Welcome to the last day of August: Thursday, August 31, 2023, and National Trail Mix Day (mine is peanuts, raisins, and chocolate M&Ms).
It’s also Eat Outside Day, National Diatomaceous Earth Day, National Matchmaker Day, and, in Poland, the Day of Solidarity and Freedom (Dzień Solidarności i Wolności) set on the anniversary of August Agreement from 1980, established in 2005 (this marks the day the Polish government agreed to the demands of the striking workers at the Lenin Shipyard in Gdansk led by Lech Wałęsa,
Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the August 31 Wikipedia page.
- Hurricane Idalia is now a Category 1 storm as it travels into Georgia from northern Florida, lashing the Southeast with heavy rain and sustained winds of 75 mph. Track the storm’s path.
Remember, Category 1 is the lowest intensity.
- Idalia made landfall early Wednesday on Florida’s Gulf Coast as a powerful Category 3 storm, and has been linked to at least two deaths. It’s the strongest hurricane to make landfall in the Big Bend region in more than 125 years, and it briefly intensified into a Category 4 hurricane before landfall.
- The storm is causing flooding in some areas and has left over 300,000 customers in Florida and Georgia without power.
- Storm surge from Idalia is setting records for highest water levels in multiple locations from Tampa Bay through Big Bend on Florida’s Gulf Coast.
- Idalia is now a tropical storm as it moves through South Carolina, lashing the Southeast with heavy rain and sustained winds of 60 mph. Track the storm’s path.
- The storm is causing flooding in some areas and has left over 400,000 customers in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina without power.
- Storm surge from Idalia is setting records for highest water levels in multiple locations from Tampa Bay through Big Bend on the Gulf Coast.
Meanwhile, the governors of both North and South Carolina have warned residents of possible danger:
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said he doesn’t think the storm will be as bad as previous hurricanes that have hit the state.
“This is not as bad as some that we’ve seen. We don’t think it’s gonna be as destructive as some, but it is gonna be destructive,” South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said at a news conference Wednesday at the state emergency operations center.
The governor said that it does not appear that the storm will “require evacuations” or that South Carolina will need to close state agencies.
. . .North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper urged residents to stock up on supplies and stay off flooded roads when Hurricane Idalia hits the area with heavy rainfall and localized flooding.
“We’re hoping for the best but preparing for worst,” Cooper said during a news conference Wednesday afternoon.
A state of emergency was declared Monday for the state and a tropical storm warning is in effect for the entire coast of the state, Cooper said.
Two people died in Florida, both in flood-related car accidents. Even so, the damage from Idalia appears to be far less severe than many expected.
*The WSJ has an exclusive story about how Yevgeny Prigozhin evaded assassination for years, though many people wanted him dead.
Long before his private jet plunged from the sky, Yevgeny Prigozhin suspected it could be the stage for his assassination.
The Embraer Legacy 600 was one of several private jets the chief of the Wagner mercenary firm outfitted with equipment to detect surveillance, electronically tinted smart windows and white leather seats.
Aboard, Prigozhin sought to evade a growing dragnet of sanctions and wanted lists, according to former Russian air force officers, Wagner defectors, African and Middle Eastern officials and other people familiar with his travel routine.
His jets, often setting off from Moscow’s Chkalovsky Air Force Base or nearby civilian airports to visit clients in Syria, Libya or across the Sahara, would regularly turn off their transponders, vanishing from plane tracking screens. Crews, known to carry fake passports, would revise passenger lists just before takeoff, then radio air-traffic control midflight to announce a sudden change of destination.
. . . In the years before the crash, Prigozhin and his crew put in place elaborate measures to mask his flight plans, testing the limits of how easily an international fugitive could jet through dozens of foreign airports undetected.
. . . The U.S., which along with some 30 other countries sanctioned the warlord and his companies in recent years, had offered a $10 million reward for his capture and leaned on African partners including Niger to block his plane from landing or being serviced crossing the Sahara.
. . .The mainstay of his fleet, the roughly $10 million Embraer Legacy 600, had changed its registration and jurisdiction several times since a Seychelles-based company linked to Prigozhin acquired it in 2018 from a firm registered in the British tax haven of Isle of Man, according to documents reviewed by the Journal.
Prigozhin would sometimes shuffle between two or three different jets for a single one-way journey to the African countries where Wagner has contracts to protect leaders and national military juntas. Before landing he would question his crew on how closely ground staff would interact with the aircraft.
