New Zealand's prime minister, Jacinda Arden, just resigned unexpectedly, which is a much more surprising story than any of these I queued up:
Finally, I'm glad to discover that ibuprofen may be more effective than acetaminophen for treating tension headaches, so I will now take one.
I've gotten two solid nights of sleep in a row, and I've got a clean desk for the first time in weeks. I hope that this becomes the norm, at least until November, when I'll have a packed musical schedule for six weeks as the Apollo Chorus rehearses or performs about 30 times. But that's seven months off.
That gives me plenty of time to listen to or read these:
And finally, in compiling geographic source data for Weather Now, I discovered that the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) assigned an official designator the location where the Ingenuity helicopter landed on Mars: JZRO, for Jezero Crater.
Just reviewing what I actually got up to yesterday, I'm surprised that I didn't post anything. I'm not surprised, however, that all of these articles piled up for me to read today:
- Dunn County, Wis., Democratic Party chair Bill Hogseth, writing in Politico, explains "why Democrats keep losing rural counties" like his.
- Ross Douthat asks, "why do so many Americans think the election was stolen?"
- Author Ben Judah explains why The Crown's portrayal of Prince Charles is wrong.
- The STBX administration's salted-earth activities include making the US citizenship test more political.
- The Federal Court for the District of Hawaii sentenced the corrupt former Honolulu police chief and his equally-corrupt ex-wife to prison for conspiracy, bank fraud, and other charges.
- The National Academy of Sciences has determined that a directed-microwave weapon sickened US diplomats in Havana, Cuba, but did not examine who fired it.
- Covid-19 has given us a whole new dictionary of workplace slang, according to 1843.
- The New Yorker's Alex Ross finds the moral closure of the 2004 film Downfall a little too facile.
- Divers in the Baltic Sea have found an Enigma coding device from May 1945.
- Though difficult to see from Chicago, a conjunction between Jupiter and Saturn will cause a rare double-planet effect this month, peaking when the planets are 6 arc-minutes apart on December 21st.
While I'm reading all of that, I've got a stew going in my Instant Pot (on slow-cooker mode). Unfortunately, it seems I underestimated the bulkiness of stew ingredients. I think I'll have a lot of leftovers:
While I'm waiting for Vice President Mike Pence and Senator Kamala Harris to face off at 8pm Central, I have other things to occupy my thoughts:
Also, it's sunny and 20°C this morning, going up to 23°C this afternoon, so I'm taking half a day off work. We have perhaps 3 more days of nice weather this year, and it's the first day of a sprint (so no deadlines quite yet).
I'm back in the office tomorrow, after taking a 7:15 am call with a colleague in India. So I won't spend a lot of time reading this stuff tonight:
OK, I need 3,700 steps before 10pm, and then I need to empty my dog and go to bed.
President Trump predictably went off the rails (which makes a big assumption about his relationship to said rails in the first place) after this morning's 5-4 Supreme Court decision essentially telling him he screwed up trying to screw over the Dreamers:
The vote was 5-4 with Chief Justice John Roberts casting the decisive fifth vote that sought to bridge the liberal and conservative wings of the court.
Roberts and the court's four liberal justices said the Department of Homeland Security's decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, was arbitrary and capricious under the Administrative Procedure Act.
In his opinion, Roberts wrote: "The appropriate recourse is therefore to remand to DHS so that it may reconsider the problem anew."
The best President we've had in over three years held out for eight whole minutes before Tweeting:
He Tweeted a couple more dumb things later, shortly before Facebook took down an ad his re-election campaign paid for because it literally had Nazi symbols in it:
In its online salvo against antifa and “far-left mobs,” President Trump’s reelection campaign displayed a marking the Nazis once used to designate political prisoners in concentration camps.
A red inverted triangle was first used in the 1930s to identify Communists, and was applied as well to Social Democrats, liberals, Freemasons and other members of opposition parties. The badge forced on Jewish political prisoners, by contrast, featured a yellow triangle overlaid by a red triangle.
The red symbol appeared in paid posts sponsored by Trump and Vice President Pence, as well as by the “Team Trump” campaign page. It was featured alongside text warning of “Dangerous MOBS of far-left groups” and asking users to sign a petition about antifa, a loose collection of anti-fascist activists whom the Trump administration has sought to link to recent violence, despite arrest records that show their involvement is trivial.
“We removed these posts and ads for violating our policy against organized hate,” said Andy Stone, a Facebook spokesman. "Our policy prohibits using a banned hate group’s symbol to identify political prisoners without the context that condemns or discusses the symbol.”
We get to see this crap for another 138 days before we can vote this psychopath out of office.
...I might have time to read all of these:
And now, back to work.
The New Republic puts President Trump's planned terror campaign this weekend in historical perspective:
The Trump administration forecasts its deportation raids not to make them more successful, but to instill fear in disfavored communities and to signal to his supporters that he’s doing just that. Trump constantly strives to slake his base’s unquenchable thirst for harsher policies toward immigrants. I’ve written before on how the border itself, and all the social ills that Trump ascribes to it, acts as a white whale of sorts for his presidency. The Cops-like show drama of the upcoming raids is red meat for Fox News viewers and Breitbart readers alike.
Immigrants in America have been targeted for political sensationalism before. Perhaps the best-known example is the Palmer raids, which took place in the fall of 1919 and the spring of 1920. ... Under Palmer’s leadership, the Justice Department launched a massive simultaneous raid on suspected communists in November 1919, sweeping up thousands of alleged members in more than a dozen states. Belief in the communist cause, not participation in any suspected crime, justified the arrests. Though the Justice Department trumpeted the detainees’ political ideology first, their status as immigrants also defined the raids.
Trump isn’t actually trying to solve an immigration problem. The president lacks the ability to remove all or most undocumented people in the country, and he lacks the desire to normalize their legal status in any meaningful way. His legislative proposals are too extreme even for members of his own party, while his negotiating tactics are ultimatums at best, hostage-taking at worst. This is all about raw political survival: terrorizing those whom his supporters hate, so that he remains the one they love.
Chicago is among the cities bracing for the raids.
When I first heard this morning that visa-free travel to Europe would end for US citizens in 2021, I was dismayed. I remember how time-consuming it was to get a visa before the visa-waiver program started in the late 1980s. And I figured that the US would retaliate, requiring visas from Europeans, which would essentially destroy tourism between the two regions.
The reality isn't really anything like that. In fact, it merely brings the EU in line with what the US has required of visa-free travelers for years.
Starting in 2021, Americans will simply need to register with the EU equivalent of our Electronic System for Travel Authorization, or ESTA:
Currently, US citizens can travel to Europe for up to 90 days without any sort of travel authorization. ETIAS will change that.
Visa-free travelers, including US citizens, will need to request ETIAS authorization before visiting the Schengen Area. They can complete an application and pay a service fee of 7 euros (about $8) online. The authorization is valid for three years.
"Completing the online application should not take more than 10 minutes with automatic approval being given in over 95% of cases," the European Commission said in a statement.
The United States won't be the only country affected by the changes. From 2021, citizens from 60 countries will be required to apply for the ETIAS before entering the Schengen Area. Brazil, Canada, New Zealand, Singapore, Israel and Mauritius are among those countries.
So this should not affect taking a last-minute trip on the Eurostar, or crossing from Northern Ireland into the Republic. And it's fair; we've required ESTA registration from all overseas visitors for many years. I'm annoyed particularly at NPR for getting the details totally wrong in their newscast this morning.