Tuesday, July 22, 2014

THIS JUST IN! CLAWS COME OUT AT THE OK CORRAL!

BULLY BOY PRESS &    CEDRIC'S BIG MIX -- THE KOOL-AID TABLE

FADED CELEBRITY IN CHIEF BARRY O OFFERED PECULIAR CRITICISM OF RUSSIAN PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN THIS WEEK, "PRESIDENT PUTIN SAYS THAT HE SUPPORTS A FULL AND FAIR INVESTIGATION, AND I APPRECIATE THOSE WORDS, BUT THEY HAVE TO BE SUPPORTED BY ACTIONS."

WTF??????????????

WHAT DID THAT BITCH JUST SAY?

DID MR. PRETTY WORDS JUST TELL PUTIN HE NEEDED TO OFFER MORE THAN WORDS?

OH NO, HE DIDN'T!








Yesterday at the Vatican, Pope Francis weighed in on the issue of the ongoing persecution of Iraqi Christians.  Linda Bordoni (Vatican Radio -- link is text and radio) reports the Pope's remarks included, "Today our brothers are persecuted, they are banished from their homes and forced to flee without even being able to take their belongings!"  The Pope declared that violence is not the way to end violence, that only peace could overcome and triumph over violence.

What's going on? 


Catholic World News notes, "Following an ultimatum from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) to leave Mosul, convert to Islam, or be killed, the city’s remaining Christians left for other parts of Iraq."  Dropping back to Friday's snapshot:


Iraqi thug and prime minister Nouri al-Maliki repeatedly refused to provide Iraqi Christians in Baghdad with the security needed.  This was most obvious in the October 31, 2010 attack on Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad.  Many Iraqi Christians fled the country.  Many of those who stayed moved to northern Iraq which was considered to be more tolerant of and welcoming to Christians. 
BBC News reports Christians are now fleeing the northern city of Mosul because the Islamic State has declared that Christians have one of two choices -- "convert to Islam or pa[y] a 'protection tax'."  There is the third choice: Do neither and be slaughtered.  They have until Saturday afternoon to leave, convert or face "the sword."


Christians are said to have now fled the city or to be in hiding in it.  AFP reported over the weekend on Fadi who had decided to remain in Mosul with his wife and their son because they lacked the money to relocate elsewhere.  As the bulk of Christians fled, landmarks were seized.  Mohammad Jamal (Al-Monitor) reports, "Crosses were replaced with IS banners, and all churches were either closed or burned down."  AFP adds, "ISIS militants have taken over a monastery in northern Iraq, one of the country’s best-known Christian landmarks, and expelled its resident monks, a cleric and residents said Monday. The fighters stormed Mar Behnam, a fourth-century monastery run by the Syriac Catholic Church near the predominantly Christian town of Qaraqosh, Sunday, the sources said."


Rudaw adds, "According to information obtained from sources by Rudaw, only 200 of Mosul’s 5,000 Christians still remain in the city." And those who did leave?  Hamdi Alkhshali and Joshua Berlinger (CNN) explain, "Some of the families headed for Irbil -- which is currently controlled by Kurdish forces -- and others toward the Dohuk province. The majority went to Dohuk, which is 140 kilometers (87 miles) north of Mosul."

Nabih Bulos (Los Angeles Times) reports:

"For the first time in Mosul's history, there are no services being held and the church bells are silent on Sunday," lamented William Wardeh, spokesman for the Hammurabi Human Rights Organization, a watchdog group. "This is a crime in and of itself."
In recent decades, clerics say, conflict, sectarian strife and other factors have more than halved an Iraqi Christian population that once exceeded 1 million, including various Eastern Rite sects, both Catholic and Orthodox. Many worshipers have immigrated to Europe, North America and Australia.

AP reports thug Nouri issued a statement on Sunday which decried the targeting of Christians and "agression against the churches and houses of worship."  Someone's supposed to take Nouri seriously?  The man who did nothing to provide security for the Christians in Baghdad -- let alone in the rest of Iraq?

Historically, Iraq has long been home to members of the Christian faith.  In fact, prior to the start of the Iraq War (March 2003), it was estimated that Christians accounted for at least two million Iraqis in the country.  Now the number tossed around is approximately 400,000.  Al Arabiya News notesspecific figures with regards to Mosul, "Until their forced exodus over the weekend, Christians had been continuously present in Mosul for about 16 centuries."

