Friends Don’t Let Friends Vote for Jill Stein – Tablet Magazine

“At a time when a third of Sanders supporters still haven’t committed to backing Hillary Clinton against Donald Trump in the general election, where every percentage point will matter, Stein’s candidacy looms larger. Many good people are only just discovering her campaign, and wondering if she might be worthy of their vote. Which is why it’s time for responsible political observers to say what has been commonly understood among those who have followed Stein for years: Friends don’t let friends vote for Jill Stein.”

Read the full article here: Friends Don’t Let Friends Vote for Jill Stein – Tablet Magazine

Come to Your Humboldt County Democratic Caucus

2016 Humboldt County Democratic Caucuses
will be held in the following locations on
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 20, 2016

Doors open at 9:30 AM … Counts begin at 11:00 AM

  • Precinct 01 …. Winnemucca Junior High School
  • Precinct 02 …. French Ford Middle School
  • Precinct 03 …. French Ford Middle School
  • Precinct 04 …. French Ford Middle School
  • Precinct 05 …. French Ford Middle School
  • Precinct 06 …. Grass Valley Elementary School
  • Precinct 07 …. Grass Valley Elementary School
  • Precinct 08 ….  Denio Rural Elementary School
  • Precinct 09 ….  Winnemucca Junior High School
  • Precinct 10 ….  Ft. McDermitt Tribal Building
  • Precinct 11 ….  Orovada Elementary School
  • Precinct 12 ….  Paradise Valley Elementary School
  • Precinct 13 ….  Winnemucca Junior High School
  • Precinct 14 ….  Winnemucca Junior High School
  • Precinct 15 ….  Winnemucca Junior High School

If you don’t know your precinct number, go to https://nvsos.gov/votersearch/

If you’d rather not do it via the internet, you can call the County Clerk’s office:  775-623-6343

Pre-register for the Democratic Caucus at:  https://caucus.nvdems.com/  and get an email back showing your caucus location. Print that off and bring that on caucus day to speed up your check-in process.

You must be registered as a Democrat to participate in your precinct’s Democratic Caucus.  Same-Day registration will be available to all anyone wishing to register as a Democrat to participate.  17 year-olds, who will be 18 by the general election on November 8, 2016, will be allowed to fully participate. They will be required to fill out a voter registration card and register as a Democrat if they have not done so already.

If you’re planning to participate and you’re not currently registered as a democrat, you can register online any time prior to the Caucus date: https://nvsos.gov/sosvoterservices/Registration/step1.aspx

Humboldt Dems Web blog:  https://humboldtdems.wordpress.com
Humboldt Dems Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/humboldtdems/

Still seeking folks willing to serve as precinct captains for some of the precinct caucus locations.  Training will be at noon on Saturday, February 6th at Roundtable Pizza.  An alternate training date will be at 6pm on February 9th at our monthly meeting, which will also be held at RoundTable Pizza.  Call (775) 623-1029 to volunteer, then come to the training session on the 6th (or the 9th) and learn everything you need to know. 

Participants may register to vote at the caucus. Republicans, nonpartisans and others can change registration to become a Democrat at their Precinct on Caucus day.

NOTE: Per Republican Party rules, should a Republican change his/her registration to Democrat, s/he will NOT be able to participate in the Republican Caucus on Tuesday, February 23, 2016.  The GOP Delegate Plan rules state:

“No person shall be allowed to participate in the Presidential Preference Poll at the Precinct Meeting who does not already appear as a registered Republican on the voter rolls for that precinct not less than ten (10) days prior to the day of the meeting. Same-day registration is prohibited.”

