Welcome to Thursday, June 30, 2022, which happens to be my sister’s 70th birthday. So first a big shout-out and an “xoxo” to Susan, who is officially a geezer along with her brother. Happy birthday, sis! Below is a photo of us as kids with our mom (this was our passport photo when we moved to Greece).
All growed up! Sunrise, sunset. . . . . . one season following another.
It’s also my half-birthday, as I was born on December 30.
Stuff that happened on June 30 includes:
- 1559 – King Henry II of France is mortally wounded in a jousting match against Gabriel, comte de Montgomery.
He was wounded in the eye from the splinter of a lance, and died from infection.
Here he is crossing on a 3-inch hemp rope, 160 feet over the water. He made the trip several times that summer, once carrying his manager on his back (second photo)! Read more about Blondin’s exploits here.
- 1860 – The 1860 Oxford evolution debate at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History takes place.
I’d recommend reading the Wikipedia article on the debate (or, better yet, the second volume of Janet Browne’s Darwin biography), as many legends about that debate are either apocryphal or incorrect.
- 1864 – U.S. President Abraham Lincoln grants Yosemite Valley to California for “public use, resort and recreation”.
One of my favorite mountain photographers, the late Galen Rowell, took this picture in Yosemite. It’s breathtaking, but hard to visit unless you hike into the backcountry. Too many tourists! (Rowell was killed at 61, along with his wife, in a plane crash in the nearby Owens Valley.)
- 1882 – Charles J. Guiteau is hanged in Washington, D.C. for the assassination of U.S. President James Garfield.
A reconstruction of the assassination and a bit of lore:
While being led to his execution, Guiteau was said to have continued to smile and wave at spectators and reporters. He notoriously danced his way to the gallows and shook hands with his executioner. On the scaffold, as a last request, he recited a poem called “I am Going to the Lordy“, which he had written during his incarceration. He had originally requested an orchestra to play as he sang his poem, but this request was denied.
It took Garfield eleven weeks to die, probably from infection (the doctors didn’t wash their hands as they repeatedly probed him). In contrast, Guiteau, who was hanged, went to the Lordy quickly.
- 1905 – Albert Einstein sends the article On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies, in which he introduces special relativity, for publication in Annalen der Physik.
Here’s the title page of that “miracle year” paper:
- 1921 – U.S. President Warren G. Harding appoints former President William Howard Taft as Chief Justice of the United States.
Taft. below, is still the only person to have been both President and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. He was a Man of Size, and also the first President to play golf. Here’s an actual video of the man on the green:
- 1937 – The world’s first emergency telephone number, 999, is introduced in London.
- 1953 – The first Chevrolet Corvette rolls off the assembly line in Flint, Michigan.
Here’s a ’53 ‘Vette leaving the assembly line:
- 1966 – The National Organization for Women, the United States’ largest feminist organization, is founded.
The caption below: ‘NOW founder and president Betty Friedan (1921–2006) with lobbyist Barbara Ireton (1932–1998) and feminist attorney Marguerite Rawalt (1895–1989).” Friedan is second from left. Second wave feminism!
- 1986 – The U.S. Supreme Court rules in Bowers v. Hardwick that states can outlaw homosexual acts between consenting adults.
17 years later the court reversed its decision. See, reversed decisions can be good ones—though not in the case of Dobbs.
- 1990 – East Germany and West Germany merge their economies.
- 1997 – The United Kingdom transfers sovereignty over Hong Kong to China.
Here’s the handover ceremony; the Brits had had Hong Kong for 157 years. The Union Jack goes down at 6:45 and the Chinese flag is raised at 7:30. Prince Charles looks distraught.
- 2013 – Protests begin around Egypt against President Mohamed Morsi and the ruling Freedom and Justice Party, leading to their overthrow during the 2013 Egyptian coup d’état.
- 2019 – Donald Trump becomes the first sitting US President to visit the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea).
*I STILL haven’t seen the testimony of Cassady Hutchinson about Trump. If it or a summary are on YouTube, please direct me. At any rate, I’ve read quite a bit about it, and a new Washington Post article says that Hutchinson’s testimony may provide a nucleus around which criminal charges against Trump could coalesce:
David Laufman, a former senior Justice Department lawyer now in private practice, said Hutchinson’s testimony “contained credible nuggets of information that would support” prosecutors viewing Trump as an investigative target in a seditious conspiracy investigation. Other legal experts broadly agree that the hearing made it more likely that the former president could become a target of the Justice Department probe — although opinions vary on what charges could be considered. Former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti said he thought Hutchinson’s information could support an investigation into whether Trump could be charged with incitement to violence.
