Wednesday/ birds of a feather 🐦

South African Constitution (1996) Art. 47.1.e. 
1. Every citizen who is qualified to vote for the National Assembly is eligible to be a member of the Assembly, except ­..
e. anyone who, after this section took effect, is convicted of an offence and sentenced to more than 12 months imprisonment without the option of a fine, either in the Republic, or outside the Republic if the conduct constituting the offence would have been an offence in the Republic, but no one may be regarded as having been sentenced until an appeal against the conviction or sentence has been determined, or until the time for an appeal has expired. A disqualification under this paragraph ends five years after the sentence has been completed.

This year, general elections will be held in South Africa on 29 May to elect a new National Assembly as well as the provincial legislature in each province.

It’s been 30 years since Nelson Mandela was elected South Africa’s first democratic president. The African National Congress has in been in power all this time.

Let’s just say that after Mandela left office in 1999, the ANC has not exactly covered themselves in glory.
Jacob Zuma (elected in 2009) and his ANC cronies in particular, engaged in racketeering, money laundering, and fraud on a grand scale.

Zuma spent time in jail 2021, but only two months of his full sentence of 15 months.  This was due to a ‘remission’ program approved by the current president, Cyril Ramaphosa (the equivalent of a ‘pardon’ in the US).

Now 82 years old, Zuma is back in politics. He wants to become president again.
South Africa’s election court ruled that he cannot be disqualified by the 12 month rule in Art. 47.1.e. of the South African constitution.

Cartoon of an imagined phone call between candidates for presidential elections in America and in South Africa.
Zuma broke from the ANC and is the de facto leader of a brand-new political party called uMkhonto weSizwe (abbr. MKP,  and meaning ‘Spear of the Nation’).
Here’s Antony Sguazzin reporting for
Support for South Africa’s ruling African National Congress is plunging and a party backed by former President Jacob Zuma may become the country’s third-biggest after next month’s election, a new opinion poll shows. The ANC, which has ruled South Africa since the end of apartheid, may garner just 37% of the vote on May 29, while Zuma’s uMkhonto weSizwe Party, or MKP, may get 13%, the Social Research Foundation said in comments sent to Bloomberg on Wednesday, citing a poll it carried out this month.
[Cartoon by Niel van Vuuren for Beeld newspaper]

Saturday/ here comes the Dromedaris 🐪

I spent a few hours on my South African stamp collection today, poring over my Scott stamp catalog to find the fine— but distinct— differences between the various issues of the ubiquitous 1 p Dromedaris stamps issued in 1926, 1932, 1940 and in 1951 (shown below).

A little history first:
On April 6, 1652 (372 years ago), Jan Van Riebeeck landed at the Cape of Good Hope in what is called South Africa today, with three ships; the Reijer, the Dromedaris, and the Goede Hoop. He was accompanied by 82 men and 8 women, including his wife of two years, Maria.
Van Riebeeck was requested by the Dutch East India Company to undertake the command of the initial Dutch settlement in the future South Africa.

About this stamp:
From the First Definite Series of the Union of South Africa (a redesign of the original 1926 version, issued in 1951)
Photogravure printing    Perf. 15×14    Wmk. Multiple Springbok head
49 A6    1 p carmine & black    Afrikaans-English se-tenant pair (’51, size 18x22mm) of Jan van Riebeeck’s ship, the Dromedaris
[Source: 2021 Scott Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue Vol. 6A]

Tuesday/ the bridge is out 🌉

Here are pictures and reporting from the New York Times that document the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse:
The ship, a 948-foot-long cargo vessel called Dali, was about a half hour into its journey toward Colombo, Sri Lanka, when it hit a main pillar of the bridge. All crew members are safe, according to the ship’s owners.
(The mayday alert from the ship allowed authorities to stop traffic from crossing the bridge just before the impact.  Eight workers on the bridge fell into the water. Two were rescued from the water and six are still missing).
The Francis Scott Key Bridge was opened in 1977 and carried more than 12.4 million vehicles last year. The bridge was one of the three major ways to cross the Patapsco River and formed part of Baltimore’s beltway.



