The weekend is over but the heat is not: the high temperature for Chicago is predicted to be 100° F (38° C) on this Tuesday, June 21, 2022, the cruelest day. And by the time you’ve read this, the Summer Solstice will have occurred, so it’s the longest day of the year.
We also have these Solstice-related observances
And the self-affirmation messages on my Splenda packets today. I’m so pumped!
Stuff that happened on June 21 include:
- 1749 – Halifax, Nova Scotia, is founded.
- 1791 – King Louis XVI of France and his immediate family begin the Flight to Varennes during the French Revolution.
- 1900 – Boxer Rebellion: China formally declares war on the United States, Britain, Germany, France and Japan, as an edict issued from the Empress Dowager Cixi.
Yes, the name “Boxer” comes from the practice of martial arts by the Chinese. Here are some Boxer soldiers:
- 1915 – The U.S. Supreme Court hands down its decision in Guinn v. United States 238 US 347 1915, striking down Oklahoma grandfather clause legislation which had the effect of denying the right to vote to blacks.
- 1919 – Admiral Ludwig von Reuter scuttles the German fleet at Scapa Flow, Orkney. The nine sailors killed are the last casualties of World War I.
The German fleet was interned off Scapa Flow after the Armistice, and the Germans decided they didn’t want their ships to fall into British hands. Of the 74 vessels interned, 52 were sunk by scuttling. (Below: the scuttled battlecruiser Hindenberg.) The nine Germans were shot in lifeboats while rowing ashore, which seems to me a war crime.
- 1942 – World War II: A Japanese submarine surfaces near the Columbia River in Oregon, firing 17 shells at Fort Stevens in one of only a handful of attacks by Japan against the United States mainland.
- 1964 – Three civil rights workers, Andrew Goodman, James Chaney and Michael Schwerner, are murdered in Neshoba County, Mississippi, United States, by members of the Ku Klux Klan.
See 2005 when one of the killers was finally convicted. Here’s the FBI’s “missing” poster for the three:
. . . and a picture that has angered me throughout my life, showing two defendants certain that they’d be freed (they were). One of them, Sheriff Lawrence Rainey (r.), is having a chaw of Red Man tobacco in court. It is an icon of white supremacy and mockery of integration:
- 1978 – The original production of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber‘s musical, Evita, based on the life of Eva Perón, opens at the Prince Edward Theatre, London.
Although I’m not generally a fan of modern musicals, as I think their songs are overly cerebral and unmemorable, Andrew Lloyd Webber is an exception, having written, among others, wonderful songs like “All I Ask of You” and “Memory”. This is another great song by Webber and Tim Rice, sung by Madonna, who plays Eva Perón in the film. The meaning of the words, and how sincere Evita was in the song, is something I ponder every time I hear this. I’d recommend reading a good biography of Evita, for she was an intriguing person:
Fun fact from Wikipedia:
The title of the song comes from an epitaph on a plaque at Eva Perón’s grave in the La Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires. The plaque was presented by the city’s taxi drivers’ union and roughly translates as: “Don’t cry for me Argentina, I remain quite near to you.”
- 1982 – John Hinckley is found not guilty by reason of insanity for the attempted assassination of U.S. President Ronald Reagan.
Just last Wednesday Hickley was freed from all court oversight. He also scheduled a guitar concert in Brooklyn, which was canceled because of negative public reaction. The last I heard he was living with his mother in Williamsburg, Virginia, home of my alma mater. Here’s the concert announcement, now obsolete:
- 1989 – The U.S. Supreme Court rules in Texas v. Johnson, 491 U.S. 397, that American flag-burning is a form of political protest protected by the First Amendment.
- 2005 – Edgar Ray Killen, who had previously been unsuccessfully tried for the murders of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Mickey Schwerner, is convicted of manslaughter 41 years afterwards (the case had been reopened in 2004).
Killen got off for a long time, but was finally sentenced to sixty years in prison. He died in 2018. Here’s his booking photo from 1964 and then a photo from his second trial:
- 2009 – Greenland assumes self-rule.
*Let’s hope that Russia is not planning more invasions. That’s the first thing that came to mind when I read this news summary in the NYT:
Russian authorities on Monday threatened Lithuania, a member of NATO, with retaliation if the Baltic country does not swiftly reverse its ban on the transportation of some goods to Russia’s exclave of Kaliningrad by rail.
Citing instructions from the European Union, Lithuania’s railway on Friday said it was halting the movement of goods from Russia that have been sanctioned by the European bloc.
Dmitri S. Peskov, the Kremlin’s spokesman, told reporters the situation was “more than serious.” He called the new restrictions “an element of a blockade” of the region and a “violation of everything.”
