This Veterans Day, we’re saluting all of the men and women who fought, volunteered and risked their lives to protect the nations they loved. Whether they served as soldiers, pilots or nurses, we’d like to pay tribute to this admittedly small collection of authors and, more importantly, to the impossibly long list of those who’ve sacrificed everywhere:

CONTINUE READING …

Read more: http://buzzfeed.com/adilawar/happy-veterans-day-8-authors-who-served-g1q9

How are you, my favorite Fox News watching (uncle/co-worker/landlord/etc.)? Happy Holidays! Yes, I know you prefer Merry Christmas, but I am an ex-Jew and a current atheist, and I would really like to wish you a Happy Pagan Solstice, so let’s settle in the middle at Happy Holidays. Happy Holidays!

Yes, yes. Obamacare. I can keep my doctor if I like him. Elizabeth Warren wants to give every McDonald’s employee $7,000 dollars an hour. Hillary Clinton personally shot eight disabled veterans in Benghazi. Rob Ford was on crack and is still a better mayor than Deblasio with his punkish looking son. We covered this during Thanksgiving. Let’s skip ahead, shall we?

That Duck Dynasty Guy! What’s his name? Uncle Jud? Cousin Moonshine? Grandpa Mason-Dixon? Patriarch “The Civil War Had Nothing To Do With Slavery?” Yes, in fact, I did hear about his GQ interview. What is he doing even talking GQ? I thought GQ only talked to Bradley Cooper and Pharrell about what colognes they wear. Shows how much I know about print media. And are GQ and Details the same magazine?

Sorry, I’m easily distracted. I’m back. So I heard that Uncle Duck said something about hating gay people? No, I didn’t actually read the quote. Did you? No? Okay, let’s look it up together.

It seems like, to me, a vagina — as a man — would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying?

Via GQ.com

Well that was uncomfortable! I really wish I hadn’t read that right before eating. But, I see your point. It’s kind of disgusting to me to think about this unkempt looking bearded man talking about vaginas and anuses, and really, he’s just expressing his preference for said vaginas over said anuses, but I don’t see why A&E would suspend him over something like that. Oh, wait, there’s more.

But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical. Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men.

Via GQ.com

Okay, makes more sense now. It seems like he’s comparing two consenting adults engaging in homosexual sex acts to a person forcibly raping an animal. Actually, I’m going to remove “seems like” from that previous sentence. He is absolutely saying that gay people and animal rapists are the same thing. Not only that, but he’s comparing people who have multiple sex partners—both heterosexual and homosexual—to animal rapists. AND he’s doing it in a down-home, folksy twang! He’s comparing gay people and people who have a lot of premarital sex to animal rapists in the same way he would tell his granddaughter how to cast a fishing line!

(It should be mentioned here that the person you are conversing with, very well might hold similar beliefs. These people are beyond are reach and will all be dead soon. For your own sanity, please do not try to explain to them why Neil Patrick Harris is not the same as a horse sodomite.)

Okay, so he compares homosexuality to bestiality, which is insane. But wait! There’s more! Here are some comments he makes about the black people he grew up with in the pre-Civil Rights days.

I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person. Not once. Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them. I’m with the blacks, because we’re white trash. We’re going across the field. … They’re singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, ‘I tell you what: These doggone white people’ — not a word!

Via GQ.com

What a magical time this sounds like! Black people got to work side by side with “white trash” for all white farmers and none of them even complained! What happened to those days? Why don’t we have a bunch of happy minorities working the fields, singing to their heart’s content, satisfied in their station with absolutely no upward mobility? Sounds fun!

So Daddy Rebel Flag hates gay people. And philanderers. And he has a shocking unawareness about what it was like for minorities during the pre MLK days. But that’s not really what this is about, is it? Plenty of people are gay hating racists. There’s a whole chunk of the electorate that think about nothing else! That’s why Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich and Ted Cruz have all made public statements defending this douche. Concerning his comments about gay people, Palin said he was just “quoting scripture.” You know that passage that says vaginas are awesome and anuses are a trap that will keep you out of the kingdom of heaven? This is a minority view, but not such a minority view that certain bat shit politicians feel like they have to jump on the duck loving bandwagon to score political points.

