Open Friday / Weekend Forum -- President Obama accepts VA Secretary Eric Shinseki's resignation
So which stories, topics, and issues grab your attention at the end of the week?
As the VA hospital scandal metastasizes, the Elsmere VA hospital is under review, ostensibly not because of any particular allegation, but as a precautionary measure. But Friday's NEWS JOURNAL has two Wilmington "system sources" who say the same "significant delays" uncovered in Phoenix have been experienced here.
Indeed, President Obama - going on the airwaves just after eleven this Friday morning - said VA Secretary Eric Shinseki offered his resignation, and the President accepted it.
And another White House departure: White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, formerly director of communications for Vice President Joe Biden, and in TIME magazine's Washington bureau before that.
Predictably, Wilmington Mayor Dennis Williams' decision to install interim Chief of Police Bobby Cummings into the permanent position has some City Council members lamenting that Williams didn't choose an outsider. Others note then-mayoral candidate Dennis Williams pledged to look outside the city for a Chief of Police, and now twice has elevated someone from inside the Wilmington Police Department instead.
As if to underscore the top priority for the WPD, Wilmington experienced two shootings only hours after Williams' choice for permanent Chief of Police became known: One shooting, in the city's Trinity Vicinity neighborhood. (Could the WPD's concentration of efforts in previous high-crime areas simply be moving the street violence?)
By the way, one Midwestern city - not stereotypically considered violent - now suffering a rash of street shootings: Indianapolis. And the cops are getting in the middle of it. In the latest episode, one Indianapolis Metro officer was wounded in an exchange of gunfire with a suspect, three other people dead. In another recent episode, someone fired a rifle at an Indiana state trooper SUV involved in a chase.
Could the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team go to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer for $2 Billion? Or could Donald Sterling still block the deal, even though his estranged wife, Shelly Sterling, reportedly got her husband declared mentally incapacitated, which could give her sole trustee status?
Is marijuana reform going mainstream? The U.S. House of Representatives voted 219--189 to bar Federal prosecutions of patients using medical marijuana in states where such use is permissible. That would apply to Delaware, if this state ever gets its act together. House members also approved a measure to stop the Feds from interfering with any states that have legalized the growing of industrial hemp. According to The WASHINGTON TIMES, this would be the first time a chamber of Congress has okayed such a broad decriminalization. On to the U.S. Senate...
Obama Administration officials and ex-intelligence contractor Edward Snowden have clashed over the extent to which Snowden tried to be a whistleblower by earlier raising concerns about the activities of the National Security Agency.
The Syrian civil war drags on, largely removed from our consciousness. But The NEW YORK TIMES reports foreign Jihadis fighting in Syria could bring the war to our shores: "More than 70 Americans are thought by intelligence and counterterrorism officials to have traveled to Syria to fight the government of President Bashar al-Assad. One of them, still publicly unidentified, carried out a suicide-bombing there on Sunday, making him the first United States citizen believed to have been involved in such an attack..."
Replacing the recent Indian Parliamentary election as the top story in India: Two police officers are among the suspects in a horrendous case where two low-caste, teen-aged girls were gang-raped, killed, and found hanging from a tree. The victims were reportedly from the Dalit community, once called "untouchables", in the cellar of the traditional Hindu caste hierarchy.
Oh, the perils of high school yearbooks!
Wilmington's Salesianum School recalled the annual Salesianum yearbook which carried an unedited photo of a cross-country runner, fully exposed.
But in Utah, administrators ordered the yearbook staff at Wasatch High School in Heber City to alter photos of female students wearing tank tops, low-cut blouses, and T-shirts, or exposing tattoos. The affected students were given no warning. Some of these young women expressed shock, and said their school administration had taken its "modesty" criteria too far. One of the girls condemned a school culture obsessed with such standards, which she said were used to "humiliate" female students. A Utah company that prints school yearbooks told The SALT LAKE TRIBUNE that it wasn't unusual for Utah high school administrators to order alterations of yearbook photos for various reasons.
Michelle Obama is in the news too, as she tries to defend her healthy school lunch initiative, there appears to be some real push-back on her program:
"Some school officials, particularly in rural communities, have complained about the White House seeking to impose costly food standards on districts that don’t want them. Several of these critics, speaking with reporters this week, complained about cafeteria garbage cans swelling with fruits, veggies and other healthful foods rejected by students.
“We can’t force students to eat something they don’t want,” said Lyman Graham, food service director for consolidated schools near Roswell, N.M. “Many families in the Southwest will not accept whole-grain tortillas."
“Schools can’t change cultural preferences,” Graham added. “And with sky-high produce costs, we simply cannot afford to feed our trash cans.”
Jonathan Dickl, school nutrition director in Knox County, Tennessee, described anger over the demise of traditional biscuits, a food he called a “mainstay” in the South.
Dolores Sutterfield, child nutrition director in Harrisburg, Arkansas, described an act of rebellion by children served containers of applesauce. Instead of opening them, students piled them on trays in pyramid form before throwing them out, uneaten.
From my vantage point, the kids reflect their parents, and the South is - broadly speaking - an unhealthy place.
What could be more unhealthy than a traditional Southern breakfast? The grease just oozes.
Before drugs, his food habits were killing Elvis.
