J. Scott Applewhite / AP

WASHINGTON — The House Republican leadership faces a Thursday deadline to decide if it will continue to defend laws that limit veterans benefits to opposite-sex couples in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling striking down a similar provision in the Defense of Marriage Act.

“We’re reviewing the impact of the Supreme Court’s decision, and don’t have any announcement to make at this time,” House Speaker John Boehner’s spokesman, Michael Steel, told BuzzFeed on Wednesday when asked if the defense of the veterans’ statutes would continue.

The day after the Supreme Court ruled in Edie Windsor’s challenge to Section 3 of DOMA that the federal definition of marriage that excluded gay couples in DOMA is unconstitutional, Judge Richard Stearns asked the parties in another lawsuit, filed in federal court in Massachusetts and addressing the rights of service members and veterans and their spouses, to give “any reasons why judgment should not enter for plaintiffs in this case.”

The plaintiffs in the Massachusetts case, filed by Servicemembers Legal Defense Network and Chadbourne & Park, argued in a Wednesday filing in the case that the decision in Windsor’s case controls the outcome in their case and that Stearns should decide in their favor.

In addition to challenging DOMA, the plaintiffs — led by Maj. Shannon McLaughlin, a judge advocate general in Massachusetts Army National Guard, and her wife, Casey — challenge two statutes in Title 38 of the U.S. Code regarding veterans’ benefits that define “spouse” as “a person of the opposite sex.”

As with Section 3 of DOMA, which Attorney General Eric Holder announced in a letter to House Speaker John Boehner in February 2011 that the government would no longer be defending in court challenges because the administration had decided the statute is unconstitutional, Holder informed Boehner in February 2012 that the Justice Department would be not be defending the challenged provisions in Title 38.

“The language of the Title 38 provisions is identical in material respects to the language of Section 3 of DOMA: Those provisions, like Section 3, define the term ‘spouse’ (or ‘surviving spouse’) as ‘a person of the opposite sex,’” Holder wrote in the Feb. 17, 2012, letter.

In the Wednesday filing in the Massachusetts case, the plaintiffs argue that Windsor “is plainly dispositive,” noting that “the same logic that required DOMA to be invalidated applies with equal force to the definitional provisions for the term ‘spouse’ and phrase ‘surviving spouse,’ as used in [Title 38].”

Since the February 2011 letter, the House Republican leadership, through its control of the House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group, defended Section 3 of DOMA. It continued with that defense as to the veterans’ provisions, in the Massachusetts case and in a similar case brought in federal court in California by the Southern Poverty Law Center on behalf of Tracey and Maggie Cooper-Harris.

Stearns’ request in the Massachusetts case contained a 21-day deadline, which is Thursday. Neither the Justice Department nor BLAG have yet responded to his request.

Update – 1:25 p.m., EST: A spokesman for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, one of the two Democrats on BLAG, asked Boehner to stop the defense in a statement to BuzzFeed.

“Now that the Supreme Court has spoken, it’s time for Speaker Boehner to stop spending scarce taxpayer dollars defending discrimination. The Court was clear: The federal government must respect all marriages equally and fully. Rather than trying to delay justice for particular married gay and lesbian couples and their families, House Republicans should be working with their Democratic colleagues in Congress and the Administration to bring federal government into compliance with Court’s ruling as quickly as possible,” Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill said in a statement.

Read The Plaintiffs’ Wednesday Filing:

View this embed ›

Read more: http://buzzfeed.com/chrisgeidner/house-republicans-face-decision-on-fighting-gay-veterans-spo

After recent hospitalizations, we decided to ask.

View this image ›

Chris Ritter / BuzzFeed

Sabrina, 20, Tucson, Ariz. Why are there 14-year-olds rolling at Coachella? Electric Daisy Carnival is only 18 and older because three years ago a girl who was 15 died. [EDM shows] should be 18 and up. So many people are literally just kids doing drugs! I think festivals just want your money, they want you to go crazy. They don’t want you to die, but they like audiences that are [on drugs.] I’ve not taken drugs at shows and it’s been great. People need to know where they get their drugs. People will just go in a tent and say “Who has drugs?!” You shouldn’t buy off randos and should be smart.

Artha, 19, Los AngelesAt Hard Summer it’s not hard to [bring drugs in]. They’ll grab your bra or pat you down. At EDC, they go through all of your stuff. Sometimes people will skip the line if they recognize a specific security guard — 97% of the time people get in with everything. I don’t think security people care that much at EDC. You’ll see people selling things, and there isn’t a big concern over whether or not someone’s OK. The first day at EDC at midnight I saw a guy pulled out on a stretcher and then I heard that someone died there that night. It was really scary because it was my first time. You’ll pass girls who have their eyes rolling back in their heads; that’s not OK. The fact that I didn’t see security at the second biggest [EDM] show in America is a problem. I don’t think EDM could survive without the connection to drugs but it’s such a big part of it, and it’s an unfortunate part.

*Michael, 20, DenverMy friends and I have already done [many drugs] before, so we’re over it. When I go into a show, it’s about seeing the actual artist. But younger kids are riskier — the people who are dying at these shows are younger. I went to this Halloween show called Something Wicked in Houston, and multiple people were collapsing and on stretchers. It was one of those “whoa” moments. When I first started going to EDM shows, it was called electronica. It was a concert that’s now become a party. People come and aren’t even looking at the stage. I don’t think there’s anything to stop people from doing drugs, but there can be a better conversation about informing people. People are going to do [drugs], and you’re only hearing about people getting hurt after it happens.

*Jack, 23, San Jose, Calif.I have taken MDMA at events. I take it to enhance my experience. Most of the decorations and crazy lights are (in my opinion) meant to be enjoyed by both sober and non-sober people. Anyone who has taken MDMA can attest how great a light show is and how extra-special those fireworks look at EDC while rolling. But no one wants to see a 15-year-old rolling balls being really sloppy, that’s just wrong. Just because you don’t “feel it after taking two pills” doesn’t mean you should take two more. The biggest issue is that people don’t know what they are taking. There are test kits available and they are really easy to use. People should know what MDMA or any other drug does to your body.

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Chris Ritter / BuzzFeed

Millie, 20, CaliforniaAT EDC I saw a girl on a stretcher and I got scared, then I heard two had people died that night. When the lights go on after a show you’ll look and see all the smushed pills in baggies on the floor. People can sneak in anything. Most security guards who are younger, they like the kids. They’ll probably see it and let it slide. Everybody judges these shows before they come to them, though. The vibes around them are so good. I’ve met people I never thought I would meet at these shows. People look up to the DJs and they should tell the audience to be safe, don’t be stupid, before they play.

Christian, 21, Santa MonicaIt’s hard to blame the youth for all these overdoses and accidents happening because that stuff happens every day. I do think now that I am 21 and the scene is turning very young it’s up to us veterans to show them the way: to always take care of your fellow humans and be very responsible but also enjoy the time you have too. Venues can do their part too, by educating [fans] more and having water stations at EDM-related events. The artists aren’t really speaking up how they should be. I believe that shows and drugs can co-exist and we can improve that by public service announcements and by educating with testing kits and always having a friend with you when tripping. That is what the DJs should be sponsoring.

John, 25, Los AngelesI take drugs sometimes. I do it because it’s an enjoyable combination, especially when other people are doing it too. But I do a good job of controlling myself. The only drugs I do contain MDMA. I haven’t had any negative experiences aside from not being able to sleep for a couple hours. Kids under 18 should not be doing drugs, period. They don’t have a sense of control and it’s more likely to cause long-term damage while they’re developing. But people like to do what they’re told not to. The drugs ARE there and they aren’t going anywhere. Another thing that would help is less-strict drugs laws — [which are] obviously not happening — so things are manufactured better.

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Chris Ritter / BuzzFeed

Sammy, 21, San FranciscoI feel like [drugs at shows] is an inevitability that we all should manage as a community. Sharing water, information, testing kits, and just human caring can be the difference between a fiasco and a show that goes perfectly smoothly. I think there are more artists coming out as very much against drug use at shows, which is both a good and bad thing. I would like to think that taking a harm-reduction point of view (basically acknowledging that there will be some people who choose to do it and educating those folks how to do it in the safest manner) would be the most realistic. I would be beyond shocked if MDMA use disappeared, since it’s so tied to the past of this scene. The artists that come out against drug use and kind of wave their finger at it bother me, since something tells me that they probably engaged in this at some point in their career. So why make it seem as though they are above it?

Justin, 22, Los AngelesI’m a huge advocate for shows that are 18 and over. With a certain age comes responsibility. I’m not condoning the use of drugs, but there should be risk reduction. There are testing kits online people could use to find out what they’re taking. They cost like, $10. I think security is present [at shows] but they’re just chill. At EDC I would ask people I saw lying on the ground if they were doing OK, but I wish security was doing that, not me. I’d like to think that EDM shows are safer as opposed to other shows, like punk, where people also get injured. People blow up EDM and say it’s an irresponsible scene.

Stephanie, 25, Portland, Ore.My first-ever EDM show I went to in 2011 I took Molly for the first time. I had never used any other drug besides smoking marijuana. The first time was an unexplainable experience — felt as if there was no worry in my life. I’ve taken Molly/Ecstasy since, at raves, but I don’t enjoy rolling. I can sometimes get mild anxiety or overstimulation from drugs. I truly enjoy the music and don’t feel I need drugs to be fun or enjoy the experience. I am not judgmental to people who do. Now I go to many of these events and am the only sober one in my group. Not everyone abuses drugs. Not everyone goes for the girls, drugs, and the party. EDM is the most accepting scene I’ve ever been a part of. I feel at home at raves.

*Name has been changed.

Read more: http://buzzfeed.com/hazelcills/drugs-at-edm-shows

http://twitter.com/#!/JKrollie/status/188798691472195584

Some thanks from the city of Houston:

Images from Houston's parade for Iraq war veterans http://t.co/ylBcrRGu #News #Events

— Greg ♘ (@westernagent) April 8, 2012

Hart: To Iraq war veterans: Thank you: Hart: To Iraq war veterans: Thank you Houston Chronicle Copyright 20… http://t.co/luMZXhy9

— Patti Kilday Hart (@pattihart) April 7, 2012

Proud of Houston!! Welcome home parade held for Iraq war vets | News – Home http://t.co/t85HiRk2

— Zombies Rock (@ZombiesRock) April 8, 2012

Read more: http://twitchy.com/2012/04/08/houston-welcomes-home-iraqi-war-veterans/

Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York has moved to attempt to head off some of the same alleged problems that have caused protests at Yale and the University of Missouri:

Some students at Ithaca are trying to force college President Tom Rochon to step down like University of Missouri’s Tim Wolfe:

A “die in”? Hard to admire that, especially on Veterans Day when we’re honoring real heroes.

At how many more colleges will students attempt to oust their university presidents (not to mention faculty) in such a way? Stay tuned.

Read more: http://twitchy.com/2015/11/11/this-is-a-childs-tactic-mizzou-style-protest-spills-over-to-ithaca-college-photos-vine/

Antiwar Left Stays Quiet On Syria

Code Pink co-founder Jodie Evans at an Iraq War veterans march in 2008 in Denver. Michael Francis McElroy/Zuma Press / MCT

WASHINGTON — On the eve of American military intervention in Syria, the once-robust antiwar movement has stayed curiously silent.

Activists who turned out thousands of protesters during the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq say they’ve been unable to effectively organize or raise money since the end of the Bush years, and that newer causes like drones have seized the space on the left once occupied by opposition to conventional warfare. And some acknowledge that the energy has leaked out of the movement because a Democrat is now in office. Though some groups have organized online petitions and some real-life protests, the antiwar crowd that was on fire before the war in Iraq has made hardly a dent in the conversation surrounding Syria.

“Well, the most incredibly depressing thing was that most of the groups that existed before don’t exist anymore,” said Medea Benjamin, the founder of Code Pink. “That’s the number one problem, is that the antiwar movement is a shadow of its former self under the Bush years.”

Benjamin pointed to groups like United for Peace and Justice, a Communist Party-connected group, as examples: “They’re down to a couple of volunteers,” she said.

Code Pink itself, despite being one of the most visible protest groups in the U.S. today, has felt the pinch.

“Even Code Pink, which had 300 local groups, just has a tiny portion still functioning,” Benjamin said. “So when something like this happens, we don’t have the infrastructure to rally people.”

Some activists argue that it’s mostly an issue of money and membership, and not an indication that the left supports Syria intervention.

“Among the long-standing peace and disarmament groups that we work with, everybody is angry and pissed about what seems to be an imminent attack,” said Kevin Martin, the executive director of Peace Action. “Public opinion is not supporting it either. But you’re not going to see hundreds of thousands of people in the street.”

“I don’t think me or Medea or anyone else should be defensive about that,” Martin said. “We don’t push a button and get hundreds of thousands of people in the streets.”

Martin blamed the anemic response among peace groups to Syria on the economy, noting that all nonprofits are struggling — not just protest groups.

Plus, Martin said, the energy on the left has been focused on drones and civil liberties, which “doesn’t rise to the level of an obviously unjust war where hundreds of thousands of people are being killed because of a belligerent president.”

Though Benjamin and Martin both say the fact that Obama is a Democrat is not to blame, other antiwar stalwarts suspect the energy fizzled out when a Republican antagonist was no longer in office.

“The Democrats are missing in action because of course the president is a Democrat,” said David Swanson, a longtime antiwar activist and author of War Is a Lie and When the World Outlawed War, who works with Roots Action, a progressive nonprofit. “That’s the biggest factor, I think. What’s tamping down the activism is partisanship.”

“This started in 2007 when it was time to focus on electing a Democratic president and the Democrats forgot about the wars,” Swanson said. “We’ve been struggling ever since to get back to where we were in 2006.”

Swanson also blamed the apathy on the left on a belief that intervening in Syria is a humanitarian mission, whereas with Iraq the sales pitch was defense-related.

“The war in Syria is incredibly unpopular according to the polls, but there are some who support it because they believe it’s philanthropy,” he said.

Swanson sees hope for the antiwar cause in the fact that most Americans oppose intervening in Syria, according to polling.

“It’s a major accomplishment to have a majority telling pollsters no from the start, not a year into it,” he said.

There are glimmers of life: Code Pink is protesting the imminent attack in Syria during today’s March on Washington, and Roots Action and other groups have marshaled online activists into signing petitions.

“Those of us still working on this have been mobilizing,” Benjamin said. “The online protests are proliferating. There’s petitions to Obama, there’s calls for Congress to get involved — so many groups from Code Pink to Win Without War to Just Foreign Policy — all have put out calls saying no war in Syria.”

But mostly, the movement has been left for dead even by those who were once leading figures in it.

“What antiwar movement?” former Congressman Dennis Kucinich asked when called for comment on Wednesday.

“What antiwar groups?” said Justin Raimondo, longtime editor of Antiwar.com.

In Raimondo’s view, the movement hasn’t exactly disappeared as much as been reborn among young libertarians who have taken up the mantle from the previous generation of baby-boomer leftist peace activists.

“The antiwar actions of the Bush years were basically energized by the extreme left, the Old Left Marxists,” Raimondo said. “But they are getting on in years, and they aren’t recruiting many young people (yet), so the various antiwar coalitions have far less components.”

Read more: http://buzzfeed.com/rosiegray/antiwar-left-stays-quiet-on-syria

29. Thomas DeCoud

You can tell he practiced this one.

28. Cam Newton

Starring in Superman: The Quest For TDs. (Yeah, that’s a Superman IV joke.)

27. E.J. Manuel

Simple, effective.

26. James Laurinaitis

Only when you sack Superman (a.k.a. Cam Newton) can you mock his signature move.

25. Knowshon Moreno

Rock, paper, TOUCHDOWN. (Moreno wins.)

24. Jimmy Graham

When a slam dunk becomes a seismic event.

23. Knowshon Moreno

I don’t know, but I’ve been told / A first down for Moreno.

22. Mike Tolbert

Please, Mike. Not in front of the kids.

21. T.Y. Hilton

Thank you, T.Y.

20. Joseph Fauria

Did this dance have to end? Sadly, yes.

19. Nickell Robey

Heads-up football, though not as Roger Goodell intended.

18. J.J. Watt

Would Dikembe Mutombo have made a good lineman?

17. Nick Hayden

Starting the car, maybe? No idea what this is.

16. Calvin Johnson

Jason Miller / Getty / Via buzzfeed.com

To see this in motion would’ve probably melted your brain. Best to keep it to still photography.

15. Philip Rivers

Like, who is he even talking to?

14. Mike Glennon

Just pure, goofy joy.

13. Chris Long

On Veterans Day, you salute the troops. True fact.

12. Matthew Stafford

It just gets weirder (and better) the more you watch.

11. Lance Moore

He could’ve done this for hours had no one intervened.

10. Muhammad Wilkerson

Someone’s thinking of Hawaii and the Pro Bowl.

9. Steve Smith

STEVE SMITH EATS OPPOSING CORNERBACKS FOR BREAKFAST*.

  • possibly lunch — could be a soup/half-sandwich combo.

8. Brian Robison

Hook, line, and GOT ‘EM.

7. Tavon Austin

Best TerRio dance of the season, bar none.

6. Philip Rivers

The best part is when he gets to the sideline and has absolutely no idea what to do next. It’s mad and glorious.

5. Andre Brown & Brandon Jacobs

When an immovable object meets a misguided celebratory force.

4. Brandon Mebane

DO NOT STARE INTO THE NAVEL-Y ABYSS. MOVING ALONG NOW.

3. Joseph Fauria

Night fever, night fever / Fauria know how to do it!

2. Ricky Jean-Francois

This would be No. 1, except that the Colts were down 21 points when Jean-Francois practically acted out a seizure to celebrate this sack. Still, points for pure, flailing-limbed poetry.

1. David Wilson

We never saw it coming. We never saw it again. (He later left this game with a neck injury.) All hail David Wilson, who back-to-back-flipped his way into our hearts.

Read more: http://buzzfeed.com/erikmalinowski/the-29-most-creative-nfl-celebration-dances-of-2013

http://twitter.com/#!/rafsanchez/status/399951939443519488

We’ve already seen some pretty awful Veterans Day tweets, but this one is disgusting in a different way:

http://twitter.com/#!/randizuckerberg/status/399940834290065408

Really, Randi? Like, really???

http://twitter.com/#!/pettybooshwah/status/399948967389057024

“Gauche” is putting it politely.

http://twitter.com/#!/totallyslutsky/status/399945479376896000
http://twitter.com/#!/20committee/status/399949959513899008
http://twitter.com/#!/LisaMcIntire/status/399944849446543362
http://twitter.com/#!/dansinker/status/399947420454236160
http://twitter.com/#!/leyawn/status/399947223569412096
http://twitter.com/#!/lovenice74/status/399955796337119232
http://twitter.com/#!/dogwalkblog/status/399946008605782016

Ouch.

(Hat tip: @AaronWorthing)

***

Update:

This:

http://twitter.com/#!/MikeIsaac/status/399957832692269057

Read more: http://twitchy.com/2013/11/11/good-grief-check-out-randi-zuckerbergs-ridiculous-veterans-day-tweet/

Trigger warning: What follows is a story of sexual assault; it is not graphic but may affect some readers.

At the age of 18, Ruth Moore eagerly joined the Navy, only to be raped twice by her supervisor two and a half months into her first assignment. She writes that this assault “result[ed] in a life filled with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, insomnia, migraines, a sexually transmitted disease, miscarriages, suicide attempts, homelessness, an end to [her] marriage, and terror [she has] lived with ever since.”

What’s worse? The Department of Veterans Affairs repeatedly denied her disability benefits for PTSD that she was entitled to by law, and it wouldn’t correct its errors, even when they were first addressed over 19 years ago, in 1993.



The VA has the authority to make a simple regulatory change so that Military Sexual Trauma survivors aren’t held to a higher standard of proof than other veterans with PTSD. Please sign Ruth’s petition asking the VA to revise its policy immediately. Ensure that all regional offices follow the same standards when processing MST and PTSD claims so that veterans like Ruth do not have to live the rest of their lives in pain — or worse, take their own lives.

Read more: http://upworthy.com/photo-i-wont-be-silent-any-longer

In November, we celebrate our military men and women with Veterans Day. But what about the rest of the year, as our men and women in uniform commit to a delicate balancing act between staying true to their service and staying true to themselves? Artist Devin Mitchell, an art student at ASU, looks into this balance in a project, called the Veteran Art Project, that seeks to glimpse at the person beneath the uniform and give a sense of humanity to our sometimes misunderstood military.

Credit: Veteran Art Project

Read more: http://www.wimp.com/revealuniform/

Damien LoversoDamien Loverso

Damien Loverso

I was stuck in rush hour traffic when my engine sputtered and my car came to a stop. I’ve always hated driving in the city, but there I was, halfway through a four-way stop, blocking traffic. I immediately began to panic.

He was small, thin and rugged, clothed in torn jeans and a black leather jacket. His hair was long and silver, covered by a bandana that looked like the American flag.

If he hadn’t offered to help me that day, I might not have noticed the dog tags around his neck or the pain his eyes.

He Was Homeless

As children, we’re taught to be cautious of strangers. As women, we’re taught that this idea applies especially to men we don’t know. So, it was easy to ignore him before, as I often passed him standing on the side of the road.

I had seen him. I even read the sign he was holding. It said:

Anything you have to give. God bless you.

I did my best not to give my attention so I wouldn’t feel guilty for not helping. But, when he approached my window and softly knocked to get my attention, guilty was exactly how I felt.

His name was Ron. “But all my friends call me Lieutenant,” he said as he introduced himself and diverted the oncoming traffic.

At first, I wanted to tell him I was sorry that I hadn’t stopped when I saw him before. But I didn’t.

I greeted him warmly and thanked him for coming to help me. Then, we began to move my vehicle to a more convenient location. He pushed and I steered. He insisted. Soon, I was safely parked at a nearby McDonald’s.

As I shook his hand and thanked him again, I noticed he didn’t have his sign anymore — he must have left it. I asked if I could buy him some dinner. It was the least I could do for his help.

At first, he declined: “It’s okay, ma’am. I stay here some nights. They’re good to me at this one,” he said as he looked toward the ground.

I insisted. I didn’t expect to sit and eat with him, but I did. He insisted. As we sat together that day, I learned a different side of war.


He Was Married

“Nineteen years!” he said proudly as he reflected. His wife died six years ago while he was deployed. I listened quietly as he told me what happened.

His voice cracked and his eyes filled with tears as he came to the end of his story by saying,

A soldier isn’t supposed to lose a wife; a wife loses her soldier in war. It kills me every single day.

Lt. Ron was honorably discharged two years later. He has Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He was living with his only son after he returned home from his service, but 10 months before I met the Lieutenant, he lost his son, too.

He has no family and has been living on the street for eight months.

As I left McDonald’s that day, I didn’t ignore the opportunity to give back to someone who gave and sacrificed so much for so many. I opened my wallet, and I gave all that was in it. I wish I could have given him more.


He’s Not the Only One

According to the US Department of Veterans Affairs‘ Office of Policy and Planning, in 2009, studies reflected the number of living veterans to be 23,440,000.

Do you know how many of those veterans are receiving benefits and help through the government and country they served to protect? 8,493,700. In other words, less than half of the men and women who have sacrificed, suffered and served our country get benefits.


Remember The Homeless

Our veterans aren’t the only ones who are hungry and freezing this holiday season. According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, 19 out of every 10,000 people are homeless. Thirty-five percent of homeless individuals remain unsheltered.

Remember our veterans. Remember them as you sit down to your holiday feasts, hang your lights and adorn your trees. All of our veterans have sacrificed and all of our soldiers who are still serving will be veterans one day. Many have served, many have given and many are still fighting.

Remember our children. Remember them as you sip your coffee, zip your jacket and tighten your scarf. Remember them as you warm your hands by the fire this winter and watch your children’s faces light up as they open their gifts on Christmas morning.

We do not do enough. We do not give enough. This holiday season, may we rise together to change it.

Little is much when love is present.

Here’s how you can give back right now: Network For GoodWounded Warrior ProjectMercury Housing, VeteransMatter.OrgRed CrossNoKidHungry.org.

Read more: http://elitedaily.com/life/culture/homeless-holidays/865277/