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Daily Bread for 6.20.21

Good morning.

Summer in Whitewater begins with partly sunny skies, scattered thundershowers, and a high of 79. Sunrise is 5:16 AM and sunset 8:36 PM, for 15h 20m 24s of daytime.  The moon is a waxing gibbous with 75.3% of its visible disk illuminated.

On this day in 1975, Jaws is released in the United States, starting the trend of films known as “summer blockbusters.”

Recommended for reading in full — 

Jon Swaine and Emma Brown report ‘Italygate’ election conspiracy theory was pushed by two firms led by woman who also falsely claimed $30 million mansion was hers:

According to the conspiracy theory known as “Italygate,” people working for the Italian defense contractor, in coordination with senior CIA officials, used military satellites to switch votes from Trump to Joe Biden and swing the result of the election.

Though her name was not mentioned in either document, both Virginia organizations [that push the claim] are led by Michele Roosevelt Edwards, according to state corporate filings reviewed by The Washington Post. Edwards is a former Republican congressional candidate who built a reputation as an advocate for the Somali people and as someone who could negotiate with warlords and pirates in the war-torn region.

[Her] Institute for Good Governance’s registered headquarters since late last year has been the historical North Wales Farm, a 22-bedroom mansion in Warrenton, Va., state records show. The property is listed for sale at just under $30 million.

On the day after the 2020 election, Edwards sat for an interview at North Wales with a television crew from Iceland, where she has business interests. Edwards told the crew that the estate was her property, according to their footage. “This is my bedroom,” she said, showing the crew around. “This is very private space.”

She was pressed on the lack of personal items in the house.

“So this is where you live?” she was asked.

“Yes.”

“This is your property?”

“Yes.”

When the interviewer noted that website listings showed the property for sale, Edwards said it was a “recent acquisition for us.” She said it was not for sale.

But North Wales was then — and is now — owned by a company formed by David B. Ford, a retired financier who died in September. Ford’s widow said in an interview that she did not know Edwards. The Post showed her the footage of Edwards inside the property.

“She’s in my house,” the widow said. “How is she in my house?”

The North Wales mansion was for sale at the time, and Edwards was a licensed Realtor in the area, according to the firm’s website. Hers was not the firm Ford’s widow had hired to sell the property.

Edwards declined to comment. “I am not giving media interviews at this time,” she said in a text message.

Joyce White Vance writes Garland inherited a booby-trapped DOJ. Here’s why it won’t be easy to fix:

Attorney General Merrick Garland knew he’d inherit some ticking time bombs when he took charge of the Justice Department. What he didn’t know, apparently, until the New York Times reported it this month, was that one of them was this: Under the Trump administration, the department subpoenaed Apple for information that included accounts belonging to Democratic members of Congress and their staff and families, and concealed that fact from them for almost four years.

….

It will take a top-to-bottom review of the Justice Department to root them out. And it has to happen fast.

The sheer scope of that review will be daunting. The Justice Department has an enormous docket of pending investigations and cases. In 2020, U.S. attorneys’ offices alone indicted in more than 57,000 criminal cases and handled 92,860 civil matters.

This French village has a statue, a song, and ceramics in cicadas’ honor:

Daily Bread for 6.19.21

Good morning.

Juneteenth in Whitewater will be mostly sunny with a high of 88. Sunrise is 5:16 AM and sunset 8:36 PM, for 15h 20m 23s of daytime.  The moon is a waxing gibbous with 64.6% of its visible disk illuminated.

On this day in 1865, Major Gen. Gordon Granger announces emancipation to the people of Texas:

Despite the surrender of General Robert E. Lee at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865, the western Army of the Trans-Mississippi did not surrender until June 2. On the morning of June 19, 1865, Union Major General Gordon Granger arrived on the island of Galveston, Texas, to take command of the more than 2,000 federal troops recently landed in the department of Texas to enforce the emancipation of its slaves and oversee a peaceful transition of power, additionally nullifying all laws passed within Texas during the war by Confederate lawmakers. The Texas Historical Commission and Galveston Historical Foundation report that Granger’s men marched throughout Galveston reading General Order No. 3 first at Union Army Headquarters at the Osterman Building (formerly at the intersection of Strand Street and 22nd Street, since demolished), in the Strand Historic District. Next they marched to the 1861 Customs House and Courthouse before finally marching to the Negro Church on Broadway, since renamed Reedy Chapel-AME Church. The order informed all Texans that, in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves were free:

The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.

(Citations omitted.)

Recommended for reading in full — 

 Nick Corasaniti and Reid J. Epstein report She Was a Black Election Official in Georgia. Then Came New G.O.P. Rules:

Lonnie Hollis has been a member of the Troup County election board in West Georgia since 2013. A Democrat and one of two Black women on the board, she has advocated Sunday voting, helped voters on Election Days and pushed for a new precinct location at a Black church in a nearby town.

But this year, Ms. Hollis will be removed from the board, the result of a local election law signed by Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican. Previously, election board members were selected by both political parties, county commissioners and the three biggest municipalities in Troup County. Now, the G.O.P.-controlled county commission has the sole authority to restructure the board and appoint all the new members.

“I speak out and I know the laws,” Ms. Hollis said in an interview. “The bottom line is they don’t like people that have some type of intelligence and know what they’re doing, because they know they can’t influence them.”

Ms. Hollis is not alone. Across Georgia, members of at least 10 county election boards have been removed, had their position eliminated or are likely to be kicked off through local ordinances or new laws passed by the state legislature. At least five are people of color and most are Democrats — though some are Republicans — and they will most likely all be replaced by Republicans.

Professor Chantal Mathieu describes The Discovery of Insulin:

Film: Tuesday, June 22nd, 1 PM @ Seniors in the Park, The Father

This Tuesday, June 22nd at 1 PM, there will be a showing of The Father @ Seniors in the Park, in the Starin Community Building:

Drama

Rated PG-13

1 hour, 37 minutes (2020)

A man (Anthony Hopkins) refuses all assistance from his daughter as he ages and succumbs to dementia. Also stars Olivia Colman. Sir Anthony Hopkins won the Best Actor Oscar for this performance.

If vaccinated, no mask required. Social distancing still in effect, but seating has now increased to 15 people. Lastly, a prior reservation is still necessary by calling SIP, registering on the SIP website, or via email to Deb Weberpal. 

One can find more information about The Father at the Internet Movie Database.

Friday Catblogging: Jaguars Could Make Make a Southwestern Comeback

Coral Murphy Marcos reports Jaguars could be reintroduced in US south-west, study says:

Jaguars could be reintroduced in the south-western US, where hunting and habitat loss led to the big cats’ extinction, a new study says.

Scientists and other environmentalists make the case for bringing back the third-largest big cat, after tigers and lions, in Arizona and New Mexico in a paper published in the journal Conservation Science and Practice.

The authors believe restoring jaguars can be a net benefit to people, as well as the “cultural and natural heritage” of the states in question.

“We see reintroducing the jaguar to the mountains of central Arizona and New Mexico as essential to species conservation, ecosystem restoration and rewilding,” the paper states.

Daily Bread for 6.18.21

Good morning.

Friday in Whitewater will be partly sunny with a high of 92. Sunrise is 5:16 AM and sunset 8:36 PM, for 15h 20m 18s of daytime.  The moon is a waxing gibbous with 53.6% of its visible disk illuminated.

On this day in 1815, the Battle of Waterloo results in Napoleon Bonaparte’s defeat by the Duke of Wellington and Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher forcing him to abdicate the throne of France for the second and last time.

Recommended for reading in full — 

 Philip Bump writes Expanding broadband would benefit red America more than blue:

It’s probably inadvertent, but the national map of broadband need published by the White House on Thursday offers an extra layer of information beyond its detailed look at Internet access in the United States. Those areas that are in greatest need of broadband are displayed in red, accidentally elevating another quality most share: They largely voted for Donald Trump in 2020.

The Census Bureau collects data on technology adoption across the country, releasing assessments of how common computer ownership or Internet access is at the state, county and Census tract level. If we compare the density of households without any type of computer (including smartphones) or broadband access to how a country voted in 2020, we see that Trump-voting counties are overrepresented in both groups.

 Valerie Wirtschafter writes How George Floyd changed the online conversation around BLM:

On July 13, 2013, George Zimmerman was acquitted of all charges in the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin. Immediately, several Twitter users aired their disappointment and reminded the world of a simple truth: Black Lives Matter. Their tweets marked some of the first uses of a hashtag that would enter the mainstream a year later, on November 25, 2014, when a grand jury declined to indict Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown—and protesters online and off turned to the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag to express their anger and grief. As police violence has persisted and the movement for racial justice continues, the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag has emerged as an enduring feature of online discourse. As of April 30, 2021, it has been used in more than 25 million original Twitter posts, which collectively have garnered approximately 444 billion likes, retweets, comments, or quotes—roughly 17,000 engagements per post.[1]

Since Floyd’s murder, this online activism has only accelerated. In the seven days between his death on May 25, 2020, and the police attack on protesters in Lafayette Square on June 1, the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag generated approximately 3.4 million original posts with 69 billion engagements—or roughly 13% of all posts and 15.5% of all engagements on Twitter in that period. #BlackLivesMatter content peaked on June 8, with some 1.2 million original posts mentioning the hashtag. This marked an astonishing increase in use of the hashtag: Prior to the June protests, the record for posts had been July 8, 2016, following the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, when original content reached 145,631 posts with an average of 7.4 engagements per post.

Figure 1 plots this dramatic increase in use of the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag, alongside markers of milestones in the movement. Following Floyd’s murder, posts increased exponentially and previous spikes in content barely register in comparison. The figure also plots use of #BlueLivesMatter, a hashtag movement expressing support for the police and that, here, illustrates the disparity in interest between the two hashtags. Between 2013 and 2021, #BlueLivesMatter has registered 1.6 million original posts and 1.7 billion engagements (about 1,000 per post), which while smaller in scope than #BlackLivesMatter, is not insignificant. Use of the two hashtag movements appear to rise and fall together.

Figure 1: Total Original #BlackLivesMatter and #BlueLivesMatter Posts
Figure 1 plots the total number of original Twitter posts over time for both the #BlackLivesMatter and #BlueLivesMatter hashtags.

Australia: First a mouse plague, now a spider plague:

UW-Whitewater Chancellor Watson Resigns Following Cancer Diagnosis

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that UW-Whitewater Chancellor Dr. Dwight Watson has resigned following a cancer diagnosis:

UW-Whitewater Chancellor Dwight Watson has resigned following a diagnosis of stomach and intestinal cancer, officials announced Thursday.

“After much deliberation, I must resign from my position as Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater,” Watson wrote in his resignation letter. “I recently was diagnosed with stomach and intestinal cancer. This type of cancer is exacerbated by stress. The stress in the role of the chancellor is plentiful.”

Watson will officially end his term June 30. He will help transition a former UW System administrator, Jim Henderson, into the interim chancellor role through October and will earn his annual chancellor’s salary of $249,696 until then.

In November, Watson will become a tenured faculty member in the university’s College of Education and Professional Studies with a salary of $92,325, as is written in his contract.

One wishes the best to Dr. Watson for a full recovery, ongoing success on the faculty of the College of Education and Professional Studies, and as a community member in Whitewater.

 

 

 

Juneteenth

Sometime later today, Pres. Biden will sign a bill, having passed overwhelminmgly in both the House and Senate, to make Juneteenth a national holiday.  The House saw only 14 members opposed (one being Tom Tiffany, R-WI 7) and the Senate voted after Sen. Ron Johnson withdrew his opposition to a vote.

Making Juneteenth a national holiday was the right decision.

Of the mere 14 representatives in all the House who opposed the bill, Wisconsin’s delegation had the misfortune of having one such opponent; of all the Senate, Wisconsin had the misfortune (until yesterday) of having the one senator who had blocked previously a vote in that chamber.

Small town governments, like the one in Whitewater, will have to decide (as with other federal holidays) whether and how they should observe the day.

There will be government objections of various kinds about the costs or supposed impracticalities of observing the holiday.

The holiday isn’t, however, worth commemorating because it’s federal – it should be federal because it’s worth commemorating. The same is true for state and local recognition.

Juneteenth is worthy of commemoration, and no one need wait for local politics to acknowledge American history.

One can – and should – celebrate even if no action comes from city hall.

Daily Bread for 6.17.21

Good morning.

Thursday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of 93. Sunrise is 5:15 AM and sunset 8:36 PM, for 15h 20m 10s of daytime.  The moon is a waxing crescent with 42.7% of its visible disk illuminated.

On this day in 1673, Marquette & Joliet reach the Mississippi: “Here we are, then, on this so renowned river, all of whose peculiar features I have endeavored to note carefully.”

Recommended for reading in full — 

 Tim Miller writes The FBI Did It? LOL:

Was the FBI behind the violent siege of the Capitol on January 6?

This is the latest piece of unreality that the MAGA right is grasping onto to shed culpability for the domestic terror attack at the Capitol and exonerate the great patriots who watch their television programs.

Fingering the FBI in all this is a bizarre turn. After-all the agency was in the fourth year of being controlled by their swamp-draining, all-powerful god king. But whatever. Part of the appeal of Trumpism is the belief that you are simultaneously #winning but also being cheated by implacable, nefarious forces.

….

Their evidence is two-fold: (1) During a congressional hearing, Christopher Wray did not answer directly when asked whether the federal government had infiltrated any of the militia groups that were present at the siege. (2) There are “unindicted co-conspirators” in the charging documents for some of the insurrectionists which Beattie et al assume must be government agents.

And here, per [Darren] Beattie, are the implications of such a “revelation”:

A still more disturbing possibility arises from a careful study of the unindicted co-conspirators listed throughout the various charging documents of individuals facing the most serious charges related to 1/6 . . . In many cases the unindicted co-conspirators appear to be much more aggressive and egregious participants in the very so-called “conspiracy” serving as the basis for charging those indicted.

Stripped down to its barest parts, what we have here is the same debunked “the insurrectionists were really secret Antifa” conspiracy—only rejiggered so that now FBI agents are cast in role of instigators who victimized the peaceful, innocent patriots who love their country.

But as with secret Antifa, there are some holes in this theory. The most important is that there is no actual evidence that the unindicted co-conspirators are agents of the government. That’s just a wild supposition being made by MAGA apologists based entirely on an anodyne non-response of Director Wray when he was asked about the bureau’s infiltration of extremists groups. Is it possible that the unindicted co-conspirators were undercover agents? Maybe? Or they could have been Russian special forces. Or Martians. There is an equal amount of evidence for each of these possibilities. Which is to say: None.

Also, there’s some legal problems with it. Some criminal lawyers who are not professional trolls seem to think this is something that prosecutors literally cannot do. Here’s the Washington Post:

Legal experts say the government literally cannot name an undercover agent as an unindicted co-conspirator.

“There are many reasons why an indictment would reference unindicted co-conspirators, but their status as FBI agents is not one of them,” said Jens David Ohlin, a criminal law professor at Cornell Law School.

Added Lisa Kern Griffin of Duke University Law School: “Undercover officers and informants can’t be ‘co-conspirators’ for the purposes of establishing an agreement to violate the law, because they are only pretending to agree to do so. … An unindicted co-conspirator has committed the crime of conspiracy, and investigative agents doing their jobs undercover are not committing crimes.”

Reporter asks Putin why his political opponents are ‘dead, in prison, or poisoned’:

Wisconsin Supreme Court Grants New Trial in State of Wisconsin v. Alan M. Johnson

Alan M. Johnson was convicted in Walworth County of first-degree reckless homicide in the death of his brother-in-law. (Johnson’s late brother-in-law is identified in today’s high court opinion as ‘K.M.’ The events of the case took place in Whitewater, and the Walworth County trial was before Circuit Judge Kristine Drettwan.)

Johnson appealed his conviction, and the Court of Appeals granted him a new trial (State v. Johnson, 2020 WI App 50, ¶52, 393 Wis. 2d 688, 948 N.W.2d 377).

Today, the Wisconsin Supreme Court affirmed in part, and in reversed part, the Court of Apeals decision, finding that

¶2 Three issues are presented for our review. First, did the circuit court err in failing to instruct the jury on perfect self-defense? Second, did the circuit court err in failing to instruct the jury on the lesser included offense of second-degree reckless homicide? And finally, did the circuit court err in precluding Johnson from offering evidence regarding what he found on K.M.’s computer the night of K.M.’s death? The court of appeals ruled in Johnson’s favor on all three questions.

¶3 We agree the circuit court erred in failing to instruct the jury on perfect self-defense and second-degree reckless homicide. When determining whether these instructions should be provided, the evidence is viewed in the light most favorable to the defendant, and the instruction must be provided if evidence is presented from which a reasonable jury could find in the defendant’s favor on the instructed elements. The evidence presented at trial was sufficient to satisfy this low evidentiary bar. We affirm the decision of the court of appeals on these grounds and remand for a new trial.

¶4 However, we conclude the circuit court properly exercised its discretion in precluding Johnson from testifying regarding what he found on K.M.’s computer that night. The circuit court concluded this other-acts evidence was not relevant, and even if it was, the probative value of the evidence would be substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice. While another court might see it differently, this was a permissible and reasonable conclusion, particularly since Johnson was permitted to testify regarding why he was at K.M.’s house and that he “found” what he was looking for. Accordingly, we reverse the decision of the court of appeals on this ground.

(State of Wisconsin v. Alan M. Johnson, 2021 WI 61. Citations omitted. ‘Perfect’ self-defense under Wisconsin law is a self-defense claim that serves as a full – and so complete, or perfect – defense to a homicide charge. Wis. Stat. § 939.48(1). If successful, a perfect self-defense claim would defeat, rather than merely reduce to a lower degree, the homicide charge.)

The full opinion of the court appears below, subject to revision before final publication. There is, one finds, no aspect of the case that tragedy hasn’t touched —

Download (PDF, 349KB)

Daily Bread for 6.16.21

Good morning.

Wednesday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of 83. Sunrise is 5:15 AM and sunset 8:35 PM, for 15h 19m 56s of daytime.  The moon is a waxing crescent with 32.39% of its visible disk illuminated.

On this day in 1858, Abraham Lincoln delivers his House Divided speech in Springfield, Illinois.

Recommended for reading in full — 

 Miranda Bryant reports Justice department called Trump election claims ‘pure insanity,’ emails show:

Donald Trump attempted to enlist top US law enforcement officials in his bid to overturn the results of the 2020 election – in an effort branded “pure insanity” – newly released emails reveal.

The documents, released by the House of Representatives’ oversight committee on Tuesday, show an increasingly desperate bid by the former president and his allies to hold on to power after he lost November’s election.

“These documents show that President Trump tried to corrupt our nation’s chief law enforcement agency in a brazen attempt to overturn an election that he lost,” Carolyn Maloney, chair of the House of Representatives’ oversight committee, said.

Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told justice department officials to investigate false allegations of voter fraud at least five times, according to the documents, including the conspiracy theory “Italygate”. Richard Donoghue, then acting deputy attorney general, responded to an email about the theory as “pure insanity”.

What’s the significance of the emails? They show that Trump pressured the then acting attorney general, Jeffrey Rosen, to make the justice department take up election fraud claims, writes our Washington DC bureau chief, David Smith.

Republicans are trying to block a Senate inquiry into the Trump justice department’s secret data seizure from Democrats to track down leaks of classified information.

And woes are mounting for the lawyers who pushed Trump’s election conspiracies. Lawyers including L. Lin Wood and Sidney Powell face federal inquiries and defamation suits threatening their careers, writes Peter Stone.

Darrell West writes Time to make essential medicines within the United States:

Part of the current challenge is the heavy reliance on foreign manufacturers. Few medications are made in the United States and that creates domestic risks. In a world with a considerable number of geopolitical uncertainties, it is challenging to rely on nations with which America has an adversarial relationship. Right now, there are many complicating issues in the relationship with China including trade, national security, and foreign policy. As the two countries move from a relationship that emphasized cooperation to one that is either competitive or conflictual, the risk of medical drugs being made in China increases. Depending on how relations ebb and flow, there could be times where China needs to redirect drug and PPE manufacturing to domestic needs as opposed to foreign ones. Or they could use its control of drug production to reward allies and punish adversaries. Either way, it is risky for the United States to rely heavily upon China during a time of considerable tension.

William K. Rashbaum, Ben Protess, and Jonah E. Bromwich report Trump Executive Could Face Charges as Soon as This Summer:

The Manhattan district attorney’s office appears to have entered the final stages of a criminal tax investigation into Donald J. Trump’s long-serving chief financial officer, Allen H. Weisselberg, setting up the possibility he could face charges this summer, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

In recent weeks, a grand jury has been hearing evidence about Mr. Weisselberg, who is facing intense scrutiny from prosecutors as they seek his cooperation with a broader investigation into Mr. Trump and the Trump Organization, the people with knowledge of the matter said. The prosecutors have obtained Mr. Weisselberg’s personal tax returns, the people said, providing the fullest picture yet of his finances.

 Peruvians re-weave Incan hanging bridge spanning river:

Daily Bread for 6.15.21

Good morning.

Tuesday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of 83. Sunrise is 5:15 AM and sunset 8:35 PM, for 15h 19m 40s of daytime.  The moon is a waxing crescent with 22.9% of its visible disk illuminated.

Whitewater’s Common Council meets at 6:30 PM.

On this day in 1839, Charles Goodyear receives a patent for vulcanization, a process to strengthen rubber.

Recommended for reading in full — 

 Michael Gerson writes America’s contest of nightmares isn’t even close:

America is in a contest of contending nightmares.

The dreams of conservatives are currently troubled by “wokeness” and critical race theory. As with most nightmares, there is a grain of truth within such terrors.

For most people, wokeness involves being mindful of the cruel and oppressive portions of American history, being alert to persistent structural racism, and being determined to right past and present wrongs. This is the theory that attracted many people to street protests last summer. By this standard, count me as woke.

But there is an academic version of critical race theory that goes a great deal further. In this variety of postmodernism, all power structures are rotted to the core by white supremacy. The ideals of democracy — pluralism, freedom, the rule of law, even reasoned debate itself — are myths or narratives serving the privileged. In this view, politics is no longer a contest of ideas. It is a fight for power, a zero-sum struggle between oppressor and oppressed. This type of wokeness involves seeing through the pretensions of a free society and favoring the oppressed in every instance.

The distinctions here are not minor. There is a difference between using critical race theory as a tool to understand unjust power structures and believing that every outworking of Western democratic theory is inherently unjust. There is a difference between examining the disturbing truths of American history and denying the existence of objective truth and the possibility of persuasion.

In contrast, the nightmares of progressives are currently dominated by the growth of right-wing authoritarianism and fascism. In these fears, there is more than a grain of truth.

Large elements of the American populist right mythologize the nation’s past rather than face its failures. They dismiss real news as fake and embrace obvious propaganda. They are anti-intellectual to the point of denying lifesaving scientific truths. They fear diversity and target racial, ethnic and religious minorities for resentment. They cultivate a sense of victimhood by warning of arrogant elites and vast conspiracies. These are not isolated ailments; they are the textbook symptoms of a fascist political infection.

….

But seriously now. Only one of these nightmares has taken over a major political party, which is in the process of purging all dissent. Only one of these delusions is the governing vision of a former president who just might be president again. Only one of these developments has turned the backbones of the minority leader of the House, the minority leader of the Senate and almost every other Republican leader into gelatinous goo. Only one of these ideologies produced a crowd that sacked the U.S. Capitol and threatened violence against political leaders. Only one of these movements is working in state legislatures across the country to make electoral systems more vulnerable to manipulation and mob rule.

Isabelle Khurshudyan and Loveday Morris report Ransomware’s suspected Russian roots point to a long detente between the Kremlin and hackers:

MOSCOW — The ransomware hackers suspected of targeting Colonial Pipeline and other businesses around the world have a strict set of rules.

First and foremost: Don’t target Russia or friendly states. It’s even hard-wired into the malware, including coding to prevent hacks on Moscow’s ally Syria, according to cybersecurity experts who have analyzed the malware’s digital fingerprints.

Watch the world’s most expensive working dog in action:

‘Communicate, Communicate, Communicate’ Isn’t So Easy in a Fractured Town

Some years ago, an administrator (no longer with the school district) told others that a good practice for leaders was to ‘communicate, communicate, communicate’ with the community. The concept makes sense: craft a message and then make sure it’s heard by repeating it. In a small town, how hard could that be?

As it turns out, in a small town that’s divided along ideological and cultural lines, it is hard. See Whitewater’s Local Politics 2021.

An example is a recent question, from Whitewater’s police chief to a newspaper reporter, as recounted in Community Action’s leader responds to police chief’s concerns on voucher program. It’s an ordinary practice for appointed or elected officials to seed topics in the press (although often the story conceals the origin of the official’s question). In this case, the story’s very title makes clear that the inquiry about the voucher came from a city official.

Indeed, the story is by evident design a reply to the chief’s question, with statements about ongoing oversight from a manager and a beneficiary of the voucher program.

Still, there’s nothing untoward about officials calling or writing to reporters in the hope that those reporters will inquire along lines the officials suggest.

What’s different, in Whitewater, is that this small town likely will not have one ‘community’ view about a topic, and what an official might hope would lead to a majority opinion will instead spawn a few differing opinions, not one of which will amount to a majority viewpoint. These different, opposing views will make their way online, as they did in this case.

More significant, those differing opinions will vary in quality, with some being strident, exaggerated, or simply false. (Some of the flimsiest claims in the present matter imply that the claimants are in possession of information that could only have, if true, come from official sources that revealed details of ongoing investigations. As it’s unlikely that anyone learned anything that way, it’s more likely that claims of inside knowledge are false.)

A question about vouchers, for example, may begin its journey well-fed and suitably dressed, only to become malnourished and thread-bare once a few others get hold of it.

The school administrator who once advised to ‘communicate, communicate, communicate’ underestimated the difficultly of communication in a splintered community. (Indeed, she understood the local scene poorly in many ways.) At best, counting on others to carry a topic forward relies on an uncertain band of local messengers. Some will prove articulate, some inarticulate. At worst, it leaves a message in the hands of others who will amplify it into discordance and dissonance.

Government can – and will – decide for itself. This libertarian blogger is not in the business of advising public officials, and they’re not in the business of taking a libertarian blogger’s advice.

It’s simply true that in Whitewater the audition for a topic or message faces an uncertain reception, as the audience is of differing tastes.

The reception is even more fraught when others, of varying skill or motivation, pick up the tune.

Daily Bread for 6.14.21

Good morning.

Monday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of 86. Sunrise is 5:15 AM and sunset 8:35 PM, for 15h 19m 19s of daytime.  The moon is a waxing crescent with 14.8% of its visible disk illuminated.

On this day in 1777, the Second Continental Congress passes the Flag Act of 1777 adopting the Stars and Stripes as the flag of the United States.

Recommended for reading in full — 

 Austin Fast reports Rural Communities Fall Further Behind In COVID-19 Vaccination Rates:

A second CDC report from early June sheds light on the demographic and social factors linked to lower vaccination rates among all counties, whether rural or urban.

The CDC ranks over 3,000 counties nationwide using a social vulnerability index that measures 15 factors such as poverty, poor transit and crowded housing that weaken a community’s capacity to respond to disaster.

Researchers divided counties into four categories — large urban, suburban, small-to-medium urban, and rural — and looked for which demographic profiles were linked to lower vaccination rates. Across all these categories, households with children, people living with disabilities and single-parent households were more likely to see lower vaccination rates. And researchers say these gaps are particularly pronounced in suburban and rural counties.

Counties with higher numbers of mobile home residents, as well as those with higher poverty and lower education rates, also lagged significantly behind other counties within their rural-urban category, according to the CDC report.

“Rural communities often have a higher proportion of residents over 65 years of age, lacking health insurance, living with underlying medical conditions or disabilities, and with limited access to health care facilities with intensive care capabilities, which may make them more likely to get sick or die from COVID-19,” says Vaughn Barry, a CDC epidemiologist and one of the report’s lead authors.

 Carl Zimmer reports Novavax Offers U.S. a Fourth Strong Covid-19 Vaccine:

Novavax, a small American company buoyed by lavish support from the U.S. government, announced on Monday the results of a clinical trial of its Covid-19 vaccine in the United States and Mexico, finding that its two-shot inoculation provides potent protection against the coronavirus.

In the 29,960-person trial, the vaccine demonstrated an overall efficacy of 90.4 percent, on par with the vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, and higher than the one-shot vaccine from Johnson & Johnson. The Novavax vaccine showed an efficacy of 100 percent at preventing moderate or severe disease.

Despite these impressive results, the vaccine’s future in the United States is uncertain and it might be needed more in other countries. Novavax says it may not seek emergency authorization from the Food and Drug Administration until the end of September. And with a plentiful supply of three other authorized vaccines, it’s possible that the agency may tell Novavax to apply instead for a full license — a process that could require several extra months.

Victoria Bekiempis reports Legal storm clouds gather over Donald Trump’s future:

The most threatening legal investigation, which involves potential for jail either for Trump or his associates if it proceeded and resulted in conviction, does not relate to his presidential duties.

The Washington Post reported on 25 May that Manhattan prosecutors had convened the grand jury that is “expected to decide whether to indict Donald Trump, other executives at his company or the business itself, should prosecutors present the panel with criminal charges”.

This development suggests that Manhattan prosecutors’ inquiry into Trump and his business concerns has hit an “advanced stage” after proceeding for more than two years. More, it indicates that Manhattan prosecutors believe they have discovered evidence of a crime. This potential evidence could be against Trump, an executive at his company, or his business.

Wasabi the Pekingese wins best in show at annual Westminster Dog Show: