Question of the Day

What's for dinner? Or whatever the next meal of the day is in your part of the world.

I'm fixing to make stuffed porkchops with potatoes and mushy peas.

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Quote of the Day

[Content Note: Anti-choice terrorism.]

"With heads high and heavy hearts, Planned Parenthood staff provide care—no matter what."—Planned Parenthood, in a tweet today, vowing to continue providing care to the people who need it, despite the risk they know they are taking. Blub.

In related news, Senator Barbara Boxer has called on Speaker Paul Ryan to disband the "Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives" & stop the Republican Congressional caucus' attack on Planned Parenthood. GOOD.

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The Monday Blogaround

This blogaround brought to you by phone calls.

Recommended reading:

Jessie: [Content Note: Racism; anti-semitism; eliminationist violence; war on agency] White Terrorism: The White Supremacy of Anti-Abortion Extremism

Dianna: [CN: Privilege] Richard Dawkins' Views on Student Activism Are Crap

David: [CN: Homophobic violence] Man Gets 30-Month Prison Term for Anti-Gay Hate Crime Assault in Seattle's Capitol Hill Neighborhood

Rohan: [CN: Violence; racism] "Not Towards Home, But the Horizon" by Marwan

Sean: New Poll Shows Majority Support for Same-Sex Marriage in Japan

Ragen: [CN: Fat hatred] Lane Bryant's Horrible Holiday Ad

Akiba: 'But You Caint Use My Phone' Drops; Erykah Fans Rejoice

Leave your links and recommendations in comments. Self-promotion welcome and encouraged!

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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

Erasure: "A Little Respect"

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The Walking Thread

[Content Note: Spoilers are lurching around undeadly herein. Descriptions of violence.]

screen cap from The Walking Dead of Dr. Mulletsworth reading a World History textbook by Zippo light
Seems about right.

After last week's episode, I figured four things would happen in this week's mid-season finale:

1. Deanna would die, because there's no use for her character anymore now that Optimus Grimes has assumed his rightful place as patriarch of Aarontown.

2. We would see the return of Zombie Ponchos, because how the fuck else were Grimes Gang gonna escape? And the writers like to whip that out every once in awhile as a special survival strategy, even though if I were trying to survive a zombiepocalypse, I'd have a coat closet full of stanky zombie ponchos and would wear one every time I ventured over the threshold.

3. Dr. Mulletsworth would sacrifice himself in a long-awaite display of bravery.

4. Literally nothing would become of Ron Blinney pointing a gun at Tig Nocarl.

Well, three outta four ain't bad.

The episode opens with the Littlest Blinney still holed up in his bedroom, playing a vinyl of "Tiptoe Through the Tulips," a favorite of tiny children everywhere. A plate of abandoned food sits on the floor near the window, where ants are swarming in to eat it. SYMBOLISM. Did you catch the SYMBOLISM? I hope you got that totally trenchant SYMBOLISM.

Meanwhile, zombies are swarming into Aarontown through the cavernous hole in the wall created by the toppled watchtower. Thanks a lot, Spencer! Grimes tells everyone to run for it. Thank Maude for Grimes shouting at people to run! Without his firm manly direction, everyone might have just stood there and gotten devoured!

Deanna is hurt and Grimes has to rescue her from the clutches of the swarming ants zombies. (SYMBOLISM!) And in case you weren't fully aware that women are constantly imperiled and need men to save them, elsewhere Carol trips and falls and hits her melon. Whooooopsy! Thankfully Morgan is there to rescue her. THANK YOU, MEN.

Maggie, on her own and totally manless, gets trapped and narrowly escapes a horde by scrambling up a ladder. One can only assume that there is a male fetus in her womb, which is the only reasonable explanation for her seemingly solitary salvation.

Dr. Mulletsworth, Tara, and Rosita Espinoza flee to a garage, where they are trapped by zombies scratching at the windows. Dr. Mulletsworth decides it's a good time to catch up on some middle school world history reading. Rosita Espinoza worries that it's all over. Tara is typically chipper and optimistic.

Grimes and Deanna hole up in a house with Michonne, Gabriel, Tig NoCarl, Baby Judith, and the Blinneys. Carol and Morgan hole up in the house where he's holding the W-Head hostage and Doctor Zoey is trying to attend to his wounds without being murdered.

Outside Aarontown, Glenn and Enid watch from a distance, and Glenn manscreams at Enid some more, when she feels like giving up. I'M SO GLAD YOU SURVIVED, GLENN!

Everyone seems to be safe—except whooooooooooooops Deanna has been bit! Sad trombone. "Well shit," she mutters. Grimes hatches a plan to draw the zombies away with flares from the armory. And everyone immediately agrees, because if there's one guy who knows how to competently exectute a plan that goes down with zero hitches, it's Rick fuckin' Grimes.

Ron Blinney still wants to kill Tig Nocarl, and Ron Blinney bitterly tells Tig Nocarl that his dad is a killer. To which Tig Nocarl calmly responds, "Your dad was a killer, too," and then also tells him his dad was an asshole. LISTEN, KIDS, THERE'S NO USE ARGUING WHOSE DAD IS THE WORST BECAUSE THEY ARE BOTH TIED FOR WORST. They have a skirmish, breaking a window which lets in zombies, because of course, and then they're rescued at the last moment, because of course, and then Tig Nocarl covers for Ron Blinney, because of course.

This is all so boring and so predictable and so repetitive and so trite. I am trying to find a way to make it funny, but I cannot! I'M ONLY HUMAN NOT A WIZARD!

Deanna and Grimes have a cool deathbed conversation in which Deanna once again pronounces Grimes a good man and the best leader of all the leaders. I can't imagine how fun it must have been for the writers of this shitshow to conceive a strong female leader only to have her serve no purpose other than telling Grimes how fucking awesome he is fully one million times.


Meanwhile, Carol and Morgan are of course fighting over whether to kill the W-Head, and Carol threatens to kill Morgan in order to kill the W-Head because she doesn't want anyone else to get killed. Okay. They fight. Morgan knocks out Carol and then is summarily knocked out himself by the W-Head, who's gotten ahold of a knife. He takes Doctor Zoey hostage, and Rosita Espinoza, Tara, and Doctor Mulletsworth show up, thanks to Doctor Mulletsworth's fancy lock-pickin' skillz, just in time to turn over their weapons and watch the W-Head lead Doctor Zoey out into the zombie horde.

This scene almost makes too much sense, as we watch the W-Head, who has been maniacally grinning while threatening to kill every human he can when he gets free, fail to kill a single one of the humans at his mercy once he is free and has a gun in his hand. He leaves Carol, Morgan, Tara, Rosita Espinoza, and Doctor Mulletsworth alive, and takes Doctor Zoey with him alive. All right then.

Back at Casa Blinney, Grimes Gang slathers themselves in zombie guts, which freaks out the Littlest Blinney, whose mom comforts him by telling him to pretend to be brave. Cool. They go out into the horde and make for the armory.

Upstairs, Deanna, who was left with a gun so, at her request, she could kill herself when she was ready, instead opens the door to the hallway and starts shooting at zombies and screaming.

Grimes Gang grabs hands and picks their way through the zombies. "Mom?" says the Littlest Blinney. "Mom?"

And that is the end of the episode. Cool finale. Very compelling. Someone pass me a World History textbook.

Now we'll all have to wait until February to find out what doesn't happen next! See you then!

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Sophie the Torbie Cat and Dudley the Greyhound lying on the couch together
Little cat; big dog.

image of Sophie the Torbie Cat's feet and Dudley the Greyhound's feet, close together
Little feet; big feet.

As always, please feel welcome and encouraged to share pix of the fuzzy, feathered, or scaled members of your family in comments.

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In the News

Here is some stuff in the news today...

[Content Note for next seven paragraphs: Anti-choice terrorism; disablism; transphobia] To put it politely, the Republican candidates have not covered themselves in glory in their responses to the Planned Parenthood shooting in Colorado Springs. The only candidate who has even remotely conceded that inflammatory rhetoric might have played a role in creating the context in which this act of anti-choice terrorism happened is Dr. Ben Carson, and even then he had to be prompted by Meet the Press host Chuck Todd and gave an answer that invoked the old "both sides are just as bad" chestnut: "I think any hateful rhetoric directed at anyone from any source is too much. It's something that we need to get away from. We have to stop allowing ourselves to be pushed into different corners and then throwing hateful barbs at each other, you know." Weak sauce. But compared to the rest of them...

Ohio Governor John Kasich offered his prayers and said "senseless violence has brought tragedy to Colorado Springs." This violence was not "senseless." It makes a perfect, horrific sense within a culture of hostility to reproductive choice in which abortion providers are routinely called mass murderers even by presidential candidates.

Jeb Bush's statement came from the same garbage playbook: "There is no acceptable explanation for this violence, and I will continue to pray for those who have been impacted."

Donald Trump simply went for rank disablism, calling Robert Dear a "maniac" and "a sick person," while also claiming we don't know "the purpose" of his violent act. Yep, it's a real mystery lost to the sands of time.

Carly Fiorina, who has insistently been telling the lie that Planned Parenthood harvests fetal parts for profit, the very thing Robert Dear referenced upon his surrender, is shamelessly unapologetic, continuing the repeat the lie and further asserting: "What I would say to anyone who tries to link this terrible tragedy to anyone who opposes abortion, or opposes the sale of body parts, is this is typical left-wing tactics." Fiorina's got a bad case of projection where her accountability should be. Asshole.

Mike Huckabee just went for it, equating the deadly shooting to abortion: "There is no excuse for killing other people whether it's happening inside the Planned Parenthood headquarters, inside their clinics where many millions of babies die, or whether it's people attacking Planned Parenthood." My contempt for this shitlord and every piece of filth he disgorges from his toxic maw cannot be measured on a scale fathomable by human intellect. Fucker.

And Senator Ted Cruz is disseminating the ridiculous lie that Robert Dear is a "transgendered [sic] leftist activist," a falsehood based entirely on the fact that Dear's voter registration form was erroneously marked "female." Because an opportunity to demonize trans people while exploiting a heinous act of anti-choice terrorism is basically Ted Cruz's happiest fucking day. Shitlord.

What a truly reprehensible lot.

* * *

President Obama is at the COP21 climate change conference in Paris, along with leaders from 146 other nations, and he says: "Climate change could define the contours of this century more than any other (challenge). I came here personally to say the United States not only recognises the problem but is committed to do something about it." Well, some of us are! He also said "the UN climate conference in Paris could be a 'turning point' in global efforts to limit future temperature rises." I hope so!

[CN: Police brutality; racism; video may autoplay at link] "Jury selection was set to begin Monday in the first high-stakes trial for Baltimore police officers involved in the April arrest of Freddie Gray... The jury selection process for Officer William Porter is crucial because it could determine whether it is possible to select impartial juries in the city for each of six officers charged in connection with Gray's death. Lawyers for the officers have said it's not possible; Judge Barry Williams decided to try. Porter is charged with involuntary manslaughter, reckless endangerment, and assault in the death of Gray." Translation: Lawyers for the officers wanted a whiter jury pool.

[CN: Rape] I believe Stoya.

[CN: Misogyny] Um. "When Star Wars: The Force Awakens hits theaters Dec. 18, audiences will be introduced to two new leads: Rey and Finn, played by newcomers Daisy Ridley and John Boyega, respectively. J.J. Abrams, who directed the movie, explained on Good Morning America Monday why he decided to make a woman one of the protagonists in the seventh installment in the franchise. ...'Star Wars was always a boys' thing and a movie that dads take their sons to, and though that's still very much the case, I was really hoping this could be a movie that mothers could take their daughters to as well.'" The fuck?! First of all, fuck off for implying no little girls got taken by their parents to see the original trilogy, and subsequent trilogy, and second of all, fuck off for disappearing all the female Star Wars fans who aren't mothers taking daughters or daughters being taken by mothers.

[CN: Transphobia; ciscentrism] Good grief: Eddie Redmayne, a cis man who is playing a transgender woman in the upcoming film The Danish Girl, "bravely" shares how ignorant he was about being transgender when he took on the role. "I fell into all the clich├ęs of ignorance. I didn't realize that gender and sexuality weren't related. I confused the terms transvestitism and transgender. But what's lovely is, the second you understand the difference, you see how gigantic it is and how important it is that we educate ourselves." How lovely!

[CN: Terrorism] All right then: "In the fight against the Islamic State, the American government is being offered help from an unlikely source: the Mafia." Sure.

Zoinks! "It's official: Adele's 25 album sold 3.38 million copies in its first week in the U.S., according to Nielsen Music. That's the largest single sales week for an album since Nielsen began tracking point-of-sale music purchases in 1991. 25 is the first album to sell more than 3 million copies in a week in Nielsen history, and only the second to surpass 2 million sold in a single frame."

Welp: "The world's first anti-ageing drug will be tested on humans next year in trials which could result in people being able to live healthily well into their 120s. ...Although it might seem like science fiction, researchers have already proven that the diabetes drug metformin extends the life of animals, and the Food and Drug Administration in the US has now given the go-ahead for a trial to see if the same effects can be replicated in humans. ...Scientists think the best candidate for an anti-ageing drug is metformin, the world's most widely used diabetes drug which costs just 10 cents a day. ...The new clinical trial called Targeting Aging with Metformin, or TAME, is scheduled to begin in the US next winter. Scientists from a range of institutions are currently raising funds and recruiting 3,000 70 to 80-year-olds who have, or are at risk of, cancer, heart disease and dementia."

I love this: "Japan Railways Build Turtle Tunnels." Yes! A+

And finally! "Heroic brothers free a bald eagle from a trap and take the best selfie of all time." OMG. Perfection.

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Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood Shooting: Monday Update

[Content Note: This post includes descriptions of anti-agency rhetoric and violence, gun violence, and misogynistic framing. Linked material may not be safe.]

For background, please see posts from Friday, from Saturday, and from Sunday.

According to NBC News' report from this morning (CN: video autoplays at link) Robert Lewis Dear will be arraigned today. The Washington Post reports that his arraignment is set for 1:30 PM Mountain Time. The DA has up to ten days to file charges. Presumably that will include evidence from the crime scene that police are still investigating. Police have also investigated the recreational vehicle-type trailer that he was living in, deploying a bomb robot during the course of that investigation. Prosecutors may seek the death penalty. Joshua Tolini, a Colorado Springs attorney speaking to the Colorado Springs Gazette, noted that the number of victims, the death of a law enforcement officer, and the fact that Dear laid an ambush were factors that might play a role in prosecutors seeking capital punishment.

The City of Colorado Springs has a Crisis Center set up for those affected; you can read its official statement describing services available.

Slain police officer Garrett Swasey came to Colorado from Massachusetts originally because of his serious pursuit of figure skating. His childhood friend and sometime training partner, Olympian Nancy Kerrigan, paid tribute to Swasey after learning of his death.

Civilian victims Ke'Arre Stewart and Jennifer Markovsky both had military ties, according to a profile in the Military Times. Stewart was an army veteran who had served on active duty in Iraq and Markovsky had moved to Colorado Springs because her husband was stationed there for his military service.

It is thought by his surviving relatives that Stewart's military experience may have played a role in his reaction to being shot: he made his way back into the building and warned others about the gunman. I don't yet know how crucial his actions were to the survival of others, but even a few seconds warning in a situation like this can make a tremendous difference.

Amburh Butler, who is referred to by the Canadian Press as a friend and family spokesperson, has set up a GoFundMe Account for Stewart's family here, to assist at least in part with covering his funeral expenses and transporting his remains back to his native Texas. A YouFund Account for a college fund for the children of Officer Swasey is here. The Colorado Springs Gazette reported that another YouFund account will support Jennifer Markovsky's family, including her widower, Paul.

Some good news is that at least five wounded victims, including two police officers, have been released from hospital. Three law enforcement officers remain in Penrose Hospital and a continuing to receive treatment.

Vicki Cowart, spokesperson for the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood, has vowed it will re-open its doors. They will have a lot of work to do; in addition to damage from gunfire, the building was rammed by a BearCat armored vehicle as part of police efforts to distract Dear and rescue his hostages. If you wish, you can donate directly to Planned Parenthood Rocky Mountains here.

There is also less good news.

Apparently, some reporters think that pro-choice advocates are just now using the term "terror" to describe anti-agency violence. For anyone laboring under that illusion, allow me to introduce you to Shakesville's "anti-choice terrorism" tag. It goes back years, and not everything is even covered in that tag. I'm glad people are finally listening, but feminists have been talking about the inherent violence of the "pro-life" movement for a very, very long time. As Liss wrote back in 2011:

And, I know I'm just an exhaustingly tedious feminist hysteric and all, but I actually find the anti-choice position inherently violent, no matter how politely it is stated. If anyone else suggested that I should be forced to submit my body against my will to nine months of potential discomfort and pain, followed by an act that might include the skin and muscle between my vagina and anus being torn open, I don't think we'd mince words about whether they were using violent rhetoric. But because we can couch it in the bullshit terminology of "a pro-life position," that's supposed to be evidence of civility.
In other garbage news related to this tragedy, the Daily Mail (to which I will not link) has a headline claiming that Dear was once a "happily married father" and suggests his behavior only became problematic after he divorced in 2000. Happily married, I guess, except for the part where his then-wife called the police and made a DV report about him in 1997. Neat trick of blaming a woman for his decline, and yet another variation on the if-only-he-had-the-love-of-a-woman crap we have heard about other violent misogynist mass killers before. Why is it so hard to imagine that maybe part of his divorce was his ALREADY problematic behavior? And Dear reportedly lived with a woman in Colorado; he was not a "loner."

And I'm not going to cover the garbage responses from GOP candidates here, because Liss will cover that later, but I will note that, for all their distancing and claiming that of course they don't support anti-choice violence, here is Ted Cruz's campaign tweeting just days ago about what a swell guy Operation Rescue's Troy Newman is. You know, the same Troy Newman who argued that the murderer of an abortion provider should be allowed to claim "justifiable homicide." Ted Cruz, you are a terrible person.

Update #1: According to the Twitter account of USA Today reporter Trevor Hughes, the Mayor of Colorado Springs, John Suthers, said today that open carry laws have little effect on overall violence. He also urged respect for the rights of gun owners, and for the First Amendment right to free speech. And we definitely need better spying information-sharing on people with mental illness. Among the rights that the mayor did not apparently mention: women's right to their own bodily autonomy.

Update #2: A "suspicious person" may have made threats against survivors in a Colorado Springs hospital, which is on lockdown.

Update #3: Robert Lewis Dear has appeared before a judge, wearing what ABC news described as a "suicide prevention" garment. His defense attorney, Daniel King, is a public defender who also defended Aurora shooter James Holmes. Dear is being held ona first degree homicide charge. Further formal charges will come next week. There is also some possibility that federal charges might be laid:

Still, U.S. Attorney John Walsh said investigators have been in touch with lawyers from the Justice Department's Civil Rights and National Security divisions, suggesting officials could pursue federal charges in addition to state homicide ones. One possible avenue is the 1994 Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, which makes it a crime to injure or intimidate clinic patients and employees.

Reporter Lance Benzel Tweeted that DA Dan May and 2 other assistant DAs will prosecute; such large team is unusual in his experience.

Judge Stephen J. Sletta has sealed court documents for the case. Although this means that evidence gathered during the case is not officially available, CBS news is citing unnamed sources that say Dear brought "all the guns he owned" to the site, and that authorities are trying to determine if the guns were legally obtained or not.

ABC news is reporting that Dear made remarks about President Obama during his detention that were serious enough the Secret Service is now investigating Dear.

As ever, please keep comments safe with appropriate content notes, and please refrain from posting images in the thread.

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Big News from Northern Ireland

[Content Note: War on agency; sexual violence; Christian Supremacy.]

A high court judge in Northern Ireland, the only part of the United Kingdom where the Abortion Act 1967 is not the rule of law, has ruled that the "almost outright ban on abortion breaches the human rights of women and girls, including rape victims."

Currently, the only applicable abortion law in Northern Ireland is the Offences Against the Persons Act 1861, "which contains a life sentence for anyone convicted of carrying out a termination even in cases of rape or incest." Abortions are only permitted "if the life of a mother is directly under threat or in cases in which there would be lasting long-term negative effects on her health by continuing with the pregnancy," which has obliged many abortion-seeking people to travel to England, or seek services from international providers such as Women on Waves, and obliged many more people to carry unwanted pregnancies to term.

But that may be about to change.

The historic judgment, delivered in Belfast on Monday, could lead to women and girls who are the victims of rape and incest as well those suffering from fatal foetal abnormalities having terminations in Northern Irish hospitals.

...In his ground-breaking ruling and referring to cases of rape, incest and fatal foetal abnormality, Mr Justice Horner told the high court in Belfast: "In the circumstances, given this issue is unlikely to be grasped by the legislature in the foreseeable future, and the entitlement of citizens of Northern Ireland to have their convention rights protected by the courts, I conclude that the article eight rights of women in Northern Ireland who are pregnant with fatal foetal abnormalities or who are pregnant as a result of sexual crime are breached by the impugned provisions."

Referring to political inaction at Stormont over the abortion question, Horner also suggested that a referendum might have to be held to enact his conclusions on reforming local abortion law.
Naturally, cue the usual fearmongering about "opening the floodgates for abortion on demand" and the usual caterwauling about "activist judges," but this is indeed a critical human rights issue and it's well past time for Northern Ireland to give pregnant people access to this basic healthcare procedure.
Welcoming the judgment, Les Allamby, the head of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC), said: "In taking this case we sought to change the law so that women and girls in Northern Ireland have the choice of accessing a termination of pregnancy locally in circumstances of fatal foetal abnormalities, rape or incest, without being criminalised for doing so.

"We are please that today that the high court has held that the current law is incompatible with human rights and has ruled in the commission's favour.

"Today's result is historic, and will be welcomed by many of the vulnerable women and girls who have been faced with these situations. It was important for the commission to take this challenge in its own name, in order to protect women and girls in Northern Ireland and we are delighted with the result."

...Amnesty International said it was shameful that laws on abortion "date back to the 19th century and carry the harshest criminal penalties in Europe".

Grainne Teggart, of Amnesty's My Body, My Rights campaign, said: "Today's court decision is a damning indictment of the Northern Ireland executive's failure to prioritise women's healthcare. It's shameful that the courts have had to step in because politicians have repeatedly failed Northern Ireland's women."
NB: Not only female people need access to abortion, even though these laws were designed with the explicit intent to control women's bodies and reproduction.

This issue is not settled. There will be a fight. Especially regarding expanding access to anyone and everyone who wants an abortion for any reason. I take up space in solidarity with abortion rights activists in Northern Ireland who will continue to agitate for bodily autonomy, agency, and access to a full spectrum of healthcare.

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Clinton Calls for Infrastructure Spending

[Content Note: Class warfare; video may autoplay at link.]

Democratic front runner Hillary Clinton has called for "a $275 billion boost in federal infrastructure spending over five years and the creation of an infrastructure bank, arguing that the measures will help create jobs while modernizing the nation's ailing roads and bridges."

"Investing in infrastructure makes our economy more productive and competitive across the board," she said Sunday at a rally in Boston's Faneuil Hall, addressing a crowd heavy on workers from construction unions. "To build a strong economy for our future, we must start by building strong infrastructure today."

Her plan, she added, is "a down payment on our future."

...Clinton's plan would put $250 billion toward direct federal spending on infrastructure, while the remaining $25 billion would be seed funds to launch what her campaign described as a "strategic infrastructure bank." The bank would leverage the initial federal investment to support another $225 billion in direct loans, loan guarantees and other forms of credit. In all, Clinton's proposal would end up putting $500 billion in public and private funds toward infrastructure projects.
Clinton's plan would build on policy already instituted by President Obama: "Clinton's proposed infrastructure bank would also administer a renewed and expanded version of the Build American Bonds program, which was launched as part of the 2009 Recovery Act."

Our nation's crumbling infrastructure needs to be addressed, desperately, and it would indeed be a jobs program as well. Crucially, this is an important proposal for poor communities, who are disproportionately likely to be gravely affected by compromised infrastructure. See, for example, the failed levees which caused such vast destruction, displacement, and death during Hurricane Katrina.

Stable infrastructure is literally a life and death issue.

Bernie Sanders has also spoken on the campaign trail of the need to invest in infrastructure, and I am really glad the Democratic candidates are addressing it. I just hope we end up with a Democratic president who is serious about infrastructure but isn't hamstrung by a Republican Congressional majority who is content to let people die, to save a little money.

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Thank You, Aphra

I want to take a moment to say thank you to Aphra_Behn for all her amazing work covering the Planned Parenthood shooting the last couple of days. I was ill for most of the weekend, and a little bit of tweeting was all I could muster. She completely took the reins and did such an incredible job, and I am so grateful.

Please join me in saying thank you to her for all her hard work.

Thank you, lady. You are the best.

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Open Thread

image of the color aquamarine

Hosted by aquamarine.

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Planned Parenthood Shooting in Colorado Springs: Sunday Update and Discussion Thread

[CN: This post includes descriptions of gun violence, disableism, domestic violence, anti-agency rhetoric, stalking, interpersonal violence, and cruelty to animals. Linked material may not be safe.]

As of 3 PM ET (11 AM Colorado time), here is what I can glean about the Planned Parenthood shooting on Friday. Please feel free to leave image-free, properly content-noted updates in comments. (For background, please see Friday's post here, and also Saturday's post here.)

Officer Garrett Swasey was remembered at his church this morning. His widow Rachel Swasey has issued a statement on behalf of the Swasey family memorializing her husband and asking for privacy so she and their two children may mourn. (The linked statement also includes a link to an education fund for the children, for those who wish to contribute.

The other two deceased victims have yet to be named, although the governor of Colorado, John Hickenlooper, says they were a man and a woman. According to the Colorado Springs Gazette, autopsies are scheduled for the two civilian victims on Monday. Their identities will be released after that. (ETA: Their identities have been released; see updates below.) (The linked article also contains information about a Community Crisis Recovery Centre opening in Colorado Springs today in order to assist those directly affected by Friday's events.)

There were two vigils for the victims Saturday, one at the University of Colorado CS chapel, and another vigil at All Soul's Unitarian Universalist Church. The Reverend Nori rost clearly spoke of the perpetrator as a "terrorist," and most speakers urged the need to protect reproductive rights and address gun control. When an unnamed mourner objected to the political nature of these statements, Nori responded:

“the announcement for the vigil said it was to come together to grieve our losses and to stand with Planned Parenthood.

“This was a devastating loss for them, and we wanted to show our support. The announcement was very clear.”

Attorney General Lynch has also released a statement:

This unconscionable attack was not only a crime against the Colorado Springs community, but a crime against women receiving healthcare services at Planned Parenthood, law enforcement seeking to protect and serve, and other innocent people. It was also an assault on the rule of law, and an attack on all Americans' right to safety and security. Justice Department attorneys, the FBI, and the ATF are on the scene to offer assistance and review the situation.

“We stand ready to offer any and all assistance to the District Attorney and state and local law enforcement as they move forward with their investigation. And in the days ahead, our thoughts and prayers will be with the victims of this horrific attack – including Officer Garrett Swasey, who gave his life in order to keep others safe. We wish a speedy recovery for those who were injured, and peace and strength for the loved ones of the fallen.”

As for the suspect Robert Lewis Dear, Eyewitness accounts confirm he made anti-abortion statements, apparently including "no more baby parts." Yet infuriatingly few media sources are willing to label his motivations as anti-choice, and of course no one is spinning faster than the GOP. I'm not going to link to disgusting comments made by Carly Fiorina and Mike Huckabee about this. To sum: garbage.

And the more details of Dear's life roll in, the more the picture of an abusive asshole with no respect for boundaries, heavily into anti-government rhetoric, becomes clear. One of his former neighbors describes Dear advising that he put a metal roof on his house to foil government spying. Other neighbors believe he abused his dog. He handed out anti-Obama pamphlets to a Colorado neighbor. Neighbors near his North Carolina shack say they kept their kids inside when he came to stay. He made unwanted sexual advances to a female neighbor, spied on her, and was the subject of a restraining order. His ex-wife reported him in a DV incident. As he rode his trail bike in the area, he would try to provoke local dogs with a stick. His own dogs were neglected and aggressive. He was so scary that most spoke on a condition of anonymity. Another former neighbor in North Carolina described Dear repeatedly following him after the neighbor had reported him for animal cruelty, as part of a "scare campaign." Police records from South Carolina include accounts of Dear threatening a neighbor with bodily harm and allegedly shooting a pellet gun at said neighbor's dog.

Not all information is negative. According to his ex-wife, Dear held a degree in public administration, was artistically inclined, and made a living by selling prints of arts with Southern themes: scenes of Savannah, the Augusta Master's, and the like. She describes him as a good father. As for his religious convictions, Dear's former wife says he was raised Baptist, had read the Bible thoroughly and said he believed in it, but was not a regular churchgoer. (He was, she says, generally "conservative." The New York Times has done some investigation into his online life . He sought out sexual partners on a BDSM message board and smoking companions on marijuana-related message boards; on the latter he wrote in December 2005: “AIDS, hurricanes, we are in the end times. Accept the LORD JESUS while you can." (To me that suggests a definite apocalyptic bent to his religious outlook, at least as it stood in 2005.)

The fact that Dear's ex-wife has some positive things to say about him and a few of his Colorado neighbors found him unremarkable, while others found him scary and intimidating, should not surprise anyone who has close-up experience with an abusive person. They are human beings, capable of immense charm in many cases, and of good persuasive power in others. At one time, at least, it sounds as if Dear managed to get some reasonable economic success, persuading artists to let him buy the rights to their works and then selling prints. Yet he also demonstrated aggression and threat at other times. That fits the pattern of being something other than a one-dimensional monster. Despite the attempts to define Dear as a Lone Wolf and "crazy," without any relation to politics, what we know of his political and religious statements is that they are extreme versions of the anti-government, apocalyptic rhetoric that are quite common on right wing talk shows, blogs, and the like. Increasingly, they are given further credibility as they are echoed by various GOP party figures, including many of the 2016 Republican presidential candidates. Combine that with his very clear personal patterns of ignoring boundaries, of intimidation and physical threats, his domestic violence , stalking, and sexual harassment, then throw easily available weapons into the mix, and his actions in Colorado Springs seem all too predictable in general, even if his specific target was unknowable.

Update #1: The identity of one of the civilian victims has been released. He was Ke'Arre M. Stewart. He leaves behind a wife and children. According to his sister, he was outside the building trying to get cell service, and was shot outside. He still managed to make his way inside the building and warn others before calling 911, according to her account. He was an army veteran who had served in Iraq. A GoFundMePage has been set up to help assist his family with funeral expenses, including taking his remains back to his native Texas. I note this is not connected to any official family statement, unlike the page for Officer Swasey's family, so I can't guarantee it. If anyone can find verifying information for this link, I would be very grateful.

Update #2: The identity of the second civilian victim has also been released. Jennifer Markovsky was at Planned Parenthood supporting a friend. She graduated from high school in Hawa'ii, where she leaves family members, including her father. She also leaves behind a husband and two children. I have no information about financial assistance for her family at this time.

Update #3: The website The Heavy has explored more of Dear's online life. His postings at are persistently religious; his religious views also overlap with his anti-government views:

Dear first posted about religion on October 3, 2005, when he replied to a thread titled, “Jesus was a fraud.” He wrote, “u wont like hell , jesus is the only hope. satan has blinded u little demon.” On October 7, he wrote, “turn to Jesus or burn in hell. Wake up sinners u cant save yourself u will die an worms shall eat your flesh, now your soul is going somewhere.” He also posted several times in the next few weeks different variations of “Every knee shall bow an tongue confess Jesus is lord in this world or the next.” Dear wrote that “herb” was created by God, so man’s laws against the drug are against God.

Other posts reveal his explicitly anti-feminist views:

He also ranted against women, posting, “god made the woman out of the mans side sorry but womans lib cant change it.

Update # 4: The media discussion of this event is quite amazing. Not in a good way. As Liss points out:

 photo 97bc8d56-4911-4d2c-b96d-e6f255eed9fb_zpsv8i7pazd.png

The suspect talked about "politics and abortions," but motive "remains unclear." I'm going to go out on a limb and say "politics and abortion," maybe even the "politics OF abortion," were motivating factors. You read it here first.

As ever, please take care to keep the comments a safe space.

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Colorado Springs Updated Post: What We Know So Far

[CN: gun violence, anti-agency rhetoric and terrorism, deaths. Linked material cannot be guaranteed to be safe.]

I’m opening this second thread to discuss Friday’s terroristic incident at Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs. As of 6:30 AM ET, 3 people have died from gunfire wounds. Two are still-unnamed civilians. The third is University of Colorado CS police officer Garrett Swasey. According to the New York Times story on Swasey, he was 44, a married father of two, and a volunteer pastor at his church. Nine others were also hospitalized.

The Denver ABC affiliate has some coverage that is fairly informative. Major points:

*The first reports came in at 11:38 AM local time (1:38 PM ET) of a shooting at Planned Parenthood, not a nearby bank as early reports suggested. Some people did shelter at the bank and other local businesses.

*The gunfire continued for several hours. Police evacuated some people from sections of the PP building while the situation was active.

*Planned Parenthood announced that all of its staff was safe.

*The suspect was reportedly using a long gun. He also brought “items” into the Planned Parenthood, which were being investigated as possible explosives. The ATF, the FBI, and the CBI all have a presence at the crime scene as well as local police.

*The suspect is in custody. His name is reported to be Robert Lewis Dear.

I’ve seen Dear described as 57 or 59. He is white. The police announcement says he is from North Carolina. The website The Heavy reports about Dear that he was originally from South Carolina, and has an arrest record there and in North Carolina. Most are traffic- related, but he has also been charged with animal cruelty, eavesdropping, and peeping Tom offenses. None of the last three resulted in convictions.

Little else has been revealed about him, including why he targeted this particular Planned Parenthood. I will note that it was the subject of a large anti-agency protest in August. We know this shit doesn’t happen in a void, and the vicious and false attacks on Planned Parenthood sparked by the heavily edited “Center For Medical Progress” videos have resulted in actual violence already. (Media Matters had a discussion of anti-Planned Parenthood arsons back in October.)

It is also worth noting that Colorado Springs is something of a centre for right-wing Christianity. James Dobson’s Focus on the Family is headquartered there, as is New Life Church (the organization founded by now-disgraced Ted Haggard) and Biblica, one of the biggest Bible publishers, among others, according to this 2013 PBS story. Colorado also has an open carry law that makes it easy to carry weapons in public, a factor that, as Mother Jones explored, may have contributed to the mass shootings in Colorado Springs on October 31. It may also be relevant to yesterday’s events.

Hillary Clinton Tweeted her support for PP while the situation was ongoing. She was the first presidential candidate to do so. Five hours later, Bernie Sanders followed her lead. As of 7 AM ET, no other candidates have responded to the attacks via Twitter. ETA: as of 12.40 ET, both Martin O'Malley and Ted Cruz have tweeted about this. O'Malley, like Clinton and Sanders, used a variation on "I Stand with PP." Cruz indicated that he was praying for the loved ones of the deceased, the injured, and for the "brave first responders who got the situation under control." So if you were a patient or staff who wasn't physically injured, Cruz has no prayers for you. He seems nice.

Please feel free to post updates below. As always, this is to be a safe space, which in this case also means an image-free thread. The content note for the post applies throughout the thread; please CN with additional notes as necessary for your post. I will post updates as I can.

Update 1: President Obama has released a statement:

The last thing Americans should have to do, over the holidays or any day, is comfort the families of people killed by gun violence — people who woke up in the morning and bid their loved ones goodbye with no idea it would be for the last time.

And yet, two days after Thanksgiving, that's what we are forced to do again.

We don't yet know what this particular gunman's so-called motive was for shooting twelve people, or for terrorizing an entire community, when he opened fire with an assault weapon and took hostages at a Planned Parenthood center in Colorado. What we do know is that he killed a cop in the line of duty, along with two of the citizens that police officer was trying to protect. We know that law enforcement saved lives, as so many of them do every day, all across America. And we know that more Americans and their families had fear forced upon them

This is not normal. We can't let it become normal. If we truly care about this — if we 're going to offer up our thoughts and prayers again, for God knows how many times, with a truly clean conscience — then we have to do something about the easy accessibility of weapons of war on our streets to people who have no business wielding them. Period. Enough is enough.

May God bless Officer Garrett Swasey and the Americans he tried to save — and may He grant the rest of us the courage to do the same thing.

I am grateful that the president has released a statement and that he has (correctly) connected this massacre to gun violence. I am beyond angry that I live in a country where he cannot even hint at a link between this incident and the right's violent anti-agency rhetoric and lies about Planned Parenthood.

Update 2: According to the Twitter feed of reporter Tom Roeder, the mayor of Colorado Springs is calling the shooter a "misdirected Idealog"[sic] which is the closest anyone official has come to saying, thus far, that virulent right wing ideology is very likely a motivating factor.

Update 3: The Daily Beast has more on Dear's criminal record. [CN: linked story contains descriptions of cruelty to an animal, sexualized intimidation and intimate partner violence.] There are about a million reasons to shift away from talking about mass shooters as "mentally ill," and towards "abusive assholes." But one of the most important is that they so often have a history of being violent with their partners, neighbors, and others within their orbit that they target for sexual or other harassment. Yet our cultural predispose many USians to downplay or disbelieve such reports, instead of (a)taking survivors and their safety seriously and (b) also viewing these reports as crucial warnings about the violent men within our midst. What a toxic mess at the individual and systemic levels.

Update 4: Buzz Feed News is reporting [CN: descriptions of domestic and other interpersonal violence and cruelty towards animals at link) that Dear had recently been handing out anti-Obama pamphlets to a neighbor in Hartsel, CO, where he had most recently resided.

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Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood Shooting: News and Discussion Thread

[Content note: discussions of gun violence, anti-agency terrorism, and intimate partner violence. Linked off-site material may not be safe spaces.]

Multiple news sources are describing a shooting at a Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs. Here is CNN's coverage (Video may auto-play at link.) I am also following Stephen Hobbs, a local reporter, on Twitter. The local Police Twitter is also informative. There are others reporting from the police scanner, but the police have asked people not to do so, as it compromises responder safety.

As far as I can tell, the situation began some hours ago, and as of 6:20 PM ET is still an active situation. {ETA: As of 8 PM ET a suspect is in custody and, according to the mayor "the situation is resolved." More updates in comments.} A gunman entered Planned Parenthood and apparently initiated a hostage situation. Multiple people have been taken to hospital; the last number I saw was 9. People in the area are still sheltering in place and the most recent police presser said the situation was not yet stabilized. The Mayor has asked that people trying to let their loved ones know they are safe, please do NOT use 911 but use 211 instead.

Although there is speculation that the shooter has anti-agency views, please note that the police have had no discussions with him. Many things are possible, such as a DV-type situation (which is not incompatible with the former, of course), or a bank robbery, as there is reportedly a bank nearby. What we do know is that this is absolutely terrifying and concerning. Please feel free to use the discussion thread as a safe space to discuss this and to post updates. Please do NOT post images, and do be careful and responsible in relaying reports and information.

Much love to you, Shakers.

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The Virtual Pub Is Open

image of a pub Photoshopped to be named 'The Shakesville Arms'
[Explanations: lol your fat. pathetic anger bread. hey your gay.]

As tomorrow is Thanksgiving in the US, many of the mods will be indisposed for part or all of the next few days, so we're all going to take a long weekend. We'll be back Monday.

To everyone who will be marking Thanksgiving in any way...Happy Thanksgiving!

To everyone who won't be...have a nice weekend!

And in acknowledgement of the part of this holiday which is worth celebrating—that is, taking a moment to give thanks for that for which we are grateful—I would like to say that I am thankful for you, Shakers.

image of raised hands of many different colors lifting glasses in a huge toast

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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

Skid Row: "I Remember You"

This week is featuring all of Deeky's favorite hair metal bands, in honor of his birthday.

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Quote of the Day

image of President Obama at the White House, applauding the turkey he'd just pardoned
President Obama and Abe, the turkey he pardoned today as part of a US Thanksgiving tradition.

"As you may have heard, for months there has been a fierce competition between a bunch of turkeys trying to win their way into the White House."—President Obama, opening his turkey pardoning ceremony with the perfect wordplay to reference the Thanksgiving pardon contest and the Republican presidential contest.

You can watch the whole ceremony here, and I highly recommend it, because Sasha and Malia humoring Dad while he pardons a turkey is probably the greatest thing you'll see all day.

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The Wednesday Blogaround

This blogaround brought to you by the color blue.

Recommended Reading:

Veronica: [Content Note: Police brutality; systemic racism] Organizational Change, #LaquanMcDonald, and #RekiaBoyd

The Feminist Wire Editors: [CN: Racism; misogyny; xenophobia] This Is Fascism, Not Democracy

Angry Asian Man: [CN: Racism] Cops Called on Sikh Student "Doing Something with Wires." (Those wires turned out to be his headphones.)

Eira: [CN: Exploitation] The Whales of Microtransactions, and the Elephant in the Room

TLC: Proposed HUD Rule Would Protect Transgender People Accessing Shelters

Anne: I Published a Goddamn Book

Adam: Stevie Wonder Captivated a New York City Audience for Four Straight Hours Last Night

Leave your links and recommendations in comments. Self-promotion welcome and encouraged!

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"Everything You Know About Thanksgiving Is WRONG."

[Content Note: Discussion of colonialist racism and violence.]

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving in the United States, and here is a terrific video care of Franchesca Ramsey, aka @chescaleigh, reminding us that its commonly taught history is bullshit, and that it's a function of privilege to be able to celebrate it while ignoring that the fairy tale at its center osfuscates violent colonialism. Happy Thanksgiving!

A black family—Mom, Dad, Auntie, Grandpa, Older Sister (Franchesca Ramsey), and Younger Sister—sit around a dining room table eating Thanksgiving dinner and laughing.

Mom: —and I'm thankful for my kindergarten class, who made these wonderful crafts to celebrate Thanksgiving.

[She pulls out from a box a construction paper pilgrim hat, puts the hat on her head, and passes on the box so everyone else can grab one and put it on.]

Grandpa: [reading from a piece of artwork from the box] "After the Native Americans helped the Pilgrims survive their first winter in America, the Puritans invited them to share the first Thanksgiving."

[He holds up the picture for everyone to see, and they make approving noises.]

Older Sister: [takes the picture] Aww these are adorably wrong. [she tears it in half]

Mom: A five-year-old made that.

Older Sister: Based off of the lies that you taught them!

[Younger Sister makes an "oh shit!" face and glances sideways at Mom.]

Mom: [through a gritted-teeth smile] Excuse me?

Older Sister: Oh, it's not your fault! [holds up US history book] These are full of half-truths and historical propaganda! [tosses book over her shoulder]

Younger Sister: I thought the Native Americans and the Pilgrims were, like, besties or whatever.

[Grandpa nods and looks at Older Sister.]

Older Sister: At best, the Pilgrims and Wampanoags could best be described as [she makes air quotes] "political allies." [Auntie makes a "huh?" face] By the time the Pilgrims showed up, not only were two-thirds of the Massachusetts tribes completely wiped out by European slave-owners and diseases [she smashes construction paper teepees on the table] the Pilgrims were constantly at war with the indigenous people and routinely tortured them. [she dumps two small human figures into the gravy boat]

Grandpa: But what about Squanto [Auntie holds up a child's drawing of the Squanto tale] the Native American who learned English to help out the Pilgrims?

Older Sister: He was actually a slave who was hauled off to Europe [she makes a big X across the drawing Auntie is holding] and then he learned English so that he could escape.

Dad: [trying to save it with a big grin] But they did celebrate it every year, right?

Older Sister: Not exactly. [Dads face falls] The next one was sixteen years later. And unfortunately, it was because the Puritans were celebrating the massacre of the Pequot Tribe. Back then, Thanksgiving was also for families! Specifically—murdering them.

Auntie: Okay! We get it! History is awful! The Puritans were terrible! And now we have to let our children know that the holiday started with tons of killings! Happy?!

Older Sister: Wellllll, we actually have just about everything wrong with the Thanksgiving myth. [she stands up and begins walking around the table, plucking off everyone's Pilgrim hats] Definitely didn't wear these buckle hats! [picks up a rock on the table labeled "Plymouth" and tosses it away] Didn't land on Plymouth Rock! And as for that turkey—

Dad: Oh no, not the turkey.

Older Sister: More like venison, foul, and eel. [plops a big ol' eel on Dad's plate]

Mom: [recoiling] Oh!

Younger Sister: Who cares about how this stupid holiday got started, anyway?

Older Sister: Exactly! In George Washington's 1789 Thanksgiving Proclamation, the settlers aren't mentioned, not even once. Thanksgiving wasn't celebrated nationwide until 1863, when this guy [holds out a picture of Abraham Lincoln] declared it a national holiday during the Civil War in order to bring the country together. [she puts construction paper stovepipe hats on everyone's heads] That's why all of our foods are from the 19th century.

Auntie: So Lincoln came up with the whole Indian-Pilgrim story.

Older Sister: Nope! That myth didn't catch on 'til the 1900s, after we had fought and killed all the Native Americans. And then we put it in textbooks as fact! Because America! [takes a bite of food, while everyone else looks shellshocked] But the good is really good, and if you ignore all the terrible history, you know, like the murdering, the raping, the pillaging, it's still kind of a great holiday!

[Everyone stares. Mom scowls.]

Dad: So the Mayflower is a lie!

Grandpa: Why do we eat cranberry sauce?

Auntie: What about stuffing?

Younger Sister: Is Black Friday really just a capitalist conspiracy to get poor people to buy things so we can't truly lead a populist revolt?

[Everyone starts talking at Older Sister, who picks up her glass of wine.]

Older Sister: I am never telling you the truth ever again! [drinks]

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