26
Mon, Feb

Memorial For Dead Children Goes the Swift Way of Thoughts and Prayers

 

SAY WHAT? - In an excruciating, infuriating metaphor for heartless GOP inaction in the face of America's soaring gun carnage, stony-faced state  employees working at the behest of NRA-fanboy and Tennessee GOP Gov. Bill Lee unceremoniously hauled off a tribute to the Uvalde victims - cards, flowers, 19 stuffed animals - minutes after  local clergy and gun-reform advocates tearfully left it at Lee's office. The group also presented Lee with a letter signed by 49 faith leaders asking for common-sense changes to gun laws; Lee  refused to accept it, and said they should mail it to him. The action came days after Lee wrote he was "heartbroken by the horrific tragedy in Uvalde (and) the loss of innocent lives," adding, "We lift up their families in prayer and thank all the first responders who acted quickly" (sic), even though in truth they just stood around for over an hour to save their own panicked, racist asses. Last year, with great fanfare, Lee proudly signed into law a bill allowing pretty much any adult to carry a gun without a permit/ license or any training; at the time, he thanked the NRA, which applauded the bill as "a great step forward in the advancement of self-defense rights...without government red tape or delays," for "helping get this done." Note to the GOP: If you don't like being called monsters, stop acting like monsters.

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Softball, Law School, A Little Chocolate With Breakfast 

SAY WHAT? - The pitiless news cycle lurches on. Trauma fatigue sets in, and much of a weary, heartsick, willfully unheeding America - too awful, too often, we hate it here, let's watch a movie, clearly it's hopeless - moves on. But lest we forget: For the families in Ulvade planning funerals not vacations, for all the families of all the dead in all the horrors gone too soon, a cavernous hollow remains. The obituary for Alexandria Aniyah "Lexi" Rubio, 10, makes the devastation achingly real, makes Lexi, as her grieving father devoutly wishes, "not just a number." The daughter of a journalist and a deputy with the sheriff's office, Lexi was "driven, athletic, intelligent and fun." Now, the obituary declares to the mournful accompaniment of  "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," her visitation hours and prayer service will be June 10 at the mortuary; her funeral service will be June 11 at the First Baptist Church, followed by interment at Hillcrest Cemetery.

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Why Are We Here?  When Are We Going To Do Something?

  

SAY WHAT? - Small bodies drop. Ghouls pray and babble. Most of us rage, weep, howl for action. In Uvalde, the families of 19 children - who all had a heartbeat so where are the alleged protectors of young lives? - had to tell police what their blessed child wore to school that day and get DNA tests to help officials identify now-unrecognizable, AR-15-ravaged corpses. In response to the slaughter of 19 children and two teachers, evil freaks and bought pols who love guns more than children blame meds, morals, not enough God, anything but the over 400 million guns adrift in a nation they now hold hostage, steeped in blood. The U.S. has 4% of the world's population, and 46% of its guns; it has more than twice the number of guns than the next most-gun-infested country, Yemen; its gun violence is soaring, with over 45,000 dead in shootings in 2020, an increase of 35%; gun violence is now the leading cause of death among young people; there have been two dozen school shootings so far this year. Since 2004, when a ten-year ban on assault weapons expired, mass shootings have tripled. Before the ban there were 400,000 AR-15s in America; today, there are 20 million. This is the country gun addicts have chosen.

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CPAC Hungary: It's All Over But the Nazi Armbands

  

SAY WHAT? - In a "brain-melting" confluence of authoritarian crackpottery both domestic and foreign, America's right-wing confab CPAC just spread their malignant wings abroad for the first time to gather in Viktor Orbán’s Hungary, an anti-democratic bastion righteously battling "the woke revolution" in the name of God, nation, family and "Western civilization," aka old white men. Somehow - WTF - the demented meet-up of global neo-Nazis, anti-Semites, conspiracy cranks and garden variety bigots got startlingly little press coverage. But its choice of venue, in a self-described “illiberal” regime that's been called "a systemic threat to the rule of law," is ominous. With the support of his Fidesz party - and Tucker Carlson - Orbán has steadily undermined the country's democratic institutions, curbing the press, packing the courts, tweaking elections, silencing critics and spewing anti-immigrant, anti-LGBTQ, anti-any-form-of-other bile under the  racist rubric of replacement ideology. Days after a sick kid in Buffalo murdered 10 innocent black people, Orbán marked his fourth term in office by arguing the western world is "committing suicide" by replacing "European Christian children with migrants," and don't forget "gender madness." Hence, one recent analysis: "How Democracy Died in Hungary."

