(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.
The legislature has been deadlocked for days as it considers a new state flag. The argument over the 1894 flag has become as divisive as the flag itself and it’s time to end it.
If they send me a bill this weekend, I will sign it. pic.twitter.com/bf3vyzuObt
— Tate Reeves (@tatereeves) June 27, 2020
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.
Megalodon Fossils Show How Biggest-Ever Shark Had Nurseries All Over the World
The massive megalodon, the largest shark to ever roam the seas, had their own nursery areas all over the globe that allowed the apex predators to raise their young and populate the world prior to their extinction.
A new study, published in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters, reveals that nurseries belonging to the massive creatures have been found in across vast geographic distances where fossils belonging to both young and old megalodons were discovered.
The five likely nurseries include sites off Spain’s east coast, two off the coast of the United States, and two in Panama.
Megalodon (Otodus megalodon), whose name means “large tooth,” lived between 23 million and 3.6 million years ago until it went extinct during a period of global cooling. For 13 million years, the megalodon was the king of the sea.
The megalodon was not only the largest shark in the world, but also the biggest fish – and quite possibly the most powerful predator – to ever exist. Its teeth alone measured 18 centimeters long, and evidence shows that it could have grown to reach up to 60 feet in length.
However, because megalodon bodies were mostly comprised of cartilage – which cannot fossilize – the shark’s teeth, vertebrae and fossilized feces have been the main way researchers have calculated the shark’s body measurements.
The existence of the nurseries shows that young megalodon were still quite susceptible to attacks by other predators.
To keep the young megalodon safe, their shark parents would give birth to their young in shallow, warm water nurseries located near coastlines. In these special regions, juvenile megalodon were able to access their prey while facing few dangers from rival predators.
“Our analyses support the presence of five potential nurseries ranging from the Langhian (middle Miocene) to the Zanclean (Pliocene), with higher densities of individuals with estimated body lengths within the typical range of neonates and young juveniles,” the scientists wrote in the abstract for the study.
“These results reveal, for the first time, that nursery areas were commonly used by O. megalodon over large temporal and spatial scales, reducing early mortality and playing a key role in maintaining viable adult populations,” the authors added.
The nurseries were ideal sites that allowed young megalodons to mature into adults in a process that took about 25 years.
Experts investigated 25 teeth belonging to megalodon that were found in the Reverté and Vidal regions in Tarragona, Spain. The study led to the conclusion that these locations were filled with sharks that had body lengths consistent with the normal range of newborns and young juveniles, measuring 13 feet in length for one-month-old sharks to 36 feet in length for older juveniles.
A separate study released in September found that a 52.5-foot-long adult megalodon had heads that measure up to 15.3 feet long, with dorsal fins measuring about 5.3 feet tall and tails reaching 12.6 feet. To put this into perspective, an adult human could stand on a shark’s back and be roughly the same height as the dorsal fin.
The study’s findings also reveal that the shark’s reliance on nurseries likely played a role in their demise, when the world cooled near the end of the Pliocene period and sea levels declined.
“Ultimately, the presumed reliance of O. megalodon on the presence of suitable nursery grounds might have also been determinant in the demise of this iconic top predatory shark,” the authors of the study noted.
Trump Accuses His Own FBI and Justice Department of ‘Rigging’ Election
Despite finally agreeing to begin the formal transition of power to President-elect Joe Biden last Monday, President Trump on Sunday continued to deny that he lost the election and repeated claims of fraud in his first interview since his Election Day defeat.
“We won the election easily,” the outgoing president falsely claimed on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures.”
This time, however, Trump added a new twist – claiming that his own Department of Justice and FBI had somehow colluded with the “rigging” of the election in Biden’s favor.
“This is total fraud,” the outgoing president said in the interview with Maria Bartiromo. “And how the FBI and Department of Justice—I don’t know—maybe they’re involved, but how people are getting away with this stuff—it’s unbelievable.”
Just over three weeks ago, major networks including Fox News and the Associated Press called Pennsylvania and Nevada in Biden’s favor, pushing him well over the 270 electoral-vote threshold to make him the winner of the Electoral College.
Since then, Trump has refused to concede, and has instead spouted claims of widespread fraud to sow the seeds of doubt in the election results. However, no evidence has been offered to flesh out the claims while the Trump campaign’s legal challenges have failed in court.
“Missing in action. Missing in action,” Trump continued after being asked if the FBI and DOJ were investigating the fraud claims. “Can’t tell you where they are. I ask, ‘Are you looking at it?’ Everyone says, ‘Yes,’ they’re looking at it.”
