelled 10 percent of its long-distance flights Friday, during a period of high traffic due to summer vacations, because of a strike by cabin crew.

The company also cancelled 25 percent of European flights to and from Paris Charles-de-Gaulle airport and 15 percent of domestic flights.

Two unions have called for Air France cabin crew members to go on strike from July 27 to Aug. 2. They are protesting against further decreases in the number of crew members and to call for better working conditions.

Air France flights operated by other companies, including HOP!, KLM and Delta, are not affected by the strike.


PHOTOS: Nahariya Hospital: Child Stable After Scissors Pulled From His Head

Friday, July 29th, 2016



Officials in Nahariya Hospital report that a seven-year-old boy is in stable condition after scissors that penetrated a centimeter into the back of his head was removed.

The child on Thursday afternoon was admitted to the pediatric surgical unit.

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem/Photos: Nahariya Hospital)

Trump Camp: Clinton Speech ‘Fantasy Universe’

Friday, July 29th, 2016

trhilDonald Trump’s campaign is calling Democrat Hillary Clinton’s acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention “an insulting collection of clichés and recycled rhetoric.”

The statement issued Friday on Trump’s campaign Facebook page says Clinton’s stance on immigration “will take jobs, resources and benefits from the most vulnerable citizens of the United States and give them to the citizens of other countries.”

Trump tweeted a link to the statement. It slams Clinton for not mentioning the words, “radical Islam,” ”her disaster in Libya” or the investigation of Clinton’s private email server.

The statement says Clinton’s remarks were “delivered from a fantasy universe, not the reality we live in today.”

Clinton said Trump is offering America “empty promises” and what she called “bigotry and bombast.”


Pope Visits Auschwitz, Begs God To Forgive ‘So Much Cruelty’

Friday, July 29th, 2016

aushPope Francis paid a somber visit in silence to the Nazi German death camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau on Friday, with his only public comment a guest book entry begging God “forgiveness for so much cruelty.”

The Argentine-born pontiff made an early morning pilgrimage to the place where Adolf Hitler’s forces killed more than 1 million people, most of them Jews, during World War II.

Francis entered the camp on foot, walking slowly in his white robes beneath the notorious gate at Auschwitz that bears the cynical words “Arbeit Macht Frei (Work sets you free).”

After meeting briefly with 11 death camp survivors, he moved on to nearby Birkenau, a sprawling complex where people were murdered in factory-like fashion in its gas chambers. There he greeted 25 Holocaust rescuers.

Altogether, it was a deeply contemplative and private visit of nearly two hours that Francis passed in total silence, except for a few words he exchanged with the survivors and rescuers.

Vatican and Polish church officials explained that Francis wanted to express his sorrow in silence at the site, mourning the victims in quiet prayer and meditation.

However, he did express his feelings, writing in the Auschwitz memorial’s guest book in Spanish: “Lord, have mercy on your people! Lord, forgiveness for so much cruelty!” He then signed with his name in Latin, “Franciscus” and added the date “29.7.2016.”

Francis is the first pope to visit Auschwitz who did not himself live himself through the brutality of World War II on Europe’s soil.

Both of his predecessors had a personal or historical connection to the site. St. John Paul II, born in Poland, witnessed the unspeakable suffering inflicted on his nation during the German occupation during the war. His successor, Pope Benedict XVI, who visited in 2006, was a German who served in the Hitler Youth for a time as a teenager.

Francis prayed silently for more than 15 minutes before greeting survivors, one by one, shaking their hands and kissing them on the cheeks. He then carried a large white candle to the Death Wall, where prisoners at Auschwitz were executed.

At the dark underground prison cell that once housed St. Maximilian Kolbe, a Polish friar who sacrificed his life to save that of a fellow prisoner who had a family, Francis prayed again. A few shafts from a tiny window were the only light cast on the pontiff.

He then traveled 2 miles (3 kilometers) to Birkenau, the vast satellite camp where the Nazis murdered Jews, Roma and others from across Europe.

Invited guests, among them camp survivors and Christian Poles who saved Jews during the war, stood in respect as the pope arrived, his vehicle driving parallel to the rail tracks once used to transport victims to their deaths there.

At one point the deep silence was broken by the wailing of an infant.

When Francis arrived, the hundreds of guests applauded. Francis slowly observed each of the memorial plaques in the 23 languages used by the inmates.

Poland’s chief rabbi, Michael Schudrich, then recited, in Hebrew, Psalm 130, which starts: “From the depths I have cried out to you, O Lord.”