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A Woman Being Eliminated, On Barbarous Orders from the Virtue and Vice Police

  

SAY WHAT? - In one of their harshest and most ominous moves since a supposedly more beneficent Taliban returned to power last August, a new edict mandates that all Afghan women cover their faces with a full burqa - swathed head-to-toe, eyes peering from a veil - if they dare to wish to leave their now-prison-like homes: "They are putting us in a cage." The decree, which marks a return to a signature policy of their dark past and a drastic escalation of strictures on women, was issued by the Taliban's hardline Ministry for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice - which replaced the Ministry of Women's Affairs, so what else needs to be said. The rule officially tasks male "guardians" in women's lives - brother, husband, father - with enforcing the crackdown, leading already-besieged women to feel they're "fighting on two fronts - with my family and with the Taliban." If women violate the rule, men face penalties that rise from "persuasion" by a minister's visit to a fine or trip to Taliban offices to prison time to unspecified "further punishment." Meanwhile, virtue-and-vice thugs regularly patrol streets and shops to interrogate, harass or beat women who are only covering their head with a hijab, wearing bright colors, or committing other sins of propriety. Asked why they have the right to decide how women dress or practice their religion, one official responds, "It's not us - it's God."

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Us and Them and Tucker Stirring the Hateful Pot

  

SAY WHAT? - What to say. Taking our times' vitriol and enmity to its logical, barbarous conclusion, a proudly white supremacist, anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, heavily armed 18-year-old drove hours to kill 10 black, mostly elderly people grocery shopping in Buffalo, N.Y. because he believed all the paranoid right-wing ghouls - from 4chan to the GOP to a ceaselessly hate-spewing Tucker Carlson - who told him he'd soon be "replaced" by inferior people of color, and there's nowhere else their macabre rhetoric could lead except to racist mass murder, so, inevitably, again, it did. Ten people were killed and three others wounded after Peyton Gendron drove his parents' car over 300 miles to a Tops grocery store in a largely black Buffalo neighborhood to commit what authorities called “straight up, a racially motivated hate crime” in which 11 of 13 victims were African-American; most of them ranged in age from their 50s to 80s. Coming from the scene of a massacre one official called “like walking onto a horror movie, Armageddon-like,” ”Sheriff John Garcia said, “This person was pure evil.”

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Concerned Collins Calls Cops On Constituents Committing Communist Chalk Crimes

  

SAY WHAT?- Heavens! Claiming a right to privacy she's effectively denied millions of women, including rape and incest victims, poor victimized Susan 'Snowflake' Collins was so troubled by chalk-wielding desperados who hate-crimed the (public) sidewalk outside her house by (politely) asking she protect the rights of those women that she called the cops on them - this, while her party of neo-fascists and Christian zealots works tirelessly to drag us all back to the 1300s, so umm, sure, do let's fret about your fucking sidewalk. Collins called police in Bangor over the weekend after pro-choice constituents left a flowery, multi-colored, extremely civil message in chalk on her front sidewalk. “Susie, please," it read. "Mainers want WHPA — Vote yes, clean up your mess,” with the "i" dotted by a uterus that likely gave her the vapors. The "mess" references her decisive votes for Neil Gorsuch and Drunken Frat Boy Kavanaugh, which got us to this long-awaited, God-forsaken opening of an evil  Pandora's Box that will likely roll back the rights of some 50 million women and girls to the point that any pregnancy - ectopic, traumatic, a 10-year-old raped by her grandfather - must be carried to term, but thankfully the sanctity of Susan Collins' sidewalk will be protected, so there's that. The WHPA, or Women's Health Protection Act, would keep abortion rights legal at the federal level even if SCOTUS overturns Roe v Wade; Wednesday, Collins helped kill it by again voting "no" along with every other cretinous Republican. Of course she did.

