The Friday Irregular

Issue #597 - 15th January 2021

Edited by and copyright ©2021 Simon Lamont
( Facebook  /  Twitter )

tfir@simonlamont.co.uk

The latest edition is always available at http://www.simonlamont.co.uk/tfir/index.htm
The archives are at http://www.simonlamont.co.uk/tfir/archive/index.htm

The Friday Irregular does not set any cookies, but our host and linked sites out of our control may.

Unless otherwise indicated dollar values are in US dollars and currency conversions are at current rates at time of writing.

Contents

-

O

-

^ WORD OF THE WEEK
donnism
  n. self-importance [archaic British university slang]

^ ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY

Friday 15th January   -   The coronation of Elizabeth I as Queen of England, 1559. Actor and playwright Molière born, 1622. Entomologist Dru Drury died, 1804. The rules of basketball were published by James Naismith, 1892. Princess Michael of Kent born, 1945. Singer Dolores O'Riordan died, 2018.
 
Saturday 16th January   -   Astronomer and cartographer Johannes Schöner born, 1477, and died, 1547. Grand Duke Ivan IV of Muscovy became the first Tsar of Russia, 1547. Actress and singer Ethel Merman born, 1908. Three members of Ernest Shackleton's exploration claimed to have located the magnetic South Pole, 1909. Publisher Kaye Webb died, 1996.
 
Sunday 17th January   -   Scientist and occultist Robert Fludd born, 1574. The English Long Parliament broke off negotiations with King Charles I, paving the way for the second phase of the English Civil War, 1648. Composer Tomaso Alibinoni died, 1751. Writer Anne Brontë born, 1820. Anton Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard premiered in Moscow, 1904. Actress Virginia Mayo died, 2005.
 
Monday 18th January   -   Catherine, Duchess of Braganza, born, 1540. Privateer Henry Morgan captured Panama, 1670. Jan van Riebeeck, founder of Cape Town, South Africa, died, 1677. Writer A.A. Milne born, 1882. Scientists identified the bacterium that causes Legionnaire's disease, 1974. Soprano Roberta Peters died, 2017.
 
Tuesday 19th January   -   Frankish king Dagobert I died, 639. King Henry V of England's reconquest of Normandy in the Hundred Years' War was completed with the surrender of Rouen, 1419. Chemist and engineer James Watt born, 1736. The last Type 1 Volkswagen Beetle made in Germany left their Emden factory as production moved to Latin America, 1978. Tennis player Petra Martić born, 1991. Actress Suzanne Pleshette died, 2008. The traditional commemoration of the birth of Edgar Allan Poe by the Poe Toaster at Poe's grave in Baltimore.
 
Wednesday 20th January   -   Edward Balliol surrendered his claim to the Scottish throne, 1356. Archaeologist Jean-Jacques Barthélemy born, 1716. Actor David Garrick died, 1779. The British occupied Hong Kong Island, 1848. Potter Clarice Cliff born, 1899. Singer-songwriter Etta James died, 2012. Inauguration Day in the United States.
 
Thursday 21st January   -   Artist Antonio Molinari born, 1655. William Hill Brown's The Power of Sympathy or the Triumph of Nature Founded in Truth, the first American novel, was printed in Boston, 1789. King Louis XVI of France guillotined, 1793. Edith Tolkien, wife and muse of author J.R.R. Tolkien, born, 1889. Concorde entered commercial service, 1976. Singer Peggy Lee died, 2002.


^ THE WISDOM OF...

This week, Anton Chekhov, in The Cherry Orchard:
Dear and most respected bookcase! I welcome your existence, which has for over one hundred years been devoted to the radiant ideals of goodness and justice.


^ FILM QUIZ

A selection of quotations from films released in the same year. Answers next issue or from the regular address. Last issue's quotations were from films released in 2001:


^ WEIRD WORLD NEWS

Strange stories from around the world, some of which might be true...

