The US Supreme Court unanimously ruled that individual states have no power to remove a presidential candidate from the ballot, suggesting that only the US Congress has that power:
All the justices agreed that individual states may not bar candidates for the presidency under a constitutional provision, Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, that forbids insurrectionists from holding office. Four justices would have left it at that.
But a five-justice majority, in an unsigned opinion, went on to say that Congress must act to give Section 3 force.
In a joint concurring opinion, the court’s three liberal members — Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Ketanji Brown Jackson — expressed frustration at what they said was the majority’s needless overreach. They said it was meant to insulate the court and Mr. Trump “from future controversy.”
“The court today needed to resolve only a single question: whether an individual state may keep a presidential candidate found to have engaged in insurrection off its ballot,” they wrote. “The majority resolves much more than the case before us.”
The full opinion is here, which I plan to read tomorrow.
But of course this was the only possible outcome. And of course the Justices that the XPOTUS appointed would go farther than necessary. And of course the Court could have ruled on the XPOTUS's claims of immunity right away instead of scheduling oral arguments for April.
The corruption of the Republican justices does not surprise me anymore, but it does make me angry and sad. The Court will reverse most of their worst decisions, but like Plessy and Dred Scot, it could take decades to turn some of them around around.
Stories for the last day of winter, this year on the quadrennial day when your Facebook Memories have the fewest entries and, apparently, you can't pay for gas in New Zealand:
Finally, Economist editor Steve Coll got access to hundreds of hours of Saddam Hussein's taped strategy meetings. He concluded that both the CIA and Hussein had no understanding at all about what the other was thinking.
Also, the temperature at IDTWHQ bottomed out at -5.3°C just after 7am and has kept climbing since then. The first day of spring should get it up into the high teens, with 20°C possible on Sunday. Weird, but quite enjoyable.
The temperature at Inner Drive Technology World HQ bottomed out this morning, hitting -4.8°C at 10:41 am, and it may even end the day above freezing. So this mercifully-short cold snap won't keep us out of the record books, just as predicted. It's still the warmest winter in Chicago history. (Let's hope we don't set the same record for spring or summer.)
Meanwhile, the record continues to clog up with all kinds of fun stories elsewhere:
- Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who has led his party in the Senate since the Cretaceous, announced he will step down from leadership in November, handing some other schmuck clean-up duties after the electoral disaster likely to befall the party on the 5th of that month.
- After the unhinged ruling on embryo "personhood" the Alabama Supreme Court handed down last week, Republicans across the country have fallen over themselves saying they want to protect IVF treatment while they vote against protecting IVF treatment. Jamelle Bouie runs down some of the dumbass things Republicans have said on the ruling, with a cameo from the dumb-as-rocks junior US Senator from Alabama, who sounded more like Nigel Tufnel than usual.
- Aaron Blake pointedly contradicts the usual "bad for Biden" story line by putting President Biden's Michigan-primary win last night in perspective.
- Bruce Schneier looks at the difficulties insuring against cyber crime, one of the problems we're also solving at my day job.
- New York prosecutors said the Art Institute of Chicago exhibited "willful blindness" in 1966 when it acquired art looted by the Nazis, an accusation the museum denies.
- Harry Windsor, the Duke of Sussex, lost his case against the UK Home Office, in which he sued to keep his publicly-funded security detail the same size as it was when he actually did his job as the Royal Spare. The high court (the rough equivalent of the DC Circuit Court of Appeals in this case) ruled that the relevant agency had made a perfectly rational decision as the Duke now lives in California, doesn't do bugger-all for the UK, and is a whiny prat to boot.
Finally, Chicago Transit Authority president Dorval Carter took a—gasp!—CTA train to a city council hearing, at which he promised the CTA could be the best transit system in the world if only the State of Illinois would give it more funding. The very last thing I did in Munich on Sunday was to take the S-Bahn to the airport at 7am, so I can assure you money isn't the CTA's only impediment to achieving that lofty goal.
(Also, I just realized that This Is Spinal Tap turns 40 on Saturday. Wow.)
It's official: with two days left, this is the warmest winter in Chicago history, with the average temperature since December 1st fully 3.5°C (6.3°F) above normal. We've had only 10 days this winter when the temperature stayed below freezing, 8 of them in one week in February. This should remain the case when spring officially begins on Friday, even though today's near-record 23°C (so far) is forecast to fall to -6°C by 6am. And that's not even to discuss the raging thunderstorms and possible tornadoes we might get as an energetic cold front slices through tonight. By "energetic," I mean that the NWS predicts a drop by as much as 16°C (30°F) in one hour around 10pm.
Not to worry: it'll be 17°C by Sunday. (The normal high temperatures are 4.7°C for February 27th and 5.4°C for March 3rd; the records are 23.9°C and 26.7°C, respectively.)
Meanwhile, I don't have time to read all of these before I pack up my laptop tonight:
And now, back to getting ready for the Sprint 103 release. That's a lot of sprints.
As I'm trying to decide which books to take with me to Germany, my regular news sources have also given me a few things to put in my reading list:
Finally, the North Atlantic has near-record jet streams again this week, approaching 360 km/h, and shaving 45 minutes off the DC–London route. I would love that to happen Wednesday.
New York Justice Arthur Engoron just handed the XPOTUS a $350 million fine and barred him and his two failsons from running a business in New York for years:
The decision by Justice Arthur F. Engoron caps a chaotic, yearslong case in which New York’s attorney general put Mr. Trump’s fantastical claims of wealth on trial. With no jury, the power was in Justice Engoron’s hands alone, and he came down hard: The judge delivered a sweeping array of punishments that threatens the former president’s business empire as he simultaneously contends with four criminal prosecutions and seeks to regain the White House.