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GOP Senator Introduces “Blatantly Unconstitutional” Bill to Take Away Disney’s Copyrights

  

SAY WHAT? - U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) is the latest Republican to attack the Disney corporation for speaking out against Florida’s Don’t Say Gay law, introducing a bill earlier this week to dramatically rework copyright law and retroactively limit Disney’s copyrights.

And as Republicans trip over one another to punish Disney for a press release, experts are calling Hawley’s bill “blatantly unconstitutional.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed the state’s Don’t Say Gay bill in March, banning teachers in younger grades from discussing “sexual orientation and gender identity” and requiring other teachers to only talk about those subjects in a “developmentally appropriate” way. The law does not define what those terms mean, instead empowering parents to sue if they feel like the law was violated.

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Good Fences Make Good Fascists: These Are Our Bodies and Our Lives 

 

SAY WHAT? - Popular rage is still churning at the hypocrisy of illegitimate religious zealots posing as SCOTUS judges taking American women and their bodies hostage, with ongoing protests, dire warnings, emerging horror stories and recurring proof that, under oath and without shame, they all lied. At one of those historic moments when the right and wrong side of history is painfully, chillingly delineated, there are plenty holding fast to the ugly wrong, whether from frenzied hate - the New Hampshire legislator in her pink suit screaming and pointing at pro-choice protesters, "You're a murderer!...and you're a murderer!..." - or, more often, simple, careful cowardice. Thus, the reports of increased, online censoring of pro-choice narratives; the hedging of companies like the massive PR firm Zeno, which despite their past, alleged "commitment to a gender equal world" and mission to "achieve something better for humankind" is privately advising corporate clients that in a "textbook 50/50 issue" like abortion - actually 75/25 - that can spook shareholders, "being at the center is not advisable, so be judicious"; and, of course, the leaked, gutless, perfidious talking points issued by a craven GOP urging pols to just blather that, "All of us are in favor of life" and "Americans are compassionate people who want to welcome every new baby into the world." It's just the women with agency we don't want.

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Rape As Opportunity: Because Only the GOP, Even Its Women, Could Hate Women This Much

  

SAY WHAT? - With a Supreme Court overrun with religious zealots reportedly ready to void Roe v Wade and usher in a new crypto-fascist theocracy - Go Handmaids, Marthas, Aunties, silent wives and whores of Gilead! - GOP goons are already busy "removing the veils" of their anti-choice fervor and going full-on, red-meat, lunatic misogyny in their escalating efforts to remove any sliver of respect for a woman's right to choose her fate when confronted with an unplanned pregnancy. Despite the longtime support of up to three-quarters of Americans for that fundamental right, GOP lawmakers have introduced 536 bills in 42 states to restrict or outright ban abortion, all in lethal preparation for SCOTUS' anticipated reversing or at least gutting of Roe when it hears arguments on Mississippi's post-15-week abortion ban in June. Combined, all those state moves constitute a chilling blueprint for a no-abortion future now being eagerly mapped out by forced-birth activists emboldened by the country's rightward veer and enabled by a court majority of hateful partisan hacks. Thanks again, Susan Collins. No, we're not bitter. Kinda shocked, though: Cruelty, it turns out, really, truly is the point.

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How You Like That

 

SAY WHAT? = In a small act of courage at a hostile time and place for it, Jillion Orr chose to "show my true colors" - rainbow-hued, it turns out - at her graduation from Utah's Brigham Young University, the Mormon, notoriously homophobic school whose draconian rules demand students live a "chaste and virtuous life" and church leaders have proclaimed same-sex romance Satanic. Based in Provo and affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, BYU explicitly bans queer dating or displays of affection under an unholy Honor Code that also forbids alcohol, tobacco, tea, coffee, presumably thong underwear and "sexual relations outside a (duh, male/female) marriage." Recent pronouncements from the largely old white men who lead the Church include a call to take up "intellectual muskets” to defend the doctrine that marriage = a man and a woman, and the charge that LGBTQ+ activism, which "comes from Satan," seeks "to confuse gender, which is eternal." BYU has reiterated those ungodly beliefs, with the feds recently ruling they can practise bigotry while taking federal money thanks to, praise the Lord, a religious exemption. To date, BYU's most visible, dazzling dissent came in 2019 from valedictorian Matt Easton, who declared at graduation, "I stand before (you) to say that I am proud to be a gay son of God. I am not broken."