He frequently conducted meetings in disguise or on runways in his jet in case he was threatened with capture and had to make a swift exit.
The WSJ has a lot more information on Prigozhin’s movements and subterfuge, but you can read it for yourself. In the end, it wasn’t enough to save him.
*Mitch McConnell had another episode of “freezing” yesterday while taking reporters’ questions, going silent and staring into space for about seven seconds. As you may recall, he had a similar episode in late July, one that lasted 20 seconds and resulted in his being led away by Republicans. He later blamed it on a transitory episode of “lightheadedness.” Here’s the latest:
McConnell, 81, chuckled and said, “Oh, that’s, uhh —” and stopped speaking. After about seven seconds, an aide approached and asked the senator if he had heard the question.
McConnell stared straight ahead, and the aide asked reporters to give them a minute.
Another aide then walked over and spoke to McConnell, who signaled that he was fine. McConnell then cleared his throat, said “Okay,” and continued to take questions. His answers were stilted.
In total, the minority leader was silent for more than 20 seconds.
“Leader McConnell felt momentarily lightheaded and paused during his press conference today,” a spokesman for McConnell said in a statement afterward.
. . . and the freeze.
The guy doesn’t look well at all. He’s old and may have serious health problems, but he shouldn’t be in the Senate, much less the minority leader. Perhaps he, like Dianne Feinstein, simply isn’t able to let go of power.
*The latest court doings: Rudy Giuliani has been found liable for defaming two election workers in Georgia, claiming that they mishandled ballots. What does this mean?
A federal judge ruled on Wednesday that Rudolph W. Giuliani was liable for defaming two Georgia election workers by repeatedly declaring that they had mishandled ballots while counting votes in Atlanta during the 2020 election.
The ruling by the judge, Beryl A. Howell in Federal District Court in Washington, means that the defamation case against Mr. Giuliani, a central figure in former President Donald J. Trump’s efforts to remain in power after his election loss, can proceed to trial on the narrow question of how much, if any, damages he will have to pay the plaintiffs in the case.
. . .Judge Howell’s decision came a little more than a month after Mr. Giuliani conceded in two stipulations in the case that he had made false statements when he accused the election workers, Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss, of manipulating ballots while working at the State Farm Arena for the Fulton County Board of Elections.
Mr. Giuliani’s legal team has sought to clarify that he was not admitting to wrongdoing, and that his stipulations were solely meant to short circuit the costly process of producing documents and other records to Ms. Freeman and Ms. Moss so that he could move toward dismissing the allegations outright.
Although the stipulations essentially conceded that his statements about Ms. Freeman and Ms. Moss were false, Mr. Giuliani has continued to argue that his attacks on them were protected by the First Amendment.
But Judge Howell, complaining that Mr. Giuliani’s stipulations “hold more holes than Swiss cheese,” took the proactive step of declaring him liable for “defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, civil conspiracy and punitive damage claims.”
Now I’m not quite sure what’s going on here, and lawyers reading this should weigh in. Giuliana has sort of admitted guilt, so they’re skipping the defamation trial and going straight to the damages. That sounds like a civil case, but Giuliani still faces criminal charges for trying to rig the Georgia ballot.
*I don’t like this story at all, but I’ve seen it in several places. A group of alligator hunters have captured (i.e., killed) the largest alligator measured in Mississippi’s history.
Four state residents — Donald Woods, Will Thomas, Joey Clark and Tanner White — harvested a male alligator Saturday in west Mississippi’s Sunflower River.
It weighed 802.5 pounds (364 kilograms) and measured 14 feet, 3 inches (4.3 meters) long, breaking the previous record by over 2 inches, the department said.
After capturing the animal, the hunters hoisted it with a forklift and posed for a picture at Red Antler Processing in the Mississippi Delta town of Yazoo City.
The area is located in a designated alligator hunting zone. Mississippi’s alligator hunting season opens on the last Friday in August each year. In 2023, the season ends Sept. 4.
I don’t like hunting at all, but can at least excuse it when the hunters intend to use the animals they’re shooting (mercifully, I’d hope) for food. I don’t think that’s what’s happening here: these guys just want to kill gators. And when I saw the photo below, with that magnificent animal in the hands of those guys, and realized that it must be dead for them to be holding it, I got very sad. It took a long time for the gator to get that big.
