AP News


Kasich proposes added $17M for school security PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by The Associated Press   
Wednesday, 21 May 2014 12:54
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio schools would see additional grant money made available for security upgrades and face penalties for failing to submit safety plans under a package of school safety initiatives being proposed by Gov. John Kasich.
The administration planned to announce details Wednesday.
State Superintendent Richard Ross said 3,000 schools took advantage of $12 million made available last summer for entryway security and communications.
“There’s so much interest in that, we went through that very, very quickly,” Ross said.
New grants, if approved, would be available through the Ohio School Facilities Commission for security upgrades at both public and private schools. Of the total, $10 million would go to public schools and $7 million would go to private ones.
Kasich’s plan also takes several steps that the administration says are aimed at strengthening Ohio’s system of school safety plans. Ohio law requires all schools to have plans on file with the attorney general for handling emergencies, such as a school shooter or terrorist attack.
According to figures from Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office, 84 of 4,438 schools required to file such plans are noncompliant, 43 whose plans haven’t been updated and 41 whose plans are missing.
DeWine said Kasich’s proposals are a helpful next step in Ohio’s school safety efforts, following many of the recommendation of a task force he appointed.
“I keep reminding people of this: Your child’s in school for maybe seven hours a day — that’s probably the safest that child’s going to be, because going to and from school is where you can have an auto accident, you can have problems,” he said. “Still, it’s important that we prepare for catastrophe, when there’s an active shooter in school. We’ve experienced that in Ohio, we know how horrible that can be.”
The governor’s plan would provide free safety-plan consultation and training to districts through an existing $1.9 million federal emergency management grant. The state’s emergency management office and the University of Findlay would work together on the training.
Public Safety Director John Born said the state is also offering technical assistance to districts through its Center for P-20 Safety and Security and the school safety expert now on staff at the Department of Homeland Security.
An existing state hotline will also be equipped and publicized to accept tips on potential suicides, school shootings and bullying.
Kasich will push legislation imposing penalties up to revocation of a superintendent’s license for failing to file a required safety plan. Ohio’s current law imposes no penalties for non-compliance. The bill would also require that safety plans be filed by joint vocational schools, STEM schools or schools receiving students using certain state scholarships.
P-20 Center executive director Rick Amweg said recommended formats for the plans are being developed. He said the administration’s legislation, if adopted, “will ensure that practically every student in the state of Ohio will be going to a school with a safety plan in place.”
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio schools would see additional grant money made available for security upgrades and face penalties for failing to submit safety plans under a package of school safety initiatives being proposed by Gov. John Kasich.
The administration planned to announce details Wednesday.
State Superintendent Richard Ross said 3,000 schools took advantage of $12 million made available last summer for entryway security and communications.
“There’s so much interest in that, we went through that very, very quickly,” Ross said.
New grants, if approved, would be available through the Ohio School Facilities Commission for security upgrades at both public and private schools. Of the total, $10 million would go to public schools and $7 million would go to private ones.
Kasich’s plan also takes several steps that the administration says are aimed at strengthening Ohio’s system of school safety plans. Ohio law requires all schools to have plans on file with the attorney general for handling emergencies, such as a school shooter or terrorist attack.
According to figures from Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office, 84 of 4,438 schools required to file such plans are noncompliant, 43 whose plans haven’t been updated and 41 whose plans are missing.
DeWine said Kasich’s proposals are a helpful next step in Ohio’s school safety efforts, following many of the recommendation of a task force he appointed.
“I keep reminding people of this: Your child’s in school for maybe seven hours a day — that’s probably the safest that child’s going to be, because going to and from school is where you can have an auto accident, you can have problems,” he said. “Still, it’s important that we prepare for catastrophe, when there’s an active shooter in school. We’ve experienced that in Ohio, we know how horrible that can be.”
The governor’s plan would provide free safety-plan consultation and training to districts through an existing $1.9 million federal emergency management grant. The state’s emergency management office and the University of Findlay would work together on the training.
Public Safety Director John Born said the state is also offering technical assistance to districts through its Center for P-20 Safety and Security and the school safety expert now on staff at the Department of Homeland Security.
An existing state hotline will also be equipped and publicized to accept tips on potential suicides, school shootings and bullying.
