Monday 5 August 2013
Photo, above: Pittsburgh VA hospital. See Hour 1, Block C, Salena Zito, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review & Pirates fan, and Lara M Brown, political analyst and author, on Too Tired to Care about VA Scandal? An unknown number of U.S. military veterans are dead within 30 days of contracting Legionnaires' disease. [It began in 1976 in Philadelphia, when many died.] in a Veterans Affairs hospital in Pittsburgh. Aside from their family members, few people seem to be outraged. If that doesn't grab your attention, perhaps this will: VA officials in charge when those men were dying from a preventable illness received more than $100,000 in performance bonuses. The same bureaucrats who were paid handsomely for negligence and incompetence also refuse to answer reporters' questions about whether they've removed the deadly Legionella bacteria from hospitals that were built to heal, protect and serve those who served us. More veterans could die if the bacteria are not removed, and no one appears to care. Where is the moral outrage? Click here for link. Five confirmed deaths, may be more. We went to Washington to ask the director - who, in public, refused to answer direct questions. At the beginning, the managers hid the information of the outbreak then all received $100,000 bonuses. The one most important question: Is the bacterium still there? There are veterans who need to have major surgery swiftly, are terrified they'll contract the bacterium and so are too afraid to have surgery.
JOHN BATCHELOR SHOW
Monday 5 August 2013 / Hour 1, Block A: Bill Roggio, Long War Journal and FDD, and Thomas Joscelyn, Long War Journal senior editor, in re: General manager of al Qaeda operations: , in Yemen. . . . Most of the strikes were in the two provinces, then they dispersed to safe havens ar0und the country. . . . The last strikes took place in southern Yemen, where AQAP typically is operating Before last week, the e re were only 12 strikes in two months. . . . In North Waziristan, are they looking for Zawahiri? More complicated there. JB: "We think they’re in that famous Starbucks in Karachi."
US embassies shut down but some of the US establishment is active.
Interpol Asks Nations to Help Track Terror Suspects Freed in Prison Breaks Interpol issued a global security alert Aug. 3 in response to a series of recent prison breaks in Iraq, Libya and Pakistan, which the France-based agency said it is examining for links, Reuters reported. The alert follows a U.S.-issued worldwide travel alert on Aug. 2 warning Americans that al Qaeda may be planning attacks in August, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa. The alert was based on the same intelligence that prompted the State Department to close 21 U.S. embassies and consulates on Aug. 4, an unnamed U.S. official said. The United Kingdom, France and Germany announced plans to temporarily close their embassies in Yemen the same day. While the al Qaeda core has been crippled, other portions of the jihadist movement are thriving.
Local AQAP commander reported killed in recent US drone strike Al Khidr Husayn al Ja'dani, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula's emir for Abyan province, is thought to have been killed in the July 30 strike. He replaced an AQAP leader who was involved in the USS Cole attack.
US closes diplomatic facilities in response to al Qaeda threat The State Department said 21 US embassies and consulates will be closed on Sunday, Aug. 4, in response to a suspected threat from an al Qaeda affiliate. No specific details about the threat have been provided. Al Qaeda-linked jihadists assaulted multiple diplomatic facilities in September 2012. [more]
Monday 5 August 2013 / Hour 1, Block B: Bill Roggio, Long War Journal and FDD, and Thomas Joscelyn, Long War Journal senior editor, in re: Benghazi, Sept 11, 1012. Benghazi bombshell: CNN report alleges consulate full of CIA agents UPI.com A CNN report supposedly delivered brand new revelations about the alleged cover-up of the attack on Americans in Benghazi, Libya, without . . . Amb Stevens died of smoke inhalation and abuse. However, that CIA annex was a hotbed of activity in recruiting, training, arming and sending fighters to Syria. Not a small operation. Paula Broadwell actually said publicly that she thought the CI was holding detainees there. We have inadequate information. Ansar al Shariah in Libya: in Benghazi and Derna (most-jihadist city, in eastern Libya): always find al Qaeda links. Strong case can be made that Ansar al Sharia is al Q's re-branding for the [Mahgreb?]. We saw a large mob: State decided not to call this a launch against the US despite the fact that a US ambassador was murdered. A year later, same crowds and State decides to call it a potential attack. Had the US not done that this time, It'd be too obviously remiss so no choice.
