Good morning on Thursday, July 6, 2023, and National Fried Chicken Day. I have never been to Stroud’s, which now has several locations in Kansas and Missouri, but Calvin Trillin praised the original restaurant in Kansas City as the best fried chicken in America. Someday I must test the assertion. Fried chicken can be superb, and I’m not sure other countries offer it. Don’t you want to sink your teeth into this? (If you’re not a vegetarian.)
The concept behind the International Kissing Day is that many people may have forgotten the simple pleasures associated with kissing for kissing’s sake, as opposed to kissing as mere social formality or prelude to other activities.
Posting may be light today as I have to tend ducks and get ready for tonight’s Center for Inquiry discussion (see a post later this morning).
Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the July 6 Wikipedia page.
*The Totally Expected News Dept.: Over the Fourth of July holiday, a number of mass shootings left “at least a dozen dead and more than 60 wounded.”
Mass shootings broke out at festivals, block parties and other gatherings in a handful of cities this week as the U.S. celebrated the Fourth of July.
Gun violence that flared in Washington, D.C, Louisiana, Florida, Philadelphia, Texas and Baltimore left more than a dozen dead and almost 60 wounded — including children as young as 2 years old.
In Shreveport, Louisiana, at least three people were killed and 10 others wounded late Tuesday night, Shreveport police Sgt. Angie Willhite said. One of the injured was in critical condition Wednesday but the others were expected to survive, she said. No arrests have been made.
. . .Independence Day celebrations in the nation’s capital also turned violent when nine people outside enjoying the festivities were shot and wounded early Wednesday, police said.
Officers who responded about 1 a.m. to the mass shooting in a neighborhood about a 20-minute drive east of the White House found a 9-year-old and a 17-year-old among the victims, Metropolitan Police Department Assistant Chief Leslie Parsons said. The victims, who were not publicly identified, were hospitalized with injuries that weren’t considered life-threatening, police said.
. . .Even before the holiday, city streets turned deadly in other communities.
On Monday night, a shooter in a bulletproof vest opened fire on the streets of Philadelphia, killing five people and wounding two boys, ages 2 and 13, before surrendering, police said.
Three people were killed and eight others were injured when several men fired indiscriminately into a crowd of hundreds that had gathered in a Texas neighborhood after a festival in the area, authorities said. The shooting in the Fort Worth neighborhood of Como happened late Monday night, about two hours after the annual ComoFest ended.
Thirty people were shot, two fatally, at a block party in Baltimore early Sunday. Many of those shooting victims were children, authorities said.
Nothing to do with gun prevalence and ease of buying and carrying them, of course. If we tried to ban guns, then the guns would all be in the hands of the bad guys. I’m kidding, of course. I deplore the lax gun laws in America and want to go to the UK system, or even more draconian. People don’t need handguns, and I’m not that keen on hunting, either.
*You surely remember that a boat from Libya, headed to Italy with about 750 refugees, overturned on June 9 near Greece. Only 104 survived. Now the Washington Post, analyzing the data in a bells-and-whistles animated article, concludes that this was a preventable tragedy, pinning the deaths on Greece.
The conflicting accounts of the Adriana’s final minutes are the most fraught — whether the boat capsized as a result of a panic-induced shift in weight, as the coast guard contends, or it overturned while being towed by the coast guard, as some survivors have described.
. . . But an investigation by The Washington Post also casts doubt on the other main claims by Greek officials and suggests that the deadliest Mediterranean shipwreck in years was a preventable tragedy.
Contrary to the coast guard account that the boat was making steady progress and determined to get to Italy, The Post found the boat’s speed fluctuated dramatically — in line with passenger recollections of engine problems — while circling back on its route.
Maritime rescue veterans and legal experts said Greek officials exploited indications that aid wasn’t wanted and failed in their obligation to launch an all-hands rescue effort as soon as the precarious boat was detected.
The Greek coast guard defended its decision not to intervene earlier by emphasizing that the Adriana rejected help. The point is repeated five times in the official statement. “If any violent intervention was made on a fishing boat with people packed to the gills, we could have caused the maritime accident,” Alexiou said in an interview with broadcaster SKAI. That people resisted assistance is echoed in an account provided by the Lucky Sailor’s management company, Eastern Mediterranean Maritime Limited, and in a copy of the Faithful Warrior’s logs obtained by The Post.
But analysts said the coast guard should have accounted for who was resisting and why, as well as for the repeated pleas for help received by an activist and a hotline. And legal experts insisted that authorities had an obligation to intervene, regardless of the wishes of some on board.
