Saturday, May 17, 2014

WASHINGTON (AP) — The top official for the health care of veterans resigned Friday amid a firestorm over reported delays in care and falsified records at veterans hospitals.

Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki said he has accepted the resignation of Robert Petzel, the department's undersecretary for health care, effective immediately. Shinseki had asked for the resignation, a department official later said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak for attribution.

Reports of long waits for appointments and processing benefit applications have plagued VA for years. The agency has shortened backlogs but allegations that veterans have died while awaiting VA care have created an election-year uproar. A former clinic director at the VA's medical center in Phoenix told a House committee last month that up to 40 people may have died while awaiting appointments and that VA officials kept a secret appointment list to mask the delays.

Shinseki asked the VA's inspector general to investigate the clinic director's charges. An initial review of 17 people who died while awaiting appointments at the Phoenix hospital found that none of their deaths appeared to have been caused by delays in treatment, acting inspector general Richard Griffin told senators Thursday. But he also said new complaints about wait lists and falsified patient appointment had surfaced at other VA hospitals and clinics after the Phoenix allegations came to light. At least 10 new allegations about manipulated waiting times and other problems have surfaced in the past three weeks, he said.

Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., chairman of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee, mocked the announcement of Petzel's resignation, calling it "the pinnacle of disingenuous political doublespeak" since Petzel had been scheduled to retire this year anyway. The American Legion, which has called for Shinseki to resign, said pretty much the same thing: "This move by VA is not a corrective action, but a continuation of business as usual."

The White House said President Barack Obama supports Shinseki's decision on Petzel and thanks Petzel for his service. "As the president has said, America has a sacred trust with the men and women who have served our country in uniform and he is committed to doing all we can to ensure our veterans have access to timely, quality health care," a White House statement.

The announcement of Petzel's resignation came a day after Shinseki and Petzel were grilled at a four-hour hearing of the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs, where lawmakers and veteran groups expressed exasperation of long-standing problems at the department.

Meanwhile, House Republicans scheduled a vote for Wednesday on legislation that would give Shinseki more authority to fire or demote senior executives and administrators at the agency and its 152 medical centers.

When senior leaders in the VA "fail the men and women who have put their lives on the line for our country, they deserve a pink slip - not a bonus," House Speaker John Boehner said Friday. While some Republicans in Congress have joined the call for Shinseki to resign, Boehner is not among them.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., has backed Shinseki but appeared to waver after Shinseki came before a Senate committee this week.

"If he doesn't give a better answer, then I'm not sure how he wouldn't have to do anything but resign," McCain told Fox News Channel Thursday night.

McCain said he believes problems at the VA go beyond incompetence.

"If these allegations are true people should be going to jail, not just resigning their positions," he said, adding that a criminal investigation by the Justice Department appears inevitable.

"Everything I've seen is going to lead us to the attorney general," McCain said.

Petzel was scheduled to retire this year, and Shinseki last fall had convened a commission to recommend candidates for presidential appointment to be the new undersecretary. VA is required by law to convene a commission to seek and review candidates for the position.

Petzel had agreed to remain until the Senate confirmed a replacement. President Obama this month announced his intent to nominate Dr. Jeffrey A. Murawsky to be undersecretary for health.

"As we know from the veteran community, most veterans are satisfied with the quality of their VA health care, but we must do more to improve timely access to that care," Shinseski said in a statement announcing Friday that Petzel was leaving.

In his position, Petzel oversaw what officials say is the largest health care delivery system in the U.S.

The VA operates 1700 hospitals, clinics and other facilities around the country. They employ about 300,000 people and serve about 6.5 million veterans and other beneficiaries each year.

Miller wrote the legislation that is to be taken up next week. He said Friday that the resignation announcement shows the VA is "apparently unwilling to take substantive actions to hold any of its leaders accountable."

Shinseki on Thursday told senators he was "mad as hell" about allegations of severe problems and said he was looking for quick results from a nationwide audit. He has rejected calls for him to resign.
Night Watch

Vietnam: Update. At least 21 people were killed and 100 injured in yesterday's anti-China riots in central and southern Vietnam. A mob of some 1,000 Vietnamese attacked a Taiwan-owned steel mill in central Vietnam, killing 5 Vietnamese and 16 Chinese workers.