Accustomed to Russian threats, officials in Vilnius, the Lithuanian capital, took Moscow’s warnings as mostly bluster — the latest in a series of increasingly intemperate statements by a country that is severely stretched militarily by its invasion of Ukraine.
Well, some said that Russia’s saber-rattling before it invaded Ukraine was also “bluster’. Russia’s been hankering after the Baltic states for some time, and I’m not complacent about this. On the other hand, those states are members of NATO, and Ukraine was not. Other NATO members (supposedly) have an obligation to defent any NATO country that’s attacked.
*Another death sentence has been handed down, and of course it’s from Georgia.
A Georgia prisoner convicted of killing two guards during an escape from a prison transport bus five years ago has been sentenced to die.
A jury on Thursday agreed unanimously on a death sentence for Ricky Dubose in the June 2017 shooting deaths of Sgt. Christopher Monica and Sgt. Curtis Billue, news outlets reported. The jury on Monday had found him guilty of charges including murder.
A second prisoner charged in the killings, Donnie Rowe, was convicted of murder in September. A judge sentenced him to serve life in prison without parole after jurors couldn’t agree whether he should be sentenced to death.
. . . Dubose, 29, was already serving a 20-year sentence for a 2015 armed robbery and assault in Elbert County when he escaped. He had been in prison earlier, as well.
Both prisoners (shown below in 2017, with Dubose on the left) were captured in Tennessee within days after their murderous escape. Read more about Georgia’s death penalty, the forerunner of modern executions, at the site “The Next to Die.”
*I rarely put gas in my car, as I almost always limit my driving to weekends, and for years I’ve usually put in $20 worth of gas at a time, which lasted about a month. To get the same amount I paid $30, for it’s now $6/gallon on Chicago—the second priciest gas state in America. But a lot of people drive a lot more, and drive gas-guzzlers like SUVs, so they’re out of pocket big time (and imagine what truckers pay to fill up!).
Now Biden is floating the idea of suspending the federal gas tax to ease the financial pain, giving us what they call a “gas tax holiday”. The thing is, though, that the tax is a paltry 18.4 cents per gallon, which isn’t what I call a holiday. (Also, the tax goes to improve federal highways and roads.)
Mr. Biden told reporters in Rehoboth Beach, Del., that he is considering a gas tax holiday. “I hope to have a decision based on the data I’m looking for by the end of the week,” he said.
Gas prices started increasing last year and surged following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which disrupted the global oil market. The average cost of a gallon of unleaded fuel in the U.S. hit $4.98 on Monday, according to AAA. That is up from about $3 a year ago.
Any suspension in the federal gas tax of 18.4 cents a gallon would require action from Congress. So far, Democratic-led efforts to temporarily pause collecting the tax have failed to gain traction.
I agree with Larry Summers on the tax holiday:
Harvard University’s Lawrence Summers, a former Treasury secretary, criticized the idea on Sunday as a “gimmick…you eventually have to reverse,” speaking on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” He also said that he thought the “dominant probability would be that by the end of next year, we would be seeing a recession in the American economy.”
*I had heard about the insane platform of the Republican Party of Texas, but Lord, I’ve had a look after reading this WaPo op-ed, and the platform reads like a Unabomber Manifesto. Below is a rundown by the Post, and you can see the full platform here.
The Texas GOP has adopted a new platform that’s generating headlines for its open discussion of secession from the union. But the platform also exposes how that “election integrity” scam really functions. In so doing, it lays bare some ugly truths about how radical the abandonment of democracy among some Republicans has truly become.
The new platform, which thousands of GOP activists in Texas agreed to at the state party convention over the weekend, is a veritable piñata bursting with far-right extremist fantasies. It states that Texas retains the right to secede from the United States and urges the Texas legislature to reaffirm this.
It describes homosexuality as “an abnormal lifestyle choice.” It flatly declares that no validation of transgender identity is legitimate. It dismisses all gun regulations as a violation of “God given rights,” and sharply rebukes Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) for pursuing a bipartisan gun-safety package that’s extraordinarily modest.
But the document might be most revealing in its treatment of voting and democracy. It declares President Biden was “not legitimately elected” in 2020. It says Biden’s win was tainted by voting in swing-state cities, furthering a GOP trend.
*For a response to Texas’s “threat” of secession, read Dana Milbank’s WaPo column, “Texas Republicans want to secede? Good riddance.” Lots of snark—like this (h/t David):
Of course, protections would have to be negotiated for parts of Texas that wish to remain on Team Normal. Dallas, Houston, Austin, San Antonio and parts of South Texas would remain in the United States, and they will need guaranteed safe passage to New Orleans or Santa Fe, along with regular airlifts of sustainable produce, accurate textbooks and contraceptives.
