Olympic Flame Throwers
China power, Texas power, and 500,000.
The Olympics story is always about political power, and it's often about how much abuse of that power participating countries will put up with. When it comes to today's China, the balance of power suggests the world will put up with just about anything. That scenario is about the Olympics, but it's also related to a geopolitical shift that has been happening for a long time, and was accelerated over the past four years. Steven Lee Myers in the NYT: China Is Preparing for Another Olympics in Beijing, Like It or Not. "China is counting down to another Olympics in Beijing, this time the Winter Games next February. And it is facing mounting calls for a boycott over its rights abuses, from stripping Hong Kong of its promised democratic freedoms to the mass incarceration of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang. The world, however, has changed since 2008. Virtually no one today believes that holding the Games will temper China’s behavior."
+ The Guardian: 6,500 migrant workers have died in Qatar as it gears up for World Cup.
2. Watt The F***
"Wholesale prices are typically as low as a couple of cents per kilowatt-hour but spiked to $9 per kilowatt-hour after the storm." Texans are enjoying some warmer weather, but for many of them, it's coming with frozen bank accounts. Variable pricing on energy was a great money saver, as long as nothing went wrong. Why some Texans are getting sky-high energy bills.
+ "Even well-intentioned PUC staff are outgunned by armies of power company lawyers and their experts. The sad truth is that if power companies object to something, in this case simply providing information about the durability of certain equipment, they are extremely likely to get what they want." ProPublica and The Texas Tribune: How Texas Repeatedly Failed to Protect Its Power Grid Against Extreme Weather.
3. Five Hundred Grand Canyon
A 57-year-old Santa Clara woman died on February 6, 2020. We didn't know it at the time, but she was the country's first Covid-19 death. Since that day, we've lost more than 500,000 Americans to the pandemic. Reuters with a look back at the scourge. 500,000 Lives Lost. So much of this carnage was avoidable. The Capitol insurrection was a visible crime. The covid lies were a crime against humanity.
+ WaPo: A mass-casualty event every day. Inside the dark winter in America.
+ Biden mourns 500,000 dead, balancing nation’s grief and hope.
4. Cap Guns
"Former Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund described a scene that was “like nothing” he had seen in his 30 years of policing. 'When the group arrived at the perimeter, they did not act like any group of protestors I had ever seen.'" AP: Security officials cast blame for Jan. 6 failures at Capitol. (They weren't protestors. We need to stop calling them that.)
+ Senate holds first public hearing on Capitol riot. Here's the latest.
5. Putin Our Money Where Our Mouth Is
"The Biden administration is preparing sanctions and other measures to punish Moscow for actions that go beyond the sprawling SolarWinds cyber espionage campaign to include a range of malign cyber activity and the near-fatal poisoning of a Russian opposition leader." WaPo: Biden administration preparing to sanction Russia. (For you kids out there, this is how American presidents are supposed to respond to Russian attacks.)
6. The Wizard of Ozzie
Facebook is reversing its news ban on Australian sites after the government agreed to make amendments to new media rules. "It follows days of negotiations between the government and the social media company, including discussions between Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg." I've been saying for years that big tech companies are the new nation states. Here we are.
7. Spousal Support
"Emma Coronel Aispuro, 31, a California-born, dual U.S.-Mexican citizen, was arrested Monday at Washington Dulles International Airport. She faces charges for participating in a conspiracy to distribute cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin and marijuana for importation into the U.S." Wife Of 'El Chapo' Arrested In U.S. On Drug Charges. (It rarely works out well when husbands and wives go into business together...)
8. The Kid Stays in the Picture
"At 13, I already knew all about The Narrative. As an actor from the age of 5, who was carrying films by age 8, I’d been trained to seem, to be, as normal as possible — whatever it took to avoid my inevitable downfall. I shared a bedroom with my little sister. I went to public school. I was a Girl Scout. When someone called me a “star” I was to insist that I was an actor, that the only stars were in the sky. Nobody would touch the money I made until I turned 18. But I was now 13, and I was already ruined. Just like everyone expected." Mara Wilson in the NYT: The Lies Hollywood Tells About Little Girls.
9. Garland Mark
During his confirmation hearings, Merrick Garland got emotional answering a question about how his family's past informs the way he plans to lead as Attorney General. We lost this kind of humanity and decency for years. Let's not take it for granted.
10. Bottom of the News
"Genoese media said firefighters and divers from nearby towns were seen bringing coffins and debris to shore. It was also reported that currents had already pushed some coffins onto the nearby shoreline, with several of them having smashed open when they hit the water." Dozens of Coffins Plunge Into Sea After Landslide Rocks Cliff-Top Cemetery.
+ NYT: This 105-Year-Old Beat Covid. She Credits Gin-Soaked Raisins. (I credit gin-soaked raisins with getting me through the story above.)