Issue #582 - 18th September 2020
|^ WORD OF THE WEEK
^ ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY
Friday 18th September - Norwegian king Harald Hardrada and Tostig Godwinson landed at the mouth of the Humber to start their invasion of Britain, 1066. Lexicographer and poet Samuel Johnson born, 1709. Charles Lewis Tiffany and Teddy Young founded Tiffany & Co., initially as Tiffany and Young, in New York City, 1837. Alleged mystic and stigmatic Therese Neumann died, 1962. The Human League singer Joanne Catherall born, 1962. Filmmaker Russ Meyer died, 2004. World Water Monitoring Day. Saturday 19th September - The English defeated the French and captured King John II of France at the Battle of Poitiers in the Hundred Years' War, 1356. French noblewoman Marie of Cleves, Duchess of Orléans, born, 1426. James Garfield, 20th President of the United States, died, 1881. Musician, songwriter and producer Nile Rodgers born, 1952. The first Glastonbury Festival, then called the Pilton Pop, Blues & Folk Festival, opened at Worthy Farm, 1970. Novelist Jackie Collins died, 2015. Avast! It be International Talk Like a Pirate Day, me hearties! Break out the grog, yo ho! Sunday 20th September - Saladin began the Siege of Jerusalem, 1187. Arthur, Prince of Wales, born, 1486. Ferdinand Magellan set sail from Salúcar de Barrameda to circumnavigate the globe, 1519. Conspirator Sir Anthony Babington executed, 1586. Poet Stevie Smith born, 1902. Women's rights activist and philanthropist Annie Besant died, 1933. Monday 21st September - Norman invaders conquered the Kingdom of Dublin, 1170. Artist Barbara Longhi born, 1552. Philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer died, 1860. Writer H.G. Wells born, 1866. J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit was published, 1937. Actress Alice Ghostley died, 2007. International Day of Peace. Tuesday 22nd September - Anne of Austria, Queen and regent of France, born, 1601. Martha Corey became the last of the alleged Salem witches to be hung, 1692. The coronation of King George III of the Kingdom of Great Britain, 1761. Eric Baker, co-founder of Amnesty International, born, 1920. Barrister Cecil Chubb, the last private owner of Stonehenge, died, 1934. A bright flash similar to that of a nuclear detonation but so far unexplained, was detected near the Prince Edward Islands, 1979. The autumnal equinox (Northern Hemisphere) and vernal equinox (Southern Hemisphere). Wednesday 23rd September - Mongolian emperor Kublai Khan born, 1215. Beatrice of Naples, twice Queen of Hungary and Bohemia, died, 1508. The Merchant Royal sank off Land's End carrying over 100,000lbs (45,359kg) of still-unrecovered gold, 1641. Nintendo was founded to manufacture and market Hanafuda playing cards, 1889. Chemist Asima Chatterjee born, 1917. Actor, dancer and choreographer Bob Fosse died, 1987. Thursday 24th September - Physician and scientist Paracelsus died, 1541. Parliamentarians defeated a Royalist army under the personal command of King Charles I at the Battle of Rowton Heath in the English Civil War, 1645. Poet and composer Mary Ann Browne born, 1812. Devils Tower in Wyoming was proclaimed as America's first National Monument by President Theodore Roosevelt, 1906. Puppeteer Jim Henson born, 1936. Deborah Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire and youngest of the Mitford sisters, died, 2014.
^ THE WISDOM OF...
This week, Jim Henson:When I was young, my ambition was to be one of the people who made a difference in this world. My hope still is to leave the world a little bit better for my having been here. It's a wonderful life and I love it.
^ FILM QUIZ
A treasure chest of quotations from piratical films. Answers next issue or from the regular address.
Last issue's quotations were from films directed by John Landis:
- Dying's the easy way out. You won't catch me dying. They'll have to kill me before I die!
- - "Take a cruise," you said. "See the world," you said. Now here we are, stuck on the front of this stupid ship.
- Well, it could be worse. We could be stuck in the audience.
- - Goodbye, matey! Good luck to ye! Ha ha!
- Blast him! I could almost find it in my heart to hope he makes it.
- You're off the edge of the map, mate. Here there be monsters.
- I don't think you're real and I don't think that sword is real. I'm going to walk straight through it and go to bed!
- I'm not wearing any pants. Film at eleven.
-- Kentucky Fried Movie 
- He was wearing my Harvard tie. Can you believe it? My Harvard tie. Like oh, sure he went to Harvard.
-- Trading Places 
- Is this the way it happened? Was Jack the Ripper in fact a sixty-foot sea serpent from Scotland? Did I take this job to make a quick buck? We may never know the answers to these questions.
-- Amazon Women on the Moon 
- Dad! Mom, Dad, this is Larry Kroger. The boy who molested me last month. We have to get married.