Friday/ early humans 💀

Another batch of stamps from South Africa that I had ordered online, landed on my porch.
Here is one of my favorite sets, presented on a miniature sheet.
I feel ‘Planet of the Apes’* vibes, looking at it.

*Originally a 1963 novel by French author Pierre Boulle.

Origins of Humans
Issued 2006, Nov. 10
Serpentine Die-cut    Perf. 11½x11¾    No Wmk   Self-adhesive
C77 AP20 R3.80 Sheet of 4
a. Paranthropus robustus
b. Australopithecus africanus
c. Homo heidelbergensis
d. Homo ergaster [Source: Scott Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue 2021, Vol. 6A]
Homo heidelbergensis is an extinct species or subspecies of archaic human which existed during the Middle Pleistocene. It was classified as a subspecies of H. erectus in 1950 as H. e. heidelbergensis.
H. heidelbergensis is placed as the most recent common ancestor between modern humans (H. sapiens or H. s. sapiens) and Neanderthals (H. neanderthalensis or H. s. neanderthalensis).

Paranthropus robustus is a species of robust australopithecine (primate) from the Early and possibly Middle Pleistocene of the Cradle of Humankind, South Africa, about 2.27 to 0.87 million years ago.

Homo ergaster is an extinct species or subspecies of archaic humans who lived in Africa in the Early Pleistocene.
Whether H. ergaster constitutes a species of its own or should be subsumed into H. erectus is an ongoing and unresolved dispute within paleoanthropology.

Australopithecus africanus is an extinct species of australopithecine (primate) which lived between about 3.3 and 2.1 million years ago in the Late Pliocene to Early Pleistocene of South Africa. The species has been recovered from Taung, Sterkfontein, Makapansgat, and Gladysvale.

[Information from Wikipedia]

Wednesday/ package from Denmark 🇩🇰

My package with blank stamp album pages, from a supplier based in the town of Otterup in Denmark, arrived today.
They stock Leuchtturm products (the best) and get it to me within a week via DHL.
Good stuff.

The supplier Nordfrim knows their clients love stamps, so they throw a few complementary stamps into the package before it is shipped out the door.
I love stamps, and I love maps —and I love stamps with maps on. Stamps with maps on is a good idea for a thematic collection of stamps.
Here is the catalogue information for this one:
Issued 2013, Nov. 7 —Trade Treaty Between Denmark and France, 350th Anniversary
Die-cut perf. 13 ½ x 13 ¼   Self-adhesive   Litho. & Engr. 
1663 A552 8k Rose & blue, Map and compass rose with ship at right
[Source: Scott 2018 Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue, Vol. 2]

Monday 🧔

Ever a grifter and a fraud, and one day after that $355 million plus interest ruling against his company, here he is on Saturday at Philadelphia’s Sneaker Con*, peddling gold metallic high-top sneakers with a T on the side. (T for Tacky?).
The crowd was jeering and booing.
A deranged woman made it onto the stage, and leaned into the microphone, sobbing and pointing at Trump. ‘He’s a good man!’ she said.
*Sneaker Con is a global traveling event for sneakerheads of all ages. Seattle is hosting a local Sneaker Con event this Saturday.
[Photo from the Philadelphia Inquirer]

Tuesday/ Lima, Peru 🇵🇪

Today’s excursion into Lima took us to Lima Main Square (Plaza de Armas) with the Lima Cathedral just adjacent to it.
We also stopped by the Basilica and Convent of Santo Domingo.

On the way back to Callao and the cruise terminal, we stopped at the Parque Domodossola in Miraflores for a look at the Pacific Ocean and the playas (beaches) below.