February 20th Democratic Caucus Guidelines

Observers

The following rules MUST be followed by guest observers at the precinct caucus:

  • Only eligible, registered caucus participants may participate on caucus matters or elections.
  • The Site Coordinator/Temporary Chair will ask that all guest observers be seated in an area other than what is reserved for eligible caucus participants, if there is room. Caucus participants are given first priority for space in the precinct location.
  • Guest observers must remain quiet and not become involved in caucus discussions once the caucus is called to order.
  • Eligible caucus participants are to be considered actively participating in the caucus from the time it is convened until it is adjourned. It is not appropriate for a reporter to interview a caucus participant while the caucus is in session.
  • Campaign staff and campaign volunteers who are observers will not be allowed to communicate, signal, or instruct the eligible caucus participants once the caucus is called to order by the Temporary Chair.
  • All facilities at the caucus have been reserved for caucus attendees and the Nevada State Democratic Party. The Site Coordinator/Temporary Chairs, as officers of the Democratic Party, have first right to these facilities.
  • In the event that there is broadcast equipment at a caucus site, it must be set up and used in a way that will not hinder or obstruct the participation of any caucus attendee.
  • In the event of violations of these rules, the Site Coordinator/Temporary Chairs may ask the disruptive person(s) to leave.

Campaigning and Other Activities at the Caucus

Persons appearing on behalf of candidates or issues not specifically mentioned in the agenda will not be offered an opportunity to speak during the caucus. However, they may speak individually with attendees prior to the 11:30 a.m. start time and pass out literature or collect signatures prior to the caucus being called to order.

  • No food is permitted at caucus locations. Individuals may bring water
  • Campaigns signs are NOT allowed to be posted inside any precinct caucus location or inside any caucus site. Also, campaigns signs are NOT allowed to be attached to any portion of the inside or outside of the location. This includes taping, gluing, nailing, posting, sticking, tacking, writing, etc. onto any bulletin board, wall, door, fence, lawn or other surface on the interior or exterior of caucus sites. Campaigns may not dig holes or drive stakes on the grounds of caucus sites.
  • Campaigns may NOT post signs or hand out stickers, due to possible assessment of damage charges by facilities.
  • Buttons or pins and literature are acceptable.
  • No campaigning activity by presidential campaigns is permitted inside the registration area of the caucus site.
  • Paraphernalia that obstructs views, causes a distraction (noise makers), or interrupts the caucus are prohibited on caucus sites.
  • Eligible caucus participants WILL BE allowed to wear campaign gear in support of their candidate.

Each campaign is responsible for the removal of any campaign materials they bring to the caucus or provide to supporters at the conclusion of the caucus.

2016 NV Democratic Military and Overseas Tele-Caucus

The Military and Overseas Tele-Caucus is available to Nevadans who are registered to vote and covered under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Voting Act (UOCAVA) and any active-duty member of the military who is outside the borders of Nevada on the day and time of the Nevada Democratic Caucus, which will take place on Saturday, February 20 at 11 a.m. PT. This would include:

  • Member of the military stationed outside Nevada
  • Military family members living abroad
  • Member of the Peace Corps
  • Member of the Diplomatic Corps
  • Students or other Nevadans living abroad

Pre-Registration

On our state party website (NVDems.com), we have a link to pre-register for the TeleCaucus. All fields on the form are mandatory. We will ask for the following information:

  • Full Name
  • Date of Birth
  • Nevada Voting Address (Street, City, Zip)
  • Email
  • Phone Number
  • Which of the following most accurately describes your reason for participating in the Tele-Caucus? (drop-down menu)
    • Member of the military stationed outside Nevada
    • Military family members living abroad
    • Member of the Peace Corps
    • Member of the Diplomatic Corps
    • Students or other Nevadans living abroad

NV Dems will check each registrant’s information using the Nevada Secretary of State Voter File. NV Dems will confirm on a rolling basis that all participants are registered Democrats and eligible to participate. If they are not eligible, they will be notified by NV Dems and asked to complete a voter registration form online at nvsos.gov.

Pre-Registration Timeline

  • Monday, February 1st – Sunday, February 14 (Midnight PT)

Email Confirmation

A reminder email will be distributed one week before the caucus with Tele-Caucus dial-in information (phone number and a unique pin) on a rolling basis to everyone who pre-registered the last week. NV Dems will also send out reminder emails the day before the caucus.