Interpol Asks Nations to Help Track Terror Suspects Freed in Prison Breaks — Interpol issued a global alert on Saturday asking member countries to help track hundreds of terrorism suspects who escaped in a wave of prison breaks over the past month — including in Iraq, Pakistan and Libya — and requesting assistance in determining whether any of the operations “are coordinated or linked.” The alert from Interpol, the global police organization, came two days after the State Department ordered nearly two dozen diplomatic facilities closed in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia based on intelligence that an affiliate of Al Qaeda in Yemen might be plotting attacks in the coming days. On Saturday, several European governments said they, too, were temporarily closing their outposts in Yemen. It was unclear how the Interpol and State Department alerts might be connected, although the Interpol notice did refer to the State Department closings and stated Interpol would be “prioritizing all information and intelligence in relation to the breakouts or terrorist plots.” American and foreign officials believe that . . . [more]
Image below: Legionnaire's Disease bacterium
Monday 5 August 2013 / Hour 1, Block C: Salena Zito, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review & Pirates fan, and Lara M Brown, political analyst and author, in re: Too Tired to Care About VA Scandal? An unknown number of U.S. military veterans are dead within 30 days of contracting Legionnaires' disease. [It began in 1976 in Philadelphia, when many died.] in a Veterans Affairs hospital in Pittsburgh. Aside from their family members, few people seem to be outraged. If that doesn't grab your attention, perhaps this will: VA officials in charge when those men were dying from a preventable illness received more than $100,000 in performance bonuses. The same bureaucrats who were paid handsomely for negligence and incompetence also refuse to answer reporters' questions about whether they've removed the deadly Legionella bacteria from hospitals that were built to heal, protect and serve those who served us. More veterans could die if the bacteria are not removed, and no one appears to care. Where is the moral outrage? Click here for link
Five confirmed deaths, may be more. We went to Washington to ask the director - who, in public, refused to answer direct questions. At the beginning, the managers hid the information of the outbreak then all received $100,000 bonuses.
The one most important question: Is the bacterium still there? There are veterans who need to have major surgery swiftly, are terrified they'll contract the bacterium and so are too afraid to have surgery,
Vice President Joe Biden will appear at a fundraiser for New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan (D) that is being hosted by President Obama's biggest supporter in the state,WMUR reports. "This is the second time that Biden has been seen warming up Hassan ahead of what could be a presidential run. Biden also invited Hassan to watch his swearing in as vice president earlier in the year." Interestingly, the person organizing the fundraiser appeared on Up with Steve Kornacki and endorsed Hillary Clinton for president.
The U.S. economy added 162,000 jobs last month while the unemployment rate fell to 7.4%, the lowest since December 2008, the Wall Street Journal reports. Ezra Klein: "If labor-force participation had held at its pre-recession peak, unemployment would be around 9.7 percent today."
Monday 5 August 2013 / Hour 1, Block D: Sebastian von Gorka, FDD, in re: Egypt. The threat from al Qaeda. Yes, one can be an honest broker – only if the two parties between whom one is brokering are honest. The Muslim Brotherhood has proven itself as achieving power via democracy then [racing] to establish a wholly nondemocratic regime aiming at a global Islamist caliphate.
A century ago, Kerensky: a nationalist leading what remains of the govt to create a revolution. The MB is similar to the Leninist in their ferocity. However, the military removed a fundamentally undemocratic president, and is not taking full control; rather, al Sisi put himself in the midst of multiple persons to govern – then began to act as though he was president. This is not history repeating itself, but it's definitely rhyming, Who has the most to lose? The military. We have a long way to go in Egypt; there's no god solution. Mr Burns goes to Cairo to knit together two sides who hate each other.
Al Qaeda Threat to American Interests Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) may be in the final stages of preparing an attack on American interests in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region on August 7, 2013. A number of factors suggest that the attack widely expected for Sunday, August 4, may, in fact, be planned for Wednesday, August 7. Discussion The U.S. Department of State issued a Worldwide Travel Alert on August 2, 2013 warning of an increased threat of terrorist attacks in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region until August 31. The Department of State then announced the closure of over 20 U.S. embassies and consulates Sunday, August 4, following credible intelligence that the attack would occur on that day. An update announced that most of the posts will remain closed through August 10 as a security precaution. It is possible that AQAP intentionally tipped-off the American intelligence community (IC) to test America’s security posture abroad. If this is the case, it is unlikely that AQAP planned to conduct the attack on August 4.
A senior U.S. official noted that the group broke “operational security,” which is how the communications were intercepted.
It is not known whether this breach was intentional or not, but the Associated Press reported that AQAP was among the first terrorist groups to alter its communications protocols following the Edward Snowden leak, indicating a high level of security awareness and the ability to react quickly. The intercepted message may have resulted from a failure of al Qaeda members to observe the new protocols, but it may also have been misdirection.