Francis clasped his hands and bent his head as the psalm was read, first by the rabbi and then by a priest in Polish.

John Paul’s visit to the site in 1979 made history because it was the first ever by a pontiff, part of the Vatican’s historical efforts at reconciliation with Jews.

As a pope hailing from another continent, Francis’s presence highlights visit the universal importance of a site that in recent years has drawn ever more visitors from around the world. The millions who now visit have put increasing stress on the site’s aging barracks, prompting urgent conservation efforts that are being funded by governments worldwide.

Francis’ visit is also different in that it had a private character with no speeches. Benedict, for instance, spoke there in 2006 in Italian — pointedly avoiding his native German language — in a speech questioning why God was silent at the slaughter of so many.

The pope’s visit to Auschwitz came on the third day of a five-day visit to Poland that includes meetings with young pilgrims taking part in World Youth Day, a global celebration of faith.


This Young Widow And Her Three Children Are Being Thrown Out Of Their Home

Friday, July 29th, 2016

20160522_201203Claudine B. of Karmiel was recently widowed and is literally about to be thrown out of her home. This mother of three and dedicated daughter has been dealt challenge after challenge, persevering through each one with incredible dedication, spirit, kindness and positivity. For five years Claudine nursed her young husband through his devastating battle with cancer. He wasn’t eligible for assisted transportation to his appointments so Claudine took him back and forth to doctors for treatments. She slept at his hospital bedside whenever he needed an overnight stay. She never wanted him to be alone.

This was extremely hard on Claudine’s children, who rarely had the opportunity to spend quality time with their mother over those five years. It was a situation she could never have expected but her sick husband needed her and she was there for him.

At the same time, Claudine was faced with yet another challenge. Her mother, confined to a wheelchair, had serious health issues of her own. Vital medications that she needed were not covered by insurance and Claudine needed to find a way to pay for them. Her mother’s condition slowly deteriorated. She lost her sight and her ability to swallow. Once again it was a situation Claudine could never have expected but this time it was her sick mother who needed her and she was there for her.

Tragically, Claudine’s husband and mother passed away within 3 weeks of each other. Claudine barely finished sitting shiva for her husband, when she had to start sitting again.

claudines son with  someone

Claudine kept on going, trying her best to take care of her heartbroken children who desperately needed their mother and missed their father. Her children are afraid she will “disappear like abba”. Her son recently remarked that when he grows up, he will save all his money so that he can buy an airplane “to reach abba in Shamayim”.

Claudine also continues to take care of her ailing father, who is currently in hospice, in her home. Just like with her husband and mother, she helps him with his treatments, medications, and making him as comfortable as possible. She could never have expected this, but her father needs her and she is there for him.

Soon after her husband’s death, Claudine was faced with the devastating reality of heavy debt that had built up during the course of his illness. She now had to deal with this burden. Collectors began knocking on the door and are threatening to repossess her home.

This home, which has been the epicenter of so much kindness and dedication, is one of the only things Claudine and her children have left. The situation is unbelievable. Claudine does her best to carry on, even putting off urgent medical issues of her own (she needs to undergo surgery to repair damage that was done in a previous operation) until she can figure out how to save her home and protect her children. They constantly cry, out of fear and worry that they will have nowhere to live.

There is some hope in this tragic story. After lengthy negotiations with lawyers, Yad Eliezer succeeded in negotiating the debt: If $80,000 is paid over the next fourteen days, the remaining debt of $80,000 will be forgiven. Several generous donors have stepped forward and we are working to raise $15,000 through Milka’s Fund. It won’t take away the pain of all she has lost but it will provide her with a profound sense of relief and security, two things she hasn’t had in such a long time. Claudine has gone through so much in her life and has always lovingly put her family’s needs before her own. Claudine was always there for others. Now let US come together and be there for her.

We can prevent an almana, her three children and her dying father from G-d forbid being thrown out onto the street. Let’s help save this family so they can avoid existing literally without a roof over their head. They have already gone through so much.

Claudine's sons 2

This is an emergency situation, and time is of the essence. We only have two weeks until Claudine’s eviction. Please help us keep Claudine and her family safe in the only home they have.

Milka’s Fund, founded and managed by Yad Eliezer, is a safe and secure way of donating money to help individuals with compassion, and enable them to live a life with their problem solved.

