You should read this for 1/17/2021:
Art, Music, and Film
World’s oldest known cave painting found in Indonesia “Picture of wild pig made at least 45,500 years ago provides earliest evidence of human settlement”
President-elect Joe Biden plans to nominate veteran diplomat William Burns to be the director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
Burns, 64, is a former U.S. ambassador to Russia and Jordan. As a career foreign service office, he worked under Democratic and Republican presidents. He was deputy secretary of state during the Obama years, but he left the State Department in 2014 to run the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace think tank.
President-elect Joe Biden on Thursday night announced his nearly $2 trillion economic plan to deal with the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. There were five factual claims he made that caught our interest.
When we queried the Biden-Harris transition team, we received citations for each factoid within 15 minutes — setting a standard for a response that we hope is maintained. The Trump White House, of course, rarely responded to such queries, generally because the president’s claims almost never could be supported.
Joe Biden has named the geneticist Eric Lander as his top scientific adviser and will elevate the position to the cabinet for the first time, a move meant to indicate a decisive break from Donald Trump’s treatment of science.
Books, Libraries, Writing, and Language
The writing of the novels is not as straightforward or formulaic as some might imagine. “There is an art to it. There isn’t a formula,” said Sharon Kendrick, a writer of more than 100 Mills & Boon novels with sales of 27m books. “There’s an art to it”: Sharon Kendrick has written more than 100 Mills & Boon books. Photograph: Harper Collins
She said: “People assume that because they are quite easy to read, they are quite easy to write. Believe me, they are not. You want to get it right and it is quite a challenge … It’s not the story; it’s the telling of the story, which you want to make powerful and compelling.”
Coronavirus | COVID-19
When Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced this week that the federal government would begin releasing coronavirus vaccine doses held in reserve for second shots, no such reserve existed, according to state and federal officials briefed on distribution plans.
Food and Drink
I stand in my kitchen, in the liminal light between dreams and dawn, trying to contain my delight. Normally, I am a late and grouchy riser but today is Pongal – the harvest festival celebrated across southern India, particularly Tamil Nadu, in mid-January – which gives me the opportunity to eat its namesake food, one that I love.
There are two kinds of pongal: a sweet one made with jaggery (palm sugar) and this savoury ven (white) pongal, a simple dish made with rice and split mung dal. It is a study in restraint, unusual for India and almost Japanese in its minimal use of spices. Heartier than porridge, it is a vegetarian’s chicken soup, the epitome of comfort food. When served along with idlis (steamed rice dumplings) and dosas (thin, crispy pancakes), it forms a perfect south Indian breakfast.
History and Archaeology
The Arzhan-2 burial of the Scythian ‘King’ and the ‘Queen’, found in 1997 and studied between 2001-2003 by Russian-German expedition is one the most extraordinary discoveries ever made by archeologists.
Now for the first time the features of the powerful couple buried in their gold-encrusted, awe-inspiring clothing can be seen in life-like sculptures thanks to work of Moscow Miklukho-Maklai Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology, and Novosibirsk Institute of Archeology and Ethnography.
Two teams of anthropologists spent months meticulously building 3d models of the skulls, using laser scanning and photogrammetry to then re-create the faces of the people that ruled vast sways of steppes and mountains at the time when the Great Pyramids were getting built in Egypt.
Science and Nature
“I was not super politically active prior to that,” Conger said. “I was very invested in my job and had my head down and things just got progressively worse until someone got murdered by a Nazi in my neighborhood. This is not a couple of guys on 4chan. These are people who were willing to come together in real life and do real violence. That sort of changes your perspective. So now my life is about making it a little bit harder to be a Nazi online.” . . . The goal is not to bring physical harm or harassment upon the doxed, she says; she doesn’t post addresses, phone numbers or names of loved ones. The goal is humiliation and the accountability that comes with it.
