Missing in Action: the Week’s Overlooked News Stories

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Parents could be on the hook for kids who bully. The media fails to care about terrorism in countries with brown people. And one man does things in a wheelchair we can’t fathom, but they are awesome. Here’s what you missed during this last week of April….

Small Wisconsin town takes big step toward stopping bullies

If your kid is a jerk, you could pay the price. That’s the idea behind a new ordinance in Shawano, Wisconsin. Police in that town are working with the school district to identify bullies, then notify their parents. Mom and dad have 90 days to intervene, and if the bullying behavior continues they are slapped with a fine of $366. The fines progress if the same child is found harassing another within a year. Controversial? Yes. Effective? That remains to be seen. Either way, I’m finding it hard to argue against giving it a shot.

Another awful thing has happened in Syria, and you haven’t heard about it

The media continues its trend of cherry picking which awful acts of terrorism are worthy of coverage (basically only if it happens in the U.S. or Europe). If 27 people, including children, were killed in an airstrike at a pediatric hospital in the West, we wouldn’t be hearing about anything else. But this one happened in Aleppo, Syria so whatever.

Man in wheelchair proves we are all wimps

Ever twist an ankle and then spend time loudly lamenting your life karma, how you can’t do anything, how you wish everything was normal again? Yeah, we’re drama queens too. After reading this article, we have to cancel our pity party. This week’s feel-good story comes from 24 year-old Aaron Fotheringham,  who was born with spinal bifida. Instead of feeling sorry for himself and growing bitter, he became a record-setting extreme sports wheelchair competitor. His bad-assery is unlike anything we have seen in a while. Team Aaron!

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One Of Us? Prince, Sports And The Enduring Underdog

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“In other words, Prince was really no different from my dad, utterly incapable of paying full attention to an activity when his team was in the mix. Except that Prince was leading a band, doing the splits and rocking a stadium while sneaking peeks at the score, whereas my father struggled to balance headphones with eating pizza. But somehow this notion of the fantastic, magical Prince as one of us only adds to his allure – and our collective grief at his loss. As GQ’s Jack Moore recently observed, ‘in typical Prince fashion, the very idea that a genius, other-dimensional being, Rock God could be obsessed with something as normal as basketball seems super weird. And cool.'”

Read the full post at Contemptor.

Post-Schwarber Injury, Maddon & The Cubs Prove They’re Karma Chameleons

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“Then Schwarber was carted off the field. The 23 year-old lefty hit 16 home runs in 69 games for the team last season, and was anticipated to be an integral part of the Cubs 2016 offense. As he left the diamond with the help of trainers P.J. Mainville and Ed Halbur, you could hear the collective groans inside the park and out. This is how the implosion starts, right?…

In a highly competitive NL Central Division, the Chicago Cubs are off like a shot with a 14-5 record that puts them ahead three and a half games over the Cardinals. It is but April and there’s much baseball to be played, but the Cubs are so stacked with talent, from the office to the dugout to bullpen and field, that the old cynicism model appears hopelessly outdated.”

Read the full post at Wrigleyville Nation.

Missing in Action: The Week’s Overlooked News Stories

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Utah believes that Internet porn amounts to a public health crisis. Why did Ben and Jerry get sent to the clink? Cubs star Jake Arrieta causes an excited fan to lead Cincinnati cops on a field chase. And the “world’s oldest dog” makes bittersweet headlines. Here’s what might have escaped your attention this week….

While the nation grapples with a sharp increase in gun violence (see Chicago’s year-to-date numbers if you’re in the mood to be horrified), the threat of a Zika virus outbreak, and an uncertain political future, Utah has found a way to make our jaws drop with a sense of misplaced priority. The state believes pornography is a public health crisis. There was a ceremonial declaration signed by Governor Gary Herbert and everything. I’ve been to Utah and witnessed its beautiful climate and infrastructure firsthand. Is this a case of statewide First World problems? Click the hyperlink, read the story and decide for yourself.

