MONDAY, JUNE 1 This week of transgender visibility, incriminating spit, and troubling Duggar fuckery kicked off in the United States of America, where the first second of today brought the expiration of the USA Patriot Act, the law rushed through Congress after 9/11 for Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (USA PATRIOT, get it?) but which allowed for unconstitutional mass surveillance by the National Security Agency and the horrors of Abu Ghraib. And while much of the Patriot Act was revived under the USA Freedom Act, the section that previously allowed the NSA to collect phone data of virtually all Americans was amended to restrict such data collection to phone companies, from which the NSA can request specific information with a federal court's imprimatur. For comment, we turn to Edward J. Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who exposed the NSA's spying and was hit with espionage charges that may forever prevent his return to the country he wrecked his life to protect. "Though we have come a long way, the right to privacy—the foundation of the freedoms enshrined in the United States Bill of Rights—remains under threat," Snowden wrote in a New York Times editorial. Among the Snowden-cited threats: the willingness of "the world's most popular online services" to cooperate with the NSA in its mass surveillance and the billions of cell-phone location records still being intercepted with little restriction. Forever gracious, Snowden ended his editorial on a hopeful note: "We are witnessing the emergence of a post-terror generation, one that rejects a worldview defined by a singular tragedy. For the first time since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, we see the outline of a politics that turns away from reaction and fear in favor of resilience and reason. With each court victory, with every change in the law, we demonstrate facts are more convincing than fear. As a society, we rediscover that the value of a right is not in what it hides, but in what it protects."
•• Meanwhile in New York City, an unnerving scene went down today at a Greenwich Village subway station, where a 28-year-old transgender woman was approached by an erratically behaving man who asked, "What are you looking at?" before pushing the woman onto the train tracks and running away. "The woman was taken to Bellevue Hospital, where she was treated for cuts and bruises and released," reported NBC New York. "Authorities said they are investigating the case as a hate crime."
TUESDAY, JUNE 2 Speaking of transgender life in America, the week continued with Caitlyn Jenner, the transgender woman who lived a remarkably full life as Olympic-champion-turned-reality-TV-star Bruce Jenner before making her public debut this week—via a glammed-up Annie Leibovitz photograph—on the cover of Vanity Fair. The unveiling of Caitlyn Jenner gave millions of Americans the opportunity to show their empathy and inclusiveness (the outpouring of support on Twitter alone was historic) and a bunch of other Americans the opportunity to display their reactionary assholishness. Still, even some of the more dickish editorials deigned to use respectful proper pronouns while discussing Jenner, and there's no denying the whole complicated circus added up to a concrete step forward. The ultimate moral: No one transgender person will ever be the representative of the transgender community, which ranges from homeless teens to Olympic-champion Republicans with chronic fame-whore tendencies to regular old Janes and Joes working at libraries and tech companies and art studios. Onward.
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 3 In stupider news, the week continued with a twisty tale of saliva, science, and customer service in central New York. As Syracuse.com reported, the saga was set in motion last July, when 45-year-old Ken Yerdon and his wife had dinner at Chili's in the Syracuse suburb of Clay. As Yerdon told Syracuse.com, the meal had a couple of bumps, including undercooked broccoli and a general sense of annoyance from their waiter, 24-year-old Gregory Lamica. When Yerdon and his wife were ready to leave, they asked to have their sodas refilled and placed in to-go cups—a task Lamica stoically executed then sent the couple on their way. While driving home, Yerdon took a few sips of his beverage before the lip popped off. "I saw the spit in the cup," Yerdon told Syracuse.com. "It wasn't regular spit either. It was definitely a loogie." After an unsatisfying meeting with Chili's management (who apologized for grossness but admitted no wrongdoing and took no immediate action against Lamica), Yerdon called police. Under questioning, Lamica denied spitting in the cup but agreed to let a state trooper take a swab of his saliva, which was soon found to match the spit collected from the soda, after which Lamica was charged with disorderly conduct and eventually let go by Chili's. Which brings us to this week, when Yerdon announced plans to sue Lamica and Chili's over the six months of psychological trauma he allegedly endured while awaiting conclusive tests proving that Lamica's spit didn't give him hepatitis or HIV.
THURSDAY, JUNE 4 Speaking of gross American idiocy, the week continued with the Duggars, the fundamentalist Christian family behind the TV series 19 Kids and Counting, who enjoyed top ratings on TLC and favored status with conservative GOP politicians until a slew of revelations recast the clan as a de facto cult of sex-abuse victims, enablers, and apologists. Central to this recasting: In Touch's publication of a police report showing that the patriarch and matriarch of the Duggar clan—49-year-old Jim Bob and 48-year-old Michelle—heard multiple confessions from their then-adolescent son Josh about his repeated molestation of four of his sisters and waited at least 16 months before alerting anyone outside the house or getting any of the victims (or Josh) professional counseling. "Had the statute of limitations regarding the case not expired, it is believed both parents could have faced up to six years in prison for permitting the abuse of a minor," reported the New York Post. The serious sketchiness continued as several members of the Duggar clan sat down for interview with Fox News' Megyn Kelly, during which the Duggars held forth on their own victimization at the hands of police and the media, and said a whole bunch of things that should get them investigated by Child Protective Services. FYI: The parents who repeatedly failed to protect four of their children from sexual abuse still have 11 children in their care. Arkansas DHS, please get on it.
FRIDAY, JUNE 5 The week continued with the Catholic Church, which has spent the past few weeks freaking out over marriage equality, with Vatican leadership denouncing Ireland's pro-gay-marriage vote as a "defeat for humanity" that proves "the church must strengthen its commitment to evangelization." Meanwhile, in real life, today the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis was hit with criminal charges related to its alleged mishandling of sexual abuse. As Newsweek reported, Minnesota prosecutors allege the archdiocese ignored warnings about a pedophilic priest who was later convicted of sexually abusing two boys in his care. Packing enough evidence to charge any one church official with a crime, prosecutors are instead charging the entire diocese as a corporation. Keep up the ace evangelization, Vatican.
SATURDAY, JUNE 6 Nothing happened today, unless you count the pair of murderers found missing this morning from Clinton Correctional Facility, a maximum-security prison in upstate New York near the Canadian border, which the killers escaped using power tools to cut through steel walls.
SUNDAY, JUNE 7 Nothing happened today, unless you count the ongoing search for those escaped murderers and/or freaky gorgeous weather in the Pacific Northwest.
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