Lazy Caturday Reads

Matticchio Pat pat

By Pat Matticchio

Good Afternoon!!

I’m beginning to accept that we are never going to return to “normal.” After 6 years of dealing with Trump and his domination of the Republican party, after 2 long years of Covid-19 and the loss of more than 800,000 lives, we now face the threat of losing our democracy as we deal with a new Covid variant that is already spreading rapidly and is likely to kill many more Americans. And I haven’t even touched on the dangers we face from climate change. 

On the threats to U.S. democracy:

The Washington Post: Opinion: 3 retired generals: The military must prepare now for a 2024 insurrection, by Paul D. Eaton, Antonio M. Taguba, and Steven M. Anderson

As we approach the first anniversary of the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, we — all of us former senior military officials — are increasingly concerned about the aftermath of the 2024 presidential election and the potential for lethal chaos inside our military, which would put all Americans at severe risk.

In short: We are chilled to our bones at the thought of a coup succeeding next time.

One of our military’s strengths is that it draws from our diverse population. It is a collection of individuals, all with different beliefs and backgrounds. But without constant maintenance, the potential for a military breakdown mirroring societal or political breakdown is very real.

Le Chat Van Gogh by Toni Goffe

Le Chat Van Gogh by Toni Goffe

The signs of potential turmoil in our armed forces are there. On Jan. 6, a disturbing number of veterans and active-duty members of the military took part in the attack on the Capitol. More than 1 in 10 of those charged in the attacks had a service record. A group of 124 retired military officials, under the name “Flag Officers 4 America,” released a letter echoing Donald Trump’s false attacks on the legitimacy of our elections.

Recently, and perhaps more worrying, Brig. Gen. Thomas Mancino, the commanding general of the Oklahoma National Guard, refused an order from President Biden mandating that all National Guard members be vaccinated against the coronavirus. Mancino claimed that while the Oklahoma Guard is not federally mobilized, his commander in chief is the Republican governor of the state, not the president.

The potential for a total breakdown of the chain of command along partisan lines — from the top of the chain to squad level — is significant should another insurrection occur. The idea of rogue units organizing among themselves to support the “rightful” commander in chief cannot be dismissed.

Please go read the rest at the WaPo.

Molly Jong-Fast at The Atlantic: How Do You Get People to Care About Democracy? The preservation of Democracy shouldn’t be a partisan activity.

Every time the January 6 committee holds a hearing, it seems clearer and clearer that Donald Trump was trying to keep control over the government after losing reelection. The past week alone produced the “how to coup” PowerPoint, widely circulated in Trumpworld, and a slew of text messages, including this sorry we weren’t able to pull off a coup note from an unidentified lawmaker to Mark Meadows: “Yesterday was a terrible day. We tried everything we could in our objection to the 6 states. I’m sorry nothing worked.” It’s pretty clear what Trump was up to: trying to reinstall himself as president and end American democracy as we know it.

Trump’s crew surely knew how bad the events of January 6 were even as they were unfolding. “The president needs to tell people in the Capitol to go home … he is destroying his legacy,” Fox News host Laura Ingraham wrote to Mark Meadows in a text message read by Republican Representative Liz Cheney during the opening statements of the Jan 6 committee meeting on Monday night. A range of journalists sent similar messages. Actual reporter Jake Sherman—who had been stuck in the Capitol during the riot, and who released his texts with Meadows “out of transparency”—wrote, “Do something for us. We are under siege in the [Capitol].” Another “journalist” exchanging texts with Meadows at the time: Fox propagandist Sean Hannity, who wrote, “Can he make a statement? Ask people to leave the Capitol.”

We are not alone, Greeting card by Alison Friend

We are not alone, Greeting card by Alison Friend

It’s a long piece, but here’s the conclusion:

But how you safeguard democracy when only one party supports it is a riddle. How do Democrats permeate the Fox and Facebook anti-fact chamber, which paints Trump as the real victim of the insurrection he helped instigate?

I don’t know how you get Republicans to see past this election, to understand that losing democracy is about more than just a win for their guy. Some members of the mainstream media have been defensive, saying they aren’t covering the threat to democracy because lawmakers aren’t talking about it. But here’s the thing: It’s the media’s job to make people care, to highlight the stories that matter. We don’t look to elected officials to tell us what to write about. We journalists may be the bulwark that keeps America from resembling Hungary or Turkey in a few years. Keeping democracy shouldn’t be a partisan fight, but it is, and perhaps that’s the most damning thing of all.

Okay, then how do we get the most powerful newspaper–The New York Times–to care about democracy?

About that text to Meadows expressing sorrow that the coup failed? It appears to have come from Rick Perry’s phone. CNN: Exclusive: Jan 6 investigators believe Nov. 4 text pushing ‘strategy’ to undermine election came from Rick Perry.

Members of the House Select Committee investigating the January 6 attack on the US Capitol believe that former Texas Governor and Trump Energy Secretary Rick Perry was the author of a text message sent to then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows the day after the 2020 election pushing an “AGRESSIVE (sic) STRATEGY” for three state legislatures to ignore the will of their voters and deliver their states’ electors to Donald Trump, three sources familiar with the House Committee investigation tell CNN.

Kitty Librarian, by Liselotte-eriksson on DeviantArt

Kitty Librarian, by Liselotte-eriksson on DeviantArt

A spokesman for Perry told CNN that the former Energy Secretary denies being the author of the text. Multiple people who know Rick Perry confirmed to CNN that the phone number the committee has associated with that text message is Perry’s number.

The cell phone number the text was sent from, obtained from a source knowledgeable about the investigation, appears in databases as being registered to a James Richard Perry of Texas, the former governor’s full name.

The number is also associated in a second database as registered to a Department of Energy email address associated with Perry when he was secretary. When told of these facts, the spokesman had no explanation.

Kyle Cheney at Politico: ‘Stop the Steal’ founder told Jan. 6 committee about contacts with GOP lawmakers.

Ali Alexander, who founded the pro-Trump “Stop the Steal” movement and attended the rally that preceded the Capitol attack, told congressional investigators that he recalls “a few phone conversations” with Rep. Paul Gosar and a text exchange with Rep. Mo Brooks about his efforts in the run-up to Jan. 6, his lawyers confirmed in a late Friday court filing.

Alexander also told the Jan. 6 House select committee that he spoke to Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) in person “and never by phone, to the best of his recollection,” his lawyers say.

The description of the testimony comes in a lawsuit Alexander filed to block the committee from obtaining his phone records from Verizon. Alexander says in the suit that the records include contacts with people protected by privileges: religious advisers, people he counsels spiritually and his lawyers. He also indicated that he already shared more than 1,500 text messages with investigators, in addition to sitting for an eight-hour deposition. The Brooks text, he indicated, is among the texts he turned over.

Cat in a box, by Ruskin Sphere

Cat in a box, by Ruskin Sphere

Alexander’s testimony underscores the degree to which the select committee continues to probe the roles of their Republican colleagues in efforts to promote former President Donald Trump’s baseless claims of election fraud — and their potential support for fringe figures who helped gather people in Washington on Jan. 6, the day Congress was required to certify the 2020 election results.

The panel hasn’t formally requested testimony from any of the GOP lawmakers yet but has continued to ask witnesses about Gosar, Biggs, Brooks and Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), who helped push a strategy to use the Department of Justice to promote the fraud claims.

Per Alexander’s attorneys Jonathon Moseley and Paul Kamenar, members of Congress may have been on an organizing call with him in early January. Several were invited but he did not take attendance, the lawyers said.

When will these Congressional seditionists be brought to justice?

More January 6 investigation news

Mother Jones: A Di.sturbing Gun Case Further Reveals the Peril of January 6.

Dana Millbank at The Washington Post: Opinion: ‘We are closer to civil war than any of us would like to believe,’ new study says

The New York Times: Jan. 6 Committee May Add New Expertise for Investigation.

On the threat from the omicron variant of Covid

USA Today: Omicron is spreading ‘every place at once,’ experts say. What it could mean for holiday plans.

