It’s also Coast Guard Day, Assistance Dog Day, Braham Pie Day (Braham is a city in Minnesota considered the state pie capitol), National White Wine Day, and International Beer Day. Here in Illinois, it’s Barack Obama Day, as he was born on this day in 1961.
Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the August 4 Wikipedia page.
And there’s a Google Doodle today (click to go to sites) celebrating the life and work of Altina Schinasi (born on this day in 1907, died 1999), described as “a US sculptor, filmmaker, entrepreneur, window dresser, designer, and inventor. She was best known for designing what she called the “Harlequin eyeglass frame”, popularly known as cat-eye glasses.” Vanity Fair has a piece and a video showing her describing the glasses.
*Trump appeared in a D.C. court yesterday afternoon and of course pleaded “not guilty” to the four felony counts involved in the January 6 election denial and insurrection.
Speaking briefly at Reagan National Airport after his arraignment Thursday, former president Donald Trump slammed the indictment as a “persecution” and called it “a very sad day for America.”
Trump, who held an oversized black umbrella as a light rain fell, also criticized Washington itself.
“It was also very sad driving through Washington, D.C., and seeing the filth and the decay and all of the broken buildings and walls and the graffiti,” he said. “This is not the place that I left. It’s a very sad thing to see it when you look at what’s happening.”
Trump noted that polls showed him with a substantial lead in the Republican presidential primary and baselessly accused President Biden of using the indictment as a way to hamper a would-be political rival.
“We can’t let this happen in America,” he said. “Thank you very much.”
I haven’t lived in the D.C. area for years, but I find it hard to believe that the filth, decay, and graffiti all happened in the last three years. As for “we can’t let this happen in America,” if he’s referring to him being indicted, my response would be YES WE CAN, AND WE DID. It’s to America’s eternal shame that this string of indictments hasn’t put a dent in Trump’s approval ratings. Oh, and there’s this:
Former president Donald Trump was allowed to leave court without travel conditions, and no cash bond was required. U.S. Magistrate Judge Moxila A. Upadhyaya ordered, however, that he must not violate federal or state law while awaiting trial and that he must not communicate with anyone known to be a witness, except through counsel or in the presence of counsel.
I wonder if she was thinking of Trump’s attempt to intimidate state officials into giving him the number of votes he needed to win the 2020 election.
*Why haven’t Trump’s six co-conspirators in the January 6 case been indicted? The NYT gives some hints:
Some were household names, others less familiar. Among them were Rudolph W. Giuliani, John Eastman, Jeffrey Clark, Kenneth Chesebro and Sidney Powell.
On Tuesday, most of these same lawyers showed up again — albeit unnamed — as Mr. Trump’s co-conspirators in a federal indictment accusing him of a wide-ranging plot to remain in office despite having lost the election.
The appearance of the lawyers at the center of the case suggests how important prosecutors judged them to be to the conspiracy to execute what one federal judge who considered some of the evidence called “a coup in search of a legal theory.”
The lawyers’ placement at the heart of the plot while remaining uncharged — for now — raised questions about why Mr. Smith chose to bring the indictment with Mr. Trump as the sole defendant.
In complex conspiracy cases, prosecutors often choose to work from the bottom up, charging subordinates with crimes to put pressure on them to cooperate against their superiors. It remains unclear precisely what Mr. Smith may be seeking to accomplish by flipping that script.
Some legal experts theorized on Wednesday that by indicting Mr. Trump alone, Mr. Smith might be seeking to streamline and expedite the case ahead of the 2024 election. If the co-conspirators were indicted, that would almost certainly slow down the process, potentially with the other defendants filing motions and seeking to splinter their cases from Mr. Trump’s.
“I think it’s a clean indictment to just have Donald Trump as the sole defendant,” said Soumya Dayananda, a former federal prosecutor who served as a senior investigator for the House Jan. 6 committee. “I think it makes it easier to just tell the story of what his corrupt activity was.”
