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I have strung words together for The New York Times, Vice, and more. I write and shoot people (with a camera, you guys) from my home in upst...

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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    dog hanging off balconyA disturbing photo of a man hanging a dog over a second-floor condo balcony has created quite a stir on the Internet this week, and for good reason. The photo shows a puppy hanging mid-air by his leash as he's lowered from the balcony down to the street. You don't have to be a dog lover to be completely disgusted by the whole thing. 

    But it might make you feel better to know this horrifying photo has served its purpose. The man abusing the puppy? He's been arrested ... and it's thanks to that horrifying photo. 

    According to police in Greenville, South Carolina, Tyler Smith is the man on the balcony, and the dog belongs to his father. The 23-year-old was supposed to be taking care of the dog while his father was out of town, but cops say it seems Smith didn't want to take the dog outside to go to the bathroom because it was raining.

    The result is the twisted photo seen above.

    As a dog lover, I'll be honest: looking at the photo turned my stomach. But knowing the story behind it, I'm glad it was taken. After all, without it, Smith wouldn't have been arrested! A woman named Heather Vincelette shared the picture on the Facebook wall of the Spartanburg Animal Services, asking if it was legal, and that's what sent Greenville Police to Smith's doorstep. Smith now faces a misdemeanor for violating the city's Animal Care Ordinance (not to mention a VERY angry father/dog owner).

    It's certainly something to think about when you're out and about. It can be scary to get involved when you see a crime going on because you don't want to be hurt somehow. I once saw an automobile accident go down, then I watched as one of the drivers hopped out of his car and scurried over to a nearby trash can to throw something out ... something he didn't want cops to see.

    I ended up reporting it to the cop as a witness, who was able to get the guy to 'fess up, but I was NERVOUS getting involved. Right thing to do or not, I didn't know what this guy would do -- would there be retribution for my family? I was, after all, standing there with my toddler daughter.

    So I speak from experience when I say that I understand why people are hesitant to get involved even if they see a crime go down. But it seems we ALL have cameraphones these days, and it only takes a second to snap a photo. Send it to the authorities, and you're good to go -- you may even be able to stay anonymous (at least if you keep it off Facebook).

    So simple, but it could make a major life change for someone ... a dog included. I'm betting Tyler Smith won't be dog-sitting again after this particular photo.

    Have you ever watched a crime go down? What did you do?

     

    Image via Facebook


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    Shit Crunchy Pregnant Mamas SayRemember when the Internet was taken over by a crazy load of "Sh-- So-and-So Says" videos? It turns out pregnant women who are going all natural never got their day in the sun. So what's a mom to do? Make her own "Sh-- Crunchy Pregnant Mamas Say" video, of course!

    Don't worry, AP parents, this is not another attack from parents who just don't get why someone would home birth or want to attack your placenta burial. Created by the mom behind Mama Natural, the video pokes good-natured fun at the way a certain set of expectant mothers tend to sound exactly alike.

    More From The Stir: 'Things Crunchy Mamas Say' Is Spot-On & Hilarious (VIDEO)

    See this video on The Stir by CafeMom.

    See what I mean? It's all in good fun ... which doesn't mean it isn't reaaaally funny!

    Here are the lines I know I've heard many a time from natural mamas in my hood:

    I've got two words for you: spinning babies.

    Only positive words! Baby's listening.

    So what are you going to do with your placenta?

    I would love to give birth on the farm, but Ina May, she gets so backed up!

    Why in the h--- would I get a flu shot?

    Are you a crunchy pregnant mama? What was your favorite line?

     

    Image via Genevieve Natural Mama/YouTube


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    pope francisHoly moly, have breastfeeding mothers just gotten a gift from on high. Forget the nursing celebrities who are lavished with praise for letting the paparazzi snap pictures of them feeding their babies, there's a new promoter of nursing in public who eclipses them all. You have heard of Pope Francis, haven't you?

    The still relatively new pope has once again proved himself to truly be the pope of the people, and this time his people are all the nursing moms who just can't get no respect. His eminence might have just settled the debate over sex vs. sustenance when it comes to moms whipping out the breast to feed in public.

    More From The Stir: 'Things Crunchy Pregnant Mamas Say' Pretty Much Sums Us Up (VIDEO)

    In an interview with an Italian newspaper, the leader of the Catholic church related an encounter with a mother of a crying baby:

    At the Wednesday General Audience the other day, there was a young mother behind one of the barriers with a baby that was just a few months old. The child was crying its eyes out as I came past. The mother was caressing it. I said to her: "madam, I think the child’s hungry."