Kasich will push legislation imposing penalties up to revocation of a superintendent’s license for failing to file a required safety plan. Ohio’s current law imposes no penalties for non-compliance. The bill would also require that safety plans be filed by joint vocational schools, STEM schools or schools receiving students using certain state scholarships.
P-20 Center executive director Rick Amweg said recommended formats for the plans are being developed. He said the administration’s legislation, if adopted, “will ensure that practically every student in the state of Ohio will be going to a school with a safety plan in place.”
 
Nigeria militants attack again PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by The Associated Press   
Wednesday, 21 May 2014 12:47
OS, Nigeria (AP) — Boko Haram militants attacked three villages in Nigeria, killing 48 people, residents said Wednesday, as rescue workers in the central city of Jos dug into the rubble of destroyed buildings, searching for the missing a day after two bombs loaded in vehicles killed more than 100.
One of the attacked lies near the town of Chibok, where more than 300 schoolgirls were kidnapped last month. The armed Islamic extremists attacked the three villages between Tuesday night and early Wednesday , according to residents and a state intelligence agent who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to give information to reporters.
Apagu Maidaga of Alagarno said residents of that village hid in the bush and watched while the extremists set ablaze their homes of thatch-roofed mud huts.
“We saw our village up in flames as we hid in the bush waiting for the dawn; we lost everything,” he told The Associated Press in a telephone call.
In Jos, where at least 118 people were killed in twin bomb attacks Tuesday on a bustling bus terminal and a market, residents joined rescue workers armed with body bags in looking for missing loved ones.
Most victims were women and children vendors, said Mohammed Abdulsalam of the National Emergency Management Agency.
“We expect to find more bodies in the rubble,” Abdulsalam said.
“Allahu akhbar!” some young Muslim men yelled provocatively at an AP photographer near the scene, using the war cry of Islamic militants that means “God is great” within hearing of soldiers at a checkpoint.
Jos is tense with fears the attack blamed on Islamic extremists could inflame religious rivalry. The city in central Nigeria sits on a volatile fault line dividing Nigeria’s mainly Muslim north from the predominantly Christian south and has been a flashpoint in the past for deadly conflict between adherents of the two religions. Boko Haram, the group suspected in the attack, wants to impose an Islamic state under strict Shariah law in Nigeria, though half the country’s 170 million people are Christians.
Officials in at least three other central and central-north states have suggested the extremists are feeding into tribal and religious tensions to spread the insurgency from their stronghold in Nigeria’s northeast into an area where thousands have been killed in recent years in disputes over land, water, religion and tribe.
At the Jos marketplace, earthmovers demolished buildings weakened by the bomb blasts and fires and moved heavy debris, allowing rescuers to search for more bodies.
Gloria Paul was among a handful of people searching for loved ones at Bingham University Teaching Hospital. She was looking for her husband but all she had found so far was his car parked near Terminus Market, its windows all shattered. Dozens of wailing people crowded outside the morgue at the Jos University Teaching Hospital next to the bomb site, waited their turn to see if family members were among the dead.
Security forces cordoned off the area of mounds of rubble, burned-out vehicles and razed buildings with the debris of panic scattered around — a sandal here, a hat there. Exploded mangoes and pineapples rotted in the sun, their sickly sweet smell mixing with the stench of rotting human flesh.
A charred engine block was all that remained of the grain-filled truck that held the second bomb.
Police anti-bomb squad officers investigated a crater left by one of the blasts.
The search for survivors was halted Tuesday night by fires ignited in buildings by the massive blasts that were heard miles (kilometers) away. Firefighters fought through the night to douse the blazes that collapsed buildings, Abdulsalam of the national emergency agency told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.
At least 118 bodies were delivered to hospital morgues Tuesday, and 64 people were hospitalized, he said.
President Goodluck Jonathan tried to assure Nigerians their government “remains fully committed to winning the war against terror.”
Nigerian army spokesman Brig. Gen. Olajide Laleye also insisted victory was close Wednesday, dismissing reports of troops suffering from low morale and lack of basic equipment including bullet-proof vests.
“I make bold to say that the Nigerian Army is steadily and surely reversing the ugly menace of terrorism and insurgency in the northeast part of this great nation,” he said at an army recruiting campaign.
But extremist attacks have increased in frequency and deadliness this year, with more than 2,000 killed in the insurgency compared to an estimated 3,600 between 2010 and 2013.