Colorful housing in Callao. We again drove through Callao (where the cruise terminal is) to get to central Lima.
There are lots of street vendors to be seen in Callao, but also on the city streets in Lima.
Lima Main Square (Plaza de Armas). Unfortunately we could not really walk around the square since preparations are underway for a major celebration.
The Municipal Palace of Lima building that borders the square. The ornate wooden window frame is made from wood from Central America.
Inside Lima Cathedral that also borders the main square. It is a Roman Catholic cathedral. This third and current Cathedral of Lima was built between 1602 and 1797.
Several very ornate and Baroque-style altars are found in coves inside the church. This is of Mary Magdalene holding a golden rose.
The bones of Francisco Pizarro are interred in the Lima Cathedral. Pizarro, Marquess of the Atabillos, was a Spanish conquistador, best known for his expeditions that led to the Spanish conquest of the Inca Empire. Born in Trujillo, Spain to a poor family, Pizarro chose to pursue fortune and adventure in the New World. He was assassinated in 1541 by Spanish soldiers.
This is a beautiful and historic private house a stone’s throw away from the square that we toured. I did not write down the name of the family that owns it.
Inside the Basilica and Convent of Santo Domingo.
Looking towards the south from Parque Domodossola .. 
.. and looking north.
Another viewpoint from the park, showing the cliffs along the shore. Peru lies outside the infamous ‘Ring of Fire’ series of fault lines, and do get earthquakes and tsunamis from time to time.

Monday/ treasures at the museum 🏺

We arrived in Lima* this morning, and for our excursion we visited two museums. (We will go and see the city tomorrow).

Museo Oro del Peru, a private collection assembled by Miguel Mujica Gallo, contains a wide assortment of pre-Columbian gold handicraft, weapons, ceremonial objects, jewelry and gold from both the Incas and pre-Inca civilizations.

The Larco Museum is a privately owned museum of pre-Columbian art, located in the Pueblo Libre District of Lima, Peru.

*Technically we arrived in Callao. Lima right next to Callao is a sprawling city of 11 million people with 43 districts.

The view from Norwegian Sun’s top deck as we arrived at the port of Callao at 7.30 am this morning.
Our tour guide Alex beckoning for us to come inside, at the entrance of the Museo Oro.
Golden earrings with incredible detail.
Mask of gold and turqoise, with cinnabar traces. Culture: Lambayeque (700-1350 dC) north coast of Peru.
Decorative clay pot, Chincha (1100-1450 dC)
Embroidery. I didn’t make a note of the date or origin.
There is art everywhere inside the gates of the Museo Oro del Peru. I love the llama.
The following pieces are all from the Larco Museum. This is a ceremonial bowl of gold, Chimu. Imperial Epoch (800 AD-1300 AD).
Chimu Idol. Imperial Epoch (1300 AD-1532 AD).
Another Chimu Idol. Imperial Epoch (1300 AD-1532 AD).

Sunday/ Salaverry & Trujillo, Peru 🇵🇪

The Norwegian Sun made it into the port town of Salaverry at seven this morning (first picture).
There was a shuttle bus out to the main plaza in Salaverry (third picture), and from there my party of three were left to our own devices to find transport to the city of Trujillo (pop. about 1 million).
This whole area nearby is the site of the great prehistoric Moche and Chimu cultures before the Inca conquest and subsequent expansion.

We solicited a taxi for the 25-minute drive into Trujillo and all went well until we paid the driver in US dollars. Best we could tell that he was not happy with the quality of the $20 and two $5 dollar bills. The US dollars have to be changed into Peruvian Sol by moneychangers for him. Anyway, we gave him the newest dollar bills we had, and that solved the problem.

We used Uber to get back. That was cheaper and worked a lot better: no exchange of paper money needed.

Look for the Plaza de Armas of Trujillo in the pictures below, with the Freedom Monument and the Cathedral of Trujillo nearby.
The beautiful building of UNT Archeology Museum and pictures of just a few of the displays inside, follow after that.

