- Posted July 15, 2014 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Kernels - Monday, July 14, 2014
Welcome to the latest edition of Kernels From the Cornfield - No Husks, No Hulls, No Shucks!
News with a dash of commentary to spice up your fare for Monday, July 14th, 2014.
1. Citi Fined! - The Justice Department announced today that CitiBank has been fined $7 billion dollars over its role in the housing bubble blow-up that led to the 2008 recession.
The news, however, did not stop Citi's stocks from rallying upward. Then again when has the stock market been reflected of how most of Americans feel about the economy?
Citi was accused of packaging bad mortgages. Those bad packages led to the meltdown from which America is still recovering.
Agreeing to the settlement, Citi will not have to face a civil lawsuit. Homeowners, however, will see little relief or compensation. Only $500 million of the fine is going to five states.
2. VA Still Screwing Up - There may be a new boss in place, but the Veterans Administration can't get its act together yet.
A new Inspector General report out today notes that in its rush to cut the backlog of veterans waiting on disability determination , tens of thousands of vets are receiving payments without any medical evidence those vets deserve benefits.
Reportedly, the VA may misspend nearly $371 million over the next five years on claims of 100% disability alone.
Compounding the situation, it was discovered there are mail bins full of claims that have not been electronically scanned for the past three years.
While our veterans must be provided for and promises kept, taking shortcuts or mismanaging the system cannot be justified for the sake of saying, "See, we cut the backlog."
The VA is failing in its fiduciary responsibility not only to our veterans, but to all of America's taxpayers.
3. Weapons for Qatar - Really? - The tiny emirate on the Arabian Peninsula with boatloads of oil money facilitated the release of five Taliban leaders from Quantanamo Bay in exchange for American soldier Bowe Berghdahl a couple of months back.
Qatar is being accused of financing jihadists, including Hamas which is now in an undeclared war with Israel.
Qatar is considered a key US ally. For this the tiny country will be sold $11 billion worth of Apache attack helicopters along with Patriot and Javelin air-defense weapons.
Should the US of A put strings on the sale to insure that the weapons don't fall into the wrong hands?
4. Back in the Barracks - Bowe Berghdahl, the American soldier held in captivity by the Taliban for five years after being captured in Afghanistan, has been returned to regular duty and assigned to a post in the San Antonio, Texas area.
The controversary centering around how and why Bergdahl left his post and was later captured will become heated, I am sure, over the next few days.
An Army investigation shortly after Bergdahl went missing did not conclude any wrongdoing on his part. But former members of his unit have been vocal in stating Bergdahl was disenchanted with the US mission in Afghanistan and deserted his post.
The Army has stated that in his new position, Bergdahl will be available for questioning by investigators seeking his side of what happened in June, 2009 when he walked off the base and landed in the hands of the Taliban.
5. Racial Politics? - US Attorney General Eric Holder is claiming there are some in the opposition playing racial politics. At the same time, some of the right are accusing Holder and President Barack Obama of fomenting divisions between blacks and whites.
Rather than opposing proposals from the White House on ideological or policy grounds, Holder believes Republicans are acting out of "racial animus".
I have noticed some infusion of this on social media and even on news sites, which allow "citizen journalism", such as CNN's iReport. Some on both sides at times seem to throw down the race card when it suits the contributor's purpose or point-of- view.
Rather than becoming more of a melting pot, are we becoming more segregated than we were a short six years ago?
6. More Problems at CDC - Dismaying revelations continue to mount about one of America's most trusted institutions - the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
I reported here while back about scientists in the Atlanta facility being exposed to live anthrax virus. The most recent finding exposed the use of expired disinfectants and using Ziploc bags to transfer dangerous germs.
How reliable is the CDC and how safe from exposure and epidemic are we when such sloppy work is going on?
7. Proposed Cease-Fire - The Israelis are considering a cease-fire in its battle with Hamas in Gaza, but Hamas is calling the idea laughable.
Almost 200 Palestinians have been killed as Israel has retaliated against wave after wave of bombs and rockets being fired by Hamas into the Jewish State.
While the casualties have been on the south side of the border, Israel has been alerting civilians of retaliatory attacks before bombing begins and give residents a chance to leave and seek shelter. Hamas, however, gives no warning and is not discreet on where its rockets explode.
8. Polor Vortex? - One of the coolest July's in history is expected as a polor vortex pushes southward out of the northern reaches this week. The last time July was this chilly was 30 years ago in the mid 1980s.
Doesn't the North Pole realize this is summer?
Doesn't Jack Frost know this is the time of the year when the mercury rises to near boiling point?
Apparently Mother Nature is playing a joke on us. But even with the much cooler temperatures, it will be worse not better for people with respiratory problems.
9. Women Bishops - Breaking with tradition, the Church of England will allow the ordination of women as bishops. This is a giant step for women of faith, who have longed fought for equality in the Church.
Women have been allowed to serve as priests since 1994. The question of becoming a bishop has been discussed since 2005.
The measure must still be approved by the British Parliament. The Queen is the titular head of the Church of England and Anglicans worldwide.
10. Crisis at the Border - Congress has only 12 more workdays left to find a compromise to deal with the humanitarian crisis on the southern border and what to do with nearly 60,000 children from Central America
Some Republican lawmakers are now calling for a revision in the 2008 law which requires children from Central America to have a hearing to determine if they meet refugee status or not. Those deemed refugees get to stay. The others are deported back to their homelands.
Even if a compromise is reached about the children, the larger issue of fixing our broken immigration system is unlikely to be addressed until after the fall Midterm Elections.
Two Texans, Republican Senator John Cornyn and Democratic Representative Henry Cuellar, announced a compromise today which would modify the 2008 law. However, children deemed to be in danger would be able to seek refugee status if they can provide a credible threat of persecution or have been victims of human trafficking.
Immigration judges must make a decision within 72 hours of a child's claim rather than the current system which could take up to two years before a judge sees a child.
11. Forgotten Crisis - Remember how Russia took Crimea from Ukraine and remains camped on its eastern border?
Apparently last week the Ukraine was accused of lobbing a bomb into Russia. Russia has apparently shot down an Ukrainian plane. Russia says it won't use direct missile strikes against its western neighbor.
12. In the Courts - Two cases that have caught fire in social media involve a comedian and a retired police officer.
Tracy Morgan who was injured in a deadly crash is suing retail giant Wal-Mart. Morgan is alleging that the company knew or should have known its driver was driving beyond the alloted hours on the road.
Then there's the retired police officer, Curtis Reeves Jr., who shot and killed a man in a movie theater. The man was texting with his young daughter and refused to stop when Reeves demanded he put away the cell phone. Reeves is out on bail awaiting trial.
That's what caught my attention for Monday, July 14th, 2014.
Tune in tomorrow for another episode of Kernels From the Cornfield.
I am Mark Ivy.