Lazy Caturday Reads

Gwen John (British painter, 1876-1939) Interior with Woman Sewing at Window and Cat

Gwen John (British painter, 1876-1939) Interior with Woman Sewing at Window and Cat

Good Afternoon!!

It’s the weekend, and we should be having fun even though we’re in the midst of a global pandemic with wars raging around the world and our democracy still in danger because one of our political parties has turned into a suicidal cult obsessed with conspiracy theories, led by a pathetic huckster who is rapidly sinking into dementia. So before I start on the news of the day, here’s a fun read at The New Yorker:

The article is long and involved, so there’s no way to summarize it with excerpts, but here’s just a taste:

The government may not have been in regular touch with exotic civilizations, but it had been keeping something from its citizens. By 2017, [Leslie] Kean was the author of a best-selling U.F.O. book and was known for what she has termed, borrowing from the political scientist Alexander Wendt, a “militantly agnostic” approach to the phenomenon. On December 16th of that year, in a front-page story in the Times, Kean, together with two Times journalists, revealed that the Pentagon had been running a surreptitious U.F.O. program for ten years. The article included two videos, recorded by the Navy, of what were being described in official channels as “unidentified aerial phenomena,” or U.A.P. In blogs and on podcasts, ufologists began referring to “December, 2017” as shorthand for the moment the taboo began to lift. Joe Rogan, the popular podcast host, has often mentioned the article, praising Kean’s work as having precipitated a cultural shift. “It’s a dangerous subject for someone, because you’re open to ridicule,” he said, in an episode this spring. But now “you could say, ‘Listen, this is not something to be mocked anymore—there’s something to this.’ ”

Since then, high-level officials have publicly conceded their bewilderment about U.A.P. without shame or apology. Last July, Senator Marco Rubio, the former acting chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence, spoke on CBS News about mysterious flying objects in restricted airspace. “We don’t know what it is,” he said, “and it isn’t ours.” In December, in a video interview with the economist Tyler Cowen, the former C.I.A. director John Brennan admitted, somewhat tortuously, that he didn’t quite know what to think: “Some of the phenomena we’re going to be seeing continues to be unexplained and might, in fact, be some type of phenomenon that is the result of something that we don’t yet understand and that could involve some type of activity that some might say constitutes a different form of life.”

Mann mit Katze. Christoph Paudiss 1618 Private Collection

Mann mit Katze. Christoph Paudiss 1618 Private Collection

Last summer, David Norquist, the Deputy Secretary of Defense, announced the formal existence of the Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force. The 2021 Intelligence Authorization Act, signed this past December, stipulated that the government had a hundred and eighty days to gather and analyze data from disparate agencies. Its report is expected in June….

Leslie Kean is a self-possessed woman with a sensible demeanor and a nimbus of curly graying hair. She lives alone in a light-filled corner apartment near the northern extreme of Manhattan, where, on the wall behind her desk, there is a framed black-and-white image that looks like a sonogram of a Frisbee. The photograph was given to her, along with chain-of-custody documentation, by contacts in the Costa Rican government; in her estimation, it is the finest image of a U.F.O. ever made public. The first time I visited, she wore a black blazer over a T-shirt advertising “The Phenomenon,” a documentary from 2020 with strikingly high production values in a genre known for grainy footage of dubious provenance. Kean is

stubborn but unassuming, and she tends to speak of the impact of “the Times story,” and the new cycle of U.F.O. attention it has inaugurated, as if she had not been its principal instigator. She told me, “When the New York Times story came out, there was this sense of ‘This is what the U.F.O. people have wanted forever.’ ”

Kean is always assiduously polite toward the “U.F.O. people,” although she stands apart from the ufological mainstream.

As for today’s news, I think the biggest story in the world right now is the Covid situation in India. Here’s the latest:

CNBC: India’s daily Covid-19 cases pass 400,000 for first time as second wave worsens.

India posted a record daily rise of 401,993 new coronavirus cases on Saturday as the country opened up its massive vaccination drive to all adults, although several states warned of acute shortages.

It was the first time India’s daily case count had topped 400,000 after 10 consecutive days over 300,000. Deaths from Covid-19 jumped by 3,523 over the past 24 hours, taking the total toll in India to 211,853, according to official data.

The world’s biggest producer of Covid-19 vaccines has a limited number of shots available, worsening a grim second wave of infections that has overwhelmed hospitals and morgues while families scramble for scarce medicines and oxygen.

Hundreds of people were seen queuing to be vaccinated across Ahmedabad, the main commercial city in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state of Gujarat, on Saturday.

CNN live updates: The latest on Covid-19 and India’s worsening crisis.

