A Monday by any other name
It’s Monday and I hope you’re staying warm. The temperature outside is all of one degree Fahrenheit as we look at the world this morning. Most of the nation is going to stay in the ice box for the greater part of the week with some hope for a warm up just in time for the weekend.
Our Muslim friends are celebrating the prophet’s birthday today and for everyone else, the number of shopping days continues to dwindle, especially if you’re ordering anything online. The water is back on in Corpus Cristi this morning, but the good news ends there, I’m afraid. We’ve certified five things you need to know for today, so let’s get to it.
And The Winner Is …
The big day is finally here. In all 50 states and the District of Columbia, the Electoral College meets today to put it’s rubber stamp on the United States presidential election. While Hilary Clinton won the popular count by nearly three million votes, Donald Trump took the electoral count sufficiently enough for there to not be any real conflict. While protests are planned for several state capitols1, quite honestly folks, you’re better off staying inside where it’s nice and warm. You’re not going to change anything.
The Associated Press polled electors yesterday and confirmed that all the emails and letters have not had any effect in changing most elector’s votes.
Wirt A. Yerger Jr., a Republican elector in Mississippi, said, “I have gotten several thousand emails asking me not to vote for Trump. I threw them all away.”
It would take over 70 electors changing their vote for there to be any variance in the outcome. This was the balance the founding fathers wrote into the Constitution2. Republican elector Mary Sue MccClurkin from Alabama told the AP: “Our Founding Fathers established the Electoral College because those larger states, those larger areas, don’t necessarily need to be the ones that rule.”
Across the country, Mrs. Clinton won the predominantly urban areas while Mr. Trump swept the rural areas and small towns.
Even when today’s vote is done, however, the election is still not over! Congress must meet in joint session on January 6 to certify the vote of the Electoral College. Our founding fathers wanted to make extra certain there was no hanky panky going on.
Trying to escape Aleppo
The horrendous story of Aleppo, Syria continues this morning, long after this horrible chapter should already have been closed. The latest reports we have from the Associated Press3 and Reuters4 say that evacuations are under way this morning after buses were set on fire yesterday, blocking the evacuation of several thousand. Today’s evacuation, which is the last under this very shaky cease-fire, is set to happen in three phases with 1,250 people in each of the first two sets, and the remaining 1,500 in the third.
The United Nations Security Council is expected to vote this morning, deploying U.N. monitors to Aleppo immediately in order to prevent what France has warned could be “mass atrocities” by Syrian forces and allied pro-government militias as they assume control. There are still several thousand people attempting to live in what was once Syria’s largest city. With all the cruelty and genocide we’ve seen over the past several months, the safety of those few remaining is of grave concern.
Of course, this opens questions as to where the civil war might move next. While the battle for Aleppo is ending, the war against Assad-controlled government forces is not and likely won’t be ending any time in the next year. As horrible as this war has been, there is still every chance it could get worse.
Terror at the Castle
Our next story reads almost like the script of an action adventure movie, but unfortunately, it’s all too real. Crusader castle in Karak, Jordan is an extremely popular tourist destination. Built in the 12 century by, you guessed it, Christian crusaders on their way to liberate Jerusalem, the castle was part of a chain built across this region that was once the ancient kingdom of Moab. Tourism in the area is strong and typically does not see much violence.
However, that all changed yesterday as four gunmen took a group of tourists hostage and began shooting at security forces5. There aren’t a lot of details other than the fact that the resolution took several hours. In the end, all four gunmen were killed, but so were seven police officers and three tourists, including a Canadian woman. The site is understandably closed this morning as Jordanian security officials try to piece together exactly what happened.
No one has claimed direct responsibility for the attack as of yet, but the Associated Press6 notes that violence against tourist areas in Jordan has increased with the rise of Islamic State terrorists in neighboring Iran and Syria.
Death of a Legend
The woman who likely coined the phrase, “famous for being famous,” Zsa Zsa Gabor, died yesterday at her home in Beverly Hills7. She was 99, just two months shy of her 100th birthday. Ms. Gabor was one of three sisters, born in Hungary, all of whom made their way to the United States in the 1940s. Eva came first, making a big splash on the big screen. Zsa Zsa came next and tried her hand at Hollywood as well, but turned out to not be the actress or singer that her sister was. Instead, Ms. Gabor became famous for simply being herself, a social icon who married often, flaunted her wealth, and sported a fierce temper.
Zsa Zsa Gabor was known for standing out at a time when most women were expected to be little more than decoration8. She not only spoke her mind, but she made sure people heard her when she spoke. Ms. Gabor has arguably been credited, or blamed, for creating the template for those like the Kim Kardashians or Paris Hiltons of the world who become famous without actually doing anything of value. In fact, Ms. Gabor was married for a time to Conrad Hilton, Paris Hilton’s great- grandfather.
Ultimately, though, age took its toll. Ms. Gabor has spent the past five years in her Beverly Hills mansion9, suffering from dementia, stroke, and complications from hip replacement surgery, being fed through tubes. In the end, she might not have known who nor how famous she was, but the rest of the world does and remembers her fondly.
And finally …
There is one piece of good news this morning, as National Geographic Magazine revealed that a nine-year-old transgender girl, Avery Jackson of Kansas City, will be on the cover of the magazine’s January issue. Miss Jackson is the first transgender person to grace the cover of the storied magazine and does so as National Geographic devotes an entire issue to changing opinions about gender both in terms of science and public perception.
Robin Marantz Henig writes in the magazine that we are surrounded by “evolving notions about what it means to be a woman or a man and the meanings of transgender, cisgender, gender nonconforming, genderqueer, agender, or any of the more than 50 terms Facebook offers users for their profiles. At the same time, scientists are uncovering new complexities in the biological understanding of sex. Many of us learned in high school biology that sex chromosomes determine a baby’s sex, full stop: XX means it’s a girl; XY means it’s a boy. But on occasion, XX and XY don’t tell the whole story.”
While there has been some criticism, Susan Goldberg, editor-in-chief for National Geographic, says in defense of the issue, “Today, we’re not only talking about gender roles for boys and girls—we’re talking about our evolving understanding of people on the gender spectrum.”
Personally, we applaud National Geographic for taking such a visible stand on gender issues and especially for giving trans people this level of visibility. Hopefully, this facilitates positive conversations and a greater level of understanding.
That’s all we have time to talk about this morning. I’m sure there will be plenty happening today and we’ll do our best to stay on top of everything and bring you the five most important stories you need to know again tomorrow. Thank you for subscribing. By all means, stay warm. Good day.