Good morning on a Hump Day (“Dan Grba” in Bosnian), June 21, 2023, and the first day of summer! The summer solstice begins this morning at 10:58 A.M. EDT. There will be a post letting you know when summer begins.
As for a food day, it’s National Peaches and Cream Day, but this will be skimpy this year as a spell of warm weather followed by cold weather damaged much of the peach crop in the U.S., including in Georgia, Alabama, and California.
It’s a big day for holidays, for it’s also Anne and Samantha Day (read the link), World Humanist Day, Atheist Solidarity Day (yay to both!), International Surfing Day, World Music Day, National Selfie Day, World Giraffe Day, National Smoothie Day, Go Skateboarding Day, International Yoga Day, Fête de la Musique, and World Hydrography Day
Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the June 21 Wikipedia page.
And there will be no readers’ wildlife today as I’m running out of pictures, so must save what I have for sporadic posts. . . .
*The missing Titanic-seeking submersible is on its last day of air, but there’s a glimmer of hope. They heard noise!
A Canadian surveillance plane “detected underwater noises” in the remote area of the North Atlantic where a submersible with five people aboard disappeared over the weekend, the United States Coast Guard said early Wednesday. Remotely operated vehicles were searching for the origin of the sounds.
*Surprise: Judge Aileen Cannon, a Trump appointee who gave him too many breaks in the documents case, has now set an early trial for him: as early as August 15!
The federal judge presiding over the prosecution of former President Donald J. Trump in the classified documents case set an aggressive schedule on Tuesday, ordering a trial to begin as soon as Aug. 14.
The timeline set by the judge, Aileen M. Cannon, is likely to be delayed by extensive pretrial litigation — including over how to handle classified material — and its brisk pace seems in keeping with a schedule set under the Speedy Trial Act. In each of four other criminal trials the judge has overseen that were identified in a New York Times review, she has initially set a relatively quick trial date and later pushed it back.
It looks like the judge is watching the media! And the NYT isn’t going to let her get away with it. But wait—there’s more!
The early moves by Judge Cannon, a relatively inexperienced jurist who was appointed by Mr. Trump in 2020, are being particularly closely watched. She disrupted the documents investigation last year with several rulings favorable to the former president before a conservative appeals court overturned her, saying that she never had legitimate legal authority to intervene.
Brandon L. Van Grack, a former federal prosecutor who has worked on complex criminal matters involving national security, said the trial date was “unlikely to hold” considering that the process of turning over classified evidence to the defense in discovery had not yet begun. Still, he said, Judge Cannon appeared to be showing that she intended to do what she could to push the case to trial quickly.
“It signals that the court is at least trying to do everything it can to move the case along and that it’s important that the case proceed quickly,” Mr. Van Grack said. “Even though it’s unlikely to hold, it’s at least a positive signal — positive in the sense that all parties and the public should want this case to proceed as quickly as possible.”
It’s a neutral signal to me, as I’m a cynic. This is performative action, at least based on what the NYT said above. We’ll see how she rules later down the road. And Cannon doesn’t have the experience to handle such a case. Wait until he’s found guilty and she sentences him to house arrest in Mar-A-Lago, or even gives him probation. I don’t trust her.
*Hunter Biden has agreed to plead guilty on both tax and gun charges! This one blindsided me!
The younger Biden’s attorney said the deal means the long-running criminal investigation involving the president’s son “is resolved.” But Delaware U.S. Attorney David Weiss, the lead prosecutor in the case, said the investigation “is ongoing,” suggesting that matters beyond the tax and gun issues are still under scrutiny.
Papers filed in federal court in Wilmington, Del., on Tuesday indicate Biden has tentatively agreed to plead guilty to two misdemeanor tax charges of failure to pay in 2017 and 2018. A court document says that in both those years, Biden was a resident of Washington and received taxable income of more than $1.5 million, for which he owed more than $100,000 in income tax that he did not pay on time. Prosecutors plan to recommend a sentence of probation for those counts, according to people familiar with the negotiations who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe elements of the case that are not yet public. Biden’s representatives have previously said that he eventually paid the IRS what he owed.
