Saturday, December 22, 2018

Diana Ross

The legendary Diana Ross is about to turn 75.  EBONY reports:

Diana Ross’ 75th birthday will be honored with the Diamond Diana Celebration, an extravagant yearlong list of events celebrating the music legend, including a screening of her epic concert film.
Fathom Events will kick off the festivities on Ross’ birthday, March 26, with an exclusive two-day global theatrical release of Diana Ross: Her Life, Love featuring the infamous July 21, 1983, concert, Diana Ross: Live in Central Park, at the Great Lawn of Central Park in New York City.
Nearly half a million fans attended the show, which was cut short by a massive lightning storm. The entertainer, however, promised to return the next day to continue the electrifying show for the people who attended such as the city’s mayor, artists and local nurses.

Speaking of the event and Diana Ross: Live in Central Park, the singer said in a statement, “I am so appreciative of Fathom Events for presenting this screening. It is one of the most significant and moving and memorable moments of my career. It makes me want to DO IT AGAIN!”
Fathom Events CEO Ray Nutt added, “Hundreds of thousands of fans gathered in New York City during the summer of 1983, becoming a part of music history. Now a new generation of fans will have the opportunity to witness one of the world’s largest outdoor concerts from their local cinema and relive that momentous time.”

Now that's March.  But if you can't wait all those months, if you need a Diana fix right now, there's always December 31st:  NBC's New Year's Eve special will feature Diana, Kelly Clarskon and John Legend -- among others.  Offering commentary will be comedian and actress Leslie Jones.

So let's start our own countdown, since that's 10 days away.  Here are my ten favorite solo Diana Ross tracks.

1) "Swept Away"

2) "The Boss"

3) "Upside Down"

4) "I'm Coming Out"

5) "Chain Reaction"

6) "Mirror, Mirror"

7) "Muscles"

8) "If We Hold On Together"

9) "The Best Years Of My Life"

10) "It's My Turn"

Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Friday, December 21, 2018.

Yesterday's snapshot noted the joint-hearing of the House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committees.  Appearing before the Committees were VA Secretary Robert Wilkie who was accompanied by VA's Melissa Glynn and Steven Lieberman.  Yesterday, we focused on Senator John Tester, Ranking Member, questioning Wilkie while also noting US House Chair Phil Roe's observation, the Blue Water bill (stalled in the Senate) and some of US Senator Patty Murray's questioning.  We'll resume with her.

Senator Patty Murray: But I do want to ask about the caregivers program because according to briefings from the VA, the Department has ruled out trying to narrow the eligibility criteria for the caregiver program.  But I'm still very concerned that there is a number of issues the VA is looking at that I'm concerned about including changes to the stipend, restricting veterans based on their type of injury or requiring a minimum disability rating.  This seems to be VA still focused on keeping people out of the program instead of making it work better for our veterans.  And yesterday, NPR reported on several cases where veterans --  including a double and a triple amputee -- were downgraded or kicked out of the program completely, inappropriately.  And these are, by the way, not one-off VA cases.  We're hearing that this is a continuing problem in the VA's management of this program.  When the VA previously downgraded and terminated caregivers, the VA assured me that it had resolved the problems that led to these type of actions but it's very clear that's not true and I would like you to immediately re-instate a ban on downgrades and terminations until VA can demonstrate to us that the serious management problems have been corrected and these type of outrageous errors will not occur again.

Secretary Robert Wilkie: Senator, I will say that caregivers is especially important to me.  I am the son of a gravely wounded Vietnam warrior.

Senator Patty Murray:  I appreciate that.

Secretary Robert Wilkie:  Uh, and I've seen my mother and family, uh, take care of my father prior to his passing last --

Senator Patty Murray:  I appreciate that.

Secretary Robert Wilkie:  The stories --

Senator Patty Murray:  Will you reinstate the ban?

Secretary Robert Wilkie:  I --

Senator Patty Murray:  Will you reinstate the ban?

Secretary Robert Wilkie:  I-I-I'm not familiar with all the rules but I will tell you the National Public Radio story, that, uh, problem was corrected within 24 to 48 hours.

Senator Patty Murray:  Those are not isolated cases.  We're hearing many of them.

