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Opinion

The North Carolina Senior Tar Heel Legislature (NCSTHL) heard from state leaders during its final meeting of 2013. In addition, the group also chose a new resolution to add to its current four resolutions sent to the North Carolina General Assembly for consideration. The group elected new executive officers and celebrated the outgoing Speaker.

The final report for the year came from Dennis Streets, director of the North Carolina Division of Aging and Adult Services (OMS). Streets offered encouraging words to the group and thanked everyone for their service stating "the difference that you have made since 1992 is immeasurable." He also explained how the federal government "shutdown" will impact OMS. "This reaches down into each of our communities,” explained Streets. "Many of our services are dependent on federal funds, and the hard part is to decide what will be affected." Streets stated that he is working to keep advocates as well as service providers posted on current and correct information as he receives it.

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Back in my younger days, the dominate filler expression in conversation was “you know.” It was a verbal comma that overpopulated speech. It sounded more hip than being silent or uttering, uh. It is said that nature abhors a vacuum and that must be true concerning speech as well. "You know" is still going strong, but has been replaced as the numberone speech extender by the word “basically.”

A few months ago while having a conversation with a person who is currently in his younger days, my attention was drawn to his propensity of interjecting “basically” in what seemed to be every other sentence. I decided that the next time he and I spoke, I would count the times “basically” was used in a two-minute span. I never made the survey because I discovered that I too, had been infected by the “basically” meme and unbeknownst to my conscious mind, had been regurgitating the word on a regular basis.

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Like many North Carolinians, I come from a strong military family. My father-in-law was a two-star Marine General. My father and brother served in the Navy, and my husband, Chip, is a Vietnam veteran. I also have two nephews on active duty.

As our servicemembers become veterans—who we honor this Veterans Day, and everyday—we must ensure they receive the benefits they’ve worked so hard to earn. That’s why I was stunned when I discovered that more than 7,000 veterans waited at least a year for the Winston-Salem Regional VA office to process their disability claims; worse yet, some waited as long as two years.

To address these unacceptable delays, I called on VA Secretary Eric Shinseki to act. Specifically, I urged him to send a senior official from VA headquarters to the Winston-Salem office to outline a plan to clear the backlog once and for all. In response to this request, he sent Undersecretary for Benefits Allison Hickey and hired 25 new employees for the Winston-Salem Regional Office.

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Recent reports indicating that President Obama was aware of and personally approved an NSA program that involved spying on the personal communications of various international leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, have once again highlighted the deception and intransigence of the Obama administration in dealing with the revelations that the National Security Agency has been acting outside the bounds of the law, sucking up electronic communications the world over.

While this may come as a shock to most Americans, I’ve been writing about the NSA’s illegal surveillance tactics since the 1980s. However, this latest development in the spying saga — that the NSA has been aiming its surveillance activities at the citizens of allied countries, including France and Germany — has thrown a kink into the Obama administration’s attempts at maintaining a cozy relationship with its foreign allies.

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published: 10/18/2013
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