Another suggested theory is that this intimidates the yet-to-be-indicted, making them ponder cooperating with the prosecution lest they wind up indicted like Trump. Only time will tell.
*From reader Jez: “Unlike the female shot putter competing in the hurdles the other week, there’s no excuse for this terrible performance.
Somalia’s sports minister publicly apologized Wednesday and ordered that the chairwoman of the national track and field federation be suspended after a seemingly untrained female sprinter represented the African country at the World University Games in China and took more than 20 seconds to finish a 100m race.
Minister of Youth and Sports Mohamed Barre Mohamud said his ministry did not know how 20-year-old Nasra Abukar Ali was selected to compete in the women’s 100m at the student games in Chengdu on Tuesday.
The ministry separately released a statement directing the Somalia Olympic Committee to suspend national athletics federation chairwoman Khadija Aden Dahir amid allegations that Nasra Abukar was a relative of hers and was given the chance to compete at the games because of that.
. . .Somalia’s university union said it had not sent any runners to China as part of an official Somali team.
A video of the agonizingly slow run by Nasra Abukar was shared across social media and Mohamud said that the performance was embarrassing for Somalia.
In her qualifying race, Nasra Abukar was immediately left behind by the other runners and finished about 10 seconds after the winner. Despite being dead last, she did a little skip in the air as she crossed the finish line.
You can see the race in this tweet. The Somali “sprinter” just lopes along like a aged Sunday jogger.
The Ministry of Youth and Sports should step down. It's disheartening to witness such an incompetent government. How could they select an untrained girl to represent Somalia in running? It's truly shocking and reflects poorly on our country internationally. pic.twitter.com/vMkBUA5JSL
— Elham Garaad ✍︎ (@EGaraad_) August 1, 2023
But let’s cut them a break: things are tough in Somalia these days.
*The WSJ is kvetching about the U.S. team’s performance at the women’s World Cup: “Will the real U.S. women’s soccer team please show up?” The article gives reasons for the teams lackluster performance so far, though of course there’s a note of U.S. jingoism that I’m slowly abandoning (I’m rooting for underdog Colombia now.)
The USWNT’s [US Women’s National Team’s] struggles aren’t hard to see. Even if you don’t know football from North American football, you can tell something looks off.
There’s a case that this is progress, that a Women’s World Cup run is no longer an USWNT given, that global soccer is catching up and threatening decades of dominance. Brilliance is starting to flicker elsewhere, and new powers are coming. Look at the rise of a team like Jamaica, which knocked out Brazil. Or South Africa’s Banyana Banyana, into the knockout for the first time.
It’s fresh theater, a broader product, good for the game. Not long ago, only a handful of nations had a chance to knock off the USWNT. Now potholes lurk everywhere, like Portugal, which Tuesday came within a closing-minutes thuuuuunnnk off the post from sending the U.S. women home from New Zealand in their worst loss ever.
Well, that shows why there are more good women in the Cup than ever, but the U.S. team still looks off, and that isn’t explained by that theory, which is the Wall Street Journal’s. As jingoists, they lay some of the blame on American nay-sayer, but then admit that the U.S. women’s team isn’t up to snuff:
Some of this blowback is overheated, tinged with politics and Schadenfreude from USWNT detractors who don’t intend to watch a minute of action. But the vibe is undeniably different. The USWNT is a historic success story, a program built on the pillars of Title IX, transforming women’s sports in this country, successfully achieving pay equity with the men’s team and minting celebrities like Mia Hamm, Abby Wambach, Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe.
They have had their wobbles and setbacks (no Olympic gold since London 2012) but come World Cup season they reliably turned into Marvel characters. For all the hand-wringing at the moment, they still have a shot at figuring this out and becoming the first team, men’s or women’s, to ever win three consecutive World Cups.
But it’s feeling like a reach—and not just because here come the Swedes, a nemesis which beat the USWNT at the Rio and Tokyo Games. The 2023 U.S. team has indeed been underwhelming. It meanders, it plays with little urgency or even a clear strategy. Anyone who woke up at 3 a.m. ET for the 0-0 Portugal result and managed to stay awake should be studied by scientists. The team looks stuck between the USWNT of the future and the USWNT of the past, as its present slips away.
I’d love to watch the Sweden game, though I don’t really have a dog in that fight (as I said, I’m rooting for the very low underdog Colombia). I guess I’m not tribalistic enough to be caught up in the success or failure of the USWNT.
*CNN reports that the Burgess Shale in the Canadian Rockies, famous for preserving soft-bodied animals, has now yielded what seems to be the world’s oldest known swimming jellyfish:
The oldest examples of swimming jellyfish, which lived in Earth’s oceans 505 million years ago, have been discovered high within the Canadian Rockies. Researchers found 182 fossils encased within the rock of the famed Burgess Shale fossil site.
The fossils belong to a previously unknown species of jellyfish, called Burgessomedusa phasmiformis, that shows just how evolved these creatures already were millions of years ago.
The exceptionally well-preserved fossils are a remarkable find, given that the soft-bodied animals are made of 95% water. The jellyfish measure about 8 inches (20 centimeters) in length.
A study detailing the findings was published Tuesday in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
The paper is below; click to get a free look:
Here’s a reconstruction from the paper along with its original caption:
From the paper:
Burgessomedusa possesses a cuboidal umbrella up to 20 cm high and over 90 short, finger-like tentacles. Phylogenetic analysis supports a medusozoan affinity, most likely as a stem group to Cubozoa or Acraspeda (a group including Staurozoa, Cubozoa and Scyphozoa). Burgessomedusa demonstrates an ancient origin for the free-swimming medusa life stage and supports a growing number of studies showing an early evolutionary diversification of Medusozoa, including of the crown group, during the late Precambrian–Cambrian transition.
Here’s a remarkable impression fossil from the paper but reproduced by CNN. This could only have been made by a fairly rapid deposition of very fine sediment over the jellyfish. The Burgess Shale continues to yield remarkable creatures!
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is bored:
A: Where are you going?Hili: I have to change environment, I’m bored by this one.
Ja: Dokąd idziesz?Hili: Muszę zmienić środowisko, tu już mi się znudziło.
And from Craig, who found a “no diving” sign at the dry end of his local pool:
Retweeted by Masih. Will this guy get in trouble?
Star Iranian footballer Voria Ghafouri: “no weapons can defeat armed brains.” https://t.co/p7TfDddH2E
— Nazanin Boniadi (@NazaninBoniadi) August 3, 2023
From Emma Hilton, who speaks truth through snark:
Menstruation does have a sex though. https://t.co/08m87YmOXq
— Emma Hilton (@FondOfBeetles) August 3, 2023
From Malcolm; kittens learning to walk. I think they’d do better on a rug!
— Pier Pets (@PierPets) August 2, 2023
From Barry, heterospecific buddies:
— chocolate chip😁🖖🏼🏳️🌈🟧🥂🟦 (@cannoli1000) July 11, 2023
From the Auschwitz Memorial: a tweet I retweeted:
Anne Frank, of course, was only one of many Dutch Jews murdered by the Nazis. Betty Mol, however, was gassed upon arrival. The Nazis murdered more Jews from the Netherlands than any other country: roughly 115,000. https://t.co/Y4daEy8DTf
— Jerry Coyne (@Evolutionistrue) August 4, 2023
Tweets from the dapper Dr. Cobb. The first one shows surreptitious snogging:
Wait for it.. 😊 pic.twitter.com/Nq0KGpDNO4
— Buitengebieden (@buitengebieden) August 3, 2023
Seriously? The original article proposing that schizophrenia may be due to demonic possession is here.
— Neuroskeptic 🇺🇦 (@Neuro_Skeptic) August 3, 2023
Sound up. The only thing missing is a trail of slime. (Sound up.)
— Out of Context Human Race (@NoContextHumans) August 2, 2023