10 things to know today

Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Monday:
AP Wire
May 19, 2014

1. WHAT BALKANS FLOODING HAS DISLODGED

The historic floods and landslides have unearthed deadly landmines left over from Bosnia's 1992-95 war, and knocked down warning signs.

2. WHO SAYS LIBYA PARLIAMENT IS SUSPENDED

Forces apparently loyal to a renegade Libyan general lead a military assault against lawmakers, directly challenging the legitimacy of the country's weak central government.

3. AT&T AGREES TO BUY DIRECTV FOR $48.5B

The deal, which could face sharp government scrutiny, would give the telecommunications company a larger base of video subscribers and increase its ability to compete against rivals.

4. SOUL SEARCHING FOLLOWS S. KOREA FERRY DISASTER

The disaster that left 304 dead or missing is a shock to the country that has transformed itself into Asia's fourth-largest economy. Many now question how far South Korea has really come.

5. WHY STUDIES SAY CLIMATE CHANGE WORSENS WILDFIRES

The devastating blazes scorching Southern California offer a glimpse of a warmer, more fiery future, according to scientists and federal and international reports.

6. SPACE STATION CARGO SHIP RETURNS TO EARTH

SpaceX Dragon brings back nearly 2 tons of science experiments and old equipment for NASA.

7. HOW TEA PARTY LOSSES STILL SHAPE ELECTIONS

Tuesday's high-profile primary elections may see tea party Republicans losing individual races but nonetheless tugging the GOP rightward.

8. SAN ANTONIO MAYOR'S STAR MAY BE ON RISE

President Obama's expected nomination of Julian Castro as HUD secretary could test the 39-year-old's ability to navigate Washington ahead of 2016 elections.

9. 'COFFEE RUST' FORCES UP PRICE OF CUP OF JOE

The fungus has caused more than $1 billion in damage across Latin American region.

10. CALIFORNIA CHROME COULD LOSE BY A NOSE

The Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner might abandon his Triple Crown bid if N.Y. officials don't allow the colt to wear a nasal strip at the Belmont Stakes.

Comments

Vladtheimp

11. Lessons of the VA Scandal
Lengthy wait times, bureaucratic abuse, rationed care: par for the course in government-run health care. http://www.nationalreview.com/ar... ; http://www.stripes.com/news/us/d...

12. ObamaCare subsidies may be wrong for over 1 million Americans, report says

"Hundreds of thousands of Americans signed up for coverage under ObamaCare may be receiving incorrect subsidy payments -- some bigger than they actually deserve -- from the federal government, The Washington Post reported.

The government has identified the errors, which are the result of discrepancies in income listings on insurance applications and those on file with the Internal Revenue Service, but has been unable to fix the problem, according to the report." http://www.foxnews.com/politics/...

Harry Kovaire

With regard to number 11, the U.S. President remarked (or possibly tweeted) that he was "#MadderThanHell" about the whole thing (whatever it was).

If only he were in some kind of position to do something about it. Oh well, at least he's mad.

http://i895.photobucket.com/albu...

Vladtheimp

Not so WAAAY BACK machine: On IRS targeting of conservative groups

Angry Obama (May 2013) - ""It's inexcusable, and Americans are right to be angry about it, and I am angry about it," he said. "I will not tolerate this kind of behavior in any agency, but especially in the IRS, given the power that it has and the reach that it has into all of our lives."http://www.nationaljournal.com/p...

July 2013 "“With an endless distraction of political posturing and phony scandals and Lord knows what, Washington keeps taking its eye off the ball. And that needs to stop,”

February 2014 - "But when asked whether corruption, or mass corruption, was at play, he responded: “Not even mass corruption -- not even a smidgen of corruption.”

He acknowledged that then-IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman had been to the White House more than 100 times but said he couldn’t recall speaking to him on any of those occasions."

Let's see how long the shelf life is of his "anger" at phony lists and vets dying - his anger was such that to establish "accountability" he "accepted the resignation" of a guy who had already announced he was retiring - with his government pension intact.

