Wednesday, July 23, 2014

He got busted


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

FADED CELEBRITY IN CHIEF BARRY O IS BEING CALLED A PERV AND THE ONLY SURPRISE THERE IS THAT NO LIVESTOCK ARE INVOLVED.

REACHED FOR COMMENT FADED CELEBRITY AND ONE-TIME FEMINIST GLORIA STEINEM TOLD THESE REPORTERS THAT THERE WAS NOTHING SEXIST ABOUT BARRY O GROPING AND LEERING AT A 23-YEAR-OLD WOMAN, "AND BELIEVE ME, I SHOULD KNOW!  I WAS JUST VOTED SEXIEST SOCIALIST SENIOR AT MY RETIREMENT HOME!"


FROM THE TCI WIRE:


Turning to the persecuted in Iraq, Adam Chandler (The Wire via MSN) notes, "ISIS, which recently rebranded as the Islamic State, has solidified its control over Iraq's second-largest city by imposing Sharia law and expelling Christians who won't convert to Islam. The end of last month marked the first time a mass wasn't held in the city in more than 1600 years."  While Catholic Online notes:

"You have no place here anymore, you have to leave immediately," a member of the Syriac clergy quoted the Sunni militants as telling the monastery's residents.
The monks reportedly pleaded to save some of the monastery's relics. The fighters refused and ordered them to leave on foot with nothing but their clothes on their backs.
Christian residents from the area say the monks walked several miles along a deserted road and were eventually picked up by Kurdish peshmerga fighters who drove them to Qaraqosh.
Five monks have been expelled from Mar Behnam. Christian families in the area said there may have been up to nine people living at the monastery.


Friday, the Islamic State informed the Christians of Mosul there were two choices if they wanted to go on living in Mosul: pay a tax or convert to Islam.  If they didn't want to do either and attempted to remain in Mosul, they would be killed.  The events and threats have been decried by many leaders including the Pope.  Independent Catholic News notes, "Pope Francis has reassured the Patriarch of the Syriac Catholic Church Ignatius Youssef III Younan that he is following news out of Iraq with concern, particularly the dramatic situation of Christians in Mosul who have been threatened with death and seizure of their homes by Islamic militants demanding they leave or convert to their form of Islamic belief. Christians have lived in Iraq’s second largest city for nearly two thousand years; there are few, if any, left now in Mosul."  Also offering promises is the governor of Erbil Province.  AP notes that he (Nawzad Hadi) is promising "to protect fleeing Christians and other minority groups.  The territory is currently home to more than 2 million refugees and internally displaced people from Iraq and Syria, according to the United Nations."  Lebanon's Daily Star adds:

The Army of the Men of the Naqshbandi Order – a collection of former members of the Baath party said to be helping ISIS in its conquests – has disassociated itself from violence against minority groups.
“Our army is an extension of the former national Iraqi army and includes all the factions of the Iraqi people such as Sunnis, Shiites, Arabs, Kurds, Turkmen as well as Christians, Yazdis and Sabeans who want to liberate Iraq and relieve it from subordination,” the group said in a message posted on its official website Tuesday.
“We don’t have any connection or coordination with any group ... which calls for dividing Iraq and its people on ethnic and sectarian basis.”
Of course, it's not just the city of Mosul being targeted, surrounding cities and towns have been targeted as well. Jason Motlagh (Bloomberg News) reports on the neighboring city of Qaraqosh where IS has limited the amount of water the city gets:

Outside one of the town’s 12 churches, people queue from 6 a.m. until midnight to get their daily rations from a well. Flatbed trucks are joined by children with pushcarts and riders on bicycles bearing empty jugs. “Our lives revolve around water,” says Laith, 28, a school teacher who returned with his family a day earlier from a suburb of Erbil, the Kurdish regional capital, 45 miles away, to which thousands of threatened Christians have migrated. Though aid agencies have erected several water depots around town, supplies are limited, barely enough to sustain large families in the 100-degree-plus heat. Plans to dig new wells will take at least several months to fulfill.


The attacks come shortly after a major discovery.  Alexandra Di Stefano Pironti (Rudaw) points out:

While the history of civilization is being demolished by war and religious zealots in the rest of Iraq, in the Kurdistan Region archeologists are marveling at a stunning discovery: the remains of a long-lost temple from the biblical kingdom of Urartu, dating back to the 9th century BC.
Kurdish archaeologist Dlshad Marf Zamua, who has studied the columns and other artifacts at the find, told Rudaw these were unearthed piecemeal over the past four decades by villagers going about their lives, digging for cultivation or construction.  
But only recently, after the discovery of life-size human statues and the unearthed columns, Zamua realized that the villagers had stumbled upon the temple of Haldi. That was one of the most important gods of Urartu, an Iron-Age kingdom around Lake Van in the Armenian highlands.