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The omicron variant of the coronavirus is moving faster than surveillance systems can track it and has so unnerved some medical experts that they’re starting to put the brakes on preparations for their holiday gatherings.

“Personally, I’m reevaluating plans for the holidays,” Bronwyn MacInnis, director of pathogen genomic surveillance at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard University, said on a call with reporters Tuesday. “It’s the responsible thing to do and what feels right given the risk.”

She and a handful of other Massachusetts-based researchers on the call said they’ve been stunned by the pace by which omicron has been crowding out other variants and taking over the pandemic.

Tetsuo Takahara

By Tetsuo Takahara

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that about 3% of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. are omicron. But MacInnis said she believes that number was probably an underestimate on Dec. 11 – just three days ago – when the CDC first announced it, and now it’s likely much higher.

“At the rate that it seems to be spreading, there isn’t a surveillance system on the planet truly that could keep up with it,” MacInnis said.

In some parts of the country, there are hints omicron already accounts for about 15% of cases, said Jeremy Luban, a virus expert at the UMass Chan Medical School .

Omicron has been moving “faster even than the most pessimistic among us thought that it was going to move,” said Dr. Jacob Lemieux, an infectious disease expert at Massachusetts General Hospital. “There’s a high likelihood that it will come to your holiday gathering.”

NPR: Omicron may be less severe in South Africa. That may not be the case for the U.S.

It’s been about a month since scientists first detected the highly mutated coronavirus variant dubbed “omicron.”

Since then, scientists have come to learn that omicron spreads faster than the delta variant and is the quickest-spreading variant the world has yet faced. It also has a huge ability to bypass immune protection and cause breakthrough infections.

The big open-ended question right now centers on omicron’s severity: Does omicron cause milder disease, compared to previous variants? Does it thereby lower the risk of severe disease and hospitalization?

There’s no doubt everyone wants this to be the case. And some recent data out of South Africa sure makes it look like that might be the case. Researchers there have found that South Africans infected with omicron are, on average, less likely to end up in the hospital, and they also appear to recover more quickly from illness, compared to the other variants.

However, as many scientists have been pointing out, that evidence from South Africa could be misleading. The omicron variant may end up acting differently in the U.S.

Read the explanations at the link.

The Washington Post: Highly vaccinated countries thought they were over the worst. Denmark says the pandemic’s toughest month is just beginning.

COPENHAGEN — In a country that tracks the spread of coronavirus variants as closely as any in the world, the signals have never been more concerning. Omicron positives are doubling nearly every two days. The country is setting one daily case record after another. The lab analyzing positive tests recently added an overnight shift just to keep up.

Tea Cats, by Francesca Buchko

Tea Cats, by Francesca Buchko

And scientists say the surge is just beginning.

As omicron drives a new phase of the pandemic, many are looking to Denmark — and particularly the government institute devoted to testing, surveillance and modeling — for warnings about what to expect.

The emerging answer — even in this highly vaccinated, wealthy northern European country — is dire. For all the defenses built over the last year, the virus is about to sprint out of control, and scientists here expect a similar pattern in much of the world.

“The next month will be the hardest period of the pandemic,” said Tyra Grove Krause, the chief epidemiologist at Denmark’s State Serum Institute, a campus of brick buildings along a canal.

Ever since the omicron variant emerged in November, the best hope has been that it might cause less severe sickness than the delta version it is competing with, which in turn might make this wave more manageable and help the transition of covid-19 into an endemic disease. But Denmark’s projections show the wave so fully inundating the country that even a lessened strain will deliver an unprecedented blow.


Thursday Reads: bell hooks (and other news)

Good Morning!!

Yesterday we lost bell hooks (born Gloria Watkins), feminist theorist, poet, and activist.

I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve never read her work, but I was impressed by what I read about hooks this morning. Dakinikat was inspired by her, so perhaps she will share her thoughts today and/or tomorrow.

Lucy Knight at The Guardian: bell hooks, author and activist, dies aged 69.

Gloria Jean Watkins, better known by her pen name bell hooks, has died aged 69.

Her niece Ebony Motley tweeted: “The family of @bellhooks is sad to announce the passing of our sister, aunt, great aunt and great great aunt.”

She also attached a statement, which said that “the family of Gloria Jean Watkins is deeply saddened at the passing of our beloved sister on December 15, 2021. The family honored her request to transition at home with family and friends by her side.”

The author, professor and activist was born in Hopkinsville, Kentucky in 1952, and published more than 30 books in her lifetime, covering topics including race, feminism, capitalism and intersectionality.

She adopted her maternal great-grandmother’s name as a pen name, since she so admired her, but used lowercase letters to distinguish herself from her family member. hooks’ first major work, Ain’t I a Woman?, was published in 1981, and became widely recognised as an important feminist text. It was named one of the 20 most influential women’s books in the last 20 years by Publishers Weekly in 1992.

She went on to write Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center in 1984, All About Love: New Visions in 2000 and We Real Cool: Black Men and Masculinity in 2004, continuing to draw on themes of feminism, race, love and gender.

Since 2004, she taught at Berea College in Kentucky, a liberal arts college that offers free tuition.

In 2016 hooks wrote in the Guardian that Beyoncé’s album Lemonade was “capitalist money-making at its best”, but criticised the notion of “freedom” depicted in the lyrics. “To truly be free,” wrote hooks, “we must choose beyond simply surviving adversity, we must dare to create lives of sustained optimal wellbeing and joy.”

“I want my work to be about healing,” she said in 2018 when she was inducted into the Kentucky Writers’ Hall of Fame. “I am a fortunate writer because every day of my life practically I get a letter, a phone call from someone who tells me how my work has transformed their life.”

Gloria Watkins bell hooksFrom The Literary Hub:

hooks’s first published work of theory, Ain’t I A Woman: Black Women and Feminism, was published when she was 29 but written when she was an undergraduate, launching a four-decade-long career of writing and teaching, with a focus on classroom accessibility. hooks’s extensive body of scholarship and poetry—that remains and will continue to remain relevant—was consistent in its generosity, emphasizing the importance of loving communities to challenging systemic inequalities. Hooks believed a “militant commitment to feminism” was not at all at odds with joy and humor; in fact, that love “is the necessary foundation enabling us to survive the wars, the hardships, the sickness, and the dying with our spirits intact.” As she told The New York Times in 2015,

“We cannot have a meaningful revolution without humor. Every time we see the left or any group trying to move forward politically in a radical way, when they’re humorless, they fail. Humor is essential to the integrative balance that we need to deal with diversity and difference and the building of community. For example, I love to be in conversation with Cornel West. We always go high and we go low, and we always bring the joyful humor in. The last talk he and I gave together, many people were upset because we were silly together. But I consider it a high holy calling that we can be humorous together. How many times do we see an African-American man and an African-American woman talking together, critiquing one another, and yet having delicious, humorous delight? It’s a miracle.”

hooks’s family said contributions and memorials can be made to the Christian County Literacy Council, which promotes reading for children, or the Museums of Historic Hopkinsville Christian County, where a biographical exhibit is on display.

From the New Yorker piece:

I came to her work in the mid-nineties, during a fertile era of Black cultural studies, when it felt like your typical alternative weekly or independent magazine was as rigorous as an academic monograph. For hooks, writing in the public sphere was just an application of her mind to a more immediate concern, whether her subject was Madonna, Spike Lee, or, in one memorably withering piece, Larry Clark’s “Kids.” She was writing at a time when the serious study of culture—mining for subtexts, sifting for clues—was still a scrappy undertaking. As an Asian American reader, I was enamored with how critics like hooks drew on their own backgrounds and friendships, not to flatten their lives into something relatably universal but to remind us how we all index a vast, often contradictory array of tastes and experiences. Her criticism suggested a pulsing, tireless brain trying to make sense of how a work of art made her feel. She modelled an intellect: following the distant echoes of white supremacy and Black resistance over time and pinpointing their legacies in the works of Quentin Tarantino or Forest Whitaker’s “Waiting to Exhale.”

Yet her work—books such as “Reel to Real” or “Art on My Mind,” which have survived decades of rereadings and underlinings—also modelled how to simply live and breathe in the world. She was zealous in her praise—especially when it came to Julie Dash’s “Daughters of the Dust,” a film referenced countless times in her work—and she never lost grasp of how it feels to be awestruck while standing before a stirring work of art. She couldn’t deny the excitement as the lights dim and we prepare to surrender to the performance. But she made demands on the world. She believed criticism came from a place of love, a desire for things worthy of losing ourselves to….

This has been a particularly trying time for critics who came of age in the eighties and nineties, as giants like hooks, Greg Tate, and Dave Hickey have passed. hooks was a brilliant, tough critic—no doubt her death will inspire many revisitations of works like “Ain’t I a Woman,” “Black Looks,” or “Outlaw Culture.” Yet she was also a dazzling memoirist and poet. In 1982, she published a poem titled “in the matter of the egyptians” in Hambone, a journal she worked on with her then partner, Nathaniel Mackey. It reads:

ancestral bodies
buried in sand
sun treasured flowers
press in a memory book
they pass through loss
and come to this still tenderness
swept clean by scarce winds
surfacing in the watery passage
beyond death

I enjoyed reading this piece from 2019 by Min Jin Lee in The New York Times: In Praise of bell hooks.

In 1987, I was a sophomore at Yale. I’d been in the United States for 11 years, and although I was a history major, I wanted to read novels again. I signed up for “Introduction to African-American Literature,” which was taught by Gloria Watkins, an assistant professor in the English department, and she was such a wonderful teacher that I signed up for her other class, “Black Women and Their Fiction.”

46-Bell-Hooks-Ideas-Bell-Hooks-Quotes-WordsGloria — as we were allowed to address her in the classroom — had a slight figure with elegant wrists that peeked out of her tunic sweater sleeves. She was soft-spoken with a faint Southern accent, which I attributed to her birthplace, Hopkinsville, Ky. She was in her mid-30s then but looked much younger. Large, horn-rimmed glasses framed the open gaze of her genuinely curious mind. You knew her classes were special. The temperature in the room seemed to change in her presence because everything felt so intense and crackling like the way the air can feel heavy before a long-awaited rain. It wasn’t just school then. No, I think, we were falling in love with thinking and imagining again….

I was 19 when I took hooks’s classes, and I was just becoming a young feminist myself. I had begun my study of feminism with Mary Wollstonecraft, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Virginia Woolf, Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem, among other white women, and perhaps, because I was foreign-born — rightly or wrongly — I had not expected that people like me would be included in their vision of feminist liberation. Women and men of Asian ethnicities are so often neglected, excluded and marginalized in the Western academy, so as a college student I’d no doubt internalized my alleged insignificance. bell hooks changed my limited perception.

Her book of theory taught me to ask for more from art, literature, media, politics and history — and for me, a Korean girl who had been born in a divided nation once led by kings, colonizers, then a succession of presidents who were more or less dictators, and for millenniums, that had enforced rigid class systems with slaves and serfs until the early 20th century, and where women of all classes were deeply oppressed and brutalized, I needed to see that the movement had a space for me.

What else is in the news? January 6 and the never ending pandemic. 

January 6: Could it be that the investigation is really heating up?

David Rohde at The New Yorker: Is There a Smoking Gun in the January 6th Investigation?

William Saletan at Slate: The Chilling Lesson of Mark Meadows’ Text Messages.

The New York Times: Meadows and the Band of Loyalists: How They Fought to Keep Trump in Power.https://www.nytimes.com/2021/12/15/us/politics/trump-meadows-republicans-congress-jan-6.html

Kyle Cheney at Politico: The Jan. 6 puzzle piece that’s going largely ignored.

Kyle Cheney at Politico: Jan. 6 investigators mull whether Trump violated obstruction law.

CNN: Jim Jordan sent one of the texts revealed by January 6 committee.

The Washington Post: Role as Trump’s gatekeeper puts Meadows in legal jeopardy — and at odds with Trump.

Georgia Public Radio: Exclusive: More Georgia Secretary of State’s office officials interviewed by Jan. 6 committee.

The never ending pandemic

CNBC: Omicron symptoms could seem like a cold — but don’t underestimate this variant, experts warn.

AP via KTLA: U.S. faces a double coronavirus surge as omicron variant advances.

Ian Bogost at The Atlantic: I’m Starting to Give Up on Post-pandemic Life.

Yasmin Tayag at The Atlantic: Don’t Be Surprised When You Get Omicron.

Ed Yong at The Atlantic: America Is Not Ready for Omicron. The new variant poses a far graver threat at the collective level than the individual one—the kind of test that the U.S. has repeatedly failed.

Have courage and enjoy the present moment. There’s no telling what will happen next.


Tuesday Reads

Good Day Sky Dancers!!

Claude Monet - Path through the Forest, Snow Effect, 1870

Claude Monet – Path through the Forest, Snow Effect, 1870

Today is Pearl Harbor Day. Here is an interesting article I read this morning at MassLive: On 80th anniversary, Pearl Harbor veteran worries US on brink of ‘losing our democracy.’

The memories of this day 80 years ago still give Harry L. Chandler pause.

Alarms sounding from all directions. The sight of mighty battleships torn asunder. The smells of burning flesh and oil. The conversation halts.

“I’m OK. You asked me a question, and I’ll answer,” Chandler said last week as he recalled the only other time that he visited Pearl Harbor after Dec. 7, 1941. He had taken his daughters and their husbands in the 1960s to visit the nation’s memorial to the Japanese attack on the U.S. Navy’s Pacific fleet.

“It was a case of knowing the (battleship USS) Arizona was right there still. I began to see what was happening (again),” Chandler said. “It hurt. I cried a little. Then, it was, well, we did it, we won (the war) and hooray.”

He chose never to return.

By the time the attack was over, the Japanese had both literally and figuratively torn into the heart of the Pacific fleet. Twelve ships, including three battleships, were sunk or beached; nine others were damaged. The attack killed close to 2,500 Americans and injured 1,200 more. The Arizona — now the site of a National Park Service memorial — accounted for the loss of 1,177 lives alone. As President Franklin D. Roosevelt would term it, the “date which will live in infamy” would propel the U.S. to enter World War II.

Chandler is 100 years old, and after 80 years, he’s still having flashbacks to that awful day. But nowadays, he’s more focused on current events.

Now in the 21st century, Chandler would rather speak of politics in today’s America and how he fears the lessons of his war — World War II — seem to be forgotten as time marches on. “Remember Pearl Harbor” was a rallying cry for his generation back then and is one he thinks is needed even more so now….

“(President Donald J.) Trump has done a terrible thing to this country,” Chandler said. “People should realize what’s going on. They are losing their democracy. He’s got some sort of spell over them. I don’t know what the hell it is, (but his supporters) will do anything he says.”

Birge Harrison, Winter Sunset

Birge Harrison, Winter Sunset

Chandler stays abreast of news of the world thanks in large part to TV. He says he tries to get the broadest view of what’s going on by tuning in to a variety of networks, listening to all and digesting what is said. Still, it is Trump and his continuing influence in the Congress and on everyday Americans about which Chandler is most concerned.

Chandler cites Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., (“I’m so surprised at him.”) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., (“What’s he doing? Anything that Trump says to do.”) among those he fears are undermining the America he once knew, especially the nation as it existed 80 years ago.

“It’s a terrible situation because I can see us losing our democracy the way it’s going,” Chandler said. “I’m very serious about it and sick about it.” […..]

“(People) don’t know what (Pearl Harbor) is all about. They don’t realize what World War II was about,” he said. “I mean they don’t know what Hitler did. They don’t teach history anymore. We’ve got a Hitler in the making here, and I mean it, the way (Trump’s) got his control over these people. … Parents need to tell their children about Hitler, what happened and how easy it was for him to mobilize the German people before the war.”

“It’s happening in this country right now,” he continued. “What we gained (over the course of World War II), we’ve lost. We are right back where we were when Germany started with Hitler. Everyone’s against everyone.”

Wise old man.

Yesterday marked a dark day for women, but these days women are being erased. From Graham Linehan on Substack: Today Of All Days. A trans identified male speaking at a memorial service for murdered women is a new low, even for Canada.

On 6th December 1989, a young man called Marc Lépine walked into a mechanical engineering class at Montreal’s École Polytechnique armed with a semi-automatic rifle. He separated the men from the women and then instructed the men to leave the classroom. He declared that he was ‘fighting feminism’ before opening fire on the nine women who remained. He killed six of them.

Lépine then ranged around the building for 20 minutes, targeting and shooting women. He murdered a further eight women before finally killing himself.

His page-long suicide note made clear that his barbaric actions had been motivated purely by his hatred of women. “Feminists have always enraged me. I have decided to send the feminists, who have always ruined my life, to their Maker.

Thirty-two years later and a Canadian province has deemed that the best person to speak at a memorial service for these women is a male….

Talking to CBC about being invited to speak at the service, Preston commented, “For decades, trans women have been kept out of the conversation around gender-based violence”. He then talked on, at length, about being trans.

He said that, at the memorial service, he would describe his own experiences as a ‘trans woman’ and gave an example which involved him being ‘groped’ in a bar while wearing a red dress….

Those women were not murdered because of their ‘gender’ but because of their SEX.

Had Preston been in that classroom and instructed to leave with the other men, would he have lingered to complain about being misgendered? Of course he bloody wouldn’t.

I probably shouldn’t post this, because I don’t want to cause trouble; but I’m getting sick of this shit.

The January 6 investigation is in the news. Mike Pence’s top aide Mark Short is cooperating with the House committee, and Mark Meadows is no longer doing so (if he ever really was).

CNN: CNN Exclusive: Top Pence aide cooperating with January 6 committee.

Marc Short, the former chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, is cooperating with the January 6 committee, a significant development that will give investigators insight from one of the highest-ranking Trump officials, according to three sources with knowledge of the committee’s activities.

CNN is also reporting for the first time that the committee subpoenaed Short a few weeks ago.

Fanny Churberg, Winter Landscape, Evening Atmosphere

Fanny Churberg, Winter Landscape, Evening Atmosphere

Short remains one of Pence’s closest advisers and is a firsthand witness to many critical events the committee is examining, including what happened to Pence at the Capitol on January 6 and how former President Donald Trump pressured the former vice president not to certify the presidential election that day.

Short’s assistance signals a greater openness among Pence’s inner circle. One source told CNN the committee is getting “significant cooperation with Team Pence,” even if the committee has not openly discussed that. Another source told CNN that Short’s help is an example of the “momentum” the investigation is enjoying behind the scenes.

Last month, CNN reported that a number of figures close to Pence, including Short, may be willing, either voluntarily or under the guise of a “friendly subpoena,” to cooperate with the committee.

CNN: Mark Meadows to halt cooperation with January 6 committee.

Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows will no longer cooperate with the House select committee investigating January 6 insurrection, according to a letter from his attorney to the panel, which was obtained by CNN on Tuesday.

“We agreed to provide thousands of pages of responsive documents and Mr. Meadows was willing to appear voluntarily, not under compulsion of the Select Committee’s subpoena to him, for a deposition to answer questions about non-privileged matters. Now actions by the Select Committee have made such an appearance untenable,” the letter from George J. Terwilliger II stated.

“In short, we now have every indication from the information supplied to us last Friday – upon which Mr. Meadows could expect to be questioned – that the Select Committee has no intention of respecting boundaries concerning Executive Privilege,” Terwilliger added.

CNN first reported last week that Meadows had begun cooperating with the committee, handing over thousands of documents and agreeing to appear for an interview this week.

Obviously, if Meadows was still claiming executive privilege, he was never really “cooperating.”

