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Wait, it’s only Wednesday?
Hi there, welcome to Wednesday, January 11. If you’re like me, this week seems to be taking forever. At least we’re past the severe wind and thunderstorms of yesterday. Today should be a lot calmer and afternoon temperatures are going to feel more like April instead of the middle of January. Don’t worry, it doesn’t last long. We’ll see more rain tonight, though not as much as the West coast is getting. Temperatures fall Thursday night and we could be looking at a very slick weekend. Maybe a slow-moving week isn’t a bad thing.
Locally, you’ll just want to largely stay away from the West side of Indianapolis as the Rockville Bridge at 465 is being demolished after being hit by a semi truck yesterday morning. That mess will likely last a month or more. Black Senators testified against Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions yesterday. And a new Pew survey says police officers are more reluctant to make stops and use force. A lot happened in the past 24 hours and not everything you’ve heard is verifiable. Here are the five things you should really know.
Taliban Terror In Afghanistan
The Taliban is taking responsibility for twin bombs in the Afghanistan capital city of Kabul that killed 28 and wounded at least 72, then later a third attack occurred at the guesthouse of the governor of Kandahar, injuring the Ambassador and other diplomats from the United Arab Emirates1. A suicide bomber struck first followed by a car bomb in Kabul. Those two attacks did the majority of the damage with the attack against the Ambassador coming later.
The attacks in Kabul were carried out near a government center where several lawmakers have offices. At least four police officers were among those killed. The Taliban, which is a hyper-right-wing extremist group, once ruled Afghanistan with an iron fist until it was toppled by American forces in 2001. In the fifteen years since, they have been a constant and often deadly source of terror throughout the region as they attempt to wrestle back some form of control.
If all this sounds familiar, it is. This kind of battle in Afghanistan has been going on for decades. The mountainous geography of the country provides plenty of hiding places for small terrorist cells and makes it difficult to directly attack those responsible for giving the orders. While US forces have been in Afghanistan since 2001, Russia had an unsuccessful war against the Taliban prior to that. This is not a group that is easily eliminated through conventional warfare. Expect this to continue until someone finds a solution.
Dylann Roof Gets To Die
After telling a South Carolina jury that, given the chance, he’d do it again, Dylann Roof was sentenced to death yesterday for the murder of nine black people attending a Bible study at a Charleston church. In doing so, Roof becomes the first person to be ordered executed for a federal hate crime. The jury, deliberated a mere three hours, most of which was procedural, bringing to end a trial in which the accused often acted as his own attorney and refused to offer testimony in his own behalf.
Roof had specifically selected the Emanuel AME Church, the South’s oldest black church, with the intention of bringing back segregation or starting a race war. He sat through 45 minutes of the Bible study and waited until the group was praying before opening fire, at times standing over his victims and shooting them a second time to make sure they were dead. His crime didn’t have the effect he wanted, though. If anything, it can be attributed for bringing the Confederate battle flag down from the South Carolina statehouse.
There is some speculation that Roof might have avoided the death penalty had he used mental health records that allegedly show a history of mental illness. However, Roof refused, saying that he didn’t believe in psychology and didn’t want to do anything that might embarrass his family any further. Roof was stoic as the verdict was read with only a few family members showing any sympathy for him.
American Made In Canada
American Apparel finally sold in a bankruptcy auction with Canadian clothing giant Gildan taking on the manufacturing equipment and intellectual property rights of the once-edgy fashion retailer3. However, Gildan did not take on the leases for the manufacturing facilities, nor did it pick up any of the brands’ 110 retail stores. This leaves open a lot of questions as to where the clothes might be made and whether Gildan might close any or all of the current retail outlets.
The hot button issue here, though, is the manufacturing locations more than the retail stores. American Apparel has long touted its “Made In America” label, but Gildan would not promise that all the American manufacturing facilities would remain open. While Gilden currently manufactures thread in South Carolina and Georgia, the only garment they currently make in the US is socks. The greater majority of their 42,000 employees are in low-cost Caribbean and Central American countries.
For their part, Gildan executives say they will consider the feasibility of maintaining current manufacturing facilities as they develop an integration plan over the next several weeks. Be sure, though, everyone in fashion is watching. The president-elect has been bullying manufacturers to make more in the US, but with Gildan being Canadian-owned the orange one’s tweets may not have as much effect.
Saying Goodbye To An Old Friend
As President Obama gave his farewell address in Chicago last night, the last planned speech of his presidency, he did so with his popularity rating 20 points higher than that of the incoming president-elect and the gratitude of a large portion of the nation4. The rhetoric was soaring and emotional, the same sort of speech that got him elected in the first place, full of hope and encouragement with a definite eye toward the future.
While the president touted this success and admitted some failures, the portion of his speech that brought out the tissue was when he spoke of his wife, Michelle, and the journey they have made together the past eight years. Referring to her roots from the often-troublesome South side of Chicago, the president thanked her for taking on a task she didn’t ask for and making it her own, as well as making the White House, “a place that belongs to everybody.5” By the time he finished, I’m pretty sure even the security team was needing tissues.
Speculation has been high as to what the president might do next. He has frequently said that he’s not going away, but as to exactly what role he might take on next is uncertain. Perhaps that is why streaming music provider Spotify posted a job opening yesterday for “President of Playlist.6” The job description includes a requirement of “at least eight years experience running a highly-regarded nation” and a Nobel Peace Prize. There is no word yet as to whether Mr. Obama is considering the position.
And finally …
File this one under “What The Living Fuck Are You Thinking?” Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., the son of the former Senator and nephew of the late president John F. Kennedy, said yesterday that he has been chosen to review vaccine safety and science. Kennedy said that the president-elect, “has some doubts about the current vaccine policy. He asked me to chair a commission on vaccine safety and scientific integrity. I said I would.7”
Immediately, this announcement set off all kinds of bells and whistles within the medical community. The common fear is that such a commission would give credence to a widely and frequently discredited study linking vaccinations to autism. Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University who advises the federal panel that sets U.S. vaccine policy, said the Kennedy news, “raised issues that have been settled securely and completely by good science.”
In typical fashion, the president-elect’s transition team attempted to walk back Kennedy’s statement late Wednesday, saying that “no decisions have been made at this time.” However, one has to wonder why the new administration would even allow this issue to come up. The only purpose it serves is to undermine the good faith and credibility of the medical community at a time when health care is already a national concern. This move is not just stupid, it’s careless, which appears to be a hallmark of the new administration.
For better or worse, that’s all we have time for today. Be watching for slick spots as you’re out this morning and gear up for the possibility of more thunderstorms tonight. We’ll keep an eye on the news, sort through the unsubstantiated rubbish, and whittle it down to digestible chunks tomorrow. Have a good day.