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MTG Valiantly Struggles To Remember What Planet We Live On

 

SAY WHAT? - In the latest sorry tableau exposing the dumb-and-dumber fraying of our national discourse, we just witnessed the "gloating performance art" of ever-tawdry Marjorie Taylor Greene in court, where she was trying to prove she's not too insurrectionary to be in Congress. Facing a legal challenge from a coalition called Free Speech for the People, Greene on Friday became the first purported member of Congress to publicly testify under oath about the Jan. 6 riot, which at the time she was a big fan of. Fresh from her triumphant reporting to Capitol Police of a "threat of violence" from a Will Smith gag by Jimmy Kimmel - "Officer? I'd like to report a joke" - Greene appeared in an Atlanta courtroom to fend off the group's charge that, under a post-Civil-War-era 14th Amendment barring from office anyone who's "engaged in insurrection or rebellion," she cannot run for re-election. Greene, of course, had responded to the challenge with her usual grace and reason. In a lengthy Twitter post, she ranted about "destroying democracy," "killing people's free speech," "nasty arrogant elites," "communists," "LOSERS," "slander," "a very dangerous attack on our Republic," and, seemingly without irony, "political platforms that (entertain) conspiracy theories and lies invented by one party against another."

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The Ludlow Massacre: Bitter and Prejudiced In the Extreme

  

SAY WHAT? - This week marks the 108th anniversary of what Wallace Stegner called "one of the bleakest and blackest episodes of American labor history," when armed thugs hired by John Rockefeller Jr. burned down a tent encampment and machine-gunned the families of striking coal miners in Ludlow, CO, killing at least 26 - including 15 women and children who suffocated in a pit - for the crime of seeking to be treated as human beings. The attack on April 20, 1914 against 1,200 striking mineworkers was the culmination of a long struggle in Colorado coal country, where the United Mine Workers had been organizing a diverse workforce of thousands of miners, many Greek, Mexican and Italian. Most worked for the massive Colorado Fuel and Iron Co. owned by the Rockefellers, America's richest family, who despite growing public revulsion for the excesses of the Gilded Age still ran CFI like the Robber Barons they were. Miners died in the hundreds in cave-ins and from disease, working 12-hour days, seven days a week, for 80 cents per ton of coal; they got no pay for the so-called "dead work" of prepping a mine to minimize its hazards; they had to live in company shacks in company towns, shopping at company stores using company scrip, guarded by company thugs who ruled towns like concentration camp kapos.

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Dear Lord, We Will Not Let Venal, Mud-Slinging, QAnon-Inspired Hate Win

SAY WHAT? - Offering a fiery master class in how to fight back against GOP bigotry and fear-mongering, Michigan Democratic state Sen. Mallory McMorrow just excoriated a slimy GOP colleague who, wielding her party's rabid, pervert-themed smear of the day, charged her support for LGBTQ kids, teaching history and recognizing the reality of American racism is JUST LIKE wanting to "groom and sexualize kindergartners."

The deranged attack by lawmaker Lana Theis is part of a loathsome national trend by Republicans who, seeking new weapons in a ceaseless culture war, now glom onto labeling anyone who disagrees with them or their vision of a fascist Christian theocracy a pedophile, a fan of pedophiles, or a "groomer" for pedophiles, just like QAnon says.

One visible practitioner of this dubious art is dimwit Klan Mom Marjorie Taylor Greene, who opposed SCOTUS Judge Kentanji Brown Jackson by declaring any lawmaker supporting her "is pro-pedophile just like she is." Dems, she babbled, are "the party of pedophiles...the party of princess predators from Disney... the party of...their identity, and their identity is the most disgusting horrible evil thing happening in our country" - one more reason we love the nuanced discourse of participatory democracy so much.

