‘If this is not impeachable conduct — what is?’
– Representative Adam B. Schiff, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee
Well, I watched the start of the public impeachment hearings of Donald J. Trump this morning, and then retired upstairs to the study with the TV left on low volume. Every time when there were some muted shouting or aggressive questioning, I knew those were Republicans, trying to portray the testimony* as unreliable hearsay.
*Testifying today were:
William B. Taylor Jr., top United States diplomat in Ukraine.
George P. Kent, senior State Department official in charge of Ukraine.
The facts of the impeachment case are not in dispute. Trump’s infamous July phone call to Ukraine President Zelensky was part of a wider campaign by Trump, his administration, and Giuliani to pressure Ukraine into investigating the Bidens, which may have included Trump’s cancelling a scheduled trip to Ukraine by Vice President Mike Pence, and Trump withholding $400 million in military aid from Ukraine [Wikipedia: Trump–Ukraine scandal].
It is such an enormous and grotesque abuse of power, given that Ukraine is a vulnerable ally, that has to defend itself against Russia. So it’s hard to see how the House will not impeach Trump. What will then happen in the Senate with Moscow Mitch in charge there, is anyone’s guess.
The Seattle Sounders beat out Toronto today, for the 2019 Major League Soccer Cup in front of their home crowd, 3-1. CenturyLink Field Stadium was packed with more than 69,000 spectators, the most ever for any event there.
Here is how the goals came about, as the game unfolded:
57′ Kelvin Leerdam (SEA)
76′ Víctor Rodríguez (SEA)
90′ Raúl Ruidíaz (SEA)
93′ Jozy Altidore (TOR)
Final Score: SEA 3- TOR 1
Saturday marked the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Construction of the Wall was started by the then-German Democratic Republic (GDR, East Germany) on 13 Aug. 1961. It came to symbolize — metaphorically and physically — the ‘Iron Curtain’ that separated Western Europe and the Eastern Bloc during the Cold War.
I took the light rail up north to University District today, to go check in at the second-hand bookstore there. I have so many books that I have yet to read, though, that I allowed myself to buy only one book!
Word is that Michael Bloomberg is (again) mulling a run for the Presidency in 2020 (as a Democrat). Several Democratic candidates have dropped out already, but the field is still historically large.
This updated chart from the New York Times came in very handy for me today. It’s easy to forget that there are actually four Republican candidates. Will the one that is (probably) getting impeached by year-end, still run in 2020? Time will tell.
P.S. Here’s an opinion from Scott Galloway that writes under No Mercy/ No Malice: ‘.. up until yesterday, it was looking as if 46 would be 45, Trump. The soft facism of Trump, wrapped in a good economy, would decimate the soft socialism of Elizabeth Warren. We Democrats are too polite to acknowledge the truth, as it’s politically incorrect: In 2020 America, a 78-year-old man who just had a heart attack will not be president, and, worse, neither will a woman’.
Today was election day in many cities and states in the United States. Here in Seattle, the early count tally has Egan Orion leading Kshama Sawant (in the contentious city council race for District 3).
It seems the measure to cut car tab fees back to $30 will pass. Boo! Boo-oo! This spells a lot of trouble for the funding of public transportation systems such as light rail & buses, and also for the Washington State ferries, and even for snow plows.
Far, far away, in the state of Kentucky, the Republican governor lost his race against his Democratic challenger. This is an almost impossible feat by the Republican: the state voted for Trump by a margin of 30% in 2016. Trump even held a rally for him in Lexington KY last night to drum up support. But that did not undo the damage done by the governor that had pushed to cut teachers off from their pensions, and threatened to kick 400,000 Kentuckians off their healthcare.
I walk by The Silvian apartment building on 10th Ave & Harrison every now and then. I love the lettering and the trim on the bricks at the top. Let’s see if there is an earlier photo of the building online, I thought.
It turned out that the original form of the building was much grander, right after its completion in 1912.
They did come up: the giant red fly agaric mushrooms, in my backyard. Those other paler, smaller ones from earlier in October might be a different species or subspecies of mushroom. I made sure I took a few pictures before the squirrels took large bites out of it, the way they do sometimes.
The House of Representatives approved the rules and guidelines for the impeachment inquiry into Trump on Thursday. I see there is already an up-to-date Wikipedia entry about the impeachment inquiry.
Here is the start of it: An impeachment inquiry against Donald Trump, President of the United States, was initiated on September 24, 2019, by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.It began after a whistleblower alleged that President Trump and other top government officials had pressured the leaders of foreign nations, most notably Ukraine, to investigate former U.S. vice president and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter—abusing the power of the presidency to advance Trump’s personal and political interests. These allegations have been corroborated by testimony so far, by U.S. top-envoy-to-Ukraine Bill Taylor, Laura Cooper (the top Pentagon official overseeing Ukraine-related U.S. policy), White House administration official Fiona Hill, at least six additional White House officials, and many other witnesses.
The Federal Reserve on cut interest rates today, the third time since July. Chairman Jerome Powell says that they are likely done, for now. The federal funds rate is now at 1.50-1.75%, still a lot higher than the 0% of the European Central Bank, though.
Germany’s 10-year Bund yield is now at -0.35% (up from a record low of -0.61%), showing that investors there are still desperate for safe assets. They are really not confident about the economic prospects of the Eurozone. Besides, Germans tend to hoard money in savings, instead of investing it.
It was 50 years ago, to the day, that the first remote login from one terminal to another was done, on what was then called Arpanet. And so the internet was born, say the pundits.
Research papers into the late 70’s referred to these linked terminals as the ‘catenet model’ (concatenated terminals). It was only in the early 80’s with the arrival of the Transmission Control Protocol/ Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) protocol that the term ‘internet’ was settled on.
And it would be until the mid-90’s, before the public-at-large would get drawn into the internet — by the likes of America Online and Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. Amazon (1997*), Netflix (2002), Google (2004), Facebook (2012) and Twitter (2013) would follow.
Here we are again, with national coverage of the massive wildfires in California, and scenes of their total destruction. I’m not sure the preventive power outages from Pacific Gas & Electric have helped that much. (The largest ever: 2 million+ people without power for 5 days of intentional outages).
It seems it will take a combination of hardening PG&E’s electric grid (example: metal powerline poles instead of wood), aggressive cutting of trees & shrubs near power lines, and designating high-risk areas as out-of-bounds for new development or even for rebuilding. The last few years, Governor Gavin Newsom and his predecessor have already poured an extra $1.2 billion into new planes, helicopters, more firetrucks and vegetation thinning.
Hurricane-strength winds (more than 80 mph), had made several of the fires spread rapidly, making them into blow torches that light up the tinder-dry vegetation.
Seattle’s City Council is about to get a big makeover, with the impending Nov. 2019 elections. Of the 7 positions, 4 have no incumbents.
In District 3 (mine), it is hard to say who will win. Socialist Kshama Sawant is running for a third term, but garnered only 37% of the votes in the 2019 primary.
Her opponent, Egan Orion, is an events coordinator, web designer and leader of PrideFest, an annual LGBTQ celebration in Seattle. He’s fully embraced a unity message, campaigning on a message of “It’s not us vs. them. It’s just us.” (All this information about him from The Stranger weekly newspaper).
In a way, the race is a referendum on corporate citizen Amazon as well: Sawant is an outspoken critic of Amazon (tax them, and the rich, she says); Orion is backed by Amazon and other businesses.
Young people are now flocking to the social media app called Tik Tok. (It is used to create video clips set to snappy music: clowning for the camera, falling down on your skateboard, shooting hoops, driving golf carts, stuff like that).
Trouble is, the servers are based in China, and regulators fear that the app could pose a national security risk (used to spy on American citizens, used in political influence campaigns, or even used by ISIS terrorists for propaganda).
Anyway – let’s see what the fuss is about, I thought. My initial take: yes, as easy as YouTube to waste a lot of time on it. I stumbled onto a few cute animal videos (stills below), and I like those the best.