1. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Google, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter must do more to tackle disinformation related to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the heads of government in Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia have said.

    In a joint letter to the chief executives of the four companies, the four prime ministers said criticised the tech giants for not doing enough to “address the Russian government’s unprecedented assault on truth”.

    The letter reads:

    Russia’s disinformation has been tolerated on online platforms for years; they are now an accessory to the criminal war of aggression the Russian government is conducting against Ukraine and the free world.

    They urged the companies to suspend the official accounts of Russian and Belarusian government institutions, state-controlled media and personal accounts of the countries’ leadership that consistently disseminate disinformation about the situation in Ukraine.

  2. says

    Meduza liveblog:

    Representatives from Kyiv and Moscow are currently holding talks in the Homel region of Belarus, on the border with Ukraine. The Ukrainian delegation includes Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov; Servant of the People party faction head Davyd Arakhamia; and advisor to the head of the President’s Office Myhailo Podoliak. The Russian delegation is led by presidential aide and former Russian Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky.

    Russian losses: Ukraine’s Defense Ministry estimates that approximately 5,300 Russian troops have been killed as of Monday morning. Though the Russian Defense Ministry has acknowledged that some of its soldiers were killed and wounded in Ukraine, Moscow has yet to report a concrete number of combat losses. On Monday, Kalmykia’s Head Batu Khasikov reported that a contract service sergeant from the region had died “in the line of duty during a special operation to protect the Donbas.”

    Kharkiv under fire: Massive rocket strikes hit Ukraine’s second largest city on Monday, Ukrainian Interior Ministry officials said. According to Interior Ministry advisor Anton Herashchenko, dozens of people have been killed and hundreds more were wounded. Ukrayinska Pravda reported that the shelling hit three micro-districts that are home to more than a million people. “It’s horrible, they hit residential buildings with artillery. It’s not yet possible to calculate the losses. Perhaps the offensive will go further,” said Roman Semenukha, the deputy head of the Kharkiv regional administration.

    Zmiinyi [Snake] Island survivors: The Ukrainian soldiers from Zmiinyi Island who were presumed dead are in fact alive and being held captive by Russia, according to Ukraine’s navy. Earlier, Ukraine’s Interior Ministry stated that all of the Ukrainian servicemen on the island were killed in a Russian attack. In turn, the Russian side reported that 82 people had been taken prisoner. The Ukrainian military clarified that they presumed the island’s defenders dead after they lost contact with them.

    Cyber war: The websites of TASS, Izvestia, Forbes[dot]ru, Fontanka, and other well-known Russian media outlets were hacked at around 2:00 p.m., Moscow time, on Monday. Attempts to reach the sites returned an anti-war message that urged Russian citizens to “stop the madness” and “not to send your sons and husbands to certain death.” The message was signed by the hacker group Anonymous, as well as “Concerned journalists of Russia.” Following the incident, TASS published a statement saying that their editorial office had “nothing to do” with the message.

  3. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Canada’s foreign minister has left open the door for citizens of Ukrainian descent to join the new foreign legion and take up arms against Russian troops.

    “We understand that people of Ukrainian descent want to support their fellow Ukrainians and also that there is a desire to defend the motherland and in that sense it is their own individual decision,” Mélanie Joly told reporters on Sunday. “Let me be clear: we are all very supportive of any form of support to Ukrainians right now.”

    With 1.4 million residents of Ukrainian heritage, Canada has the largest diaspora populations outside of Russia.

    Canadian officials have advised against travel to the country due to the current conflict, but Joly’s comments on foreign fighters echo similar support from officials in both the UK and Latvia.

    Ukraine’s ministry of defence tweeted Monday they had already received “thousands” of requests by foreigners to join the fight.

  4. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Reuters’ military and intelligence correspondent reports that the EU has asked for satellite intelligence to be supplied to Ukraine, to enable it to monitor troop movements:…

  5. says

    Shaun Walker:

    Volodymyr Kravets served in Murmansk in Soviet missile forces in 1959-60 and used to love Russia. Now he’s furious they’re invading and came to pick up Molotov cocktails.

    “I tried to buy a gun but they told me I was too old, I at least want one of these to throw at the fuckers”

    Honestly the fact that Putin is losing these kinds of people of this generation is such a stunning failure

    Photo at the link.

  6. says

    Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya tweeted: “Yesterday, we saw a new wave of resistance in Belarus against the war, against being an aggressor state & the regime’s terror. Today, I call on my fellow Belarusians to gather at 18:00 around railway stations in Minsk & regions to continue resistance & show solidarity with [Ukraine].”

    I think that’s this hour.

  7. says

    Speaking of support, here are some suggestions for how to support Ukraine financially (I can’t personally vouch for any organizations/sites – be sure to do some vetting before donating anywhere):

    José Andrés’ World Central Kitchen is feeding people at the Ukraine-Poland border and will soon be working at the Romanian border as well.

    The Kyiv Independent and others have set up a global fund to support independent Ukrainian media.

    Timothy Snyder offers a list of suggestions.

  8. says

    Mark Hertling:

    During my time in Europe, there [were] 3 countries’ armies we evaluated as “extremely poor.” Belarus was one of those (I won’t name the other 2). Now they’re joining Russia against Ukraine…it will be the combat equivalent of a mosh pit.

  9. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Switzerland, a favourite destination for Russian oligarchs, has set aside its tradition of neutrality and announced that it will adopt all the sanctions already imposed by the European Union on Russia.

    Following a government meeting on Monday, Switzerland’s president Ignazio Cassis said that the country would immediately freeze the assets of Russia’s president Vladimir Putin, prime minister Mikhail Mishustin and foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, as well as all 367 individuals sanctioned last week by the EU.

    Cassis told reporters today:

    This is a big step for Switzerland.

    In a statement, the Swiss government said it will implement the sanctions in coordination with the EU, adding that these were “primarily goods and financial sanctions”.

    In so doing, Switzerland is responding to the serious violations of international law for which these individuals are responsible

  10. says

    There’s nothing ‘savvy’ about Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine

    Trump suggested that Putin is some kind of strategic “genius,” masterfully executing a “savvy” plan. That’s not just unpatriotic, it’s also bonkers.

    Donald Trump’s public adulation for Vladimir Putin last week was cartoonish in its inanity. The former president described the Russian leader’s military offensive as “genius” and “very savvy.” Though the Republican now expects people to believe he was merely agreeing with others’ assessment of Putin, the transcript clearly shows Trump volunteering his praise.

    Soon after, the former U.S. leader kept going, issuing a written statement touting Putin and admonishing his own country’s president. At a Mar-a-Lago event, Trump again told an assembled audience how “smart“ Putin is for launching a military offensive against his neighbor.

    Over the weekend, Trump appeared at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), reiterated his belief that Putin is “smart,” denounced his own country’s leaders as “so dumb,” and said the Russian autocrat is playing President Joe Biden “like a drum.”

    As a matter of patriotism, Trump’s critics might be tempted to wonder exactly whose side the former president is on. But there’s another problem: The Republican has spent the last week suggesting that Putin is some kind of strategic “genius,” masterfully executing a “savvy” plan.

    And that’s not just unpatriotic, it’s also bonkers.

    Dan Drezner, a professor of international politics at Tufts University, wrote in a Washington Post analysis yesterday that Putin, by launching this war, “has lost and lost badly.”

    For 15 years he has coasted on an inflated reputation as a tactical genius and strategic opportunist…. Oops. In the air, Russia has yet to establish air supremacy over Ukraine. On the ground, Russian forces have gained some territory but nothing has come fast or easy. Russia’s expectation of rapid decapitation via special forces and paratroopers has come to naught. Every day Kyiv does not fall and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky posts something on social media is a day when Putin’s reputation for tactical mastery (and the Russian military’s reputation for competence) gets dented.

    It’s difficult to identify literally anything Putin has gotten right in this crisis. He thought Western alliances would fracture, but they didn’t. He thought NATO members would be divided against one another, but they’re not. He thought Ukraine’s government would quickly collapse, but it’s persevered. He thought the Ukrainian military would struggle to fight, but it’s proven far stronger than expected. He thought the Russian military would assert its dominance and prove its might to the world, but it’s done largely the opposite.

    An Axios report added over the weekend, “Russian President Vladimir Putin is doing in days what decades of American prodding and pressure couldn’t: Getting Germany and other European nations to unite, expand defense spending and strategic thinking, and do more to protect themselves and others…. [Putin has] spawned a new coalition of the willing that spreads from Europe, to U.S. companies, to Russians in the streets.”

    Just as notably, Putin knew Western sanctions were inevitable, but he was confident that the Russian economy was largely insulated. As of this morning, the ruble’s value has collapsed, and the country’s stock market has closed.

    Trump shed light on his values when he celebrated Putin as much of the world did the opposite, but he also shed light on his tactical thinking when he described a disastrous military offensive as “genius” and “very savvy.”

  11. says

    The problem with Bill Barr’s denunciation of his former boss

    Former Attorney General William Barr is burning his bridge with Trump World, but his record chases after him like cans tied to his bumper.

    Former Attorney General William Barr has taken some notable steps away from Trump World since leaving office in December 2020, but the Republican lawyer has clearly taken his efforts to a new level with his new book. The Wall Street Journal reported over the weekend:

    […] Barr writes in a new book that former President Donald Trump has “shown he has neither the temperament nor persuasive powers to provide the kind of positive leadership that is needed,” and that it is time for Republicans to focus on rising new leaders in the party.

    […] writing that Trump likely would’ve won a second term if he’d been capable of “moderating even a little of his pettiness.”

    As for the former president’s brazen lying about his 2020 defeat, Barr’s book argues, “The election was not ‘stolen.’ Trump lost it.” The former attorney general is now convinced that Trump “cared only about one thing: himself. Country and principle took second place.”

    Barr also sees his former boss as an “incorrigible” narcissist whose post-election lies did “a disservice to the nation.” He now wants his party to look to new leaders who lack Trump’s “erratic personal behavior.”

    The idea of Trump running a third national campaign is, as the former attorney general put it, is “dismaying.”

    To be sure, while the provocative language in Barr’s book is new, his criticisms of the former president are not. […] in the aftermath of Trump’s defeat, Barr seemed eager to put some distance between himself and the failed president. In early December 2020, for example, as Trump desperately looked for ways to overturn the election results, Barr publicly conceded that there was no evidence to bolster conspiracy theories about “fraud.”

    A month later, the Republican lawyer accused Trump of “inexcusable“ behavior on Jan. 6. “The president’s conduct yesterday was a betrayal of his office,” Barr said the day after the insurrectionist attack on the Capitol.

    A few months later, Barr sat down with ABC News’ Jonathan Karl and went a little further. Referring to Trump’s election conspiracy theories, the former attorney general said, “It was all bulls***.”

    The former president issued a hysterical written statement soon after, lashing out at Barr as a “spineless RINO” and a “disappointment in every sense of the word.”

    […] let’s not brush past the fact that when it comes to Barr and his credibility, the former attorney general is a poor messenger.

    Indeed, he may have no use for Trump’s election lies now, but in the recent past, Barr was only too pleased to peddle absurd election conspiracy theories of his own. […]

    On his way out the door, Barr even wrote an over-the-top resignation letter […] in which he celebrated the president he’s now denouncing.

    I can appreciate why the Republican lawyer is eager, if not desperate, to rehabilitate his image, but the fact remains that Barr went along with Trump’s dangerous nonsense until it no longer suited his purposes. […]

  12. says

    Thomas de Waal:

    “The resolution of the Ukraine question.” A mistakenly published Russian article gives us a chilling insight into the neo-imperialist thinking in Russia that drives Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine. A (long) THREAD….

    “…This is a Russian imperialist discourse: rejected at the end of the USSR, given respectability again under Putin in 2000 but still marginal. It entered Putin’s public speeches after seizure of Crimea—and now has entirely captured Putin’s world-view….”

  13. says

    Ukraine update: Russia is trying to offset incompetence with increased brutality

    Four days into Russia’s unjustified invasion of Ukraine, the world has united in sanctions against Russian financial systems, in freezing or seizing assets of Russian oligarchs outside of Russia, in denying Russian airlines the airspace to conduct flights, and in preventing Russian manufacturers from getting access to parts and supplies. All of this is vitally important.

    This highly connected, highly digital world is in the process of answering a question that may be among the most important ever asked: Is it possible to enact restrictions severe enough that they more than offset any possible gains to be made through a war of acquisition? We don’t yet know the answer to that question, but finding it may be a step toward ending war. Not this war. War.

    However, all of that does little to lessen the weight that currently rests on the Ukrainian people. They are actively engaged in defending their nation and their homes against a military that, for all the flaws revealed over the last week, is still massive and powerful.

    The execution of Ukraine proves conclusively that Vladimir Putin’s reputation for strategic genius was massively overrated. It also proves that the Russian military’s reputation for tactical execution was equally exaggerated.

    But the reputation for simple brutality remains intact. If anything, on Monday in Ukraine, that reputation is growing. […]

    a majority of Finn’s — 53% — now support joining NATO. This is a huge swing from the last poll in 2017, when only 19% of Finns supporting joining NATO.

  14. says

    Chrissy Stroop at OpenDemocracy – “Russia and the US have more in common than you might think”: “My experience of living and teaching in Moscow, and studying Russian history, reveals how many imperialist, conservative values they share….”

    Several years ago, I shared some of Stroop’s eye-opening articles about Russia’s efforts to build transnational rightwing Christian movements and institutions with Russia at the center and the participation of individuals, organizations, and churches from the US.

  15. says

    According to the New York Times, “At CPAC, Trump Misleads About Biden, a Russian Pipeline and Gas Prices”. By way of explanation, “The former president made inaccurate claims about his border wall, the Biden administration and a Russian pipeline, among other topics.”

    After a 2016 campaign full of lies and Russians, after four years of incompetence, pettiness, sociopathy, and more lies and more Russians, after a second campaign founded on and consisting of nothing but lies, and after more than a year of the biggest lie, undoubtedly buoyed by Russian trolls, the Times still cannot bring itself to call them “lies”. That is not a “paper of record”. That is a fish wrapper.

    This man lies like other people breathe, as does his rebranded party and its propaganda outlets. And their biggest lies threaten to deliver our democracy into the hands of a now fascist party. Calling his lies, his big lies, “inaccurate claims” or saying that he misleads is not journalism. It is high-school level cosplay at journalism. It is a fanciful, sterilized pretense at journalism meant to impress themselves with their own purity. It is a complete mismatch to the cold reality of our current circumstances.


  16. says

    Kremlin ‘sends 400+ mercenaries from private militia Wagner into Kyiv to assassinate Zelensky’

    More than 400 Russian mercenaries are operating in Kyiv with orders from the Kremlin to assassinate President Zelensky and his government and prepare the ground for Moscow to take control, The Times has learnt.

    The Wagner Group, a private militia run by one of President Putin’s closest allies and operating as an arm-length branch of the state, flew in mercenaries from Africa five weeks ago on a mission to decapitate Zelensky’s government in return for a handsome financial bonus.

    Information about their mission reached the Ukrainian government on Saturday morning and hours later Kyiv declared a 36-hour “hard” curfew to sweep the city for Russian saboteurs, warning civilians that they would be seen as Kremlin agents and risked being “liquidated” if they stepped outside.

    From an April 2020 article published by The Daily Beast:

    Erik Prince, founder of the private security company Blackwater and a Trump administration adviser, has recently attempted to cultivate a business relationship with a sanctioned Russian paramilitary organization called the Wagner Group, The Intercept reported on Monday. The Trump administration sanctioned Wagner in 2017 for having “recruited and sent soldiers to fight alongside [Russian-backed] separatists in eastern Ukraine” in 2014. “In my experience, the act of soliciting from a sanctioned party would indeed be an apparent violation,” Brian O’Toole, a former senior sanctions official at the Treasury Department, told The Intercept, adding that offering to do business with Wagner “would seem to be a fairly egregious thing to do.”

    Prince, who is Trump Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ brother, reportedly met face to face with a top official at Wagner to offer his mercenary forces in at least two ongoing African conflicts, according to The Intercept. Wagner officials reportedly turned him down. The semi-private Russian mercenary firm has been commissioned by the Russian government in a number of high-conflict areas, including Ukraine, Syria, and several African countries. The U.S. military previously killed dozens of Wagner mercenaries in defending a Syrian oil facility in 2018. “Wagner Group is an instrument of Russian policy. It works under the GRU, which is the Russian military intelligence,” Sean McFate, a former military contractor, told The Intercept.

  17. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    The EU has formally approved making available €500m to finance the provision of equipment and supplies to the Ukrainian Armed Forces, including – for the first time – lethal weapons, our Brussels bureau chief Daniel Boffey reports.

    EU member states have also approved a proposal to deny permission to land in, take off from or overfly their territories to any aircraft operated by Russian air carriers, including as a marketing carrier, or to any Russian registered aircraft, or to non-Russian registered aircraft which are owned or chartered, or otherwise controlled by a Russian legal or natural person.

    Finally, it will be prohibited to make transactions with the Russian Central Bank or any legal person, entity or body acting on behalf or at the direction of the Russian Central Bank.

    Large explosions have been heard in Kyiv, according to reports.

    Air raid sirens have also been reported across the Ukrainian capital.

    Ukraine’s prime minister Denys Shmyhal has shared a photograph of president Volodymyr Zelenskiy formally asking to join the European Union.

    Ukraine has demanded that Russia be expelled from the International Police Criminal Organisation, commonly known as Interpol, accusing it of abusing the organisation and using it to target political opponents worldwide and in Ukraine, the Guardian’s Ruth Michaelson writes.

    Interpol is a supranational police force focused on information-sharing among its 195 member states, primarily through its red notice system intended to alert member nations about the cross-border movement of criminals.

    In recent years it has increasingly drawn criticism for abuse of the red notice system by oppressive regimes including Russia, where anti-democratic nations using it to flag political dissidents in exile or escaping abuse rather than those proven to commit crimes.

    It is unclear how the process to expel a member state from Interpol’s general secretariat could work, or whether a similar action has ever been taken before.

    Currently only North Korea is the only large country that is a member of the United Nations but not part of Interpol.

    Taiwan has long campaigned to be readmitted to Interpol, after it was forced to withdraw from the organisation when China became a member in 1984.

    Russian forces could become more aggressive and try to encircle Kyiv in the coming days, Reuters quotes a senior US defence official as saying.

    The official told reporters that Russian troops were about 16 miles from Kyiv’s city centre.

    The official, who was speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the US believes stiff Ukrainian resistance has slowed the progress of Russian troops and planning failures have left some Russian units without fuel or other supplies.

    One of the things that could result is a reevaluation of their tactics and the potential for them to be more aggressive and more overt, in both the size and scale of their targeting of Kyiv.

  18. says

    ‘Overt white supremacy’ called out in coverage of Ukraine victims with ‘blue eyes and blonde hair’

    If you’ve been gathering proof that white supremacy drives western media coverage of international affairs, look no further than coverage of the Russian invasion into Ukraine. Charlie D’Agata, a CBS News senior correspondent in Kyiv, described Ukrainian citizens hiding in bomb shelters and tens of thousands of people trying to flee the city of Kyiv on Friday. Those people have been getting nonstop media coverage since Russian military forces launched a major attack on Ukraine on Thursday, but by activists’ estimates, they likely would’ve been ignored completely if they were Black, brown, or Muslim.

    D’Agata’s synopsis of the attack seemed to lend evidence to that estimation. “But this isn’t a place—with all due respect—like Iraq or Afghanistan that has seen conflict raging for decades,” D’Agata said of Ukraine. “You know, this is a relatively civilized, relatively European—I have to choose those words carefully, too—city where you wouldn’t expect that, or hope that it’s going to happen.”

    Saad Mohseni, director of the media company Moby Media Group in Afghanistan, called the statement “utterly stupid and ill informed” in a tweet on Saturday. “Afghanistan was also a peaceful and ‘civilised’ place in 1979 before the Soviets invaded (and became the battle zone between the West and Soviet block),” Mohseni tweeted. “Ditto for Iraq (before the American attack in 2003).”

    Human rights lawyer Qasim Rashid called the CBS correspondent’s response “overt white supremacy,” an “absolutely disgusting dehumanization of people of color.”

    “White supremacy,” Rashid wrote, “is when Europe has launched two World Wars in the last century but it’s Iraq & Afghanistan—two nations relentlessly bombed by western & European nations for 40 years—that are ‘uncivilized.’ This is how media dehumanizes BIPOC & normalizes white supremacy.” […]

    Of course, D’Agata responded to criticism about the racist rhetoric with an apology.

    “I spoke in a way that I regret, and for that I’m sorry,” he said. “What I’d hope to convey is that what’s unique about the fighting underway here is that this country has not really seen this scale of war in recent years unlike some conflicts in countries I’ve covered that have tragically suffered through many years of fighting.

    “You should never compare conflicts anyway. Each one is unique. I’ve dedicated much of my career to telling the story of suffering through any of these wars, wherever they may be. I used a poor choice of words, and I apologize for any offense I may have caused.”

    Oh, how I wish this were simply about one journalist’s poor choice of words. It just is not.

    Author Alan Macleod posted tweet after tweet of journalists and politicians alike reinforcing the same double standard, with empathy seemingly bestowed according to skin color.

    David Sakvarelidze, Ukraine’s deputy chief prosecutor, said on BBC: “It’s really emotional for me because I see European people with blue eyes and blonde hair being killed.” […]

    Journalist Peter Dobbie used these words to describe Ukrainian refugees on Al Jazeera: “What’s compelling is looking at them, the way they are dressed. These are prosperous, middle-class people. These are not obviously refugees trying to get away from the Middle East … or North Africa. They look like any European family that you’d live next door to.” […]

    In a column for The Telegraph, dubbed “Vladimir Putin’s monstrous invasion is an attack on civilisation itself,” Daniel Hannan wrote of Ukrainian victims: “They seem so like us. That is what makes it so shocking. Ukraine is a European country. Its people watch Netflix and have Instagram accounts, vote in free elections and read uncensored newspapers. War is no longer something visited upon impoverished and remote populations. It can happen to anyone.” […]

    Social media users didn’t hesitate to bring to international attention just how many of those “impoverished” populations became “impoverished.” In a phrase: Western interference.

    When Paul Massaro, countercorruption adviser to Congress, tweeted that he was “racking” his brain “for a historical parallel to the courage and fighting spirit of the Ukrainians and coming up empty,” activist Stanley Cohen responded: “Ever heard of Palestine? It has only been 74 years.” […]

    More at the link, including several video snippets.

  19. says

    Yahoo! Sports – “FIFA will ban Russia from World Cup amid war in Ukraine, per reports”:

    Russia will be barred from the 2022 men’s World Cup and other major international sports competitions after FIFA and the International Olympic Committee strengthened their responses to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to multiple reports.

    Reuters, the New York Times and others reported Monday that FIFA, soccer’s global governing body, will ban Russia’s national teams from all competitions indefinitely. The suspension will remove Russia from next month’s World Cup qualifying playoffs, and end its hopes of earning a berth at this year’s tournament.

    FIFA’s decision, which is expected to be formalized Monday night, will come hours after the IOC’s executive board recommended that sports federations and event organizers “not invite or allow the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials in international competitions.” (Belarus has supported the Russian invasion.)

    UEFA, soccer’s European governing body, will reportedly join FIFA in enforcing the ban. UEFA officials held an emergency meeting Monday night, and could also ban Russia from this summer’s women’s European Championships.

    Russia’s men’s national team was scheduled to play Poland in a World Cup qualifying playoff semifinal on March 24. Following last week’s invasion, the Polish national team — players and executives — announced that they would refuse to play the match. Sweden and the Czech Republic, who would meet the Russia-Poland winner with a World Cup spot on the line, also said they would not play Russia….

  20. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Talks between Ukraine and Russia that took place earlier today were “very difficult”, Ukrainian presidential advisor Mykhailo Podolyak said.

    Podolyak described the Russian side as “extremely biased”.

  21. says

    Per the Guardian liveblog, the FIFA/UEFA news has been confirmed by UEFA:

    Football is fully united here and in full solidarity with all the people affected in Ukraine.

    Both Presidents hope that the situation in Ukraine will improve significantly and rapidly so that football can again be a vector for unity and peace amongst people.

  22. blf says

    An amusing snippet from What I learned about Russia and sanctions from eating cheese with an oligarch:

    In 2017, I went to Moscow to see the [food] empire of Russian billionaire Arkadiy Novikov. […]
    The EU sanctions against Russia, launched in 2014 in response to its annexation of Crimea, never included food. […]

    Novikov, meanwhile, was trying to make sure the international tensions didn’t inconvenience the discerning palate, by recreating European charcuterie and cheeses. He had French and Swiss chefs holed up in cavernous factories that shone like laboratories, making chorizo, mozzarella, feta and brie, with a restaurant attached serving only cheese. Sometimes with a pizza or a salad underneath it, but basically cheese.

    I didn’t give a huge amount of thought to the politics behind it, since it was a very elite market, and didn’t seem to touch the lives of the ordinary citizen. Wages and living standards were falling — this stuff was all terrifically expensive. It seemed like a frippery. I did, however, think a lot about the cheese, which made no sense. They had money, time, expertise, raw materials, and yet they couldn’t get a mozzarella to taste like mozzarella; instead, they had these hard little balls of solid texture, with nothing like that unique journey from stringy exterior to squidgy middle. The feta tasted more like Georgian cheese than anything Greek (Georgian cheese is wonderful, actually, but it’s not the same). The “brie” resembled brie only insofar as it was round. I was too polite to ask how on earth it had all gone so wrong, and arrived privately at two broad conclusions: first, that centuries of knowledge are embedded in something greater than a single cheesemaker, and no one alone can recreate them; second, that Russian cows must be wired differently.

    The mildly deranged penguin says it sounds like Novikov is manufacturing a variant of British Industrial Cheddar — something that looks almost, but not quite, like a cheese you remember from long and tastes like nothing you remember or would ever want to eat again, with the appearance, feel, and texture of something found only in the depths of seriously ill neutron stars.

  23. lumipuna says

    A new poll in Finland suggests majority support for joining NATO, a strong increase from previous polls.

    Link in Finnish

    In other news, various businesses and organizations in Finland are boycotting the Russian-owned gas station chain Teboil. This is deemed unfair by Finnish Teboil franchisers who complain they aren’t that much involved with Russia:

    “We haven’t driven a tank anywhere, and we didn’t even fill up a tank”

    (The quote is from here here. In this translation, I took the opportunity of a wordplay that isn’t present in the Finnish original.)

  24. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Russia’s stock market will remain closed on Tuesday, Russia’s central bank has confirmed.

    Russia’s central bank initially delayed trading on Moscow’s stock exchange on Monday until at least 3pm local time, before saying it would stay closed all day. It has now said trading will not resume on 1 March.

    Ukraine’s defence minister Oleksii Reznikov has appealed directly to Russian soldiers fighting in Ukraine, saying they would receive full amnesty and monetary compensation if they voluntarily laid down their weapons.

    In a Twitter, Reznikov writes:

    Those of you who do not want to become a murderer and die can save yourselves

  25. says

    Ben Collins:

    Quick thread:

    I want you all to meet Vladimir Bondarenko.

    He’s a blogger from Kiev who really hates the Ukrainian government.

    He also doesn’t exist, according to Facebook.

    He’s an invention of a Russian troll farm targeting Ukraine. His face was made by AI….

    Thread and link to full article at the link.

  26. says

    Bloody hell. Looking at a message from the Ukraine Library Association concerning the cancellation of their forthcoming conference. it basically says ‘We will reschedule just as soon as we have finished vanquishing our invaders’. Ukrainian Librarians, I salute you”

  27. says

    Julia Davis:

    #Russia’s state TV: “Biden said that the goal of Putin’s “military operation” is to restore the Soviet Union. As though there’s anything wrong with that!”

    I never cease to be amazed at their dystopian set (pictured at the link).

  28. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 35

    Yes, a restored Soviet Union, only this time with billionaires and religion and everything thing Bolsheviks (rightly) revolted against back in the early 20th Century. .

  29. says

    Jim Sciutto:

    A headline to make the oligarchs shudder:

    #NEWS: Monaco to freeze assets & impose sanctions on Russians

    Prince Albert said Monaco has “adopted & implemented without delay procedures for the freezing of funds & economic sanctions identical to those taken by most Euro States.”

  30. says

    Akira MacKenzie @ #37, I had forgotten it from the book but like this description of their aims (from #344 in the previous chapter): “Both Dugin and Prokhanov viewed an independent Ukraine as an existential threat to their goal, which Timothy Snyder, in his 2018 book The Road to Unfreedom, describes as ‘a desire for the return of Soviet power in fascist form’.”

  31. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Facebook and Instagram are blocking access to Russian state media outlets across the European Union, the social media parent company Meta, has announced.

    Nick Clegg, the company’s head of global affairs, said it had received requests from multiple governments and the EU to take steps against state-controlled Russian media outlets RT and Sputnik:

    We have received requests from a number of Governments and the EU to take further steps in relation to Russian state controlled media. Given the exceptional nature of the current situation, we will be restricting access to RT and Sputnik across the EU at this time.

  32. says

    Meduza liveblog:

    Ukraine’s Defense Ministry offers full amnesty and financial compensation to Russian soldiers

    In a statement posted on social media, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry appealed to Russian soldiers to surrender, offering a full amnesty and monetary compensation.

    “We offer Russian soldiers a choice: to die in an unjust war or a full amnesty and five million rubles [nearly $46,000] in compensation. If they lay down their arms and surrender voluntarily,” Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said in a Facebook post, written in Ukrainian, Russian, and English.

  33. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Ukraine opens to foreigners willing to fight

    Ukraine’s president is temporarily lifting the requirement for entry visas for any foreigner willing to join Ukraine’s International Defense Legion and fight on Ukraine’s side against invading Russian troops, the AP reports.

    Volorymyr Zelenskyy’s decree takes effect Tuesday and will remain in effect as long as martial law is in place.

    The call for for foreign volunteers comes after Russian forces launched rocket attacks that killed “dozens” of civilians in Kharkiv and renewed its attack on the capital Kyiv.

  34. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 39

    I just might have to add that title to my reading list… if we don’t all die in radioactive fire, that is.

  35. says

    Putin Starting to Worry About His Strategy After Trump Calls Him Smart

    The link above is to a humor/satire piece in the New Yorker.

    Vladimir Putin has become “deeply worried” about his strategy after learning that Donald J. Trump called him smart, Kremlin sources have revealed.

    After Trump praised Putin Saturday night at the Conservative Political Action Conference, in Orlando, the Russian foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, reluctantly shared a video of the disturbing moment with the Russian President.

    “As Putin watched Trump call him smart, all the blood drained from his face,” a source said. “He was clearly shaken.”

    After watching the video of Trump, Putin spent a sleepless night in consultation with Russian military and intelligence officials to determine where and how he had gone wrong.

    “He’s rethinking everything now, and he’s in a very fragile state of mind,” the source said. “If it comes out that Don, Jr., or Eric thinks he’s smart, that could break him.”

    Meanwhile, Donald J. Trump doubled down on his support for the Russian President, offering Putin advice on declaring Russia bankrupt.

  36. says

    From Steve Benen:

    I’m not sure the folks who’ve been talking up a no-fly zone have fully thought through the implications: “Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, told NBC News he supports the Biden administration’s decision not to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine. ‘It would invariably require our aircraft to come into contact with Russian aircraft. The possibility of miscalculation or deliberate confrontation would be very serious,’ Reed said on Monday.”

  37. says

    NBC News:

    Climate change is no longer a far-off threat — it’s an ongoing disaster that is already endangering humans and natural environments around the world, according to an urgent new report from the United Nations that says the world is running out of time to stave off the most devastating consequences of global warming.

    The report, released Monday by the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, outlines the increasing risk that climate change poses to human health, infrastructure, the stability of food and water resources and the biodiversity of the planet’s ecosystems.

  38. says

    Followup to comment 49.

    New York Times:

    Members of the Supreme Court’s conservative majority on Monday questioned the scope of the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate carbon emissions from power plants, suggesting that the court could deal a sharp blow to the Biden administration’s efforts to address climate change.

