Weekend Open Thread
[guest post by Dana]
First news item
Look who made it very clear that he never wanted changes made to his work:
[A] conversation [Roald Dahl] had 40 years ago has come to light, revealing that he was so appalled by the idea that publishers might one day censor his work that he threatened to send the crocodile “to gobble them up”.
The conversation took place in 1982 at Dahl’s home in Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire, where he was talking to the artist Francis Bacon.
“I’ve warned my publishers that if they later on so much as change a single comma in one of my books, they will never see another word from me. Never! Ever!” he said.
Readers with Dahl’s works loaded on their Kindles are now saying that their libraries have been automatically updated with the bowdlerized versions, without their knowledge or consent:
Owners of Roald Dahl ebooks are having their libraries automatically updated with the new censored versions containing hundreds of changes to language related to weight, mental health, violence, gender and race.
Readers who bought electronic versions of the writer’s books, such as Matilda and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, before the controversial updates have discovered their copies have now been changed.
Puffin Books, the company which publishes Dahl novels, updated the electronic novels, in which Augustus Gloop is no longer described as fat or Mrs Twit as fearfully ugly, on devices such as the Amazon Kindle.
Dahl’s biographer Matthew Dennison last night accused the publisher of “strong-arming readers into accepting a new orthodoxy in which Dahl himself has played no part.”
I downloaded my ebook of Matilda, which I bought a few years ago, to see if Joseph Conrad was still there. He was. I closed it, deleted it & downloaded/opened it again (mistake). Joseph Conrad was gone. I was not given a choice as to whether I wanted the updated version. https://t.co/vRugLTcb5n
— Clarissa Aykroyd (@stoneandthestar) February 23, 2023
The consumers no longer own what they paid for.
Second news item
Trump’s five-point attack on DeSantis:
DeSantis’ past support for changes to Social Security and Medicare, including votes as a U.S. congressman to raise the eligibility age for Medicare.
Disloyalty to Trump after he helped DeSantis get elected governor in 2018. Trump also plans to pound DeSantis on likability.
Trump wants to cast DeSantis as a lackey of former House Speaker Paul Ryan. On Trump’s social-media site, Truth Social, he attacked Ryan this week as a loser who “couldn’t get elected dogcatcher,” and said he should resign or be fired as a Fox Corp. board member.
DeSantis’ response to COVID is a top Trump target, even though the governor is known for resisting mask mandates. Trump plans to attack DeSantis’ caution in the earliest days of the pandemic — and try to fight the issue to a draw. A March 2020 headline in the Tampa Bay Times said: “DeSantis orders major shutdown of beaches, businesses in Broward, Palm Beach.” (DeSantis pushes back on this.)
DeSantis took heat for muddled comments, in a Fox News interview last week, about whether to maintain financial and military support for Ukraine. Trump plans to portray DeSantis as wishy-washy on the war, while he toes the MAGA line of cutting aid.
Related: Desantis sees Trump’s attacks as “background noise”.
Third news item
House Democrats were infuriated and taken aback by President Biden’s announcement on Thursday that he will sign a resolution to nix the District of Columbia’s crime bill.
The crime bill has come under heavy criticism from Republicans and centrist Democrats. But last month, 173 House Democrats voted along with what they thought was the White House’s stance that Biden would veto the resolution in an attempt to stand up for the District’s “home rule.”
Instead, Biden made the revelation to Senate Democrats during lunch on Thursday and, in the process, angered their colleagues across the Capitol complex.
The crime bill passed the D.C. City Council unanimously in January. After Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) vetoed it, the city council overrode it 12-1. Among other things, the bill would eliminate most mandatory sentences and lower penalties for a number of violent offenses, including carjackings and robberies. It would also expand the requirement for jury trials in most misdemeanor cases.
Fourth news item
LAPD may not send armed response certain calls:
The Los Angeles Police Protective League released a list of 28 potential calls that could warrant an alternate response from unarmed officers or service providers, rather than the typical armed police response.
A sample of the types of calls included on the list: Under the influence calls (alcohol and/or drugs) where there is no other crime in progress; Non-Fatal Vehicle Accidents – 1181/1182/1183/1179;
• Non-DUI/Non-Criminal; Property damage only (including City property), Verbal disputes involving non-injury traffic collisions, refusing to share ID at traffic collisions; Landlord/Tenant Disputes; Loitering/Trespassing With No Indication Of Danger; Panhandling; Suspicious circs-possible dead body, where no indication of foul play…
Fifth news item
Time is of the essence, especially for Ukraine:
A crucial question in any war is ‘Whose side is time on?’ By 1942, for example, time was clearly on the side of the anti–Hitler allies. But in this war, time may be on the side of Vladimir Putin. There’s a strong suspicion that Putin thinks so too. If China were to send weapons, that would further strengthen his hand.
Hence the constant Ukrainian emphasis on speed and urgency. At the Munich Security Conference, the German Chancellor Olaf Scholz praised his own caution, saying ‘Sorgfalt vor Schnellschuss’ (roughly, care rather than overhasty action). A fine motto for peacetime, but in war, the slowness works for Putin. So we in the West must start matching Ukrainian speed. We need to get more ammunition and weapons faster to the places General Zaluzhny needs them, and increase financial support to sustain the faltering Ukrainian healthcare system, schools, housing and overall budget. The existing weapon and ammunition stocks of western armies are significantly depleted, so much did we lower our guard during what I call the post-Wall period (i.e. after the fall of the Berlin Wall on 9 November 1989), which ended on 24 February 2022. But in Munich, I heard representatives of the European defence industry say they could quickly ramp up production if political leaders would cut the red tape and national protectionism that still besets this sector.