When the Christians in Mosul were threatened, the US State Dept had nothing to say.  After-the-fact?  The State Dept's a non-stop Chatty Cathy as evidenced by spokesperson Marie Harf at today's press briefing.


QUESTION: And just to follow up on Samir’s question yesterday about ISIS in Iraq and persecuting Christians, is there any update from the podium about any special ambassador for international religious freedom that might be able to – better equipped to deal with this kind of issue?

MS. HARF: Well, we’re very well-equipped to deal with this kind of issue. We have a number of people working on it. I don’t have an update for you on that. I’m happy to check.

QUESTION: Would you agree that when President Obama goes to the Dutch embassy and signs a book of condolence – largely it’s a ceremonial gesture. Would a nomination – would you agree that a nomination of this position of international – ambassador of international religious freedom, it would set – it’d be better optics, given --

MS. HARF: Why is it related in any way to the President signing a ceremonial book? I don’t see the link, and obviously, we’re committed to religious freedom regardless of whether or not there’s someone in that position.

QUESTION: Because it’s a gesture that says that we care.

MS. HARF: Well, we do care. We care very deeply, and I will see if there’s an update on any sort of nominations for you.

That was it on the topic because the journalist who cooperated with the State Dept on Benghazi, who e-mailed about what questions he'd ask and shared what a waste he thought discussing the Benghazi attack was?  That journalist or 'journalist' wanted to derail the discussion of Iraq.  Who knows, maybe that was worked out in e-mails before the briefing?  Maybe not.


Listen to me, don't walk that street
There's always an end to it
Come and be free, you know who I am
We're just living people

We won't have a thing
So we got nothing to lose
We can all be free
Maybe not with words
Maybe not with a look
But with your mind

-- "Maybe Not," written by Chan Marshall (also known as Cat Power), first appears on Cat's You Are Free.


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"CAT FIGHT AT THE OK LITTER BOX"
"THIS JUST IN! CLAWS COME OUT AT THE OK CORRAL!"



 
 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

CAT FIGHT AT THE OK LITTER BOX

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!




FROM THE TCI WIRE:




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 notes specific 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.





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"Joe-mentum"
"THIS JUST IN! THE VICE RISES!"

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Joe-mentum

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."



FROM THE TCI WIRE:


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?



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    "Called out by Cheney"
    "THIS JUST IN! BARRY O WILL AT LEAST FOR NOW HAVE JAY-JAY!"





    Thursday, July 17, 2014

    Called out by Cheney

    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.

    FROM THE TCI WIRE:



    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.






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    "Circumventing Congress"



    Tuesday, July 15, 2014

    Circumventing Congress

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

    FADED CELEBRITY IN CHIEF BARRY O IS FEELING STRUNG OUT AND NASTY OVER CONGRESS' EFFORTS TO GET ONE OF HIS AIDES TO TESTIFY.

    '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?"


    FROM THE TCI WIRE:




    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.





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    "They're using the word again"
    "THIS JUST IN! THE FADING CELEBRITY!"





    Saturday, July 12, 2014

    They're using the word again

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

    THEY'RE STARTING TO USE THE N WORD TO DESCRIBE BARRY O, YOU KNOW THE WORD: "NARCISSIST."

    FADED CELEBRITY BARRY O MAKES IT ALL ABOUT HIM.  LIKE IN AUSTIN.  LIKE EVERYWHERE.

    HE'S THE FORGOTTEN CELEBRITY WHO REFUSES TO TAKE A HINT.


    FROM THE TCI WIRE:




    Mohammed A. Salih (Christian Science Monitor) reports,  "Iraqi Kurdistan careened closer to independence today, with Kurdish forces advancing outside Kirkuk, which they seized last month, to seize two major Iraqi oil fields." Raheem Salman and Mustafa Mahmoud (Reuters) add "Kurdish politicians formally suspended their participation in Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's government.
    [. . .] The Kurdish forces took over production facilities at the Bai Hassan and Kirkuk oilfields near the city of Kirkuk, the oil ministry in Baghdad said."  NINA notes the Bai Hassan oil field "produces about 195,000 barrels per day."

    On the issue of the Kurds walking out of the Cabinet, Al Jazeera notes:

    Iraq's foreign minister, Hoshiyar Zebari, said on Friday that Kurdish politicians would stop running their ministries, a day after they had announced a boycott of cabinet meetings.
    The ministries affected include Zebari's foreign ministry, the trade ministry, the ministry of migration, the health ministry and the deputy premiership, the Reuters news agency reported.
    Kurdish MPs would continue to attend the parliament, elected on April 30, Zebari said, adding the country risked falling apart if an inclusive government was not formed.



    BBC News reminds the seizure and the walkout follows an earlier action, "They did so after Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki accused the Kurds of harbouring extremists."
     Nabih Bulos (Los Angeles Times) also provides context, "The always-fraught relationship between the two sides escalated sharply when Maliki on Wednesday accused the Kurdish leadership of harboring Sunni Arab insurgents dominating large swaths of the country's northern and central provinces. The Sunni rebellion prompted Kurdish forces to occupy large tracts of Iraqi territory, including the oil-hub northern city of Kirkuk."

