Welcome to the end of the work week: Friday, July 28, 2023. Today we meet with Facilities and see if they’ll meet their promise of having Botany Pond up and running by October. It’s National Milk Chocolate Day, celebrating a relatively recent invention:
The first use of the term “milk chocolate” was for a beverage brought to London from Jamaica in 1687, but it was not until the Swiss inventor Daniel Peter successfully combined cocoa and condensed milk in 1875 that the milk chocolate bar was invented.
In the EU, anything labeled “milk chocolate” must have at least 35% dry cocoa solids. In the U.S., it must have at least 10% by weight of chocolate liquor (not boozy!)
It’s also National Soccer Day, World Hepatitis Day, World Nature Conservation Day, National Hamburger Day, and Day of Commemoration of the Great Upheaval, commemorating the explulsion of the Acadians from Canada.
Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the July 28 Wikipedia page.
*What’s going on with the Ukrainian counteroffensive is not very clear, but it seems as if a big advance isn’t happening.
Fierce fighting raged Thursday in southeastern Ukraine, where a Western official said Kyiv has launched a major push and Russian President Vladimir Putin said “hostilities have intensified significantly.”
Battles in recent weeks have taken place on multiple points along the over 1,000-kilometer (over 600-mile) front line as Ukraine wages a counteroffensive with Western-supplied weapons and Western-trained troops against Russian forces who invaded 17 months ago.
Putin praised the “heroism” with which Russian soldiers were repelling attacks in the Zaporizhzhia region of the southeast, claiming Moscow’s troops not only destroyed Ukraine’s military equipment but also inflicted heavy losses to Kyiv’s forces.
. . .Ukrainian troops have made only incremental gains since launching a counteroffensive in early June, and Putin has repeatedly claimed Ukraine has suffered heavy losses, without offering evidence.
Ukraine has committed thousands of troops in the region in recent days, according to a Western official who was not authorized to comment publicly on the matter.
It was unclear how the current effort differs from previous ones by the Ukrainian military to break through deeply entrenched Russian defenses. The Russian army has set up vast minefields to stymie Ukrainian advances and used combat aircraft and loitering munitions to strike Ukrainian armor and artillery.
Ukrainian authorities have kept operational details of the counteroffensive under wraps, and they have released scant information about its progress.
That is all ye know on earth, but less than we need to know. So many lives for so little land taken back by Ukraine: it reminds me of World War I.
*Trump’s lawyers met yesterday with the special counsel in charge of investigating the insurrection and Trump’s apparent attempts to overturn the election.
Lawyers for former President Donald J. Trump met on Thursday with officials in the office of the special counsel, Jack Smith, as federal prosecutors edged closer toward bringing an indictment against Mr. Trump in connection with his wide-ranging efforts to overturn the 2020 election, according to three people familiar with the matter.
It was not immediately clear what subjects were discussed at the meeting or if Mr. Smith took part. But similar gatherings are often used by defense lawyers as a last-ditch effort to argue against charges being filed or to convey their version of the facts and the law.
On Thursday, the prosecutors were said to have listened courteously — without signaling their intentions beyond what they had conveyed in an earlier letter to the former president — as Mr. Trump’s lawyers made their arguments.
In a post following the meeting on his social media site, Mr. Trump said that his lawyers had “a productive meeting” with the prosecutors. He said they had explained to Mr. Smith’s team that “I did nothing wrong, was advised by many lawyers, and that an indictment of me would only further destroy our country.”
As if that’s going to convince the prosecutors! But wait! There’s more!
The former president’s legal team — including Todd Blanche and a newly hired lawyer, John Lauro — has been on high alert since last week, when prosecutors working for the special counsel sent Mr. Trump a so-called target letter in the election interference case. It was the clearest signal that charges could be coming.
The letter described three potential counts that Mr. Trump could face: conspiracy to defraud the United States, obstruction of an official proceeding and a Reconstruction-era civil rights charge that makes it a crime to threaten or intimidate anyone in the “free exercise or enjoyment” of any right or privilege provided by the Constitution or by federal law.
And don’t forget that concurrent with this is an indictment already handed down by the Justice Department charging Trump with holding onto 31 classified documents after he left office. Still, most readers here seem to think that Trump will never see jail time. Has anyone changed their mind?
*In a press conference Wednesday, Mitch McConnell froze, speechless, for 19 seconds. (Video below.) The Guardian reports that he’s had other episodes that suggest he’s not in a good way.
Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the US Senate, suffered an initially unreported fall earlier this month, before a very public health scare this week revived questions about his age and fitness.
On Wednesday, while speaking to reporters at the US Capitol, the 81-year-old appeared to freeze for nearly 20 seconds. Another Republican senator, John Barrasso of Wyoming, a doctor, then escorted his leader away from the cameras.