Boko Haram’s 5-year-old uprising has grabbed international attention with the abduction of nearly 300 schoolgirls who the extremists are threatening to sell into slavery.
On Monday a car bomb at a bus station killed 24 people in the Christian quarter of the northern Muslim city of Kano, where police later defused another massive car bomb. Two separate bomb blasts in April around another bus station, in the nation’s capital of Abuja, killed more than 120 people and wounded more than 200.
The attacks on Monday and Tuesday took place after regional and Western leaders pledged “total war” on the militant group at a weekend summit in Paris.
The U.S. Embassy in Abuja condemned Tuesday’s attack and said the United States is helping Nigeria to “grapple with violent extremism.”
It also urged calm in Jos. “We have seen reports that tensions are high in Jos, and we join the voices of those who are appealing for calm.”
OS, Nigeria — Boko Haram militants attacked three villages in Nigeria, killing 48 people, residents said Wednesday, as rescue workers in the central city of Jos dug into the rubble of destroyed buildings, searching for the missing a day after two bombs loaded in vehicles killed more than 100.
One of the attacked lies near the town of Chibok, where more than 300 schoolgirls were kidnapped last month. The armed Islamic extremists attacked the three villages between Tuesday night and early Wednesday , according to residents and a state intelligence agent who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to give information to reporters.
Apagu Maidaga of Alagarno said residents of that village hid in the bush and watched while the extremists set ablaze their homes of thatch-roofed mud huts.
“We saw our village up in flames as we hid in the bush waiting for the dawn; we lost everything,” he told The Associated Press in a telephone call.
In Jos, where at least 118 people were killed in twin bomb attacks Tuesday on a bustling bus terminal and a market, residents joined rescue workers armed with body bags in looking for missing loved ones.
Most victims were women and children vendors, said Mohammed Abdulsalam of the National Emergency Management Agency.
“We expect to find more bodies in the rubble,” Abdulsalam said.
“Allahu akhbar!” some young Muslim men yelled provocatively at an AP photographer near the scene, using the war cry of Islamic militants that means “God is great” within hearing of soldiers at a checkpoint.
Jos is tense with fears the attack blamed on Islamic extremists could inflame religious rivalry. The city in central Nigeria sits on a volatile fault line dividing Nigeria’s mainly Muslim north from the predominantly Christian south and has been a flashpoint in the past for deadly conflict between adherents of the two religions. Boko Haram, the group suspected in the attack, wants to impose an Islamic state under strict Shariah law in Nigeria, though half the country’s 170 million people are Christians.
Officials in at least three other central and central-north states have suggested the extremists are feeding into tribal and religious tensions to spread the insurgency from their stronghold in Nigeria’s northeast into an area where thousands have been killed in recent years in disputes over land, water, religion and tribe.
At the Jos marketplace, earthmovers demolished buildings weakened by the bomb blasts and fires and moved heavy debris, allowing rescuers to search for more bodies.
Gloria Paul was among a handful of people searching for loved ones at Bingham University Teaching Hospital. She was looking for her husband but all she had found so far was his car parked near Terminus Market, its windows all shattered. Dozens of wailing people crowded outside the morgue at the Jos University Teaching Hospital next to the bomb site, waited their turn to see if family members were among the dead.
Security forces cordoned off the area of mounds of rubble, burned-out vehicles and razed buildings with the debris of panic scattered around — a sandal here, a hat there. Exploded mangoes and pineapples rotted in the sun, their sickly sweet smell mixing with the stench of rotting human flesh.
A charred engine block was all that remained of the grain-filled truck that held the second bomb.
Police anti-bomb squad officers investigated a crater left by one of the blasts.
The search for survivors was halted Tuesday night by fires ignited in buildings by the massive blasts that were heard miles (kilometers) away. Firefighters fought through the night to douse the blazes that collapsed buildings, Abdulsalam of the national emergency agency told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.
At least 118 bodies were delivered to hospital morgues Tuesday, and 64 people were hospitalized, he said.
President Goodluck Jonathan tried to assure Nigerians their government “remains fully committed to winning the war against terror.”
Nigerian army spokesman Brig. Gen. Olajide Laleye also insisted victory was close Wednesday, dismissing reports of troops suffering from low morale and lack of basic equipment including bullet-proof vests.
“I make bold to say that the Nigerian Army is steadily and surely reversing the ugly menace of terrorism and insurgency in the northeast part of this great nation,” he said at an army recruiting campaign.
