The Virtual Pub Is Open + Programming Note

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

TFIF, Shakers!

Belly up to the bar,
and name your poison!

Tomorrow begins a holiday weekend here in the States, and several of the mods, myself included, will be traveling and/or having visitors tomorrow and through next week, so we are taking next week off, starting tonight. Additionally, I've got a personal thing on Monday the 13th, so we'll be back on Tuesday the 14th. See you then!

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Primarily Speaking

image of Jim Webb, standing next to a US flag, speaking, to which I've added text reading: 'I am the WORST'

Welp, Democratic former Senator Jim Webb, who is unapologetically misogynistic and racist, and was most recently heard from defending the Confederate flag, has announced that he is running for president. Presumably as a Democrat, although as CNN [CN: video autoplays at link] notes, "he did not say specifically that he was seeking the Democratic nomination" in his announcement statement.

Which, by the way, is super terrific and you should definitely read it.

It's pretty cool how he's advising bipartisan solutions, just as President Obama's approval rating is rising with his progressive successes. You've really got your finger on the pulse, Webb!

I really dislike this guy and hope he fails miserably!

In other news, Senator Bernie Sanders is making news for raising $15 million in donations and also for [CN: video autoplays at link] drawing a huge crowd in Madison, Wisconsin. Yay for enthusiasm about progressive ideas! But also? As my friend Mary observed on Twitter, he's drawing huge crowds in very white areas. As far as I have been able to discern, with Aphra_Behn's assistance, his campaign staff is very white and male, and he still isn't including a lot of meaningful intersectional analysis in his class-centered rhetoric.

Apart from the fact that it increasingly looks like Sanders' position is essentially a trickle-down social justice narrative—give poor white men what they need and everyone will follow, or be simultaneously helped by coincidence—which is a decency problem, it's also an electability problem. Sanders won't always be running for a Democratic primary. At some point, he needs to show us what his general election campaign would look like. Then again, maybe he already is. Which is why we need to interrogate these issues now.

In other other news, Politico did a profile of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's longtime key aide Huma Abedin, and it is predictably terrible! Here is something that would simply never be written about two male colleagues: "Just a few feet away from Clinton dressed in a classic tweed navy shift, Huma Abedin, 39, moved through the crowd tracking her boss. Abedin, Clinton's longest-serving aide, chatted breezily with acquaintances. But like a mother monitoring her child on the playground, she never let Clinton drift out of her line of sight, ever vigilant and poised to act."

It's simply terrific how "like a mother monitoring her child on the playground" manages to demean both women at once.

On the other side of the aisle, Republican Governor of Wisconsin Scott Walker will reportedly announce his entry into the clown car on July 13. Can't wait!

Basically, this means Jeb Bush now has some real competition. Maybe Walker and Bush ("Walker and Bush" sounds like an off-brand whiskey) will split the white racist conservative vote (redundant) and Senator Marco Rubio will sneak through with the win. That'd be fun!

Anyway. I'm sure all the other eleventy-seven candidates are up to all kinds of good things today, too. Congratulations to all of them for continuing to be unmitigatingly horrendo.

Talk about these things! Or don't. Whatever makes you happy. Life is short.

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I Write Letters

[Content Note: Fat hatred.]

Dear Fellow Fat Person:

You and I both know that fat people can be cruel to each other, sometimes even in ways that thin people aren't cruel to us.

We've spent a lifetime internalizing fat hatred, and some of us get so overwhelmed with directing it at ourselves, that we start directing it at each other, as a futile attempt at self-protection.

You know the things we can do to one another: Playing the Good Fatty, saying things like "at least my fat is proportional," drawing lines between acceptable and unacceptable fatness (thresholds usually drawn just to make sure that we're on the side of "acceptable"), telling each other that "all you need is some confidence," using each other as an excuse to eat something we wouldn't otherwise, cajoing and coercing each other to eat things, not so secretly suspecting that other fat people really eat too much and exercise too little, being not so secretly embarrassed when we see another fat person who fits some fat stereotype, pretending that we are Superior Fatties if we manage to have the financial and emotional wherewithal to locate and purchase the "right" clothes.

And on and on and on.

I just want you know I'm never going to do that to you.

I am never going to look at you and judge you for being fat, or think I know the reason, believing that being fat myself gives me some special insight into other fatties' lives.

I am never going to think my fatness is better than (or worse than) yours.

I am never going to think you should be wearing anything other than what you want to be wearing. And if you are not wearing what you would ideally like to be wearing, I would be happy to go shopping with you! And if shopping is hard, and you need to cry, you can cry with me.

In fact, you can cry with me about anything. I will cry with you and laugh with you and listen to you and share my own stories with you. And I will never, ever, think that you are weak. I know how much strength it takes to be fat in a world that hates us.

I will never hesitate to go anywhere with you, because we're both fat. I will belly right up to a buffet with you, and I will go swimming with you, and I will squeeze into a tight seat on public transportation beside you. I will never be ashamed of your fat, or mine, or ours together in the same place.

I will take up space with you.

I will be your ally, because I want you to live. I don't ever want to make you, or anyone else, feel like they have to make themselves smaller, make their voices quieter, make their lives less than, because they are fat. I want you to live a big fat joyful life, and I want to live one, too.

Not at your expense. Alongside you. There is plenty of room for all of us.

And there is enough fat hatred in this world already without my contributing even more of it.

You, my fellow fat traveler, will never be my target.

And I hope I will never be yours.

With abundance in both body and spirit,

[Related Reading: Big Fat Love; A Letter About Food and Judgment.]

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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

Styx: "Come Sail Away"

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Quote of the Day

"FYI I had never attempted climbing a pole until 2 days before I took down the flag. I had the help of another badass woman activist who graciously taught me how to climb."Bree Newsome, on Twitter, on her extraordinary feat of activism in South Carolina last weekend.

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Zelda the Black and Tan Mutt sitting on the floor of my office looking up at me with a sweet and plaintive face
Zelda wants things. I shall give them to her.

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: Colonialism; dehumanization] This weekend, lots of USians will be celebrating the Fourth of July, which is being recognized tomorrow, since it falls on the weekend this year. Ahead of the holiday, Mark Charles, a Navajo speaker, writer, and consultant, urges us to understand that "the United States of America does not share a common memory" and invites "every American to start their day by learning about the Doctrine of Discovery. Allowing the reality of the dehumanizing nature of this doctrine to temper your celebrations. You can still light your fireworks and eat your BBQ as you celebrate a hard fought victory over the British. But at the end of the day, I humbly ask you to conclude your celebrations with [a plea for] the courage necessary to create a common memory."

[CN: War on agency] A whole raft of new abortion restrictions went into effect in various states yesterday, and Teddy Wilson's got a round-up of what's new in the war on agency.

[CN: Environmental disaster; displacement] Fuck: "More than 5,000 residents of the US state of Tennessee have been evacuated [into temporary shelters for up to 48 hours] after a freight train carrying toxic chemicals derailed and caught fire. The train was carrying a flammable, toxic substance called acrylonitrile when it came off the rails near Maryville, just outside Knoxville. Firefighters evacuated people within a two-mile radius of the fire to prevent them breathing in the poisonous fumes. Local police said seven officers were hospitalised because of the fumes. ...Acrylonitrile is a chemical compound used to manufacture plastics. Officials say it is 'highly flammable and toxic' and can cause headaches, nausea, and kidney irritation if inhaled."

[CN: Environmental disaster] I can't really say this is good news, considering all the damage that was done: "BP has agreed to pay a record environmental fine of $18.7bn to settle legal actions brought by the US and several states over the fatal 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The US justice department, along with the states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Texas, and Florida, all sued BP for damages not covered by the company's earlier settlements with businesses and individuals harmed by the worst offshore spill in US history. The settlement ends all litigation between BP, the states, and the US government and allows the company to pay over 18 years."

[CN: Homophobia; housing discrimination] This is a complicated but important case: "A federal judge in Alabama has dismissed a discrimination complaint against the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), but in doing so, outlined how exactly housing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation might be prohibited under federal law. ...The Fair Housing Act (FHA) offers protections on the basis of 'sex,' but not explicitly 'sexual orientation,' [HUD officials] argued. This prompted [District Judge William M. Acker, Jr.] to take up the question if any sexual orientation complaints could be considered under the FHA, and he actually agrees that they could. He acknowledges that in 2012, HUD issued the Equal Access Rule, expanding protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity within the constraints of the law's 'sex' protections. Specifically, this step opened up two grounds for such a complaint: 'discrimination because of nonconformity with gender stereotypes' and 'discrimination in the form of sexual harassment.' Acker affirms this interpretation of the law as a 'permissible reading of 'sex.'' 'These type of expanded protections for such individuals under the FHA is [sic] directly rooted in non-conformity with male or female gender stereotypes, and not directly derivative of sexual orientation as an independent and separate ground for protection.'"

[CN: Harassment; threats] Whitney Phillips is a media studies scholar who has done research on online trolling and has published a new book, This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things. She talks about her research in an interview with Patt Morrison, and has some interesting things to say about trolling and privilege.

Lovely: "20 Glorious Portraits of Native Americans by Ryan Red Corn."

Wowwwwwwww! "The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) today announced that Rihanna has surpassed more than 100 million gold & platinum song certifications, elevating her to No. 1 on RIAA's list of artists with the most digital single awards and making her the first artist to surpass RIAA's 100 million cumulative singles award threshold." That is an amazing history-making record to hold!

[CN: Sexual abuse] The non-familial victim of Josh Duggar may file a civil suit against him: "Although the statute of limitations on the case expired, legal experts say the victim maintains the right to sue under Arkansas Code Annotated Section 16-56-30 where a sexual abuse victim may pursue civil action if they start to experience effects of that abuse several years later." If she does, I wish her so much strength for what will be a very difficult battle.

Such a rough, rough break for the English women's football team, and such a terrible bit of luck for England defender Laura Bassett, whose own goal led to a Japan win at the World Cup. I'm sorry, Laura Bassett! And I hate everyone who will be mean to you because of it!

Headline of the Day: "Aquatic Worm Species Can Inject Its Own Head With Sperm to Reproduce, Scientists Discover." Sure. Okay.

And finally! I CANNOT EVEN DEAL with the cuteness of an owlet and kitten who are BFFs! IT'S TOO CUTE!

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Fat Fashion

This is your semi-regular thread in which fat women can share pix, make recommendations for clothes they love, ask questions of other fat women about where to locate certain plus-size items, share info about sales, talk about what jeans cut at what retailer best fits their body shapes, discuss how to accessorize neutral colored suits, share stories of going bare-armed for the first time, brag about a cool fashion moment, whatever.

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image of me sitting on the stairs, wearing a grey top with a keyhole sleeve, though which my POW! tattoo is visible

So, right now, keyhole sleeves (also known as cut-out sleeves or peekaboo sleeves) are back in fashion. I got this top at Torrid awhile ago, but it's not available on the site anymore.

They're great for showing off shoulder and upper arm tats, obviously! But they're also a terrific bridge piece for fat women who have issues with revealing our upper arms. Because they still provide some cover, especially of the under-arm, it's a way to take baby step toward bare arms, if you're not quite at a place where you feel comfortable going totally bare yet.

Anyway! As always, all subjects related to fat fashion are on topic, but if you want a topic for discussion: Are you ready to go full bare arm yet? Have you never had issues with baring your arms? Are you all BRING ON THE TANKTOPS?!

Have at it in comments! Please remember to make fat women of all sizes, especially women who find themselves regularly sizing out of standard plus-size lines, welcome in this conversation, and pass no judgment on fat women who want to and/or feel obliged, for any reason, to conform to beauty standards. And please make sure if you're soliciting advice, you make it clear you're seeking suggestions—and please be considerate not to offer unsolicited advice. Sometimes people just need to complain and want solidarity, not solutions.

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Adios, Maria!

1970's image of Sonia Manzano, playing Maria, standing in a grassy field holding a Sesame Street sign

Sonia Manzano, who played Maria on Sesame Street for 44 years (!) has announced her retirement:
Manzano joined the show in 1971, and was promoted to series regular in 1974. During her tenure on the show, Manzano was nominated twice for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Performer in a Children's Series, but lost both times. As a Sesame Street scriptwriter, however, she had better luck, winning a total of 15 Emmy Awards. She and TV husband Luis also fixed countless toasters while co-running the bustling Fix-It Shop.

Manzano's post-TV life already seems busy: She's out promoting her forthcoming memoir, Becoming Maria: Love And Chaos in the South Bronx, as well as assuring distraught Twitter users that everything will be okay on Sesame Street after her departure.
Aww lol.

[Content Note: Videos autoplay at links] I was born the same year Maria was promoted to series regular, and I don't remember a day when I didn't watch Sesame Street during my early childhood. I was utterly taken with all the muppets—and all the humans, too. I was Cookie Monster for Halloween one year, and I lived for our visits to Sesame Place, and I have pictures of me with Gordon (Roscoe Orman) when I was about three and he did a local appearance, and I can still sing so many of the Sesame Street songs from memory: "Ladybugs' Picnic," "Me and My Llama," "Eleven Twelve," and of course Maria's "Spanish Counting Song."

I remember when Maria and Luis got married, and, even though I was far too old for Sesame Street anymore by that time, somehow I saw it.

Sesame Street was a huge part of my childhood, like millions and millions of other kids, and I am so grateful to Sonia Manzano for bringing Maria to life and being a part of ours.

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Justice Department Says Trans Students' Rights Are Violated by Restrictive Bathroom Policies

[Content Note: Transphobia; gender policing.]

Gavin Grimm, a 16-year-old high school junior from Gloucester County, Virginia, filed a lawsuit against his school system after he was denied access to the boys' restroom because he is transgender.

Until December, Grimm had used the boys’ restrooms for seven weeks without any issues. Then, amid pressure from parents, the school board voted 6 to 1 to restrict girls' and boys' bathrooms to students of "the corresponding biological genders."

"I just want to use the restroom in peace," Grimm said in a statement. "Since the school board passed this policy, I feel singled out and humiliated every time I need to use the restroom."
So, with the assistance of the ACLU, Grimm sued, arguing that "he should be allowed to use the school system's communal restrooms and not 'alternative' facilities just for transgender students," which stigmatizes being trans* and is humiliating for trans* students.

On Tuesday, the US Department of Justice filed a statement of interest in which they sided with Grimm:
[T]he Justice Department argues that the Gloucester County school board's policy violates Grimm's rights, and federal officials are seeking to ensure that "all students, including transgender students, have the opportunity to learn in an environment free of sex discrimination."

...Justice Department officials wrote that Grimm should be allowed to use the male restrooms at Gloucester High School as a matter of mental health. It also said discriminating against transgender students could be a violation of the federal Title IX regulations that aim to prevent discrimination on the basis of gender.

"Singling out transgender students and subjecting them to differential treatment can also make them more vulnerable to bullying and harassment, a problem that transgender students already face," according to the Justice document. ..."Allowing transgender students to use the restrooms consistent with their gender identity will help prevent stigma that results in bullying and harassment and will ensure that the District fosters a safe and supportive learning environment for all students, a result that is unquestionably in the public interest."
Further, when the Gloucester County School Board cited a federal court decision from March regarding a similar case in Pennsylvania, in which Judge Kim R. Gibson dismissed a similar lawsuit brought by a trans* college student, the Justice Department pushed back on Gibson's ruling (and consequently GCSB's invoking it), saying her "reasoning was 'faulty and should not be followed' because the distinction between sex and gender was 'eviscerated' by a 1989 Supreme Court case on sex-based discrimination. Instead, the Justice Dept. argues, the definition of 'sex' is broad under Title IX and that 'an individual's gender identity is one aspect of an individual's sex …Consequently, discrimination on the basis of gender identity is 'literally' discrimination on the basis of sex.'"

This is good news indeed, but unless federal regulations are instituted protecting trans* students, individual students will continue to have to sue on a case by case basis, if they even have the inclination and wherewithal to do so.

And there's no guarantee the next administration will be as disposed toward advancing trans* rights and protections. Suffice it to say, there isn't a single Republican candidate in the clown car whose Justice Department would be likely to support trans* students.

Every Democratic candidate is, however, decidedly on board with this DoJ position. Which is a positive development. But it's not enough.

Federal protections are crucial. The sooner the better.

[H/T to Shaker aforalpha.]

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Open Thread

image of the cover of Queen Latifah's album 'All Hail the Queen'

Hosted by Queen Latifah's "All Hail the Queen."

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Question of the Day

Suggested by Shaker plot_thickens: "What do you enjoy doing every day, or almost every day?"

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The Wednesday Blogaround

This blogaround brought to you by ballet slippers.

Recommended Reading:

Kat: [Content Note: Misogynoir; homophobia; transphobia; fat bias] We Need to Stop Making Black Women the Mammies of Our Movements (and Our Friend Groups) Right Now

Ragen: [CN: Fat hatred; eliminationism] Not a Civil Debate

stavvers: [CN: Rape culture] Rape Scenes Are Usually Lazy Writing and Directing

Dan: [CN: War on agency] How Do You Make a Safe Abortion Any Safer?

Bix: [CN: Racism; police brutality] Beyond Solidarity: A Woman of Color in the #BlackLivesMatter Movement

Riley: Top 5 Quotes from the Nina Simone Netflix Doc That Got Me Together

Andy: Detroit Lions to Host First LGBT Pride Night in the NFL

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

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Your Best Photograph

Although we have various threads in which submitting photographs is welcome and encouraged—the Daily Dose of Cute, Fat Fashion, the Make-Up Thread, tattoo threads, selfies threads—I don't regularly post anything for general photography. So, if you're a photographer, even if a very amateur one (like myself), and you've got a photo or photos you'd like to share outside of those categories, here's a thread for that!

It doesn't really have to be your best photograph—just one you like!

Please be sure if your photo contains people other than yourself, that you have the explicit consent of the people in the photos before posting them.

* * *

I'm not much of a photographer, but here's one I took last weekend at a train station of the bricked pavement that I quite like.

image of a red brick pavement, with little sprouts of green grass growing between the bricks and a yellow painted line running vertically through the image

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Primarily Speaking

[Content Note: Racism.]

image of a US flag behind a pair of clown shoes, with text reading: '14 clowns and counting! GOP 2016'

I'm so excited! And I just can't hide it! I love I love I love the primaries and I just can't hide it! Are you as excited as I am! I BET YOU ARE! If you are so excited about all the cool people running for president, please check this box: □

With Republican New Jersey Governor Chris Christie having entered the race, that brings the total number of Republicans currently running for president to 14!

My cool new party trick is being able to name all the GOP presidential candidates! It's kinda like knowing all the words to "We Didn't Start the Fire." Harry Truman Doris Day Rick Santorum Donald Trump South Pacific Walter Winchell George Pataki, too! Fiorina Maybe Pence Maybe Kasich too one day! Rand Paul Rubio what else do I have to say?!


As per usual, all the candidates are definitely up to being supercool. Here is my executive summary of the goings-on: Senator Rand Paul is chilling with Clive Bundy, because of course he is. [CN: Video autoplays at next link.] Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Gold Toilet Aficionado Donald Trump are leading the GOP field in polls that don't matter. Dr. Ben Carson is still definitely running for president! Something something George Pataki! Senator Ted Cruz is auditioning for The Simpsons WHUT WHUT WHUT. I'm sure Corporate Power-Failure Carly Fiorina is somewhere saying something about Hillary Clinton. Senator Lindsey Graham is meanwhile Clinton's #1 frenemy or something. Blah blah Rick Perry farrrrt! Senator Marco Rubio plans to spend $7 million on ads in early primary states and I HOPE HE IS GULPING WATER DESPERATELY IN ALL OF THEM. Governor Bobby Jindal is "tanned, rested, and ready" bzuhhhh? Sweatervest model Rick Santorum is a human who still exists. And Professor of Bible Bigotry Mike Huckabee has denounced 81 things coooooooool.

Looking good, Republicans! Your party is definitely ready to lead!

On the other side of the aisle: Former Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee says we should "allow Edward Snowden to come home," and this is a significant point of difference with Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton. (I'm with Chafee on this one.)

Former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley has hired former Obama campaign adviser Dave Hamrick as his campaign manager, and Hamrick has a lot of work to do, since O'Malley is trailing Hillary Clinton by an average of 50 points in the polls that don't matter.

(And they really don't matter at this point, except to indicate who's competitive in the field. So that doesn't bode well for O'Malley.)

Senator Bernie Sanders is still very grumpy! That is not a criticism!

And former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's campaign raised "at least $45 million during its first quarter... Clinton's haul from her campaign's launch in mid-April through June 30 is a record for primary money raised in a candidate's first quarter." Obviously, President Barack Obama is the previous record-holder. Yowza!

Talk about these things! Or don't. Whatever makes you happy. Life is short.

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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

Naked Eyes: "Always Something There to Remind Me"

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Quote of the Day

"In the racially underrepresented world of ballet, Misty has already had an historic impact. Now, as a groundbreaking principal dancer, she will continue to inspire and make possible much-needed changes for our field and for the arts in America."—Damian Woetzel, former principal dancer for New York City Ballet and now the director of the Vail International Dance Festival, on the news that Misty Copeland has been named "principal dancer at American Ballet Theatre on Tuesday—the first African-American ballerina to achieve that status in the company's 75-year history."

The company announced the promotion six days after Copeland made her New York debut in the role of Odette/Odile in "Swan Lake," one of the most important roles in a ballerina's repertoire. The emotional performance ended with Copeland being greeted onstage by trailblazing black ballerinas of earlier generations.
Copeland, who was named one of Time's [CN: video autoplays at link] 100 Most Influential People of 2015, has been a guest judge on So You Think You Can Dance, is a memoirist, and has a feature film in the works. She's also just generally awesome.

image of Misty Copeland in the splits
[Image via.]

If you haven't had the absolute pleasure of seeing Misty Copeland dance, you can find clips on YouTube. Below, the video which accompanied Time's profile of her:

Video Description: Piano music. Black and white footage of Copeland dancing alone, and then with a black male partner. Cut to Copeland onscreen. She says, "The way that dancing came into my life was very unexpected." She continues speaking, as the video cuts back and forth from footage of her dancing to film of her speaking onscreen. "I was 13 years old, living in a motel, with my single parent—my mother—and five of my siblings. I never thought I could make a career out of something that I enjoyed doing, something I was passionate about, something that gave me a voice. There's just been a whole slew of African-American women who have just really pushed me and motivated me during those times that I didn't know if I could do it."

Black and white image of Raven Wilkinson dancing. Copeland continues: "Raven Wilkinson—one of the first African-American ballerinas to dance in a major ballet company." Back to cuts between Copeland speaking and dancing. "It's important for me to set an example of what a healthy image is—what a ballerina can be, that she doesn't have to be a white woman that's rail thin. [chuckles] That she can look like the world. And I think that's what American Ballet Theatre also helps to represent—is what Americans look like, and that dreams are possible here, and that you really can push yourself to become anything, with the right work ethic and support around you."

More footage of Copeland dancing, as the music changes. "I hope to see more diversity on the stage when I'm sixty years old, watching in the audience." Big grin. "I hope the audience is more diverse. I think that's why people go to see performances—they want to see something beautiful, but they also want to see themselves up there; they want to be able to dream of what maybe they dream about doing, you know?! Going up there and dancing! But it's hard to envision that when you don't see yourself represented up there."

Footage of Copeland at a photo shoot. "I would want a younger child, looking at me on the cover, to see themselves; to see endless opportunities; to see possibilities that maybe they never even thought were something that they could attain. I want them to be able to see dreams through me." Huge grin.

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Olivia the White Farm Cat, half lying down and half sitting up on the back porch, looking intently at something out of frame
Olivia lazily hunting moths on the back porch last night.

She isn't sure whether she can be arsed to get up and chase the moth she's spied, but you can just see the tip of her tail flicking with the agitation of a piqued huntress, lol.

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: Colonialism] Today is Canada Day, and lots of Canadians are celebrating. Happy Canada Day to those who celebrate it. Killa Atencio, an indigenous activist, writes about why she chooses not to celebrate Canada Day: "Ideally, for me, Canada Day would encompass everything it pretends to be: freedom, sharing, unity, prosperity, and a healthy nation-to-nation relationship. But the relationship between Canada and its indigenous peoples today remains broken with an urgent need to be repaired."

Congratulations to the US Women's Soccer Team, who defeated Germany 2-0 last night, and now heads to the final! Woot!

[CN: Police killings; racism] The Guardian continues its terrific coverage of police killings in the US, finding that the killings are happening "at a rate that would result in 1,100 fatalities by the end of this year... The Counted, a project working to report and crowdsource names and a series of other data on every death caused by law enforcement in the US this year, found that 547 people had been killed by the end of June." That's an average of three people killed every day for the first half of this year. "In total, 478 of those people were shot and killed, while 31 died after being shocked by a Taser, 16 died after being struck by police vehicles, and 19—including 25-year-old Freddie Gray in Baltimore—have died after altercations in police custody. When adjusted to accurately reflect the US population, the totals indicate that black people are being killed by police at more than twice the rate of white and Hispanic or Latino people. Black people killed by police were also significantly more likely to have been unarmed."

[CN: Police killings; disablism] In related news, the Washington Post has published a major piece about police killings and mental illness, finding: "Nationwide, police have shot and killed 124 people this year who...were in the throes of mental or emotional crisis, according to a Washington Post analysis. The dead account for a quarter of the 462 people shot to death by police in the first six months of 2015. The vast majority were armed, but in most cases, the police officers who shot them were not responding to reports of a crime. More often, the police officers were called by relatives, neighbors, or other bystanders worried that a mentally fragile person was behaving erratically, reports show. ...More than half the killings involved police agencies that have not provided their officers with state-of-the-art training to deal with the mentally ill. And in many cases, officers responded with tactics that quickly made a volatile situation even more dangerous."

[The disparities between the two tallies in total number of people killed by police is down to how they are counting police killings. The Guardian is essentially casting a wider net.]

[CN: Misogynoir; terrorism; white/male supremacy] Three female ministers at African Methodist Episcopal Churches in Clarendon County, South Carolina, have received threatening letters: "The letters quoted several bible verses, which the person writing the letter feels, makes reference to women not being head of the church, or home and the women must repent and turn away from what they are doing in the church, home or the letter threatens 'you and your children will die.'" These letters, received by female pastors at black churches, at the same time black churches are being burned, is not a coincidence.

Historic news: "President Barack Obama said on Wednesday the United States has agreed to the historic step of re-establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba, and will raise its flag over a U.S. Embassy in Havana this summer." Wow.

Blub: "Biiftu Duresso, an 18-year-old from Rochester, New York, graduated at the top of her class this past Saturday from Joseph C. Wilson Magnet High School, WHAM reported. During her graduation speech, the valedictorian took the time to thank those who inspired her including her father, Jamal Abdullahi, an Ethiopian immigrant who works nights as a supervising custodian at her school, as well as her mother, reported. 'My parents, Jamal and Zubaida, made their way to Rochester, New York, from Ethiopia in the '80s and '90s,' Biiftu said in her speech, according to 'They had the audacity to imagine something better for me and my siblings.' ...Duresso will be attending Barnard College in the fall and hopes to become a doctor. She plans to bring everything full circle, by opening a clinic in Ethiopia."

[CN: Wildfires] 2015 is already shaping up to be a bad year for wildfires, which is in turn bad for air quality: "As of June 30, 45 wildfires large active wildfires burned from Alaska down to Arizona and as far west as Colorado. Wildfires in Southern California had driven thousands from their homes, while fires in Alaska have burned more than one million acres this year. ...Wildfires come with smoke—and as residential developments continue to blur the boundaries between forest and urban, communities are increasingly facing health risks associated with smoke pollution." Fuck.

[CN: Homophobia] Some Christian dipshit in East Tennessee has put up a "No Gays Allowed" sign on his hardware store because: "They gladly stand for what they believe in, why can't I? They believe their way is right, I believe it's wrong. But yet I'm going to take more persecution than them because I'm standing for what I believe in." The man who has put a "No Gays Allowed" sign on his business says he's "going to take more persecution than them." Without a trace of fucking irony. Well, since his sign only prohibits "gays," I hope that lesbians and bisexual people will enjoy the low, low prices at his going out of business sale!

[CN: Racism; dehumanization] Google has apologized after its new Photos app, which "automatically tags uploaded pictures using its own artificial intelligence software," labelled a selfie of a black woman and man as "gorillas." A Google spokesperson said: "We're appalled and genuinely sorry that this happened. We are taking immediate action to prevent this type of result from appearing. There is still clearly a lot of work to do with automatic image labelling, and we're looking at how we can prevent these types of mistakes from happening in the future." The question, of course, is: How was this bug not uncovered in testing? Probably because it wasn't rigorously tested with photos of people of color.

[CN: Moving gifs at link] And finally! Photographer and filmmaker Mitsuaki Iwago was befriended by an adorably tenacious kitten while "shooting a special about cats of the world for television company NHK on Okinawa island." TOO CUTE.

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