Ole

# 11 - I think he's madder than hell because it's another so-called (according to POTUS)"Phony Scandal" another one of his appointees has found themselves in.
Lets not forget Shinseki was appointed to get things straightened out at the VA in 2009. Used to be "The buck stops here." Now its reminiscent of Bil&Jeff Keanes "Family Circus" cartoons. . .
The DC Circus - "Not Me" and "Ida Know."

Wolverine49457

It’s always been this way it seems, I never had to deal with the VA during Regan but During Carter it was much the same as it is now. During the Carter years the military they learned to cut corners by making you sign a form that said if we cannot find the source of your pain or ailment (and they were medical idiots) it could be considered malingering punishable by loss of pay, rank and even time in Ft. Leavenworth Penitentiary…you soon learn to live with anything rather than risk going to prison or at least when you are 18 you believe they’ll make good on their word. Unfortunately things never seem to change, the government can afford bright banners and grand proclamations on the behalf of Veterans but that's where it stops. To a bureaucrat making people feel something is being done is the same as getting something done.
What you end up with is a bunch of empty words never really delivering what is deserved because it’s expensive and ran by government people…and people still think and hope socialized medicine will end up differently? You will die waiting, this is nothing new. The VA hospital is the place to go if you are a VET and you cannot qualify for nursing care in a facility or at home for one reason or another and you go to the VA you are there to die… most VETs know this will be there fate after serving one of the wealthiest nations in the world and was promised you fight for us and we will fight for you HAH!

Lanivan

11. "In a shameful display of partisan obstruction, the Mitch McConnell led Senate Republicans a blocked a bill that would have improved veterans benefits.

Senate Republicans blocked the veterans bill by using a procedural maneuver to invoke the 60 vote rule. The final vote to waive the budget point of order failed, 56-41. Only two Republicans (Sen. Dean Heller and Sen. Jerry Moran) joined with Democrats on the vote.

The only message that can be taken away from today’s vote is that Senate Republicans think it is more important to deny President Obama a “win” than it is to help our nation’s veterans. The bill contained provisions that would restore the COLA for vets, and protect them from losing their benefits in the event of another government shutdown. It also would have authorized the construction of 27 new clinics and medical facilities, and it would have provided tuition assistance to post-9/11 vets.

It is the kind of legislation that used to be a no brainer, but it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the same group of Republicans who think that they shouldn’t have to pay the nation’s bills also want to renege on their obligations to our veterans." http://www.politicususa.com/2014...

Let's see now: 1.) All but two Republican Senators blocked a $21 billion bill that would benefit all veterans, but, 2. Unanimously shut down government for 16 days, which cost the American taxpayer, including vets, an estimated minimum of $24 billion - without so much as a blink of an eye.

Oh yeah - that mean old bully Obama - he's mean to vets!! He targets vets!! He vets vets!! He wants to take away vittles from vets!! He wants to send them to vets for health care. Good. God. Could you people get any more ridiculous?

Vladtheimp

Anyone notice a pattern?

1. The mainstream media and the Grand Haven Tribune fail to cover an important story about a scandal impacting Obama;

2. A commenter corrects the oversight by providing information on the scandal;

3. Depending on their view of how seriously the scandal impacts Obama, those who keep drinking the Kool-Aid either (a) ignore it hoping it will go away; or (b) frantically search the left-wing websites on the internet hoping to find any other situation that is somewhat related to the topic, no matter how tangentially or when it occurred, where they can feign outrage at the Republicans, thus spreading chaff around the incoming round that will hit Obama.

Friend Lanivan is one of the most prolific practitioners of this dark art. The Veterans Administration, in this latest case of malfeasance, creates phony lists meant to show they are treating veterans' serious illnesses in a timely fashion, when in actuality the government controlled healthcare is killing vets by not treating them as necessary.

Realizing the capacity of this scandal to harm Obama, since Congressional Democrats have joined Republicans in denouncing this situation, which had been known within the administration for several years, and because of what it divulges about government controlled health care (Obamacare) Lanivan cannot ignore the scandal so she strikes.