For months, Attorney General Merrick Garland has refused to say whether Jan. 6 prosecutors are eyeing Trump’s conduct as he and close allies tried to overturn President Biden’s election victory. But in recent days, federal agents have served search warrants and subpoenas, and conducted interviews around the country that show the investigation is moving closer to Trump’s inner circle.
Hutchinson’s account, Laufman said, could take them a step further.
“This witness provided credible testimony under oath, attributing foreknowledge of the impending violence to the president,” said Laufman, who represents some of the U.S. Capitol Police officers injured in the Jan. 6 attack. “Whether at the end of the day the department can conclude it can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Trump joined a conspiracy remains to be seen, because there may well be an extraordinarily high bar for prosecutors and department leadership to satisfy that standard.”
Crikey, indict him already. I think the bar is low enough for that!
*And a supporting NYT op-ed: “Cassady Hutchinson changes everything“, written by by Norman Eisen, special counsel to the House Judiciary Committee during Trump’s impeachment proceedings.
In each hearing, the committee has skillfully built on a foundation of fact. It previously showed that Mr. Trump was informed repeatedly that he had lost the election; he was also told it could be illegal to attack the election results, but he did so anyhow. Whatever he believed about winning or losing an election, he could not lawfully conspire to find 11,780 votes that did not exist, counterfeit electoral certificates or trigger violence. Indeed, previous hearings focused on and bolstered cases for two possible crimes: solicitation of election fraud (in a Georgia state case) and conspiracy to fabricate electoral certificates (which federal authorities seem to be pursuing).
We already knew that Mr. Trump refused to act for 187 minutes to disperse the mob. With Ms. Hutchinson’s testimony, we heard more evidence that he spurred them to attack Vice President Mike Pence. (As rioters stormed the Capitol, Mr. Trump tweeted that Mr. Pence “didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution.”)
She provided new information about several threats of violence in the days before Jan. 6. The Secret Service warned of them, and they were discussed in the White House. Ms. Hutchinson testified that she was “in the vicinity of a conversation” she overheard in which Mr. Trump said that he didn’t “care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me. Take the f-ing mags away. Let my people in. They can march to the Capitol from here. Let the people in. Take the f-ing mags away.” (Mags, or magnetometers or metal detectors, were being used to screen attendees for weapons before entering the Jan. 6 rally near the White House.)
She corroborated reports of Mr. Trump’s animus toward his vice president during the riot. Ms. Hutchinson recalled a conversation about Mr. Trump between Mr. Cipollone and Mr. Meadows: “I remember Pat saying something to the effect of, ‘Mark, we need to do something more. They’re literally calling for the vice president to be f-ing hung.’ And Mark had responded something to the effect of, ‘You heard him, Pat, he thinks Mike deserves it. He doesn’t think they’re doing anything wrong.’ To which Pat said something like, ‘This is f-ing crazy.’”
Eisen’s verdict, though, is that the bar isn’t high enough yet:
Is there sufficient evidence for a seditious conspiracy criminal case related to Mr. Trump’s actions and inaction on Jan. 6, like those brought against the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers and their leaders? The evidence is powerful but is not yet sufficient to overcome the very high bar of proving, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Mr. Trump agreed with the rioters to attack the Capitol.
But sentiments are changing. One poll cited by Eisen shows that “58 percent of Americans believed that the former president should be charged with crimes related to his actions on and before Jan. 6. That’s up 6 percent from before the hearings started, and includes almost 20 percent of Republicans.” To me this is a surprisingly high percentage!
So, while you’re enjoying the testimony, here’s something to leaven it:
*Reader Steve sent me a link to an AP article and added, “I doubt that the Dems will take this warning seriously. They’re going to get their clocks cleaned come November.” The title of the article? “More than 1 million switch to GOP in warning to Dems.”
A political shift is beginning to take hold across the U.S. as tens of thousands of suburban swing voters who helped fuel the Democratic Party’s gains in recent years are becoming Republicans.
More than 1 million voters across 43 states have switched to the Republican Party over the last year, according to voter registration data analyzed by The Associated Press. The previously unreported number reflects a phenomenon that is playing out in virtually every region of the country — Democratic and Republican states along with cities and small towns — in the period since President Joe Biden replaced former President Donald Trump.