Blaze at an Indian hospital Covid-19 ward kills 18

Eighteen people are dead after a fire broke out at a Covid-19 hospital ward in India’s Gujarat state in the early hours of Saturday.

Lancaster, Lilian, c.1887-1973; The Boy and the Cat

Lillian Lancaster c. 1887-1973, The Boy and the Cat; Grundy Art Gallery

The fire broke out in the intensive care unit of the Welfare Hospital in the western state’s Bharuch district, according to Dr. MD Modiya, a senior district official.

According to Modiya, 16 of the dead were patients. Two were staff members.

Nearly 60 patients were in the hospital at the time of the fire, which broke out around 1 a.m. local time, he said. The remaining patients have been moved to nearby hospitals.

The cause of the fire is yet to be determined but initial investigations suggest a short circuit, according to Dr Modiya.

In a tweet on Saturday, Gujarat’s chief minister, Vijay Rupani, said two senior officers from the Indian Administrative Service have been dispatched to Bharuch to investigate the fire. The state government will open a judicial inquiry into the fire, he added.

In an earlier post, Rupani offered his condolences to the patients and staff at Welfare Hospital and offered $5,398 in compensation to the families of each of the victims.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi also tweeted his condolences.

“Pained by the loss of lives due to a fire at a hospital in Bharuch,” he said. “Condolences to the bereaved families.”

Vaccine shortage halts rollout across two more Indian states

India’s southern states Telangana and Andhra Pradesh have become the latest to postpone Saturday’s planned national Covid-19 vaccination rollout, citing shortages of shots.

As of Saturday, everyone over the age of 18 is eligible for vaccination in India.

On Friday, Telangana’s Director of Public Health, Dr. G. Srinavasa Rao, tweeted that the state wouldn’t be vaccinating people over the weekend as it hadn’t received doses.

In neighboring Andhra Pradesh, officials have acknowledged that it was not “practically possible” to start vaccinating those over the age 18 due to limited stocks.

“If we need to fulfil the commitment to the former age group batch, it is definitely going to take all of May,” Anil Kumar Singhal, Andhra Pradesh’s Principal Health Secretary, told reporters on Friday.

At least seven states and territories are facing shortages that are impacting the planned vaccine rollout.

Julian Alden Weir - Little Lizie Lynch (1910)

Julian Alden Weir – Little Lizzie Lynch (1910)

CBS News: U.S. aid arrives in COVID-battered India as vaccination centers run out of shots and thousands gasp for air.

New Delhi — The first shipment of emergency medical aid supplies from the United States arrived in India on Friday as the country continued battling an explosion of coronavirus cases that has strained its health care system to breaking point. A U.S. military transport plane carrying more than 400 oxygen cylinders, nearly one million rapid coronavirus test kits and other supplies landed in Delhi on Friday morning.

But as mass vaccination centers were forced to close without any doses to stick in arms, and people continued to die without oxygen at jam-packed hospitals, the aid from the U.S. and other countries that’s started to pour in is like a Band-Aid for a severed leg….

“The United States stands with India as we fight the COVID-19 pandemic together,” said the U.S. Embassy in India in a tweet.

India’s External Affairs Ministry thanked the U.S. for the contributions, which were the first step toward fulfilling President Joe Biden’s pledge earlier this week to support India in its “time of need… Just as India sent assistance to the United States as our hospitals were strained early in the pandemic.”

Business Insider via Yahoo News: People in India are being cremated in parking lots, with so much demand that families have to take tickets and wait.

Victims of India’s devastating COVID-19 surge are being cremated in parking lots, with one crematorium so overwhelmed that it has launched a ticketing system.

In the past two weeks, the number of new daily COVID-19 cases in India has repeatedly broken global records, with the country recording thousands of new deaths every day.

The staff at the Seemapuri crematorium in New Delhi recently erected several extra burning platforms in the parking lot to keep up with the staggering demand, CNN reported.

Cremation is the standard death rite in Hinduism, India’s dominant religion, and crematoriums are under intense pressure.

“Before the pandemic, we used to cremate eight to 10 people” a day, Jitender Singh Shunty, the head of the Seemapuri crematorium, told CNN. “Now, we are cremating 100 to 120 a day.”

Man with Cat, Candace Hunt

Man with Cat, Candace Hunt

Madhukar Pai and Manu Prakash at The Washington Post: Opinion: India’s covid-19 crisis is a dire warning for all countries.

The covid-19 crisis in India is a massive setback for the entire world. The scale of the nation’s surge is a warning not only for its neighboring countries, which are also experiencing sharp increases in cases, but also for countries around the globe. If we do not heed this warning and work on vaccine equity, we risk a forever pandemic with long-term cycles of lockdowns, economic damage and constant fear.

