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Plus, Pa.'s COVID-19 testing failure.
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🆘 "An absolute disgrace"

Plus, Pa.'s COVID-19 testing failure.

Hello. It's Thursday. Thanks for checking in. 

I honestly wasn't sure how to start this one. 

I watched with many, if not all of you as chaos reigned in our nation's capital yesterday. Scores of Trump supporters — fresh off a "Stop the Steal" rally with the commander-in-chief himself — stormed the nearby Capitol building, forcing a lockdown, an armed standoff, at least one shooting, and a day of previously unbelievable developments on the Hill. It was the first breach of the Capitol building in 200 years.

And while we strive to keep this newsletter as hyper-focused on the City of Pittsburgh as possible, what happened in D.C. yesterday transcends every municipal border in the country. It was also very much on my mind at the writing of this newsletter, which I attempted after hours spent glued to the television and biting my nails. 

It comes as little surprise, though, after months of watching the Democratic process in states like ours be undermined from inside and out.

A few months back, I told NEXTpittsburgh media columnist Andrew Conte that I feared what kind of response stoked accusations of a rigged election or a refusal to concede might lead to.

Today, I'm saddened to have found out.

Keep scrolling for more. 

What Pittsburgh is talking about

Hole in the wall. | Tag #theinclinepgh to be featured in our Instagram of the Day. (📸: @crazycitylady)

5 things to know today

🗳 Republican U.S. Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania broke with members of his own party (and the president he voted for) in taking to the Senate floor yesterday to formally oppose Trump's effort to stop the certification of Joe Biden's Electoral College win. The building was locked down minutes later as an angry mob forced its way inside. Toomey later issued a statement calling the actions “an absolute disgrace." Here's a roundup of reactions from other Pa. lawmakers, via CBS 21.

📍 Not everyone was outraged. Rick Saccone, a former Republican state representative and failed 2018 congressional candidate from western Pa., was in D.C. yesterday where he celebrated the siege, writing on Facebook: “We are storming the capitol. Our vanguard has broken thru the barricades. We will save this nation. Are u with me?” The post was later deleted. TribLIVE has copies.

➡️ The latest: The Capitol was re-secured by law enforcement around 6 p.m. and Congress resumed its state-by-state certification of Electoral College results soon after. That work continued through the night and saw an attempted block of Pennsylvania's electoral votes for Biden thwarted in both chambers. Congress confirmed Joe Biden as the next president of the United States around 3:45 a.m.

🚍 Where did "Stop the Steal" rally-goers come from? States like Pennsylvania, which launched caravans of buses headed for D.C. “I expect for this election to be overturned," Fayette County business owner and rally-goer Kim Smetanka told the Philadelphia Inquirer beforehand. "I expect for Mike Pence to do what he can do, according to the Constitution. And I expect for a celebration on the ride home.” Read the Inquirer's full report here.

📊 Pennsylvania lags all but four states and Puerto Rico in COVID-19 testing and is nowhere near the level needed to actually suppress the virus' spread here, experts say. Even the state's more charitable statistics fall well short of that target, and we're nearly one year into this pandemic. Spotlight PA has a closer look here

4 moments of much-needed levity

⚾️ African American participation in professional and college baseball has been declining for decades. The Pittsburgh Hardball Academy, founded by Who's Nexter Nelson Cooper IV, aims to reverse the trend. City Paper has the scouting report.

🌹 File this under smile or cringe, but The Bachelor season filmed at Fayette County's Nemacolin Resort premiered this week and airs new episodes every Monday. O, The Oprah Magazine takes you inside the luxe hotel.

☕️ Back in black. Crazy Mocha founder Ken Zeff is returning to the coffee biz with a new chain called Yinz Coffee. Pittsburgh Business Times tells you what to expect.

🍪 Turns out Terrible Towels make wonderful baked goods. Here's Bethel Bakery with the visual proof. Side note: They also make terrible towels, as we found out the hard way. Apologies to Myron Cope.

Things to do 

Submit your events to our calendar.

Today

📖 Indulge your biophilia and bibliophilia with this exploration of the connection between literature and our view of the natural world (Online)

🥁 Catch jazz legend Roger Humphries performing live for the August Wilson African American Cultural Center’s free Studio Sessions series (Online)

🐦 Learn how National Aviary specialists in Pittsburgh are helping to protect birds in the Mariana Islands from the Brown Tree Snake, an invasive species blamed for the extinction of twelve native species in Guam (Online)

➡️ Experience the second performance in artist and filmmaker Shikeith's Feeling The Spirit In The Dark exhibition at the Mattress Factory — multiple dates (Online)

Tomorrow

🎭 Tune in for performances, interactive workshops, and more with EQT Children's Theater Festival @ Home — multiple dates (Online)

Sunday

💡 Bring your words, ideas or just listen and offer your thoughts at the return of The Poetry Atelier, a weekly and free Zoom event — multiple dates (Online)

Monday

📜 Hear stories from behind "The Wall" in this Doors Open Pittsburgh virtual event about Western Penitentiary (Online)

Wednesday

🎹 Explore the people, places, and stories that make Pittsburgh unique with jazz pianist Mary Lou Williams in this event for early learners (Online

🎤 Drop by the first installment of the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh's four-part virtual series on global choral traditions with experts in Appalachian, Gospel, Bulgarian, and South African choral music — multiple dates (Online)

Thursday, Jan. 14

🔮 Take on the new year with a free vision board workshop from the Pittsburgh Professional Women group (Online)

One more thing ....

If you're looking for a cool project to support, we'd like to recommend one from Haiku Ninja and friend of The Incline, Staci Backauskas. 

Staci formed the Haiku Ninja Collective in March, which she describes as "a group of super cool people who listen to one another vent, kvetch, and share about all the chaos caused by the Rona, and then turn all of that confusion and frustration into art."

In November, Staci was awarded $1,000 by Awesome Pittsburgh to place the Haiku they created about COVID life on outdoor venues, like bus stops, around Pittsburgh. 

Now, Staci is fundraising to share these 17-syllable word portraits more widely, meaning more bus stop shelters throughout Pittsburgh and other cities in the U.S. 

Here's Staci explaining how you can help and why you should care

Thanks for reading this. 

We'll see you here tomorrow. 

Don't forget to breathe.

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