The Republican Congressman from California, Kevin McCarthy, was finally elected the Speaker of the House of Representatives after losing a record 14 rounds of voting. His journey to the speakership is nothing short of chaotic, primarily since Congress could not function in a regular manner until the Speaker was elected.
Some pointed to factionalism within the Grand Old Party as the cause for the delay since several Conservative members kept opposing the motion to nominate McCarthy. For the first time in history, the House was crippled because of the speakership vote and governance and action came to a standstill.
To win the speakership, McCarthy had to agree to several concessions that Democrats have criticised as part of the extremist, ‘Make America Great Again’ Republican agenda. Analysts described it as an act of self-destruction that will further weaken his power. According to Politico, Democrats brought popcorn to the floor of the House as the gruelling days of voting dragged on.
The former president, Donald Trump, also reportedly tried to help McCarthy get elected, although Trump’s political power has significantly waned over the past few months. A few weeks ago he teased a “major announcement” on his social media platform, Truth Social. This got people wondering. Later he announced the launch of digital trading cards bearing his image in different characters. The cards were sold for $99 each.
More than a week ago, the 24-year-old National Football League player, Damar Hamlin, suffered a heart attack in the middle of a game and had to be resuscitated. He was later taken to a local hospital in Cincinnati. Fans and fellow players became emotional seeing Hamlin collapse and showed an outpouring of support.
The game was first postponed and eventually cancelled, even though several reports indicate that high-up NFL officials were initially considering resuming the game as planned. The ESPN announcer, Joe Buck, had reported on the live broadcast that the teams were told they had “five minutes” to warm up before the game restarted with Hamlin still lying unconscious on the field. The NFL later denied this. ESPN’s live coverage focussed on the field as the tragic scene played out.
While Hamlin’s health is improving, questions have arisen on the ethicality of the NFL. There is no doubt that the NFL is a commercial, profit-seeking organisation which has survived past scandals. However, this incident is forcing people to reckon with the reality of football’s inherent violence. A headline in The New York Times report on the incident read, “We’re All Complicit in the N.F.L.’s Violent Spectacle” while Sun Sentinel described it as “[a] night when a big game of football took a backseat to life”.
Back to earth
New York recently became the sixth state in the country to legalise human composting after death. Organic reduction is an environment-friendly alternative to cremation or burying, which are common ritualistic practices across religions.
Washington became the first state to legalise human composting in 2019, followed by Colorado and Oregon in 2021, and then Vermont and California in 2022. The human body is placed inside a reusable vessel along with plant material such as wood chips, alfalfa and straw. The naturally occurring microbes then break down the body in about 30 days. The end result is a cubic yard of nutrient-dense soil amendment, the equivalent of 36 bags of soil.
Recompose is a funeral home that specialises in this. The price for the entire process (transportation, paperwork, composting) is $5,500. However, the New York State Catholic Conference opposed the bill, calling the burial method “inappropriate”.
With Christmas and New Year behind us, what follows is the less festive month of January when freshly-made New Year’s resolutions are forcibly kept alive. Of late, keeping resolutions has become a joke.
A recent poll by YouGov found that 37% of Americans have made resolutions this year. Common goals are improving physical health, saving money, exercising more, eating healthy and losing weight.
According to the fitness tracking app, Strava, most of these resolutions will be abandoned by January 19. Alongside these, there is also the goal to maintain a ‘dry January’ — the idea is to let go of holiday revelries by abstaining from alcohol. According to the popular dating app, Bumble, ‘dry dating’ is going to be the top dating trend this month. As a result, many beverage brands are tapping into this trend, leading to the increase of non-alcoholic, ‘zero proof’ beverages in store aisles.
It turns out that the ‘Karen’ trend has not faded away. ‘Karen’ is a derogatory term referring to a White woman using her privilege to make outrageous demands. A new restaurant called Karen’s Diner is coming up in New York’s West Village. It is meant to be a parody dining environment, serving food such as the “I Want to See the Manager” and the “Basic Karen” burgers. According to the website, ”This is dining with a twist — the food is great, the service is ungrateful but your experience will be unforgettable.”