Open Doors USA issued the following statement today:

SANTA ANA, Calif. (July 21, 2014) – Dr. David Curry, President/CEO of Open Doors USA, has condemned the latest action of Islamic State militants who ordered all Christians in the Iraqi city of Mosul to leave the city over the weekend or face execution.
"The persecution and treatment of Christians in Mosul is unprecedented in modern times,” he says. “This latest forced exodus of Christians further shows why Western governments and the people in the West need to cry out in support for religious freedom in the Middle East and elsewhere. If this does not move us concerning the near extinction of Christianity in the Middle East, it’s likely nothing else can."
Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein, Director of Interfaith Affairs at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, adds: “Too many of us thought that forced conversions and expulsions of entire religious communities were part of a distant, medieval past. There was little that we could do to stop this horrible episode. 
“It is not too late to realize that many others –  Christians today, but certainly Jews, Baha'i, Hindus, Muslims and others – are mortally endangered by a potent religious fanaticism that threatens tens of millions, and which still can be resisted.” 
According to Open Doors, the Islamic State gave Christians an ultimatum over the weekend – 1) stay and convert to Islam 2) pay Islamic tax (which is too much for most families to pay) 3) leave Mosul taking nothing but their clothes. Christians who stayed would be executed. 
Most Christians have left Mosul now. At the checkpoints of ISIS, Christians had to leave everything behind (cars, gold, money, mobile phones). The only possessions they could keep were their clothes. They had to walk to safer places, mostly in northern Iraq, while traveling in blistering heat. 
A World Watch Monitor source in Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan region, said a Christian family in Mosul reported by phone that explosions were heard during the night last Thursday in Mosul. On Friday, as the family attempted to pass through a Mosul checkpoint, ISIS agents forced them out of their car and confiscated their belongings and put them in a separate vehicle. Then the militants drove them several minutes down the road, and ultimately forced them out to continue their journey on foot, according to the source.
Open Doors reports that some churches, many in partnership with Open Doors, have been helping the Mosul refugees. An Open Doors field worker said: “The exodus has stopped. There are no more Christians in Mosul. We now need to pray that they might return one day.”
Earlier last week, the Islamic State marked houses belonging to members of minority communities, including Christians, with the phrase "property of the Islamic State," including inhabited houses.
Iraq is ranked No. 4 on the Open Doors 2014 World Watch List of the worst persecutors of Christians. For more information on the list, go to www.WorldWatchList.us. 
For almost 60 years Open Doors has worked in the world's most oppressive and restrictive countries, strengthening Christians to stand strong in the face of persecution and equipping them to shine Christ's light in these places. Open Doors empowers persecuted Christians in the areas of Bible and gospel development, women and children’s advancement and Christian community restoration. Christians are the most persecuted religious group in the world and are oppressed in at least 60 countries. To partner with Open Doors USA, call toll free at 888-5-BIBLE-5 (888-524-2535) or go to www.OpenDoorsUSA.org.
(To set up an interview or for more information, contact Jerry Dykstra at 616-915-4117 or email jerryd@odusa.org.)


The first wave of ethnic cleansing took place in 2006 and 2007, as Nouri was beginning his first term as prime minister (spring 2006).  So the idea that Nouri's words were sincere?

AP also notes, "The comments from Nouri al-Maliki come a day after the expiration of a deadline imposed by the Islamic State group calling on Christians in the militant-held city of Mosul to convert to Islam, pay a tax or face death."

An Iraqi leader speaking sincerely would be one who called out the threats before the deadline for Christians to exit Mosul expired.  A real leader would have stood with the threatened on Friday or Saturday.  Nouri waited to speak until after the bulk of Mosul's Christians had left the city.