But consider the benefits to the rest of the country: Two fewer Republican senators, two dozen fewer Republican members of the House, annual savings of $83 billion in defense funds that Texas gets. And the best reason? The Texas GOP has so little regard for the Constitution that it is calling for a “Convention of the States” to effectively rewrite it — and so little regard for the United States that it wishes to leave.
In democracy’s place, the Republican Party, which enjoys one-party rule in Texas, is effectively proposing a church state. If you liked Crusader states and Muslim caliphates, you’ll love the Confederate Theocracy of Texas.
*Here’s a NYT op-ed I completely agree with: “Modern zoos are not worth the moral cost” by Emma Marris, environmental writer and fellow at UCLA. We should not be putting animals in jail for our entertainment. If you want to see them in the wild, there’s YouTube, and if you want to conserve them for later release (an aim that’s often exaggerated), there are conservation centers.(One of my friends who worked in a zoo said that people spend about two seconds looking at the information placards.)
Marris finds that almost no effort in zoos is spent conserving species that could be released (there are, though, a few exceptions), so given that the conservation and education excuses are moot, it’s time to take down the zoos. Animals are not for us to put in cages and gawk at. Same with aquaria.
The A.Z.A. [Association of Zoos and Aquariums] says that its members host “more than 50 reintroduction programs for species listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act.” Nevertheless, a vast majority of zoo animals (there are 800,000 animals of 6,000 species in the A.Z.A.’s zoos alone) will spend their whole lives in captivity, either dying of old age after a lifetime of display or by being culled as “surplus.”
The practice of killing “surplus” animals is kept quiet by zoos, but it happens, especially in Europe. In 2014, the director of the E.A.Z.A. at the time estimated that between 3,000 and 5,000 animals are euthanized in European zoos each year. (The culling of mammals specifically in E.A.Z.A. zoos is “usually not more than 200 animals per year,” the organization said.)
. . . But there’s no unambiguous evidence that zoos are making visitors care more about conservation or take any action to support it. After all, more than 700 million people visit zoos and aquariums worldwide every year, and biodiversity is still in decline.
In a 2011 study, researchers quizzed visitors at the Cleveland, Bronx, Prospect Park and Central Park zoos about their level of environmental concern and what they thought about the animals. Those who reported “a sense of connection to the animals at the zoo” also correlated positively with general environmental concern. On the other hand, the researchers reported, “there were no significant differences in survey responses before entering an exhibit compared with those obtained as visitors were exiting.”
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is puzzled, but Malgorzata explains: “I think that Hili is influenced by the ideology of ‘equity’. All stones/opinions should be round/similar, and here is one that is different.”
Hili: Look at this stone.A: What’s strange about it?Hili: It’s different from the round ones.
Hili: Spójrz na ten kamień.Ja: Co jest w nim dziwnego?Hili: Różni się od tych okrągłych.
From Merilee (and a problem I always have):
From Not Another Science Cat Page. Make sure you always have the right tool for the job.
God explains the doctrine of Christianity, which never made any sense to me (and apparently not to God, either):
I am God. I had a son. He was also Me. He was a man, though. I had him killed. He came back. I did it to save you from how I made you. #yep
— God (@TheTweetOfGod) June 19, 2022
From Simon. This is like a human sleeping on a big steak:
Bed and breakfast.. 😅 pic.twitter.com/GDKnDhJZdg
— Buitengebieden (@buitengebieden) June 20, 2022
From the Auschwitz Memorial:
21 June 1909 | A Czech Jewish woman, Helena Bienenfeldová, was born in Prague.
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) June 21, 2022
The remaining tweets came from Dr. Cobb, since nobody else is sending me any! First, a contender for Sign of the Year (surely photoshopped), but also a great song title:
I didn't realise until today's walk around Peebles that I could have a favourite road sign. pic.twitter.com/gsxmsjPMuh
— Danny Bate (@DannyBate4) June 19, 2022
Maybe the cartoon below is aimed at biologists:
— Carissa (Armadillo Scientist) (@MustelidMay) June 20, 2022
How to get your ducklings over a waterfall. Translation: “Baby ducks that can’t get off because they’re scared of steps … At that time, my mother’s hard work gave courage to the chicks.” youtu.be/K1sDWF0reqU?t=
— mochi(o (@mochico251) June 20, 2022
Two pale dots:
— Hourly Cosmos (@hourlycosmos) June 20, 2022
This is a real rabbit, but it’s endangered by habitat loss:
Today I learnt that there is a species of rainforest RABBIT with tiger stripes called Nesolagus netscheri that lives in the mountains of Sumatra. It has a sister species that lives in Vietnam. Mammals are wild I have no idea half of these things exist. pic.twitter.com/LoiD5gZglE
— KaiTheFishGuy (@FishGuyKai) June 19, 2022