January 22nd – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

Day one of the Senate trial went on, and on, and on. Plus, the new communes, and counting on the trees to save us.

I knew it was a bad sign when the Senate Impeachment Trial started with The Fonz strapping on a pair of water skis. Day one ran a cool 13 hours. It was a lot to binge (C-Span and Chill?). Next time maybe they should release one episode a week. And the content it most resembled? Groundhog Day. Hour after hour, we saw the same scene play out. The House Managers offered thus far undisputed evidence of Trump’s abuse of power. And the president’s lawyers attacked their opponents and littered their arguments with almost as many distortions as their boss tends to deploy. Think I’m exaggerating? White House counsel Pat Cipollone said the following, slowly, and with a straight face: “President Trump is a man of his word.” And then there were the party line votes. 47-53. 47-53. 47-53. 47-53. If you started watching day one of the trial when you were 47, you were 53 by the time it ended. Even my two beagles, who have suffered through more hours of cable news than the White House night staff, were fully traumatized by the time the Senate adjourned. The key question that was being debated is best summed up by Marvin Gaye: Can I get a witness? So far the answer from the GOP majority is a resounding no. Next up, the House Managers will lay out a “factual chronology” of the president’s actions. (Facts. How quaint…) Here’s the latest from WaPo and CNN.

+ “If Mitt Romney shows up at the White House and demands Trump’s resignation, does anybody—least of all Mitt—think Trump would listen or care?” Garrett Graff in Politico Magazine: Why No GOP Senator Will Stand Up to Trump.

+ As I mentioned yesterday, I think the current era more closely resembles Joseph McCarthy’s rise and fall than any prior impeachment. I fleshed out that argument, and explained why this story will end differently: Where’s My Edward R. Murrow?

+ The Cut: Are Senators Truly Allowed to Drink Milk on the Floor? (Thankfully, home viewers can drink whatever they need…)


Living on the Edge

“Members must contribute 10 hours of labor each week, which might include tending the apple orchard, milking the herd of goats or cooking for the community.” The NYT on The New Generation of Self-Created Utopias. “As so-called intentional communities proliferate across the country, a subset of Americans is discovering the value of opting out of contemporary society.” (It sort of defeats the point of opting out of society if you have like 20 roommates…)

+ Meeting the Lone Resident of the Highest Village in Europe. (Now that’s more like it, though I always thought the highest village in Europe was Amsterdam…)


Water Boardroom

“Two men who proposed interrogation techniques widely viewed as torture are part of a lawsuit filed on behalf of former C.I.A. detainees. Deposition videos, obtained exclusively by The New York Times, reveal new insights into the enhanced interrogation program and the C.I.A. contractors behind it.” C.I.A. Torture: Interrogating the Interrogators. (Some amazing moments.) For more on this topic, I recommend the movie, The Report, starring Adam Driver.


Going Viral

“A newly identified strain of coronavirus has killed 17 people in China and caused hundreds of confirmed infections, the Hubei provincial government said Wednesday, citing the latest figures from hard-hit Wuhan and other cities. Health officials in Beijing say they’re concerned that the deadly coronavirus could spread further during the Lunar New Year celebrations.”

+ This seems like a reasonable time to read Ed Yong’s 2018 Atlantic piece: The Next Plague Is Coming. Is America Ready?


The Giving Trees

“Trees are the most efficient carbon-capture machines on the planet. Through photosynthesis, they absorb carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas that traps heat in the environment, and turn it into energy. That energy creates new leaves, longer stems and more mass — locking away carbon.” WaPo: The audacious effort to reforest the planet. (It’s not a solution, but at least we’re laying down some roots.)


Memorial Daze

“The presidents of France, Georgia, Russia and Ukraine will be joined by kings from Spain and Belgium. Britain’s Prince Charles, as well as the US vice-president, Mike Pence, and speaker of the US house of representatives, Nancy Pelosi, will also attend.” As we approach the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, Jerusalem hosts largest-ever political gathering for Holocaust forum.

+ Half of Americans don’t know 6 million Jews were killed in Holocaust.


Royally F–ked

“The information we have received suggests the possible involvement of the Crown Prince in surveillance of Mr. Bezos, in an effort to influence, if not silence, The Washington Post’s reporting on Saudi Arabia.” NPR: U.N. Urges Probe Of Reported Hacking Of Jeff Bezos’ Phone By Saudi Arabia.


Couples Hydrotherapy

“The bodies of the victims were now thought to be lying at the bottom of a reservoir just east of Yosemite national park. The killers, the FBI said, were possibly connected to the Russian mafia. This was the Ralstons’ first homicide case. Until this moment, they had only used their specialised sonar system to scour the lake and riverbeds for victims of accidents or suicides. Before they agreed to help find the bodies, Gene called his cousin, a recently retired FBI agent, for advice. ‘He said the Russians weren’t really into murdering people. So we didn’t really have to worry about them doing any retaliation if we went ahead with the search.'” The Guardian: Gene and Sandy Ralston are a married couple in their 70s, who also happen to be among North America’s leading experts at searching for the dead. (Every couple needs a hobby.)



NYT: “When officials in an eastern Chinese city were told to root out ‘uncivilized behavior,’ they were given a powerful tool to carry out their mission: facial recognition software. Among their top targets? People wearing pajamas in public.” (It’s a dangerous technology and a terrible abuse of surveillance, but you can’t really argue with the chosen targets.)


Bottom of the News

“Why, those older adults must be asking, do people in the prime of their lives seem to be preparing for their demise? The answers vary widely, from eminently practical concerns, such as crushing debt and climate change, to social factors, like wellness culture, diverse spiritual practices, and the desire of some millennials to ‘curate their afterlives.'” Vox: Unlike boomers, young people are embracing planning their own funerals. (It’s all about getting that one last selfie…)

+ Miami forecast calls for it to be cloudy with a chance of falling iguanas.

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