Thursday, October 12, 2017


An old-school pharmacy hand-delivers drugs to Congress, a little-known perk for the powerful ...
Grubb's Pharmacy on Capitol Hill. Eric Kruszewski for STAT

WASHINGTON — If House Speaker Paul Ryan comes down with the flu this winter, he and his security detail won’t be screeching off toward the closest CVS for his Tamiflu.

Instead, he can just walk downstairs and pick up the pills, part of a little-known perk open to every member of Congress, from Ryan and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell down to the newest freshman Democrat.

  • Nearly every day for at least two decades pharmaceutical drugs have been brought by the carload to the Capitol — an arrangement so under the radar that even pharmacy lobbyists who regularly pitch Congress on their industry aren’t aware of it.
The deliveries arrive at the secretive Office of the Attending Physician, an elaborate medical clinic where Navy doctors triage medical emergencies and provide basic health care for lawmakers who pay an annual fee of just over $600. Every one comes from Washington’s oldest community pharmacy, Grubb’s.

Mike Kim, the reserved pharmacist-turned-owner of the pharmacy, said he has gotten used to knowing the most sensitive details about some of the most famous people in Washington.

“At first it’s cool, and then you realize, I’m filling some drugs that are for some pretty serious health problems as well. And these are the people that are running the country,” Kim said, listing treatments for conditions like diabetes and Alzheimer’s.

“It makes you kind of sit back and say, ‘Wow, they’re making the highest laws of the land and they might not even remember what happened yesterday.'”

Mike Kim (center), a pharmacist and owner of Grubb’s Pharmacy, prepares a medication with compound technician Ron Thompson. Eric Kruszewski for STAT
Kim’s tiny pharmacy — which, at its busiest, sends as many as 100 prescriptions to members in a day — is nestled among Capitol Hill’s stateliest row houses, less than four blocks from the Capitol building itself. Founded in 1867 and named for a previous owner, the pharmacy predates penicillin, the American health insurance system, and even the Lincoln Memorial.
The two-story shop, with its bay windows and wood counters, harkens back to that history, though the computer systems and supplements inside aren’t far removed from your typical Walgreens counter — if all of Walgreens’s inventory was shoved into the nooks and crannies of three small aisles and labeled with individual stickers. At Grubb’s, staff will even scoop Hershey’s ice cream into cones out of a small counter in the corner, a modern-day nod to the marble-topped soda fountain once popular with the neighborhood kids.

The pharmacy mostly serves the staffers, lobbyists, and families who make their home in the quiet, leafy neighborhood just to the east of the Capitol building, though Grubb’s five drivers will deliver prescriptions across the entire city. Some 800 prescriptions leave its doors every day, filled by some three dozen pharmacists, technicians, and support staff.

The relationship between Grubb’s and the Capitol has gone nearly unchanged for decades, even as congressional leaders have pushed again and again to overhaul the nation’s broader health care system.

Most lawmakers know far more about the Office of the Attending Physician than about Grubb’s or its arrangement with Congress. In a STAT survey of some two dozen House and Senate members from both parties, only one knew about the single pharmacy that delivers all their drugs: Congress’s only pharmacist, Rep. Buddy Carter (R-Ga.).
“If you have a vote and you can’t get home to your personal physician, you need to see somebody, and I’ll run over between votes and be able to keep my personal responsibilities going,” said Sen. Bill Cassidy, a Louisiana Republican. “It’s a convenience that definitely allows us to be more productive.”  NOW THAT'S AN OXYMORON! 
A ticket dispenser hangs on the wall inside Grubb’s Pharmacy. Eric Kruszewski for STAT

Lawmakers describe the Office of the Attending Physician as a modern space much like a regular doctor’s office — though the $3.7 million budget it enjoyed for 2016 suggests a relatively well-furnished space. It’s strictly off-limits to reporters; staff there declined repeated requests for comment, and a spokesman for the House Administration Committee that helps oversee OAP declined multiple follow-up inquiries.