News services reported that hundreds of Chinese nationals have begun fleeing to Cambodia or are seeking flights from Ho Chi Minh City to destinations outside Vietnam.

Comment: China has lived with anti-Chinese sentiment in Southeast Asian states for centuries. Chinese Chief of General Staff General Feng made it clear in his statements at the Pentagon today that China will make no concessions on issues of sovereignty, regardless of regional costs and hostility.

Thailand: Unidentified, probably pro-government, militants attacked an anti-government protest camp in Bangkok today. The attack left three people killed and at last 20 injured.

The attack prompted General Prayuth, the Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Thai Army, to issue a statement in which he warned the protestors that the army would intervene unless the violence stopped.

Comment: Prayuth is considered a strong supporter of the monarchy and a political foe of ex-prime ministers Yingluck and Thaksin Shinawatra. A military takeover of the government is not likely, but population controls are, if the violence continues. They would include curfews, restrictions on public assembly and raids to destroy militant hideouts and seize weapons caches.

The democratic political system is adrift because the elected prime minister has been removed under the Constitutional Court's orders and the opposition is pressing for an unelected government to be appointed.

The public confrontations are manifestations of the deeper struggle for Thailand's political identity. This pits traditional power holders in Bangkok, including the monarchy, against wealthy newcomers with populist programs and who are supported by rural farmers. There will be more tests of political strength before a path towards compromise emerges.

India: Update. During this Watch,vote counting began and preliminary results were announced. At midnight EDT, in the 220 seats that have posted results, the Hindu-nationalist BJP is ahead in 112 and Congress is ahead in 35.

In the nine-phase election, more than 8,250 candidates contested 543 seats in the lower house of parliament, the Lok Sabha. More than 551 million people voted, making this the largest election in history. The election commission reported the turnout at 66.38% of registered voters.

Afghanistan: Update. The Independent Election Commission posted the final results of the first round of the presidential election. The top two candidates are Dr. Abdullah, who received 45% of the votes and Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai who received 31.56%.

The Commission indicated that 7 million people voted,or about 58% of the registered voters.

Comment: An analysis of provincial results shows Afghanistan remains strongly polarized, based on tribal allegiances, which also means region. That judgment should surprise no one.

Dr. Abdullah, a Tajik with Pashtun blood, won an outright majority in 15 provinces, all but one of them in the Tajik and Uzbek north and in the Hazara regions of central Afghanistan. In the south he won by a clear majority only in Ghazni Province.

Ashraf Ghani won nine provinces outright; seven of them are in the Pashtun region of the south. However, two other Pashtun candidates prevented him from making a stronger showing. The Pashtuns remain fractured and fractious so that their most appealing candidate came in a distant second. They have a second chance in the run-off election, but the Taliban spring offensive will help ensure they will not win the presidency.

The northern tribes have not forgiven the Pashtuns for the brutality and repressive policies of the Taliban. The results announced today confirm that attitude remains strong and was manifest in the voting.

The significance of this is that in the past 13 years, the tribal factors that promote insurgency remain strong. Abdullah is likely to win the runoff election next month. His prospects improved after the Taliban announced their spring offensive this week.

Ukraine: Update. For weeks, Western media described the situation in Ukraine as chaotic. Those descriptions were designed to grab headlines then, but have become accurate now. The two separatist regions now labor under two administrations, two sets of security forces and competing media outlets.

Today's news included reports of different groups stealing voter rolls; theft of official documents; and kidnappings. In Mariupol, on the southeast coast, thousands of workers from the steel workers' union got fed up and reportedly took control of the city from forces of both regimes. Some sources suggested this movement was spreading to other towns.

Comment: The unions are emerging as a political third force. If the workers' movement spreads and shows durability, a measure of order will be restored, but the secession effectively will end. The unions seem aligned with the Kyiv regime.

Russia: For the record. A defense ministry spokesman announced that Russian armed forces will be holding military drills near the Ukrainian border on 25 May, the date for Kyiv regime's presidential elections.

