Pentagon: No major strategy review underway to defeat ISIS

By Lucas Tomlinson, Fox News Pentagon Producer

Despite the fall of Ramadi to the Islamic State, the Pentagon has not been asked by the White House to conduct a wholesale review of the strategy to defeat ISIS, multiple defense officials told Fox News. 

"Why would there be? It was one battle," one official said. A separate official said the Pentagon "continuously" reviews its strategy and said a major review was "not necessary." 

A senior military official confirmed that the Obama administration is looking into arming Sunni tribes to help retake Ramadi, taking a page from the "Anbar Awakening" when 30 tribes united in 2006 to defeat Al Qaeda in Iraq with support from the U.S. military. 

But multiple defense officials said these arms would not go to the Sunni tribes directly. 

"I don't see that happening, everything goes through Baghdad," a defense official told Fox News.   

A White House statement released after President Obama met with his national security team Tuesday afternoon said support for "local tribal fighters" in Anbar was discussed. 

"The President reaffirmed the strong U.S. support for Prime Minister Al-Abadi's efforts," the statement said. 

A defense official in the Pentagon with knowledge of the talks at the White House Tuesday characterized the meeting as "tactical, not strategic."  

"The real question is what are the Iraqis going to do differently?" a senior military official told Fox News. 

Pentagon officials confirmed that one immediate result of ISIS' victory in Ramadi is a delay in the operation to retake Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city. "That is going to take place in the fall, at the least," according to one official. 

In February, the U.S. Central Command announced that an operation involving some 25,000 Iraqi troops would take place in the April-May timeframe. 

At the White House daily press briefing Tuesday, spokesman Josh Earnest mentioned Tikrit six times as an example of the U.S.-led coalition's successes against ISIS. On Wednesday, a Pentagon official said that Tikrit, despite being rid of ISIS fighters, remains largely deserted with many unexploded booby-traps remaining. 

Meanwhile, many uniformed members of the U.S. military are furious about the loss of Ramadi to the Islamic State. 

"It turns out the JV team is the Iraqi Army, not ISIS," said a U.S. military officer, in reference to Obama's remark in January 2014 about ISIS being a "JV team." 

"I was there for the Anbar awakening, and to lose this city is heartbreaking, knowing all those soldiers, sailors and Marines who fought there and died in vain," said a veteran special operations soldier currently deployed at an undisclosed location. 

"If our country wants to be led by sheep instead of lions, then so be it," he said.

New Delta video may just be the best thing you see today

Delta Airlines has released a new in-flight safety video and it may just be the best thing you see today. Do you love the Internet? Most people these days do and Delta is using a few of viral videos to make sure you pay attention and stay safe. 

We have seen a few great airline videos in the past, but this one takes it to a new level. What do you think? Would you pay attention to this safety video and do you get all of the references? 

The family on "Cooking with Friends"

From our family to yours --here is our gluten free pizza recipe:

GLUTEN FREE PIZZA

INGREDIENTS

3 cups gluten free flour blend

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking powder

3 Tbsp sugar, divided

1 Tbsp yeast

1 1/4 cup warm water, divided

1 Tbsp olive oil

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a small bowl, combine yeast and 3/4 cup warm water - about 110 degrees. Too hot and it will kill the yeast! Let set for 5 minutes to activate. Sprinkle in 1 Tbsp of the sugar a few minutes in.

In a separate bowl, combine gluten free flour blend, salt, baking powder and remaining 2 Tbsp sugar. Whisk until well combined.

Make a well in the dry mixture and add the yeast mixture. Add the olive oil and additional 1/2 cup warm water before stirring. Then stir it all together until well combined, using a wooden spoon (see photo).

Lightly coat a baking sheet or pizza stone with non-stick spray and plop your dough down. Using your hands and a little brown rice flour if it gets too sticky, work from the middle and push to spread/flatten the dough out to the edge (see pictures). You want it to be pretty thin - less than 1/4 inch.

Put the pizza in the oven to pre-bake for roughly 25-30 minutes, or until it begins to look dry. Cracks may appear, but that's normal and totally OK.

Remove from oven and spread generously with your favorite pizza sauce, cheese and desired toppings. We went with Daiya to keep ours dairy-free. Pop back in oven for another 20-25 minutes, or until the crust edge looks golden brown and the toppings are warm and bubbly.

Cut immediately and serve. Reheats well the next day in the oven or microwave

Technology: How far is too far?

Technology these days is nothing short of amazing, but when it comes to breaking news situations like we saw this week with the Amtrak train derailment that took the lives of eight people we have to ask ourselves--how far is too far?
 
In the days before camera phones and live streaming apps like periscope and meerkat we relied on the local or network news to find out what was happening, but now everyday citizens are the journalists--whipping out smart phones live on the scene often before offering to lend a hand. We have become a culture obsessed with being in the know and now our cell phones are capturing events as they unfold. 
 
The Amtrak derailment is not the first time this has happened and it certainly won't be the last. More notably, the horrific video and images of vicitims falling from the burning towers of the World Trade Center on September 11th come to mind. 
 
This is not to say people don't rush to help in times of disaster as we certainly have seen many examples of this.
 
Also, we have to think about those instances when a photo or video from the scene of an accident was all we had to go on--what if the indivudual at the crash of the Hindenberg in 1937 had put the camera down in hopes of assisting? We wouldn't have the inconic images today--
 
This is a debate that will only continue to grow as technology advances--it's a thin line to walk and we have to be careful. The question is if you find yourself at the scene of breaking news with a camera in hand how will you react?
 
Let me know what you think on twitter @katyricalde.
 
 
 
 

Interview with Archbishop Paglia

This September Pope Francis will visit the US for the first time since he became head of the Catholic Church. The Pope will attend the World Meeting of the Families in Philadelphia.
Bret recently spoke with one of the Pope's confidantesabout the message behind his historic visit.
 

Iranian cargo ship headed in direction of Yemen

By Fox News Producer Lucas Tomlinson

Pentagon officials confirm there is a lone Iranian-flagged cargo ship underway headed in the direction of Yemen, presumably to deliver relief supplies to Yemeni citizens affected by the ongoing conflict between the Saudi Arabian-led coalition and Iran-backed Houthi rebels inside the country.

“We are aware of an Iranian cargo ship underway presumably bound for Yemen as they have said,” one official told Fox News adding that the ship left Iran Monday.  The cargo ship is currently in the Gulf of Oman, proceeding in the direction of Yemen after making an outbound transit of the Strait of Hormuz according to the official.

Saudi Arabia announced a ceasefire in its air campaign against the Houthis in Yemen beginning at 11 p.m. local/4 p.m. EDT  today.

Another defense official told Fox News, “This cargo ship is not like the last convoy.  It is an Iranian-flagged commercial vessel owned by Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Line and does not have an escort at the moment,” he said.

On April 19, the U.S. Navy sent the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt  and her escort, USS Normandy, a guided-missile cruiser from the northern Arabian Gulf where she was launching aircraft to strike ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria to intercept a nine-ship Iranian convoy suspected of carrying rockets to arm Houthi rebels in Yemen. 

The Iranian convoy turned around four days later off the coast of Oman before reaching Yemeni waters and returned home.  The U.S. Navy sent jets from Roosevelt and other escort ships in the battle group to monitor the convoy throughout its transit.   

Two Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy vessels were part of the nine-ship convoy. 

Currently, the lone Iranian cargo ship underway does not have a military escort, according to the Pentagon.

“At this point, there is no reason to believe the ship is anything except what the Iranians say it is—a ship carrying supplies,” said one official.

When Fox News asked the official how he could be so sure the Iranian cargo ship steaming toward Yemen was only carrying humanitarian supplies and not weapons, he pointed to the intelligence gathering capability of the U.S. military.

“We monitor everything.  We monitor the activities of all maritime traffic in the region including this one,” he said.

The Pentagon is not tracking any other ships headed in the direction of Yemen at this time besides the cargo ship, but they are aware of the press reports coming out of Iran today from its state run news agency.

The Pentagon deferred to the State Dept. about any potential verification processes put in place after the ceasefire is announced to ensure that no weapons are shipped to Yemen. 

 

Off The Vine: The Grapevine Stories You Missed

While collecting Grapevine stories often times there are stories that are great/funny/interesting that just don't make the cut for the segment or the whole thing gets axed for other -- apparently more “important”-- news. So here are a few of my favorite pickings that fell off the vine--

The Pen Is Mightier: The VA has killed a North Carolina veteran -- at least on paper. Robert Pressley and his family were shocked to read the opening sentence of a letter from the VA expressing sympathies for Pressley's death, "To prove that I am alive is just insane… because of someone one's clerical error my whole life can be taken away from me and it is." His disability benefits have been cancelled -- along with his healthcare and medical insurance. The VA told FoxNews.com it is trying to determine what happened in Pressley's case and correct the error.

Have His Cake, and Eat It Too: The Prime Minister of Iceland is taking heat for leaving the parliament floor in the middle of a debate while being asked a question -- so he could get some cake. An opposition MP was outraged, “I don’t believe that I have ever witnessed that after an honorable parliamentarian addresses an honorable minister, that the minister leaves the floor before answering… was he speaking with the International Monetary fund or the United Nations? He left to have cake, respectful speaker. I must stay that I find it absolutely incredible.”

Backup Needed: A battle over red light cameras in Texas has once side calling for re-enforcements. A pro-camera PAC has hired an Ohio-based market firm to pay people $18 an hour to act as protesters of an amendment is up for a vote this weekend to outlaw the cameras.  The local Tea Party group is calling shenanigans -- "You basically have a camera company trying to save their monetary hide. They are creating fake groups that they hide behind." Supporters say the cameras save lives -- while critics see them as money-making machines.

Go Directly Back to Jail: A New Jersey man ALMOST got out of jail. While leaving the Monroe County Correction Facility -- Sirbio Sanchez allegedly punched two correctional officers. He then resisted as the guards tried to restrain him. Sanchez is now back in jail.

Rock-Chalk: Fantasy Sports are a governor's signature away from being legal in Kansas. A bill has passed the House and the Senate by wide margins declaring that Fantasy Sports are games of skill and knowledge not luck -- and therefore not illegal lotteries. Republican Rep. Brett Hildabrand, who initially introduced the legalization language, said he did so because, "so many Kansans participate in this and we want to make sure that they're operating on the right side of the law."

President Obama's Trade Agenda

A down day on Wall Street today as we learned the trade deficit took a big step backwards in march ballooning to its highest level in more than six years. This comes as President Obama faces increasing resistance to his trade agenda.

More problems for Clinton Foundation

The acting CEO of the Clinton Foundation admitted to mistakes in how the foundation disclosed its donors, but has insisted the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership, a multi-million dollar foundation publicly listed as a donor on the Foundation's website, did not identify its donors because Canadian law bans disclosure of charitable donors without their consent.

Critics have charged learning about donors to the Canadian charity would reveal whether any may have had business before the State Department when Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State.

Now reports have surfaced that say under Canadian law there is no blanket prohibition on charities to ever release donor names. In general, charities registered with the Canadian federal government are subject to provisions in the Income Tax Act, which regulates whether the Canada Revenue Agency (equivalent of the Internal Revenue Service) can disclose taxpayer information, including donor information. It does not regulate whether a registered charity can disclose donor information.

The Boston Globe also reports the Clinton Health Access Initiatives, a part of the Clinton Foundation, failed to disclose its foreign donations during Hillary Clinton's tenure as Secretary of State.

A spokesperson told the Globe the charity simply deemed it unnecessary, except for one instance--which was an "oversight."

In 2010 Clinton Health Access Initiatives took in close to $27 million in foreign donations and more than double that amount in 2013.

Ed Henry has more on this story for us tonight on Special Report.

Special Report Grapevine: $2.2 billion loss a success?

 
Only in Washington: Only in Washington could you call a $2.2 billion loss a success. Anew audit from the Government Accountability Office says that's how much the feds stand to lose from energy loan guarantee programs. That includes the infamous Solyndra failure and dozens of other green technology programssupplied with about $30 billion in taxpayer fundingand defaulting on about a billion so far. However, the energy department considers the loan program a success since earlier estimates put the losses at $4billion. The  department believes it is quote --
"achieving its statutory mission to accelerate the deployment of innovative clean energy projects and advanced vehicle manufacturing facilities in the U-S, while being a responsible steward of taxpayer dollars."
 
#SAVE THE GUAC: In Florida the rush is on to save your guacamole. Heat sensing drones and dogs are being used to defeat a deadly fungus spread by a tiny beetle. It is being called the greatest threat to the Florida avocado ever. Avocado lovers have adopted the hashtag  "save the guac " in support. Researchers and farmers are fighting to halt the fungus -- before it advances to California -- which produces nearly 90 percent of the nation's avocado supply.
 
Fed Up: Finally, one professor has had enough. Irwin Horwitz of Texas A &M University has flunked his entire business management class and quit mid-semester. He said in a blast email to his students he was disgusted and could not take any more disrespect or threats. "You all lack the honor and maturity to live up to the standards that Texas A&M holds, and the competence and/or desire to do the quality work necessary to pass the course just on a grade level." The university says it will review the professors complaints, but that the failing grades will be re-assessed.
 

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The State Department is expected to release its first round of emails from Hillary Clinton's time as Secretary of State today.

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