[guest post by Dana]
First news item
I was sorry to hear that legendary singer-songwriter David Crosby passed away yesterday at the age of 81 years. He, along with fellow artists Graham Nash, Stephen Stills, and Neil Young made up the iconic Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. Crosby and his fellow travelers were a large part of the music collage that wallpapered my teenage years (and adult years too). He was an immensely gifted songwriter and his lyrical harmonies pierced the heart. Crosby seemed somehow eternal. He just kept going: writing, singing, performing, and making albums. You can read a full report on the turbulent life and beautiful music of David Crosby here.
Second news item
In a blow to Kyiv and despite pleading for the Unites States to do so, M1 Abrams battle tanks will not be included in the latest aid package to Ukraine:
The Biden administration has decided against sending tanks to Ukraine for now…
Sabrina Singh, the deputy Pentagon press secretary, told reporters Thursday it “doesn’t make sense” to give Ukraine the tanks at this stage.
“The maintenance and the high cost that it would take to maintain an Abrams, it just doesn’t make sense to provide that to the Ukrainians at this moment,” Singh said.
Unfortunately, this suggests that Germany will now be unwilling to send their Leopard tanks:
In recent days, German officials have indicated they won’t send their Leopard tanks to Ukraine, or allow any other country with the German-made tanks in their inventory to do so, unless the US also agrees to send its M1 Abrams tanks to Kyiv – something the Pentagon has said for months it has no intention of doing given the logistical costs of maintaining them.
“They have us over a barrel,” a senior Biden administration official told CNN Thursday, adding that the Germans are demanding tanks for tanks, and not budging on considering any other offers the US has made to spur Berlin to send the Leopards.
The West’s strategy of moving slowly and doling out weapons to Ukraine bit by bit is misguided because it encourages Putin’s murderous ambitions. It leads him to believe that the West is running out of resources and that he will win a protracted war. We cannot continue to self-deter and we cannot allow ourselves to be duped by a dictator.
We urge the leaders of Western countries…to stop procrastinating and end the policy of small injections of weapons. This should be replaced with a very simple approach: give the country fighting for its freedom and for the peaceful future of Europe whatever it needs to defend its people and bring this conflict to a true resolution as quickly as possible.
Related: Thank God this idiocy was rejected:
Leaders in the Oklahoma Senate pushed back on Friday against a call made by one of their colleagues to prohibit Ukrainian soldiers from training at Fort Sill.
It was announced on Jan. 9 that about 100 Ukrainian troops would be sent to Oklahoma as early as this week to begin training on the Patriot missile defense system at Fort Sill.
That drew a negative reaction from state Sen. Nathan Dahm, R-Broken Arrow, who filed a resolution to reject Ukrainian troops in Oklahoma.
“These America Last policies of the current regime should not be tolerated in Oklahoma,” Dahm said in a release. “We saw how recently the Ukrainian military fired a rocket into Poland killing two innocent civilians. We certainly don’t need them practicing here in Oklahoma where our citizens could be under the constant threat of a similar failure.”
Colleagues of Dahm in the Senate responded with forceful criticism of the proposal.
“Oklahoma has had partnerships with military forces from partner countries to train and maintain the safety and security of the United States and other allied countries for decades,” they said in a joint statement. “To cut these ties would be akin to jeopardizing our national security. The resolution that was issued does not speak for the vast majority of the Oklahoma Senate, or Oklahomans, who welcome training exercises to defend the lands we love and our neighbors in other countries.”
Third news item
Eight months, 126 formal interviews and a 23-page report later, the Supreme Court said it has failed to discover who leaked a draft of the court’s opinion overturning abortion rights.
Investigators conducted 126 formal interviews of 97 employees. They looked into connections between employees and reporters, including those at Politico. They looked at call logs of personal phones. They looked at printer logs. They even did a fingerprint analysis of “an item relevant to the investigation.”
The report goes on to note that as more staff worked from home during the pandemic, security became lax and it was easy to remove documents from the building itself. Also, we don’t know from the report whether the justices or their spouses were questioned with regard to the leak.
UPDATE: According to reports published this afternoon, the justices were interviewed:
Supreme Court Marshal Gail Curley, who led the probe, said in a statement that she “spoke with each of the justices, several on multiple occasions.” The justices “actively cooperated,” Curley said, and after following up on all leads she concluded that neither the justices nor any spouses were implicated.
[I]t is paradoxical that an institution that cloaks itself in secrecy and casts itself above other Washington institutions would be exposed as such a sieve.
The report expresses outright how easily confidential information could have slipped out, whether deliberately or accidentally. About 100 people had access to the draft at the outset, according to the details of the report. Many employees, the report said, “printed out more than one copy.”
Fourth news item
A frustrated President Joe Biden said Thursday there is “no there there” when he was persistently questioned about the discovery of classified documents and official records at his home and former office.
