It’s Monday again, March 27, 2023, and World Whisky Day (as always, I’ll have a Springbank)
Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the March 27 Wikipedia page.
*On Saturday Vladimir “Look at My Chest” Putin announced that he was going to station tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, which is a palpable threat to Ukraine and the NATO countries helping it out.
Putin said the move was triggered by Britain’s decision this past week to provide Ukraine with armor-piercing rounds containing depleted uranium.
Tactical nuclear weapons are intended for use on the battlefield and have a short range and a low yield compared with much more powerful nuclear warheads fitted to long-range missiles. Russia plans to maintain control over those it sends to Belarus, and construction of storage facilities for them will be completed by July 1, Putin said.
He didn’t say how many nuclear weapons Russia would keep in Belarus. The U.S. government believes Russia has about 2,000 tactical nuclear weapons, which include bombs that can be carried by tactical aircraft, warheads for short-range missiles and artillery rounds.
Putin argued that by deploying its tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, Russia was following the lead of the United States, noting that the U.S. has nuclear weapons based in Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey.
But we haven’t moved them around after the Ukraine war started—unlike Putin. In response, Ukrainian President Zelensky demanded yesterday that the United Nations hold a special emergency meeting about the Belarus-based nukes.
Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry condemned the move in a statement Sunday and demanded an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council.
“Ukraine expects effective action to counter the Kremlin’s nuclear blackmail by the U.K., China, the U.S. and France,” the statement read, saying these countries “have a special responsibility” regarding nuclear aggression.
“The world must be united against someone who endangers the future of human civilization,” the statement said.
Ukraine has not commented on Sunday’s explosion inside Russia. It left a crater about 15 meters (50 feet) in diameter and five meters deep (16 feet), according to media reports.
Russian state-run news agency Tass reported authorities identified the drone as a Ukrainian Tu-141. The Soviet-era drone was reintroduced in Ukraine in 2014, and has a range of about 1,000 kilometers (620 miles).
. . . The U.S. said it would “monitor the implications” of Putin’s announcement. So far, Washington hasn’t seen “any indications Russia is preparing to use a nuclear weapon,” National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said.
Let’s hope this is a threat without teeth. But Putin seems mentally unstable to me, and who knows what he’s capable of, especially when cornered?
*I’m not looking for reasons to diss Joe Biden, as he will likely be the guy I vote for in next year’s Presidential election. But this behavior really angers me. Biden, you may recall, promised to end the federal death penalty if elected. He was but he didn’t. The AP reports:
Rejon Taylor hoped the election of Joe Biden, the first U.S. president to campaign on a pledge to end the death penalty, would mean a more sympathetic look at his claims that racial bias and other trial errors landed him on federal death row in Terre Haute, Indiana.
But two years on, Justice Department attorneys under Biden are fighting the Black man’s efforts to reverse his 2008 death sentence for killing a white restaurateur as hard as they did under Donald Trump, who oversaw 13 executions in his presidency’s final months.
“Every legal means they have available they’re using to fight us,” said the 38-year-old’s lawyer, Kelley Henry. “It’s business as usual.”
Death penalty opponents expected Biden to act within weeks of taking office to fulfill his 2020 campaign promise to end capital punishment on the federal level and to work at ending it in states that still carry out executions. Instead, Biden has taken no steps toward fulfilling that promise.
But it’s not just inaction by Biden. An Associated Press review of dozens of legal filings shows Biden’s Justice Department is fighting vigorously in courts to maintain the sentences of death row inmates, even after Attorney General Merrick Garland temporarily paused executions. Lawyers for some of the over 40 death row inmates say they’ve seen no meaningful changes to the Justice Department’s approach under Biden and Trump.
Trump’s favoring capital punishment I can grasp, but BIDEN? HE PROMISED! And there’s no good reason to favor capital punishment. Well, there’s one, but I didn’t think that Biden would stoop so low as to cater to it:
It’s a thorny political issue. While Americans increasingly oppose capital punishment, it is deeply entrenched. And as Biden eyes a 2024 run, it’s unlikely he’ll make capital punishment a signature issue given his silence on it as president.
That is cowardice and lack of principle, pure and simple.
*The Blue State of Illinois, with a Democratic governor, is now becoming a refuge from all those women in the South who can’t get an abortion because of the draconian laws enacted by those benighted states. But it’s causing clinical overlad here (h/t Steve):
Just the day before, 58 women had abortions at the Fairview Heights’ Planned Parenthood clinic, 15 miles east of St. Louis. But the new day is still stacked with appointments; as many as 100 abortion and family planning patients might walk through the doors.
