May 16th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

Hate in Buffalo, Sweden to Join NATO

Over the weekend, a gunman who killed one person and injured five others at a SoCal church was tackled and hogtied by parishioners in what was described as an act of “exceptional heroism and bravery.” You may not have heard about that shooting. It’s hard to keep up with gun violence in America. Even mass shootings seem to fire off at a machine gun pace. In 2022, we’re averaging 10 mass shootings a week. So it’s not unusual that you were distracted from one mass shooting by another much more deadly mass shooting. “Ten people were gunned down at a Buffalo supermarket Saturday in a horrifying mass shooting that officials were quick to label as ‘pure evil’ and racially motivated.” Following the mass murder, the Buffalo editorial board asked: “How do we prevent these horrific shootings from happening? Do we once again shrug and just go on about things, pretending that it won’t happen again?” Only those still in a state of shock driven by proximity to the event could still posit such a question that has been repeatedly asked and answered by the constant rat-a-tat-tat of history. Katherine Massey asked the question last May after another gun death when she sent a letter to the editor calling for better gun control. On Saturday, she was among the victims in Buffalo.

The Buffalo shooter shared his motivation in a manifesto and other online screeds. If his fringe theory turned mainstream belief isn’t familiar to you, it should be. It’s been pushed by some GOP politicians and Fox News. “A study of five years’ worth of Tucker Carlson’s show by The New York Times found 400 instances where he talked about Democratic politicians and others seeking to force demographic change through immigration.” The hateful hogwash is called replacement theory. “Simply put, the conspiracy theory says there’s a plot to diminish the influence of white people. Believers say this goal is being achieved both through the immigration of nonwhite people into societies that have largely been dominated by white people, as well as through simple demographics, with white people having lower birth rates than other populations. The conspiracy theory’s more racist adherents believe Jews are behind the so-called replacement plan: White nationalists marching at a Charlottesville, Virginia, rally that turned deadly in 2017 chanted ‘You will not replace us!’ and ‘Jews will not replace us!'”

And this rabid theory is catching on: An AP poll found that about 1 in 3 Americans believe an effort is underway to replace U.S.-born Americans with immigrants for electoral gain. Among the adherents: well-armed lunatics. “Inside a Pittsburgh synagogue in 2018, a white man with a history of antisemitic internet posts gunned down 11 worshipers, blaming Jews for allowing immigrant “invaders’ into the United States. The next year, another white man, angry over what he called ‘the Hispanic invasion of Texas,’ opened fire on shoppers at an El Paso Walmart, leaving 23 people dead, and later telling the police he had sought to kill Mexicans.” NYT: A Fringe Conspiracy Theory, Fostered Online, Is Refashioned by the G.O.P.

+ Judd Legum tracks how this theory infected and spread within an American political party. The right’s embrace of a deadly racist conspiracy theory. And The New Yorker’s Isaac Chotiner talks to Kathleen Belew, an assistant professor of history at the University of Chicago and the author of Bring the War Home: The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America. “The idea is simply that many different kinds of social change are connected to a plot by a cabal of élites to eradicate the white race, which people in this movement believe is their nation. It connects things such as abortion, immigration, gay rights, feminism, residential integration—all of these are seen as part of a series of threats to the white birth rate. One thing you’ll notice in the manifestos and in the talking points, really going back through the twentieth century, is this focus on the reproductive capacity of white women in maintaining the white race as a nation.”


We’ve Got the Meats

“The effect that the meatpacking plant outbreaks had on the early spread of COVID-19 is staggering … By July 2020, about 6% to 8% of all coronavirus cases in the U.S. were tied to packing plant outbreaks, and that by October 2020, community spread from the plants had generated 334,000 illnesses and 18,000 COVID-19-related deaths.” The plants didn’t just stay open. They lobbied to speed up the processing. ProPublica: The Plot to Keep Meatpacking Plants Open During COVID-19.


The Garden of Sweden

“Sweden stayed neutral in World War II and for more than two centuries has avoided joining military alliances.” This week, they joined Finland in announcing plans to join NATO. Another day, another own goal by Putin.

+ McDonald’s to leave Russia for good after 30 years.


Tam Jam

“I had a statistics test in my next period class, which I’m not doing very well in, but I’m sure they’ll let me take it next week.” Kai Neukermans, a student at Tam High School in Mill Valley, is now a little behind in statistics. But he’s light years ahead in the school of rock. Bay Area high school student recounts what it was like to fill in for Pearl Jam’s drummer at Oakland Arena show.


Extra, Extra

Mind Over Matter: “Only a few dozen people on the planet have had neural interfaces embedded in their cortical tissue as part of long-term clinical research. DeGray is now one of the most experienced and dedicated among them. Since that initial trial, he has spent more than 1,800 hours spanning nearly 400 training sessions controlling various forms of technology with his mind. He has played a video game, manipulated a robotic limb, sent text messages and emails, purchased products on Amazon and even flown a drone — just a simulator, for now — all without lifting a finger.” NYT Mag: The Man Who Controls Computers With His Mind.

+ March v Madness: “Abortion rights supporters demonstrating at hundreds of marches and rallies Saturday expressed their outrage that the Supreme Court appears prepared to scrap the constitutional right to abortion that has endured for nearly a half-century and their fear about what that could mean for women’s reproductive choices.” (We’re gonna need an even bigger march towards the ballot box.)

+ Denial is a River in Colorado: “It is a powerhouse: a 1,450-mile waterway that stretches from the Rocky Mountains to the Sea of Cortez, serving 40 million people in seven U.S. states, 30 federally recognized tribes and Mexico. It hydrates 5 million acres of agricultural land and provides critical habitat for rare fish, birds and plants.” Now there are more people, animals, and land to hydrate, and less water to do so. WaPo: The Colorado River Is in Crisis, and It’s Getting Worse Every Day.

+ Tax Invasion: “Barbara Ryan awoke on Feb. 4, 2019, in a $650,000 house at the mouth of a sloping south Charlotte cul-de-sac — a home she believed she still owned. By early afternoon, Ryan, who is legally blind and paralyzed from the waist down, was homeless — ‘a refugee in her own city,’ as one of her attorneys puts it.” Tax errors took everything from a disabled Charlotte woman and left her sleeping in a parking deck.

+ No Athletic Supporters: “That game, on May 2, between a pair of teams with worrisome attendance problems, drew only 2,488 fans, the lowest mark of the season across the majors and the smallest number for the A’s in more than 40 years. The team’s once-loyal fans appear to have given up.” The A’s are the loneliest team in baseball. Things could be worse for the A’s. Just ask the Reds. Cincinnati Reds don’t allow hit but fall 1-0 to Pittsburgh Pirates.


Bottom of the News

“We want a grandson or a granddaughter within a year or compensation, because I have spent my life’s earnings on my son’s education … The main issue is that at this age we need a grandchild, but these people (my son and daughter-in-law) have an attitude that they don’t think about us.” Indian couple longing for grandchild sues son, his wife.

+ Longest pedestrian suspension bridge opens in Czech resort.

+ “Sharp allegedly admitted to police that he’d urinated into the milkshake bag at least twice but claimed he was ‘almost sure’ that he threw the bag away after. The affidavit states Sharp said he was working alone in the restaurant that night and that he did it for sexual gratification.” (I’m ‘almost sure’ I’m gonna be lactose intolerant for the rest of my life…)

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