Also weighing in on the threats, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon:


   
20 July 2014 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today condemned in the strongest terms the systematic persecution of minorities in Mosul and other parts of northern Iraq as a reported deadline passed for individuals to convert to Islam, pay a tax, flee or face possible execution. 
In a statement from his spokesperson, Mr. Ban, who is currently in the Middle East, strongly denounced the actions of the group known as the Islamic State (IS) and its allies. 
“Equally repugnant are reports that Turkoman, Yazidis and Shabaks are facing abductions, killings or the destruction of their property,” Mr. Ban continued, “and that the homes of Christian, Shia and Shabak residents in Mosul have been marked.”
He stressed that any systematic attack on the civilian population due to their ethnic background, religious beliefs or faith may constitute a crime against humanity, “All armed groups, including IS and associated formations, must abide by international humanitarian law and protect civilians living in areas they control.”
Mr. Ban noted that recently “minority communities that have lived together for thousands of years” in Ninewa province, whose main city is Mosul, have come under direct attack and persecution by IS and associated armed groups. 
In the past few weeks, tens of thousands of members of ethnic and religious minority groups have been displaced or forced to flee and seek refuge, while many others have been executed and kidnapped.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, who visited Iraq last week to see the conditions facing some of the displaced families, warned that Iraq risks “full-fledged sectarian war and complete fragmentation” as Iraqis continue to flee their homes and minority groups are targeted. 
The UN will continue to intensify its efforts, in cooperation with the Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government, to address the urgent humanitarian needs, Mr. Ban said, including the minority groups displaced by terrorist threat.


Al-Shorfa quotes the Baghdad scholars and preachers council spokesperson Sheikh Shaker al-Adhami stating, "ISIL is proving day after day that is has nothing to do with Islam, and that its terrorist leaders who are dreaming about power and are afflicted with the desire to spill blood and enjoy the killing of innocent people have exploited [Islam] in the most heinous way."

A lot of people show up to make statements . . . days after the threat was made public.  After the Saturday deadline.





RECOMENDED: "Iraq snapshot"


Sunday, July 20, 2014

THIS JUST IN! THE VICE RISES!

BULLY BOY PRESS &    CEDRIC'S BIG MIX -- THE KOOL-AID TABLE

FADED CELEBRITY BARRY O'S GIFT OF GAB FADED LONG AGO BUT WHO KNEW HE WOULD GET THIS BAD?

A WHITE HOUSE SOURCE TOLD THESE REPORTERS THAT AFTER BARRY O'S GAFFES, VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN IS BEING CALLED "THE BRAIN."

BIDEN HIMSELF TOLD THESE REPORTERS, "NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE JOE."





Pew Research notes the findings of their latest polls:

As violence and chaos spreads in Iraq, the public is wary of U.S. involvement in the country. A 55% majority says the United States does not have a responsibility to do something about the violence in Iraq; 39% do see a responsibility to act.
Overall public awareness of the situation in Iraq is high: 45% say they have heard a lot about the violence in Iraq and takeover of large parts of the country by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Covering the poll, Aaron Blake (Washington Post) offers, "The poll reinforces that Americans have very little appetite for any significant involvement in Iraq, with just 39 percent saying the United States has a responsibility to do 'something' about the violence there."


Iraqi thug and prime minister Nouri al-Maliki repeatedly refused to provide Iraqi Christians in Baghdad with the security needed.  This was most obvious in the October 31, 2010 attack on Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad.  Many Iraqi Christians fled the country.  Many of those who stayed moved to northern Iraq which was considered to be more tolerant of and welcoming to Christians.

BBC News reports Christians are now fleeing the northern city of Mosul because the Islamic State has declared that Christians have one of two choices -- "convert to Islam or pa[y] a 'protection tax'."  There is the third choice: Do neither and be slaughtered.  They have until Saturday afternoon to leave, convert or face "the sword."


In response to the threats, Nickolay Mladenov Tweeted the following:



Mladenov is United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's Special Representative in Iraq.

Hamdi Alkhshali and Shelby Lin Erdman (CNN) explain the warnings/threats were put into writing which was then "distributed in recent days to the leaders of the dwindling Christian minority in Iraq's second largest city." Reuters adds, "A resident of Mosul said the statement, issued in the name of the Islamic State in Iraq's northern province of Nineveh, had been distributed on Thursday and read out in mosques."  Al Jazeera notes that before the last few weeks,  "Mosul's Christian community was estimated at 3,000. Many are believed to have already fled the city as part of an exodus of up to one-third of the population. Churches and Christian-owned shops in the city were reported smashed by those who fled."  Press TV offers, "The United Nations said in a new report on Friday that at least 5,576 civilians have been killed and 11,665 others wounded in Iraq since January."