That’s perhaps because the office is not without controversy. Its services — and the relatively low fees that members must pay for access — were thrust into a harsh spotlight in 2009, as Congress began to debate the Affordable Care Act and as reporters began to ask how lawmakers’ own care might color their perspectives on policy. The central issue is the cost: In 2016, lawmakers paid $611 for annual membership — a fee that, unlike most health care prices, has risen much slower than inflation. In 1992, the first year the office charged a fee, it was $520.

The Office of the Attending Physician itself was formed in 1928, after three members of Congress died in their offices within months of one another — more than 50 years after Grubb’s first opened its doors.

The little red pill being pushed on the elderly exposes inappropriate use of drug in nursing homes ... NOTE: Perhaps as well Long-Term care facilities like congress 
The maker of a little red pill intended to treat a rare condition is raking in hundreds of millions of dollars a year as it aggressively targets frail and elderly nursing home residents for whom the drug may be unnecessary or even unsafe. 

And much of the money is coming straight from the federal government.

The pill, called Nuedexta, is approved to treat a disorder marked by sudden and uncontrollable laughing or crying -- known as pseudobulbar affect, or PBA. This condition afflicts less than 1% of all Americans, based on a calculation using the drugmaker's own figures, and it is most commonly associated with people who have multiple sclerosis (MS) or ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease.


Nuedexta's financial success, however, is being propelled by a sales force focused on expanding the drug's use among elderly patients suffering from dementia and Alzheimer's disease, and high-volume prescribing and advocacy efforts by doctors receiving payments from the company, CNN found.

In her former nursing home, Lenore Greenfield was diagnosed with PBA and prescribed Nuedexta by California psychiatrist Romeo Isidro, a physician who has received hundreds of thousands of dollars in promotional payments from Avanir.

Since 2012, more than half of all Nuedexta pills have gone to long-term care facilities. The number of pills rose to roughly 14 million in 2016, a jump of nearly 400% in just four years, according to data obtained from QuintilesIMS, which tracks pharmaceutical sales. Total sales of Nuedexta reached almost $300 million that year. 

Nuedexta is being increasingly prescribed in nursing homes even though drugmaker Avanir Pharmaceuticals acknowledges in prescribing information that the drug has not been extensively studied in elderly patients -- prompting critics to liken its use to an uncontrolled experiment. The one study the company conducted solely on patients with Alzheimer's (a type of dementia) had 194 subjects and found that those on Nuedexta experienced falls at more than twice the rate as those on a placebo. 

Avanir declined repeated requests to be interviewed for this article. In an emailed statement, the company said PBA is often "misunderstood" and that the condition can affect people with dementia and other neurological disorders, which are common among residents in long-term care facilities. A company website states PBA can afflict up to roughly 40% of dementia patients -- a figure that is based on an Avanir-funded survey and was repeatedly disputed by medical experts interviewed by CNN, including some of those paid by Avanir.

Nuedexta is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat anyone with PBA, including those with a variety of neurological conditions such as dementia. But geriatric physicians, dementia researchers and other medical experts told CNN that PBA is extremely rare in dementia patients; several said it affects 5% or less. And state regulators have found doctors inappropriately diagnosing nursing home residents with PBA to justify using Nuedexta to treat patients whose confusion, agitation and unruly behavior make them difficult to manage.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017


Anti-Trump Sen. Corker Resigns Amid Criminal Probe ... The truth about Sen. Corker’s resignation
Roger Stone | - October 9, 2017

Lost in the coverage of the announcement by Senator Bob Corker that he would not run is the fact the senator has been under FBI investigation for corruption because of a series of business enterprises where it appears he used his public position for his personal gain.

In May 2016, the Wall Street Journal reported that the FBI and the SEC were investigating Bob Corker and CBL & Associates, a REIT based in Corker’s hometown of Chattanooga owned by Corker’s former employers turned major donors. According to the report, federal officials were examining CBL’s billing practices and Corker’s dozens of lucrative stock trades over a period of several years, collectively worth tens of millions of dollars. While they have not commented publicly on the case, federal investigators have looked into whether Corker’s trades may have been based on inside information.

Interest in Corker’s personal finances first emerged in late 2015, when the Journal reported on a series of contradictions and apparent omissions in Corker’s personal financial disclosures over the course of nearly a decade. Often, he failed to declare income that he appeared to derive. In other cases, he failed to indicate when he had acquired or sold certain assets. Ultimately, Corker filed amended disclosures with the Senate Ethics Committee, which revealed millions of dollars in previously undeclared assets.

