We’re almost into July! It’s Thursday, June 29, 2023, and National Almond Buttercrunch Day. (Who thinks up these days? Nobody’s going to eat almond buttercrunch today, even though it’s pretty good.)
It’s also National Camera Day, The Feast of Saints Peter and Saint Paul, National Handshake Day, National Waffle Iron Day, and, in India, National Statistics Day. Here’s a statistic from India: the population was as of today. You can see India’s real-time population clock here, and boy does it move fast! It includes births and deaths. Or click on the icon below. India now almost the same population as China (China’s real-time clock is here.)
Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the June 29 Wikipedia page.
*The WSJ reports that Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin had planned to capture Russian military leaders as part of his march on Moscow last week.
Mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin planned to capture Russia’s military leadership as part of last weekend’s mutiny, Western officials said, and he accelerated his plans after the country’s domestic intelligence agency became aware of the plot.
The plot’s premature launch was among the factors that could explain its ultimate failure after 36 hours, when Prigozhin called off an armed march on Moscow that had initially faced little resistance.
Prigozhin originally intended to capture Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Gen. Valery Gerasimov, the chief of Russia’s general staff, during a visit to a southern region that borders Ukraine that the two were planning. But the Federal Security Service, or FSB, found out about the plan two days before it was to be executed, according to Western officials.
Gen. Viktor Zolotov, commander of the National Guard of Russia, a domestic military force that reports directly to President Vladimir Putin, also said authorities knew about Prigozhin’s intentions before he launched his attempt.
“Specific leaks about preparations for a rebellion that would begin between June 22-25 were leaked from Prigozhin’s camp,” Zolotov told state media on Tuesday.
Western intelligence agencies also found out early about the plans by Prigozhin, Putin’s former confidant, by analyzing electronic communications intercepts and satellite imagery, according to a person familiar with the findings. Western officials said they believe the original plot had a good chance of success but failed after the conspiracy was leaked, forcing Prigozhin to improvise an alternative plan.
. . . Prigozhin’s plot relied on his belief that a part of Russia’s armed forces would join the rebellion and turn against their own commanders, according to this intelligence. The preparations included amassing large amounts of ammunition, fuel and hardware including tanks, armored vehicles and sophisticated mobile air defenses days before the attack, according to Western intelligence findings.
And so ends Prigozhin’s plans to depose Putin and take over the Russian Army. He’s toast now, and even in Belarus his life isn’t worth a plugged nickel. Russia will send someone to take him out with either a gun or an umbrella that inserts tiny a poisoned sphere into his leg.
*Russia keeps striking civilian targets in Ukraine with missiles, and then denying it’s aiming at civilians. This time a missile killed 11 (including three teenagers) at a pizza restaurant in Kramotsk,a city in eastern Ukraine. And the Ukrainians think it was an inside job, with one of their own pointing out the target to the Russians.
Ukrainian authorities on Wednesday arrested a man they accused of helping Russia direct a missile strike that killed at least 11 people, including three teenagers, at a popular pizza restaurant in eastern Ukraine.
The Tuesday evening attack on Kramatorsk wounded 61 other people, Ukraine’s National Police said. It was the latest bombardment of a Ukrainian city, a tactic Russia has used heavily in the 16-month-old war.
The strike, and others across Ukraine late Tuesday and early Wednesday, indicated that the Kremlin is not easing its aerial onslaught, despite political and military turmoil at home after a short-lived armed uprising in Russia last weekend.
. . .In Kramatorsk, two sisters, both age 14, died in the attack, the city council’s educational department said. “Russian missiles stopped the beating of the hearts of two angels,” it said in a Telegram post.
The other dead teenager was 17, according to Prosecutor General Andrii Kostin.
The attack also damaged 18 multistory buildings, 65 houses, five schools, two kindergartens, a shopping center, an administrative building and a recreational building, regional Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said.
. . . The Security Service of Ukraine said the man it detained, an employee of a gas transportation company, is suspected of filming the restaurant for the Russians and informing them about its popularity.
It provided no evidence for its claim. Russia has insisted during the war that it doesn’t aim at civilian targets, although its air strikes have killed many civilians. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov repeated that claim on Wednesday.
