Picture of the Day (see below):
Good morning on Thursday, December 22, 2022: National Date Nut Bread Day, a food best eaten slathered with cream cheese.
It’s also National Cookie Exchange Day, and, in China, the Dongzhi Festival, during which families get together and eat tangyuan, balls made from glutinous rice balls and served in syrup, much like gulab jamun in India. Some versions have fillings, and others not: Here are some tangyuan:
Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the December 22 Wikipedia page.
*This wouldn’t happen in a month, but the Democrat-dominated House Ways and Means committee has voted to make Trump’s tax returns public—the records (which will be redacted) from 2016-2020. ABC News also reports that Trump paid NO taxes in 2020. The NYT adds that it is MANDATORY for the internal revenue service to audit Trump’s returns while he is President, but they didn’t. I wonder why? Remember when he promised he’d release them?That was one of the first of his many lies.
The Democratic-led House Ways and Means Committee said Tuesday it would release former President Donald Trump’s tax returns within days and asserted that the IRS failed to properly audit the former president’s taxes while he was in office.
The committee also released a report Tuesday that detailed six years’ worth of the former president’s tax returns, including his claims of massive annual losses that significantly reduced his tax burden.
Chairman Richard Neal and fellow Democrats said Tuesday that the records they obtained showed that the presidential audit program failed to work as intended. The Massachusetts Democrat charged that the required audit of Trump’s taxes “did not occur,” as his returns were only subjected to the mandatory audit once, in 2019, after Democrats inquired.
“The research that was done as it relates to the mandatory audit program was nonexistent,” Neal told reporters after the committee hearing.
. . .The release of Trump’s tax returns marks the conclusion of a nearly four-year legal battle House Democrats waged against the former president after they took control of the House in 2019.
The audit program was important to Democrats because it was the justification they used to obtain the returns in the first place – but the Democratic pursuit was also tied in part to long-held suspicions about Trump’s taxes after he would not release his returns while running for president in 2016 or once in office.
According to a summary released by the committee, Trump and his wife Melania, during the first year of Trump’s presidential campaign in 2015, together reported $31.7 million in losses and reported $641,931 in net taxes.
During the 2016 presidential election year, the two again reported losing $32.4 million in adjusted gross income and paid just $750 in taxes, according to the committee. During Trump’s first year in office, the couple reported losing $12.9 million and again paid $750 in taxes.
In 2018, their adjusted gross income went up, with them bringing in $24.3 million, and they reported paying $999,456 in taxes. In 2019, the two reported making $4.4 million and paid $133,445 in taxes.
In 2020, they reported losing $4.8 million and Trump paid $0 in taxes.
Well, will it show anything for which the Orange Man is legally culpable? What say you?
*Volodymyr Zelenskyy (why do some versions have only one “y”?) made it to the U.S., and has met with Joe Biden in the White House. You can imagine the security involved in that flight, what with the Russians, forewarned, itching to shoot it down. But, says the AP, Zelensky(y) left from Poland, so they couldn’t do a thing:
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy paid a defiant wartime visit to Washington on Wednesday to thank U.S. leaders and “ordinary Americans” for their support in fighting off Russia’s invasion and to press for continued aid in the brutal months to come. President Joe Biden and Congress responded with billions in new assistance and a pledge to help Ukraine pursue a “just peace.”
Biden welcomed Zelenskyy to the Oval Office, saying the U.S. and Ukraine would continue to project a “united defense” as Russia wages a “brutal assault on Ukraine’s right to exist as a nation.” Zelenskyy, on his first known trip outside his country since Russia invaded in February, said he wanted to visit earlier and his visit now showed the “situation is under control, because of your support.”
The highly sensitive trip was taking place after 10 months of a brutal war that has seen tens of thousands of casualties on both sides and devastation for Ukrainian civilians. Zelenskyy’s visit was meant to reinvigorate support for his country in the U.S. and around the world, amid concerns that allies are growing weary of the costly war and its disruption to global food and energy supplies. Just before his arrival, the U.S. announced its largest single delivery of arms to Ukraine, including Patriot surface-to-air missiles, and Congress planned to vote on a spending package that includes about $45 billion in emergency assistance to Ukraine.
