Welcome to the Cruelest Day: Tuesday, July 25, 2023, and National Hot Fudge Sundae Day, a classic American treat. It was invented in the U.S., but five cities contest for place where the ice cream sundae was invented. The one below needs about four times more fudge topping:
Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the July 25 Wikipedia page.
Wine of the Day (Insomnia has reduced my drinking a bit, but only temporarily. Here’s a wine I almost never see, much less drink: a rosé Rioja! It’s Alegre y Valgonon – Rioja Blanco from 2018, but it’s more pink than blanco. It cost $22 and was a bargain at that price, absolutely unidentifiable by taste alone. It was dry but with a lemon and peach flavor, and the red grape (Garnacha, only 10%) came through the white grape (Virua, 90%) clearly. It was a great complement to chicken breast, broccoli, and rice, and I wish I’d have bought at least half a case. It was five years old but I suspect could age a few years longer.
Here’s one review, which seems pretty accurate to me, though I don’t know from “back half”.
Fresh tangerine, dried pear and white peach on the fragrant nose, with a spicy element emerging slowly. Juicy and silky in texture, offering fresh orchard and citrus fruit flavors that tighten up slowly on the back half. Closes with strong, stony persistence and very good lift, leaving an appealing floral note behind.
All I can say is that I rarely come across Rioja Blanco (white Rioja), though I drink a lot of its red relative. I’ll be looking harder! Some of the whites age well, and if you’re looking for a change of pace, read this piece about them.
Israel may be on the threshold of disappearing as a country, either through civil war or invasion of its weakened state. We’ll know soon (I’m supposed to visit for a few weeks starting September 2), but everything is up in the air.
*The next item tells you that Netanyahu’s bill curbing Israel’s Supreme Court has passed, but before we get to that, the AP tells us what the bill really says.
On Monday, parliament approved a bill that takes away the Supreme Court’s power to override government decisions that the court finds “unreasonable.”
Proponents say the current “reasonability” standard gives judges excessive powers over decision making by elected officials. But critics say that removing the standard, which is invoked only in rare cases, would allow the government to pass arbitrary decisions, make improper appointments or firings and open the door to corruption.
. . .The overhaul calls for sweeping changes aimed at curbing the powers of the judiciary.
The proposals include a bill that would allow a simple majority in parliament to overturn Supreme Court decisions. Another would give parliament the final say in selecting judges.
Netanyahu’s ultranationalist and ultra-Orthodox religious allies say the package is meant to restore power to elected officials — and reduce the powers of unelected judges.
Protesters, who make up a wide cross section of Israeli society, fear the overhaul will push Israel toward autocracy. They say it is a power grab fueled by various personal and political grievances by Netanyahu, who is on trial for corruption charges, and his allies.
Two other things that the article didn’t mention: the Supreme Court previously had the power to nominate its own judges, and parliament and the Prime Minister haven’t done that, so it’s sort of a self-perpetuating judiciary. Also, the Court can, without giving reasons, reject the nomination of a government minister as itself “unreasonable.” (They have sometimes given reasons for such rejections, though.
Now, onto the fracas in Israel:
*The Israeli parliament, following Netanyahu’s wishes, passed the controversial law curbing the power of the nation’s Supreme Court.
Masses of Israelis blocked roads in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and around the country on Monday night, furious over what they called an affront to democracy after the Israeli Parliament passed a law earlier in the day limiting the Supreme Court’s ability to overturn decisions made by government ministers.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was hospitalized to receive a pacemaker over the weekend, had sought to quell the intensifying unrest in a televised address to the Israeli people on Monday evening. Speaking from his office, he suggested that he would table until late November a broader judicial overhaul plan being undertaken by his government, the most right-wing and religiously conservative in Israeli history.
. . .Israeli police are deploying water cannons against thousands of protesters demonstrating against the judicial overhaul who have gathered near the Supreme Court in Jerusalem. Waving Israeli flags, some protesters are calling back “for shame!” in scenes broadcast live on Israel’s public broadcaster.
The situation is particularly dire because the military itself is divided on this bill, with some, like the Air Force Reserve, refusing to do their service should Netanyahu’s bill pass. It would be the height of irony if the Israeli military and Israeli citizens destroyed the country through civil war. Many would be delighted, of course, but not I.