And the US State Dept issued the following statement:




Press Statement

Jen Psaki
Washington, DC
July 18, 2014
The United States condemns in the strongest terms the systematic persecution of ethnic and religious minorities by the terrorist group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). We are outraged by ISIL’s recent announcement that Christians in Mosul must either convert, pay a tax, leave, or face execution in the coming days. We have also seen photos of reportedly Christian houses in Mosul marked with pejorative terms for Christians, as well as reports that Shia and Shabak houses have been similarly marked. ISIL also continues to target Sunni clerics and tribal sheikhs who disagree with its dark vision for Iraq.
These abominable actions only further demonstrate ISIL’s mission to divide and destroy Iraq and contradict Islam’s spirit of tolerance and peaceful co-existence. It should be clear that ISIL is not only a threat to the stability of Iraq, but a threat to the entire region. This growing threat exemplifies the need for Iraqis from all communities to work together to confront this common enemy and to take all possible steps to isolate these militant groups from the broader population.
We encourage government officials in Baghdad and Erbil to take every possible effort to assist Iraq’s vulnerable populations and hold perpetrators accountable for their actions in a manner consistent with the rule of law. The United States stands with all the Iraqi people against the threat from ISIL.


John Kerry is the head of the US State Dept.   Their equivalent in Iraq?  Hoshyar Zebari heads the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  He has been the Minister of Foreign Affairs since July 13, 2003.  July 11th, Nouri began making noises and, as usual, a stupid and craven western press dropped to all fours for Nouri and began treating Nouri's edicts as laws and facts.  From that day's snapshot:


There are reports that Nouri's replaced Zebari.
No, he really hasn't and can't.  Were he to nominate someone -- questionable with Iraq's caretaker state currently -- that person couldn't be confirmed because that requires the Parliament.
Now he did something similar in a previous time when a government hadn't yet formed.  When he did that before, he took someone already confirmed by Parliament to the Cabinet and just taxed that person with additional duties and an additional office.
Deputy Prime Minister Hussain Shahristani has never been confirmed to head a Ministry so it's a stretch to call him "acting" or "interim" anything.  You can call him "illegal" or "unconstitutional."  But that's about it.



Rudaw speaks with Zebari today and the first issue they raise in the interview?


On whether he is still foreign minister of Iraq:

I am still the foreign minister of Iraq.  He (Hussein Shahristani) has been appointed as acting (foreign minister). Based on the Iraqi constitution, removing ministers requires parliamentary approval. The prime minister or the council of ministers have no such authority.



So maybe in the future, the foreign press (including many Americans) could either tell the truth or just sit their tired asses down?  The foreign press has lied about Iraq more than enough at this point in time?



RECOMMENDED: "Iraq snapshot"
"TV"





  • Thursday, July 17, 2014

    THIS JUST IN! BARRY O WILL AT LEAST FOR NOW HAVE JAY-JAY!

    BULLY BOY PRESS &    CEDRIC'S BIG MIX -- THE KOOL-AID TABLE


    IN A STUNNING REBUKE, THE FORMER PRESIDENT OF VICE DICK CHENEY HAS CALLED FADED CELEBRITY IN CHIEF BARRY O THE WORST PRESIDENT EVER.  


    "THAT'S QUITE AN HONOR," BARRY O REPLIED BEAMING WILDLY.  "NOW DOES THIS COME WITH A TROPHY OR A CHECK?"

    WHEN IT WAS EXPLAINED TO HIM THAT THIS WASN'T AN HONOR, BARRY O BEGAN SCREAMING FOR "MY JAY! WHERE IS MY JAY!"

    JOSH EARNEST WAIVED TO BARRY O AND EXPLAINED, "JAY'S GONE.  I'M HIS REPLACEMENT."

    "YOU'RE MY JAY NOW?"

    "YES, I'M YOUR JAY NOW."

    "OKAY, I'M GOING TO CALL YOU MY JAY-JAY SO YOU DON'T GET CONFUSED," BARRY O SAID WIPING AWAY A TEAR AND TRYING TO SMILE.




    Let's go back to today's Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing.  Here, Ranking Member Richard Burr is speaking to Acting VA Secretary Sloan.



    Ranking Member Richard Burr:  Mr. Sloan, I want to focus a few moments on data integrity and specifically at the VBA.  I want to give you a few examples of some testimony at the VA provided by the Office of the Inspector General and the General Accounting Office in a House hearing Monday night.  The Inspector General made this statement -- and I quote all of these, "We have concerns that VBA's goals are not realistic and [are] comprised by data integrity issues."  Quote: "We're receiving a number of complaints regarding mail mismanagement, manipulation of dates of claims and other data integrity issues in the Baltimore, Philadelphia and Los Angeles, Oakland and Houston VA regional offices.  And today we received an additional allegation regarding the Little Rock VA regional office.  We are concerned about how quickly the list of regional offices with allegations is growing."   Quote: "VBA removed all provisional rated claims from its pending inventory.  VBA's process misrepresented the actual work load of pending claims and its progress towards eliminating the overall claims backlog."  Quote: "An Office of Inspector General team sent to Philadelphia  regional office on June 19, 2014 determined that there were significant opportunities for regional offices to manipulate and input incorrect dates of claims in the electronic record, incorrect application of data claims compromises data integrity related to timeliness of claims processing."  Then there's this exchange that took place between Congressman [Gus] Bilirakis and the Assistant I[nspector] G[eneral] Linda Halliday.  Mr. Bilirakis said, "You remarked in your opening statement that VBA self-reported a decrease in the national backlog of more than 50% since March 2013.  Do you trust those numbers?" Ms. Halliday: "At this point, I would say 'no.'  I can't trust those numbers.  I think we have a lot of work ahead of us to address the allegations we've just received. They all seem to focus on data integrity and they need to be looked at very carefully so I don't want to say I trust them."  Near the end of the hearing, Congressman [Beto] O'Rourke asked Ms. Halliday, and I quote, "One of the things that you said in your opening comment that struck me was that some of the success may be compromised by data integrity issues.  Anything that Secretary [Allison] Hickey has said tonight that alleviates those concerns that you raised in your opening statement?"  Ms. Halliday simply responded, "No."

    Monday night, the House Veterans Affairs Committee held a hearing.  We noted some of it in Tuesday's snapshot.  We're noting some of it today.  Grasp that what Ranking Member Burr noted of the hearing is important but that it's not even all of the important from that hearing.

    Where is the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee?  Why aren't they doing a damn thing.  Not only was there the issues Burr pointed to, it was also true that the VA attempted to record agents of Congress as they questioned VA workers.  US House Rep Jeff Miller is the Chair of the House Veterans Affairs Committee.  Monday's hearing included a panel of whistle-blowers.  It also included a panel of VA officials including the infamous and notorious liar Allison Hickey.


    House Committee Chair Jeff Miller: [. . .] I instructed the Committee staff to make a visit to the Philadelphia regional office on the second of July, 2014.  As of the 20th of June, specific concerns that we've heard some tonight had been raised on the management or more accurately mismanagement of that office.  And I did want our staff to spend a day on the ground to perform a technical review of some of the various files, view the office and meet with some of the individuals who work there.  This is a customary thing for our staff to do.  So let me run through what occurred on this unannounced visit. My staff alerted the office of Congressional Legislative Affairs of their imminent arrival at approximately nine o'clock in the morning and about 20 minutes later they arrive and are greeted by an employee of the regional office and they were accompanied to a conference room on the fourth floor.  Within moments of arrival, while waiting for the acting director of the regional office, one of my staff went to the restroom on the fourth floor and there was another individual who was in the restroom who had set a yellow notepad not far from the sink and when my staff member and when my staff member went by the sink, they noticed there was writing at the top of the page that was circled.  In fact, we've got a copy of it, I'd like to go ahead and post it if we can so everyone can see it.  Members you have a copy of this, it's the yellow legal pad.  And two names were circled at the top of the page.  Now these two employees were from the regional office and they both had acted as whistle-blowers to improper acts in the past.  Alright, my staff then looked at the remainder of the page and on it were written my staff members' names for information as their status for the Committee of Veterans Affairs.  And if you will notice about mid-way down, you'll see where the word "ignore" was followed by one of my staff member's names -- so you see the word "ignore" just, it looks like,  to the left of the pen.  But before I finish the timeline for the members' benefit, the person who exited the bathroom with the yellow notepad in hand was the acting director Lucy Filipov of the Philadelphia Regional Office and now the acting director had met with my staff later in the conference room and when requested who had provided notice of the visit, she stated she had not spoken with OCLA but instead had only spoken with Diana Rubins regarding the Congressional staff's arrival.  She then began the conference with two comments.  First, she said the Philadelphia regional office endeavors to do all  things with integrity and give proper benefits to veterans.  Second, she made a curious statement when taken in the context of Ms. Filipov's possession of the notepad with the name of two of our whistle-blowers at the top -- that were circled.  She said it's difficult to have employees or ex-employees who say we are not doing a good job.