Russia, Biden said, is “trying to use winter as a weapon, but Ukrainian people continue to inspire the world,” Biden said. He told Zelenskyy, who wore a combat-green sweatshirt and boots, that ”it’s an honor to be by your side.”
I love this photo:
Poland’s private broadcaster, TVN24, said Zelenskyy crossed into Poland early Wednesday on his way to Washington. The station showed footage of what appeared to be Zelenskyy arriving at a train station and being escorted to a motorcade of American SUVs. TVN24 said the video, partially blurred for security reasons, was shot in Przemysl, a Polish border town that has been the arrival point for many refugees fleeing the war.
Officials, citing security concerns, were cagey about Zelenskyy’s travel plans, but a U.S. official confirmed that Zelenskyy arrived on a U.S. Air Force jet that landed at Joint Base Andrews, just outside the capital, from the Polish city of Rzeszow.
Here’s Zelensky(y)’s short (25-minute) address (in English) to Congress; you can find a transcript here. He gets a rousing and standing bipartisan ovation, which he deserves. First the short NYT introduction. And he’s wearing his customary fatigues!
President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine spoke before a joint meeting of Congress on Wednesday night, delivering in halting but forceful English an impassioned speech that thanked the United States for its support in his nation’s war against Russia and vowed victory as he pleaded for further aid. The following is a transcript of his remarks, as recorded by The New York Times.
At 25 minutes in, Zelensky presents Nancy Pelosi with a Ukrainian battle flag from Bakmut, and it’s hard to keep a dry eye as she accepts it and kisses Zelensky on the cheek (photo at the top). Do not miss the speech, which is resolute and defiant. Only a cynic could fail to be moved by the exchange of flags that symbolized what both countries strive for: freedom.
Pelosi presented Zelensky with the flag that had flown over the Capitol yesterday:
*Why do many people lose their sense of smell after recovering from Covid? Nearly everyone eventually regain it, but it was a mystery until now. (Hint: the answer doesn’t involve God). It’s the immune response, Jake!:
A haywire immune response in the olfactory system was found to explain why some people still can’t smell long after symptoms of the disease have abated, according to a small, peer-reviewed study published Wednesday in the journal Science Translational Medicine. In some cases, the immune or inflammatory response was detected in patients with smell loss up to 16 months after recovery from Covid-19.
Compared with people who can smell normally, patients with long-term smell loss had fewer olfactory sensory neurons, cells in the nose responsible for detecting smells and sending that information to the brain. Patients with lingering loss of smell had an average of 75% fewer of the neurons compared with healthy people, said Brad Goldstein, a study co-author and sinus surgeon at Duke University.
“We think the reduction of sensory neurons is almost definitely related to the inflammation,” Dr. Goldstein said.
Loss of smell is a common Covid-19 symptom, though its prevalence varies widely depending on factors including which variant caused the infection, head and neck specialists said.
Most Covid-19 patients who experience smell loss regain the sense within weeks of infection. But the symptom can stick around for a year or longer for up to 7% of patients, a February analysis said.
Dr. Goldstein said he and his colleagues sought to identify what was damaged or altered in people with long-term smell loss. “If we don’t know what’s broken, it’s hard to tell how to fix it,” he said.
They took samples from the nose tissue of nine patients who couldn’t smell long after Covid-19 infections and compared them with cells from healthy people. Patients with persistent smell loss had more T-cells, a type of white blood cell that plays a critical part in immune response, in their noses, the study said. The T-cells were making interferon-gamma, a substance linked to inflammation, Dr. Goldstein said, and support cells appeared to be reacting to it.
The support cells protect and nourish olfactory sensory neurons. Without them, the olfactory sensory neurons can’t survive. Research has shown that the virus that causes Covid-19 doesn’t infect olfactory sensory neurons directly, but that it can attack such support cells.
*Franco Harris, the famous running back for the Pittsburgh Steelers football team, has died at 72, and I remember watching him play on television. I put this up for football fans but also so you can see “The Immaculate Reception”:
“We have lost an incredible football player, an incredible ambassador to the Hall and, most importantly, we have lost one of the finest gentlemen anyone will ever meet,” Hall of Fame President Jim Porter said in the announcement. “Franco not only impacted the game of football, but he also affected the lives of many, many people in profoundly positive ways.”