This is a very long article, and I can’t even reproduce parts of it because it’s on a black background. But 600 dead is a lot of lives, and there must be an accounting, whether or not the Greek boat did everything by the book.
Attempting a rescue of the Adriana “would have been absolutely safe” in these conditions, according to an Italian official familiar with that country’s search-and-rescue protocols, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to speak freely.
Greece is likely to face legal challenges over its actions — or inaction. But families of victims who drowned probably have a long wait for answers and accountability: Cases brought to the European Court of Human Rights, the most common avenue for prosecution beyond domestic courts, often take years to reach a judgment.
*NYT authors Raja Abdulrahim and have produced and article that manages to give a sympathetic gloss to the Palestinian “martyrs”: young people who attack Israelis with rock and weapons, writing a final message before they achieve martyrdom and, presumably, get the reward promised by Allah. The article is “West Bank teenagers are writing out their last words,” and it seems quite sympathetic to the “martyrs”. An excerpt:
Fighters who have taken up arms against Israel with groups like Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad have long left behind final testaments, sometimes high-quality videos, to take responsibility for attacks in which they expect to lose their lives.
Now, young Palestinians, like Amr — not affiliated with the territories’ armed groups but nonetheless willing to confront Israeli troops — are leaving behind messages of their own. These farewells for loved ones, requests for forgiveness and exhortations to fight against Israel are known as “wills” in Arabic, even if their authors are not leaving behind any material goods. Many scrawl them on notebook paper, with scratched-out words a sign of their uncertainty about what to say.
The farewell testaments reflect a prevailing sense among many young men that death is heroic, meaningful and inevitable during what is now the deadliest period for Palestinians in nearly two decades in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
Maybe because they’re ramping up their attacks on Israel! But wait: there’s more:
Farewell messages are often published by the Palestinian news media and shared widely on social media, inspiring more young Palestinians to write their own.
Dr. Samah Jabr, the head of the mental health unit for the Palestinian Authority, said the writing of such wills was wrapped up with generational traumas for Palestinians living in the occupied territories, dealing with checkpoints and near daily raids by Israeli troops. Many young people feel a duty to take on adult roles, including confronting Israeli troops.
That’s right: it’s Israel’s fault. In response, Malgorzata wrote me this:
This article is infuriating. In every school book in the Palestinian Authority (not to mention Gaza) “martyrdom” is presented as the highest goal for a young pupil. They hear the same message on the radio, TV, in the mosque… They see streets, tournaments, squares named after “martyrs”. They see posters and pictures painted on walls and monuments of the “martyrs”. They know that families of “martyrs” get plenty of money. But according to this article they write about their wish to become a “martyr” because… Israel.
Elder of Ziyon isn’t buying it, either, nor am I:
Abdulrahim buried the lede.
Palestinian society is suffused with turning all those killed by Israel into heroes. Just calling them “martyrs” is a powerful incentive. TV programs celebrate “martyrs,” schools and camps and sports tournaments are named after “martyrs,” the Palestinian Authority and Hamas pay families of “martyrs” – it is a death cult where being killed is the surest way of being honored. And this is a society that craves honor.
Yet outside the half sentence on how Palestinian society lionizes “martyrs,” Abdulrahim doesn’t describe this fundamental part of Palestinian society. She tries to make this sick mindset relatable to the West, pretending that the kids have no choice in a place where they have no future.Think about it. There are about two million Palestinians under 20. The number who are killed is a tiny percentage of that number, while many more go on to live dignified and successful lives. But there are few if any TV shows and music videos about them.
When a child gets killed by Israel, he (or she) is instantly hailed as a hero by their media, social media and role models. That is the reason so many choose to go that route – not desperation, not because of “no choice.” They are not being given any mainstream messages that getting killed while attacking Jews is stupid or counterproductive or evil. They do it because they want to, not because they are forced to, and their entire culture supports this goal, implicitly or explicitly.
Well, as a determinist, I’d say they have no choice, but that doesn’t make them admirable. It makes their environment, which lures young people to become martyrs, sick and deranged. For an example, see here.
The solution is obvious: to shame the people who commit suicide by IDF instead of honoring them. If the message in the Palestinian media is to teach kids to grow up and to try to build a decent society, instead of turning terrorists into heroes, things would change in weeks.
But no one wants to talk about solutions (unless it is the State of Israel committing collective suicide.)