Wednesday/ Canal de Panamá 🛳

The Norwegian Sun’s position at 4.38 pm this afternoon: leaving Gatun Lake to enter the Miraflores Locks.
[Image: The ship’s navigation TV channel]
We traversed the engineering marvel called the Panama Canal today.
First up to admire was the Atlantic Bridge (Puente Atlántico), the new 15,092 ft (4,600 m) suspension bridge completed in 2019.
Then we entered the Gatun Locks.
This sequence of three locks opened in 1914, is the largest of the locks in the Panama Canal and lift ships up 85 ft (25.9 m) to the level of the sprawling Gatun Lake.
The man-made Gatun Lake lies between the two sets of locks that lifts and lowers vessels, and therefore allows passage to the Pacific Ocean or the Atlantic Ocean.

After crossing Gatun Lake, we passed under the Centennial Bridge (Puente Centenario).  This bridge opened in 2004 and spans 3,451 ft (1,052 m).

Soon after that it was time to enter the Pedro Miguel Locks and the Miraflores Locks. These locks lowered the Norwegian Sun to the level of the Atlantic Ocean— the ocean that used to be a continent away from the Pacific, and not a mere 51 miles (82 km).

Atlantic Bridge (Puente Atlántico), the new 15,092 ft (4,600 m) suspension bridge completed in 2019.
Entering the Gatun Locks. The newer, wider Agua Clara Locks to the right were completed in 2016.
Approaching the Gatun Locks. Will she be able to squeeze in? (Yes.)
Entering the Gatun Locks.
No, we’re not on dry land— still floating but inside the lock. Another ‘Panamax’ size* vessel is coming through in the opposite direction.
*The Panamax dimensions give clear parameters for ships destined to traverse the Panama Canal and have influenced the design of cargo ships, naval vessels, and passenger ships.
Gatun Lake lies 85 ft (25.9 m) above sea level, and here comes the second (of three) Gatun locks that will raise the ship.
Look for the mule on the right edge of the picture. These are powerful electric locomotives that run on paired 5 ft (1,524 mm) broad gauge railway tracks, tethered to the ship on both sides with cables, to guide it through the locks.
Now Norwegian Sun is inside the lock, with the gates in front of her bow closed, and this one at her stern as well. (Looking back at the Atlantic Bridge in the distance). The lock is about to be filled with water to raise her up.
Getting there ..
The lock is filled, and the one at the front of the ship has been opened. We have started to move forward, into the next lock.
A view of how the mule on the tracks is attached to a vessel.
There is very, very little room to spare between the hull of Norwegian Sun and the walls of the lock.
Tight. Very tight. I am not sure what this gap in inches is, but it seems to be less than a foot. 
Another look back as we leave the first of the Gatun Locks.
Now out of the Gatun Locks, and on the large and sprawling Gatun Lake.
More than a dozen crew from Norwegian Sun stepped onto this boat alongside Norwegian Sun.
Crossing Gatun Lake. This is the area that we looked down onto yesterday, from the observation tower that we had reached with the Gamboa Aerial Tramway nearby.
Approaching the Centennial Bridge (Spanish: Puente Centenario) that was completed in 2004.
Inside the Pedro Miguel Locks, the first of the locks that will lower the Norwegian Sun back to sea level.
Leaving the Pedro Miguel Locks.
Approaching the Miraflores Locks.
Approaching the two locks called the Miraflores Locks.
Another tight fit: inside the Miraflores Locks.
Sunset— our first one over the Atlantic Ocean.

Monday/ Cartagena, Colombia 🇨🇴

Cartagena (pop. 914,500 in 2020) is a port city on Colombia’s Caribbean coast. By the sea is the walled Old Town, founded in the 16th century, with squares, cobblestone streets and colorful colonial buildings. With a tropical climate, the city is also a popular beach destination.
– Google

Late Monday afternoon we left Cartagena and sailed almost due west, towards Colon at the northern end of the Panama Canal.

We spent some three hours in the Old Town of Cartagena this morning, and came away with a good impression.
Just be prepared to say no gracias many times, to the street vendors selling t-shirts, hats, bottled water and soda, souvenirs and cubanos (cigars).
The day temperature rose rapidly through the morning, and it was already 90 °F (32 °C) when our taxi driver met us to take us back to the ship.