-- National Lampoon's Animal House 
- - David, you are hurting my feelings!
- Hurting your feelings? Has it occurred to you that it might be unsettling to see you arise from the grave to visit me?
-- An American Werewolf in London 
^ WEIRD WORLD NEWS
Strange stories from around the world, some of which might be true...
- A 62-year-old ball python at St Louis Zoo surprised the herpetology keepers by laying seven eggs despite having had no contact with a male for at least twenty years. Three of the eggs were incubated and at least one later hatched, two were used for genetic sampling to determine how they were produced, and the other two did not survive. It is not unknown, but very rare, for ball pythons to reproduce asexually but most females stop producing eggs long before reaching the age of 60. The snake previously layed clutches of eggs in 1990 and 2009 but at the time she would have been put into a bucket with the zoo's male ball python while their enclosures were cleaned. ● Back in May the world's deepest observation of a living octopus was filmed 22,966' (7km) below the surface in the Java Trench. The Dumbo octopus was filmed during the Five Deeps Expedition we reported on previously. ● Scientists have detected the first potential signs of life on another planet. Observations with both the ALMA telescope in Chile and the James Clerk Maxwell telescope in 2017 found evidence of phosphine in the clouds of Venus. While the surface of the planet is too hot to support life (Venus is thought to have once been Earth-like until affected by runaway warming) it is speculated that microbes could exist in the cooler clouds at high altitudes. MIT researcher Clara Sousa-Silva, who co-authored the report said that while it is not proof of the presence of life they have been unable to come up with an alternative explanation for its presence. ● A woman has claimed on British television that her psychic horse helped her find her partner after she contacted an "animal communicator". ● Reindeer herders on Bolshoy Lyakhovsky Island in the Russian Arctic have found an almost perfectly preserved Ice Age cave bear's body in melting permafrost. The body has all its internal organs and soft tissue in place and even has its nose. Preliminary analysis suggests that it lived 22,000-39,500 years ago.
- In 2004 the BBC soap opera EastEnders featured a scene where newlywed characters Janine and Barry Evans had an argument while on honeymoon and Barry was pushed down a slope fatally hitting his head on a rock. The scene was filmed at the Rest and be Thankful, a section of road in Cowal, Scotland, where the original route reached its highest point after a steep climb out of Glen Croe (the modern A83 road follows a more gentle incline but keeps the name). A fan of the show visiting the area recently for hillwalking was amused to find that someone had attached a small plaque to the rock where Barry's death was filmed. The notice reads "Barry from 'EastEnders' died here 2nd January 2004."
- A couple from Venice who believe that the Earth is flat and the edge of the world is just beyond Lampedusa, the largest of the Pelagie Islands 127 miles (205km) south of Sicily sold their car to buy a boat and set out to find it. They only got as far as the island of Ustica, 32 miles (52km) north of Sicily before running into trouble and had to be rescued by a maritime doctor in a migrant rescue ship. Because they had violated Italy's lockdown rules they were put into quarantine for two weeks in Palermo, Sicily, but escaped, were recaptured three hours later and put back into quarantine before returning to the mainland two weeks later, saying that they had abandoned their attempt to sail to the edge of the world. The doctor who rescued them noted that they appeared to be using a magnetic compass to steer by; true Flat Earthers do not accept that magnetic compasses give real directions because a flat earth cannot have a magnetic field (generated by a spinning solid iron core surrounded by liquid iron in the real world).
- For infants who have been raised with a dummy, or pacifier, giving them up can be tough. Some parents have taken to encouraging them to send their dummies to the "do do fairy" as a way of letting them know their dummy is going somewhere special once they are too old for it. A mother who recently posted her daughter's dummy to the fairy - and added her return address in case the Royal Mail had any problems with it - was pleasantly surprised to get a letter back including a response for her daughter from the fairy. Along with an explanatory letter from Les Haffenden, the late shift manager at the Home Counties North Mail Centre saying that they try to reply on behalf of the fairy when they can was a card for her daughter reading "Thank you. You are so kind and courageous to give your dummy to the fairies. We are proud of you! And we promise to look after it."
- Archaeologists in Chester have unearthed a rare Roman gaming piece. Just over an inch (2.9cm) long and made of bone the piece is decorated with a ring and dot motif and is highly polished, probably from use in Ludus Latrunculorum, the Game of Mercenaries, a popular game across the Roman Empire similar to draughts. The gaming piece was found alongside a comb, a spearhead and a brooch in excavations on a site before it is dug up to lay drains and foundations for a new civic complex. ● One of the largest Roman era temples in Britain has been uncovered at Caistor St Edmund near Norwich. The temple was built by the Iceni, most famous for their revolt against the Romans led by Boudicca, and measures 65' (20m) square. It is not known if it was dedicated to a Roman god adopted by the Iceni or a local deity.