Every day is busy now.
Hundreds of women travel each week to the southern tip of Illinois to secure an abortion, something that is no longer available to millions living in a 1,800 mile stretch of 11 Southern states that have mostly banned pregnancy terminations since the Supreme Court stripped away constitutional protections for women to end pregnancies.
But another barrier awaits them once they reach the clinic in one of the country’s most abortion-friendly states. Anti-abortion advocates in neon hazard vests frantically try to wave passersby down at the gates, hoping to talk them out of what they are about to do.
The clinic’s waitlist for abortions has only grown from two days to nearly three weeks after the Supreme Court ruling last June — even after staffers started working 10-hour shifts and they opened the clinic on Saturdays.
. . . With 10,000 abortion patients expected this year at the clinic, there’s talk of opening on Sundays. Staff developed an emergency plan that would convert some patient rooms, normally reserved for birth control consultations or vasectomies, to make more room for abortions. A recreational vehicle has been retooled into a mobile clinic that can travel along the state line for doctors to provide abortions.
. . . When someone cannot afford to pay for hotels, bus tickets or plane rides, the center books the travel for the patient and works with more than 30 nonprofit groups around the country that solicit funds for abortion access to fund the trip.
This is like the bad old days when the Jane Collective in Chicago, organized by women, provided underground abortions in the days when it was illegal. Now it’s legal, at least in Illinois, but can you imagine “abortion trucks” traveling along the state lines to help women who don’t want to give birth? Thanks, Supreme Court!
*Well, here’s an article I didn’t need to read in the WSJ: “Marijuana has special risks for older people.” WHAT? When I was younger I was told that marijuana would fry my brain like an egg, and now that I’m older I’m told that it’s even more dangerous. Why? Because it can affect the drugs you take. Fortunately, my only drug is a sleeping pill at night. But oy!:
Cannabis use can create particular risks for older people. It can interfere with other medications, which is tricky for seniors because they are often on multiple prescription drugs. Marijuana can also raise the risks of injuries, falls, anxiety and confusion. The situation is further complicated because many seniors may be wary of telling their doctors they use it.
. . .In California, emergency room visits for problems related to cannabis use in adults ages 65 and older increased from a rate of 20.7 per 100,000 visits in 2005 to 395.0 per 100,000 in 2019, according to a January study from doctors at the University of California San Diego.
Although pot products pose some health risks, the reason that seniors are taking them is largely because they are trying to manage other health problems. Among a group of nearly 600 adults over age 65, 15% reported using cannabis within the past three years, according to a 2020 study in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.
Nearly 80% of those seniors said they took cannabis for medical reasons, with pain, sleep and anxiety the top reasons cited. Most said their family members knew they used it, but only 40% reported telling their healthcare providers.
And I found the ending part hilarious but also sad, as it’s the opposite of what I heard when I was a kid:
If your parent is using marijuana or CBD products, encourage them to talk with their doctor to make sure they understand how it may affect other medications they are taking and possible risks. Many adult children buy products for their parents without understanding that the dose and type have different effects, says Benjamin Han, a geriatrician at UCSD.
. . . Ask your parents why they are taking marijuana to see if there are health issues that may be better addressed with other treatments, recommends Dr. Moore.
And advise parents to “start low and go slow,” or take a low dose at first and increase as needed. . .
*Edgar Allen Poe’s death has always been a bit of a mystery, though my understanding is that he died from a combination of alcohol and tuberculosis (he was only 40). Now the WaPo adds a new possibility: voter fraud!
Now an Ohio journalist has conducted an extensive investigation into Poe’s death. In his new book, “A Mystery of Mysteries: The Death and Life of Edgar Allan Poe,” Mark Dawidziak contends that the evidence points to tuberculosis, an illness that is forever linked to artistic genius and literary martyrdom. But he says there’s a co-conspirator: an affliction known as election fraud.
Dawidziak believes that Poe failed to get proper medical care because he was “cooped” — an election-rigging scheme at the time that involvedsnatching someone from the streets, confining and perhaps drugging him, then trotting him out to vote again and again.
Poe was disheveled and wearing shabby, ill-fitting clothes that weren’t his, according to Hal Poe. “He always took great care in his appearance,” Hal Poe said. “He was fastidious in his dress. Even if his cuffs were threadbare, and his socks were darned, they were all very nice.”
Poe’s clothes seem to be an important clue. He turned up on election day, and the tavern where he was found served as a polling place as Marylanders chose their representatives in Congress. (At the time, states set their own election dates.) This is the crux of the theory that Poe was “cooped.”
Around election time, “ruffians would go out in the street, find someone vulnerable and indigent, hit them over the head, ‘coop’ them up in a room, and feed them alcohol and maybe opium until it’s time to vote,” Jang said. The kidnappers might change the man’s appearance throughout the day, she said, so they could fool election workers and have the person vote multiple times.
. . . Just about every Poe scholar believes he was “cooped,” Hal Poe said. He may have been especially vulnerable to kidnapping because he was drunk or ill — or both — when he left the steamer.
. . . “Almost every medical expert and pathologist that I have talked to said there is absolutely no question Poe had tuberculosis,” Dawidziak said. Specifically, he believes that Poe died of tuberculosis meningitis, which causes the membranes around the brain to swell.
Keeping him cooped up and drugged could account for his untimely demise. Read more at the link.
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is watching intently for Spring (my photo taken outside the window)
Hili: It’s getting nicer and nicer out.A: I, too, like when everything comes back to life.(Photo: JAC)
Hili: Robi się coraz sympatyczniej.Ja: Też lubię jak wszystko budzi się do życia.(Zdjęcie: J.A.C.)
And a photo of baby Kulka:
Three cat memes today. From Beth (it’s me, too, though my insomnia has abated, at least temporarily):
From The Cat House on the Kings:
From Masih. The Iranian government continues to shoot protestors in the eyes. Here’s the Farsi translation of the tweet:
Zaniar Tendru, a protester who was shot in the eyes by the agents of the Islamic Republic during the revolution #WomanLifeFreedom, left for Europe in a painful condition on a refugee boat for treatment. Zaniar was born in 2004, he was shot by the repressors on the 24th street of Piranshahr city on November 9th and lost his right eye. 11 bullets still remained in Zaniar’s head and the vision of his left eye was also compromised.
زانیار تندرو، معترضی که ماموران جمهوری اسلامی در جریان انقلاب #زن_زندگی_آزادی به چشمانش شلیک کردند، برای مداوا با قایق پناهجویان و در وضعیتی دردناک به سمت اروپا حرکت کرد.
زانیار متولد سال ۱۳۸۴ است، او در تاریخ ۹ آبان در خیابان ۲۴ متری شهرستان پیرانشهر در خیابان مورد هدف گلوله… pic.twitter.com/1xqNrwLlYw
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) March 26, 2023
And nearby, the braze women of Afghanistan:
Incredible scenes in Kabul today as Afghanistan's fearless women stood before the Taliban, chanting —
“EDUCATION IS OUR RIGHT.
WOMEN. JUSTICE. FREEDOM."
Their unwavering courage and determination to fight for their freedom is truly heroic 💪🏻 pic.twitter.com/mFJ4TvI1mf
— Shabnam Nasimi (@NasimiShabnam) March 26, 2023
From Malcolm: A rescue of an adorable baby sloth. It sure looks as if Mom extends her hand in gratitude afterwards!
— Buitengebieden (@buitengebieden) March 25, 2023
A tweet from Barry, who says, “Well, this is certainly unusual.” Indeed. Sound up!
— Lars🌻🇳🇴 (@Norwegian_Lars) March 25, 2023
Another from Barry, who says, “…but if this dog isn’t trained, isn’t this a case of thinking? That’s the reason I find this video fascinating. “Oh, crap. He’s picking up all the other treats. I better hide the one that’s on my paw.” What do you think?
Nothing to see here… 😂💛
— Jessi 💫 (@its_jessi_grace) March 24, 2023
The horrible conditions in blocks & barracks as well as the appalling sanitary conditions contributed to the exhaustion and death of many prisoners. Listen to our podcast about living & sanitary conditions in Auschwitz: https://t.co/vuxHvv9vNb
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) March 27, 2023
Tweets from Professor Cobb. First, an addled eagle:
losing it 😂💜 pic.twitter.com/yYEgMFMRSy
— brooke foster, 2023 edition (@lonesometoast) March 25, 2023
. . . and the shot is so nonchalant, too:
Smoothest shot I’ve ever seen pic.twitter.com/MbX6nXg1f5
— Turner Novak 🍌🧢 (@TurnerNovak) March 25, 2023
If you’re ever in Huddersfield, between Manchester and Leeds, stop and say “hi” to Felix. He now has an assistant, an all-black cat named Bolt:
Magnificent shot of Felix, head of rodent services at Huddersfield Station. pic.twitter.com/VeCXv8IkTO
— cats with jobs (@CatWorkers) March 24, 2023