Weekend Open Thread
[guest post by Dana]
First news item
Why not just leave well enough alone? I know it’s just a simple yet challenging word game that I look forward to playing on a daily basis and comparing notes and strategies with our host and JVW. And while you can currently play Wordle for free, it was just purchased by the New York Times, so get ready to pony up:
Wordle is a game in which once a day players get six chances to guess a five-letter word. It has had a meteoric rise: It first appeared in October; had 90 users on Nov. 1; and now millions play the game daily…
On Jan. 31, The New York Times Company announced that they had acquired it, and that, at least initially, it would stay free.
About the acquistion:
Wordle was acquired from its creator, Josh Wardle, a software engineer in Brooklyn, for a price “in the low seven figures,” The Times said. The company said the game would initially remain free to new and existing players…
“The Times remains focused on becoming the essential subscription for every English-speaking person seeking to understand and engage with the world,” a company statement said. “New York Times Games are a key part of that strategy.”
Since The Times put up a paywall in 2011, its business strategy has revolved around persuading readers and users, the overwhelming majority of whom get Times content digitally, to buy subscriptions. The traditional newspaper business model is centered on advertising.
Second news item
Pence positioning himself for a comeback while looking ahead to 2024:
Former Vice President Mike Pence called out his former boss by name on Friday, saying that “President (Donald) Trump is wrong” in claiming that Pence had the right to overturn the 2020 election on January 6, 2021.
Speaking at the Federalist Society Florida Chapters conference near Orlando, Pence delivered his strongest response yet to Trump’s ongoing efforts to relitigate the 2020 presidential election, calling it “un-American” to suggest one person could have decided the outcome…
“Under the Constitution, I had no right to change the outcome of our election, and (Vice President) Kamala Harris will have no right to overturn the election when we beat them in 2024,” Pence said…
“This week, President Trump said I had the right to ‘overturn the election.’ But President Trump is wrong,” Pence said. “I had no right to overturn the election.”
Trump responded to Pence as you would expect him to:
This statement is Carrie Mathison-chart level in terms of getting to the part where he says he was right pic.twitter.com/1R7f1WpheN
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) February 5, 2022
Third news item
Nancy Pelosi wants US Olympic athletes to remain silent in the face of China’s human rights abuses:
Pelosi noted that while the US has an obligation to call out Beijing over human rights violations committed against Uyghurs and other Muslim minority groups, Olympic athletes should steer clear of doing so.
“If we do not speak out against human rights violations in China because of commercial interests, we lose all moral authority to speak out against human rights violations anywhere,” said Pelosi, who then told the athletes: “Do not risk incurring the anger of the Chinese government, because they are ruthless.”
She again clarified that her concern is for the safety of the athletes:
“As I wish the athletes well, I do not encourage them to speak out against the Chinese government there because I fear for their safety if they do. [To] remove all doubt about why I said they shouldn’t speak out, it’s because I fear for their safety.”
[A]n American snowboarder reached out to Yahoo Sports to talk China. She’d been reading about the government’s mass detention of Uyghurs; about forced sterilization and sexual assault; about crackdowns throughout the country. “These things are insane,” she said, and she was eager to speak about them.
But not on the record. The Olympics, she said, were a “life goal.” And activism, she worried, could jeopardize her pursuit of it.
“If I were to protest and become a big voice in this movement,” she said, “China could block me from even going.”
She didn’t have proof of that, she acknowledged. But she was afraid — and not alone.
…”There’s a lot of us athletes who are super upset about the genocide in China,” she said. “We’re upset about it. But we’re struggling to figure out, what can we do?”
“The IOC is the group that picks the host country,” she reasoned. She couldn’t fathom how such a powerful organization that claims to serve athletes could choose such a problematic host, then refuse to comment on its crimes against humanity, and then, most spinelessly of all, not even assure athletes they’ll be safe in it.
Fourth news item
Last night at my direction, U.S. military forces in the northwest Syria successfully undertook a counterterrorism operation to protect the American people and our Allies, and make the world a safer place. Thanks to the skill and bravery of our Armed Forces, we have taken off the battlefield Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi—the leader of ISIS. All Americans have returned safely from the operation.
Fifth news item
A devastating read about an absolutely devastating situation:
it took four presidencies for America to finish abandoning Afghanistan. George W. Bush’s attention wandered off soon after American Special Forces rode horseback through the northern mountains and the first schoolgirls gathered in freezing classrooms. Barack Obama, after studying the problem for months, poured in troops and pulled them out in a single ambivalent gesture whose goal was to keep the war on page A13. Donald Trump cut a deal with the Taliban that left the future of the Afghan government, Afghan women, and al‑Qaeda to fate. By then most Americans were barely aware that the war was still going on. It fell to Joe Biden to complete the task.
The advocates omitted one person from their calculations: the president. But Biden’s history in this area should have troubled them.
On April 14, 1975, as North Vietnamese divisions raced toward Saigon, the 32-year-old first-term senator from Delaware was summoned to the White House. President Gerald Ford pleaded with him and other senators for funding to evacuate Vietnamese allies. Biden refused. “I feel put-upon,” he said. He would vote for money to bring out the remaining Americans, but not one dollar for the locals. On April 23, as South Vietnam’s collapse accelerated, Biden repeated the point on the Senate floor. “I do not believe the United States has an obligation, moral or otherwise, to evacuate foreign nationals” other than diplomats, he said. That was the job of private organizations. “The United States has no obligation to evacuate one, or 100,001, South Vietnamese.”
Sixth news item
Republican Senator Rob Standridge has introduced a bill that would allow people to sue teachers if they offer an opposing view from the religious beliefs held by students.
The proposed act, named the “Students’ Religious Belief Protection Act” means parents can demand the removal of any book with perceived anti-religious content from school. Subjects like LGBT+ issues, evolution, the big bang theory and even birth control could be off the table.
Teachers could be sued a minimum of $10,000 “per incident, per individual” and the fines would be paid “from personal resources” not from school funds, from other individuals or groups. If the teacher is unable to pay, they would be fired, under the legislation.
The act will be introduced into the Education Committee next week, but it doesn’t specify which religious beliefs will be used to prosecute offending teachers.
Seventh news item
Hmmm…Black woman sentenced to six years in prison over a voting error:
Moses did not believe the judge had correctly calculated her sentence. So she went to the local probation office and asked an officer to figure it out. An officer filled out and signed a certificate confirming her probation had ended. In Tennessee, people with felony convictions who want to vote need that document from a correction official. Moses submitted it to local election officials along with a voter registration form.
But the day afterwards, an official at the corrections department wrote an email to election officials saying a probation officer had made an “error” on Moses’ certificate. Moses was still serving an active felony sentence, they wrote, and was not eligible to vote. The department offered no explanation for the mistake.
Moses is currently in custody and an appeal is expected. But the case highlights the byzantine maze that people with felony convictions have to go through to figure out if they can vote. And it shows the harsh consequences prosecutors can bring if people with felony convictions make a mistake.
Eighth news item
University of Pennsylvania swimmers say enough is enough despite fears of retaliation:
“We fully support Lia Thomas in her decision to affirm her gender identity and to transition from a man to a woman. Lia has every right to live her life authentically,” the letter read. “However, we also recognize that when it comes to sports competition, that the biology of sex is a separate issue from someone’s gender identity. Biologically, Lia holds an unfair advantage over competition in the women’s category, as evidenced by her rankings that have bounced from #462 as a male to #1 as a female. If she were to be eligible to compete against us, she could now break Penn, Ivy, and NCAA Women’s Swimming records; feats she could never have done as a male athlete.”
Thomas’s teammates did not identify themselves in the letter. It was sent by Nancy Hogshead-Makar, a 1984 Olympic swimming gold medalist, lawyer and chief executive of Champion Women, a women’s sports advocacy organization. She said in a telephone interview that she sent the letter on the swimmers’ behalf so they could avoid retaliation; in the letter, the swimmers claim they were told “we would be removed from the team or that we would never get a job offer” if they spoke out against Thomas’s inclusion in women’s competition…
“When it became clear, all this new science was coming through, transgender advocates were saying: ‘Oh, but it’s never going to happen. Nobody’s ever going to come and break women’s records. … You’re not going to see that at the Olympics or at nationals.’ And then Lia came along. It just shows the need to update the NCAA rule.”
Have a great weekend.