first_imgOBAMA AND IRAN: STRANGE BEDFELLOWSBy Susan Stamper BrownWe should be thankful the Obama administration is nearing its end. This year is bound to have its share of surprises and grandstanding from a president who seems more enamored by regimes like Iran than America. The administration relentlessly insists the Iranian regime can be trusted to keep its word and honor treaties, even after the recent hostage-taking of U.S. Navy sailors who weren’t released until we apologized.In short order, the Obama administration did its best to communicate the swift return of the sailors was due to their diplomatic outreach to Tehran. The release was about as connected to diplomacy as a homemade video was connected to Benghazi.As the saying goes, a picture paints a thousand words — and what a picture was painted when a humiliating video surfaced showing the boat’s captain apologizing to Iran. NCIS’s Leroy Gibbs would be appalled, given his rule #6: “Never apologize — it’s a sign of weakness.” Despicable videos followed of sailors on their own boat, apparently kneeling in submission at gunpoint, displaying the picture of weakness this administration exhibits and America’s enemies exploit at every opportunity.And elsewhere in some alternate universe to which the Obama administration dwells, Secretary of State Kerry thanked Iran for its “diplomacy” in their handling of the matter.As I write, news breaks about the release of four additional hostages from Iran, which at first blush seems to contradict my opinion about the administration’s new BFF, but as I read further, the hostages came with a hefty price tag. In addition to the pending $150 billion from Obama’s nuclear deal, apparently seven Iranians were released from U.S. custody, and charges were dropped for an additional 14. With details still unclear, and given the Bergdahl debacle, one can’t help but be suspicious of any deals this administration cuts.Surely, we would’ve had those hostages back straightaway, if, like Ronald Reagan, America stood up to evil regimes rather than constantly capitulating. Admittedly, words sometimes work, as Reagan’s presidency taught. History shows us Reagan’s tact also allowed him to tell the enemy to go to hell in such a genteel way, our enemies appeared to gladly anticipate the trip. “We maintain the peace through our strength; weakness only invites aggression,” Reagan said.  Of course, sometimes a good punch in the face communicates much better than words.What business does the Obama administration have doing deals with Iran anyhow? Throughout the whole nuclear deal negotiation process, it’s been documented that Iranian leadership continued to chant “Death to America” and say the U.S. remains “the great Satan and their “number-one enemy.” Were I in charge, I would take that personally. As Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) said, “When someone chants… death to America, we should take him at his word, and we shouldn’t put him on the path to a nuclear bomb.”As retired U.S. Army lieutenant general Michael Barbero wrote in an article for the Weekly Standard last August, the Obama administration’s nuclear deal also lifts sanctions on the man responsible “for sowing sectarian conflict in Syria, Iraq and Yemen.” Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp Quds Force Commander Major General Qassem Suleimani is also responsible for the deaths and injuries of thousands of American soldiers fighting in Iraq — yet we’re about to pour in his pockets “a large infusion of cash to wreak more havoc and terror,” Mr. Barbero wrote.One can’t help but wonder what sort of terror might be visited upon the planet once the sanctions are removed and the billions begin to flow. After all, there is a reason why, up until this administration, America didn’t negotiate with terrorists.FacebookTwitterCopy LinkEmailSharelast_img read more

New York State Thruway Tolls Going Cashless This Weekend

first_imgImage by New York State Thruway Authority / YouTube.ALBANY (AP) — Get your E-Z Pass ready. The New York State Thruway is going completely cashless this weekend, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday.The highway’s 450-mile, ticketed toll system will be converted to electronic collection during the overnight hours Friday into Saturday, Cuomo said. The switch will happen simultaneously at 58 tolling locations, he said.The rest of the Thruway system already stopped accepting cash payments. Cuomo said the Thruway is moving to full cashless tolling more than a month ahead of schedule. He made the conversion a goal in his 2018 State of the State address.Motorists who have E-ZPass device will have tolls charged to them automatically. If they don’t, they will get a bill in the mail. A new mobile phone app dubbed TollsNY is being made available to help people manage their E-ZPass accounts and toll invoices. The conversion to cashless tolling involved the construction over the roadway and exit ramps of steel gantries outfitted with electronic collection technology. The project cost $355 million, Cuomo said. Toll plazas will be removed starting next year.The transition means an end to the job of Thruway toll taker, the men and women who sat in booths collecting tickets and cash from motorists, and sometimes dispensing helpful directions.The Thruway Authority said 12,000 people have held that job since 1954. Share:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)last_img read more