Sunday, March 14, 2021

Last Call For The Classically Trained

 If you've got 15 minutes and you're waiting around the vaccine clinic anyway, might as well make efficient and effective use of your time and skills.

After Yo-Yo Ma received his second jab of a COVID-19 vaccine at Berkshire Community College Saturday, he transformed his 15-minute observation period into a concert for the newly inoculated.

The world-famous cellist and part-time Berkshires resident completed his vaccination course at the field house clinic, and he "wanted to give something back," Richard Hall of the Berkshire COVID-19 Vaccine Collaborative told The Eagle.

Yo-Yo Ma took a seat along the wall of the observation area, masked and socially distanced away from the others. He went on to pass 15 minutes in observation playing cello for an applauding audience, in what Hall called a "very special" concert that capped the day's vaccination event.

"What a way to end the clinic," wrote Hall in an email.

Berkshire Community College shared news of Yo-Yo Ma’s informal performance on social media, and state Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli commended the musician for “bringing hope and optimism through his beautiful music.” The college shared snippets of the concert on Facebook.
A rather nice thing to do.

Our Little White Supremacist Domestic Terrorism Problem, Con't

House Democrats are making life difficult for the 132 GOP insurrectionist terrorists in the House who voted for Trump's coup, freezing them out of meetings, committee discussions, and relevance.

Freshman Rep. Jake Auchincloss, a Democrat, has begun turning to an unusual source when trying to decide whether he wants to work with a Republican he thinks makes a good point during committee hearings: Google.

The Massachusetts lawmaker says he knows his constituents want him to work across the aisle, but he's drawing “a sharp red line” at working with Republicans who voted not to certify the Electoral College results as part of then-President Donald Trump's failed bid to overturn his election defeat.

If a quick search produces evidence that one of his Republican colleagues refused to acknowledge President Joe Biden's win, he said, “I kind of throw cold water on the whole thing,” adding that while he doesn't like political litmus tests, "insurrection against the United States government qualifies.”

Auchincloss is not alone. 
Democratic lawmakers are each drawing their own lines, and some are finding that it means there are colleagues whom they once worked with to craft bipartisan legislation but with whom they now are unable, or unwilling, to collaborate.

The Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol set off an impeachment proceeding and hundreds of criminal cases, but it's also having a lasting impact on Congress to get even some of the most basic and mundane tasks completed.

The public tends to pay close attention when Congress does things like pass $2 trillion spending bills. But it's the day-to-day activities that get little attention and keep the place buzzing.

Democrats say, for the time being, it's about Republicans not sharing a fundamental belief in democracy and elections.

Rep. Sean Casten, D-Ill., objected to a routine House task of naming a post office because it was proposed by Republican Rep. Trent Kelly, R-Miss., whom Democrats accuse of supporting the protest Jan. 6 and who also voted to overturn the Electoral College vote in two states.

Rep. Brad Schneider, D-Ill., has a basic requirement before he can work with a Republican: “At the fundamental level, I need an affirmative statement that Joe Biden is the legitimate president of the United States and the 2020 election was an honest and fair election.”

Schneider, a member of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus that is known for reaching across the aisle, said that in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 riot, he has had to cut off previous working relationships.

He and Republican Rep. Jody Hice, of Georgia, were working together on a task force the two co-founded on ethylene oxide, a toxic carcinogen that is particularly problematic in the Chicago and the Atlanta areas.

But he told Hice he couldn't work with him after the Republican continued to claim the election was affected by fraud, most recently saying at the Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, that Trump only lost Georgia because of “the horrible” Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, also a Republican.

“It’s hard to envision going into an administration with a partner who doesn’t acknowledge the legitimacy of that administration or is showing a commitment to the truth,” Schneider said. 
Schneider also told Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., that he could no longer sponsor a bill that the two have worked on together since 2017 that provides Family and Medical Leave Act protections to parents who lost a child. Gosar has been one of the most vocal supporters of false claims that the election was stolen.

I don't have a problem this this at all. It's literally the least House Democrats can do as far as punishing the Trump cultists insurrectionist terrorists in their midst. 

Because if the insurrectionists would have won, every single House Democrat would be dead.

Sunday Long Read: Ace Adventure, Pet Detectives

This week's Sunday Long read comes to us from The Atavist Magazine, where writer Phil Hoad gives us the story of two amateur sleuths in south London who follow a trail of missing pets that starts to look more and more like the work of a serial killer. Warning: this gets gruesome from the get-go, so if true crime violence isn't your thing, you may want to skip SLR this week.

It was the body on the south London doorstep that got everyone’s attention. On the bright morning of September 23, 2015, a woman walked outside her home to find a cream-and-coffee-colored pelt, like a small furry Pierrot. It had dark forelegs, and its face was a smoky blot. It was a cat, slit throat to belly; its intestines were gone.

The woman rang the authorities, who came and disposed of the body. Three days later, she looked at a leaflet that had come through her mail slot, asking whether anyone had seen Ukiyo, a four-year-old ragdoll mix whose coat matched that of the dead cat. The woman broke the bad news to Ukiyo’s owner, Penny Beeson, who lived just down Dalmally Road, a nearly unbroken strip of poky, pebble-dashed row houses in the Addiscombe area of Croydon.

Beeson was inconsolable. “I shook for the whole day,” she later told The Independent.

“R.I.P ukiyo I feel devastated,” her son, Richard, posted on Facebook. “Hacked to death and left on someone’s doorstep. Some people are so sick!”

A few days later, Addiscombe’s letter boxes clacked again as another leaflet was delivered. This one warned that Ukiyo’s demise wasn’t an isolated incident—there had been a troubling spate of cat deaths in the area. The leaflet was printed by a local group called South Norwood Animal Rescue and Liberty, or SNARL.

Tony Jenkins, one of SNARL’s founders, had recently become his own master. At 51, with a reassuring, yeomanly face and a golden tinge at the very tip of his long, gray ponytail, Jenkins was laid off after 25 years working for a nearby government council. He hadn’t gotten along with his boss, so getting sacked came as something of a relief. With a year’s severance in his pocket, “I was enjoying my downtime,” Jenkins said. That included being with his girlfriend, a 44-year-old South African who went by the name Boudicca Rising, after the first-century Celtic warrior queen who fought the Romans to save the Britons. Among other things, Rising and Jenkins shared feelings of guardianship toward animals. Their homes at one point housed 34 cats, a dog, two gerbils, and a cockatoo between them. The couple had formed SNARL together.

Scanning Facebook one day in September 2015, about a week before Ukiyo was found dead, Jenkins stumbled upon a post from the nearby branch of the United Kingdom’s largest veterinarian chain, Vets4Pets, that described four gruesome local incidents in the past few weeks: a cat with its throat cut, one with a severed tail, another decapitated, and a fourth with a slashed stomach. Only the final cat had survived. Jenkins told Rising about the post. “That doesn’t sound right,” she said. “We need to do some digging.”

Digging was her forte. Always impeccably dressed, with an ornate gothic kick, and unfailingly in heels, Rising was a multitasking demon on a laptop. By day she worked for an office management company. By night she was part of the global alliance of animal rights activists. She was one of many people who used small details in online videos of a man torturing felines to identify the culprit, a Canadian man named Luka Magnotta. He was reported to police, who didn’t take the allegations seriously, and Magnotta went on to murder and chop up his lover in 2012—a crime recounted in the Netflix documentary Don’t F**k with Cats.

On the heels of Ukiyo’s death, Rising and Jenkins distributed SNARL’s leaflets throughout Addiscombe, warning of the threat to local felines. While to an uninterested eye some of the attacks might have appeared to be the indiscriminate cruelty of nature—the work of a hungry predator, say—SNARL believed they might be a series of linked and deliberate killings. Whether the crimes were perpetrated by an individual or a group SNARL wasn’t sure. It hoped the leaflets would help turn up more information.

SNARL soon had reports of more incidents in the area, for a total of seven: one cat missing, two with what SNARL subsequently described as “serious injuries,” and four dead. Rising said that vets who saw the deceased cats’ bodies told her the mutilations had been made with a knife. On September 29, SNARL sent out an alert on its Facebook page saying as much. The cats’ wounds, the group insisted, “could only have been inflicted by a human. Their bodies have been displayed in such a way as to cause maximum distress.”

That was SNARL’s official line. On Rising’s personal page she went further, emphasizing her belief that Addiscombe was dealing with a serial killer. “This is a psychopath,” she wrote.

What follows is a hell of a ride, and a test or morality for everyone who reads the tale, but it's a fine read.

Oh and be extra nice to your pets this week. 
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