. . . The second court filing is about the gun charge. In that case, the letter says, “the defendant has agreed to enter a Pretrial Diversion Agreement with respect to the firearm Information.” Handling the gun charge as a diversion case means Biden will not technically be pleading guilty to that crime. Diversion is an option typically applied to nonviolent offenders with substance abuse problems.
In all, prosecutors will recommend two years of probation and diversion conditions, the people familiar with the plea deal said. If Biden successfully meets the conditions of the diversion program, the gun charge will be removed from his record at the end of that period, these people said.
Wait a tick! I thought that your only pleas were not guilty, guilty, no contest, or not guilty by reason of insanity. What is this “diversion” stuff? And what is a “diversion program”? Does it mean that Biden has a substance abuse problem?
*Trump’s newest interview on Fox did not go well. Although I’m citing Salon here, even Bret Baier, the Fox News interviewer, gave Trump a rough time and low marks. Trump may even have incriminated himself more:
Legal experts questioned Trump’s decision to do a TV interview while facing a 37-count indictment and suggested that he may have given special counsel Jack Smith even more evidence to use against him.
“The defendant seems utterly incapable of exercising his constitutional right to remain silent,” tweeted conservative attorney and frequent Trump critic George Conway.
“Keep confessing,” wrote national security attorney Bradley Moss. “No criminal defense attorney worth their salt would ever advise their indicted client to do a media tour. That helps explain the problems Mr. Trump has had retaining qualified counsel,” he added.
Even George Washington University Law Prof. Jonathan Turley, who previously defended Trump amid his legal woes, warned that “statements of this kind are generally admissible at trial.”
“This is one more inculpatory statement,” former U.S. Attorney Harry Litman told MSNBC. “Every time he opens his mouth, it gets worse.”
Have a listen. The man is bonkers!
Baier throughout the interview repeatedly challenged Trump, including his false claim that he “won in 2020 by a lot.”
“You lost the 2020 election,” Baier pushed back.
Trump: First of all, I won in 2020 by a lot
Baier: You lost the 2020 election
Trump: They were counting ballots, not the authenticity of the ballot. The ballots were fake ballots. pic.twitter.com/yrM5gVV1ei
— Acyn (@Acyn) June 19, 2023
During another portion of the interview, Baier read off a list of critical comments from numerous former Trump Cabinet and administration officials.
“Why did you hire all of them in the first place?” Baier asked.
“Because I hired ten to one that were fantastic,” Trump responded, “For every person you named, I can name 20 people that loved the administration.”
LOL omg pic.twitter.com/jwBAMvhLMl
— Acyn (@Acyn) June 19, 2023
“LOL omg” is a perfect response to Trump’s blather.
*Despite its lip service to the Chicago Principles of Free expression, Arizona State University just fired two academic employees for organizing a conference. The author is Ann Atkinson, identified as “executive director of the T.W. Lewis Center for Personal Development at ASU’s Barrett Honors College.”
The university happily complied when FIRE suggested it adopt the Chicago Principles and protect the “free, robust and uninhibited sharing of ideas among all members of the University’s community.” The ASU Barrett Honors College has even been home to heterodox initiatives like the T.W. Lewis Center for Personal Development, where I served as executive director for the last two years.
But beneath ASU’s written commitment to intellectual diversity lies a deep hostility toward divergent views. The latest trouble started in February when the Lewis Center hosted Robert Kiyosaki, Dennis Prager and Charlie Kirk for an event on “Health, Wealth, and Happiness.” This nonpartisan program was part of a popular speaker series focused on connecting students with professionals who can offer career and life advice.
At the names of Messrs. Prager and Kirk, the faculty of ASU’s honors college were outraged. Thirty-nine of its 47 faculty signed a letter to the dean condemning the event on grounds that the speakers are “purveyors of hate who have publicly attacked women, people of color, the LGBTQ community, [and] institutions of our democracy.” The signers decried ASU “platforming and legitimating” their views, describing Messrs. Prager and Kirk as “white nationalist provocateurs” whose comments would undermine the value of democratic exchange by marginalizing the school’s most vulnerable students.
The faculty protests extended beyond the letter. Professors spent precious class time denouncing the program. On Twitter they lamented the university’s willingness to allow donor input on campus events. Mr. Prager received a death threat, forcing municipal and campus police to enact extensive security measures.
