On January 30, Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) introduced legislation mirroring that introduced by Reps. Charles Rangel (D-NY) and Mark Pocan (D-WI) last June which would upgrade the service records of LGBT troops discharged for sexual orientation and open the door to veterans benefits, the Stars and Stripes reports:
“The repeal of 'Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ was a watershed moment, ending institutionalized discrimination that unjustly targeted gay and lesbian members of the military,” Schatz (pictured) said in a statement from his office. “Yet thousands of former service members still bear the scars of that discrimination, with their military records tarnished with discharges other than honorable and marks on their records that compromise their right to privacy.
“Many of these brave men and women that served our country are currently barred from benefits that they earned and are entitled to, and in the most egregious cases they are prevented from legally calling themselves a veteran. This needs to be corrected now.”
Roughly 114,000 servicemembers were discharged because of sexual orientation between World War II and the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” in September 2011, officials have stated. Many of these servicemembers, depending on the discharge classification and the state in which they lived, were treated as felons and precluded from voting and collecting unemployment and veterans’ benefits, such as health care and disability. Many were also discriminated against when applying for jobs and housing.
The House bill has bipartisan support from 140 members but has not moved forward as of yet.
Taliban forces in Afghanistan recently captured a military dog, a Belgian Malinois, in the first known instance of a dog being taken as a prisoner of war. Evidence of the captor was posted to Twitter this week by a known disseminator of Taliban propaganda, the WaPo reports:
A Taliban spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahid, said the dog was captured after a long firefight between coalition forces and Taliban fighters in the Alin Nigar district of Afghanistan’s Laghman province in late December.
“The mujahideen valorously put tough resistance against the troops for hours,” he said in a phone interview Thursday. The dog, he said, carries the rank of colonel and was outfitted with sophisticated electronic devices.
“The dog was of high significance to the Americans,” he said.
The U.S. military has confirmed that the dog was captured after it was attached to a British special forces unit. It wears a protective vest and carried rifles and a GPS device that Taliban fighters hold in the video.
The dog can be seen looking sheepish and confused in the video.
“I know for sure the handler is devastated,” [Kevin Dredden, a former Air Force dog handler and Afghanistan veteran] said, noting the tight bonds that handlers and military dogs forge.
Dogs are given ranks that make them senior to their handlers, a practice designed to ensure that the humans treat the animals with deference. They have a rank patch on their body armor.
Watch the video, AFTER THE JUMP...
BY DAVID TRIFUNOV / GlobalPost
The USS Mount Whitney and USS Taylor sailed into the Black Sea as American authorities warned of 'specific threats' against the 2014 Winter Games. Two United States warships were headed to the Black Sea just two days before the Winter Olympics were set to begin in Sochi, Russia.
The USS Mount Whitney sailed into the Black Sea, and the USS Taylor was slated to arrive later on Wednesday, NBC News reported.
Pentagon officials told NBC the ships would act as support vehicles for American security operations there.
The Whitney was constructed for communications. If the National Security Agency were to build a boat, the Whitney might be it.
The Taylor packs more of a physical punch as a guided missile frigate.
On Tuesday, the National Counterterrorism Center director told Congress that US and Russian authorities were tracking “a number of specific threats” aimed at Sochi.
According to the Whitney’s website, its “communications capability is second to none.”
Matthew Olsen said the greatest threat resides outside Sochi, coming from extremists in the nearby Caucasus.
The United States added to the watch list on Wednesday, saying “hacktivists” might use the Winter Games to further their causes. According to a tip sheet issued by the US Computer Emergency Readiness Team, anyone watching the Olympics online or live should safeguard their communications and only visit "trusted websites."
“For example, the hacktivist group, Anonymous Caucasus, has launched what appears to be a threat against any company that finances or supports the Winter Games,” CERT said.
It also suggested that anyone in Sochi with a smartphone should assume their communications might be monitored.
Athletes were also asked to take precautions in Russia.
In late January, US officials told athletes to remain inside the Olympic security areas. If they did leave, officials told athletes to leave their Team USA clothing behind.
“If you are an American Olympic athlete, you don’t want to advertise that far outside the Olympic venues,” a State Department official said, according to CNN.
In case you missed it, the emotional high point of Obama's State of the Union was when he recognized Cory Remsburg, a U.S. Army Ranger who has been on 10 deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan and was injured in 2009 by a roadside bomb from which he has slowly been recovering.
Remsburg, not surprisingly, received a sustained ovation from the chamber.
Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...
A group of Swedish marines stationed in Afghanistan needed to blow off some steam.
So, they put together their very own souped-up version of the Grease classic "Greased Lightning", complete with their very own Kenickie.
Check it out, AFTER THE JUMP...
(and don't miss the upper left hand corner at the 1:00 mark!)