*Thomas Friedman has published his op-ed, “Only Biden can save Israel now“, too late. The bill restricting the Supreme Court has already passed. But let’s see what Friedman said, written in the form of a letter to President Biden:
Fifty years later, Mr. President, this Jewish democracy urgently needs another airlift to save it from being destroyed from the inside. It needs an urgent resupply of hard truths — something only you can provide.
And what are those truths? That if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu continues trying to ram through a bill that would strip Israel’s Supreme Court of its most important legal authority — to check extreme appointments or decisions of Israel’s political echelon — and do so without a semblance of national consensus, it will fracture Israel’s military and undermine not only shared values between the U.S. and Israel but also vital U.S. interests.
But I’m afraid this Israeli government needs another dose of your tough love — not just from your heart but from the heart of U.S. strategic interests as well.
Because Netanyahu is plowing ahead despite your urgings. Despite a warning from more than 1,100 Israeli Air Force pilots and technicians that they will not fly for a dictatorship. Despite an open letter signed by dozens of former top security officials, including former heads of the Israel Defense Forces, Mossad, Shin Bet and police beseeching the prime minister to stop. Despite Israel’s top business forum warning of “irreversible and destructive consequences on the Israeli economy.” Despite fears that this could eventually fracture unit cohesion in the base of the Israeli Army. And despite a remarkable, largely spontaneous five-day march by everyday Israelis from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the likes of which had never happened before.
If I may suggest, Mr. President, what is needed is that your secretary of state, your secretary of defense, your Treasury secretary, your commerce secretary, your secretary of agriculture, your U.S. trade representative, your attorney general, your C.I.A. director and your Joint Chiefs call their Israeli counterparts today and let them know that if Netanyahu moves ahead — without a consensus, fracturing Israeli society and its military — it will not only undermine the shared values between our two countries but also do serious damage to our own strategic interests in the Middle East.
And U.S. interests are very much our business. Because as the Knesset moves to vote on this issue on Monday, something very important could break in Israel and in our relationship with Israel. And once it’s gone, it will never come back.
I hope that it is not already too late.
But it is too late much of the bill has passed. Actually, I can see both sides on this issue; the bill isn’t 100% horrible (does the Supreme Court really have to choose its own members? can the Court reject any legislation as “unreasonable” without giving a reason), but it does put more power in the hands of the Prime Minister. I don’t have a big dog in this fight, but I don’t want Israel to go up in smoke over this issue, either.
To see a counterargument to Friedman’s thesis, two law professors (one of them the U of C’s Richard Epstein) has a National Post op-ed called “Opponents of Netanyahu’s judicial reforms want government by tantrum.”
*The war between Russia and Ukraine is turning nastier: a drone of unknown origin (probably Ukrainian) hit a skyscraper in Moscow, while Russia keeps pounding Odessa with missiles and drones.
A drone struck a skyscraper in Moscow early Monday, shattering glass on the 17th and 18th floors, Russian officials reported. The wreckage of a second drone was found on Komsomolsky Prospect, a thoroughfare in central Moscow. Mayor Sergey Sobyanin said two nonresidential buildings were struck but there were no casualties.
Is Ukraine targeting civilian infrastructure—a war crime? We don’t know from this report as the nature of the skyscraper isn’t specified. But this is surely a Ukrainian operation.
Moscow downed the drones, Russia’s Defense Ministry said, blaming Ukraine for the attack. Drone strikes are a rarity for the Russian capital, and a similar attack earlier this year on two residential buildings there was widely considered a prelude to further escalation in the war.Though Ukraine denied responsibility for the drone attack in May, the event struck a chord among Russians, who for the first time witnessed wartime hostilities trickling into residential parts of the city.
And, on the other side:
The incident comes after another night of attacks on Ukraine’s Odessa region. Drones targeted port infrastructure along the Danube River, injuring six people and destroying a grain hangar, said Oleh Kiper, the regional governor.
. . . The overnight drone attack in Odessa lasted four hours,Ukrainian officials said on Telegram, part of a string of attacks in the port region since Russia pulled out of a U.N.-backed grain export deal. An earlier bombardment razed several parts of the southern Ukrainian port city, killing at least one person and injuring 21, including four children.