- The wildfires in the northwest of America having been getting a lot of media attention recently [viz Trumpwatch, below] but strong winds have also been causing problems further southeast, as a video posted online showed. The video, filmed in Albuquerque, New Mexico, showed a large portable toilet being blown across a busy intersection on the former Route 66 (decommissioned as a highway in 1985 but still referred to as such for tourism), to the amusement of motorists waiting for it to pass, set to the tune of Kansas' song "Dust in the Wind". [We hope nobody was inside it at the time... -Ed]
- The Vera Rubin Observatory (VRO), currently under construction in Chile, will house the world's largest digital camera, being assembled at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in California. But how do you test a 3bn pixel camera comprising 189 charged-couple device (CCD) sensors needing to be precisly mounted and working in unison that would need 378 4K ultra-high definition TV screens to display its images full sized? The SLAC has released its test pictures, taken with a 2/1000th" (150 micron) pinhole (because the lenses are not yet fitted) of... broccoli. Apparently the intricate surface of Romanesco broccoli is ideal for calbrating and aligning the CCDs.
- When 80-year-old hiker Harry Harvey went missing at night in a heavy hailstorm after three nights wild camping with a walking group in the Yorkshire Dales police, the RAF and rescue dogs were called in before he was spotted by a wildlife photographer six miles (10km) from his last known location. He was taken by Land Rover to the Tan Hill Inn to be reunited with his family, who were in the middle of a press conference to raise public awareness of his being missing. Harvey, an experienced hiker, said that he had not been worried because he had all the necessary gear and knowhow, but would have preferred not to have had all the attention that came from returning in the midle of the press event.
- One of the biggest websites promoting the QAnon conspiracy theory (which claims, among other things, that America is run by Satan-worshipping paedophiles and only Donald Trump* can stop them...) went offline after Logically.ai, a site dedicated to fact-checking and fighting online misinformation identified the person behind the site and media then linked state records of his home address to a QAnon pseudonym. IT and security specialist Jason Gelinas told reporters who asked him if he was behind the site that "I'm not going to get involved. I want to stay out of it," but added that QAnon was "a patriotic movement to save the country." [*Whose friends included convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein, and who used to go into the Miss Teen USA changing room where girls as young as 15 were getting dressed... see Trumpwatch, below]
- Expensive Canadian sportswear maker Lululemon is under fire for a campaign promoting a yoga workshop as an opportunity to "resist capitalism". The company which is valued at $45bn (£34.88bn) and sells $180 (£140) leggings, was widely criticised as the very epitome of capitalism. Last year it was revealed that some of its clothing was made in Bangladeshi sweatshops where female workers were subjected to beatings and humiliation.
CORONAVIRUS ROUND-UP: A beauty salon in Bootle which was ordered to take down posters declaring itself a "Covid Free Salon" denying the existence of the virus and forgoing all measures to limit its spread has been shut down after it put identical posters back up after Merseyside Police seized the originals. ● More than 74 arrested at anti-lockdown protests in Melbourne, Australia. ● A woman in Rochdale, which has one of the highest infection rates in Britain, was fined twice in a single day for refusing to wear a facemask in shops. ● Maine Centers for Disease Control head Dr Nirav Shah has RickRolled citizens, assuring them on a video - with a straight face - that "The bottom line here that Maine CDC contact tracers are never gonna give you up... they're never gonna let you down... they're never gonna run around and desert you. Maine CDC contact tracers are never gonna make you cry... they're never gonna say goodbye... and they're never gonna tell a lie and hurt you." ● Eight people in Gresik, East Java, were punished for not wearing facemasks by having to dig graves in a public cemetary for COVID-19 victims. ● Patriarch Filaret, 91, head of the Ukranian Orthodox Church, who blamed COVID-19 on same-sex marriages has tested positive for the virus. ● A woman was arrested in Bishop Stortford, Hertfordshire, last month for hosting a silent disco (where everyone wears headphones) attended by more than 300 people at an industrial estate; police had been told it was a small gathering for a wedding.
The Washington Post has identified a campaign by conservative youth group Turning Point Action to evade Facebook and Twitter's automated detection of bots by hiring teenagers to post at least 4,500 identified posts and tweets supporting Trump and criticising Dr. Fauci, mail-in ballots, and the other subjects of the president's frequent tantrums, in effect creating a troll farm in Phoenix, Arizona. ● Oracle, run by Trump supporter and campaign donor Larry Ellison, appears to have won the bidding war to take over US operations of TikTok, although it seems the deal will not meet Trump's original demands that it be severed from Chinese control. Under Oracle's proposal they will host all of TikTok's US data but the company will remain under Chinese ownership; Microsoft's rival proposal would have severed TikTok in the US from its European and Asian implementations.
Andrew Napolitano, senior judicial analyst at Fox News and a friend of Trump has backed reports that Trump disparaged veterans and war dead while in France in 2018 for commemorations to mark the centenary of the World War I armistice, reported last week by The Atlantic, because "Donald Trump is unfiltered. He often says what first comes to mind without thinking of the likely consequences - including the hurt - his words could produce. And he believes he can repair any hurt with more words." ● It is not just dead soldiers and veterans Trump insults. In Bob Woodward's book Rage he relates how, while signing an executive order to assess how to strengthen the US's manufacturing and defence industrial base Trump told then-Defense Secretary Jim Mattis' aide Bradley Byers and trade advisor Peter Navarro that "my f**king generals are a bunch of pussies. They care more about their alliances than they do about trade deals."
Trump seemingly gave support to the practice of extrajudical killings earlier this week after US marshals shot dead fugitive self-described anti-fascist Michael Forest Reinoehl, 39, wanted for shooting dead a member of a far-right group in Portland on August 29th. There are conflicting reports as to whether Reinoehl drew a gun when the marshals pulled up alongside his car before shooting him dead (most say he did not), but for Trump that does not matter. "There has to be retribution when you have a crime like that. This guy was a violent criminal, and the US marshals killed him, and I will tell you something, that's the way it has to be," he told Fox News' Jeanine Pirro on Saturday, before going on to suggest that law officers take similar action against demonstrators alleged to have committed violent acts. The 14th Amendment to the US Constitution (a document of which Trump has repeatedly demonstrated no knowledge or understanding), echoing a similar clause in the 5th Amendment, says "nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law." ● A whistleblower nurse at the Irwin Country Detention Center in Georgia has alleged - with support from several other people - that detainees were routinely refused COVID-19 testing and an inordinate number of immigrant women detained at the centre were subjected to hysterectomies performed by a gynecologist outside of the facility without understanding why the procedure was being performed. According to one detainee "I thought this was like an experimental concentration camp. It was like they're experimenting with our bodies."
The fallout from Trump's suggestion that drinking disinfectant might cure COVID-19 rumbles on, with a recent BBC investigation into suppliers of Miracle Mineral Solution (MMS), a supposedly "health-related product" which comprised bottles of sodium chlorite and hydrochloric acid that were to be mixed together (making a bleach), diluted and drunk. One of the vendors told the reporter that their sales had gone up after Trump's remarks. ● Responding to the (mostly Trump-supporting) section of the US public who refuse to wear facemasks, Dr Francis Collins, Director of the National Institute of Health, told CNN "Imagine you were an alien who landed on planet Earth and you saw that our planet was afflicted by an infectious disease and masks were an effective way to prevent the spread. And yet when you went around you saw some people not wearing them and some wearing them and you tried to find out why and it turned out it was their political party. And you would scratch your head and think this is just not a planet that has much promise for the future, if something that is so straightforward can somehow get twisted into decision making that really makes no sense." ● Paul Alexander, a Tump appointee at the Department of Health and Human Services has been reported as attempting to censor Dr Anthony Fauci, America's top infectious disease expert and, for many, the face of the scientific response to COVID-19, by trying to pressure him into prioritising political positions over the science to boost Trump's misleading and anti-scientific claims about COVID-19, for example by suggesting Fauci stress that facemasks in schools are for teachers not children, despite evidence showing that while children can catch COVID-19 but are better at fighting its effects they can still spread it to other children and adults. Fauci, while saying he had not seen Alexander's emails, stressed that "No one tells me what I can say and cannot say. I speak on scientific evidence."
In a move that has surprised pretty much nobody Trump is now denying downplaying the virus' severity despite audio evidence to the contrary recorded by Watergate journalist Bob Woodward (reported on in the last issue), claiming that he "up-played it". Even his press secretary Kayleigh "I will never lie to [the press]. You have my word on that" McEnany told reporters that he never downplayed the virus, right after audio of the taped interview, in which he said "I still like playing it down, because I don't want to create a panic" was released. Trump also recently restated his view (with zero evidence, of course) that a vaccine could be ready within two weeks. No vaccines have completed clinical trials yet, nor are likely to before the November 3rd election date, except for the Russian 'Sputnik' vaccine reported on in an earlier issue that seems to have been allowed to bypass most trials and news of which has gone rather quiet since its Trump-baiting announcement.
