John Stewart joins veterans calling for Senate to pass burn pits bill – National & International News – MON 30May2022



John Stewart joins veterans groups calling for Senate to pass burn pits bill. DOJ to probe police response in Texas school massacre. Russian official denies Putin illness rumors.



John Stewart joins veterans groups to call on Senate to pass burn pits bill

During the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, military contractors disposed of waste from American military bases in combat zones by digging a large pit and burning it with jet fuel. The waste included everything from human, food and medical waste to broken furniture, construction debris, and defunct equipment. Many of these materials contained substances known to cause cancer. Jet fuel itself also contains additives that are known carcinogens. These pits burned day and night just steps away from where military personnel ate, worked, and slept. 

The Department of Defense estimates that during recent wars, some 3.5 million American service men and women received  enough exposure to these burn pits to put them at risk of developing cancers. Yet when many inevitably did develop rare cancers, the VA questioned whether these cancers were related to their military service and denied them care and coverage on that basis.

Honoring Our PACT Act

Nearly a year ago, Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA) proposed the Honoring Our PACT Act. The bill would direct the VA to presume that cancers are connected to veterans’ military service and to offer them treatment accordingly. 

The bill has the backing of President Joe Biden. President Biden has said that he believes burn pits were the cause of the brain cancer that took the life of his son Beau Biden. Beau Biden died seven years ago today. The President and First Lady visited his grave today to remember him and commemorate Memorial Day.

The House recently passed the Honoring Our PACT ACT, but 174 Republicans voted against it citing concerns over cost. In its present form, the bill would cost about $1 billion over the coming years. By contrast, Congress recently pledged $40 billion for Ukraine with little resistance from either party. The Senate will vote on The Honoring Our PACT Act following this Memorial Day recess. 

A couple of weeks ago, Senators announced a bipartisan deal to ensure passage. But the fate of the bill has since come into doubt. In a recent Fox News interview, comedian and former Daily Show host John Stewart said the bill was 6-8 votes away from passing the Senate with a filibuster-proof majority. Stewart has joined 46 veterans groups to call on the Senate to pass the bill. 

Over the weekend, Stewart joined a veterans’ rally in Washington D.C. to call on Senate holdouts to get on board. Rather than attempting to bullet point Stewart’s powerful speech, I highly encourage you to watch it yourself by clicking here. (The link is bookmarked to start at the 45:00 mark, and Stewart’s address is about 9 minutes long). 


DOJ to probe police response in Texas school massacre

Last week, we covered the growing anger over apparent police missteps and inaction during the Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde, TX. On Friday, Texas officials admitted for the first time that there was “no excuse” for the police response at the scene. Officials also issued yet another revised timeline of events, which still left many holes and discrepancies in the story.

US Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) called for a federal investigation into the events. Castro expressed doubts that state and local authorities would conduct an honest and transparent inquiry. Over the weekend, the Department of Justice announced that it will investigate the police response to the tragedy. 

Click here for the full story (opens in new tab).



Russian official denies Putin illness rumors

A few weeks ago, reports surfaced that Russian President Vladimir Putin would temporarily hand over power to the head of his security council while he underwent cancer surgery. More recently, a source purporting to be an officer of the FSB (the successor agency to the Soviet-era KGB) claimed that Putin has only three years to live, is losing his eye sight and suffers from frequent headaches. Now, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has come forward to vehemently deny these rumors.

Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby recently said he had seen no reports that could corroborate various speculations about Putin’s failing health.

Putin’s walk (and memes!)

There has also been a lot of speculation about Putin’s peculiar walk and whether it may imply anything about his health. Putin  walks with his left arm swinging freely and his right arm hanging more limply at his side. This unusual habit has inspired numerous memes and videos online that set his movement to 90s-style funk techno beat.  The stiff arm also contributes to the impression of a lurching gait, which some have said could be a sign of Parkinson’s disease.

However, this short video explains that Putin’s walk reflects his training as a KGB officer. Many former KGB officers retain the habit of keeping their right hand at their side as they walk to readily reach weapons.


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