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Mississippi, Long a ‘Rebel’ Holdout, to Strip Confederate Emblem From State Flag

Both chambers of the Rebublican-held state congress voted on Saturday to begin the process of changing the flag.

Elias Marat

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(TMU) – Lawmakers in the Southern U.S. state of Mississippi took major steps over the weekend toward removing the Confederate emblem from its official state flag.

Both chambers of the Republican-held state congress voted on Saturday to begin the process of changing the flag.

Mississippi is the last state in the country that features the Confederate battle emblem on its flag, which is widely seen as a symbol of slavery and white supremacy.

As the United States continues to be gripped by months of social upheaval and protests for racial justice and an end to police brutality, debate has been reignited over the use of the flag, which was used by the slave-owning states that were defeated in the U.S. Civil War of 1861-65.

The flag has flown over the State Capital for over a century as a symbol of the state’s Confederate past, but lawmakers on both sides of the aisle appear ready to let it finally become retired to history

The vote passed by a wide margin in both chambers of the Mississippi legislature, with the House of Representatives approving the change by a margin of 84-35 and the Senate approving it by 36-14, reports AP. Cheers and applause greeted the vote as spectators hailed the move by lawmakers.

A bill to change the state flag will now be formally introduced and is expected to be proposed on Sunday. The fact that the two-thirds majority necessary to begin the process managed to pass is a clear sign that the flag’s days could be done, as a simple majority is all that’s required to pass the final bill.

Republican Governor Tate Reeves has stated unequivocally that he plans to sign any bill approved in congress. Reeves had previously refrained from backing a bill while also stating that he wouldn’t veto one.

“The argument over the 1894 flag has become as divisive as the flag itself and it’s time to end it,” Reeves wrote on Twitter.

“We should not be under any illusion that a vote in the Capitol is the end of what must be done – the job before us is to bring the state together,” he added.

Some residents have suggested the state adopt a new flag with a magnolia, honoring both the state tree and the state flower.

“We don’t want anything flying over them, lofty, exalting itself, that grabs onto a deadly past,” said Karen Holt of Edwards, Mississippi, who described the proposed new flag as representing the “joy of being a citizen of the United States,” unlike the so-called rebel flag.

Symbols of the Confederacy such as the battle flag and monuments to Southern slave-owners and military leaders have increasingly come under fire in the past several years as embodiments of white supremacy and anti-Black bigotry, with crowds targeting statues for toppling and defacing or lobbying authorities for their removal from public squares and government facilities.

“I know there are many good people who … believe that this flag is a symbol of our Southern pride and heritage,” said Rep. Jason White, the Republican speaker pro tempore of the House. “But for most people throughout our nation and the world, they see that flag and think that it stands for hatred and oppression.”

Only 11 states formed the Confederacy, which attempted to secede from the United States in February 1861. However, some 1,880 Confederate monuments have been erected across 31 states as well as the nation’s capital since 1880, reports Washington Post – with many of the monuments being built during the 1950s and ‘60s by white supremacist groups like the United Daughters of the Confederacy and Sons of Confederate Veterans just as struggles for racial equality and civil rights were picking up steam.

For decades following the Confederacy’s 1865 defeat, a nostalgic myth about the so-called “Lost Cause” — noble Southern “rebels” rising up despite the odds to defend their way of life from Northern “Yankees” — proliferated across the U.S. South, primarily among white residents.

Believers and propagandists of the “Lost Cause” largely shrugged off or downplayed claims of historic racism, instead reframing the Civil War as a constitutional clash over state’s rights rather than a fight to preserve institutions of slavery. Lost Cause proponents also depicted the aftermath of the war as a tragedy for once-prosperous whites in the south and even for Black people, who were alleged to have benefited from the livelihoods allegedly provided by their former plantation masters.

This revisionist history also involved false claims of white victimization at the hands of Jewish northern “carpetbaggers” and vengeful Black ex-slaves as well as their supposed “malcontent” children during the era of Reconstruction. These ideological claims laid the basis for the rise of white supremacist groups like the Ku Klux Klan, as well as Jim Crow segregation laws that systematized the continued discrimination against and exclusion of Black people in the South.

Following the May 25 killing of unarmed 46-year-old Black man George Floyd by Minneapolis police and subsequent weeks of protests, many feel that the time has come to turn the page on the most overt symbols of systematic racism in American society.

“I would never have thought that I would see the flag come down in my lifetime,” said Democratic Sen. Barbara Blackmon, who is Black.

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Cop Gave Children Weapons During Exorcism and Told Them To Shoot Demons And Intruders

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A police officer from Florida was recently arrested after he was caught performing a strange exorcism on a child holding a taser, while another child was given a gun and instructed to shoot anyone who entered the home. 37-year-old Christopher Dougherty reportedly told the two children that there were demons in the house. According to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, Dougherty was fired from the department on an unrelated matter on the same day of his arrest, but he had worked with the sheriff’s office since 2006.

Someone tripped an alarm at the house where the incident was occurring, which prompted police to arrive on the scene. Once they got there, they saw evidence of child abuse, and decided to enter the home. Upon entering they found a young girl wearing body armor and a Kevlar helmet, lying on the ground with a rifle in a shooting position. There was also a young boy in the house who had a taser. The boy is believed to be the subject of an exorcism. Dougherty was armed with a handgun when police arrived.

The children said that Dougherty was performing an exorcism on the young boy, and told the girl that there were demons in the house, and instructed her to shoot anyone that entered.

Dougherty was detained and taken to a hospital where he was held under the Baker Act, and then arrested after he was released from the hospital a few days later. On the same day as his arrest, he was fired from the sheriff’s office, but the agency insists that his termination was related to “an unsatisfactory performance finding in a separate matter,” and had nothing to do with the exorcism. 