Trump held his first indoor campaign rally in months last weekend, to an estimated 5,000 people in Henderson, Nevada. Of course few people, expect those seating in the camera-friendly rows immediately behind him, were wearing facemasks, prompting the ire of state Governor Steve Sisolak, who criticised Trump in a series of 11 tweets in which he pointed out that the rally violated local ordinances forbidding gatherings of more than 50, and that Trump had abandoned a national response to COVID-19, instead delegating responsibility to states (and which he was violating). At an outdoor rally elsewhere in Nevada the night before Trump had mocked Sisolak and city officials who tried to stop the rallies taking place, and told the equally-unprotected crowd "Tell your governor to open up your state". ● A reporter for the New York Times who had been refused accreditation to report on an open air Trump rally in Michigan last week (Trump hates the NYT), so registered as a supporter to get in, and who, like other reporters, was tweeting about the lack of COVID-19 safety measures was thrown out 13 minutes into the rally by security who had located her from her tweeted pictures of unmasked Trump supporters violating state guidelines. Of course Trump bragged about his "fantastic job" of responding to the virus... Trump went ahead with his rally in Michigan despite withholding requested funding for the National Guard there, who are responsible for distributing food and medical supplies and managing testing facilities.
South Dakota's Republican Governor Kristi Noem has criticised a study by a team at the San Diego State University's Center for Health Economics & Policy Studies and the IZA Institute of Labor Economics that used cell-phone data to suggest that the thousands of maskless bikers from across America who attended the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in her state acted as superspreaders accounting for almost 20% of the national total of cases in August. Locally Sturgis experienced a 35% spike in cases after the event. Noem claimed that "This report isn't science. It's fiction. Under the guise of academic research, it's nothing short of an attack on those who exercised their personal freedom to attend Sturgis." She was promptly reminded on Twitter that "It doesn't take a genius to figure out that having hundreds of thousands of people gathered for 10 days during a pandemic was a bad idea" (@traviskriens) and that 60% of Sturgis' residents had wanted the event cancelled, so "Where was their choice?" (@Hahnylisa). ● Last Tuesday Noem announced that her administration is using $5m (£3.85m) of federal coronavirus relief funds to pay for a tourism ad campaign. Presumably it will not be the rather accurate "Come to South Dakota, we're one of America's top hotspots for COVID-19 infections!" [But, hey, Governor Noem, if you want to use that slogan, you can! -Ed]
Trump-appointed federal judge William Stickman IV has blocked Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf's shutdown orders that would limit gatherings, order "non-life-sustaining" businesses to close and require people to stay at home except for specific reasons as being "unconstitutional". ● Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-Fla) tried to defend Trump on Twitter by tweeting that "The Mueller team obstructed way more justice than Trump ever did" and was promptly thanked for admitting that Trump had obstructed justice. ● Miles Taylor, former chief of staff for then Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen has revealed that in 2018 after David Glawe, the Department for Homeland Security (DHS)'s head of intelligence testified to a closed-door classified Congressional hearing that he agreed with a an assessment that Russia had sought to disrupt the 2016 election and shown a preference for Trump, someone snitched to Trump who called Nielsen that night to demand that Glawe be fired; his job was saved by a round of frantic phone calls. Taylor also revealed that Mick Mulvaney, while White House acting chief of staff, had told the DHS that nobody should even mention Russian interference in the presence of Trump. ● DHS whistleblower Brian Murphy has said that he was pressured into downplaying the threat of Russian election interference in reports because it "made the president look bad" as well as downplaying the threat of white supremacy, exaggerating the numbers of migrants with links to terrorism, and that Secretary Nielsen had provided "false information" to House committees about known or suspected terrorists stopped at the Mexico border at a time when Trump was pressing for his vanity wall project.
Last week Politico reported that Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary Michael Caputo orchestrated a campaign to pressure the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) into altering or even blocking reports to favour Trump's view of the COVID-19 pandemic. Caputo, formerly a top official in Trump's election campaign with no medical qualifications argued that his actions were in defence against the fictitious "deep state" claimed by conspiracy theories (including QAnon) to be against Trump. Caputo lived in Russia for six years, was an advisor to Boris Yeltsin for four years, an advisor to the state-owned gas company Gazprom and has been reported as having assisted Vladimir Putin counter claims against him. Caputo has promoted the conspiracy theories surrounding Joe and Hunter Biden's activities in Ukraine and is a longstanding associate of Roger Stone, the Trump aide who was convicted of seven crimes including lying to Congress and witness tampering in the investigation into Russian interence in the 2016 election, as well as being an aide to Paul Manafort, Trump's 2016 campaign manager, also since convicted of crimes. ● Lt Col. Alexander Vindman, who memorably testified to Congress about the Trump Ukraine scandal, has told The Atlantic that Trump is Vladimir Putin's "useful idiot" who "has made this country weaker. We're mocked by our adversaries and by our allies, and we're headed for more disaster" because Trump wants to be an "autoritarian strongman" just like Putin.
A Trump campaign ad broadcast around September 11th, the anniversary of the four al-Qaeda plane attacks which precipitated the Afghan War against first Al-Qaida then the Taliban, urged viewers to "support our troops". It was made by the Trump Make America Great Again Committee and used stock footage of soldiers and of fighter planes culminating in a still image of soldiers and a plane with a magnificent mountain behind them. It seems that nobody making the ad had any actual military knowledge. The troops shown were Russian and carrying AK-47s. The planes shown were Russian MiG-29s. The mountain, at least, was not Russian; it was Greek. Russia, as has been widely reported, channelled bounties to the Taliban in Afghanistan for killing American and Allied soldiers.
With just under 50 days to the US election how is Trump's disapproval rating doing? Well, he is at about the same level as Presidents George H.W. Bush and Carter were, around 55%. Both the senior Bush and Carter turned out to be single-term presidents. ● A Democratic candidate in Tennessee has filed a complaint with county election officials after finding that a "Trump Shop" selling MAGA and Trump-branded goods had been set up less than 100' (30.5m) from where a polling station will be. Under state electioneering laws its presence on election day, November 3rd would be illegal. ● We have reported on the inappropriate (and usually unapproved) choices of music played at Trump rallies. As he got off Air Force One for his rally in Michigan last week John Forgarty's "Fortunate Son" played and the Twitterati could not help but chuckle at its inappropriateness, being a 1969 Creedance Clearwater Revival song about how class differences allowed the sons of the privileged to avoid the Vietnam War draft, as, indeed, Trump did, avoiding the draft through educational exemptions and a podiatrist's diagnosis of bone spurs on his feet (which the daughter of the podiatrist told The New York Times in December was done as "a favor" to Trump's father.) ● The Los Angeles Times has made an extraordinary early endorsement in the election, for Joe Biden because "it's inconceivable that anything that will be said on the debate stage will close the cavernous fitness gap" between the two candidates. ● The Republican Voters Against Trump group has released an almost-12-minute-long video of former Republican voters giving 113 reasons not to vote for Trump. ● Microsoft says it has detected and stopped numerous attempts by Russian, Chinese and Iranian hackers targetting both the Trump and Biden campaigns as well as other groups linked to the election.
There appears to be some confusion in the Republican Party over who the President is, with GOP chair Ronna McDaniel tweeting on Sunday that "Joe Biden can't run from his disastrous record responding to the coronavirus. The truth hurts, Joe!" As was promptly pointed out, Biden is not responsible for the US's response to the virus, the overgrown Ooma-Loompa in the White House who was warned in January and February how deadly it is but did nothing is, and Biden has consistently called for people to take preventative measures such as facemask-wearing, to avoid spreading it. Trump told a recent town hall event that at the Democrat convention "they said they were going to do a national mandate [on wearing facemasks], and they never did it", seemingly ignorant of the fact that they cannot bring in a national mandate now because Biden is not President. Yet.
Donald Jr gave the Twitterati a field day last weekend after he liked a tweet by alt-right activist Mike Cernovich defending Trump against The Atlantic article's claims that he disparaged American war dead that described the president as "greedy and horny, typical of men" ● Another week, yes, more idiocy from Eric "Dumbest spawn of Donald" Trump, who this time suggested that he should run for the presidency after [*cough*] his father's second term. As @Johnpainz put it, "If this happens, and I remember my bible, I think locusts are what comes next" while the Twitterati's more general reaction cand be summed up as multiples of "haha".
Unfit, a new documentary feature by Dan Partland, analyses the obvious decline in Trump's cognitive abilities with input from historians, legal professionals, prominent anti-Trump campaigners including George Conway and medical professionals including psychologist John Gartner who juxtaposed footage of Trump from the 1980s and 1990s with contemporary clips to show his decline and how "his vocabulary is impoverished; he uses a lot of superlatives and filler words that we see in people who are reaching for language. Quite often, he shows what we call tangential thinking, which is that he goes from one idea and then just sort of drifts in mid-sentence to another idea."
Having said nothing about the fires ravaging the West Coast since August Trump visited firefighters and officials this week and continued to deny climate change, telling California Natural Resource Secretary Wade Crowfoot who asked him to acknowledge that the fires are not solely due to forest floor vegetation, that "I don't think science knows, actually" and "It'll start getting cooler." A vast majority of scientists acknowledge climate change as being significantly responsible for the increase in global temperatures and the growing occurrences of natural disasters, and Trump's second statement just shows that he continues to confuse weather with climate, just as several members of his family confuse the US economy with the stock market. On Twitter Star Wars actor Mark Hamill warned that "HE'S GOING TO GET US ALL KILLED" while Joe Biden called Trump a "climate arsonist".
Bob Woodward told CNN's Anderson Cooper that his interviews with Trump left him questioning whether Trump can tell the difference between what is real and what is just imagined in his head, while Woodward's Watergate investigation colleague Carl Bernstein condemned Trump as "homicidal" for turning his own supporters into "sacrificial lambs" who could die in the service of his attempt to be re-elected by attending his mass rallies with no protection against COVID-19 and railed against Trump's hypocrisy, telling Cooper "Here is this president who has staked part of his presidency on the right to life, particularly of the unborn. And every day he has sacrificed the lives of thousands of Americans because he is unwilling to deal honestly, forthrightly, meaningfully with the greatest domestic crisis in our postwar history in this country." ● Trump, meanwhile, criticised Woodward for not releasing the interview tapes sooner, tweeting "Bob Woodward had my quotes for many months. If he thought they were so bad or dangerous, why didn't he immediately report them in an effort to save lives?" The reaction was not favorable... as @JRehling pointed out "Oh, because when someone criticizes you with good evidence, you are known for responding to the criticism, right? If Woodward did that in March, you would have called him "overrated" and the quotes fake and the same number of people would have died." while @14Truth14 was more succinct - "Distraction Distraction Distraction Distraction Distraction Distraction Distraction Distraction Distraction Distraction Distraction Distraction Distraction Distraction Distraction" ● Other revelations from Woodward's forthcoming book include that Trump mentioned that "I have built a nuclear - a weapons system that nobody's ever had in this country before" [which would have been classified; sources in the intelligence community later confirmed its existence but did not provide any details...], bragged that he had protected Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and that Trump told him "you don't know how close we were to war" with North Korea, and that he had ordered then-defense secretary James Mattis to shoot down any North Korean missiles aimed at the US; Woodward told CBS News that the CIA had analysed letters sent from Kim Jong-un to Trump and had been unable to determine who had actually written them but that they were "masterpieces" that appealed to Trump's "sense of grandiosity". Just like with China, Trump got played... ● John Brennan, former Director of the CIA has responded to Woodward's interviews with Trump by labelling Trump an "absolute abomination" who should quit the White House but doesn't have the "conscience or a soul" to. ● As is always the way with Trump there is an old tweet of his that has resurfaced, in this case one from 2013 in which he said "Only the Obama WH can get away with attacking Bob Woodward".
Michael Cohen, Trump's former 'fixer' told ABC's The View that Trump was never able "to really fully grasp how the country ended up voting for the very first Black president" and that Trump's oft-shown contempt for Barack Obama, from promoting the false birther conspiracy theory to accusing him of spying on Trump's 2016 campaign is "purely racial". ● Cohen also reveals in his book Disloyal; a Memoir how he and Trump were watching a girl playing tennis when Trump whistled at her and told Cohen "What a piece of ass. I would love some of that." The girl was Cohen's 15-year-old daughter. Now 24, Samantha Cohen told CNN this week that despite Trump kissing her on the cheek and warning her to "be careful. I'll be dating your friends in a few years" (he had been married to Melania for 7 years at that point) she did not think he was directly hitting on her, but got the impression that "he was interested in younger women and that, you know, women would age out for him and that when one woman became too old, he'd find a younger one." [For reference, Melania is 50 -Ed]. The revelation, coupled with earlier reports that Trump would frequent the dressing rooms at Miss Teen USA and Miss Universe pageants because "you know, they're standing there with no clothes. 'Is everybody okay?' And you see these incredible looking women, and so, I sort of get away with things like that" led to the Twitter hashtag #TrumpIsAPedo trending on both sides of the Atlantic.
