Welcome to Monday, September 25, 2023, and National Food Service Workers Day. Kudos to those who give us our noms! Here’s a SNL skit celebrating those workers (differs from the cheezborger skit I put up recently):
It’s also National Psychotherapy Day, World Dream Day, National Lobster Day, National Quesadilla Day (cultural appropriation), National Crab Meat Newburg Day, National Cooking Day, Day of National Recognition for the Harkis in France, and National Research Administrators Day.
Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the September 25 Wikipedia page.
*The deadline for the government shutdown is just five days away, and the GOP is sweating bullets that it can avoid it and not be blamed by the public, something that would hurt Tr*mps election chances next year. Things don’t look propitious, but it’s worse for the government workers who wouldn’t be paid than for the image of a dumb party:
Congress heads into a make-or-break week for avoiding a government shutdown, with leaders of the Republican-controlled House hoping they can persuade GOP holdouts to get on board with four full-year bills and a short-term funding patch.
With a shutdown set for Oct. 1 unless Congress acts, the plan marks a last-ditch effort by Republicans to find a way forward. If no deal is reached, hundreds of thousands of federal workers are set to be furloughed.
“When it gets crunchtime, people that have been holding off all this time blaming everybody else will finally hopefully move,” House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) told reporters Saturday.
McCarthy laid out the path forward in a GOP conference call. The House is expected on Tuesday to vote on a rule establishing the parameters for debate on a defense-spending bill, a bill funding the Homeland Security Department, one funding the State Department and another funding agricultural priorities.
. . . GOP leaders know that time has run out to pass all 12 annual appropriations bills individually, so they are pleading with Republican colleagues in their narrow 221-212 majority to sign on to a stopgap spending measure to avoid a shutdown. Leaders are effectively putting forward the four funding bills as a good-faith down payment to dissidents.
, . . McCarthy, who won his job after 15 rounds of voting, has spent the year wrestling with a bloc of conservative Republicans who have used their leverage to repeatedly derail leadership’s plans, particularly on legislation related to spending. Last week, rebel Republicans twice blocked a vote to advance one of the 11 spending bills that have yet to clear the House, the defense appropriations bill that is set to be voted on again this week, a sign of the high hurdles facing the speaker.
There’s a double blockage in Congress now, what with two houses having different majority parties, and now the GOP itself divided. (Dems aren’t that united, either.) I fear that we’re in for a rough year politically, culminating in what may be a huge disaster in 13 months.
As the fall semester began at New College of Florida, a small public school known as proudly unconventional until Gov. Ron DeSantis set about overhauling it this year, new students were easy to spot.
Many were recruited athletes, clad in T-shirts branded with the school’s new mascot, a muscled, flexing banyan tree. They stood out from returning students, many of whom roamed the campus in bare feet or with vividly dyed hair.
“Will these people be OK with us being weird as we are?” said Emma Curtis, a 21-year-old fourth-year student, voicing a concern shared by others.
The influx of athletes is just one of the sweeping changes that have come to New College since Mr. DeSantis and his allies vowed in January to transform the liberal arts institution, known as Florida’s “public honors college,” into a bastion of conservatism. More than a third of last year’s faculty members — about three dozen — are gone. So are about 125 students who chose not to return.
In a school that last year had about 700 students total, the freshman class of 338 is the largest ever; it also has a higher proportion of Black, Hispanic and male students than previous ones did, according to the administration. More than 200 students have been moved from on-campus dorms to off-campus hotels to make room for the recruited athletes and other new students.
The pronounced change in climate has led to a flurry of legal challenges. Alumni, faculty and students have sued, claiming free-speech violations that they say amount to academic censorship. The U.S. Department of Education is investigating a complaint that New College, in its new iteration, discriminated based on disability. A separate federal complaint accuses the new leadership of discriminating against L.G.B.T.Q. students by creating a hostile environment that drove some of them out.
