Trump's lawyers will argue "free speech!!" at day one of his second impeachment trial, which will ultimately go the way of the first, the Washington Post reports. They'll also argue that holding an impeachment trial for a former President is unconstitutional. Both arguments are extremely dumb, as "incitement to violence ain't free speech," according to one longtime Constitutional law professor, and since most scholars agree that you can impeach an ex prez. These pointless arguments compound the pointlessness of this entire impeachment process, but we must go through with it for posterity, and for the sake of "holding Trump accountable" for his actions, to use a phrase that has lost almost all meaning in the last few years.
WHO scientists think COVID didn't originate with a lab leak: An international team of experts on a fact-finding mission in Wuhan determined that "the coronavirus had probably first spread to humans through an animal and was 'extremely unlikely' to have been the result of a lab accident," the New York Times reports. The project leader cited the lab's good "safety protocols" in his assessment. The Chinese government immediately used the investigation result to promote their theory that the virus originated outside the country, and the WHO scientists "did not challenge the statements by the Chinese officials."
It's National Pizza Day: And this is exactly the kind of unhinged content I'm looking for today.
Republicans have their own army: The New York Times goes deep on the relationship between Michigan militias and the GOP in that state. No matter how you feel about extremist groups on the left and the right, can we at least all agree that the ones on the right are much farther along on the whole "staging an armed revolution" thing?
Police started crackdown using water canon against hundreds of anti-coup protesters in Bago, a city in lower Myanmar. #WhatsHappeningInMyanmar #SaveMyammar #BurmaCoup #Burma pic.twitter.com/SrGy3ZMMkI
— Wa Lone (@walone4) February 9, 2021
Myanmar military violently cracks down on mass protests: Yesterday people faced down a water cannon as they protested a coup that removed democratically elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi, according to the BBC. In other cities in the country, people have been reportedly shot and apparently beaten by police. General Min Aung Hlaing used "voter fraud" to justify the military's power grab, but an electoral commission found "no evidence to support claims of widespread fraud."
North Korea isn't supposed to be developing its nuclear weapons program, but "independent sanctions monitors" say the country did that very thing all last year, according to Al Jazeera. UN monitors think hackers stole $316.4 million to help fund the program, and they also think the country is working with Iran on a "long-range missile development project."
I'm going to kick off a string of arts news blurbs with a confession: I have joined the #FreeBritney movement after watching FX's Framing Britney Spears on Hulu, which is part of a series of documentaries called The New York Times Presents. (That's too many media partners for one sentence.) The sympathetic reframing of Spears's rollercoaster career was persuasive, some of the hagiography stuff was not, but the NYT reporting about how her father controls her finances through a fishy-sounding conservatorship made me want to stand outside the courthouse during her next hearing and hold up a big sign. That said, I just took a minute to watch some of her Instagram videos, and they are a little goofy, but that doesn’t mean her dad gets her money.
Catch Pacific Northwest Ballet's Roméo et Juliette this week: You'd be hard-pressed to find a better Valentine's Day activity than dressing up with your partner (or with a fatty bo-batty) and pressing play on Jean-Christophe Maillot's take on Prokofiev's take on Shakespeare's tale of two doomed teens, Roméo et Juliette. A lot of art houses are pumping out streaming performances at the moment, god bless them, but I think this archival recording from the Feb 2016 performance will translate particularly well to a digital format because the ballet, like the play, is a big show that turns on tiny gestures that are hard to see from the nosebleeds.
If you'll allow me a little theater criticism in this Slog AM........As I mentioned in my review of the performance at the time, Romeo and Juliet is a play about grandiose romantic gestures, but all the action derives from the smallest moments. Yes, the ball scene is grand, but the fact that Shakespeare weaves the rhyme schemes in the sonnets Romeo and Juliet speak at one another is even grander. Yes, the double-suicide is a sweeping gesture, but that huge decision snowballed from something as small as a miscommunication. (Plague-induced quarantine restrictions prevented the mail carriers from delivering Friar Laurence's life-saving letter in time.) In the ballet, the poignant moments emerge from the smallest movements, too; the Nurse (Margaret Mullin) writing the sound of a piccolo in the air, or Juliette (Noelani Pantastico) kissing her hand after Romeo (James James Yoichi Moore) escapes her embrace, foreshadowing the moment he becomes a ghost in her hands later on. This ballet rules, and you should watch it.
Staying with art for a moment: Patricia Lockwood's new novel, No One Is Talking about This, hits shelves next Tuesday. If her fiction is as good as her poetry and her nonfiction, then no one will ever have to write anything ever again. Please, Lockwood, release us.
He's running: Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes is asking voters to send him back for his fourth term, reports Crosscut. Holmes cited a need for continuity in city government and a desire to see through to its end the consent decree as his reasons for running.
An underrated Tweet from the city attorney:
State trooper killed in avalanche: Washington State Patrol confirmed Steve Houle, a 28 year veteran, died in an avalanche in Kittitas County.
Vaccine fact-checking from King County: Public Health - Seattle & King County responds to myths about the COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine will not alter your DNA, nor will it infect you with the virus, nor will it also deposit a fucking microchip in your body. And while some people can suffer from a "headache, a sore arm, fatigue or a fever," the side-effects are "short-lived and are signs that the vaccine is building immunity in the body." The county also notes that people "have valid concerns about equity related to vaccine development and vaccination, including about who was or wasn’t included in the vaccine trials" but says "by ending the pandemic sooner, the COVID-19 vaccines will help everyone."
How many people in Washington have been vaccinated? 9.82% of the state's population have started the vaccination process, according to the state Department of Health. Just 2.59% have been fully vaccinated, King 5 reports. The CDC thinks the new, more virulent strain might become dominant in March. That's three weeks from now, and the age-based rollout started three weeks ago. So, uh, let's hop to it.
Hard to "hop to it," though, when we still have supply issues: Vaccine is still in short supply in Washington, with shortages hitting rural (slash wealthy) areas like Camano Island, Q13 reports. The Washington State Hospital Association said the state told hospitals doses intended for second doses should instead be used as first doses for people waiting in line.
Auburn Proud Boy sent to D.C.: Ethan Nordean was expected to be sent to his home near Auburn Monday, but instead a judge ordered him to be taken to Washington, D.C., where he'll face charges for allegedly planning and participating in the Jan. 6 insurrection, the Seattle Times reports.
Let's roll that Nordean pepper spray footage: Oof, a tough day for a Proud Boy. Lord knows those tactical Oakleys didn't stop the sting of that spray, nor could they hide the embarrassment of failing to connect with a counter-protester standing directly in front him.
Neighborhood grinch gets walk-up cider bar closed: Yonder Bar, a walkup cider house in a Greenwood garage, will close after complaints to the city that people drink alcohol nearby "even while children are walking and biking past them" and that it's too close to a church. The owners say "one person has made it their mission to close Yonder Bar down," My Ballard reports