But extremist attacks have increased in frequency and deadliness this year, with more than 2,000 killed in the insurgency compared to an estimated 3,600 between 2010 and 2013.
Boko Haram’s 5-year-old uprising has grabbed international attention with the abduction of nearly 300 schoolgirls who the extremists are threatening to sell into slavery.
On Monday a car bomb at a bus station killed 24 people in the Christian quarter of the northern Muslim city of Kano, where police later defused another massive car bomb. Two separate bomb blasts in April around another bus station, in the nation’s capital of Abuja, killed more than 120 people and wounded more than 200.
The attacks on Monday and Tuesday took place after regional and Western leaders pledged “total war” on the militant group at a weekend summit in Paris.
The U.S. Embassy in Abuja condemned Tuesday’s attack and said the United States is helping Nigeria to “grapple with violent extremism.”
It also urged calm in Jos. “We have seen reports that tensions are high in Jos, and we join the voices of those who are appealing for calm.”
 
Obama: Any misconduct at VA will be punished PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by The Associated Press   
Wednesday, 21 May 2014 11:11
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama says if there’s misconduct at the Department of Veterans Affairs, it will be punished.
Obama says if the allegations of misconduct prove to be true, it is dishonorable and disgraceful. He says, quote, “I will not tolerate it, period.”
Obama says he won’t stand for people covering up long wait times or cooking the books. He says no Americans should.
But Obama is also asking for patience while investigators get to the bottom of what happened.
Obama spoke after an Oval Office meeting with VA Secretary Eric Shinseki and top aide Rob Nabors. Obama has tasked Nabors, his deputy chief of staff, with overseeing a review of the VA health system.
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama says if there’s misconduct at the Department of Veterans Affairs, it will be punished.
Obama says if the allegations of misconduct prove to be true, it is dishonorable and disgraceful. He says, quote, “I will not tolerate it, period.”
Obama says he won’t stand for people covering up long wait times or cooking the books. He says no Americans should.
But Obama is also asking for patience while investigators get to the bottom of what happened.
Obama spoke after an Oval Office meeting with VA Secretary Eric Shinseki and top aide Rob Nabors. Obama has tasked Nabors, his deputy chief of staff, with overseeing a review of the VA health system.
 
EBay asks users to change password after breach PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by the Associated Press   
Wednesday, 21 May 2014 11:09
NEW YORK (AP) — E-commerce site eBay is asking users to change their password after a cyberattack compromised a database containing encrypted passwords.
The company says there is no evidence of any unauthorized activity and no evidence any financial or credit card information was stolen.
EBay says its investigation is active and it can’t comment on the specific number of accounts affected, but says the number could be large, so it is asking all users to change their passwords. EBay had 145 million active users at the end of the first quarter.
Cyberattackers stole a small number of employee log-in credentials that gave access to eBay’s corporate network, the company said. The San Jose, California-based company is working with law enforcement to investigate the attack.
The database was hacked sometime between late February and early March, but compromised employee log-in credentials were first detected two weeks ago.
EBay owns electronic payment service PayPal, but eBay says there is no evidence PayPal information was hacked, since that information is stored separately on a secure network.
The attack follows several other high-profile hacking incidents, including a massive data breach at Target stores and the spread of the computer security flaw nicknamed “Heartbleed.” Heartbleed took advantage of a flaw in a key piece of security technology used by more than 500,000 websites that had been exposing online passwords and other sensitive data to potential theft for more than two years.
And during the Target credit data breach last year, hackers stole about 40 million debit and credit card numbers and personal information for 70 million people.
Shares of eBay Inc. fell 31 cents to $51.65 in morning trading.
NEW YORK (AP) — E-commerce site eBay is asking users to change their password after a cyberattack compromised a database containing encrypted passwords.
The company says there is no evidence of any unauthorized activity and no evidence any financial or credit card information was stolen.
EBay says its investigation is active and it can’t comment on the specific number of accounts affected, but says the number could be large, so it is asking all users to change their passwords. EBay had 145 million active users at the end of the first quarter.
Cyberattackers stole a small number of employee log-in credentials that gave access to eBay’s corporate network, the company said. The San Jose, California-based company is working with law enforcement to investigate the attack.
The database was hacked sometime between late February and early March, but compromised employee log-in credentials were first detected two weeks ago.
