Elsewhere for January 30, 2021

You should read this for 1/30/2021:

Art, Music, and Film

decorative leaf bulletJon Bon Jovi on wealth, love and his ugly tussle with Trump: ‘It was seriously scarring’

“I was really shocked at the depths [Trump] went to. He wasn’t even qualified to buy the team, because you have to submit your tax returns, and he never filed the paperwork. Instead, he did this dark shadow assassination thing, hoping to buy the team at a bargain basement price. But I just couldn’t understand how this misinformation was being put out there. It was seriously scarring,” Bon Jovi says, eyes wide.

Biden – Harris Begins

decorative leaf bulletRepublicans will try to create an ‘ethics’ trap for Democrats. Don’t fall for it

What we’re seeing at the dawn of the Biden presidency is not the reestablishment of norms, but the establishment of double standards.

Yes, it’s commendable that the incoming Democratic administration pledges to behave responsibly, but it’s far from guaranteed that future Republican administrations will do the same. In fact, as things currently stand, it’s practically guaranteed that they won’t.

decorative leaf bulletBiden Repeals Trump-Era Ban On Transgender Troops

Biden had campaigned on overturning former President Donald Trump’s ban. At his recent Senate confirmation hearing, Austin told lawmakers he supported the move.
“If you’re fit and you’re qualified to serve, and you can maintain the standards, you should be allowed to serve,” Austin said.

decorative leaf bulletSenate Confirms Antony Blinken As Secretary Of State

With bipartisan support, the Senate confirmed Antony Blinken as the new secretary of state on Tuesday. The final vote was 78-22.
Blinken, 58, was earlier approved overwhelmingly by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. . . .
Blinken has a long history with President Biden, previously serving as his adviser both in the White House and the Senate before becoming deputy secretary of state in the Obama administration.

decorative leaf bulletCalls Mount For President Biden To Shake Up Postal Service’s Leadership

There are three vacancies on the board of governors. Of the six men currently on the board, four are Republicans and two are Democrats — one whose term technically has expired but who can continue for another year. All were appointed by former President Donald Trump, and the law allows them to be removed for cause.

Books, Libraries, Writing, and Language

decorative leaf bulletSeattle’s newest bookstore, Oh Hello Again, has a novel system: categorizing books by emotions

H/T Jeff Carlson: decorative leaf bulletThe man third in the line of presidential succession has been in five ‘Batman’ movies

“Entering Batman’s world through my imagination opened an early door into a lifelong love of reading,” he wrote in his foreword.

He’d continue spending hours at the library each day until adulthood, and even after he moved to Washington, he’d make time to pop in. He’s a vocal advocate for literacy and the preservation of libraries so children can have similarly formative experiences with books.

{Some of my fondest memories as a child were at the library, where everyone fit in and possibilities were limitless,” he writes on his Senate website.

H/T @Lymond: decorative leaf bulletA World of Figures: The Rhetoric of Amanda Gorman’s “The Hill We Climb” by Cass Morris:

I will not have found every device worth noting in this poem. I imagine that for decades to come, I will be able to return to it and unfold a little more of its intricate beauty. Amanda Gorman has a delightful grasp of rhythm and imagery and the awesome power of our language’s flexibility and potential complexities. And she’s only twenty-two. Mercy sweet heavens, I cannot wait to see what else she gives us.

Coronavirus | COVID-19

decorative leaf bulletMerck Stops Developing Both Of Its COVID-19 Vaccine Candidates

Merck is halting development of its two COVID-19 vaccine candidates, saying that while the drugs seemed to be safe, they didn’t generate enough of an immune response to effectively protect people against the coronavirus.

Results of Phase 1 clinical studies showed that the two vaccine candidates – known as V590 and V591 – “were generally well tolerated, but the immune responses were inferior to those seen following natural infection and those reported for other SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 vaccines,” Merck said in a statement about its decision

decorative leaf bulletSeattle’s newest bookstore, Oh Hello Again, has a novel system: categorizing books by emotions

decorative leaf bulletModerna Finds COVID-19 Vaccine Less Effective Against Variant Found In South Africa

Moderna says tests show its COVID-19 vaccine offers protection against new variants of the coronavirus, but that the drug is more effective against the variant first identified in the U.K. than one found in South Africa. As a result, Moderna will test booster doses of its vaccine – including one that would be tailored to fight strains that have recently emerged.

decorative leaf bulletWealthy couple chartered a plane to the Yukon, took vaccines doses meant for Indigenous elders, authorities said

See also: Canadian couple who got vaccine meant for Indigenous people may face jail time

decorative leaf bulletWhy N95 Masks Are Still In Short Supply In The U.S.

The Biden administration has invoked the Defense Production Act to prioritize production of N95s and other medical supplies. But even with those measures, U.S. hospitals remain worried about their supply of these medical masks — more formally called respirators — despite efforts by factories to churn out billions more.

The story of N95 production over the last year in many ways reflects shortages seen throughout the U.S. medical supply during the pandemic — from ventilators and exam gloves to syringes and vaccines. The demand is global and sustained, putting pressure on a fragile supply chain that remains stressed and unable to keep up.


Food and Drink

decorative leaf bulletI’ll never forget the fish tacos I had in Mexico – here’s the recipe

Dressing a fish taco is an art. It requires time, patience and practice. Overload, and the ingredients will landslide down your front. Add too much spice and your morning is ruined. But carefully loaded and pinched between thumb and finger, a taco can be easily delivered to your mouth, bringing, with a first bite and gentle sucking, a moment of Baja bliss. The batter is light, the fish meaty; the cabbage has peppery crunch, the chipotle sauce is smoky and smooth. The red salsa provides just enough spice, trailed perfectly by a refreshing smack of lime juice.

decorative leaf bulletThe 20 best curry recipes

From Asma Khan’s saag paneer to Lopè Ariyo’s suya lamb, our exploration of the wider world of curry takes in recipes from south Asia, Nigeria and Japan

History and Archaeology

decorative leaf bulletRemnants of mosque from earliest decades of Islam found in Israel

The foundations of the mosque, excavated just south of the Sea of Galilee by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, point to its construction roughly a generation after the death of the prophet Muhammad, making it one of the earliest Muslim houses of worship to be studied by archaeologists.

Politics and Society

decorative leaf bulletFatal Police Shootings Of Unarmed Black People Reveal Troubling Patterns

The deadly shooting of unarmed Black men and women by police officers in the U.S. has increasingly garnered worldwide attention over the last few years. The 2014 killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., sparked a week of protests that catapulted the Black Lives Matter movement into the national spotlight. Since then, tens of thousands of people across the country have taken to the streets to protest police brutality of Blacks by mostly white officers.

Since 2015, police officers have fatally shot at least 135 unarmed Black men and women nationwide, an NPR investigation has found. NPR reviewed police, court and other records to examine the details of the cases. At least 75% of the officers were white. The latest one happened earlier this month in Killeen, Texas, when Patrick Warren, Sr., 52, was fatally shot by an officer responding to a mental health call.

For at least 15 of the officers, like McMahon, the shootings were not their first — or their last, NPR found. They have been involved in two — sometimes three or more — shootings, often deadly and without consequences.

decorative leaf bulletSenate Democrats Have a Choice

Quite simply, Mitch McConnell is now using the filibuster to stop Democrats from becoming the Senate majority.

Yes, you heard that right. The Democrats won the Senate. But now Mitch McConnell is using the filibuster to stop them from taking it over and leading it. Without a new agreement, the Senate is still operating under the old Congress’s agreement, which means that all the committees are chaired by Republicans – a very big deal since all nominations go through committees first.

Freshman Senators like Warnock and Ossoff can’t even get their committee assignments yet.

decorative leaf bulletWhy McConnell Dumped Trump

Adam Jentleson, a former top Democratic Senate aide and the author of “Kill Switch,” a new book about the Senate, said, of McConnell, “He should be deservedly held accountable for spending more than a month giving credence to Trump’s claims of election fraud—on the Senate floor.” Jentleson added that McConnell, by failing to speak out earlier, had “offered legitimacy” to Trump’s war on the truth: “Other Republicans took their signals from McConnell and continued to fan the flames. You can blame the rioters, but the entire Republican Party was telling them their claims were legitimate.”

McConnell’s accusation that the insurrectionists had been “fed lies” was couched in the passive voice. It skipped over the fact that he hadn’t even acknowledged the outcome of the election himself until December 15th—six weeks after it took place, and following the Electoral College’s certification of Biden as the winner. McConnell, in a brief speech on the Senate floor, congratulated him, calling him “President-elect.” But McConnell did not publicly confront Trump’s continued denials that he had lost until after the January 5th runoff election in Georgia, in which the Democratic Party gained two Senate seats, giving it control of the Senate and toppling McConnell from his position as Majority Leader. By then, according to some polls, as many as eighty-two per cent of Republican voters believed Trump’s false claims of fraud, and when his enraged supporters gathered on the National Mall many of them were determined to use force to override the official election results. The ensuing assault and ransacking of the Capitol was not only the most serious attempt at an anti-democratic coup in the country’s history; it also deepened the crisis of the Republican Party. Additionally, it triggered the flight of a striking number of its major corporate backers—a development that, if it continues, could make it considerably harder for McConnell to retake the Senate in 2022.

decorative leaf bulletAfter objecting to the election results, Kevin McCarthy says all Americans bear responsibility for the deadly Capitol riot

As a pro-Trump mob stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) called in to ABC News from a secure location.

“As a nation, I know we sit back and we’re appalled by what we’re seeing,” McCarthy said. “But I want everybody to take a deep breath and understand: We all have some responsibility here.”

McCarthy was among the Republicans who had spread false claims of widespread presidential election fraud for weeks, which motivated the mob on Jan. 6.

You can watch what McCarthy has previously said about who bears responsibility for the Capitol siege in the video above.

In other words, he’s basically saying “Everybody else did it.” Which is, of course, yet anoter lie.

Science and Nature

decorative leaf bulletOfficials hail ‘encouraging’ number of north Atlantic right whale births

But Jane Davenport, the group’s senior attorney, warned that right whales had been experiencing an “unusual mortality event” since 2017, with 32 confirmed deaths in US and Canadian waters as well as 14 serious or non-survivable injuries.

“While these births are an encouraging sign, the continued threats underscore that we still have to redouble our efforts to protect these vulnerable babies and their mothers,” Davenport said.

“Right whales face a daily gauntlet of fishing ropes and speeding vessels, which together have caused the deaths of more than 200 right whales in the last decade alone. We’re killing right whales far faster than they can reproduce. Unless we move quickly to abate these threats, we’re running out of time to save the species from extinction.”

decorative leaf bulletFelines May Use Catnip for More Than Just Euphoria

Cat owners—and the kitty-obsessed internet—have observed felines go into a frenzy after rubbing and rolling against catnip, Nepeta cataria, when it is nearby. New research published this week in the journal Science Advances suggests that cats not only use catnip for a high but may also use it as protection against mosquitos.


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Women’s Work

decorative leaf bulletBiden administration revives effort to put Harriet Tubman on $20 bill

The Biden administration will resume the process to replace President Andrew Jackson’s face on the note with famed abolitionist Harriet Tubman, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters during her Monday news briefing. A Treasury Department spokesperson confirmed the change.

There’s some particularly good reasons to replace Jackson, an unrepentant slave owner, with a formerly enslaved Black woman abolitionist. After gaining her own freedom, Tubman risked everything to return to the south 19 times and lead many other slaves to freedom.

Buy me a Coffee! If you find this post or this site interesting, and would like to see more, buy me a coffee. While I may actually buy coffee, I’ll probably buy books to review.

decorative leaf bulletShe survived in the wild against all odds. I took her class to learn how

💩🔥💰 Trumpery 💩🔥💰 Insurrection Leader 🤥🤥👖🔥

decorative leaf bulletWhat we know about Trump’s efforts to subvert the 2020 election

decorative leaf bulletAfter Capitol riot, police chiefs work to root out officers with ties to extremist groups

The revelation that the Capitol mob — covered in emblems of extremist groups — included off-duty law enforcement officers possibly assisted by working police is escalating pressure on sheriffs and police chiefs nationwide to root out staff with ties to white supremacist and far-right armed groups.

Law enforcement leaders have faced criticism in the past for failing to police their own officers’ involvement with extremist groups. However, the selfie photos that off-duty officers took inside the Capitol during the violent siege, which left one police officer dead and dozens of others injured, were a wake-up call for many who have long denied the extent of the problem within policing.

. . .

More than a dozen off-duty law enforcement officers were allegedly part of the Jan. 6 mob and are under investigation, according to a Washington Post analysis using news accounts and police and FBI reports. At least a dozen Capitol Police officers are also under investigation for possibly playing a role in the rioting by assisting or encouraging the mob.

decorative leaf bulletInspector general will investigate whether any Justice Dept. officials improperly sought to help Trump overturn the election

The Justice Department’s inspector general announced Monday an investigation into whether any current or former department officials tried to improperly “alter the outcome of the 2020 Presidential Election” — a broad review that follows the revelation that then-President Donald Trump considered replacing his acting attorney general with another appointee more amenable to his unfounded claims of voter fraud.

decorative leaf bulletThe GOP’s Marjorie Taylor Greene problem is spinning out of control

Tuesday’s new revelation is particularly pertinent — and ugly. CNN’s K-File reported that Greene’s Facebook feed featured several endorsements of violence against Democrats and federal agents. In one case, she liked a comment that said “a bullet to the head would be quicker” than removing Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) from her speakership. She also liked a comment about Pelosi that said “through removal or death, doesn’t matter, as long as she goes.” She responded to another commenter who suggested hanging former president Barack Obama and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton by saying, “Stage is being set. Players are being put in place. We must be patient. This must be done perfectly or liberal judges would let them off.” She also liked comments suggesting execution for FBI agents who were viewed as working with the “deep state” against then-President Trump.

Via NPR Politics @nprpolitics: decorative leaf bullet

The union representing U.S. Capitol Police officers revealed that 140 USCP and D.C. Metro police officers were injured in the insurrection at the Capitol, including one officer who will lose his eye, and another who was stabbed with a metal fence stake.

. . .

“Unconscionable”: Capitol Police Union Says Leadership Failed Officers In Riot

The statement Wednesday from the Capitol Police Labor Committee comes a day after acting Chief Yogananda Pittman testified to Congress, saying in prepared remarks:

By January 4th, the Department knew that the January 6th event would not be like any of the previous protests held in 2020. We knew that militia groups and white supremacists organizations would be attending. We also knew that some of these participants were intending to bring firearms and other weapons to the event. We knew that there was a strong potential for violence and that Congress was the target.

Pittman, who apologized in her testimony for her department’s “failings” during the insurrection, told Congress that the former police chief, Steven Sund, had asked the Capitol Police Board, a three-member oversight body, on Jan. 4 to declare a state of emergency for Jan. 6 and to request National Guard assistance.

Pittman said the board denied both requests.

decorative leaf bullet‘A Hostage Situation Every Day’: Strategists Blame Trump For Georgia Senate Losses

In fact, according to sources close to the campaigns, people in and around the White House, including the president’s lawyer, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, also put near-constant pressure on the two Georgia Republicans, David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, to shape their runoff campaigns around his demands.