End of NightWatch

The fiery former congressman and retired military colonel Allen West hasn’t definitively ruled out running for president in 2016. Earlier this week he told radio host and Townhall columnist Ben Shapiro that he’s “considering it,” but tempered his remarks by saying he hasn’t made up his mind yet. The Washington Examiner caught the transcript:
While appearing on Wednesday's edition of AM 870's "Morning Answer," Col. Allen West told Ben Shapiro that he is considering a run for the White House in 2016 out of respect for those who have asked him to run. 
"As I was doing the motorcycle ride across the country and wherever we stopped, fuel stop, overnight stop, people would come up and they would ask me that question," he said. "And it would be very disrespectful and dismissive of great Americans if I did not step back and take the time to consider it and pray about it and talk about it with close confidants, so that is what I'll do."
West, however, warned that while he'll consider a run, there is no guarantee he actually will throw his hat in the ring.
"Am I considering it?" he asked. "I am considering it. That does not mean I am going to jump it and do it, but in respect to those people who are so very kind and believe that I have that level of capacity and capability, that’s what I have to do for them.”
If he takes the plunge he’ll find himself in a crowded field overflowing with Tea Party favorites.

Presumably, he’d need to beat out Cruz, Paul, Huckabee and Carson (?) to secure the grassroots Righty nod before taking on the establishment candidate. But what are the chances that happens?

I just don't see how Colonel West clinches the nomination with so many talented candidates in the mix. The safer bet is that either Cruz or Paul will be conservatives' top choice. Then again, the field is wide open -- and who knows what the future might bring.

Muslim leader decries 9/11 Museum for linking Islam with terrorism, ignores fact that jihadist hijackers made that link

/ Jihad Watch
What is going on at Fox, with their continual promotion of slyly deceptive Ahmadi Muslim apologists for jihad terror? First it was the habitually dishonest, venomously defamatory, and overweeningly arrogant Qasim Rashid, and now it is his oleaginous, ostentatiously pious partner in deception, Harris Zafar. It’s funny also that Zafar here is arguing with Dinesh D’Souza, who a few years ago repeatedly insisted that Islam was a Religion of Peace in several debates with me, including at CPAC 2007. Apparently I convinced him.

“9/11 museum’s Al Qaeda documentary does not tell the truth,” by Harris Zafar,, May 15, 2014:
I was invited to appear alongside Dinesh D’Souza as a guest on Fox News’ “The Kelly File” on Tuesday night, May 13, to answer the question of why many Muslims and non-Muslims have taken issue with the film “Rise of Al Qaeda,” which is set to air within the new National September 11 Memorial Museum in New York City.
Museum officials screened the hitherto unreleased film to specific groups and received strong critical feedback about how the film seems to conflate the religion of Islam with the terrorists who brought down the World Trade Center.
As a Muslim, I begin by firmly stating, without any hesitation, that September 11 is an integral part of United States history, and the museum absolutely must capture accurately what happened to our nation that day. Part of that narrative is certainly the need to identify Al Qaeda, based on its involvement in the tragedy.
What has caused pause for many Muslims and non-Muslims, though, is when acts are labeled as Islamic, Islamist or with Islamic Arabic terms like jihad – for the use of such terms implies that acts of violence, death and terrorism are consistent with the religion of Islam. The purpose of the museum is to capture the facts of history, and a large body of people believes the use of these terms in the film is not adequately nuanced.
Dinesh D’Souza and the 9/11 Museum aren’t the ones labeling the 9/11 mass murder attack a jihad. It was the hijackers and plotters themselves.

In March 2009, the masterminds of the 9/11 plot, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Ramzi bin As-Shibh, Walid bin ‘Attash, Mustafa Ahmed AI-Hawsawi, and ‘Ali ‘abd Al-’Aziz ‘Ali – styling themselves as the “9/11 Shura Council” –wrote a lengthy communiqué titled “The Islamic Response to the Government’s Nine Accusations.” In it, they wrote: “Many thanks to God, for his kind gesture, and choosing us to perform the act of Jihad for his cause and to defend Islam and Muslims. Therefore, killing you and fighting you, destroying you and terrorizing you, responding back to your attacks, are all considered to be great legitimate duty in our religion….We ask to be near to God, we fight you and destroy you and terrorize you. The Jihad in god’s [sic] cause is a great duty in our religion.” They quoted numerous Qur’an verses, including one stating that “to those against whom war is waged, permission is given (to fight,) because they are wronged and verily, Allah is most powerful for their aid” (22:39), and another commanding Muslims to “fight in the way of Allah those who fight you, but be not the transgressor, Allah likes not the transgressors” (2:190). They even quoted the notorious “Verse of the Sword”: “Then fight and slay the pagans wherever you find them, and seize them, and besiege them and lie in wait for them in each and every ambush” (9:5).

