Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Shipments, injunctions and shut downs

Ed O'Keefe (Washington Post) offers a brief item about shipping deadlines for items to service members in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere overseas so we'll again note the Dept of Defense reminded that holiday packages (meant to be delivered by December 25th) sent to US service members in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere overseas should be sent by November 12th if they are "economy-priced," November 26th with "space-available mail," December 3rd for parcel airlift mail, December 10th for first-class and priority mail and December 18th with "express military mail." And in Montana's Ravalli County, they're organizing around care packages. Perry Backus (Missoulian) reports:

Donation boxes have been set up at V-1 Propane, 2364 Highway 93 North in Victor, and Northern Energy, 3301 W. Broadway in Missoula, for this year's Heritage Holiday Family - Christmas for Our Troops campaign.
The company is partnering with the Montana Supporting Soldiers organization to send care packages to the nearly 1,500 soldiers from Montana who will spend Christmas away from loved ones this year.
Donated items can run the gamut from DVDs and footballs to the more practical, including T-shirts, flashlights, gum and lip balm. Donations will be accepted through Oct. 22.

"If you believe in fairness," offers Jonathan Capehart (Washington Post), "then you cannot help but be overjoyed by the worldwide and immediate injunction against enforcement of the shameful ban on gay men and lesbians serving openly in the military issued this afternoon by a federal judge in California." He then goes on to note Congress' unwillingness to act on the issue with a pointed nod to Harry Reid's failures in the Senate. And let's not forget Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's words of discomfort over the dysfunctional leadership in Congress, "With or without Congress, it will happen." And, lookie there, without Congress it did, Don't Ask, Don't Tell is on hold not because Congress overturned it, not because Barack issued an executive order -- though either could have done so -- but because a federal judge issued an injunction.

Bob Egelko (San Francisco Chronicle) reports, "U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips of Riverside ruled the 1993 law unconstitutional on Sept. 9, saying it intrudes on service members' personal lives and freedom of expression and reduces military effectiveness by needlessly excluding qualified personnel" and yesterday issued an injunction suspending any discharges under Don't Ask, Don't Tell. The Log Cabin Republicans brought the lawsuit against Don't Ask, Don't Tell and they issued the following statement yesterday:

(Washington, DC) - Log Cabin Republicans praises United States District Court Judge Virginia Phillips' decision to grant a world-wide injunction against enforcement of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." Barring a stay by a higher court, the injunction suspends all investigations and prevents all discharges under the policy. However, Log Cabin Republicans urges caution by servicemembers considering coming out at this time, as the Obama administration still has the option to appeal.

"After finding in Log Cabin Republicans v. United States that 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' violates servicemembers' First and Fifth Amendment rights, a world-wide injunction was the only reasonable solution," said Christian Berle, Deputy Executive Director of Log Cabin Republicans. "These soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines and coast guardsmen sacrifice so much in defense of our nation and our Constitution. It is imperative that their constitutional freedoms be protected as well. This decision is also a victory for all who support a strong national defense. No longer will our military be compelled to discharge servicemembers with valuable skills and experience because of an archaic policy mandating irrational discrimination. The United States is stronger because of this injunction, and Log Cabin Republicans is proud to have brought the case that made it possible."

"We are extremely pleased with Judge Phillips's decision granting an immediate and permanent injunction barring the US military from carrying out its 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy. The order represents a complete and total victory for Log Cabin Republicans and reaffirms the constitutional rights of gays and lesbians in the military who are fighting and dying for our country," said Dan Woods, partner with White and Case, and the lead counsel for Log Cabin Republicans v. the United States.

Log Cabin Republicans filed suit in federal district court against "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" in 2004. The case went to trial in Riverside, California in July of 2010, and Judge Virginia Phillips ruled on September 9, 2010 that the policy violated the First and Fifth Amendments of the Constitution. Alex Nicholson, executive director of Servicemembers United and member of Log Cabin Republicans, served as the named plaintiff in the suit.

Judge Phillips' injunction can be found here.

Linda Wertheimer and Rachel Martin (NPR's Morning Edition) discuss the injunction here. Also please check out GetEQUAL's We'll Give When We Get Equal campaign. Yesterday morning, we were noting the disgraceful way the DCCC treated Iraq War veteran Anthony Woods and I noted five phone calls from friends saying not to give money to the DCCC as a result. That led to a friend with GetEQUAL calling and stating they already had a campaign going. I'm sorry I was unaware of it. Their campaign is "We'll Give When We Get Equal" and I see it as a picket line and I refuse to cross picket lines so I will honor their campaign.