While Ukraine has taken back about half the land that Russia took over earlier, the Russians are enlisting children in the war effort:
Russia is putting a “renewed emphasis on military induction for children,” Britain’s Defense Ministry said, citing the move by Russian authorities to add lessons on how to operate combat drones to a forthcoming mandatory school syllabus. The ministry said the policy is more about cultivating “a culture of militarised patriotism” in Russia and less about teaching children to operate drones. But the focus on the unmanned aerial vehicles “does highlight how Russia has identified the use of tactical UAVs in Ukraine as an enduring component of contemporary war,” it said.
*Private Second Class Travis King, who “defected” to North Korea after getting in legal trouble in South Korea, remains in the DPRK, and their government has said nothing.
The United Nations Command has begun talking with North Korea about an American soldier who crossed the border from South Korea without authorization last week, the deputy commander said Monday.
British Army Lieutenant General Andrew Harrison told a briefing on Monday that conversations have begun through a communication line established under the armistice agreement that ended combat in the 1950-53 Korean War.
Private 2nd Class Travis King, 23 years old, has been detained in North Korea since he crossed the border while on a tour last Tuesday of the Joint Security Area, part of the Demilitarized Zone separating the two Koreas.
“The primary concern for us is Private King’s welfare,” Harrison said. He said he remains optimistic, but declined to provide details on the talks, citing their sensitivity.
. . .The day before he crossed the border, King had been set to fly Texas for disciplinary actions and a potential discharge following two alleged assaults last year, officials said last week. He had been held at a detention facility in South Korea for 47 days.
North Korea has said nothing publicly about King.
One thing is for sure: if King has a lick of sense, he’ll get his butt out of North Korea. Even military prison in the U.S. is better than a lifetime of deprivation in the DPRK.
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is admonishing Andrzej:
Hili: You are writing too much, you are reading too little.A: I can’t read. You are not letting me come to the computer.Hili: Go and read some books.
Hili: Za dużo piszesz, za mało czytasz.Ja: Nie mogę czytać, bo nie puszczasz mnie do komputera.Hili: Idź i czytaj książki
From The Atheist Experience and the Non Prophets:
From Jean, a Barbara Smaller cartoon:
From the Absurd Sign Project 2.0. Click to enlarge. I’m glad he was charged with animal abuse, too!
From Masih, and do read the Guardian article linked in the Tweet (or is it “the X”?). A quote from the piece:
“I felt indifferent to the news that the ‘morality police’ have been reinstated. Western media insists on telling us Iranians that Gasht-e-Irshad was abolished, but I don’t know a single Iranian friend of mine who believed that,” says a 22-year-old from Rasht.
“They [the morality police] were never gone and were being deployed as security personnel in universities or as civilians in public places. What the world sees is a tiny glimpse of what’s happening here. Although everything looks normal to the ones who don’t care about us women, if you notice, they are everywhere.
Iranian women were burning their headscarves, cutting their hair & burning morality police vans.These women became the nightmare of the whole regime and that is why the government try to resume hijab laws to prevent another uprising on the anniversary…” https://t.co/aCQRwTYDmh
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) July 24, 2023
From Robert: girl rescues duckling, and then adopts two more:
Little girl finds an abandoned duck egg by a pond… and now she has a best friend 💛 pic.twitter.com/JdpfAOR6tt
— The Dodo (@dodo) July 24, 2023
From Peter Boghossian:
Everyone keeps assuring me this is not happening to minors.
And once it is acknowledged that it’s happening to minors, I am then assured that it’s a good thing it’s happening to minors. https://t.co/EzbR2YO13r
— Peter Boghossian (@peterboghossian) July 24, 2023
From Malcolm, a domino effect with kittens:
Domino effect pic.twitter.com/L8Rb8Ad3Ec
— cats with pawerful aura (@catswithaura) July 23, 2023
From the Auschwitz Memorial, a Czech woman who died at forty:
25 July 1903 | A Czech Jewish woman, Anna Goldmannová, was born in Dobříč.
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) July 25, 2023
Tweets from the diligent Dr. Cobb, beavering away on his Crick biography. Look at this long nudibranch!
This looooong nudie is practically an entire train all by itself. I'm pretty sure I've seen this species many times before, but never one this long. pic.twitter.com/xwxRivVbpR
— Keishu Asada (@CephWarden) July 24, 2023
Last night's red waxing crescent moon henge hanging out above Lake Street & the CTA elevated line in downtown Chicago. pic.twitter.com/SlZmJyYNS3
— Craig Shimala (@cshimala) July 23, 2023
A VERY selfish cat:
— Why you should have a cat (@ShouldHaveCat) July 23, 2023