  39. says

    […] The myth of the Russian Bear, mighty and powerful. Look at Russian history: They don’t really win wars tactically, so much as pile enough dead Russian bodies in front of enemy machine guns that they overwhelm their foes. Russia is enormous. It has a lot of people to throw into the wood chipper. The myth was so pervasive, you even had Americans like Ted Cruz fall for them. Conservatives swooned over bare-chested Vladimir Putin on horseback. A whole wing of the Republican Party is still defending Putin, a “grizzly bear,” raaaawr!

    We saw the same thing with the announcement of the feared Chechens, and they certainly looked the part! And yet now, outside of their home territory where they’ve built their myth of invincibility, those Russian and Chechen forces are getting the metaphorical arrows to the face. Ted Cruz’s “non-woke” masculine Russians actually look like this: [video of a young, captured Russian soldier bring in Sumy, Ukraine as residents condemn him. The young soldier is crying.]

    Meanwhile, Ukraine is building its own myths. There’s Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who has been out in the streets of Kyiv personally overseeing the defense of his capital. When offered a ride out of Dodge, he answered, “I need ammunition, not a ride.” Note that no one saw or heard or taped him saying that. An American official reported it. Might not even be real! But it builds myth. I’ve written about the Sunflower Babushka, the Melitopol Dedushka, the guy who offered to tow a stuck Russian tank back to Russia, and the defenders of Snake Island (who might actually be alive and now POWs). There’s the Ukrainian soldier with an NLAW on his shoulder strutting casually into a fierce ongoing firefight, and the celebration of women taking up arms, including the country’s Miss Ukraine. And then there’s the legion of videos of confident shit-talking Ukrainians, warning Russians of what’s about to befall them. [videos available at the link] […]


  40. says

    Russian Oligarchs breaking away from Putin?

    Threats of severe economic sanctions were not enough to deter Vladimir Putin from invading Ukraine. But the enactment of those penalties by the United States and other Ukraine allies has exacted an enormous cost on the Russian economy, bringing its financial system to the brink of disaster and augmenting pressure on the country’s increasingly isolated authoritarian leader. Russia’s economy was already reeling from the swift punishments world leaders imposed following last Thursday’s attack: The country began suffering cash shortages, the ruble went into free fall, and at least two oligarchs—who have been targeted by sanctions, along with their families—called for an end to the conflict, even if they didn’t explicitly call out Putin. “Peace is very important!” Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska said in a social media post Sunday. “Negotiations need to start as soon as possible!”

    Vanity Fair link

    From UK Independent:

    Top Russian billionaires Mikhail Fridman and Oleg Deripaska openly denounced Moscow’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, while businessman Anatoly Chubays posted a photo of a murdered Vladimir Putin critic without any caption.

  41. says

    New episode of the War on the Rocks podcast – “Interpreting the First Few Days of the Russo-Ukrainian War”:

    People all over the world are watching Russia’s assault on Ukraine unfold in real time through social media, giving us a gritty and vivid view of 21st-century combat. But how complete of a picture does this give us? How is the war actually unfolding? Why has Russia seemingly stumbled in the first few days of its invasion? Does this mean Ukraine can hold out? Michael Kofman of CNA sat down with Ryan to give some preliminary answers to these questions….

    25 minutes long. A sober view of the current moment. (I’d maybe take issue with some aspects of it from a social scientific perspective…)

  42. says

    NEW: ‘We’ve never seen a full-scale war in a country that operates nuclear facilities. You can’t just decide to shut them down’. As fighting closes in on the largest of Ukraine’s functioning nuclear plants, experts warn of serious risks.”

    WaPo link at the link.

  43. says

    Multinational corporations are fleeing Russia.


    Large multinational companies are fleeing Russia, joining a large swath of the international community in moving to isolate the nation in response to its brutal invasion of Ukraine.

    Oil and gas giants BP and Shell announced they are leaving Russia after spending decades making investments worth billions of dollars in the country, while several U.S. companies are halting all shipments to Russia.

    The exodus is expected to continue as more businesses weigh the reputational and financial risks of doing business with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Experts say that if energy firms are willing to forfeit huge sums by pulling out of Russia, industries with much less to lose will soon follow suit.

    […] These decisions are driven in part by enormous public pressure to disown the Russian government and also by the sweeping sanctions imposed by the U.S. and its allies that severely complicate companies’ ability to do business with Russian entities.

    Shell on Monday said that it will abandon stakes in Russian state-owned energy projects that are worth roughly $3 billion. The Dutch company noted that the move will hurt the value of its assets and “lead to impairments.”

    […] That announcement came after BP, a longtime defender of Putin, said it would desert its 20 percent stake in Russian state-owned energy firm Rosneft. The move could cost BP as much as $25 billion if the oil giant is forced to write off the investment, as selling it could prove difficult under strict sanctions.

    “Russia’s attack on Ukraine is an act of aggression which is having tragic consequences across the region,” BP Chairman Helge Lund said in a statement. “BP has operated in Russia for over 30 years, working with brilliant Russian colleagues. However, this military action represents a fundamental change.”

    […] American shipping companies FedEx and UPS said they would temporarily suspend all shipments to both countries, while Germany’s DHL said it would pause some services to Russia and Ukraine, citing security concerns.

    Ocean carrier Maersk said Monday that it might suspend shipments to and from Russia, a move that would further cut the nation off from international trade. The Danish shipping giant said that it was monitoring the security situation in Ukraine and “preparing to comply with the ever-evolving sanctions and restrictions imposed against Russia.”

    […] In response to the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine, the U.S. and its allies froze roughly $630 billion in Russian central bank assets being held abroad, blocked fundraising for Russian state-owned entities and cut some Russian banks out of the SWIFT international payments system. The U.S. blocked Russian state-owned banks from accessing the U.S. dollar and imposed export controls that prevent Russia from obtaining computer chips and other technologies.

    In just a matter of days, the sanctions have brought the Russian economy to the brink of collapse. The Russian ruble was worth less than 1 cent as of Monday afternoon, giving businesses yet another reason to pull out of the country.

    […] A small number of U.S. companies would face challenges if they’re cut off from Russia. Boeing has long relied on Russian titanium to build its planes but has insisted it can get materials from other countries. Both PepsiCo and McDonald’s get around 4 percent of their sales from Russia and Ukraine.

    But others have already acted. Dell Technologies said that it is freezing computer sales to Russia, and Delta Air Lines suspended its ticket-buying partnership with Russian airline Aeroflot, which has since been banned from flying to much of Europe.

    […] Other American companies are actively supporting Ukraine as the nation fends off Russian attackers. Airbnb said it would provide free, short-term housing to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees, while Google, Meta and Twitter have blocked Russian state-owned entities from promoting their content in Ukraine.

  44. says

    From WIRED magazine:

    […] Volunteers have also flocked to join a Ukrainian volunteer “IT Army” that’s fighting back online.

    At around 9 pm local time on February 26, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister and minister for digital transformation, Mykhailo Fedorov, announced the creation of the volunteer cyber army. “We have a lot of talented Ukrainians in the digital sphere: developers, cyber specialists, designers, copywriters, marketers,” he said in a post on his official Telegram channel. “We continue to fight on the cyber front.”

    Ukraine has seen other volunteer-organized cyberdefense and attack efforts leading up to and early in the war effort. Separately hacktivists, including the hacking group Anonymous, have claimed DDoS attacks against Russian targets and taken data from Belarusian weapons manufacturer Tetraedr. But the development of the IT Army, a government-led volunteer unit that’s designed to operate in the middle of a fast-moving war zone, is without precedent.

    The IT Army’s tasks are being assigned to volunteers through a separate Telegram channel, Fedorov said in his announcement. So far more than 175,000 people have subscribed […] and multiple tasks have been dished out. The channel’s administrators, for instance, asked subscribers to launch distributed denial of service attacks against more than 25 Russian websites. These included Russian infrastructure businesses, such as energy giant Gazprom, the country’s banks, and official government websites. Websites belonging to the Russian Ministry of Defense, the Kremlin, and communications regulator Roskomnadzor were also listed as potential targets. Russian news websites followed.

    Since then the IT Army channel has expanded its scope. On February 27, it asked volunteers to target websites registered in Belarus, one of Russia’s key allies. The channel has also told subscribers to report YouTube channels that allegedly “openly lie about the war in Ukraine.”

    One former Ukrainian official who has knowledge of the IT Army’s organization says it was formed as a way for Ukraine to hit back against Russian cyberattacks. Russia has significant hacking capabilities: Wiper attacks hit a Ukrainian bank in the buildup to the invasion, and government websites were knocked offline. “Our country didn’t have any forces or intentions to attack anyone. Therefore, we made a call,” the former Ukrainian official says. “We already know that they are quite good at cyberattacks. But now we will find out how good they are in cyberdefense,” the former official says.

    […] The impact of the IT Army is hard to gauge thus far. […] While many nations around the world have offensive hacking capabilities, these are mostly shrouded in secrecy and run by intelligence agencies or military units. The IT Army will likely instead take on defensive tasks to free up Ukraine’s government hackers. […]

    The challenge now will be to effectively corral those newfound resources. The former Ukrainian official says the IT Army is being coordinated through a Telegram channel as it is an easy way to broadcast messages to thousands of people at once. They say those working on the IT Army behind the scenes are doing so in more-secure messaging services, although they decline to say which ones. “We are trying to use any help to protect our country and people,” they say.

    “Managing the organization and logistics is a challenge in itself,” says Lukasz Olejnik, an independent cybersecurity researcher and consultant who previously acted as a cyberwarfare adviser at the International Committee of the Red Cross. He says there are questions around how to vet volunteers, distribute targets, and avoid infiltration. […]

    It will also be important for the group to avoid any misfires. Launching more sophisticated cyberattacks—such as a worm, which can self-propagate from one system to the next—would also risk spillover incidents, where the impact of a cyberattack goes well beyond its intended target. […] caution applies as well, and perhaps even more so, to independent hacktivist groups like Anonymous, which has vocally joined the fray. Russia-based ransomware group Conti has said it would use its “full capacity” to retaliate if the West attempted to target critical infrastructure in Russian or “any Russian-speaking region of the world.”

    […] Volunteers were asked how many years’ experience they have in 12 specific areas, ranging from open source intelligence gathering and social engineering to malware development and DDoS operations. Those signing up were also asked to provide the name of a trusted reference who could vouch for their credibility.

    Tim Stevens, a senior lecturer in global security at King’s College London, says “the gloves are off” for both Russia and Ukraine. He warns that when it comes to cyberattacks there are a lot of unknown and hypothetical scenarios, but warns about the potential of escalation. “What concerns me is if there are non-Ukranians and Russians involved in this, because that is effectively an internationalization of the cyber aspect of this conflict and could be treated by either combatant as a de facto escalation of the conflict beyond Ukraine’s borders.”

    But for the Ukrainians involved in the IT Army’s efforts, it’s all part of a broader push across the country to do whatever it takes to fend off an existential threat. “If Ukraine falls, and they didn’t do everything possible to stop that,” says Williams, “why would you leave anything on the table?”


  45. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Ukraine has received donated Starlink satellite internet terminals from SpaceX.

    “Starlink here. Thanks, @elonmusk,” Ukraine’s vice prime minister, Mykhailo Fedorov, tweeted, days after asking SpaceX’s billionaire chief executive officer Elon Musk for help.

    The terminals look like home satellite television dishes and can provide relatively fast internet service, by residential standards, by connecting to a fleet of satellites in low orbit.

    Fedorov’s tweet included a picture of the back of a military-looking truck, loaded with terminals.

    Musk tweeted back, “You are most welcome”.

  46. says

    Cultural resistance:

    This morning, the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow posted to insta a carefully worded text about current events to which “no one can remain indifferent.” The accompanying image features Vereshchagin’s “The Apotheosis of War” (1871) – dedicated to “conquerers past, present, & to come!”

    The painting was inspired by the tsarist empire’s brutal conquest of Central Asia & Vereshchagin’s anti-war message caused a scandal when it was exhibited. A little culture study as the world tries to sort through not only what is in Putin’s head, but what Russians are thinking.

    Image of the incredible painting at the link. Incidentally, from Vereshchagin’s WP entry: “In the Paris Salon of 1866, Vereshchagin exhibited a drawing of Dukhobors chanting their Psalms.” One of the people centrally involved with helping the Dukhobors emigrate to Canada was one of my personal heroes, Peter Kropotkin.

  47. says

    Kate Hartmann:

    The Wyoming Senate has voted 16 to 14 to eliminate the U. of Wyoming Gender Studies program. (Bill below). This will not only eliminate not only the gender studies department, but also courses and non-academic programs related to gender.

    Please re-tweet to amplify and stop this

    This is an unlawful government overreach and attack on academic freedom that would affect 30 academic programs and 105 courses, and limit the ability of students to learn about the many ways gender affects our past, present, and future

    The bill is vague enough that it’s almost unenforceable, but also I’m sure that’s the point.

    It’s meant to cast a chill over faculty speech so that we’re afraid to teach the reality that gender is complex, historically contextualized, and inevitably part of any honest interrogation of our past and present.

    What am I supposed to do as someone who teaches the history of Buddhism and other world religions to undergraduate students? Not discuss gender? Pretend it doesn’t exist? Or pretend that gender was something that mattered in the past but no longer matters today?

    Or perhaps, to give the legislature credit it doesn’t deserve, I should teach gender in a way that is “unbiased” or “neutral”? What does that even mean?

    Senator Cheri Steinmetz, who brought the amendment forward, was disturbed by descriptions of course goals that alarmed her. Those included “to gain knowledge on multiple forms of oppression and marginalization”…

    … “to understand historical and contemporary context in which women, queer and gender nonconforming individuals have exercised their agency”; or “to translate feminist and social justice theories into service and activism.”

    Those seem… good???

    Our past and present DO contain oppression (and not only of women), people who are marginalized DO exercise agency, and I’d be PROUD of students who go on to do service or activism work promoting equality.

    Meanwhile, even our students who don’t go on to study or work on gender in any professional way should be equipped to understand how gender affects our world.

    Healthcare workers should understand how gender affects treatment, teachers should understand how gender affects education, parents should understand how gender affects household labor + child development…heck, even business majors should understand how gender affects marketing

    Some people would like you to believe that gender studies is somehow hateful or anti-man. But the majority of people in gender studies that I know want to understand where we’ve come from, and create a shared future that benefits women, men, and gender non-conforming people

    Some people would like you to believe that rogue profs are indoctrinating students with crazy nonsense. But the university has rules and procedures governing what gets taught and how. Trust me, nothing too radical is getting passed by our curriculum committee. [:/]

    But these decisions about what gets taught are made by the university, and specifically by the faculty.

    This is not something for politicians (who by the way never reached out to anyone in gender studies) to decide.

    Imagine a future where the legislature votes against the University teaching biology because evolution is taught, religious studies because non-Christian religions are taught, or against economics because capitalism is taught [LOL]?

    I don’t want to live in that world.

    I haven’t seen any national coverage of this yet. I hope that if enough people see this, it will be blocked….

  48. says

    Here’s a link to today’s Guardian Ukraine liveblog. From there:

    Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has given a powerful address to the European parliament via videolink.

    Sitting in front of the country’s flag, he said today would be the last for some of his citizens who were defending the country.

    Ukraine, he said, was paying a very high price for European ideals: “Thousands of people killed, two revolutions, one war and five days of full-scale invasion”.

    He said:

    I am not reading from a script, because the phase of scripts for Ukraine has ended.

    Now we are dealing with death, real life, he said.

    Zelenskiy said Ukraine was giving lives in order to have be as “equal as you are”.

    We are giving away our best people, the strongest ones, the most value based ones.

    He said he was speaking between bombardments and that in the morning two missile strikes had hit Freedom Square in Kharkiv, a city close to Russia and with longstanding friendly ties.

    We have a desire to see our children alive, I think it is a fair one. We are fighting for survival. We are fighting to be equal members of Europe.

    We are exactly the same as you are. So do prove that you are with us. Do prove that you are indeed Europeans and then life will win over death and light will win over darkness. Glory be to Ukraine.

    Numerous diplomats staged a walk-out as Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, addressed the UN human rights council, after a similar boycott of his speech at the nearby Conference on Disarmament.

    The diplomats, including from France and the UK, filed out of the room when Lavrov’s pre-recorded video message began to play, in protest against Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

    The Ukrainian ambassador Yevheniia Filipenko, who led the walkout, told the crowd:

    Thank you very much for this wonderful show of support to Ukrainians who are fighting for their independence.

  49. says

    More from the Guardian liveblog:

    A second round of talks between Russia and Ukraine has been scheduled for tomorrow, the Russian state news agency Tass has cited a source on the Russian side as saying….

    Russian defence ministry warns Kyiv residents to leave

    Russia’s defence ministry is warning residents in Kyiv to leave their homes as it plans to strike targets in the Ukrainian capital, Russian state news agency Tass is reporting.

    In a statement issued on Tuesday afternoon, the defence ministry says Russian forces are preparing to launch “high-precision strikes” against the “Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) and the 72nd Center for Information and Psychological Operations (PSO)“ in Kyiv.

    We urge Ukrainian citizens involved by Ukrainian nationalists in provocations against Russia, as well as Kiev residents living near relay stations, to leave their homes.

  50. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    The president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, gave a passionate speech in the European parliament in which she outlined the bloc’s commitment to stopping Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

    She announced that for the first time ever, they are using the European budget ‘to purchase and deliver military equipment to a country that is under attack’ in a €500m pledge and an additional €500m for humanitarian aid.

    She said the EU would ‘never accept’ the takeover of Ukraine and Putin’s actions had only served to make members more united.

  51. says

    Dmitry Medvedev tweeted: “Today, some French minister has said that they declared an economic war on Russia. Watch your tongue, gentlemen! And don’t forget that in human history, economic wars quite often turned into real ones”

  52. says

    Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya: “The Belarus resistance to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine & their troops in our country continues. BYPOL initiative informs about multiple cases when Belarusian partisans block the roads & disrupt the railway system in our country – to stop movement of trains with military vehicles.”

  53. says

    As the crisis in Ukraine continues, Biden quietly gets it right

    There’s a clear disconnect between how President Biden is handling the crisis in Ukraine and how most Americans think he’s handling the crisis in Ukraine.

    […] A national Quinnipiac poll, released yesterday, also found that only 39 percent of the public approves of how the president is handling the crisis in Ukraine.

    On the surface, this shouldn’t come as too big a surprise to anyone. Biden’s Republican critics spent much of last week divided on foreign policy, but united in their condemnations of the White House. The GOP’s most prominent voices told anyone who’d listen that Biden’s response to the crisis was “weak” — even though that didn’t make any sense, and even though Republicans struggled to explain what it was about the American president’s policy they didn’t like.

    Nevertheless, the political effects of the public-relations offensive were predictable: The public was told repeatedly that the White House was handling a crisis poorly, and Democrats were slow to mount much of a counteroffensive. […]

    Politico had a good report yesterday noting the efficacy of the Democrat’s approach.

    It was Biden and his team’s patience and close consultation with European allies that has led to the extraordinary unity now on display. Biden’s patience waiting to impose sanctions until after the invasion, even in the face of intense criticism, has been vindicated…. Biden said that Germany would abandon the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline if Putin attacked and he was right, because he had been engaged in quiet diplomacy on the issue all along. Biden’s surging of forces into NATO countries pushed other countries to do the same. Biden’s leadership on sanctions helped reluctant allies follow along. All of it was done without shaming and finger pointing.

    I agree with that last paragraph above.

    The report added, “There’s a lot of pride right now among Democrats in how Biden has handled the crisis so far.”

    The Atlantic’s Ron Brownstein sounded a related note, explaining late last week, “Now in the Ukraine crisis, a wide variety of foreign-policy experts agree, the Biden on display looks more like the version he promised 2020 voters: a senior statesman coordinating a unified Western response against an autocratic threat to the global order.”

    The Bulwark’s Jonathan Last offered similar praise for Biden’s efforts yesterday:

    He simultaneously worked — quietly — with NATO and the EU to achieve a larger consensus than there has been on any military matter before the alliance since … well, let’s call it a generation. Biden did not draw lines in the sand. He did not personalize the conflict. He did not turn himself into the star of the show. He did not allow anyone, anywhere, to believe that this was about America…. The West is stronger because of the actions of the Biden administration and Russia is weaker because of them.

    Last added that the developments that have unfolded over the last month represent the United States’ “best showing in foreign policy in a generation, and this with a president playing a weak hand in a crisis forced on the country. It would be nice if Biden got some credit for this from the public. He’s only making it look easy.”

    Circling back to our earlier coverage, it’s getting harder to understand what the White House’s Republican detractors are complaining about. The Democratic president has helped rally our international partners and strengthened our alliances. Biden has also kept Putin off-balance by telegraphing the Russian leader’s every move. The American president has also imposed sanctions — while coordinating similar sanctions among allies — that are already having an effect in Russia.

    Polls notwithstanding, the White House’s policy has been the right one.

    I think some of the rightwing complaints are stemming from the fact that Biden didn’t posture as a “strongman” who would send military assets to bomb Russians. The rightwing complaints are, for the most part, overly simplified and ignorant.

  54. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Five people were killed and five others wounded after Russian forces attacked a TV tower in Kyiv, the Interfax news agency is reporting.

    Signal has reportedly been restored to Ukraine’s TV channels.

  55. says

    From the latest Meduza liveblog summary (link @ #2 above):

    Avoiding a meltdown: Russia’s prime minister announced that the federal government is temporarily banning foreign investors from exiting Russian investments.

    Civilian targets: An airstrike against Kharkiv’s central square caused major destruction and injured at least 20 people. In a national address, President Zelensky later called the attack a “war crime” and an act of “state terrorism” by Russia. Also, the investigative news outlet Bellingcat published research arguing that Russia is using cluster bombs (a type of weapon that deploys a large number of smaller sub-munitions over a target) in civilian areas, including around schools and hospitals. The Russian military denies these allegations.

    RT’s social-media collapse: YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Microsoft, and TikTok all banned the accounts of the Russian state-funded media outlets Russia Today and Sputnik across Europe. In Russia, meanwhile, Roskomnadzor announced that it is again throttling the speed of Twitter because of unverified information pertaining to Russia’s “special military operation” (war) in Ukraine.

    Sports are over: The International Skating Union has banned competitors from Russia and Belarus from participating in its international events until further notice. Also, the International Volleyball Federation stripped Russia of hosting the Volleyball World Championships in August and September. In Moscow, the soccer team FC Dynamo terminated its contract with assistant coach Andriy Voronin, a Ukrainian national.

    More companies pull out of Russia: Harley-Davidson, Volvo, and General Motors have suspended all deliveries to Russia. Canada will become the first country in the world to ban the import of Russian crude oil. Netflix says it will not comply with a new law in Russia that requires it to carry content from 20 free-to-air Russian news, sports, and entertainment television channels, including state-run networks like Pervyi Kanal.

    Not isolated! Russia’s military will host an “International Anti-Fascist Congress” in August. Defense Ministry Sergey Shoigu said the event is designed to “unite the efforts of the international community in the fight against the ideology of Nazism and neo-Nazism in any form in which it manifests in the modern world.”

    Kremlin spin: Speaking to journalists on Tuesday, Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov said that rising prices and shortages of goods have provoked a “hyperemotional reaction” from consumers that will subside eventually. When asked about the 102 civilians killed and 300 noncombatants injured in Ukraine since Russia’s invasion began (according to the United Nations), Peskov blamed “nationalist groups” for allegedly using civilians as human shields and firing at residential buildings. At the same time, Putin’s spokesman said that the Kremlin still considers Volodymyr Zelenskyy to be Ukraine’s “legitimate president.”

    Russians speak out against the war: A group of Russian Orthodox Church priests has published an open letter calling for reconciliation and an immediate end to the war in Ukraine. The letter’s authors say they “mourn the ordeal” to which Ukraine was “undeservedly” subjected and argue that the Ukrainian people “should make their own choice independently, not at gunpoint, without pressure from the West or the East.” At the time of this writing, 26 clergy members had signed the letter, which also criticizes the recent arrests across Russia of hundreds of peaceful anti-war protesters. Also, hundreds of students and faculty at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (the institution that grooms Russia’s future diplomats) have signed an open letter protesting the war in Ukraine.

  56. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    The Russian advance on Kyiv has “stalled” as its forces face logistical challenges, including a shortage of food for some units, according to a senior United States defence official.

    The official claimed the Russian advance on the Ukrainian capital remains “basically… where it was yesterday” and cited a number of possible reasons for the stall, including Ukrainian resistance.

    They said it was also possible the Russians were pausing their advance by choice:

    One reason why things appear to be stalled north of Kyiv is that the Russians themselves are regrouping and rethinking and trying to adjust to the challenges that they’ve had.

    But the official also noted that the Russian military had shown evidence of “risk averse” behaviour when it came to its own troops.

    You’ve seen it on the ground, where units are surrendering, sometimes without a fight. And they’ve got, a lot of these soldiers are conscripts, never been in combat before, some of whom we believe weren’t even told they were going to be in combat.

  57. says

    […] Peter Pomerantsev
    Well, it’s an approach that’s constantly evolving, and Putin himself is constantly evolving. He used to work in this space of strategic ambiguity, where propaganda is very important and the goal is to confuse and dismay people […]

    But now he seems to be in a very different phase. If you just look at the videos of him, he’s gone full-on mad dictator and it’s all about taking action and using the propaganda to justify the deed.

    But it’s very interesting that all the way up to the end, many people, even people in Ukraine, didn’t believe he would invade. Even though the American intelligence was so explicit about his plans, people were saying, “He’s not going to do it. No way.” But is that about confusion over propaganda, or is it more that people just couldn’t get their heads around the possibility of an invasion like this? […]

    Inside Russia they were pushing the idea that this is all NATO’s fault, that it’s the fault of the West, and I think that definitely worked. But even though I think a lot of people in Russia bought into that, I don’t think most of them wanted war. That’s the difference here. For all the propaganda, Putin hasn’t done a good job of justifying the war.

    […] It’s not about liking him. It’s about this feeling that you need an autocrat in a world that’s so confusing, in a world where democracy is a charade. That’s his whole thing. It’s the sense that nowhere do people have agency and therefore you need an autocrat.

    […] So that is a strategic message they’ve been pushing for decades really, a sort of cynicism that makes you dependent. But there’s something else going on now, which was always there, but it’s much more pronounced now. It’s fascinating to see it so naked because it’s older in the sense that it’s sort of elemental. We usually associate it with fascist movements. It’s propaganda that revels in sadism and humiliation.

    […] it’s full of aggression and also deeply misogynistic. Putin talks about Ukraine as either the mother of all Russian cities or a whore, a prostitute, that’s betrayed Russia. He makes casual rape jokes all the time about how he’s going to rape Ukraine.

    […] more an imperial psychological feeling that stuff belongs to you and that you’ve been humiliated and aggrieved and need to take it back.

    […] The phase of Russia I was writing about in 2019 was a violent but still more playful kind of game, where Russia was at least trying to pretend they were playing by the rules of the global system.

    That’s not where it is now. Russia is now domestically a police state and internationally an open empire. It’s not hiding anymore. And it’s revealing the raw psychological heart of fascism.

    […] We have to make clear that Putin is a challenge to the world, not just to Russia, or not just to his neighbors. He’s a fundamental challenge to everything that democracy in Europe stands for, or is meant to stand for. And we’ll have to make some real sacrifices to defeat that.


  58. says


    […] Last night Tucker whined about what an “awful thing” it is that people keep calling him some kind of Putin lover. So those lovable so-and-sos over at the Meidas Touch website put together all the clips Acyn Torabi from Media Matters has grabbed over the past few months of Tucker calling Putin daddy. […]

    Video is available at the Wonkette link.

    Or see

    More from wonkette:

    Tucker spent the months leading up to the Russian invasion of Ukraine telling the same four or five lies about Ukraine, because nobody ever accused him of being a creative boy. He’s been saying Ukraine isn’t a real democracy, and that it’s a “client state of the United States State Department.” He’s been saying he’s “totally confused” why we would support Ukraine instead of Russia. He’s been petulantly protesting that “BY THE WAY, I AM!” rooting for Russia. (Later in that same show, he said he was “joking” when he said that. You know that old joke: Why did the chicken cross the road? My name is Tucker Carlson and I’m a literal actual traitor for Russia WOCKA WOCKA!)

    Literally before the bombs started dropping, Tucker felt it was important to do a segment telling Americans to ask themselves why they hate Vladimir Putin so much, reminding them that Putin never called them racist or tried to do cancel cultures to them.

    And that clip has it all. Tucker asking why we should “side with Ukraine over Russia” and saying Russia is a “much more significant country by every measure.” Tucker asking why it’s “disloyal to side with Russia, but loyal to side with Ukraine.” Tucker asking why we wouldn’t be on Russia’s side. Tucker saying he’s opposed to sanctions against Russia, and that we should take Russia’s side if we have to choose between Russia and Ukraine. […]

    Kudos to Meidas Touch for putting it together, and to Acyn for doing the painstaking work of culling the raw material. Tucker, as you may have heard, has been a veritable star on Russian TV lately, and especially in the days leading up to this invasion. In the words of The Intercept, Russian state TV has been “[using] Tucker Carlson and Tulsi Gabbard to sell Putin’s war.” Maybe that somehow, either directly or indirectly, factored into why Tucker is suddenly trying desperately to do an about-face.

    As we speak, a gigantic Russian convoy is outside Kyiv, inching closer and closer and engendering fears that Putin, frustrated that on day six he still hasn’t taken a major Ukrainian city, is about to really ratchet it up. Early this morning, Russian forces hit dead in the center of the Russian-speaking Kharkiv in the east, the second largest city in the country. You know, that’s part of the area that was supposed to embrace Putin’s forces with open arms.

    The Wall Street Journal reports that “Moscow, frustrated in its plans for a quick victory, [has] switched to a new strategy of pummeling civilian areas in an attempt to demoralize Ukrainian resistance.”

    That’s just a tiny snapshot, but this is reality. And whatever goodwill is out there for Vladimir Putin and what he’s doing to innocent Ukrainians right now, Tucker was part of making that happen.

    He gets to own that.

  59. says

    More re #74:

    …The northern part of Babyn Yar Holocaust memorial site is clearly hit by Russian air raid, the southern one maybe. Putin bombs Holocaust graves.

    As some ask, why they built TV station at the memorial, it is important to clarify the history. The TV station was Soviet-built. Soviets wanted to suppress memory about Jews, Babyn Yar topic was banned. The first memorial was build after the collapse of the USSR, in free Ukraine.

    So it was “nationalistic” Ukraine which revived the memory about Holocaust victims, and it was the Soviets (who Putin admires) who built fist a landfill for industrial waste (yes!) on Babyn Yar, and later a TV station. They also banned a poem “Babyn Yar” by star poet Yevtushenko.

    In official Soviet historiography, there was no place for the Holocaust. Killed Jews were called “killed Soviet citizens”. Soviet Union was an anti-semitic state grooming hate against Jews. Here is my old thread on Soviet anti-semitism + anti-ukrainianism:…

  60. says

    Meduza liveblog:

    More rallies in Russia: The Yabloko party has sought permission from the Moscow Mayor’s Office to hold a sanctioned anti-war march on March 12. The party expects up to 30,000 people to take part in the demonstration. Yabloko’s spokespeople also told Znak[dot]com that if the Moscow authorities reject the application, the party intends to continue expressing their anti-war stance “by all lawful means.”

  61. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Nearly 680,000 people have fled Ukraine since the Russian military invasion on 24 February, UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) chief Filippo Grandi has said, with the number rising rapidly.

    The UNHCR projected that more than four million Ukrainian refugees may eventually need protection and assistance in neighbouring countries.

    Grandi said:

    We are looking at what could become Europe’s largest refugee crisis this century.

    More than half of those who have fled Ukraine have crossed into Poland, with the UNHCR saying on Tuesday that 377,400 people had done so. Most arrivals are women and children from all parts of Ukraine.