As election 2016 rolls along, we continue hearing about all the things frustrating voters: there’s too much money in politics, voting rights are under attack, we need to stop ignoring climate change, our educational system is a mess. We could go on forever about the wealth of legitimate concerns. And now there’s a group ambitiously attempting to speak out on all of these issues and more. They are a group of protestors called Democracy Awakening, and they converged on Washington earlier this week. About 300 people were arrested including the co-founders of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield have a history of speaking out about social and political injustice, quite literally putting their money where their mouths are. A quote from their website reads “It all comes down to a simple idea that we believe in whole-heartedly: if you care about something, you have to be willing to risk it all—your reputation, your values, your business—for the greater good.” We find that attitude pretty delicious!

Speaking of taking chances for something you care about, one Cubs fan risked his freedom on Thursday evening to be part of history. Ace pitcher Jake Arrieta pitched his second no-hitter in as many years, and a man in the crowd was seemingly so overcome with joy, he had to be a part of the on-field celebration. He did what fan’s of all sports have merely fantasized about in those high-octane moments. His 15 minutes of fame might come with a mugshot, but we can’t help but love the guy.

When you love animals and bring them into your home, they become family. If you’re like the BeckySarwate.com team, you look at your fur babies everyday and think, as you gently pet them and look lovingly into their eyes, “I wish you could live forever.” While we know that’s not possible, we hope for as many healthy, happy years with our four-legged friends as we can get. One fortunate pet owner spent literal decades with his pup. Australian dairy farmer Brian McLaren got 30 years with his beloved dog, Maggie. That is not a typo. 30. Years. Unofficially dubbed the world’s oldest dog, Maggie passed away in her sleep this past Monday. We’re sorry to see her go but it’s clear she had a good long life and brought much joy to her family.

From the Mouths of Denver Nuggets….

From the Mouths of Denver Nuggets

Bob and I recently returned from a much-anticipated Denver vacation, a city long on the personal list of must-sees. I took copious notes during our adventures with the expectancy of using them for this post in some form. There’s benefits to letting travel exploits steep for a while before finding a “get,” the takeaway that offers more than a short-term imprint and witty anecdote. As higher-level impressions mature, in-the-moment notes can fill in the forgotten details and give the written experience a fuller, more deliberate flavor.

So I’m finding anew. In revisiting our Rocky Mountain excursion and the annotations compiled, some of the convergence between my memory and the marginalia is surprisingly and vividly pedestrian. Sure I remember the beauty of Central Colorado’s vast, open spaces. I treasure the weeklong breach with low-carb dieting that resulted in the best cinnamon roll, bison steak and avocado toast (and here I never knew this was a thing) experiences imaginable. And I’ll never fail to recall the full feelings of contentment that accompanied relaxing with Bob each night on the hotel balcony, watching life happen in the street below our feet.

But this elucidation is the one inspiring the keystrokes, jotted on Day 3:

“Once again I’m reminded that given the choice, I prefer conversation with small children over adults. Their stories are more real, interesting and they actually care if you’re paying attention.”

The catalyst for this observation was a visit to the home of Bob’s maternal cousin and her husband, a warm and welcoming couple with trio of little urchins: three year-old Lilah, and two-month old twin boys named Jack and Hank. A most adorable party. The first trait I noticed and admired in Lilah was her wariness of strangers. It would be inaccurate to label it fear. It’s more of a side eye with an unspoken, “Impress me if you can. I’ll wait. It’s my house and I’ve got all day.” I have a lot of respect for those who come into this world with the preternatural knowledge that people are soul-crushingly boring.

Anyway Lilah’s standoffishness presented a challenge I was more than willing to accept. I started to inquire about her life, noting via her baseball coach father that she’d acted as his assistant that day. She immediately perked up and informed me:

“One of the players had one arm.”

So many questions but I didn’t want to smother the precarious momentum I was building. So I turned to dad and asked for clarification. It seems one of the young baseballers had recently broken an appendage, thus showing up to practice with “one arm.” In a reporter’s quest for facts, I reduced Lilah’s whimsical if no less accurate account to the mundane. Lesson learned and for the rest of the visit, I surrendered and went with the toddler flow. It was a good decision, for I was treated to a variety of utterances like the following:

“If you don’t want me to climb the fence, why are you standing on it?”