    Filipov then insisted that the Congressional staff would conduct any and all interviews in a third floor office.  Upon discovering the third floor office had microphones and recording devices, Miller's staff refused to use the office.


    Chair Jeff Miller:  . . . You will not ignore this Committee anymore.  And  be on notice, you will not ignore our staff that is acting as this Committee's agents as well. The Committee has Constitutional oversight and I intend that it shall be carried out unhindered on behalf of the American public and on behalf of the nation's veterans.  If you look very carefully, if you put this note back up, there are some pretty derogatory comments that are on this.  [C.I. note: One Congressional staffer is called an "ass."]  Would anybody at the table like to comment about the comments that are written on this piece of paper?  Ms. Hickey, you're welcome to comment.

    Allison Hickey:  Chairman, without question, without question, we respect the oversight of this Committee and your staff. What occurred on that day was not acceptable and not indicative of the normal ways in which Ms. Rubin might behave.  And I know that she has been on visits with your staff and even with members of this Committee before.  And I think if we reflect on those visits in the last year, you would say she did not repeat similar behaviors.  But I will not excuse it.  I have not excused it with her. And we -- And I will just tell you without question it is unacceptable and I offer on behalf of the Dept my sincere apologies to your staff who experienced it that day and my commitment that it will not happen again and that you will receive absolutely with open arms and full-leaning-in support anything that you need on any visit that you go on.

    Allison Hickey is such a damn liar. 

    There's no nice way to put it.  And if you've endured her previous lying you not only understand why the American Legion called for her resignation in May, but you know she never stops lying.  She lies to  Congress about numbers -- numbers they have before them and she lies about them.

    She's said to be the 'brain' behind the con game (slap a  partial rating on a disability claim -- any rating at all, call the claim done even though it's going to be appealed because the appeals don't count towards  the backlog).  She certainly was in charge of selling it to Congress.

    She's just a liar.

    Chair Miller noted Diane Rubin came to the Committee and lied that she wasn't involved in any of it.  Miller asks Hickey what she thinks of that and Hickey -- with a trembling voice -- insists that Rubin was there to make an honest apology.  No, there's nothing honest about it was someone else's fault.  Or someone else called the staff member an "ass."  Hickey admits, in the exchange, that Rubin did do that, called the staff member and an "ass" and much more.  But Hickey refuses to call Rubin a liar when asked about Rubin trying to pass that off, to the Committee, as someone else having said it, not her.

    Chair Jeff Miller:  Ms. Rubens came to our Committee offices and when she did, she did not apologize for that.  What she said was, she had told the acting director to ignore what other people might be saying about my staff.  And you're telling me this person is still employed?  Even though she gave a directive to not tell an agent of this Committee what was happening at the regional office?

    Allison Hickey:  Chairman Miller, I will say again without question, without question, we respect the oversight of every single one of you on this Committee and in these hallowed halls

    I'm not interested in her damn lies.  She lies over and over.

    She should have been fired long ago but she's part of the corruption and the lies of the VA and that she thought she would get away with lying yet again?

    Chair Jeff Miller responded, "So I'll take that as a 'no' that Ms. Rubens did not lie, even though she did.  Again, your commitment is appreciated but it is not believed."  Nothing Hickey says is to be believed.



    Ranking Member Richard Burr:  Under Secretary Hickey was the one that testified for the VA and despite her testimony -- which was refuted by the Inspector General  and the GAO -- the VA put out a press release the very next day entitled "VA Takes Action to Ensure Data Integrity of Disability Claims" in which the VA touts that it's reduced the backlog claims by 55%, has reduced the number of days it takes to process claims and has improved its accuracy rate to over 90%.  Now listen, you've said that you've got to gain the trust of the Committee, of the veterans, of the country and I think we agree with you.  Let me ask you, how smart was that press release? Did you sign off on that press release?  And how can numbers that are refuted by the people that are actually doing the investigation of VA facilities -- how can they refute the numbers and the next day VA come out with the same [false] numbers and tout them?

    Acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson: Senator, I think, as you've noted, trust is the foundation of everything we do and where there are questions about what -- about data integrity, I think we've got to bore into those very deeply.  There are a number of issues that have been raised there.  I could sit and go through and pick at an item or two but the fundamental issue remains that there is -- there are questions about whether or not we've got good  data integrity there.  And just as we are undertaking independent reviews in the VHA side, we'll undertake those in the VBA side.

    Ranking Member Richard Burr:  Mr. Secretary, they've been under way.  Much of it initiated by members of this Committee with the Inspector General, with the General Accounting Office.  And you've acknowledged the shortcomings on the VHA side.  This is fresh, this is this week.  And still the press releases stresses that the VA will continue to post these performance data on their website.  How does publicizing suspect data increase the integrity and the trust -- 

    Gibson interrupted and began sharing his personal backstory.  The name of this website is The Common Ills -- not The James Boswell.  So we'll leave it to someone else to tell the tale of Sloan Gibson.





    RECOMMENDED: "Iraq snapshot"
    "Iraq"



    Tuesday, July 15, 2014

    THIS JUST IN! THERE SHALL BE NO CHECKS OR BALANCES!

    BULLY BOY PRESS &    CEDRIC'S BIG MIX -- THE KOOL-AID TABLE


    'THE AUDACITY!" SNAPPED BARRY O.  "THINKING SOMEONE WHO WORKED FOR ME COULD BE SUMMONED TO THE CONGRESS TO TESTIFY!  DON'T THEY KNOW WHO PAYS HIS SALARY!"

    WHEN THESE REPORTERS EXPLAINED THE TAXPAYERS DID, BARRY O GULPED AND ASKED, "UH, WHO PAYS MINE?"






    Reminder on World Can't Wait action:

    Day of / Day After Protests When the US Starts Bombing Iraq

    IN THE EVENT of U.S. bombing of Iraq, choose the best protest location in your city/town, and call on people to go there at 5:00 pm the day of the attack, or, in the case of an evening attack, the next day at 5:00 pm.
    Post your event on Facebook.
    Post your event at worldcantwait.net.



    The State Dept did not hold a press briefing today.  They always get silent when Iraq goes bad, don't they?  They're supposed to be leading the mission of helping put together a political solution.  US President Barack Obama has said that is the only answer to end the crises in Iraq. 

    Isra' al-Rubei'i and Maggie Fick (Reuters) note, "The White House has pressed for an inclusive government but so far Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has ignored calls from Sunnis and Kurds to step down in favour of a less polarising figure who would allow Sunnis a greater voice."  And the White House issued a readout of Barack's phone call yesterday to United Kingdom's Prime Minister David Cameron, "With regard to Iraq, the President and Prime Minister agreed to keep working with all parties to form an inclusive and representative government that can work to promote the interests of all Iraqis."

    But the State Dept feels no need to update the American people on how the State Dept wastes taxpayer money in Iraq -- not with a press briefing, not with a Tweet.

    For those who missed the weekend's events, let's move slowly.  The US Embassy in Baghdad issued a lengthy statement late Friday which included:


    Any efforts to delay the government formation process, or to take advantage of this crisis through mechanisms outside the constitutional and legal framework, would only play into the hands of ISIL.  The Iraqi constitution provides a roadmap for holding the country together, including through peaceful resolution of territorial disputes, delegation of authority to regions and provinces, and a pathway for forming a new government that can unite the citizenry and draw on the nation’s vast resources to protect the population and expel ISIL from Iraqi lands.  All political and security measures must be pursued through these constitutional mechanisms.
    The situation in Iraq today remains extremely serious.  Further delays or escalation by any side, no matter the pretext, cannot be justified and would disserve the Iraqi people, 14 million of whom recently risked their own lives to vote for a new government, and a better future.  Therefore, we call on all Iraqi leaders, from all political parties, and from all parts of the country, to act with seriousness and dispatch over these coming days to unite their efforts against ISIL and activate the process of forming a new government, with the first step being a new speaker of parliament, which triggers the timelines prescribed in the Iraqi constitution.

