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Author: TriSec    Date: 01/10/2023 10:55:59

Good Morning.

Sometimes it's tough to learn lessons. The Pentagon seems intent on repeating a mistake.

Remember when it allowed soldiers to claim exemptions on "religious grounds" in order to not get vaccinated? They're going down that road again, but this time it's everybody's favourite issue, abortion. I suppose it's not technically the military, as the V.A. is mostly civilian employees, but methinks this doesn't bode well.

The Department of Veterans Affairs has formalized the process for employees to opt out of providing abortion care for religious reasons.

In guidance sent out Friday, the department specified that employees can ask their supervisor or a "reasonable accommodation coordinator" for a religious exemption to the VA's recently implemented abortion policy. The department also released the forms coordinators and physicians will use during the request process.

"VA's goal is to meet the needs of veterans while protecting VA employees' statutory rights, including those that protect their religious exercise and beliefs," the department said in a fact sheet accompanying the guidance.

"Physicians (MD and DO), residents, fellows, and medical students (physician trainees) may, for any reason, opt out of performing induced abortions, receiving or providing training in the performance of induced abortions, providing referrals for such training or such abortions, or making arrangements for training or performance of induced abortions," the fact sheet added.

The release of a formal religious exemption process comes after a nurse practitioner at the Olin E. Teague Veterans' Center in Temple, Texas, filed a lawsuit in December that alleged a supervisor twice brushed off her request for religious accommodation, at one point telling her to "just wait" for the VA to put an exemption process in place. The lawsuit does not say she had been asked to provide abortion care, but argued she could be asked to "at any time."

The lawsuit, filed by conservative Christian legal group First Liberty Institute on behalf of the nurse, Stephanie Carter, asked the court to block the abortion policy at the Texas facility and argued the policy violates Carter's religious liberties because her beliefs prevent her from working "in a facility that performs abortion services for reasons other than to save the life of the mother because, in her view, unborn babies are created in the image of God and should be protected."

The VA announced in September it would for the first time offer abortions in cases of rape, incest or where the life or health of the mother is at risk from the pregnancy, adding that employees whose religious beliefs prevent them from participating in abortions would be able to opt out of services related to the procedure.

And while that sounds like a loss, there is a win on the horizon. It's been a few years, and we've all written about the fact that there are military facilities in these United States named for defeated traitors. Sounds like that may finally be changing. But we'll see how this actually plays out.

The Pentagon has started the process of renaming Fort Bragg and other bases, as well as ships and hundreds of signs and roads, as it plans to scrub ties to the Confederacy from all installations by the start of 2024.

William LaPlante, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, directed all Department of Defense organizations to implement this week the recommendations handed down by the Naming Commission, an independent panel created by Congress and charged with reviewing and replacing the names, according to a press release.

It's a heavy undertaking that includes new names for nine Army bases -- Bragg will become Fort Liberty -- two Navy ships and upward of 1,000 other items located on America's military installations. But Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, the Pentagon's press secretary, told reporters Wednesday he was optimistic it could all be done within the year.

"I think we are confident, you know, each of the services has clear instructions in terms of what it is that they need to focus on, and where the secretary is confident that the services are and will continue to take that seriously," he said.

Ryder did not have an updated figure on what it would cost to take on all of the recommendations from the Naming Commission. The latest estimate from the group, released this past September, was a total of $62.5 million.

And finally this morning - just confirming here at AAV that Florida Governor DeSantis is an ass. The story doesn't quite state what kind of assistance the National Guard will be providing, but of course this action is all smoke and mirrors, signifying nothing. All I know is that when my Commonwealth was faced with a sudden influx of refugees, we did the right thing.

Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency Friday and called out the state National Guard as the arrival of hundreds of Cuban and Haitian migrants in South Florida overwhelmed local authorities and raised fears of a major migration event.

DeSantis said the surge in migrant arrivals in the Florida Keys is “likely to constitute a major disaster” and called on the Florida National Guard to respond. He said the state will also be using Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission vessels, and if necessary “support water interdiction.”

He said the state will also be sending helicopters and airplanes to help authorities reach and “ensure the safety” of migrants when they attempt to reach the Florida shore.

The DeSantis administration will be responding to the situation and helping with migrant arrivals as long as there is a state of emergency in place, an executive order signed by the governor Friday said.

Under the state of emergency, some DeSantis administration officials will have the authority to suspend the effect of any state law, rule or order that may block them from responding to the situation. That means local ordinances could be temporarily suspended and rules dealing with issuing contracts and spending can be waived.

“I find that the demands placed upon funds specifically appropriated to local agencies for disaster relief or response are unreasonably great and that such funds may be inadequate to pay the costs of coping with this emergency,” the governor’s executive order says.

Since Christmas, almost 500 Cubans and 130 Haitians have arrived in the Florida Keys. Forty-five migrants illegally entered Key West on Thursday alone, and according to DeSantis’ office, more migrants are currently on their way to Florida by boat.

It is unclear how much the state expects to spend to respond to the sudden spike in migrant arrivals.

DeSantis’ office told the Herald/ Times on Thursday afternoon that the governor was aware of the situation and was working on responding to it. By 4 p.m. on Friday, the Florida National Guard had been activated.

In a statement, DeSantis blamed President Joe Biden’s immigration policies for the jump in migrant arrivals. He said his policies put the burden on local law enforcement who “lack the resources to deal with this crisis.”

“That is why I am activating the National Guard and directing state resources to help alleviate the strain on local resources,” DeSantis said in a statement. “When Biden continues to ignore his legal responsibilities, we will step in to support our communities.”

I suppose it is telling of the Republican mindset. Here in Massachusetts, we saw it as a humanitarian crisis and responded appropriately. In Florida, they see it as a "disaster", and I suppose they're responding appropriately in their own minds.

7 comments (Latest Comment: 01/10/2023 22:42:58 by TriSec)
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