But nowhere is the shift more pronounced — and dangerous for Democrats — than in the suburbs, where well-educated swing voters who turned against Trump’s Republican Party in recent years appear to be swinging back. Over the last year, far more people are switching to the GOP across suburban counties from Denver to Atlanta and Pittsburgh and Cleveland. Republicans also gained ground in counties around medium-size cities such as Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Raleigh, North Carolina; Augusta, Georgia; and Des Moines, Iowa.
. . . Roughly four months before Election Day, Democrats have no clear strategy to address Biden’s weak popularity and voters’ overwhelming fear that the country is headed in the wrong direction with their party in charge. And while Republicans have offered few policy solutions of their own, the GOP has been working effectively to capitalize on the Democrats’ shortcomings.
Republicans benefited last year as suburban parents grew increasingly frustrated by prolonged pandemic-related schools closures. And as inflation intensified more recently, the Republican National Committee has been hosting voter registration events at gas stations in suburban areas across swing states like Arizona, Michigan, Nevada and Pennsylvania to link the Biden administration to record-high gas prices. The GOP has also linked the Democratic president to an ongoing baby formula shortage.
I would add here that we can’t rule out that the stupid wokeness of the extreme Left, which has been largely adopted by Biden (despite my predictions that he wouldn’t be a Woke President) is turning people away from the Democratic Party.
*Turkey seems to have dropped its opposition to Sweden and Finland’s request to join NATO. But it’s not a done deal yet. From Reuters:
Sweden and Finland took a step closer to joining the NATO military alliance after Turkey’s decision to drop its objections, but there may still be snags to overcome as some critics say the deal hands a foreign policy veto to Ankara.
The three countries reached a breakthrough agreement after more than four hours of talks on the sidelines of the NATO summit in Madrid on Tuesday.
While Sweden and Finland will be given “invitee” status at the Madrid summit, their applications need to be approved by all NATO’s 30 current members, a process that could yet stall.
“Sweden can have problems again with Turkey,” Swedish daily SvD wrote. “Because if Turkey isn’t happy that Sweden is living up to its part of the agreement, the Turkish parliament can stop Sweden again,” the paper said.
Putin will not be happy.
*More bad news: a person got covid from a CAT! The report is in Nature, and says that a pet tabby cat in Thailand passed the covid virus to its staff! Now this isn’t the first time we’ve seen animal-to-human transmission: we know that mink, hamsters, and deer can be vectors of transmission, and of course it’s likely that some animal transmitted the virus to humans at the Wuhan wet market. (h/t Matthew):
The feline finding, published in Emerging Infectious Diseases1 on 6 June, came about by accident, says co-author Sarunyou Chusri, an infectious-disease researcher and physician at Prince of Songkla University in Hat Yai, southern Thailand. In August, a father and son who had tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 were transferred to an isolation ward at the university’s hospital. Their ten-year-old cat was also swabbed and tested positive. While being swabbed, the cat sneezed in the face of a veterinary surgeon, who was wearing a mask and gloves but no eye protection.
Three days later, the vet developed a fever, sniffles and a cough, and later tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, but none of her close contacts developed COVID-19, suggesting that she had been infected by the cat. Genetic analysis also confirmed that the vet was infected with the same variant as the cat and its owners, and the viral genomic sequences were identical.
But don’t worry! The scientists say the risk of such transmission is low, that cats don’t shed much virus, and they do so for only a few days. But wash your hands after handling a strange cat, especially if it sneezes!
*Musician R. Kelly was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison yesterday for a long history of racketeering and sex trafficking:
Prosecutors had asked the judge to sentence Kelly, 55, to more than 25 years behind bars, while his defense attorneys asked for 10 or fewer, saying prosecutors’ request was “tantamount to a life sentence.”
Survivors of Kelly’s abuse held hands and prayed as US District Court Judge Ann Donnelly began reading his sentence. Kelly — who wore a tan prison uniform, dark-rimmed glasses and a black mask at the hearing in federal court in Brooklyn — showed no emotion.
“You left in your wake a trail of broken lives,” Donnelly told Kelly, whose full name is Robert Sylvester Kelly.
Kelly will be an old man when he gets out, even with time off for good behavior. But he still faces charges in two states.