Secretary Robert Wilkie:  And-and those cases, is my understanding, have been corrected because of directives from this department that people were not reading the regulations properly. So my promise to you is that I am going to do everything I can to make sure everybody stays in the program.  It's that important to me personally.

Senator Patty Murray:  Can I have your assurance that no one else will be downgraded or kicked out of the program until you look and make sure that the regulations are being implemented at every level correctly?

Secretary Robert Wilkie:  Absolutely, I will -- I will make that commitment and will brief these Committees.

Senator Patty Murray:  Okay.  And I won't have enough time but I'd like you to give me what your guidance to the program office is and your guidance to the field on how this is being implemented so that we can see what you're telling your staff

Secretary Robert Wilkie:  Yes, ma'am.

Senator Patty Murray:  Okay and I'm also very concerned about the implementation of the changes to the caregiver program that was passed as part of the Mission Act.  Before the expansion can begin, you have to certify that a new IT system is in place and the law required you to have that system in place by October 1st, that was a month and a half ago.  This was not a new requirement.  GAO's initial recommendation to fix the IT system was made in September of 2014 and the VA has repeatedly assured us that it's working on that issue.  I want to know when you will have that IT system in place and make the certification as the law requires.

Secretary Robert Wilkie:  The goal is October 1st. I would --

Senator Patty Murray: That was a month and a half ago.

Secretary Robert Wilkie:  I would not be telling the truth if I told you I was absolutely certain that given the state of VA's IT system that that date would be met.

Senator Patty Murray:  That was a month and a half ago.The date's passed.

Secretary Robert Wilkie:  No, I'm talking about -- it's October, 2019.

Senator Patty Murray:  No.

Secretary Robert Wilkie:  To certify that IT works.  Are we confusing two dates?

Senator Patty Murray: That's your new goal.  That's not the goal you were given by Congress.

Secretary Robert Wilkie:  It --

Melissa Glynn: The timeline to certify the new system is ready is 19 -- October [20]19.

Senator Patty Murray:  Okay?

Melissa Glynn: We did miss the October [20]18 date to --

Senator Patty Murray:  So you gave yourself another year?

Melissa Glynn:  Well there were two dates.  There are two dates, Senator, associated with the requirement.  The first date, which was October of this year, was for validating and deploying a new system.  We have not deployed the new system.  But the certification of that system --

Senator Patty Murray: Have you --

[Cross talk.]

Senator Patty Murray: -- fully defined requirements for that system.

Melissa Glynn:  We have fully defined requirements and we're working, as the Secretary mentioned, on user acceptance testing of the system and we are working through that.  We do not want to deploy a system until they're thoroughly tested and we're feel is capable of serving caregivers and veterans.

Secretary Robert Wilkie: And I would say that has been the problem identified and talked with -- discussed with this Committee.  Uh, GI Bill was a classic case, Senator, uh, of a program being imposed on a system that was incapable of handling it.  That's why I had to make a decision to go back to the old system on the GI Bill.  The same applies here. The system was not capable of addressing it.  Uh, I give you my commitment that I'm doing everything I can and so is the Department to bring the IT system up to modern standards.  The GI Bill?  We were talking about a fifty-year-old IT system and it's not acceptable.  But you have my commitment that we are working with the best minds we can find to make VA a modern healthcare administration --

Senator Patty Murray:  Mr. Chairman, I know my time is up.  I've been on this Committee for more than 20 years and I always hear that we're not going to get an IT system because there's a problem.  Every time it changes, every time there are problems.  We've got to get this right.  People are counting on it.

US House Veterans Affairs Committee Chair Phil Roe noted that he'd been serving for ten years and had heard the same repeated excuse as well.

I didn't want to break that up, but maybe I should have?

Did we all get that the VA missed the deadline?  Back in October 2018?  But they wanted to insist that they hadn't because there was also an October 2019 deadline?

Can we try that with the repo people?  No, I didn't miss my payment last month because I also have a payment later this month and I might meet that payment?  You think that'll work because I don't.

The VA missed the deadline and then they wanted to argue that because there is another deadline -- for a different aspect -- that they hadn't.

A VSO (veterans service organization) is congratulating Wilkie, praising him, for agreeing to not kick out or downgrade anyone while the program is reviewed.  Why?

He had to be pressured into agreeing -- by Senator Murray.  And first, he wanted to dance around the topic and play dumb there too.  If you're going to congratulate anyone, congratulate Senator Patty Murray, she's the one who made it happen.

And the IT excuses?  They're getting old.  Remember when Barack Obama was going to fix the VA?  Remember his promise of the seamless transition -- the electronic record -- that would follow the service member from active duty to veteran status?  That would make it easier to receive an adequate disability rating if one was required?  Never happened, did it?  The VA still can't get it together.  They were supposed to be working on it, fixing it, when Bully Boy Bush occupied the White House.  They were supposed to be doing it when Barack was president for two terms.  The press lapped up every lie Eric Shinseki served up.  They even looked the other way when he lied in a Congressional hearing and attempted to pin the blame for the delay on Chuck Hagel.  They looked the other way over and over for Shinseki.  He's gone now and there's no more debate, he was hideous as Secretary of the VA, he was unprepared, he was oblivious to the needs of veterans.

The press is not our friend, let's quit pretending.

Overseas defense commitments Trump is rolling back:


Overseas commitments he has questioned:

-South Korea

Together, they encompass greatest US NatSec threats: Russia, Iran, North Korea, Taliban, Al Qaeda, ISIS

Oh, look, it's self-important Jimmy.

Maybe we'd respect him if he was a journalist.  But he's not, is he?  He was working for the government under Barack.  Journalism wasn't good enough for him.  (It still isn't good enough for him -- obvious if you follow his 'reporting.')

The revolving door needs to stop.  And I might have some respect for FAIR if they'd argue that position over and over.  But they only seem to care when it's journalists who go to work for Republican administrations.

Journalists who go to work in the government are not journalists -- not even if they come back out.  They are no longer pursuing truth, they are now under the impression that they must serve the public interest not from a journalism standpoint but from a Daddy Government I Know Best standpoint.

Jim needs to sit his ass down.

Murtaza Hussain (BLACK AGENDA REPORT) observes:

As public attention has waned, it has become easier for the U.S. government to obscure its own role in helping foment violent crises that have sent waves of desperate refugees streaming across the world. It has also helped deflect attention from wartime expenditures that are now estimated to have sucked up over $6 trillion in public funds — money that could have done much good in a country that is starving for infrastructure and public health spending.
While Americans continue to search for explanations for their own eroding domestic national stability, the wars that continue to rage outside of public notice may help explain some of the ugly direction of U.S. politics in recent years.
“There is a perverse dynamic at play, in which we’re killing more people, creating adverse consequences like mass displacement and refugees, and then banning those very people from our shores,” said Hina Shamsi, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Security Project. “We really need to question both the fairness and necessity of these policies, which are inflicting devastating human costs abroad while harming our own civil rights at home.”

That's a reality Little Jimmy can't share because he's not a journalist, he's a government employee temporarily laid off, waiting to be re-installed in the next Democratic administration.  He will not tell the truth, he will not offer anything that might offend.  There should be a petting zoo for these neutered 'reporters.'

I agree with Jill's call.

End the war in Syria.
End the war in Afghanistan.
End the war in Iraq.
End the war in Yemen.
End the war in Somalia.
End the war in Libya.
End the war in Niger.

And, sorry to go there, Jill, but I'm not FAIR, I actually am fair.  That means I applaud you for the Tweet above but I damn well remember that in 2016 and 2012, you refused to address the wars seriously in your campaign -- there was no speech, there was nothing more than a sentence or two.  So, Jill, I'm glad you found your voice.  I hope you don't lose it again.  It's a real shame that you had two presidential runs and didn't use either to call out the ongoing wars.

Okay, Liz Sly is a journalist, an actual one.

"There is a question of trust. This will cause many governments to rethink their alliances with a superpower that can just abandon them and leave them in the lurch and throw them under the bus" - Iraq's ex FM Hoshyar Zebari on another US betrayal of Kurds


Residents of northeastern Syria were bracing Thursday for the fallout of President Trump’s unexpected move to withdraw U.S. troops, a decision that many in the region regard as a betrayal that will reverberate well beyond this corner of Syria.
With Turkey threatening to invade from the north, the Syrian government threatening to retake the area by force and the Islamic State regrouping in their midst, Kurds and Arabs were unsure — and divided — over what most to fear next.
In the Syrian town of Kobane, where the United States’ alliance with Syria’s Kurds began in 2014, thousands of Kurds marched in anger and dismay toward a U.S. military base, many clutching photographs of their children killed fighting the Islamic State alongside U.S. forces. They urged Trump to reverse his decision.

Guess what?  Grow the f**k up and defend your own damn selves.  You've been pathetic and I'm not going to pretend otherwise.  The US government has repeatedly betrayed you, the Kurds, since the start of the Iraq War.  Did you get that article implemented to resolve Kirkuk yet?

Hell no.

It's part of the Iraqi Constitution and it was supposed to take place no later than the end of 2007.  Eleven years later and nothing.

And remember when Barack Obama insisted that even though Nouri al-Maliki lost the 2010 elections, he would get a second term?  Remember that contract that Barack told you the US would stand by, the concessions Nouri made to get that second term?  Yeah, you were going to get that article finally implemented.

Now the fact that it was required in your own Constitution didn't make Nouri do it but now because Barack was going to make sure it happened, you believed it would.

Because you acted like idiots.  Barack didn't stand by it -- or anything in The Erbil Agreement.  It was a lie.  You are repeatedly tricked and lied to.  And we've cited, repeatedly, the Pike Report (US Congressional report) which demonstrates that Henry Kissinger was lying to you and using you under Richard Nixon.

If you're repeatedly lied to and you keep believing?  You're a stupid idiot.  I'm sorry to speak bluntly but maybe this time you'll finally wake up to the truth.

When your areas are bombed by Turkey, we call it out here.  Does the US government?  No.  Not under Bully Boy Bush, not under Barack Obama and not under Donald Trump.

At some point, you really need to buy a clue.

They know you fold, they know you compromise, they know they can take you for granted.  So they repeatedly have.  That's on you.

Your Peshmerga -- when the Talabanis leave them alone -- can fight ISIS.  That's your fighting force, use it.  Stop pretending you need US forces.  I'm not going to keep playing.

US forces need to be out of Iraq.  The Kurds need to wise up to reality, the US government has never been their friends.  As Aimee Mann says, wise up.

The following community sites -- plus Jody Watley and Cindy Sheehan -- updated:

  • Friday, December 21, 2018

    James Wolfe broke the public trust

    1. BREAKING: Carter Page submits amicus brief in support of US v James Wolfe in sentencing hearing today disputing Wolfe's claim he caused "no tangible harm to any victim" by leaking sensitive intel on Page, who claims he rec'd "death threats" after Wolfe leaked to BuzzFeed,WaPo,NBC

    James Wolfe?  USA TODAY explains:

    James Wolfe, a former aide on the Senate Intelligence Committee, was sentenced two months in prison on Thursday after pleading guilty to lying to the FBI in an investigation of his contacts with reporters and the leaking of classified information. 
    Wolfe was the Senate's longtime director of security for the intelligence committee before retiring in May. He was charged in June with three counts with making false statements to federal investigators, who during the investigation seized emails and phone records belonging to New York Times correspondent Ali Watkins, whom he'd reportedly dated.

    Two months was not enough.  He knew what he was doing.  He did it intentionally.  He did it to cause harm.  It could have been information on any American.  His post was one that required trust and he broke the public trust.

    For that alone, he should have been put away for ten years, for that alone.
    Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

    Thursday, December 20, 2018.  A Committee hearing makes clear, yet again, that the VA provides fuzzy math and fails to deliver for veterans, Mia Farrow rejects efforts at peace, unrelated -- we offer a blind item on a woman who slept in five-somes (including with the underage), the Blackwater massacre in Iraq is still not being reported (as they continue to hide and cover for a US official), and much more

    Senator Jon Tester: For more than a year we all worked carefully with the VA and the White House to negotiate the text of that bill.  We were in regular communication with the VA on how it would interpret and implement that bill, passing it back and forth for technical assistance, ensuring we were all on the same page.  Since that time, though, I have grown increasingly concerned with the Department's planned implementation of the new Veterans Community Care Program created in the bill.  Mr. Secretary, the VA is moving away from the direction it was headed just six months ago, make no mistake about that.  The most dramatic example has to do with the VA designating certain types of care as nearly automatic eligibility for community care.  Six months ago, we agreed that, if veterans faced excessive wait times or driving times or distance, to access certain services at a VA's facility, they should be offered referrals to the community.  Specifically, we discussed designating access standards for services like routine lab work and x-rays.  But we agreed to give the VA the authority to decide exactly which services or categories of care should make veterans automatically eligible to receive care in the community.  Now that we've passed the VA Mission Act, VA has decided to head in what I believe is a completely different direction. VA now indicates it plans to designate access standards that apply to each and every type of care a veteran might need. This would essentially outsource all segments of VA healthcare to the community based on arbitrary wait times or geographic standards which we were supposed to be moving away from by ending the [Veterans] Choice Program.  And that's despite the fact that several studies -- one as recently as last week -- have indicated the quality of care that the VA is as good as or better than the private sector.  Let me say that one more time because it's not said enough:  As recently as last week, we received yet another study that indicated that VA care is as good as or better than private sector.  To make matters worse, VA officials have offered only vague, verbal descriptions of the various sets of potential access standards under considerations by you, Mr. Wilkie. It also concerns me that each time we've discussed this issue in the last few months, VA officials have given us wildly different estimates of budgetary resources needed to implement this set of access standards you're considering.  For example, if the Department chooses to go with the same access standard used by TRICARE PRIME, we've been told it could cost anywhere from one billion for the first year to more than twenty billion over five years.  Some of the VA estimates indicate that costs will be less than what we spent on Choice but would make a greater percentage of veterans eligible for community care referrals.  That doesn't make sense.  So we need to know what you're doing, Mr. Secretary and how much it's going to cost? No conflicting or vague answers, no fuzzy math, no games.  The stakes are too high.

    The senator was speaking at yesterday's Veterans Affairs Committee hearing.  It was a joint hearing -- the House Veterans Affairs Committee and the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.  Tester is the Ranking Member on the Senate Committee and Senator Johnny Isakson is the Chair.  On the House, US House Rep Phil Roe is the Chair and US House Rep Mark Takano was Acting Ranking Member.

    Appearing before the Committee was VA Secretary Robert Wilkie who was accompanied by VA's Melissa Glynn and Steven Lieberman.  Mr. Wilkie has officially been Secretary of the VA for four months (in addition, he was Acting Secretary for two months).  During his tenure so far, he noted in the hearing that he had visited ten VA hospitals.

    In testimony, Wilkie offered, "VA receives 140 million phone calls a year.  Ten million people contact VA online each month.  We have 348 contact centers, hundreds of websites, and dozens of databases."

    For someone so quick to toss around numbers that no one asked for, Wilkie was strangely unable to provide specific numbers that went to the topic of the hearing: The Mission Act.

    It was vague answers, it was fuzzy math, it was a group of VA officials either completely unprepared for the hearing or unwilling to provide the answers needed for Congress to provide the needed oversight.

    Possibly, Wilkie felt he'd offered enough honesty with admitting, of the Choice program, "the Department, I will admit was taken advantage of."  Of course, those years of Choice were before he became VA Secretary and it's always easy to admit to the failures of those who came before you.

    VHA's Steven Lieberman insisted to the Committee that the public, reported administrative costs for the outgoing Choice program were not accurate, that they were much lower.  He offered no figures, of course.  But those public figures -- take his word for it, mainly because all he did was offer his word, certainly no actual numbers -- they are lower.  That prompted this exchange.

    Steven Lieberman:  We're going to go to a new model [with Mission] which will further decrease the administrative costs.

    Ranking Member Jon Tester: Okay and so are you planning on putting overhead caps on those contracts ?

    Steven Lieberman: Uh, we are, uh, moving towards a standard that, uh, that is similar to what the community --

    Ranking Member Jon Tester:  So that's a no? You're not going to put caps in.

    Steven Lieberman:  We certainly can uh-uh-uh

    Ranking Member Jon Tester:  No, I'm not advocating for it but what I'm saying is that if somebody has got to put a finger on these costs because, I tell you, we're talking billions of dollars and after the fact, we can't get them back and those are dollars that should be taking care of the veterans.  So do we have a plan?  Because the truth is the Mission Act we passed with the best of the intentions but the it could be a train wreck too.  And I hate to tell you this but it's in your lap, it is in your lap.  So when we're talking about too high administration costs, we're talking access standard models that were basically Choice, we could end up with a problem where we're actually cutting benefits for our veterans. 

    We'll note this from the Chair of the House Veterans Committee.

    Chair Phil Roe: A small thing like a contract, a cable contract, you might have signed, or a contract on an apartment, and then your spouse loses their life in service to the country and you not be able to get out of that contract for a year?  Now you're going to hopefully be able to do of that.  Little things like that that don't seem like big things but, if your the person on the end of that, they are big things.  And I've personally seen it and witnessed it with my friends who have had to deal with it. So these are ideas that came from both sides of the aisle and I want to thank all my colleagues for those ideas.

    This was about the efforts of both Committees to listen to veterans and to find issues that have not been addressed previously but need to be addressed.  Is the VA also listening to veterans?  In the hearing Wilkie claimed that he was listening to VSOs but he seemed to believe he was the first to ever listen to, for example, blind veterans.  That's inaccurate.

    Wilkie claiming to listen to veterans also is hard to believe when there are still problems with the GI Bill being implemented properly.

    Senator Patty Murray: [. . .] I do want to mention the current chaos with the GI Bill.  It is unacceptable to the veterans without a stipend or an incorrect stipend or a delayed stipend -- especially when they rely on that to pay for rent or food.  And it is unacceptable to put veterans at risk by failing to get tuition payments to the universities, as well, on time.  These are basic tasks that the VA cannot get wrong, You've had more than a year now to implement the changes in the Forever GI Bill.  I've written you two letters, one more than a month ago, one three weeks ago looking for answers on how the VA is going to fix these payment problems, how they're going to address the shortcomings with the GI bill comparison tool and especially in light of the recent collapse of ECE, to explain why the Department of Education has stopped sharing accreditation information with the VA.  

    Yes, we're back to 2010.  The only real change?  The VA's big defender for failure to implement the GI Bill correctly, then-US House Rep  Corrine Brown, is now in a federal prison since she is a convicted felon.

    Also in the hearing, Jon Tester declared, "If we aren't willing to take care of our veterans, we shouldn't be making them."  Agreed.  If you're sending people to war, you owe them the healthcare you have promised them.  And if you can't deliver that, you shouldn't be sending them.  I'd further state that you shouldn't be sending them to these made up wars to begin with.  And if you don't grasp that the US has -- and has had -- way too many wars, Secretary Wilkie noted in the hearing that Colorado Springs at Pikes Peak has become the 136th national veterans cemetery and that "the first burial took place last month."

    Another detail -- that goes to the large number of today's wars -- Secretary Wilkie noted, "For the first time since the fall of Saigon, half of our veterans are actually under the age of sixty-five."

    When Ranking Member Tester declared, "If we aren't willing to take care of our veterans, we shouldn't be making them," he was referring to the inability of the Congress to -- so far -- past the Blue Water legislation.  Here's the Senate bill.

    115th CONGRESS
      1st Session
                                     S. 422
    To amend title 38, United States Code, to clarify presumptions relating 
     to the exposure of certain veterans who served in the vicinity of the 
                  Republic of Vietnam, and for other purposes.
                       IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES
                               February 16, 2017
     Mrs. Gillibrand (for herself, Mr. Daines, Mr. Tester, Mr. Crapo, Mr. 
    Markey, Ms. Murkowski, Ms. Warren, Mr. Rubio, Mr. Leahy, Ms. Klobuchar, 
     Ms. Heitkamp, Ms. Baldwin, Mr. Schatz, Mr. Whitehouse, Mr. Wyden, Mr. 
     Casey, Mr. Kaine, Ms. Stabenow, Mr. Warner, Mr. Peters, Mr. Menendez, 
    Mr. Portman, Mr. Blunt, and Mr. Rounds) introduced the following bill; 
    which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs
                                     A BILL
    To amend title 38, United States Code, to clarify presumptions relating 
     to the exposure of certain veterans who served in the vicinity of the 
                  Republic of Vietnam, and for other purposes.
        Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
    United States of America in Congress assembled,
        This Act may be cited as the "Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act 
    of 2017".
        (a) Compensation.--Subsections (a)(1) and (f) of section 1116 of 
    title 38, United States Code, are amended by inserting "(including the 
    territorial seas of such Republic)" after "served in the Republic of Vietnam"
    each place it appears.
        (b) Health Care.--Section 1710(e)(4) of such title is amended by 
    inserting "(including the territorial seas of such Republic)" after 
    "served on active duty in the Republic of Vietnam".
        (c) Effective Date.--The amendments made by subsections (a) and (b) 
    shall take effect as of September 25, 1985.

    We'll try to cover the hearing some more in tomorrow's snapshot.

    Let's digress for a moment.  We live in the age of MeToo# and it's interesting to remember the former 'flower child' who never embraced peace -- despite some seeing her as a hippie -- but embraced the sexuality of the so-called sexual revolution -- meaning she didn't just sleep -- as most already know -- with married men.  No, she who was married herself, slept with married men who loved five-somes.  And, in terms of MeToo# -- and possibly in terms of the accusations she has made against an ex, it should be noted that there were girls involved in these five-somes, some as young as fourteen.  "MeToo# for thee but for me" should be her slogan.  Just file that way.

    On an unrelated note (!), oh, look, it's Mia Farrow!

    You mean the same military experts that lied us into Iraq & Libya and currently has us bombing 8 different countries? Trump has so completely ruined Liberals brains that they now publicly cheer on war and military confrontations with Nuclear powers.

    Oh, Mia, you've always been so pathetic.  You're against abortion and want to outlaw it, but you're always for the killing of foreigners.  Strange, didn't people see you as a hippie?  Wrongly saw you as that?  Oh, and weren't you having a lot of affairs while you were married to Frank Sinatra?  How many could you fit in a bed back then?  Anyway, Mia never spoke out against the Iraq War (she really didn't protest the Vietnam War either -- or do anything for Civil Rights -- she did get high a lot and sleep with a lot of people so I guess that was her contribution to the sixties).  She did spend the '00s repeatedly advocating for Bully Boy Bush to send US troops into Sudan.

    I guess, especially in her old age, she's traded the thrill of sex for the thrills her War Lust provides.  Since she's a noted War Monger, I'm confused why we should ever listen to Mia Farrow?  What standing does she have?

    I mean she raised a lot kids -- no judgment on how poorly she did -- but, interesting that this woman who's always screaming for US troops to go here or to stay there, this woman has never had one of her many children (11) join the military.  She wants to send your children into battle, just not her own.  She's kind of a chicken hawk in that way -- that she doesn't want her kids to do battle, I'm not saying that she's ever been in bed with anyone under age -- certainly not with a girl under the age of consent, certainly not a girl under the age of consent, herself and three other people.  As the great Cass Elliot said at Monterey, "Shh, no rumors."

     Mia's opposed to peace, she always has been.

    She's frightened by the possibility that US President Donald Trump might remove US troops from Syria.  She was never bothered that the US government, under Barack Obama, supplied al Qaeda and ISIS with weapons in Syria.  She wasn't bothered that those weapons (and those fighters) drifted back into Iraq.  She's not bothered by the continuing Iraq War.  Or the continuing Afghanistan War -- which may be ending soon.  I would love that be true.  Thus far it is not.

    Elaine covered this possibility in "Was anything accomplished in the Afghanistan War?" and from that:

     Did we accomplish anything with the war?

    I doubt it.  Afghan women are no better off.  The Taliban was never vanquished.  Maybe UNICAL got that pipeline that they always wanted.

    That was the real point of the war.  It's why Bill Clinton was in bed with the Taliban, remember?  We wanted that pipleine.  Gore Vidal repeatedly addressed that whole pursuit.  He may have been the only one willing to tell that truth.  Sadly, he's a truth teller who is now gone. 