Happy New Year/ a cup of kindness 🥂

Out it goes, the year we called 2023.

Here is the Standard English version of Auld Lang Syne, the song based on a Scots-language poem written by Robert Burns in 1788.
(The poem is based on an even older Scottish folk song).

Auld Lang Syne

Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

And surely you’ll buy your pint cup!
and surely I’ll buy mine!
And we’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.


We two have run about the hills,
and picked the daisies fine;
But we’ve wandered many a weary foot,
since auld lang syne.


We two have paddled in the stream,
from morning sun till dine;
But seas between us broad have roared
since auld lang syne.


And there’s a hand my trusty friend!
And give me a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll take a right good-will draught,
for auld lang syne.


Merry Christmas🎄

A sheet of Christmas Stamps from South Africa, issued in 1979.
Christmas Stamps were first issued in South Africa in 1929.
These stamps are sometimes called ‘Cinderella’ stamps, since they are not good for paying for postage, and not listed in any of the formal stamp catalogues.

Sunday/ a jaunt to U-district 🚇

Sunday is a good day to make a run up to U-district to check out the used book-stores and music stores (yes, they still sell CDs there).

I never did make it to the city of Xi’an (capital of Shaanxi Province in central China) when I was working there, to see the terracotta warriors.
Here is the cool window display, though, of Taste of Xi’an on University Way. One of their signature dishes is called paomo: a broth that we used is slow cooked with lamb, beef bones and whole chicken more than 10 hours every day.
Supreme, purveyor of New York-style pizza, also on University Way.
(New York–style pizza is pizza made with a characteristically large hand-tossed thin crust, often sold in wide slices to go).
A cosmetics store with Japanese brands, and a burger joint across the street.
University Way is in decent shape without too much damage, but man! some of the street blocks have back alleys that look downright awful (trash and graffiti).
The Varsity Theatre is in the same block that sits on the light rail U-district station.
Right behind it, the construction of a new 13-story office block with retail space is underway.
Not a pretty sight. This trashed entrance and empty space in a prime location, on the corner of 45th Street and University Way. It used to have a Bartell drug store inside. Evidently the Bartell store could not make enough profit even after being taken over by Rite Aid Corporation .. but I wonder how much effort Rite Aid really put in to keep the store afloat.
Here’s the northbound train at U-district station. Just a minute later the southbound train on the opposite track arrived and took me back to Capitol Hill.

Tuesday/ good news? 📰

Good news about the hostages, it seems.
I read in a German newspaper part of the agreement would be for the International Red Cross to visit all the hostages to assess their health.

Haviv Rettig Gur writes in The Times of Israel newspaper of the terrible calculus that is probably made on the part of the Israeli government for the release of the hostages, though:

Hostage deal, even if it fails, shows Hamas’s desperation
The exchange rate for an Israeli hostage is no longer measured in hundreds of released prisoners but in moments of reprieve from looming destruction

The families of Israeli hostages have spent most of the past seven weeks in a kind of limbo, torn between competing arguments for how best to seek the release of their loved ones.

Would pressure on the Israeli government work? Could foreign governments influence Hamas? What does the ground war mean for their loved ones’ chances of survival?

With a deal apparently nearing completion that could release dozens of abducted children and their mothers, many of their families have suddenly gone silent. Hamas, they reason, will try to hold on to children whose families prove most effective in pressuring the Israeli government.

If last week every family tried to draw attention to their missing child, now the race is on to make their child forgettable.

It’s hard to imagine the torment of such a moment.

To families trapped in such a terrible place, nothing about the announced deal feels like an Israeli victory.

Hamas stumbles
Yet it’s hard to imagine a clearer signal of Hamas’s desperation than the deal agreed to by the Israeli government late Tuesday.

In the Shalit prisoner exchange in 2011, the exchange rate was 1,100 Palestinian prisoners, including mass murderers sentenced to life terms, for a single Israeli soldier.

At the time, most Israelis supported the deal and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and then-defense minister Ehud Barak made sure to stand at Cpl. Gilad Shalit’s side as he set foot back on Israeli soil.