“It was a hostage situation every day,” said one Republican strategist familiar with the campaigns who only agreed to speak on the condition of anonymity.

“We were always trying to guard against the Tweet [from Trump],” the strategist said.

“Every week we had some new sort of demand,” said another strategist involved with the campaigns. “Calling for the hand recount. The signature match. A special session. $2,000 [coronavirus relief] checks. Objecting to the electors.”

“It was, ‘If you do not do this, the president will actively work against you and you will lose,'” he recalled.

decorative leaf bullet‘The perfect target’: Russia cultivated Trump as asset for 40 years – ex-KGB spy

Then, in 1987, Trump and Ivana visited Moscow and St Petersburg for the first time. Shvets said he was fed by KGB talking points and flattered by KGB operatives who floated the idea that he should go into the politics.

The ex-major recalled: “For the KGB, it was a charm offensive. They had collected a lot of information on his personality so they knew who he was personally. The feeling was that he was extremely vulnerable intellectually, and psychologically, and he was prone to flattery.

decorative leaf bullet‘Brazen, entitled, dangerous’: D.C. judge jails man photographed in Pelosi’s office

Chief U.S. District Judge Beryl A. Howell repeatedly described Richard Barnett, 60, of Gravette, Ark., as “entitled,” “brazen” and “a braggart.” In her first public remarks related to the events at the Capitol, she said Barnett “showed a total disregard for the law” and “total disregard for the U.S. Constitution.”

Barnett is charged with entering the Capitol violently with a dangerous weapon — a stun gun — and stealing government property — a piece of mail from the Democratic leader’s office that he displayed in interviews outside the building. He identified himself to the New York Times as an intruder in Pelosi’s office during the breach. . . . Howell described the charges against Barnett as “in some ways too benign-sounding to fairly describe what happened,” which is “destined to go down in the history books in this country.” In an incredulous, angry tone, she read from a vulgar letter Barnett left on the desk, which belongs to a member of Pelosi’s staff.

“Wow,” the judge added. “Brazen, entitled, dangerous.”

Pay It Forward and Make It Better

decorative leaf bulletCovid sea shanty video goes viral for Isle of Wight grandad

A singer has become an unlikely internet star at the age of 82 with his recording of a sea shanty aimed at encouraging people to have the coronavirus vaccine.
Martyn Waitt, from the Isle of Wight, wrote and recorded a version of The Wellerman with his granddaughter and posted it on TikTok where it has been viewed more than 450,000 times.

decorative leaf bulletBlaydon Races: Dementia patient’s daughter thanks Geordies See also: Blaydon Races: US carers play Geordie song for Newcastle patient

decorative leaf bullet‘I refused to let them intimidate me’: the untold stories of LGBT+ seniors

Not Another Second, an exhibition in New York City which tells the stories of a dozen LGBT+ senior citizens who tell their own coming out stories. Each photographic portrait and video interview is marked with a number, like “16 years”, representing the time they lost to staying in the closet, based on societal expectations of the past.

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Something Wonderful

BBC Video: decorative leaf bulletDeer herd crossing Hertfordshire countryside captured on camera

Buy me a Coffee! If you find this site interesting, and would like to see more, buy me a coffee. While I may actually buy coffee, I’ll probably buy books to review.

Elsewhere for January 24,2021

You should read this for 1/24/2021:

If you read nothing else, read this: Donald Trump’s new reality

Art, Music, and Film

decorative leaf bulletGaze in wonder at this astonishingly high-res scan of an iconic painting

For the past hour, I’ve been avoiding work by browsing this amazingly high-resolution scan of Johannes Vermeer’s iconic Girl with a Pearl Earring. With a total resolution of 93,205 x 108,565, PetaPixel notes the scan is believed to be the first 10 billion pixel panorama ever created, allowing you to zoom in close enough to turn the tiniest flecks of paint into puddles and minuscule cracks into crevasses. The scan appears to have been posted online early last year.

Biden Begins

Here’s What Biden Plans To Do In His 1st Day As President

decorative leaf bulletStatement from President Biden and Vice President Harris on the 48th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade

Books, Libraries, Writing, and Language

decorative leaf bullet

decorative leaf bulletNO BOOK DEALS FOR TRAITORS Over 300 publishing professionals have signed; editors, authors, reviewers, agents.

decorative leaf bulletAfter Capitol Riot Backlash, Sen. Josh Hawley’s Book Will Hit Shelves In May

Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., has a new publisher for his book The Tyranny of Big Tech. Simon & Schuster dropped the title after the deadly insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6, saying Hawley played a role in fomenting the mob attack that threatened House and Senate members.

Here’s a great book to boycott. It’s a stupid premise, written by someone who doesn’t know anything about tech, who fomented insurrection.

Coronavirus | COVID-19

decorative leaf bulletNursing home staffers attended a 300-person superspreader wedding. Now six residents have died.

Now, health officials say the wedding also included some guests whose job is caring for among the most vulnerable to coronavirus: nursing-home residents. At least six residents have now died of covid-19 at two nursing homes where staffers tested positive for the virus after attending the wedding, the local department announced in a Thursday news release.

decorative leaf bullet4,400 Moderna Vaccine Doses Not Kept Cold Enough May Be Unusable

Maine health officials discovered that a majority of Moderna vaccine shipments received across the state on Monday were not kept adequately cold during transport, meaning 4,400 doses may have to be thrown out.
Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, made the announcement during a “sad and somber” coronavirus briefing on Tuesday and said the problem extends to other states as well.
Shah said 35 of the 50 sites that received the vaccine a day earlier reported that “the thermometer on the outside of the boxes … showed that at some point the required minimum temperature had been exceeded.”

decorative leaf bulletReport: Biden Admin Discovers Trump Had Zero Plans For COVID Vaccine Distribution

decorative leaf bulletU.S. Will Remain In WHO, Fauci Announces, As Biden Reverses Trump Move

decorative leaf bulletAfter Sparring With Trump, Fauci Says Biden Administration Feels ‘Liberating’

Fauci was a fixture at White House coronavirus briefings early on in the pandemic, but was noticeably absent after publicly contradicting Trump. Last November, the former president publicly implied he was considering removing the doctor from his coronavirus task force.
“Obviously I don’t want to be going back over history, but it was very clear that there were things that were said — be it regarding things like hydroxychloroquine and other things like that — that really was uncomfortable because they were not based on scientific fact,” Fauci said Thursday at a White House press briefing.

decorative leaf bulletStill going to the grocery store? With new virus variants spreading, it’s probably time to stop.<

“Shopping for five minutes in the grocery store is a lot better — six times better — than shopping for 30 minutes,” said Tom Frieden, the former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, since the odds of becoming infected rise the longer you’re exposed. “Picking up groceries at the curbside is even better, and having them delivered is even better still.” (If you’re able to get groceries delivered or pick up curbside, it will also help reduce the number of people in stores, potentially cutting the risk for essential workers or shoppers who can’t order online.) . . . When you do have to be around other people, use a mask — but not just any mask. The other lesson of the new variants, Frieden told Vox, is that we need to get better at masking.
“The fact that [the variants] are so infectious suggests to me having a better mask is a good idea,” Frieden said. When it comes to avoiding an infection, “a surgical mask is better than a cloth mask, a tight-fitting surgical mask is better than a loose-fitting mask, and an N95 is better than a surgical mask.”



decorative leaf bulletEssex academic’s imposter ‘copied work and tattoos’

The 40-year-old said the imposter, who was studying for a masters degree in the US, used a variety of fake identities to get him to send over unpublished research.
He said the student then submitted the work as his own and presented it at conferences.
“He also dressed like me, posed for photos matched to ones of me, told people he had done things that I’d done, and most scarily of all, copied my hand tattoos exactly,” Dr Lodder posted on Twitter.

History and Archaeology

decorative leaf bulletKeeping Warm the Roman Way This Getty blog post has one of the best pictures exposing the hypocaust heating system of a Roman house that I’ve ever seen.

Science and Nature

‘One of a kind’: calls to protect Alabama’s 60,000-year-old underwater forest

When divers jump into a particular stretch of water off the coast of Alabama, they travel back to a time before humans arrived in the new world.
Submerged below the waters are the remains of a cypress tree forest that grew 60,000 years ago, but was inundated by the Gulf of Mexico and preserved from decomposition beneath sediment. Nothing like Alabama’s underwater forest, in terms of age or scale, has ever been found.


decorative leaf bulletAfter the Editorial Board called on Sen. Ron Johnson to either resign or be expelled from office for his role in spreading disinformation about the presidential election, the senator asked for space to respond. We are providing him that courtesy today. We also are taking the rare step of footnoting Johnson’s commentary to provide additional context so that readers have a fuller understanding of the senator’s actions.

decorative leaf bulletThe Ignominious Deceits of Congressman Cawthorn

Throughout his short but meteoric political career, Cawthorn has used his disability to tell a story of overcoming: Despite great adversity, he claims to have achieved excellence through grit and physical strength. Many of his campaign ads featured images of Cawthorn intubated and hospitalized alongside videos of him lifting weights and hurtling forward in a racing wheelchair. But his claims of sporting success—like his accounts of education and business acumen—have often been misleading.


decorative leaf bulletTwitter to hand over White House accounts to Biden: What you need to know

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Women’s Work

decorative leaf bulletKatie Porter is off the House Financial Services Committee. We’re all worse off for it.

When Democrats took back the House of Representatives in 2018, a number of the freshman representatives quickly emerged as media stars. One was Katie Porter, who used her platform on the Financial Services Committee to highlight the ways in which the banking and finance industries could take advantage of Americans.

Over the past two years, Porter (D-Calif.) schooled JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon — who earns tens of millions of dollars annually — on the realities of how a teller at one of his banks could not get by earning $16.50 an hour. She also revealed that Kathy Kraninger, the thoroughly unqualified Trump appointee charged with protecting Americans’ personal finances as the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, couldn’t define an annual interest rate or explain how it works. . . . If you are an American desperately seeking help with your finances and looking for someone, anyone in Washington to listen, arcane congressional protocols are the least of your concerns. You want a champion. You want a Katie Porter.

decorative leaf bulletJudi Dench: ‘In my mind’s eye I’m six foot and willowy and about 39’

💩🔥💰 Trumpery 💩🔥💰 The Cult of Donald J. Trump and Mob Rule 🤥🤥👖🔥

decorative leaf bullet‘I am not a terrorist’: Retired Navy SEAL speaks after Capitol siege

The video shows Adam Newbold, 45, from Lisbon, Ohio, who the Navy confirmed is a retired reserve SEAL special warfare operator, in a car on his return home from Washington, telling his Facebook followers that he was “proud” of the assault on the U.S. Capitol building earlier that day.

decorative leaf bulletNew Mexico County Commissioner Arrested in DC for Involvement in Capitol Riot

A New Mexico county official and founder of the group Cowboys for Trump who had vowed to return to Washington after last week’s riot at the U.S. Capitol to place a flag on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s desk has been arrested Sunday by the FBI. According to court documents, Griffin told investigators that he was “caught up” in the crowd, which pushed its way through the barricades and entered the restricted area of the U.S. Capitol, but he said he did not enter the building and instead remained on the U.S. Capitol steps.

A video posted to Griffin’s personal Facebook page shows Griffin in the restricted areas, according to the affidavit.

On Thursday, Griffin said he planned to travel with firearms to Washington, D.C., for Biden’s inauguration.

decorative leaf bulletHundreds of Parler videos from Capitol riot republished in chronological timeline

decorative leaf bulletFBI moves on alleged members of extremist groups Oath Keepers, Three Percenters

Schaffer was charged with six counts, including engaging in an act of physical violence. Authorities said Schaffer was among the rioters who targeted U.S. Capitol Police with bear spray.  . . Also charged in a court filing made public Sunday was Robert Gieswein, 24, of Cripple Creek, Colo. Court papers say that Gieswein is affiliated with an Oath Keepers-related extremist group called the Three Percenters, and that he assaulted federal officers outside the Capitol with bear spray and a baseball bat; “encouraged other rioters as they broke a window of the Capitol building; entered … and then charged through the Capitol building.”  . .  Gieswein gave a media interview in which he echoed anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, the affidavit said, and said his message to Congress was “that they need to get the corrupt politicians out of office. Pelosi, the Clintons … every single one of them, Biden, Kamala.”  . . [also arrrested were] Watkins and Crowl were among about 10 individuals recorded at the U.S. Capitol wearing combat helmets, ballistic goggles, tactical vests and Oath Keepers patches who “move[d] in an organized and practiced fashion and force[d] their way to the front of the crowd” to lead the siege and break-in, FBI affidavits said.

decorative leaf bulletRioter Charged With Assaulting Officer In Incident Captured On Viral Video

decorative leaf bulletNearly 1 In 5 Defendants In Capitol Riot Cases Served In The Military

As a violent mob descended on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, lawmakers and aides hid wherever they could, waiting for military and police to arrive. But many of those who stormed the Capitol were military veterans themselves, who had once sworn to protect the Constitution. In fact, an NPR analysis has found that nearly one in five people charged for their alleged involvement in the attack on the U.S. Capitol appears to have a military history.

decorative leaf bulletTrumps Fired WH Chief Usher On Their Way Out The Door

“The Trumps sent the butlers home when they left so there would be no one to help the Bidens when they arrived,” one unnamed source, described as “a well-placed official not associated with the incoming Biden team,” told the latter publication.

decorative leaf bulletSelf-styled militia members planned on storming the U.S. Capitol days in advance of Jan. 6 attack, court documents say

Self-styled militia members from Virginia, Ohio and other states made plans to storm the U.S. Capitol days in advance of the Jan. 6 attack, and then communicated in real time as they breached the building on opposite sides and talked about hunting for lawmakers, according to court documents filed Tuesday.

While authorities have charged more than 100 individuals in the riot, details in the new allegations against three U.S. military veterans offer a disturbing look at what they allegedly said to one another before, during and after the attack — statements that indicate a degree of preparation and determination to rush deep into the halls and tunnels of Congress to make “citizens’ arrests” of elected officials.

decorative leaf bulletOrganizers of Trump Rally Had Been on Campaign’s Payroll

Former President Donald Trump’s campaign paid more than $2.7 million over two years to individuals and firms that organized the Jan. 6 rally that led to rioters storming the U.S. Capitol, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

The payments, which span Trump’s re-election campaign, show an ongoing financial relationship between the rally’s organizers and Trump’s political operation. They were all made through Nov. 23, the most recent date covered by Federal Election Commission filings, which is before the rally was publicly announced.

decorative leaf bulletUS man charged with threatening to ‘assassinate’ Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Pay It Forward and Make It Better

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Something Wonderful

decorative leaf bulletA female Red-bellied Woodpecker stops by for a peanut.

Buy me a Coffee! If you find this site interesting, and would like to see more, buy me a coffee. While I may actually buy coffee, I’ll probably buy books to review.