EBay owns electronic payment service PayPal, but eBay says there is no evidence PayPal information was hacked, since that information is stored separately on a secure network.
The attack follows several other high-profile hacking incidents, including a massive data breach at Target stores and the spread of the computer security flaw nicknamed “Heartbleed.” Heartbleed took advantage of a flaw in a key piece of security technology used by more than 500,000 websites that had been exposing online passwords and other sensitive data to potential theft for more than two years.
And during the Target credit data breach last year, hackers stole about 40 million debit and credit card numbers and personal information for 70 million people.
Shares of eBay Inc. fell 31 cents to $51.65 in morning trading.
 
Top VA health official resigns under fire PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by The Associated Press   
Friday, 16 May 2014 19:31
WASHINGTON (AP) — The top official for the health care of veterans resigned Friday amid a firestorm over reported delays in care and falsified records at veterans hospitals.
Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki said he has accepted the resignation of Robert Petzel, the department’s undersecretary for health care, effective immediately. Shinseki had asked for the resignation, a department official later said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak for attribution.
Reports of long waits for appointments and processing benefit applications have plagued VA for years. The agency has shortened backlogs but allegations that veterans have died while awaiting VA care have created an election-year uproar. A former clinic director at the VA’s medical center in Phoenix told a House committee last month that up to 40 people may have died while awaiting appointments and that VA officials kept a secret appointment list to mask the delays.
Shinseki asked the VA’s inspector general to investigate the clinic director’s charges. An initial review of 17 people who died while awaiting appointments at the Phoenix hospital found that none of their deaths appeared to have been caused by delays in treatment, acting inspector general Richard Griffin told senators Thursday. But he also said new complaints about wait lists and falsified patient appointment had surfaced at other VA hospitals and clinics after the Phoenix allegations came to light. At least 10 new allegations about manipulated waiting times and other problems have surfaced in the past three weeks, he said.
Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, mocked the announcement of Petzel’s resignation, calling it “the pinnacle of disingenuous political doublespeak” since Petzel had been scheduled to retire this year anyway. The American Legion, which has called for Shinseki to resign, said pretty much the same thing: “This move by VA is not a corrective action, but a continuation of business as usual.”
The White House said President Barack Obama supports Shinseki’s decision on Petzel and thanks Petzel for his service. “As the president has said, America has a sacred trust with the men and women who have served our country in uniform and he is committed to doing all we can to ensure our veterans have access to timely, quality health care,” a White House statement.
The announcement of Petzel’s resignation came a day after Shinseki and Petzel were grilled at a four-hour hearing of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, where lawmakers and veteran groups expressed exasperation of long-standing problems at the department.
Meanwhile, House Republicans scheduled a vote for Wednesday on legislation that would give Shinseki more authority to fire or demote senior executives and administrators at the agency and its 152 medical centers.
When senior leaders in the VA “fail the men and women who have put their lives on the line for our country, they deserve a pink slip - not a bonus,” House Speaker John Boehner said Friday. While some Republicans in Congress have joined the call for Shinseki to resign, Boehner is not among them.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., has backed Shinseki but appeared to waver after Shinseki came before a Senate committee this week.
“If he doesn’t give a better answer, then I’m not sure how he wouldn’t have to do anything but resign,” McCain told Fox News Channel Thursday night.
McCain said he believes problems at the VA go beyond incompetence.
“If these allegations are true people should be going to jail, not just resigning their positions,” he said, adding that a criminal investigation by the Justice Department appears inevitable.
“Everything I’ve seen is going to lead us to the attorney general,” McCain said.
Petzel was scheduled to retire this year, and Shinseki last fall had convened a commission to recommend candidates for presidential appointment to be the new undersecretary. VA is required by law to convene a commission to seek and review candidates for the position.
Petzel had agreed to remain until the Senate confirmed a replacement. President Obama this month announced his intent to nominate Dr. Jeffrey A. Murawsky to be undersecretary for health.
“As we know from the veteran community, most veterans are satisfied with the quality of their VA health care, but we must do more to improve timely access to that care,” Shinseski said in a statement announcing Friday that Petzel was leaving.
In his position, Petzel oversaw what officials say is the largest health care delivery system in the U.S.  The VA operates 1700 hospitals, clinics and other facilities around the country. They employ about 300,000 people and serve about 6.5 million veterans and other beneficiaries each year.