I don't know how you impose dietary requirements from up high - and obviously, you do have a profound cultural difference - but I don't necessarily think it was out of line to TRY to improve school menus.
The irony: As much as black and white Southerners may be generally divided politically, they may have a lot more in common when it comes to their culinary preferences.
Mike from Delaware
Fri, May 30, 2014 5:39pm
Allan: I agree it wasn't a bad idea to try to serve healthy meals to the public school students. Problem is when it comes from DC, rather than the local government.
Let's face it, the states with the biggest problem with this seems to be the Red States. So given their total dislike for both President and Mrs. Obama, it's not a big surprise that they are pushing back on Michelles' signature program.
Sat, May 31, 2014 10:59pm
Five of the Most Dangerous Taliban Commanders in U.S. Custody Exchanged for American Captive...without Congressional knowledge/approval.
Mullah Mohammad Fazl (Taliban army chief of staff): Fazl is “wanted by the UN for possible war crimes including the murder of thousands of Shiites.” Fazl “was associated with terrorist groups currently opposing U.S. and Coalition forces including al Qaeda, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin (HIG), and an Anti-Coalition Militia group known as Harakat-i-Inqilab-i-Islami.” In addition to being one of the Taliban’s most experienced military commanders, Fazl worked closely with a top al Qaeda commander named Abdul Hadi al Iraqi, who headed al Qaeda’s main fighting unit in Afghanistan prior to 9/11 and is currently detained at Guantanamo.
Mullah Norullah Noori (senior Taliban military commander): Like Fazl, Noori is “wanted by the United Nations (UN) for possible war crimes including the murder of thousands of Shiite Muslims.” Beginning in the mid-1990s, Noori “fought alongside al Qaeda as a Taliban military general, against the Northern alliance.” He continued to work closely with al Qaeda in the years that followed.
Abdul Haq Wasiq (Taliban deputy minister of intelligence): Wasiq arranged for al Qaeda members to provide crucial intelligence training prior to 9/11. The training was headed by Hamza Zubayr, an al Qaeda instructor who was killed during the same September 2002 raid that netted Ramzi Binalshibh, the point man for the 9/11 operation. Wasiq “was central to the Taliban's efforts to form alliances with other Islamic fundamentalist groups to fight alongside the Taliban against U.S. and Coalition forces after the 11 September 2001 attacks,” according to a leaked JTF-GTMO threat assessment.
Khairullah Khairkhwa (Taliban governor of the Herat province and former interior minister): Khairkhwa was the governor of Afghanistan’s westernmost province prior to 9/11. In that capacity, he executed sensitive missions for Mullah Omar, including helping to broker a secret deal with the Iranians. For much of the pre-9/11 period, Iran and the Taliban were bitter foes. But a Taliban delegation that included Kharikhwa helped secure Iran’s support for the Taliban’s efforts against the American-led coalition in late 2001. JTF-GTMO found that Khairkhwa was likely a major drug trafficker and deeply in bed with al Qaeda. He allegedly oversaw one of Osama bin Laden’s training facilities in Herat.
Mohammed Nabi (senior Taliban figure and security official): Nabi “was a senior Taliban official who served in multiple leadership roles.” Nabi “had strong operational ties to Anti-Coalition Militia (ACM) groups including al Qaeda, the Taliban, the Haqqani Network, and the Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin (HIG), some of whom remain active in ACM activities.” Intelligence cited in the JTF-GTMO files indicates that Nabi held weekly meetings with al Qaeda operatives to coordinate attacks against U.S.-led forces.
Mrpizza: That was good. Michelle Obama is correct, the kids should be eating healthier foods, but you can only lead a horse to water, you can not make him drink. So what they ought to do is offer some healthy alternatives [after awhile the cafeteria staff will know how many students/teachers in their school eat that stuff and buy accordingly]. For the rest offer whatever they used to offer the kids [it's changed a lot since I was a kid]. Bottom line is kids get fed reasonably healthy food for breakfast and lunch. If they don't eat it, then what good is the food? So they've got to offer food they'll at least eat. Golly those kids in the South prefer a real biscuit to whole wheat bread. I side with the kids. Most whole wheat bread tastes and feels like you're eating sandpaper.
Sadly Mrs. Obama went overboard and wants to force the kids to eat their spinach salad, humus, and sunflower seeds. Meal time in the White House must be a real hoot when she's dinning with Barack and their kids. I'll bet Barack and the kids eat very differently when the First Lady is not there - heh heh.
The school kids apparently have said they'd rather be hungry than eat what the First Lady had dictated they eat. So sadly it appears that most of that stuff is being tossed into the trash, meaning our tax dollars are feeding the dumpster rather than the kids.
The dirty little secret probably is the kids all carry back packs [different world from when I was in school] so they probably have some sort of junk food packed away to get them through the day [necessity is the mother of invention]. Also as your cartoon pointed out, there might be some entrepreneurs in the student body who has their back pack full of "forbidden" treats and who makes a nice bit of cash from his/her fellow students. There's a future millionaire in the making.
That will be the next big thing we'll see at schools, backpack checkers at the doors of the school to stop those evil kids from bringing into the schoolhouse such contraband like Twinkies, Tastykakes, and Potato Chips.
Sun, Jun 1, 2014 8:57pm
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