Let's start with the US political scene.
US House Rep Timothy Walz is officially Ranking Member on the House Veterans Affairs Committee.
Good for him.
Good for veterans.
Bad for the inept Nancy Pelosi and the corrupt Corrine Brown (who is set to face trial on federal charges in April).
I believe we said it best about Congress' own personal Snuffleupagus (above in Isaiah's THE WORLD TODAY JUST NUTS "CORRINE BROWN") in the November 19, 2014 entry "Corrine Brown is not fit to serve."
And she wasn't.
And dumb asses who don't ever attend a Congressional hearing, don't follow what laws get passed, etc, insisted that criticizing Corrine was part of a war on women.
No, it was about an incompetent member of Congress who couldn't speak the English language, couldn't get her wig on straight (not a metaphor, she had attended hearing with the wig askew and once with it on backwards) and had more rumors of corruption than she had wigs in her collection.
On the English language, let's drop back to the June 27, 2015 snapshot:
Thursday, I didn't have my Corrine-To-English translator ring on me so we'll just note a little bit of her opening remarks.
Ranking Member Corrine Brown: The VA is facing a shortfall of 2.6 billion for veterans healthcare. This shortfall must be address [sic] ammediately [sic]. We cannot put the health and lives of our veterans at ris [sic] by spending our time and attention pointing fingers and assigning blame. VA will be facing an additional shortfall at the start of the next fistal [sic] year in October
We have to stop there.
We have to.
Corrine goes on to say that the country is headed towards a government shutdown -- she uses shutdown twice. Both times she probably would have been bleeped on TV.
She always invents her own words and here she took the "u" in "shutdown" and replaced it with an "i" both times she said it.
A government sh*tdown.
The fist time she said it, people were looking around. Then she said, "Let me say that again, we are headed towards a government sh*tdown" and several on the Committee appeared to bite their lips to avoid laughing.
On her third time using the term, she did manage to say "shutdown."
Keep playing with the English language, Corrine, it works if you work it.
Corrine used her time to ask about fee based care and Choice. Yes, Choice is fee based. Many grasped that before Corinne's question but everyone grasped it after Sloane explained Choice.
Well . . .
Everyone but Corinne Brown.
After he finished describing it, she asked, "And Choice?"
A confused Sloan Gibson replied softly, "That is Choice."
Oh, Corrine Brown.
The disgrace that never stopped.
And continues to this day.
Corrine's been busy since she lost her primary last August. She immediately set up a committee for her followers to donate to her legal fund. She's appeared at various churches throughout Florida with her hands out trying to stick in people's pockets.
Yesterday, Steve Patterson (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION) reported:
Ronnie Simmons, former U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown’s longtime chief of staff, pleaded guilty Wednesday to a fraud conspiracy charge that strengthens the legal vise squeezing his indicted ex-boss.
Simmons, who pleaded guilty to just two of 19 charges he faced from a July indictment, also admitted to helping steal government money by creating a phantom job for an unnamed relative that cost the government about $735,000 over 15 years.
“If you plead guilty, there will be no trial of any kind,” U.S. Magistrate James Klindt told Simmons before agreeing during a Wednesday hearing to recommend a district judge accept the plea. The rest of the charges will be dismissed if the judge accepts the plea.
Anne Schindler (WTLV) adds:
If Simmons were to receive the maximum punishment for the two charges, he would face up to 30 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.
However, according to the plea deal, prosecutors are recommending a "downward adjustment" of his sentence and consideration of his "substantial cooperation." A judge is not bound by the plea deal.
In exchange, Simmons must truthfully testify against his former boss, and anyone else involved in the case, at the request of prosecutors.
Simmons was indicted July 6, 2016 alongside Brown, who was charged with 22 related counts. She has pleaded not guilty.
Anthony Suarez, Simmons' attorney, described his decision to testify against her as "gut wrenching" for his client. But, he said the fake charity scheme was merely a symptom of a pay-to-play political system.
ACE NEWS SERVICE explains exactly what Suarez is stating took place:
In connection with his guilty plea, Simmons admitted that, between late 2012 and early 2016, he and a co-defendant, former Congresswoman Corrine Brown, 70, of Jacksonville, Florida, participated in a fraudulent scheme involving the One Door for Education – Amy Anderson Scholarship Fund (One Door) in which the two defendants and others acting on their behalf solicited more than $800,000 in charitable donations based on false representations that the donations would be used for college scholarships and school computer drives, among other things. As part of the scheme, Simmons admitted that he and Brown solicited donations from individuals and corporate entities that Brown knew by virtue of her position in the U.S. House of Representatives, many of which the defendants led to believe that One Door was a properly registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, when, in fact, it was not.