News of Harris’s death comes two days before the 50th anniversary of the play that helped transform the Steelers into one of the NFL’s elite franchises and three days before the team planned to retire Harris’s No. 32 during halftime of its game Saturday night against the Las Vegas Raiders.
As for the play:
It was a desperation pass by quarterback Terry Bradshaw during a 1972 divisional playoff game against the Oakland Raiders that gave him a special place in NFL history, though.
With 22 seconds remaining and the Raiders leading 7-6, the Steelers faced fourth and 10 at their 40-yard line when Bradshaw threw deep to running back Frenchy Fuqua. Fuqua collided with Oakland defensive back Jack Tatum, and the ball flew back toward Harris. He caught it just inches before it would have bounced off the turf and scored — lifting Pittsburgh to its first playoff win.
Voilà: This is one version that shows he catching the ball just before it hit the ground, and you can see Harris at the end. Click on “Watch on YouTube.”
The Grinch came early for an Arizona driver who tried to pass off an inflatable figure of the Dr. Seuss character as a passenger.
The Arizona Department of Public Safety says a state trooper last week noticed a car in a high-occupancy vehicle lane on Interstate 10 in Phoenix with a “Seusspicious-looking” green passenger.
While the gag may have caused the officer’s heart to grow, it did not stop the driver from getting cited for being in the HOV lane during a restricted time.
The agency, however, could not help but post a photo of the Grinch figure with the driver’s face blurred on its Twitter account.
Officials say they appreciate the “festive flair” but that the driver’s action was still illegal.
They are urging motorists to follow traffic laws.
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili spots a fly:
Hili: What is this fly doing here?A: It’s trying to survive the winter.
Hili: Co ta mucha tu robi?Ja: Próbuje przetrwać zimę.
From Merilee: A proper Christmas tree:
From Malcolm, apparently a hologram, and a great one, of one of Rubens’s angels escaping from its painting:
From Smith Powell, another cat tree:
God is over at Mastodon now, tooting for more followers:
From Masih, who I hope will one day be allowed to go home and visit her mom. In the meantime. . . The hidden screen contains a photo of the dead girl, which isn’t hidden on Masih’s site.
Unspeakable barbarity of the Islamist regime in Iran.
This corpse of a young high school student was found in the streets of Tehran a few days after was kidnapped and sexually assaulted by the regime for protesting.
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) December 21, 2022
From Simon, who says, “I have to agree.” Me too!
Who would make a better boss of Twitter?
— Larry the Cat (@Number10cat) December 19, 2022
From Luana: the LGBTQ++++ flag grows increasingly complex (and a timeline). Where will it end?
Pride Flag Purity Spiral pic.twitter.com/qvgmNCVwMT
— ArtyMorty (@artymortyarty) December 20, 2022
From Malcom, Cats in winter:
Cats in winter…🐈🐾🥶🔥😅 pic.twitter.com/UnGAlHIG6R
— 𝕐o̴g̴ (@Yoda4ever) December 13, 2022
From the Auschwitz Memorial: A three year old gassed upon arrival,
22 December 1938 | A Dutch Jewish girl, Margaretha de Groot, was born in Amsterdam.
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) December 22, 2022
Tweets from Matthew. This is a species of moth that is a fantastic mimic of dead leaves.
Taiwan, Japon et Chine.
( © LiCheng Shih ) pic.twitter.com/p0em6It0Tk
— André Arcadio Fuster (@AAFuster) December 21, 2022
There are many great headlines in this thread; I’ve put up just one, but go have a look:
2022 Headline of the Year nominee (August) pic.twitter.com/xHkVx6vOAt
— Paul Fairie (@paulisci) December 20, 2022
The bear came back, the bear came back. She crossed four states, but the bear came back! Yay!
Oooo I love this.
So often when large, charismatic megafauna are causing issues (bear, wolves), people want them relocated, not killed.
Guess what. There's no place like home, and animals come BACK. Like this bear who trekked across FOUR STATES https://t.co/VLJiryJAxe
— Bethany Brookshire (@BeeBrookshire) December 20, 2022