    “Yes, it’s probably time ...” she replied.

    “Please give it something to eat!” I said.

    She was shy and didn’t want to breastfeed in public, while the Pope was passing. I wish to say the same to humanity: give people something to eat! That woman had milk to give to her child; we have enough food in the world to feed everyone.

    Ahem! Did you hear that, oh prudes the world over? A celibate man whose ears are thisclose to God doesn't have a problem with seeing a mother breastfeed her child. The most holy of holy men in the WORLD doesn't see sex when he sees a baby at the breast! He sees only a hungry child ... and a mother answering his cry.

    How ... sensible?

    Raised Catholic and now lapsed, I've had my qualms with the Church over the years, but Pope Francis has done much in his short tenure to make me reconsider joining the fold -- and his support of mothers in general is a big part of it. He's made it a point to empower moms since taking over the Vatican, and this pronouncement on breastfeeding -- although a small part of what really seems to be a message about hunger -- is further proof that he puts real value on the mother not just for having children but for herself.

    If you think about it, that's a crucial piece of the argument over breastfeeding in public. The breast may be sexual in certain contexts, but when you can't see past its sexuality to allow for a mother to feed her child in public, you are devaluing the human being attached to that breast. She isn't just a sex machine. She is a multi-faceted creature!

    I just can't wait for the churches that have hassled moms for nursing their babies to read this one. What argument will they have now? It's not sexual ... not if the head of the Holy See doesn't see it that way.

    Have you ever breastfed in a religious setting? What was the reaction?

     

    Image via Semilla Luz/Flickr


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    arrested handcuffsThey say it pays to be the better person, but does it? Does it always? I'm not advocating we all run out and wreak havoc here folks, but I just heard that a toddler was killed and cops have arrested his babysitter ... a babysitter who was homeless until 2-year-old Kayden Webb's mother rescued her off the streets.

    So, let me get this straight. Someone opens their heart to you, goes out of their way to rescue you from a desperate situation, and you turn around and MURDER THEIR 2-YEAR-OLD?

    Is it any wonder people are afraid to do for others in our society? That some people will see a homeless person and turn the other way? A few weeks ago there was a story of a little girl who went missing in Oregon only to be found with a friend of the family who is now charged with raping her. That man? He was homeless too, and the young girl's family had invited him in for Thanksgiving dinner.

    I should be careful to note that this isn't about homeless people per se. There are plenty of homeless people who are good people at heart; they're simply down on their luck for one reason or another.

    The issues that the murder of Kayden Webb, the abduction of that Oregon girl, bring to light is the risk in being a Good Samaritan. Most of the time you walk away feeling fulfilled because you know you did something good for another person. But then there are those other times ... when you find out that the check you just sent to help cover a child's cancer treatments was actually sent to a hoaxster, when you watch someone take the money you gave them for food and walk into a liquor store to buy a bottle, or worse.

    And by worse, I mean, well ... the 17-year-old girl Kayden Webb's mom rescued from the streets is now charged with first-degree murder in the death of her little boy.

    If it's true, this girl looked human kindness right in the eye and spit. She hurt the very person who was trying to help her.

    Have you ever been hurt by someone you were trying to help?

     

    Image via Rafe Swan/cultura/Corbis


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    military dadI don't know about you, but my favorite part of the holidays is the giving ... particularly to little kids. I could skip all the cookies, the carols, and the cocoa just so long as I get to see the look on a child's face as they open a precious gift. But seeing as there is no gift quite as precious as family, I've got a holiday video that will give you all the feels in all the right places.

    The folks over at HooplaHa managed to pull together some of the best clips out there of children being surprised by their military moms and dads for the holidays. On a scale of one to sobbing over my laptop, let's just say I give it at least 10 tissues.

    You ready?

    More From The Stir: Kids' Holiday Gift Registries Are a Great Idea

    Push to about the 50-second mark, because that's where it gets really good!

    See this video on The Stir by CafeMom.

    Sniff. Sniff. Bawl.

    I think what really got me was the little girl crashing through the box to wrap her dad in a big hug. From there on, I was just a mess.

    Heaven knows the children of our troops deserve some extra special holiday cheer. They sacrifice enough without one parent or the other around throughout the year.

    And did you notice that not a single one of those kids complained that there was a person in those boxes instead of some fancy gadget or toy? Maybe it's because they are growing up familiar with what it means to sacrifice something for the good of the many that they get what really matters most in this world: people, FAMILY.

    Which reveal was your favorite?

