Welcome to a Hump Day (“Ημέρα καμπούρας” in Greek), Wednesday, September 13, 2023, and National Peanut Day. And that just reminded me that Jimmy Carter (erstwhile peanut farmer) is still alive after entering hospice care on February 18—a remarkable tenacity given that one enters hospice care when one’s expected to live only a few weeks. Jimmy has been there for seven monhs!
Carter has asked Joe Biden to deliver his eulogy, which may be a mistake.
Tomorrow I’m headed back to Jerusalem for my final week here.
Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the September 13 Wikipedia page.
*Nature is Stronger than Humans Dept.: After the devastating earthquake last Friday that killed 2,900 people in Morocco, we have another natural disaster, but this involving collapse of a dam in Libya, which killed nearly twice as many.
More than 5,000 people were killed in Libya after torrential rains caused two dams to burst near the coastal city of Derna, destroying much of the city and carrying entire neighborhoods into the sea, local authorities said on Tuesday.
Libya, a North African nation splintered by a war, was ill-prepared for the storm, called Daniel, which swept across the Mediterranean Sea to batter its coastline. The country is administered by two rival governments, complicating rescue and aid efforts, and despite its vast oil resources, its infrastructure had been poorly maintained after more than a decade of political chaos.
In the city of Derna alone, at least 5,200 people died, said Tarek al-Kharraz, a spokesman for the interior ministry of the government that oversees eastern Libya, according to the Libyan television station al-Masar. But the floodwaters also swept through other eastern settlements, including Shahhat, Al-Bayda and Marj, and at least 20,000 people were displaced.
Thousands more were missing and the death toll is likely to rise in the coming days. The flooding left bodies scattered in the streets while buckling buildings, sinking vehicles and blocking roads, impeding access to the most stricken areas.
*It’s time to roll up your sleeves again: there’s a new Covid shot available, and the CDC recommends getting it NOW if you’re older than six:
Cohen said the reformulated vaccines can restore protection and provide “enhanced protection” against variants currently responsible for most infections and hospitalizations in the United States. Cohen followed the lead of the agency’s vaccine experts who earlier in the day voted for the universal vaccination policy. The move paves the way for some clinicians, pharmacies and other providers to begin administering the shots by later this week. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted 13-1 to recommend updated shots from Moderna and from Pfizer and its German partner, BioNTech, for anyone 6 months and older.
*The new iPhone 15 is out, and to some people that’s a big deal. Both the WSJ and NYT have articles about it (with the NYT adding other new products). The biggest difference is the charging port which, thankfully, the EU has forced on Apple. From the WSJ:
Sometimes you have to travel 3,000 miles just to see an 8mm hole.
Yes, I’m talking about my trip to Cupertino to see the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro’s new USB-C port. After 11 years, Apple has retired the Lightning port and swapped in the same port you can find on most Android phones, Windows laptops, even iPads and MacBooks.
Sure, Apple spent nearly an hour at its event on Tuesday running us through all the new iPhone features. The lower-price iPhone 15 and 15 Plus models got a softer color-infused back glass, the Dynamic Island multitasking trick, faster A16 Bionic processors and new cameras. The more expensive Pro models have a new shortcut “action button” in place of the mute switch, a lighter titanium design and faster A17 Pro chips. My colleague Shara Tibken wrote a rundown of what’s new and different, and I will have reviews of the new iPhones soon.
But this little port is…a big deal. It could be the biggest iPhone news to affect you in years. A decade of cords you’ve accumulated in your car, desk, nightstand? They no longer work with these new phones. (It’s Apple, so of course there’s a $29 dongle for that.)
. . .to be clear, Apple didn’t want to remove the Lightning port. The European Union passed legislation that states that by the end of 2024, mobile phones, tablets and other gadgets sold in the EU will have to be equipped with a USB Type-C “receptacle.”
Alex Agius Saliba, one of the members of the European Parliament who led this legislation—who I like to call the “Lightning Murderer”—told me that having one charger has benefits for the environment since we’ll need fewer types of cords.
“Why should we continue to use Lightning cable? The only advantage is for Apple to continue to sell proprietary charging solutions, which cost more for our consumers,” he told me in a video interview.
Capitalism! Oy! But I take care of my iPhones, and the one before my iPhone13 was the iPhone 5S, no longer usable. When the battery on my new phone gets below 80% maximum charge, I’ll just get the battery replaced.
*Yes, Biden is old and doddering, but does he deserve to be impeached? It used to be that it took “high crimes and misdemeanors” to impeach a Prez, but now it seems that anything will do. So House Republicans are studying whether to put Joe in the dock, for almost nothing!
Speaker Kevin McCarthy on Tuesday opened an impeachment inquiry into President Biden, working to appease far-right lawmakers who have threatened to oust him if he fails to accede to their demands for deep spending cuts that would force a government shutdown at the end of the month.