Twelve years later, after many of the terrorists released in that exchange were the ones who planned and executed the October 7 massacre, the calculus has changed.

Hamas abducted too many, including babies and ailing grandmothers, and did so in such cruel ways that the old logic of prisoner exchanges has been forever upended in the Israeli psyche.

As any aspiring gangster knows, there’s a tipping point to extortion when the cost of avoiding violence rises past the cost of the violence itself, when the victim’s incentives flip from payment to vengeful defiance.

At the start of the war, Hamas and Islamic Jihad started to trickle out hostages in ways that showed they didn’t quite grasp the change that had come over Israelis. They tried to delay the ground incursion by promising to release two hostages every few days.

But Israel ignored the gambit, and every ensuing attempt to dangle hostages before it. It launched the ground incursion with no more than a mention of the Israelis held in Gaza.

The new deal
And as the IDF advanced, photos began to leak of soldiers posing in the main centers of Hamas rule, including the parliament building and various headquarters, before demolishing these symbolic buildings.

Some foreign observers were mystified at the practice. Critics complained of “wanton” destruction. But Hamas saw and understood. When Israel telegraphed for three long weeks that it was preparing to enter Shifa Hospital, it was giving the enemy time to escape. It didn’t want a bloody battle in the hallways of a hospital. But it did want to enter that hospital and show Hamas there are no safe places anywhere in Gaza. And Hamas saw and understood.

This is key to understanding the war. Israel isn’t speaking to the West. Its leadership registers Western discourse as a second-tier concern. Its message is for Hamas, and this message is the strategic heart of the war effort: There is nowhere in Gaza we won’t go, no stone or tunnel or building we won’t overturn in pursuit of you. None of the tactics that once kept you safe apply anymore.

Tens of thousands of Hamas fighters have now been underground for nearly seven weeks. Their stores of food and fuel could be running low; they were prepared for an Israeli incursion, but not an open-ended one. Meanwhile, the IDF has systematically destroyed and sealed hundreds of tunnel entrances — upward of 600 at last count — as it slowly tightens the noose around the underground network in northern Gaza. Hamas’s subterranean strategy has been counteracted by a simple and patient Israeli answer: Burying Hamas forces alive in their own tunnels.

Then, all of a sudden, a deal was announced this week that drops the 1,100-to-one formula to three-to-one: 50 hostages for 150 Palestinian prisoners, all of the latter either women or prisoners who were minors at the time of their terror attacks.

But more interesting than who they are is who they are not. No Hamas fighters will be released, in part because Hamas didn’t really demand it. The prisoner release was treated by Hamas negotiators as a face-saving PR exercise. Their priority, Israeli officials say, was the ceasefire.

Hamas first demanded a month-long ceasefire in exchange for a few dozen hostages. Israel didn’t respond. As Hamas losses mounted, its demands shrank. It has now reached 50 hostages for four days’ respite.

But as the length of the lull shortened, new demands surfaced. For six hours each day of the truce, Israel must ground its reconnaissance drones. On Thursday the deal was delayed when Hamas sent through their Qatari representatives more demands for additional unspecified limits on Israeli field intelligence forces.

Israeli officials have explained these demands as part of the hostage release process: Not all the child hostages are in Hamas hands. Its fighters must travel aboveground to collect them from elsewhere in Gaza. They don’t want to be tracked while doing so.

This is, to put it mildly, a strange explanation. There’s a simpler one. A desperate Hamas with many fighters trapped in the steadily tightening noose around Gaza City has negotiated a last-ditch means for saving its northern forces by giving them a brief window to flee south in which the Israelis agree not to watch their escape too closely.

This is why Israeli officials are optimistic that Hamas will ultimately carry out its part of the deal. Hamas needs the time. It is why Israel even accepted the terror group’s transparent preparations to cheat, including the stipulation that the first three days of exchanges need not reach the 12- or 13-per-day rate of Israelis released, but that the number missing from that rate must be made up for on the fourth day. That demand suggests Hamas might be planning to release fewer prisoners for three days and then break the agreement on the fourth.