     

    Image via HooplaHa/YouTube


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    jenelle evansSigning up to appear on a reality show isn't always all it's cracked up to be. Sure, there's the money and the fame, but then there's watching some of your most private decisions go public. Jenelle Evans has learned that the hard way -- once again -- with perhaps the most personal of personal choices having gone mega viral.

    Did Jenelle have an abortion? The trailer for season 5 ofTeen Mom 2 certainly makes it seem as though she did. And now ex-boyfriend Gary Head is alleging there's even MORE to the story than the trailer revealed.

    Jenelle's former fiance went off on a particularly vicious Twitter rant this week in which he expressed a "Christmas wish" that the Teen Mom would commit suicide so he could "sh-- on her grave."

    More From The Stir: 'Teen Mom 2' Season 5 Trailer Delivers One Shocker After Another (VIDEO)

    Take note of the cruelty of those words, because they're indicative of Gary's rant as a whole. His anger is a little odd, considering the two have been split up for quite some time, but among his allegations, Gary claims:

    this is not the first baby she has killed. She should be called JE aka Fetus Killa.

    Yikes.

    Cleary Gary intended to hurt Jenelle with those words, and I'm sure he did -- if only because now there are going to be a lot more people jumping on the "oooooh, she had an abortion" bandwagon and shaming her for her decisions.

    Did she have multiple abortions? We don't know, frankly. You have to consider the source here. This is a guy who also tweeted this week:

    Boys don’t love you. We use the shit out of you bc you had thousands of dollars.

    He will say ANYTHING right now to hurt her.

    But the whole mess does bring up an important issue when it comes to reality television: how much reality is TOO MUCH reality?

    Personally, I think abortion is an issue that should remain between a woman and her doctor. Jenelle is the one who opened up about at least one abortion in front of the cameras, so you could say this is on her, but still I wonder -- is there a reality line that just shouldn't be crossed?

    Are we going too far when a celebrity's possible abortions become the story of the hour?

    I'm not always the biggest Jenelle Evans fan, but I have to admit I DO feel badly for her here. We have absolutely zero context as to why she might have had an abortion ... but because of her reality star status, we are hearing all about something so personal.

    Do you care how many abortions Jenelle has had? WHY?

     

    Image via MTV


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    John Doe 2Less than four hours after the federal government asked the public for help tracking down a child rapist, "John Doe 2" was identified. The feds say Christopher Nixon is the man who made child pornography videos of himself raping a young child. The 20-year-old Louisiana man is under arrest and facing federal prosecution.

    Serious charges. But after looking at photo after photo that reporters have pulled from his Facebook page, I have to say it's hard to believe this guy is a pedophile. In short: Chris Nixon is a good-looking young man; some would even go so far as to call the 2010 high school graduate handsome.

    He is almost the polar opposite of what you expect when you hear words like "pedophile" or "child molester."

    Now, that does not mean that the feds got it wrong here. As shocking as Nixon's arrest is to his small town and his mother -- the poor woman told reporters she "never expected" this from her son -- the Department of Homeland Security seems pretty sure John Doe 2 and Christopher Nixon are the same guy. As their public affairs officer said in one interview:

    This is a person who we have video evidence has molested a child, and let's be very clear about what this is, this is child rape.

    Absolutely disgusting.

    Still ... shocking, especially when you look at Christopher Nixon.

    Child rape.

    Young hottie.

    The two don't compute, do they? We tend to think of child molesters as skeevy old dudes who may or may not still live at home with Mom, people who can't function in normal society.

    The fact that things aren't always how they look is a bitter pill to swallow, but if we really think about it, we know it's true.

    Remember the story of TedBundy, the serial killer who confessed to some 30 murders? He used his good looks and charm against his victims.

    Sadly, being good looking or even looking "normal" doesn't make you any less likely to be a sociopath. For that matter, being "ugly" or down on your luck doesn't make you any more likely to be a monster.

    If anything, we tend to give people blessed with good looks too much credit in our society. And just look where it gets us?

    Look at Christopher Nixon and tell us what YOU think when you see him:

     

    KSLA News 12 Shreveport, Louisiana News Weather

    What image comes to mind when you hear words like "pedophile"?

     

    Image via ICE


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    recalled Playtex infant carrierBad news for babywearing moms today! Major brandPlaytex has issued a recall via the Consumer Product Safety Commission for more than 300,000 of its popular Hip Hammock Infant Carriers. Parents are being instructed to stop using the carriers immediately as some babies have suffered serious injuries due to a problem with the product.

