Where we are now: According to the Amundsen’s real-time map, we have crossed the Drake Passaage and are about to head through the Beagle Channel toward Punta Arenas. I don’t know when we will dock there, and have no idea about my fate (or that of any of the passengers).
What with the seas and the winds, it was a very rough night, with things falling off shelves and the magnetically-closed closet doors swinging open. I’ve long ago learned to put my computer on the floor at night lest it fall off the table and break, but last night almost everything not secured was in danger of falling to the cabin floor.
And, from the balcony, here’s the first land I’ve seen in nearly two days. The sea is still a bit choppy, but things aren’t flying all over the ship, and there’s even a bit of sunshine.
Good morning on a Chilean Monday, March 14, 2022, which means not only is it the start of the work week, but it’s National Potato Chip Day. Because this tasty comestible was likely nvented in England, the proper name is “crisps,” not “potato chips.” But “potato chips” is too entrenched in the U.S.
Mo the Runner Duck is cheerful that it’s Monday (h/t: Matthew)
— caenhillcc (@caenhillcc) March 14, 2022
*Is this some good news in the Ukraine/Russia fight? The NYT reports that Russia and Ukraine are having “talks”, though Zelensky (one “y” or two; it’s transliterated) hasn’t scheduled a Zoom call with Putin. As the paper notes, “Both sides have said that the gap in demands has narrowed ahead of this round of talks,” but of course we don’t know what that means. Since I don’t know what it’s like to be a Putin, I can only speculate. But I doubt he’d pull out of Ukraine if they simply promised not to join NATO.
The Russians continue their relentless assault on Ukraine, now shelling the country’s west, where many have hoped to find a war-free refuge. The Russians are shelling civilian areas as well as passenger trains. Estimates of damage to Ukrainian infrastructure are now at $114 billion.
*The Washington Post reports that now Kyiv itself is under fire:
A residential building in Kyiv’s Obolon district was struck by Russian shelling Monday, according to the Ukrainian State Emergency Service, forcing residents to flee as firefighters tried to extinguish the flames and rescue those trapped inside. . .
. . . In the Kurenivka neighborhood, the wreckage of a rocket also landed in a street on Monday, killing one person and injuring six others, according to the mayor of Kyiv, Vitali Klitschko.
But this is nice:
Emergency workers also helped evacuate pets.
*Some financial experts are beginning to speculate that the financial squeeze on Russia may eventually force it to default on the country’s debts. From the Guardian:
A Russian default on its debts after western sanctions over its invasion of Ukraine is no longer “improbable”, but would not trigger a global financial crisis, the head of the International Monetary Fund said on Sunday.
The Washington-based fund’s managing director, Kristalina Georgieva, said the sanctions imposed by the United States and other nations were already having a “severe” impact on the Russian economy and would trigger a deep recession there this year. The war in Ukraine will also drive up food and energy prices, leading to hunger in Africa, she added.
Georgieva told CBS’s Face the Nation programme: “In terms of servicing debt obligations, I can say that we no longer think of Russian default as an improbable event. Russia has the money to service its debt, but cannot access it. What I’m more concerned about is that there are consequences that go beyond Ukraine and Russia.”
Last week, the World Bank’s chief economist, Carmen Reinhart, warned that Russia and its ally Belarus were “mightily close” to default.
But since the debt isn’t huge as national debts go, these experts aren’t yet worried that such a default would trigger an international financial crisis.
*Surprisingly, some First Amendment scholars are touting loosening the Amendment to make it easier to prosecute defamation or libel cases that they see as spreading societal harm. As the New York Times reports,
The lawyers and First Amendment scholars who have made it their life’s work to defend the well-established but newly threatened constitutional protections for journalists don’t usually root for the media to lose in court.
But that’s what is happening with a series of recent defamation lawsuits against right-wing outlets that legal experts say could be the most significant libel litigation in recent memory.
The suits, which are being argued in several state and federal courts, accuse Project Veritas, Fox News, The Gateway Pundit, One America News and others of intentionally promoting and profiting from false claims of voter fraud during the 2020 election, and of smearing innocent civil servants and businesses in the process.
If the outlets prevail, these experts say, the results will call into question more than a half-century of precedent that created a clear legal framework for establishing when news organizations can be held liable for publishing something that’s not true.