To cinch their case, they used two verses enjoining Muslims to strike terror into the hearts of their foes: Soon shall we cast terror into the hearts of the unbelievers, for that they joined companies with Allah, for which he has sent no authority; There [sic] place will be the fire; and evil is the home of the wrongdoers” (3:151); and “Against them make ready your strength to the utmost of your power, including steeds of war, to strike terror into the heart of the enemies of Allah and your enemies” (8:60).

Hijacker Mohammed Atta wrote this just before the attack: “When the confrontation begins, strike like champions who do not want to go back to this world. Shout, ‘Allahu Akbar,’ because this strikes fear in the hearts of the non-believers. God said: ‘Strike above the neck, and strike at all of their extremities.’ Know that the gardens of paradise are waiting for you in all their beauty, and the women of paradise are waiting, calling out, ‘Come hither, friend of God.’ They have dressed in their most beautiful clothing.” The “Strike above the neck, and strike at all of their extremities” quote is also from the Qur’an (47:4). The gardens and women of Paradise are also spoken of in the Qur’an (52:17-20; 55:62-76; etc.), underscoring the fact that Atta and his companions saw their mission and goal in exclusively Islamic terms.

Islamic Terrorists Bomb Schoolbus of Jewish schoolgirls

Pamela Geller / Atlas Shrugs

In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel, defeat jihad.

“Palestinian” is a euphemism for jihad. Period. It’s a marketing term for Jewish slaughter.
“Firebombs on Bat Mitzva Girls’ Bus, Only Arutz Sheva Reports It,” Israel National News, May 15, 2014 
Four terrorists hurl firebombs at bus near Hevron, engulfing it in flames, but media ignores story, preferring to cover Jewish graffiti.
A well-planned firebomb attack on a bus full of Jewish schoolgirls Tuesday could easily have ended in tragedy, but no news source even reported that it took place, except for the one you are currently reading – Arutz Sheva.
The girls were sixth-graders from a religious school in central Israel. They were on a bat mitzva tour of the Cave of Machpela in Hevron, a site recognized by the government as an official heritage site, when four terrorists ambushed it with firebombs.
The mother of one of the girls, who was accompanying the trip, told Arutz Sheva that the ambush had been well planned. She described moments of horror when the firebombs exploded, one after the other, on the bus’s windows, east of the Halhoul bridge, as the bus made its way back from Hevron.
“This was a bat mitzva trip that had been approved by the Ministry of Education, which included a visit to Rachel’s Tomb. The buses were bulletproofed and had an armed guard,” she said.
Chananel, the woman’s son, whose sister had been on the bus, wrote on Facebook on Tuesday: “Three firebombs exploded on the bus. It was a direct hit. The bus was engulfed in flames and the girls and the mothers in the bus screamed, cried, leaned down toward the floor. There was a smell of burnt plastic.
“This time, it ended without injury. The driver stepped on the gas and the bus was fortified. The traumatic effects are not known at this point… I don’t even want to write how it could have ended.”
Alluding to the latest incendiary comments by leftist writer Amos Oz, he added: “Neo-nazis are not Nazis and Price Tag must be denounced and we are more moral and therefore a higher moral standard is required of us. Fine. But come on, we had better look reality in the eye and understand how twisted it all is. If I had doubts about the justness of the right wing struggle on this issue, then they are all gone. Leftists, media, government, army, Shin Bet and the other people living in a fantasy world – wake up.”
No Israeli or foreign news source is known to have reported the incident. However, incidents involving graffiti by Jewish youths have been receiving front page coverage and government ministers have called for their classification as terror acts. Apparently influenced by Israeli media and politicians, the United States has also equated the Jewish nationalistic vandalism with terror.
Arutz Sheva was founded in 1988, after Rabbanit Shulamit Melamed experienced an attack on a bus she was in, and was shocked to hear the radio report about the event, which made it sound as if the Jews on the bus had been the attackers and not the victims.
She turned to her husband, Beit El co-founder Rabbi Zalman Melamed, who established Arutz Sheva together with Beit El co-founder Yaakov “Ketzaleh” Katz.
The incident Tuesday in Hevron proves, sadly, that more than 25 years down the line, the problem that made Arutz Sheva necesary has only gotten worse.
The post Islamic Terrorists Bomb Schoolbus of Jewish schoolgirls appeared first on Pamela Geller, Atlas Shrugs.

