It took Jon Stewart and lots of public outrage, but the Zadroga Act is moving forward.

Congress just decided that continuing to fund health care for 9/11 first responders is a pretty good idea.

(Also the sky is blue and candy tastes good).

The James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act is a bill that would extend the already existing health benefits for 9/11 first responders until 2090. It covers medical and other expenses for a long list of conditions that many first responders face as a result of the rescue and recovery efforts after the aircraft crashes on 9/11.


It's a bill that's about as controversial as this kitten:

You're not polarizing at all are you, little guy? Photo from iStock.


It came as a surprise to many people that the bill has had some trouble getting passed. So much trouble in fact, that it prompted America's newly-bearded and recently retired late night sweetheart to return to TV.

I'm speaking, of course, of Jon Stewart, who appeared on The Daily Show and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert where he urged Congress to stop playing politics with "this necessary bill" and showed just how bad things can get for the responders.

Stewart with the remaining member of a full panel of first responders from five years ago. Screenshot via "The Daily Show"/Comedy Central.

Thanks in part to Stewart's dedication and action, the Zadroga Act is now is now moving forward.

Legislators agreed on an $8.1 billion reauthorization on Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2015, and attached it to the $1.1 trillion spending bill funding the federal government through most of 2016.

That spending bill, by the way, is the must-pass legislation that narrowly avoided yet another government shutdown before the end of the year.

Essentially, Congress took the two bills that most exemplify their inability to get stuff done on time, stapled them together, and are now nudging them through the House while patting themselves on the back.

Mad yet? Here's another kitten:

You support common sense legislation don't you, buddy?

The Zadroga Act/spending bill double-stuffed Oreo of incompetence won't be voted on until next week, but this is a positive sign.

Especially since the world's easiest bill to get behind has faced such a seemingly uphill battle.

"It's been a tough fight, and it has been a long fight, but it has been worth it," said New York Rep. Carolyn Maloney, who's been working on 9/11 legislation since 2001. "All [the first responders] ask of us is that we never forget their sacrifice, and Congress is now sending a clear message back: We haven’t."

Many are also calling it a huge victory for the public voice.

Sen. Chuck Schumer and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand speaking at a news conference announcing the renewal of the Zadroga Act. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

"It is a testament to the extraordinary power that Americans can have when they raise their voice and demand action,“ said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, implying that the public outcry championed largely by Jon Stewart has had a real effect on Congress deciding to act.

But the fight isn't over, and the problem never will be.

The simple fact is, a huge number of 9/11 first responders face both mental and physical health problems every day as a result of their heroic actions. Over 8,500 people are currently being treated by the World Trade Center Environmental Health Center.

In the New York Fire Department alone, 109 responders have died from illnesses linked to ground zero exposure.

Passing the Zadroga Reauthorization Act is, as Jon Stewart put it, "literally the least we can do."

Congress, it would appear, can still be trusted to do the least they can do.

The passing of this bill is important, necessary, and impossible to disagree with.

Just like this kitten:

Yes you are! YES YOU ARE!

True

When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."

This article originally appeared on 12.02.19


Just imagine being an 11-year-old boy who's been shuffled through the foster care system. No forever home. No forever family. No idea where you'll be living or who will take care of you in the near future.

Then, a loving couple takes you under their care and chooses to love you forever.

What could one be more thankful for?

That's why when a fifth grader at Deerfield Elementary School in Cedar Hills, Utah was asked by his substitute teacher what he's thankful for this Thanksgiving, he said finally being adopted by his two dads.

via OD Action / Twitter

To the child's shock, the teacher replied, "that's nothing to be thankful for," and then went on a rant in front of 30 students saying that "two men living together is a sin" and "homosexuality is wrong."

While the boy sat there embarrassed, three girls in the class stood up for him by walking out of the room to tell the principal. Shortly after, the substitute was then escorted out of the building.

While on her way out she scolded the boy, saying it was his fault she was removed.

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One of the boy's parents-to-be is Louis van Amstel, is a former dancer on ABC's "Dancing with the Stars." "It's absolutely ridiculous and horrible what she did," he told The Salt Lake Tribune. "We were livid. It's 2019 and this is a public school."

The boy told his parents-to-be he didn't speak up in the classroom because their final adoption hearing is December 19 and he didn't want to do anything that would interfere.

He had already been through two failed adoptions and didn't want it to happen again.

via Loren Javier / Flickr

A spokesperson for the Alpine School District didn't go into detail about the situation but praised the students who spoke out.

"Fellow students saw a need, and they were able to offer support," David Stephenson said. "It's awesome what happened as far as those girls coming forward."

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He also said that "appropriate action has been taken" with the substitute teacher.

"We are concerned about any reports of inappropriate behavior and take these matters very seriously," Kelly Services, the school the contracts out substitute teachers for the district, said in a statement. "We conduct business based on the highest standards of integrity, quality, and professional excellence. We're looking into this situation."

After the incident made the news, the soon-to-be adoptive parents' home was covered in paper hearts that said, "We love you" and "We support you."

Religion is supposed to make us better people.

But what have here is clearly a situation where a woman's judgement about what is good and right was clouded by bigoted dogma. She was more bothered by the idea of two men loving each other than the act of pure love they committed when choosing to adopt a child.