Only four months ago, McConnell, who suffered from polio as a child, affecting his gait, fell and sustained a concussion, leading to a prolonged absence from Capitol Hill.
Here’s the video: 19 seconds of silence. Clearly something’s going on and one Twitterite thinks McConnell’s having a seizure.
Hes having a seizure
People don't understand what seizures look like because of movies https://t.co/JjcN5X0gWj
— Tim Pool (@Timcast) July 26, 2023
On Wednesday, he returned to work and told reporters he was “fine” shortly after his incident. An aide told reporters McConnell “felt lightheaded and stepped away for a moment. He came back to handle Q and A.”
But NBC News then reported that McConnell also tripped and fell earlier this month, suffering a “face plant” while disembarking a plane at Reagan airport, according to an anonymous witness.
Another source told NBC McConnell now uses a wheelchair as a precaution in crowded airports. McConnell did not comment on the NBC report.
I don’t wish illness on anyone, including the tortoisian and conservative McConnell, but he really should retire.
*In an article that’s largely unreadable because of the surfeit of Māori words, the New Zealand Herald (the country’s main newspaper) announces a new initiative to legally protect Māori ‘treasures’ as well as well as mātauranga Māori (Māori “ways of knowing”)
Kaikohe’s Kohewhata Marae buzzed at the weekend as a decades-old challenge to the Crown marked an exciting step forward.
Political leaders, kaitiaki (guardians) and revered kaumātua of te ao Māori (the Māori world) gathered for the launch of Tiaki Taonga, a movement to foster understanding and engagement with the kaupapa of taonga (treasures) and protection of mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge).
“I think today represents the beginning of the beginning,” said Te Rarawa’s Haami Piripi on Saturday.
“What today is doing is reinvigorating people’s interest [in Wai 262], regenerating their involvement and reactivating their inspiration.”
The movement, which was launched by Wai 262 – known as the flora, fauna and intellectual property rights claim – will also become the legislative framework which was sought through the claim made to Waitangi Tribunal in 1991.
. . .Waitai said Tiaki Taonga was about “constitutional change to fully recognise kaitiakitanga of taonga and mātauranga by Māori, for Māori”.
“Tikanga will be recognised by ture [law] so, in the future, when the use of taonga and mātauranga Māori are being considered, te iwi Māori will have exclusive authority over their use as guaranteed by Te Tiriti o Waitangi and New Zealand law.”
The movement brings to life the Kanohi Ora engagements, which form an important stage in the Wai 262 constitutional development.
As the Kanohi Ora engagements take place throughout Aotearoa, input by iwi Māori will be sought through a serious of wānanga (seminars) for whānau, hapū and iwi to inform the protection framework.
“By listening to whānau, and understanding their shared experiences and opinions, we will help to build a framework informed by those who need this legislation to protect their taonga,” said Waitai, who’s also executive director of the Ngāti Kuri Iwi Trust Board.
Got that? (Remember, this is NZ’s most widely read newspaper. But what bothers me most is the claim that the Māori “way of knowing” was all-encompassing:
Alongside wānanga, technicians and practitioners are working simultaneously to build the world-first legislation on indigenous IP (intellectual property) protection.
Piripi, who is a Wai 262 Taumata Whakapūmau member, emphasised the presence of Māori knowledge, rights and interest prior to the arrival of Europeans.
“We had, at that time, an answer to everything, every problem. Every solution was in our paradigm, our Māori worldview.”
“I think Māori New Zealanders, and certainly non-Māori New Zealanders today, are failing to recognise that.”
“They’re failing to recognise the integrity of our rock of culture, and our expanse of knowledge.”
Piripi said the Government had a duty – for the country’s benefit – to protect the monumental knowledge held.
“The fact that we had our own explanation of the universe is a big deal,” he said.
I’m not sure what indigenous intellectual property involves, nor do they explain, but the claim that [the Māori] “had, at that time, an answer to everything, every problem. Every solution was in our paradigm, our Māori worldview” is a bogus claim. They didn’t know what matter was made of, the laws of physics, or anything about antibiotics or modern medicine. It may be a big deal that the Māori “had our own explanation of the universe”, but it wasn’t a thoroughly correct explanation of the Universe. (It had a lot of religion and superstition.) You are entitled to your own opinions, as someone said, but not your own facts.
I’m allowed to criticize this kind of pilpul because I’m both retired and not a Kiwi; otherwise I’d be in danger of losing my job.
*Conservative Christopher Rufo is much despised because of his work against DEI programs and the teaching of CRT in Florida, but he has a few sensible things to say in a NYT op-ed, “Diversity programs miss the point of a liberal college education.”