    The Kurdistan Regional Government issued the following statement in response to Nouri's charges of terrorism:

    Salahaddin, Kurdistan (KRP.org) – The Spokesperson of the Kurdistan Region Presidency responded to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s accusation against the KRG.
    “He [Nouri al-Maliki] has become hysterical and has lost his balance. He is doing everything he can to justify his failures and put the blame on others for these failures,” read the statement.
    The Spokesperson added that Erbil, which Maliki has accused of harboring terrorists, has always been a refuge for the oppressed, including Nouri al-Maliki himself.
    “Kurdistan is proud of the fact that Erbil has always served as refuge for oppressed people, including yourself when you fled the former dictatorship. Now Erbil is a refuge for people fleeing from your dictatorship. ISIS and other groups have no place in Erbil, they stay with you. It was you who gave Iraqi land and the assets of six army divisions to ISIS.”
    The statement demanded that the Prime Minister apologize to the Iraqi people and step down. “You must apologize to the Iraqi people and step down. You have destroyed the country and someone who has destroyed the country cannot save the country from crises.”



    As for the two oil fields?  The KRG issued the following statement on today's events:


    Erbil, Kurdistan Region (MNR.KRG.org) - This morning, members of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and Kirkuk Oil Protection Forces moved to secure the oil fields of Bai Hassan and the Makhmour area, after learning of orders by officials in the federal Ministry of Oil in Baghdad to sabotage the recent mutually-agreed pipeline infrastructure linking the Avana dome with the Khurmala field.
    The nearby Bai Hassan field and the other fields located in Makhmour district are now safely under KRG management. The KRG expects production at these fields to continue normally. Staff at the North Oil Company that previously operated these fields have been informed that from tomorrow they will be expected to cooperate with KRG management. Those who do not want to do so can leave.
    The new pipeline linking Khurmala with Avana was designed and constructed with the express purpose of facilitating export from the Makhmour, Avana and Kirkuk area fields through the KRG pipeline network to help increase revenues for Iraqis, at a time of great need and at a time when most of the Iraq-Turkey pipeline is under ISIS control.
    The new infrastructure was built and paid for by the KRG, working in full cooperation with officials and engineers at North Oil Company. However, the KRG learned on Thursday that some officials in the federal Ministry of Oil gave orders to a number of NOC staff to cease their cooperation with the KRG and to dismantle or render inoperable the valves on the new pipeline.
    The Avana and Makhmour fields have been unable to export since March because the main Iraq-Turkey pipeline has been damaged by terrorist attacks. The main Iraq pipeline lies mostly within territory recently surrendered by the federal government to ISIS.
    Despite the inability to export and the halt to refining at Beiji, the Avana and Makhmour fields were producing about 110,000 barrels of oil per day and utilising the associated gas to help with the operation of the LPG bottling plant in Kirkuk.
    But instead of using the new KRG pipeline infrastructure to export the produced oil, officials at the NOC were ordered by Baghdad to re-inject the oil back into a small, disused field in Kirkuk. This politically motivated decision risked causing great damage to the field in question with a permanent loss of most of the oil that has been re-injected. It has also deprived the people of Iraq of much-needed oil export revenue.
    From now on, production at the new fields under KRG control will be used primarily to fill the shortage of refined products in the domestic market. This will ease the burden on ordinary citizens caused by the failure of the federal authorities to protect the country's vital oil infrastructure in the region.
    The KRG will also claim its Constitutional share of oil revenues derived from these fields to make up for the huge financial deficit triggered by the illegal withholding of the KRG’s 17 percent share of the federal budget by Baghdad.
    The KRG has been and always will be open to cooperation and coordination with Baghdad, according to the rights and responsibilities of the Regions as outlined under the Iraqi Constitution. The KRG still hopes that Baghdad climbs down from its policy of punitive political and economic sanctions against the citizens of Kurdistan.
    This morning’s events have shown that the KRG is determined to protect and defend Iraq’s oil infrastructure whenever it is threatened by acts of terrorism or, as in this case, politically motivated sabotage.


    EFE notes Iraq's Ministry of Oil released a statement declaring, ""(T)his irresponsible behavior ... violates the constitution and the national wealth, and disregards the federal authorities and threatens national unity."

    One immediate effect?  Iraq no longer has a Foreign Minister.  Hamdi Alkhashali and Michael Martinez (CNN) report:

    In a possible portent of growing factional conflict, a leading Kurdish minister was removed from Iraq's government, and the Kurdish semi-autonomous government took over two oilfields in the north, officials said Friday.

    Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, the face of Iraqi diplomacy for a more than a decade, was removed Friday by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, two senior Iraqi government officials said.

    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.




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