Oy gewalt! It’s one thing to take down a state, but it’s even worse to take down a college once admired for the high quality of the students it turned out. And replace quality students with jocks!
*Matthew sent this tweet, which puzzled me as I haven’t followed the news. But then I read a WaPo report that explained it (excerpts below):
This is an awesome photo.
I am in awe of the fact that, thanks to the work of thousands of people over millions of hours, humankind has successfully returned a primordial piece of the Solar System that's billions of years old.#OSIRISREx pic.twitter.com/jFabA4tpQw
— Paul Byrne (@ThePlanetaryGuy) September 24, 2023
Mission managers, pleased with the trajectory of the spacecraft, voted early Sunday morning to proceed with releasing the capsule, which spent four hours nearing Earth before plunging into the atmosphere. The parent spacecraft then fired thrusters to ensure that it would not wind up in Utah, but would instead move on to another target, the asteroid Apophis, with a scheduled encounter in 2029.
Here’s a Post photo of the collecting site.
Why did they do this? Two reasons:
Bennu contains rocks that date to the earliest epoch of the solar system. The mission is designed to give scientists samples of these “fossils” that date back 4 billion years. The molecular makeup of the material brought back to Earth could provide clues to how it became an ocean planet, with the kind of environment where life could appear (and eventually evolve into complex organisms such as astrobiologists).
. . . and
Beyond the science, there’s the issue of planetary defense. Bennu could spell trouble. Its orbit crosses Earth’s, and there is a small chance it could hit us some time in the coming centuries. NASA keeps track of such “near-Earth objects” (including comets) that might pose collision risks, and right now Bennu is at the top of NASA’s list of potentially hazardous space rocks.
Knowing how to get a spacecraft there makes it easier to change its trajectory by blasting it with a spacecraft. However, we’ll probably be extinct before that happens. Even so, this is one of those fantastic feats that makes us proud to be human.
*Did India suborn the assassination of a Canadian Sikh dissident, one of many Sikhs calling for their own homeland? Things were going well between Canada and India, and then a Canadian citizen was killed. And there’s evidence that India was involved, evidence partly provided by the U.S.:
Information shared by members of an intelligence-sharing alliance was part of what Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau used to make public allegations of the Indian government’s possible involvement in the assassination of a Sikh Canadian, the U.S. ambassador to Canada said.
“There was shared intelligence among ‘Five Eyes’ partners that helped lead Canada to (make) the statements that the prime minister made,” U.S. Ambassador David Cohen told Canadian CTV News network.
CTV News released some of Cohen’s comments late Friday, and the network said that it would air the full interview with the U.S. envoy on Sunday. No further details were released about the shared intelligence.
On Thursday, a Canadian official told The Associated Press that the allegation of India’s involvement in the killing is based on surveillance of Indian diplomats in Canada, including intelligence provided by a major ally — without saying which one.
The “Five Eyes” intelligence-sharing alliance is made up of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States.
. . .The relationship between Canada and India reached its lowest point in recent history when Trudeau said there were “credible allegations” of Indian involvement in the assassination of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a 45-year-old Sikh separatist, in June in a Vancouver suburb. Both countries have expelled some top diplomats.
India, which has called the allegations “absurd,” also has stopped issuing visas to Canadian citizens and told Canada to reduce its diplomatic staff.
Canada has yet to provide public evidence to back Trudeau’s allegations.
Nijjar, a plumber who was born in India and became a Canadian citizen in 2007, had been wanted by India for years before he was gunned down in June outside the temple he led in Surrey, a suburb of Vancouver.
Well, it’s too early to pass judgement, but the Modi government is not one I admire, and it’s also moving towards a Hindu theocracy. I love India, but I don’t love Prime Minister Modi and his BJP party.
*And the AP oddity of the day: juvenile drivers on a freeway!
A 10-year-old Florida boy and his 11-year-old sister who were running away to California drove 200 miles (320 kilometers) in their mother’s car before they were stopped by sheriff’s deputies on an interstate highway, authorities said.