Elsewhere for January 17, 2021

You should read this for 1/17/2021:

Art, Music, and Film

decorative leaf bulletUm, It Makes Total Sense We’re All Into Sea Shanties Now See also: The Scottish postman behind ‘Sea Shanty TikTok’ The true story behind the viral TikTok sea shanty hit

decorative leaf bulletWorld’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”

decorative leaf bulletA Caveman Encased in Ice Has Appeared In a Minneapolis Park

Biden Begins

decorative leaf bulletLongtime Diplomat William Burns Is Biden’s Pick To Lead CIA

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.

decorative leaf bulletBiden, a longtime ally of police, will enter White House pushing for reform

decorative leaf bulletBiden’s ambitious LGBT agenda poises him to be nation’s most pro-equality president in history

decorative leaf bulletFact-checking Biden’s speech on his coronavirus economic relief plan

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.

decorative leaf bulletJoe Biden names scientific advisers and seeks to bring Eric Lander into cabinet

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

decorative leaf bullet‘There’s an art to it’: with one sold every 10 seconds, what’s Mills & Boon’s secret?

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.”

decorative leaf bulletHundreds in publishing sign letter objecting to book deals for the Trump administration

Coronavirus | COVID-19

decorative leaf bulletDoes vitamin D combat Covid?

decorative leaf bulletLawmakers may have been exposed to the coronavirus in Capitol lockdown, attending physician says

decorative leaf bulletDiscover the First Illustrated Book Printed in English, William Caxton’s Mirror of the World (1481)

decorative leaf bulletVaccine reserve was already exhausted when Trump administration vowed to release it, dashing hopes of expanded access

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

decorative leaf bulletPongal is comfort food for south India’s harvest season – plus the recipe

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

decorative leaf bulletFaces of ‘Siberian Tutankhamun’ and his ‘Queen’ buried 2,600 years ago reconstructed by science

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.

decorative leaf bulletThe Ongoing Tale of Sutton Hoo

Science and Nature

decorative leaf bulletFeast Your Eyes on New Photos of the ‘Grand Canyon of Mars’


Arnold Schwarzenegger: decorative leaf bulletMy message to my fellow Americans and friends around the world following this week’s attack on the Capitol.

decorative leaf bulletA small group of sleuths had been identifying right-wing extremists long before the attack on the Capitol

“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.”

decorative leaf bulletCanada considers adding Proud Boys to terrorist list alongside Isis and al-Qaida

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.”

decorative leaf bulletWhy Billions In Food Aid Hasn’t Gotten To Needy Families


decorative leaf bulletHow a Bunch of Lava Lamps Protect Us From Hackers

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.

decorative leaf bulletThese are the platforms that have banned Trump and his allies

decorative leaf bulletSome Thoughts On Twitter Pulling The Plug On Trump’s Account

decorative leaf bulletWho Decides What Stays On The Internet?

decorative leaf bulletEverything Pundits Are Getting Wrong About This Current Moment In Content Moderation

decorative leaf bulletA Parler archive is being converted into an interactive map of the Capitol building attack

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.

decorative leaf bulletBumble removes political filter amid search for Capitol rioters on the app

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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Women’s Work

Book excerpt: decorative leaf bulletFemale Athletes Need to See Puberty as a Power Not A Weakness

decorative leaf bulletNew Documentary Sisters with Transistors Tells the Story of Electronic Music’s Female Pioneers

decorative leaf bulletExperience: I drink more than 50 cups of tea a day

💩🔥💰 Donald J. Trump Chief Promulgator of Insurrection 🤥🤥👖🔥

Hilary Clinton called it on Friday September 9, 2016 at an LGBT fundraiser:

decorative leaf bulletRead Hillary Clinton’s ‘Basket of Deplorables’ Remarks About Donald Trump Supporters

“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.

decorative leaf bulletWhat We Know So Far: A Timeline Of Security Response At The Capitol On Jan. 6

H/T John Gruber’s Daring Fireball: Kieran Healy: decorative leaf bulletWhat 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.

Robert Reich: decorative leaf bulletTrump attempted a coup: he must be removed while those who aided him pay

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: decorative leaf bulletMy 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

decorative leaf bulletEx-Capitol Police Chief Says Requests For National Guard Denied 6 Times In Riots

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.

decorative leaf bulletThe 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.

decorative leaf bulletVideo shows Capitol mob dragging police officer down stairs. One rioter beat the officer with a pole flying the U.S. flag.

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.

decorative leaf bulletWhy Josh Hawley is atop the list of GOP lawmakers getting backlash over the Capitol riots

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.

decorative leaf bulletTwo Capitol Police Officers Suspended For Actions During Rioters’ Attack On Capitol

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.

decorative leaf bulletTrump’s nonprofit inaugural committee improperly paid a $49,000 bill incurred by his company, D.C. attorney general alleges Trump the deadbeat:

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.

decorative leaf bulletWhat Trump said before his supporters stormed the Capitol, annotated

decorative leaf bulletFBI report warned of ‘war’ at Capitol, contradicting claims there was no indication of looming violence

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.

decorative leaf bulletCheney Will Vote To Impeach: ‘There Has Never Been A Greater Betrayal By A President’

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.

decorative leaf bulletThe President Deliberately Withheld Aid to Combat the Insurrection

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.

decorative leaf bulletA ‘Stop the Steal’ organizer, now banned by Twitter, said three GOP lawmakers helped plan his D.C. rally

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.

decorative leaf bulletA House Republican wanted proof of incitement. Here are four rioters who came to D.C. because of Trump.

decorative leaf bulletThe $3,000-a-month toilet for the Ivanka Trump/Jared Kushner Secret Service detail

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.

decorative leaf bulletFailed screenwriter outed as QAnon influencer used conspiracy to carry out personal vendettas

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

decorative leaf bulletNew Zealand city closes busy road for weeks to protect sea lion mother and pup

decorative leaf bulletUpset by veterans who stormed the Capitol, these vets decided to clean up trash the mob left on the streets of D.C.

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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Something Wonderful

decorative leaf bulletWATCH: 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.

Buy me a Coffee! If you find this site interesting, and would like to see more, buy me a coffee. While I may actually buy coffee, I’ll probably buy books to review.

Elsewhere for January 10, 2021

You should read this for 1/10/2021:

Art, Music, and Film

decorative leaf bulletSeeking justice for Lion Sleeps Tonight composer

decorative leaf bulletWhy Hollywood gets the Irish so wrong

decorative leaf bulletFonts in Use: Enter a Giant Archive of Typography, Featuring 12,618 Typefaces

over 17,000 designs, each using at least one of over 12,000 typeface families from more than 3,500 type companies. Each font is contextualized with images depicting them in the wild, on everything from wine labels and storefronts to book covers, record albums, movie posters and of course, advertising of all shapes and sizes.

Biden Begins

decorative leaf bulletBiden Is Set To Introduce Merrick Garland As His Attorney General Pick

Garland is currently a judge on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. But he is likely best known as a nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court who was refused even a hearing by Senate Republicans, after then-President Barack Obama nominated him to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia in 2016.

decorative leaf bulletBiden Taps Boston Mayor Marty Walsh As Labor Secretary

President-elect Joe Biden is tapping Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, a Biden ally with deep ties to unions, as his labor secretary.

The Democrat campaigned for the White House saying he’d be the “most pro-union president you’ve ever seen.”

decorative leaf bulletRhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo Is Biden’s Commerce Secretary Pick

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo, the first woman to lead the country’s smallest state, has been named President-elect Joe Biden’s intended nominee for commerce secretary.
If confirmed by the Senate, Raimondo, a Democrat who is serving her second term as governor and was previously the state’s treasurer, would oversee the U.S. Commerce Department’s eclectic portfolio of federal agencies, including some that have been thrown into political hot waters during the Trump administration — most notably the Census Bureau.
The federal government’s largest statistical agency has been scrambling to prepare the release of the first set of 2020 census results, which was delayed by the coronavirus pandemic and last-minute schedule changes by Trump administration officials.

Books, Libraries, Writing, and Language

decorative leaf bullet‘If the aliens lay eggs, how does that affect architecture?’: sci-fi writers on how they build their worlds This is a book review of Revelation Space Universe (2000-2018) Poseidon’s Children Universe (2012-2015) by a collection of SF authors including Nnedi Okorafor, Kim Stanley Robinson and Alastair Reynolds reveal what does, and doesn’t, go into creating their worlds, by Alastair Reynolds, Nnedi Okorafor, Ann Leckie, Becky Chambers, Kim Stanley Robinson and M John Harrison

decorative leaf bulletA listing of every book Art Garfunkel has read since 1968. His Favorites are here.

Publisher Cancels Book By Sen. Hawley, Citing His Role In Inciting Capitol Attack

Hawley, a Republican and outspoken Trump ally, has been accused of helping incite the throng of rioters who stormed the House and Senate chambers, smashing windows, ransacking offices and forcing frightened lawmakers to take shelter in secure locations. Hawley was also one of six senators who raised objections to the certification of Electoral College votes confirming Joe Biden as the next president.

See also: decorative leaf bulletSnowflake Josh Hawley Seems To Think The 1st Amendment Means Simon & Schuster Has To Give Him A Book Contract

An hour or so later, little whiny snowflake Josh Hawley, a self-proclaimed Constitutional lawyer, who has a law degree from Yale Law School and clerked at the Supreme Court, claimed that Simon & Schuster not publishing his book was somehow an attack on the 1st Amendment. . . . Every single thing that Hawley says in this is utter bullshit. It’s almost embarrassing. First of all, anyone who thinks that one of the world’s biggest publishing houses is a “woke mob” is delusional. But, it’s even worse to use the word “mob” the day after you helped inspire an actual mob to storm the Capitol building in order to overthrow the results of an election.

Hawley has no legal claim here at all. The 1st Amendment doesn’t govern this at all. He has every right to speak his mind, but he has no right to force a giant publishing house to give him a massive book contract to help his nascent Presidential campaign. If he wants to publish such a book, I hear Amazon has pretty good self-publishing tools that would allow him to do so. As to a bunch of other self-publishing platforms. Isn’t technology amazing?

Coronavirus | COVID-19

decorative leaf bulletDozens of residents die at Belgian care home after Santa visit

The outbreak followed a visit on 5 December by volunteers dressed as Saint Nicholas and his helper Zwarte Piet, organised by the nursing home’s management. The white-bearded, red-robed figure of Saint Nicholas, or Sinterklaas, brings gifts to Belgians every 6 December.
But within days, residents had displayed symptoms of coronavirus. Twenty six have since died and 85 more have tested positive for coronavirus, along with 40 staff.

decorative leaf bulletThe Japanese authorities understood covid-19 better than most

decorative leaf bulletSome Health Care Workers Say They Are ‘Forgotten’ In COVID-19 Vaccination Plans

Many medical personnel who care for COVID-19 patients have struggled to get vaccinated. Clinicians in private practice, those who work for staffing agencies and others who are not directly employed by hospitals or long-term care facilities say they have been overlooked in the vaccine rollout.

“It feels as though we have been forgotten,” said Reyes, who works for a nurse staffing agency. He picks up shifts at four or five different nursing homes in Massachusetts and, he said, none of them agreed to vaccinate him.
Between 5% and 10% of staff in nursing homes are people like Reyes. His staffing agency, IntelyCare, surveyed their nurses and nursing assistants in Massachusetts and more than half report being told they cannot get the shot.

decorative leaf bulletHere’s Why Vaccinated People Still Need to Wear a Mask

The new Covid-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna seem to be remarkably good at preventing serious illness. But it’s unclear how well they will curb the spread of the coronavirus.

That’s because the Pfizer and Moderna trials tracked only how many vaccinated people became sick with Covid-19. That leaves open the possibility that some vaccinated people get infected without developing symptoms, and could then silently transmit the virus — especially if they come in close contact with others or stop wearing masks.

If vaccinated people are silent spreaders of the virus, they may keep it circulating in their communities, putting unvaccinated people at risk.

CDC: decorative leaf bulletDo I need to wear a mask and avoid close contact with others if I have received two doses of the vaccine?

Yes. While experts learn more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide under real-life conditions, it will be important for everyone to continue using all the tools available to us to help stop this pandemic, like covering your mouth and nose with a mask, washing hands often, and staying at least 6 feet away from others. Together, COVID-19 vaccination and following CDC’s recommendations for how to protect yourself and others will offer the best protection from getting and spreading COVID-19. Experts need to understand more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide before deciding to change recommendations on steps everyone should take to slow the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. Other factors, including how many people get vaccinated and how the virus is spreading in communities, will also affect this decision.

decorative leaf bulletStorming of Capitol was textbook potential coronavirus superspreader, experts say

Wednesday’s storming of the U.S. Capitol did not just overshadow one of the deadliest days of the coronavirus pandemic — it could have contributed to the crisis as a textbook potential superspreader, health experts warn.

Thousands of Trump supporters dismissive of the virus’s threat packed together with few face coverings — shouting, jostling and forcing their way indoors to halt certification of the election results, many converging from out of town at the president’s urging. Police rushed members of Congress to crowded quarters where legislators say some of their colleagues refused to wear masks as well.

decorative leaf bulletBiden urges the distribution of nearly all available coronavirus vaccine

The question of whether to reserve vaccines to guarantee supplies for a second dose has become a heated question in recent days. The first vaccine approved for public use, developed by Pfizer, requires people who are immunized to return 21 days after a first dose for a second shot for it to be fully effective, based on data from clinical trials. The other vaccine requires a second dose at 28 days.

Food and Drink

decorative leaf bulletRoast Your Garlic Upside Down

decorative leaf bulletA quiet place: The sensory secret that makes coffee more delicious than ever

. . . a study just published in the journal Food Quality & Preference found people were “less sensitive to specific sensory and hedonic attributes” of coffee under louder conditions. In particular, noise affected the bitterness, acidity, sweetness and aroma.

decorative leaf bullet10 Cookbooks to Read in 202

decorative leaf bulletMake a Better Meal Plan by Bullet Journaling I am particularly struck by the utility of using movable stickie notes to plan meals. Write it up once, use it many times.

History and Archaeology

decorative leaf bulletAncient snack stall uncovered in Pompeii, revealing bright frescoes and traces of 2,000-year-old street food

decorative leaf bulletIce Age hunters’ leftovers may have fueled dog domestication

The researchers’ calculations assume that, like some arctic hunter-gatherers today, ancient humans acquired 45 percent of their calories from animal protein. Humans can’t eat a completely carnivorous diet because of the liver’s ability to generate only part of our energy needs from protein. Edible plants could have been stored for the winter as a source of carbohydrates, but supplies would have waned as the annual big freeze wore on, the scientists suspect. So Ice Age hunter-gatherers probably reached a point where they focused on hunting in order to extract fatty marrow and grease from the bones of prey to meet energy needs, the researchers argue, leaving plenty of lean meat untouched and available as wolf food.
Competition between humans and wolves for prey would have declined as generations of pet wolves gradually evolved into dogs, the team hypothesizes.

Science and Nature

decorative leaf bulletA New Population of Blue Whales Was Discovered Hiding in the Indian Ocean

But a previously unknown population of the leviathans has long been lurking in the Indian Ocean, leaving scientists none the wiser, new research suggests.

The covert cadre of whales, described in a paper published last week in the journal Endangered Species Research, has its own signature anthem: a slow, bellowing ballad that’s distinct from any other whale song ever described. It joins only a dozen or so other blue whale songs that have been documented, each the calling card of a unique population.

decorative leaf bulletA rare, ‘magical’ visit from a brilliantly colored bird draws crowds to Maryland park “It was a male painted bunting, a bird known for its kaleidoscope of colors — blue heads, red underparts, and green backs. It’s a bird commonly seen in Florida and other parts of the south but rarely in Maryland.” See the link for photos. I’ve never seen one, and very much hope to.