“I’m interested in disincentivizing this behavior,” Conger said. “I’m interested in raising the cost of being a white nationalist, raising the cost of being a Nazi, raising the cost of making these threats anonymously online, and making it clear that these people are not as hard to find as they think they are.”
Canada’s public safety minister said his office is closely watching the Proud Boys and the “ideologically-motivated violent extremists” within the group.
“They are white supremacists, antisemitics, Islamophobic, misogynist groups. They’re all hateful, they’re all dangerous,” public safety minister Bill Blair told CTV News over the weekend. “We’re working very diligently to ensure that where the evidence is available, where we have the intelligence, that we’ll deal appropriately with those organizations.”
Here’s how it works. Every time you log in to any website, you’re assigned a unique identification number. It should be random, because if hackers can predict the number, they’ll impersonate you. Computers, relying as they do on human-coded patterns, can’t generate true randomness—but nobody can predict the goopy mesmeric swirlings of oil, water, and wax. Cloudflare films the lamps 24/7 and uses the ever-changing arrangement of pixels to help create a superpowered cryptographic key. “Anything that the camera captures gets incorporated into the randomness,” says Nick Sullivan, the company’s head of cryptography, and that includes visitors milling about and light streaming through the windows. (Any change in heat subtly affects the undulations of those glistening globules.)
Sure, theoretically, bad guys could sneak their own camera into Cloudflare’s lobby to capture the same scene, but the company’s prepared for such trickery. It films the movements of a pendulum in its London office and records the measurements of a Geiger counter in Singapore to add more chaos to the equation. Crack that, Russians.
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A developer going by the name of Patr10tic has created an interactive map using GPS metadata and videos from the app Parler to offer a glimpse of what was happening inside and around the Capitol building during the violent protest on January 6th (via Motherboard).
The project is an expansion on similar maps like the one Gizmodo created to illustrate just how many Parler users were part of the mob that occupied the Capitol building, based off an archive created by a researcher known as @donk_enby. Patr10tic’s map (currently named “Y’all Qaeda”) uses the same archive and connects GPS coordinates with actual video, offering a map of red icons placed around the Capitol for each associated video post.
On January 7, the day after the riot, Foreign Policy for America NextGen Initiative Co-Chair Alia Awadallah noticed an uptick of MAGA-lovers on dating apps.”There are DOZENS of men on DC dating apps right now who were clearly here for the insurrection attempt yesterday,” Awadallah tweeted. “Some say it directly, others are obvious from MAGA clothing, location tags, etc.”
Immigration attorney Allison Norris replied to Awadallah’s tweet, saying a friend-of-a-friend changed her political affiliation on Bumble to conservative in order to find potential rioters and alert the FBI
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💩🔥💰 Donald J. Trump Chief Promulgator of Insurrection 🤥🤥👖🔥
Hilary Clinton called it on Friday September 9, 2016 at an LGBT fundraiser:
“We are living in a volatile political environment. You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic — you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up. He has given voice to their websites that used to only have 11,000 people — now how 11 million. He tweets and retweets their offensive hateful mean-spirited rhetoric.
Now, some of those folks — they are irredeemable, but thankfully they are not America. But the other basket — and I know this because I see friends from all over America here — I see friends from Florida and Georgia and South Carolina and Texas — as well as, you know, New York and California — but that other basket of people are people who feel that the government has let them down, the economy has let them down, nobody cares about them, nobody worries about what happens to their lives and their futures, and they’re just desperate for change. It doesn’t really even matter where it comes from. They don’t buy everything he says, but he seems to hold out some hope that their lives will be different. They won’t wake up and see their jobs disappear, lose a kid to heroine, feel like they’re in a dead-end.
Those are people we have to understand and empathize with as well.
H/T John Gruber’s Daring Fireball: Kieran Healy: What Happened? I think Kieran is absolutely right in this speculative post about 🤥🤥👖🔥’s insurrection spree.