A house in the winter sun, 1909, Gabriele Münter

A house in the winter sun, 1909, Gabriele Münter

The New York Times has a report on the Omicron variant: Omicron Is Fast Moving, but Perhaps Less Severe, Early Reports Suggest.

JOHANNESBURG — The Covid-19 virus is spreading faster than ever in South Africa, the country’s president said Monday, an indication of how the new Omicron variant is driving the pandemic, but there are early indications that Omicron may cause less serious illness than other forms of the virus.

Researchers at a major hospital complex in Pretoria reported that their patients with the coronavirus are much less sick than those they have treated before, and that other hospitals are seeing the same trends. In fact, they said, most of their infected patients were admitted for other reasons and have no Covid symptoms.

But scientists cautioned against placing too much stock in either the potential good news of less severity, or bad news like early evidence that prior coronavirus infection offers little immunity to Omicron. The variant was discovered just last month, and more study is needed before experts can say much about it with confidence. Beyond that, the true impact of the coronavirus is not always felt immediately, with hospitalizations and deaths often lagging considerably behind initial outbreaks.

Dr. Emily S. Gurley, an epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said of the signs that the variant is less severe, “It would not be shocking if that’s true, but I’m not sure we can conclude that yet.”

So basically, we still don’t know much. Sigh . . .

As we all know, Hillary warned us about everything that is happening. This is from Chauncy de la Vega at Raw Story: Still hate Hillary’s guts? Fine. But let’s admit that she saw all this coming.

During her 2016 presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton warned us that Donald Trump and his “basket of deplorables” were a threat to American democracy. She wasn’t a prophet. She was simply offering a reasonable analysis based on the available evidence — and she paid an enormous political price for daring to tell that truth in public….

Clinton’s description was in fact about much more than the disreputable people who flocked to Trump’s banner. It was also a warning about the regressive politics and antisocial values that Trump’s followers represented (and still do), including cruelty, racism and white supremacy, sexism and misogyny, collective narcissism, anti-intellectualism, an infatuation with violence, proud ignorance and support for fascism and authoritarianism.

The Wilderness, Pekka Halonen, 1889

The Wilderness, Pekka Halonen, 1889

Whatever you think of her as a person and a public figure, Clinton clearly perceived that Trumpism would be a disaster for American democracy and the world, pushing the United States towards the brink of full-on fascism including an attempted coup….

One thing Hillary Clinton clearly perceived, even if she didn’t put it this way, was that Trump’s authoritarian politics would involve a campaign to limit human freedom, in accordance with the needs and goals of the Trump movement. Specifically, limiting and controlling the bodily autonomy of those groups and individuals deemed to be Other, the enemy or otherwise subordinate to the dominant group.

Such an exercise of power is central and foundational to American fascism in its various forms, as the history of slavery and Jim Crow ought to make clear. In America now, the fascist movement longs for the subordination, control, and domination of women’s and girls’ bodies to the sexual, emotional, financial, physical and psychological needs of men — especially, of course, white conservative “Christian” men. Restricting women’s reproductive rights and freedoms, especially by attempting to force women to conceive and bear children, are recurring features of fascist-authoritarian political projects and societies.

There’s much more at the link. I hope you’ll read it. 

More stories to check out today:

The Washington Post: Biden, Putin to discuss Ukraine in video call amid growing tensions.

CNN: Biden administration considering options for possibly evacuating US citizens from Ukraine if Russia invades.

Jennifer Rubin at The Washington Post: Opinion: The media has given Republicans a free pass on assaulting democracy.

The Washington Post: U.S. coronavirus cases approach 50 million.

The New York Times: Trump’s Blood Oxygen Level in Covid Bout Was Dangerously Low, Former Aide Says.

The Washington Post: Seven days: Following Trump’s coronavirus trail. Trump came into contact with 500 people after he tested positive.

The Daily Beast: Steve Bannon Wants to Turn His Trial Into a Search of the Biden White House.

The New York Times: Defendant in Case Brought by Durham Says New Evidence Undercuts Charge.

What stories are you following today?