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Member since: Thu Nov 4, 2010, 10:31 AM
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An Open Letter to Dr. Ben Carson from America’s Leading Veterans Organizations


Dear Dr. Carson:

As leaders of the nation’s largest veterans organizations, with more than 5 million active members, we vehemently disagree with your dangerous proposal to eliminate the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care system for America’s veterans. Eliminating the VA health care system – considering all that it has done in the past and all that it could be in the future – would inevitably endanger the health and well-being of millions of wounded, injured and ill veterans, an outcome that we cannot allow to occur.


Dr. Carson, do you really think that veterans would be better off today had VA not existed, or that they would be better cared for in the future in a world without a national VA system dedicated to their unique and often complex needs?

Furthermore, your suggestion that giving veterans health savings accounts in lieu of access to a VA health care system would effectively diminish our nation’s sacred obligation to “care for him who shall have borne the battle…” It would put the onus on the veteran for finding their own health care providers, navigating through the private market-based system, determining whether it meets the standard of care they require, and dealing with the consequences if it goes awry. To suggest that disabled veterans could be sent out into the private economy with a health savings account card overlooks the fact that civilian health care providers have waiting lists of their own, that private practices often limit the number of government plan patients they accept due to low reimbursement rates, and presupposes that civilian doctors have the necessary skillsets and training to meet the unique health needs of military veterans.

Dr. Carson, as one of our nation’s preeminent medical practitioners, you are well positioned to work with us to promote needed reforms at the VA, reforms that will ensure this country keeps its promises to America’s veterans. We would welcome the opportunity to meet with you and open a dialogue about the benefits of a national health care system focused exclusively on veterans. America’s veterans have earned the right to a VA system that provides veteran-centric, high quality, accessible health care. We invite you to join with us in an effort to strengthen and reform the VA, not destroy it.


Garry Augustine, Executive Director, Washington Headquarters, DAV

Robert E. Wallace, Executive Director, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States

Verna L. Jones, Executive Director, The American Legion

Homer S. Townsend, Jr., Executive Director, Paralyzed Veterans of America

Stewart M. Hickey, National Executive Director, AMVETS

Robert Puskar, National Commander, Military Order of the Purple Heart

Paul J. Rieckhoff, Executive Director, IAVA

VADM Norbert R. Ryan, Jr., USN (Ret), President, Military Officers Association of America

In Unit Stalked by Suicide, Veterans Try to Save One Another


After the sixth suicide in his old battalion, Manny Bojorquez sank onto his bed. With a half-empty bottle of Jim Beam beside him and a pistol in his hand, he began to cry.

He had gone to Afghanistan at 19 as a machine-gunner in the Marine Corps. In the 18 months since leaving the military, he had grown long hair and a bushy mustache. It was 2012. He was working part time in a store selling baseball caps and going to community college while living with his parents in the suburbs of Phoenix. He rarely mentioned the war to friends and family, and he never mentioned his nightmares.

He thought he was getting used to suicides in his old infantry unit, but the latest one had hit him like a brick: Joshua Markel, a mentor from his fire team, who had seemed unshakable. In Afghanistan, Corporal Markel volunteered for extra patrols and joked during firefights. Back home Mr. Markel appeared solid: a job with a sheriff’s office, a new truck, a wife and time to hunt deer with his father. But that week, while watching football on TV with friends, he had wordlessly gone into his room, picked up a pistol and killed himself. He was 25.

Still reeling from the news, Mr. Bojorquez surveyed the old baseball posters on the walls of his childhood bedroom and the sun-bleached body armor hanging on his bedpost. Then he took a long pull from the bottle.

The Second Battalion, Seventh Marine Regiment saw some of the worst fighting in Afghanistan in 2012, and of the 1200 Marines sent there, 13 have since taken their own lives.

It's an epidemic.

Still think comparing Putin to Hitler is ridiculous?


A Russian court has fined the organisation behind Russia's renowned Perm-36 Museum, which is housed in a former Gulag and is the only Soviet labour camp in Russia to have been preserved as a museum, state news agency Itar-Tass reports.

The Russian government declared the organisation running the museum a "foreign agent" in April, accusing it of taking foreign funding and being involved in political activity. The local government took control of the museum when the investigation was underway in March and the Perm-36 group has been forced to effectively shut down.

The organisation has now been fined 300,000 roubles ($5,250) while its former director Tatyana Kursina has been fined 100,000 roubles ($1,750). The organisation denies it acts as a "foreign agent"

The Perm-36 Museum was opened in 1996, recreating the conditions of a once functional Stalinist labour camp in the Ural mountains. However, earlier this year, Kursina's organisation ceased to run it due to the case opened against them and Radio Liberty has since reported that the new leadership has removed mentions of "Stalin," "dissident" or "gulag" from pamphlets advertising the place.


MOSCOW, July 9 (UPI) -- A list of "undesirable" civil rights organizations by the upper house of Russia's parliament is fueling perceptions of a crackdown on "foreign agents."

One non-governmental organization on the list, the Dynasty Foundation, which aided young and aspiring mathematicians and scientists, abruptly announced this week it was "liquidating its funds."

Soon after Vladimir Putin reassumed the presidency in 2012, he approved a law tightening controls on NGOs funded from abroad, forcing any that engage in "political activity" to register as a "foreign agent" -- a Cold War term.