Time is indeed of the essence, but Ukraine may be running out of it in Bakhmut:
Russian troops and mercenaries rained artillery on the last access routes to the besieged Ukrainian city of Bakhmut on Friday, bringing Moscow closer to its first major victory in half a year after the bloodiest fighting of the war.
The head of Russia’s Wagner private army, speaking in a video recorded some 7 km (4 miles) north of Bakhmut, said the city, which has been blasted to ruins, was now almost completely surrounded with only one road still open for Ukraine’s troops.
The commander of Ukraine’s ground forces, Oleksandr Syrskyi, visited Bakhmut on Friday for briefings with local commanders on how to boost the defence capacity of frontline forces.
“The enemy is not giving up its hope of capturing Bakhmut and continues to build up forces to occupy the city,” the press service said.
President Zelensky on Bahkmut:
Ukraine’s defence of Bakhmut is becoming “more and more difficult”, President Volodymyr Zelensky says. He warned Moscow generals were adopting a strategy of “exhaustion and total destruction” as they throw even more soldiers to their deaths.
“The enemy is constantly destroying everything that can be used to protect our positions”, he said.
President Zelensky also reiterated his plea for the West to send modern warplanes.
Sixth news item
The nation’s second-largest pharmacy chain confirmed Thursday that it will not dispense abortion pills in several states where they remain legal — acting out of an abundance of caution amid a shifting policy landscape, threats from state officials and pressure from anti-abortion activists.
Nearly two dozen Republican state attorneys general wrote to Walgreens in February, threatening legal action if the company began distributing the drugs, which have become the nation’s most popular method for ending a pregnancy.
The group of Republican attorneys general, who argue that the Biden administration is misinterpreting the laws around mailing and dispensing abortion pills, also wrote to CVS, Albertsons, Rite Aid, Costco, Walmart and Kroger demanding they, too, refuse to dispense the medication.
The report notes that the six companies have not responded to inquiries about their plans.
Seventh news item
Unconstiutional and un-American indeed:
Senate Bill 1316 is the latest entrant in Florida lawmakers’ ongoing fight with the First Amendment. If enacted, the legislation would require anyone other than a newspaper journalist who writes online about Florida’s government leaders — its governor, lieutenant governor, cabinet officer, or any member of the state legislature — to register with the state if they receive any “compensation” for the post. And they must do so within five days — and then file a monthly report with state regulators if they write about Florida officials that month. Those who violate the law risk up to $2,500 in fines per report.
This bill is an affront to the First Amendment and our national commitment to freedom of the press.
It sure sounds like Floridian legislators want people to have to *pay* to say negative things about them.
Eighth news item
More than half the world’s population will be classed as obese or overweight by 2035 if action is not taken, the World Obesity Federation warns.
More than four billion people will be affected, with rates rising fastest among children, its report says.
Low or middle-income countries in Africa and Asia are expected to see the greatest rises.
The report in particular highlights the rising rates of obesity among children and teenagers, with rates expected to double from 2020 levels among both boys and girls.
Ninth news item
In an effort to keep girls out of school they commit vile acts against them:
Concern is growing in Iran after reports emerged that hundreds of schoolgirls had been poisoned across the country in recent months.
On Wednesday, Iran’s semi-official Mehr News reported that Shahriar Heydari, a member of Parliament, cited an unnamed “reliable source” in saying that “nearly 900 students” from across the country had been poisoned so far.
The first reported poisonings happened in the city of Qom on November 30, when 18 schoolgirls from one high school were hospitalized, according to Iranian state media. In another incident in Qom on February 14, more than 100 students from 13 schools were taken to hospitals after what the state-affiliated Tasnim news agency described as “serial poisonings.”
There have also been reports of schoolgirls being poisoned in the capital Tehran – where 35 were hospitalized on Tuesday, according to Fars News. They were in “good” condition, and many of them were later released, Fars reported. State media have also reported student poisonings in recent months in the city of Borujerd and in Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari Province.
Tenth news item
Says the man who
wants to just might become the next President of the United States:
Rupert Murdoch should apologize to his viewers and readers for his ridiculous defense of the 2020 Presidential Election. How many forms of cheating and rigging does he have to see? He should also apologize to those anchors who got it right, and fire the ones who got it wrong, or were afraid to speak up (of which there were many!). It’s time to get rid of Fake News, and call it like it is!
A painting by Wassily Kandinsky that spent decades in a Dutch museum after its Jewish owner was murdered in the Holocaust has sold at auction for £37.2 million ($44.9 million)…set[ting] a record price for the Russian artist in a sale at Sotheby’s in London…The Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven returned the painting last year to the descendants of German Jewish art collectors Johanna Margarethe Stern and Siegbert Samuel Stern. Siegbert died in 1935 and Johanna fled Nazi Germany for Amsterdam, where she was forced to sell much of her collection. She was arrested after the Nazis occupied the Netherlands and died in the Auschwitz concentration camp in 1944…Sotheby’s said proceeds from the sale will be shared between 13 surviving Stern heirs and will also fund further research into the fate of the family’s collection.
Have a good weekend!