The controversy turns on whether defamatory reporting with “actual malice” in intent should be construed more strictly than it is now. The balance is, as always, between freedom of speech and the likelihood of harm, but in this case the First-Amendment lawyers have a point.
*While the world’s attention is focused on Ukraine, we should spare a thought for the Middle East, particularly what Masih has tweeted below.
The execution of 81 people in 1 day in Saudi Arabia must be condemned. And you can be sure that they won’t suffer any embarrassment on the world stage.
Islamic Republic killed 1500 in 3 days in #BloodyNovember and the world did nothing.
In the Middle East we are just numbers!
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) March 13, 2022
It’s reported by the New York Times, which says this:
Saudi Arabia said on Saturday that it had put 81 people to death in what was the kingdom’s largest mass execution in years, despite recent promises to curb its use of the death penalty.
In a statement published by the official Saudi Press Agency, the Saudi Ministry of Interior said the people had been executed for “multiple heinous crimes that left a large number of civilians and law enforcement officers dead.” It did not say how they had been executed.
. . . Rights groups condemned the executions, saying they flew in the face of claims by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, that the country was overhauling its justice system and limiting its use of the death penalty.
The comment below is by Ali Adubusi, director of the European Saudi Organization for Human Rights:
Mr. Adubusi’s rights group said that of the cases it had been able to monitor and document among the 81 people executed, it had found no charges that merited the death penalty under the criteria that Saudi Arabia has made public. Some of the charges were related to participation in human rights demonstrations, the group said.
. . . Rights groups said the number of executions carried out on Saturday far outstripped those put to death in the kingdom’s two most recent mass executions: one in 2019, in which 37 were killed, and the other in 2016, when 47 were executed.
*According to The Forward, the Sierra Club has canceled several trips to Israel because of pressure from “anti-Zionist” groups (h/t Orli)
The decision came after activists alleged the organization was “greenwashing the conflict” and “providing legitimacy to the Israeli state, which is engaged in apartheid against the Palestinian people,” a volunteer leader with the nonprofit summarized in an email this week.
“Greenwashing,” like “pinkwashing” which refers to LGBTQ rights, is a term used by critics of Israel to refer to the act of obscuring Israel’s treatment of Palestinians by focusing on the country’s liberal environmental values or policies.
News of the Sierra Club’s decision came in a mass email obtained by J. that was sent out by Mary Owens, the chair of the Sierra Club’s National Outings team, to hundreds of volunteers who lead part-recreational, part-educational, conservation-focused trips around the world.
. . . The email from Owens, who said she was not authorized to speak to the press, described the Sierra Club’s decision to cancel its trips — one scheduled for this month, and another for March 2023 — as the result of an advocacy push from one “Jewish American activist” and a host of both progressive and anti-Zionist groups, including the pro-Palestinian Adalah Justice Project, the Indigenous rights group the NDN Collective, the Campaign for the Boycott of Israel, Jewish Voice for Peace, the Sunrise Movement and the Movement for Black Lives.
Note that the Sierra Club is now engaged in political activity—a boycott of trips to Israel in response to Israel’s “apartheid state” status—that has nothing to do with its mission. What is stupid about all this is that it is Palestine, not Israel, that is the apartheid state, but Israel is the state demonized by “progressives.” Were I a member of the Sierra Club, I’d quit over this; it’s not targeted at anything but the state of Israel itself, and is anti-Semitic.
*According to the New York Post, the stature of Theodor Roosevelt that once stood at the American Museum of Natural History, but was removed because it showed Roosevelt astride his horse, but flanked by a walking Native American on one side and an African (not a slave or African-American) on the other, is now the object of a petition that seeks to melt down the statue. It was headed to the Theodore Roosevelt Museum in Medora, North Dakota, but these petitioning Pecksniffs won’t rest until the statue is destroyed. (h/t: Matthew and Cesar) A quote from the Post:
“New Yorkers cannot simply dump their toxic cultural products in other communities,” according to an online petition by the academics started last month. “The city should reject the transfer of its undesirable waste elsewhere. In this case, the monument’s bronze content could be melted down or recycled for a better purpose or simply disposed of.”
. . . “The Public Design Commission approved the loan of the statue to the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library with the understanding that the library will establish an advisory council composed of representatives of the indigenous tribal and black communities, historians, scholars, and artists to guide the reconsideration of the statue,” City Hall spokesman Charles Lutvak said.