I know: someone will tell me they NEED to kill gators wantonly in the state. I doubt it, but even so, leave these huge ones alone!
*The NYT has an interview called “The evolution of A.O.C.” I’ve never been keen on her, seeing her as a publicity hound, and my ire ust grew when, after first wanting to vote “no” on the U.S.’s funding of part of Israel’s purely defensive Iron Dome, protecting the citizens from Palestinian rockets, she decided it was in her political interest to not vote that way. Instead she voted “present” and began weeping. What an opportunist! Well, I’ll give one Q&A from her interview:
You built your brand as this political outsider, but now you’re the vice ranking member on the powerful House Oversight Committee, the No. 2 spot for Democrats on that committee. So clearly you have proved at some point that you do mean business. Do you see yourself as more of an insider now?
I don’t think so. I mean, on a certain level, once you are engaged as a legislator, you are on the inside. That is a function of the role. And that grants myself or anyone else in a similar position the tools to be able to translate this outside energy into internal change.
She has deliberately ratched down her “progressivism,” but I think, out of ambition, not out of genuine desire to change the system. Let’s face it: she’d never rise in the system as one of the “progressive” Democrats, and this is a woman of unlimited ambition. I suspect she wants to be President (or at least a Senator from New York), and she can’t do that by voting against the Jews.
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili pricks up her ears and keeps a weather eye:
Hili: A storm.A: Where?Hili: Beyond the river.
Hili: Burza.Ja: Gdzie?Hili: Za rzeką.
. . . and a photo taken by Paulina of baby Kulka:
From Facebook, more braggadocio from the Trumpster:
From David, a Daniel Beyer cartoon showing a grilled chicken:
From Jesus of the Day:
From Masih, another attempt to intimidate a journalist. Mahsa Amini, of course, was the woman beaten to death by the morality police in Iran after she was arrested for not wearing a hijab. It was her death that ignited the current wave of protests in Iran, and the woman who interviewed Mahsa’s father is being tormented and h0unded for simply doing that. The theocratic regime is clearly scared.
Nazila Maroufian, the journalist who interviewed the father of Mahsa Jina Amini, has been arrested for the fourth time in under a year. Today, oppressors stormed her house, smashed the door, and violently abducted her. Ironically, the world’s most anti-woman regime is terrified… pic.twitter.com/U8H1k0ytUD
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) August 30, 2023
From Jez: a wonderful starling murmuration that looks like smoke from a chimney. I wish there had been a video.
— #WOMENSART (@womensart1) August 30, 2023
From Simon. We finally know why there had been a shooting during a recent White Sox baseball game. At least it wasn’t deliberate. A gun hidden in belly fat! Can’t metal detectors catch that? And why was she “belly carrying”?
As I reported on @ESPN1000 just now… the shooting at Guaranteed Rate Field during a #WhiteSox game was indeed an accidental discharge by one of the women “grazed” by the bullet. She reportedly snuck the gun in past metal detectors hiding it in the folds of her belly fat.
— Peggy Kusinski (@peggykusinski) August 29, 2023
From Malcolm. This look like a duck decoy! Are there mallards on Mars?
Curiosity rover spots a strange rock on Mars. What do you think it could be or looks like? 🧐🧐pic.twitter.com/UqKSv2UFvc
— Amazing Astronomy (@MAstronomers) August 26, 2023
From the Auschwitz Memorial, a girl gassed upon arrival, age five:
31 August 1938 | A French Jewish girl, Betty Erdelyi, was born in Rouen.
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) August 31, 2023
Tweets from Matthew. Joyce Carol Oates gets a handsome stipend for appearing as a cartoon on “The Simpsons”:
Excited to receive a royalty check from my “appearance”
in an episode of The Simpsons some years ago. pic.twitter.com/KLs7pl7ezN
— Joyce Carol Oates (@JoyceCarolOates) August 29, 2023
This cat is in a fight to the death with a banana:
the bananas chose violence
— cats being weird little guys (@weirdlilguys) August 29, 2023
. . . and a schnorrer Ginger cat with a plaintive meow:
In case you wondered this is Gwinny who is not the @FcJunction cat, but a street Mugger who resides from time to time in their garden mugging them for food & yowling at them ( constantly)#cats #cats #Cat #CatsOnTwitter #CatsOfTwitter pic.twitter.com/AEIbbEsJg6
— George The Stourbridge Junction Station Cat (@TheStourbridge) August 27, 2023