  62. says

    From text quoted by SC in comment 78:

    Russia’s prime minister announced that the federal government is temporarily banning foreign investors from exiting Russian investments.

    Can they do that?

    Seems to me that foreign investors can choose to leave. I’ll keep an eye out for more information.

  63. says

    BREAKING: Russia just cut off Echo-Moscow’s broadcast, a [liberal]-leaning radio station, and threatened to block the last independent TV channel Rain, which has already been pushed to online. Media here has been targeted for its coverage of the invasion of Ukraine.”

  64. says

    More voter suppression efforts in Arizona, as reported by the Associated Press:

    The Arizona Republican Party has asked the state Supreme Court to strike down Arizona’s vote-by-mail system in its entirety. Currently, roughly 90 percent of voters in the Grand Canyon State cast their ballots through the mail, and there’s no credible evidence of flaws in the existing system.

  65. says

    Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is speaking out against other Republicans who have praised Putin:

    How can anyone with any understanding of the world call Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine ‘genius’ and ‘very savvy’ as we watch him unite the rest of the world against Russia in nearly an instant?

  66. says

    Quoted in Lynna’s #81:

    Literally before the bombs started dropping, Tucker felt it was important to do a segment telling Americans to ask themselves why they hate Vladimir Putin so much, reminding them that Putin never called them racist or tried to do cancel cultures to them.


    In the words of The Intercept, Russian state TV has been “[using] Tucker Carlson and Tulsi Gabbard to sell Putin’s war.”

    Incidentally, Joe Rogan adores Tulsi Gabbard.

  67. tomh says

    How the seeds of GOP voter suppression are bearing fruit in Texas
    By Editorial Board

    When Republicans in Texas passed measures last year to make their already rigid election laws even stricter, they claimed their changes would improve “election integrity.” In reality, they were an obvious attempt to subvert mail-in voting and other procedures that made in-person voting easier.

    Now, the seeds of voter suppression, which have been planted by Republican-led state legislatures across the nation, are bearing fruit. In the past few days, thousands of absentee voters in Texas have learned that their ballots have been rejected due to their state’s new voter ID requirements. Now, they must scramble to make sure their vote will be counted in their state’s primary elections, which take place Tuesday. Many will surely be disenfranchised.

    ….In Harris County alone, which includes most of Houston, more than 10,000 absentee ballots were flagged for correction as of Feb. 26. For comparison, Texas rejected 8,304 ballots statewide in 2020.

    The voter ID rules are not the only measures that might depress voting in the state. Republicans have also made in-person voting more difficult, by eliminating procedures that were put in place during the coronavirus pandemic in Democratic-leaning cities such as Houston. They banned drive-through voting and prohibited 24-hour voting, which was particularly helpful for low-income shift workers unable to take time off to vote. And because these measures affected mostly urban areas, the overall effect could depress voting among minorities.

    Voting should not be this hard. But last year, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, nearly 20 states passed 34 laws restricting access to voting. Voter suppression is a sign of a sick democracy. Texas is the first to show the symptoms, but as primary season gets underway, we will soon discover how far and how deeply the infection has spread across the country.

  68. says

    SC @96, “Russia was baited into this …” Oh, please. Give me a break.

    In other news: Senate filibuster derails bill to codify Roe v. Wade protections

    It fell short in the Senate, but the Women’s Health Protection Act has gone from an afterthought in Democratic politics to a staple of the party’s agenda.

    Exactly six months ago today, a group of Republican-appointed Supreme Court justices gave the green light to Texas’ latest abortion ban, effectively ending Roe v. Wade protections in the nation’s second largest state. A day later, as regular readers might recall, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi not only denounced the policy, she also announced plans to bring the Women’s Health Protection Act to the floor.

    The point of the legislation is simple: The bill would enshrine reproductive rights into federal law, codifying Roe. In September, the legislation passed the House, 218 to 211, overcoming the unanimous opposition of the chamber’s Republican members.

    For reproductive-rights advocates, that was the good news. The bad news was, there’s a whole other chamber on the other side of Capitol Hill.

    The companion version of the Women’s Health Protection Act in the Senate has 47 co-sponsors, which is a relatively impressive number, but it’s also the ceiling: Every senator inclined to vote for the bill has already endorsed it, and 47 isn’t enough to get the legislation across the finish line.

    With this in mind, the bill reached the Senate floor late yesterday, as NBC News reported, it couldn’t overcome a Republican filibuster.

    The Senate voted 46-48 Monday to block a bill pushed by Democrats to codify abortion rights into federal law ahead of an expected Supreme Court decision that could limit access to the procedure. The legislation, the Women’s Health Protection Act, failed to garner the needed 60 votes to overcome a filibuster and would have fallen short of the 50 votes needed for passage after Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., joined Republicans in opposition

    Six senators — three from each party — were not on hand for the vote, but even if they’d been there, it wouldn’t have changed the outcome. (Note, this was a procedural vote to proceed with a debate on the legislation. Manchin and every Senate Republican in the chamber voted to prevent that debate from happening.)

    Even Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, ostensibly Congress’ most pro-choice Republican, announced her opposition to the Women’s Health Protection Act last fall, and voted with her GOP colleagues yesterday.

    Asked by NBC News about the dead end the bill faces, Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington replied, “This is day one.”

    That’s clearly true. Over the summer, the conservative-dominated Supreme Court is expected to hand down a landmark ruling on reproductive rights, and many have predicted that the justices will overturn Roe and end Americans’ right to lawfully terminate unwanted pregnancies.

    The demands for new federal protections are likely to be fierce.

    Keep in mind, legislation to codify Roe has been introduced in every Congress for a decade, but before 2021, it never received so much as a vote in committee. In this Congress, however, it passed the House, and received near-unanimous support from Senate Democrats. What’s more, President Joe Biden has extended his enthusiastic support to the proposal.

    The Women’s Health Protection Act has gone from an afterthought in Democratic politics to a new staple of the party’s legislative agenda. Depending on what happens at the Supreme Court, its significance is likely to grow considerably.

  69. says

    […] According to Kofman, there is increasing evidence that most of the Russian troops did not realize there was going to be an invasion. The enlisted ranks usually don’t know every detail of what’s going to happen. But they do need to be able to prepare, both psychologically and in terms of basic nuts and bolts planning. It seems like this is at least partly driving the organizational breakdowns on the ground and a lot of evidence that Russian troop morale is poor.

    The underlying thread to these two points is that Russian leadership appears to have wanted to keep these decisions as hidden from the Russian public as possible, possibly even keeping the plans for a full scale invasion a relatively closely held secret even within the Russian government.

    Which brings us to the third point. The Ukrainians have been running away with the propaganda side of this conflict. In this case I mean the word in the non-judgmental sense, the battle for hearts and minds. […]

    Even if things are going relatively poorly after a week they have lots of capacity to intensify their assault, lots of ability to make the onslaught much more brutal and effective. Kofman sees signs they are doing just that, recalibrating in the face of initial reverses and making the assault both more brutal and more effective.

    TPM link

    Michael Kofman Twitter link

  70. says

    SC @102, LOL!

    In other news, from Mark Sumner:

    In one of the most bizarre instances in this already bizarre war, Russian forces appear to be communicating on ordinary civilian radios—walkie talkies ala Radio Shack. This means their communications are not encrypted or secure, but being broadcast en clair to anyone listening.

    The inability to secure their own communications may say more than anything else we’ve seen about the sorry state of the Russian military.

    Photo on Twitter:

  71. says

    Meduza liveblog:

    Capital flight controls imposed

    President Putin has issued an executive order prohibiting Russians from removing foreign currency worth more than $10,000 from the country. Previously, Russians had only to declare such cash withdrawals.

    Russia moves to criminalize “unofficial” information about the invasion of Ukraine

    On March 4, lawmakers in Russia’s State Duma will meet for a special session to discuss legislation that would make it a felony to disseminate “disinformation” about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

    Russia’s federal censor has previously tried to block any media coverage of the invasion that draws on information not coming from the Russian state and refers to the “special military operation” as either an invasion or war.

  72. says

    David Frum:

    Everything they wanted to perceive as decadent and weak has proven strong and brave; everything they wanted to represent as fearsome and powerful has revealed itself as brutal and stupid.

  73. says

    […] at least one Fox News reporter—Jennifer Griffin, the network’s national security correspondent—has finally reached her limit with her employer’s continuous spew of distortions and lies.

    As originally reported by Jeremy Barr for the Washington Post, last weekend Griffin felt compelled to rebut some of her colleagues’ more inane and fanciful assertions about American military strategy. These assertions, made by Fox hosts and personalities such as Sean Hannity, Steve Doocy, Greg Gutfeld, and Harris Faulkner, were all intended to vilify the Biden administration’s response to the conflict. They included accusations that the crisis was being manufactured by the administration in order to distract from alleged scandals involving Hillary Clinton; that the U.S. stock market was declining due to the administration’s alleged failure to anticipate the crisis; and that the administration’s strategy demonstrated inherent weakness because President Biden chose not to station U.S. troops along Ukraine’s borders, prior to the invasion itself.

    As Barr notes, in each of these circumstances Griffin pushed back to wholly rebut her colleagues’ claims. To Gutfeld’s assertion’s that talk of Putin’s impending invasion was simply a manufactured “pretext,” for example, Griffin responded:

    “First of all, I need to level-set with the conversation I’ve just been listening to,” she said. “What we are witnessing right now is not something that just changed in the last 24 hours … This is something we’ve been watching [for at least two weeks].”

    When Gutfeld and Fox News “personality” Lisa “Kennedy” Montgomery asserted that the administration was overhyping the threat of war, Griffin vehemently protested that this was not some “wag the dog action,” and that “Right now, every American should be watching this and knowing that this is deadly serious.”

    Other perennial Fox News propagandists have received similar pushback from Griffin:

    On Monday, Griffin appeared on the 9 p.m. program hosted by Sean Hannity and pushed back on his earlier comments about the Biden administration’s culpability. “Sean, how we got to this point is a long story and it predates the Biden administration,” she said. “It goes back and includes mistakes made by every U.S. president since the Soviet Union fell apart.”

    And on Thursday morning, Griffin pushed back when “Fox & Friends” co-host Steve Doocy said that economic sanctions “have not worked.” She argued that it’s too soon to make that conclusion. (Biden announced additional sanctions on Thursday afternoon.)

    But, as reported by the Washington Post’s Aaron Blake, most noteworthy has been Griffin’s reaction to the recent anti-Biden bloviating of Fox’s stable of military analysts. On Saturday retired brigadier general and failed 2020 New Hampshire Senate candidate Don Bolduc appeared on Steve Hilton’s Fox program among a panel of so-called “military leaders” to bray for more vigorous military action by the U.S., saying “we need to get in there and help [the Ukrainians] on the ground.” He backpedaled somewhat afterward, suggesting the U.S. should engage in “indirect fire” (whatever that entails).

    Griffin then appeared and basically said Bolduc didn’t know what he was talking about and—by the way—what he had said sounded uncomfortably like a precursor to nuclear war. As Blake reports:

    “I have to respond to something your previous guest, Brigadier General Bolduc, said, because he really was way off the mark in terms of talking about what the U.S. could do on the ground,” she began. She cited the fact that Putin has nuclear weapons, which is “why the U.S. military and NATO do not have troops on the ground inside Ukraine.”

    She concluded: “Clearly, Brigadier General Bolduc is not a student of history; he’s a politician, he ran for Senate in New Hampshire and failed. He’s not a military strategist, and to suggest that the U.S. would put indirect fire or special operations or CIA on the ground to give Putin any sort of excuse to broaden this conflict is extremely dangerous talk at a time like this.”

    Another boneheaded “analyst,” retired Col. Douglas Macgregor, appeared on Fox last Sunday, touting the exact opposite approach, suggesting that the U.S. should simply allow Putin to take whatever he wanted, even to the point of lifting all sanctions, since he was confident Putin had no interest in going further than Ukraine. He also claimed that there was no ethnic or cultural difference between Ukrainians and Russians (“more important, the population there is indistinguishable from [Russia’s] own.”) Again, Griffin shot him down immediately:

    Griffin came on and declared that she needed to correct Macgregor, “and I’m not sure that 10 minutes is enough time to do so, because there were so many distortions in what he just said.” […]

    Griffin went as far as to say Macgregor sounded like an “apologist” for Putin, and she suggested the things he has advocated bear blame for what we’re seeing today. (Macgregor served in President Donald Trump’s Defense Department and was his controversial nominee to be ambassador to Germany. He has also appeared on the Russian-owned network RT and advanced a version of the white replacement theory.)

    [All the best people!]

    It’s important to step back for a moment and evaluate exactly what was said by these two analysts. The first, Bolduc, was essentially advocating a strategy that could easily escalate into a nuclear war. The second, Macgregor, was proposing a course of appeasement so pathetic it would make Neville Chamberlain blush. Both appeared on Fox News, encouraged by a network that is actively seeking to undermine the administration’s ability to respond to the Russian invasion. Either strategy, if pursued, would almost certainly lead to a catastrophe of unknowable magnitude to the U.S. and its allies. And yet here they were, spouting their supposedly informed opinions at the behest of their Fox interlocutors. All in all, they represent the worst of what happens when a national media outlet abandons its pretense of journalism in favor of political opportunism.

    As Blake notes, Griffin’s response to these charlatans was as unprecedented as it was necessary:

    Those are extremely strong words from a reporter. In the span of a weekend, she stated that her network was platforming someone who was engaging in “extremely dangerous talk,” and accused another guest of sounding like a Putin apologist and appeaser. It’s one thing to fact-check what others are saying; it’s another to do so in this manner.

    As Blake observes, “Among the many times in which punditry can go very wrong, few rank as high as wartime.“ It appears that at least one person on Fox is capable of recognizing and calling out the dangerous, anti-American duplicity of that media megaphone.


  74. says

    Guardian – “Unarmed Ukrainians try to push back Russian troops – video”:

    Unarmed people in Ukraine have been filmed attempting to stop Russian vehicles with their bodies in a string of defiant acts.

    In the south-eastern city of Melitopol, people pushed on Russian military vehicles with their bare hands while in the north-east, Kupyansk residents jumped on a Jeep with Russian markers to fight the Russian occupation.

    There were reports of fierce shelling in the northern city of Chernihiv, where people were filmed singing the Ukrainian national anthem and standing in front of tanks.

    Video at the link.

  75. says

    Followup to SC @92.

    Russia ‘un-investable’

    The moves come as many companies try to distance themselves from Russia. Among the actions taken are:

    Oil giants Shell and BP have said they will sell their Russian interests

    French oil firm TotalEnergies will not finance new Russian projects

    Visa and Mastercard have blocked multiple Russian financial institutions from their networks

    Payments cards issues by sanctioned Russian banks do not work on Google Pay or Apple Pay

    Canada is banning imports of Russian crude oil

    Carmaker Jaguar Land Rover is pausing deliveries to Russia due to “trading challenges”

    Transport giants Maersk and MSC temporarily suspend container shipping to and from Russia, except food, medical and humanitarian goods

    Harley-Davidson has suspended its Russian business and all shipments to the country

    Big investors have also started to either ditch Russian investments or put new investments on hold.

    The UK’s biggest private pension fund, the British Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), said on Tuesday that it was “looking to sell” its Russian assets.

    “We think there’s a clear financial as well as a moral case for divestment with respect to our Russian holdings,” USS chief executive Simon Pilcher told the BBC’s Today programme.

    “There’s very little appetite for anyone to trade with Russia under these circumstances, and therefore, in that context, it’s very hard to see how Russian investments are a sound financial investment.”

    […] Lucy Coutts, investment director at JM Finn, said: “Russia is un-investable at the present time. The Russian economy has been absolutely slammed by a broadside of crushing Western sanctions.

    “Its economy is seizing up, the rouble is worth less than one US cent, inflation is soaring, mortgage rates have gone from 7.5% to 18.6% overnight, and the Russian people are being forced to pay.”

    Credit rating agencies have said the likelihood of defaults on Russian debt has gone up, so bond markets have seized up, she added.

  76. says

    Wonkette: “Ron DeSantis, Marco Rubio Just Being Whinyass Brats About Biden’s State Of The Union Address”

    The so-called “People’s Convoy,” a designer imposter knockoff of Canada’s “Freedom Convoy,” is expected to arrive in Washington DC in time for President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address tonight — 9 p.m. Eastern […] Organizers have boasted about choking DC beltway traffic like a giant boa constrictor, because that’s perfectly normal behavior.

    The Pentagon approved the deployment of 800 unarmed National Guard troops to “provide support at traffic control points in and around the District” and to be alert for “possible disruption at key traffic arteries.” The Capitol Police and DC government has also requested the National Guard’s help. This all seems reasonable considering a MAGA mob literally attacked the US Capitol just last year, but pro-insurrection Republicans don’t know what all the fuss is about.

    Florida’s Republican Governor Ron DeSantis gleefully announced Monday that he’d rejected the request for National Guard troops.

    Last week, the Biden Administration requested the assistance of State National Guards to deploy to Washington DC. I have rejected this request. There will be no [Florida National Guard troops] sent to DC for Biden’s State of the Union.

    DeSantis sent the National Guard troops to the Texas border last June to address an imaginary crisis. This is an obviously petty move, but that’s the MAGA brand. It’s just especially annoying considering DeSantis eagerly accepted Biden’s help after last year’s Surfside condo collapse.

    Biden announced that the federal government is covering 100% of the costs to the county and state for the first 30 days of the building collapse search and rescue operation. He noted that the Federal Emergency Management Agency will also provide temporary housing for survivors. In addition, he said he ordered the State Department to expedite visas for family members from other countries who had loved ones in the condo.

    But Biden governs as if he’s president of the entire United States and all its citizens. DeSantis models himself after Trump, who seemingly believed only his political allies deserved the resources at his command.

    Adding to the Florida-based grossness around Biden’s State of the Union is Senator Marco Rubio, who announced today that he’s not going at all. The timing is a little suspicious considering that his state’s governor just rejected a request for National Guard troops, but Rubio isn’t stiffing Biden’s address out of concern for his personal safety. No, he just can’t be bothered to take a COVID-19 test. […]

    “I don’t have time to go take a COVID test today,” Rubio said, according to a tweet from HuffPost reporter Igor Bobic. “I only take a test if I’m sick.”

    You know that’s not how the tests work, Marco! Proactively testing before a major social event is a responsible way to avoid spreading COVID-19. The State of the Union isn’t a kid’s birthday party, either. It’s a workplace gathering where the median age is Rolling Stone member.

    But let’s take a moment to laugh derisively at Marco Rubio and his assertion that he’s “too busy” to take a 20-minute COVID-19 test. The guy has filmed videos from his car when he ranted about socialism.

    Rubio whined about this minor inconvenience at the Conservative Political Action Conference this weekend:

    For the first time in American history you now have people having to produce paper to go in somewhere, to sit somewhere, to go to the State of the Union.

    I presume that people had to “produce paper” — you know, like a photo ID or something — to attend the State of the Union. The US Capitol isn’t some sketchy nightclub that’ll let in an eighth grader if they tip the bouncer. Rubio has no problem with Florida’s restrictive voting rights laws, which are even more onerous than taking a COVID-19 test.

    He went on:

    You’ve got to show them I’m vaccinated, I took a test yesterday, they took my temperature, you know, all this stuff. This is, what’s happening now in America, is what happens after 20 years of infusing this Marxist thought process into every aspect of our lives and now we’ve come face-to-face with it.

    Wait, taking the bare-ass minimum steps to avoid contracting or spreading a serious respiratory illness is now “Marxism”? Man, it’s like Marxism is everywhere, fucking up the scenery, breaking Rubio’s mind. Someone should also inform the very busy and important Rubio that George W. Bush was president 20 years ago. Yes, Barack Obama was president for a while but the past couple decades have hardly been a progressive wonderland.

    In conclusion, DeSantis and Rubio are asshats. I leave you with the footage from Rubio’s 2011 State of the Union response. During these trying times, that’s always good for a laugh. […]


    Video is available at the link.

  77. says

    Vice – “The MAGA Trucker Convoy Is Mad Ukraine Is Getting All the Attention Right Now.”

    Too much to excerpt, but this stood out:

    A few “truckers” are upset that people think what the Ukrainian people are going through is as bad as being asked to wear a mask or vaccine mandates.

    “People now say: Well, those ‘Freedom Truckers’ sure picked a bad week to try and get attention for being victims of tyranny,” wrote one Trucker fan annoyed by the war in Ukraine. “They are starting to twist the events by saying oh our suffering is somehow much less. NO IT IS NOT!”

  78. says

    Ukrainian MFA Dmytro Kuleba: “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has affected Ukrainians and non-citizens in many devastating ways. Africans seeking evacuation are our friends and need to have equal opportunities to return to their home countries safely. Ukraine’s government spares no effort to solve the problem.”

  79. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Polish nationalists attempt to attack African, Middle Eastern students fleeing Ukraine

    Dozens of Polish nationalists gathered on Tuesday evening near the train station in Przemyśl, where refugees from Middle East and Africa fleeing the war in Ukraine are being sheltered, and attempted to attack them. The attackers, linked to the local football team’s ‘’hooligans,’’ approached groups of African and Middle Eastern students, who have just arrived in Poland from cities in Ukraine that have been invaded by the Russians, and harassed them, shouting slogans and anti-immigrant chants.

    ‘’Around 7 pm, these men started to shout and yell against groups of African and Middle Eastern refugees who were outside the train station,’’ two Polish journalists from the press agency OKO, who first reported the incident, told me. ‘’They yelled at them: ‘Go back to the train station! Go back to your country!’’

    Polish Police reacted by chasing some of the nationalists and dispersing the crowd….

  80. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    The United States is expected to ban Russian flights from its airspace, the Wall Street Journal reports.

    MSNBC is reporting Biden will announce this during the SOTU.

    A Ukrainian cyber guerrilla warfare group plans to launch digital sabotage attacks against critical Russian infrastructure such as railways and the electricity grid, to strike back at Moscow over its invasion, a hacker team coordinator told Reuters.

    Officials from Ukraine’s defence ministry last week approached Ukrainian businessman and local cybersecurity expert Yegor Aushev to help organise a unit of hackers to defend against Russia.

    On Monday, Aushev said he planned to organise hacking attacks that would disrupt any infrastructure that helps bring Russian troops and weapons to his country.

    “Everything that might stop war,” he said. “The goal is to make it impossible to bring these weapons to our country.”

    Aushev said his group has already downed or defaced dozens of Russian government and banking websites, sometimes replacing content with violent images from the war. He declined to provide specific examples, saying it would make tracking his group easier for the Russians.

  81. says

    SC @116, mock them. Laugh at them.

    In other news, here are some excerpts from coverage of President Biden’s SOTU speech:

    “I know you’re tired, exhausted, frustrated.” Talks about the death toll of the pandemic. “Today I can say we’re moving forward safely toward a return to normal.” Talks about new mask guidelines from CDC. Says COVID-19 “need no longer control our lives.” Says we won’t live with it, we’ll “stay on guard” and continue to fight it. [News:] Pfizer will provide 1 million anti-viral pills, and there will be a new program for people to get tests at their pharmacy and if they test positive, get the anti-viral there and then, without having to pay.

    “Even if you already ordered free tests tonight, I am announcing that you can order more from starting next week.”

    Not a single goddamned Republican even clapped for the idea of voting rights. He made an impassioned call to pass the Freedom to Vote act, but we all know the problem there. Then he thanks Justice Stephen Breyer for his service, and talks about his nominee, Ketanji Brown Jackson.

    Now immigration. Says “border crisis” to get Rs to stand up and a handful of Rs start yelling “build the wall.” [Rude!] Of course. Rattling off a whole bunch of immigration stuff—he’s really rushing through now. But does promise a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, etc.

    Lauren Boebert caught still chanting “Build the wall!” after everyone else sat down. Dems laughed.

    From Wonkette, just excerpts:

    9:08: Aw. Joe’s been waiting a long time for this. “Ladies and gentlemen, the president of the United States.”

    9:11: Yes, the Ukrainians ARE literally inspiring the world, unless you mean like five douches Putin pays, plus some Trump idiots who still think Joe Biden put the election server in Ukraine’s back yard.

    9:15: Biden is rattling off a list of shit he’s spearheaded, from the sanctions to getting Germany off its ass, but OH HELL YEAH he says we’re going to “find and seize their apartments and yachts.” I found it for you, Mr. President. [Photo of Trump Tower]

    9:21 p.m.: I think Joe just said Putin would never weaken the resolve of the Iranian people, so it’s a good thing that Republicans won’t make a big fucking deal out of poor senile one foot in the grave Joe Biden and the fact that he still has a stutter sometimes.

    9:23: Okay, I rewound like three times to see the CONTRATOMP about who was booing and why, and it’s because Joe Biden just fucking CALLED OUT the 2 trillion tax cut for rich fuckwads and compared it to the American Rescue Plan helping folks “who just needed a little breathing room.” And then Chook Schumer got up to clap too early because HE LOVES THE PEOPLE AT THE DINING ROOM TABLE and anyway now there is lots of standing O and it’s going on so long, yay American Rescue Plan! Yay jobs! Yay creating them! Yay Joe Biden! He is talking about the fastest job growth rate in 40 years and also “fuck trickledown” says Joe Biden but he does not say fuck.

    9:55: So Joe doesn’t want us to choose between safe streets and equal justice, and he says NAH MANG don’t defund the police, FUND the police, and the Republicans all rise with the biggest shit-eatin’ grins, and oh look who’s there with them, it’s Joe Manchin. Anyway, now we’re at “guns and voting” so that’s a fun juxtaposition. Has the GOP made an NRA membership card necessary to vote yet?

    I am skipping the Ketanji Brown Jackson section because now Ted Cruz is standing to salute “secure our border” and I’m annoyed again. I think Joe Biden might be annoyed too, he is speeding through that section, damn the stutter, like Speedy Gonzalez, arriba arriba.

    10:00: Joe Biden wants Texas to stop fucking with the trans children and their families

  82. says

    Talking Points Memo also posted some reports on Biden’s speech:

    Boebert In Crowd Heckles Biden With Soldier Deaths
    Just before Biden discussed the death of his son, he discussed the impact of burn pits on veterans, which he said “would put them in a flag-draped coffin.”

    At that point, Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) — according to multiple reporters — said, “You put them there, 13 of them.” [Biden looked a little shocked, but he carried on.]

    That appeared to be a reference to the 13 American soldiers who were killed in a bomb attack in Kabul last year.

    Biden Introduces ‘Unity Agenda for the Nation’
    After going through some more contested issues — immigration reform, abortion access — Biden said he was introducing the “Unity Agenda for the Nation.”

    That agenda includes:

    “Beat the opioid epidemic”
    “Take on mental health”
    “Support our veterans”
    “End cancer as we know it”

    Biden Hits Short Voting Rights Section
    For what was once a top administration priority, voting rights got pretty short shrift just now. In fairness, the Democrats’ bills have stalled over and over again in the Senate. But activists have also faulted the administration for not pushing the issue more. Here’s everything Biden said on the topic:

    The most fundamental right in America is the right to vote – and to have it counted. And look, it’s under assault.

    In state after state, new laws have been passed, not only to suppress the vote, we’ve been there before, but to subvert the entire election.

    We cannot let this happen.

    Tonight. I call on the Senate to: Pass the Freedom to Vote Act. Pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. And while you’re at it, pass the Disclose Act so Americans know who is funding our elections.

    Here’s The Pivot To Normalcy
    “With 75% of adult Americans fully vaccinated and hospitalizations down by 77%, most Americans can remove their masks, return to work, stay in the classroom, and move forward safely,” he said.

    It’s a very conscious pivot to a new message ahead of the midterms — if you’re vaccinated, if you’ve been responsible, life can start to return to normal.

    Biden Brags About Deficit Reduction
    Biden just spent a moment bragging about deficit reduction.

    “By the end of this year, the deficit will be down to less than half of what it was before I took office,” he said. “The only president ever to cut the deficit by more than one trillion dollars in a single year.”

    This may be an “audience of one” moment: Biden talking to Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), basically, who has repeatedly expressed concerns about the deficit while balking at Democratic agenda action items.

    Forget ‘Infrastructure Week,’ Here Comes ‘Infrastructure Decade’
    Recalibrate your jokes, people. Biden also gave a shoutout to the Republicans who voted for the bipartisan infrastructure bill.

    GOP Boos Biden Jab At Trump Tax Cuts
    There was a brief boo, presumably from Republicans, when Biden said, “Unlike the $2 trillion tax cut passed in the previous administration that benefitted the top 1% of Americans, the American Rescue Plan helped working people—and left no one behind.”

    Democrats Break Out Into Cheers Of ‘Joe! Joe! Joe!’
    After a round of booing for the Trump tax cuts, Democrats started up the cheer.

    Some Bipartisan Applause For Ukraine Lines
    Even House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) got to his feet!

    Biden Started Speech With Denunciation Of Russian Invasion
    Joe Biden just started his remarks by addressing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

    “Six days ago, Russia’s Vladimir Putin sought to shake the foundations of the free world thinking he could make it bend to his menacing ways. But he badly miscalculated,” Biden said.

    “He thought he could roll into Ukraine and the world would roll over. Instead he met a wall of strength he never imagined. He met the Ukrainian people.”

    Biden acknowledged the Ukrainian ambassador to the U.S., in attendance tonight, and asked the crowd for a standing ovation for Ukraine.

  83. says

    Satire from Andy Borowitz:

    In the latest round of sanctions targeting Russia, the world’s manufacturers of performance-enhancing drugs have halted all shipments to Vladimir Putin’s nation.

    A spokesman for the International Alliance of Performance-Enhancing Drugmakers announced that its member companies would “no longer provide the illegal substances that for decades have been essential to Russia’s Olympic success.”

    Additionally, the spokesman said, a planned pipeline that would deliver such drugs as the heart medication trimetazidine from a manufacturing plant directly into state-run Russian gymnasiums would no longer be built.

    Addressing the sanctions on Russian state television, a visibly rattled Putin said, “Anyone who attacks Russia’s ability to dope its athletes is striking at one of our nation’s grandest traditions. This will not stand.”

    Despite Putin’s defiant pose, however, a Kremlin source said that mounting sanctions are starting to weigh on the Russian leader. “You know you’ve messed up when even Switzerland is pissed at you,” the source said.

    New Yorker link

  84. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Russian troops landed in Kharkiv – reports

    Russian troops have reportedly landed in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second most populous city, according to the Security Service of Ukraine.

    Ukrainian authorities said at approximately 3am local time, Russian airborne troops landed and engaged in heavy fighting with Ukrainian forces.

    “A Russian landing party landed in Kharkiv,” an alert from Ukraine’s State Special Communications agency read just before 3am.

    The agency said the soldiers attacked the military medical clinical centre hospital, adding that a “battle broke out between the invaders and the Ukrainian defenders.”

    The city, with a population of about 1.5 million, has been encircled for days and saw at least six people killed when the region’s administrative building on Freedom Square was hit with what was believed to be a missile.

    The attack on Freedom Square — Ukraine’s largest plaza, and the nucleus of public life in the city — was seen by many Ukrainians as brazen evidence that the Russian invasion wasn’t just about hitting military targets but also about breaking their spirit.

    The bombardment blew out windows and walls of buildings that ring the massive square, which was piled high with debris and dust.

    “People are under the ruins. We have pulled out bodies,” said Yevhen Vasylenko, an emergency official.

    Zelenskiy pronounced the attack on the square “frank, undisguised terror” and a war crime. “This is state terrorism of the Russian Federation,” he said.

  85. says

    Julia Davis:

    #Russia’s state TV keeps hammering the point that @ZelenskyyUa must not be allowed to get away, claiming that even if he wasn’t “a Banderite or Nazi” before, he is now (solely because he is resisting Russia’s aggression). Crucial that he is protected.

    This is sick.

  86. says

    Here’s a link to today’s Guardian Ukraine liveblog. From their latest summary:

    Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy said nearly 6,000 Russians had been killed in the first six days of Moscow’s invasion, and that the Kremlin would not be able to take his country with bombs and airstrikes.