This is a systemic failure of Palestinian society – and that is something the New York Times will never, ever discuss.
Indeed. The NYT is itself borderline anti-Semitic. I don’t say that lightly; just look at how they report what’s going on in Israel and Palestine. And check out the two women who wrote this story: hardly “objective” journalists.
*Even the Taiwanese think that China will take over their country within the next four years, and the Chinese military is certainly sending signals to that effect. This gives the Taiwanese a conundrum analyzed by the WSJ: “Taiwan’s impossible choice: be Ukraine or Hong Kong.”
People in Taiwan have been following every twist of the war in Ukraine. But, while their sympathy for the Ukrainian cause is near-universal, the conclusions for the island’s own future widely diverge.
To some, the takeaway is that even a seemingly invincible foe can be defeated if a society stands firm, an inspiration for Taiwan’s own effort to resist a feared invasion by China. Others draw the opposite lesson from the images of smoldering Ukrainian cities. Anything is better than war, they say, and Taiwan should do all it can to avoid provoking Beijing’s wrath, even if that means painful compromises.These two competing visions will play out in Taiwan’s presidential elections, slated for January, and shape how the island democracy revamps its defenses as China’s military might expands. The soul-searching inside Taiwan, and the determination with which it will strengthen its armed forces, is also bound to affect the extent to which the U.S. will get involved militarily should Beijing try to capture the island, home to 24 million people—and most of the world’s advanced semiconductor production capacity.
While Taiwan has been living under a threat of invasion ever since China’s Communist Party took control of the mainland in 1949, the Russian thrust into Ukraine drove home to many Taiwanese that war can erupt with little notice. Chinese leaders have intensified their rhetoric around Taiwan, repeating that they won’t rule out using force to achieve what they call “national reunification.” Beijing has also ramped up naval and air probes around the island that wear out Taiwanese defenses. The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency estimates that Chinese leader Xi Jinping has set 2027 as the deadline for his military to be ready to take the island.
. . . “I don’t think anybody rational could look at this and say dialogue is going to change Xi or the CCP,” said Vincent Chao, a former national-security official and Lai’s spokesman, referring to China’s Communist Party. “They see the subjugation of Taiwan as part of their national rejuvenation, as something inherently connected to their political legitimacy. It’s incumbent upon any candidate to be realistic about the situation.” Ukraine, he added, has given Taiwan a “brilliant lesson” in how to defend itself—and how to build coalitions with like-minded democracies.
I don’t think the U.S. will put troops on the ground or its own pilots in the air, any more than it’s done in Ukraine. We can’t risk getting into a full-on war with Russia. That means that, at best, Taiwan can count on U.S. weapons and munitions. And somehow I don’t think that the Chinese will be as hamhanded in their invasion as Russia was in Ukraine. And yet, remember that Biden said this:
While the U.S. has no binding obligation to defend Taiwan and has long maintained a policy of strategic ambiguity on the issue, President Biden repeatedly cautioned that, unlike in Ukraine, the U.S. military would intervene directly should China attempt to seize the island by force. Before American troops deploy, however, the island would have to resist the first blows on its own. So far, despite recent improvements, it is far from ready, many U.S. officials and analysts say.
Well, Biden may well not be President in 2027, and we know that the Chinese will take action depending on who’s in charge in the U.S. I wouldn’t want to be a citizen of Taiwan now, and all I can think, selfishly, is “I had better visit now,” for Taiwan was on my bucket list.
*I didn’t even know about America’s pending “Equality Act,” until I saw this Substack piece, “The US Equality act must be stopped.” What is it and why must it be stopped? Sociologist, criminologist, and professor Callie Burt says that the Biden administration, as it’s been wont to, is mixing up sex and gender, and that has potentially bad consequences.
As a lifelong Democrat-affiliated voter in a same-sex marriage, my political beliefs are progressive on virtually all issues. I also support general federal nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ+ individuals on the basis of sexual orientation and transgender status. However, I strongly oppose the US Equality Act in its current form, and you should too if you value women’s rights. Allow me to explain.
The Equality Act (hereafter EA) is designed to prohibit discrimination against LGBT+ people and provide redress when such discrimination occurs. While these aims are laudable, the bill imposes an intolerable cost: the elimination of sex-based protections for females and an erosion of the protected nature of female provisions. The EA is thus a well-intended but fundamentally flawed piece of legislation, which would have foreseeable and unacceptable costs for females due to two major issues: terminological imprecision and a problematic prioritization of unobservable gender identity over sex for access to “sex-based provisions.”