“We found a handful of documents were filed in the wrong place,” Biden said to reporters who questioned him during a tour of the damage from storms in California. “We immediately turned them over to the Archives and the Justice Department.”
Biden said he was “fully cooperating and looking forward to getting this resolved quickly.”
“I think you’re going to find there’s nothing there,” he said. “There’s no there there.”
Fifth news item
Green-lighting system in high school cost taxpayers untold thousands of dollars in Massachusetts:
For nearly a year and a half, a Massachusetts high school has been lit up around the clock because the district can’t turn off the roughly 7,000 lights in the sprawling building.
The lighting system was installed at Minnechaug Regional High School when it was built over a decade ago and was intended to save money and energy. But ever since the software that runs it failed on Aug. 24, 2021, the lights in the Springfield suburbs school have been on continuously, costing taxpayers a small fortune.
One of the cost-saving measures the school board insisted on was a “green lighting system” run on software installed by a company called 5th Light to control the lights in the building. The system was designed to save energy — and thus save money — by automatically adjusting the lights as needed.
But in August 2021, staffers at the school noticed that the lights were not dimming in the daytime and burning brightly through the night.
“The lighting system went into default,” said Osborne. “And the default position for the lighting system is for the lights to be on.”
Osborne said they immediately reached out to the original installer of the system only to discover that the company had changed hands several times since the high school was built. When they finally tracked down the current owner of the company, Reflex Lighting, several more weeks went by before the company was able to find somebody familiar with the high school’s lighting system, he said.
The report notes that the necessary parts to fix the problem have arrived, and that an override switch put in so that this can’t happen again.
Sixth news item
Former President Donald Trump and his lawyers must pay almost $1 million in sanctions after filing a “completely frivolous” lawsuit against Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party. In a Thursday ruling, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida ordered Trump and his lead attorney, Alina Habba of Habba Madaio & Associates, to pay $937,989.39.
The ruling stems from a lawsuit filed by Trump in March 2022. Trump’s suit accused Clinton, the Democratic Party, the Democratic National Committee, former FBI Director James Comey, and a number of others of a racketeering “plot” against him. Clinton and the others had “maliciously conspired to weave a false narrative that their Republican opponent, Donald J. Trump, was colluding with a hostile foreign sovereignty” during the 2016 election, it said.
“This case should never have been brought,” wrote Judge Donald M. Middlebrooks in yesterday’s decision. “Its inadequacy as a legal claim was evident from the start. No reasonable lawyer would have filed it. Intended for a political purpose, none of the counts of the amended complaint stated a cognizable legal claim.”
Former President Donald Trump warned his fellow Republicans on Friday not to “destroy” federal retirement and health benefits as they try to exact spending cuts from President Joe Biden and his Democratic allies in the looming debate over the debt ceiling.
“Under no circumstances should Republicans vote to cut a single penny from Medicare or Social Security,” Trump said in a two-minute video message posted to social media that could test his influence among Republicans who now control the U.S. House of Representatives.
Eighth news item
First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies and special prosecutor Andrea Reeb have announced two involuntary manslaughter charges will be filed against ‘Rust’ actor and producer Alec Baldwin and the movie’s armor Hannah Gutierrez-Reed.
In a statement issued by the district attorney, Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed will be “charged in the alternative.” That means a jury would decide not if they were just guilty, but under which definition of involuntary manslaughter they were guilty.
The first charge of involuntary manslaughter must be proved that there was underlying negligence. New Mexico state laws mark this charge of involuntary manslaughter as a fourth-degree felony with up to 18 months in jail and up to a $5,000 fine. The DA says this charge also includes a misdemeanor charge of negligent use of a firearm and could merge together.
Ninth news item
I don’t get why members of Congress would let the George Santos story continue. It diminishes them. It is both a daily insult to the American people and a taunt.
He is a nut but can’t be dismissed as only that. He is also wicked in that he has for decades abused all around him by waging war on reality. He has stolen, from all who had dealings with him, including voters, a sense of what is true. He has lied about every central fact of his life, purloining achievement, stature and sympathy. He then hoodwinked a congressional district on Long Island whose residents are now effectively without a functioning representative. Seeing the chance to replace a longtime Democrat with a Republican, they gave him solid backing on the assumption that surely he’d been vetted by someone. He hadn’t.
He shouldn’t be in Congress. We all know this. It’s not good enough to say they’re all con men. Even in Congress there are degrees. This one’s a pro, a menace, a total, not partial, fraud. If he has any qualifications for public office they haven’t emerged. He is a bad example for the young: Cheating works. He is an embarrassment to the old. He is an insult to the institution.
Democrats love the George Santos story—more humiliation for the Republicans. Republicans hate it—he may be a bum but he’s our bum. Neither is thinking seriously about it.
Don’t give the world more reasons to laugh at our pretensions of good governance. Don’t give America more reason to disrespect ourselves. If you have to drag George Santos off the floor, do.
Read the whole thing.
Have a great weekend.