Thumbs down to still another school shooting, this time in our backyard. Two students at nearby Marshall County High School in Kentucky lost their lives in another senseless shooting incident Tuesday. Once again Americans, who are either apparently incapable of preventing these tragedies or refuse to make tough political decisions surrounding gun violence, observed moments of silence and offered prayers for the slain students. In the past year, 17 American students have been shot to death in their schools, a place they should feel perfectly safe. There are plenty of pressing problems the United States must deal with, none should be more important than insuring the safety of students in their classrooms.
Thumbs up to Illinois senator Tammy Duckworth who announced her pregnancy this week. Duckworth, a decorated war hero, will become the first U.S. Senator to give birth while in office. She and her husband have a 3-year-old daughter. Duckworth was elected in 2016. Oh, in addition to a thumbs up, congratulations.
Thumbs up to the Women’s March that occurred in Carbondale on Saturday. Hundreds of local residents took part in the peaceful protest. Regardless of your political persuasion or ideology, it is reassuring to see American citizens care enough about their country to take to the streets. Organizers estimate about 1,000 people participated in the event. Even more important, it is important that despite the highly polarized political climate in America that citizens can express their views and exercise their constitutional rights in an orderly, peaceful manner.
Thumbs down to the government shutdown that resulted in federal employees being furloughed. The shutdown lasted just one working day, but offices at the Paul Simon Federal Building in Carbondale were closed Monday. In addition, federal employees at Rend Lake, the Shawnee National Forest and Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge were furloughed for the day. Fortunately, the standoff was resolved later Monday, but another deadline is looming in just three weeks.
Thumbs down to issues at the Marion VA hospital that continue to hamper the treatment of veterans. U.S. Rep. Mike Bost sent a letter to the VA this week, requesting action be taken quickly. “Our heroes deserve the best care possible, and unqualified leadership in the HR department at Marion prevents that from happening,” Bost said in the release. “That’s why I have appealed directly to the VA Secretary to get an HR team in place at Marion that can clean up the mess. We’ve heard stories of grossly inconsistent salaries among staff, low morale, and a lack of proper training and discipline. Serious HR changes need to be made, and fast. Our veterans deserve better than this.”
Thumbs up to Carbondale native Laurie Metcalf for her Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for her role in "Lady Bird." Metcalf, who attended Illinois State University, has appeared in "Desperately Seeking Susan," "Uncle Buck," "Toy Story" and "Leaving Las Vegas." This is her first Oscar nomination. Perhaps her most famous role was as Jackie, Roseanne’s sister on the long-running "Roseanne" show. She is currently a cast member of the "Big Bang Theory."
Thumbs up to Saluki women’s basketball coach Cindy Stein for her 350th career win. Stein’s Salukis knocked off Loyola last Friday for win No. 350. Two days later, her Salukis started Stein on the path to 400 with a victory over Valparaiso. A Peoria native, Stein played at the University of Illinois. She coached the University of Missouri before coming to SIU. The Salukis are home against Missouri State tonight.