A right-wing war on women? Transphobia? Donald Trump? As Al Jaffee would say, “blecch”

What Just Happened | Stephen Whitworth

It’s another round-up of randomly plucked recent news nuggets for your reading pleasure and/or abject horror. What fun! Let’s go!

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 26: MICHELPORNGELO? A garbage charter school board in Tallahassee, Florida became a planetary laughingstock today after news broke the school’s principal was forced to resign for not notifying parents their grade six students would be shown a slide of Italian master Michelangelo’s iconic 16th century sculpture David (1504). One upset cretin parent called the work “pornography”. Poor kids, deranged adults. Scroll on down for more fun news from the United States!

TUESDAY 28: CHARTER CHALLENGE Regina’s Anti-Poverty Ministry today launched a charter challenge against the Sask. Party government’s Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disability (SAID) program, which RAPM advocate Peter Gilmer says is putting future seniors who use SAID today at risk of poverty by forcing them to apply early for their Canada Pension Plan payments. This newspaper will follow this continuing story.

THURSDAY 30: DUCK LUCK Readers may recall our Sept. 29 feature on Nova Scotia cartoonist Kate Beaton’s new book, Ducks, detailing her experiences in the Alberta oil patch to pay off her student loans. Today the book won CBC’s prestigious Canada Reads competition. More importantly, it’s one of the best things published in the last year. Its documentary-style depictions of oil industry horrors, toxic masculinity and environmental carnage really ought to win it a Pulitzer. You really ought to consider reading it!

MONDAY, APRIL 3: MILE HISS CLUB In Very Important Aviation News, the pilot of a four-passenger South African plane was forced to make an emergency landing when a stowaway cape cobra slithered past his hip and curled up under his seat by his feet. Multiple outlets including the Associated Press, BBC and CNN reported the extremely venomous but relatively calm passenger had been seen near the plane before take-off but eluded discovery during a precautionary pre-flight search. After landing, pilot Rudolf Erasmus and his passengers disembarked safely but shaken. A snake handler and team of engineers were subsequently unable to find the high-flying reptile, even after a thorough stripping of the plane. Hang on, what’s that under your chair? I thought I saw something move. It was probably nothing.

TUESDAY 4: ORANGE IS THE NEW ORANGE I could fill a column with recaps of stories about the United States continued stampede towards fascism. A column? This paper could publish a phonebook-sized plank weekly and never run out of material. Not going to do that, partly for readers’ mental health, mostly for mine. But given today was the day former President and failed coup leader Donald Trump was charged with 34 felony counts of falsifying business records, a recap of recent American shenanigans in order.

So far this month, we’ve seen a Trump-appointed judge try to block access to the abortion drug mifepristone across the country while a specious lawsuit filed by antiabortion extremists burrows its maggoty way through Texas courts. We’ve seen Florida’s Disney-hating governor Ron DeSantis sign a bill making it legal to carry a concealed gun without a permit, on the same day (April 3) his dumb, mean state senate passed a bill banning abortion after six weeks, a point at which most women don’t know they’re pregnant. This is the same DeSantis, blocking schools from teaching historical facts he and his racist supporters don’t like.

 Oh, and on April 10, a Florida state committee hearing on anti-trans legislation went hilariously, terrifyingly sideways when deranged Republican representative Webster Barnaby condemned LGBTQ advocates, saying, and this is true, “The Lord rebuke you, Satan, and all of your demons and all of your imps who come parade before us.” Barnaby also called trans advocates “mutants”, apparently referring to the X-Men. “I would like to apologize to the trans community for referring to you as demons,” the Guardian reported he said later.

Then there were high profile mass shootings at a school in Nashville (April 3, six dead, three of them children) and at a bank in Louisville, Kentucky (April 10, five dead, eight injured). And hey, an April 6 Pew Research Centre study shows guns deaths among children up 50 per cent since 2019. Guns are the leading cause of death for children and teenagers in the U.S. Oh, and another study, by the Kaiser Family Foundation, says that nearly one in five Americans has lost a family member to gun violence. “America, fuck yeah!”

MONDAY 10: THE FINAL FOLD Legendary Mad Magazine cartoonist Al Jaffee died today at the age of 102. Jaffee was best known for his brilliant “fold ins” — full-page illustrations that when folded into their middle created an ironic new cartoon out of the original image. He contributed his last fold-in to Mad in 2020, at the age of 99.

“Al Jaffee’s cartooning was so great that as a kid, I tried to do the fold-ins without creasing the pages so that I could preserve the artwork,” says Regina cartoonist and Mad contributor Dakota McFadzean. “Even as a barely literate young Mad reader hoping to see a bare cartoon butt, I could tell his work was something special. Al Jaffee was incredible and he will be missed.”