The accusation is incredible if only because both agencies’ heads were personally handpicked by President Trump.
The FBI is led by director Christopher Wray, a Trump appointee who has headed the bureau since 2017. The Justice Department is headed by Attorney General William Barr, who was nominated by the president in 2018 and has long argued in favor of government agencies deferring to presidential authority.
Barr has faced massive criticism from Democrats for actions they perceive as being overly partisan and biased in the president’s favor, including responding to Trump’s claims that he hadn’t actually lost the election by clearing the DOJ to look into voting irregularities prior to the certification of elections.
The move was widely seen as a reversal of guidance meant to prevent federal authorities from intervening in the election, and prompted the DOJ’s Election Crimes Branch head Richard Pilger to resign in protest.
However, this hasn’t prevented Trump from lashing out at the attorney general for his perceived lack of zeal in following his directives. In October, Trump criticized Barr publicly for failing to indict his political enemies, including former President Barack Obama and former Vice President (now President-elect) Joe Biden for their alleged role in the origins of the Russia probe.
Trump’s campaign has launched dozens of ill-fated lawsuits in key swing states won by Biden, with many of the lawsuits being dismissed by Republican-appointed judges.
On Sunday morning, the president further accused the judges of blocking his ability to overturn the election results.
“We’re trying to put the evidence in and the judges won’t allow us to do it,” Trump said.
One-Year-Old Baby Killed After 3 Cops Open Fire on Father’s Truck Following Crash
A one-year-old baby boy was killed by police on Thursday after an estranged father took him, sparking police intervention that ended with both the father and son being shot.
The incident took place in the rural region of Kawartha Lakes, Ontario, after police received reports of an alleged domestic disturbance and abduction, according to reports.
A Special Investigations Unit (SIU) said that the father, who was attempting to flee the police, crashed his vehicle into a cruiser belonging to Ontario Provincial Police before three officers shot at the 33-year-old suspect, gravely wounding him and tragically claiming the child’s life, reports Niagara Falls Review.
“The man was struck and he was airlifted to hospital in grave condition,” said SIU spokesperson Monica Hudon. “Inside the vehicle was the man’s son, a one-year-old boy, and he was fatally wounded.”
A firearm was also discovered in the man’s vehicle.
According to a local resident, the father had tried to kidnap the baby on Thursday morning following a domestic disturbance. In desperation, the child’s mother, her older son, and a therapist contacted him seeking shelter.
“Some people came to the house and wanted in, for a safe haven, and there was something about the husband had left with the little baby,” said Tom Deciccio.
When police located the father on a foggy rural road just east of Lindsay, Ontario, all hell reportedly broke loose when the man’s truck collided with another civilian car and the police cruiser.
The car was largely totaled by the collision, raising important questions as to why officers felt the need to fire their weapons at the vehicle.
The father remains in critical condition while the OPP officer, who was initially listed in critical condition, is now stable and being treated at Toronto’s Sunnybrook Hospital. An autopsy was conducted on the deceased child on Saturday.
The investigation of police conduct during the incident is now in the hands of the SIU, which is tasked with investigating any incidents involving Ontario officers who have killed, seriously injured, or sexually assaulted somebody.
The normally quiet central Ontario town of Kawartha Lakes has been shaken by the gruesome incident.
“The community is in disbelief that this is happening,” commented Mayor Andy Letham, who added that he appreciates the work of provincial police in safeguarding the community’s safety and wellbeing.
In separate comments to the National Post, the mayor noted that everyone in the region was already on edge this winter due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic – and that Thursday’s deadly incident only added an extra layer of distress to the small community.
“In a small community like this, it certainly caught everybody off guard,” Letham said.
OPP Commissioner Thomas Carrique said that York Regional Police will handle other aspects of the investigation to ascertain how the tragic case unfolded.
“As a result of a tragic incident today, one child is dead and two others significantly injured. I ask that (the SIU) and (York police) be given time to investigate, without speculation on the events as they unfolded,” he explained in a tweet. “Our thoughts and prayers are with those that are suffering today.”
As of now, police have not yet revealed which of the three officers fired the fatal shot, or if it was the father that claimed the child’s life, or if the father discharged any bullets from the firearm found in the vehicle.
However, the SIU has said that the three police firearms have been taken for forensic investigation. In the meantime, the handgun found inside the truck will likely be handed to investigators.
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