    The company says they've received 87 reports of the buckles cracking or breaking, including reports of injuries to baby. At least one infant required treatment in the emergency room. 

    Are you using one of the recalled carriers? Here's what you need to know to keep baby your safe.

    1. The products recalled include the Hip Hammock Child Carrier and the Deluxe Hip Hammock Child Carrier. Both versions are made for babies 15 to 35 pounds.

    2. All models are being recalled, but if you want to be extra sure, one of the following model numbers can be found sewn into the inside panel below the instructions for use: 05300, 05301, 05302, 05306, 05307, and 05308.

    More From The Stir: 8 Safety Tips Every Babywearing Mom Should Follow

    3. The carriers were sold at Burlington Coat Factory, Target, Walmart, and other stores nationwide and online at Amazon.com from June 2004 through December 2008 and January 2010 in Canada for about $40 for the basic model and $60 for the deluxe model.

    4. If you have one of these carriers, Playtex says you should stop using it immediately. You can call the company -- (800) 522-8230 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET Monday through Friday -- for a full refund. You can also fill out their online recall form.

    What kind of baby carrier do you use?

     

    Image via CPSC


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    John Wayne Gacy

    This ought to put a little happy in your holidays. The family of a man who hasn't been seen in 41 years has their long lost brother back! Robert Hutton has been gone since 1972, and he was long feared to be a victim of serial killer John Wayne Gacy. But he's alive!

    After 40+ years! It's a Christmas miracle!

    OK, not exactly. It turns out Hutton was found alive and well and living in Montana back in April. The news is just now coming out, however, and for anyone whose relative has been missing for a long time, his story injects a little bit of hope back into the holidays for sure.

    Apparently Hutton was 21 when he went missing in 1972. He was on his way to New York from California and presumed to have traveled through Chicago -- right where Gacy was active and right during the killer's active years. Young and likely hitchhiking, Hutton fit the profile for the killer's victims to a "T," so it's no surprise his sister put his name forth to investigators as someone Gacy likely might have killed.

    Might being the operative word! When investigators tracked him down, he was very much alive ... albeit a little sheepish that he'd never gone back to his family.

    I'm not a violent person, but I could see his sister smacking him upside the head -- jokingly of course! -- when they reunite! It's the least he deserves for leaving his poor family hanging for four decades!

    Apparently missing persons cases are more hopeful than one would think. Around 2,300 Americans are reported missing every day. That's kids and adults, and it's a pretty scary statistic. But when you break it down, very few are actual kidnappings or abductions.

    The statistics show at least one-sixth of people who disappear have psychiatric problems. At least half of the missing kids in this country are runaways, and another quarter are family abductions. 

    And then there are people like Robert Hutton who just ... disappear. Nothing bad happened; in fact, it seems time simply passed by, and by the time he realized he hadn't contact his family in awhile, he felt bad about it. Guilt compounded, and well ... 40-some years passed.

    But he's alive, folks! He's ALIVE! 

    And this isn't some TV movie of the week. This is real life. Because these things can happen ...

    Just a little something to think about ...

    Is there someone you haven't heard from in a long, long time? Do you still hold out hope?

     


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    Tre'Viance WalkerA man is facing first-degree murder charges, and a mother will spend this Christmas without her baby. Cops say Tre'viance Markese Walker was frustrated that he'd lost $200 on a football game, and his girlfriend's baby was crying. So they say he killed the baby.

    Over $200. And a football game.

    Did he ever stop to think that as much as that $200 and that game meant to him, this little boy meant even more to his girlfriend? To the world?

    The sad case comes out of Oklahoma, where the University of Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State football game was on TV when a 5-month-old identified only as J.B. did what babies do -- he cried. Police say Walker, who is not the boy's father but was dating J.B.'s mother, picked the baby up, gripped him by the back of the head, and dropped him from a height of two feet.

    The baby was later found unresponsive in his playpen with head trauma and blood in his ear. He died at the hospital.

    What's staggering about this case is the sheer selfishness of the alleged killer. He cared more about a stupid football game (yes, I said stupid ... it's a GAME) than the life of a human being?

    I'm a mom, so I do know how frustrating it can get when a baby is crying and you are trying to concentrate on something. But we have advantages these days like never before that make parents' lives easier. Technology allows us to pause live TV! You can stop to comfort a crying baby without missing a moment of your football game ... that is if you prioritize the needs of the human being over something as trivial as a football game.

    What do you think the punishment should be in this case?

