Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Mid-Week Post

The central focus of the work week.

Despite months of deflection and threats, an Oversight Committee convened to hear Benghazi whistle-blowers' stunning testimony:

During his testimony, Hicks told the Oversight Committee he was in constant contact with D.C. during the attack. He was on the phone with Clinton at 2 AM, one hour before the Libyan prime minister told Hicks Ambassador J. Chrisopher Stevens passed away, relating to her every detail about the attack. 

Hicks also testified that Stevens never once said the attack was the result of a demonstration against the YouTube video then-Secretary Clinton cited.

The words of a dead man come back to haunt Hillary Clinton.

A live blog account of the hearings:

12:05 pm Eric Nordstrom offers his opening statement. He directly challenges then SecState Hillary Clinton’s “What difference, at this point, does it make?” by noting that the truth matters to him, his colleagues, and to the American people. Nordstrom’s opening statement was brief but emotional as he took Clinton on without naming her.

12:10 pm Hicks says he texted Amb. Stevens about the riot in Cairo. Shortly after that, he got word from Stevens that their own consulate in Benghazi was under attack. “Greg, we’re under attack,” Hicks testified that Stevens said to him.

Hicks: The mission was quickly breached by about 20 armed hostile individuals. He says everyone on the ground in Benghazi that night believed that it was a terrorist attack from the beginning. There was no protest or demonstration. He earlier said that Stevens wasn’t even aware of the situation in Cairo until he, Hicks, told him about it.

As many as 60 hostiles attacked the consulate. Hicks lauds officers’ “heroism” for repeatedly trying to get into the burning consulate during the attack, noting that it was a petroleum-based fire.

Hicks: Stevens went missing, then he and his officers in Tripoli were notified that Stevens had been taken to a hospital controlled by Ansar al-Sharia (al Qaeda’s Libya brand, and the group behind the attack on the consulate). The attack then had the potential of becoming a hostage situation.

(Meanwhile in Cairo, al Qaeda had stormed the US embassy to pressure the US government into releasing the 1993 WTC attack mastermind, Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman, and other al Qaeda operatives held in Western prisons.)

Hicks says the terrorists’ mortar attacks were “terribly precise.” He feared that his team were being lured into an ambush at checkpoints, raising again the question of why the State Department failed to secure the Benghazi compound.

Hicks and military commander in Libya “wanted to go and bring our people home” from Benghazi. They were ordered not to go. ...

12:51 pm Cummings stands down, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) steps up. Gowdy asks Hicks whether Stevens or anyone else had ever believed that there had been a protest or that the YouTube movie had anything to do with the attack. Answer: No.

“I was stunned. My jaw dropped. And I was embarrassed.” Hicks, on his reaction to Amb. Susan Rice’s five national television appearances in which she blamed a movie. Hicks says Rice never called him for his input before her appearances on TV.

“Why in the world would Susan Rice go on five talk shows?” and blame a movie, Gowdy asks Hicks. Hicks cannot answer for Rice. Hicks says it took the FBI 18 days to get to the scene of the attack. ...

1:03 pm Rep. Jason Chaffetz is up, he asks Hicks about the second rescue team. Hicks says that team were “furious” that were told to stand down, commanding general said that “This is the first time in my career that a diplomat has more balls than someone in the military.”

Chaffetz then moves to question Thompson, the counterrorism officer on the FEST (Foreign Emergency Support Team). State Dept. claims FEST can respond to attacks with aircraft in four hours. Chaffetz asks why FEST was not deployed – Thompson says he was told the Benghazi situation was “too unsafe” for the FEST. Morning after attack, he was told not to attend a meeting that should normally have involved him. ...

1:19 pm Rep. James Langford (R-OK) asks Hicks and Nordstrom whether security was adequate at Benghazi. Answer from Nordstrom: No. They did not meet the minimum standards. Nordstrom testifies that only the Secretary of State can grant waivers for facilities that do not meet the minimum standards. That’s BIG. ...

1:30 pm Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) notes that Hicks was commended by SecState Clinton after the Benghazi attack. Obama also called Hicks directly to commend him for his actions on the night of the attack. But those commendations changed after Rice’s statements blaming the movie, and on a call with Beth Jones, Hicks questioned Rice’s statements. “The sense that I got twas that I needed to stop that line of questioning.” Jones was Acting Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs. State told Hicks not to be personally interviewed by Rep. Chaffetz, who was investigating the attack. Hicks says that has never happened to him before in his 22-year State career.

