On The Struggle Bus
August 19, 2021
The Good News
- Minnesota troopers make lifesaving delivery to woman giving birth (KSTP)
- Texas school district makes masks part of dress code to get around Gov. Abbott’s order (NBC)
“Music is the greatest communication in the world. Even if people don’t understand the language that you’re singing in, they still know good music when they hear it.” — Lou Rawls
A War Of The Worlds
Move over Reading, Writing, and ‘Rrithmetic — make room for Culture Wars, Partisanship, and Enmity. Kids are attending school, but it’s some parents that need educating.
In Tennessee, pediatric Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations climbed quickly in July. Schools in Williamson County opened Friday, August 6, and by Tuesday, August 10, 25 Williamson County elementary students had contracted the virus. That evening, the school board held an emergency meeting during which doctors and nurses tried explaining the positive health benefits of mask-wearing and urged the board to reinstate a mask mandate. An angry four-hour debate with anti-mask parents ensued, while a larger, louder, and more hostile crowd of anti-mask protesters gathered outside in the parking lot, visibly heckling and browbeating the health professionals and others as they left the meeting. A father of two young children was screamed at, threatened, and swarmed by the crowd. “I was terrified,” he said. “They were running at me…calling me horrific names.”
The board voted to temporarily reinstate a mask mandate for elementary school students, staff, and visitors. In the first full week of school in Williamson County, 12 of the district’s 25 schools reported less than 5 Covid-19 cases among staff, and 5 elementary schools reported no cases. In the last two weeks throughout Tennessee, 9,074 school-aged children have now tested positive for coronavirus, up 950% compared to a month ago. Regardless, Republican Governor Bill Lee signed an executive order Tuesday letting parents opt-out of having their children wear masks.
A Loudoun County Public Schools teacher was placed on paid leave and barred from school grounds in May for refusing to address transgender students by their chosen names and pronouns. The next month, he filed suit against the northern Virginia school district. The trans rights debate intensified over the summer. On August 10, the Loudoun County school board held a tumultuous hearing lasting over four hours that drew nearly 200 registered speakers and dozens of protesters. The next day the board voted to expand the rights of transgender students. They approved a policy allowing trans student-athletes to use bathrooms and locker rooms and play on teams that align with their gender identity. The policy also requires teachers and staff to call students by their chosen names and pronouns.
At a July 26 meeting of the West Chester (Pennsylvania) school board, a woman who had not registered to speak came to the microphone and began railing against Critical Race Theory (CRT). When school board president Chris McCune said her time was up, the woman refused to leave and continued yelling at him. McCune left the stage, walked to the speakers’ lectern, and removed her microphone, after which the woman was escorted out by security.
In commentary for the local newspaper, McCune said for days after the meeting, social media and news coverage expanded and misrepresented what occurred. “An officer peacefully escorted her from the meeting. Now, a video that has been edited to distort reality is being spread across right-wing news networks, calling me a Communist, and insisting that I bullied the speaker,” McCune said. He also wrote that as a lifelong Republican, he was saddened to see “a far-right faction of the Republican Party disrupting and dividing local communities” over things like CRT, which isn’t part of the school curriculum, and “until recently most of us had never even heard of…” (News Channel 5, Fox17, WaPo, NYT, Daily Local)
Licensed To Kill
- One week ago, 22-year-old Jake Davison, a self-described loner who struggled to meet women and was “defeated by life,” went on the U.K.’s worst shooting rampage since 2010. Davison took just six minutes to kill five people and wound two others in the southwest seaside city of Plymouth, England.
- First, he went to a modest two-story brick home and murdered his mother, 51-year-old Maxine Davison, aka Maxine Chapman. He then ran outside and murdered a 3-year-old girl and her 43-year-old father. He shot at two passersby who were badly injured but lived. Davison then entered a park and shot a 59-year-old man, who died at the scene, and a 66-year-old woman who died at a nearby hospital. His last horrific act was to kill himself.
- British news media aired video clips Davison had posted to YouTube days before the rampage in which he complained of being “beaten down” and unable to change his situation. He also made references to “incels,” the misogynistic online groups of “involuntary celibate” men who blame women for their sexual failings, and who have been linked to a number of violent acts around the world. Britain has some of the strictest firearms laws in the world — with extensive background checks — yet Davison was a licensed gun holder. (WaPo, BBC)
A Di-visa-ive Call
- India’s government said Tuesday it was prioritizing taking Hindus and Sikhs out of Afghanistan. The home ministry is issuing “emergency visas” to allow Afghan refugees to stay in India for six months. The announcement apparently doesn’t include Muslims, who are the clear majority of Afghans seeking to escape the Taliban takeover of their country.