I don’t know what happened. But here’s my current theory of what the White House thought was going to happen.
. . .
From the White House’s point of view, the crowd was not actually supposed to get inside the Capitol. The MAGA/Q contingent are the useful marks in all this. They believe all the crap they’re fed. But obviously they’re not going to get into the building. It’s the US Capitol for God’s sake! The very idea that the rush of events would propel them right into the chambers was not something the White House wanted to happen, or thought was going to happen.
Of course, before the rally some of the actually dangerous Q-marinated nutters absolutely did want to get inside the building, find Pence, and Pelosi, and the rest, and literally take them hostage and string them up.
. . .
They thought things would go as protests outside the Capitol usually go, and as their rallies usually go. The crowd would serve as a loud prop. The really dangerous people would be diluted by the rank and file and kept out by the Capitol Police in any case. There would be a great deal of immediate drama and a great deal immediately at stake. Trump loves his crowd, but he has no tolerance at all for the individuals who make it up. As soon as they got inside the building and resolved once more into identifiable individuals, Trump was reportedly and unsurprisingly grossed out by all the “low class” stuff he was seeing. What he envisioned, I think, was a mass of adoring supporters at the very gates of the Capitol, expressing their love and loyalty for him, and together, they would make Congress capitulate to their will.
That the attempted coup failed shouldn’t blind us to its significance or the stain it has left on America. Nor to the importance of holding those responsible fully accountable.
Trump’s culpability is beyond dispute.
“There’s no question the president formed the mob, the president incited the mob, the president addressed the mob. He lit the flame,” said Elizabeth Cheney, the No3 House Republican.
Trump should be impeached, convicted and removed from office – immediately. . . . . Trump’s accomplices on Capitol Hill, most notably the Texas senator Ted Cruz and Missouri senator Josh Hawley, should be forced to resign.
Knowing Trump’s allegations of voting fraud were false, Cruz and Hawley led the move to exclude Biden electors – even after the storming of the Capitol – thereby lending Trump’s claims credibility.
The United States constitution says “no Person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress” who “shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against” the constitution, “or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof”.
Via Terry Bouton @TerryBoutonHist: My wife and I attended the “Stop the Steal” Trump Insurrection on Wednesday (as observers, NOT participants) and there are FIVE big take-aways from what we witnessed and heard outside the Capitol that I’d like to share. (We took all the pictures below). 1/22
We eavesdropped on conversations for hours and no one expressed the slightest concern about the large number of white supremacists and para-military spewing violent rhetoric. Even the man in the “Camp Auschwitz” sweatshirt wasn’t beyond the pale. They were all “patriots.” 4/22 . . . 2) There is no doubt the Capitol was left purposefully understaffed as far as law enforcement and there was no federal effort to provide support even as things turned very dark. This contrasts sharply with all of other major protests we have attended. 6/22 . . . I am convinced that if Congress doesn’t act to do something about this quickly, these people are going to keep going and the unrest and violence will get more widespread and more uncontrollable. This is a crisis. It’s real. It’s happening. It must be taken seriously. 22/22
The former chief of U.S. Capitol Police says security officials at the House and Senate rebuffed his early requests to call in the National Guard ahead of a demonstration in support of President Trump that turned into a deadly attack on Congress.
Former chief Steven Sund — who resigned his post last week after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called for him to step down — made the assertions in an interview with The Washington Post published Sunday.
Sund contradicts claims made by officials after Wednesday’s assault on Capitol Hill. Sund’s superiors said previously that the National Guard and other additional security support could have been provided, but no one at the Capitol requested it.
Sund told the Post that House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving was concerned with the “optics” of declaring an emergency ahead of the protests and rejected a National Guard presence. He says Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Michael Stenger recommended that he informally request the Guard to be ready in case it was needed to maintain security.
Like Sund, Irving and Stenger have also since resigned their posts.