CNN fact checker Daniel Dale had his work cut out for him after Trump tried to tie alleged illegal campaign donations from Hillary Clinton to former Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe by tweeting "Was Andy McCabe ever forced to pay back the $700,000 illegally given to him and his wife, for his wife’s political campaign, by Crooked Hillary Clinton while Hillary was under FBI investigation, and McCabe was the head of the FBI??? Just askin’?" last Saturday. The tweet almost set a new record for Trump; in just forty words it contained four lies - the donations were given to just McCabe's wife, who in 2015 was running for Senate in Virginia, they totalled $675,288, were publically recorded in Jill McCabe's campaign finance disclosures and were quite legal, they did not come from Hillary Clinton but the Virginia State Democratic Party and the Common Good Virginia PAC (both of which donated similar sums to Democrat candidates in other elections at the time) and Andrew McCabe was not "the head of the FBI" until 2017, when he was Acting Director in the wake of Trump's firing James Comey. McCabe had no part in investigations into Hillary Clinton until February 2016, after his wife's electoral defeat. ● It is not just China and North Korea that successfully played Trump, according to a new attack ad by the Lincoln Project, his own re-election campaign has, after raising and spending over $1bn (£0.77bn) but still trailing Joe Biden by a considerable margin, suggesting that the campaign's advisors could have siphoned off the money to buy beach houses and fast cars. ● The White House Rose Garden, revamped (many have said ruined) by Melania Trump three weeks ago is already dying, waterlogged and in need of repair work. Twitter user @kantw8240 put it thus: "So basically, it's turning into a swamp." ● Three middle-aged Dutch white hat [working for good] hackers have revealed that they were able to access Trump's Twitter account in 2016 after extracting his password from a file dump following the 2012 hack of LinkedIn by a Russian hacker. The email address for Trump's LinkedIn account did not work, but they were able to find the one he used for Twitter and the password extracted from the dump worked first time. The hackers alerted US authorities who did nothing, but the Dutch National Cyber Security Centrum took notice. The hackers claim to have also found Trump's details in a dump from the 2015 hack of Ashley Madison, the dating website for cheating spouses. ● On Sunday Trump tried to contrast his popularity among Hispanics with Joe Biden's, tweeting "Remember, Miami Cubans gave me the highly honored Bay of Pigs Award for all I have done for our great Cuban population!" There is no Bay of Pigs Award. The Bay of Pigs Veterans Association in Florida endorsed him. The Bay of Pigs was the failed attempt by Cuban exiles, covertly funded and directed by the US government, to invade Cuba in 1961, at the height of the Cold War.
The US budget deficit has soared to a record, passing $3tn (£2.3tn), with the Congressional Budget Office predicting that the country is likely to run a full-year deficit of $3tn (£1.15tn) for the financial year ending this month, with total US debt exceeding $26tn (£20tn). The Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, Trump's alma mater (having allegedly paid someone to sit his entrance exams [viz previous TFIrs]), has backed Joe Biden's economic proposals over Trump's as providing a faster growing economy, cutting the national debt and giving workers higher wages. They also judged that Biden's environmental and social schemes would, for the most part, pay for themselves.
Body language expert Dr Jack Brown has revealed how he can tell when Trump is lying, thanks to a simple visual cue, tweeting for an example a video of Trump accusing Joe Biden of using an autocue while "I'm not allowed to use the teleprompter". Brown points to numerous examples of Trump using autocues as evidence that he knew he was lying and was uncomfortable, so he made a classic False Tie Adjustment move, "one (of many) body language alpha upregulators displayed by people who are typically alpha, but find themselves in a low-confidence/low-emotional comfort emotional state".
Jockey Pat Smullen (17 major Irish wins, 3 French, 6 British, 2 American, 43), musician, singer and songwriter Ronald Bell (Kool & The Gang co-founder, "Celebration", "Ladies' Night", 68), boxer Alan Minter (1972 Olympics bronze medal, 1980 undisputed world middleweight title, 69), reggae musician, singer and songwriter Toots Hibbert (Toots & the Maytals, gave reggae its name in "Do the Reggay", 77), musician Simeon Coxe (Silver Apples co-founder, the Overland Stage Electric band, 82), actress Dame Diana Rigg (The Avengers, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Game of Thrones, 82), designer and restaurateur Sir Terence Conran (Habitat, The Design Museum, D&D London, 88), actress Barbara Jefford (Ulysses, Porterhouse Blue, The Ninth Gate, 90), World War II fighter pilot and test pilot Squadron Leader Allan Scott (Operation Pedestal, Battle of Britain Spitfire ace, test-flew more than 80 different aircraft, 99).
^ DUMBLEDORE BEAR'S LOTTERY PREDICTOR!
Dumbledore Bear, our in-house psychic predicts that the following numbers will be lucky:10, 23, 36, 44, 51, 57[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...
A captain was standing on his ship's poop deck when the cry came from the crow's nest "Pirate ship to starboard!" As the pirates approached, he summoned his first mate, who was on his first voyage aboard the ship. "Go to my quarters and get me my red shirt," he ordered.
The mate was bemused, but did not question his captain and fetched the shirt, which the captain quickly put on. The pirates attacked and launched a boarding party. Battle was fierce but eventually they were repelled with only two of the ship's crew injured.
The next day the cry came "Pirate ship to port!" Again the captain asked for his red shirt and was wearing it as the pirates attacked. Again the fighting was fierce and the pirates were repelled, with one of the ship's crew killed and three injured.
The next morning the first mate and the captain were standing on the poop deck. "Excuse me, captain," the mate said, "but why did you ask for your red shirt when those pirates were sighted?"
"Ah, that's a trick my old captain told me when I was a first mate. If the captain wears a red shirt and is injured, the blood will not show so his crew are not disheartened and will keep fighting."
At that moment another cry came from the crow's nest. "Pirate fleet astern! Ten ships and catching us up!"
The captain turned to his first mate. "Go down to my cabin and bring me my brown trousers..."
^ ...end of line