But Hamas demands are also preparing for the opposite eventuality, stipulating that as long as a roughly 10-per-day release rate is sustained, the deal can remain in force for longer than four days.

Or put another way, Hamas doesn’t know how long its retreat will take and is preparing for all contingencies.

If Hamas reneges, the war resumes, and whatever emotions Israeli leaders may feel — a palpable sense of guilt hangs over every cabinet deliberation — they will broadcast a collective shrug and return to the business of Hamas’s demolition.

Gallant’s grim victory
There’s a bottom line here. On October 29, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant met with the families of the hostages at IDF Headquarters in Tel Aviv. His message to them was buried in the avalanche of news from the front — the IDF had launched its ground war just 36 hours earlier.

The families were desperate. They said the ground war felt like a death sentence for their loved ones. Gallant’s response essentially laid out the Israeli strategy thus far.

Hamas, he said, “is making cynical use of all that is precious to us. They understand our pain and our anxiety.” But for that very reason, there was no way to simply negotiate the hostages out of Gaza.

The ground war would accomplish what political pressure could not. It was “inseparable from the effort to return the hostages. If Hamas doesn’t face military pressure, nothing will move.”

The war now moves south and will drive a whole new potential civilian humanitarian crisis. Hamas in Khan Younis will be just as trapped, but it will have far more troops available, a clearer understanding of IDF strategy and Israeli implacability, and a longer time to have readied the battlefield. It is there that the bulk of Hamas’s forces will find themselves in a pitched battle for survival — and where the hostages will serve as Hamas’s last available currency for buying pauses to regroup, resupply and, if the offer to Israel is generous, even escape.

From Gallant’s perspective, that’s just as it should be.

Thursday/ day 6 of the war 🪖

With the war in Israel and Gaza only on day 6, all other news on my TV seem to be in the By The Way/ Not Too Important category.
(The House of Representatives still does not have a speaker, and there are no viable candidates at this point).

The homepage of the Washington Post tonight.
A ground invasion of Gaza seems imminent, says everyone— but what about the Israeli hostages there (including American citizens?), and other civilians, trapped without water, food and electricity, with nowhere to go?
Associated Press: ‘Hamas officials say they are prepared for any scenario, including a drawn-out war, and that allies like Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah will join the battle if Israel goes too far.’

Sunday/ the war against the Hamas terrorists 💣

Photo Credit: Eyad Baba/ AFP/ Getty Images

As of Sunday night:
Israeli media, citing rescue service officials, said at least 700 people were killed and 2,000 wounded, making Saturday’s surprise early morning attack by Hamas the deadliest attack in Israel in decades.
At least 232 people in the Gaza Strip have been killed and at least 1,700 wounded in Israeli strikes, the Palestinian Health Ministry said.
Hamas fighters took an unknown number of civilians and soldiers captive into Gaza, a deeply sensitive issue for Israel, in harrowing scenes posted on social media videos.
Among those killed in Israel was Lt. Col. Jonathan Steinberg, a senior officer who commanded the military’s Nachal Brigade, a prominent infantry unit.
– Reported by newspaper Israel Hayom at

The Palestinian territory of Gaza has been under an Israeli blockade, backed by Egypt, since Hamas seized control of the coastal strip in 2007. The blockade restricts the import of many goods and prevents most people from leaving the territory. – Map and text by the New York Times

Tuesday/ back in Rain City ☔️

The three friends made their way back to Seattle today, taking an early 7 am flight out of Fairbanks on Alaska Airlines.

A license plate commemorating the Alaska Gold Rush (also called the Klondike Gold Rush). Some 100,000 prospectors made the trip from Seattle to the Klondike region of Yukon, Canada, between 1896 and 1899.
Gold is mined in Alaska to this day, and the state’s largest mine is in fact 25 miles northeast of Fairbanks. The mine’s name is Fort Knox and it has been operating since 1996.