     

    Image via police


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    Amber PortwoodWhatever impression Amber Portwood made on you during her stint on Teen Mom, put it aside. The girl who showed up on Dr. Phil this afternoon is a completely different person from the violent, selfish drug addict we saw over four seasons on MTV. And you know what? The new Amber Portwood is actually really likeable!

    She's real! And honest! And more than willing to own up to just what a disaster she was making of her life before choosing to go to prison.

    In fact, Amber had no problem throwing open the door to a closet full of skeletons and letting the TV doc poke around in there. Here are some of the more shocking things he found out:

    1. Amber was never sober on camera. Save for her stint on 16 & Pregnant, the Teen Mom admitted that she was high every single time she was on MTV.

    2. Her drug problems started young. Amber told Dr. Phil that the first time she tried drugs, she was only 9 years old!

    3. Her much-publicized suicide attempt wasn't her only one. The night before Amber walked into court and opted for prison over rehab, she admits she took enough pills to kill herself ... and didn't care if she died.

    4. Despite railing against ex-boyfriend Gary Shirley often on the show for keeping their daughter away from her, Amber admitted on camera that it was absolutely the right move. She called herself a "bad mom." 

    5. Amber still loves Gary. As she said to Dr. Phil,

    I love Gary with all my heart. He's an amazing person ... he's sweet; he's funny. We're just toxic together.

    6. Vivid Entertainment -- the company that released fellow Teen Mom Farrah Abraham's sex tape -- offered Amber the same deal years ago ... but she turned it down. Although she did not refer to Farrah by name, Amber expressed shock over her one-time co-star's video:

    It's weird to see people that you know and you would never think do something like that.

    7. If she had it to do again, Amber wouldstill appear on Teen Mom. She says she would simply do things differently while on the show.

    8. Gary cheated on Amber. Although she says she regrets hitting him and feels very badly about it, she admits she was very angry at him for telling her he'd cheated just a few days before filming.

    9. Amber was getting high while IN rehab:

    I was still using, and I was actually using worse. I was using a drug call fentanyl ... I would eat the patch. I was using that the whole time I was in there with a friend -- or whatever she was.

    10. Amber only saw Leah three times during her entire 17-month stay in prison.

    Watch Amber talk about beating Gary:

     

    See this video on The Stir by CafeMom.

    What do you notice about the new Amber? How is she different?

     

    Image via Dr. Phil


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    school lunchAaaaaaand the prize for Grinchiest Grinch from Grinchville goes to .... a Senate hopeful from Georgia who has announced that he thinks life is just too easy for the poor kids of America. But don't worry! Congressman Jack Kingston has a plan to rectify that! He thinks kids who come from families with incomes so low that the qualify for free lunch should start working for their PB&J!

    Yes, indeedy, there's a lawmaker (Republican, natch) suggesting putting school children to work to "earn" their free lunch. Specifically, he thinks the kids should sweep the floor of the cafeteria to earn their eats. Something tells me Joseph Stalin would have loved to meet this guy and shake his hand.

    It's more than a little ironic that the Congressman made this suggestion before the holidays -- just as hundreds of thousands of kids on the free lunch plan face lengthy winter breaks. Do you know what happens to kids who get free lunch at school when there is no school? Many of them simply go hungry. Sixty-two percent of teachers say they see kids who come in to school hungry because there was not enough to eat at home.

    So this Congressman is suggesting putting kids to work ... for food that makes all the difference in their life? This he begrudges small children?

    According to the statistics, 47.5 percent of kids in America qualify for free or reduced lunch. There are more than 19 million kids who get to eat something at school for free or at a lower cost thanks to the USDA program. 

    I'm a mother and a taxpayer both, and I pack my daugther's lunch daily with foods that I pay for, and I say thank goodness someone is feeding these children. In fact, I'll gladly pay more in my taxes if it means that a hungry child has something in his stomach when he goes to math class.

    In fact, I'd much rather he be in math class learning something than back in the cafeteria working off his chicken noodle soup. The classroom is where he belongs -- learning, just like his peers. The fact that his parents are in a lower income bracket isn't his fault, and it shouldn't hold him behind in school.

    Because that is exactly what happens to kids who are hungry. Even if they weren't missing class time to do chores -- because when, exactly does this Congressman think kids are going to be able to swing a mop around? -- a kid who doesn't get to eat lunch every day is also going to have a hard time concentrating in school. Don't you struggle when your stomach is growling? The same goes for hungry kids.

    If you think long and hard about it, hunger makes kids fall behind in school, which makes it harder for them to get into college, which makes it harder for them to get good jobs, which makes it more likely they will turn to the government for assistance at some point.

    And isn't government assistance what this Congressman is so concerned about in the first place?

    Maybe instead of trying to take things from kids, he should be thinking about giving kids more ... because the better start they get in life, they better they will be able to make that life once they're adults.

    How do you feel about the free and reduced lunch program? Should kids have to work for their meals at school?

     

    Image via USDAgov/Flickr

     


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    Michael VaughanA police standoff and hostage situation that lasted more than 24 hours over the weekend has landed a father of three in hot water, and shined a light on the plight of military veterans struggling to find help here on American soil. Cops in Latonia, Kentucky say Michael Vaughan, a decorated combat veteran, barricaded himself -- and his three kids -- in his home on Saturday, threatening to blow up the house.

    As cops tried to negotiate for the release of Vaughan's three children -- a 5-year-old son, an 11-year-old daughter, and a 15-year-old son with autism were let out of the house early Sunday morning -- posts ostensibly written by Vaughan began appearing on a now-deleted Facebook page about his difficulties as a military vet.

    As one screenshot shows, the posts blamed everyone from the Department of the Army to a Kentucky Senator for the standoff:

    I appreciate everyone’s comments, but this is something that will happen. KY Guard has the blame ... along with the Dept. of the Army and Sen. Rand Paul’s office for not giving a damn about their wounded veterans who asked for help and failed to get it.

    Unfortunately, Vaughan's complaints are far from rare. The government has been inundated with claims for assistance from veterans in recent years. Approximately 45 percent of the 1.6 million veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are now seeking compensation for service-related injuries -- that's more than double the number of Gulf War veterans who put in for the same benefits.

    Meanwhile, the mental health concerns are great. A report in 2012 estimated a third of Iraq and Afghanistan war vets treated by the VA suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which is what some media say has affected Vaughan. Earlier this year, the VA admitted that veterans commit suicide at a shocking rate of 22 per day.

    These numbers are all scary by themselves, but when we look at the situation at the Vaughan house, we're reminded that the numbers of those affected is even higher than those already mentioned. Because for every vet suffering from some sort of mental health issue now that they're home, there are family members who are suffering alongside them ... often children.

    Vaughan's three kids never went to war, but now they've been through a police standoff with their dad. It's hard to say how much more they've been through living in that house.

    They are victims too.

    Fortunately, the kids were released unharmed, and while their dad was wounded by police -- he was shot in the arm -- the fact that no police were hurt in the gunfire volley should help his case in the end.

    He will likely be charged with attempted murder of a police officer and will be held on a mental health warrant.

    Hopefully he gets the help he needs, not only for his sake, but for his kids too. They deserve a dad who can really be a dad to them.

    Do you know a veteran who is struggling to readjust? What kind of help are they getting?

     

    Image via police


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    Jenelle Evans Nathan GriffithTo say Jenelle Evans has not always had the best taste in men may be the understatement of the decade. From Andrew, the father of her son who took off on her, to husband Courtland Rogers, who is currently sitting in jail, the Teen Mom 2 star has gotten tangled up with one loser after another. But could Nathan Griffith be the exception who proves the rule? From the way Jenelle's new baby daddy pulled out all the stops on her birthday, he may just be!

    At 22, Jenelle is not a "teen" mom anymore, and she isn't dating a stupid teenage boy either. As it happens, Nathan acted like a total gentleman for her big day.

    He went out and bought Jenelle a gorgeous blue topaz necklace to mark the occasion. And from the sounds of Jenelle's Instagram comments, he went to Kay Jewelers for the gem:

    Jenelle Evans necklace

    So cute!

    Even better? As Jenelle noted on Facebook, Nathan actually did it all himself ... as in he didn't ask his reality star girlfriend for money to buy her a gift. Could she have finally found a guy who loves her for her, not just because she's famous?

    More From The Stir: Jenelle Evans' Past Decisions Are Coming Back to Haunt Her

    Jenelle is certainly not the only celebrity who has been used and abused by people who get close simply because she's famous. Fellow Teen Mom Farrah Abraham has blamed her inability to find a good guy on the same problem, and I'm sure countless celebrities have similar tales to tell. But after ex-boyfriend Gary Head alleged just a few days ago that guys only flock to her for her money, the nice gift from Nathan is vindication for her.

    There are some nice guys out there ... or at least guys who know how to treat a lady.

    Now if she's got her love life in order, maybe she can get the rest of things straightened out by the time this baby arrives? Here's hoping ...

    What do you think of Nathan Griffith from what you've heard so far?