CORONAVIRUS ROUND-UP: A group of hikers who ignored the lockdown guidelines and travelled 25 miles (40km) to visit the site of a 1948 plane crash in the Peak District had to be rescued by a team of 25 volunteers after weather conditions described as "Arctic" closed in on them. They were located by their phone signals and escorted back to their cars. ● Also in Derbyshire two women who had (separately) driven 5 miles (8km) to take a walk together found themselves surrounded by police and fined £200 ($272) because they had left their "local area". They were also told that the coffees they were carrying counted as a picnic. Derbyshire Police have since cancelled the fines and are reviewing their practices. ● A Wisconsin pharmacist has been arrested on charges of intentionally sabotaging more than 500 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at a medical centre in Grafton by deliberately taking them out of a refrigerator for more than 12 hours. Steven Brandenburg, 46, is "an admitted conspiracy theorist" who believed the vaccine could change people's DNA, according to police. ● A Quebec woman attempted to get around the four-week-long curfew by telling police she was walking her pet - an allowable exception. The 'pet' was her boyfriend wearing a dog collar and leash... ● Blue seat covers on Chiltern Railway trains warning passengers to "keep this seat free to maintain social distancing when possible" have either been copied or stolen to be sold online as crop tops.

IN BRIEF: A 164'- (50m)-wide sinkhole has opened up in the car park of an Italian hospital - no injuries, but it caused a power outage leaving the hospital needing to run emergency generators. ● Ten small stones engraved with abstract images found in Jersey may be the earliest known art in Brtain, dating between 23,000-14,000 years ago. ● Michael Jackson's Neverland ranch has finally been sold, for a quarter of its initial asking price, $22m (£16.2m). ● An Essex woman claims to have seen the face of Jesus on a Brussels sprout she was about to cook for Christmas dinner. ● Scientists at the Natural History Museum have identified a new mineral - Kernowite - in a rock sample mined in Cornwall 220 years ago. ● Historians have found the earliest documented evidence of someone being killed by a falling meteorite, on August 22, 1888, in Sulaymaniyah (part of present-day Iraq). ● The Energydots SmartDot phone stickers, which sell for at least £11 ($15) each and are claimed to protect phone users from radiation thanks to "scalar energy", aiding sleep, curing headaches and providing clearer minds have been found to be have no effect whatsoever on radiated energy. [Colour us surprised... -Ed]


^ TRUMPWATCH

    The biggest story of the last week, indeed the single event that history will probably remember Trump's failed presidency for, was the storming of the U.S. Capitol by Trump supporters including members of the Proud Boys, neo-Nazi groups and QAnon conspiracy theory believers. There have been other attacks on the Capitol in the last two centuries but this was the first time it had been breached and occupied since the British Army burned Washington in 1814. Trump had been building a head of protest storms with his repeated claims of election fraud and theft, and refusal to concede, since November. On December 18th he tweeted "Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, be wild!" There had been posts on a number of 'alt-tech' platforms including Parler, Telegram and Gab calling for violent disruption of the Electoral College count; some called for open confrontation with law officials after the December 12th protests met resistance from the D.C. Police.
    Ultimate funding for the January 6th "Save America March" came from the pro-Trump group America First Policies, which, as a non-profit, is not required to declare its funding sources, through the Women for America First organisation with several GoFundMe campaigns set up to finance individuals' travel to Washington. There were numerous warnings within law enforcement and extremist-monitoring organisations including the F.B.I., the Anti-Defamation League and the Washington, D.C. Joint Terrorism Task Force. On January 3rd the Department of Defense offered to deploy the National Guard but was rebuffed by the Capitol Police (Capitol Police chief Steven Sund later claimed to have repeatedly requested National Guard assistance but the House and Senate Sergeants-at-Arms had been uncooperative).
    Protesters started gathering in Freedom Plaza, a block east of the White House south lawn and just over a mile down the straight Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol, on the night of the 5th. Over that night and the following morning several people were arrested on weapons charges. Trump, Don, Jr, Eric, Rudy Giuliani and others addressed the crowd on the Ellipse, north of Freedom Plaza. Giuliani repeated the false claims that the voting machines were "crooked" and called for "trial by combat". Trump declared again that he would never concede the election, called the media "fake news" and called on Vice-President Mike Pence to refuse to confirm the Electoral College count, something that Pence had no constitutional power to do. Trump told the protesters to "walk down to the Capitol" and cheer on senators who challenged the count as "we can't let that [the count] happen". He told them to "fight. We fight like hell. And if you don't fight like hell you're not going to have a country anymore." He said they should "fight much harder" against "bad people" because "you are allowed to go by very different rules".
    A crowd then marched down Pennsylvania Avenue to join protesters already at the Capitol. At around 1pm EST hundreds of protesters pushed their way through barriers surrounding the Capitol, some attacking police and security officers with lead pipes, stun guns and chemical sprays. The doors were locked. Within an hour they had broken windows and gained entry to the National Statuary Hall. Outside a gallows and noose had been constructed, a police vehicle's tyres were slashed and a note left on it reading "PELOSI IS SATAN". Some of the rioters were reported as showing Capitol Police either police or military ID badges, expecting to just be allowed into the building. Some rioters carried handcuffs, suggesting that they planned to take hostages, others carried Nazi emblems or Confederate battle flags.
    The joint session of Congress had already voted to accept Alabama and Arizona's votes, and the chambers had split to debate objections to Arizona's. Protesters appeared on the Senate chamber balcony as the boxes of votes were carried away to safety. At 2:24pm Trump tweeted that Pence "didn't have the courage to do what should have been done", leading to some of his followers on Twitter calling for Pence to be hunted down, the cry taken up by rioters in the building while some of those outside chanted "Hang Mike Pence!" At 2:30pm, as Trump was phoning Senator Tommy Tuberville to order him to work harder to block the count, the Senate was evacuated and senators moved to secure locations. Key Representatives, including Nancy Pelosi and Kevin McCarthy, as well as boxes of vote certificates and documentation were taken from the House chamber to safe locations, while remaining Representatives were told to wear gas masks because the police were using tear gas inside the building. The chamber doors were barricaded with furniture. Rioters occupied the offices of a number of officials including House Leader Pelosi, and documented themselves on social media. Rioters waved riot shields taken from police officers and used them to break windows. Improvised explosive devices (IEDs) had reported as found near the Capitol building, which Sund claimed had slowed the police response to the riot.
    Rioters ransacked officers, smeared faeces on walls, wrote graffiti including "MURDER THE MEDIA" on doors, damaged artworks and statues and damaged fixtures and fittings. They destroyed a commemorative display honouring the late civil rights leader and congressman John Lewis. Some items of furniture and computers (including ones logged into the classified secret SIPRNET system) were stolen.
    Control of the building took three hours and the deployment of the National Guard, which Trump initially resisted but Pence approved, to be regained. Some Congressional leaders were evacuated to the nearby Fort McNair army base. Despite a 6pm curfew having been declared hundreds of rioters remained in the Capitol Hill area attacking media staff and police. Police arrested 61 people during the riots, mostly for "unrest-related" offences. Congress reconvened just after 8pm with the objections to the Arizona vote rejected by a vote of 93-6 in the Senate and 303-138 in the House. Senator Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) withdrew her objection to the Georgia slate of electors in light of the day's events, but another objection, by Senators Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Scott Perry (R-PA), to the Pennsylvania vote, triggered another 2-hour debate before being voted down 92-7 in the Senate and 282-138 in the House. A number of Republicans had planned to vote for the objections but changed their minds after being shaken by the riot. At 3:31am Congress confirmed the Electoral College votes as 306-232 in Joe Biden's favour and Pence ended the session by declaring that Biden and Kamala Harris would take office on January 20th.
    During the afternoon Trump was reported as being "pleased" with the attack on the Capitol though disgusted at the "low class" appearance of the rioters, and refused to act against it. Staffers said that his inability to accept his election defeat and anger at the failure of the rioters to overturn the result had sent him "out of his mind". Pat Cipollone, the White House Counsel, advised officials to avoid contact with Trump and ignore any illegal orders to limit their liability to prosecution under the 1918 Sedition Act. Trump, when not phoning senators including Tuberville and Mike Lee (R-UT), to instruct them to raise objections, was in the West Wing glued to the live TV news. At 2:47, almost two hours after the riot started, he tweeted "Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement. They are truly on the side of our Country. Stay peaceful!" He reportedly had to be persuaded to add the "Stay peaceful!" By 3:25pm, with Trump under increased pressure to condemn the rioters, he tweeted a call for the rioters to "remain peaceful" and "respect the Law" but did not call for them to withdraw. By 3:40pm senators including Marco Rubio (R-FL) were tweeting and phoning Trump directly to calm the situation, but he did nothing. Pence, meanwhile, called for the occupation to end.
    At 4:06pm Joe Biden went on national television to call for Trump to act to end the riot. At 4:22, in a video message on social media, Trump repeated his claims of election fraud, praised his supporters and told them to "go home. We love you. You're very special." Twitter, Facebook and YouTube took down the video. At 6:25pm Trump tweeted "These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long. Go home with love & peace. Remember this day forever!" At 7:00pm Rudy Giuliani accidentally phoned Senator's Lee's voicemail and left a message intended for Senator Tuberville pressing him to keep making objections to drag the vote confirmation process out "ideally until the end of tomorrow".
    A statement from Trump, issued shortly after the vote was confirmed repeated his claims of election fraud but accepted that "there will be an orderly transition on January 20th". Later on the 7th Trump released another video message, reportedly after being told that a number of Republican senators would support his removal from office if he did not concede. The message was the closest he came to conceding without actually doing so, stating that his "focus now turns to ensuring a smooth, orderly and seamless transition of power". His more conspiracy-following supporters suggested that the video was either a deepfake or contained a secret code directed at them.

    Trump kept a low profile for a few days after the riot, partly because Twitter had deleted his account (as well as those of Michael Flynn, Sydney Powell and 70,000+ QAnon-repeater accounts), but when he finally reappeared to visit Texas to survey a section of his vanity project wall (the administration claims to have built 452 miles of wall, but only 80 miles of that is new - 47 miles of primary wall and 33 miles of secondary) on the 12th he was back to his old form, decrying the media as fake news and disputing the election result, calling moves for a second impeachment vote a "witch hunt" and warning that his followers would be "very angry". Plus ça change...

    So what were the other members of the Trump family doing during the riot? Tiffany, his only child with Marla Maples, was tweeting a happy birthday message to dumbest-spawn-of-Trump Eric, including a photograph of them posing in front of the Washington Memorial, and was immediately criticised for being tone-deaf to what was happening in Washington. ● Ivanka tweeted that the rioters were "American Patriots" then swiftly deleted the tweet, but not fast enough; it had been screencapped and she was promptly called "complicit in her father's attempted coup" by at least one member of the Twitterati. Ivanka and her husband had hoped to be welcomed into high society when her father left office and she has been reported as having political ambitions of her own, but both are now considered toxic thanks to her father. She was also reported as planning to attend Joe Biden's inauguration in her father's stead, to start building a reputation as a concilliator, but her father shot down the idea. ● Melania was busy with a White House photoshoot during the riot, for a planned coffee table book on furniture she has had restored. She later tweeted that her "heart goes out to: Air Force Veteran Ashli Babbit [..]" - one of the rioters killed - before turned the tweet to a self-whine about "salacious gossip, unwarranted personal attack, and false misleading accusations on me".

