In the News

Here is some stuff in the news today...

[Content Note: Hurricane] Hurricane Joaquin reached a Category Four (out of five, with five being the worst) as it landed in the Bahamas: "Sustained winds of up to 210 km/h (130mph) were reported in parts of the eastern Bahamas, the US National Hurricane Centre said. The NHC says Joaquin could affect the US East Coast by Sunday, and said it was now an 'extremely dangerous' storm. Emergency teams said there were no reports of casualties in the Bahamas. Forecasters in the US and the Bahamas are warning that central islands, many of which are low-lying, could see a storm surge of up to 3.7m (12ft). 'We do not know the impact of 130mph on those areas,' Bahamas Prime Minister Perry Christie said. 'We know it's a horrific kind of experience.' One Bahamas resident, Shandira Forbes, said she had been in contact with her mother on the island of Acklins. 'She was calling for help because the sea was coming into her house,' she told Associated Press. 'People's roofs were lifting up. No one knew, so there was no preparedness, there was no meeting, there was nothing.'" Fuck.

[CN: Drones; death] What in all hell: "Faisal bin Ali Jaber came to recognize that in his case, justice was not realistic. The most he could hope for from the American government that killed his family in a drone strike was an apology, much as the families of two wrongfully killed westerners received from Barack Obama. ...[O]n Monday, his lawyers at the human-rights group Reprieve wrote to the Obama administration with a new offer. Jaber would settle his case, attorney Cori Crider wrote to Barack Obama, in exchange for 'an apology and an explanation as to why a strike that killed two innocent civilians was authorized'. ...But on Wednesday, the Justice Department tacitly rejected the offer. ...As it has in previous cases seeking redress for drone strikes, the lawyers said 'the government could not confirm or deny' the strike took place; and added that Jaber was not the proper person to seek redress in US court for any such strike." This, despite the fact that President Obama explicitly apologized to the families of "Warren Weinstein and Giovanni Lo Porto, an American and an Italian whom al-Qaida militants held hostage on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border," who were killed in a US drone strike. "'On behalf of the United States government, I offer our deepest apologies to their families,' Obama said on 23 April. His administration promoted the apology as a milestone in transparency and accountability for US counter-terrorism. ...Jaber and his lawyers are left wondering why Lo Porto and Weinstein's families merited forthright apologies, but he does not. Justice Department officials did not provide an explanation to the Guardian."

[CN: Anti-choice terrorism] I am not surprised, but I am angry as fuck: "The growing conservative uproar against Planned Parenthood—sparked by this summer's release of several videos depicting the health center's employees speaking frankly about procuring fetal tissue for scientific donation—has led to some vicious verbal attacks. ...But this fiery debate has also potentially triggered physical backlash. Since the release of the inflammatory videos, several Planned Parenthood centers and other clinics that offer abortions have been vandalized across the country, shutting some down for weeks."

[CN: Christian Supremacy; homophobia] The Vatican is backpedaling faster than a bike messenger trying to avoid the path of the Popemobile on Pope Francis' visit with homobigot clerk Kim Davis: "Looking to limit controversy after last week's meeting in Washington between the pope and Kim Davis, Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said she was one of 'several dozen' people who had been invited by the Vatican ambassador to see Francis. 'The Pope did not enter into the details of the situation of Mrs. Davis and his meeting with her should not be considered a form of support of her position in all of its particular and complex aspects,' Lombardi said in a statement." Of course not! Rest assured he still hates same-sex marriage, though!

(In case anyone yet doubts my oft-repeated refrain that Pope Francis is merely a savvy PR player concerned about the Church's role in today's world, this is from the same article: "A senior Vatican official, who declined to be named, said there was a 'sense of regret' within the Holy See over the encounter, which sparked widespread debate in the United States, overshadowing almost all other aspects of the pope's visit." No sense of regret for underwriting and promoting homophobia, but they're real bummed that everyone has stopped talking about how supercool the Pope is!)

Arne Duncan will be stepping down at the end of the year from his position as Secretary of Education, which he's held for seven years. I don't have a whole lot of feelings about that. I've never been a huge fan of any Secretary of Education ever, that I recall.

Wow! "On Monday, [farmer] James Bristle of Lima Township [in Michigan] was digging in a soy field when he and his friend pulled up what they first thought was a bent, muddy old fence post. But it was actually the rib bone of an ancient woolly mammoth." Can you even imagine?! "'We knew it was something that was out of the norm,' Bristle told The Ann Arbor News. 'My grandson came over to look at it, he's 5-years-old, he was speechless.' On Wednesday, University of Michigan professor Daniel Fisher—who'd been contacted via the university by Bristle and his friends—was able to go out and confirm the find. Fisher believes that the mammoth died between 11,000 and 15,000 years ago. ...'We get calls once or twice a year about new specimens like this,' Fisher told The Post. But they're usually mastodons. It's a bit more unusual to find a mammoth, the group more closely related to modern elephants.'" What a cool discovery!

[CN: Privilege] Shut up, Andrew Garfield. I'm with Kaiser on this one: "'I'm not accepted. None of us are accepted in this culture.' That coming from a white heterosexual dude is…not great. I understand that he was trying to make a larger statement about what he feels 'culture' demands from everyone (an unattainable perfection), but it just struck me that he is a white man with enormous privilege play-acting this idea that he struggles too because his eyebrows aren't perfect." Boom.

[CN: Video may autoplay at link] Mira Sorvino was surprised by HuffPo by the inventor of Post-It Notes (if you don't know why, go watch Romy and Michele's High School Reunion immediately!), and it was sort of awkward and sort of cute and sort of terrible.

[CN: Images of surgery in video] ALL THE BLUBS FOREVER: A pilot with Pilots 'n Paws delivered a homeless injured puppy for crucial veterinary care, and then returned later to adopt him, because he couldn't stop thinking about him. MY HEART!

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