Pre-Caucus Logistics

Each presidential campaign will be asked to submit a two-minute recording from their candidate, due by Friday, February 12. A member of the NV Dems staff or a designated volunteer will chair the Tele-Caucus. Two additional staffers or designated volunteers will assist the Tele-Caucus Chair during the call. Tele-Caucus Rules

  • Participants must pre-register with NV Dems by Sunday, February 14, 2016 and must meet the qualifications outlined in this memo.
  • Participants must be registered Democrats.
  • Participants have until February 14, 2016 to register to vote.
  • Participants will receive a confirmation email after registering.
  • NV Dems will confirm all participants are registered Democrats, and will alert anyone who needs to update voter registration by February 14, 2016.
  • NV Dems will notify anyone who does not qualify.
  • Participants will remain anonymous.
    Participants will receive a reminder email one week out, which will include a dial-in number and a unique pin. Reminder emails will also be sent the day before and morning of the Tele-Caucus.
  • Participants must be dialed in to the Tele-Caucus by 12:00 p.m. PT.
  • Participants will be asked to stay on the line for the duration of the call.
  • Participants will be able to press “0” at any time to communicate with an operator and ask questions.
  • There are two delegates allocated to the state convention from the Tele-Caucus.
  • If more than two viable preference groups still exist after the first realignment process, the smallest preference group(s) must realign.
  • The Tele-Caucus Chair will announce the number of eligible attendees and calculate viability using the 25% threshold. The viability threshold will be announced to the group.
  • Presidential candidate recordings will play in alphabetical order by last name before the first alignment period.
    There will be one alignment period and three realignment periods, each lasting two minutes. Participants will be instructed to press “1” for Hillary Clinton, “2” for Martin O’Malley, “3” for Bernie Sanders, “4” for Uncommitted and “5” for Other.
  • Once a participant has joined a preference group, he/she will not be able to change a preference group until the next realignment process.
  • At the 60-second and 30-second marks, participants will be given an update on preference group sizes and how many more members each group needs to become viable. They will also be given a time warning. The clock will be paused during these updates to ensure participants have a full two minutes to make their selections.
  • A 10-second time warning will be given.
  • After each alignment and realignment period, the Tele-Caucus Chair will announce the preference group sizes, which groups are viable, which groups are not viable, and how many more people each group would need to become viable.
  • Anyone is able to realign during the first realignment process; however, only non-viable groups may realign during the second or third realignment.
  • During the first realignment process, all participants must re-enter their preference group, even if they were members of an already viable preference group.
  • After the first realignment period, any viable preference group members will be locked into their preference group and will no longer have to key in a response to join a preference group.
    During second and third realignments (if a third realignment is needed), participants will have an option to no longer participate in the caucus.
  • If a third realignment process is needed, then it is the final process, and people must be in a viable preference group after that realignment, or will not be included in counts when awarding delegates. This will be made clear to participants.
  • If any participants remain in non-viable preference groups after the third realignment process, they will not be included in counts when awarding delegates.
  • After the final realignment process, delegates will be awarded to the preference groups using the following formula: (number of members in the group X number of delegates to elect) ÷ total eligible attendees.
  • The number of delegates each preference group receives will be announced.
  • Note: the viability threshold and the total eligible attendees will not change throughout the duration of the Tele-Caucus.

Meet the Funders Gunning to Kill Obamacare

obamacare03— by AuthorKiersten Marek

On November 14, the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it would take up the case King v. Burwell, which challenges health premium subsidies at the heart of the Affordable Care Act. While that case has received loads of attention, what’s been unexamined is private foundations helping to pay for this and other lawsuits against Obamacare. Philanthropic support for the legal attack on Obamacare is just one way that funders are channeling money into nonprofits to attack a law that has extended health coverage to millions of low-income Americans.

Who are the funders gunning to destroy Obamacare?  Read more ….

Press Release re: ACA and 2014 Tax Season

Statements by Secretary Lew and Secretary Burwell on preparing for the upcoming tax season

In preparation for the 2015 tax filing season, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Treasury Department are putting in place resources to provide tax filers with the information and resources they need to get their questions answered.

Millions of Americans who get their health insurance through work are benefiting from the Affordable Care Act, and millions of others have signed up for the Health Insurance Marketplaces and received financial assistance to lower their monthly premiums.

Starting this year, consumers will see some changes to their tax returns.  While the vast majority of tax filers – over three quarters – will just need to check a box on their tax return indicating they had health coverage in 2014, people who have coverage through the Marketplaces, or decided not to enroll in coverage, should be aware of some additional steps that will be a part of the tax filing process starting this year.