    Trump's response to the riot has resulted in Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube blocking him or deleting his accounts. He does not have - as far as we know - an account on Parler, the unmoderated platform beloved of the alt-right (several Republican politicians have accounts), but Parler has its own problems. Google withdrew it from their store, because of messages inciting the Capitol riot, Apple blocked it from their app store until it agrees to accept moderation, Amazon effectively knocked it offline by withdrawing access to the Amazon Web Services servers that it ran on (Parler is suing Amazon over the withdrawal but has apparently found a new host in Gab). ● Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Trump's former White House Press liarsecretary whined on Twitter that "I've lost 50k+ followers this week. The radical left and their big tech allies cannot marginalize, censor, or silence the American people" only to receive, amongst other criticisms, one stinging reply from Dana D. Deree: "You were a student at Little Rock Central High when I taught AP [Advanced Placement] Government there, but you didn't take the advanced course. If you had, maybe you would better understand the First Amendment and the difference between limits on government and freedoms for private individuals. I've taught Sunday School too. You didn't learn those lessons either." [The First Amendment to the US Constitution prevents only the US Government limiting free speech, not private companies or individuals -Ed]

    Corporate America is pulling back financial support for Republican senators who opposed the election count and for Trump specifically in the wake of the riot. Deutsche Bank, which has three loans worth $300m (£219m) to the Trump Organization due for repayment in 2023 and 2024 will not work with him or his company again. Signature Bank has closed two personal accounts and called for him to resign. The PGA [Professional Golfers Association] has stripped Trump's Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club of the 2022 US PGA Championship, a move that reportedly left Trump raging. The R&A has confirmed that it has no plans to host the Open Championship at Trump's Turnberry Club in Scotland "until we are convinced that the focus will be on the championship, the players and the course itself and we do not believe that is achievable in the current circumstances" according to chief executive Martin Slumbers.

    As this issue is being written the House of Representatives are debating impeaching Trump after Mike Pence declined to invoke the 25th Amendment, which would have declared Trump unfit for office and removed him immediately. Unlike the first impeachment where voting went almost strictly along party lines resulting in the Senate acquitting Trump, there are a significant number of Republicans both in the House and the Senate who have already declared that they would support the impeachment. Even current Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has softened in his opposition after the riot. The House will almost certainly vote to impeach within the next 24 hours - making Trump the first US President ever to be impeached twice. It is possible that Speaker Pelosi may delay sending it to the Senate for trial until a hundred days into the Biden presidency to allow time for new legislation to be debated (or seek an arrangement where the Senate's time is split between the trial and legislation). If convicted in the Senate, Trump will be banned from holding any public office in the future, killing off his rumoured plans for a 2024 run. Unless they are recalled for an emergency debate the Senate would not be holding the trial until the last full day of Trump's term in office anyway. UPDATE: Trump has been impeached for "incitement of insurrection". Ten Republican Representatives voted with the Democrats.


^ OBITUARIES

Actress and model Julie Strain (often called the "Queen of the B-movies", Repossessed, Heavy Metal 2000, 58), author Eric Jerome Dickey (Milk in My Coffee, Finding Gideon, Marvel comics, 59), Bernard Thomas (survivor of the 1961 Aberfan disaster, 63), actress Marion Ramsey (The Jeffersons, Police Academy films, Broadway, 73), fashion designer Satya Paul (modernised the sari, L'Affaire boutique, 78), TV documentarian and film director Michael Apted (7 Up series, Gorillas in the Mist, The World Is Not Enough, 79), D-Day veteran John Lister (was sent thousands of Christmas cards and hundreds of presents from around the world after a TV interview describing his loneliness following the death of his wife of 70 years in March, 101), former Air Transport Auxiliary pilot Eleanor Wadsworth (one of the last-surviving "Spitfire Women" who flew new fighters from factories to airfields in World War II, 103).


^ DUMBLEDORE BEAR'S LOTTERY PREDICTOR!

Dumbledore Bear, our in-house psychic predicts that the following numbers will be lucky:
15, 22, 24, 34, 44, 50
[UK National Lottery, number range 1-59]
You can get your very own prediction at http://www.simonlamont.co.uk/tfir/dumbledore.htm.


^ AND FINALLY...

    The teacher was telling the class about some of the traditions surrounding babies. "Now, children," she said, "does anyone know why we often dress baby boys in blue and baby girls in pink?"
    The children spent a few moments in thought before one hand shot up. "Yes, Little Jennifer?"
    Little Jennifer smiled knowingly. "Because they can't dress themselves, Miss!"


^ ...end of line