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Russia’s Fake News: A Flagrantly Brutal Provocation

  

SAY WHAT? - Faced with horrific, mounting evidence of their atrocities in Ukraine - bombing schools, playgrounds, orphanages, maternity hospitals, train stations with missiles marked "For the Children"; summary executions and other "grave abuses"; dumping thousands of bodies of burned, tortured, hands-tied civilians into pits, wells, mass graves or leaving them strewn in the streets of razed cities; raping women, teenagers, children; driving almost two-thirds of Ukraine's children, five of 7.5 million, from their lives, with nearly half of those remaining beset by hunger and likely most by lifelong trauma - charged with what are deemed these “unspeakable crimes,” Russia has dug deep into full, mad, staggering denial: Nothing to see here. Addressing the U.N. Security Council, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy broadcast images from Bucha of "evil on earth” - civilians shot and killed in the back of the head, hands tied behind them -charging perpetrators be held accountable: "This is how the Russian state will now be perceived. This is your image." Western leaders concur.  Britain termed Russian crimes "truly barbaric”; Biden has called them "genocide" and joined efforts to bring war crimes charges. Still, Russia blindly denies and refutes. Watching the same bloody images at the U.N., Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia cited “flagrant inconsistencies" by Western media and Ukrainian “terrorists” and argued, "You only saw what they showed you.”

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To Remedy Grievous Wrong: Happy Appomattox Day

SAY WHAT? - This weekend marked the surrender of the Confederate Army under "that genteel butcher Bobby Lee" to Ulysses S. Grant, and the end of a Civil War that in the sordid name of Southern white supremacy cost four years and 630,000 lives. On Sunday April 9, 1865, General Robert E. Lee surrendered his Confederate Army of North Virginia, fighting for the unholy right to own other human beings as property, to General Ulysses S. Grant; the ceremony at the home of Wilmer and Virginia McLean in the town of Appomattox Court House, VA took an hour and a half.

Days before, Grant had ridden west to ask Lee's cornered band to surrender, declaring any "further effusion of blood" would be solely on Lee's traitorous hands. Lee declined, but did ask about a possible peace agreement; the gentlemanly Grant offered a possible military surrender instead. On that Sunday, writes Heather Cox Richardson, admirably bringing the historic down to human scale, Grant woke with a migraine, having spent the night treating it with mustard plasters that didn't work: "In the morning, Grant pulled on his dirty clothes and rode out to the head of his column with his head throbbing." Lee, ever the brutal but elegant plantation owner, had dressed grandly in dress uniform, expecting to be taken prisoner; instead, under the surrender's generous terms, his military leaders were spared criminal trials, and handsomely fed. Notes Thomas Levenson, "Looking forward, not back, is no new trope in American politics."

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Who We Are, Or At Least Aspire To Be

SAY WHAT? - In a blessed move acknowledged by Chuck Schumer as not just years but generations overdue, the Senate confirmed eminently qualified Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson as the first black woman and first public defender to serve on the Supreme Court; her confirmation will also mark a tipping point for a Court that will now, for the first time in its 233-year history, no longer have a majority of white men. The well-earned  ascendance of Jackson, in a final tally of 53-47, was made just a bit sweeter by being presided over by Kamala Harris, this country's first female Vice-President of color; you could see her trying not to smile at the vision of women of color taking over the whole damn joint, and not a moment too soon. Harris later said the occasion made "an important statement about who we are as a nation," or at least, perhaps more accurately, who we aspire to be. Many others likewise rejoiced, from a beaming Cory Booker to members of the Black Caucus in "Black Women Are Supreme" t-shirts to Rep. Ayanna Pressley celebrating the signal to black girls that, "We belong everywhere."

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Unspeakable

  

SAY WHAT? - EDITORS NOTE: Graphic content.  A Ukrainian volunteer In Bucha works to unbind the wrists of a dead man, his hands tied behind his back. Visiting the ravaged town, President Zelensky accused Russia of committing genocide after the discovery of mass graves and many executed civilians left in fields and on roadsides. Photo by Sergei Supinsky/AFP via Getty Images 

