We know there’s a big question about the case, but we don’t know the answer: Will the prosecution intensify and further tarnish the legacy of the twice-impeached and hugely controversial former President? Or will it be seen as a partisan prosecution, as Donald Trump has labeled it?
Trump’s low ranking came, in part, due to scoring “dead last among all presidents in both Moral Authority — perhaps as a result of his two impeachments — and Administrative Skills, equally expected, given his administration’s disastrous handling of the Covid-19 crisis,” noted Balcerski.
Search amid the ruins
“The hardest thing is not knowing,” Joe Biden told the stricken relatives of those who lived in Champlain Towers South on Thursday. “Not knowing whether or not the person you adore, the person you love, the person … is gone. The President reached into his deep store of personal grief and renewal when he added, “I’m sure you’d trade places with whoever you lost or are worried about having lost. You’d trade places with them in a minute.”
More than a week after the Surfside, Florida, apartment building partially collapsed into a mound of debris, rescue workers risked their lives trying to look for survivors and recover human remains. There were individual stories of those still unaccounted for — like the one Fortuna Smukler told about her friends Myriam and Arnie Notkin. “For many years he was a PE coach at one of the elementary schools and has had a deep connection to the Miami Beach community,” Smukler wrote of Arnie. She went to school with Myriam’s children.
“Just like my family, Myriam and her family were among the Jewish Cuban immigrants that came to South Florida in the ’60s and ’70s … Myriam and her husband raised three talented and special girls. She was a widow who later on in life met and married Arnie.”
How could a building that stood for 40 years simply collapse? That was the question structural engineer Hanif Kara asked. It’s far too early to know the cause of this particular disaster, he wrote. But there are some general things we know about structures that fail.
“Poor workmanship and badly constructed buildings, or the use of deleterious materials that do not comply with what was specified in the design, can also be a cause of failure … In the last several decades we have also seen the impact of chemical changes in materials that can cause local failure initially and then large-scale failures that, over time, render buildings unsafe. Rusting steel expands six or seven times its original shape and when embedded in concrete it can expand and weaken the structure of a building.”
Frida Ghitis noted that “collapsing buildings used to be the heart-breaking reality of poor countries. Not anymore.” She observed that “the timing of the Miami tragedy highlights the next item on President Joe Biden’s agenda, just behind his top priority, taming the pandemic.”
Bill Cosby released
Bill Cosby was released from prison Wednesday after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court threw out his sexual assault conviction. The decision sent an alarming message, wrote Kara Alaimo.
Northwest heat wave
In Spokane, Washington, where temperatures reached 105 degrees Fahrenheit on Monday, Kari Nixon and her daughter fried eggs in a pan on their driveway.
Nixon froze apples and carrots in blocks of ice, which she dragged over to a stable where 23 horses, including one of her own, live. “These horses have never needed to know what ice cubes were. Yet, like me, something in them knows that cooling is necessary, and by the time I’m done handing out all the ice blocks, most of the horses are munching happily on the treats now freed from their melted casings of ice.”
Bill Barr’s about-face
Former US Attorney General William Barr’s “image rehabilitation tour has begun,” wrote Elie Honig. “Don’t buy it.”
Voting rights … and wrongs
Voting rights advocates were already on edge as several red states began moving ahead with new voting restrictions. Their concern deepened with the Supreme Court’s decision on Thursday to uphold two Arizona laws and to set a new standard that will make it much more difficult to “protect against racial discrimination,” according to law professor Joshua A. Douglas.
In the midst of a national controversy over election rules and integrity, the last thing America needed was a botched vote count. But New York City’s Board of Elections released, and then retracted, a count in the Democratic mayoral primary that mistakenly included more than 100,000 test ballots.
The other side of Rick Steves
Generations of American travelers have been introduced to Europe through the books, videos and TV shows of an eager bespectacled guide who saunters through the farms of Tuscany, the ruins of ancient Greece and the streets of Paris. But there’s another side to Rick Steves, who this year was elected chairman of the board of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML).
“I’m a hard-working, kid-raising, churchgoing, tax-paying American,” Steves wrote. “And if I work hard all day and want to go home, smoke a joint and stare at my fireplace for three hours, that’s my civil liberty. This is my basic, principled message on marijuana legalization, a cause I’ve promoted for many years.”
He argued in a CNN Opinion piece that the US has suffered for 50 years from President Richard Nixon’s “war on drugs,” which lumped marijuana in with heroin as among the most dangerous illegal substances.
The Hubble telescope, which has opened our eyes to countless amazing features of the universe for more than 30 years, suddenly stopped working on June 13. As Don Lincoln noted, all efforts so far have failed to fix the problem, raising the possibility that Hubble could be at the end of its useful life.
“Any reports of the demise of the Hubble are still premature, but the recent glitch causes the stomach of astronomy buffs like me to lurch a little. I would miss the constant stream of gorgeous astronomical photos.”
This July Fourth is the USA’s 245th birthday, a time of celebration for those emerging from the pandemic and for reflection by many. Themes of democracy, patriotism and history seem especially resonant this year.
In The Atlantic, Anne Applebaum took note of the controversy surrounding Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s inflammatory criticism of Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, who defended the military’s willingness to reckon with racism in US history.