. . . The university administration’s position on the event was no secret. All advertising about “Health, Wealth, and Happiness” was scrubbed from campus walls and digital flyers. Behind closed doors, deans pressured me to postpone the event indefinitely. I was warned that if the speakers made any political statements, it wouldn’t be in the Lewis Center’s “best interests,” which I interpreted as a threat.
. . . Shortly after “Health, Wealth, and Happiness,” Lin Blake, the events operations manager at ASU Gammage Theater, was fired by ASU Gammage. Before her firing, Ms. Blake told me that she was “berated by ASU Gammage leadership for coordinating an event that did not align with the values of ASU Gammage.” And as of June 30, ASU will dismantle the Lewis Center and terminate my position as its executive director. Barrett Honors College leadership told me this is purely a business decision, despite my raising more than $500,000 in the last year through the center.
And so it goes. Of course the two firings had nothing to do with the event, even though Ms. Atkinson was threatened: “Nice job you have here; too bad if anything were to happen to it because you invited people like Dennis Prager to campus.”
*I think this is the first time I’ve cited an article from GQ, but it’s fascinating. I’ve long used Dr. Bronner’s peppermint soap, inspired by the crazy wording on the label (it’s great soap, too!). Now GQ asks, “Is Dr. Bronner’s the last corporation with a soul?” A: Yes, it’s still funky and soulful.
“I’m on the All-One path,” announces David—who uses he/they pronouns—standing before the group, referring to the sweeping ideology coined by their eccentric grandfather, Emanuel Bronner. Emanuel, who possessed no advanced degree but was undeterred in adopting a physician’s title, founded Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps in the late 1940s, in large part because he wanted to broadcast his ideas about unifying the human race, and his All-One dicta are still printed on the brand’s soap-bottle labels. In the early years of the company, Dr. Bronner’s was a genuine grassroots operation—a cult-favorite brand passed, if not directly from the hands of Emanuel himself, among hippies camping out in vans at places like Woodstock. Emanuel would distribute his product by promising a free bottle of soap to anyone who would show up to listen to him proselytize the All-One message.
Two generations later, Dr. Bronner’s has vastly outgrown its quirky, humble origins and become the top-selling natural soap brand in North America. The company now sells not only its liquid soap but highly successful lines of balms, toothpastes, coconut oil, and hand sanitizers, in addition to newly launched chocolates that were immediately hailed by gourmands as a premium product. Today, the iconography of its labels—and Emanuel’s far-out messaging—is imprinted firmly in the psyche of the American consumer. And yet, even as so many Americans have come to possess a fondness for the soap, the raw numbers around the success of Dr. Bronner’s—over $170 million in revenue in 2022—are still kind of staggering. Especially staggering, maybe, to the customers who’ve been affectionately buying its signature minty formula since the days of the natural-product boom of the ’60s and ’70s. Emanuel’s grandsons David and Michael now preside over an empire in which a bottle of Dr. Bronner’s soap is sold every two seconds or so.
. . . The trip [to Amsterdam] was so mind-blowing that David has since made it their life mission—and eventually the company’s—to drive efforts in the United States to legalize psychedelics, and more broadly, end the drug war. And they have succeeded, in spite of any skepticism and unease that some colleagues might have toward this trippy streak. In 2021 the company spent over $4.4 million on drug and psychedelics policy reform efforts, part of which helped pass a Colorado ballot measure last year to decriminalize certain psychedelics.
. . . Growth is one thing, but Dr. Bronner’s has managed to become a major player in its market while painstakingly encoding its ethics into every step of the production process. In fact, it could be argued that Emanuel Bronner predicted the current era of ethically minded business, and certainly ethically minded marketing. And now the humble soap brand finds itself at the vanguard of every philosophical and logistical question that American entrepreneurs are grappling with right now. All of its good deeds—from rigorously engineered fair trade supply chains to charitable donations and environmentally minded manufacturing—are thoroughly cataloged in the Dr. Bronner’s annual public accountability report card, the All-One! Report.
So keep buying Dr. Bronner’s products, or start if you haven’t. Their liquid soap, which comes in several scents, is fantastic, and just the stuff to wash your paws during the pandemic. All One! All One! Here are David and Michael Bronner, grandsons of the founder. Caption from the article:
In this obscenely scam-ridden day and age, it is reasonable to assume that anyone sermonizing like this in the realm of business is one false step away from being exposed as a charlatan. But the Bronners genuinely do seem to, in the parlance of thought-leadership conferences, walk the walk. The combination of Christian clemency and drug-induced ego surrender is potent. The executives, despite ranging from the conservative to the progressive, have all agreed to cap their own executive salaries at five times the lowest-paid fully vested Dr. Bronner’s employees, which means they cannot earn more than about $300,000 per year. It’s a policy that frees up funds for a waterfall of annual charitable donations and, more importantly, an enviable company culture for its over 300 workers. Dr. Bronner’s boasts the sort of employee benefits that would make Bezos shudder, including a health-insurance policy with company-paid premiums, bonuses, free daily vegan lunches prepared by the Foamy Homies, access to therapy, and, as of 2022, coverage of ketamine-assisted mental health treatment.
And a Dr. Bronner’s soap bottle label. Click twice to read it. Dilute! Dilute! OK!
h/t: Brad and Mocky
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is thinking (sshhhhhhhhh!):
Hili: A thought is ripening inside me.A: What thought?Hili: I don’t know, it’s vague as yet.
Hili: Dojrzewa we mnie pewna myśl.Ja: Jaka?Hili: Nie wiem, jeszcze jest mglista.
And a picture of sweet Szaron:
From Meanwhile in Canada:
From Jesus of the Day:
From Masih because, of course, dancing is prohibited in Iran. Look at those customers go!
What is the price of happiness in Iran? The owner of this grocery store announced that those customers who came into his shop with a dance would get free milk. Today agents of the Islamic regime closed the store after a video of the dancing customers went viral. pic.twitter.com/vhHNZmyvAp
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) June 19, 2023
From Simon. The Trump tweet has to be a fake, but I have heard about his Fox interview last night.
I’ve received an advance copy of his next truth… pic.twitter.com/jx1zUUGLsD
— SnarkTank (@TheSnarkTank99) June 20, 2023
From Barry. Look at the expression on that cat’s face!
“What? You can fly?” 😂
🎥 IG: sensej_cats pic.twitter.com/pQ2DpjIkCZ
— Buitengebieden (@buitengebieden) June 19, 2023
From Lyn via Jez. Poor Liz Truss! There’s a big Wikipedia article on “Liz Truss Lettuce“.
imagine how the lettuce felthttps://t.co/urhtwztC1w
— Jim Pickard 🐋 (@PickardJE) June 19, 2023
From the Auschwitz Memorial, a composer murdered in Auschwitz:
On 17 October 1944 Haas was murdered in #Auschwitz. According to the testimony of Karel Ančerl, Haas stood next to him after their arrival. SS doctor was about to send Ančerl to a gas chamber, but the weakened Haas began to cough, so the death sentence was chosen for him instead.
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) June 21, 2023
Tweets from Matthew. How are these ducklings gonna learn how to duck? Chickens don’t swim!
— caenhillcc (@caenhillcc) June 20, 2023
Well, they’ll learn it (I hope!):
Explained evolution to our Tom (aged 5) the other day. He was very in to it & asked a lot of questions.
He goes to a Church of England School
After about five minutes of quiet in the back of the car, he said ‘This is crazy, I don’t think anyone at school knows about this stuff’
— James Rebanks (@herdyshepherd1) June 20, 2023
This is a fantastic example of mimicry: a spider mimicking an ant (ants are generally avoided by predators as they’re either toxic, sting, or spray chemicals). The “head” is really the spider’s mandibles and the spider waves its fronts legs as if they are antennae.
not an ant: this is a Toxeus jumping spider, a very convincing mimic of Polyrhachis ants. pic.twitter.com/ODPqWHMkv7
— invertebrate (@crevicedwelling) June 20, 2023
The possible model and, below that, the spider even imitates the GAIT of the ant!
a real Polyrhachis running; Toxeus doesn’t just mime the appearance but also the gait, antenna-tapping habit, and quick stop-and-start motion that the ants have pic.twitter.com/b8pDjZ958h
— invertebrate (@crevicedwelling) June 20, 2023