Simmons further admitted that, contrary to his and Brown’s misrepresentations, Brown, Simmons, One Door president Carla Wiley, and others, used the vast majority of One Door donations for their personal and professional benefit, including tens of thousands of dollars in cash deposits that Simmons made to Brown’s personal bank accounts. Simmons admitted that he engaged in such cash transactions involving funds from the One Door bank account at Brown’s direction. In one instance, Simmons admitted depositing $2,100 in One Door funds into Brown’s personal bank account the same day that Brown wrote a check for a similar amount to pay taxes to the IRS. Likewise, Simmons admitted that he and Brown also used the outside consulting company of one of Brown’s employees to funnel One Door and other funds to Brown and others for their personal use. Further, Simmons acknowledged that more than $200,000 in One Door funds also were used to pay for events hosted by Brown or held in her honor, including a golf tournament in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida; lavish receptions during an annual conference in Washington, D.C.; the use of a luxury box during a Beyoncé concert in Washington, D.C.; and the use of a luxury box during an NFL game between the Washington Redskins and the Jacksonville Jaguars in the Washington, D.C. area.
Corrine stands a good chance of serving time.
And she should be behind bars.
Her disgrace is also Nancy Pelosi's disgrace.
Corrine was not fit to be Ranking Member of any Committee.
She was especially not fit to be Ranking Member of a veterans committee.
As a member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, Corrine had 'distinguished' herself with one attack on veterans after another from 2009 to 2016.
Why did she attack them?
To defend the administration.
Take the scandal with the new veterans on the GI Bill not getting their checks. Corrine declared it was their fault and the colleges fault.
She continued this nonsense even after then-Secretary of the VA Eric Shinseki testified to the House Veterans Affairs Committee on October 14, 2009.
I'll be frank, when I arrived, uh, there were a number of people telling me this was simply not executable. It wasn't going to happen. Three August was going to be here before we could have everything in place. Uh, to the credit of the folks in uh VA, I, uh, I consulted an outside consultant, brought in an independent view, same kind of assessment. 'Unless you do some big things here, this is not possible.' To the credit of the folks, the good folks in VBA, they took it on and they went at it hard. We hired 530 people to do this and had to train them. We had a manual system that was computer assisted. Not very helpful but that's what they inherited. And we realized in about May that the 530 were probably a little short so we went and hired 230 more people. So in excess of 700 people were trained to use the tools that were coming together even as certificates were being executed. Uhm, we were short on the assumption of how many people it would take. We based our numbers on the Montgomery GI Bill which is about a 15 minute procedure. The uh chapter thirty-three procedures about an hour on average, maybe an hour and 15 minutes. So right off the bat, we had some issues with assumptions. Uh, we are still receiving certificates of enrollment. This week alone, we received 36,000 certificates of enrollment coming from schools who are working through the process and we put them into the execute of providing those checks -- three checks.
Corrine never missed a moment to place the burden and the blame on the veterans in her last 8 years of Congress. Barack Obama was president then and Corrine saw her role on the Veterans Affairs Committee as playing defense for the administration, not in assisting veterans.
Which is why veterans groups endorsed Walz for Ranking Member and not Corrine.
Tim Walz is a voice for veterans regardless of who occupies the White House.
He had proven himself on the committee repeatedly. (For this documented in detail, see the editorial we did at THIRD "Editorial: Corrine Brown must not be named Ranking Member.")
But Nancy Pelosi wanted her friend Corrine to serve as Ranking Member.
That's Isaiah's "Let's Be Whats!"
From the disaster of Nancy Pelosi's leadership of House Democrats to the disaster of Iraq . . .
We've repeatedly stressed: "The Islamic State and al Qaeda in Mesopotamia are not the same thing. They have similar goals and can work together or can be at war with one another." And from January 24th:
Xenophobia allows a White person to group the Islamic State and al Qaeda in Iraq together.
For many years, you saw this play out at the US State Dept.
But the two are not the same and were never the same.
They have some similar motives and they have some opposing motives.