    Russian troops have reportedly landed in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second most populous city, according to the Security Service of Ukraine. Ukrainian authorities said Russian airborne troops landed at approximately 3am local time and engaged in heavy fighting with Ukrainian forces.

    Russia is claiming to have seized Kherson on the Black Sea in southern Ukraine. However, this is unconfirmed as the city’s mayor has so far only said that Russian forces have taken control of the railway station and the port.

    Ukraine is set to receive more Stinger and Javelin missiles from abroad, as well as another shipment of Turkish drones, according to Ukrainian defence minister Oleksii Reznikov.

    European Union diplomats have approved new sanctions against Belarus for its supporting role in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the French presidency of the EU confirmed. EU diplomats have approved new sanctions against Belarusian people who are playing a role in the attacks to Ukraine, Reuters reported.

    The European Commission has proposed to grant temporary protection to people fleeing war in Ukraine, including a residence permit and access to employment and social welfare.

    China won’t join the United States and European governments in imposing financial sanctions on Russia, the country’s bank regulator has announced.

    Russia’s largest lender, Sberbank, is leaving the European market as its subsidiaries there face large cash outflows and threats to the safety of employees and property, the bank said on Wednesday.

  87. says

    March 2 (Reuters) – The rouble plunged to a record low in Moscow of 110 to the dollar on Wednesday and the stock market remained closed as Russia’s financial system staggered under the weight of Western sanctions imposed over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.”

  88. says

    Tim Mak from NPR reports from Ukraine:

    Good morning from Ukraine to those waking up in the U.S.:

    Kyiv remains in Ukrainian hands. And in fact the flow of dramatic information about Russian advances appears to have slowed.

    Reports are that Russia has turned up its bombardments on civilian areas across the country…

    Thread at the link. I read reporting that Russia has paused its attack on Kharkiv to give Indians time (but not really enough time) to evacuate, and the attack will resume in a few hours.

  89. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    The Ukrainian port city of Mariupol is suffering mass casualties and a water outage as it defends itself from a nonstop onslaught by Russian forces, according to its mayor Vadym Boichenko.

    In a live broadcast on Ukrainian TV, Boichenko said:

    The enemy occupying forces of the Russian Federation have done everything to block the exit of civilians from the city of half a million people.

    Mariupol’s mayor said Russian forces had been “flattening us non-stop for 12 hours now”, the Interfax news agency reported.

    We cannot even take the wounded from the streets, from houses and apartments today, since the shelling does not stop.

  90. says

    Billboards all around Kyiv: ‘Russian soldier, stop! How can you look into your kids eyes? Remain human’, ‘Do not kill your soul for Putin’s oligarchs. Leave without blood on your hands’, and the UA MOD’s call to receive 5 mln rubles in case they lay down arms…”

    Video at the link.

  91. says

    Confirmation of the reports @ #134:

    Indian ministry of external Affairs spokesperson said that advisory issued by Indian embassy for nationals to leave Kharkiv by 6 p.m. local time was given on “basis of information from Russia” He added that they should take any method to leave, including “on foot”.

    We have issued this advisory based on inputs from Russian side. We haven’t chosen the time. We haven’t chosen the location: MEA spokesperson

    (MEA advisory had given a deadline of 6 p.m. local time and listed three Ukrainian cities where students can travel from Kharkiv)

  92. says

    Meduza liveblog (link @ #2 above):

    A swift crackdown in the Urals

    Police have reportedly raided the offices of VK-Media, the publishing group that ran anti-war messages on the cover pages of several local newspapers on Wednesday. The officers are reportedly seizing all copies of the newspapers. The printed message appeared as follows (it reads, “This madness must be stopped” and there is a QR code leading readers to an online anti-war petition).

  93. says

    The fact that right-wing extremists gathered for a white nationalist event would not generate national headlines. What mattered about this year’s America First Political Action Conference (AFPAC), however, is the fact that some Republican elected officials were on hand for the gathering.

    It’s left GOP officials with a decision to make about what, if anything, they’re prepared to do about it.

    In Arizona, Republican state Sen. Wendy Rogers, whose record in this area is indefensible, did not try to hide the fact that she attended the AFPAC event. This, among other offenses, the Republican-led state Senate to formally censure Rogers yesterday — in a 24-to-3 vote — for “unbecoming” conduct that has damaged the institution’s reputation.

    In Idaho, meanwhile, Republican Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin not only addressed the white nationalist event via video, she sought to align herself with the conference’s attendees who support “America First” ideas. Not surprisingly, McGeachin — who’s also running a GOP gubernatorial race — is facing calls for her resignation.

    And then, of course, there’s the U.S. House, where two Republican members — Georgia’s Marjorie Taylor Greene and Arizona’s Paul Gosar — also appeared at the white nationalist event. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said on Monday that their participation at the gathering was “unacceptable.”

    […] McCarthy told CNN and Punchbowl News that it was “appalling and wrong” for Gosar and Greene to attend the white nationalist event. He added, “There’s no place in our party for any of this. The party should not be associated any time, any place with somebody who is anti-Semitic.”

    But he didn’t say what would become of Greene and Gosar, or what kind of consequences, if any, the pair might face from their party.

    […] At one point during Tuesday’s press conference, McCarthy seemed to suggest he could comment on his extremist members, but he won’t because there’s “a war in Europe.”

    To briefly recap, the minority leader and the rest of House GOP leadership team have options. McCarthy & Co. could kick Gosar and Greene out of the GOP conference. The party could also announce that it will not support the members’ re-election campaigns — akin to what the party has already done to Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, because of their efforts to help lead the investigation into the Jan. 6 attack.

    McCarthy could even announce that he’s changed his mind about what he said four months ago, and he will no longer support giving Greene and Gosar committee assignments in the next Congress.

    As of yesterday, however, McCarthy wanted the questions to simply go away. That seems unlikely.


  94. says

    Lauren Boebert heckling Biden

    […] It was toward the end of his State of the Union address when President Joe Biden reflected on the dangers U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan have faced. He explained:

    “One being stationed at bases, breathing in toxic smoke from burn pits. Many of you have been there. I’ve been in and out of Iraq and Afghanistan over 40 times. These burn pits that incinerate waste, the waste of war — medical and hazardous material, jet fuel and so much more. And they came home, many of the world’s fittest and best trained warriors in the world, never the same. Headaches. Numbness. Dizziness. A cancer that would put them in a flag-draped coffin. I know. One of those soldiers was my son Maj. Beau Biden.”

    The president’s point was obvious: Biden is concerned that American troops’ proximity to burn pits have created ongoing health risks.

    It was at this point when the right-wing Colorado congresswoman thought it’d be a good idea to start heckling the president. In fact, as Biden referenced the cancer-stricken troops that ended up in flag-draped coffins, Boebert interjected, “You put them in, 13 of them.”

    The Republican was obviously trying to refer to the chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, just as Biden was commenting on the loss of his son.

    But the radical lawmaker’s timing made the circumstances that much worse: Boebert didn’t just interrupt the president during a State of the Union address, and didn’t just falsely blame Biden for a terrorist attack in Afghanistan, she heckled the president while he honored fallen American troops.

    […] The likelihood that she’ll be denounced by party leaders is remote — and it’s far easier to believe Boebert will receive a fundraising boost from conservative donors eager to celebrate her antics. […]


  95. says

    Ukraine update from Mark Sumner:

    […] How has the pandemic affected Russia’s invasion of Ukraine?

    It’s a good question. Officially, Russia has lost 350,000 people to the COVID-19 pandemic. On a deaths per population basis, that places it very close to the rate of loss in the U.S. However, there has long been a general assumption that Russia is greatly underreporting COVID-19 related deaths. Studies have suggested that Russia is far higher than anything they’ve reported. Something on the order of at least four times as high. If accurate, that would move the actual rate of deaths in Russia from something on the order of 2,500 per million, to 10,000 per million — the highest rate on the planet. Maybe that’s what Russian doctors wanted to tell the world, before they mysteriously developed a problem with windows.

    Why are Russian coronavirus doctors mysteriously falling out of windows? “Three Russian doctors working to treat coronavirus patients have mysteriously fallen out of windows in recent weeks, underscoring the country’s struggling health care system — and leading to suspicions of foul play. […]”

    If the studies are close to accurate, that’s one person out of every 100 in Russia dead from COVID-19. Top that off with the knowledge that military bases, throughout history, have been well known as locations where disease spreads more readily. Bring together people from across a large area, force them into tight confines, place them under stress … out pops a higher rate of disease and death.

    Did Russia go into this war with 1 out of 100 soldiers — and 1 out of 100 commanders — dead from COVID-19? Was it more? Of the rest, how many were left with long COVID symptoms? How many are suffering from heart problems, breathing problems, fatigue problems? How many Russian soldiers and commanders are suffering from brain fog?

    The idea that people around him could have been dropping like flies helps to explain why a sweaty, nervous Putin now sits at the other end of a 40’ table, unwilling to get anywhere close to members of his cabinet. Of course, Putin might have other reasons for not wanting to be close to anyone else. […]

    Since the first day of the war, Mariupol, located on the Sea of Azov, very near Russia, has been under constant threat. There have been overland assaults. Amphibious assaults. Attempts to come at the city from east and west simultaneously. But on Tuesday, it seemed the city had been finally encircled, and the attack on Wednesday is fierce. […] “The situation is awful, we are near to a humanitarian catastrophe. We have been under more than 15 hours of continuous shelling without pause.”

    […] Mariupol’s location in the extreme southeast of Ukraine makes it extremely vulnerable. They’ve held out this long, but it’s not clear that they can withstand the punishment much longer.

    On Monday, Ukrainian forces that were in danger of being encircled in Kherson, but those forces were able to withdraw. Russian forces moved into Kherson, only to be attacked on Tuesday night by Ukrainian forces under cover of darkness — which is likely to become a repeating pattern. But for the forces inside Mariupol, there may be no retreat.

    […] Russian forces in Mariupol are resorting to the same tactics used in Chechnya, Georgia, and Syria — the purposeful destruction of civilian areas to crush resistance and create mass causalities. […]


  96. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 140

    On the other hand, has anyone bother to check if Boebert or Greene loved Biden’s craven “Fund the poiice” line.

  97. says

    […] [Tucker] Carlson spent most of the month prior to the invasion praising Putin and echoing Russian propaganda: running down Ukraine, deriding it as a “State Department client state”—not a democracy, but “a tyranny”—and claiming that Russia just wants to keep its borders secure, [everything is the fault of Joe Biden]. So much so that he became the hero of Russian state television, where his rants were translated and replayed, and he was praised as an astute American.

    Now that the horror is hitting home, Carlson suddenly has realized that he backed the wrong horse and is scurrying hard to dig his way out. The first step in that, of course, is gaslighting his audience about what he had been saying just the week before, and blaming the war on Putin now—yet somehow it’s still all Joe Biden’s fault. Those clips have yet to appear on Russian TV.

    The major tone shift occurred Friday, a day after the invasion: “It’s a tragedy, because war always is a tragedy, and the closer you get to it, the more horrifying it seems,” he said. He also squarely put the onus on Russia and Putin: “He is to blame for what we’re seeing tonight in Ukraine.”

    “Vladimir Putin started this war, so whatever the context of the decision that he made, he did it,” he said. “He fired the first shots.”

    It’s a sharp and complete reversal of his previous arguments. On Feb. 17, he spouted Russian propaganda in claiming that Ukraine is not a legitimate nation. He also attacked U.S. officials who provided military aid to Ukraine.

    “These people are so ghoulish,” Carlson said. “Of course they’re promoting war, not to maintain the democracy that is Ukraine. Ukraine is not a democracy. It has never been a democracy in its history, and it’s not now. It’s a client state of the Biden administration.” [JFC!]

    This narrative became a staple of Carlson’s defense of Russia’s war. On his Feb. 22 show, he again spouted Putin’s propaganda: “The point here is to defend democracy. Not that Ukraine is a democracy. It’s not a democracy. Ukraine’s president has arrested his main political opponent, he has shut down newspapers and television stations that have dared to criticize him. So in American terms, you would call Ukraine a tyranny. But Joe Biden likes Ukraine, so Putin bad, war good.” [snipped more examples]

    The day after the invasion began, on Feb. 24, it was more of the same. The invasion, he claimed, demonstrated that Biden was a foreign-policy failure who had promised he would keep it from happening, making Putin’s war a “humiliating defeat for Joe Biden.”

    Russian state media promptly began re-airing Carlson’s rants with translated subtitles, particularly the Putin-didn’t-call-me-a-racist episode. His attacks on Ukraine’s legitimacy also received heavy play. They also replayed Carlson’s Feb. 24 interview with ex-Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, who told him: “Sanctions don’t work. This is the whole problem with the Biden administration: They are so focused on how do we punish Putin.”

    The clips became the topic of Russian TV news talk shows, where Carlson was uniformly praised. “Excellent performance,” the editor of a Russian national defense journal commented. “We can only have solidarity with this view.”

    Of course, Carlson is hardly alone in spreading pro-Russian propaganda on Fox News. On Feb. 24, just before bombs began falling on Ukraine, host Laura Ingraham interviewed ex-president Donald Trump by phone, who praised Putin—“I do know him very well. We’ve had many, uh, times together. I got along with him fantastically”—and ranted at length that the invasion was Biden’s fault, and the war never would have happened if the election hadn’t been stolen from him. […]

    As Lis Wahl, a former anchor at Russia Today, explained to The Daily Beast, the distinction between a propaganda operation like RT and what’s aired on Fox News has essentially vanished:

    […] Today, the chief purveyors of pro-Russian disinformation in the U.S. are now on Fox News. I have warned that quite often the pro-Putin claims on Fox and RT essentially mimic each other. But much of the American public, and even many in the mainstream media, fail to realize the extent to which this disinformation has become part of the fabric of the new media landscape, and therefore, American political discourse.


  98. says

    Followup to SC @128.

    Via Olga Lautman, a story from the Ukrainian Independent Information Agency (UNIAN.NET) reports that the FSB (Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation) tipped off the Ukrainians to a plot by “Kadyrovites” (Chechens; Putin’s most loyal servitors) to assassinate Ukrainian President Zelensky. The Ukrainians snuffed them out. Excerpt from the Google translation:

    The special operation that was to be carried out directly by the Kadyrovites to eliminate our president is fully known to us today. And I can say that we received information from representatives of the FSB, who today have no desire to take part in this bloody war. And thanks to For this, I can say, that Kadyrov’s elite group, which went here specifically to eliminate our president, was directly destroyed,” Danilov said.

    If true, Russians are doing the job of reining in Vladimir Putin. That’s the right way to end this war safely, without it going nuclear. And there are other reports of Russian soldiers slowing down the war effort or refusing orders entirely. So, maybe, maybe, something very important is happening.

    There’s a lot of misinformation out there and I don’t want to add to it. I don’t have confirmation, but the sources seem pretty solid. This could be a big break in the attempt to end this nightmare. I pray it is so.

    […] The Hill and Newsweek have picked up the story, so it’s officially in US media, though I don’t see any further independent sourcing. […]


  99. says

    […] Someone tweeted: “Ukrainian tennis champion Elina Svitolina defeated Russia’s Anastasia at the Monterrey Open on March 1, pledging to donate her prize money to Ukraine’s military. “I was on a mission for my country,” Svitolina said.”

    My tweet response which is going viral on Twitter:

    ”And she did it without making a big racket.”

    Another tweet from me which has also gone viral on Twitter:

    ”Donald Trump couldn’t locate Ukraine on a map of Ukraine.”

    A lot of people liked this tweet from me: “Trump’s net worth has dropped by 90% this morning. The Russian Ruble has dropped by 90%. Probably just a coincidence.”

    Another tweet from Captain Obvious (me):

    ”Ted Cruz received top secret intelligence today on Ukraine from the U.S. Intelligence Agency. Many people on Twitter are saying that Ted Cruz will give that information to Donald Trump. That’s ridiculous! I’m sure he’ll hand-deliver it directly to Putin.”

    Captain Obvious responding to a Marco Rubio tweet when he was too cowardly to attend the State of the Union Address:

    ”The two easiest things to buy in Florida are an AK-47 and a Marco Rubio.”

    When Joe Biden talked about opening our country to people who are in distress, Ted Cruz made a nasty comment about illegal aliens crossing our border. Captain Obvious’ response was:

    ”Mexico wants to build the wall to keep Ted Cruz from coming back to Cancun. And Mexico will pay for it!”

    The GOP has asked Vladimir Putin to give the rebuttal to President Biden’s speech.

  100. says

    […] Not wanting to lose control of Europe’s main grain, Stalin in 1932. resorted to one of the most heinous forms of terror against a nation. In the process of nationalization, he took the grainy land from Ukrainian peasants, and all its yields, creating artificial hunger. The goal was to “teach Ukrainians” so that they would no longer oppose official Moscow. Thus, the nation that produced the most wheat in Europe was left without a crumb of bread. The peak of the Holodomor was in the spring of 1933. In Ukraine, 17 people starved to death every minute, over 1000 every hour, and almost 24500 every day! People were literally starving to death on the streets.

    In the emptied Ukrainian villages Stalin settled the Russian population. During the next census, there was a large population shortage. Therefore, the Soviet government abolished the census, destroyed the census documentation, and the censusers were shot or sent to gulag, to completely hide the truth.

    It was in Holodomor during 1932-1933. hunger killed between seven and ten million people, more than Jews in World War II. Their toxic gas was hunger. Their Hitler was Stalin. Their holocaust was Gladomor. For them fascist Berlin was Soviet Moscow, and their concentration camp was the Soviet Union. Today, 28 countries of the world classify the Holodomor as a genocide, and you could not teach about it in school because almost all evidence has been destroyed, and the victim was silenced for decades and had no say until recently.

    The Holodomor may have temporarily broken the Ukrainian resistance, but it made the desire for Ukraine’s independence from Russia eternal.


  101. says

    The truth behind Kim Reynolds’ State of the Union response is ugly and hypocritical, not “Iowa nice”

    Gov. Kim Reynolds tonight gave one of the most boring responses to the State of the Union that I have ever watched, but no amount of mundane “Iowa nice” could launder the usual Republican lies and hypocrisies.

    Most notable to me was her claim that the GOP is the party fighting on behalf of working people, as it came mere hours after she signed into law a massive tax cut for millionaires that will blow a hole in the state budget for years to come. It was even more audacious given the amendments that Republicans rejected:

    Democratic senators proposed amendments that would expand the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit, keep current tax rates for Iowans with taxable income over $250,000, and limit retired farmer benefits to those who rent their land to beginning and young farmers.

    As it stands, the top 20% of Iowa “earners” will receive 76% of the tax breaks, while millionaires will take home $112 for every dollar tossed at the median income earners in the state.

    At the same time, Iowa is actively stopping its most distressed renters from relief to which they’re already entitled, holding over $141 million in undistributed funds from the first round of funds distributed by the federal government. As of December, less than 1% of Iowans had received any of the funds earmarked for them — and that was before the state received another $149 million from the second round of funding. She did, however, use $450,000 to pay 21 staffers for three months in 2020, which now has her in hot water.

    Reynolds also attacked “big government,” sounding like a catatonic Reagan knockoff in the process. “You shouldn’t have to wake up every morning and worry about the next thing the government is going to do to you, your business, or your children,” said the woman who has devoted much of the past few years to using the power of the government to immiserate parents and children across Iowa.

    […] this winter [she attempted] to ban award-winning books from schools.

    She’s also in the midst of trying to defund public education in favor of charter and private schools, a proposal that has previously fallen flat with more rural members of her party.

    I wish the national media mentioned any of those things before or after she gave her speech tonight. Instead, they took her at face value and examined her talking points as if the truth is irrelevant and everything is a political campaign, where optics and steady deliveries are all that matter. […]

  102. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    The United Nations has voted overwhelmingly for a resolution deploring Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and called for the immediate withdrawal of its forces, in a global expression of outrage that highlighted Russia’s increasing isolation, Julian Borger writes.

    In an emergency session of the UN’s general assembly, 141 of the 193 member states voted for the resolution, 35 abstained and five voted against.

    The resolution, which was co-sponsored by 94 countries, said the UN “deplores in the strongest terms the aggression by the Russian Federation against Ukraine”. It demanded that “the Russian Federation immediately cease its use of force against Ukraine” and “immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraw all of its military forces”.

    The resolution is not legally binding, but is an expression of the views of the UN membership, aimed at increasing pressure on Moscow and its ally, Belarus.

    On Friday, Russia was the sole vote against a similar resolution in the security council, but because Russia is one of the five powers with a veto, the resolution was not upheld, so Ukraine’s allies referred the matter to the general assembly.

    It is first time in 40 years, the security council has referred a crisis to the assembly and only the 11th time an emergency session of the UN general assembly has been called since 1950.

  103. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Russia’s defence ministry said 498 Russian soldiers had been killed in Ukraine since the beginning of its invasion of Ukraine, Russian state news agency RIA is reporting.

    The ministry said 1,597 Russians have been wounded so far, according to Russian media reports. It marks the first time Moscow has released figures for casualties sustained during the invasion.

    Russia’s defence ministry also said that more than 2,870 Ukrainian soldiers and “nationalists” had been killed and about 3,700 wounded, according to Interfax.

    The Guardian cannot independently verify the Russian figures and there was no immediate comment from Ukraine

    If that’s how many they’re acknowledging, it’s probably far higher. And even that is a huge number. Related to Lynna’s #141, Moscow has reportedly designated several hospitals near the border to only be used to treat wounded soldiers; Russia is losing around 750 people per day to COVID, which again is the official toll so it’s likely probably two or three times as many in reality.

  104. says

    Pro-Putin Disinformation on Ukraine Is Thriving in Online Anti-Vax Groups

    All the usual themes: Secret government alliances, anti-Semitic tropes, and nefarious scientists.

    Since the beginning of the pandemic, we’ve seen how conspiracy theories can overlap and collide. I’ve documented how anti-vaccine groups embraced QAnon disinformation about liberal elites conspiring to unseat Trump, and how white nationalists find willing audiences for their racist ideology in anti-mask groups. Over the last week, a new disinformation hybrid has appeared, as online anti-vaccine groups have become a hotbed of pro-Russia conspiracy theories about the conflict in Ukraine—and some of the most prominent anti-vaccine activists are actively promoting geopolitical falsehoods.

    Imran Ahmed, executive director of the online extremism tracking group Center for Countering Digital Hate, has been following the convergence of the conspiracy theories, and he’s noticed they share familiar themes: alleged secret government alliances, anti-Semitic accusations, and allusions to nefarious scientists. “There are particular individuals within the anti-vaccine world who are amenable to pro-Russian propaganda,” he says, “and that would include some of the people who’ve cohered around QAnon and Trump.”

    One example of this is how an old Trump-era storyline—the theory that SARS-CoV-2 was deliberately engineered in a lab and released—seems to have been reconstituted in a new form: Anti-vaccine influencers claim that the United States owns a network of secret biolabs in Ukraine where dangerous infectious disease research takes place. For them, it’s just obvious that Biden is sending aid to Ukraine in order to protect those assets. This rumor has been proven to be manifestly false—but that hasn’t stopped it from circulating and gaining momentum. [JFC!]

    Last week, Christiane Northrup, an influential holistic medicine practitioner who regularly spreads pandemic misinformation and promotes the QAnon conspiracy theory, shared with her 78,000 Telegram followers a map that supposedly showed the secret labs in Ukraine that she insists create viruses. She also shared a post from a Bulgarian news site claiming that the US government “conducted biological experiments with a potentially lethal outcome on 4,400 soldiers in Ukraine and 1,000 soldiers in Georgia.” This is not true. On Instagram, a popular meme traveling with the hashtag “#biolabs” shows a photo of Tom Hanks as Forrest Gump, with the caption “I might not be a smart man, but I do know if they lied to me about Covid for 2 years, they are probably lying to me about why Russia invaded Ukraine this week.”

    Meanwhile, Candace Owens, a conservative political pundit-turned-anti-vaccine activist, used an extended metaphor involving the lab-leak Covid origin theory to describe the conflict in Ukraine. “We are now experiencing Foreign policy Covid: ‘Experts’ pretending that what is happening between Russia and Ukraine is a naturally occurring event, when in fact, it was manufactured in a lab by the people who stood to benefit trillions,” she tweeted to her 3 million followers last week. […]

    In an anti-mandate Facebook group with 3,000 members called Stop the Tyranny, one member posted last week, “Look at all the corruption installed in Ukraine. Putin is against the New World Order and child trafficking.” […]

    More at the link.

  105. says

    By Andriy Yermak: As I Write, President Zelensky Is Beside Me. Please, Help Us Show Putin the Mistake He Has Made.

    New York Times link

    In launching a war on our country, President Vladimir Putin claimed Russia would “de-Nazify” and free Ukraine. But Ukraine — a nation that lost as many as eight million lives in World War II, a country that has a Jewish president — does not need to be freed from the liberated path it has chosen.

    Not since the end of World War II has Europe seen violence and naked territorial ambition at such a scale.

    I am writing this appeal from a bunker in the capital, with President Volodymyr Zelensky by my side. For a week, Russian bombs have fallen overhead. Despite the constant barrage of Russian fire, we stand firm and united in our resolve to defeat the invaders. We will fight to the last breath to protect our country.

    But make no mistake: Other autocrats are watching, taking lessons. They can create a coalition of bad will — just look at how once-peaceful Belarus is now serving as a staging ground for Russian troops.

    Listen to what Mr. Putin is saying. For years, the West listened to Mr. Putin but didn’t hear him; it is just now waking up to the existential challenge he poses to the world order. Ukraine has never underestimated his intentions — not since Russian aggression against our country began in earnest in 2014 — nor his willingness to achieve domination by any means necessary.

    That’s because we know this war is not just about Ukraine. The Kremlin wants to create a new Russian empire.

    […] We have used the weapons the West has provided. We are thankful to our American and European friends, to democracies worldwide including Australia and Japan, for their quick decisions to help us, for their sanctions against the Russian economy, for the armaments and equipment to deter the aggressor.

    But it’s not enough. We need more — and, please, stop telling us military aid is on the way. Nothing less than our freedom — and yours — is at stake.

    […] The Russians underestimated our resolve and we’ve held them off for now. But as we speak, a 40-mile-long convoy of Russian troops and equipment is closing in on Kyiv.

    We need antitank and antiaircraft weapons and other ammunition delivered to our brave soldiers right now.

    We are calling on the West to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine. We recognize that this would be a serious escalation in the war and that it could bring NATO into direct conflict with Russia. But we firmly believe that Russia won’t stop at just Ukraine, which would potentially drag NATO into this conflict anyway. A no-fly zone would at least give Mr. Putin some pause.

    We also ask the West to increase the nonmilitary costs on Russia. We welcome the coordinated measures thus far, but we need more. Every Russian bank — not just a select few — must be cut off from the SWIFT banking system, and every Russian oligarch must be sanctioned. We are also calling for a full embargo on Russian oil and all Russian exports to the United States and Europe. These measures would not be without cost to the world economy, but the alternative is far worse.

    The international community should consider expelling Russia from the United Nations or, at the very least, excluding it from the Security Council, where it has a veto.

    […] Mr. Putin’s forces will continue to terrorize the country to induce surrender. If they don’t succeed, they will burn it all down. It’s either bow or vanish; no third option is allowed.

    This is not going as planned for Russia, however. Everyday Ukrainians are confronting Russian soldiers, blocking tanks with their bodies. Russian forces are experiencing fierce resistance from both the Armed Forces of Ukraine and from Ukrainian citizens hurling homemade Molotov cocktails that Ukraine’s government is encouraging them to make. Ukrainians are defending their streets, their communities, their country and their identity. At the same time, Russian soldiers are surrendering en masse or sabotaging their own vehicles to avoid fighting, according to the Pentagon. They must know this war is unjust.

    We beseech our Western allies and partners to make the costs unbearable for Russia now.

    Article 4 of the 1994 Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances guaranteed that the United States, Britain and Russia would seek “immediate” action from the United Nations Security Council “to provide assistance” if Ukraine “should become a victim of an act of aggression or an object of a threat of aggression in which nuclear weapons are used.” Just because the aggressor — Russia — vetoes U.N. Security Council action does not relieve the other parties of the promises they made to Ukraine.

    Even though Mr. Zelensky and I cannot be physically alongside every brave Ukrainian fighting for this country, our spirit is with them.

    Every day brings the possibility that our words may be our final ones. So let them be a plea for support for a free Ukraine. […]

  106. says

    Wisconsin GOP’s election ‘audit’ becomes even more embarrassing

    One observer said the latest voter fraud report as part of the Wisconsin Republican’s sham election audit is “mind-bogglingly stupid.”

    It seemed difficult to even imagine a sham election “audit” that was more cringe-worthy than the Arizona Republicans’ fiasco. Months later, many of us still struggle not to laugh at the mere mention of “Cyber Ninjas.”

    But all things considered, the Wisconsin Republicans’ ongoing debacle is even more embarrassing.

    For months, far-right conspiracy theorists have not only argued that Donald Trump won Wisconsin in 2020 — even after a count, recount, and an audit proved otherwise — they also insisted that state officials could undo the certification of Wisconsin’s election results. Lawyers for the GOP-led legislature concluded that such an idea is patently ridiculous.

    And yet, former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman, tapped to oversee this hopelessly misguided exercise, has now told the fringe conspiracy theorists how right they are. The New York Times reported:

    A Republican report on the 2020 election in Wisconsin endorsed a host of debunked claims of fraud and false assertions about lawmakers’ power to decertify President Biden’s victory, lending credence to the conspiracy theories that have gripped Republicans in the state for more than 16 months.

    In fact, Gableman not only said legislators can decertify Biden’s victory in Wisconsin, reality be damned, he also suggested they should. “I believe the legislature ought to take a very hard look at the option of decertification” of the 2020 election, the former state justice said yesterday at a hearing of the state Assembly’s elections committee. He based this conclusion in part on evidence of voter “fraud” that doesn’t appear to exist.

    Gableman also pushed some weird conspiracy theory about Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, whom he apparently believes helped “buy” the election.

    […] Donald Trump issued two hysterical statements about Gableman yesterday.

    But the problem is not just that this nonsense will delay Republican efforts to come to terms with reality. It’s also that yesterday’s claims were plainly bizarre. The Washington Post’s Philip Bump concluded, “This Wisconsin ‘fraud’ report is so mind-bogglingly stupid that I’m honestly amazed the man responsible for it sat on the state Supreme Court.”

    […] As regular readers may recall, Gableman acknowledged that he doesn’t have “any understanding of how elections work.” He also issued strange subpoenas, demanded materials that are already publicly available, and sent error-filled requests to the wrong local officials.

    Making matters quite a bit worse, Gableman appeared on a conservative radio show to compare The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel to Nazi propaganda, complete with multiple Joseph Goebbels references. [snipped other examples]

    Yesterday, he also yesterday dismissed the significance of the Jan. 6 attack, calling it “one discrete incident.”

    Thanks to the GOP-led legislature, all of this is being financed by Wisconsin taxpayers.

    […] Gableman presented a draft report filled with bonkers assertions yesterday, but he added that his investigation — I’m using the word loosely — is not yet finished.

    Late last year, state Sen. Kathy Bernier, a member of the Republican leadership and the chair of the chamber’s elections committee, condemned her party’s anti-election conspiracy theories and urged officials to end the sham process that’s weakened public confidence in a functioning electoral system. Choking back tears, the GOP legislator added that she fears “we’re in jeopardy of losing” our republic.

    Capturing the quality of the “audit,” Gableman responded by calling for Bernier’s resignation. She announced soon after that she wouldn’t seek another term.

  107. says

    Texas campaign news, as summarized by Steve Benen:

    In Texas yesterday, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott and former Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke easily won their respective gubernatorial primaries, and will face off in November’s general election.

    In Texas’ closely watched GOP primary in the state attorney general’s race, incumbent Ken Paxton finished first with roughly 43 percent support, but since he fell short of a majority, he’ll face state Land Commissioner George P. Bush in a runoff election.

    And speaking of runoff elections in Texas, Rep. Henry Cuellar barely won more votes than attorney Jessica Cisneros in their Democratic primary rematch, and with both falling short of 50 percent, the two will face off again in May.

  108. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Russian forces appear to have become more aggressive in their targeting of infrastructure inside the Ukrainian capital, a senior US defence official has said.

    Though there has been “no appreciable movement” of Russian forces advancing on Kyiv since yesterday, Russia has increased its “missiles and artillery targeting the city,” the official continued.

    We’ve observed, certainly as you have all observed, an increase in missiles and artillery that (is) targeting the city and this (increasing) aggressiveness in terms of just the iron that they’re lobbing into the city.

    Similarly, while Russian forces are assaulting Chernihiv and Kharkiv, there has been “no appreciable movement by the Russians to take either one”, the official said.

    However, Russian forces have made more progress in the south, the official said, noting that Russia claims their troops have taken control of the city of Kherson.

  109. says

    Josh Marshall: Enough About “No Fly Zones”

    I’ve mentioned this a few times already. But I remain stunned at the number of people I’m generally used to seeing decrying “forever wars” and the military industrial complex insisting the time has come for us to intervene militarily in Ukraine. The favored demand seems to be a “no fly zone” either over Kyiv or the entirety of Ukraine — which in case you haven’t reviewed the maps is a very large country. The preference for “no fly zones” is itself a reminder that the U.S. public has virtually no living memory of war with a peer military force or even one that can put up any kind of fight. The word gets tossed around as though it described a kind of high tech forcefield the U.S. deploys when we’ve gotten fed up with the pictures we’re seeing on TV. I’ve even seen people questioning whether a “no fly zone” actually constitutes an act of war.

    I would hate to think anyone reading this needs clarification. But a “no fly zone” is simply a standing order to shoot down any military aircraft in a certain geographical space. As long as you keep your planes on the ground, no one gets hurt. So assuming Russia doesn’t agree to our unilateral declaration of a “no fly zone” that means putting lots of planes in the air over Ukraine and shooting down any Russian aircraft operating in the country. You also have to deploy AWACs type planes to monitor where everything is. You have to protect those too. Before you get to shooting down planes you have to destroy anything on the ground that can threaten your own aircraft. So the U.S. has to attack and destroy any anti-aircraft capacity that Russia currently has in Ukraine. So a campaign of bombing and attacks from the air before you get down to shooting planes. Indeed, since major fighting is happening near the border between the two countries the U.S. would likely need to attack such armaments and hardware in Russia as well. So now we’re not only engaging directly in combat operations against the Russian army. We’re invading and attacking on Russian territory.

    My sense is that the U.S. Air Force can likely beat the Russian Air Force, though not easily. So if we shoot down all their planes operating in Ukraine remember that we’re right there next to Russia, where Russia keeps most of its Air Force. They can send over more.

    If you’re really serious about a “no fly zone” you really might as well support just intervening on the side of the Ukrainians and forcing the Russian Army back out of the country. It really amounts to the same thing.

    I assume it goes without saying that this trajectory of events definitely constitutes going to war with Russia and would be a very bad situation. To put it mildly. There’s a reason we spent decades doing our best never to directly engage the Russia Army, certainly not on or within its own borders.

    Let’s stop talking about “no fly zones.”

  110. says


    Tuesday night, at his State of the Union address, President Joe Biden boasted about the impressive job growth that occurred during his first year in office.

    Our economy created over 6.5 million new jobs just last year, more jobs created in one year than ever before in the history of America.

    The New York Times was quickly on the scene to fact-check Biden’s tall tales. The paper of Milli Vanilli records rated Biden’s statement “partially true,” which is the silver medal of the fact-checking game. You didn’t really tell the truth but you didn’t outright lie. Were you even trying at all? […]

    The Times conceded that “Biden is correct on the numbers” but — and they apparently thought this was important — “the government only started collecting this data in 1939.” If Biden had the integrity of your average Vulcan, he would’ve been more precise. The government began tracking job creation data three years before Biden was born, and it’s true that America has existed for significantly longer than Biden’s lifetime.

    It’s a reasonable assumption, though, that America didn’t create 6.5 million jobs in a single year during the Great Depression. The US population was a recorded 106,021,537 in 1920. It’s currently 331,449,281. It seems mathematically improbable that such a smaller population could’ve added 6.5 million jobs even during one of the most roaring years of the 1920s.

    But, hey, I get it: The Times is a fabled institution we should all respect without question and with the utmost deference (that’s probably in the fine print when you subscribe to the digital edition). However, it doesn’t seem as if the Times is a consistent stickler when it comes to the facts or even observable reality.

    Just this week, political consultant and writer Jamison Foser requested a retraction for an obvious and gross error in a column by Bret Stephens, who specializes in obvious and gross commentary. […]

    In his February 1 column, presumptuously titled “A Letter To My Liberal Friends,” Stephens wrote:

    And then there’s liberal governance in the cities. In San Francisco, District Attorney Chesa Boudin has championed the calls for decriminalizing prostitution, public urination, public camping, blocking sidewalks and open-air drug use. Click this link and take a brief stroll through a local train station to see how these sorts of policies work out.

    This is repulsive on its face. An obscene increase in housing costs over a relatively short period has resulted in crippling, Oliver Twist-style poverty, and Stephens’s instinctive response is “are there no prisons?” But this is an opinion column, and Stephens is welcome to advocate for the rights of tech workers who are burdened with the sight of homeless people while waiting for their Uber.

    Foser didn’t write to complain about how much of an asshole Stephens is. No, he pointed out that the helpful, scaremongering link that Stephens provides is a YouTube video that was posted in 2018, two years before Boudin took office. Donald Trump was president at the time and Republicans still controlled the House of Representatives. “Defund the Police” didn’t exist as a slogan. My college newspaper adviser would’ve called me and my editor on the carpet for publishing something so deliberately misleading. However, Opinion copy chief Jose Fidelino defended Stephens.

    Dear Jamison Foser,

    Thank you for your message.

    As Mr. Stephens wrote, the video was illustrative of how “these sorts of policies work out.” He did not state that the conditions shown in the video were the result of Mr. Boudin’s policies.

    OK, all together now: Can you believe this shit?

    It’s already a stretch to argue that a district attorney’s policies can meaningfully address the fallout from rampant income inequality, but Boudin straight up wasn’t DA in 2018. That was George Gascón, an entirely different conservative bogeyman. Jose Fidelino started at the Times in 2020. If I included a link to some lousy Bari Weiss column while disparaging his work, that’s not “illustrative” of my point. It’s just a lie. It took me all of five seconds to find a YouTube video from 2021 about the San Francisco homeless crisis.

    As Foser notes, San Francisco hadn’t decriminalized prostitution when the 2018 video was filmed. The cops interviewed in the video claim there’s insufficient staff to keep the unhoused and addicts out of the train stations. Prosecutors don’t control the police budget, and that pesky Eighth Amendment prevents life sentences for public urinators. You have to release the offenders eventually and they have to go someplace.

    Stephens and his fellow conservatives want to demonize the least among us so that no one questions their inhumane economic policies. The Times is a willing enabler in this propaganda. By its own standards, Stephens’ column was “misleading,” “exaggerated,” and outright “false.”


  111. says

    Meduza liveblog:

    Russia Education Ministry announces nationwide lesson on the war in Ukraine, explaining why “this liberation mission is a necessity”

    The ministry’s broadcast is scheduled for March 3 at noon, Moscow time.

    “Viewers will be informed about the background of today’s events: about the danger NATO presents to our country and why Russia rose to the defense of the civilian population of the Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics [sic], and they’ll also learn how to distinguish truth from lies in the enormous stream of information, photographs, and videos that full the Internet today,” the minister said in a press release.

    Before the broadcast was announced, the federal government distributed teaching guidelines to schools across the country explaining why Russia’s “operation” in eastern Ukraine “is not a war.” The training materials claim that “Russia’s armed forces are not conducting air or artillery strikes at Ukraine’s cities, and there is no threat to the civilian population.”

    A source close to a teachers’ union in Russia told Meduza that instructors have been told to incorporate the new guidelines into their curriculum immediately and urgently.

    According to materials shared with Meduza, the Education Ministry is asking schoolteachers to show President Putin’s speech announcing the invasion to students and ask them questions based on his statements, such as: “Formulate the main reason for the start of the special military operation to defend the Luhansk and Donetsk people’s republics.”

    The Education Ministry is also distributing QR codes that redirect people to “trustworthy information resources.” These include the websites for the Kremlin, the Defense Ministry, and various state-run news agencies.

    One of these teaching manuals was sent to a school in Poronaysk, in Russia’s Sakhalin region, according to content shared on Instagram.

  112. says

    Julia Davis:

    Orwellian propaganda permeates #Russia’s state TV.

    Panelist claims: “Joe Biden is a Nazi. U.S. Congressmen⁠—Democrat and Republican⁠—are Nazis… German Chancellor is a Nazi… EU leaders are Nazis… because their sanctions are attempting to preserve Neo-Nazism in Ukraine.”

  113. says

    Marine Le Pen’s party is binning its 8-page electoral tract, which features a picture of her shaking hands with Vladimir Putin. Apparently that’s not a vote-winner any more! 1.2 million copies had been printed.

    Photo at the link.

    You can be pretty sure if Le Pen makes the second round against Macron that he will have a pile of these Putin-Le Pen manifestoes on his desk during the presidential debate. Might even bring a framed copy to give to her. As a keepsake.

  114. says

    Navalny calls for protests in Russia, calls Putin an ‘obviously insane tsar’

    Imprisoned opposition leader Alexei Navalny called upon Russians to protest Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine on a daily basis.

    Navalny, one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s most prominent critics, called the president an “obviously insane tsar” in a statement published to his Twitter.

    “Let’s at least not become a nation of frightened silent people. Of cowards who pretend not to notice the aggressive war against Ukraine unleashed by our obviously insane tsar,” the statement said.

    Navalny noted that protests from within Russia would signal to the world that not all Russians support Putin’s attacks.

    “We cannot wait any longer. Wherever you are, in Russia, Belarus or on the other side of the planet, go to the main square of your city every weekday and at 2 pm on weekends and holidays,” he added.

    “I am from the USSR myself. I was born there. And the main phrase from there – from my childhood – was ‘fight for peace.’ I call on everyone to take to the streets and fight for peace,” he said, noting that “Putin is not Russia.”

    “Everything has a price, and now, in the spring of 2022, we must pay this price. There’s no one to do it for us. Let’s not ‘be against the war.’ Let’s fight against the war,” he concluded.

    Navalny was imprisoned last year after returning to Russia from Germany, where he received treatment after being poisoned with the nerve agent Novichok in August 2020. Though the Kremlin has denied involvement with the incident, the U.S. and other nations have blamed Russia for Navalny’s poisoning.

    The opposition leader was sentenced to two and a half years in prison after Russian authorities claimed that he violated his parole from a previous conviction by leaving Russia. Navalny’s allies have alleged that his prior conviction was politically motivated.

  115. blf says

    Here in France, the two Putin supporting nazis will be able to run for the French presidency, Far-right Le Pen, Zemmour clear ‘500 signature’ hurdle to compete for French presidency:

    Far-right French presidential contenders Marine Le Pen and pundit-turned-politician Éric Zemmour have both collected enough signatures from elected officials to become official candidates in April’s two-round presidential election, beating a March 4 deadline by just days.


    Le Pen and Zemmour are performing relatively well ahead of the April 10 first round — with most polls putting them in second and third place, respectively, behind President Emmanuel Macron — which means either one might have a chance of qualifying for the second and final round on April 24.

    The 500 signature rule, in place since the mid-1970s, is designed to filter out some of the more eccentric contenders ahead of the first round. […]

    An IFOP poll on Tuesday showed Macron, who has yet to officially announce his candidacy, with 28% of voter support and Le Pen with 17%. Zemmour was tied at 13% with conservative challenger Valérie Pécresse.

    The same poll also showed Macron winning the April 24 second-round run-off with 56.5% to Le Pen’s 43.5%.


    Pre-invasion, both Le Pen and Zemmour were notably pro-Putin, with teh le penazis using funds from a Russian bank and Le Pen visiting Putin (both during the last presidential campaign if my memory is correct). From Ukraine crisis highlights stark divisions among France’s presidential candidates (Feb 4th):

    [… Le Pen] leans toward privileging relations with Moscow. In her opinion, France’s energy interests (20 percent of France’s gas come from Russia) and the shared fight against Islamism both plead in favour of maintaining good relations between Paris and Moscow. The committed Europhobe maintains that the European Union, in lending its support to Ukraine, played a role in exacerbating tensions in Eastern Europe. Whether we like it or not, Ukraine belongs to the Russian sphere of influence, The National Rally candidate told Polish media outlet Rzeczpospolita.

    But among the principal hopefuls vying for the French presidency in April, far-right contender Éric Zemmour is surely the most pro-Russian. The pundit-turned-politician holds that Ukraine has throughout history always been a region of empire, whether it be Russian or Austrian. Zemmour told RTL radio that France should refrain from aligning with the US position because Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s demands are completely legitimate. The far-right newcomer advocates for letting Moscow of the hook entirely, concluding, If I were president, I would say: ‘There are no more sanctions against Russia’.

    Whilst not pro-Putin (as far as I know), far-left Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who is stridently anti-US and anti-Nato, didn’t sound any better:

    […] Mélenchon has come out in defence of Russian military strategy. The Russians are amassing (troops) at their borders? Who wouldn’t do the same with a neighbour like that, a country associated with a power that is continually threatening to them? the leader of La France Insoumise (“France Unbowed”) wrote in Le Monde on January 18. […]

    All three are now weaving dodging and obfuscating… I haven’t bothered to look up their recent blatherings.

  116. says

    Wonkette: “Lou Dobbs Knows What’s A Soviet Nazi Propaganda Movie, And It Is Joe Biden’s SOTU Speech!”

    STEVE BANNON (HOST): You’re an audience favorite. But everybody wants to know Lou Dobbs’ take on last night, Joe Biden. Both the performance and the content, sir.

    Do they, though? Does everybody want to know that? [video at the link]

    LOU DOBBS (GUEST): Thank you very much Steve and it’s great to be with you. First, as to the president’s performance, it struck me that we were witnessing a propaganda movie from the 1930s, it could have been Soviet, it could have been Nazi, it was outrageous to see a president lie to the American people time after time after time.

    Wait, what?

    Dobbs went on to say he was pretty sure Biden was going to announce during the SOTU that he was going to “convert to the Republican Party” and that he had “decided that Donald Trump was right about everything, economics, geopolitics, and that he had decided to become an America First Trumpian Republican on top of all that!”

    So that’s weird. On one hand, Lou Dobbs thought Biden sounded like he was doing Soviet Nazi propaganda movies from the 1930s. But on the other hand, he thought Biden sounded like he was going to become a Republican who loves Donald Trump. Which one is it? Are those somehow the same?

    […] it’s definitely true that Joe Biden’s State of the Union, where among other things he urged America and the world to unite against Russian war and genocide, is the real Soviet Nazi propaganda movie.

    […] Meanwhile, Margarita Simonyan, editor-in-chief of Kremlin-run RT — read about how life’s going for them today! — appeared on Russian TV and explained what’s really happening in Ukraine:

    As for those who say “No to war” and are ashamed that they’re Russian, Simonyan asserted, “I am ashamed that they are my fellow citizens.”

    Attempting to deny Russia’s intensifying war against Ukraine, Simonyan claimed: “Nobody is fighting against Ukrainians! We’re liberating Ukraine!” She followed up with another ludicrous claim: “No one is bombing peaceful Ukrainian cities!”

    Simonyan is one of the Russians in a position to absolutely know that she’s lying, but don’t say she’s spreading propaganda, because Joe Biden is the Soviet Nazi propaganda movie. […]


  117. blf says

    Grauniad snarking, Trigger warning: this column contains reporting of rightwing stupidity:

    Advising that a Hemingway novel contains ‘graphic fishing scenes’ sounds overzealous — but being over-sensitive is hardly the worst problem we face today

    Forecasting the future is a fool’s game. Nevertheless, I would put money on the fact that, even when the apocalypse is nigh, the conservative press will never lose sight of what is really important. The ice caps are melting? Rightwingers will remind us that it is snowflakes on the left we should be worried about. The threat of nuclear war? They will explain that it is not the nukes that should keep us up at night, but the woke brigade and their pesky trigger warnings.

    If you think I am exaggerating, I suggest taking a look at the Daily Mail[heil]. You would think that the very real war in Ukraine might have temporarily distracted the keyboard combatants at the Mail from their obsession with the culture wars. Alas, no: the Mail seems immune to outrage fatigue. It certainly hasn’t allowed the geopolitical situation to stop it from summoning up righteous indignation at a university’s use of content warnings. The paper of regressive record is very upset about the fact that the University of the Highlands and Islands in Scotland has apparently put a content warning on Ernest Hemingway’s novel The Old Man and the Sea stating that it contains graphic fishing scenes.

    Is warning students about literary violence against fish ridiculous? Yes, of course it is. I am not even going to try to argue that it isn’t. But let’s be clear: an overzealous attempt to inform students about content they may find upsetting is not something to be outraged by. Nobody has tried to ban students from reading Hemingway. Nobody is burning the book because they don’t like its message. Nobody is dropping bombs on civilians because they read a book with graphic fishing scenes. […]

    It’s unclear if the warning is about Santiago’s attempts to land a Marlin, the sharks’ attempts to eat the Marlin, or Santiago’s catching and eating other fish during his multi-day voyage.

    Apparently the University has form. According to ‘Grey [sic] fishing scenes’ in an Ernest Hemingway novel have prompted a woke warning (not too sure how reliable this source is), “Mаry Shelley’s 1818 novel Frаnkenstein, аs well аs Shаkespeаre’s Hаmlet аnd Romeo аnd Juliet, hаve аll been flаgged by the university.”

  118. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    The Russian Federation Council is set to hold an unscheduled meeting on Friday, leading to widespread speculation in Moscow that the country might impose martial law.

    The introduction of martial law would give the authorities sweeping powers to limit freedom of movement and freedom of speech. Martial law has been introduced in modern Russia.

    Tatyana Stanovaya, a prominent Russian political analyst and founder of R.Politik on Wednesday evening tweeted that introducing a martial law would be a “logical scenario.”

    “The proclamation of martial law will allow the authorities to introduce military censorship, to increase the secrecy of the state’s activities and the actions of local bodies.”

    With the introduction of martial law, the powers of elected bodies, local authorities and officials are automatically extended.

    The last time an unscheduled meeting of the Federation Council was called, the body approved President Vladimir Putin permission to use military force outside the country, two days prior to the country’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24th.

    The Federation Council said it will officially discuss on Friday a package of anti-crisis measures in response to Western sanctions.

    Over 6,500 Russians have so far been detained across Russia during anti-war protests, according to the independent monitoring site OVD-Info.

    Russia has also seen a widespread crackdown on its independent media since the start of the war. Yesterday, Russia’s prosecutor general ordered the country’s media watchdog to block the liberal Ekho Moskvy radio station and the last remaining opposition television channel Dozhd TV.

    The Duma is also set to meet on Friday to discuss a new law that would punish “spreading disinformation about the armed forces of the Russian Federation in any military conflicts” with up to 15 years in prison.

  119. says

    MSNBC just showed a clip of Joe Biden a few moments ago. I was like, “What’s that on his forehead? …It’s not Ash Wednesday, is it?” Turns out it is.

  120. says

    Julia Davis:

    Russian state TV condemned the US for helping Ukraine defend itself from Russian aggression & threatened: “American protectorate will be publicly destroyed.” Having said too much, pundit snapped back to the approved propaganda line: “It will be liberated.”

  121. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    The UK and 37 other countries have formally referred reports of atrocities committed in Ukraine to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

    Under ICC rules, such a referral from member states means that the prosecutor does not have to get the approval of ICC judges before opening an investigation, speeding up the process.

    With 37 countries joining the UK, it is the largest referral in the history of the ICC….

  122. blf says

    Nasa/JPL Mars helicopter Ingenuity successfully completed its 20th(!) flight last Friday, en route to rendezvousing with Perseverance near the original landing site. After rendezvous, they will head towards the Jezero Crater river delta.

    Apparently, flight 19 — the first one this Earth year (2022), delayed by a Martian dust storm, was quite tricky: First, there was debris on the downward-pointing navigation camera, which could confuse the navigation system. However, anticipating there would be defects with the camera / lens, that system has the ability to mask out (ignore) parts of the image. The mask was updated to exclude the debris.

    A more serious problem was dust had gotten into the servos (swashplates) which control the rotors’ angles, critical to flight. Apparently, experiments on Earth before launch had found that by “wiggling” the swashplates, accumulated dust could be cleared from the system. The team did a few wiggles on one Sol (Martian day), which data indicated worked so well they then did a lot more wiggling the next Sol, apparently restoring the servo operations to pre-dust storm performance.

  123. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    The prized, 512-foot yacht of Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov has been seized by German officials today following sanctions imposed by the EU, reported Forbes’ Giacomo Tognini:

    Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov was sanctioned by the European Union on Monday. Two days later, Forbes has learned from three sources in the yacht industry that one of his prized possessions—the 512-foot yacht Dilbar, valued at nearly $600 million—has been seized by German authorities in the northern city of Hamburg.

    The ship has been in the Hamburg shipyards of German shipbuilding firm Blohm+Voss since late October for a refitting job. Sources who spoke to Forbes said that the German government froze the asset and that, likely as a result, Blohm+Voss employees who had been working on the yacht didn’t show up to work on Wednesday. Representatives for Blohm+Voss and Usmanov didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

    Usmanov purchased Dilbar in 2016 for a reported cost of $600 million from German shipbuilder Lürssen, which custom-built it for him over 52 months. The firm calls it “one of the most complex and challenging yachts ever built, in terms of both dimensions and technology.” At 15,917 tons, it’s the world’s largest motor yacht by gross tonnage, and is typically manned by a crew of 96 people. Dilbar boasts the largest swimming pool ever installed on a yacht as well as two helicopter pads, a sauna, a beauty salon, and a gym. Its plush interiors have more than 1,000 sofa cushions and it can host up to 24 people in 12 suites.

    They have a link to the full paywalled Forbes article.

  124. blf says

    Seized one! From the Grauniad’s current one madman’s war live blog:

    The prized, 512-foot yacht of Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov has been seized by German officials today following sanctions imposed by the EU, reported Forbes’ Giacomo Tognini:

    Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov was sanctioned by the European Union on Monday. Two days later, Forbes has learned from three sources in the yacht industry that one of his prized possessions — the 512-foot yacht Dilbar, valued at nearly $600 million — has been seized by German authorities in the northern city of Hamburg.

    The ship has been in the Hamburg shipyards of German shipbuilding firm Blohm+Voss since late October for a refitting job. Sources who spoke to Forbes said that the German government froze the asset and that, likely as a result, Blohm+Voss employees who had been working on the yacht didn’t show up to work on Wednesday. […]

    Usmanov purchased Dilbar in 2016 for a reported cost of $600 million from German shipbuilder Lürssen, which custom-built it for him over 52 months. The firm calls it “one of the most complex and challenging yachts ever built, in terms of both dimensions and technology.” At 15,917 tons, it’s the world’s largest motor yacht by gross tonnage, and is typically manned by a crew of 96 people. Dilbar boasts the largest swimming pool ever installed on a yacht as well as two helicopter pads, a sauna, a beauty salon, and a gym. Its plush interiors have more than 1,000 sofa cushions and it can host up to 24 people in 12 suites.

  125. blf says

    Far-right French presidential candidate ‘forgot to pay at grocery store’ (possibly paywalled):

    French satirical magazine Le Canard Enchaîné has reported that on Sunday, February 27th, Zemmour, accompanied by a security officer, left a Bon Marché store in the capital without paying for €38.80 worth of groceries he had scanned at an automatic checkout.

    Le Canard Enchaîné reported that the discrepancy in till receipts was only noticed at the end of the day, and Zemmour was identified as the non-paying customer. Contacted via his campaign office the following day, the presidential hopeful sent a security officer to cover the cost of the bill.

    Zemmour tried to laugh off the incident as a one-off error.

    I simply forgot to pay, he told Le Canard Enchaîné. […]

    But newspaper […] pointed out that Zemmour had been stopped by a security guard at a La Grande Epicerie store in 2021, having forgotten to pay for his shopping.

    Both times, he only had rubles, which are now almost-worthless (speculates the mildly deranged penguin). A ruble is now worth less than one (Euro) cent, pre-invasion it was worth slightly more than a (Euro) cent.

  126. says

    The only countries voting against the resolution were Russia, Belarus, Eritrea, North Korea, and Syria: “The U.N. General Assembly voted Wednesday to reprimand Russia over its invasion of Ukraine and demand that Moscow stop fighting and withdraw its military forces.”

  127. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    French president Emmanuel Macron has delivered a message to the Russian people in Russian.

    Today we stand side by side with all Russians who do not want this unworthy war to be waged on their behalf, courageously defend peace in the spirit of responsibility, and declare this both in Russia and abroad.

    I applaud the courage of the Ukrainian people who are resisting under fire. On behalf of the French, I address to President Zelenskiy the fraternal support of France. He is now the face of honour, freedom and courage.”

    Russia has been turfed out of the indexes used by many fund managers to decide where to invest after provider MSCI declared the country “uninvestable”.

    The decision is likely to result in the wholesale dumping of Russian shares by western investors.

    Many have already pledged to sell out of Russia following the invasion of Ukraine, but the process has been made more difficult because the Moscow stock exchange has been closed all week….

  128. says

    New York Times:

    Russian forces captured the strategically important hub of Kherson on Wednesday, Ukrainian officials said, making it the first major city to be overcome by President Vladimir V. Putin’s forces since the invasion began last Thursday.

    The fall of Kherson — a city of 300,000 people, northwest of the Crimean peninsula — is significant because it would allow the Russians to control more of Ukraine’s southern coastline and to push west toward the city of Odessa.

  129. blf says

    Texas Republican drops re-election bid after affair with woman once married to IS [daesh] leader:

    A Texas Republican congressman apologized and dropped his bid for re-election on Wednesday, after revelations of an affair with a British woman who was once married to an Islamic State leader.

    Van Taylor, who was bidding for a third term in the US House of Representatives, said: “About a year ago, I made a horrible mistake that has caused deep hurt and pain among those I love most in this world. I had an affair, it was wrong, and it was the greatest failure of my life.”

    In September 2020, Tania Joya spoke to the Guardian. She described her early life in London and how in the early 2000s she met and married John Georgelas, a convert to Islam from Plano, Texas, who eventually took her and their children to Syria.

    “John played an essential part in establishing the caliphate and was a leading propagandist for Islamic State [daesh], helping to groom other westerners,” Joya wrote […]

  130. says

    About oligarch’s money being poured into real estate assets in the USA:

    […] “There’s not enough teeth into regulations in terms of making Realtors report,” Shelley said. “And there’s not been enough emphasis on commercial real estate. It’s all about oligarchs’ buying real estate for themselves.”

    While European countries have long had similar requirements, the latest legislation is a departure from the U.S.’s long-standing approach to private companies and disclosure requirements. Still, the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network is working on the final regulations necessary to activate the network. But it addresses only part of a much bigger problem. Experts say oligarchs can benefit from major disclosure loopholes in private equity and luxury goods.

    “There’s this misunderstanding that you can just go out and seize these mansions, seize these yachts. For so many of them, it’s a complete black box,” said Casey Michel, the author of “American Kleptocracy: How the U.S. Created the World’s Greatest Money Laundering Scheme in History.”

    “The U.S. provided all the tools of anonymity the oligarchs needed,” he said, and there’s no immediate executive action Biden can take to fix it.

    […] After buying in New York City, Jacky Teplitzky, the managing partner of the Teplitzky Dunayer Team with the real estate brokerage Elliman, who sold dozens of apartments in Manhattan and Miami to Russian buyers in 2006 and 2007, said Russian buyers then turned their attention to Florida.

    […] A 2017 Reuters review found at least 63 people with Russian passports or addresses had bought at least $98.4 million of property in seven Trump-branded luxury towers in southern Florida. It found that at least 703 of the owners of the 2,044 units in the seven Trump buildings, or about one-third, were limited liability companies, or LLCs, which can mask the identities of properties’ true owners. Alan Garten, the chief legal officer of the Trump Organization, told Reuters at the time that it was an “overblown story.” Over the years, such purchases, along with the broader investments Russians have made, have proven more difficult to trace.

    […] America’s heartland is most likely awash in illicit Russian money, said Michel, who documented one Ukrainian oligarch’s outsize financial grip on Cleveland.

    While the oligarch, Ihor Kolomoisky, was an early promoter of Ukraine’s current president, he eventually became a figure in pushing Russia propaganda during the Trump administration. The State Department publicly designated Kolomoisky and his immediate family members as being involved in corruption last year. Kolomoisky “became the biggest landlord in downtown Cleveland,” according to an investigation by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “He’d go to steel plants and factories in small-town Illinois, Kentucky and West Virginia, plant the money and then just allow the plants to rot,” devastating the communities, said Michel, whose book focused on Kolomoisky. […]


  131. says

    The captured/surrendering Russian soldiers I’ve seen in videos all appear extremely hungry and thirsty.

    Oryx has confirmed almost 500 pieces of Russian military equipment (tanks, artillery, helicopters, etc) lost in less than a week of fighting. They’re pretty good at tracking this, but probably lots and lots more still undocumented.”

  132. blf says

    I presume they are advised by both Zemmour and Le Pen, Ron DeSantis suggests France would fold if it was invaded by Russia:

    A lot of other places around the world, they just fold the minute there’s any type of adversity, DeSantis told reporters at a press event at South Florida University in Tampa on Wednesday.

    I mean can you imagine if he {Vladimir Putin} went into France? Would they do anything to put up a fight? Probably not. [yes, it’s well-known the WW ][ French La Résistance, as one example, rolled over and did nothing… (rolls eyes) –blf]

    The governor also began the event by angrily attacking students present on the stage with him for wearing masks against Covid-19. You do not have to wear those masks, DeSantis said, pointing a finger. [I concur, around DeSantis, an inner layer of a Nasa EVA spacesuit and an outer layer of a Medieval steel knight’s armour, and inside a Tardis, is the bare minimum of precautionary measures… –blf]

    I mean, please take them off. Honestly, it’s not doing anything and we’ve gotta stop with this Covid theatre. So if you want to wear it, fine, but this is ridiculous.


    On Wednesday, after dissing the whole of France, he had praise for Ukrainians fighting the Russian invasion.


    DeSantis also said Republicans under Trump funded a lot of weapons for Ukraine … that has helped them put up a fight.

    He did not mention that Trump’s first impeachment trial was for seeking dirt on his political rivals by withholding military aid — to Ukraine.

  133. blf says

    Australian online anti-vaccine groups switch to Putin praise and Ukraine conspiracies (Grauniad edits in {curly braces}):

    Australian anti-vaxxer groups are awash with conspiracy theories praising Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as an attack on the deep state, with some followers of the Covid-sceptic[septic] movement expressing admiration for Vladimir Putin.


    Separately, and speaking generally, academics researching conspiracy movements say the harnessing of the Russian cause by some anti-vaxxer groups is a sign these groups may continue to be active after the Covid pandemic has passed, warning that the malleable belief systems of the anti-lockdown crowds may attach to other anti-government causes in future.

    “There’s an authoritarian undertone to the organising logic, vocabulary and actions of these protest movements,” said a senior research fellow at Deakin University, Dr Josh Roose. “That won’t go away just because conditions might change.”


    Roose, who studies violent extremism and populist leaders, claimed some protesters viewed the issue through the same lens as Trump due to their correlating belief systems — a mistrust of authority, disdain for institutions and criticism of mainstream media.

    “What struck me is the pivot of message boards into that emphasis on Ukraine, which broadly coincides with Trump calling Putin a genius,” Roose told Guardian Australia. “Also, the agenda that Trump had been laying out in painting the foreign policy community, the career bureaucrats and diplomats, as part of a deep state plot.

    “They’re taking their lead directly from Trump and his supporters in the US … it’s not at the level of conspiracy, necessarily, because this is what mainstream politicians and news figures are talking about.”


    Countless posts inside the groups poured scorn on media coverage. It’s hard to know what is happening without an honest and fair media, one supporter of a large anti-vaccine group posted.

    Another said: One way to find the truth is turn on the TV and whatever they report go with the opposite.

    That such conspiracy-minded groups transfer their ideology on to news events of the day is not new. But what [a researcher studying conspiracy movements, Dr Kaz] Ross and Roose noted was the Ukraine invasion was one of the first times the anti-lockdown or Covid-sceptic movement — a broad church variously consisting of anti-vaxxers, sovereign citizens, evangelicals, civil libertarians, members of the far right and anti-government groups — had pivoted strongly to a topic outside of Covid.

    Roose and Ross said it suggested the groups may have longevity beyond the pandemic.


    Part of what I’ve redacted in the above excerpt is some Ozland political dunderhead bellowing let us not forget that he {Putin} expelled the Rothschild Banking families from Russia and is now shutting down the child sex and human trafficking and the US biological weapons facilities in the Ukraine and so on.

  134. blf says

    In Malaysia, Woman Claims There Is HIV In Covid-19 Vaccine, Gets A Roasting From Netizens:

    [A woman claims there is HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) in Covid-19 vaccines, especially booster shots, and] urged people who received booster shots to check for HIV, which can lead to AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) if left untreated.

    She claimed that the Covid-19 virus did not actually exist and was a conspiracy.

    The woman added that she had sent a letter to the Ministry of Health (KKM) to get evidence that Covid-19 was not just a bacterium or a virus.

    Lady, Covid-19 (or more accurately, SARS-CoV-2) is a virus. So is polio, smallpox, influenza (flu), and numerous other dangerous deadly diseases. There is nothing “it’s just a…” about being a virus.

    [… S]he also claimed the government is hiding certain facts about Covid-19.

    She added that the halal status of vaccines never really existed.

    She ‘quoted’ studies from unconfirmed sources which claimed that the Covid-19 vaccine had animal cells and even included various viruses such as HIV virus.

    Soon, hundreds of comments flooded social media, with people sharing their dislikes.

    The woman had been criticised as bearing the hallmarks of an anti-vaxxer.

    Most were offended and trolled the woman, others questioned if she went to school at all.

    Many on social media pointed out that she shouldn’t have passed an opinion without doing proper research and fact-checking.


  135. blf says

    There’s apparently a heavy metal band called System of a Down. Their drummer, John Dolmayan, is apparently a nazi kook who has just drank an entire supertanker of, well something, System of a Down Drummer Exposes Global COVID Conspiracy and Shrugs Off Ukraine Using Pokémon Meme:

    […] System of a Down drummer John Dolmayan truly is the only guy who knows what’s really going on in America. From vaguely suggesting the Captiol rioters were wrong while backing their unfounded theories to claiming that BLM is a terrorist organization funded by Democrats for Communists to supporting an actor who lost her job at [Lucasfilm] for saying that being her on the Internet was like being a Jew in the Holocaust [Gina Carano was fired for offensive social media posts (the Big Lie, anti-mask, transphobe, etc.) –blf], Dolmayan really is on the front lines of today’s culture war. Now, the percussionist had decided to blow this whole COVID conspiracy wide open, and has done so using the only medium left for true patriotic outlaws: Pokémon memes that don’t really illustrate their point.

    In a new post on his Instagram (which we can’t see on IG — John, a true believer in open discourse, has blocked us […]), Dolmayan posted the following statement: And just like that covid will slowly go away. This is and has always been about money, covid was about money, Ukraine is about money. Resources equal wealth, stability, and power. Theres a game of chess being played by those in the real positions of power and we’d like to think we’re the pawns but the truth is we’re not even on the board.


    We’d pick this apart, but do we really need to? Of course John doesn’t know or doesn’t want to admit how diseases work (John, you ever have the flu?). Of course thinks COVID-19 was somehow created by a fantasy cabal of rich people. Of course he’s instantly come up with an excuse that allows him to shrug off what’s happening to Ukraine […]

    Here’s a take: System of a Down is about money at this point! The band only play big stadium shows, [lead vocalist] Serj [Tankian] doesn’t really like John’s conservative bullshit, and [so on…]

    The “Pokémon Meme” apparently refers to some absurd graphic the kook posted (at the link).

  136. says

    CNN – “Trump and right-wing lawyer were part of ‘criminal conspiracy’ to overturn 2020 election, January 6 committee alleges”:

    Former President Donald Trump and a right-wing lawyer were part of a “criminal conspiracy” to overturn the 2020 presidential election, the House select committee investigating the January 6 Capitol riot alleges in a court filing Wednesday.

    The filing is part of an attempt to convince a judge to allow the panel access to emails from lawyer John Eastman, who is claiming attorney-client privilege. The committee says he helped orchestrate the plot.

  137. says

    Politico – “Feds net first guilty plea in Jan. 6 seditious conspiracy case”:

    Joshua James, one of the 11 Oath Keepers militia affiliates indicted earlier this year on a charge of seditious conspiracy alongside the group’s founder, Stewart Rhodes, on Wednesday became the first person to plead guilty to the sedition-related charge in connection with the storming of the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

    Under a plea deal revealed at a hearing on Wednesday evening, James has agreed to cooperate with prosecutors, who appear to view him as an important witness against Rhodes.

    During the hearing before U.S. District Court Judge Amit Mehta, James confirmed that he and Rhodes had agreed to use any means necessary — including deadly force — to interfere with the transfer of power from President Donald Trump to then-President-elect Joe Biden.

    One particularly alarming statement at the hearing came as Mehta read from a statement of facts in the case saying James and Rhodes vowed “to use lethal force against anyone who tried to remove President Trump from the White House.” James concurred that he had reached such an agreement.

    James was one of the Oath Keepers who was seen riding in golf carts from the group’s D.C. hotel to the Capitol, breaching the building about 30 minutes after a first wave of Oath Keepers also charged in the attack….

  138. says

    Satire from Andy Borowitz:

    As the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues to encounter difficulties, Donald J. Trump has advised Vladimir Putin “just to claim that he won.”

    “He needs to get on TV and say that he’s the winner,” Trump said. “He should say that he had a victory in Ukraine like you wouldn’t believe.”

    Trump said that the Russian President should hold rallies across the country to tell his supporters that he won but that his victory had been stolen from him.

    “I thought Putin was smart, but maybe he’s not so smart after all,” Trump said. “If he doesn’t say he won, he’s some kind of stupid dummy.”

    Trump said that, since his calls to the Russian leader kept going straight to voice mail, he left Putin a suggestion of what he should tell the Russian people.

    “All he needs to say is, ‘Frankly, we did win this invasion,’ ” Trump said.

    New Yorker link

  139. says

    While Russia has used the internet to great effect to undermine Western democracy (by, for example, putting a fascist yam salad in the Oval Office), that wild and woolly platform can be a double-edged sword. And now some enterprising folks are using it to bypass Russia’s tightening control of local media during this latest conflict:

    Russia’s communications regulator has accused 10 local media outlets of falsely depicting what Russia calls a special operation to demilitarise Ukraine. On Tuesday, Russia took radio station Ekho Moskvy off air, because of its coverage of the invasion.

    But online comments on platforms such as Google Maps and, a widely used lifestyle and entertainment website in Russia, are harder to contain – especially as internet users turn to online tools such as VPNs to circumvent restrictions on social media.

    In a review of one of Moscow’s most popular seafood restaurants on, one user wrote: “The deployment of troops in Ukraine is a war, not a special operation. Russian military kill children and civilians!!!!”

    […] There’s no hiding your bloodstained hands this time, Vlad. We all see you and your American quisling crew. The GOP is now trying to scurry away from Putin like cockroaches at a cockroach-eating contest, but their treachery has been extensively documented.

    But never mind those assholes. Huzzah and godspeed to these brave assholes: “The place was nice!” said one reviewer. “However, Putin spoiled our mood by invading Ukraine. Rise up against your dictator, stop killing innocent people! Your government is lying to you.”

    According to Reuters, the hacktivist collective known as Anonymous has been behind some of the efforts to bypass the Kremlin’s iron-fisted control of traditional media. On Twitter, the group has encouraged people to write reviews on Google Maps outlining the facts about Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

    Others have encouraged Ukraine’s supporters to use other social media platforms, such as Instagram. “In the text, write about the war and attach a photo of destroyed houses, casualties, and people in bomb shelters,” one user wrote.

    Gee, seems like it would be almost impossible to staunch the flow of information Russia doesn’t like unless, say, someone accidentally pushed Putin out of a window into a dumpster full of polonium.

    But hey, fucking with tyrants is a fun time. And anyone can do it! If you can’t or don’t want to donate money, you can always put your keyboard to good use. Democracy is back, baby! Let’s show the world we’re stronger than any tinpot dictator. Oh, and screw Putin and his GOP puppet brigade. But that goes without saying.


  140. says

    On the morning after President Biden delivered the first State of the Union address in years that was intelligent, coherent, compassionate, and free of maniacal rage, Donald Trump staged another of his pajama-clad call-ins to Fox News from his Mar-a-Lago bedroom. This time his (my)pillow talk was with the Senior Fox News Trump-Fluffer, Maria Bartiromo on the Fox Business Network.

    The Interview was filled with Trump’s typical spasms of self-exaltation and infantile insults directed at anyone who hasn’t been sufficiently worshipful. And considering the prominence of Russia’s horrendous invasion of Ukraine in the news, Bartiromo sought to give Trump an opportunity to express his “insights.” Although she never bothered to acknowledge his prior tributes to his hero, Vladimir Putin, she did ask about the conflict and the consequences for the NATO alliance.

    Trump’s first thought on the subject was to lie that “There wouldn’t have been a NATO if I hadn’t been president.” Which is peculiar considering that he frequently disparaged it as “obsolete” and sought to withdraw from it. His efforts to weaken NATO were actually the fuel for Putin’s imperialistic aggression against Ukraine. But he then went even farther down the rabid hole in this exchange:

    Bartiromo: President Zelenskyy is being hailed as the modern Winston Churchill. I know you’ve met him. What does Zelenskyy need to do right now – and you say we’ve gone wrong on Ukraine – what is the most important move that this administration needs to be making to stop this fighting in Ukraine?

    Trump: Well, I like President Zelenskyy for another reason, cause he was very honest.

    Whereupon, Trump, totally ignoring the question, embarked on an extended rant, lying about Zelenskyy absolving him of any wrongdoing during the infamous “perfect” phone call. The call where Trump tried to extort Zelenskyy into fabricating dirt on then-candidate Joe Biden. The call that was the basis for Trump being impeached the first time.

    The truth, contrary to Trump’s contention, is that Zelenskyy never said that Trump did nothing wrong. But he had to be careful not to upset Trump at the risk of losing U.S. military aid. You can’t ask a hostage if he’s under pressure and expect a candid answer. However, Zelenskyy did tell an interviewer at the time that he didn’t “want us to look like beggars.” Then went he on to say that “If you’re our strategic partner, then you can’t go blocking anything for us.”

    Trump, however, did block military aid to Ukraine at a critical time. That’s something else that Bartiromo neglected to mention. Eventually, Bartiromo tried to steer the wildly off track Trump back to the question:

    Bartiromo: But what about Joe Biden? What does Joe Biden need to do now to stop the fighting in Ukraine? You said that they’ve gone wrong. How? What should he do?

    Trump: They’ve got to get them the weapons that he needs and he’s got to open up the oil.

    Really? Trump’s insightful analysis of Ukraine’s dilemma as Russian forces are advancing is that Biden needs to do what he is already doing with regard to arming the Ukrainians? Thanks, Donnie. And as for his advice to “open the oil,” what does that even mean? Does he want the Russian Nord Stream 2 pipeline brought back online? And how would that “stop the fighting,” which is what Bartiromo had asked?

    It is simply mind boggling how anyone can take Trump seriously as a leader in governing, or diplomacy, or even in managing a Wendy’s in Boca Raton. If he can go on Fox News and make this big an ass of himself, imagine how he would fare if he were interviewed by an actual journalist. And yet his cult following continues to revere him as their messiah.


  141. lumipuna says

    Re 193 (on rail traffic between Russia and Finland):

    I have trouble keeping track on how the Ukraine war, EU sanctions and Russia’s counter-sanctions are affecting people’s ability to travel between Ukraine, Russia/Belarus and the EU.

    Apparently, air travel is out because Ukraine’s airspace is a war zone and EU and Russia have blocked each other’s airplanes (and I guess there are no flight operators in the region based in third countries). Finland used to be a popular flight connecting spot for people traveling between western Europe and eastern Asia. Now, the local flight industry is hard hit because people have to travel on other routes, circling around Russia’s extremely wide territory.

    Also, nearly all train connections between EU and Russia/Belarus are said to be closed, if they were operating during the pandemic in the first place. The Helsinki – St. Petersburg speed rail line was reopened late last year, and only for Finnish and Russian citizens. Traffic is still at lower than normal levels due to pandemic restrictions, so relatively few trains operate on the line. In some places, you can cross the border by car or (I guess) by foot.

    Apparently, a large number of EU citizens are now effectively trapped in Russia (and vice versa?). According to Finnish news, the EU has specifically requested the Finnish rail service operator to continue keeping the Helsinki – St. Petersburg line up to provide a transport route for returning EU citizens. Reportedly, there are negotiations with Russia to allow non-Finnish EU citizens use the line.

    There are anecdotal reports that more people are traveling from Russia to Finland than the other way round, although the volumes are not large overall. It seems like some Russians are looking to move to West (not necessarily Finland) – specifically, those with money, connections and transportable jobs.

    While many Ukrainians have fled to neighboring EU countries, an unknown number have also gone to Russia to escape the violence and chaos. A few of these are now entering Finland from Russia.

  142. says

    Here’s a link to today’s Guardian Ukraine liveblog. From there:

    …More than 1 million people have fled Ukraine since Russian forces invaded the country last week, the head of the United Nations refugee agency has said.

    The international criminal court (ICC) confirmed it is opening an investigation into possible war crimes in Ukraine and begun collecting evidence.

    Russian and Belarusian athletes have been banned from the Winter Paralympic Games for their countries’ roles in the war in Ukraine, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has announced….

    Russian forces have occupied the regional administration building in Kherson, regional governor Hennadiy Lahuta said, amid conflicting reports about the fate of the strategically important city….

    A Ukrainian delegation is travelling by helicopter to meet Russian counterparts for a second round of talks, Reuters cites a Ukrainian presidential adviser as saying.

    Talks between Ukraine and Russia will kick off in a couple of hours, Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said in an online post….

    EU officials in Brussels have said they believe the Ukrainian figures in relation to the deaths of Russian soldiers are accurate, Daniel Boffey writes.

    Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Thursday morning that 9,000 Russian soldiers have been killed in the fighting since the invasion started on 24 February.

    On Wednesday, Moscow said that 498 Russian troops had been killed in Ukraine and 1,597 others wounded as it announced its own death toll for the first time.

    Russian forces are attempting to prevent civilians in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol from evacuating, its mayor Vadym Boichenko has said.

    Local authorities say Russian troops are actively attacking rail links and bridges in a bid to prevent civilians from escaping shelling….

    Zelenskiy says defence lines holding against Russian onslaught

    Ukraine’s defence lines were holding against the Russian attack, the country’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said in his latest video on Thursday, adding there had been no respite in Moscow’s shelling of Ukraine since midnight.

    “We have nothing to lose but our own freedom,” Zelenskiy said, adding Ukraine was receiving daily arms supplies from its international allies.

    As reported by Reuters, Zelenskiy said Russia’s changing tactics and shelling of civilians in cities proved Ukraine was successful in resisting Moscow’s initial plan of claiming a quick victory through a land assault.

    It comes as the UN human rights office has said 227 civilians had been killed and another 525 injured in Ukraine since Russia’s military invasion began a week ago.

  143. says

    CNN – “Ikea and H&M close up shop in Russia”:

    Two major retailers, Ikea and H&M, are temporarily pausing operations in Russia and Belarus because of the invasion of Ukraine.

    Ikea, the world’s largest furniture company, has 17 stores in Russia. The company said the conflict is having a “huge human impact” and “resulting in serious disruptions to supply chain and trading conditions.” As a result, it has decided to pause all manufacturing and retail operations in Russia, as well as all trade with the country and its ally, Belarus.

    Dozens of Western companies have exited or halted operations in Russia in response to the invasion, the ensuring sanctions and disruption to supplies.

    Ikea said 15,000 workers would be directly affected by the shutdown in the region. But the company will continue to pay them, at least for a while.

    Ikea also announced “an immediate donation of €20 million ($22 million) for humanitarian assistance to those who have been forcibly displaced as a result of the conflict in Ukraine,” in response to an emergency appeal from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

    Parent company Ingka Group is one of the largest mall operators in Russia. It said its “Mega” malls would continue operating to provide food, clothing and goods to Russians.

    Clothing company H&M Group…, which has 168 stores in Russia, said late Wednesday that it also has decided to temporarily close up shop in Russia….

  144. says

    Julia Ioffe:

    A friend from Moscow is racing toward the border with the Baltics, has been driving all night—no plane tickets left. “We’re trying to get there before the president’s address to the nation,” friend says, referring to widespread rumors that Putin is about to declare martial law.

    “Stop texting me,” friend asks, “I’m trying to clean out my phone. They’re searching everyone’s phone at the border. I’ll write to you once I’m on the other side.”

  145. says

    Dmytro Kuleba: “Worrying reports: Russians might have pointed multiple rocket-launching systems in the Russian border village of Popovka towards their own territory. Knowing the barbaric [sic] nature of Russian actions we fear a false flag operation might be prepared in order to accuse Ukraine.”

  146. says

    Alec Luhn, Guardian: “I’ve left Russia amid reports martial law could be declared & borders closed. Tickets mostly sold out. Packed flight. Other passengers said they were afraid to be trapped in Russia, arrested or conscripted to fight a war they don’t support. Don’t know if they’ll be able to return”

  147. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Macron tells Putin he is making ‘major mistake’ in Ukraine

    The French president, Emmanuel Macron, told Russia’s Vladimir Putin he was making a “major mistake” in Ukraine, that he was deluding himself about the government in Kyiv, and that the war would cost Russia dearly over the long term, a French official said.

    In the phone call initiated by Putin on Thursday, the Russian leader reiterated his determination to obtain the neutralisation and disarmament of Ukraine, whether diplomatically or by arms, the official told Reuters.

    “There was nothing in what President Putin said that could reassure us,” the French presidential adviser said, adding that Putin had reiterated his “narrative” that he was seeking the “de-nazification of Ukraine”.

    “‘You are lying to yourself’,” Macron told Putin, the official said. “‘It will cost your country dearly, your country will end up isolated, weakened and under sanctions for a very long time.’”

  148. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Russian forces are closing in on two key nuclear power plants in the south of Ukraine, the acting head of Ukraine’s state-run nuclear company Energoatom, Petro Kotin, said.

    Kotin said Ukraine still controls both plants including Zaporizhzhia, Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, but Russian troops have advanced to within 21 miles of the Zaporizhzhia plant and the South Ukraine power plant.

    The mayor of Enerhoda, in which the Zaporizhzhia plant is located, said Ukrainian forces are battling Russian troops for control of the city.

    Speaking in an interview with Reuters, Kotin described Russia’s capture last week of the defunct Chernobyl nuclear power plant as “nuclear terrorism”.

  149. says

    Idrees Ali, Reuters:

    U.S. assesses Putin has put in 90 percent of pre-staged combat power in Ukraine, a senior U.S. official says.

    Mariupol is still under Ukrainian control but Russian forces appear to try to isolate city, U.S. official says.

    U.S. official says Russia has fired about 480 missiles against Ukrainian targets.

    U.S. official says overhead imagery for the United States has been impacted by weather in Ukraine.

    U.S. believes there is still fighting in Kherson, not ready to say it is in Russian hands, official says.

    Russian troops still 25 km outside of Kyiv’s city center, official says.

  150. says

    Evidence shows Trump’s border wall was an embarrassing failure

    The entire border wall endeavor is an obvious failure. Republicans keep pretending not to notice.

    It was in September 2019 when Donald Trump traveled to southern California and made an important boast about his border wall. Encouraging television cameras to get an up-close picture of the slats, the then-president said the barrier along the U.S./Mexico border was “virtually impenetrable.”

    As we’ve discussed, it wasn’t long before the Republican’s claim was discredited. In 2020, for example, winds pushed over newly installed wall panels in California. (CNN reported at the time that there were wind gusts in the area “as high as 37 mph” — not exactly hurricane-like conditions.) A year later, flooding reportedly ripped off gate hinges from part of the wall in Arizona.

    But perhaps most important was evidence that smugglers repeatedly sawed through the barriers with commercially available, off-the-shelf power tools that cost as little as $100. The Washington Post advanced this story in striking ways yesterday.

    Mexican smuggling gangs have sawed through new segments of border wall 3,272 times over the past three years, according to unpublished U.S. Customs and Border Protection maintenance records obtained by The Washington Post under the Freedom of Information Act.

    They sawed through the border wall more than 3,000 times in three years! Not exactly impenetrable.

    To be sure, we learned in 2019 that this was happening. What we didn’t know was how frequently this was happening. We’re not talking about a handful of instances in which a few criminals used power tools; the Customs and Border Protection evidence points to literally thousands of such incidents during the 2019 to 2021 fiscal years.

    The Post added that after smugglers breached the wall with inexpensive power tools, they created gaps “wide enough for people and narcotics to pass through.” The article went on to note, “After smuggling crews cut through, they often disguise the breaches with tinted putty, making it difficult for agents to recognize which bollards have been compromised. The smugglers can return again and again to the site until the damage is detected, using the breach like a secret entrance.”

    Stepping back, the resulting image is an embarrassing fiasco. As a candidate, Trump vowed to create an impressive wall, stretching from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico, which our neighbors to the south would pay for. As a president, Trump raided the Pentagon budget, using U.S. taxpayer dollars to build an “impenetrable” wall that proved to be easily penetrated.

    Common sense suggests the former president and his allies would stop talking about this debacle, if only to save themselves the humiliation.

    And yet, it’s not quite working out that way.

    Republican Sen. Rick Scott, for example, recently unveiled a 2022 policy blueprint that not only endorses reinvesting in the failed project, the Floridian also wants the endeavor to be named after Trump.

    That’s right. If people elect Republicans, those politicians will return to building the wall. And they will use taxpayer funds (and funds stolen from the Pentagon or social welfare programs to do so).

    This week, during President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address, two right-wing lawmakers — Colorado’s Lauren Boebert and Georgia’s Marjorie Taylor Greene — tried to get a “Build the wall!” chant going. (It fizzled when no one else joined in.)

    The former president, meanwhile, remains every bit as preoccupied with the debacle as he’s ever been, indifferent to the fact that the wall doesn’t work.

    Many Republicans may prefer to pretend that the wall is a success, but reality keeps getting in the way.

  151. says

    For the first time, the bipartisan Jan. 6 committee argued in a court filing that Donald Trump allegedly “engaged in a criminal conspiracy.”

    As the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack has proceeded with its examination, many have speculated about how far the panel might go in making accusations directly implicating Donald Trump. It’s what made last night’s court filing so striking. NBC News reported:

    The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol argued in a new court filing that former President Donald Trump and members of his campaign were part of a conspiracy to overturn the 2020 election results.

    […] A Trump-allied lawyer named John Eastman allegedly played a central and direct role in trying to overturn the 2020 presidential election, not only pressuring then-Vice President Mike Pence by way of a memo that effectively outlined a coup, but also helping pressure states not to send Democratic electors, even after the Democratic ticket won those states.

    Not surprisingly, congressional investigators had a few questions for Eastman, but when he sat down with the bipartisan committee, he reportedly pleaded the Fifth — by some accounts, nearly 150 times.

    And so, the panel took the next obvious step: It subpoenaed Eastman’s records, most notably the emails from his time working with Trump to overturn the election. The Republican lawyer has tried to block that effort, claiming the materials are protected by attorney-client privilege.

    It led the Jan. 6 committee to file a motion in court last night, making the opposite case: Communications between attorneys and clients are not protected if they’re discussing committing crimes. In other words, if you were planning to do something illegal, and you coordinated with your lawyer to execute the criminal scheme, you couldn’t hide the evidence by claiming the communications must be shielded.

    […] the Jan. 6 committee said in its new court filing that congressional investigators now believe Trump and Eastman allegedly committed crimes, voiding any potential attorney-client-privilege concerns.

    “The Select Committee … has a good-faith basis for concluding that the President and members of his Campaign engaged in a criminal conspiracy to defraud the United States,” the panel said in its filing.

    In case this isn’t obvious, the court filing is the first time the bipartisan House committee has laid out in writing, in an official legal filing, the fact that it believes Trump and his team may have committed crimes, and what those alleged crimes might’ve entailed.

    Committee Chairman Bennie G. Thompson and Vice Chair Liz Cheney added in a written statement issued last night, “The Select Committee is not conducting a criminal investigation. But, as the judge noted at a previous hearing, Dr. Eastman’s privilege claims raise the question whether the crime-fraud exception to the attorney-client privilege applies in this situation. We believe evidence in our possession justifies review of these documents under this exception in camera.

    “The facts we’ve gathered strongly suggest that Dr. Eastman’s emails may show that he helped Donald Trump advance a corrupt scheme to obstruct the counting of electoral college ballots and a conspiracy to impede the transfer of power.”

    It now falls to the courts to consider the arguments.


  152. says

    Meduza liveblog (link @ #2 above):

    Dozhd television has gone dark. The final images the network chose to broadcast were of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake — an unmistakable allusion to the looping footage that aired on Soviet TV during the August 1991 coup d’état attempt.

  153. says

    Straining for a way to deny Ukraine credit for slowing down the Russian invasion over the past week, Russia’s Ministry of Defense gave a briefing on Thursday blaming foreign volunteers and weapons deliveries for delays.

    “Foreign mercenaries that have arrived in Ukraine are conducting sabotage and raids on Russian armored columns and supply chains, and on the aviation that covers them,” the ministry said.


  154. says

    This was the quote @ #226:

    Sergei Naryshkin, head of Russian foreign intelligence: “The masks are off. The West isn’t simply trying to close off Russia behind a new iron curtain. This is about an attempt to ruin our government – to ‘cancel’ it, as they now say in “tolerant” liberal-fascist circles.”

  155. says

    Russian lawmakers have introduced legislation that would conscript into the military anyone arrested for protesting against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. These people would be forced to fight in the invasion itself. What the fuck is happening to Russia. This is absolute madness.

    […] A note of caution here: The draft legislation about conscripting anti-war protesters was introduced by minority party deputies. Informed people say this is a scare tactic by the authorities that’s unlikely to pass. I, for one, would be scared.

  156. says

    A large number of pro-Russia / pro-Putin bots and fake news sites appear to have returned to Twitter in the last day, and they are pumping out a flood of Russian propaganda — including bizarre posts about how Putin is the ultimate “alpha male.”

    A quick check shows that many of these accounts are now pinging in India. It appears that Russia may be hosting its propaganda-bots outside of the country to get around efforts to limit their use.

    Link. Scroll down on the page to view the 8:10:37 post from Mark Sumner.

    See also:

    #istandwithrussia is trending in Britain. Kremlin bots are hard at work.

  157. says

    Update from Mark Sumner:

    […] it’s clear that Russia has abandoned any intention to confront the Ukrainian military. Instead, Russian forces are sitting back and bombing civilian population centers. In both Kharkiv and Mariupol, this means firing weapons from across the border in Russia. Zero miles from home is apparently a workable distance when it comes to keeping Russian weapons functional and supplied.

    North of Kyiv, that convoy that looked so fierce (and bizarre) when it left Belarus, is still strung out along miles of road, suffering from lack of fuel, lack of food, and attacks by the Ukrainian Air Force. But the original Russian plan to surround Kyiv, march in, and install a puppet regime seems to have been replaced by the “plan” being executed by Russia at all points today: Break things. Kill people.

    Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy gave an estimate on Thursday that over 9,000 Russian soldiers have been killed so far in a week of fighting. Officials elsewhere have indicated that this number is fairly accurate. If so, that’s about 5% of the force that had gathered around Ukraine before the invasion. How many others have been injured or captured is unknown, but there are images of trucks carrying wounded soldiers back into Russia.

    Despite surrounding Mariupol for two days, Russia has not moved into the city. Despite Russian troops being on the doorstep of Kharkiv since the start of the war, Ukrainian forces are still holding the city core. That’s because Russia isn’t trying to win the war in the sense of beating the Ukrainian army in head to head combat. It’s trying to reduce Ukraine. To destroy it’s homes, schools, hospitals, and businesses until the Ukrainian army has nothing left to defend. They’re out to be Kings of the Ash heap, just as they were in Syria an Chechnya.

    Russia is using long range missiles, GRAD systems, artillery, and aircraft to murder Ukrainians en masse. That’s what this is. War without even the pretense of rules. Simply murder.


  158. says

    Good news:

    Sen. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) returned to the Senate on Thursday for the first time after suffering a stroke.

    Luján received a standing ovation from his colleagues as he arrived at a Senate Commerce Committee meeting. […]

    Luján’s absence threw a curveball into the Democrats’ agenda, his presence leaving them down a crucial vote in the upper chamber’s 50-50 Senate. […]


  159. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Thousands of people in cities across Russia have been defying police threats and staging protests against the invasion of Ukraine.

    Authorities have a low tolerance for demonstrations and marches, and attending them can have serious consequences including fines, arrests and even imprisonment.

    Ukrainian officials are warning that hackers have broken into local government websites to spread false reports that Ukraine has capitulated and signed a peace treaty with Moscow, Reuters reports.

    An undisclosed number of official websites of “regional authorities and local governments” have been hijacked and used to spread “lies” about a deal to end the fighting, Ukraine’s state service of special communication and information protection said.

    The agency said “the enemy” was responsible for the hacking spree It was not immediately clear which websites it was referring to.

    A leader of Ukraine’s Muslim community, Sheikh Said Ismagilov, made an address to Russian Muslims serving as soldiers, asking: “Why did you come to kill us?”

    He said Ukraine does not need “saving” – as per Vladimir Putin’s rationale for his invasion – and asked Muslims around the world to support Ukraine’s fight for survival.

  160. says

    Lynna @ #230, they’re everywhere today. I don’t think I’ve seen so many since the 2016 election. Many of them are using Spanish names for some reason.

  161. says

    Dmytro Kuleba: “Another Russian hallucination by SVR head Sergey Naryshkin. He claims that Ukraine has been working on creating nuclear weapons with U.S. knowing about it and being ready to assist. I once again refute this sick fake. Ukraine has always been and remains a responsible NPT member.”

  162. tomh says

    Texas judge temporarily blocks state from investigating parents of trans daughter for child abuse
    KIRK MCDANIEL / March 2, 2022

    AUSTIN, Texas (CN) — A Texas judge halted Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott and the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) from investigating the parent of a transgender child for child abuse.

    In her four-page order restraining the state, District Judge Amy Clark Meachum wrote that if not enjoined, the plaintiffs “will suffer irreparable injury” if DFPS is not restrained from enforcing a directive from Abbott that gender-affirming care constitutes child abuse.

    In a non-binding legal opinion released in February, Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton wrote that gender-affirming healthcare such as hormone treatments and surgeries constitute child abuse because it could lead to sterilization. Days later, Abbott directed DFPS to open child abuse investigations into parents to secure gender-affirming care for their children.

    Shortly after, an employee with the Texas child protective services agency and her husband found herself under investigation for abusing their 16-year-old daughter because she received treatment for gender dysphoria.

    The mother and father, who were identified as Jane and John Doe, filed a lawsuit against Abbott and DFPS on behalf of her daughter, Mary Doe.

    Megan Mooney, a clinical psychologist from Houston, was also named in the lawsuit. Mooney is required by law to report child abuse to DFPS, which she found with the new policy to have put her in an “untenable situation.”

    For the moment, the family and Mooney are protected from the state or DFPS taking any action against them. However, the state agency is not enjoined from launching investigations into other families who have secured gender-affirming care for their children. Meachum will be considering issuing a temporary injunction against the state during a hearing scheduled for March 11.

    President Joe Biden issued a statement Wednesday calling Abbott’s directive a “cynical and dangerous campaign targeting transgender children and their parents.”

    “In the United States of America, we respect the rights and dignity of all families,” said Biden. “Affirming a transgender child’s identity is one of the best things a parent, teacher, or doctor can do to help keep children from harm, and parents who love and affirm their children should be applauded and supported, not threatened, investigated, or stigmatized.”

  163. says

    Zelensky on Bennett: ‘I was struck by a picture I saw of men at the Western Wall wrapped in Ukraine’s flag. I’ve talked to Israel’s leaders & honestly, we have good ties, but the test is in times of trouble. I’ve spoken with Israel’s PM & I don’t feel he is wrapped in our flag’.”

  164. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    The US will be issuing additional sanctions on more Russian oligarchs, said the White House today.

    Here is a list of who will be sanctioned in this newly announced round, according to a fact sheet provided by a spokesperson with the National Security Council:

    Nikolai Tokarev (his wife Galina, daughter Mayya, and his two luxury real estate companies)

    Boris Rotenberg (his wife Karina, and his sons Roman and Boris)

    Arkady Rotenberg (His sons Pavel and Igor and daughter Liliya)

    Sergei Chemezov (His wife Yekaterina, his son Stanislav, and stepdaughter Anastasiya)

    Igor Shuvalov (His five companies, his wife Olga, his son Evgeny and his company and jet, and his daughter Maria and her company)

    Yevgeniy Prigozhin (His three companies, his wife, Polina, his daughter Lyubov, and his son Pavel),

    Dmitry Peskov, President Putin’s press secretary

    Alisher Usmanov (His superyacht, one of the world’s largest and just seized by our ally Germany, and his private jet, one of Russia’s largest privately-owned aircraft)

    The US will also be placing visa restrictions on 19 oligarchs and 47 “family members and close associates.”

  165. says

    Dmytro Kuleba:

    Our aces heroically defend our skies. But Russia has advantage. Dear partners who still have not provided Ukraine with military aircraft: how can you sleep when Ukrainian children are under bombs in Mariupol, Kherson, Kharkiv, other cities? You can take this decision now. Do it!

  166. says

    Jennifer Griffin:

    Feds arrest in London American TV producer Jack Hanick: who “knowingly chose to help Russian oligarch Konstantin Malofeyev spread his destabilizing messages by establishing, or attempting to establish, TV networks in Russia, Bulgaria, and Greece, in violation of those sanctions.”

    Prior to this, Hanick was a Fox producer.

  167. says

    Kyiv Independent:

    Economist says Russian invasion could lead to largest wheat shortage in history.

    The invasion will cause a massive supply shock and nothing can be done in the short term to prevent it, according to [Scott Irwin of the University of Illinois], as quoted by Bloomberg.

    Russia and Ukraine account for a quarter of wheat and one-fifth of corn production worldwide.

  168. lumipuna says

    SC 244 – Boxes ticked for plague ( recently everywhere), war (breaking out in random places) and famine (expected to rise its head among the poor of the world).

  169. says

    Josh Marshall:

    I spent the morning planning to write a version of this post when I saw a quote from Russia’s head of foreign intelligence that made me think there was perhaps more here than I’d even suspected. Sergei Naryshkin said today: “The masks are off. The West isn’t simply trying to close off Russia behind a new iron curtain. This is about an attempt to ruin our government — to ‘cancel’ it, as they now say in ‘tolerant’ liberal-fascist circles.”

    Now, on its face this is more than a bit much. Russia is in the process of trying to erase another country from the map, in effect if not through formal annexation. That seems like the more relevant meaning of ‘canceling’ in this context. This is also a reminder of the confluence of discourses between the American revanchist right (Trumpism and its earlier monikers, essentially) and Russian state revisionism.

    One thing we are constantly and rightly reminded of in these moments is that people in other countries, Russia in this case, understand the world very differently than we do. And yet here they are using language that is in fact quite familiar. It doesn’t seem alien at all. There’s a rhetorical symbiosis between the two worlds. Some of this was driven by the 2015–16 Russian interference campaign. But at a deeper level that symbiosis was the foundation on which that interference campaign became possible. Just as the democratic civic world has some elements of a transnational common political language, the authoritarian, revisionist international does too.

    […] There are two dimensions of this that have stood out to me over the last week. The first is that interplay between events unfolding in a social media context and what we might call a rush for the exits of condemnation. We’ve seen this particularly in Europe as the continent rushed from tentative and deliberate sanctions to a full scale decoupling of Russia from almost every aspect of European economic and cultural life. It’s not just sanctioning banks but closing air space and curtailing visas; sports teams owned by Russian oligarchs are being put up for sale. There are even new bans on Russian students attending Western educational institutions. More ominously, many European countries are now openly supplying weaponry to Ukraine — something almost inconceivable just days ago. Especially in the last couple days but throughout the last week we’ve also seen a steady march of major corporations cutting off ties with Russia. This has included no longer selling their products in Russia, closing operations in Russia, ending joints partnerships, etc.

    In the case of corporations some of this may simply be slapping branding on necessity. The scale of sanctions likely makes it somewhere between difficult and impossible to conduct commerce in Russia at the moment. […] The justifications are obvious and require little explanation. Russia has invaded a smaller, sovereign neighbor without provocation […] But with all that, some of the dynamics do look and feel somehow similar and familiar. That’s because this is a global crisis playing out on the terrain of social media, with viral imagery interacting with rapidly coalescing public opinion and with countries, corporations and individuals trying to secure their reputations and make their stands publicly in that social, cable news space which in some limited sense has created a common conversation across many countries.

    So in a sense what we’re seeing really is Russia being “cancelled.” For much or all of Europe, Russia has become beyond the pale of acceptable state action. Suddenly almost every form of economic, social, sports and recreation, or cultural contact is off limits — radioactive, to use an uncomfortably mixed metaphor. Where this dimension of the crisis becomes most clear is that at least many of these moves are not purely punitive. They are intended just as much to preserve the reputation of the country or corporation or individual making the announcement.

    So is the world or the West “canceling” Russia? In many ways they are. And it could scarcely be more deserved. […] countries have every right to dissociate themselves from particularly abhorrent behavior and to attempt to ostracize wrongdoers from the communal spaces they occupy. […] my point here isn’t the right and wrong of it — which seems pretty clear-cut in this case. I’m talking about the interplay between social media, conventional media, nation-states and corporate and individual brands. And in that sense there are a lot of similarities that tell us a lot about our world today.

  170. says

    Here is just one of the lies Putin told today: “Our soldiers and officers are trying to prevent civilian casualties and have themselves borne losses,” Putin said.


    Video is available at the link.

  171. says

    Fascinating and useful:

    How is the war in Ukraine going? Today they confirmed the death of Russian General Major Suhovetsky. He’s unsurprisingly a paratrooper. So let’s discuss the role of paratroopers in Russian military doctrine. That’ll shed a light on the course of this war and why Russia lost it…

  172. says

    Ukraine Update: Everyone, even in Russia, was surprised that Putin invaded. Except Biden. Biden knew

    Russian dictator Vladimir Putin has to put on a brave face. “The special operation in Ukraine is going according to plan and in full compliance with the timetable,” he said in a session of his nation’s security council, though via Zoom […] “All tasks set during the special operation in Ukraine are being accomplished successfully.” Well, Kyiv and most of the country’s major cities remain in Ukrainian hands, they’ve lost thousands of soldiers, Russia still lacks air superiority, the whole world is against them diplomatically (even Cuba!) and sports-wise, and they’ve had to shut down the remaining vestiges of independent media and protests.

    That was the plan? If so, it was a shitty plan. This is the far more likely reality, from a supposedly trustworthy source: [Julia Ioffe tweet]

    President Joe Biden was the only person who was clear and blunt about Putin’s intent to invade, and maybe U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Much of the world heaped scorn on Biden for his relentless proclamations that war was coming, and that Putin had decided to invade. Here is El Salvador President (and dictator-in-training) Nayib Bukele, a few days before Russia invaded, responding to Biden’s announcement that Russian commanders had been given the order by Putin to attack: [Nayib Bukele tweet, which was wrong]

    If you’re wondering if Bukele ever admitted he was wrong, the answer—of course—is no. Just like the myriad people (like Glenn Greenwald and so many Fox News personalities) that relentlessly attacked Biden when he was right all along. (El Salvador did abstain on the U.N. General Assembly vote condemning Russia and its invasion.)

    Just imagine: Had Putin held back, Biden would’ve looked the fool. Fox News would’ve had a field day, happy to carry Putin’s water and do his bidding by continuing to tear Democrats down, while building up Russia-loving Republicans.

    Still, it wasn’t just the punditry and Russia-loving diplomatic establishment that was wrong about Putin. If you take a gander at that news report above, it seems that the Russian political establishment was also caught unaware. And apparently, so was the Russian military, given its sorry state of readiness and performance. With an actual invasion a distant possibility, it was okay to grift grift grift, from the oligarchs delivering broken equipment to military commanders and supply officers pilfering their unit’s equipment for vodka and other luxuries. I mean, even tire maintenance was severely lacking, to disastrous effect.

    Now, if this entire Russian establishment was caught unaware, and the diplomatic world was caught unaware (including clearly, top Russian ally China), then it’s clear that only a handful of people would’ve known of Putin’s plans.

    Plus Biden. Biden knew. And you know that’s not driving Putin’s paranoia to most extreme levels, as it should. Wouldn’t be surprising if Putin executed his entire inner circle, just in case an American source is among them.

  173. says

    The darkest interpretation of those resignation letters the Russian military is making troops sign before going into Ukraine — they destroy the bodies, then claim the soldiers were never there. […]

    Scroll down at the link in comment 250 to the 12:28:40 post from Mark Sumner.

    The post includes a tweet confirming that “Zelenskyy says Russians are carrying cremation chambers into Ukraine, allegedly to dispose of their own dead and obscure the true number of casualties they’ve incurred.

  174. says

    Of the missiles fired at targets in Ukraine so far, more than half were fired from outside Ukraine. This count doesn’t include the firing from GRAD systems or surface-to-air systems.

    From NEXTA TV: U.S. Department of Defense: 70 of 480 millines fired at Ukraine in the first week of war were launched from #Belarus.

    230 millines were launched from mobile launchers that Russia brought to #Ukraine, 160 were launched from Russia and 10 from #Russian naval ships in Black Sea.

  175. says

    […] Multiple countries had promised Ukraine they would hand over MiG-29s and various other models of former Soviet planes that are familiar to Ukrainian pilots. But then, even as those pilots were in Poland expecting to take delivery, those transfers were called off. That’s because, as the Air Force Times reports, giving Ukraine more planes is considered “military interference in Russia’s invasion.” Anti-tank missiles? Sure. Small arms? You got it. Planes? Well, I don’t think…

    This is bullshit. There are lines that definitely shouldn’t be crossed, but the West is drawing this one themselves. Give Zelenskyy the planes. Give Ukraine every damn MiG-29 on the planet. […]


  176. lumipuna says

    I just saw this Politico opinion piece:

    “Don’t pour your Russian vodka down the drain”

    So far, we’ve thankfully avoided turning all Russians into our enemies as we reconceive the country as a pariah state. No stories about Russian Americans getting beat up have hit the news wires. Nobody has organized a Two Minutes Hate drill against Russian citizens. No editorial cartoons depicting Russians as werewolves or monsters have run in our papers. But the baby steps toward the vilification of all things Russia and Russian we’ve taken in the last week with our boycotts and bans put us on an ugly path.

    This relates to something I just saw on the Finnish public broadcaster’s news site. They have a Russian language section that includes radio/TV news and brief online articles, usually on Finland’s domestic matters (because important international news are already widely covered in Russian by Russian news outlets). Recently, however, there’s also coverage of Russia and Ukraine, without the Kremlin filter.

    Reportedly, lately some Finns have sent angry feedback complaining about the mere existence of “Novosti” or news in Russian. Nothing about the content, just people getting angry (and reportedly sometimes abusive) because a Russian language service is being produced on Finnish tax money. These people must be either just looking for reasons to get angry, or looking for excuses to express really deep seated russophobia. In any case, the current political atmosphere seems to be guiding them to a cause that normal people see as misguided or irrelevant. There are also reports of Russian speakers (and, ironically, Ukrainian speakers) feeling increasing hostility from strangers in Finland.

    Native Russian speakers are Finland’s largest single immigrant ethnic minority, albeit only 1.5 % of the population. Aside from it being an accessible public service, you could consider Russian language news as a political outreach to people who are otherwise susceptible to Russian state propaganda because they always prefer to follow Russian language media. This isn’t all Russian speakers in Finland, but a large portion of them. Yle Novosti also has a modest following in Russia, which has increased lately.

  177. says


    Once upon a time Devin Nunes quit a whole seat in Congress so he could put a saddle on his cow and say “Hey girl, it’s time for you and me to go to sunnier pastures.” So they rode and they rode and they rode, much further south than cows traditionally go, all the way to Mar-a-Lago, so Devin could become the CEO of the Trump Media & Technology Group, which would be launching the wingnut free speech machine of everybody’s dreams very soon, the long-heralded Truth Social.

    He told his constituents that he had been “presented with a new opportunity to fight for the most important issues I believe in.”

    Yes we are talking about the same Donald Trump who couldn’t keep a LiveJournal going for more than a few days last year. The one who’s only doing all this because he’s banned from Twitter.

    Yes we are talking about the Donald Trump who is quite lit’rally one of the worst businessmen in America, who seemingly can’t Art of the Deal himself out of a paper bag, based on everything we’ve ever read on the subject.

    All of this information was freely available for Devin before he decided to give up a whole seat in Congress. Nobody tricked him. […]

    Did Devin actually move to South Florida? We are not sure. […] Trump’s little MySpace for disaffected incel Nazis is not only poorly functioning, it’s poorly performing […]

    Former President Trump is blowing the launch of his new social media company, via a series of unforced errors. […]

    The launch itself was buzzy, with Truth Social shooting to the top of Apple’s App Store (there isn’t yet an Android or web version).

    But the vast majority of people downloading the app, me included, were given a waitlist number. Nine days later, most of us remain on that waitlist, with our number unchanged and without a word of communication from the company. A waitlist “refresh” icon doesn’t work.

    As of this writing, Truth Social has fallen to No. 57 in the App Store, just behind Tinder and Planet Fitness Workouts.

    And the best part:

    [N]early two weeks after launch, his dormant account has fewer than 80,000 followers. And Trump himself is largely to blame.

    […] Truth Social would have one extra follower if it hadn’t immediately banned @DevinNunesCow in an uproarious act of censorship.


    “Trump has posted only once– about two weeks ago… Instead, he’s given his comment to radio and TV hosts,” notes author Dan Primack, noting that had he prioritized his comments to the social channel, media outlets would have mentioned the app.

    Not great news for the Digital World Acquisition SPAC (special purpose acquisition company) that invested over $1 billion in the launch and wants to take it public at a value of more than $3.5 billion.


    So listen, “Digital World Acquisition SPAC,” if that is your real name, may we again note that Wonkette has about the same number of Twitter followers as there are followers for Trump on his silly little app. This concludes our sales presentation for GIVE US ONE BILLION DOLLARS.

    Anyway, so this is what Devin Nunes gave up a whole seat in Congress for.

    Ah, but you are thinking, maybe it’s fine because Devin’s paycheck will be enormous no matter what and who cares. And that’s a valid point. Why put a lot of work into making Donald Trump’s website successful when you could just make a lot of money for not doing that? Good thing Donald Trump has never been known in the past for finding a way out of paying his bills. [lol]

    This has been a blog post about Devin Nunes’s life choices.

  178. says

    lumipuna @254, good points. Thanks for the additional information.

    In other news about those Russian yachts, (from Wonkette)

    […] The Washington Post reports that other oligarchs have taken their yachts to Maldives, where there is no extradition treaty with the US. America’s enforcement is clearly what they’re most scared of.

    According to shipping tracking data, two pleasure crafts owned by Oleg Deripaska and Alexander Abramov entered the waters near Malé, the capital of the Maldives, on Wednesday. Three more yachts owned by Russian magnates were also seen sailing in the island nation’s waters, Reuters reported, including one belonging to Vladimir Potanin, a Russian nickel tycoon whose net worth is over $25 billion.

    They know. This is not a secret. It’s “Fuck Your Boats”-thirty in the afternoon, and a buncha boats haven’t made it to Maldives yet. The Post reported this morning that the Biden administration is about to “dramatically expand the number of Russian oligarchs subject to U.S. sanctions,” and President Biden sure did say out loud in his State of the Union that they’re coming for the yachts.

    So let’s go get ’em some more yachts! […]

  179. says

    Followup to SC @102 and 116.

    Rightwing doofuses fail—a schadenfreude moment to enjoy:

    After lots of hype, stories on Fox News, and some really credulous coverage from local TV stations that should have known better, the great big Trucker Rally […] was a huge failure.

    The idea had been that a surge of anti-vaxx truckers and other opponents of public health would drive from the Left Coast all the way to DC, being joined by others as they crossed the country, becoming a mighty USA Freedom Liberty No Step On Snek Convoy that would fill the capital in time for Joe Biden’s State of the Union address Tuesday. Surely with the Beltway shut down, the Powers That Be would finally listen!

    Instead, about 12 people and no trucks showed up for a rally that ended hours early because we assume eventually the protesters got tired of being reminded there were more bored journalists and cops in attendance than protesters. The poor dipshits couldn’t even shout “There are dozens of us! Dozens!”

    The nonevent’s nonturnout rivaled a 10-person DC protest by the “Ex-gay Pride” movement in 2013, and would have been dwarfed by the hundred or so people who showed up for a pair of 2017 alt-Right rallies. Hell, the 2013 tea-party trucker rally to teach Barack Obama a lesson about the Constitution at least drew a few dozen actual tractor-trailer rigs.

    DC television station WUSA documented the astonishing microcrowd: [photo at the link]

    As the Daily Beast reports, the organizer of the pre-SOTU rally, wingnut MMA fighter and candidate for Maryland governor Kyle Sefcik, had anticipated some 3,000 attendees at least at the “Stage of Freedom” jamboree. Instead, after the ritual Pledge of Allegiance, he mostly just griped about what a pitiful showing of patriots were there.

    The rambling speech, which at times took oddly specific tangents, pressed forward with Sefcik wondering where the convoy of truckers—supposedly aiming to disrupt the Beltway area in protest of vaccine mandates, among other MAGA causes—actually were.

    “Where are the trucks?! Where are the trucks?!” Sefcik yelled at one point. “I know the ones that I had planned coming… they’re not even allowed in because they need a commercial license and have proof of a checkoff today because of the checkpoints, so they weren’t even able to stage and make it look cool here.”

    “But I still showed up, even if none of you did,” he continued. “I’d still be right here because I keep my word.”

    Rightwing media and politicians had been hyping the idea of an all-American version of last month’s anti-vaxxer trucker rallies that shut down Ottawa and several US-Canada border crossings, but somehow the crowds of truckers and other vehicles never quite materialized. They didn’t show up at the Super Bowl, and only one truck set off from Pennsylvania, accompanied by a half-dozen other vehicles, at most. If that guy even made it to DC, we haven’t seen it reported.

    Still, some kind of trucker protests are continuing; yesterday, Idaho TV station KTVB reported that a convoylet that started out in California on February 23 rolled through Boise, where it was met by a small crowd of anti-vaxx loons from “Health Freedom Idaho,” the rightwing anti-vaxx group that pals around with Ammon Bundy and with the far-Right “Idaho Freedom Foundation.”

    Here’s some video of the Idaho crazies gathered along a freeway and on an overpass to wave flags. KTVB’s reporter said there were “500 protesters,” but either they weren’t on video or the reporter took organizers’ word for it. [video available at the link]

    The video shows a handful of flag-waving trucks and some pickups; darned if we could tell how many, or how many of the smaller vehicles were locals temporarily driving along.

    Another video from a different newscast shows maybe 100 people waving and shouting at what appears to be normal freeway traffic. Weirdly, while the reporter says there were “dozens” of protesters, the video’s description inflates that to “hundreds.” Still, it was a huge day for Freedom, and Idaho’s bugfuck nuts militia-friendly Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin showed up to give a speech; she wants to be governor. This particular convoy hopes to reach DC this weekend, perhaps, where surely it will shut down the city unless one of the drivers gets sick from a bad corndog. [video at the link]

    In conclusion, we could say more about how inspiring these sparse truck convoys are, but suddenly we are not run over by a truck, because there aren’t any.


  180. says

    SC @257, “Lynna @ #253, it’s infuriating.” Yep. And so far the Russian convoy is still parked in its 40-mile-long traffic jam, a perfect target for attacks from the air. Are they going to wait until the traffic jam straightens itself out before they send planes to Ukraine?

  181. says

    Bannon, Milo, and Other Right-Wing Activists Are Hellbent on Transforming the Catholic Church

    This is a well-written and well-researched article.

    Excerpts from the article:

    […] In 2020, the outlet’s founder, former CBS News producer Michael Voris—who has publicly renounced his own past same-sex relationships and mentored Yiannopoulos toward also embracing a “chaste life” (or what Yiannopoulos calls “sexual sobriety”)—warned that a “union of Rome and the Washington, DC swamp” was conspiring to oust Trump and usher in a new world order, under which faithful Catholics would be declared “illegal” and “hunted down.” Church Militant then relentlessly pushed stolen election narratives, and, as Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, the outlet and its staff called them “patriots” and tweeted celebratory memes—like a diptych juxtaposing a photo of rioters hoisting a large wooden cross with the iconic image of Marines raising a flag at Iwo Jima.

    […] the Catholic Church—with more than 1.3 billion members worldwide and representing the largest religious denomination in the US—has unparalleled political and social power. And the open civil war within Catholicism—with its undisputed center in the United States—has implications for everything from racism to climate change, women’s rights to right-wing nationalism, and whether one accepts science-backed public health measures and democratic elections, or violently rejects both.

    […] In July, a Wisconsin priest, James Altman—famous for declaring that Catholics who vote Democratic will go to hell, calling liberals “vermin,” warning parishioners to avoid vaccinations, and claiming that January 6 was a false-flag operation—was finally removed from his church and subjected to a formal review. Altman’s subsequent media blitz netted him a speaking slot at the Conservative Political Action Conference and more than $700,000 in donations, a chunk of which he promised to pass on to Church Militant and LifeSiteNews. Conservative Catholics launched two new coalitions for “canceled” and “persecuted” priests. Voris also assembled what he claimed were dozens of anonymous priests, unknown even to each other, into a group he called the New Catacombs, which could issue statements of dissent, ultimately fomenting a “revolution in the Church” […]

    One way to tell that these tensions have reached a boiling point is that Trump—lacking a nuanced understanding of most things but possessing a sharky instinct for blood—noticed them. Throughout his reelection campaign, Trump bypassed the already conservative church hierarchy in favor of the dissident Catholic far right. He promoted figures like podcaster Taylor Marshall, author of the 2019 anti-­Francis book Infiltration: The Plot to Destroy the Church From Within. Trump tweeted a link to an open letter that Archbishop Viganò had sent him, warning of a “deep church” collaborating with the “deep state” to undermine his presidency. After Trump’s defeat, Viganò joined Strickland and Marshall in addressing the December 2020 “Jericho March” in Washington, DC: an interfaith “Stop the Steal” prayer rally that was a precursor to the violence on January 6. In early January 2021, Viganò went on Steve Bannon’s podcast to say that the United States would be “wiped out” if it didn’t fight back against election theft.

    And Trump relentlessly courted that constituency by appointing Catholic conservatives to the Supreme Court, including Amy Coney Barrett, who replaced the liberal feminist Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

    […] Conservative and right-wing Catholics are highly represented in the US judiciary, and dominate the Supreme Court—seven current Supreme Court justices, including all three of Trump’s scotus picks, were raised Catholic, and six of those seven represent right-wing Catholic ideology. Their prevalence is the result of a long-running conservative project orchestrated largely by Federalist Society co-chair Leonard Leo. Leo is also president of the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast and founder of the Judicial Education Project (now called the 85 Fund), which funds a variety of right-wing advocacy organizations.

    […] “The problem is that the extreme right-wing is an expression of something that is not just crazy people but is visible also in the official clerical culture of the [US] Catholic Church,” says Massimo Faggioli, a church historian at Villanova University. “There are bishops whose language is more diplomatic, but they express the same contempt for Francis, the same fascination for the neo-­nationalist project.” Add to this dynamic the “intellectuals blowing on this fire,” he says, “because they think the liberal, cosmopolitan international order must be burned down. That’s their very dangerous plan […]

    While US Catholic Church membership has dropped overall by nearly 25 percent in the last 20 years and vocations for priests and nuns have fallen as well, church traditionalists crow that their seminaries are receiving more applicants than they can accept—part of a trend that could accelerate the spread of Catholic right ideas. […]

    Much more at the link.

  182. says

    Humor/Satire from Andy Borowitz:

    After placing strict bans on journalists’ coverage of Russia’s war against Ukraine, Vladimir Putin clarified that any ban on journalists did not include Tucker Carlson.

    “When it was reported that I was limiting the reporting of journalists, some may have misconstrued that to include Tucker,” Putin said. “To the contrary, I am an enormous fan of his work and want him to continue doing what he’s doing.”

    “It pains me to think that I might have unintentionally insulted Tucker Carlson,” he said. “His work has given me great joy.”

    Putin said that he was issuing his clarification out of an abundance of caution. “I had thought that it was clear that I didn’t mean Tucker Carlson when I said ‘journalists,’ ” he said.

    New Yorker link

  183. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 260

    “Catholics get along well with tyranny. It’s in their culture.”

    –Richard K. Morgan,
    Altered Carbon

  184. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    The Biden administration will allow Ukrainians in the US Temporary Protected Status, a designation that will them to continue living and working in the country for 18 months.

    Department of Homeland Security secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced the news today:…

    Some 75,000 Ukrainians in the US will be eligible to apply.

    The move comes after immigrant advocates pushed for the US to quickly accommodate Ukranians already in the US as Russian began bombarding their home country. But the US has yet to extend similar protections for tens of thousands of Afghans in US prior to and following the chaotic evacuation last summer.

    According to GlobalCheck, a service that tracks Internet censorship in the CIS countries, the BBC is now blocked in Russia, as is Deutsche Welle:…

    See also #197.

  185. says

    Guardian editorial – “The Guardian view on Putin’s siege tactics in Ukraine: a war crime by another name”:

    …In 2014, Mr Putin described Kyiv as “the mother of Russian cities”. That his military is preparing to encircle the Ukrainian capital with enough firepower to leave it a charred ruin shows his potential descent into criminal folly. One can only hope that one day the Russian president will be sitting in a dock at The Hague where his ramblings can be exposed for what they are: no defence for the senseless killing of innocents….

  186. says


    Just imagine: Had Putin held back, Biden would’ve looked the fool.

    Which raises the question: Why didn’t Putin wait? Why was it so important to him to go in now, that he was willing to give up a golden opportunity to humiliate an old rival at zero cost?
    All he had to do was sit and wait. The longer he waits, the more silly the US looks, until at some point another crisis diverts attention and there’s your chance. So, why didn’t he wait?

    It also combines with the question of poor Russian planning and preparation. If they weren’t ready for the invasion yet, it makes even less sense. Why not wait and use the time to get more fuel, food, and ammunition on the scene? It’s not like they ever had the element of surprise anyway.
    Something’s off.

  187. says

    Meduza liveblog:

    BREAKING: Many readers in Russia unable to access Meduza’s website. Official block unconfirmed as yet.

    Many Internet users in Russia are currently unable to access Meduza’s website. Our newsroom was first informed of this by our readers on the evening of Thursday, March 3.

    At the time of this writing, Meduza is not included on the list of banned websites maintained by Russia’s censorship agency, Roskomnadzor. We have not received official confirmation that our website has been blocked in Russia.

    More war time censorship

    On Thursday evening, Facebook users in Russia began to report difficulties accessing the social network, reports Downdetector and Globalcheck.

    In addition, access to the BBC’s website is also mostly restricted, and Deutsche Welle’s website can’t be reached at all. Readers in some Russian regions also reported problems accessing the website of RFE/RL’s Russian service, Radio Svoboda. Globalcheck also reports that the App Store and Google Play are being blocked in Russia, as well.

    Scared of words, scared of ideas, scared of criticism, scared of information. Such tough guys.

  188. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Fire breaks out at Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant

    A fire has broken out in Europe’s largest nuclear power plant located in Zaporizhzhya, according to an announcement from the mayor of the nearby town of Energodar.

    “As a result of continuous enemy shelling of buildings and units of the largest nuclear power plant in Europe, the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is on fire,” Energodar Mayor Dmytro Orlov said on his Telegram channel, citing what he called a threat to world security. He did not give details.

    Orlov recorded a short video message which has now been shared my multiple local Ukrainian media outlets, urging Russian troops to immediately stop shelling the plant.

    Orlov earlier said Ukrainian forces were battling Russian troops on the city’s outskirts. and reported that a Russian military column was heading toward the nuclear plant. Loud shots and rocket fire were heard late Thursday.

    According to a Telegram message posted by an employee at the plant, Russian troops fired at the nuclear facility.

    “Attention! Equipment of the Russian Federation is firing at the Zaporozhye NPP. There is a real threat of nuclear danger at the largest nuclear power plant in Europe. We demand a ceasefire from heavy equipment at the Zaporozhye NPP!”

    UNIAN agency also reports that a fire has started at the nuclear power plant.

    The city on the Dnieper River accounts for one-quarter of the country’s power generation.

  189. says

    Dmytro Kuleba:

    Russian army is firing from all sides upon Zaporizhzhia NPP, the largest nuclear power plant in Europe. Fire has already broke out. If it blows up, it will be 10 times larger than Chornobyl! Russians must IMMEDIATELY cease the fire, allow firefighters, establish a security zone!

  190. says

    The expert on MSNBC right now is saying that of course there are international legal issues at stake but also the wind there is blowing towards Russia so they should back off just out of self-interest.

  191. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    The Guardian’s Julian Borger has spoken to Mariana Budjeryn, an Ukrainian expert at the project on managing the atom at Harvard University’s Belfer Center.

    Budjeryn said:

    Saying that a reactor building is hit doesn’t tell us much, because the most vulnerable [part of] this is the electricity and water supply.

    If the electricity is taken out, the back up generators kick in, but if those don’t kick in or their diesel fuel is set on fire, for example, the pumps can’t pump cold water into the reactor and into the spent fuel pools. That’s necessary to keep the nuclear reaction moderated. Otherwise the water will boil out and the core will go critical and explode.

    If the core explodes, there’s hope that the confinement chamber will capture the radiation from release into the environment. Confinement chambers are designed with withstand some level of impact even bombing.

    But of course we don’t know how they will stand to this intensity of shelling

    BUT spent fuel pools – the fuel there is not as active, but they are usually overstuffed – so less active but more tightly packed material, also dangerous for going critical if the cooling system fails. And spent fuel pools are not covered by hardened concrete confinement chambers.

    We learned about how vulnerable spent fuel pools are during Fukushima

    The backup generators failed and the water pumping system failed – it was lucky that ocean water flooded those and the reactor cores to provide cooling.”

  192. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) says they are aware of reports of shelling at the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant and are in contact with Ukrainian authorities.

    According to a statement, the IAEE said Ukraine had informed the agency that a large number of Russian tanks and infantry “broke through the block-post” to the town of Enerhodar, a few kilometres from the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (NPP).

    Director general Rafael Mariano Grossi appealed for an immediate halt to the use of force at Enerhodar and called on the military forces operating there to refrain from violence near the nuclear power plant.

    He added the IAEA continues to consult with Ukraine and others with a view to provide “maximum possible assistance to the country” as it seeks to maintain nuclear safety and security.

  193. says

    GOOD NEWS – The fire at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station broke out IN A TRAINING BUILDING outside the plant’s perimeter, the state emergency service said in a statement

    Separately, the plant’s director told Ukraine 24 TV radiation security had been secured at the site.”