Consumers will have questions about this new process and the Administration is committed to providing the information and tools tax filers need to understand the new requirements. In the coming weeks, the Administration will launch additional resources to help consumers prepare for tax filing season, including online tools to help individuals connect with local tax preparation services and determine if they are eligible for an exemption.

Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew and Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell released the following statements today providing an overview of the consumer support and guidance their agencies will provide:

Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew:

“For the vast majority of Americans, tax filing under the Affordable Care Act will be as simple as checking a box to show they had health coverage all year.  A fraction of taxpayers will take different steps, like claiming an exemption if they could not afford insurance or ensuring they received the correct amount of financial assistance. A smaller fraction of taxpayers will pay a fee if they made a choice to not obtain coverage they could afford.  We are working to ensure that whatever their experience, consumers can easily access clear information since this is the first year they will see certain changes to their tax returns.”

HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell:

“Last year, millions of Americans purchased quality, affordable health coverage through the Marketplace, and the vast majority received tax credits that cut their monthly premiums.  This benefit, which in many cases helped make the cost of health care less than the cost of a cell phone or cable bill, enabled these consumers to enjoy the benefits of coverage throughout the year.  In the coming weeks, HHS will work with other agencies, tax preparers and community organizations to arm these consumers with the information they need to know as they prepare to file their taxes.   We will also be providing helpful tools so that the millions of taxpayers who qualify for an exemption can receive one.”

While including health insurance information will become a routine step in filing taxes, this is the first time families will be asked to answer basic questions regarding their health insurance on their tax returns.  Most consumers – over three quarters – just need to check a box to indicate they have coverage.  Those with Marketplace coverage will receive a new form in the mail from the Marketplace – Form 1095-A – that they will use to reconcile their upfront financial assistance.  While those who can afford to buy health insurance and choose not to will have to pay a fee, individuals who cannot afford coverage or meet other conditions can receive an exemption.

In the coming weeks, consumer-friendly tools and resources will be made available for those tax filers who have health coverage through the Marketplaces, those seeking an exemption, and those looking for information about the fee for those who could afford to purchase health coverage but chose not to.  General resources can be found at www.IRS.gov/ACA or https://www.healthcare.gov/taxes/.  A sampling of some of resources already available, include:

To reach consumers with the information they need to prepare for the upcoming tax season, the Administration will employ a variety outreach strategies.  Outreach and consumer education efforts will include:

  • Direct outreach to Marketplace enrollees. Through email, phone, and text messages the Administration will reach out to people who got coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace with personalized information that is most relevant to their tax status.  We will focus on providing targeted messaging to consumers who benefited from an advanced premium tax credit last year to help them offset the cost of their Marketplace premiums.
  • Community-based outreach and in-person assistance. Working with community organizations on the ground, nonprofit organizations, Marketplace navigators and other in-person assisters, we will provide guidance and resources to consumers looking for answers.
  • Partnerships with top tax preparers. The Administration will continue to work with top tax preparers to provide consumers with the information they need to prepare for tax season.

Still the Least Productive Congress in My Book

002GovTrack is currently tagging the 113th Congress as being in 2nd Place for the least productive Congress ever.  (List of 203 enacted laws; List of 94 bills at the President’s desk)

But, in my book, they’re in 1st Place, especially if you’re using the “number of bills passed and signed by the President.”  Take a look at what I mean.  Look closely at the bulk of what they actually managed to pass and get signed on the 16th of December 2014:

  • H.R. 43: To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 14 Red River Avenue North in Cold Spring, Minnesota, as the “Officer Tommy Decker Memorial Post Office.”
  • H.R. 78: To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 4110 Almeda Road in Houston, Texas, as the “George Thomas ‘Mickey’ Leland Post Office Building.”
  • H.R. 451: To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 500 North Brevard Avenue in Cocoa Beach, Florida, as the “Richard K. Salick Post Office.”
  • H.R. 1391: To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 25 South Oak Street in London, Ohio, as the “London Fallen Veterans Memorial Post Office.”
  • H.R. 1707: To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 302 East Green Street in Champaign, Illinois, as the “James R. Burgess Jr. Post Office Building.”
  • H.R. 2112: To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 787 State Route 17M in Monroe, New York, as the “National Clandestine Service of the Central Intelligence Agency NCS Officer Gregg David Wenzel Memorial Post Office.”
  • H.R. 2223: To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 220 Elm Avenue in Munising, Michigan, as the “Elizabeth L. Kinnunen Post Office Building.”
  • H.R. 2678: To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 10360 Southwest 186th Street in Miami, Florida, as the “Larcenia J. Bullard Post Office Building.”
  • S. 1434: A bill to designate the Junction City Community-Based Outpatient Clinic located at 715 Southwind Drive, Junction City, Kansas, as the Lieutenant General Richard J. Seitz Community-Based Outpatient Clinic.
  • H.R. 3085: To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 3349 West 111th Street in Chicago, Illinois, as the “Captain Herbert Johnson Memorial Post Office Building.”
  • H.R. 3375: To designate the community-based outpatient clinic of the Department of Veterans Affairs to be constructed at 3141 Centennial Boulevard, Colorado Springs, Colorado, as the “PFC Floyd K. Lindstrom Department of Veterans Affairs Clinic.”
  • H.R. 3534: To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 113 West Michigan Avenue in Jackson, Michigan, as the “Officer James Bonneau Memorial Post Office.”
  • H.R. 3682: To designate the community based outpatient clinic of the Department of Veterans Affairs located at 1961 Premier Drive in Mankato, Minnesota, as the “Lyle C. Pearson Community Based Outpatient Clinic.”
  • H.R. 3957: To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 218-10 Merrick Boulevard in Springfield Gardens, New York, as the “Cynthia Jenkins Post Office Building.”
  • H.R. 4189: To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 4000 Leap Road in Hilliard, Ohio, as the “Master Sergeant Shawn T. Hannon, Master Sergeant Jeffrey J. Rieck and Veterans Memorial Post Office Building.”
  • H.R. 4443: To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 90 Vermilyea Avenue, in New York, New York, as the “Corporal Juan Mariel Alcantara Post Office Building.”
  • H.R. 4919: To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 715 Shawan Falls Drive in Dublin, Ohio, as the “Lance Corporal Wesley G. Davids and Captain Nicholas J. Rozanski Memorial Post Office.”
  • H.R. 4939: To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 2551 Galena Avenue in Simi Valley, California, as the “Neil Havens Post Office.”
  • H.R. 5030: To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 13500 SW 250 Street in Princeton, Florida, as the “Corporal Christian A. Guzman Rivera Post Office Building.”
  • H.R. 5106: To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 100 Admiral Callaghan Lane in Vallejo, California, as the “Philmore Graham Post Office Building.”
  • S. 2921: A bill to designate the community based outpatient clinic of the Department of Veterans Affairs located at 310 Home Boulevard in Galesburg, Illinois, as the “Lane A. Evans VA Community Based Outpatient Clinic.”
  • H.R. 83: To require the Secretary of the Interior to assemble a team of technical, policy, and financial experts to address the energy needs of the insular areas of the United States and the Freely Associated States through the development of energy action plans aimed at promoting access to affordable, reliable energy, including increasing use of indigenous clean-energy resources.
  • H.R. 2203: To provide for the award of a gold medal on behalf of Congress to Jack Nicklaus, in recognition of his service to the Nation in promoting excellence, good sportsmanship, and philanthropy.
  • H.R. 2366: World War I American Veterans Centennial Commemorative Coin Act
  • H.J.Res. 105: Conferring honorary citizenship of the United States on Bernardo de Galvez y Madrid, Viscount of Galveston and Count of Galvez.
  • H.R. 4812: Honor Flight Act — Directs the Administrator of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to establish a process for providing expedited and dignified passenger screening services for veterans traveling on an Honor Flight Network private charter, or another not-for-profit organization that honors veterans, to visit war memorials built and dedicated to honor their service.
  • H.R. 5108: To establish the Law School Clinic Certification Program of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, and for other purposes.
  • H.R. 5462: To amend title 49, United States Code, to provide for limitations on the fees charged to passengers of air carriers.
  • H.R. 5681: To provide for the approval of the Amendment to the Agreement Between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland for Cooperation on the Uses of Atomic Energy
  • S. 2917: Adding Ebola to the FDA Priority Review Voucher Program Act
  • H.R. 4924: Bill Williams River Water Rights Settlement Act of 2014 – Authorizes, ratifies, and confirms the Big Sandy River-Planet Ranch Water Rights Settlement Agreement between the Hualapai Tribe, the Department of of the Interior, the Arizona Game and Fish Commission, the Arizona Department of Water Resources, and the Freeport Minerals Corporation.

