Welcome to the tail end of the week: Friday, June 16, 2023; Cat shabbos begins at sundown, and it’s National Fudge Day. There are many kinds of this confections, but my favorites are chocolate or maple—with or without walnuts.
It’s also Bloomsday (the day in 1904 that the novel Ulysses takes place in Dublin), National Vinegar Day, Fresh Veggies Day, National Flip Flop Day (time to put them on for the summer), World Sea Turtle Day, International Day of the African Child, and Ugliest Dog Day.
Here’s Mr. Happy Face, the winner of 2022’s Ugliest Dog Contest held in Petaluma, California. As the caption to the photo notes, “Janeda Banelly rescued Mr. Happy Face from a shelter in 2021. A survivor of a hoarder home, the poor pup experienced abuse and neglect at the hands of his previous owners, as well as myriad medical conditions, including cancer.” Photo from AFP via Getty Images
Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the June 16 Wikipedia page.
BREAKING NEWS: The world’s largest known kidney stone was just removed from a patient in Sri Lanka. From CNN:
The world’s largest kidney stone has been removed from a patient in Sri Lanka – and it’s about the size of a grapefuit, as long as a banana and as heavy as four hamsters.
At 13.372 centimeters (5.26 inches) long and weighing 801 grams (1.76 lbs) the kidney stone broke two world records when it was removed by Sri Lankan Army doctors on June 1.
Previously the records were 13 centimeters for length, set in India in 2004, and 620 grams for weight, set in Pakistan in 2008, according to Guinness World Records.
And of course you’ll want to see a photo:
*Another Supreme Court vote that surprised me: Justices voted by a big majority to allow Native Americans to keep adoptees within their tribes (and traditions).
The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld a 1978 law aimed at keeping Native American adoptees with their tribes and traditions, handing a victory to tribes that had argued that a blow to the law would upend the basic principles that have allowed them to govern themselves.
Justice Amy Coney Barrett, writing for the majority, acknowledged the thorny subjects raised in case, which pitted a white foster couple from Texas against five tribes and the Interior Department as they battled over the adoption of a Native American child.
“The issues are complicated,” she wrote. “But the bottom line is that we reject all of petitioners’ challenges to the statute, some on the merits and others for lack of standing.”
The vote was 7 to 2, with Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. dissenting.
Under the Indian Child Welfare Act, preference is given to Native families, a policy that the couple said violated equal protection principles and discriminated against Native children and non-Native families who wanted to adopt them because it hinges on placement based on race.
The tribes have said that they are political entities, not racial groups, and that doing away with that distinction, which underpins tribal rights, could imperil nearly every aspect of Indian law and policy, including measures that govern access to land, water and gambling.
“Congress’s power to legislate with respect to Indians is well established and broad,” Justice Barrett wrote, adding that authority could extend to family law. “The Constitution does not erect a firewall around family law.”
But if they’re not “races” but political entities, does that give them the right to keep any human artifacts, like ancient bonds, found on land they claim (they have this right)? For there were no “political entities” among ancient Native Americans.
*We all know that if Walt Nauta, Trump’s valet and co-defendant, flips, Trump will be even more “toast” than he is now. The WaPo discusses the question and its implications.
The 40-year-old body man [JAC: this must be a politically correct synonym for “valet”] from Guam now faces 20 years in prison if convicted of the most serious charge against him. Sporting a wide scarlet tie a few shades deeper than his boss’s candy red one, Nauta, once a Navy sailor, made his first appearance in a Miami federal courthouse Tuesday to face charges that he obstructed justice, withheld and concealed a document from the government, and lied to FBI agents.
A key question hovering over the case now is whether Nauta will cooperate with prosecutors against Trump in hopes of a lesser sentence.
Nauta — who spent Tuesday bizarrely toggling between the roles of co-defendant, equal under the law to Trump, and dutiful “body man,” subservient to the former president — has showed no signs that his loyalty to Trump is waning.
Trump’s lawyers and advisers do not see Nauta as a threat to turn, according to people familiar with the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the criminal case.
According to the indictment, Nauta helped bring boxes to Trump’s residence at Mar-a-Lago for his review before Trump returned 15 boxes of documents to the National Archives in January 2022. When interviewed by the FBI in May 2022, however, prosecutors allege Nauta falsely said he had no knowledge of the boxes being taken to Trump’s suite.
He then could be seen on surveillance video removing 64 boxes from the club’s ground floor storage room after Trump received a grand jury subpoena seeking classified records in May 2022. According to the indictment, he was spotted returning only 30 boxes to the room, just before a lawyer for Trump searched the room for documents to turn over to the government in response to the subpoena.