She finds a situation where Senate Democrats under Dirty Harry Reid proposed spending more on veterans that: (1) did not follow the Senate process and had no hearings in Committees; (2) proposed to spend money that would have broken the just passed bipartisan budget deal; (3) would have expanded medical benefits for non-service related conditions which would have watered down treatment for service related injuries; (4) ignored the desire of many Senators to place stronger sanctions on Iran than Obama did, because Dirty Harry, as he has done for years, disallowing any Republican amendments on the bill; and (5) contrary to the contentions in Lanny's Link, the COLA had been restored under separate legislation, which deleted the so-called urgency for the bill.

Paul Rieckhoff, CEO of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, understood what was going on and nailed it: “Republicans blame Democrats. Democrats blame Republicans. And veterans are caught in the crossfire.” http://www.militarytimes.com/art...

So Lanny, want to stop the shiny objects game plan for once and address this latest Obama scandal that is impacting Veteran's Health care?

Lanivan

It's always interesting to me how you can call me "Friend Lanivan" in one breath, and then rip me a new one in the next. For one thing, I am not dark, but blonde. And I hardly "strike", but offer propositions and opinions on serious topics. But, moving on, you ask that I address the latest veteran health care scandal, and so I shall acquiesce.

This is not an Obama issue. That's your third mistake. Veterans have been shortchanged in this country for many years. It is this fact that calls me to action. I happen to think US veterans deserve to be honored for their service to their country. Let's go back a few years - 2007 - before everything went to haell with Obama:

Pattern of Neglect: The Bush Administration is Failing Our Troops and Veterans...https://www.dpc.senate.gov/dpcdo...

Many soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are not being provided the care they have earned and deserve.

* Living facilities are substandard.
* Care coordination is inadequate.
* Red tape hinders soldiers’ ability to gain access to needed care.
as highlighted in recent congressional testimony, officials should have been aware of these egregious conditions after they were presented in a March 2006 GAO report that was critical of the military disability system. The report called for improved oversight “to ensure consistent and timely outcomes for reserve and active-duty service members.” (Washington Post, 3/1/07; GAO; 3/06)

* Signs of systemic neglect: similar problems exist at military and veterans hospitals across the country.Media stories have documented complaints similar to those uncovered at Walter Reed about conditions at Fort Lewis, Fort Dicks, Fort Knox, Fort Bragg, and Fort Irwin. In recent congressional oversight hearings, several of the Army’s top leadership also acknowledged that many of the problems at Walter Reed are plaguing military and VA facilities nationwide. Army Surgeon General Lt. General Kevin Kiley told the Armed Services Committee that “what’s going on at Walter Reed in terms of the frustration of the staffs and the patients is probably mirrored to some extent in most of our other facilities, as I hear commanders talk to us about these issues.”

* The Bush budget underestimates the needs of service members returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

* Mental health needs of returning OIF/OEF veterans is on the rise; more than one-third of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans seeking VA health care services report mental health disorders.

* Veterans are forced to endure long delays in the processing of claims.
An estimated 500-1,000 veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are now struggling with homelessness.
* American troops are being sent into combat without the right equipment.According to a recent Department of Defense Inspector General Report, troops lack up-armored vehicles, communications equipment, electronic jammers for roadside bombs, and heavy machine guns.

And on and on. It's too pathetic and sick to continue. The facts are this: Although conservatives jump on this latest "Obama scandal" with the frothy delight of a pack of jackals, US veterans have not been treated well for years; the Democrats back in 2007 spelled it out explicitly;, and in 2014, the Democrats attempted to pass an omnibus bill that would address and correct this malfeasance.

It would have passed, except that Republicans, after being told at the last minute to block the bill by the youngsters at the Koch Bros Heritage Action, turned their backs on American veterans yet again.

But it was no problemo to shut down the government for 16 days, costing American taxpayers $24 Billion.

Vladtheimp

Anyone notice a pattern?

3. Depending on their view of how seriously the scandal impacts Obama, those who keep drinking the Kool-Aid either (a) ignore it hoping it will go away; or (b) frantically search the left-wing websites on the internet hoping to find any other situation that is somewhat related to the topic, no matter how tangentially or when it occurred, where they can feign outrage at the Republicans, thus spreading chaff around the incoming round that will hit Obama.

So Lanny, want to stop the shiny objects game plan for once and address this latest Obama scandal that is impacting Veteran's Health care?

Sorry Blondie, this is an Obama problem that he was alerted to during the transition; he campaigned on fixing it; he convinced Congress to throw money at it instead of fixing it; his aloofness and arrogance let it fester until now - and like the other scandals, it's the cover-up (and Carney is doing him no favors) is what is destroying him, like Benghazi and IRS.

He needs to emulate Jill Abramson "It was telling that one of my colleagues once anonymously described me in a published profile as having "balls like cast-iron cantaloupes."http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/0...

Lanivan

This is the pattern: Republicans seem to have a penchant for glossing over, disconnecting the dots, and ignoring history. Veterans affairs have been put on the back burner for at least a decade, and you clearly don't have a leg to stand on attempting to deflect from this Republican scandal. Congressional Republicans have aggressively proposed cutting VA benefits from the budget for years now.

“A database of paid claims by the VA since 2001 includes 167 in which the words ‘delay in treatment’ is used in the description. The VA paid out a total of $36.4 million to settle those claims, either voluntarily or as part of a court action.”

2/12/2007: The Bush administration’s budget assumes cuts to funding for veterans’ health care two years from now — even as badly wounded troops returning from Iraq could overwhelm the system.

03/21/2012: If enacted, the Ryan GOP budget would cut $11 billion from veterans spending, or 13 percent from what President Obama proposes in his own plan.

10/10/2013: Politicians love to love veterans, but the military heroes could be suffering some major losses due to the ongoing GOP-led government shutdown.

The allegations facing the VA are serious and troubling and are largely the result of years of systemic issues. The Obama administration has worked to ease those problems, including reducing backlogged claims and beginning to transition claims away from the traditional paper-based systems that have largely been responsible for the backlogs. In 2012, the VA implemented the Veterans Benefits Management System (VBMS), "a web-based, electronic claims processing portal created to give VA the ability to process Veterans' claims paper-free." According to the VA, the VBMS has allowed the agency to reduce the processing time from 272 days to 78 days. The Veterans Benefits Administration is now processing claims at a higher rate than ever before, although "the number of claims continues to exceed the number processed." http://www.mediamatters.org/blog...

Once again, it's a pattern of Sudden Faux Obama Outrage over serious problems that have existed for years. Right-wing strategy continues to be to divert, delay, and confuse rather than seek real answers to real problems.

Jill Abramson and Barack Obama have a lot in common. Both have experienced “the glass cliff.” It’s a description of an increasingly common circumstance: what happens when people who’ve long been sidelined from power finally get a chance at prominent jobs, but only when the power and possibility of those positions has eroded. [Think]Katie Couric and Diane Sawyer, evening news anchors; Mary Barra, CEO of GM; and Barack Obama, president of the United States. Oh, and: Dean Baquet, the new executive editor of The New York Times. http://www.newrepublic.com/artic...

Vladtheimp

Once again. "So Lanny, want to stop the shiny objects game plan for once and address this latest Obama scandal that is impacting Veteran's Health care?"

Funny, both Bill Clinton and Jill Abramson have become fabulously wealthy:

It is time for Harry Reid to move out of the Ritz-Carlton: The Senate majority leader is pointing to the case of Jill Abramson, the recently deposed editor of the New York Times, whose compensation ran to well more than a half-million dollars a year, as the latest example of why Washington should be micromanaging businesses’ compensation decisions in the name of “equal pay.” One suspects that many American women, and men, too, would sign up for invidious discrimination resulting in their pocketing more than a million dollars every two years. Of course the typical U.S. family would be thrilled if its regular paychecks amounted to the $3,300 Senator Reid tips his doormen at the Ritz, so, from his point of view, Ms. Abramson no doubt looks like Norma Rae or a gold-plated Lilly Ledbetter, a true working-class hero.

As succession dramas go, the saga of the New York Times is not exactly Macbeth. But it will do: It involves a clash of diversity totems — Ms. Abramson was the most high-profile female editor in American newspapers, and her successor is the first black editor of the Times — along with equal-pay concerns and Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg’s hand-wringing about negative perceptions of assertive women, which culminated in the demand that corporate America “ban ‘bossy.’” That this is happening among the very people who produce the daily missal of self-satisfied American liberalism makes this a crisis of conscience for Democrats everywhere, and thus we have the Senate majority leader weighing in.

Everybody should have Ms. Abramson’s million-dollar problems, or for that matter those of Ms. Sandberg, whose net worth is approximately $1 billion. If the Times drama tells us anything, it should be how difficult it is to draw conclusions about public policy from a single data point, or even from a relatively large aggregation. The typical male newspaper editor and the typical female newspaper editor would be doing well to make much more than a tenth of what Ms. Abramson was paid, but it is the case that America’s newspapers pay female editors substantially less on average than they do male editors — about 15 percent less, in fact. That may be invidious discrimination, or it may represent a combination of factors such as time in the profession, hours worked, position within the organization, etc., that when applied to the so-called pay gap generally reduces those differences to statistical noise. None of this cries out for the intervention of the federal government. http://www.nationalreview.com/ar...

And, of course, when the black Dean Baquet threatened Pinch with "it's either her or me" like in every similar situation, the black male trumps the white female, even a white female with "balls like cast-iron cantaloupes".

Lanivan

1. I did address it - thoroughly and completely. Now that the pressure is on Republicans to get down to business and finally try, in a bipartisan way, to seriously address the situation, let's see if they will break their strategy of doing nothing and get it done.

2. Harry Reid - seriously? He's not even in the top 50 wealthiest members of Congress, or the top 11 wealthiest Senators. How silly. And living at the Ritz-Carlton - maybe he should do as Mark Sanford does and sleep on a futon in his office. But then I'm not aware of Harry Reid flying to Argentina on the taxpayer's dime, lying to his constituents, leaving his staff, wife and four sons to lie about his whereabouts, to see the "love of his life", with whom he still has not married, as far as I know.

3. As much as I love cantaloupes, and,...well, that saying is a little over the top for me. Maybe I'm not entirely the feminist I (and you) fancy myself to be?? But she still got a raw deal, the situation was mishandled beyond indelicately, and it's sadly a lose-lose for everyone, except for the fact that this has become a topic of discussion among young women, especially - a part of a majority block.

Vladtheimp

#1. I disagree;

#2. He has no explanation for his great wealth except he has worked for the taxpayers for decades and decades'

#3. I enjoy oranges, and cantaloupes, but I thing the Times situation really demonstrates that the super rich, be they Donald Sterling, Pinch Sulzberger, or Bill Clinton can be racist, sexist, or whatever they want to be without opprobrium from the media as long as they are democrats. (of course, the NAACP substituted their big contributor racist Sterling with their favorite racist Al Sharpton).

Lanivan

#1. You disagree that Republicans can act in a bipartisan manner and get something done about veteran's affairs? Such a cynic! It is an election year - a miracle could materialize!

#2. He said he made some good investments. I find it amusing that for years, Harry Reid was mocked for being a "dinghy", "milquetoast", ineffectual Senate majority leader, allowing himself to be abused and ridiculed by his Republican counterparts. Just as soon as he begins to assert his authority, oh boy! what a turnaround. Now he's larger than life, amassing a fortune off the taxpayer and being a bully to those nice, over-seked Koch Bros.

#3. You're so right. About oranges and cantaloupes. I remember scampering about behind the big farm trucks piled high with cantaloupes that were bouncing and falling off the top helter-skelter as they drove down the dirt roads. (Eastern Shore).