Mr. Trump will appeal the financial penalty — which could climb to $400 million or more once interest is added — but will have to either come up with the money or secure a bond within 30 days. The ruling will not render him bankrupt, because most of his wealth is tied up in real estate.
Of course he'll appeal, but New York doesn't give him many grounds to do so. And given the scale of the fraud he perpetrated on the State, even this eye-watering sum will probably survive scrutiny from the appellate court.
In other news this afternoon:
Finally, the Tribune has a long retrospective on WGN-TV weather reporter Tom Skilling, who will retire after the 10pm newscast on the 28th.
With the news this morning that Ukraine has disabled yet another Russian ship, incapacitating fully one-third of the Russian Black Sea fleet, it has become apparent that Ukraine is better at making Russian submarines than the Murmansk shipyards. Russia could, of course, stop their own massive military losses—so far they've lost 90% of their army as well—simply by pulling back to the pre-2014 border, but we all know they won't do that.
In other news of small-minded people continuing to do wastefully stupid things:
- The House of Representatives voted 214-213 to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas for, it turns out, no good reason, since it's the House Republican majority's failure to advance the Senate immigration bill that has Immigration and Customs Enforcement mulling a mass release of detained immigrants.
- While that vote took place, the New York 3rd Congressional District elected Democrat Tom Suozzi 58-42 to flip the seat held by defenestrated former Representative George Santos (R). This is the 4th consecutive special-election win by Democrats since the 118th Congress began last year, so of course news organizations have to explain why Suozzi's win is bad for us.
- Neuroscientist Charan Ranganth patiently explains how President Biden has normal age-related recall issues, which are not indicative of failing health or mental acuity, and are manifestly not the same thing as the serious memory issues that would be.
- Closer to home, the Chicago Transit Authority released preliminary plans to expand the Addison Red Line stop adjacent to Wrigley Field as part of the phase of its Red-Purple Modernization project starting in 2026.
- February is, and will almost certainly wind up, the 11th consecutive month of above-normal temperatures in Chicago, averaging 7.2°C (13.1°F) above normal so far, with continued warmth predicted after a weekend cool-down to the end of the month.
- Bill Post, who invented Pop-Tarts, has died.
Finally, a reader who knows my perennial frustration at ever-lengthening copyright durations sent me a story from last March about who benefits from composer Maurice Ravel's estate. Ravel died in 1937, so his music will remain under copyright protection until 1 January 2034, providing royalties to his brother’s wife’s masseuse’s husband’s second wife’s daughter. Please think of her the next time you hear "Bolero."
I first visited Ravinia Brewing early in the Brews & Choos Project, and liked it. In fact I have gone back several times, most recently a week ago Friday. I haven't yet visited their Logan Square taproom though, and because of the way trademarks and contracts work in the US, I may never:
In October, Ravinia Festival, the Highland Park outdoor concert venue known for its summer music series, sued the craft brewery for trademark infringement, court records show.
The brewery was born out of the Ravinia District of Highland Park in 2017 and opened its original location there in 2018.
In 2018, the brewery signed an agreement that allowed both parties to use the name, as long as the brewery complied with guidelines to ensure consumers understood there was no relationship between the two organizations.
The lawsuit alleges the brewery violated that agreement.
Brewery co-owners Jeff Hoobler and Kris Walker have called the lawsuit unjust and said the business is rapidly losing money because of legal expenses. They warned the business could close if the company keeps bleeding financially.
I've just read RBC's answer to RF's complaint, which includes the allegations in the complaint as per local rules. As with any lawsuit, we don't know the full story, and as this will probably never go to trial, we probably never will. It looks like the brewery and the Festival have some bad blood between them, for sure. But if the brewery's answer is accurate, this has all the feeling of trying to crack a walnut with a sledgehammer.
I hope the Festival and the brewery can come to a compromise here. I like them both.
I grabbed a friend for a couple of Brews & Choos visits yesterday, and through judicious moderation (8-10 oz of beer per person at each stop), we managed to get the entire West Fulton Corridor cluster done in six hours. So in a few minutes I'll start writing four B&C reviews, which will come out over the next three days.
Before I start, though, I'm going to read all these stories that have piled up since Friday:
Finally, the Roscoe Rat (really a squirrel) Hole got its own NPR story this morning. And in my social media I saw a photo of someone proposing to her boyfriend at the rat hole. Color me bemused.
An Ottawa judge told the Crown Prosecution Service to return a suspect's mobile phones after prosecutors failed to unlock them after trying 175 million passwords:
The police seized the phones in October 2022 with a warrant obtained based on information about a Google account user uploading images of child pornography. The contents of the three phones were all protected by complex, alpha-numeric passcodes.
Ontario Superior Court Justice Ian Carter heard that police investigators tried about 175 million passcodes in an effort to break into the phones during the past year.
The problem, the judge was told, is that more than 44 nonillion potential passcodes exist for each phone.
To be more precise, the judge said, there are 44,012,666,865,176,569,775,543,212,890,625 potential alpha-numeric passcodes for each phone.
In his ruling, Carter said the court had to balance the property rights of an individual against the state’s legitimate interest in preserving evidence in an investigation. The phones, he said, have no evidentiary value unless the police succeed in finding the right passcodes.
The article helpfully describes how dictionary attacks work, but doesn't attempt to figure out how long it would take to brute-force them. (I'm not going to attempt that, either, but I expect it's a while.)