“You can’t walk through my house unless I say.”

“I like having my feet in the air.”

Each question and observation struck me as more progressively sensible than the one previous. The backyard fence was constructed with latticework, and Bob’s diminutive cousin was in fact standing on one of the rungs while conversing with a neighbor. The expressed unfairness of Lilah’s own forbidden climb seemed entirely rational. Likewise the aversion to having unapproved guests tromp through the home, as well highlighting the arbitrariness in demanding feet remain on the ground. By the time Bob and I prepared to say our goodbyes, Lilah had become my spiritual guru. The enlightened id.

I met a variety of engaging adults during our Southwestern travels, including members of Bob’s family and a gaggle of absolutely darling hipsters (a satire-free phrase I never thought I’d write). But it’s the assured skepticism of Lilah, so reminiscent of the sassy armor I wore at her age before the work of growing up dulled its shine, which sticks. I don’t need to be a parent or a child myself to appreciate the unvarnished, joyous truth offered by conversations with the wee. They’re my people.

The Saddest State In The Union: How Bruce Rauner Is Destroying Illinois

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‘Earlier this month, Democratic lawmakers in the state approved a gap funding measure to help address the dire circumstances faced by education and social services. But naturally Governor Rauner is expected to veto it. And in a move almost universally applauded by state residents, Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger announced last week that Illinois Officeholders Will Go Without Pay until State Passes Budget. But Rauner didn’t run for the paycheck. The billionaire is holding out for “’structural reforms’ such as changes in collective bargaining.” In other words, he’ll bring every one of us to our knees as a union-busting exercise. He is Scott Walker on a more dangerous iteration of public sector-savaging steroids.”

Read the full post at Contemptor.

Missing in Action: The Week’s Overlooked News Stories

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Are new ride sharing entrepreneurs from Massachusetts guilty of sexism? Is the POTUS about to sign an executive order WITHOUT being pilloried from the right? And we wish we could interview Inky the Octopus, but he’s gone to sea. Here’s what you may have missed this week….

Ride sharing services like Uber and Lyft have faced all sorts of controversy since launching earlier this decade. Whether its taxi unions fighting them, price surge outrage, reports of violence from driver to passenger or even from passenger to driver, there is no shortage of headlines dedicated to this business model. In spite of all that, ride share companies are incredibly popular with consumers, and entrepreneurs are looking for ways to capitalize further. Cue women-only car services and a new debate. A Massachusetts couple plans to launch Chariot for Women this summer as a response to the safety issues some have experienced with existing ride share services. While the company’s intentions are admirable, questions of legality and potential discrimination have arisen and can’t be ignored in a nation continuing to strive for inclusion and equality. Click the hyperlink to learn more.

It’s no secret that President Obama exercises his right to use executive orders to get things done. What other choice does he have? Our do-nothing Congress has rendered these orders a necessity of governance. The POTUS has signed executive orders more times than many are probably aware of during his two terms in office. Most have been free from controversy, while others create a firestorm of trumped-up GOP wrath. But Obama is getting ready to sign a new executive order that (gasp!) might just possess inter-party appeal. Think you pay too much for your cable TV service? At upwards of $225 a month, I sure as hell do. If you’re tired of the usury and think something ought to be done, you’ll want to read the hyperlinked article.

The BeckySarwate.com team has found great value and comfort in locating feel-good stories amongst the rubble of global chaos. We particularly love stories about animals because they make their own rules. This week it was reported that an octopus (“Inky”) broke out of the National Aquarium of New Zealand. The hyperlinked article likens the episode to The Shawshank Redemption, but our team can’t help but think of Finding Nemo. The Pixar film was set in Australia (very close to New Zealand for the geographically challenged – like me) and featured the protagonist breaking free from the isolation of a dental office aquarium to reunite with his father. As someone who struggles heavily with the idea of animals in captivation, and likes a bit of determined chutzpah, Inky the octopus is an inspiration.