The Alachua County Sheriff’s Office says deputies spotted the sedan on Interstate 75 near Gainesville in north Florida just before 4 a.m. Thursday. The children’s mother had reported it stolen and her children missing four hours earlier in North Port, a city in southwest Florida.
The deputies, thinking that they were dealing with car thieves, drew their guns and ordered those inside the car to step out.
“Much to their surprise, deputies observed a 10-year-old male driver exit the vehicle along with his 11-year-old sister,” the department said in a statement.
The children told deputies the girl had been upset that their mother had taken away her electronic devices for misbehaving, so the boy was driving her to California. The children were interviewed by detectives, who said there was no indication they had been mistreated by their mother or anyone else in the home.
The mother declined to press charges and the children were released to her.
Wouldn’t you know that this would involve “devices”? I’m surprised either of the kids survived. How did the ten year old boy know how to drive?
A: What are you looking at.Hili: I’m trying to count all the swifts in the sky.
From Ducks in Public:
From Divy, one messy eater!
From David. I’m not sure why they’re telling you this unless you’re a male and don’t want a woman “servicing” the lavs while you’re in them.
From Masih, another Iranian woman who’s mad as hell and doesn’t want to take it any more.
The Iranian regime put up a propaganda banner claiming we all follow the supreme leader. But here's the younger generation’s response : sharing an unveiled photo in front of it and challenging the authoritarian regime and its propaganda. #WomanLifeFreedom pic.twitter.com/4jBAPvnj6K
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) September 24, 2023
It’s good to see Titania back tweeting again:
Fantastic to see the police addressing the issues that really matter instead of all that “knife crime” nonsense… pic.twitter.com/vitv9LZfSs
— Titania McGrath (@TitaniaMcGrath) September 24, 2023
From gravelinspector, who says “Image in Txeetx (?) leaves little doubt about pilot’s level of joy and happiness.”
I’ve always wondered if this were true, as the pilot could get in big trouble
That time a Lufthansa pilot, scheduled for a flight from Frankfurt to Sicily was directed to land in Malta instead, due to reduced operations at the airport caused by a previous terminal fire
Allegedly frustrated by the change, the pilot drew a 15 mile long shape in the sky… pic.twitter.com/jRI0JrnqdH
— Science girl (@gunsnrosesgirl3) September 23, 2023
Kitty forced to clean up its own mess! That’ll teach it (not!):
— place where cat shouldn't be (@catshouldnt) September 24, 2023
From the Auschwitz Memorial, a retweet by me.
Gassed upon arrival, two days after his fourth birthday. https://t.co/5XIYxPXKNQ
— Jerry Coyne (@Evolutionistrue) September 25, 2023
From Dr. Cobb. First, the bad news:
Four large climate tipping point systems on Earth are likely to cross their tipping points at 1.5°C of global warming – the Greenland ice sheet, the West Antarctic ice sheet, tropical coral reef systems, and abrupt thawing of permafrost in the Arctic. We'll reach 1.5°C next year. https://t.co/PJVZJfU9zU
— Prof Nick Cowern (@NickCowern) September 23, 2023
LOOK AT THIS THING!
On a recent expedition exploring the Pacific Abyssal Plains, our #deepsea research team captured footage of a 𝘊𝘪𝘳𝘳𝘰𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘶𝘮𝘢 𝘤𝘧. 𝘮𝘢𝘨𝘯𝘢 from the deep-sea lander camera at 4800m. This is a rare sighting of a deep-sea cirrrate octopod at this depth. pic.twitter.com/Q5bdcW1rLi
— Deep Sea Research Centre (@deepseauwa) September 22, 2023
A great video from The Dodo:
When this couple found an injured baby squirrel, they took him in and introduced him to their cat — and it was the start of the funniest, most magical friendship. pic.twitter.com/3n5DkfLIPc
— The Dodo (@dodo) September 22, 2023