Some of the transactions in question involved CBL, but they were not the only firm with long ties to Corker where he appears to have hidden the degree of his involvement. Corker also invested in two Chattanooga hedge funds called Pointer Management and TSWII, which like CBL were founded by longtime donors and friends of Corker. As with CBL, there is concern—and at least some circumstantial evidence—that privileged information that Corker obtains as a Senator could be used to influence the funds’ investment positions.

Corker’s investments in Pointer were the subject of a recent Yahoo Finance article, which revealed that the fund had made tens of millions of dollars in profit, if not more, shorting the housing market in 2007. Corker was joined in his Pointer investment by fellow Senator Mark Warner. 
Beyond the unseemliness of Senators making exorbitant profits off of the collapse of the US financial system, the article also noted that Corker and Warner sought to radically reshape the housing finance market in a landmark bill they proposed in 2013. The Corker-Warner bill did not pass, but it has become a blueprint for subsequent proposals to eliminate Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Corker’s controversial relationships with business leaders from his hometown include another key example: Henry Luken. Best known as a communications magnate, Luken acquired the lion’s share of Corker’s failing real estate empire from him in 2006, while Corker was running for Congress and just before the credit crunch sparked by the financial crisis. As a result of the sale of the highly leveraged assets, Corker not only avoided the subsequent calamity, but he was given the liquidity he urgently needed to fund his own campaign: He subsequently lent himself approximately $4.2 million, which accounted for nearly a quarter of all his spending, in the weeks before his primary and his general election win, enough to secure him a narrow margin of victory against Democratic opponent Harold Ford.

While one can only speculate about what might have been, it is not a stretch to say that without Luken’s bailout, Corker might not have won his race.

While in the Senate, Corker has pursued a series of agenda items that have advanced Luken’s business interests. He sent letters to the FCC urging regulatory changes that would protect the profits of Luken’s scores of low-power TV stations and broadcast networks. Corker co-sponsored multiple bills that would benefit Luken’s telecom businesses. Corker also spent years as mayor and senator encouraging Volkswagen to build a massive plant in Chattanooga, which inflated the value of several of Luken’s nearby properties.

After Luken took control of Corker’s struggling properties, he was initially unable to find a bank that would refinance their subprime mortgages, which had originally been taken out by Corker. When the loans on properties now owned by Luken were called in, he was only able to secure two six-month extensions, until Wells Fargo agreed to refinance more than $28 million of the debt in March 2010. 

Wells Fargo’s lending agreement with Luken, which came at a time when other banks would not extend new financing because of the post-crisis credit crunch, was a huge boon to Corker and Luken alike. Thanks to the loan, Luken avoided insolvency. As the original borrower, Corker likely maintained a contingent liability on the properties, meaning inability to roll over the loans was a threat to his financial well-being as well.

This was not the only favorable treatment Corker has received from Wells Fargo, which he also oversees as a member of the Senate Banking Committee. Days after Corker sank between $2 and $10 million in a proposed Mobile, Alabama shopping center, the bank announced it would finance the project. Wells Fargo has long been the primary financier of CBL, and the firm’s owners credited the banks for allowing them to weather the financial crisis, which also allowed Corker to retain value in his multi-million-dollar investments. Corker invests hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars in his campaign war chest with a fund owned by a former Wells executive named Aon Miller.

Corker’s unusual pattern of highly lucrative foreign stock trades has also raised eyebrows and raises questions about whether he might be exploiting his work on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Corker made 92 trades (which were cumulatively worth up to $945,000) in the stocks of 29 foreign companies from January 2014 to April 2014. While some of these firms are well known, many would be anonymous to American investors, such as a French REIT called Unibail-Radamco and an Oslo chemical firm known as Yara International.

Corker’s hold time was extremely short in every case. He sold the stocks after an average of slightly more than three months and held onto none for even five months. The trades were also extraordinarily profitable—nearly 80% were winners. Corker traveled to many of the countries where these companies are located, and as chair of Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he often received detailed breakdowns of their economic issues, include material non-public information that would be high interest for investors.

This willingness to use public office for his own personal benefit which has come to the attention of federal investigators has been a theme of Corker’s career dating back to his first elected position, as mayor of Chattanooga from 2001 to 2006. Critics complained that he changed city zoning and environmental rules to boost the value of multiple properties he owed. Corker also appears to have directed city business to his friends; for instance, under his watch Pointer Management began to manage investments for city pension funds.



RINOs = McCain, Corker, Alexander, Flake, Collins, McConnell, Portman, Murkowski, etc. They all inhabit the "fetid and festering swamp" that President Trump is trying to drain!

Corker is a nut..believe me. I've lived in TN most my life..he's a nut and no one likes him. He was happily talking about fishing licenses when our men were being beheaded in the Middle East and Obama was off golfing when it was happening. It's sad folks..he's real dirty and doesn't want to be left without profiting on our tax dollars. He's a real bad human being

Tennesseans in Chattanooga were robbed by Corker when he was mayor. He made millions off of a protected bird sanctuary that was sold to Walmart. Families businesses were forced out of their own property under “eminent domain” to make Corker money.




Monday, October 9, 2017


New California law allows jail time for using wrong gender pronoun, sponsor denies that would happen ... 
Democratic California Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation on October 4, 2017 that would punish health care workers with fine, and potential jail time, if they decline to use a senior transgender patient's "preferred name or pronouns." The bill was sponsored by California State Sen. Scott Wiener (no relation to Carlos Danger - Anthony Wiener couldn't be reached for comment!). 
California health care workers who “willfully and repeatedly” decline to use a senior transgender patient's “preferred name or pronouns” could face punishments ranging from a fine to jail time under a newly signed law.

California Gov. Jerry Brown signed the legislation last week.

The sponsor, Democratic state Sen. Scott Wiener, has argued adamantly that nobody is going to be criminally prosecuted for using the wrong pronoun.

“It’s just more scare tactics by people who oppose all LGBT civil rights and protections,” he said in a statement last month.

But the language seemingly allows for the possibility, however remote.

The bill itself is aimed at protecting transgender and other LGBT individuals in hospitals, retirement homes and assisted living facilities. The bill would ensure those facilities accommodate transgender people and their needs, including letting them decide which gender-specific bathroom they prefer to use.
"It shall be unlawful for a long-term care facility or facility staff to take any of the following actions wholly or partially on the basis of a person’s actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) status," the bill reads.
Among the unlawful actions are “willfully and repeatedly” failing to use a transgender person’s “preferred name or pronouns” after he or she is “clearly informed of the preferred name or pronouns.”

The law states that if provisions are violated, the violator could be punished by a fine “not to exceed one thousand dollars” or “by imprisonment in the county jail for a period not to exceed one year,” or both.

Wiener's office noted that violations for residential care facilities under existing law rarely resulted in criminal charges, especially for minor violations. Criminal penalties are meant more for violations that expose a patient to risk of death or serious harm, his office said.

Wiener’s office noted that the law “does not create any new criminal provisions,” but rather creates “new rights within an existing structure.”

One opponent of the law, the California Family Council's Greg Burt, slammed the measure when the bill was in its early stages.

“How can you believe in free speech, but think the government can compel people to use certain pronouns when talking to others?” he said to the California Assembly Judiciary Committee in August, according to CBN News.


Here’s Everything Else the Dianne Feinstein Bump Stock Ban Would Outlaw
While Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) presents her latest piece of gun control legislation as narrowly focused on bump stocks, the reality is that the language of the bill includes bans on other firearm accessories too.


This means those who have worried that Feinstein’s bill would create slippery slope—leading to the passage of more bans—need to understand that her bill is the slippery slope; it contains all the future bans in it already.
On October 8, Breitbart News reported that Feinstein admitted no law would have stopped the Vegas attacker. She then said “we need a law” to ban bump stocks, and described her bill as a simple piece of two-page legislation “written in clean English” and narrowly focused on bumps stocks.
However, the language of her bill is anything but narrow. In fact, the
bill—the Automatic Gunfire Prevention Act—bans any “accessory that is designed or functions to accelerate the rate of fire of a semiautomatic rifle but not convert the semiautomatic rifle into a machine gun.” This language is very crucial because in it goes after bump stocks for being exactly what the ATF described—an accessory, not a conversion device.