India is reporting more than 380,000 cases and 3,500 deaths daily. Both are underestimates. The Indian health-care system is completely overwhelmed. It is impossible to find hospital beds. Supplies such as oxygen are incredibly scarce, and there is a huge backlog with diagnostic testing. Many people with sick family members and friends in India — including us — are checking in on them. This time around, younger people are sick and, as is always the case, the poor are hit the hardest.

India has 95,000 intensive care beds and 48,000 ventilators. By mid-May, it is projected that the country will need 340,000 beds and more than 700,000 ventilators. Rural India has few of these and is already hit hard. India needs the global community’s support to survive this crisis.

The devastating second wave in India is the result of a perfect storm: a failure to plan for a second wave; premature relaxation of public health measures; large gatherings; insufficient vaccination coverage; and newer variants such as B.1.1.7 and B.1.617 that are highly transmissible and potentially more severe.\India has 95,000 intensive care beds and 48,000 ventilators. By mid-May, it is projected that the country will need 340,000 beds and more than 700,000 ventilators. Rural India has few of these and is already hit hard. India needs the global community’s support to survive this crisis.\Even as India struggles to get the second wave under control, cases are surging among India’s neighbors, including Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. While the exact variant driving the new surges among India’s neighbors is unclear, the B.1.617 variant has already spread to more than 18 countries….

Han van Meegeren - His son Jacques with cat 1916India has 95,000 intensive care beds and 48,000 ventilators. By mid-May, it is projected that the country will need 340,000 beds and more than 700,000 ventilators. Rural India has few of these and is already hit hard. India needs the global community’s support to survive this crisis.

Even as India struggles to get the second wave under control, cases are surging among India’s neighbors, including Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. While the exact variant driving the new surges among India’s neighbors is unclear, the B.1.617 variant has already spread to more than 18 countries.

Other countries in South Asia have far less resources and medical infrastructure compared with India. Nepal, for example, has 1,486 ICU beds and 634 ventilators , and Nepal’s health ministry is anticipating a need to treat 15,000 ICU patients by July. Bangladesh, home to 163 million people, has only 1,134 covid-19 ICU beds. Pakistan, the fifth-largest country in the world, has fewer than 4,000 ventilators. India’s neighbors can ill afford the kind of devastation India is experiencing.

Read the rest at the WaPo.

I’m running out of space, but I’ll end with some links to the latest on the huge–but fun for us–Rudy Giuliani story:

CNN: Trump allies worry Giuliani raid sent ‘strong message’ to ex-President’s inner circle.

Forensic News: Giuliani Probe Expands, Ukrainian Ally Under Criminal Investigation.

The Washington Post: Giuliani’s claims about Hunter Biden and the FBI get more confusing.

Vanity Fair: Michael Cohen: Rudy Giuliani Will “Absolutely” Rat Out Ivanka, Don Jr., and Trump to Save Himself.

Molly Jong-Fast at The Daily Beast: The Giulianis’ Two-Man Clown Car Is Crashing and Burning.

NBC New Giuliani Search Warrant Resolved Justice Department Dispute.

Have a great weekend, Sky Dancers!!

19 Comments on “Lazy Caturday Reads”

  1. bostonboomer says:

  2. bostonboomer says:

  3. dakinikat says:

    Republicans are such drama queens …

  4. dakinikat says:

    Beautiful cat pictures today! I love the little boy holding the calico at the bottom. It’s quite peaceful and beautiful!

  5. dakinikat says:

    My son-in-law’s family is in the Bengal Area. They’re mostly in Kolkata but I know lots of folks in both Bangladesh and Nepal. My Lama returned to Katmandhu a few months ago because his wife needed surgery. He’s fully vaccinated. I still worry with all these variants around. It’s really in the wild there and doing what it wants which is exactly how a virus gets worse.

    • quixote says:

      The situation there is heartbreaking, … and totally predictable from Modi’s policies. Just awful. The same universe we’d be suffering through if the Dump had got himself in for another four years.

  6. dakinikat says:

    Frankly, she’s the only one with brass balls in the entire damned Republican party right now.

  7. dakinikat says:

  8. quixote says:

    To me, the most interesting thing about the UFO stuff is that if they turn out to be actual aliens, it means our entire understanding of the physical universe is full of holes, and somebody really is travelling faster than light. We know there’s nobody in the immediate neighborhood whizzing around in spaceships.

  9. dakinikat says:

  10. MarkmBha says:

    Another excellent blog, Skydancing.
    Always a pleasure to read.
    Thank you.