The statue was removed at night on January 20. Well that could just be to avoid disrupting traffic rather than as a sneaky and surreptitious act, but the statue was on loan, not destroyed. It’s a sign of the moral hysterics of these Pecksniffs that it won’t do for the statue to be both relocated and “contextualized.” No, it has to be totally destroyed. Welcome to Nineteen Eighty-Four.
The second link in this note goes to a letter Greg Mayer wrote to the AMNH defending the presence and content of the statue.
The petition had drawn more than 275 signatures since it was posted on Tumblr last month. It was started by members of Decolonize This Place, a left-wing activist group which pushed for the statue’s removal.
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili and Andrzej are communing about Ukraine/Russia, and Malgorzata explains a bit:
The situation is so complicated that it’s difficult not only to know which information to believe but even to understand one’s own feelings about it. Hili is commiserating with Andrzej saying a platitude used in such situations and Andrzej is answering as if the platitude meant something.Hili: I know what you feel now.A: Sometimes I don’t know myself.
Hili: Ja wiem co teraz czujesz.Ja: Chwilami ja sam nie wiem.
We haven’t had a Leon monologue in a while, as he’s been quiescent during winter. Here the Dark Tabby senses the approach of Spring:
Leon: Gotta stretch the paws after winter.
I asked Malgorzata if any Ukrainian refugees had made their way to the town of Dobrzyn. Her response.
We still do not have any refugees. In our tiny town the fire brigade and school together prepared 40 places and they are still empty. At the same time in Warsaw and other big cities people are sleeping on the floor of the railway stations or in huge halls with hundreds of beds close together. I suspect that this crazy situation is the result of the total lack of coordination from the state authorities. Everything is done by private people, small charitable organizations and by local authorities. And new refugees are coming in thousands every day! Yesterday Russians bombed an Ukrainian place 20 km from Polish border.
From Stefan. When I was younger I didn’t believe this was a thing, and so looked it up. It turns out there are several papers in medical journals on the issue, and the usual excuse for the accident is like this, “I was vacuuming in my dressing gown when the gown came open and the vacuum cleaner sucked in my penis.”
The Tweet of God, who now #StandsWithUkraine:
Can confirm. https://t.co/5W1awcQLyT
— #GodStandsWithUkraine (@TheTweetOfGod) March 13, 2022
From the Auschwitz Memorial, a prisoner who lasted 11 days in the camp.
14 March 1903 | A Polish Jew, Ignacy Holzer, was born in Tarnów. A lawyer.
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) March 14, 2022
Tweets from Matthew. This first one seems to be a Russian women who is doing antiwar work outside Russia:
I am certainly not a prominent figure in the Russian anti-war movement, and there are people here who have much more to say.
But this war is my responsibility, and I feel it's important to speak out#StandWithUkraine️ #NoWar #NoToWar #нетвойне pic.twitter.com/ErkaCK5I2u
— Vlada Zhuravlyova🤍💙🤍 (@ZhurVl) March 12, 2022
An ill-timed selfie. I wonder if that’s the communications tower in Kyiv:
Makes you think. pic.twitter.com/2SBRACLmTp
— ALASTAIR CAMPBELL (@campbellclaret) March 12, 2022
So often the result of the violence inflicted in Ukraine is to play music:
— Mark Lowen (@marklowen) March 13, 2022
And that reaction isn’t just in Ukraine. Russian rapper Morgenshtern may well be in deep trouble now.
Morgenshtern, Russia's biggest rapper, has released an anti-war music video. It ends with a voice message from his Ukrainian producer's mother talking about surviving life under Russian airstrikes.https://t.co/9FDMehuCO9
— max seddon (@maxseddon) March 13, 2022
Interspecies love (a ménage á trois, in fact); from The Dodo, of course:
The happiest, cuddliest duck ever is obsessed with a giant dog 😍 pic.twitter.com/afeNhBknI5
— The Dodo (@dodo) March 13, 2022
Another example of mimicry. I’m not sure why they haven’t done the observation to see if individuals really can change color. See another example of mimicry below:
Today's fish is Bargibant's Seahorse (Hippocampus bargibanti)! They've evolved to live exclusively on fan corals and closely mimic the shape and color of the coral polyps. They can be red or yellow and may have color change abilities!
📸Greg Lecoeur, Richard Smith, orangkucing pic.twitter.com/f7e7oIOVYu
— Gabriella Commisso (@gabbysfishes) February 17, 2022