Hicks details how State shut lawyer out of briefing due to lack of clearance. Consistent with Victoria Toensing’s statements that State has limited her ability to represent the whistleblowers. Hicks says Clinton chief of staff Cheryl Mills personally called him demanding a report. A call from someone so senior is “Not generally considered good news.”

Hicks' testimony reveals a pattern of deliberate deception and intimidation on the government's part. His testimony contradicts not only the events of the that night but what Stevens knew of them and certainly what Hillary Clinton and Obama knew and decided to obscure and conceal.


How many Tibetans will vote for Frank Huang?

When immigrants come to this country, did they learn English to facilitate their arrival?

A growing number of newcomers to Canada are enrolling their children in French immersion schools in Manitoba, contributing to an enrolment spike at the bilingual schools.

In many cases, the children of immigrant families are learning English and French as their second and third languages at the French immersion schools.

The real reason why anyone learns French in Canada is to secure a comfortable profession later on. There are more Russian speakers worldwide and there is a growing population in Canada whose primary spoken language at home is either Punjabi or Mandarin. Indeed, in Winnipeg it is Tagalog. Yet French is still proffered as the language of opportunity. This is why the francophone oligarchy should not only be questioned but stopped. English, whether one likes it or not, is the language of commerce. There should be no reason why French-speakers deliberately hinder native-born and new Canadians in their everyday lives.

Journalists are hacks- re-redux:

There's no question sexually explicit posters intended to caution adults in gay bars and bath houses about safe sex don't belong on the bulletin board of a junior high school classroom.

But the amount of puffed up indignation and partisan political bashing over the incident at a Toronto school seems over the top.

A teacher at Delta Alternative School in Toronto's Little Italy district has been suspended for posting the materials in classrooms used by Grade 7 and 8 students, the National Post reported.

The material, a poster and brochures, was part of an awareness campaign by the AIDS Committee of Toronto. The poster had an eye-grabbing phrase "If you like to f—" and included tips on how gay and bisexual men can practise safe sex, the Post said. The material included a picture of a man's partly exposed rear and advice on how to "use your head when giving it."

Principal Marc Mullan sent a letter home to parents of the school's 63 students on Tuesday saying he was made aware of the poster last Friday and that "the material was taken down immediately," according to the Post.

A spokesman for the Toronto District School Board said the teacher has been suspended pending a review by the board.

"This is clearly inappropriate," said Ryan Bird. "It crosses a line."

Ontario Education Minister Liz Sandals has weighed in, endorsing the teacher's removal from the classroom.

“The materials that are being used are totally inappropriate and are in no way connected to the Ontario health and phys ed curriculum,” Sandals said, according to the Toronto Star.

The incident was “of great concern not just to me but obviously of great concern to parents," the minister added.

That's fine, except for one thing. This material was up on the classroom bulletin board since last October. Seven months. And no one said anything?

QMI Agency reported the school board's investigation includes the role of Principal Mullan and his administrators. Mullan insists he knew nothing about the material. School principals appear to be less sharp-eyed than when I went to school.

Yes, I think I would be a little "puffed up" and "indignant", too, if I saw an adult-oriented pamphlet used as poster depicting sex acts in a classroom just as I would be gobsmacked that there are those who think this is not an issue or that the teacher in question has not been fired. The purpose of this poster, extolled as an educational tool, is just one of many aspects to the failed sex education programs that have produced neither sexually or emotionally healthy teen-agers, the very adolescents who are also inundated with images of Rehtaeh Parsons and printer-made guns, not to mention those pesky Ten Commandments. The parent who filmed the inflammatory poster noticed it. Why didn't the principal or school board trustees?

This incident says so much about the detachment of parents from their children's schools and what is being taught in them and educators from the larger culture than any imagined prudery. The school was caught and offered a meek defense of itself after realising deflection and denial were not effective. What I would like to see is those responsible owning the messes they've made. They are grooming children for irresponsible behaviour. Let those who fed the monster deal with the voyeurs, addicts and the scarred they encouraged and enabled.


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