    If you'll remember, following the 9/11 attacks, we demanded Afghanistan turn over bin Laden.  Afghanistan's respone to Secretary of State Colin Powell?  Give us some sort of evidence that makes him a suspect.  Colin replied, hand him over and then we'll hand over evidence.  Yes, it became a pissing contest.  On such actions are destructive wars waged.

    For that reason, the Afghanistan War.

    Do I like the Taliban?  Can't stand them.  That's really not the issue.  There are a lot of people in the world I can't stand. 

    The war needs to come to an end.  Like Iraq, this war is achieving nothing.  What is the end goal?  What is the desired outcome?  Both have gone on for over 15 years.  Come on, that's ridiculous. Repeating, they've accomplished nothing, these wars.  A lot of people have been killed, a lot of lives destroyed.  In the end, all for nothing.

    But Mia and other idiots need these wars to go on and on and on some more.

    When President Obama prematurely evacuated American forces from a stable Iraq, we got ISIS. President Trump should not make the same mistake in Syria.

    That's really not correct.

    If you're bothered by the rise of ISIS, the issue is the 2010 election.  Iraqis rejected Nouri al-Maliki as prime minister.  He was destructive and petty and was already known to have secret prisons and torture cells.  They rejected him.  When he refused to step down -- for eight months -- US President Barack Obama sided with him, had the US broker a contract (The Erbil Agreement) that gave him a second term -- not the voters, a legal contract did it.  He did not keep his part of the contract.  He was determined to terrorize the Sunnis.  The day the bulk of US troops departed Iraq was followed by him sending tanks to circle the homes of Sunni politicians.  This was only part of the increased persecution of  Nouri's second term.  ISIS rose in Iraq due to Nouri al-Maliki's actions in his second term as prime minister.

    ISIS would have risen with US troops on the ground. The issue wasn't US troops, the issue was Nouri al-Maliki's actions.  Had the US government backed democracy in 2010, ISIS wouldn't have gotten its foothold.  The winner of that election, Ayad Allawi, ran on unity and that's why his Iraqiya resonated with voters -- it was a brand new party but its message made it more popular than Nouri al-Maliki and his established political party.

    There are always going to be things that happen in Iraq.  Good and bad.  The US troops cannot effect that.  The best thing would be for the US to leave.  Here, we advocated that Barack Obama keep his promise and remove all troops within ten months of being sworn in.  It was the mandate that got him elected president.  Following it would have given him cover because things are always going to go bad when troops leave.  By keeping his word (he didn't), he could argue that he was following the wishes of the American people.

    The US has propped up one artificial government after another in Iraq.  These are puppet governments, they are not governments of the people.  You can do one puppet government after another for the next fifty years.  It's not going to matter.  History has demonstrated that puppet governments do not stay in place.  If US troops leave, there will be turmoil as the Iraqi people try to take control of their country -- as they should.

    In other news . . .

    A former Blackwater security contractor was found guilty of first-degree murder for his role in the deadly 2007 shooting of dozens of unarmed Iraqis

    Eileen Sullivan writes a worthless article for THE NEW YORK TIMES.

    I doubt anyone has done better than Eileen.

    On Wednesday morning, a jury found Mr. Slatten, 35, guilty of first-degree murder — a charge that carries a mandatory life sentence — for his role in killing one of 14 unarmed Iraqi civilians in the Sept. 16, 2007, shooting. Ten women, two men and two children were killed in the shooting, and 18 others were injured, according to the United States attorney’s office for the District of Columbia. A sentencing date has not been set.

    Yes, we've heard that.  We heard it in real time.  Check the archives.

    For 11 years we've heard that.

    It's not journalism.

    Journalism is reporting the truth and it's still not been reported.

    The shooting took place.  It was awful.  But it was also the US government.  Why are we still not being told, eleven years later, who the US official was in that convoy?

    That is the part of the story that has not been covered.

    Certainly, that US official owes the Iraqi people an apology and the American people have a right to know who Blackwater was escorting and why that official has been allowed to go unnamed all this time.  When you want to report that, you might actually be writing a news story.

    Some official got 'protected' by Blackwater at the expense of the Iraqi people.  He or she needs to offer an apology to the Iraqi people.

    The following community sites -- plus Cindy Sheehan and Jody Watley -- updated: