Friday, April 28, 2017

President Trump signs executive order to improve accountability and whistleblower protection at Dept. of Veterans Affairs-4/27/17

"Presidential Executive Order on Improving Accountability and Whistleblower Protection at the Department of Veterans Affairs," (text)

4/27/17, "President Donald J. Trump visits VA and signs executive order ‘Improving Accountability and Whistleblower Protection at the Department of Veterans Affairs’,"

"Secretary Shulkin makes key announcements to reduce red tape, fraud and improve Veteran services."

"Today President Donald J. Trump visited VA to thank Veterans for their service, and VA employees for their work helping Veterans.

While at VA, the president signed an executive order entitled, “Improving Accountability and Whistleblower Protection at the Department of Veterans Affairs,” and Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Dr. David Shulkin, made three new key announcements at the VA’s Central Office.

The executive order is focused on improving “accountability and whistleblower protection” at VA by creating an office dedicated to that purpose and the position of special assistant to the secretary who will report directly to the secretary and serve as executive director of the office.

The new executive director “will report directly to me as secretary so that we can identify barriers that are preventing us from removing employees and people that we have identified that should no longer be working at VA,” said Shulkin. “We want make sure that we have employees who work hard and are committed to the mission of serving our Veterans.”

The VA will establish the office and appoint the executive director within 45 days of the signing of the executive order.

The executive director will advise and assist the secretary in using all available authorities to discipline or terminate any VA manager or employee who has violated the public’s trust and failed to carry out his or her duties on behalf of Veterans. The executive director will also assist the secretary in recruiting, rewarding, and retaining high-performing employees.

At the signing ceremony for the executive order, Shulkin also announced three new key initiatives at the Department.

VA partnership with the Department of Health and Human Services

Effective today, VA is entering a partnership agreement with the Department of Health and Human Services that will allow the assignment of medical professionals from the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps to provide direct patient care to Veterans in VA hospitals and clinics in underserved communities. 

“My priority has been to improve access to care for our nation’s heroes,” said Shulkin. “By partnering with our colleagues at HHS, we will enhance the availability of clinical care in those areas most in need.”

The initial agreement enables up to 20 officers from the Commissioned Corps to treat Veterans in VA facilities that are most in need of staffing support. The agreement also allows up to 10 more officers to help support coordination for veterans receiving non-VA community care.

New fraud, waste and abuse taskforce

The secretary announced a major new initiative to detect and prevent fraud, waste and abuse in the Department of Veterans Affairs. Effective today, this initiative has the potential to save tens of millions of taxpayer dollars currently at risk, for fraud, waste and abuse that can be redirected to better serve Veterans.

The initiative will include bringing in the leading thinkers from the private sector and other government organizations in an advisory committee to identify and leverage cutting-edge fraud detection tools and; and coordinate all fraud, waste and abuse detection and reporting activities across the department through a single office.

The department has identified potential savings in the area of improper payments to health care providers, major contracts, contracts for pharmaceuticals, and the delivery of benefits to Veterans.

“Restoring the trust of Veterans and improving system-wide accountability are among my top priorities. It’s essential to ensure that all our employees and the companies that we do business with are being good stewards of the resources available to care for our Veterans,” said Shulkin.

Removing red tape at state-owned Veteran nursing homes 

Effective today, VA is amending guidelines to allow state-owned Veteran nursing homes to follow state guidelines in the construction design of their facilities – removing red tape, while increasing access to services for Veterans.

Up to now, to qualify for federal grant funding for Veteran nursing homes in their state, Governors and state officials have had to follow federal construction design guidelines. With today’s announcement by the secretary, that is no longer the case and governors are freed up to follow their own state guidelines in the construction design of these facilities while still qualifying for the same level of federal grant funding as before.

In announcing the move, Shulkin noted that state design guidelines already are sufficient to the task of providing safe conditions for our Veterans and the department recognizes the need to move quickly to reduce unnecessary barriers to providing much needed services to our Veterans." image above from


Thursday, April 27, 2017

NAFTA tribunal decisions can't be challenged by US Supreme Court. NAFTA effectively changed US Constitution, rendered US court decisions subject to review by international tribunals. Per one NAFTA judge: "If Congress had known there was anything like this in NAFTA, they'd never have voted for it"-NY Times, April 2004

"The part of NAFTA that created the tribunals, known as Chapter 11, received no consideration when it was passed in 1993....''If Congress had known that there was anything like this in Nafta,'' he (Mivka) said, ''they would never have voted for it.''"...

April 18, 2004, "Review of U.S. Rulings by Nafta Tribunals Stirs Worries," NY Times, Adam Liptak

"After the highest court in Massachusetts ruled against a Canadian real estate company and after the United State Supreme Court declined to hear its appeal, the company's day in court was over. 

Or so thought Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall of the Massachusetts court, until she learned of yet another layer of judicial review, by an international tribunal. 

''I was at a dinner party,'' Chief Justice Marshall said in a recent telephone interview. ''To say I was surprised to hear that a judgment of this court was being subjected to further review would be an understatement.'' 

Tribunals like the one that ruled on the Massachusetts case were created by the North American Free Trade Agreement, and they have heard two challenges to American court judgments [as of April 2004]. In the other, the tribunal declared a Mississippi court's judgment at odds with international law, leaving the United States government potentially liable for hundreds of millions of dollars.

Any Canadian or Mexican business that contends it has been treated unjustly by the American judicial system can file a similar claim. American businesses with similar complaints about Canadian or Mexican court judgments can do the same. Under the Nafta agreement the government whose court system is challenged is responsible for awards by the tribunals. 

''This is the biggest threat to United States judicial independence that no one has heard of and even fewer people understand,'' said John D. Echeverria, a law professor at Georgetown University.

In the Massachusetts case, brought by Mondev International, the Nafta tribunal decided in 2002 that the Massachusetts courts had not violated international law. 

But in a separate pending case, brought by a Canadian company challenging the largest jury verdict in Mississippi history, a different Nafta tribunal offered a harsh assessment of Mississippi justice. 

''The whole trial and its resultant verdict,'' the three-judge tribunal ruled last summer, ''were clearly improper and discreditable and cannot be squared with minimum standards of international law and equitable treatment.'' 

The Mississippi case arose from an exchange of companies between a Canadian concern, the Loewen Group, and companies owned by a Mississippi family, the O'Keefes. The O'Keefe family, contending that the Loewen Group did not live up to its obligations, sued for breach of contract and fraud. Although the tribunal found that the businesses were worth no more than $8 million, a jury in Jackson, Miss., awarded the family $500 million in 1995.

Loewen settled the case the next year, for $175 million. But, arguing that the trial had been unfair and that it had been coerced into settling by a requirement that the company post an appeal bond of $625 million, Loewen and one of its owners filed their claim in the Nafta tribunal in 1998. They asked for $725 million from the United States. 

The availability of this additional layer of review, above even the United States Supreme Court, is a significant development, legal scholars said.

''It's basically been under the radar screen,'' Peter Spiro, a law professor at Hofstra University, said. ''But it points to a fundamental reorientation of our constitutional system. You have an international tribunal essentially reviewing American court judgments.'' 

The part of Nafta that created the tribunals, known as Chapter 11, received no consideration when it was passed in 1993. 

''When we debated Nafta,'' Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, said in 2002, ''not a single word was uttered in discussing Chapter 11. Why? Because we didn't know how this provision would play out. No one really knew just how high the stakes would get.'' 

Senator Kerry spoke before the tribunal rulings concerning the Massachusetts and Mississippi judgments. He offered his comments in connection with legislation he had offered to limit the jurisdiction of the tribunals. His amendment was rejected by the Senate. 

Abner Mikva, a former chief judge of the federal appeals court in Washington and a former congressman, is one of the three Nafta judges considering the Mississippi case. He declined to discuss it but did offer his perspective on Chapter 11. 

''If Congress had known that there was anything like this in Nafta,'' he said, ''they would never have voted for it.'' 

The other judges considering the case are Anthony Mason, a former chief justice of the Australian High Court, and Michael Mustill, a former British law lord. They were selected by the parties, and their judgment cannot be appealed. 

Though the tribunal called the Mississippi trial ''a disgrace'' and ''the antithesis of due process,'' it denied the claim of the company itself last summer. The tribunal said the Loewen Group was ineligible to bring the claim because it had become an American company in the meantime. The trade agreement allows claims only by foreign investors. 

But a separate claim by Raymond L. Loewen, a former owner of the company who was and is Canadian, remains pending. He did not specify the damages he is seeking. A decision is expected soon.

Even Mr. Loewen's American lawyer, John H. Lewis Jr., expressed some discomfort with the power of the Nafta tribunals. 

''I agree with the principle that that people should not short-circuit or second-guess the American legal system,'' he said. ''But this case was so extreme that hopefully it will never happen again.'' 

About a score of cases have been filed against the three countries that are parties to the trade agreement, mostly in connection with environmental and other regulations. The United States has yet to lose one, but Canada and Mexico have had to pay damages to American investors.

In the Mississippi case, the tribunal had faulted Judge James E. Graves Jr. of Circuit Court in Jackson for allowing lawyers for a Mississippi businessman to make ''prejudicial and extravagant'' statements to the jury about the Canadian defendants' wealth and nationality.... 

Similar tribunals existed in other trade agreements even before Nafta. 

''Bilateral investment treaties went both ways,'' said Todd Weiler, a Nafta expert at the University of Windsor Law School in Canada, ''but in practice there weren't that many Barbadians or Nicaraguans investing in the U.S.''

But there is substantial Canadian and Mexican investment here. That means, judges and legal scholars said, that the tribunals have the potential to upset the settled American constitutional order. 

''There are grave implications here,'' Chief Justice Ronald M. George of the California Supreme Court said in an interview. ''It's rather shocking that the highest courts of the state and federal governments could have their judgments circumvented by these tribunals.''"


With Ivanka in the White House, we find we elected George Soros instead of Donald Trump. Ivanka sounds quite like George Soros talking about Syrian refugees and how Americans must solve the "global humanitarian crisis." The open borders and vast financial aid she seeks to dispense aren't hers to dispense. We didn't vote for George Soros-Ivanka on NBC's Today, 4/26/17, Breitbart (Ivanka, it's great that you want to help the globe. First, resign your job in the White House)

4/26/17, "Ivanka Trump: Opening Border to Syrian Refugees ‘Has To Be Part of the Discussion,’ Won’t Be Enough By Itself," Breitbart, Ian Hatchett 

"During a portion of an interview broadcast on Wednesday’s edition of NBC’s “Today,” Ivanka Trump said that opening the border to Syrian refugees “has to be part of the discussion, but that’s not going to be enough in and of itself.”

Ivanka said, “I think there is a global humanitarian crisis that’s happening, and we have to come together, and we have to solve it, and –.”

She was then asked, “Does that include opening the borders to Syrian refugees in –?”

Ivanka responded,That has to be part of the discussion, but that’s not going to be enough in and of itself.”"


Trump will increase foreign aid to Palestinian territories-Breitbart via Foreign Policy

4/25/17, "Report: Trump to Cut Foreign Aid But Palestinians Will Receive More," Breitbart, Deborah Danan, Tel Aviv

"The Trump administration is gearing up for major cuts in U.S. foreign aid across the world with the notable exception of the Palestinian territories, which will receive increased funding, State Department documents obtained by Foreign Policy magazine show.

The documents, part of an internal budget proposal for 2018, seem to confirm the State Department and USAID’s 28 percent budget cut announced in March.

While many countries will suffer from major cutbacks or else have aid cancelled entirely, funds to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip will see an increase of 4.6 percent for the 2018 fiscal year, from $205 million in 2017 to $215 million.

Increased aid will be funneled to Syria, Iraq and Libya to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars, while other countries in the Middle East will be subjected to cutbacks, according to the report. 

Those countries include, somewhat surprisingly, Egypt and Jordan.

Despite ostensibly warm relations and mutual admiration between President Donald Trump and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Egypt’s aid will nevertheless be subjected to a 47.4 percent decrease. The proposal also includes a 21 percent cut in foreign aid to Jordan, even though King Abdullah is the only world leader to have met with the president twice over their shared desire to destroy the Islamic State.

In addition to the proposed aid cuts, the budget, if approved, would see an almost $1 billion cut in aid for climate change programs. Congress is likely to oppose the proposed cuts.

On Sunday, a senior delegation of Palestinian officials, including PLO Secretary-General and chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, traveled to Washington ahead of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s visit to the White House next week for his May 3 meeting with Trump."


Added: Foreign Policy article linked above. It's nauseating to read. These people are worse than I imagined, a bunch of parasite cry babies. Special among parasites, they need US taxpayer dollars because they're saints and life savers, especially those involved with USAID. US taxpayer dollars to certain groups should never be examined, if anything should only increase? The only people who have a case in this matter are US taxpayers.

4/24/17, "The End of Foreign Aid As We Know It," Foreign Policy, by Bryant Harris, Robbie Gramer, Emily Tamkin

"Trump budget would gut development assistance and fold USAID into State."


What a surprise: Big Fraud Donald Trump sells out to globalists, reverses on another major issue he campaigned on, will likely agree to stay in so-called Paris climate agreement 'with caveats'-AFP. (Mr. Trump, you can take your 'caveats' and go to hell. You're abetting what is obviously the greatest fraud against humanity in history. I suggest you resign)

4/26/17, "US may stay in Paris climate accord, with caveats," AFP, Jean-Louis Santini, with Kerry Sheridan in Miami

"Signs are mounting that US President Donald Trump's administration may stay in the landmark Paris climate change accord of 2015, under pressure from big business and public support for the agreement.

But the final decision, expected next month, is anything but certain, and staying at the table could come with significant caveats, like a weakening of US commitments to curbing greenhouse gas emissions."...


Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Kurds will end efforts to capture Islamic State stronghold Raqqa if US continues to ignore Turkish slaughter of Kurds in Syria-Kom News, 4/26/17

4/26/17, "YPJ Spox: We will withdraw from Raqqa if US doesn’t show concrete reaction to Turkey airstrikes," (Netherlands)

"Kurdish Women’s Protection Units (YPJ) spokeswoman, Nesrin Abdullah, has said that the group’s forces will withdraw from the operation to capture the Islamic State’s stronghold, Raqqa, if the US doesn’t take concrete action against Turkish airstrikes targeting Kurdish forces in Syria.

“The is unacceptable in international law. If the USA or coalition or the US [State Dept.] spokesperson can only say, ‘We are concerned or we are unhappy’ [about Turkey’s airstrikes] then we will not accept this. If this is the reaction, we do not accept it. It means they accept what was done to us,” Abdullah told Sputnik Turkish on Wednesday.

The spokeswoman for the all female YPJ, which is part of the People’s Protection Units (YPG), a leading force in the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces that has encircled Raqqa, went on to say that unless the US gave a concrete response they would withdraw from the operation.

“Until now we have been in a joint struggle with the coalition against ISIS [IS] terror. We are still involved in that struggle. [But] our people are expecting a response from us on why the coalition is not showing Turkey a concrete reaction. If the coalition does not show a concrete reaction then we will withdraw our forces from Raqqa. They [coalition] need to convince our people. We are not anyone’s stick to beat their enemies with.”

Abdullah concluded by saying that Turkey as a NATO member had carried out the airstrikes and that the lack of a response meant that NATO approved the attack.

“If a practical and verbal reaction is not shown we will re-evaluate and decide what to do.”

12 YPJ and 8 YPG members were killed in at least 18 airstrikes targeting a media centre and headquarters near Mount Karachok in Derik, northeastern Syria on Tuesday morning."


Not Building the Wall IS a Government Shutdown. You can't promise to build a wall at every campaign rally for 18 months, then back off at the first chance. Government's No. 1 job is to stop drugs, gang members, diseases, and terrorists from pouring across our border-Ann Coulter

"Trump has capitulated on even asking for funding for a wall."

4/26/17, "Not Building the Wall IS a Government Shutdown," Ann Coulter 

"Fake News' question of the week: Will Trump risk a government shutdown over the wall? 

The media flip back and forth on who's to blame for a government shutdown depending on which branch is controlled by Republicans. But the "shutdown" hypothetical in this case is a trick question.

A failure to build the wall IS a government shutdown.

Of course it would be unfortunate if schoolchildren couldn't visit national parks and welfare checks didn't get mailed on time. But arranging White House tours isn't the primary function of the government.

The government's No. 1 job is to protect the nation.

This has always been true, but it's especially important at this moment in history, when we have drugs, gang members, diseases and terrorists pouring across our border. The failure of the government to close our border is the definition of a government shutdown.

This isn't like other shutdowns. Democrats can't wail about Republicans cutting Social Security or school lunches. They are willing to shut the government down because they don't want borders. Take that to the country!

As commander in chief, Trump doesn't need Congress to build a wall. The Constitution charges him with defending the nation. Contrary to what you may have heard from various warmongers on TV and in Trump's Cabinet, that means defending our borders -- not Ukraine's borders.

Building a wall is not only Trump's constitutional duty, but it's also massively popular.

Although Trump doesn't need congressional approval for a wall, it was smart for him to demand a vote. Let the Democrats run for re-election on opposing the wall.

Let Sen. Claire McCaskill explain to the parents of kids killed by illegals that she thought a wall was inhumane. 

Let Sen. Angus King say to the people of Maine that instead of a wall that would block heroin from pouring into our country, he thought a better plan was to sponsor a bunch of treatment centers for after your kid is already addicted.

Let Sen. Chuck Schumer tell us why it's OK for Israel to have a wall, but not us.

Let open borders Republicans like Sen. Marco Rubio tell African-Americans that it's more important to help illegal aliens than to help black American teenagers, currently suffering a crippling unemployment rate.

Republicans are both corrupt and stupid, so it's hard to tell which one animates their opposition to the wall. But the Democrats are bluffing. They're trying to get the GOP to fold before they show us their pair of threes.

Now that Trump has capitulated on even asking for funding for a wall,
the Democrats are on their knees saying, "Thank you, God! Thank you, God!"

No politician wants to have to explain a vote against the wall. What the Democrats want is for Trump to be stuck explaining why he didn't build the wall.

Then it will be a bloodbath. Not only Trump, but also the entire GOP, is dead if he doesn't build a wall. Republicans will be wiped out in the midterms, Democrats will have a 300-seat House majority, and Trump will have to come up with an excuse for why he's not running for re-election.

The New York Times and MSNBC are not going to say, "We are so impressed with his growth in office, we're going to drop all that nonsense about Russia and endorse the Republican ticket!"

No, at that point, Trump will be the worst of everything.

No one voted for Trump because of the "Access Hollywood" tape. They voted for him because of his issues; most prominently, his promise to build "a big beautiful wall." And who's going to pay for it? MEXICO!

You can't say that at every campaign rally for 18 months and then not build a wall. 

Do not imagine that a Trump double-cross on the wall will not destroy the Republican Party. Oh, we'll get them back. No, you won't. Trump wasn't a distraction: He was the last chance to save the GOP.

Millions of Americans who hadn't voted in 30 years came out in 2016 to vote for Trump. If he betrays them, they'll say, "You see? I told you. They're all crooks."

No excuses will work. No fiery denunciations of the courts, the Democrats or La Raza will win them back, even if Trump comes up with demeaning Twitter names for them.

It would be an epic betrayal -- worse than Bush betraying voters on "no new taxes." Worse than LBJ escalating the Vietnam War. There would be nothing like it in the history of politics.

He's the commander in chief! He said he'd build a wall. If he can't do that, Trump is finished, the Republican Party is finished, and the country is finished."


Added: Senior Republicans laugh out loud at idea the Wall will ever be built, say, "Don't worry, it's not going to happen"-Laura Ingraham 

4/26/17, "LAURA INGRAHAM: GOP Senior Senators “Laughed Out Loud” At Building Border Wall…”Actively Working Against” Trump,"

"Laura Ingraham reported to Sean Hannity that Republican leaders don’t want the border wall built and are actively working against President Trump  

"One thing I know for sure, Sean, is that we have way too many people on Capitol Hill who are not on the president’s side of this. I’m talking Republicans. 

