In the News

Here is some stuff in the news today...

[Content Note: Pollution] Fucking hell: "On Tuesday morning, as China's smog-choked capital declared its first ever air pollution red alert, the school, normally buzzing with over-energetic 10-year-olds, was almost silent. A pungent mist hung over the outdoor basketball courts and running track. ...Across Beijing, thousands of other schools and nurseries were in a similar state of almost total shutdown after the city's authorities announced a three-day state of emergency because of the pollution. Building sites and factories were forced to close; millions of cars were ordered off the roads; and teams of environmental inspectors fanned out across the surrounding region to ensure that coal-fired power stations and steel mills were not secretly churning out even more filth into the already putrid atmosphere. ...At 7am, when the red alert—the first in Chinese history—officially came into force, a thick gloom hung over Beijing. Pollution levels were already nearly 15 times higher than the World Health Organisation deems safe." The linked story notes that there are loads of people who have to live and work in Beijing because they can't find livable wages in their hometowns. Having grown up in a steel town in a highly polluted area of the US, I feel so desperately for the people who give their health to support themselves, their families, and their national economy.

[CN: Islamophobia] For fuck's sake: "A severed pig's head tossed outside a Philadelphia mosque has upset residents of multiple faiths and prompted federal and city investigations. Pigs are considered unclean in Islamic culture and pork is not eaten by most practicing Muslims. Mayor-elect Jim Kenney quickly condemned the 'bigotry that desecrated' the Al-Aqsa Islamic Society building Sunday night. 'The City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection has a long history of coming together in the face of challenge,' Kenney said. 'We cannot allow hate to divide us now, in the face of unprecedented difficulties. I ask all Philadelphians to join me in rejecting this despicable act and supporting our Muslim neighbors.' ...Marwan Kreidie, head of the Arab American Development Corp., told [] that the FBI was investigating the pig's head incident. Kreidie said anti-Muslim sentiment is 'worse now' than after the Sept. 11 terror attacks."

Today, the Supreme Court will take up the issue of voting rights, specifically what "one person, one vote" means in the context of drawing voting districts, in Evenwel v. Abbott. At SCOTUSblog, Lyle Denniston has a primer and analysis of the arguments.

[CN: Misogynist violence; racism] Newly elected Canadian Prime Minster Justin Trudeau "has promised an inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women in an appeal to First Nations chiefs. The public inquiry will be 'top priority' of the Liberal government, the newly elected leader said. He called for a 'total renewal' of the relationship between Canada and First Nations peoples. Mr Trudeau promised increased funding for programming and a review of laws on indigenous peoples. Calls for an inquiry have grown since a review found 1,181 indigenous women had been murdered or gone missing since 1980. 'We have made this inquiry a priority for our government because those touched by this national tragedy have waited long enough,' he said at an assembly of First Nations chiefs in Gatineau, Quebec. 'The victims deserve justice; their families an opportunity to heal and to be heard.'"

[CN: Anti-choice terrorism] Robert Dear, the man who killed three people at a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood facility on November 27, "asked at least one person in a nearby shopping center for directions to the facility before opening fire, law enforcement sources confirm to CBS News, offering the clearest suggestion yet that he was targeting the reproductive health organization." The clearest evidence aside from saying "no more baby parts" to police upon his arrest and having targeted a Planned Parenthood facility before, for crying out loud.

Meanwhile: "Planned Parenthood opened a new health facility last week in the Los Angeles area, just days after a shooting rampage at a Colorado clinic killed three people. 'Our doors are open today, in Colorado and across the country, and nothing will deter us from providing high-quality health care to our patients,' Celinda Vazquez, Planned Parenthood Los Angeles vice president of public affairs, said in a statement. The West Hollywood facility will offer a range of services, including gynecological and breast examinations, STD testing, cancer screenings, birth control, and abortion care. The clinic will begin dispensing two powerful anti-HIV drugs aimed at lowering the rate of infections." The bravest people.

[CN: Sexual violence; rape jokes] James Deen says he is "shocked" by rape allegations made by a number of former partners and/or colleagues. He also says none of them are true. And then he adds that the woman are probably motivated by vengeance and greed. And also defends making rape jokes. Riiiiiiight.

[CN: Christian Supremacy] Ted Cruz continues to be a lying liar: "During a town hall event in South Carolina on Monday, Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz made the bold claim that he will defend religious liberty because 'what kind of country are we living in where…we're threatening teenage girls with going to jail if they say the name of Jesus?' Cruz made the remark after telling the story of Angela Hildenbrand, a high school valedictorian who he claims was 'threatened with jail if she exercised her right to pray during her graduation speech.' At the South Carolina event and at other campaign events in the past, Cruz has discussed her story as an example of the government's war on Christianity. ...But Hildenbrand was not actually threatened with jail for praying. In fact, every part of Cruz's statement in South Carolina is incorrect, Greg Lipper, an attorney for Americans United for Separation of Church & State, who worked on the case, told ThinkProgress."

[CN: Islamophobia] Donald Trump's gross anti-Muslim plan is too extreme even for dark lord Dick Cheney: "I think this whole notion that somehow we can just say no more Muslims, just ban a whole religion, goes against everything we stand for and believe in. I mean, religious freedom has been a very important part of our history and where we came from." And then he said a bunch of shit about how the refugee crisis has been created by a "US vacuum" in the Middle East that made me want to punch walls.

One woman in politics said something complimentary about another woman in politics, but that first woman didn't show up at another event for the second woman, and OMG WHAT CAN IT ALL MEAN? Let me consult my LADYRULEZ DECODER RING!

All right then! "A new study suggests dinosaurs might have evolved more rapidly than we'd thought, emerging less than 5 million years after so-called 'pre-dinosaurs' hit the scene. That shaves about 10 million years off the previous evolutionary timeline." Something something evolution is just a theory fart.

And finally! Deer + fake reindeer = win. It's basic math.

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