Trump and Nauta spoke repeatedly by phone before Nauta moved the boxes, the indictment alleges. The indictment does not detail what the two discussed. If Nauta chose to cooperate, he could presumably explain what Trump told him on those calls — and offer evidence about whether Trump instructed him to lie to the FBI.
As the article notes, Nauta has already been accused of lying to the FBI, and that erodes his credibility as a witness should he decide to become a canary and turn against Trump. We’d all like to see that, but it seems unlikely:
Those who know him find it implausible that Nauta will turn on Trump or relinquish the perch as the former president’s right hand man — a job that those close to Nauta have described as a source of prestige and pride.
Well, one can hope. . .
*Can a President be elected while in jail, and even govern from his cell? We are, of course, referring to Trump, and those are the questions Nicholas Kristof asks in the NYT.
An absurd question keeps nagging at me: Could an inmate in a federal prison get a leave to attend his own presidential inauguration?
I wonder about that because Trump seems to be moving simultaneously in two opposing and irreconcilable directions. First, it seems increasingly plausible that he will become the first former president to be convicted of a felony. Second, he also seems increasingly likely to win the Republican nomination for president, with the betting markets also giving him about a 22 percent chance of going on and actually being elected president.
Any defendant must be presumed innocent until proven guilty. But some smart lawyers believe that for Trump, the “peril is extreme,” as one former federal prosecutor put it. Trump’s own attorney general William Barr said, “If even half of it is true, then he’s toast.”
. . .But Trump could eventually be indicted in four separate criminal cases, and with so many cases swirling about, the odds increase that he may find himself convicted of at least some felonies.
He would be a first offender, and it’s not certain that he would do prison time. Officials so far have been very deferential toward Trump: He hasn’t been handcuffed or subjected to a mug shot.
Still, deference may end upon conviction, and defendants in less serious cases have ended up with substantial prison sentences.
Even if Trump is convicted and imprisoned, he could continue to run for office and even presumably hold the office of president, if he isn’t too busy in the prison factory making license plates. Eugene Debs, the socialist candidate, famously ran for president from federal prison in 1920, receiving almost one million votes.
I don’t believe this could happen. A President in prison could surely be impeached on the grounds that he couldn’t perform his duties, even if the law allows him to hold office while in stir (Kristof seems to think it does).
All in all, I think Trump is going down. But my nightmare is that the United States slips into a recession that voters blame on President Biden, that there is a Middle East crisis that raises oil and gas prices and that there is a third-party candidate who draws more votes from Biden than from Trump. Or perhaps Biden has a health crisis and the Democratic nominee is Kamala Harris, who I fear would be a substantially weaker candidate. In short, Trump’s election as president seems unlikely, but not impossible — and the consequences could be catastrophic.
I wish I was as sure as Kristof, who seems to be just spinning his wheels in this column.
*In some place AI programs now have the authority to overrrule nurses, a protocol that might not be to the patient’s benefit. The story starts when an AI-run program tells an oncology nurse that her patient is in sepsis when she’s sure he’s not (he’s got leukemia).
Hospital rules require nurses to follow protocols when a patient is flagged for sepsis. While Beebe can override the AI model if she gets doctor approval, she said she faces disciplinary action if she’s wrong. So she followed orders and drew blood from the patient, even though that could expose him to infection and run up his bill. “When an algorithm says, ‘Your patient looks septic,’ I can’t know why. I just have to do it,” said Beebe, who is a representative of the California Nurses Association union at the hospital.
As she suspected, the algorithm was wrong. “I’m not demonizing technology,” she said. “But I feel moral distress when I know the right thing to do and I can’t do it.”
Artificial intelligence and other high-tech tools, though nascent in most hospitals, are raising difficult questions about who makes decisions in a crisis: the human or the machine?
The technologies, which can analyze massive amounts of data with a speed beyond human capacity, are making extraordinary advances in medicine, from improving the diagnosis of heart conditions to predicting protein structures that could speed drug discovery. When it is used alongside humans to help assess, diagnose and treat patients, AI has shown powerful results, academics and tech experts say.In a survey of 1,042 registered nurses published this month by National Nurses United, a union, 24% of respondents said they had been prompted by a clinical algorithm to make choices they believed “were not in the best interest of patients based on their clinical judgment and scope of practice” about issues such as patient care and staffing.” Of those, 17% said they were permitted to override the decision, while 31% weren’t allowed and 34% said they needed doctor or supervisor’s permission.
“The computer doesn’t know the patient is in out-of-control pain,” she said.
Still, she didn’t act. “I know if I give the medication, I’m technically giving medication without an order and I can be disciplined,” she said. She watched her patient grimace in pain while she held the pain pill in her hand.
Well, what do you think?
*No more hidden fees for concert tickets! (If you’ve ever bought them online, you’ll know how sleazy and annoying this is.)
Under pressure from the Biden administration, some of the biggest companies that handle ticketing for concerts and other live events announced on Thursday that they will make it easier for consumers to see the full price of tickets they want to buy, including the fees that can often add more than 30 percent to the total cost of an order.
Live Nation, the world’s largest concert company, said it would begin introducing “all-in pricing” — showing consumers the full price up front — at the venues it controls, which include more than 200 amphitheaters, clubs and other spaces in the United States. Ticketmaster, which is owned by Live Nation, said it would make this tool available to other venues and promoters as well. Those changes are expected beginning in September.
SeatGeek, a major vendor for reselling tickets that also works for major venues and sports teams like the Dallas Cowboys, said it too would begin introducing a feature that would reveal to consumers the full price of a ticket.
Those changes come as the Biden administration has stepped up its pressure on the entertainment and travel industries to rein in what it calls “junk fees.” Before beginning a round table at the White House with executives from Live Nation, SeatGeek, Airbnb and other companies on Thursday, President Biden framed the crackdown on surcharges as a way to appeal to the working class — a major theme of his re-election campaign.
“These hidden charges that companies sneak into your bill make you pay more without you really knowing it initially,” Mr. Biden said. “Junk fees are not a matter for the wealthy very much but they’re a matter for working folks like the homes I grew up in.”
Chalk up another good thing to Biden. We all hated those fees!
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Szaron is protecting Baby Kulka, whom Hili despises. (Look at Hili’s ears!) The funny thing is that sometimes Kukla attacks Szaron. It’s a cat-eat-cat world out there.
Szaron: You will not attack Kulka!Hili: Look at this feline knight in shining armour.
Szaron: Nie będziesz atakować Kulki!Hili: Znalazł się, koci rycerz.
From Stash Krod. It appears to be a letter to a vet from a kid, and I really hope it’s real:
From Facebook’s Absurd Sign Project:
From Masih, a British woman re-enacts the story of 10 Bahai women; their story appears at the end of the heartbreaking video:
True story. To commemorate 40th anniversary of the horrific injustice done to the 10 Bahá’í women of Shiraz 18th of June 1983 @TinySpeck_ & I made this.
Pippa Walton mirrors the last days of the life of Mona Mahmoudnizhad who was hanged aged 17. #OurStoryIsOne #GenderEquality pic.twitter.com/aQnFaxz5PI
— Omid Djalili (@omid9) June 15, 2023
From Malcolm: Cat pwns fox. Sound up!
— Köksal Akın (@mystoryyy333) June 12, 2023
From gravelinspector: the atavistic “claws” of an ostrich and (second tweet) a baby hoatzin. He adds:
Everyone not a signed-up Creation Research Institute subscriber knows that Hoatzin avalian dinosaurs have big manual claws as chicks. It’s not a unique trait. This thread includes ostriches and red partridges in the “clawed-hand” group. Which is a very paraphylectic group.Actually, for ostriches, it shouldn’t even be a surprise. The occasional atavism (technical term? “Throw-back”, to headline-writers.) is likely to be a survival advantage in a chick of a flightless species. Which would make re-acquisition of the character an interesting case.
One ostrich I’ve helped dissect had some pretty impressive hand claws on display! Alongside those absolutely bizarrely distributed thick-quilled feathers of course. https://t.co/tA2vVfVF1y pic.twitter.com/TfZUMcpBew
— Michael Chiappone (@MichaelChiappo3) June 13, 2023
My own tweet, with the figure taken from D.J.G.’s FB page. The content is not sensitive—it’s an optical illusion.
From DJG on Facebook. All the lines in this diagram are straight. pic.twitter.com/AedS9YhJss
— Jerry Coyne (@Evolutionistrue) June 15, 2023
From the Auschwitz Memorial, a Czech Jew who died about age 24 in the camp:
15 June 1920 | A Czech Jewish woman, Ruth Löwová, was born in Prague.
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) June 15, 2023
Tweets from Dr. Cobb, now in Paris. I wouldn’t have been able to stand by and take video; I would have helped the raccoon.
This raccoon used tools to escape a garbage container. This sentient being's intelligence made the Mission Possible. 🧠 pic.twitter.com/KhmNpgPkyo
— Hakan Kapucu (@1hakankapucu) June 14, 2023
A beautiful murmuration:
Flight of the Starlings.🐦🦜🕊️🎵❤️ pic.twitter.com/2HFGo6r72w
— World birds (@worldbirds32) August 24, 2020
This is a good one:
The last thing a treat sees before it meets a grisly end. pic.twitter.com/oEnGCLwG8e
— Dick King-Smith HQ (@DickKingSmith) May 30, 2023