Really, we have no words. But the stomach-churning stories and images emerging from Bucha and other Ukraine towns call for some response, acknowledgement, lamentation, as powerless as it is. "While we all have seen many painful videos and pictures in recent weeks, nothing can be compared to what we've seen from Bucha," said Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, who called the grisly evidence of Russian war crimes "unspeakable." Bloody bodies half buried in dirt, many with hands tied behind them. Bodies slung into muddy mass graves, boots and feet emerging. Bodies left lying in the street where they were struck down, or toppled over bikes, or stuffed into wells, or splayed in ignoble piles under hastily thrown tarps. Women raped, men tortured, cities become dark, twisted rubble, cars strafed by bullets despite "Children" scratched into them, a helpless, hopeful hedge against death. The mayor of Motyzhyn, her husband and their son shot at close range and dumped in a shallow grave, reportedly after beingtortured when they refused to cooperate. "This is not a special military operation," said one resident. "This is genocide."

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A Hole In the Heart

 

SAY WHAT? - The horrors, little-reported, persist for Palestinians trapped by Israel's brutal apartheid regime. One of its latest, smallest victims is Fatima al-Masri, who died in besieged Gaza on the morning of March 25 after waiting five months for Israel to issue a permit allowing her to travel for treatment for a ventricular septal defect, a hole in her heart, diagnosed last year. Fatima was 19 months old. Her father Jalal al-Masri said Fatima missed two medical appointments at Jerusalem’s al-Makassed Hospital in December and February while the family awaited a “review” by Israel's Coordination and Liaison Administration (CLA), which handles Palestinian travel permits. Meanwhile, she kept getting sicker. Given a years-long Israeli blockade that rights advocates say has "suffocated" Gaza's health system and left it “flat on its back" with serious shortages, very ill Palestinians must seek, and often long wait for, permits to get treatment elsewhere - a common form of what they call "bureaucratic violence" at the core of apartheid practices that have only grown worse with the pandemic. Even then, rights groups say Israel denies care in about 30% of even the most urgent cases. According to Palestinian NGO Al- Mezan Center for Human Rights, which took on Fatima’s case, at least 71 Palestinians, including 25 women and nine children, have died since 2011 following Israeli delays or denials of exit permits.

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Glory to the Heroes: Justice Is On Our Side

SAY WHAT? - Amidst the ongoing barbarity of the war in Ukraine, sacred and profane border guard Roman Hrybov was just awarded a medal for his chutzpah in facing down a Russian ship demanding he and fellow soldiers trapped on Snake Island surrender - an order to which he now-famously replied, "Russian warship, go fuck yourself." On the first day of the Russian invasion, Hrybov was one of 13 Ukrainian guards defending the small rocky Zmiinyi Island, or Snake Island, in the Black Sea off the port of Odesa, when a commander on the Vasily Bykov radioed them. "This is a Russian military warship," he said. "Lay down your weapons and surrender... Otherwise, you will be bombed." On the audio later released, a scratchy silence ensued. Then, a voice that turned out to be Hrybov's offered the defiant rejoinder that became so synonymous with the grit displayed by fellow patriots it's now memorialized in a new Ukrainian stamp. With no means of defence or escape, early reports said the 13 men had been killed after refusing to surrender. But several days later, Ukraine officials announced most were stil alive and had been taken captive. Earlier this month, they were freed as part of the first major prisoner exchange for 11 captured Russian sailors; by then, the Vasily Bykov had been hit and sunk by the Ukrainian Navy.

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The Land That Never Has Been Yet: Don't Worry, My Sister

 

SAY WHAT? - Woefully predictably, the GOP turned Senate confirmation hearings for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson for the Supreme Court into a noxious maelstrom of frat boy "whiteness at work," with relentless, hectoring assaults by a "marauding band of racist, sexist visigoths" who managed to transform a more-than-eminently qualified black female judge into a child-porn-loving, critical-race-spewing danger to the Republic. Sadly, the most striking feature of almost four days of hearings was not the historical moment - a nation poised to add, finally, the first black woman to its highest court - but the bullying, badgering, appalling spectacle of the motley collection of ignorant old white guys (and one young one) subjecting a black woman to the kind of contemptuous "jackassery" that no white counterpart, even a sniveling, lying, bellicose, sexual-assaulting bro, would ever suffer, like, say, being asked the definition of a woman or if babies are racist - WTF - all while she dutifully kept smiling, mostly.

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