Mr. McCarthy’s decision to unilaterally announce an impeachment investigation with no formal House vote entwined the Republican investigations into Mr. Biden with the funding fight that is rattling the Capitol. It appeared to be a bid to quell a brewing rebellion among ultraconservative critics who have accused the speaker of not taking a hard enough line on spending, by complying with their demands to more aggressively pursue the president.
Mr. McCarthy said he would task three committees — Oversight, Judiciary, and Ways and Means — with carrying out the inquiry into the president and his family as Republicans hunt for evidence of financial wrongdoing or corruption. After months of digging, Republicans have found no such proof, though they argue they have enough information to warrant more investigation.
Mr. McCarthy’s announcement appeared to clear the way for House investigators to issue subpoenas for the bank records of Mr. Biden and his family members.
In brief remarks at the Capitol, Mr. McCarthy accused Mr. Biden of lying about his knowledge of his son Hunter Biden’s business dealings, and he raised questions about the millions that Hunter and other family members made from overseas firms. Mr. McCarthy also accused the Biden administration of giving the president’s son “special treatment” in a criminal tax investigation against him.
It’s a witch hunt—except this time it really is a witch hunt!
*More Capitalism. Although I almost never go to McDonald’s, this new cheapskate move of theirs, whose only justification is to stiff the customer, is a harbinger of bad things to come. I love self-serve sodas, as I always have more then one (diet sodas, please) then I go to places like In-and-Out Burger. And you can mix sodas, too, like iced tea and lemonade. But now, well, say goodbye to all-you-can-drink:
Say goodbye to refilling that Coke. McDonald’s is getting rid of self-served soda.
The Chicago-based fast food chain plans to eliminate self-service soda machines at its U.S. restaurants by 2032, McDonald’s confirmed this week. It’s unclear if locations outside the U.S. will follow suit.
In an email to The Associated Press Tuesday, McDonald’s USA said the goal of the change is to create consistency for customers and crew members across the chain’s offerings — from in-person dining to online delivery and drive-thru options.
The company did not specify if any additional factors — such as finances or sanitation — impacted the decision to part ways with its self-serve machines. For years, McDonald’s customers have used the machines to fill and refill their beverages without additional trips to a cashier.
“Consistency” my yiddische tuchas! It’s to save money, pure and simple. If you want to refill your Coke, go sit down inside. Here’s another excuse:
Over recent years, analysts have also pointed to changes in consumer behavior since the COVID-19 pandemic — including an uptick in digital and online delivery sales among fast food restaurants. As a result, some chains have toyed with enhancing drive-thrus or strengthening connections with food delivery apps — from Chipotle growing its Carside pickup locations to Domino’s penning a new partnership with Uber Eats.
So? If consumers want to sit down and eat their burger, why should they be penalized by depriving them of refills? It’s a tragedy, I tell you!
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Sarah is visiting, and Hili is philosophizing on her lap. I’m jealous!
Hili: Nothing is simple.Sarah: You exaggerate.
Hili: Nic nie jest proste.Sarah: Przesadzasz.
Masih was born on September 11 (1976) and so got a birthday tattoo (as she notes in her tweet, tattoos are one of the many illegal body adornments in Iran):
I tattooed #WomanLifeFreedom on my arm as a birthday gift to myself.
In my country Iran, if you are a woman;
Walking unveiled is a crime, showing your hair is a crime. Singing solo is a crime. Dancing is a crime. Traveling abroad without getting permission from your husband is a… pic.twitter.com/DiBAKHptd0
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) September 12, 2023
Two tweets that I found:
— Figen (@TheFigen_) September 12, 2023
A very special moment:
— Cole & Marmalade (@ColeTheBlackCat) September 12, 2023
From Malcolm. Can you spot the . . . . . ? Look closely:
You have to look closely 👀
Reply with 🎒 when you see it. pic.twitter.com/U70JjfOncD
— Phil Sledge (@Phil_Sledge) September 2, 2023
From the Auschwitz Memorial, a photo that moved someone else, too:
I see these posts every day. I always pause to read them, and think about them for a moment or two. Sometimes reading the details is a little more heartbreaking than others. Today is one of them. https://t.co/csdrNLyynn
— MATT (@MattTwoTees) September 12, 2023
Tweets from Dr. Cobb. First, an adorable parent and chick:
Sandhill Crane (Antigone canadensis)🐦🦜🕊️🐤❤️🐤
Photographer: Robin Ulery
Location: Johns Lake, Winter Garden, Florida pic.twitter.com/jdQIoLCSaH
— World birds (@worldbirds32) August 22, 2023
. . . and another cute photo:
One of the cutest things I’ve ever found on my remote cameras in the Arizona borderlands is this coati mama and her coati kittens at a shallow creek in the Chiricahua mountains. pic.twitter.com/ksnEZml1Kz
— Russ McSpadden (@PeccaryNotPig) September 11, 2023
Here Matthew passes on a blatantly insulting stereotype of Americans. Seriously, we salute the flag every day? What did we do to deserve this drubbing?
Guys the Europeans are fighting back now pic.twitter.com/HBvjJQ6XYw
— Varunram Ganesh (@varunramg) September 11, 2023