Which is why the two work separately in Syria -- they also do in Iraq but a lazy (and, yes, xenophobic) press just attributes all actions in Iraq to the Islamic State.
al Qaeda in Iraq remains. And they have been responsible for some recent bombings.
Even some that the Islamic State has taken credit for.
But that's another difference between the two groups.
An informed dialogue would benefit all.
But, sadly, we're not getting it these days.
Maybe reality is starting to sink in?
Natalie Johnson (FREE BEACON) reports:
A Sunni insurgency is taking root in Iraq as the U.S.-led coalition continues to weaken the Islamic State's territorial strongholds, particularly in Mosul, according to a new report.
The D.C.-based Institute for the Study of War warned that al Qaeda's top leadership likely will capitalize on ISIS's continued losses and attempt to gain influence within splinter militant groups opposed to the Shia-led government of Iraq.
Emily Anagnostos, the researcher who authored the report, told the Washington Free Beacon on Wednesday that the U.S.-led coalition fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria needs to broaden its focus to target smaller Sunni insurgent groups that likely will grow as ISIS faces setbacks.
So the simple narrative may be dying at last.
If the Islamic State is focused on Mosul -- retaining it and repelling Iraqi soldiers -- exactly who's carrying out violence elsewhere?
ALUSMARIA notes a Falluja suicide bomber took their own life and the lives of 2 Iraqi soldiers with two more injured.
That's only one of many examples of violence today.
They also note that the corpse of a member of the Ministry of the Interior was discovered dumped in the streets of Baghdad (shot dead).
When the bodies are being dumped in the streets (as happened yesterday as well), it's a sign that violence is on the rise.
Sec. Gen. of Hezbollah party in Basra Basim al Musawi assassinated late last night in a drive by shooting in Basra province south #Iraq.
MIDDLE EASTERN MONITOR notes:
A senior leader within the Iran-backed Iraqi Hezbollah militant group was assassinated last night in the southern Shia-dominated city of Basra according to local police sources and social media activists.
“Bassem Al-Moussawi, secretary-general of [Iraq’s] Hezbollah, was killed late yesterday when unidentified assailants opened fire on his car in Basra province’s Al-Hayyaniya district,” the Basra police force spokesman, Major Jumaa Al-Hamrani, told Turkish state-run Anadolu.
An associate of Al-Mousawi was injured in the attack, after which the gunmen managed to flee the scene, Al-Hamrani said.
No group has yet has claimed responsibility for the assassination. However, Basra is completely under the control of several Shia militant organisations, each vying for a greater share of power and influence at the expense of one another. The assassination could therefore be one militia attacking another.
Turning to the issue of protests. Yesterday's snapshot noted the protest taking place in Baghdad and wondered if the western press would cover it (having ignored the protest last Friday already)?
Not a word from AP, REUTERS, THE NEW YORK TIMES, etc, etc.
Qatar's PENINSULA has a report which opens:
Thousands of supporters of firebrand Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr staged protests in Baghdad on Wednesday to demand the dissolution of Iraq’s High Electoral Commission.
"The electoral commission in its current form is unviable," protestor Murad al-Yaseri told Anadolu Agency.
"It is beholden to political parties," he added. "It is incapable of overseeing impartial elections."
Protestors gathered outside the capital’s heavily fortified Green Zone, demanding the establishment of a new electoral commission "untainted by political affiliations".
MIDDLE EAST MONITOR carries the same report.
If the United States paid attention to what Iraqis protest, maybe, just maybe the US government wouldn't be dropping bombs on Iraq daily and US troops wouldn't be needed on the ground in Iraq?
Meanwhile, it's day 115 of The Mosul Slog.
Betty's "Give them 180 more days for Mosul" takes on the assertion of U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend that "within the next six months I think we’ll see both (the Mosul and Raqqa campaigns) conclude."
And now they're saying in 180 more days, the city may be liberated.
The people of Mosul suffer.
Their government doesn't care.
Hayder al-Abadi becomes prime minster in August of 2014.
The Islamic States took Mosul two months before in June of 2014.
He's made prime minister in August of 2014 and he waits until October of 2016 to try to liberate the city from the terrorist group.
Talk about a worthless and unresponsive government.
The failure to liberate Mosul is a stark testament to how ineffective the Iraqi government currently is.
The following community sites -- plus PACIFICA EVENING NEWS -- updated: