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Previously-hidden VA medical center quality ratings exposed is alarming - report

© Larry Downing / Reuters
The sign in the front of the headquarters building at the Department of Veteran Affairs is seen as a man walks past in Washington.
The Department of Veterans Affairs hid quality ratings for nearly 150 of its medical centers, but now USA Today is revealing them for the first time. Despite many facilities receiving just one star, the VA says that the "rating tool" is for internal use only.

According to the VA's rating system, unveiled by USA Today on Wednesday, medical centers receive between one and five stars based on their performance. Texas and Tennessee have most of the lowest-performing medical centers, with VA hospitals in Dallas, El Paso, Nashville, Memphis and Murfreesboro marked with just one star for performance. Many of highest-rated facilities, which scored five out of five stars, are located in the Northeast of the country, clustered in Massachusetts and New York as well as the upper Midwest, in South Dakota and Minnesota.

USA Today managed to obtain the most recent ratings available from June 30, but it says that the VA has refused to provide a list of hospitals that received two, three or four stars.

The agency says its rating system would "hurt" veterans if revealed.

Comment: See also: Veterans in 2016: Backlogs, coverage gaps, and a vague Trump mandate


Ornaments

Aleppo residents: 'Militants held us at gunpoint, withheld food and water'

© RusVesna.su
An RT crew was among the first to speak to residents of Aleppo evacuated after spending months trapped in militant-held parts of the city. The residents had almost no food or water, and were told by militants they would be killed if they tried to escape.

RT has received first-hand accounts describing the atrocities and suffering Aleppo locals faced after the city fell into the hands of terrorists. People were starving, had no water and were forcefully prevented from running away.

"We've been in a very miserable situation. For four months no bread, no water, we've been treated very badly. But thanks to Allah, when the army came, we've moved here," a resident evacuated from the Old City district in Aleppo told RT.

"We tried to escape twice before, but they [militants] threatened us with weapons and made us go back," he said.


Comment: A revealing look at the rebel positions captured by the Syrian Army (note the vast stores of supplies hoarded by the "rebels", and kept from the civilian population):




Biohazard

Trump's top environmental adviser Myron Ebell says pesticides aren't bad for you

© Dave Martin/AP Photo
Like pesticides? Trump's got the right man for you.
To lead the transition of the Environmental Protection Agency, President-elect Donald Trump settled on notorious climate change denier Myron Ebell. The decision rattled climate activists—see Julia Lurie's interview with Bill McKibbenand David Roberts and Brad Plumer on Vox. But it isn't just greenhouse gas emissions that are likely to get a free ride under an Ebell-influenced EPA. Farm chemicals, too, would likely flow unabated if Ebell's agenda comes to dominate Trump's EPA.

Ebell directs the Center for Energy and Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. The group runs a website,SafeChemicalPolicy.org, that exists to downplay the health and ecological impacts of chemicals.

Attention

FIFA boss Infantino demands 'zero tolerance' of sex abuse in football

© Roslan Rahman / AFP
FIFA President Gianni Infantino
FIFA President Gianni Infantino says there needs to be "zero tolerance" of child abuse in football, promising to investigate how the sport's governing body can prevent it happening.

English football has been rocked by a scandal over accusations of historical pedophile activity within the game, with police forces across the country dealing with an increasing number of claims.


Comment: Child abuse and pedophilia is gradually being exposed and showing up everywhere.


Microscope 1

3 out of 4 of 'underage' asylum seekers in Denmark are adults, teeth & bone tests show

© Nils Meilvang / Scanpix Denmark / Reuters
The Danish Immigration Service has questioned the age of some 800 asylum seekers who said they are younger than 18. In almost three out of four cases, 'unaccompanied minors' proved to be adults, according to a report.

Experts at the University of Copenhagen's Department of Forensic Medicine have been investigating the age of unaccompanied asylum seekers who arrived in Denmark this year and said they are under 18, Jyllands-Posten daily reported.

The Danish Immigration Service suspected that 800 asylum seekers lied about their real age.

Vader

British Columbia teacher fired for having his own opinion

© Getty Creative
A teacher at a posh private school in British Columbia was fired last month after making an innocuous comment about abortion to his Grade 12 law class.

Though there is no way of knowing, since discipline matters are shrouded in secrecy, it may be the first time a Canadian teacher has been fired not amid allegations of impropriety, but for having the wrong opinion.

Certainly, Lori Foote, a spokesperson for the 60,000-member-strong Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation, said Wednesday that no one at the association is "aware of anyone being fired" in Ontario in comparable circumstances.

Comment: The situation in Canadian schools is nearly unbelievable, it's so bizarre and nonsensical. Along this same line of happenings you might want to read the following articles:


Attention

Colleges see post-election political divide growing more intense

© Brittany Greeson for The New York Times
Amanda Delekta, 20, the political director for the College Republicans at the University of Michigan, in her bedroom near campus in Ann Arbor, Mich., last week.
Amanda Delekta, a sophomore at the University of Michigan and political director of the College Republicans, was ecstatic when her candidate, Donald J. Trump, won the presidential election.

But her mood of celebration quickly faded when students held an evening vigil on campus — to mourn the results — and her biology teacher suspended class on the assumption, Ms. Delekta said, that students would be too upset to focus.

She was outraged. "Nobody has died," Ms. Delekta said. "The United States has not died. Democracy is more alive than ever. Simply put, the American people voted and Trump won."

She circulated an online petition and accused the university president of catering to the liberal majority by suggesting that "their ideology was superior to the ideology of their peers," as she put it, when he sent out an email publicizing the vigil and listing counseling resources for students upset by the election. Three days later, she was invited to meet with the president in his office.

Comment: The Truth Perspective: Radical political correctness, liberal ideologies and the decline of modern civilization

The loss by Hillary Clinton in the U.S. presidential elections, and the surprise win for Donald Trump, rather than exposing the Right's alleged underbelly of racism, bigotry, xenophobia and homophobia, has instead revealed something much more surprising, and potentially catastrophic for Western civilization as we know it: the cult of political correctness, obsession with identities, and a radical Left fringe that has ponerized inclusion and empathy to the point of authoritarianism. Whether it's on the domestic front of gender pronouns, safe spaces, and micro-aggressions, or on the foreign front of humanitarian intervention, human rights and the responsibility to protect, Western liberal values have lost all meaning.


Stop

5-yo boy dies in Aleppo hospital that saw 'worst month in 5 years' of rebel attacks

© Bahar Kimyongur / Twitter
Dozens, including many children, have been injured and killed in constant rebel shelling over the past month, doctors at Al-Razi Hospital in Aleppo told RT. They also confirmed that a five-year-old boy, who received a heavy head injury last week, didn't make it.

A five-year-old Syrian boy, named Dia, whose fate RT was following after he was hit with shrapnel in the head during rebel shelling, has succumbed to his wounds, the doctors told RT's Lizzie Phelan, who visited the Al-Razi Hospital where the boy was taken on December 2.

The doctors said that Dia underwent a complex surgery, but his injuries were too grave and he passed away, becoming yet another child to have been killed in rebel bombardment.

People

Flash Mob: People in Ukraine's South singing in unison opposing intolerance that the U.S. backed coup in Kiev helped to impose

© News Front
From the Facebook page of New Cold War.org, Dec 3, 3016

On December 1, 2016, President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko signed a decree entitled 'On priority measures aimed at the strengthening of national unity and the consolidation of the Ukrainian society, the support of civil society initiative in this sphere'. It was published on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the all-Ukrainian referendum on the independence of Ukraine which was held on December 1, 1991.

According to the new decree, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine has three months to develop and adopt a comprehensive plan of these 'priority measures' with the active participation of central and local authorities, civil society organizations and national and international experts. After the plan is adopted, local authorities must develop their own plans. Local authorities also have to support the implementation of all-Ukrainian and regional 'grass root initiatives' designed to strengthen national unity and patriotism, restore and preserve national memory, develop national consciousness and interregional cooperation, and popularize the spiritual and cultural heritage of the Ukrainian people.

Comment: See also: People Power: Defying Russophobia - Flash mobs of Ukrainians sing Russian songs


Magnify

Election recount halted in Michigan, Stein plans appeal

© Rebecca Cook / Reuters
Oakland County clerks count election ballots during a recount of presidential ballots in Waterford Township, Michigan December 5, 2016
A federal judge in Michigan has ordered the halt of a statewide recount effort inspired by former Green Party presidential candidate Dr. Jill Stein. The judge determined that the recount was unwarranted, despite the inconsistencies it uncovered.

Michigan Republicans celebrated a victory Wednesday after US District Judge Mark Goldsmith ruled that a statewide recount was unwarranted, effectively cementing a victory in the state for President-elect Donald Trump. Republicans argued that Stein had no authority to seek a recount due to her earning only 1 percent of the vote.

Goldsmith's ruling determined that there was no reason for the recount to continue in light of the Michigan Court of Appeals 3-0 ruling against the recount. The Court of Appeals ruling determined that due to Stein's low vote, she did not qualify as an aggrieved candidate.

"To date, plaintiffs have not presented evidence of tampering or mistake. Instead, they present speculative claims going to the vulnerability of the voting machinery - but not actual injury," Goldsmith wrote after hearing arguments.