So I have no doubt in my mind that Donald Trump wants this wall to be built. Congress has to appropriate the money. I heard over two months ago that GOP leadership, the most senior senators on Capitol Hill, and I heard it from someone who was in the room with them, they were laughing at an idea a wall would ever get built. Out loud laughing. They were recently telling that source of mine, “Don’t worry, it’s not going to happen.”" [video at link]... 


Senior Republicans laugh out loud at idea that Wall will ever get built, say, "Don't worry, it's not going to happen"-Laura Ingraham

4/26/17, "LAURA INGRAHAM: GOP Senior Senators “Laughed Out Loud” At Building Border Wall…”Actively Working Against” Trump," 

"Laura Ingraham reported to Sean Hannity that Republican leaders don’t want the border wall built and are actively working against President Trump

"One thing I know for sure, Sean, is that we have way too many people on Capitol Hill who are not on the president’s side of this. I’m talking Republicans.

So I have no doubt in my mind that Donald Trump wants this wall to be built. Congress has to appropriate the money. I heard over two months ago that GOP leadership, the most senior senators on Capitol Hill, and I heard it from someone who was in the room with them, they were laughing at an idea a wall would ever get built. Out loud laughing. They were recently telling that source of mine, “Don’t worry, it’s not going to happen.”" [video at link]... 

REPORT: THE COST TO YOU FOR NOT BUILDING THE WALL (Note that this report is from 2013!):

"The Fiscal Burden of Illegal Immigration on United States Taxpayers." (2013)..

Key Findings

Illegal immigration costs U.S. taxpayers about $113 billion a year at the federal, state and local level. The bulk of the costs — some $84 billion — are absorbed by state and local governments.

The annual outlay that illegal aliens cost U.S. taxpayers is an average amount per native-headed household of $1117.

The fiscal impact per household varies considerably because the greatest share of the burden falls on state and local taxpayers whose burden depends on the size of the illegal alien population in that locality.

Education for the children of illegal aliens constitutes the single largest cost to taxpayers, at an annual price tag of nearly $52 billion. Nearly all of those costs are absorbed by state and local governments.

At the federal level, about one-third of outlays are matched by tax collections from illegal aliens.

At the state and local level, an average of less than 5 percent of the public costs associated with illegal immigration is recouped through taxes collected from illegal aliens.

Most illegal aliens do not pay income taxes. Among those who do, much of the revenues collected are refunded to the illegal aliens when they file tax returns.

Many are also claiming tax credits resulting in payments from the U.S. Treasury.

With many state budgets in deficit, policymakers have an obligation to look for ways to reduce the fiscal burden of illegal migration. California, facing a budget deficit of $14.4 billion in 2010-2011, is hit with an estimated $21.8 billion in annual expenditures on illegal aliens. New York’s $6.8 billion deficit is smaller than its $9.5 billion in yearly illegal alien costs.
The report examines the likely consequences if an amnesty for the illegal alien population were adopted similar to the one adopted in 1986. The report notes that while tax collections from the illegal alien population would likely increase only marginally, the new legal status would make them eligible for receiving Social Security retirement benefits that would further jeopardize the future of the already shaky system."...


Among comments about The Wall at Free Rep. 4/26/17:
"It's about love of the country. The wall is a huge symbol of keeping faith with the America people:"

"To: Helicondelta...

The whole 2016 campaign-its not about a cult of personality it's about love of the country. The wall is a huge symbol of keeping faith with the America people. 

A straight forward tangible solution demanded by and promised to the America citizen. If this cannot be done we now can be certain we are ruled by tyrannical oligarchs. No wall - no trust - no legitimate government - revolution soon - we're pissed.

The money was appropriated what like back in 2006 - 2007 ish. Build the wall now and start ignoring activist judges, president Trump pretty much that simple - perhaps not easy.

12 posted on 4/26/2017, 11:36:26 AM by datricker"