     

    Images via Twitter; Instagram


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    Laney BrownLike most little girls, 8-year-old Laney Brown loves Christmas carols. But unlike most little girls, Laney -- whose real name is Delaney -- is spending this holiday season at home waiting to die. She has acute myeloid leukemia, a blood cancer that's progressed so far that doctors say they just can't treat her. But sick as little Laney is, she wasn't too sick to make some last Christmas wishes. She wanted a sea of carolers to show up on her street and sing her favorite Christmas songs.

    This weekend, that happened. Carolers showed up. Thousands of carolers all looking to make one dying girl's last Christmas wish come true.

    If you aren't crying already, the video of some of these complete strangers outside a little girl's house will do it for you. Just look at these people:

     

    You know, most of us would go to the ends of the earth and back again to find a way to make our sick kids feel better. That doesn't make us martyrs; it makes us parents.

    But I imagine Laney's parents must be bowled over right now with the amazing amount of love flowing into their home from the hearts of complete strangers. These people don't know their little girl from Adam. They AREN'T her parents; they don't have that all-encompassing love of a child that parents have that drives us to do crazy things for our kids. And yet they're willing to open their hearts up for her and do something incredible to make her life a little bit better.

    As scary as it is to raise a child in a world full of war and poverty and countless other horrible things, it's people like the 10,000-some who showed up in the streets outside a dying girl's house to sing Christmas carols who make us parents feel like we can do this. We aren't alone; there are people fighting to give our kids a good life ... for as long as they're here.

    My heart breaks for the Brown family.

    I know they could use all the prayers and warm thoughts of wonderful people just like these carolers right now, so here goes ... what would YOU like to say to this family right now? 

     

    Image via Team Laney/Facebook


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    promise ringI'd be lying if I didn't admit that I get a little creeped out when people talk about my husband like he's supposed to be the last barrier between some teenage boy and my daughter's purity. Why is my daughter's virginity anyone's business but her own? Just because he's her father doesn't give him any more ownership of her body than any other guy, right? If you answered that with an affirmative, then get ready to be officially creeped out by the hot new "purity ring" sweeping Pinterest.

    The ring (note: not the one seen above) is actually pretty cute -- it's in the shape of a crown, with little diamond-type chips. But the meaning behind it is anything but cute.

    According to the listing that's garnered more than 200 "repins" and some 85 likes, that little crown has a pretty creepy back story:

    A Father gives his daughter this ring for her 16th birthday (when dating is officially allowed) to wear on her left ring finger—to remind her that she will always be HIS little Princess first— and to remind her to only date boys who will treat her like a Queen—the way her Heavenly Father sees her!!

    The ladies over at Jezebel already have the vomit-inducing nature of the ring covered, but what they didn't really address was the message behind it.

    You know, the one where a dad tells his daughter that she's his property? Basically, this ring -- and the whole "daddy's little princess" culture -- tells girls that they are mere property to be transferred from one man to another when the time comes.

    Please, for the love of everything that is holy, can we drop this patriarchal BS, now?

    It may sound sweet for a Dad to be telling his daughter that she's his princess. It may even sound like there's a positive message in telling your daughter she should be treated like a queen.

    More From The Stir: How 'Purity Culture' Pressured Me Into Becoming a Teen Bride

    Unfortunately, the sweetness is undermined by the message that a girl's really supposed to listen to Daddy because he's master of her fate.

    When you tell your daughter that she "belongs" to you, you're taking away her sense of self and setting her up for a lifetime of disaster. Without ownership of herself, she has no self-determination, no self-esteem ... no power.

    What, really, does that give a girl to look forward to? Escaping Daddy's iron fist only to have her husband take over telling her what to do and when to do it?

    Sorry, but that's not a message I want my daughter hearing. Fortunately, it's not one my husband is interested in sharing with her.

    How about you? How do you feel about dads giving their daughter purity rings with this message?

     

    Image via ilovebutter/Flickr


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    Rachel WashburnA Philadelphia Eagles cheerleader is making headlines this week for doing something very uncheerleader-like. Rachel Washburn used to shake pom poms, but lately she's been carrying a gun as a soldier in the United States Army. From cheerleader to First Lieutenant.

    Not what you'd expect. But that's what makes the Bronze Star awardee so special. Honored by the Eagles at its game on Sunday, the 25-year-old is destroying preconceived notions about members of our military and cheerleaders both.

    More From The Stir: Army's War on Pretty Women Disrespects Brave Female Soldiers

    Cheerleaders tend to be written off -- unfairly -- as nothing more than eye candy on the sidelines of a football game. Too few look beyond the surface to the woman beneath.

    Military heroes tend to be thought of -- also unfairly -- as macho, macho men. Too few consider the number of women putting their lives on the line every day for our country.

    Rachel Washburn is one of those women. She's also a smart cookie who went to Drexel University, went through Army ROTC, and yes, shook her pom poms in a sexy uniform on the sidelines of some football games.

    She is not one thing or the other. She is the sum of all her parts.

    It's wonderful that the Eagles chose to honor her this weekend for her service to her country. Washburn certainly has done much to deserve it. She has been awarded the Bronze Star Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, and the Combat, Airborne, and Air Assault Badges for her service during two tours in Afghanistan. She's one of the first female soldiers in the Army's competitive Cultural Support Team, attached to Special-operations combat forces such as the Army Green Berets, Rangers, and Navy SEALs.

    She is to be commended and to be honored, and I'm grateful as an American for her bravery. 

    But as I woman I'd be lying if I didn't admit to being a little sad that her honor has made such a big splash this week. Read between the lines, and it's clear Rachel Washburn is national news not for what she's accomplished but what she looks like, for what she did before she strapped on a gun and went to war.

    Certainly her sudden fame will do wonders for both women in the military, who deserve attention for what THEY do, and for cheerleaders, who deserve to be valued for who they ARE.

    But it would be a much nicer world if women on both sides were already being valued; if people realized that women like Rachel Washburn aren't that uncommon.

    Watch Rachel talk about her huge career change:

    See this video on The Stir by CafeMom.

    What do you make of the commotion over this cheerleader-turned-soldier?

     

    Image via Philadelphia Eagles


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    Farrah Abraham's daughter SophiaWhen MTV introduced Teen Mom to the world, the show was supposed to teach teens that it's not a good idea to become parents. But these days the show -- or some of its most scandalous stars anyway -- offers up plenty of warnings for parents! From waxing a toddler's eyebrows to shocking pregnancies, the Teen Mom stars have gotten themselves in many a parenting pickle over the course of 2013.

    But hey, just think -- whenever you're feeling a little bummed because the baby's crying and you're about ready to tear your hair out, there's always one show on TV you can watch and instantly feel better about your parenting!

    I hope you're ready to take a walk down memory lane with us, because we've got 14 of the most scandalous Teen Mom parenting moments of 2013 right here!

    Can you believe number 11? Would you do that to your child?

     

    Image via Instagram


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    crime sceneA Colorado teenager sneaking back into her own house in the middle of the night was shot and killed this week. To add to the tragic nature of an already sad case, police are now saying it was the teen's stepfather who shot her, thinking the 14-year-old was a burglar.

    It's the sort of accident that punches you right in the gut as you grieve for a little girl whose life ended too soon and for a family torn apart by grief. It's the sort of accident that scares you because the moving parts, when put together, all add up to one that truly could happen to anyone.

    After all when someone is coming into the house in the middle of the night, what conclusion do most of us jump to? Not that the your 14-year-old is sneaking back in but that someone dangerous is trying to get in at your family.

    Reports indicate the teen was coming in a window, and a call went out to police of a burglary in progress between 5 and 6 a.m.

    That early in the morning, there's a good chance, not all synapses are firing yet. We are particularly prone to making snap decisions as we work on pure adrenaline. The response most of us would have in a situation like this is to defend the family. Any way we can.

    In Colorado, in fact, there is even a law designed to protect homeowners who defend their homes. The Make My Day law allows residents to fend off intruders with deadly force. The law is likely on this stepfather's side -- although the district attorney's office is reviewing the case and will have ultimate decision in whether charges are filed.

    Whether or not they are, the fact remains that a 14-year-old is dead, and her stepfather will have to come to grips with the role he played in that death. This poor family has a lot to grieve right now, and pointing fingers isn't going to magically make that pain go away.

    It's a tragedy ... and a tragedy we'd all be wise to ponder lest it happen in our own homes.

    What would you do if you thought someone was sneaking into your home?

     

    Image Alan Cleaver/Flickr


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    Christmas cookiesAsk your average American what their favorite holiday is, and they're bound to say Christmas. And why not? Everyone is NICER at Christmas! Everyone is in a better mood! 'Tis the season to be jolly, after all.

    And if you're looking for a little extra Christmas spirit, you've found the right place. We've rounded up some of the best quotes and sayings about the last big holiday before the new year to make your day merry and bright!

    Nine hits the nail on the head for me, how about you?

     

    Image by Jeanne Sager


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