Don't bother clicking on the URL ... Google has censored it and many others!

Incredible Bump Fire! New ATF Approved stock for AR ... - YouTube

Incredible Bump Fire! New ATF Approved stock for AR-15 Allows Easy and Safe Bump firing ... Shooting An AR-15 (Bump Fire Stock) - Duration: 0:58.
It is already illegal to convert a semiautomatic into an automatic and Feinstein’s bill is way for leftists to make it illegal to add an accessory that allows the gun to fire rapidly without being converted to automatic.

In other words, a semiautomatic firearm with a bump stock is still a semiautomatic firearm; it only fires one round per each pull of the trigger, period. 

On Thursday, the NRA blamed the Obama administration for authorizing the sale of bump stocks in 2010, based in part on the manufacturer’s claim that the device was intended to assist people with “limited mobility” in their hands. At the time, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives concluded that the bump stock “has no automatically functioning mechanical parts or springs and performs no automatic mechanical function when installed,” according to a letter from the bureau that the manufacturer, Slide Fire Solutions, posted to its website. “Accordingly, we find that the ‘bump-stock’ is a firearm part and is not regulated as a firearm under Gun Control Act or the National Firearms Act.”
Yet Feinstein wants to ban them and—because she has to focus her ban on accessories—it means the ban is broad enough that it already includes numerous other devices that do not convert semiautomatics into automatics either. Her legislation explicitly lists “a trigger crank” as something that would be banned as well.


Did the Vegas attacker use a trigger crank? No, he did not. Yet it would be banned because Feinstein wants to ban any accessory that allows the gun owner to “accelerate the rate of fire of a semiautomatic rifle but not convert the semiautomatic rifle into a machine gun.”

The language of her bill would include bans on other devices, bans that are only implicit at this point. It would simply come down to a bureaucrat deciding the threshold at which semiautomatics are being fired too fast and any accessory that allowed a gun owner to meet that threshold would be banned.

Feinstein’s bill currently has 38 co-sponsors, all of whom are Democrat. But numerous Republicans—including House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), Rep. Bill Flores (R-TX), Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), Senators John Cornyn (R-TX), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Marco Rubio (R-FL)—have voiced openness to gun control via bump stock legislation and/or hearings on such legislation.

AWR Hawkins is the Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and host of Bullets with AWR Hawkins, a Breitbart News podcast. He is also the political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at


July 27, 2016

Federal Reserve issues FOMC statement

Information received since the Federal Open Market Committee met in June indicates that the labor market strengthened and that economic activity has been expanding at a moderate rate. Job gains were strong in June following weak growth in May. On balance, payrolls and other labor market indicators point to some increase in labor utilization in recent months. Household spending has been growing strongly but business fixed investment has been soft. Inflation has continued to run below the Committee's 2 percent longer-run objective, partly reflecting earlier declines in energy prices and in prices of non-energy imports. Market-based measures of inflation compensation remain low; most survey-based measures of longer-term inflation expectations are little changed, on balance, in recent months.

Consistent with its statutory mandate, the Committee seeks to foster maximum employment and price stability. The Committee currently expects that, with gradual adjustments in the stance of monetary policy, economic activity will expand at a moderate pace and labor market indicators will strengthen. Inflation is expected to remain low in the near term, in part because of earlier declines in energy prices, but to rise to 2 percent over the medium term as the transitory effects of past declines in energy and import prices dissipate and the labor market strengthens further. Near-term risks to the economic outlook have diminished. The Committee continues to closely monitor inflation indicators and global economic and financial developments.


Against this backdrop, the Committee decided to maintain the target range for the federal funds rate at 1/4 to 1/2 percent. The stance of monetary policy remains accommodative, thereby supporting further improvement in labor market conditions and a return to 2 percent inflation.

In determining the timing and size of future adjustments to the target range for the federal funds rate, the Committee will assess realized and expected economic conditions relative to its objectives of maximum employment and 2 percent inflation. This assessment will take into account a wide range of information, including measures of labor market conditions, indicators of inflation pressures and inflation expectations, and readings on financial and international developments. In light of the current shortfall of inflation from 2 percent, the Committee will carefully monitor actual and expected progress toward its inflation goal. The Committee expects that economic conditions will evolve in a manner that will warrant only gradual increases in the federal funds rate; the federal funds rate is likely to remain, for some time, below levels that are expected to prevail in the longer run. However, the actual path of the federal funds rate will depend on the economic outlook as informed by incoming data.

The Committee is maintaining its existing policy of reinvesting principal payments from its holdings of agency debt and agency mortgage-backed securities in agency mortgage-backed securities and of rolling over maturing Treasury securities at auction, and it anticipates doing so until normalization of the level of the federal funds rate is well under way. This policy, by keeping the Committee's holdings of longer-term securities at sizable levels, should help maintain accommodative financial conditions.

Voting for the FOMC monetary policy action were: Janet L. Yellen, Chair; William C. Dudley, Vice Chairman; Lael Brainard; James Bullard; Stanley Fischer; Loretta J. Mester; Jerome H. Powell; Eric Rosengren; and Daniel K. Tarullo. Voting against the action was Esther L. George, who preferred at this meeting to raise the target range for the federal funds rate to 1/2 to 3/4 percent.


Sunday, October 8, 2017


Sen. John McCain Refuses Questions On 
$9 Million Dollars

( The question we all want to know, is where did it come from? John McCain keeps hiding and refuses to answer that question!

What we do know, thanks to an investigation by The Daily Caller, is that the McCain Institute for International Leadership received a VERY GENEROUS donation from none other than George Soros.

The institute is intended to serve as a “legacy” for McCain. It “is dedicated to advancing human rights, dignity, democracy and freedom”. It is also a tax-exempt non-profit foundation with assets valued at $8.1 million and associated with Arizona State University.

John McCain turned over nearly $9 million in unspent funds from his failed 2008 presidential campaign to a new foundation bearing his name, the McCain Institute for International Leadership.

His legacy should be that of a traitor, after derogatory remarks about a sitting president said while over seas. #justSayin.

But McCain has very deliberately refused to release a list of donors and the dollar amounts they provided.

So, we know that Soros gave a lot of money. And we know that the McCain Institute got even more from other parties, but that he’s not going to tell us who.

The DC gives us more:

Critics worry that the institute’s donors and McCain’s personal leadership in the organization’s exclusive “Sedona Forum” bear an uncanny resemblance to the glitzy Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) that annually co-mingled special interests and powerful political players in alleged pay-to-play schemes.

The institute has accepted contributions of as much as $100,000 from billionaire liberal activist-funder George Soros and from Teneo, a for-profit company co-founded by Doug Band, former President Bill Clinton’s “bag man.”

Teneo has long helped enrich Clinton through lucrative speaking and business deals.

And Bloomberg reported in 2016 on a $1 million Saudi Arabian donation to the institute, a contribution the McCain group has refused to explain publicly.

In addition, the institute has taken at least $100,000 from a Moroccan state-run company tied to repeated charges of worker abuse and exploitation. The McCain group has also accepted at least $100,000 from the Pivotal Foundation. It was created by Francis Najafi who owns the Pivotal Group, a private equity and real estate firm.

What exactly is John McCain doing behind closed doors? What is he doing for Soros to get all that financial love?

Charles Ortel, a retired Wall Street investment banker and philanthropy law expert, told The DC that “high government officials such as John McCain, [former Secretary of State] Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama should not get involved with vehicles like these where substantial sums can be funneled over time in ways that at best, reeks of impropriety and at worse are public corruption.”

The institute’s donations suggest special pleading before the senator. They also in some instances appear to contradict McCain’s vision of human rights and national security.

John McCain is no better than Obama and Hillary. He lost all conservative credentials years ago. It is high time that he is retired.

I used to have respect for his service. He has almost destroyed that. Cant the Hanoi Hilton take him back? Did I say that?

John McCain is indicative of the real problem in DC. Power held too long, always leads to corruption.

I believe McCain used to be a good man. He is no longer. What do you believe?




ISIS Fighters, Having Pledged to Fight or Die, Surrender en Masse ... but they choose life

DIBIS, Iraq — The prisoners were taken to a waiting room in groups of four, and were told to stand facing the concrete wall, their noses almost touching it, their hands bound behind their backs.

More than a thousand Islamic State fighters passed through that room this past week after they fled their crumbling Iraqi stronghold of Hawija. Instead of the martyrdom they had boasted was their only acceptable fate, they had voluntarily ended up here in the interrogation center of the Kurdish authorities in northern Iraq.

For an extremist group that has made its reputation on its ferociousness, with fighters who would always choose suicide over surrender, the fall of Hawija has been a notable turning point. The group has suffered a string of humiliating defeats in Iraq and Syria, but the number of its shock troops who turned themselves in to Kurdish officials at the center in Dibis was unusually large, more than 1,000 since last Sunday.

The fight for Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, took nine months, and by comparison, relatively few Islamic State fighters surrendered. Tal Afar fell next, and more quickly, in only 11 days. Some 500 fighters surrendered there.

The Iraqi military ousted the Islamic State, also known as ISIS and ISIL, from Hawija in 15 days, saying it had taken its forces only three days of actual heavy fighting before most of the extremists grabbed their families and ran. According to Kurdish officials, they put up no fight at all, other than planting bombs and booby traps.

Seen up close, the fighters’ pretense of bravado soon disappears.

Their shoes were taken from them, their pockets emptied and their belts discarded, and, as they stood facing the wall, the backs of their dishdashas were stained with the evidence that some of them had not been to a toilet in days.

One of the men smelled so bad that when he was taken into the small interrogation room, those inside were startled. He filled the doorway, appearing even larger than his actual size. The interrogator unbuckled his hip holster, resting his right hand on his pistol. Everyone in the room seemed scared of the man, even though his hands were tied behind his back. His thick black hair was Medusa-wild and shoulder-length, though his handsome face had only a wisp of black stubble on the chin.
At the Kurdish screening center in Dibis, suspects are searched, their shoes taken, their pockets emptied and their belts discarded. Ivor Prickett for The New York Times

“Hello,” a visitor said. “Where’s your beard?” The Islamic State requires all men to grow full beards.

“I’m only 21, I can’t grow it yet,” he said, clearly embarrassed.

Kurdish interrogators allowed a dozen of the surrendered fighters to be interviewed by a reporter as they arrived at the local headquarters of the Asayish, the Kurdish intelligence service, in the town of Dibis, near the Kurds’ front lines opposite Hawija. Officers monitored all interviews.

Many of the fighters claimed to have been just cooks or clerks. So many said they had been members of the Islamic State for only a month or two that interrogators suspected they had been coached to say that. Gone was the contempt for the world’s opinion, spewed out in one violent video after another — many of them made in Hawija, where grisly killings, especially of Kurdish prisoners, were the norm during their three-year reign over that Sunni Arab city in northern Iraq.

Most of the prisoners, though, claimed to have never seen a beheading, or even heard of such a thing.

At first, the beardless fighter seemed an exception, admitting defiantly that he had been fighting for the group for two years, alongside family members. He readily gave his name: “Maytham Muhammed Mohemin,” he said, practically spitting it out. His hands were bound behind his back and he was effectively sitting on them, forced back into a red plastic lawn chair, yet the three Kurdish officers in the room kept more than an arm’s length away in case he lunged for their weapons.
  • During the interview, he grew nervous. He said he was from Hawija and had joined the Islamic State because he believed in its cause, because his elder brother had, and because the $100 a month pay was better than anything else around.
He had arrived in Dibis on Thursday afternoon with eight companions, seven Iraqis and an Egyptian, after they dropped their weapons in Hawija that morning. Since the beginning of the Iraqi offensive two weeks earlier, they had spent most of the time burrowed in foxholes to escape the relentless American bombing and shelling by advancing Iraqi forces, and had passed days without sanitary facilities or food.
Many of the Islamic State fighters claimed to have been just cooks or clerks. Most said they had never seen a beheading. Ivor Prickett for The New York Times

Finally, the Islamic State wali, or governor of Hawija, told the men to turn themselves in to the Kurdish forces, known as the pesh merga, and to flee the advancing Iraqi Army and its Shiite militia allies, the Iranian-trained Hashed al-Shaabi, notorious for killing not only Islamic State prisoners but also their entire families.

“The governor told us each to ‘solve your own problem and find your own solution for yourself,’ ” Mr. Mohemin said. “He said, ‘Go to the pesh merga, not to the Hashed.’ ”

Mr. Mohemin denied ever attending a beheading but later, prompted by an Asayish intelligence officer, he admitted going to one, he said, because he had been ordered to.

“I was scared,” he said. “I never saw anything like that in my life.”

His prospects are grim. His pregnant wife had fled to Dibis a week before him, but it was unlikely he would see her or their expected child, their first, anytime soon. His elder brother was killed in combat. His father and little brother, one too old to pledge to the Islamic State and the other too young, had disappeared.

The interrogator, Lt. Pisthiwan Salahi, said Mr. Mohemin was not only an Islamic State soldier but also a member of an elite suicide squad known as the Seekers of Martyrdom, according to informers. If convicted of that affiliation by an Asayish court, his sentence would be long; if he was connected to any killings, possibly lifelong.

Mr. Mohemin’s narrative differed. “I was just a common soldier,” he said. “I never killed a civilian. I wasn’t even on the front line.” The lieutenant scoffed at him. “Well, twice I was on the front line, just for a day, but not against the Kurds,” Mr. Mohemin said. More scoffing. “Well once against the Kurds, but only shooting from a distance. I couldn’t see anyone.”

Kurdish officials have been perplexed by the number of fighters who have surrendered. Many of the militants said they were ordered by their leaders to turn themselves in to the Kurds, who were known to take prisoners instead of killing them. But Capt. Ali Muhammed Syan, chief of the Asayish interrogators in Dibis, said even the fighters did not seem to know why their leaders were telling them to quit. “Maybe it’s some deal,” he said. “Maybe it’s just bad morale, I don’t know.”
Displaced people arrived at a security screening center in Dibis, Iraq. Islamic State militants fled there with their families after their defeat in Hawija, the group’s last major urban stronghold in the country. Ivor Prickett for The New York Times

To identify the militants, Kurdish intelligence officers pored over videos from Hawija, such as ones showing pesh merga prisoners in orange jump suits in individual cages on the backs of pickup trucks, being paraded through town to be stoned, then set afire or beheaded in public. Crowds of thousands participated.

One by one the Islamic State prisoners were taken out of the waiting room line to be interviewed, each telling pretty much the same story. “I pledged to ISIS in January 2015 and left in March,” said Raad Abdullah Ahmad, 31. “My family disowned me after that. Imagine having no family. I left because I didn’t like what they did to people.”

Another, Hussein Jamal, 21, said he had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in 2014 but had remained only 45 days.
“Ask him why he didn’t come out sooner then,” one of the interrogators suggested.
“I was afraid,” Mr. Jamal said.
“Ask them why they fled this way,” another of the interrogators suggested.
Both men said that they were certain that the Hashed al-Shaabi militias would kill them, but that the Kurds would not.
“Why not?”
“They are more civilized than we are,” Mr. Ahmad said. “They know who is good and who is bad.”
Mr. Mohemin had shrunk back into his red chair after an hour of talking and looked much smaller than before. When asked if he thought he would see his wife again, or his new child, he said, “I don’t know,” and looked at the floor.

The lieutenant did not take his eyes off him for a second. “They’re just planning to go underground and make sleeper cells,” he said.

Mr. Mohemin shook his head. “This is the end of this state,” he said. He had wet his trousers, adding to the smell, but did not ask to use a toilet. “I believe if the governors are telling us to surrender, it really means that this is the end.” He swore to God that he was telling the truth.

Saturday, October 7, 2017






Just look at your local supermarket ... automatic check out lanes ... use the Department of Labor's numbers for the Social Security and FICA taxes for each worker displaced.  Sure I know the "story line" there were no layoffs or displaced workers ... "we" wanted to enhance the shopping experience!  Sure you do ... by making each shopper a check queen for the experience.  No I say!  Make the store/organization/corporation pay SSI and FICA taxes.  How you ask? Hell thats why we voted you into office ... figure it out!