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Editorial: Short takes on cemetery cleanups, dodgeball and Belarus

Editorial: Short takes on cemetery cleanups, dodgeball and Belarus

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Belarusian leader defends his action to divert flight

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko gives a speech during a May 9, 2020, military parade that marked the 75th anniversary of the allied victory over Nazi Germany, in Minsk, Belarus.

(Pool Photo via AP, File)

Cemetery cleanup revives Black history

A local fraternity in Belleville has stepped forward to clear away debris and overgrowth in a Black cemetery between Millstadt and Cahokia Heights. The Booker T. Washington Cemetery is probably not on a lot of people’s lists for priority attention, but the Phi Beta Sigma fraternity adopted the cemetery as a focus for voluntary community improvement efforts. Just getting there is a challenge because of the potholes and lack of signage, the Belleville News-Democrat reported.

“A lot of people did not know that that cemetery existed, so I just want to bring life into that cemetery, and hopefully the community will get involved,” Ronald McClellan, an East St. Louis native, said of his fraternity’s work. Weedy overgrowth, trash and debris have made it difficult to locate the actual gravesites, which is sad because of the site’s rich history.

The weekly Saturday cleanups, led by McClellan, will make it easier for local Black residents to trace ancestors buried there. The 8-acre cemetery was founded in 1919 and includes gravesites of people born into slavery.

Blunt trains for new career playing dodgeball

Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri is practicing his bob and weave even as he perfects his duck and run from the Senate next year. The retiring senator appeared on Fox News Sunday and was asked by host Chris Wallace about GOP resistance to a bipartisan commission to investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection. Blunt evaded answering questions about accountability then attempted to kick the can down the road.

Wallace asked, “Can you honestly say in opposing this commission … that you are putting country above party?” Blunt sidestepped the question and proceeded to talk about the 9/11 Commission. He then went on to say, “I think it’s too early to create a commission, and I believe Republicans in the Senate will decide that it’s too early to create that commission.”

Blunt’s exceptionally lame excuse echoed other Republicans’ evasive responses as they grappled for any reason whatsoever to avoid getting to the truth about the insurrection. The reasons for their embarrassed evasiveness are fairly simple: The insurrection was carried out in the name of their party leader, then-President Donald Trump, at his instigation. Blunt didn’t explain why it’s “too early” to get to the truth. We had hoped he might have acquired a conscience in the waning days before his retirement but, sadly, it’s apparently too early for that, as well.

Beware the unfriendly skies of Belarus

It takes a pretty petty dictator to engage in air piracy just to get back at a dissident. A Ryanair plane flying from Athens to Lithuania was forced down by a Belarusian military jet because one of its passengers was a dissident, Roman Protasevich, who had dared to criticize the East European nation’s strongman leader, Aleksandr Lukashenko. Protasevich’s high-altitude overflight was deemed “a potential security risk.”

Major airlines and the International Civil Aviation Organization are now refusing to overfly the country, and several European countries banned all flights by the Belarusian national carrier. Lukashenko remains defiant, insisting he was within his rights. After arresting Protasevich on the tarmac, his government rewrote the justification by saying authorities suspected some kind of bomb was aboard. There was no bomb. But authorities reportedly beat and tortured Protasevich nonetheless.

Digitally shaming high school girls

A Florida high school has employed a disturbing new weapon in the age-old battle between school administrators and female students over appropriate attire. Without asking anyone, the school digitally altered the yearbook photos of at least 80 girls to more completely cover any hint of a cleavage. Enforcing dress codes on picture day is one thing, but critics say this nonconsensual, after-the-fact altering of their images smacks of shaming — especially since they were so clumsily done as to be obvious.

As reported by The St. Augustine Record, parents and students are demanding answers from officials at Bartram Trail High School in St. Johns County, Florida. The alterations — including obviously superimposed blurry bars across girls’ upper chests intended to look like parts of their clothing — were reportedly made by a teacher who serves as yearbook coordinator.

The school had earlier been the subject of controversy for a dress code that parents said targeted girls with sexist language, like demanding that clothing be “modest” and not “distracting.” Some noted that boys’ pictures were all left unedited, including an image of the swim team in which the boys all wore brief swimsuits.

Ticked off

This year’s mild, wet weather has spurred an uptick in the tick population, and pandemic-weary Americans are expected to spend more time than ever outdoors. It’s a perfect storm for Lyme disease and other tick-related dangers. The Washington Post gathered some advice from various specialists:

• Understand that “tick season” doesn’t mean much anymore. Traditionally, ticks are active in spring, with June and July being prime Lyme-disease time. But milder winters brought on by global warming have expanded the arachnid’s reach year-round.

• Of the many tick species, look out especially for these three disease-carriers: the deer tick (brown or reddish-orange), the Lone Star tick (a white dot on its back), and the American dog tick (brown with gray markings).

• In grassy areas, wear clothing that covers legs and arms, tuck pants cuffs into your socks and wear light-colored attire (so stowaway ticks are easier to spot.)

• If a tick is discovered, just pull it out with tweezers. “Don’t do whatever weird things the internet is recommending,” advised one expert.

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