Sund says he requested assistance six times ahead of and during the attack on the Capitol. Each of those requests was denied or delayed, he says.
Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser also wanted a light police presence at the Capitol. She reportedly wanted to avoid a similar scenario as last summer, when federal forces responded to demonstrators opposed to police abuses who assembled near the White House.
The Capitol mob: a raging collection of grievances and disillusionment “Drawn by Trump, the rioters came from all over, angered by masks, lockdowns and the election.”
Those who made their way to the grounds of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday hail from at least 36 states, along with the District of Columbia and Canada, according to a Washington Post list of over 100 people identified as being on the scene of the Capitol. Their professions touch nearly every facet of American society: lawyers, local lawmakers, real estate agents, law enforcement officers, military veterans, construction workers, hair stylists and nurses. Among the crowd were devout Christians who highlighted Bible verses, adherents of the QAnon conspiracy theory and members of documented hate groups, including white nationalist organizations and militant right-wing organizations, such as the Proud Boys.
The list is just a limited cross section of the thousands of people who descended upon the area, yet some striking commonalities are hard to ignore. Almost all on the list whose race could be readily identified are White. Most are men, yet about one in six were women — also almost all White.
Like Graham, 47-year-old construction worker Pete Harding said he was drawn to the Capitol by his disdain for restrictions to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Until last year, the Upstate New York resident said he had largely confined his strong political opinions to the Internet, describing himself as just a “keyboard warrior.”
That’s all changed now, in radical fashion. The first days of 2021 found him — by his own account — charging through the chemical irritants that Capitol Police meant to deter him from entering the U.S. Capitol, rambling through the building, and then attempting to set fire to journalists’ equipment outside.
The video adds a new layer of evidence documenting the violence that pro-Trump rioters unleashed during the attempted insurrection at the Capitol, where overrun police tried to protect the federal building. One U.S. Capitol Police officer, Brian D. Sicknick, suffered injures in the incident and later died, and more than 50 other police officers were hurt. One rioter was fatally shot by police, and three other people died following medical emergencies.
Hawley has become a symbol of how far the Republican Party went to stay in the good graces of outgoing President Trump’s supporters. And his critics, both on the left and a growing number in his own party, see Hawley’s positions in particular as dangerous. He’s lost major donors and supporters and a book deal; his home state newspaper said he had “blood on his hands”; and at least one Democratic senator has called on Hawley to resign.
Here’s exactly why Hawley is being singled out.
Two Capitol Police officers have been suspended in connection with last week’s fatal riot at the Capitol by protesters loyal to President Trump, Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, said.
One of the suspended officers took a selfie with a rioter. The other donned a MAGA hat and “started directing people around,” Ryan said.
Ryan chairs the House subcommittee that is investigating the police response to last week’s riot. He also said that about 10-15 other Capitol Police officers were under investigation. He provided no specifics.
resident Trump’s private business failed to pay a $49,000 hotel bill incurred during Trump’s 2017 inaugural — and then, after the bill went to a collections agency, Trump’s nonprofit inaugural committee agreed to pay the charge instead, according to a new filing from the D.C. attorney general. . . . On Monday, Racine added an allegation to that suit. He said the president’s inaugural committee — a tax-exempt charity — had improperly paid a bill it did not owe, using nonprofit funds to pay a bill owed by a for-profit business.
A day before rioters stormed Congress, an FBI office in Virginia issued an explicit internal warning that extremists were preparing to travel to Washington to commit violence and “war,” according to an internal document reviewed by The Washington Post that contradicts a senior official’s declaration the bureau had no intelligence indicating anyone at last week’s pro-Trump protest planned to do harm.
A situational information report approved for release the day before the U.S. Capitol riot painted a dire portrait of dangerous plans, including individuals sharing a map of the complex’s tunnels, and possible rally points for would-be conspirators to meet up in Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and South Carolina and head in groups to Washington. . . . Multiple law enforcement officials have said privately in recent days that the level of violence exhibited at the Capitol has led to difficult discussions within the FBI and other agencies about race, terrorism, and whether investigators failed to register the degree of danger because the overwhelming majority of the participants at the rally were White conservatives fiercely loyal to the President Trump.
In a significant move, Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., chair of the House Republican Conference, says she will vote to impeach President Trump, making her the first member of House GOP leadership to publicly announce support of impeachment. . . . “The President of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack. Everything that followed was his doing.”
The No. 3 Republican in the House added: “None of this would have happened without the President. The President could have immediately and forcefully intervened to stop the violence. He did not. There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.”
Cheney is joined by Republican colleagues
Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois and Rep. John Katko of New York.
“There is no doubt in my mind that the President of the United States broke his oath of office and incited this insurrection,” Kinzinger wrote in a statement. “So in assessing the articles of impeachment brought before the House, I must consider: if these actions – the Article II branch inciting a deadly insurrection against the Article I branch – are not worthy of impeachment, then what is an impeachable offense?” . . . Katko also released a statement on Tuesday saying, “It cannot be ignored that President Trump encouraged this insurrection.”
“To allow the President of the United States to incite this attack without consequence is a direct threat to the future of our democracy. For that reason, I cannot sit by without taking action” he said.
After it became clear that his insurrectionist supporters had breached the Capitol entrances and were storming the Capitol complex, the President willfully refused to provide the relief only he could provide. This would have been a clear order for his insurrectionist supporters to stand down and clear the building, which only he could give, and military and law enforcement assistance that only he as Command-in-Chief could authorize.
Alexander, who organized the “Stop the Steal” movement, said he hatched the plan — coinciding with Congress’s vote to certify the electoral college votes — alongside three GOP lawmakers: Reps. Andy Biggs (Ariz.), Mo Brooks (Ala.) and Paul A. Gosar (Ariz.), all hard-line Trump supporters.
“We four schemed up of putting maximum pressure on Congress while they were voting,” Alexander said in a since-deleted video on Periscope highlighted by the Project on Government Oversight, an investigative nonprofit. The plan, he said, was to “change the hearts and the minds of Republicans who were in that body, hearing our loud roar from outside.” . . . Videos and posts on social media suggest links between all three Republicans and the right-wing activist.
Instructed not to use any of the half-dozen bathrooms inside the couple’s house, the Secret Service detail assigned to President Trump’s daughter and son-in-law spent months searching for a reliable restroom to use on the job, according to neighbors and law enforcement officials. After resorting to a porta-potty, as well as bathrooms at the nearby home of former president Barack Obama and the not-so-nearby residence of Vice President Pence, the agents finally found a toilet to call their own. But it came at a cost to U.S. taxpayers. Since September 2017, the federal government has been spending $3,000 a month — more than $100,000 to date — to rent a basement studio, with a bathroom, from a neighbor of the Kushner family.
An investigation conducted by Logically, a fact-checking technology company, discovered that “Neon Revolt,” a major online personality in the world of the right-wing conspiracy theory QAnon, is really an aspiring writer named Robert Cornero Jr.
Cornero’s uncovering as a major formerly-anonymous QAnon personality has also shined a light on another aspect: as a major QAnon influencer, Cornero created new conspiracy theories revolving around people he had grudges against in the film industry, effectively weaponizing his followers to satisfy his own personal vendettas.
Pay It Forward and Make It Better
On Jan. 10, close to 200 volunteers congregated at McPherson Square, trash bags in hand. They fanned out and spent two hours collecting “Stop the Steal” and other pro-Trump paraphernalia that had been littered during the riots, and also used scrapers and adhesive remover to peel off signs and stickers featuring logos and symbols from various neo-Nazi and alt-right groups.
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WATCH: Herd of elk run from wave during high tide on Cannon Beach Looks like the Elk made it to safety; abnormal high tides at Cannon Beach, Oregon.
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