So what you’re saying is that this is an issue of freedom of speech. The first amendment! The best amendment with the exception of the one that you think means you can shoot anybody you want! Well, while we’re looking up quotes, let’s look up the exact wording of the First Amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Via The U.S. Constitution

So ignoring all that stuff about petitions and religion (although that part about Congress not respecting any religion must hurt), we see that the amendment says Congress may not “abridge the freedom of speech” of any person. Congress! Not A&E! If President Obama or Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid had come down to the bayou and told Cousin White Supremacy that he was no longer allowed to be on TV because of his comments, then yes, this would be a violation of the First Amendment. But the same thing just happened to Alec Baldwin, and you didn’t see Rick Santorum going on national TV to denounce his firing. Baldwin was fired from his MSNBC show because he called somebody a “cock sucking faggot.” You guys didn’t complain because, hey, one less liberal blowhard on MSNBC isn’t going to make a difference. But this was one of your guys, so now it’s all hand of the government and political correctness and liberal Hollywood and freedom of speech.

This has absolutely nothing to do with freedom of speech. A&E, the network on which the television program Duck Dynasty resides, has decided to suspend this guy because they do not want to be associated with somebody who makes such ignorant, stupid comments and that is their right! They are a business that’s sole purpose is to sell advertising. They create television shows that we might enjoy like Storage Wars and Shipping Wars and Parking Wars so that we will watch their channel and then maybe, accidentally see a commercial for Poligrip. Duck Dynasty is a carefree show about a family of Christian billionaires (let’s not even go into the hypocrisy of that) who enjoy hunting and playing practical jokes on one another and dispensing good ol’ fashioned redneck bon mots about life and the meaning of family. At the end of every episode they sit down for family dinner and pray. Yes, the show’s audience mostly leans right, but the show itself is never explicitly partisan. It reflects Christian values and Southern personalities in a, get ready for this, politically correct manner. Nobody on the show ever talks about Obama being a Muslim Socialist or abortions bringing on God’s wrath or gay people being as evil as animal rapists because that’s not what the show is about. The Duck Masters may think these things (and now we know at least one of them does) but they never talked about it on the show. Now he’s given an interview to a magazine as a representative of the show and the network and he’s shattered the illusion of his character. Phil Robertson (yes, I know is name) can never go back to just being a wise redneck grandpa with a funny beard. He’s revealed himself to be ignorant and hateful and A&E has no interest in producing a show about ignorant and hateful people.

And this is the part of our conversation, my Republican (uncle/co-worker/landlord/etc.) that I’m going to tell you something that will not make you happy. A&E didn’t have to suspend the Duck Guy. It probably wouldn’t have hurt them to keep pretending as if nothing had happened. The majority of Duck Dynasty viewers probably will not stop watching because of these comments. And Duck Dynasty is a HUGE money maker. It’s the most watched show in the history of the network. A&E took action and suspended Phil Robertson because that’s what happens to you now if you reveal yourself to be a gay-hating idiot. They might lose money and viewers and sponsors, but A&E, the network that produces Hoarders, decided to put their morals before their money. The tides are changing and there’s no stopping them. More and more people are going to have to check their ignorance at the door, and you may not think that is a good thing, but it makes me happy, happy, happy.

Read more: http://buzzfeed.com/alexz4/how-to-respond-to-republicans-who-tell-you-ae-is-3qan

In an alternate reality, President Obama always talks the way he did at Ft. Belvoir Thursday.

View this image ›

Larry Downing / Reuters

WASHINGTON — President Obama praised several Republican lawmakers at a press event in Virginia Thursday, congratulating them for crossing the aisle and helping create legislation reforming the Veterans Administration he then sat down and signed into law.

It was a rare sight in modern Washington, and it sounded, well, bizarre. Obama himself noted the strangeness of the moment, quipping while signing the bill into law that he’s “out of practice” when it comes to signing legislation.

“This feels good,” Obama said. “You know, I don’t get enough practice at this.”

In an alternate universe, more Obama events would sound like the one the president hosted at Fort Belvoir, an Army base in suburban Virginia. In recent weeks, Obama’s public appearances have featured the president openly mocking Republicans for the gridlock that’s helped produce the least-productive Congress in generations.

The difference was stark. Late last month, Obama said the Republicans were “hating all the time” and ripped the House for voting to sue him over his executive actions.

At Fort Belvoir, Obama was markedly more friendly to the Republicans in the room who helped craft the bipartisan Veteran’s Administration reform package, which was spurred on by the lingering wait list scandal at the agency in charge of delivering health care to former members of the armed services.

“I want to thank all the members of Congress who are here today, and I especially want to thank those who led the fight to give [new VA Secretary Robert McDonald] and the VA more of the resources and flexibility that they need to make sure every veteran has access to the care and benefits that they’ve earned,” Obama said.

Obama called the bill “a good deal,” and noted it “passed overwhelmingly with bipartisan majorities, and that doesn’t happen often in Congress.”

Obama then gave the Republicans who helped craft the bill along with Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders, chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs committee, a shoutout by name.

While he was using the multiple pens to sign his name to the legislation typical of a bill singing, Obama commented further on how extraordinary the moment was — and ribbed the Republicans just a little.

“We should do this more often,” Obama said.

Video of Obama signing the bill and talking about how weird it is:

Video available at: http://buzzfeed-video1.s3.amazonaws.com/video/2014/08/07/FinderScreenSnapz001-624×306.mp4.

Read more: http://buzzfeed.com/evanmcsan/obama-praises-republican-lawmakers-as-key-to-veterans-affair

The Department of Veterans Affairs has promised to rush student veterans tuition and rent payments promised under the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill after BuzzFeed reported last week that severe bureaucratic delays had pushed young veterans toward bankruptcy and eviction.

The VA said in a statement that it would get veterans their backlogged benefits within 7 to 10 business days.

“VA apologizes for any delay or hardship for student Veterans, and we are taking immediate corrective actions,” the director of education services at the VA, Keith Wilson, said in a statement. “We are increasing the use of overtime and adding additional resources to provide payments to these Veterans.”

Many of the delays in processing claims are at the VAs Buffalo processing center, one of four regional offices that handles educational benefits. According to VA spokesman Josh Taylor, 17,000 student veterans’ claims remained unprocessed claims as of March 8, though school administrators had been told higher figures. The VA says something fewer than 40,000 claims remain unpaid, out of about 400,000 enrollments for G.I. Bill educational benefits this spring.

“We have heard from some Veterans who are experiencing delays in receiving their benefits for the spring term,” Wilson said in the statement, adding that veterans “who have an urgent and immediate financial need because they are due education benefits that have not yet been paid” should contact the administration through its website.

Despite the scope of complaints — BuzzFeed spoke to veterans from Ohio to Texas — the Administration downplayed the scale of the problem.

.”This is not a nationwide issue,” Wilson said, laying the blame on a single regional office that has faced “more enrollments than we had anticipated.”

Updated at 8:44 p.m. with information from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Read more: http://buzzfeed.com/rosiegray/obama-administration-promises-to-pay-delayed-stude

CNN commentator and TV host Marc Lamont Hill put a message on Twitter and Instagram this morning saying Happy Veterans Day.” The problem was his accompanying photo was a picture of Cuban soldiers. Hill said he realized he’d made a mistake and deleted the posts after plenty of criticism. But was it really just a mistake?

Hill tweeted to The Blaze:

The revisionist explaining is dizzying!

Read more: http://twitchy.com/2015/11/11/wanted-to-give-love-to-freedom-fighters-marc-lamont-hill-spins-veterans-day-photo-of-cuban-soldiers/

In 2011, a now 76-year old disabled veteran named Lee Carroll Brooker was arrested for growing three dozen marijuana plants in his home. Under Alabama state law, Brooker received a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole, and the Supreme Court last month refused to hearan appeal arguing the sentence was cruel and unusual.

Brooker’s case attracted advocates clamoring for a change in sentencing laws, but perhaps the worst part about this case is it is by no means unusual.

There are plenty of cases out there where veterans, suffering from disability or post-traumatic stress disorder, turn to marijuana as the only way to feel better. And these peoplewho have served our country are thrown into jail as a result.

This cannot stand, and laws restricting veterans from marijuana must be changed.

Research has shown marijuana can help to alleviate the effects of PTSD and relieve pain. And there is no reason our veterans cannot make their own decisions about how to cure their own pain.

The Effects of Marijuana on PTSD

The first thing to understand is how marijuana can help PTSD sufferers. It is true the US Department of Veterans Affairs states,There is no evidence at this time that marijuana is an effective treatment for PTSD.

But given the federal government currently has plenty of reasons to scoff at marijuana’s benefits, such a conclusion is hardly surprising.

Instead of looking to the government, we should all look at the ordinary veterans who improvedtheir lives with marijuana. Brooker was certainly one case, but there is also the story of Mike Potter, another veteran who used medical marijuana to treat PTSD and anxiety.

While some doctors may worry about how marijuana may work in combination with other medications, Potter was up-front with VA doctors about his marijuana usage. The VA doctors had no problem, which shows an interesting contrast betweenthe official, bureaucratic statement and the actual prognosis of the experts on the ground.

These are just a couple of the countless stories thatshow how marijuana can improve the lives of veterans. And this is no mere placebo effect. Studies have shown real scientific reasons for how marijuana can help improve, if not outright cure, PTSD.

According to SFGate, part of the San Francisco Chronicle, patients with PTSD have an endocannabinoid deficiency, which results in impaired fear extinction, aversive memory consolidation, and chronic anxiety.

Because of this, marijuana consumption could add more endocannabinoids, which can lead to a more normal brain less troubled by PTSD. This does not have to be done through smoking; cannabis-infused edibles and topical treatments can also help to soothe body and brain.

It may be argued perhaps more studies are needed to determine the effects. But thankfully, the DEA permitted a Colorado study which will further test how marijuana will effect PTSD. Even this is a big step compared to a blanket government policy of assuming marijuana as some total evil.


The Nature of Freedom

More studies are certainly good, but in some ways, asking for more studies is missing the point. While it could be possible marijuana may not be as beneficial for PTSD as some believe, it is clear at this point marijuana is, at the very least, not actively harmful, and many veterans believe it can help.

From that perspective, what is wrong with letting veterans use marijuana? Americans should have the right to use drugs for the benefit of their bodies. Perhaps this might be limited if they intend to inject themselves with poison or truly harmful drugs.

But, marijuana is not like that. Even if marijuana is nothing but a placebo effect towards helping PTSD, that is no reason to deny it to veterans. The right to individual liberty is a cornerstone of America, and if that means letting veterans use drugs to improve their minds, then so be it.

If there is anything to be thankful about, it’s that the people and the government appear to be slowly coming around to how veterans can benefit from marijuana.

Of course, there are the 24 states as well as the District of Columbia that allow medical marijuana. And just a few weeks ago, Congress approved a measure thatwill allow VA doctors to talk to patients about medical marijuana in states where it is legal.

But, even that is not enough. Given the aforementioned benefits of marijuana, as well as this country’s belief in individual liberty, it is time veterans across this country have the ability to obtain marijuana to improve their lives.

It would be a small step toward battling the power of PTSD, but it would do so much to show that politicians do care about the lives of the soldiers thattheir decisions placed in harm’s way.


Subscribe to Elite Daily’s official newsletter,The Edge, for more stories you don’t want to miss.

Read more: http://elitedaily.com/news/veterans-suffering-ptsd-legal-marijuana/1513415/

http://twitter.com/#!/HoodPlugVideos/status/337106615163564032
http://twitter.com/#!/iamdiddy/status/338753977283919872

Rap mogul P. Diddy/Diddy/Puff Daddy/Puffy/Sean Combs showed his patriotic spirit. Sort of. The colors of his Aqua Hydrate fitness water, which he plugged as the beverage of choice this Memorial Day weekend, are red, white, and blue.

Appropriately, Diddy hosted one of his Memorial Day par-tays at a club called “Vanity.”

http://twitter.com/#!/iamdiddy/status/338414230162272256

Whelp. At least he didn’t wish anyone a “Happy Veterans Day.”

Read more: http://twitchy.com/2013/05/27/p-diddy-uses-memorial-day-parade-party-to-plug-his-fitness-water/

bigger fish to fry

http://twitter.com/#!/Matthops82/status/478549362260185088

In case you had any remaining doubt as to the Department of Veterans Affairs’ commitment to addressing the horrific mistreatment of our nation’s vets, this ought to clear things up:

http://twitter.com/#!/DeptVetAffairs/status/478523107440091136

Sorry … what?

http://twitter.com/#!/Cameron_Gray/status/478545742219333633

Because what’s mass human slaughter or sick heroes left to languish or die when there are fish on the line?

http://twitter.com/#!/Matthops82/status/478548280570175489
http://twitter.com/#!/Trent_Hill/status/478546920369971200
http://twitter.com/#!/AngelaKG/status/478552413868011520
http://twitter.com/#!/betzbella/status/478541255966605313
http://twitter.com/#!/Matthops82/status/478547319894204416

Or — dare we say it — bigger fish to fry?

http://twitter.com/#!/CuffyMeh/status/478553709455355904

***

Related:

‘You tweet this as Iraq disintegrates’?’ @StateDept is ‘focused like a laser beam on fish’

Iraq crisis? No worries, you guys. John Kerry will … squee! Leonardo DiCaprio!

Twitchy coverage of the VA scandal

Read more: http://twitchy.com/2014/06/16/this-is-outrageous-vets-are-left-dying-but-va-dept-has-much-bigger-fish-to-fry/

Over 2,500 U.S. service members have been killed by improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001, and over 20,000 more have been injured. A new study has revealed that IED blasts leave lasting signatures on the brains of combat veterans who survive the attack. The regions of the brain most effected by the blast control memory, decision making, and reasoning. Vassilis Koliatsos from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine is senior author of the paper, which was published in Acta Neuropathologica Communications.

During World War I, many soldiers who had been subjected to constant bombardment on the front lines suffered from what was then known as ‘shell shock’: a disorder which manifested as a variety of psychological conditions that were never fully explained. While the term ‘shell shock’ is no longer used in favor of more descriptive diagnoses, today’s combat troops face similar blast stresses from IEDs, mortar fire, rocket propelled grenades, car bombs, and suicide bombers. Koliatsos and his team sought to understand the extent of the damage these explosions leave.

“This is the first time the tools of modern pathology have been used to look at a 100-year-old problem: the lingering effect of blasts on the brain,” Koliatsos said in a press release. “We identified a pattern of tiny wounds, or lesions, that we think may be the signature of blast injury. The location and extent of these lesions may help explain why some veterans who survive IED attacks have problems putting their lives back together.”

In order to find out how an IED blast compared to other types of neurotrauma, the team obtained the brains of five male combat veterans who had survived IED attacks but later died from unrelated causes. The bodies had been donated to the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology. These were compared to the brains of 24 other individuals who had died from other reasons, including heart attacks and car crashes.

(Left) Lesions of a brain involved in a car crash (Center) Lesions from IED blast injury (Right) Lesions from drug overdose. Image credit: Vassilis Koliatsos

The brains were treated with a biomarker which causes swelling where there are breaks in the neurons. Four of the troops who had survived IED blasts produced honeycomb-shaped swelling, distinct from any other cause of death analyzed in the study. While there weren’t signs of concussion in the brain, there were signs of brain inflammation. 

These areas with damaged neurons were found in many areas of the brain including the frontal lobe; responsible for executive functions such as memory, speech, and decision making. It was not clear, however, if the damage was caused by the blast, or if the explosion compromised the neurons and made them more susceptible to damage from other causes.

”When you look at a brain, you are looking at the life history of an individual, who may have a history of blasts, fighting, substance abuse or all of those,” Koliatsos explained. “If researchers could study survivors’ brains at different times after a blast—a week, a month, six months, one year, three years—that would be a significant step forward in figuring out what actually happens over time after a blast.”

Troops coming home from war often experience PTSD, depression, anxiety, and other psychological disorders, which could be playing a role in the number of veteran suicides. Having a better understanding of the physical damage caused by IEDs could lead to new treatments for these individuals, improving their quality of life.

Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/brain/ied-blasts-leave-lasting-damage-brains-survivors