Parade marks 42 years since troops left Vietnam Disneys The Aristocats Kids

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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.


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.


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.


In the middle of a patch of political signs is a placard with “Handyman” and a phone number. The Franklin candidates, like the Handyman, believe that they can fix things. The question is - what is broken?

Voter involvement, or lack thereof, is often cited as a fundamental shortcoming of the political process. On the local level, voter turnout can be virtually non-existent. In 2011, a whopping 10 percent of voters turned out in Macon County for the Franklin and Highlands elections. And, that tenth of the population only included those registered to vote. So the real number is that 90 percent-plus of the citizenry stayed away from the polls. In all fairness, not only did voters ignore the election but so did potential candidates. There was not a contested position for the town of Franklin and all the incumbents were elected with only 60-odd votes each.


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