I don’t know if this was an inside job, but it’s pretty bloody obvious that the Russians are targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure. That’s a war crime, but it will be a cold day in July when Putin is called to account for it.
*It’s really hazy in Chicago today, and once again we top America with most hazardous air (see below). The smoke from Canadian wildfires has hit the Midwest at last.
Here’s the ranking yesterday morning. “300” is hazardous but all day today (I’m writing on Wednesday afternoon) we had the world air quality in the world. Top of the world, Ma!
This morning it’s down to a mere 168, or “unhealthy”. And we may get some rain to lower it further.
The smoke is the result of one of Canada’s worst wildfire seasons in decades — nearly 500 active wildfires were burning in Canada early Wednesday, according to the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre, and more than 250 were burning out of control.
Climate change has turned once improbably high temperatures into more commonplace occurrences and intensified conditions that fuel catastrophic wildfires and their effects on air quality. Wildfire season in Canada usually doesn’t even begin until early July, and the blazes are likely to grow, said David Brown, an air quality meteorologist at the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, meaning dangerous air quality could threaten the northern United States for weeks to come.
But the Canadians aren’t getting off easy, either:
As smoke from Canadian wildfires billowed into the United States and as far as Europe this week, millions of Canadians on Wednesday were grappling with poor air quality that is quickly becoming an unfortunate way of life in the fire-battered country.
Over the past month, the wildfires have forced the evacuation of tens of thousands of people from their homes, while underlining that environmental hazards do not obey borders. On Wednesday, the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre said there were 479 active wildfires in the country.
Environment Canada said on Wednesday that high levels of air pollution were expected in northern Quebec and Ontario, including in Toronto, the country’s largest city and its financial center, as well as in Windsor and London, Ontario.
*Here’s omething else connected with global warming, as well as environmental damage. The NYT reports scientists’ scary finding that the earth’s axis—the imaginary rod through the planet around which it spins—started wandering around pretty quickly since 2000.
For decades, scientists had been watching the average position of our planet’s rotational axis, the imaginary rod around which it turns, gently wander south, away from the geographic North Pole and toward Canada. Suddenly, though, it made a sharp turn and started heading east.
In time, researchers came to a startling realization about what had happened. Accelerated melting of the polar ice sheets and mountain glaciers had changed the way mass was distributed around the planet enough to influence its spin.
Now, some of the same scientists have identified another factor that’s had the same kind of effect: colossal quantities of water pumped out of the ground for crops and households.
“Wow,” Ki-Weon Seo, who led the research behind the latest discovery, recalled thinking when his calculations showed a strong link between groundwater extraction and the drifting of Earth’s axis. It was a “big surprise,” said Dr. Seo, a geophysicist at Seoul National University.
. . .Between 1960 and 2000, worldwide groundwater depletion more than doubled, to about 75 trillion gallons a year, scientists estimate. Since then, satellites that measure variations in Earth’s gravity have revealed the staggering extent to which groundwater supplies have declined in particular regions, including India and the Central Valley of California.I’m not surprised that it would have an effect” on Earth’s spin, said Matthew Rodell, an earth scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. But “it’s impressive they were able to tease that out of the data,” Dr. Rodell said, referring to the authors of the new research, which was published this month in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. “And that the observations they have of the polar motion are precise enough to see that effect.”
The wobbling axis doesn’t threaten us, but what makes it wobble does. Beyond more evidence of anthropogenic damage to our planet, we can now use the wobbles to further study climate change.
*I couldn’t resist this at the Washington Post: “What’s the best vanilla ice cream? We tried 13 popular brands.”Here are the rankings from best to worst:
- Ben and Jerry’s Vanilla
- Kirkland Signature Super Premium Vanilla (Costco)
- Tillamook Vanilla Bean
- Trader Joe’s French Vanilla
- Häagen-Dazs Vanilla Bean
- 365 Vanilla (Whole Foods)
- (tie) Blue Bell Natural Vanilla Bean and Great Value Vanilla Bean (Walmart)
- Turkey Hill Vanilla Bean
- Blue Bunny Vanilla Bean
- Halo Top Vanilla Bean
- Edy’s Vanilla Bean
- Breyer’s Natural Vanilla
But the ranking of Ben and Jerry’s and Costco’s Kirkland are both high and close to each other AND Kirkland, which comes as two half-gallons, costs only 15¢ per ounce as opposed to 44¢ per ounce for Ben and Jerry’s. I’ve had Costco’s and it’s good, and cost only a THIRD as much as the high-prices brand. This is a no brainer. PLUS, Costco’s is made with great ingredients and comes in (a pack of two) honest half-gallons as opposed to a meager 48 ounces that replaced what used to be a half-gallon for most major brands. Buy at Costco!
