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The ruling by the human rights council is non-binding [File: Peter Dejong/AP Photo]

Police in Netherlands are discriminating against a Muslim female officer by not allowing her to wear a headscarf with a uniform, since her contact with the public is limited, the country’s Commission for Human Rights has ruled.

According to Dutch law, police officers are banned from wearing visible religious symbols while on duty on the grounds that they need to appear “neutral”.

Sarah Izat, the Rotterdam-based adminstrative officer who brought the case to the council, lodged a complaint in May, saying the ban was discriminatory against her and hindered her from progressing in her career.

Whilst Izat’s non-Muslim colleagues were allowed to be dressed in uniforms, the 26-year-old officer could only be in plain clothes if she wanted to wear her headscarf.

On Monday, the Commission ruled that, in Izat’s case, the headscarf ban could not be justified, mainly because she was doing a desk job that required her taking statements over the phone or sometimes via a video projection system.

“When she is on the phone, civilians can’t see her. Prohibiting her [from wearing the scarf] therefore does not add to the intention of being neutral”, the council said, adding that the police had made a “forbidden distinction on the basis of religion”.

In its ruling, the Commision also said that in those cases where people saw Izat’s face, via the video projection system, the scarf had no an influence on her job since she only took the statements and was not authorised to make any decision about how the police would further proceed.

The human rights council also rejected as unfounded a claim by the national police that the headscarf could pose a danger to Izat’s personal safety.

‘We won!’

Instated in 2012, the Dutch Commission for Human Rights is an independent supervisory body tasked with the advancement, protection and safeguarding of human rights in the Netherlands.

As with all of its decisions, Monday’s ruling is non-binding. This means police can decide whether or not to abide by it.

The ruling also only applies to this case and does not address the wider question of headscarves or other religious symbols worn by police officers.

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Air Force Gen. John Hyten at Offutt Air Force Base in Bellevue, Neb., last year. On Saturday, the top officer at U.S. Strategic Command said an order from President Trump or any of his successors to launch nuclear weapons can be refused if that order is determined to be illegal. (Nati Harnik/Associated Press)

Back in the campaign, when then-candidate Donald Trump was still promising to torture terrorists and kill their wives and children, he insisted the generals would do whatever he told them. (“They won’t refuse. They’re not gonna refuse me. Believe me,” he said in a debate. “I’m a leader, I’ve always been a leader. I’ve never had any problem leading people. If I say do it, they’re going to do it.”) Wrong!

His authoritarian misconception of the American system is based on the delusion that “his” generals are loyal to him. He is the commander in chief, but they take an oath to the Constitution and to abide by the laws of war, as experts told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week. The military is obligated to follow legal orders from those with authority to give them.

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CLEVELAND, Mich. (WLUC) – The U.S. Coast Guard and Canadian partners worked together to medically evacuate a 53-year-old man from a merchant vessel in northern Lake Superior, Thursday.

The U.S. Coast Guard received a call at about 4:15 a.m. from the merchant vessel James R. Barker requesting a medevac of a 53-year-old male crew member who was exhibiting symptoms of a medically urgent nature and was recommended by a U.S. Coast Guard flight surgeon to be evacuated to a trauma center.

The vessel was determined to be in Canadian waters. Joint Rescue Coordination Centre Trenton assumed command and requested air support from U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City, Michigan in order to evacuate the crew member in a timely manner.

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By Edward Chang By 1987, the Iran-Iraq War had turned the Persian Gulf into a shooting gallery. As part of a total war strategy, both Baghdad and Tehran targeted

By 1987, the Iran-Iraq War had turned the Persian Gulf into a shooting gallery. As part of a total war strategy, both Baghdad and Tehran targeted merchant shipping to impede the other side’s war effort. During eight years of brutal fighting, hundreds of commercial vessels, many belonging to neutral countries, were attacked, costing the lives of hundreds of merchant seamen and causing millions of dollars in damage.

The perilous security situation in one of the world’s vital waterways influenced the Reagan administration’s decision to intervene. From 1987 to 1988, the United States escorted Kuwaiti oil tankers during Operation Earnest Will. Superpower intervention did not result in an expansion of the conflict, but the one-and-a-half-year period became arguably the closest America and Iran came to full-scale war.

In the foreground, the U.S. escorted convoys through the dangerous region, while fighting a shadowy conflict in the background against Iran’s unconventional forces. Tehran’s mine-laying and small boat attacks in the Gulf were countered with increasingly forceful responses, culminating in Operation Praying Mantis in April 1988

In a single day, the U.S. and Iran fought the largest air-sea battle since World War II, with the latter losing the bout in lopsided fashion. With Iran now weary of war, Ayatollah Khomeini sought peace, and the 20th century’s third-deadliest armed conflict came to an end in August 1988. Earnest Will concluded a month later.

To this day, there exists no shortage of animosity between the U.S. and Iran. Yet, the “Tanker War” period of 1987 to 1988 remains the only instance the bitter enemies came to blows. But instead of merely acting as safeguard of the Gulf, what if the United States had chosen to take the fight directly to Iran earlier on and settle the score, once and for all?

David Crist, senior historian to the U.S. government and Marine Corps Reserve officer, devoted an entire chapter to a little-known, eye-opening episode in his epic 2012 chronicle of U.S.-Iran relations since the rise of the Islamic Republic.

Years of research, access to classified documents, and extensive interviews conducted by Crist with the key participants, revealed Adm. James “Ace” Lyons, Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet, intended to start a war with Iran in 1987, using an idea he had developed independently. He sought to execute it by exploiting an operational advantage that would come late summer of that year and, hopefully, after having sold it to his superiors in Washington.

The idea, codenamed Operation Window of Opportunity, was first developed by Lyons in late 1986. In June the following year, Lyons made his pitch to Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger. The “opportunity” the admiral was referring to would come on Aug. 26. The aircraft carrier USS Constellation and her battle group, deployed to the Gulf of Oman in support of Earnest Will, was due to be relieved by USS Ranger and her battle group.

This created a brief “window” where two carrier battle groups would be on-station to provide air power. In addition, the recently-recommissioned World War II-era battleship USS Missouri plus five other warships had also been tasked to Earnest Will. Rarely would so much firepower be available in-theater at once.

Ace Lyons’s scheme called for the use of ConstellationRanger and Missouri in two days of attacks on Iranian military targets up and down the Gulf coast. On the first day, airfields, command-and-control centers, missile sites and ports, among other military facilities, would be struck. On the second day, Iran’s economy would be targeted, with strikes proposed on oil facilities on Kharg Island, commercial harbors, as well as mining the major Iranian ports at Bushehr and Bandar Abbas.

F-14
A U.S. Navy F-14A Tomcat, Fighter Squadron 154 getting ready for launch off the deck of USS Constellation. (Photo: U.S. Navy, 247Sports)

 

“We can cut 70 percent of their imports and exports,” Lyons informed Weinberger. “The objective of these strikes is to facilitate freedom of navigation and apply pressure to Iran to enter into serious negotiations to end the Iran-Iraq War.” The admiral also believed the strikes could topple the Khomeini regime.

“Ace” then took his case to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. William Crowe, in August. “I have come to the conclusion that no amount of ships and aircraft will deter Iran as long as its leaders believe we will not respond to isolated attacks,” Lyons stated. The pitch to Crowe featured new proposals, including using Missouri to bombard the Silkworm missile sites around the Strait of Hormuz, a recent addition to Iran’s arsenal that posed a grave threat to Gulf shipping and U.S. naval forces.

It also called for the 13th Marine Amphibious Unit to conduct an amphibious assault and seizure of the island of Abu Musa, which belonged to Iran. Emphasizing the need to be “vigorous and decisive,” Lyons specified Aug. 29 as the date to execute the operation.

Reaction to the idea was lukewarm, however. The publicly-hawkish, but restrained-in-practice Weinberger had no desire for the United States to take on Iran in a war without a major provocation. Crowe found it a difficult sell for Reagan, especially at a time when the administration was mired in the Iran-Contra scandal.

While Lyons believed his idea would “save the president,” the administration sought to avoid a confrontation with Iran. Even at the height of hostilities, the president downplayed the risk of war, even though the facts on the ground indicated a different trendline.

But if his superiors would not green-light a war on Iran, Ace Lyons would give them a reason to. He encouraged the Constellation battle group to act aggressively, in hopes of either strong-arming Iran into submission or provoking them into a confrontation.

One almost took place. On Aug. 8, two F-14 Tomcat fighters from Conniefired at what they believed was an Iranian air force F-4 Phantom II fighter attempting to engage a U.S. P-3C Orion monitoring a convoy operation. Despite multiple missiles fired by the F-14s, none found their target, and both sides elected to disengage before the situation escalated any further.

Undeterred, Lyons continued to encourage and order his subordinate officers to take part in his scheme, in hopes Washington would eventually approve Window of Opportunity.

But Washington never did and Aug. 29 came and went without America going to war with Iran. Furthermore, Lyons’ unilateralism exposed a rift that existed between him and many of the other officers in charge of Persian Gulf operations. Gen. George Crist, commander-in-chief of Central Command — and father of David Crist — felt as though Lyons was hindering operations by trying to pick his own fight with Iran, one neither Crist, the Reagan administration, nor even Tehran, sought. Eventually, Lyons’ rogue-ish behavior and toe-stepping got the best of him.

By the time he had earned his fourth star, Ace Lyons, a career surface warfare officer, had established himself as an aggressive and unorthodox problem-solver, earning him favor of influential figures such as Crowe. But his best assets were also his greatest liabilities. His tendency to disregard political considerations in the conduct of war concerned many of those above him, who in turn frustrated him by not endorsing his proposals.

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An Iranian P-3 patrol plane. (Photo: U.S. Navy, 247Sports)

 

Worse, he deliberately side-stepped his immediate superiors, such as Adm. Ronald Hays, Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Command, and even the Navy’s most senior officer at the time, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Carlisle Trost. The latter harbored reservations regarding Lyons’ practices, which included mock air attacks on Soviet forces stationed in the Pacific. The Navy’s top leader believed the intrepid four-star was reckless enough to start a war with the Soviet Union.

Window of Opportunity was the last straw. Having been kept out of the loop repeatedly during Lyons’ push for war, Hays, with the backing of Reagan adviser Richard Armitage and Adm. Trost, lobbied Weinberger to have the Pacific Fleet commander forced into retirement. Weinberger concurred and even Lyons’ most powerful ally, Crowe, found it impossible to defend him.

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A photo of guided-missile destroyer USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG 108) from their Facebook Page in 2010.

A United States Navy destroyer rescued three sailors just minutes after their boat sank off the coast of La Jolla Saturday morning.

Sailors aboard a 32-foot recreational boat sent an emergency alert signal around 8 a.m., when their vessel began to take on water about 40 miles off the coast of La Jolla.

The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) disseminated the signal to boaters in the area and immediately, guided-missile destroyer USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG 108) responded.

The San Diego-based ship was able to locate the distressed crew just after their boat submerged, Navy Cmdr. Alex Mamikonian said. Navy sailors deployed an inflatable boat and with it, were able to pull all three sailors out of the water.

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WINTER HAVEN — Polk County Sheriff’s Major Vance Monroe Jr. said he treats every day as Veterans Day.

Monroe stood at a podium Saturday morning in downtown Winter Haven, flanked by Junior ROTC students from Winter Haven High School and backed by a contingent of veterans, some of them much older than him. Wearing his green Sheriff’s Department uniform, Monroe encouraged his audience to honor those who have worn the uniforms of the military branches.

“I don’t heed one day a year to celebrate veterans,” Monroe said. “I celebrate veterans every day. That’s what we need to do — every day that we’re walking down this street.”

A week after the designated holiday of Veterans Day, Monroe and others gathered in Veterans Memorial Park and paid enthusiastic tribute to the sacrifices of military members — both living and dead — and their families. Monroe, an Air Force veteran, joined about a dozen speakers at the second annual Veterans Memorial Ceremony, an event organized by the American Ideals Foundation.

Under a cloudless azure sky, the morning began with a walk of honor. Members of the Winter Haven High JROTC program carried an oversized American flag, holding it stretched horizontally as they marched toward the park, which occupies the south grounds of Winter Haven City Hall.

Robert Moffa of Ruskin, founder and chief operating officer of the American Ideals Foundation, opened and closed the ceremony. Moffa, a composer and pianist, is not a veteran but has dedicated himself to honoring military members through the nonprofit organization he started in the 1980s.

The ceremony drew an audience of a few dozen who occupied chairs set up on Avenue D. More than half in attendance appeared to be veterans, some of them elderly and wearing caps or even full uniforms indicating their branch of service.

Hoffa’s organization set up a small display of military gear and uniforms around the park’s semicircular focal point, which is ringed by flag poles flying the national banner and the flags of the five military branches.

The morning sun blazed on a varying lineup of speakers, among them Winter Haven Mayor Steven Hunnicutt. The mayor said Moffa approached him years ago and requested creation of a space in the city dedicated to veterans, and that conversation yielded the park at which Saturday’s event took place.

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