    As they do, the United States will stand staunchly behind all the Iraqi people, through intensive diplomatic, political, and security measures to help defeat ISIL and advance the vision of a united, federal, and democratic Iraq, as defined in the Iraqi constitution.




    There was near giddiness on Saturday in anticipation of the Sunday session of Parliament that would form a new government.  For example, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Brett McGurk Tweeted the following on Saturday:





    Saturday, US Vice President Joe Biden spoke with Kurdistan Regional President Masoud Barzani:



    THE WHITE HOUSE
    Office of the Vice President
    Washington, D.C.
    July 12, 2014

    Readout of Vice President Biden's Conversation with President of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region Masoud Barzani
    This morning, Vice President Biden spoke with Masoud Barzani, President of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region. The Vice President and President agreed on the importance of forming a new Iraqi government as quickly as possible, consistent with the timelines set forth in Iraq’s constitution. They confirmed that one of the new government’s key tasks will be to address long-standing disputes between the central and regional governments consistent with the Iraqi constitution. Towards this end, the two leaders agreed that any territorial dispute arising due to an exigency from the current crisis must be resolved peacefully, in a fair and transparent manner, and in full consultation with all communities. They also agreed that any such process should be undertaken only pursuant to the mechanisms set forth in the Iraqi constitution. The Vice President offered his sympathy for Kurdish Peshmerga fighters recently killed in battle against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), as well as all Iraqi soldiers fighting the same enemy, and he encouraged all political forces to unite against this serious threat to every component of Iraq.
     

    So much hope the day before.

    Your toy balloon has sailed in the sky
    But now it must fall to the ground
    Now your sad eyes reveal
    Just how badly you feel
    'Cause there is no easy way down.
    -- "No Easy Way Down," written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King, Carole's version first appears on Carole's album Writer (Dusty Springfield recorded it a year earlier on her classic Dusty in Memphis).



    For Barack, there is no easy way down.  Sunday arrived and the session went bust.  As noted in Third's"Editorial: The Political Solution Nouri al-Maliki Can Offer:"


    Today the Iraqi Parliament met and the hopes were that a new government would be formed following April 30th's parliamentary elections.  That was the hope.
    That was also the hope July 1st, the first time the Parliament met.
    As Americans learned in 2009 (and 2010, and 2011, and 2012, and 2013 and 2014) there is hope and then there is reality.
    All Iraq News notes some members of the Kurdistan Alliance, those hoping to arrive in Baghdad this morning by flying in, did not attend due to a dust storm at Erbil International Airport.  National Iraqi News Agency reports that 233 MPs did manage to attend today's session.  (That's 233 out of 328 elected.)
    But the session that quickly started also quickly ended.  NINA notes acting Speaker of Parliament Mehdi al-Hafez announced the end of the session and that the Parliament would meet next on Tuesday.
    The monkey wrench tossed into the proceedings?

    Nouri al-Maliki.
    Even trying to sugar coat it here -- AP notes destructive Nouri.
    The two-term prime minister and thug made his support for the candidacy of Salim al-Jubouri (nominated by the Sunnis to be Speaker of Parliament) conditional upon the Sunnis backing Nouri (whom they loathe for good reason) for a third term of Prime Minister.  Outgoing Deputy  Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq (a Sunni) told AP, "This will not happen as we do not accept that."
    When the offer was refused, the session fell apart.  All Iraq News noted that Sadr MP Baha al-Araji even took to nominating Nouri for the post of Speaker of Parliament -- presumably in an attempt to prevent a third term as prime minister for Nouri.




    Knowing the Sunnis do not and will not support him for a third term as prime minister, Nouri derailed the session by attempting to make his bloc's vote for Speaker of Parliament dependent upon the Sunnis supporting him for a third term.  (Speaker of Parliament is the first position that has to be selected, then president and then prime minister -- they are known as the three presidencies.)

    These are documented facts.  It would be nice if the press could start to recognize them.  (The Iraqi press is aware of them and reporting the facts.) 

    Nouri al-Maliki's 'trick' or 'strategy' when he wants something? 

    Draw the process out in the hopes that his opponents will tire and give in.





    "War"