Okay, let me see if I got that right:  21 bills to name/rename buildings, 1 bill to create a team, 1 to confer honorary citizenship on a Count from Spain, 1 to set up expedited screenings for old white veterans to take a flight to see war memorials, 1 to give Jack Nicklaus a gold medal, 1 to tell the Treasury to mint a new silver coin, 1 to set up a law school certificate program on patents and trademarks, 1 to limit fees that airlines can charge passengers (hmmm are they getting overcharged in their travels), 1 that amends an Atomic Energy agreements between nations, 1 that ratifies a settlement agreement, and 1 that expedites drug trials for ebola treatment.  So, of the 31 bills signed, if you discount all the names/renames and the fluff stuff, all that remains are three significant bills (HR5681, S2917 and HR4924) or maybe 4 if you count HR5462 which probably wouldn’t have seen the light of day if it hadn’t impacted one or more of them.  Anything other than those three is just crap and a waste of taxpayer monies used only to pump up their numbers to look like they accomplished something more than they actually did.

Voted to Send Them to War—Then Blocks Medical Care

Coburn-TomIn case you missed it this week in the US Senate, retiring Senator Tom Coburn from Oklahoma put a hold on a bill aimed at helping to curb the number of  veteran suicides, preventing it from being taken up in the Senate for a vote before the close of the 113th session of Congress.   If the senator’s name sounds familiar to many of us in Nevada, it’s because he’s that same senator who had a leading role in the Senator Ensign adultery and bribery scandal.

The current veteran suicide epidemic claims the lives of nearly 22 military veterans each and every day, but Coburn claimed “I don’t think this bill would do the first thing to change what’s happening.”  That may be his “personal” opinion, but it’s at odds with a large number of folks in the U.S. House — after all HR 5059, the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act,  passed the House on a VOICE vote, in other words, without dissent.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal [D-CT] called the bill a targeted measure designed to ensure that programs are funded and staffed to prevent veterans’ suicide.  He also indicated that he would reintroduce the bill in the new Congress if they’re unable to bring it up for a vote before the close of the 113th session.  However, it will remain to be seen whether the Republican legislature would feel obliged to take care of those whom they sent to war and who are now in need.

Congressional Research Service summary from Thomas.gov:

Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act or the Clay Hunt SAV Act – Requires the Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Secretary of Defense (DOD), at least annually, to each arrange for an independent third party evaluation of, respectively, the VA and DOD mental health care and suicide prevention programs.

Requires a board reviewing the discharge or dismissal of a former member of the Armed Forces whose application for relief is based at least in part on post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury related to military operations or sexual trauma, to: (1) review the medical evidence from the VA or a civilian health provider that is presented by the former member; and (2) review the case, with a presumption of administrative irregularity, and place the burden on the VA or DOD to prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that no error or injustice occurred.

Directs the VA Secretary to publish an Internet website that serves as a centralized source to provide veterans with regularly updated information regarding all of the VA’s mental health care services.

Requires the VA Secretary and the DOD Secretary to enter into certain strategic relationships to facilitate:

  • the mental health referrals of members of the reserve components who have a service-connected disability and are being discharged or released from the Armed Forces,
  • timely behavioral health services for such members,
  • communication when such members are at risk for behavioral health reasons, and
  • the transfer of documentation for line-of-duty and fitness-for-duty determinations.

Requires the VA Secretary to carry out a three-year pilot program to repay the education loans relating to psychiatric medicine that are incurred by individuals who:

  • are eligible to practice psychiatric medicine in the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) or are enrolled in the final year of a residency program leading to a specialty qualification in psychiatric medicine,
  • demonstrate a commitment to a long-term career as a psychiatrist in the VHA, and
  • agree to a period of obligated service with the VHA in the field of psychiatric medicine.

Directs the VA Secretary to carry out a program, as part of the Yellow Ribbon G.I. Education Enhancement Program, under which the VA Secretary and an institution of higher education (IHE) agree to cover the full cost of charges not covered by post-9/11 educational assistance that are incurred by veterans who: (1) are pursuing an advanced degree in mental health at the IHE, and (2) intend to seek employment as a mental health professional in the VA. Allows the VA Secretary to cover up to 64% of those charges, if the school covers the remainder.

Requires the DOD Secretary to submit to Congress a zero-based review of the staffing requirements for individual State National Guard Commands with respect to Directors of Psychological Health.

Directs the VA Secretary to establish a pilot program at not less than five Veterans Integrated Service Networks (VISNs) to assist veterans transitioning from active duty and to improve the access of veterans to mental health services. Requires the pilot program at each VISN to include: (1) a community oriented veteran peer support network, and (2) a community outreach team for each medical center in such VISN.

Oh, and just for reference, Senator Coburn was also one of three members of the Senate YOYO (You’re On Your Own) club (Coburn, Corker, and Sessions) who voted against passage of H.R. 3230 (Veterans’ Access to Care through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act of 2014 ) which was passed to improve veteran access to medical care following the Pheonix VA fiasco.

The US and Cuba

— by President Barack Obama, White HouseWhiteHouse

Yesterday, after more than 50 years, we began to change America’s relationship with the people of Cuba.

We are recognizing the struggle and sacrifice of the Cuban people, both in the U.S. and in Cuba, and ending an outdated approach that has failed to advance U.S. interests for decades. In doing so, we will begin to normalize relations between our two countries.

I was born in 1961, just over two years after Fidel Castro took power in Cuba, and just as the U.S. severed diplomatic relations with that country.

Our complicated relationship with this nation played out over the course of my lifetime — against the backdrop of the Cold War, with our steadfast opposition to communism in the foreground. Year after year, an ideological and economic barrier hardened between us.

That previous approach failed to promote change, and it’s failed to empower or engage the Cuban people. It’s time to cut loose the shackles of the past and reach for a new and better future with this country.

First, I have instructed Secretary of State John Kerry to immediately begin discussions with Cuba to re-establish diplomatic relations that have been severed since 1961. Going forward, we will re-establish an embassy in Havana, and high-ranking officials will once again visit Cuba.

Second, I have also instructed Secretary Kerry to review Cuba’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism — a review guided by the facts and the law. At a time when we are focused on threats from ISIL and al Qaeda, a nation that meets our conditions and renounces terrorism should not face such a sanction.

Third, we’ll take steps to increase travel, commerce, and the flow of information to — and from — Cuba. These steps will make it easier for Americans to travel to Cuba. They will make it easier for Americans to conduct authorized trade with Cuba, including exports of food, medicine, and medical products to Cuba. And they will facilitate increased telecommunications connections between our two countries: American businesses will be able to sell goods that enable Cubans to communicate with the United States and other countries.

Learn more about the steps we’re taking to change our policy.

These changes don’t constitute a reward or a concession to Cuba. We are making them because it will spur change among the people of Cuba, and that is our main objective.

Change is hard — especially so when we carry the heavy weight of history on our shoulders.

Our country is cutting that burden loose to reach for a better future.

One Strike and You’re Out

How We Can Eliminate Barriers to Economic Security and Mobility for People with Criminal Records
— By Rebecca Vallas and Sharon Dietrich

incarcerationBetween 70 million and 100 million Americans—or as many as one in three—have a criminal record. Many have only minor offenses, such as misdemeanors and non-serious infractions; others have only arrests without conviction. Nonetheless, because of the rise of technology and the ease of accessing data via the Internet—in conjunction with federal and state policy decisions—having even a minor criminal history now carries lifelong barriers that can block successful re-entry and participation in society. This has broad implications—not only for the millions of individuals who are prevented from moving on with their lives and becoming productive citizens but also for their families, communities, and the national economy.

Today, a criminal record serves as both a direct cause and consequence of poverty. It is a cause because having a criminal record can present obstacles to employment, housing, public assistance, education, family reunification, and more; convictions can result in monetary debts as well. It is a consequence due to the growing criminalization of poverty and homelessness …

This article was published by the Center for American Progress.
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