If AQAP intends to conduct a spectacular attack, a number of factors suggest that it could occur on August 7. [more]
Testimony: The Continued Expansion of Al Qaeda Affiliates and their CapabilitiesBy Frederick W. Kagan July 18, 2013 Statement before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade The war against al Qaeda is not going well. Afghanistan has seen the most success, since Coalition and Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) have been able to prevent al Qaeda from re-establishing effective sanctuary in the places from which the 9/11 attacks were planned and launched. The killing of Osama bin Laden has not been followed-up in Pakistan with disruption to the leadership group there on the scale of operations that preceded the Abbottabad raid. Al Qaeda affiliates in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and West Africa have dramatically expanded their operating areas and capabilities since 2009 and appear poised to continue that expansion. Progress against al Shabaab, the al Qaeda affiliate in Somalia, is extremely fragile and shows signs of beginning to unravel. New groups with al Qaeda leanings, although not affiliations, are emerging in Egypt, and old groups that had not previously been affiliated with al Qaeda, such as Boko Haram in Nigeria, appear to be moving closer to it. Current trends point to continued expansion of al Qaeda affiliates and their capabilities, and it is difficult to see how current or proposed American and international policies are likely to contain that expansion, let alone reduce it to 2009 levels or below. Americans must seriously consider the possibility that we are, in fact, starting to lose the war against al Qaeda. What Is al Qaeda? The policy debate about al Qaeda has been bedeviled by competing definitions of the group and, consequently, evaluations of the threat it poses to the United States, as Katherine Zimmerman shows in a major paper that will be forthcoming from the Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) in September. Whereas the Bush Administration saw the group as a global network of cells, the Obama Administration has focused narrowly on the "core group" in Pakistan around bin Laden and, after his death, around his successor, Ayman al Zawahiri. The current administration has also labored to distinguish al Qaeda franchises that have the intent and capability to attack the United States homeland from those that do not, implying (or sometimes stating) that . . . [more
Monday 5 August 2013 / Hour 2, Block A: David M Drucker, Washington Examiner sr Congressional correspondent, in re: Republicans plot strategy to renew Obamacare fight in the fall House Republicans could move legislation that would defund Obamacare as a part of a government appropriations bill, GOP members confirmed Friday as they left Washington for a congressional recess. more...
THE IRS SCANDAL A Slo-Mo IRS Cover-Up Then: Outrage. Now: “Phony scandal.”
Monday 5 August 2013 / Hour 2, Block B: Alex J Pollock, AEI, in re: Big Bureaucracy: The CFPB Turns 2 The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is everything that both proponents and critics thought it would be, and that’s not a good thing. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has now reached its second birthday. At two years old, it has clearly become just what many of us expected: an ambitious and ballooning bureaucracy, able to operate outside the normal checks and balances of our democratic government. The opponents and proponents of the CFPB entirely agree on one thing: it was explicitly designed by its creators to evade the normal constraints of the American constitutional structure. Two years have taught us that the design has been remarkably successful in doing so. Both sides of the debate agree on this fact. They of course do not agree on whether this is good or bad. The CFPB is an offspring of the notorious Dodd-Frank Act, of which the best description is the “Faith in Bureaucracy Act.” For those sharing this faith, the CFPB’s design is a wonderful thing. It is a modern implementation of Woodrow Wilson’s dream of bureaucratic “experts,” who should not have to be bothered with irrelevant distractions like the elected representatives of the people. Accordingly, the CFPB is funded by the revenues of the Federal Reserve, which is to say general tax revenues, without needing approval or appropriation by . . . [more]
The CFPB head is apptd by the president but cannot be removed by the president or Congress except for moral turpitude. Little or no control by Congress, the president or the courts. No normal recourse under the Act – they’ve set up a imperial bureaucracy. Richard Cordray continues in his post even if Congress or the presidency changes, same as the FBI director.
Monday 5 August 2013 / Hour 2, Block C: Elizabeth Rosenthal, NYT, in re: Paying Till It Hurts series What drives the astronomical cost of joint replacements in the U.S. compared to other developed countries: There are more than 1 million joint replacement operations a year in the U.S. and demand for the surgery is expected to triple as baby boomers age. Fun fact: The list price in the U.S. of an artificial joint – just the piece of medical hardware alone – is equal to the all-inclusive price for the entire surgery (plus round trip airfare from the United States) in European countries. The reasons why US patients fall victim to such high prices: how a small group of device manufacturers in Indiana control much of the market, how devices are sometimes sold by manufacturer’s reps in the OR, how middlemen and hospitals mark up already-inflated list prices. The series makes it clear that we've hit a nerve with American patients, who want to know why the cost of these common medical matters is so high and so variable here.