In a statement to Fox News, Orange County Sheriff John Mina said that he was concerned about the officer’s mental health. 

“While this deputy was terminated for a pattern of unsatisfactory performance, these are very serious criminal allegations. As law enforcement officers, we are held to the highest standards of conduct whether on duty or off duty. But we are also concerned about the deputy’s mental health,” Mina said.

It is still not entirely clear what Dougherty’s relationship was with the two children that were in his care.

The 2014 horror film “Deliver Us From Evil” is based on the true-life story of New York City Police Sgt Ralph Sarchie, who was an exorcist in his spare time. Sarchie described himself as a “demonologist” and claimed to have taken part in at least 20 exorcisms, but says that he investigated over 50 paranormal cases. “I’m a demonologist, and I’m going head to head with the devil,” Sarchie once said in an interview.

In 2001, Sarchie co-wrote the book Beware the Night about his experiences as a part-time demon hunter in New York. His book would eventually inspire the horror movie that came later.

Of course, Sarchie’s “demon hunting” activities seem to be a bit more safe and legitimate than whatever was happening inside the home of Christopher Dougherty.

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4th-grader walks to school every day to do classwork because his family can’t afford internet

Elias Marat

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A fourth-grader in Roswell, New Mexico, has been spending his days outside of his closed elementary school to access the building’s WiFi and do his classwork due to his lack of internet access at home.

With the novel coronavirus continuing to interrupt lives everywhere, this kid is proving that the global pandemic isn’t strong enough to disrupt his studies. Like other school districts across the country, students at Roswell Independent School District have had to attend online classes due to the ongoing health emergency.

Jonathon Endecott, who turns 10 next month, has always been an independent kid who enjoys his studies, and especially science. He always used to walk to school and back home when school was in session, and this is one habit that hasn’t been broken even as teachers and students stay at home.

However, like too many homes across the United States, Jonathon’s home lacks internet service. Tragically, Jonathon’s mom, Angel Endecott, lost her two jobs once the pandemic struck. And while she’s been able to return to one of her jobs, she still can’t afford internet service.

So Jonathon has been going back to his closed elementary school for the building’s WiFi connection to continue doing his classwork. And he’s been happy to do it.

“He was like, ‘Yeah, I need to be back on the school property, and I could be like a normal kid again,'” Angel explained. “Him just being outside of the building gives him that, ‘Hey, I’m at school’ feeling even though he’s not around other classmates or teachers.”

With Jonathon’s home lying just across the school’s field, his parents are happy to let him study on campus grounds during the day. “The principal, the secretary and a few teachers, they do come outside to check up on him and see if he needs anything,” Angel said.

Jonathon has also found support from local teachers in the school district, who were deeply touched by the heartbreaking site of Jonathon working outside the school so that he could access an internet connection.

One teacher shared a photo of Jonathon on Facebook after getting permission from his mother. The image was shared widely online, and eventually reached a kind person who offered to pay for Jonathon’s internet service for the next year out of their own pocket.

The teacher who posted the photo to her Facebook has since created a GoFundMe account to help raise funds for other children who lack access to the internet, which is crucial to accessing their classes.

Jonathon remains optimistic despite the challenge of not having home internet access, and is happy that he can still remain connected with his friends and classmates online. He also likes the familiarity of being at his school building, which makes the virtual experience more like being back at school.

He’s also been approaching every day with vigor and excitement, relishing the ability to get a bit of alone time at school, his mom said. Jonathon also plans to continue going back to his school even when the family gets its internet back up and running again. However, the school district will require that he has a parent with him in the future.

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Study: 1,000 Potential Alien Star Systems Could Be Watching Us From Afar

Justin MacLachlan

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Motivated by the “Pale Blue Dot” NASA photo researchers are asking the question, could other planets be looking at us just like we’re looking at them? A study of Earth’s “solar neighborhood” has found that over 1,000 different systems have the perfect angle to view Earth.

The infamous “Pale Blue Dot” photograph was suggested by astronomer Carl Sagan who implored that the Voyager 1 space probe take a picture of Earth from nearly four billion miles away. The new study published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, seeks to find out how many different exo-planet systems with alien life could be watching us. Ironically, the research comes from the Cornell’s Carl Sagan Institute.

The studies co-author Lisa Kaltenegger stated their list focuses on main-sequence stars similar to our own sun. These solar systems may contain exoplanets, Earth-like worlds sitting in the habitable zone for life. All of the prospective systems are within 300 million light-years of Earth, close enough to see our world’s chemical traces according to the researchers.

“Let’s reverse the viewpoint to that of other stars and ask from which vantage point other observers could find Earth as a transiting planet,” Kaltenegger, the director of Cornell’s Carl Sagan Institute said in a press release.

“If observers were out there searching, they would be able to see signs of a biosphere in the atmosphere of our Pale Blue Dot… and we can even see some of the brightest of these stars in our night sky without binoculars or telescopes.”

What makes this listing of 1,004 star systems novel and significant is they all sit in Earth’s elliptic orbit or the plane of the planets orbit around our Sun. Exoplanets traveling along this same path would be able to see the Earth according to the researchers.

To foreign observers, Earth would be a transiting planet that passes in front of its sun as the observer looks at distant stars. Theoretically, these exoplanets would be able to see Earth crossing the Sun, which sounds like a marvelous sight.

“Only a very small fraction of planets will just happen to be randomly aligned with our line of sight so we can see them transit,” co-author Joshua Pepper of Lehigh University says. “But all of the thousand stars we identified in our paper in the solar neighborhood could see our Earth transit the sun, calling their attention.”

“If we’re looking for intelligent life in the universe, that could find us and might want to get in touch,” Kaltenegger adds. “We’ve just created the star map of where we should look first.”

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