BBC video: decorative leaf bulletCuriosity rover: Watching an eclipse from Mars


decorative leaf bulletHow to reduce the spread of fake news — by doing nothing “By arguing with a message, you are spreading it further. This matters, because if more people see it, or see it more often, it will have an even greater effect.”

When we come across false information on social media, it is only natural to feel the need to call it out or argue with it. But my research suggests this might do more harm than good. It might seem counterintuitive, but the best way to react to fake news — and reduce its impact — may be to do nothing at all.

The simple fact is that engaging with false information increases the likelihood that other people will see it. If people comment on it, or quote tweet — even to disagree — it means that the material will be shared to our own networks of social media friends and followers.
Any kind of interaction at all — whether clicking on the link or reacting with an angry face emoji — will make it more likely that the social media platform will show the material to other people. In this way, false information can spread far and fast. So even by arguing with a message, you are spreading it further. This matters, because if more people see it, or see it more often, it will have an even greater effect.

decorative leaf bulletDodger Manager Tommy Lasorda dies Lasorda spent his entire careeer with the Dodgers, and will be missed. I loved his infectious enthusiasm, not just for the Dodgers, but for all things baseball. I was so pleased that he came out of retirement to coach the U. S. Olympics baseball team in 2000 (they took the gold).


Stephen Diehl @smdiehl via Rene Ritchi @reneritchie: decorative leaf bulletStephen, why are you so critical of Facebook and not the other big tech companies?

decorative leaf bulletIs There a Simple Way to Video Chat With My Elderly Parents?

decorative leaf bulletOur Timely Obsession with Animal Crossing

decorative leaf bulletTwitter bans Trump’s account, citing risk of further violence

Silicon Valley also took fresh aim at a bevy of other sites and services where Trump’s supporters have congregated. That includes the new social media service Parler, which became popular with the president’s allies in the wake of the 2020 election.
Amid a flood of misinformation — and threats of violence in the wake of the Capitol riot — Google on Friday removed the app from its hub for downloads, called the Play Store. Apple also warned Parler that it could be removed from its App Store, the sole portal through which iPhone and iPad users can obtain such software, if it didn’t remove posts inciting violence and put in place a stronger content moderation system, according to an email obtained by BuzzFeed News.

decorative leaf bulletDiscord bans pro-Trump server ‘The Donald’

“We have a zero-tolerance policy against hate and violence of any kind on the platform, or the use of Discord to support or organize around violent extremism,” Discord said in a statement shared with The Verge. “While there is no evidence of a server called The Donald being used to organize the Jan 6 riots, Discord decided to ban the entire server today due to its overt connection to an online forum used to incite violence, plan an armed insurrection in the United States, and spread harmful misinformation related to 2020 U.S. election fraud.”

Reddit banned pro-Trump subreddit r/The_Donald in June following an expansion of its policies to ban hate speech more explicitly. The Donald’s Discord server was one of the places former r/The_Donald members congregated following the ban, as detailed in this Mother Jones article from October.

decorative leaf bulletTwitter permanently suspends @TeamTrump after string of Trump tweets Twitter is now playing the time-honored community manager game known as whack-a-troll.

decorative leaf bulletTwitter warns of new violence to come, brewing again on social media, as reason for Trump ban

Calls for widespread protests on the days leading up to the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden have been rampant online for weeks. These demonstrations are scheduled to culminate with what organizers have dubbed a “Million Militia March” on Jan. 20 as Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala D. Harris are to be sworn in on the same Capitol grounds that rioters overran on Wednesday.

As with the online chatter ahead of that assault on the Capitol, these calls to action have bristled with violent talk and vows to bring guns to Washington in defiance of the city’s strict weapons laws.

SetApp: A Suite of macOS Apps for a Single Price Affiliate link for a great collection of 75+ apps for a single price.

Women’s Work

decorative leaf bulletThe US economy lost 140,000 jobs in December. All of them were held by women

According to new data released Friday, employers cut 140,000 jobs in December, signaling that the economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic is backtracking. Digging deeper into the data also reveals a shocking gender gap: Women accounted for all the job losses, losing 156,000 jobs, while men gained 16,000.

Via Open Culture: decorative leaf bulletBehold an Interactive Online Edition of Elizabeth Twining’s Illustrations of the Natural Orders of Plants (1868)

decorative leaf bulletSeoul court orders Japan to pay damages over wartime sexual slavery

Japan has denounced as “utterly unacceptable” a South Korean court ruling ordering it to pay damages to women who were sexually enslaved by the Japanese military before and during the second world war.
The Seoul central district court on Friday said Japan was liable to compensate 12 women who were forced to work as so-called “comfort women”, in a ruling that is expected to inflict further damage on the countries’ already fraught ties.

decorative leaf bulletWomen over 50 paid £8,000 a year less than men for full-time work

Women over 50 in the UK are paid almost £8,000 a year less than men, according to research revealing that the collapse of retailers during the pandemic has hit women much harder than men.

An analysis of official data found that the median annual salary of women working full-time in their 50s was 23% less than that of men in the same age group, according to a report by Rest Less, a company that offers help and advice to people over 50. Women in their 60s were paid 25% less.

decorative leaf bulletTampon tax: government axes VAT on sanitary products

The tampon tax has been abolished after the government honoured its March commitment to remove VAT on women’s sanitary products.
But the campaigner who played a pivotal role in the drive to axe the tax has accused the government of using the issue as a political football, after politicians said it had been scrapped thanks to Brexit. Existing EU law prevented member states from reducing VAT below 5%.

decorative leaf bullet‘Where Are The Women?’: Uncovering The Lost Works Of Female Renaissance Artists

Florence is one of the main stops on any art lover’s European itinerary. At the Uffizi Galleries, visitors can have their fill of works by Renaissance masters Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Raphael.
Of course, none of these artists are women.
In 2009, a new nonprofit foundation in Florence started to investigate why.

💩🔥💰 Trumpery 💩🔥💰

decorative leaf bulletInside Trump and Barr’s Last-Minute Killing Spree

Officials gave public explanations for their choice of which prisoners should die that misstated key facts from the cases. They moved ahead with executions in the middle of the night. They left one prisoner strapped to the gurney while lawyers worked to remove a court order. They executed a second prisoner while an appeal was still pending, leaving the court to then dismiss the appeal as “moot” because the man was already dead. They bought drugs from a secret pharmacy that failed a quality test. They hired private executioners and paid them in cash.

decorative leaf bullet‘This Was A Scam’: In Recorded Call, Trump Pushed Official To Overturn Georgia Vote

An angry President Trump pushed Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a fellow Republican, to overturn the state’s presidential results, and appeared to at least partly blame him for what could be lower turnout in Tuesday’s runoff elections that will decide control of the U.S. Senate, according to a recording of a phone call obtained by Georgia Public Broadcasting.

“The people of Georgia know that this was a scam, and because of what you’ve done to the president, a lot of people aren’t going out to vote [in the runoffs],” Trump said in the remarkable Saturday call. “A lot of Republicans are going to vote negative because they hate what you did to the president.”
He added: “You would be respected if this thing could be straightened out before the election.” Trump lost the state by nearly 12,000 votes to President-elect Joe Biden.

See the original Washington Post article here: ‘I just want to find 11,780 votes’: In extraordinary hour-long call, Trump pressures Georgia secretary of state to recalculate the vote in his favor You can hear the full audio and read the transcript. 💩🔥💰 is not only a 🤥🤥👖🔥, he’s clearly in street bully mode, and desperate to stay in office, at any cost.

decorative leaf bullet‘Find the fraud’: Trump pressured a Georgia elections investigator in a separate call legal experts say could amount to obstruction

In an interview with The Washington Post on Friday, Raffensperger confirmed that Trump had placed the Dec. 23 call. He said he was not familiar with the specifics of what the president said in the conversation with his chief investigator, but said it was inappropriate for Trump to have tried to intervene in the case.

“That was an ongoing investigation,” Raffensperger said. “I don’t believe that an elected official should be involved in that process.”]

💩🔥💰 Donald Trump’s Domestic Terror Attack 💩🔥💰

decorative leaf bulletTimeline: How One Of The Darkest Days In American History Unfolded

It was all egged on by a sitting president, who has been unable to accept losing his bid for reelection and who persuaded millions of his followers to buy into baseless, debunked and disproved conspiracy theories.

The result: A mob violently storming and occupying the U.S. Capitol for hours, while staffers and lawmakers were evacuated or hid in fear. The vice president was also rushed from the floor of the Senate and taken to a secure location after criticisms were tweeted from his boss.

Here’s a timeline of how things unfolded:

decorative leaf bulletWhere Was Security When A Pro-Trump Mob Stormed The Capitol

decorative leaf bulletOn Far-Right Websites, Plans To Storm Capitol Were Made In Plain Sight

decorative leaf bulletThe Inaction of Capitol Police Was by Design

Videos also portray a friendlier side of these interactions: One widely circulated shot appears to show a rioter taking a selfie with an officer inside the Capitol halls, while others depict insurrectionists being calmly escorted by police out of the building they’d just overtaken. These scenes provide a stark contrast to what the nation witnessed from police mere months ago, during the Black Lives Matter protests: Peaceful demonstrators tear-gassed and pinned to the ground. People who were standing still shown the full force of state violence.

According to the Associated Press, the Capitol Police knew about the potential threat of the riot days before it took place, but rejected offers of help from the National Guard and the FBI. Officials said that they wanted to avoid using federal force against Americans, as they had done this summer.

The choice to turn down help amid warnings of an insurrection is as revealing as it is disturbing: Why did law enforcement assume that they’d encounter violence from protesters marching for Black lives in June, but think that a largely white crowd of pro-Trump extremists and conspiracy theorists would remain peaceful? The difference in the Capitol Police’s response shocked many who bemoaned the double standard. But police brutality against Black Americans and police inaction toward white Americans is not some surprising anomaly; it is the status quo.

decorative leaf bulletHow the U.S. Capitol Police were overrun in a ‘monumental’ security failure

Inside the U.S. Capitol, the rioters were in charge.

Trump supporters were roaming freely, carrying off furniture. Capitol Police had not asked other law enforcement agencies for help until their building was surrounded by a mob seeking to overturn the election results. Now, their officers were exhausted and injured. Their chief was down the street, in the department command center, and a police commander on the scene was pacing in a circle. Top congressional leaders, hidden in secure rooms, were calling the governors of Maryland and Virginia directly to plead for help.

decorative leaf bulletWatching MAGA World Fracture in Real Time

As early as 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, just as the mob was taking over the Capitol building, claims that antifa had “infiltrated” the group started to go viral on Twitter. The far-right blog The Gateway Pundit insisted that a whole busload of “Antifa thugs” was on the scene. Others claimed that a well-known figure in the QAnon movement, Jake Angeli, was a “paid actor” and a secret liberal supporter of Black Lives Matter, or they labeled random photos of members of the crowd “ANTIFA supporters dressed in MAGA clothing.” By the evening, the theory had been picked up by several Republican members of Congress, including Representatives Paul Gosar of Arizona, Mo Brooks of Alabama, and Matt Gaetz of Florida. (None of these representatives’ offices returned a request for comment.)

The theory is false. There is no credible evidence of involvement by antifa, which is not an organized group and has been responsible for very little violence, while Gray and numerous other known MAGA figures actually were involved in the insurrection. But empirical reality notwithstanding, the antifa story has become a dividing line within the MAGA world this week—and a telling symbol of its internal upheaval.

decorative leaf bulletArkansas man who posed in Pelosi’s office and West Virginia delegate-elect among those charged in Capitol breach

Richard Barnett was arrested in Little Rock, Ark., on Friday morning and charged with three counts of entering restricted grounds, violent entry and disorderly conduct at the Capitol and theft of public property, said Principal Assistant U.S. Attorney Kenneth Kohl of the District of Columbia.
Barnett, of Gravette, Ark., was photographed sitting with his feet up on a desk in Pelosi’s office at the U.S. Capitol — an image that quickly became emblematic of the chaotic storming of the complex by a pro-Trump mob.

decorative leaf bulletRioter Who Stole Pelosi’s Podium Identified as Florida Dad

. . . Kohl also announced that incoming West Virginia delegate Derrick Evans has been charged with unlawfully entering restricted grounds.

decorative leaf bulletRepublican senator: White House aides say Trump was “delighted” as Capitol was stormed

One Republican senator who says he’s been in touch with senior White House aides about the matter claims the president was “delighted.”
“I don’t have any idea what was in his heart about what he wanted to happen once they were in the Capitol, but he wanted there to be chaos,” Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) said, during an interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt Friday morning.

“And I’m sure you’ve also had conversations with other senior White House officials, as I have,” Sasse continued. “As this was unfolding on television, Donald Trump was walking around the White House confused about why other people on his team weren’t as excited as he was as you had rioters pushing against Capitol Police trying to get into the building.” Sasse added: “He was delighted.”

decorative leaf bulletPro-Trump rioters smeared poop in U.S. Capitol hallways during belligerent attack

They took a dump on American democracy — literally.
Some of the unhinged pro-Trump rioters who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday defecated inside the historic building and “tracked” their feces in several hallways, the Daily News has learned. . . . Egged on by President Trump, the throngs of far-right rioters smashed windows, fought police officers and vandalized offices of lawmakers.
Trump, seemingly oblivious to the stain his presidency is leaving on U.S. history, cheered on the insurrectionists in a since-removed Twitter video. “We love you,” he told them.

Podcast and transcript: decorative leaf bulletListen: John Bresnahan Helps Us Understand What the Hell Just Happened

And then my colleague Jake Sherman starts bugging me. He [says] there’s a problem with a security fence outside. You can’t hear anything in the chamber, so I go outside. And once I get outside the chamber, you can hear the crowd. I ran down to the second floor of the Rotunda, and the sound was overwhelming. There were hundreds of people pounding on the door from the east side of the Capitol. There were cops rushing up to the door, and they started screaming at us to get out of here. I went up to the third floor. That’s where I could see [the protesters] banging on the door. It seemed like they had tools—like iron rods or something. They were prepared to try to break windows. I mean, these are bombproof windows on the east side of the Capitol, and these doors. They had to be prepared to do that.

decorative leaf bulletMayhem Inside the Capitol: 40 Minutes of Footage

Reporter Ryan Lizza writes: “I don’t think I fully understood what happened Wednesday until I watched this video. It’s long and includes the shooting of one of the rioters, but you will have a new appreciation of the demented psychology coursing through this mob.” This is the insurrection that Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, Mo Brooks and others incited and cheered on. They’ll hopefully pay a steep price.

Warning: The shooting of the rioter is shown at the beginning, and again at the end–except the footage at the end is graphic and not greyed out.<;/blockquote MSNBC: decorative leaf bulletMust-see new video shows Capitol riot was way worse than we thought

decorative leaf bulletMore Than A Dozen GOP State Lawmakers Attended Rally That Gave Way To Riots

Via Ronan Farrow in The New Yorkerdecorative leaf bulletAn Air Force Combat Veteran Breached the Senate

As insurrectionists stormed the U.S. Capitol this week, a few figures stood out. One man, clad in a combat helmet, body armor, and other tactical gear, was among the group that made it to the inner reaches of the building. Carrying zip-tie handcuffs, he was captured in photographs and videos on the Senate floor and with a group that descended on Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office suite. In a video shot by ITV News, he is seen standing against a wall adjacent to Pelosi’s office, his face covered by a bandana. At another point, he appears to exit the suite, face exposed, pushing his way through the crowds of demonstrators.

decorative leaf bulletDerrick Evans resigns W.Va. House after entering U.S. Capitol with mob

The mob storming the U.S. Capitol disrupted the constitutional duty of counting Electoral College votes and prompted the evacuations of representatives, senators and Vice President Mike Pence. One woman was fatally shot while trying to climb into the chambers, three others died from “medical emergencies” and 50 police officers were injured. Capitol Police announced one police officer died of injuries sustained during the riot.

Evans, a Republican from Wayne County just sworn into House of Delegates, has contended he was videoing history and was swept along with the crowd. But his own video depicts him calling out “Move! Move!” before going through the Capitol door, as security alarms blare.

decorative leaf bulletThe Capitol mob desecrated a historical workplace — and left behind some disturbing artifacts

A lot of things were broken to pieces, or pilfered, or defaced. Windows and door frames. The placard above House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s door. Camera equipment owned by the Associated Press. A photo of the late congressman and civil rights leader John Lewis, with a quote about the necessity of getting into “good trouble,” that had stood on an easel outside of the office of House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.). . . . The office of the Senate parliamentarian was ransacked. A bust of President Zachary Taylor was smeared with what appeared to be blood.
Missing: Laptops from the offices of Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Pelosi and others. Mail. Paperwork. Records that the Department of Justice referred to cryptically as “national security equities.”

Many members of the Capitol’s janitorial staff are people of color, and it did not go unnoticed by people scrolling through photos of the destruction online that Black and Latino custodians — plus one first-generation Korean American congressman — were the ones picking up a mess left behind by a mostly White group that included, among others, a man carrying a gigantic Confederate flag.
That didn’t enter Rep. Kim’s thoughts until later. He thought of his parents, and how they came to this country.
“When I see the Capitol defaced, I see the values and the opportunities that gave my family a chance in this country disrespected,” he says. “This building is bigger than all of us. It deserves our respect.”

decorative leaf bulletGinni Thomas, Wife of Clarence, Cheered On the Rally That Turned Into the Capitol Riot “GOD BLESS EACH OF YOU STANDING UP or PRAYING!”

On Wednesday morning, Ginni Thomas—wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas—endorsed the rally in Washington demanding that Congress overturn the election. She then sent her “LOVE” to the demonstrators, who violently overtook the Capitol several hours later. Two days later, Thomas amended her post with the addendum: “[Note: written before violence in US Capitol].” By that point, five people involved in the insurrection, including a Capitol Police officer, had died.

Pay It Forward and Make It Better

decorative leaf bulletPoliceman buys family food instead of arresting them for shoplifting

decorative leaf bulletBooze fairies: the anonymous army of ‘drinkerbelles’ spreading good cheer

After sharing their own addresses, and their tipple of choice, participants are assigned other fairies to deliver to. As well as a bottle – and perhaps something else comforting, such as snacks or bath bombs – a basket will contain the address of someone else to deliver to. So beneficiary becomes benefactor.

decorative leaf bulletI teach a course on happiness at Yale: this is how to make the most of your resolutions

The research shows we make happiness mistakes all the time: we complain too much, thinking we’re letting off steam, but do so at the cost of noticing the good things in life. We avoid social situations, thinking alone time is the cure for our blues, but research shows we’d be happier if we connected with a friend. We also assume that happiness involves changing our circumstances: losing weight, getting buffer and earning more money. But as someone who teaches an entire course on the science of happiness, I know the research shows most of these popular January goals don’t improve our happiness as much as we assume.

Something Wonderful

decorative leaf bulletPublic Domain Day 2021“January 1, 2021 is Public Domain Day: Works from 1925 are open to all!” Not everything from 1925 is Public Domain, so use a credible source to make sure a work is in fact Public Domain. Some highlights in terms of fiction for 1925 include Virgina Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. Be careful with that one in terms of the source you use; there are some very poorly edited editions out there, that did not follow Fitzgerald’s text.

Via John Bull @garius: decorative leaf bulletSo it’s Christmas, and a bit of a weird one, so I want to tell you about a surprise Christmas present and the kindness of Twitter and total strangers on the other side of Europe that helped make it happen.

decorative leaf bulletGingerbread monolith appears in San Francisco’s Corona Heights

decorative leaf bulletThe fox and the photographer: a touching friendship

Buy me a Coffee! If you find this site interesting, and would like to see more, buy me a coffee. While I may actually buy coffee, I’ll probably buy books to review.

Elsewhere for December 25, 2020

Editor’s Note: 2020 has been a hell of a year. I’ve been self-isolating in an apartment with my mom since February, aside from brief excursions to the local drug store to pick up mom’s medications that failed to arrive via the post (Thanks for screwing over the USPS Donald Trump, aka 💩🔥💰 and 🤥🤥👖🔥 liar, liar pants-on-fire, GOP mob boss, liar-in-chief, draft dodger, Putin’s pocket toy, criminal, grifter, the single worst President ever). I hope you die in prison) and exciting trips to the front door to receive sporadic groceries.

I’m taking the rest of this year and at least the first week of 2021 off. It’s been rough. Feel free to enjoy my annotated edition of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, my site about Celtic Studies, my site about technology, or the other extended pieces on this site accessed via the menus above.

Finally, you can buy me a coffee if you’re so inclined.

I hope you stay safe, self-isolated, warm, with food, and good books, and music, and for everyone’s sake, stay socially distant and wear a mask if you go out. Don’t be a maroon. Think about the lives of others.

You should read this for 12/25/2020:

Art, Music, and Film

decorative leaf bulletA Detailed, Track-by-Track Analysis of the Doctor Who Theme Music

decorative leaf bulletListen up: making music from the northern lights

There’s a hypnotic crackle before a whoosh of sound flies from ear to ear. It’s followed by a heavenly chorus that might be whales whistling, frogs calling or the chirping of an alien bird. It sounds celestial because that’s what it is. The noise is the aurora borealis: the northern lights.

decorative leaf bulletThe best classical music apps for iPhone and iPad

Biden Begins

decorative leaf bulletA ‘Real Easy’ Choice: Biden Introduces Education Pick Miguel Cardona

Biden has long said his education secretary nominee would be a teacher or educator. “We need an education secretary who understands that education isn’t just what we do,” Biden said, “it’s who we are.”

An educator, Cardona certainly is. After starting his career as an elementary school teacher, he became a principal for 10 years (he was named Connecticut principal of the year in 2012), and he then became an assistant superintendent in Meriden, Conn., a district just south of Hartford that serves about 9,000 students. It is also where he was born and attended public schools.

decorative leaf bulletBiden Administration: Here’s Who Has Been Named So Far

decorative leaf bulletTwitter Will Reset @POTUS Account To Zero Followers After Biden Transition

Books, Libraries, Writing, and Language

decorative leaf bulletMyrrh mystery: how did Balthasar, one of the three kings, become black?

Although the Gospel of Matthew does not give individual names to this regal trio, we know them as Balthasar, Caspar and Melchior, thanks to a Greek manuscript from AD500. It was in the middle ages, too, that they were promoted from astronomers to kings. And a text attributed to the Venerable Bede, the historian monk from Northumbria, makes Balthasar black. Despite Bede’s assertion, there are very few images of a black Balthasar before 1400, possibly because medieval Europeans had so little concept of Africans. It was only with the dawning of the Renaissance that Balthasar’s colour began to be emphatically depicted. In fact, the trumpeting, joyous festive subject of “the adoration” inspired some of the richest portrayals of black people in European art.

decorative leaf bulletWhen my mother said she was lonely, I knew I had to relearn my Bengali language

Through the YouTube bulletins, I started to regain my fluency and even grew an affection for the stoic, no-nonsense delivery of the channel anchor. At the same time, I asked my sisters to switch to speaking Sylheti with me. They are all married to Bengali men and therefore speak it more frequently. Sadly, this had mixed results. As soon as we encountered friction, we intuitively switched to English.
Nevertheless, I persevered – listening, absorbing, practising. Over the following months, my vocabulary improved rapidly. I regained words I’d lost and learned ones I’d never known. For many second-generation immigrants, fluency is too long gone, so I was deeply grateful that mine could be revived.

decorative leaf bulletLawsuit over ‘warmer’ Sherlock depicted in Enola Holmes dismissed

The estate of Arthur Conan Doyle and Netflix have agreed to dismiss a lawsuit brought by the author’s estate, which alleged that the film Enola Holmes infringed copyright by depicting a warmer and more emotional version of Sherlock Holmes.

See also: The Mystery Of The Copyright On Sherlock Holmes’ Emotions Goes Unsolved Due To Settlement

Netflix moved to have the case dismissed, going in quite hard on the details of the Estate’s claims. For starters, in Enola Holmes, um, no dogs. Added to that, the motion provides ample evidence of Sherlock having feelings and empathy prior to the protected works and that such ideas are not protectable anyway. The rest of us, meanwhile, waited patiently to see if the mystery of whether or not you could break copyright in this way could actually succeed in court.

Author Gar Anthony Haywood about his new Slant book, In Things Unseen: decorative leaf bulletA Personal Miracle on a Public Stage: Q&A with Gar Anthony Haywood

Coronavirus | COVID-19

decorative leaf bulletOne person with covid-19 went to work in Oregon. Then, 7 people died and 300 had to quarantine.

Douglas County officials said last week that a person knowingly went to work while suffering symptoms and later tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Two recent outbreaks in the county, which were reported by the Oregonian on Tuesday, were traced back to that individual and the ensuing infections forced hundreds of county residents into self-quarantine.


decorative leaf bulletMore Than 70 West Point Cadets Accused Of Cheating In Academic Scandal

So far, 59 cadets out of a suspected 73 have admitted to taking part in the scam in which the students “shared answers and made the same mistakes,” Lt. Col. Chris Ophardt, a West Point spokesman told NPR.

Food and Drink

decorative leaf bulletOrganic meat production just as bad for climate, study finds “Analysis also found the lowest impact meat was still far more damaging than the worst plant foods.”

decorative leaf bulletThe good old ways: can we still farm like our grandparents?

She left home 15 years ago to go to university before starting a career as a chartered surveyor. But as she married and thought about children, the “emotional pull” of being able to live and work on a farm again was too much. She’s now returned to take over the tenancy of the 100-cow dairy farm, near Chester, from her father.

But it is a very different dairy industry from her father’s childhood. Back in the early 1950s the UK had close to 200,000 dairy farmers. Today, there are barely 10,000. Her farm is small in an industry where herds of 500 are commonplace and the average has doubled to 150 in the past two decades.

. . .

Ankers doesn’t have to look far to see the direction farming is heading. Across the hedgerows at the back of her farm is one of the biggest dairy farms in the country. The farm houses almost 3,000 cows, all of which spend their lives indoors and eat food brought to them by machines. It’s a slick-looking operation with dozens of farmworkers charged with keeping the milk flowing.

decorative leaf bulletThe best food books of 2020 that will get you thinking, not cooking

History and Archaeology

decorative leaf bulletHow Venetians Invented Health Care

When Venetians invented quarantine in 1348, the government proclamation was based on the fact that this cosmopolitan city could put two and two together. The Venetian Republic had based its thriving economy on trade by sea and it became obvious that when foreign ships arrived, an outbreak of plague sometimes followed. They began with keeping ships at bay, making them sit offshore in the Venetian lagoon for 30 days. That time frame soon increased to 40 days, from which we get the word quarantine (quaranta means 40 days in Italian and Veneziano, the language of Venice).

decorative leaf bulletResearchers win £1m grant to unlock secrets of Viking-era treasure trove “Galloway Hoard comprising more than 100 objects lay undiscovered for 1,000 years before discovery in 2014.”

The haul contains an unparalleled range of precious metal and jewelled items, including a rare gold ingot, a unique gold bird-shaped pin and a decorated silver-gilt vessel, the only complete lidded vessel of its type ever discovered in Britain and Ireland.

Inside the vessel were beads, amulets of glass and rock crystal, a silver penannular brooch and five Anglo-Saxon disc brooches not previously found in Scotland. Parts of the find were wrapped in fragile textile bundles.
Taken altogether, the hoard hints at hitherto unknown connections between people across Europe and beyond, and, according to researchers, it provides a rare opportunity to research and reveal many lost aspects of the Viking age.

See also: National Museum of Scotland: The Galloway Hoard: Viking-age Treasure

Science and Nature

H/T Lisa C: decorative leaf bulletThe Jupiter-Saturn conjunction, through medieval and Renaissance eyes

decorative leaf bulletIvory: Elephant decline revealed by shipwreck cargo

Researchers have examined ancient DNA preserved in elephant tusks that were among the cargo of a 487-year-old shipwreck.

Their forensic examination of the 100 tusks pinpointed the devastation caused to the elephant population by centuries of ivory trade.

On this single ship, researchers found genetic evidence of 17 distinct herds of the threatened animals.

Today, scientists can find only four of those herds surviving in Africa.

decorative leaf bulletHalf a Century in the Making: Tree ‘Crop Circles’ Emerge in Japan

Two peculiar ‘crop circles’ have recently been spotted in Japan’s Miyazaki Prefecture. Viewable only from above, they were formed by sugi (Japanese cedar) trees.

decorative leaf bulletThe nature of the Norwegian lemming: ‘bloodthirsty, hairy berserkers’

BBC Video: decorative leaf bulletOctopuses filmed punching fish in the Red Sea


decorative leaf bulletAnimal Crossing gave me structure in a shapeless year


decorative leaf bulletApple HomePod Mini

decorative leaf bulletStardew Valley’s jam-packed 1.5 update reminds us why it’s our forever game

decorative leaf bulletHow A Cybersecurity Firm Uncovered The Massive Computer Hack

The first word that hackers had carried out a highly sophisticated intrusion into U.S. computer networks came on Dec. 8, when the cybersecurity firm FireEye announced it had been breached and some of its most valuable tools had been stolen.

”We escalated very quickly from the moment I got the first briefing that, ‘Hey, we have a security incident of some magnitude,’ ” FireEye CEO Kevin Mandia told All Things Considered co-host Mary Louise Kelly. ”My gut was telling me it was something we needed to put people on right away.”

Mandia was right. Within days, the scope of the hack began to emerge.

Multiple U.S. agencies were successfully targeted, including the departments of State, Treasury, Commerce, Energy and Homeland Security as well as the National Institutes of Health.

The hackers attached their malware to a software update from Austin, Texas-based company SolarWinds, which makes software used by many federal agencies and thousands of private companies to monitor their computer networks.

decorative leaf bulletSolarwinds, The Security Consulting Company That Maybe Wasn’t Very Good At Security

In one previously unreported issue, multiple criminals have offered to sell access to SolarWinds’ computers through underground forums, according to two researchers who separately had access to those forums. […] Security researcher Vinoth Kumar told Reuters that, last year, he alerted the company that anyone could access SolarWinds’ update server by using the password “solarwinds123”

Apple has a hardware security and privacy manual for people at risk from abusers, exploiters: decorative leaf bulletDevice and Data Access when Personal Safety is At Risk

If you’d like to revisit what you share with other people, or restore your device’s original settings for any reason, this guide can help you understand what information you are sharing via your Apple devices, and how to make changes to protect your safety. It includes step-by-step instructions on how to remove someone’s access to information you’ve previously granted: from location data on the Find My app, to meetings you’ve scheduled via Calendar. . . . If you’re concerned that someone is accessing information you did not share from your Apple device, this guide will also help you identify risks, and walk you through the steps to help make the technology you rely on as private and secure as you want it to be.

H/T Yasmine: decorative leaf bulletA Nordic Design Staple- The Swedish Kakelugn Tile Stove- Part 1

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Women’s Work

decorative leaf bulletPioneering fairytale author Madame d’Aulnoy back in print after centuries

Marie-Catherine Le Jumel de Barneville, known as Madame or Countess d’Aulnoy, invented the term “conte de fée” or fairytale, when she published her major collection of them in 1697-98. Unlike her contemporary Charles Perrault, or later authors such as Hans Christian Andersen and the Brothers Grimm, today her work rarely appears outside anthologies.

Now Princeton University Press will release a new collection of her work in March, The Island of Happiness, featuring illustrations and an essay by the artist Natalie Frank. It also contains the first English translation of The Tale of Mira, one of D’Aulnoy’s earlier works, which sees the beautiful Mira kill scores of men — “Anyone who saw her fell desperately in love with her. However, her pride and indifference made all of her lovers die” — until she falls for a man who is indifferent to her.

decorative leaf bulletTampon wars: the battle to overthrow the Tampax empire

Tampax is facing perhaps its greatest existential threat – the growing number of women choosing not to have periods at all. Last year, the faculty of sexual and reproductive healthcare of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists issued an updated guideline, stating that there was no health benefit to taking a week-long break from the pill to have a sort of faux-period. Women simply no longer need to shed blood if they don’t want to.

decorative leaf bullet‘I am not afraid to fight’: the female Afghan colonel who survived the Taliban’s assassins “Saba Sahar, who returned fire while protecting her daughter, survived one of a wave of recent assassination attempts that have killed six policewomen.”

💩🔥💰 Trumpery 💩🔥💰

decorative leaf bulletDOJ Whistleblowers Call For Investigation Into Canceled Diversity Programs

The controversy followed a September 2020 executive order where President 💩🔥💰 ordered federal agencies to submit diversity training programs to the Office of Personnel Management for prior approval. The order said 💩🔥💰 was acting “in order to promote economy and efficiency in Federal contracting, to promote unity in the Federal workforce, and to combat offensive and anti-American race and sex stereotyping and scapegoating.”

The whistleblowers’ letter said 💩🔥💰 was reportedly inspired to take action after watching a critic of diversity and inclusion programs on Tucker Carlson’s program on Fox News.

The OPM rules have proved confusing and unworkable, leading many federal agencies and contractors to cancel all their programming.

decorative leaf bullet🤥🤥👖🔥 pardons Blackwater contractors jailed for massacre of Iraq civilians “Four guards fired on unarmed crowd in Baghdad in 2007, killing 14 and sparking outrage over use of private security in war zones.”

Donald 🤥🤥👖🔥 has pardoned four security guards from the private military firm Blackwater who were serving jail sentences for killing 14 civilians including two children in Baghdad in 2007, a massacre that sparked an international outcry over the use of mercenaries in war.

The four guards – Paul Slough, Evan Liberty, Dustin Heard and Nicholas Slatten – were part of an armoured convoy that opened fire indiscriminately with machine-guns, grenade launchers and a sniper on a crowd of unarmed people in a square in the Iraqi capital.

. . .

The pardons are one of several the US president has granted to American service personnel and contractors accused or convicted of crimes against non-combatants and civilians in war zones. In November last year, he pardoned a former US army commando who was set to stand trial over the killing of a suspected Afghan bomb-maker, and a former army lieutenant convicted of murder for ordering his men to fire at three Afghans.

See also this Twitter thread from @adamnlawyer Ali Kinani was 9 years old when he was shot in the head by Blackwater guards on September 16, 2007 in Baghdad Iraq. @realDonaldTrump just pardoned his killers. I represented Ali’s and five other families in a civil lawsuit against Blackwater and Erik Prince for the killings.

decorative leaf bullet💩🔥💰’s Pardons Make the Unimaginable Real

Yesterday evening, President Donald 💩🔥💰 issued 15 pardons and five commutations, including two for individuals found guilty of charges arising from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. He is reportedly considering a raft of other Christmas pardons—for sympathetic allies, for loyal retainers, and even for family members.

This article is a close, analytic look at the history and underlying theory of Presidential pardons.

Pay It Forward and Make It Better

decorative leaf bulletThe Myron Cole Piano Method The entire series of Piano lesson books is free to download. Read about the Myron Cole method here.

SetApp: A Suite of macOS Apps for a Single Price Affiliate link for a great collection of 75+ apps for a single price.

Something Wonderful

Via Twitter: decorative leaf bulletPublic Enemy

From the jury selection process that took place over three days in June for the trial of Martin Shkreli, an investor and hedge fund founder who is facing eight counts of securities and wire fraud. In 2015, when Shkreli was CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, the company raised the price of its drug Daraprim by 5,000 percent. In 2016, Shkreli was widely criticized for defending the 400 percent increase in the price of EpiPen, an emergency allergy injection sold by Mylan. More than two hundred potential jurors were excused from the trial. Judge Kiyo Matsumoto presided. Benjamin Brafman is a lawyer representing Shkreli.

decorative leaf bulletDon’t worry kids, Dr. Fauci said he vaccinated Santa Claus

decorative leaf bullet Listen to Forests From Around the World With Tree.fm

Tree.fm is a website full of soundscapes from real forests around the world, which play while displaying a full-screen photo of the location where they were recorded. Click “listen to a random forest” and you’ll be transported to Madagascar to listen to some lemurs, or to Ghana to hear some peacefully rushing water, or to Russia, where a bird I’ve never heard of puts on a vocal performance.

decorative leaf bulletChestnuts roasting on a dumpster fire: 16 extremely 2020 Yule Log videos I wish to call your attention in particular to the “relaxing MAGA crackling fireplace,” wherein “California woodworker Big Poppa Woodworks offers the soothing sight of a crackling blaze, topped with all-too-familiar red caps meeting the same fate as Rudy Giuliani’s legal career.”

Buy me a Coffee! If you find this site interesting, and would like to see more, buy me a coffee. While I may actually buy coffee, I’ll probably buy books to review.

Elsewhere for December 20, 2020

You should read this for 12/2o/2020:

Biden Begins

decorative leaf bulletBiden Administration: Here’s Who Has Been Named So Far

In his latest selection, Biden tapped Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Ind., to lead the Department of Transportation. Buttigieg has not previously served in federal office but gained national prominence during his presidential bid in the 2020 Democratic primaries. If confirmed, he will be the first openly LGBTQ person to serve in a permanent Cabinet role.

Books, Libraries, Writing, and Language

Samuel Delany: decorative leaf bulletWhy I Write

Food and Drink

decorative leaf bulletRevealing Photo Series Documents School Lunches Around the World

History and Archaeology

decorative leaf bulletFit for a king: true glory of 1,000-year-old cross buried in Scottish field is revealed at last The cross in question was part of the Viking-age Galloway hoard found in 2014.

The Galloway Hoard was buried in the late 9th century in Dumfries and Galloway, where it was unearthed by a metal detectorist in 2014. The cross was among more than 100 gold, silver and other items, including a beautiful gold bird-shaped pin and a silver-gilt vessel. Incredibly, textile in which the objects had been wrapped was among organic matter that also survived.

decorative leaf bulletBoudicca revolt: Essex dig reveals ‘evidence of Roman reprisals’

Dr Niamh Wycherley, Department of Early Irish, School of Celtic Studies, Maynooth Univeristy: decorative leaf bulletChristmas in medieval Ireland

Science and Nature

H/T Yasmin: decorative leaf bulletTasmanian devils claw their way back from extinction

For decades a ghastly facial cancer has been decimating Tasmanian devils. Spreading from animal to animal when the stocky, raccoon-size marsupials bite each other, the transmissible cancer has killed up to 80% of the devils in Tasmania, their only home for millennia. Some researchers saw extinction as inevitable. Now, a new study in Science, suggests the remaining 15,000 devils have reached a détente with the cancer. Until recently it was spreading exponentially, like the pandemic coronavirus among humans in many parts of the world. But geneticists calculate that each infected devil now transmits tumor cells to just one—or fewer—other devils. That could mean the disease may disappear over time.


The EFF responds to Facebook’s attack on Apple regarding Apple’s decison to have users opt-in to having their data useddecorative leaf bulletFacebook’s Laughable Campaign Against Apple Is Really Against Users and Small Businesses

Facebook’s campaign is targeting a new AppTrackingTransparency feature on iPhones that will require apps to request permission from users before tracking them across other apps and websites or sharing their information with and from third parties. Requiring trackers to request your consent before stalking you across the Internet should be an obvious baseline, and we applaud Apple for this change. But Facebook, having built a massive empire around the concept of tracking everything you do by letting applications sell and share your data across a shady set of third-party companies, would like users and policymakers to believe otherwise.
Make no mistake: this latest campaign from Facebook is one more direct attack against our privacy and, despite its slick packaging, it’s also an attack against other businesses, both large and small.

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💩🔥💰 Trumpery 💩🔥💰

decorative leaf bullet The inside story of how Trump’s denial, mismanagement and magical thinking led to the pandemic’s dark winter

Pay It Forward and Make It Better

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Something Wonderful

H/T mccarrdey Video: decorative leaf bullet

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Elsewhere for December 13, 2020

You should read this for 1/22/2020:

Art, Music, and Film

Economist Podcasts: decorative leaf bulletThis week we speak to Viggo Mortensen, the actor best known for playing Aragorn in Lord of the Rings, about making his directorial debut and the future of indie film-making

decorative leaf bulletJames Corden proves why straight actors should think twice before playing gay

Biden-Harris Begin/h4>

decorative leaf bulletHarris assembles staff as she builds her vice presidential portfolio

decorative leaf bulletPRIORITIES
We aren’t just going to rebuild what has worked in the past. This is our opportunity to build back better than ever.

decorative leaf bullet

Books, Libraries, Writing, and Language

H/T Lisa C: decorative leaf bulletThe book of love: 400-year-old tome of John Donne’s poems is unveiled

The volume was discovered in 2018 in private hands at Melford Hall, the National Trust property in Suffolk, where it is believed to have been kept for at least 200 years. In 2019, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport imposed a temporary export bar on the work, warning that it was “at risk of being lost abroad” unless a UK buyer could match the £466,000 asking price.
The British Library’s acquisition – to be announced on Monday – was made possible by various sources, including the National Heritage Memorial Fund, and individuals such as Paul Chrzanowski, an American physicist and collector of early English texts, who has made numerous donations to public institutions.
The binding and watermarks suggest that it dates from between 1625 to 1635. Lock described the text as “beautifully legible, in a lovely clear hand”, with partial annotations from a later reader


decorative leaf bulletDenver’s Tattered Cover Bookstore Sold to Two Entrepreneurs This change in ownership means that Tattered Cover is now the largest Black-owned bookstore in the U.S.

The change in ownership was completed on Tuesday; Vlahos and Gilligan will stay on for a period of time as consultants. Spearman and Back have formed a limited liability company, Bended Page, with “a diverse group of Colorado-based investors and national bookselling and publishing experts” on board. The thirteen investors include Oren Teicher, the retired CEO of the American Booksellers Association and John Sargent, departing Macmillan CEO. Teicher and Sargent are among a seven-member board of directors, headed by Back, its chair, and Spearman, installed as the store’s CEO.

Coronavirus | COVID-19

decorative leaf bulletThe Vaccine Is Not Coming Soon Enough for Nursing Homes COVID-19 deaths in long-term-care facilities jumped 27 percent last week.

BBC Video: decorative leaf bulletCovid-19: How everyday life has changed in Wuhan

While the rest of the world is still battling a second wave of infections, the city hasn’t had any locally transmitted cases for months. So how has Wuhan changed, and what’s life like for ordinary people living in the initial centre of the pandemic?

Food and Drink

H/T Lymond: decorative leaf bulletThe Kugel Joke

History and Archaeology

decorative leaf bulletTudor coins dedicated to three of Henry VIII’s wives found in family garden

That was certainly the case for the unnamed New Forest family who dug up 63 gold coins and one silver coin dating from the 15th and 16th centuries. “They were out turning up the soil and all of a sudden these coins popped out of the ground … miraculously,” said Richardson. “It is quite a shocking find for them and very interesting for us.”
Probably hidden in about 1540, they include coins from Henry VIII’s reign, which are unusual in that they also, separately, feature the initials of three of his wives – Catherine of Aragon (K), Anne Boleyn (A) and Jane Seymour (I).

decorative leaf bulletFifth-century discovery suggests break with Rome did not cause steep decline in living standards for all<

But a stunning discovery at the Chedworth Roman villa in the Cotswolds suggests that some people at least managed to maintain a rich and sophisticated lifestyle.

National Trust archaeologists have established that a mosaic at the Gloucestershire villa was probably laid in the middle of the fifth century, years after such homes were thought to have been abandoned and fallen into ruin.

The mosaic, found in what may have been a summer dining room, is not quite as splendid as the ones at the villa dating to Roman times, but it seems to show the residents were clinging on to a very decent standard of living. .  . .it was possible to date the mosaic thanks to traces of carbon found in a trench dug to build a wall to create the room the mosaic was found in. Dating the carbon strongly suggested the wall was built between 424 and 544 AD. The mosaic was laid in the newly created room after the wall was built.


decorative leaf bulletSubstack isn’t a new model for journalism — it’s a very old one


decorative leaf bulletGoogle is now blocking the ads publishers sell if they don’t meet Google’s standards

Let’s be blunt: Nobody likes ads that choke their browser and slow their webpage to a crawl. No one has sympathy for ads that actively harm the user experience. Readers would rather have a functional webpage with a gray box on it than a non-functional one with an ad.
And yet…on principle alone, I still can’t quite get over the idea that Google — the world’s largest advertising company, perennially investigated by regulators for its abuse of its market power, criticized for its negative impacts on the news industry — gets to decide, unilaterally, that an ad The New York Times sold can’t be shown to a New York Times reader.

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Women’s Work

decorative leaf bullet‘It’s not a grave we must fit in’: the Kashmir women fighting for marital rights

💩🔥💰 Trumpery 💩🔥💰

decorative leaf bulletTrump has a long history of responding to loss with anything but grace

It’s impossible to separate Trump’s behavior now from his comments well before the election in which he made clear that this was exactly how he’d respond to a loss. Over and over, Trump claimed that mail-in ballots are rife with fraud — a claim both untrue in the past and in the most recent election — and that the only way he could lose would be if rampant fraud occurred. He lost, so he worked backward to suggest that it had occurred unfairly, in the clumsiest way imaginable.

decorative leaf bulletSidney Powell’s secret ‘military intelligence expert,’ key to fraud claims in election lawsuits, never worked in military intelligence

Pay It Forward and Make It Better

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Something Wonderful

decorative leaf bullet‘Magical’ monolith appears on Isle of Wight beach in the UK

decorative leaf bulletHumpback whale snapped during New York City harbour visit

Bjoern Kils photo of a Humpback statue of liberty
Bjoern Kils’ photo graph of a Humpback whale in view of the statue of Libery

Buy me a Coffee! If you find this site interesting, and would like to see more, buy me a coffee. While I may actually buy coffee, I’ll probably buy books to review.

Elsewhere for December 6, 2020

You should read this for 12/06/2020:

Art, Music, and Film

decorative leaf bulletNetflix Removes ‘Chappelle’s Show’ From Service Upon Request From Dave Chappelle Who Blasts ViacomCBS For Licensing His Show Without Paying Him

decorative leaf bulletMissing Australian Masterpiece Spent 115 Years Hiding in Plain Sight

Biden Begins

decorative leaf bulletGSA ready to begin transition; Biden to name first female heads of national intelligence, treasury

Earlier Monday, Biden announced several picks for top jobs in national security and foreign relations, and is also expected to name Janet L. Yellen as treasury secretary, according to three people in close communication with aides to the president-elect.
The nominations are: Alejandro Mayorkas to head the Department of Homeland Security, the first immigrant in that position; Avril D. Haines as director of national intelligence, the first woman in that position; and former secretary of state John F. Kerry as special presidential envoy for climate.

Books, Libraries, Writing, and Language

H/T Andy W: decorative leaf bulletWith Ni’Var, Discovery Pays Homage to an Original Star Trek Fanzine

decorative leaf bulletNora Roberts explains it to a Debra The blog post on Nora Roberts’ own blog is here. Debra starts demonstrating full-on entitlement and Dunning-Krueger here. Never, ever do this to a writer. It makes me miss a former boss’s response to an annoying customer: “You can’t buy our books. We don’t want you as a customer.”

decorative leaf bulletWhy Some Libraries Are Ending Fines

Ellen Muehlberger @emuehlbe on coining doom scrolling: decorative leaf bulletHere at the end of 2020, you might be wondering: who invented the best word of the year, namely “doomscrolling”?

Coronavirus | COVID-19

decorative leaf bulletMost coronavirus cases are spread by people without symptoms, CDC now says

æCDC and others estimate that more than 50% of all infections are transmitted from people who are not exhibiting symptoms,”

decorative leaf bulletMask Mandates Work To Slow Spread Of Coronavirus, Kansas Study Finds

Researchers analyzed coronavirus infection rates in Kansas following a statewide mask mandate. They found that counties that chose to enforce the mandate saw their cases decrease. Counties that chose to opt out saw their cases continue to rise.

Food and Drink

decorative leaf bullet10 Indian Instant Pot Recipes for Rich, Comforting Flavor Fast Butter chicken, palak paneer, lentils, dal . . .

History and Archaeology

decorative leaf bullet“Crazy, Noisy, Freaked-Out Dance Music for Weirdos”: The queer legacy of 3909 Sunset Boulevard

decorative leaf bullet‘Sistine Chapel of the ancients’ rock art discovered in remote Amazon forest

One of the world’s largest collections of prehistoric rock art has been discovered in the Amazonian rainforest.
Hailed as “the Sistine Chapel of the ancients”, archaeologists have found tens of thousands of paintings of animals and humans created up to 12,500 years ago across cliff faces that stretch across nearly eight miles in Colombia.

Their date is based partly on their depictions of now-extinct ice age animals, such as the mastodon, a prehistoric relative of the elephant that hasn’t roamed South America for at least 12,000 years. There are also images of the palaeolama, an extinct camelid, as well as giant sloths and ice age horses.

Science and Nature

decorative leaf bulletOn A Tour Of ‘America’s Amazon,’ Flora, Fauna And Glimpses Of Alabama’s Past

In his new book, Saving America’s Amazon: The Threat to Our Nation’s Most Biodiverse River System, Raines explores the remarkable array of flora and fauna, as well as the history, found in this vast river delta on the Alabama Gulf Coast. Think pitcher plant bogs, purple iris fields, colorful dart fish and tiny seahorses.


H/T Elizabeth A. decorative leaf bulletG.M. Drops Its Support for Trump Climate Rollbacks and Aligns With Biden

General Motors turned its back Monday on the Trump administration’s legal fight to nullify California’s strict fuel economy rules, signaling that it was ready to work with President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. to reduce climate-warming emissions from cars and trucks.
The decision by Mary Barra, the General Motors chief executive, to withdraw her company’s support for Trump administration efforts to strip California of its ability to set its own fuel efficiency standards was a striking reversal. It was also a signal that corporate America is moving on from President Trump.

decorative leaf bulletHow can you be LGBTQ+ at an evangelical university? In secret


decorative leaf bulletStanding with Dr. Timnit Gebru — #ISupportTimnit #BelieveBlackWomen

Until December 2, 2020, Dr. Gebru was one of very few Black women Research Scientists at the company, which boasts a dismal 1.6% Black women employees overall. Her research accomplishments are extensive, and have profoundly impacted academic scholarship and public policy. Dr. Gebru is a pathbreaking scientist doing some of the most important work to ensure just and accountable AI and to create a welcoming and diverse AI research field.
Instead of being embraced by Google as an exceptionally talented and prolific contributor, Dr. Gebru has faced defensiveness, racism, gaslighting, research censorship, and now a retaliatory firing. In an email to Dr. Gebru’s team on the evening of December 2, 2020, Google executives claimed that she had chosen to resign. This is false. In their direct correspondence with Dr. Gebru, these executives informed her that her termination was immediate, and pointed to an email she sent to a Google Brain diversity and inclusion mailing list as pretext.

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Women’s Work

decorative leaf bulletProf Sarah Gilbert: The woman who designed the Oxford vaccine

H/T Jasmine: decorative leaf bulletPortraits of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Favorite Collars and the Stories Behind Them

decorative leaf bulletRemarkable story of Madagascar’s last queen emerges from Surrey attic


decorative leaf bulletComputer repairman at center of Hunter Biden laptop scandal closes shop

H/T: Chris Johnson decorative leaf bulletThe Trump Regime Ends as It Began: Full of Clumsy Palace Intrigue, Serial Incompetence, and Wild Paranoia

Heidi Stirrup, an ally of top Trump adviser Stephen Miller, was quietly installed at the Justice Department as a White House liaison a few months ago. She was told within the last two weeks to vacate the building after top Justice officials learned of her efforts to collect insider information about ongoing cases and the department’s work on election fraud, the people said…

Stirrup had also extended job offers to political allies for positions at some of the highest levels of the Justice Department without consulting any senior department officials or the White House counsel’s office and also attempted to interfere in the hiring process for career staffers, a violation of the government’s human resources policies, one of the people said.

Pay It Forward and Make It Better

SetApp: A Suite of macOS Apps for a Single Price Affiliate link for a great collection of 75+ apps for a single price.

Something Wonderful

decorative leaf bulletHelicopter pilot finds ‘strange’ monolith in remote part of Utah See also: Mysterious Monolith Has Been There For Years, According To Google Earth.

decorative leaf bulletCreative Christmas Cards That Deserve an Award Notice, please, the kind of award is not specified.

decorative leaf bullet

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Elsewhere For November 23, 2020

You should read this for 11/23/2020:

Biden Begins

decorative leaf bulletBiden Administration: Here’s Who Has Been Named So Far

Books, Libraries, Writing, and Language

decorative leaf bulletStar Wars author appeals to Disney in fight over royalties

Disney has been accused of failing to pay royalties to the acclaimed author Alan Dean Foster for his bestselling novelisations of films including Star Wars and Alien, in a fight over copyright that is being described as unprecedented and grotesque

. . .

Foster and the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA), which is assisting him, claim Disney has ignored multiple queries from his agents, legal representatives and the SFWA.

And see also: Disney (Disney!) Accused Of Trying To Lawyer Its Way Out Of Paying Royalties To Alan Dean Foster

Coronavirus | COVID-19

decorative leaf bulletU.S. Hits 11 Million Coronavirus Cases, Adding 1 Million In A Week

More than 11 million confirmed coronavirus cases have been recorded in the United States, according to a COVID-19 tracker by Johns Hopkins University. The country reported 166,555 new cases on Sunday, with 1,266 new deaths.
The staggering milestone was reached only six days after the U.S. hit 10 million cases. Positive test rates and hospitalization rates are on the rise across the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Hospitalizations continue to climb. More than 69,000 people were hospitalized as of Sunday, more than ever before.

decorative leaf bulletTrump coronavirus adviser tells Michigan to ‘rise up’ against new shutdown orders

On Sunday, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) announced a three-week “pause to save lives,” closing colleges, high schools, workplaces and in-person dining as new coronavirus cases have spiked.
After she appealed to the Trump administration to intervene in the pandemic, White House coronavirus adviser Scott Atlas responded with a call to action. But instead of supporting Whitmer’s efforts to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus in Michigan, he urged residents to reject the state’s public health guidelines.

. . .

Atlas, a neuroradiologist and fellow at Stanford’s conservative Hoover Institution, joined the White House as a pandemic adviser in August despite having no background in public health or infectious diseases. He has promoted a controversial approach that would fully reopen the U.S. economy by attempting herd immunity, implementing a strategy used by officials in Sweden that reportedly gained favor with Trump.

H/T Lisa C: decorative leaf bulletPolitics played a role in pandemic shelter-in-place orders, WMU researchers find

Analyzing the length of time between when each state’s COVID-19 incidence reached one case per 100,000 people and when (or if) a SIPO was enacted, a pattern began to emerge. States with both a Democratic governor and legislature enacted SIPOs a week earlier than states with both a Republican governor and legislature. Eight states never issued a SIPO by the time other states began to ease restrictions in May 2020, and all of those states had Republican governors and legislatures.
“It was truly which political parties had control of the state directly that mattered,” Mingus says.
Those decisions had repercussions, Corder adds, pointing to a Columbia University study indicating that 55% of reported deaths as of May 3, 2020, could have been avoided if control measures had been implemented just a week earlier. “Weeks of delay translates into thousands of lives.”

decorative leaf bulletA server filmed a viral video of Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts maskless. Then she was fired.

The video went viral this week, leaving critics slamming Ricketts for refusing to issue a mask mandate in the state as coronavirus cases surge. But Montanez faced her own blowback: She was fired on Tuesday from the bar, for violating the company’s social media and cellphone policy, according to the owner.

decorative leaf bulletRachel Maddow

Watch: Rachel
reports that she’s been off the air for most of the past two weeks because her longtime partner Susan Mikula is sick with Covid-19 – so sick that “at one point we really thought that there was a possibility that it might kill her.” Mikula is recovering now.


decorative leaf bulletThe Legacy Of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos

To the president who asked her to run the Department of Education, she was a loyal lieutenant who argued for her department’s irrelevance in a nation where control of schools is a local affair — that is, until she argued the opposite, at the president’s urging, and threatened schools with a loss of federal funding if they refused to reopen mid-pandemic.

. . .

To her critics, including the nation’s teachers unions, she was a stone-cold villain who famously suggested guns belong in some schools (to fend off bears), who needed the vice president’s vote to survive confirmation and who spent four years disparaging American public education.

Food and Drink

decorative leaf bullet9 Tips for Perfect Mashed Potatoes The thing that I most often want to tell cooks making mashed potatoes is to salt the water before you cook the potatoes, and let them sit a minute in the warm pot after you drain the water. They’ll be savory and less watery that way.

History and Archaeology

decorative leaf bulletTranscript: NPR’s Full Interview With Former President Barack Obama Regarding 🤥🤥👖🔥’s refusal to acknowledge the realiity that he lost, definitively, to President Elect Joe Biden:

I take it seriously. I don’t think he’ll be successful in denying reality. And you’re starting to see a few Republican elected officials go ahead and say, “Look, Joe Biden has been elected and we need to move on in the transition.” I’m distressed that you haven’t seen more Republican leadership make this clear because the amount of time that’s being lost of in this transition process has real-world effects. Look, we’re in the middle of a pandemic. We’re in the middle of an economic crisis. We have serious national security issues.
And as I describe when I was elected for all the differences that I had with George W. Bush, he and his administration could not have been more gracious and effective in working with us to facilitate a smooth transition. And since we were in the middle of a big financial crisis, at that point, my ability to get fully briefed from a Hank Paulson, my abilities — since we were in the middle of two wars — to get immediately briefed on what was happening in Afghanistan and Iraq, what terrorist threats were out there that meant we hit the ground running and allowed us to be more effective in our responses. And so, it is yet one more example of how Donald Trump’s breach of basic democratic norms is hurting the American people.

H/T Lane: decorative leaf bulletWorld’s first 100% complete T-rex skeleton found locked in battle with a Triceratops<

The pair – nicknamed the ‘Dueling Dinosaurs’ – are preserved together in what is thought to be a predator-prey encounter, where both fought to the death. Entombed in sediment in Montana, they were discovered by professional fossil hunters – a cattle rancher cowboy and two pals.


Science and Nature

decorative leaf bulletBlue whale sightings off South Georgia raise hopes of recovery

Blue whales were abundant off South Georgia before industrial whaling – established on the island in 1904 – killed 42,698 of the animals there. Most of these whales were slaughtered before the mid-1930s but despite the legal protection in the 1960s, illegal hunting continued until the early 1970s.

decorative leaf bulletThe secret world of pygmy seahorses, where males give birth – photo essay


decorative leaf bullet‘Sound walks’ offer a new way to travel in lockdown

decorative leaf bulletHow The U.S. Fended Off Serious Foreign Election Day Cyberattack

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Women’s Work

decorative leaf bullet

decorative leaf bullet‘My mother was like a steel fist in a velvet glove’: the real Audrey Hepburn

Hepburn spent the second world war with her mother in the Netherlands under Nazi occupation. Her uncle was among the Dutchmen rounded up and shot. She saw Jewish women and children loaded into wagons. “It haunted her for the rest of her life,” says Ferrer. Van Heemstra had by this time renounced fascism and worked with the resistance in the Netherlands. Like many Dutch children, Hepburn did her bit, too, carrying messages hidden in her shoes, says Ferrer, who has written a biography of his mother

decorative leaf bulletHow Two French Introverts Quietly Fought the Nazis

💩🔥💰 Trumpery 💩🔥💰

decorative leaf bulletTrump Fires CISA Director Chris Krebs, Who Corrected Voter Fraud Disinformation

Christopher Krebs, the Department of Homeland Security director who had spearheaded a campaign to counter rumors about voter fraud, has been fired, President Trump tweeted on Tuesday.
Trump, in two misleading tweets about the security of the U.S. election, said Krebs’ termination was “effective immediately.”

decorative leaf bulletHow Dolly Parton Answers the ‘Why Don’t You Have Kids?’ Question And see also: Dolly Parton helped fund Moderna’s vaccine. It began with a car crash and an unlikely friendship.

decorative leaf bulletTrump election party draws scrutiny as guests test positive And then there were 5 and still more.

Pay It Forward and Make It Better

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Something Wonderful

decorative leaf bulletThis dog is both a good dog and a bad dog at the same time.

decorative leaf bulletTiny owl rescued from New York Rockefeller Center Christmas tree

Buy me a Coffee! If you find this site interesting, and would like to see more, buy me a coffee. While I may actually buy coffee, I’ll probably buy books to review.

Elsewhere for November 15

You should read this for 11/15/2020:

Art, Music, and Film

H/T JJBenedictus decorative leaf bulletBehold These Microscopic Spacecraft

Biden Begins

decorative leaf bulletPresident-Elect Biden Has A Plan To Combat COVID-19. Here’s What’s In It

decorative leaf bulletBiden plans immediate flurry of executive orders to reverse Trump policies

Books, Libraries, Writing, and Language

decorative leaf bulletHow Bunny The Dog Is Pushing Scientists’ Buttons

Coronavirus | COVID-19

decorative leaf bulletU.S. Confirmed Coronavirus Infections Hit 10 Million

More than 10 million people have now been confirmed to be infected with the coronavirus in the United States as the spread of the virus accelerates at an alarming pace across the nation.
The U.S. now accounts for about one-fifth of all of the 50 million infections worldwide, more than any other nation. The data comes from Johns Hopkins University.
The U.S. also is also in the unenviable position of suffering more deaths than any other country. More than 237,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the U.S., and more than 1,000 are frequently dying on a daily basis.

Nope; it didn’t have to happen. Wear a mask. Social distance. Wash your hands.

H/T SJS: decorative leaf bulletThis Tool Lets You See COVID Risk In Your Area In Real Time

decorative leaf bulletAt dinner parties and game nights, casual American life is fueling the coronavirus surge as daily cases exceed 150,000

A record-breaking surge in U.S. coronavirus cases is being driven to a significant degree by casual occasions that may feel deceptively safe, officials and scientists warn — dinner parties, game nights, sleepovers and carpools. Many earlier coronavirus clusters were linked to nursing homes and crowded nightclubs. But public health officials nationwide say case investigations are increasingly leading them to small, private social gatherings. This behind-doors transmission trend reflects pandemic fatigue and widening social bubbles, experts say — and is particularly insidious because it is so difficult to police and likely to increase as temperatures drop and holidays approach.
The White House coronavirus task force has been urging states that are virus hot spots to curtail maskless get-togethers of family and friends, saying in reports that asymptomatic attendees “cause ongoing transmission, frequently infecting multiple people in a single gathering.”

decorative leaf bulletMicrosoft says hackers from Russia and North Korea attacked COVID-19 vaccine makers

The hackers used various methods to carry out the attacks, according to the blog post, including brute force login attempts to steal login credentials, as well as spear-phishing attacks where the hackers posed as recruiters seeking job candidates, and as representatives of the World Health Organization.


decorative leaf bulletHow Our Biggest ISPs Are Failing Students During COVID-19

When school ended last year, SOMOS realized that many of their fellow Baltimore city schoolmates who’d relied on Comcast’s Internet Essentials discount program didn’t have a connection fast or reliable enough for online school. Whenever they could get into virtual classes, they’d often get kicked off multiple times a day and sometimes multiple times during a single class. Households with multiple students or family members working from home had to schedule who could be online, when and for how long. Families were put in impossible situations, forced to negotiate whose education or work was more important, and who would have to sacrifice and fall behind.

Food and Drink

decorative leaf bulletMiddle Eastern Roasted Vegetable Rice “This fancy, fabulous recipe for Middle Eastern Roasted Vegetable Rice can be enjoyed as an entree or side dish. It’s completely vegan, satisfying and full of flavor. Roasting the vegetables brings out their natural sweetness. Chickpeas add protein and fiber. A delicious blend of turmeric and spices adds anti-inflammatory goodness. You will love this flavorful take on vegetable rice!”

decorative leaf bullet Deep-Dish Bacon and Cheddar Quiche Recipe

decorative leaf bulletSlow Cooker Spiced Oatmeal

decorative leaf bulletBest Beef Chili
“Everyone needs a recipe for classic beef chili. Make this one your go-to! It’s made with corn, peppers, tomatoes, and beans, and makes enough to freeze for later!”

decorative leaf bulletSlow Cooker Beef and Bean Chili

History and Archaeology

decorative leaf bullet‘Remarkable’ Roman villa found buried under a field in North Wales

A Roman villa has been discovered buried deep under a field in North Wales.

The structure is the first of its kind found in north-east Wales and has been described as an “exciting addition” to our knowledge about the history of the area during the Roman period.

The discovery came about after Roman artefacts were found in Rossett, Wrexham by local detectorists.

That led experts to carry out a ‘remote sensing survey’ which revealed clear evidence of the structure buried at the site.

. . .

Dr Caroline Pudney, Senior Lecturer in Archaeology at the University of Chester said: “This exciting discovery potentially alters our understanding of north east Wales in the wake of the Roman conquest.

“Previous interpretations suggest that most people in this area either lived in settlements associated with Roman military sites or in quite simple farmsteads that continued to utilise Iron Age roundhouse architectural forms. The identification of the villa now questions this narrative.”

decorative leaf bulletHorse mastery helped mysterious Mongolian warriors build a multiethnic empire

Until now, the only accounts of the Xiongnu came from their enemies. Chinese records from 2200 years ago describe how these fierce mounted archers from the wide-open steppes of today’s Mongolia clashed with armies in what is now northwestern China. Their onslaughts spurred the Chinese to build what would become known as the Great Wall of China on their northern border, as protection against the mounted nomads. They also started to raise cavalry armies of their own.

The equestrian empire of the Xiongnu left no written records. But biology is now filling out their story, and those of other Central Asian cultures in antiquity. Two studies—a sweeping survey of ancient DNA from more than 200 individuals across 6000 years and an analysis of horse skeletons from just before the rise of the Xiongnu—trace population movements across Central Asia and the key role played by horsemanship. The results “show the horse was probably the driver of some of the ancestry shifts we see in the human population,” says Ludovic Orlando of Paul Sabatier University, who was not involved in the paper. “The horse provided new range in patterns of human mobility and allowed people to travel long distance faster.”

Science and Nature

decorative leaf bulletEuropa’s Nightside [Might] Glows in the Dark The original title is a little misleading; I’ve altered it.

In a few years, NASA will be sending a spacecraft to explore Jupiter’s icy moon Europa. Known as the Europa Clipper mission, this orbiter will examine the surface more closely to search for plume activity and evidence of biosignatures. Such a find could answer the burning question of whether or not there is life within this moon, which is something scientists have speculated about since the 1970s.

In anticipation of this mission, scientists continue to anticipate what it will find once it gets there. For instance, scientists from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory recently conducted a study that showed how Europa might glow in the dark. This could be the result of Europa constantly being pummeled with high-energy radiation from Jupiter’s magnetic field, the study of which could tell scientists more about the composition of Europa’s ice.


decorative leaf bulletPostal worker admits fabricating allegations of ballot tampering, officials say

decorative leaf bulletThe Times Called Officials in Every State: No Evidence of Voter Fraud “The president and his allies have baselessly claimed that rampant voter fraud stole victory from him. Officials contacted by The Times said that there were no irregularities that affected the outcome.”

The New York Times contacted the offices of the top election officials in every state on Monday and Tuesday to ask whether they suspected or had evidence of illegal voting. Officials in 45 states responded directly to The Times. For four of the remaining states, The Times spoke to other statewide officials or found public comments from secretaries of state; none reported any major voting issues.

. . .

What emerged in The Times’s reporting was how, beyond the president, Republicans in many states were engaged in a widespread effort to delegitimize the nation’s voting system.
Some Republicans have even turned to lashing members of their own party who, in their eyes, did not show sufficient dedication to rooting out fraud. In Georgia, where Mr. Biden is leading, the two Republican senators, Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, both of whom are in a runoff to gain re-election, have called for the resignation of the Republican secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger. “The secretary of state has failed to deliver honest and transparent elections,” the senators said in a statement.

decorative leaf bulletWhat is MeWe? Everything you need to know about the social network competing with Parler.

Now, MeWe is experiencing a boom just like Parler as pro-Trump supporters boycott Facebook and Twitter over their anti-misinformation policies in the aftermath of Trump’s defeat in the election.

It should also be noted that unlike Parler, MeWe does have users who aren’t conservative. It’s not even all about politics like it is with Parler. There are MeWe groups for supporters of the Green Party, groups for dog and cat lovers, and arts and music groups, to name a few. However, the most active users on the site seem to be there to discuss conservative politics.


decorative leaf bulletVatican enlists bots to protect library from onslaught of hackers<

So far, about 25% of the library’s documents have been digitised. The project started with “unique, most famous and fragile pieces”, said Miceli. They include one of the world’s oldest manuscripts, an illustrated fragment of Virgil’s Aeneid that dates back 1,600 years. The collection also contains Sandro Botticelli’s 1450 illustration of the Divine Comedy; poems, technical notes and sketches by Michelangelo; ancient manuscripts of the Inca people; and historical treaties and letters.

. . .

But, said Miceli, digitisation means “we have to protect our online collection so that readers can trust the records are accurate, unaltered history”. He added: “While physical damage is often clear and immediate, an attack of this kind wouldn’t have the same physical visibility, and so has the potential to cause enduring and potentially irreparable harm, not only to the archive but to the world’s historical memory. In the era of fake news, these collections play an important role in the fight against misinformation and so defending them against ‘trust attacks’ is critical.
“Less Hollywood, but still concerning, is a ransomware attack on the library – a well-known attack that infiltrates companies unseen and then locks down files incredibly quickly until you pay a hefty sum. Ransomware today moves at machine-speed, outstripping humans’ ability to spot and stop the attack before it escalates.

decorative leaf bulletJapanese town deploys Monster Wolf robots to deter bears “Officials say there have been no bear encounters since arrival of robots in wolves’ clothing”

decorative leaf bulletReview: HomePod mini See also: Apple Homepod Mini Review: Playing Small Ball

decorative leaf bulletmacOS 11.0 Big Sur: The Ars Technica review

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Women’s Work

H/T Introversion: decorative leaf bulletAlexandria Ocasio-Cortez ends truce by warning ‘incompetent’ Democratic party

The real problem, said Ocasio-Cortez, was that the party lacked “core competencies” to run campaigns.
“There’s a reason Barack Obama built an entire national campaign apparatus outside of the Democratic National Committee,” she told the Times’ Astead Herndon. “And there’s a reason that when he didn’t activate or continue that, we lost House majorities. Because the party – in and of itself – does not have the core competencies, and no amount of money is going to fix that.”

. . .

Grassroots activism that produced large turnout in Detroit, Philadelphia and Georgia was crucial to Biden’s win, and if the Democratic party fails to recognise that and incorporate the grassroots, the party disintegrates at the ballot box, Ocasio-Cortez said.
“It’s really hard for us to turn out nonvoters when they feel like nothing changes for them. When they feel like people don’t see them, or even acknowledge their turnout,” Ocasio-Cortez said.

See also this from someone on the ground.

decorative leaf bulletRobin Kemp lost her news job in Clayton County, Ga. — but she kept reporting the news. It paid off on election week.

Kemp’s all-night coverage was public service journalism in its purest form. Physically and mentally exhausted, fueled by nothing but leftover Thai drunken noodles and the belief that if she didn’t watch it nobody would, Kemp spent nearly a day inside the stout government building where officials were counting votes. At that moment, it wasn’t just her county that needed a local reporter — her country did, too.

decorative leaf bulletWoman the hunter: Ancient Andean remains challenge old ideas of who speared big game

When archaeologists discovered the bones of a 9000-year-old human in a burial pit high in the Andes, they were impressed by a tool kit of 20 stone projectile points and blades stacked neatly by the person’s side. All signs pointed to the discovery of a high-status hunter. “Everybody was talking about how this was a great chief, a big man,” says archaeologist Randy Haas of the University of California (UC), Davis.

Then, bioarchaeologist Jim Watson of the University of Arizona noted that the bones were slender and light. “I think your hunter might be female,” he told Haas.

Now, the researchers report that the burial was indeed that of a female, challenging the long-standing “man the hunter” hypothesis. Her existence led them to reexamine reports of other ancient burials in the Americas, and they found 10 additional women buried with projectile points who may also have been hunters. “The message [of the new finding] is that women have always been able to hunt and have in fact hunted,” says archaeologist Bonnie Pitblado of the University of Oklahoma, Norman, who was not part of the study.

💩🔥💰 Trumpery 💩🔥💰

decorative leaf bulletVoices from the fight: An oral history of the four-year movement to defeat Donald Trump

decorative leaf bulletViral videos of poll workers filling in ballots don’t show what Trump supporters want you to believe

decorative leaf bulletGOP leaders’ embrace of Trump’s refusal to concede fits pattern of rising authoritarianism, data shows

Now, according to data released by an international team of political scientists just before the Nov. 3 election, it’s possible to quantify the extent to which the Republican Party no longer adheres to such principles as the commitment to free and fair elections with multiple parties, the respectful treatment of political opponents and the avoidance of violent rhetoric.
“The Republican Party in the U.S. has retreated from upholding democratic norms in recent years,” said Anna Lührmann, a political scientist at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden and a former member of the German parliament. “Its rhetoric is closer to authoritarian parties, such as AKP in Turkey and Fidesz in Hungary.”

decorative leaf bulletMore than 130 Secret Service officers are said to be infected with coronavirus or quarantining in wake of Trump’s campaign travel

The spread of the coronavirus — which has sidelined roughly 10 percent of the agency’s core security team — is believed to be partly linked to a series of campaign rallies that President Trump held in the weeks before the Nov. 3 election, according to the people, who, like others interviewed for this report, spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the situation.

decorative leaf bulletLegal Avenues Closing As Trump Lawsuits Meet With Defeat Or Dead Ends

decorative leaf bulletDefense secretary sent classified memo to White House about Afghanistan before Trump fired him

After consulting with senior military officers, Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper sent a classified memo to the White House this month expressing concerns about additional cuts, according to two senior U.S. officials familiar with the discussion. Conditions on the ground were not yet right, Esper wrote, citing the ongoing violence, possible dangers to the remaining troops in the event of a rapid pullout, potential damage to alliances and apprehension about undercutting the negotiations.

decorative leaf bulletIn Trump’s final days, a 30-year-old aide purges officials seen as insufficiently loyal

Engineering much of the post-election purge is Johnny McEntee, a former college quarterback who was hustled out of the White House two years ago after a security clearance check turned up a prolific habit for online gambling.
A staunch Trump loyalist, McEntee, 30, was welcomed back into the fold in February and installed as personnel director for the entire U.S. government. Since the race was called for President-elect Joe Biden, McEntee has been distributing pink slips, warning federal workers not to cooperate with the Biden transition and threatening to oust people who show disloyalty by job hunting while Trump is still refusing to acknowledge defeat, according to six administration officials.

Pay It Forward and Make It Better

decorative leaf bulletHow to Safely Intervene in a Conflict

decorative leaf bulletStockton boy spread McDonald’s drive-thru kindness

decorative leaf bulletA teen with autism lost motivation for his walks to the post office. So strangers are sending cards to his P.O. Box.

Something Wonderful

decorative leaf bulletTwitter pranksters flood pro-Trump march hashtag with pancake pics

Buy me a Coffee! If you find this site interesting, and would like to see more, buy me a coffee. While I may actually buy coffee, I’ll probably buy books or writing equipment to review.