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This is how we choose to start the year? Really?
Hello there, welcome to another Monday, the first of this new year. For some, this is the first day back to work after the holiday, though many still have today off given the fact that New Year’s Day fell on a Sunday. This is why you went to school those extra four or five years. We’re looking at clouds with a chance of rain this evening and overnight in central Indiana, but another severe winter storm threatens the Northern Plains today, which is largely why no one really wants to live there.
For all the bitching we did about 2016, it really isn’t looking as though 2017 is getting off to a much better start. The president-elect thinks he knows secrets about hacking, North Korea says its ready to test ICBMs, and a number of cities set new records for homicides. We’re obviously not quite as smart as we think we are. That’s why we have 5 Things You Should know this morning.
A deadly end to the year
By now, if you were sober enough to pay any attention to the news yesterday, you already know that a shooting at a nightclub in Istanbul, Turkey left at least 39 dead and more than 70 injured1. A massive manhunt is underway for the shooter who somehow made it out of the club alive. This morning, the dirt wads calling themselves ISIS are claiming responsibility for that attack, which doesn’t really surprise anyone. At least we know the gunman wasn’t dressed as Santa Claus as some outlets reported earlier.
That wasn’t the only mass shooting to ring in the new year, though. Shortly after midnight local time, a heavily-armed man in Campinas, Brazil, walked into a home and killed his ex-wife, his son, and seven others before killing himself2. It took some time for neighbors to realize what was going on. Those who heard the shots thought it was merely people celebrating the New Year. Very little is known about the shooting at this time beyond the fact that it happened.
While the two shootings are totally unrelated, what they underscore is an increasing trend toward mass violence, not just from terrorists but from people we might otherwise consider to be “normal.” I sat in my living room a large part of Saturday night listening to various semi-automatic weapons being fired into the air by my neighbors, wondering why they felt they even needed that type of weapon in the first place. I worry that we may be entering a year where there is no “safe place.”
We call this a cease fire?
Funny how things don’t always mean what you think they’re supposed to mean. Take the words “cease fire,” for instance. One might be tempted to think that such a term means that there is no firing from either side, that everyone puts down their guns and their bombs for a minute and at least has a fucking spot of tea. But no, that would not be the case in Syria, where apparently no one has a fucking dictionary, probably because they’ve blown them all up.
The Syrian government apparently thought 24 hours was enough of a cease-fire and resumed bombardment of rebel-held locations near Damascus on Sunday3. This Russia-Turkey-brokered cease-fire was shaky to begin with. Rebel leaders had already said they would ignore the terms of the cease-fire if the Syrian government continued its bombing. After all, it’s hardly a cease-fire if both sides don’t actually cease.
What you should know about this situation is that the Syrian government isn’t the only one doing some bombing. The US claims it bombed a major Islamic State mortar position on Sunday4 and Turkish and Russian forces bombed Islamic State targets near al-Bab and Dayr Kak early this morning5. This has consistently been one of the problems with the war in Syria: there are too many different sides. Bombs fall from the sky and no one knows who’s bombing whom until someone takes credit after the fact. This has to be the most stupid way of running a war, ever.
One last swipe at 2016
2016 just couldn’t exit without making a final pass at some of our celebrities. Both William Christopher6, who played Father Francis Mulcahy on the long-running series M*A*S*H and Barbara Tarbuck7 who spent 16 years on the soap opera General Hospital died before the year left us, adding to the already long list of notable deaths for the year.
Christopher, who was diagnosed with cancer a mere 18 months ago, was one of only four actors to appear in all 11 seasons of M*A*S*H, which, for the children among us, was a series that managed to find humor in a mobile medical unit in the middle of the Korean conflict. His part was not initially meant to be a big one, but the character and the actor both proved themselves endearing to viewers. Christopher’s kind, warm-hearted demeanor gave a sense of reality to the passivist priest caught in the middle of war.
Ms. Tarbuck was not as well know among general television viewers. Soap opera fans knew her, though, and after her time at General Hospital she continued acting, most recently appearing in five episodes of American Horror Story: Asylum as Mother Superior Claudia. She appeared in numerous films as well, perhaps most notably as Dwayne Johnson’s mother in 2004’s Walking Tall.
We’re hoping that 2017 isn’t as hard on our celebrities as 2016 was. I won’t mind not reading an obituary for a few months.
Your stylist is there to help
Of course, with the first of the year comes a lot of new laws at the state and local level, many of which go unnoticed until one runs afoul of them. A new law in Illinois, though, is taking a unique approach toward victims of domestic abuse with a program that is almost certain to be copied by other states should it prove successful. Starting this week, almost anyone involved in the beauty industry, stylists, barbers, cosmetologists, estheticians, hair braiders and even nail techs receive an hour of state-mandated training on how to spot signs of domestic abuse8.
Now, for the paranoid among us, this is not another law requiring people who are not experts in a field to report anything they find suspicious or questionable to police. There’s no reporting mechanism to this law at all. Rather, the law is designed to give your stylist information to pass on to a possible victim should they see the signs of abuse. The thinking is that since stylists are aware of bumps and bruises that might be covered by hair or makeup, they can quietly offer a victim help without getting authorities involved.
Kat and I have talked about this issue and the law appears to be a good one. Most decent cosmetology schools at least address the issue of domestic abuse, but the Illinois law goes a step further by giving them the tools to actually help their customers. The law also protects stylists from liability should their assessment be incorrect. There is no requirement for a stylist to report anything to anyone. They are there to help. This is the kind of law we hope spreads quickly across all 50 states.
And finally …
2016 couldn’t just sneak out the back door when it was time for it to leave. No, it had to leave some hilarity and nonsense in its wake and it made sure to not limit those bits of last-minute humor to any one place. What is probably most well-known is singer Mariah Carey’s disastrous night on Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest9. All she thought she had to do was lip sync the familiar song, Auld Lang Syne, but technical issues arose and that didn’t go so well. Then, the music started for a song she wasn’t prepared to sing. The disaster lasted far too long for anyone’s comfort.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, someone thought they’d have a little fun with the famous “Hollywood” sign, altering it so it would read “Hollyweed”10. Some mysterious person dressed in black took advantage of the fact that all the local police were protecting larger party venues, scaled the fence, and then used very large tarps to alter the sign. I mean, you have to give whoever did this a lot of credit. The terrain up there is steep and rocky. It took some serious strength to pull off the prank. Everyone laughed, the tarps were down by noon, and it is unlikely charges will ever be filed.
Then, because some issues from 2016 aren’t going away, a couple of protesters hung a banner at yesterday’s football game between the Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears11. The banner protested the involvement of U.S. Bank in the Dakota Access Pipeline. The stadium where the game was played also happens to be named for U.S. Bank. The banner got a lot of attention, which was the point. The two protestors unfurled the banner during the second quarter, then sat up on the girders waving to fans for the rest of the game. They were later arrested on misdemeanor trespassing charges.
Okay, technically I guess we covered a bit more than 5 things you should know for today. It was just that kind of weekend. Let’s hope the entire year isn’t as hectic. We would love to spend more of our time talking about things that don’t involve people dying. We’ll call it a wrap for today, though. Please consider supporting us by helping to sponsor this endeavor. Let’s make this year better than anyone expects, shall we?