Miller wrote the legislation that is to be taken up next week. He said Friday that the resignation announcement shows the VA is “apparently unwilling to take substantive actions to hold any of its leaders accountable.”
Shinseki on Thursday told senators he was “mad as hell” about allegations of severe problems and said he was looking for quick results from a nationwide audit. He has rejected calls for him to resign.
WASHINGTON — The top official for the health care of veterans resigned Friday amid a firestorm over reported delays in care and falsified records at veterans hospitals.
Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki said he has accepted the resignation of Robert Petzel, the department’s undersecretary for health care, effective immediately. Shinseki had asked for the resignation, a department official later said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak for attribution.
Reports of long waits for appointments and processing benefit applications have plagued VA for years. The agency has shortened backlogs but allegations that veterans have died while awaiting VA care have created an election-year uproar. A former clinic director at the VA’s medical center in Phoenix told a House committee last month that up to 40 people may have died while awaiting appointments and that VA officials kept a secret appointment list to mask the delays.
Shinseki asked the VA’s inspector general to investigate the clinic director’s charges. An initial review of 17 people who died while awaiting appointments at the Phoenix hospital found that none of their deaths appeared to have been caused by delays in treatment, acting inspector general Richard Griffin told senators Thursday. But he also said new complaints about wait lists and falsified patient appointment had surfaced at other VA hospitals and clinics after the Phoenix allegations came to light. At least 10 new allegations about manipulated waiting times and other problems have surfaced in the past three weeks, he said.
Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, mocked the announcement of Petzel’s resignation, calling it “the pinnacle of disingenuous political doublespeak” since Petzel had been scheduled to retire this year anyway. The American Legion, which has called for Shinseki to resign, said pretty much the same thing: “This move by VA is not a corrective action, but a continuation of business as usual.”
The White House said President Barack Obama supports Shinseki’s decision on Petzel and thanks Petzel for his service. “As the president has said, America has a sacred trust with the men and women who have served our country in uniform and he is committed to doing all we can to ensure our veterans have access to timely, quality health care,” a White House statement.
The announcement of Petzel’s resignation came a day after Shinseki and Petzel were grilled at a four-hour hearing of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, where lawmakers and veteran groups expressed exasperation of long-standing problems at the department.
Meanwhile, House Republicans scheduled a vote for Wednesday on legislation that would give Shinseki more authority to fire or demote senior executives and administrators at the agency and its 152 medical centers.
When senior leaders in the VA “fail the men and women who have put their lives on the line for our country, they deserve a pink slip - not a bonus,” House Speaker John Boehner said Friday. While some Republicans in Congress have joined the call for Shinseki to resign, Boehner is not among them.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., has backed Shinseki but appeared to waver after Shinseki came before a Senate committee this week.
“If he doesn’t give a better answer, then I’m not sure how he wouldn’t have to do anything but resign,” McCain told Fox News Channel Thursday night.
McCain said he believes problems at the VA go beyond incompetence.
“If these allegations are true people should be going to jail, not just resigning their positions,” he said, adding that a criminal investigation by the Justice Department appears inevitable.
“Everything I’ve seen is going to lead us to the attorney general,” McCain said.
Petzel was scheduled to retire this year, and Shinseki last fall had convened a commission to recommend candidates for presidential appointment to be the new undersecretary. VA is required by law to convene a commission to seek and review candidates for the position.
Petzel had agreed to remain until the Senate confirmed a replacement. President Obama this month announced his intent to nominate Dr. Jeffrey A. Murawsky to be undersecretary for health.
“As we know from the veteran community, most veterans are satisfied with the quality of their VA health care, but we must do more to improve timely access to that care,” Shinseski said in a statement announcing Friday that Petzel was leaving.
In his position, Petzel oversaw what officials say is the largest health care delivery system in the U.S.  The VA operates 1700 hospitals, clinics and other facilities around the country. They employ about 300,000 people and serve about 6.5 million veterans and other beneficiaries each year.
Miller wrote the legislation that is to be taken up next week. He said Friday that the resignation announcement shows the VA is “apparently unwilling to take substantive actions to hold any of its leaders accountable.”
Shinseki on Thursday told senators he was “mad as hell” about allegations of severe problems and said he was looking for quick results from a nationwide audit. He has rejected calls for him to resign.
 
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