In other action news, March Forward reports (at Party for Socialism and Liberation) on their actions shutting down a Hollywood, California military recruiting station:

Tamara Khoury, a member of the ANSWER Coalition at California State University, Fullerton said, "We're uniting with veterans and anti-war activists today to shut down this recruiting center because we keep being told that our classes are cut and tuition hiked because there’s not enough money. But over $700 million a day is being used to criminally occupy the peoples of Afghanistan and Iraq. Then, recruiters come into our schools and take advantage of how hard it is to get an education in order to convince young people to go die for the profits of banks and oil giants."
March Forward! supporter Ron Kovic, Vietnam veteran and author of “Born on the 4th of July,” sent a solidarity statement to the event. "With this courageous act of defiance, veterans are sending a message to countless others across the country that the time has come to bring all the troops home from these senseless and unnecessary wars."
Iraq war veteran and March Forward! member Ryan Endicott said "We know just how much this government cares about us by looking at how GIs are killing themselves in record numbers after being denied adequate treatment; by how many of us end up homeless and unemployed; by the fact that one in three women in the military are sexually assaulted, but are denied PTSD benefits for their trauma."
After shutting down the recruiting station, Prysner said, “To our brothers and sisters in the military: it’s time we stopped fighting for the profits of a tiny group of billionaires; instead, we should struggle together for what’s in our interests. But we’re not going to fight alone—we’re going to fight with students who are getting their tuition raised, with teachers who are getting pink slips, with families who are suffering layoffs and scraping to get by—because when we unite together, that’s when we win.”

The following community sites updated last night:

And we'll close with this from Sherwood Ross' "PET OWNERS MUST FACE UP TO TOUGH CHOICES" (OpEdNews):

As more Americans share their beds with their dogs, they are becoming less willing to accept the verdict of the veterinarian who says, “I've done all I can” when pets become terminally ill. There are owners “so caught up in their animal's pain, suffering, and the potential loss of that animal that they're losing sight of what is a reasonable thing to do,” says doctor Nicholas Trout, a veterinarian surgeon at Boston's Angell Animal Medical Center. “They may be prepared to go to lengths that are not reasonable, that are verging on the inhumane, that would prolong the animal's suffering needlessly.” At this point, he says, the veterinarian must step in and render an opinion based on his or her knowledge and experience. “I try to do the right thing by the animal, and then try to share why I'm doing what I believe to be the right thing with the owner, and give the owner some comfort in what's happening and why we're doing these things,” Dr. Trout says.
Over the past 20 years, the veterinarian says, dogs have made their way from back yard kennels into the homes of American families as never before and “they are with the family (and) part of the family and to some owners their dogs are considered as important as a child in their lives.”Asked why this has happened, Dr. Trout says it's because animals form easy relationships and “don't ask questions” so it's “love without risk.” However, he adds, dog owners must recognize “that when we embrace these animals in our lives, we know we are doing it for a finite period of time; that the lifespan of a cat and dog is so short in relative terms that we are going to have to hold them in our hearts knowing we're going to lose them, and that's a tough part of this whole cycle.”
Sooner or later the tough questions will confront the owners of 77.5-million dogs and 93.6-million cats in the U.S. One in three U.S. households own at least one cat and 39 percent of U.S. households own at least one dog. In 2007, according to data from the American Pet Products Manufacturers Assn., pet owners spent $40-billion on their animals, including about $203 for routine vet visits for their cats each year and $225 for routine vet visits for their dogs each year. Owners who have invested their emotions and dollars in a sick pet have got to ask themselves, “Is the right thing to stop and just cut my losses?” Dr. Trout says. “I think with these animals in our lives for so long now, because we're (veterinarians) doing such a better job, we are going to face those tough questions of “How far do I go?” and “How much is my pet worth?” Thirty years ago if a dog had painful, horrible arthritis and a miserable quality of life, the veterinarian could say, “There's nothing I can do. I'm going to put your dog to sleep.” This would give owners the comfort of believing they did the right thing when the owner gave the vet the responsibility. “Those days are over,” Dr. Trout points out, because the vet can point to new medications and surgical options, and can throw the decision back into the pet owner's lap. An owner may have to wrestle with, “You're telling me it will cost me $5,000 to replace a hip, a surgery that works great, and that would really make a huge difference in the dog's quality of life, but it's $5,000 and the question is 'Can I do that? Is my dog worth this much to me?'” One of the things veterinarians are going to have to learn as a profession, the animal surgeon says, is how to help pet owners with these tough choices. Pet insurance, he adds, doesn't cover the entire cost of procedures “but it could make a difference to justify some of the more expensive things. My experience with people who've had pet insurance is, generally, they're quite satisfied that it's made enough of a difference. But not everyone's going to be able to afford pet insurance.”

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oh boy it never ends