- India’s announcement drew immediate criticism and comparisons to a contentious 2019 citizenship law enacted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government that discriminates against Muslims. The government was also criticized for leaving unoccupied a number of seats on an Air Force flight on Tuesday that evacuated Indian citizens and officials from the country’s embassy in Kabul. (NYT)
Additional World News
- Latest U.K. Scandals Show a System Rife With Insider Ties (NYT, $)
- Mail-in voting set to soar in Canada election, could undermine Trudeau, New Democratic Party (Reuters)
- Algeria: The forest fires that led to an artist’s lynching (BBC)
- Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to visit White House later this month (Politico)
- At least 47 dead in Burkina Faso attack by suspected Islamist militants (The Hill)
- Lithuania says Belarus officers illegally pushed migrants over border (BBC)
- What We Know About The Situation In Haiti, 4 Days After The Massive Earthquake (NPR)
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On The Struggle Bus
- School bus drivers are so hard to find in Delaware that EastSide Charter School in Wilmington is offering $700 per child to parents who agree to drive their kids to and from school for the year. More than 150 parents of the 500 students attending EastSide raised their hands for driving duty. The school is still offering bus transportation for families that require it.
- Colorado, Pennsylvania, and Virginia also report problems finding enough school bus drivers to transport students. Pittsburgh Public Schools have such a shortage of drivers, as well as available seats on buses with drivers, that 800 students have been told they’ll have to walk to school. The district even delayed the start of the academic year because of the shortage.
- The National School Transportation Association’s executive director said the closure of some state Department of Motor Vehicle offices during the pandemic created a bottleneck in training new school bus drivers, who need a commercial driver’s license to qualify for the job. Businesses in many industries, from restaurants to airlines, say they can’t find enough qualified workers to meet demand. (CBS News)
Enough To Plague A DeSantis
- Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) has adamantly opposed mask mandates and vaccine passports, making it possible for a lot more people in his state to get infected with the coronavirus. Not to worry, though. DeSantis is flying around the state promoting a great Covid antibody treatment called Regeneron, the monoclonal antibody treatment that was used on then-president Trump after he got Covid, and a treatment Texas Governor Greg Abbott is currently using now that he has Covid.
- It just so happens the company of a top DeSantis donor has invested millions in Regeneron. The Chicago-based hedge fund, Citadel, has $15.9 million in shares of Regeneron Pharmaceutical. But the fact that Citadel CEO Ken Griffin has donated $10.75 million to a political committee supporting DeSantis is probably just a mere coincidence. (NBC News)
Additional USA News
- Schools in Florida’s Broward and Alachua counties may be punished because of mask mandates (WaPo, $)
- How the gas industry got its way at LA, Long Beach ports (LAT)
- New York charges ex-Kushner associate with cyberstalking months after Trump pardon (NBC)
- Sacklers Threaten to Pull Out of Opioid Settlement Without Broad Legal Immunity (NYT, $)
- The coming US political fight over accepting refugees from Afghanistan (NBC)
- Northern California wildfire triples in size, forcing thousands to evacuate (CNN)
- California recall election debate highlights on Elder, Cox (LAT)
Even the town of Beaumont, Texas wasn’t so cruel as to ban certain songs that could be enjoyed at karaoke, a universally acknowledged sacred rite of passage for college kids and bachelorette parties. China announced last week, however, that they would be doing just that.
The Ministry of Culture and Tourism said that starting October 1st, there will be a blacklist for karaoke bars with songs containing “illegal content.” Xinhua, a state-run news agency, was the first to report the change. They said that China has upwards of 50,000 karaoke bars, and the song catalog spans about 100,000 tracks.
China has said that all of the karaoke establishments will be expected to go through their song selections and remove any songs that fit the criteria of being bad news. This isn’t China’s first time banning songs from karaoke bars, though the previous decisions were more innocuous. Songs like “Don’t Want To Go To School” and “Fart” were both removed from karaoke joints.
A song’s inclusion on the blacklist is decided if the lyrics are a threat to “national unity, sovereignty or territory integrity; violates China’s religious policies and spreads cults and superstitions; and advocates obscenity, gambling, violence and drug-related crimes or instigating crimes.” Basically, all the good stuff. (NPR)
- A Lawyer’s Deathbed Confession About a Sensational 1975 Kidnapping (NYT, $)
- This British woman has spent the entire pandemic in Covid-free Tonga (CNN)
- Instagram Posts Help FBI Nab Trump-Loving Romance Novel Model Who Beat Capitol Cops (HuffPost)
- Fossil Brain Reveals How Squishy Organs Can Be Preserved (NYT, $)
- Culture shock: how loss of animals’ shared knowledge threatens their survival (Guardian)
- Could federal unemployment benefits be reinstated this summer? Here’s the latest (CNET)