This appears to be a binary left-right conflict. The right sees the abolition of D.E.I. as a step toward meritocracy, while the left sees it as an attack on minority rights. But moving beyond reflexive partisanship, there is a strong argument for abolishing D.E.I. programs on liberal grounds.
. . .The most significant question looming over this debate is one that, unfortunately, has rarely been posed by either critics or supporters of D.E.I. programs: What is the purpose of a university? For most of the classical liberal tradition, the purpose of the university was to produce scholarship in pursuit of the true, the good and the beautiful. The university was conceived as a home for a community of scholars who pursued a variety of disciplines, but were united in a shared commitment to inquiry, research and debate, all directed toward the pursuit of the highest good, rather than the immediate interests of partisan politics.
Today, many universities have consciously or unconsciously abandoned that mission and replaced it with the pursuit of diversity, equity and inclusion. Many D.E.I. programs seem to be predicated on a view radically different from the liberal tradition: namely, that the university is not merely a home for the discovery of knowledge, but also a vehicle for activism, liberation and social change.
Note that DEI programs usually embody specific ideologies that are not to be questioned, and, in my view, violate the First Amendment if not academic freedom. Rufo goes through a lot of what he found in Florida, but I want to highlight his shoutout to the Kalven Report, the University of Chicago’s almost unique policy of institutional neutrality:
In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in the Harvard and University of North Carolina affirmative action cases, there is more need than ever for clear policies. The application of the Kalven principles, in particular, will help depolarize academic institutions and relieve university administrators of the constant pressure to respond to every political controversy. Taken together, these policies will ultimately help public universities restore their reputation as stewards of scholarship, rather than political partisans.
These two proposals would honor the principles of liberal education, encourage a culture of open debate and cultivate a “community of scholars” with a wide diversity of opinions and a shared commitment to truth — something that both liberals and conservatives can and should support.
The U.S. team tied Netherlands 1-1 in the Women’s World Cup. Here are the hightlights, and the U.S. is still at the top of group E. If the U.S. loses against Portugal next week, they’re out of contention, though. The tournament is in New Zealand
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, the cats are having a chinwag:
Szaron: What do you see there?Hili: Deeper shade.
Szaron: Co tam widzisz?Hili: Głębszy cień.
And here is Baby Kulka:
And it’s a special day in Dobrzyn, for it’s the tenth anniversary of Listy z Naszego Sadu (Andrzej and Malgorzata’s website, “Letters from our orchard.” Malgorzata said this:
There is an article with a picture of you and Hili. It’s Andrzej’s article about 10 years of Listy. He decided that your picture with our Editor-in-Chief is the best illustration of the story.
From The Absurd Sign Project:
From Masih, not a hijab in sight! In Tehran!
Witness the intriguing scene in Tehran, Iran's subway! The regime uses religious songs to lure people towards Islamic ideology, but the youth boldly challenge their authority by defying the mandatory hijab. These are the girls of #WomanLifeFreedom revolution. pic.twitter.com/yfNkb2reyI
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) July 26, 2023
From Simon. Brian Cox retains a healthy skepticism towards the “UFOs” investigated by the government:
I keep being asked what I make of the UFO thing in Congress yesterday, so here it is: I watched a few clips and saw some people who seemed to believe stuff saying extraordinary things without presenting extraordinary evidence. Therefore I have nothing more to say, other than: It…
— Brian Cox (@ProfBrianCox) July 27, 2023
From Barry, who calls this “Marilyn Monrowl”:
Marilyn Monrowl.. 😅 pic.twitter.com/BwmDmAPwrj
— Buitengebieden (@buitengebieden) July 26, 2023
From Malcolm. Hey, you guys get a room!
Secret love pic.twitter.com/Lxng5TJpaV
— cats with pawerful aura (@catswithaura) July 26, 2023
From the Auschwitz Memorial, a three-year-old gassed upon arrival:
28 July 1940 | A Dutch Jewish boy, Joseph Bremer, was born in Rotterdam.
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) July 28, 2023
From Dr. Cobb, now out of cataract surgery and delighted with the results. The first tweet is about the possibility that Gregor Mendel “cooked” his genetic data (“pea-hacking,” as one wag said). See the thread for further discussion:
No-one has ever been able to replicate Gregor Mendel's observations of pea plants.
They're a little "too perfect", lacking even random statistical noise that would have been expected from small sample sizes.
Was it scientific fraud? https://t.co/27QS9AHV4j
— c0nc0rdance (@c0nc0rdance) July 21, 2023
Beautiful chicks. Sound up, please:
Gouldian finch chicks 🐦🦜🕊️🎵🐤❤️🐤
Thank you mom ..❤️🤶🙏 pic.twitter.com/w2h7GvoWzJ
— World birds (@worldbirds32) December 2, 2020