February 11, 2021
The Good News
- U.S. coronavirus deaths, though still high, are in a sustained decline. (NYT, $)
- It turns out installing solar panels on your house actually benefits your whole community. (Eureka)
“When people ask if the United States can afford to place on trial the president, if the system can stand impeachment, my answer is, “Can we stand anything else?” — George McGovern
“The genius of impeachment lay in the fact that it could punish the man without punishing the office.” — Arthur M. Schlesinger
The Start Of An Unpresidented Impeachment
(Drew Angerer via Getty Images)
On the first day of arguments in ex-President Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial, lead manager Jamie Raskin (D-Md) opened by telling the senators sitting as jurors that the evidence “will show that Donald Trump surrendered his role as commander in chief and became the inciter in chief of a dangerous insurrection.”
Henceforth, the managers prosecuting the case laid out a sweeping narrative of the events leading up to the deadly January 6 riot at the Capitol Building. For months, Trump had been provoking his supporters with fiery tweets in which he lied about a rigged and stolen election, encouraging them to do whatever it takes to save their country and keep him in office. Scores of presidential tweets were shown demonstrating that he called his followers to travel to Washington on the day Congress was counting Electoral College votes, the routine final step in Joe Biden’s election win.
An overwhelming abundance of video and audio evidence from January 6 was shown, beginning with Trump’s speech around noon to the heavily-armed crowd of thousands that they should “walk down, and I’ll walk with you” to the Capitol Building, where they should “fight like hell” to stop the count. Interspersed with video clip after video clip of an increasingly-violent mob desecrating the building and attacking police was riveting, never-before-seen security camera footage. Body camera footage and audio revealed severely outnumbered Capitol police officers being assailed with munitions, glass bottles, metal poles, flags, and bear spray.
Trump watched the siege on television, delighted that the vote count had been interrupted. People were desperately appealing to him to say something to the insurgents to stop the violent attack. Instead, Trump posted his earlier speech telling the crowd they had to be strong, that they’d never take their country back being weak. Later he castigated his own vice president, calling him a “traitor” for not having the courage to stop the count, which fomented shouts of “Hang Mike Pence.” Trump continued tweeting encouragement to the rioters during the assault, praising them as patriots and telling them they were ‘special people.’ He did nothing to stop the mob or send reinforcements to the police.
The senators were forced to relive a day in which their own lives were in very real jeopardy. Chilling evidence clearly showed that heavily-armed members of the mob were intent on shooting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, among others, and “executing” Vice President Mike Pence, had they been found. Five people died that day. Over 140 police officers were injured, with one dying the next day from his injuries. Two officers later committed suicide. (NYT, WaPo, $)
Migrants Flee Tyrant, Find Colombian Comfort
(Guillermo Legaria via Getty Images)
- Colombian President Ivan Duque announced Monday that temporary protective status will be offered to nearly a million undocumented Venezuelan migrants.
- The new rules will make the migrants living in the country prior to January 31, 2021 eligible for 10-year residence permits, and allow migrants currently on temporary residence to extend their stay. The new status will be a game-changer as it will allow those migrants to work legally, as well as access health and education services.
- Colombia is home to some 1.7 million displaced Venezuelans, who left behind a failed economy and violent repression by the government of President Nicolas Maduro. (NPR)
Japan Tried, In Vein, To Use All Doses
- Japan secured 144 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine, enough to inoculate 72 million people with two doses each.
- But a special low “dead space” syringe is required in order to draw all six doses from a single vial of vaccine. Japan has standard syringes that can’t retrieve that last dose out of a vial, which means 60 million Japanese will be receiving their shots, and 12 million vaccine doses will be discarded.
- Japan is not alone in encountering the problem. The US and countries in the EU have also reported a shortage of low dead space syringes, likely ensuring stiff competition to secure additional supplies. (Guardian)
Additional World News
- U.S. Carriers Train In South China Sea In Likely Signal To Beijing (NPR)
- Facebook Dials Down the Politics for Users (NYT, $). Let’s get back to the Facebook good old days: FarmVille, pokes from your grandparents, and checking your ex’s profile every 5 minutes.
- The Great Firewall Cracked, Briefly. A People Shined Through. (NYT, $) & Clubhouse: The controversial chats that angered China’s censors (BBC)
- The New Alliance Shaping the Middle East Is Against a Tiny Bug (NYT, $)
- In Canada, Americans Are Missed, With Limits (NYT, $). ‘Americans are missed’ — there’s a phrase you never thought you’d hear.
- ‘That’s enough’: France confronts decades of neglect of incest cases (Guardian)
- Letter from Africa: How a textbook exposed a rift in Sudan’s new government (BBC
- Listen: How the Queen lobbied for changes in the law to hide her wealth (Guardian)
- Muslims in America: A forgotten history (Al Jazeera)
- New Zealand parliament says ties not mandatory after Maori MP ejected (BBC). Luckily he won the vote by a wide margin — he can’t stand ties.
- UK failing to protect human rights defenders abroad, says Amnesty (Guardian)
- Covid: EU’s von der Leyen admits vaccine rollout shortcomings (BBC)
- COVID app triggers overdue debate on privacy in Singapore (Al Jazeera)
- As WHO coronavirus mission leaves empty-handed, China claims propaganda win (WaPo, $)
FBI Seeks Hacker, Hopefully They Brought Their Lye Detectors
- The FBI and Secret Service were called in to help find the perpetrator who hacked into the water treatment plant system in Oldsmar, Florida last Friday. The intruder broke into the system at least twice, taking control of a plant operator’s computer by the same method a supervisor or specialist might use.
- In minutes, the hacker had remotely increased the level of sodium hydroxide in the city’s drinking water by a factor of 100. The plant operator was able to reset the sodium hydroxide level back to normal parameters before the water supply was threatened. During a briefing Monday, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said: “The hacker changed the sodium hydroxide from about 100 parts per million to 11,100 parts per million … obviously a significant and potentially dangerous increase.
- Sodium hydroxide, also known as lye, is the main ingredient in liquid drain cleaners. It’s also used to control water acidity and remove metals from drinking water.” Oldsmar is a small city northwest of Tampa, about 12 miles from Raymond James Stadium that hosted the Super Bowl two days after the attack. (NPR)
CDC Says Masks, Iowa Says No Masks, Let’s Call All Restrictions Off
- Iowa’s Republican Governor, Kim Reynolds, announced last Friday she would lift all pandemic restrictions — mask mandates, limits on gatherings, and indoor dining restrictions — as of 12:01 am on Super Bowl Sunday. She offered no explanation and didn’t consult the state’s public health department. Her announcement came the same week that new variants of Covid-19 were detected in the state, and one day after Iowa surpassed 5,000 deaths.
- Iowa was one of only five states that did not issue a stay-at-home order when the pandemic became rampant last spring. At first, the state’s biggest outbreaks were at food processing plants, which employ a large amount of immigrant labor. Plants were shut down, but when farmers with no market for their hogs started euthanizing them, the plants reopened.
- Iowa was alone in the nation for allowing high school students to play baseball and softball, at a time the state was averaging between 400 and 600 cases a week. Now that vaccines are available, Iowa ranks as the 47th-worst state for per-capita vaccine distribution and 46th worst for the rate of administering doses to residents. Officially, the advice is for Iowans to stay vigilant and for “vulnerable Iowans” to stay inside. Critics say that translates to: ‘Welcome to Iowa: A state that just doesn’t care if you live or die.’ (WaPo, $)
Additional USA News
- Michigan Sen. Mike Shirkey Calls US Capitol Attack A Hoax (NPR)
- Facing A Reckoning, Wyoming Wrestles With A Transition From Fossil Fuels (NPR)
- 4 takeaways from Day One of Trump’s second impeachment trial (WaPo, $)
- Amazon fight with workers: ‘You’re a cog in the system’ (BBC). Never fear, here comes BAMA-Zon!
- The Digital Divide Is Giving American Churches Hell (Wired)
- ‘There’s Nothing Left’: Why Thousands of Republicans Are Leaving the Party (NYT, $)
- Capitol Insurrection: More Than 200 People Charged And What We Know About Them (NPR). These are their stories.
- ‘I Said The Opposite’: Criticism Of Trump’s Impeachment Defense Intensifies (NPR)
- Town Of Palm Beach Hears Arguments On Trump’s Permanent Move To Mar-A-Lago Full-Time (NPR)
- Trump won’t be convicted. Impeachment is still worth it. (Vox)
- 5 Flaws in the Conservative Case Against Biden’s Child Allowance (Intelligencer)
- Senate Judiciary Committee schedules Merrick Garland confirmation hearing (Politico). Wow, that guy has sure been waiting awhile.
- Tech meltdowns kept millions from obtaining unemployment aid last year. Now, a senator has a $500 million plan to fix it. (WaPo, $)
- Your Daily Dose Of Data: Our key findings about US healthcare worker deaths to date (Guardian)
- How to master the vaccine-appointment website: A guide for everyone (WaPo, $)
- As CDC weighs coronavirus testing requirement for domestic flights, industry voices fierce opposition (WaPo, $)
Getting Catty In the Courtroom
- A Texas lawyer using his secretary’s computer showed up for a virtual court hearing on Zoom this week. At first “everything seemed fine – my picture popped up,” said Rod Ponton. But when the judge called the case, a filter suddenly replaced Ponton’s face with that of a white kitten with large, concerned eyes.
- Ponton tried explaining himself, but the kitten’s lips were doing the talking and its eyes were capturing the attorney’s horror and confusion. The judge tells the stricken lawyer: “I believe you have a filter turned on in the video settings….” The dismayed attorney interrupts, asking: “Can you hear me, judge?”
- The legal eagle continues his unsuccessful attempt to remove the filter, but in full disclosure decides to tell the judge he isn’t a cat. The judge says he can hear, and he thinks it’s a filter and Ponton should remove it. Now the panicking Ponton admits: “I don’t know how to remove it… I’m here live. I’m not a cat.”
- The judge took the episode in stride, although it was surely embarrassing for Ponton. What’s even more embarrassing? The filter is a decades-old piece of software pre-installed on some Dell laptops, suggesting it’s way past time to upgrade those vital professional devices. (BBC)
- Hyundai is getting serious about building a ‘walking car’ with four legs (Verge)
- Bitcoin consumes ‘more electricity than Argentina’ (BBC) & Tesla’s $1.5 billion bitcoin purchase clashes with its environmental aspirations (Verge). Will Tesla stay green in the face of so much green?
- Trump’s Trial: Stephen Colbert Experiences ‘Déjà Coup’ (NYT, $)
- Phoebe Bridgers wants you to know women can smash guitars too (CNN). In this specific case, they just might not do as much damage.
- Aunt Jemima No More; Pancake Brand Renamed Pearl Milling Company (NPR)
- Running Is a Total Body Affair (NYT, $)
- Salesforce declares the 9-to-5 workday dead, will let some employees work remotely from now on (Verge). Watch out for their next announcement, which heralds the dawn of the 9-9 workday.
- What, Exactly, Is Amazon Web Services? (NYT, $)
- 8-Year-Old Calls Out NPR For Lack Of Dinosaur Stories (NPR).
- YouTubers Project ‘Boris Johnson is a Wet Wipe’ on Houses of Parliament (Ex Bulletin)
- ‘Sisters With Transistors’: Pioneers Of Electronic Music (NPR). Far superior to their male counterparts, Guys With Power Supplies.
- How the Covid-19 pandemic broke Nextdoor (Vox)
- Astronomers’ hopes raised by glimpse of possible new planet (Guardian)
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