The story of Stella, the pup abandoned at an airport, plus a sci-fi spin-off turns 30, the NFL accused of putting the game ahead of player safety (again), and Elon Musk comes out as... transgender?!?
Thanks for rising up with me on this Wednesday, Jan. 4th, 2023.
Down at the very bottom of today’s newsletter is the story of Stella, a subscriber bonus story that will break your heart but then immediately mend it and simultaneously make you angry and happy. Stay tuned while I geek out.
Thirty years ago today, Hollywood was abuzz about the prior night’s premiere of a new TV show called Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, which beamed into America’s living rooms as the first spinoff series of the successfully syndicated Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Unlike “TNG,” or the original TV series (“TOS”), as fans refer to them, “DS9” wasn’t set aboard a starship called the Enterprise. Actually, it wasn’t set aboard any spaceship at all. From that very first episode, “The Emissary,” DS9 established a totally different tone, ultimately deeper and darker than anything else the franchise has done before, or since.
But it also did something no one else has done, before or since: Centered an entire sci-fi series around a strong, sensitive yet commanding Black man, Avery Brooks. He played Commander Benjamin Sisko, a single father whose bond with his one and only son — as well as with his own father — was at the heart of the series, right through the seventh season cliffhanger finale.
DS9 also was the first Star Trek to examine organized religion, gender fluidity and war in a serialized fashion, with plotlines stretching over an entire season instead of Star Trek’s traditional episodic storytelling. DS9 was, love it or hate it, unique.
Now let’s get doom-scrolling through what else is going on. Here now, the news:
The Story Everyone’s Talking About
PRAYING FOR HAMLIN: Buffalo Bills Safety Damar Hamlin remains in critical condition in Cincinnati after his heart stopped in this week’s Monday Night Football game against the Bengals. Hamlin’s uncle Dorrian Glenn told CNN his nephew is “flipped over on his stomach” in his hospital bed. Doctors told him that’s to help take the pressure off Hamlin’s lungs, so they don’t have to work as hard. The next step is to get the 24-year-old University of Pittsburgh graduate to breathe on his own, Hamlin is on a ventilator and remains sedated.
HIS HEART STOPPED TWICE: “They resuscitated him on the field before they brought him to the hospital and then they resuscitated him a second time when they got him to the hospital,” Glenn told CNN’s Adrienne Broaddus.
NFL NIGHTMARE: The league is under increasing scrutiny following Hamlin’s cardiac arrest and questions about whether the NFL was considering having the Bills and Bengals resume play Monday night. NBC’s Tom Costello reports.
HISTORY RERUN: “I was very emotional,” said Sharon Hughes, 77, when she saw Hamlin collapse on TV. She is the widow of the only other pro football player to collapse because of heart trouble during an NFL game. On Oct. 24, 1971, Chuck Hughes was playing for the Detroit Lions when he clutched his heart and fell face down on the field, having suffering a fatal heart attack. As NBC News reported, medics carted the wide receiver off the field and players finished that game before a stunned crowd. Hughes was 28.
HIGH NOON: Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) will hope the fourth time’s the charm when the House of Representatives reconvenes for a vote at noon EST today to select a new Speaker. For the first time in 100 years, the House adjourned Tuesday without electing a Speaker. In all three ballots, McCarthy fell short of the 218 votes he needs. He says he won’t withdraw his candidacy.
HOUSE HELD HOSTAGE, DAY TWO: Hard-line conservative Republicans from the Freedom Caucus, who call themselves “Never Kevins,” are basically holding the Speakership hostage until their demands are met, including the option to remove the Speaker with just one member’s motion. Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.), told Politico they’re willing to hold out “for six months.”
WHAT WAS AOC SAYING TO GAETZ AND GOSAR? Video without audio from the House floor showed Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) chatting up Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) and Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.). But about what? Joining forces? Pineapple on Pizza? Favorite Instagram influencers?
“McCarthy was suggesting he could get Dems to walk away to lower his threshold,” Ocasio-Cortez told The Intercept of her talk with Gaetz. “And I fact-checked and said absolutely not.” More details from The Daily Beast.
HAIL, HAKEEM: Democrats unanimously chose Brooklyn’s own Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) as their new party leader, succeeding former Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). He is the first Black man to lead any party in Congress. Who knew the Dems would become the party of unity and the GOP would start 2023 in disarray? More details at Business Insider.
MILESTONE MITCH: Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) set a record Tuesday as the longest-serving leader of any political party, as Axios reported. Today he’s joining President Biden in Kentucky for a stump promoting the bipartisan infrastructure bill signed into law last year.
IF ANYTHING WERE TO HAPPEN TO BIDEN: Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) is now third in the line of presidential succession. That’s because she was was elected Senate president pro tempore Tuesday, becoming the first woman to hold the job. Except… as the Seattle Times reported, the House GOP’s failure to elect a Speaker means Murray is temporarily second in line after Vice President Kamala Harris. And that means, if Harris were suddenly called to finish Biden’s term, the U.S. would have both a president and vice president who are women, just like when Pelosi was Speaker. I am confident that thought alone will give Republicans a reason to find compromise.
LONELY GEORGE: Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) sat alone in the House, speaking up only to voice his support McCarthy, but talking to no one else. Facing potential impeachment for lying about most of his resume and under investigation by Brazil for fraud, Santos announced on his campaign site that he was sworn-in Tuesday, even though (shocker!) that’s a lie, too.
BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE! Santos reportedly used his campaign site to sell tickets to his swearing-in, which is a potential Congressional ethics violation.
AND YET EVEN MORE! An ex-boyfriend accuses Santos of stealing his phone, not paying bills, and never going to work. Click here to read that dirty laundry.
GO HOME, BENOIT BLANC, WE FIGURED IT OUT: Dharmesh A. Patel was behind the wheel of his Tesla on Monday, about 20 miles south of San Francisco, accompanied by his wife and their two children, a 7-year-old girl and a 4-year-old boy. The New York Times reports he was driving southbound on the twisty, scenic Pacific Coast Highway, when the electric car went over a rocky cliff at a dangerous spot known as Devil’s Slide, where dozens of drivers have been killed. The Tesla tumbled down to the ocean, flipping over and landing on its wheels right near the water’s edge.
Amazingly, the family survived the horrific crash with non-life threatening injuries, thanks to seat belts, airbags and especially the kids’ car seats, which functioned perfectly. All four members of the family were airlifted to a hospital, where police on Tuesday arrested Patel on suspicion of attempted murder and child abuse. Police say it was “an intentional act,” but have not yet announced a motive.
COPS LET HIM GO. TWICE: Following the murders of four Idaho college students, the main suspect was pulled over by police officers in Indiana, driving the vehicle that had been reported at the murder scene, and was allowed to go his merry way both times, reports Fox News. It gets worse: Bryan Kohberger and his father are seen in body cam video obtained by WTHR-TV in Indianapolis. The two stops, one for speeding and one for following another driver too closely, resulted in nothing more than a warning. Did I mention Kohberger is white?
Today’s Healthy Headline
HYDRATE! A new study says drinking more water is good for you. Researchers found that people who don’t drink enough fluids could be at higher risk of chronic disease and early aging. Not everybody agrees, of course! More from NBC News and you can read the full study yourself here.
NO CLEMENCY: Amber McLaughlin was put to death Tuesday evening, making her the first out transgender woman to be executed in the U.S. She died by lethal injection, as NBC News reported, after Gov. Mike Parson (R-Missouri) denied appeals for clemency. McLaughlin was convicted of killing her ex-girlfriend in 2003. But as Chris Geidner reported in his LawDork Substack, there are questions about how she wound up on death row. Even though the jury deadlocked on whether she deserved the death penalty, the judge imposed the sentence anyway. Then a federal district court ordered a new sentencing phase for McLaughlin, but in 2021, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit reversed the district court’s decision. McLaughlin reportedly began her transition three years ago but was housed in a men’s prison. She was 49.
“ANATOMICAL MALE”: A transgender woman in Philadelphia tweeted Tuesday the latest sickening example of what some call “trans broken arm syndrome:” The sad fact that no matter what’s wrong with a trans patient, even a broken arm, a majority of cisgender doctors will diagnose the problem as being related to transness, not whatever’s actually ailing them. Jessika agreed that I could share this with you, but declined to be interviewed today given her harrowing experience at a South Philadelphia urgent care center:
According to another one of her tweets, the transphobic doctor works at AFC South Philly, which has a non-discrimination policy on its website. I’m hoping to hear from them today about this incident, and discuss it with Jessika. I will keep you posted.
ELON MUSK: “I’M NOT CIS” So is this the billionaire's odd way of… coming out as transgender? I think not. But the fact is, he did tweet the words, “I’m not cis, you are” to an author and professor of architecture, Fred Scharmen. Basically, this was Musk’s third-grader response to Scharmen’s tweet, making a cogent argument in favor of sharing pronouns, but without the “nyah nyah.”
LATEST “HARRY POTTER” STAR TO AFFIRM TRANS IDENTITY: Remember the actor who played Dudley Dursley in the films based on transphobe J.K. Rowling’s wizard books? No, I don’t either. Anyway, actor Harry Melling says “transgender women are women and transgender men are men” in a new interview. Good for him! Thanks, Harry. More from ScreenRant.
BE HONEST, ABE, WHO’S YOUR ‘FRIEND?’ This isn’t new, but it’s gold! Pink News regales us with the oft-told tale of Abraham Lincoln’s “roommate,” shopkeeper Joshua Speed of Springfield, Ill. Apparently, long before he became our first Republican president, Abe complained to Josh he couldn’t afford his own mattress. So, of course, Speed shared his. For several years. Because, they were “friends.” Gay Twitter has been having a field day with this one for years.
Your Bonus Story
POOR STELLA. This is Stella. Her owner, Bigsen Charles, 24, of New Jersey, reportedly abandoned her at an airport in Iowa. Charles says he bought his dog a ticket but when they got to Des Moines International, he found out he needed a kennel to fly Stella home with him, and didn’t have one. So he left her tied up, out in the cold, and boarded his plane home to reunite with his girlfriend. Airport workers rescued Stella, gave her lots of hugs and a blanket, and according to the Daily Mail, she’s now being put up for adoption.
As for Bigsen Charles, he faces animal cruelty charges back in Iowa. “If he pleads guilty then he will have to pay a fine,” Tina Updegrove of Animal Rescue League of Iowa told the Daily Mail. “But if he pleads not guilty he will most likely have a trial.” Throw the book at him, your honor, then leave him tied up someplace outdoors!
That’s all for today. Hoping your news is good news! I’ll be back tomorrow with more. Thank you for subscribing!
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