Harry Kovaire

PoliticusUSA huh? That's some serious mainstream thought right there Lani. I always wondered where the "other side" went when I stumbled upon an InfoWars or PrisonPlanet article.

I really like the "Koch Block It" section. It's a one-stop shop where I can get my "Two Minute Hate" for "The Brotherhood."

Thanks for the link (and the laugh).

Lanivan

You seem to have a problem with the reporting on this article. Perhaps you would be so kind as to answer the following questions:

1. Did the Senate Republicans - all but 2 - block the $21 billion Veteran Affairs bill, or did they not?

2. Did the Senate Republicans vote to shut down government for 16 days, which cost an estimated $24 billion, or did they not?

3. Please critique the following websites which all reported exactly the same information on exactly the same Veteran's Affairs bill:

Washingtonpost.com
govtrack.us
military.com
reuters.com
politico.com
militarytimes.com
USAtoday.com
ABCnews.com
armytimes.com

There are many more, but this should be sufficient.

In your critique, please list the erroneous statistics and facts; possibly the final tally was reported incorrectly, the Veteran Affairs bill never actually existed, or the government 16-day shutdown was merely a collective figment of the American imagination.

I'll be waiting for your report - hate-free and giggling.

Harry Kovaire

This is a local news site comment section, not an interrogatory. You provide enough partisan criminal defense for us both.

I would never accuse PoliticusUSA of doing their own journalism, but it is amusing to know that's where you get your info. Do you check the "Koch Block It" section for any daily updates?

This is nice, we both get to giggle together.

Lanivan

You are graciously given an opportunity to set the record straight, and you label it an interrogatory? Watching too much of "The Good Wife", eh-wot? Either that or you are an attorney, a'la Vlad, just my luck.....:-/

No, the Koch Bros manage to expose themselves regularly enough I don't need no stinkin' daily updates. This is a breakthrough - you calling it nice that we get to giggle together. And then I remember - I'm standing downwind of the fish-cleaning station....

Wingmaster

O oh, someone is getting a little bruised today.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?fe...

Barry Soetoro

Koch Block? Really? Shame on you, Lani!

Harry Kovaire

Thanks for the "opportunity," but I fear nothing I could ever write would awaken you. You have happily taken the "blue pill" and will remain asleep forever.

To quote another exposed Koch you might prefer (Ed), "I can explain it to you, I just can't comprehend it for you."

Lanivan

So THAT'S why I felt so exhausted today! I have used that particular Ed Koch quote before in this forum - it's so useable, no?

Lanivan

Wing - you really play dirty. You know I can't resist dropping everything and dancing to that tune! Bruised? I'm just warming up!

Barry - Those Koch Bros sure are kinky. Have you bought the latest book about them and their dark, dirty secrets? Turns out they are babe magnets....

"In 1996, Bill went to court to evict his former girlfriend from the Boston apartment he had set her up in. Included in the court records were faxes the couple exchanged, some of them sexually explicit. One of the notes was signed "Hot Love From Your X-Rated Protestant Princess." In another, the woman described herself as "a wet orchid," writing, "every inch of my body misses you." Bill succeeded in having her evicted."

And that's as far as I'm going when it comes to Koch Block. Now then, let's get back to Benghazi!!!.....

Vladtheimp

Sooie! Steel Cage Death Match: (Only a true liberal could write something like this about "Bill" with no irony)

William Koch - private citizen, never known to have lied about his relationships with women or tried to destroy their reputations VS

William Jefferson Clinton, draft dodger, non-Oxford graduate; President of the United States; sexually harassed White House Intern; destroyed her reputation; cigars in the White House; stained blue dress; lied to American people; lied to Court; disbarred for lying; "Ah did not have sex with that woman;" depends on the meaning of what "is" is;

Winner in a blow by blow fight - William Jefferson Clinton - sleazebag extraordinaire!

Lanivan

My - what a vivid imagination you have, Vlad. Honestly, Bill Clinton never entered into the equation when writing about the other Bill. In fact, I'm not interested in getting into the raunchy details....just the dysfunctional ones that impact on American Democracy (I know - it's a republic).

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