The EA’s most frustrating flaw lies in its imprecise terminology and the conflation of sexual orientation and gender identity with sex. Rather than offering protections to LGB and transgender people by creating two new protected classes—sexual orientation and gender identity, respectively—the EA attempts to protect LGBT individuals by redefining “sex” in civil rights law to “include sexual orientation and gender identity.” Moreover, the EA would change every instance of “sex” in the Civil Rights Amendment to “sex (including sexual orientation and gender identity).” This approach is not only unnecessary but fundamentally flawed. Sex (male, female) is not synonymous with sexual orientation (defined in the bill as “homosexuality, heterosexuality, or bisexuality”), and sexual orientation, by most understandings, requires a definition of sex. Likewise, gender identity is also not the same as sex, a distinction evident in the fact that a biological female cannot be a transwoman.
Extreme cases aside, what does this mean and why should you care? The prioritization of self-declared and unobservable gender identity over sex means that any male at any time could self-identify into female spaces where women are vulnerable and/or undressed, including locker rooms, shelters, prisons, and changing rooms, based on an in-the-moment self-declaration of a female gender identity. Denying males access based on such a declaration would constitute federally prohibited discrimination based on gender identity qua sex.
. . . and this:
The potential ramifications extend to other areas like sports, which could no longer be separated by sex under the Equality Act. Even efforts to reduce (but certainly not eliminate) male sporting advantages, such as artificially lowering testosterone levels, might not be allowed.
The conflation of sex and gender is the wokest thing that the Biden administration has done, and the ramifications of this bill are wide, in particular the violation of “women’s spaces” like sports, rape-counseling centers, battered women’s shelters, and prisons. Granted, these are only a small set of things protected against “gender rights”, but they’re necessary and important to protect. That is, unless you want things like women’s sports to disappear.
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili sets Szaron straight:
Szaron: A mouse called my name.Hili: You are suffering from hallucinations again.
Szaron: Mysz zawołała moje imię.Hili: Znowu masz halucynacje.
I found this on Facebook and can’t remember where, but I think it’s immensely clever (and they didn’t misspell it “vice grip” as people often do).
From the Absurd Sign Project 2.0:
From Masih. Two brothers who were wrestlers, one of them an anti-Islamist activist in Iran. What did the regime do? They arrested the non-activist brother to intimidate the activist.
I urgently call on the U.S. government to strongly condemn an act of hostage taking by the Islamic Republic to silence an Iranian-American human rights activist.
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) July 4, 2023
From Barry. Who has the better neurons, the cats or the d*g?
Cats vs dog.. 😅 pic.twitter.com/3pZv8Kr33G
— Buitengebieden (@buitengebieden) July 4, 2023
From Malcolm. A passport for a ship’s cat. It’s not an official document, of course, but meant to recognize this moggy’s essential role on the ship:
During the mid-20th century, cats played an important role on ships as skilled rodent catchers. Sailors realized that having cats aboard helped control the population of rats and mice, which were notorious for damaging supplies and spreading diseases. These ship cats became… pic.twitter.com/FoYgBnRnOR
— Historic Vids (@historyinmemes) July 4, 2023
From Merilee; Speaking of cats, here’s a gynormous one impeding serious academic work:
“Serious mom! The cat ate my homework” 😂 pic.twitter.com/gdDErVvbyv
— Buitengebieden (@buitengebieden) June 28, 2023
From the Auschwitz Memorial, a Polish weaver who lived but three months after arrival:
6 July 1911 | A Polish woman, Anna Jabłońska, was born. A weaver.
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) July 6, 2023
Tweets from Doctor Cobb, whose cat, Ollie, is improving, apparently afflicted not with cancer, but an infection. Good news!
He says about this one: “Cue people crying that this is fake. But it’s quite real”:
Cue ppl crying “fake!”. But it’s quite real. https://t.co/tHRrnwPGs0
— Matthew Cobb (@matthewcobb) June 21, 2023
I don’t know if Twitter needs this, but I need this!
Twitter needs this.. 😊 pic.twitter.com/binIVrl7tB
— why you should have an animal (@shouldhaveanima) June 19, 2023
An animated version of the Battle of Waterloo. I believe the French are in blue, the British/Dutch forces in red, and the Prussians in black.
A gif of the Battle of Waterloo, created by UncleBourbon. pic.twitter.com/kgQ61vXOqL
— The French History Podcast 🇲🇫 (@FrenchHist) June 18, 2023