And 'he' was there acting as if he cared  
By: Diane Sori

"An airplane hangar full of largely bruised, contorted artifacts..."   
-Museum curator Jan Ramirez

'He' had NO business being there as far as I'm concerned and yet he was. The man who sides with those who brought the buildings down spoke of courage, bravery, and profound loss but nary a tear was in his eyes. Betrayal of America echoes deep within his soul yet 'he' was there amongst those left behind.

And so after nearly 13 years of our nation's collective tears...after nearly 13 years of both memories bittersweet and nightmares NEVER to be forgotten...the 'National September 11 Memorial Museum' at Ground Zero was ceremonially opened and dedicated...but how does one really memorialize hell.

Built upon the foundation of the once tall and proud Twin Tower complex...the World Trade Center...the museum houses 12,500 objects, 1,995 oral histories, and 580 hours of film and video that takes one back to the day America changed forever. Emotions run raw as the terrible memories of the attacks resurface, and tears are once again shed for my two friends forever encased in now sacred grounds.

And 'he' was there acting as if he cared. 

Two of the steel trident columns that were the signature features of the Twin Towers beckons one to enter a nightmare world of the remnants of destruction, sadness, and anger. Photos of the fallen look down with haunting eyes...lives lost for NO other reason than they were Americans or friends of America. Mothers and fathers NEVER to see their children grow up...children NEVER to hear their parents voices again or get a good night kiss as they drift off to sleep...brothers and sisters torn apart only to be reunited in Heaven...aunts, uncles, cousins, or in my case, friends...NEVER to walk the Earth again but in our hearts forever.

And 'he' was there acting as if he cared.

Most of the museum is deep underground down a long flight of stairs, down a winding ramp to the bedrock 70 feet below street level...down to the original foundation of the Twin Towers...down to the heart of Ground Zero...down to hell on Earth. And on a wall for all to see is the original plaque by Minoru Yamasaki, the architect of the Twin Towers, in which he declares the buildings “a monument to world peace.”

A monument to world peace NO more for this is now a monument...a 3,000 souls lost on a sunny day almost 13 years ago when islam...YES islam... declared war on America on American soil with an act of terror...of horror... unbeknownst to us before.

And within the footprints of where the Twin Towers once mightily soared, reaching up high and touching the sky, now two granite pools glisten and reflect in the sunlight as they capture the tears of both ghosts and those so suddenly left behind.

And 'he' was there acting as if he cared.

And all around are memories in things they left behind...photographs, wallets, articles of clothing, a wedding ring, a victim's voice mail message, books, even the fire truck of the fallen first responders is there to see...everyday things...personal things that tell the story of the ghosts that will forever walk amongst us.

And saddest of all here deep underground lies for all eternity the remains of 1,100 two friends amongst them...NOT victims but heroes that were NEVER identified...buried together as of one heart so they would NOT rest alone.

But one miracle stands amongst the memories left behind for all to see...a simple cross of steel...a sign from God given that fateful day...a sign to help dry the tears of a country's heart deeply broken to its core.

And 'he' was there acting as if he cared.

And as a sense of sadness prevails over voices speak in hushed tones...islam once again has defiled sacred ground with pictures of the terrorists displayed for all to see. A part of that day's history that cannot be denied yet a part of history that brings more pain to those sadly left behind.

A place of healing this museum hopes to be...a place for patriotism to shine like how it did as the embers of the fires died when Americans put aside their differences and became one we looked to God and collectively asked Him why.

And in those moments when one is lost in solitude while standing amongst the crowds...when a few stolen moments of peace surface when happiness in memories is found...a sad mixture of emotions will forever hover over all, for in our collective consciousness the pain of a deep wound will NEVER really heal for it will be ripped open once again as our beloved America continues to forget the one great lesson of that fateful day...the lesson of Americans standing hand-in-hand together as one against an enemy spawned from deep within the bowels of enemy that has morphed and remains to this day.

And 'he' was there acting as if he cared...but truth be told 'he' had NO business being there.