WATCH: Hillary Clinton’s Full Acceptance Speech At The Democratic National Convention

Friday, July 29th, 2016

Clinton To Nation: It’s A ‘Moment Of Reckoning’

Friday, July 29th, 2016

hilHillary Clinton capped a four-day convention celebration with a plea for national unity and tolerance. Now, one of the most divisive and distrusted figures in American politics must convince voters that she, rather than Republican rival Donald Trump, can bring a deeply divided nation together.

“America is once again at a moment of reckoning. Powerful forces are threatening to pull us apart,” Clinton said to a rapt Democratic convention audience. “And just as with our founders, there are no guarantees. It truly is up to us. We have to decide whether we all will work together so we all can rise together.”

After a convention speech aimed squarely at undercutting Trump, the first female presidential nominee embarks on a bus tour through two Rust Belt battlegrounds, Ohio and Pennsylvania. The shoot-from-the-hip billionaire believes he can make headway in those states with blue-collar white men, a demographic that has eluded Clinton and was unlikely to be swayed by a convention that heavily celebrated racial and gender diversity.

Trump’s tweeted response to Clinton’s speech captured his pitch to those voters. He slammed the former secretary of state as an ineffectual defender against terrorism and blasted her judgment.

“Hillary’s vision is a borderless world where working people have no power, no jobs, no safety,” he wrote.

Starting with a rally Friday at Temple University, Clinton, accompanied by running mate Sen. Tim Kaine and their spouses, will focus on economic opportunity, diversity and national security, themes hammered home this week by an array of politicians, celebrities, gun-violence victims, law enforcement officers, and activists of all sexualities and races.

Their goal is to turn out the coalition of minority, female and young voters that twice elected President Barack Obama while offsetting expected losses among the white male voters drawn to Trump’s message.

Democrats contrasted their optimistic, policy-laden message with the darker vision and less specific platform that marked Trump’s turn during the Republican convention a week earlier. Trump is offering “empty promises,” Clinton said, while she has a bold agenda “to keep you safe, to get you good jobs, and to give your kids the opportunities they deserve.”

Selling that message will depend on whether Clinton can reach voters walled off by long-standing distrust. Despite her decades on the public stage, many know Clinton as much from Republican attacks as her resume, a fact Clinton confronted head-on: “I get it that some people just don’t know what to make of me, so let me tell you.”

The stakes are high: A loss to Trump would not only end Clinton’s political career, it could be a devastating coda to her and her husband’s political legacy and leave the Democratic Party weaker than it has been in a generation.

The convention provided hours of glowing tributes, including deeply personal testimonials from her husband, former President Bill Clinton, and former boss, President Barack Obama.

The event was meticulously designed to craft her image as a caring grandmother tough enough to battle terrorists and unite a party still unsettled by a fractious primary process. Clinton, who aides say spent weeks working on her address, saw the speech as a major opportunity to answer what her husband called the “cartoon alternative.”

Lacking Obama’s sweeping rhetoric or the “feel-your-pain” sensitivity of her husband, Clinton leaned into her wonky image, saying: “I sweat the details of policy.”

And Clinton offered an open hand to backers of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, saying: “I’ve heard you. Your cause is our cause.”

Yet resentments lingered throughout the convention, with a handful of attendees heckling during her address others wearing neon shirts in protest. One held a bright red sign that stood out among the sea of flags and campaign placards: “Keep your promises.”

“We are not going back to sleep,” said Sanders delegate Erika Onsrue of Minnesota. “We are the future of the Democratic Party or we are the future of a new party if they don’t want us or they won’t let us be heard.”

Throughout the convention, Democrats tried to convey the stakes of the election not only to Sanders backers but Republicans concerned about Trump’s bombastic tone and foreign policy positions.

Speaker after speaker cast Trump as intolerant, inexperienced and dangerous, including the Pakistan-born immigrant father of a Muslim-American soldier killed in Iraq, who held up a copy of the Constitution and insisted that Trump “has sacrificed nothing.”

In a first for a Democratic convention, a number of Republican economic and foreign policy leaders hammered home the point.

“I knew Ronald Reagan. I worked for Ronald Reagan. Donald Trump, you are no Ronald Reagan,” said Doug Elmets, a Reagan administration aide, echoing a famous debate quip by vice presidential nominee Lloyd Bentsen in 1988.

Asserting Clinton’s national security capabilities were a group of military leaders, including retired Gen. John Allen, the former deputy commander of the wars in the Middle East, who called Clinton the kind of “commander in chief America needs.”