*Here’s a video of the guy who carved his name, and that of his squeeze, into the wall’s of Rome’s Colosseum. The story is here, and the Italians are royally peeved, as they should be.
The footage, captured by a fellow bystander, shows a smiling man sporting a backpack allegedly using his keys to engrave “Ivan+Haley 23” onto the walls of the 2000-year-old Roman monument, also known as the Flavian Amphitheater.
The culprit’s actions prompted disbelief from the bystander recording the video, who can be heard in the YouTube video titled: “A**hole tourist carves name in Colosseum in Rome 6-23-23”, as they say: “Are you f**ing serious, man?”
. . .The identity of the alleged vandal remains unknown. If identified by police, the defacer could face hefty fines upwards of $16,000 and potentially a prison sentence of up to five years, according to the Italian news agency ANSA.
Echoing Sangiuliano’s sentiments, Italy’s Minister of Tourism, Daniela Santanche, has expressed her hopes for the man to face stern punishment “so that he understands the gravity of the gesture.”
He shouldn’t be hard to catch. His name is Ivan, that of his girlfriend is Haley, and here’s a good video of what he looks like. He’ll probably leave Italy before he’s caught, but I bet they’ll never let him into the country again once they identify him.
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is enigmatic, but Malgorzata explains: “Hili dislikes the idea of ‘influencers’ on the Internet so she decided to fight the phenomenon with their own weapon.”
Hili: I’m an agent of influence.A: Whose influence?Hili: Mine.
Hili: Jestem agentką wpływu.Ja: Czyjego?Hili: Mojego wpływu.
From the Absurd Sign Project 2.0. I guess this product isn’t meant to be served to guests:
From Jesus of the Day:
Masih is back tweeting again. Another woman defies two Hijab Police, one of which is a woman.
A brave Iranian woman defiantly confronts the regime oppressors who harass her for not wearing the mandatory hijab, stating, "There lies a vast sea of blood dividing us." The women leading the revolution for #WomanLifeFreedom remain steadfast in their unwavering fight against the… pic.twitter.com/qZQRYivPRa
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) June 27, 2023
From Titania, a speech from a woman who’s reverted to three years old:
This is one of the most eloquent and powerful speeches I’ve ever heard. 🥲pic.twitter.com/ANIefLbTui
— Titania McGrath (@TitaniaMcGrath) May 4, 2023
From Merilee. This is wrong in so many ways! I hope they paid the cat a lot of money.
— why you should have an animal (@shouldhaveanima) June 27, 2023
From Barry, who says “NOT a good boy!”
I guess you’ll have to go see it on the site as for some reason it won’t embed. Just paste it in your browser.
A bonus tweet from Malcolm:
let me check storage pic.twitter.com/EwcjTp3JJ9
— Dont Show Your Cat (@DontShowYourCat) June 21, 2023
From the Auschwitz Memorial: A six-year old girl gassed with her brother upon arrival:
29 June 1937 | A Dutch Jewish girl, Betty van Aalst, was born in Amsterdam.
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) June 29, 2023
Tweets from Matthew. The first one is a new version of an amazing case of crypsis (camouflage) that I’ve pointed out before:
— David Bradley (@sciencebase) June 27, 2023
A tweet emitted by Matthew, who says, “From the Guardian. I assume it was deliberate.”
What makes them so sure? pic.twitter.com/3qnNwcBWYJ
— Matthew Cobb (@matthewcobb) June 27, 2023
And a paper to skip:
Today in things I decided not to continue reading pic.twitter.com/ObAeTHobA8
— Elizabeth Neswald (@eneswald1) June 27, 2023