*Finally, a deal with Unilever has ended the boycott of the production of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in all of Israel and its sale in Judea and Samaria, based on Ben & Jerry’s support of BDS. Now the ice cream can be sold everywhere in Israel. Now it will be both made in and sold all over Israel. Unilever, which owned the ice cream brand, but which was forced to adhere to the boycott, has sold the ice cream branch to its distributor and disavowed any support for BDS:
In a statement, Unilever said it has secured a “new arrangement” for the sale of its Ben & Jerry’s brand ice cream “throughout Israel and the West Bank”. The ice cream will now be sold exclusively under its Hebrew and Arabic names.
The move effectively ends the boycott of Israeli towns in Judea and Samaria the company imposed in July 2021.
As part of the new arrangement, Unilever has sold its Israeli rights to the Ben & Jerry’s brand to Avi Zinger, owner of American Quality Products Ltd, the company which hitherto had distributed the ice cream in Israel as a licensee.
The deal will allow the sale of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream across Israel, including in Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria, without Unilever’s direct involvement in the sales.
“The new arrangement means Ben & Jerry’s will be sold under its Hebrew and Arabic names throughout Israel and the West Bank under the full ownership of its current licensee,” Unilever said.
Unilever agreed to the change after consultations with the Israeli government, the company said, calling the issue “complex and sensitive”.
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is basking in summer:
Hili: Watching the days go by in summer is more appealing than watching them in the winter.A: In principle, I agree.
Hili: Przemijanie latem jest bardziej atrakcyjne niż przemijanie zimą.Ja: W zasadzie zgadzam się z tym.
From Stash Krod: a hedgehog gets a treat. I love how its face and body are completely transformed when it smells the noms!
From Meriliee, a Mark Parisi cartoon:
From Ted, a cartoon by Benjamin Schwartz:
I hope Pinkah is right here. I haven’t yet read the article:
One of the many ways that the US is a backward country compared to its democratic peers: the death penalty. But even here the death penalty is on death row. Gives hope that other kinds of progress will prevail in the long term. https://t.co/nnr7szbll7
— Steven Pinker (@sapinker) June 29, 2022
The Tweet of God:
SCOTUS sounds a lot like SCROTUM. I don't think it's a coincidence.
— God (@god) June 29, 2022
From Simon, a tweet from the DARTH PUTIN account:
Today I am attending G1 summit pic.twitter.com/9mILSQkT49
— Darth Putin (@DarthPutinKGB) June 26, 2022
Another from Simon, who adds, “Tone deaf—but we knew that.”
Sarah Huckabee Sanders after her gubernatorial primary win: "We will make sure that when a kid is in the womb, they're as safe as they are in a classroom."
— Brian Tyler Cohen (@briantylercohen) June 26, 2022
From the Auschwitz Memorial
30 June 1928 | A Hungarian Jewish girl, Elizke Hantala Szabo, was born.
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) June 30, 2022
Tweets from Matthew. This aggregation is a sign that elephant conservation is working! Kudos to the many people who made this happen, and especially Joyce Poole.
An aggregation of 100 elephants in Kenya's Amboseli National Park!
Years ago, this would have been unimaginable.
This was filmed by my friend Joyce Poole.
Joyce's research led to the international ban on ivory in 1989.
— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) June 29, 2022
God, I love this Scottish accent. Note that Grahame was born in Scotland.
UPDATE: Now that Matthew sent it to me, he tells me that this accent is FAKE, and the speaker likely to speak with an English accent. Well, I don’t care; I still love the thick Scottish accent, whether faux or natural.
Did Kenneth Grahame get the idea for Wind in the Willows from a drunk guy in the pub? pic.twitter.com/OnDd4GEaxv
— Eleanor Morton (@EleanorMorton) June 28, 2022
A heartwarmer from the 15th century. The cat isn’t bad for medieval painting but the monkey is more accurate. Why couldn’t they paint cats?
monkey and kitten, france, 14th century pic.twitter.com/aY2EopD1b1
— weird medieval guys (@WeirdMedieval) June 21, 2022
I’ve actually been in this situation, and it wasn’t a misconception.
— World of Pont (@PontWorld) February 9, 2021
The farm has a new rescue kitten named Velcro-Pumpkin. It’s adorable. There are a lot of similarities between kittens and ducklings.
— caenhillcc (@caenhillcc) June 20, 2022
A rather extended joke, but the plot is funny:
Horror film called "Occam's Razor" about a razor shop owner and serial killer named Occam who kills people with razors, but the townspeople refuse to believe it could be him and advance increasingly absurd theories to explain the spate of razor deaths plaguing the town
— William Gerrard (@Bill_Gerrard) June 10, 2022