A recent spate of anti-American sentiment in Russia has seen a legal NGO labeled a "foreign agent" — a term heavily implying espionage — after one of its leaders gave lectures in the U.S.

The Russian Justice Ministry deemedSutyazhnik, a civil litigation NGO, a "foreign agent" in May on the grounds that Anton Burkov, one of its directors, spoke at events at Harvard, the University of Massachusetts in Boston, and the University of Wisconsin last year. A court in Ekaterinburg, a city in the Ural mountains in central Russia, finedSutyazhnik and a sister organization 300,000 rubles (about $5,300) each earlier this month for failing to register as a foreign agent.

Burkov told BuzzFeed News that the decision had nothing to do with Sutyazhnik's foreign financing, which is limited to a 2013 grant from the British consulate in Ekaterinburg for an unrelated training program for bloggers. "They care that the money has come in but they don't care where it is spent," he said. "They're committing a genocide of NGOs through bankruptcy."

Putin and senior Russian officials have repeatedly said that Washington is using NGOs in Russia to foment regime change, a charge U.S. officials deny. Last week, Russian lawmakers recommended the country blacklist 12 foreign NGOs, ranging from American heavyweights like the Open Society and MacArthur foundation to obscure Polish groups, under a new law banning "undesirable organizations."


MOSCOW, July 21 (UPI) -- Novaya Gazeta, one of Russia's last remaining independent newspapers, could face closure after receiving a second warning within the year from Roskomnadzor, the government's media watchdog group.

Under Russian law, the government may shut down a media outlet after two warnings.

The newspaper is accused of publishing expletive language from a literary text, The Moscow Times reported. President Vladimir Putin signed into law this past spring the banning of several crude curse words, which may not appear within the media.

Novaya Gazeta -- translated as the New Gazette -- is well known for its critical and investigative coverage of Russian political and social affairs. Their noted journalists Anna Politkovskaya, Anastasia Baburova and Yury Shchekochikin were all murdered in connection to their investigations. Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev owns 10 percent of the newspaper.


Upset, dismayed and evidently feeling a little left out by the global embrace of the gay pride flag following the US Supreme Court ruling legalising same-sex marriage, Vladimir Putin's United Russia Party has hit back against with their own "straight" flag.

While homosexuality is not illegal in Russia, Mr Putin introduced a law in 2013 that bans symbols which promote "non-traditional" values.

Therefore, in response to the LGBT movement's rainbow flag, the United Russia Party unveiled a banner celebrating the traditional, nuclear Russian family. The flag depicts two parents - a woman and a man - holding hands with three children.


Andrei Lisovenko, deputy head of the United Russia branch in Moscow, told the Izvestia newspaper, "This is our response to same-sex marriage, to this mockery of the concept of the family.


Russian intolerance of gay people and same-sex marriages has grown significantly in the last decade, state-run pollster VTsIOM said Friday.

Eighty percent of Russians said they were against same-sex marriages, as opposed to 59 percent in 2005, the pollster found.
The number of those who think gay people should be allowed to get married has decreased from 14 percent in 2005 to 8 percent in 2015. According to the poll, only 3 percent of respondents said LGBT people should be able to bring up children.

Another 3 percent supported the idea of marriage, but said children should not be brought up in such households.

The number of people who consider gay people dangerous and said they should be “isolated from society” has also grown significantly since 2004, from 12 to 20 percent, the poll shows.

So, shutting down human rights groups as "foreign agents", shutting down independent media (after repeatedly assassinating its journalists), and endorsing and encouraging harassment and persecution of a vulnerable minority.

Still think the Hitler comparisons are ridiculous?

I already linked to it.


You even got a hide for it.

Unless "fuck you, asshole" somehow miraculously doesn't mean you called me an asshole.

Oh, and I'm not your dude, friend.

Taking offense to slurs and hate speech doesn't make you weak.

Or a pearl clutcher, or prissy.

Neither does being able to avoid taking offense make you superior.

People are different. Our personalities, our psychological makeup, and our experiences are all different from one another. What one person takes as offensive, others don't.

Consider before you launch on a tirade against someone discussing certain words that you don't know where they're coming from, and you don't know why they take offense to certain words.

That person may have been bullied as a child or a teenager. That person may be getting bullied now. That person may be a rape survivor who's triggered by those words. That person may be close to rape survivors, those who are going through bullying, or the survivors of those who were driven to suicide.

Chances are very small that person is trying to control you, hates freedom of speech, or is less educated than you are.

So please, think before you post.

Irish gay marriage referendum: 'No' campaigners concede defeat

Source: The Telegraph

Votes still being counted but opponents of same sex marriage admit 'disappointing' results so far

Gay rights groups hailed victory in Ireland's referendum on same-sex marriage on Saturday after "No" campaigners effectively conceded defeat in the historic vote.

"Everyone seems to be predicting a 'yes' ... and that seems to be the case at the moment. It's disappointing," said John Murray from Catholic think tank the Iona Institute, which spearheaded the "No" campaign.

Final results are not expected until later in the day in the poll, which could make Ireland the first country to adopt same-sex marriage via a popular vote.

Read more: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/ireland/11625847/Irish-gay-marriage-referendum-No-campaigners-concede-defeat.html

Now that is a hell of a thing to wake up to.

One week tobacco free today

No gum, no patches, no vapor. One week without cigarettes, and I feel pretty good.

Now to go for two weeks!
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