Monday 5 August 2013 / Hour 2, Block D: Gordon Chang, Forbes.com, in re: Floating dead pigs resurface in China rivers The nightmare of dead-pig dumping in waterways near Shanghai has returned to haunt China's river inhabitants, despite government vows to crack down on the practice. In the months since authorities fished out more than 10,000 dead pigs from Huangpu River and its tributaries in March, farmers still appear to be disposing of the carcasses the same way. Internet searches for "dead pig" and "river" have resulted in media reports of similar incidents every month since the first stories made international headlines, sparked public outcry and prompted water safety concerns. "Over 70 dead swine salvaged from Hunan Liuyang river", the headlines say. "Dozens of dead pigs floating in Chengdu — odours overwhelm passersby”
"Ten rotten pigs in Hebei may have been dumped by vendors" The latest story came on Saturday, when photos were published by China International Broadcasting Network showing dozens of rotten pig carcasses floating in waterways in central China's Wuhan province. Government officials and media blamed pig farmers and sellers for dumping the carcasses in the rivers because it costs much less than burying or incinerating them.
But some experts have attributed the dumping practice to rigorous crackdowns on black-market pork dealings earlier this year. Authorities have clamped down on peddlers who buy dead pigs and sell them illicitly. The government has also sought to dispel public concerns about the pollution of the rivers, often the source of drinking water for cities. An agricultural expert compared the plight to “a few flies in a swimming pool”, reported the Beijing News. “Disgusting? Maybe. But how much of an impact will it really inflict on the water quality?” he said. Some local residents, however, have found an unexpected fortune in salvaging dead pigs from rivers. Villagers in Jiaxing who used to earn 30 yuan a day fishing, now make as much as 150 yuan (HK$190) a day picking carcasses from the water.
Monday 5 August 2013 / Hour 3, Block A: Malcolm Hoenlein, Conference of Presidents, in re: EU savants are coming to see Syria as we do:
The Regional Struggle for Syria "Two years after the outbreak of a largely peaceful uprising, Syria has fallen into a deep civil war that is increasingly drawing in regional actors. While the battle on the ground continues to be predominantly fought by Syrians, neighbouring powers have a growing stake in the conflict, providing important patronage to the warring parties as part of a broader regional struggle. This confrontation has drawn in Iran, Iraq, and the Lebanese Hezbollah movement in support of the Assad regime, and Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey behind the rebels. Other players, including Jordan, the Kurds, and Israel, are active in pursuit of narrower interests. Violent tensions are now spreading out beyond Syria's porous borders and the risk of a regional conflagration is growing. While regional players have been active in Syria since the early months of the conflict in 2011, the intensity of their involvement has clearly escalated in recent months. In June, Hezbollah fighters played a key role in helping President Bashar al-Assad seize the strategic town of Qusair and, together with Iranian advisors, have now assumed a greater role in facilitating regime efforts. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey remain the key sponsors of the rebel movement, providing it with arms and finance. There is also a growing cohort of foreign militants -- from across the region and beyond (including from the Central Asian-Caucasus region, the AfPak theatre, and Europe) -- fighting on behalf of the rebels. According to one credible estimate, the number of these fighters now stands at five thousand. Recent calls by leading regional religious figures, including the influential Qatar-based cleric, Yusuf al-Qaradawi, for a Sunni jihad in Syria will fuel this flow."
Monday 5 August 2013 / Hour 3, Block B: Malcolm Hoenlein, Conference of Presidents, in re: An Egyptian solder was killed and two others wounded Aug. 5 by gunmen who opened fire at an army checkpoint outside a military building in northern Sinai, AFP reported. The security situation in Sinai has been deteriorating since former president Hosni Mubarak was removed from power in 2011, and it has gotten worse since Mohammed Morsi was ousted from the presidency on July 3. Meanwhile, envoys from the United States, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar visited imprisoned leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood and its Freedom and Justice Party on Aug. 4 and 5, Ahram Online reported, as they continue efforts to broker a resolution to Egypt’s political turmoil.
Monday 5 August 2013 / Hour 3, Block C: Carl Zimer, NYT, in re: Monogamy’s Boost to Human Evolution
Monday 5 August 2013 / Hour 3, Block D: Jed Babbin, American Spectator, in re: The American Spectator : Desperation in the Benghazi Coverup
Monday 5 August 2013 / Hour 4, Block A: Henry Miller, Hoover Institution and Forbes, in re: "It's Not a Phony Scandal When President Obama Tramples the Constitution"
Monday 5 August 2013 / Hour 4, Block B: Bruce Thornton, Hoover Institution Defining Ideas, in re: Christian Tragedy in the Muslim World
Monday 5 August 2013 / Hour 4, Block C: Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (1 of 2)
Monday 5 August 2013 / Hour 4, Block D: Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (2 of 2)
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Hour 1: Mummy returns. Iron Lady. The Ten Commandments.
Hour 2: Skyline. Sin City. Snow White and the Huntsman, Shaolin.