Happy Easter weekend…
(For me and other Greek-Americans, Easter presents a yearly choice: Greek Easter is calculated on a different calendar (it also has only boring red eggs), and just once in a red moon coincides with the non-Greek holiday. This year it’s a week later, so we’re not putting our eggs in any baskets until next Sunday. We celebrate Greek Easter in honor of my Mom, who was fanatic about all holidays. The Greek Orthodox Church was dead to us once a priest told the congregation that the offspring of “mixed marriages”–that is, Greek and non-Greek spouses like my parents—were considered illegitimate by the Church. (My dad walked out of the service.)
(The other Churches became dead to us a bit later, and for varying reasons.)
1 A brief Mueller interlude…a) Rep. Gerald Nadler is grandstanding by demanding the full, unredacted report. Giving secret grand jury testimony to Congress would be illegal. Anything to inflame the public, I guess…b) It’s incomplete, but Scott Horton, a smart libertarian who has been tracking the various complexities of the Russiagate investigation far more closely than I have, tears the Mueller report to shreds in convincing fashion. I’m accepting the conclusions of the report on faith, but Horton demonstrates how open to attack the investigation may be. The post is long and overly colloquial, and I don’t have time to check Horton’s facts, but it is worth reading. c) April Ryan, the CNN hack who has a long history of attacking Trump press secretary Sarah Sanders, now says Sanders should be fired for “lying.” Sanders at one point said that “countless” FBI agents had said that they had lost trust in James Comey, then later said that “countless” was a misstatement. With very few exceptions over the last 50 years, Sanders’ job is that of a paid liar and obfuscater; I got tired of flagging all of the lies and spin issued by Obama’s three spokesmen. They all should be fired, I guess, but not for offenses like using the word “countless” when the correct word would be “plenty.” Heck, I even heard through contacts and back-channels that FBI agents were disgusted with Comey. How could they not be?
2. And now for something completely different: Walrus Ethics. This isn’t a Climate Change Denial post, it’s a “See, this is why so many people don’t trust climate change doomsday scenarios” post.
Netflix’s climate change propaganda documentary “Our Planet,” narrated by David Attenborough, showed masses o the walruses climbing up cliffs in northeast Russia because, we were told, of a lack of sea ice. Then we saw the large pinnipeds over the cliff edges onto the rocks below, leaving hundreds of dead animals piled on the shore. Attenborough said their poor eyesight made it hard for them to return safely to the ocean.
Dr. Susan Crockford, a Canadian zoologist specializing in evolution and the ecology of Holocene mammals (including polar bears and walrus), claims that the scene was a hoax. She called Netflix’s narrative over the “Our Planet” scene i“contrived nonsense… fiction and emotional manipulation at its worst”:
“The walruses shown in this Netflix film were almost certainly driven over the cliff by polar bears during a well-publicised incident in 2017.” Even if the footage shown by Attenborough was not the 2017 incident in Ryrkaypiy, we know that walruses reach the top of cliffs in some locations and might fall if startled by polar bears, people or aircraft overhead, not because they are confused by shrinking sea ice cover.”
Anthony Watts, a weather technology expert and author, also suspects the footage captured was the 2017 Siberian incident.
I’ve been able to show that Crockford’s supposition about the geographical origin of the footage is correct: analysis of the rock shapes in the film and in a photo taken by the producer/director both match archive photos of Ryrkaypiy. The photo was taken on 19 September 2017, during the events described by the Siberian Times.
But whereas the Siberian Times and Gizmodo website, which also reported on the 2017 incident, were both quite clear that the walruses were driven over the cliffs by polar bears, Netflix makes no mention of their presence. Similarly, there is no mention of the fact that walrus haulouts are entirely normal. Instead, Attenborough tells his viewers that climate change is forcing the walruses on shore, where their poor eyesight leads them to plunge over the cliffs.
This is all very troubling as it raises the possibility that Netflix and the WWF are, innocently or otherwise, party to a deception of the public.
If the climate change urgency is as real as we are constantly told, why can’t it be demonstrated with real facts rather than fakery like this? Is it any wonder the public is skeptical? [Pointer: Legal Insurrection]
3. Who couldn’t see this coming? Donors pledged more than $1 billion to restore the Notre Dame Cathedral within days of the fire. Luxury goods magnate Francois-Henri Pinault announced his family would donate $112 million to the effort. Bernard Arnault , reputed to be the richest man in Europe , pledged twice that amount. The Bettencourt Meyers family, which controls L’Oreal, matched his pledge. Patrick Pouyanne, chief of excutive of French oil giant Total, offered another $112 million.
This has occurred with the backdrop of ongoing protests over social inequities in France .Ingrid Levavasseur, a leader of the yellow vest movement that has violently protested inequality since mid-November, said that the contributions from the super rich confirmed the protesters’ message. “If they can give tens of millions to rebuild Notre-Dame, then they should stop telling us there is no money to help with the social emergency,” Philippe Martinez, head of the CGT trade union, added.
It’s almost as if the wealthy care more about art, architecture and inanimate buildings than they do about human beings. And, indeed, many of them do. It’s their money and choice, of course, and people have a right to spend their money as they choose, including charitable giving. How much different is this, though, from the pharoahs building monuments to themselves while their subjects starved?
4. I don’t see how a prosecutor can get away with this. Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx recused herself from the Jussie Smollett prosecution, thencommunicated with her staff to guide their handling of the case. You can’t do that if you’re recused. of course. Text messages show that she persuaded her office to drop all charges because she objects to prosecutors over-charging...but there’s material difference between over-charging and not charging at all.
Foxx is another advocate for minimal punishment for non-violent offenders, but Smollett, whose “hate crime” hoax stressed racial distrust and sparked anger against the Trump administration as well as costing the city many thousands of dollars while diverting police resources, is a superb example of why a criminal doesn’t have to be violent to deserve serious punishment.
It seems evident that Foxx regards hate crime hoaxes as political statements, and is in sympathy with Smollett’s motives…which is why her recusal was appropriate.
5. Finally, this may be one reason why I’m not an Easter fan…