    Guardian liveblog:

    The Ukrainian State Emergency Service is reporting that radiation and fire safety conditions at the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant are “within normal limits”.

    An update on the agency’s official Telegram account reads:

    As of 02:26 in the city of Energodar at the Zaporozhye NPP, the third power unit was disconnected from the unified energy system (only Unit 4 is operating). Of the six power units, one is currently operating.

    Radiation and fire safety conditions at nuclear power plants are within normal limits.

    Fire condition at the NPP is normal.”

    The agency said a fire broke out in the training building outside the NPP, however the Guardian has been unable to verify these claims.

  194. says

    Urgent video messages from President Zelensky that fighting at the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant threatens a catastrophe for all of Europe. He pleads for the fighting to stop and reminds people what happened in Chernobyl. He says Russian forces know what they’re shooting at….”

    Joe Cirincione: “Like so much else in this war, the attack on a civilian nuclear power plant is unprecedented. It is against all global norms. It has never happened before. Risks are multiple. If electricity or plumbing are disabled, there could be a meltdown potentially greater than Chernobyl.”

  195. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Authorities at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant say the facility is secured and “nuclear safety is now guaranteed” after Russian military shelling starts fire, Agence France-Presse reports.

  196. says

    SC @279, I agree.

    It is unlikely that there will be any major explosions or releases of radioactive material at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the attack illustrates all too well how reckless Putin an/or his military leaders are. What the fuck do they think they are doing?

    Some observers have noted that there is quite a bit of low and medium level waste stored at the power plant … and that’s in addition to the spent fuel in the cooling pools. So, none of that waste should be stirred by by shelling from the Russians.

    At this point, I do not trust Putin or the Russian military to make any rational decisions. They seem to be both incompetent and so ideologically driven that reason and logic have been thrown out the window.

  197. says

    Jason Kander:

    My wife and her family fled Odessa, Ukraine in 1989. They were fleeing Soviet anti-semitism. I always hoped one day we’d go there on a family vacation. I wanted to see where they came from.

    It appears the Russians are staging to attack Odessa now.

  198. says

    Lynna @ #282:

    At this point, I do not trust Putin or the Russian military to make any rational decisions. They seem to be both incompetent and so ideologically driven that reason and logic have been thrown out the window.

    I agree completely.

  199. StevoR says

    Live Aussie ABC news coverage on the fire at the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant here :

    Its wikipage here :

    Noting incidents in 2014.

    Heard on the TV news (ABC c2 / 24) that if this blows up /melts down , it could be ten times worse than Chernobyl.This folks, is why nuclear esp uranium fission reactors are a bad idea.

    Totally unrelated and stunningly beautiful Palate Cleanser as Phil Plait (the Bad Astronomer) used to call it :

    Leaping Nile lechwe or Mrs Gray’s lechwe

    An endangered species whose latter, alternative name comes from Maria Emma Gray, who was the wife of the Keeper of the British Museum and a talented scientific artist who painted five volumes of etchings of various molluscs with her husband unsuccessfully attempting to name the species after her as “Kobus maria.” This didn’t work as it had already been named with the latter part of its scientific name simply meaning “big horn.” (See “Mammal Olympiad: Fencing: Mrs. Gray’s Lechwe” article.) She did however, later get a rather less impressive tribute with an algae – Grayemma menziesii – successfully getting named in her honour.

    Surprisingly shaggy coated despite it being found in the grasslands and marshes of South Sudan and Ethiopia; this endangered antelope is quite vocal and social living in herds that vary greatly from having about fifty females and a single male to smaller all-male herds. Well adapted to their swampy environment where they are able to jump impressively, these mammals are crepuscular in nature meaning they are active mostly around dawn and dusk. They are also very sexually dimorphic with the hornless females looking quite different from their male counterparts. The males compete to breed apparently locking horns underwater!

    These ungulates are threatened by hunting and affected by the Sudanese civil war as well as planned canals for irrigation and oil mining in the Sudd, a vast swamp along the Nile which is their main home. Sadly their numbers are continuing to decline.

  200. StevoR says

    PS. See also :

    The Mammal Olympiad page mentioned above plus :

    Also the Nile lechwe wikipage :

    Which among other things notes :

    During mating season, young males bend their horns to the ground as if to poke the earth. Males fight in the water, their heads submerging in horn-to-horn combat, for dominance.

    Incidentally, March 3rd is World Wildlife Day.

  201. raven says

    Increased radiation levels detected at nuclear plant on fire
    By AP
    Today, 2:47 am
    A government official tells The Associated Press that elevated levels of radiation are being detected near the site of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, which is on fire after being hit by Russian shelling.

    Hard to say what is going on here.
    Nuclear plant on fire, increasing radiation levels.
    This really could be the start of another Chernobyl.

  202. raven says

    Ukraine has 15 nuclear reactors that generate much of their electricity.
    Apparently the Russians aren’t really aiming their weapons very well and don’t much care what gets destroyed.

    Just for fun, I looked up the radiation maps for the Chernobyl melt down.
    It all depends on which way the wind was blowing while the plant burned.

    The wind was blowing north so most of the radiation went to Belarus and Russia. Some of it went as far as Finland and Sweden.
    In fact, IIRC, some of the first signs that there was a nuclear disaster were radiation alarms going off in Finland.

  203. KG says

    Feds arrest in London American TV producer Jack Hanick – Jennifer Griffin quoted by SC@242

    American “Feds” have no power of arrest in the UK, and there’s no UK equivalent. Hanick would have been arrested by British police in response to an American request, probably by the “Met” (Metropolitan Police, the main force in London). Still, too much to expect a Faux Noise “journalist” to realise that the UK, however subservient, is not actually part of the USA!

  204. KG says

    Why didn’t Putin wait? Why was it so important to him to go in now, that he was willing to give up a golden opportunity to humiliate an old rival at zero cost?
    All he had to do was sit and wait. The longer he waits, the more silly the US looks, until at some point another crisis diverts attention and there’s your chance. So, why didn’t he wait? – LykeX@265

    Possibly because you can’t keep a large invasion force away from their normal support services and in a state of readiness for very long (particularly if your armed forces are such a hive of incompetence and grift as Russia’s appear to be). There were a lot of comments on this in the period before the invasion, saying that Putin would soon have to either start the war, or send the troops back to their normal positions.

  205. KG says

    It appears the fire was in a training building, and is now out. Also, that the Russians are now in control of the plant. Not that either of those things means the danger of a radiation leak is over (probably from the spent fuel ponds, which are not protected in the way the reactors are), in such an unstable situation. And the whole event does rather put in perspective all those claims that Germany shouldn’t have closed down its nuclear power plants (which I’ve tended to agree with, not taking into account the possibility of full-scale war in Europe). Even without an overt Russia-NATO clash, can we rule out Russian-backed terrorist attempts to sabotage nuclear plants as reprisal for sanctions and arms deliveries?

  206. says

    KG @ #291, Griffin is actually a real journalist, probably the only one there! I don’t know if she typed the tweet.

    Here’s the story from the Daily Beast via Yahoo! – “Former Fox News Director Jack Hanick Indicted for Helping Russia”:

    As the United States increasingly goes after some of the Kremlin’s business tentacles, the latest person arrested for violating U.S. sanctions against Russia is a former Fox News director who left to launch a Russian propaganda network.

    The Department of Justice on Thursday revealed that Jack Hanick was quietly arrested in London on Feb. 3 [they must mean March 3] for dodging U.S. sanctions by helping a sanctioned Russian oligarch, Konstantin Malofeyev, start his right-wing Tsargrad TV.

    The DOJ simultaneously unsealed a grand jury indictment against him, accusing Hanick of knowingly engaging in business dealings with Malofeyev, who had been formally sanctioned by the U.S. government for his role in financing Russia-backed soldiers in eastern Ukraine who have violently tried to break off from the democratic country since 2014.

    The indictment also accuses Hanick of lying to FBI agents about his travels to Greece and Bulgaria to expand the TV network in 2015 and 2016, when he was interviewed by American investigators last year in New York City.

    Federal agents assert that many of the damning details about Hanick’s Kremlin adventures were laid out in an unpublished memoir he kept in his email account, which was searched by the feds with a court-approved search warrant.

    Malofeyev was sanctioned in December 2014 by the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control for financing separatists in the Donbas region in southeastern Ukraine.

    Russia-aligned fighters there operated with the not-so-secret help of that country’s military and used that government’s weapons when they shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, killing 283 passengers and 15 crewmembers.

    Malofeyev (also spelled in the West as Malofeev) started an Orthodox Christian network called Tsargrad TV. In 2020, he launched a similarly named right-wing political group in Russia with an imperialist bent that would—much like the National Rifle Association does in the United States—pressure politicians to toe the conservative line.

    According to The Warsaw Institute, a Polish-based geopolitical think tank, “Tsargrad” would test political candidates’ adherence to “traditional family, religious, and cultural values of the Russian people.”

    The Financial Times in 2015 analyzed how Malofeyev launched his “conservative yet modern spin on global news” in an attempt to mimic the rise of Fox News….

    Hanick got his start at Fox News when it first launched in 1996. Fifteen years later, in 2011, he left. Three years later, he joined forces with Malofeyev’s Russian propaganda operation. The Justice Department now wants to extradite him from the United Kingdom to New York City….

  207. says

    Here’s a link to today’s Guardian Ukraine liveblog. From there:

    Otaci is a Moldovan border town, on the opposite side of the Dniester River lies the Ukrainian city of Mohyliv-Podilskyi.

    As refugees spill over the bridge that links the two, local people are rallying together to provide them with warm food, shelter, internet and free onward travel in cars and taxis.

    Since Putin’s invasion of Ukraine started on 24 February, more than 1 million people have fled across the closest borders. The conflict could result in the “largest refugee crisis this century”, the UN refugee agency has warned, with up to 4 million people fleeing the country in the coming weeks and months.

    So far, more than 98,000 refugees have entered Moldova, Europe’s poorest country.

    Ukraine’s culture ministry has called for closing the skies over Ukraine because Russian forces are “destroying Ukrainian cultural sites”.

    Oleksandr Tkachenko, Ukraine’s minister of culture and information policy, said most of Putin’s “war crimes” in his country had been “committed from the air”, according to a statement by the ministry.

    Russia’s missiles and planes are deliberately destroying historic centres of big cities. Putin wants to destroy Europe’s heritage and culture, wipe it from the face of the earth.

    The statement warned:

    A mad dictator threatens to destroy St. Sophia Cathedral in Kyiv, a Unesco church built in the 11th century.

    Hundreds of innocent victims, the total destruction of churches, cathedrals and museums – is the price of the still opened sky over Ukraine.

    Vladimir Putin has warned Russia’s neighbours “not to escalate the situation” by imposing more restrictions on his country.

    Speaking at a government meeting broadcast today, the Russian president said:

    There are no bad intentions towards our neighbours. I would also advise them not to escalate the situation, not to introduce any restrictions. We fulfil all our obligations and will continue to fulfil them.

    Russia did not see “any need” to “aggravate or worsen” relations with other countries, he continued.

    All our actions, if they arise, they always arise exclusively in response to some unfriendly actions, actions against the Russian Federation.

    No release of radioactive material has been detected at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant after a military projectile hit a nearby building on the site, UN atomic chief Rafael Grossi has said.

    The situation “remains very challenging”, Grossi added, and it has not yet been possible to access the whole site to determine if all systems are fully functional.

    I’m extremely concerned about the situation at the Zaporizhzhia NPP and what happened there during the night.

    Firing shells in the area of a nuclear power plant violates the fundamental principle that the physical integrity of nuclear facilities must be maintained and kept safe at all time.

  208. says

    Meduza liveblog (link @ #2 above):

    Calling it an “invasion” to be a felony

    Federal lawmakers in Russia’s State Duma have adopted legislation that makes it a felony to disseminate “fake” information about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, information that “discredits” Russia’s armed forces, and information that incites foreign economic sanctions. If entered into law, this offense would be punishable by up to 15 years in prison. Speaker Volodin said the law could come into force as soon as tomorrow.

  209. says

    Guardian podcast – “What Russians are being told about the war in Ukraine”:

    When Russian state TV announced the invasion of Ukraine last week, it did not use the words “attack”, “invasion” or “war”. Instead it reported on a “special military operation” in the neighbouring country designed to liberate a nation that would welcome its forces to free it from fascism.

    The Guardian’s Moscow correspondent Andrew Roth tells Michael Safi that this initial distortion of the facts did not last the week. Instead, as the war grew more intensive and Russian forces met with fierce resistance, there was a subtle change in what Russians were told was going on. Yes, casualties were being taken, major cities were being targeted, but it was a necessary sanction against a government propped up by an imperialist west, determined to humiliate Russia.

    Now, as the attacks get increasingly deadly and cities are transformed by bombing campaigns, Russian propagandists are having to adapt their message again. Meanwhile, an economic crunch unlike any other many Russians have faced before is hitting them in their wallets, and many are looking for who’s to blame. As Andrew Roth explains, it’s not necessarily their own government led by Vladimir Putin.

  210. says

    Tucker says he was wrong about Ukraine and blames Biden and Harris for him being wrong”

    Video at the link. The fact that the Vice President attended the Munich Security Conference while the administration warned of an imminent invasion apparently signaled to Carlson that it wasn’t to be taken seriously, apparently because she’s a black woman and therefore everything associated with her is obviously trivial.

  211. says

    From Erich Fromm’s 1941 Escape from Freedom:

    ‘Appeasement’ was a policy which for a personality like Hitler was bound to arouse hatred, not friendship.

    As long as he felt Britain to be powerful, he loved and admired her. His book gives expression to this love for Britain. When he recognized the weakness of the British position before and after Munich his love changed into hatred and the wish to destroy it.

    Decisions made out of concern at “provoking” such people have the opposite effect.

  212. blf says

    Follow-up to me@169, Ukraine war puts France’s NATO-sceptic presidential candidates in a tight spot:

    As French President Emmanuel Macron returned from marathon talks with his Russian counterpart in Moscow on February 9, his closest challenger in the race for the Élysée Palace offered her take on what she described as a “frosty” reception at the Kremlin.

    Macron showed up in Moscow not as the French president, but rather as a little courier for NATO and was duly treated as such, Marine Le Pen told RTL radio.

    Just days earlier, the leader of the far-right National Rally party had repeated her pledge to pull France out of NATO’s integrated command. Addressing her first campaign rally, she stressed that France must not be dragged into other people’s conflicts.

    As she spoke, a glossy eight-page leaflet touting Le Pen’s leadership credentials was distributed to the audience. It featured pictures of her posing with a host of foreign dignitaries, including Russia’s Vladimir Putin — whom she visited at the Kremlin during her previous presidential run, in 2017.

    Weeks later, the picture has not aged well. With Ukraine in the throes of Europe’s biggest military invasion since World War II, it has come back to haunt Le Pen’s campaign, prompting some party officials to send the brochures — of which more than 1.2 million copies have been printed — to the shredder.


    Criticism has focused on a trio of presidential hopefuls — Le Pen, her far-right rival Éric Zemmour and leftist firebrand Jean-Luc Mélenchon — who are polling in second, third and fifth place, respectively, and are frequently lumped together for their “sovereignist” rhetoric despite being at odds on many issues.

    The two far-right leaders have spoken admiringly of the Russian leader’s unsparingly nationalist approach, in Zemmour’s case even longing for a French Putin. Le Pen has previously laughed off suggestions that Putin posed a threat to Europe, saying that NATO had outlived its usefulness.

    While Mélenchon has no such affinity with the strongman in the Kremlin, he has in the past joined his rivals in belittling the threat from Moscow even as he blamed NATO for stirring trouble.

    […] French daily Le Monde published an unusually scathing column blasting the “champions of French autonomy (…) who fell right into Putin’s trap”.

    “Rarely has a foreign policy event left candidates so exposed, revealing their deceptions,” wrote the newspaper’s editorialist Françoise Fressoz […]

    Martin Quencez, a security analyst and deputy director of the German Marshall Fund’s Paris office, said the war in Ukraine has served as a tragic reminder of why the NATO alliance exists in the first place: to protect member states from a threat that is “very real”.

    “In that respect, the war is particularly damning for those candidates who claimed the threat was non-existent,” he told FRANCE 24.

    “Their claims rested on two main arguments: one, that the Russian threat was exaggerated or even invented by US intelligence; the other, that Russia’s hostility was merely a consequence of aggression by NATO and the US,” Quencez added. “Putin’s war has effectively killed off both.”

    Since the start of the war, France’s sovereignist candidates have rushed to distance themselves from the Kremlin — with Le Pen claiming the Russian leader is no longer the Putin whose support she sought in 2017. […]

    [… Zemmour] suggested appointing Hubert Védrine, a former foreign minister, as a French mediator to broker peace between Moscow and Kyiv. That suggestion was promptly rebuffed by Védrine himself, who described Zemmour’s anti-NATO platform as “senseless, stupid, and coming at the worst possible time”.

    “Even De Gaulle never intended to quit the alliance,” the former minister told Le Monde. “France cannot isolate itself from the United States and its European partners.” [In 1966, Charles de Gaulle withdrew France from Nato’s integrated command structure but did not quit the alliance itself; France rejoined in 2009 –blf …] “De Gaulle never questioned the fact that France was firmly on one side during the Cold War. During the great standoffs of his presidency, such as the Cuban missile crisis or the construction of the Berlin Wall, he sided resolutely with the West and condemned the Soviets. To think that a Gaullist policy would mean to be non-aligned, in the Cold War sense, is a historical mistake.”


  213. blf says

    Not quite a Putin-supporting-oligarch, but somehow similar, US hunter fined after trophy photo proves he shot sheep in Canada:

    Donald Lee claimed he killed a Fannin bighorn sheep in Alaska but an online sleuth and Yukon conservation officers proved he didn’t

    When an Alaskan hunter ventured out into the rugged mountains and dropped his target with a single rifle shot, it seemed like the perfect crime.

    The only witness lay dead on the rocky landscape.

    But Donald Lee’s deception was uncovered after forensic work by a savvy online sleuth and conservation officers revealed that Lee killed a bighorn sheep in Canada — not the United States, as he had previously claimed.

    A Yukon court slapped Lee with a C$8,500 (US$6,700) fine and barred him from hunting in Canada for five years after he pleaded guilty to an offence under federal wildlife protection laws.


    Images [Lee himself] posted to a sheep hunting forum included both date and geolocation. A sharp-eyed user then sent a tip to Yukon conservation officers, who then travelled by helicopter to the remote area where Lee was believed to have shot the sheep.

    The Yukon team painstakingly recreated the scene, using landmarks including distinct rocks and scraggly trees to prove Lee had committed a crime.

    Lee now has one year to pay the fine and was previously ordered to turn over the stuffed head.

  214. blf says

    This got the attention of the mildly deranged penguin, Swiss Gruyère wins world championship cheese contest for second time in a row:

    The cheese, made by Michael Spycher of Mountain Dairy Fritzenhaus, comes from a small dairy that works with just 12 farmers

    A Gruyère from Switzerland has been named as the top cheese for the second consecutive time at the World Championship Cheese Contest in Wisconsin.

    The cheese from Bern, Switzerland, made its maker, Michael Spycher of Mountain Dairy Fritzenhaus, a three-time winner. Spycher also won in 2020 and 2008. The cheese, called Gourmino Le Gruyère AOP, earned a score of 98.423 out of 100.

    The award-winning product comes from a small dairy working with 12 farmers within a 3-mile (5km) radius, a Gourmino AG spokesman said. Mountain Dairy Fritzenhaus produces about 85 tons (77 metric tons) of the Gruyère each year out of a total of 32,000 tons of the cheese produced annually in Switzerland.


    She (the mildly deranged penguin, that is) is now carefully checking her Cheese Growing Regions Near Earth — Atlas and Hunting Tips — An Encyclopædia (Volume CCCLXXVII) to see what those farmers are feeding the cheese plants, etc.

  215. says

    CNN – “‘It is not just Ukraine we are protecting’: The foreigners and expats taking up arms to fight Russia “:

    …The world has watched in horror since Russia invaded Ukraine late last week, triggering what could be the largest land war in Europe since World War II. And Zelensky’s defiance has not only united Western opposition to Russia, but also inspired foreign volunteers and Ukrainians abroad to fight for the cause.

    “This is not just Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” Zelensky said on Sunday. “This is the beginning of a war against Europe, against European structures, against democracy, against basic human rights, against a global order of law, rules, and peaceful coexistence.”

    Ukrainian embassies have been helping recruit foreign fighters, while at least one senior politician from a Western government that has previously prosecuted those who joined foreign wars indicated support for citizens taking up arms in Ukraine….

    Much more at the link.

  216. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    The Ukrainian city of Mariupol has no water, heat or electricity and is running out of food after coming under attack by Russian forces for the past five days, its mayor said in a televised appeal.

    Vadym Boychenko, mayor of Mariupol, said called for a humanitarian corridor to evacuate civilians from the south-eastern port city.

    We are simply being destroyed.

    Earlier this afternoon, a senior US official told reporters that Mariupol remains under Ukrainian control, though Russian troops are continuing to advance and bombard the city, causing utility outages.

    Russian forces were driven out of the Ukrainian city of Mykolayiv after attacking it on Friday, regional authorities said.

    Some fighting continued around the outskirts of the Black Sea port city, regional governor Vitaliy Kim said.

    It comes after the governor said Russian troops had entered Mykolayiv for the first time this morning. “Let’s not get nervous,” he said in a video statement shared online.

    The BBC is temporarily suspending the work of all its journalists and staff in Russia after Russian authorities passed new legislation making the spread of “fake” information an offence punishable with fines or jail terms….

  217. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Here’s more on the impact of new Russian legislation that could jail anyone found to be intentionally spreading “fake” news.

    Russia’s Novaya Gazeta newspaper said it will remove material on Russia’s military actions in Ukraine from its website because of censorship.

    The newspaper, whose editor Dmitry Muratov was a co-winner of last year’s Nobel Peace Prize, said it would continue to report on the consequences that Russia is facing, including a deepening economic crisis and the persecution of dissidents.

    In a Telegram post, the newspaper said military censorship in Russia has “moved into a new phase”.

  218. tomh says

    March 04, 2022
    Florida Passes 15-Week Abortion Ban

    Yesterday the Florida legislature gave final passage to H5 (full text) which, among other things, prohibits abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy except to save the mother’s life, to avert serious risk of imminent substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function, or in the case of a non-viable fetus that has a fatal abnormality.
    AP reports on the legislation.


  219. says

    The Times:

    President Zelensky has survived at least three assassination attempts in the past week, The Times has learnt

    EXCLUSIVE: Two different outfits have been sent to kill the Ukrainian president — mercenaries of the Kremlin-backed Wagner group and Chechen special forces. Both have been thwarted by anti-war elements within Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB)

    Wagner mercenaries in Kyiv have sustained losses during their attempts and are said to have been alarmed by how accurately the Ukrainians had anticipated their moves. A source close to the group said it was “eerie” how well briefed Zelensky’s security team appeared to be

    On Saturday an attempt on Zelensky’s life was foiled on the outskirts of Kyiv. Ukrainian security officials said a cadre of Chechen assassins had been “eliminated” before they could reach the president

    Ukrainian officials claim the information that led to the deaths of the Chechens came from disgruntled agents in the FSB who oppose the invasion.

    “I can say that we have received information from the FSB, who do not want to take part in this bloody war”

    The Wagner mercenaries were unaware of the Chechen assassins but have carried out their own attempts to decapitate the government, after being embedded in Kyiv for more than six weeks, tracking the activities of 24 high-profile Ukrainian targets

    The mercenaries have come under fierce pressure from Moscow to bring forward their operations to secure a visible victory and they are said to intend to carry out the 24 assassinations on their “kill list” in a matter of days

    A source close to the mercenaries in Kyiv insists that despite the loss of some of the group in botched operations this week, the numbers are still on their side, with almost 400 in the capital alone

    “It only takes one of them to get lucky and everyone goes home with a bonus,” The Times was told

    Link to the full (paywalled) article at the link.

  220. says

    Meduza liveblog:

    Microsoft suspends new sales of products and services in Russia

    “Like the rest of the world, we are horrified, angered and saddened by the images and news coming from the war in Ukraine and condemn this unjustified, unprovoked and unlawful invasion by Russia. […] We are announcing today that we will suspend all new sales of Microsoft products and services in Russia.”

    Team Navalny calls on Russians at home and abroad to join anti-war protests on March 6

    “Right now we are all responsible for the future of Russia. Go to rallies against the war! Weekdays at 19:00 and this Sunday, March 6, at 14:00.

    Moscow — Manezhnaya Square

    St. Petersburg — Palace Square

    Novosibirsk — the square near the opera house

    Ekaterinburg — Truda Square

    Other cities of Russia and the world — on central squares.”

    Here’s a link to their video, with English subtitles.

  221. says

    Dan Lamothe, WaPo:

    A Friday background briefing with senior U.S. defense officials about the war in Ukraine has concluded.

    Some takeaways worth noting:

    Ninety-two percent of Russia’s combat power assembled at the Ukrainian border pre-invasion is now in Ukraine. That’s up from about 90 percent in a Pentagon assessment yesterday.

    Strikingly, Ukraine has a “significant majority” of its aircraft still available against Russia after nine days of invasion, senior U.S. defense official says. For days, U.S. has said the airspace was contested.

    No radioactive leakage from the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant has been detected, senior U.S. defense official says. Russia appears to be in control of the plant, after shelling the area and causing a fire at the plant last night.

    Official frames the shelling on the nuclear plant in part as a likely play to gain leverage on everyday Ukrainians by seizing control of electrical power.

    Russia continues to advance on the southeastern city of Mariupol and shell it.

    Russian and Ukrainian forces also fighting near the smaller southern city of Mikolaev, as Russians seemingly advance toward larger port city of Odessa.

    Senior U.S. defense official appears to raise the possibility of Russian troops near Kherson linking up with additional Russians on naval vessels in the Black Sea.

    Russia already has launched one amphibious invasion from the Sea of Azov.

  222. says

    Gordon Corera, BBC:

    NEW – Russian commanders have been killed after they felt they had to move closer to the front lines, western officials say. Deputy Commander of the 41st combined arms Army killed by sniper fire. A divisional commander and a regimental commander also killed.

    Russian commanders moving further forward to get more control and impetus behind operations which have, in some cases, badly stalled. Those commanders are trying to impose their own personality on the battlefield but this in turn, is placing them at greater risk, w. officials say

    Fragilities in systems,combined with remarkable Ukrainian resistance,has shocked Russian commanders, western officials say, and is having a psychological impact on Russian troops because of ferocity of the fight. But for all the problems, they are likely to adapt,say w. officials

  223. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 318

    Ah, when 18th century notions of military glory AND machismo turn deadly.

    Not that I’m going to shed a tear for any of these thugs.

  224. says

    From text quoted by SC @314:

    The Wagner mercenaries were unaware of the Chechen assassins but have carried out their own attempts to decapitate the government, after being embedded in Kyiv for more than six weeks, tracking the activities of 24 high-profile Ukrainian targets.

    The mercenaries have come under fierce pressure from Moscow to bring forward their operations to secure a visible victory and they are said to intend to carry out the 24 assassinations on their “kill list” in a matter of days

    That is just so evil and so scary.

    The mercenaries have been in Kyiv for more than six weeks!

  225. says

    House passes resolution backing Ukraine, but it wasn’t unanimous

    Congressional leaders hoped to see the House speak with one voice in opposition to Russia’s war in Ukraine. They had to settle for 99 percent unanimity.

    In light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it didn’t come as a surprise that the Democratic-led U.S. House voted this week on a resolution in support of Ukrainians, while condemning the unnecessary and deadly war. […] Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) said it was “unreal” that three fellow Republicans voted against the resolution.

    As the roll call showed, the measure, as expected, received overwhelming bipartisan support, but three GOP lawmakers, who knew it would pass anyway, voted against it: Arizona’s Paul Gosar, Kentucky’s Thomas Massie, and Montana’s Matt Rosendale.

    […] What in the world were these far-right members thinking?

    As the lopsided outcome suggested, the text of the resolution wasn’t especially controversial, at least not from an American perspective. The measure condemned the invasion, endorsed a ceasefire, expressed support for sanctions, and said the House “stands steadfastly, staunchly, proudly and fervently behind the Ukrainian people in their fight against the authoritarian Putin regime.”

    It’s a non-binding, symbolic gesture, with no force of law. It doesn’t require the United State to do anything. So what was the problem?

    For his part, Rosendale said he opposes sending “unlimited military, monetary, and humanitarian aid to Ukraine.” Massie made a similar complaint via a Twitter thread.

    And then there was Gosar. The Arizona Republic reported:

    When Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., noted his dismay with Wednesday’s few “no” votes, Gosar, R-Ariz., tweeted, “Talk to me when our border is secure.” Later, Gosar issued a statement faulting the resolution for referencing NATO’s longstanding collective defense provision that treats an attack on one member nation as one against all of them.

    “While I have deep compassion and sympathy for the horrible suffering of the people of Ukraine and am moved by their nationalism, this resolution would have been more aptly titled the ‘Resolution that Drags the United States into Another Foreign War,’” Gosar said.

    Just so we’re clear, the resolution that passed with 426 votes did not authorize or endorse U.S. military action of any kind.

    Gosar’s vote against the measure came less than a week after he appeared at a white nationalist event where Russia was praised and attendees literally chanted Vladimir Putin’s name.

    Gosar is a white nationalist blockhead.

  226. says

    Why it matters that Trump’s team told him the truth about his loss

    Donald Trump can’t credibly say he didn’t know the truth about his 2020 defeat when so many of those around him had already told him the truth.

    Former Attorney General William Barr reflected this week on what happened when he told Donald Trump there simply wasn’t any evidence that the 2020 election was fraudulent. As NBC News reported, the then-president apparently didn’t take it well.

    “I told him that all this stuff was bulls— … about election fraud. And, you know, it was wrong to be shoveling it out the way his team was,” Barr said in an interview with NBC News’ Lester Holt…. “He was asking about different theories, and I had the answers. I was able to tell him, ‘This was wrong because of this,’” Barr recounted. Trump listened, but “he was obviously getting very angry about this.”

    According to the former attorney general’s version of events, after telling Trump the truth he didn’t want to hear, Barr also offered to resign. Slapping his desk, the then-president said, “Accepted. Accepted…. Go home. Don’t go back to your office. Go home. You’re done.”

    At face value, the story is very easy believe. After all, Barr made related comments about the election results in December 2020, resulting in similar hysterical Trump tantrums.

    What’s more, it’s important to emphasize that the former attorney general is clearly eager to rehabilitate his tarnished reputation — or at least try to — after a highly controversial tenure in which he brazenly politicized federal law enforcement in ways unseen in the post-Watergate era.

    But there’s another dimension to this that may not be immediately obvious.

    The New York Times explained in a new report the significance of this week’s court filing from the Jan. 6 committee.

    In laying out the account, the panel revealed the basis of what its investigators believe could be a criminal case against Mr. Trump. At its core is the argument that, in repeatedly rejecting the truth that he had lost the 2020 election — including the assertions of his own campaign aides, White House lawyers, two successive attorneys general and federal investigators — Mr. Trump was not just being stubborn or ignorant about his defeat, he was knowingly perpetrating a fraud on the United States.

    The list is both long and important. Trump’s attorney general told him he lost, fair and square, and he could not legally overturn the results of his own country’s legitimate election. Trump’s top White House lawyer said the same thing. So did officials on Trump’s campaign team. And in Trump’s Department of Homeland Security. And Trump’s Justice Department.

    […] Trump was repeatedly told the truth by members of his own team, and he made a conscious decision to perpetrate a fraud anyway.

    And that, according to the court filing from the bipartisan House select panel, may not have been legal. A Washington Post report added:

    The committee’s goal was to convince a federal judge there is a “good-faith basis” for concluding Trump and others engaged in a “criminal conspiracy” to defraud the United States and obstruct Congress before the attack on the Capitol — and to prove that Trump was acting corruptly by continuing to spread lies about the election long after he had reason to know he had legitimately lost.

    By all accounts, proving intent in this area can be difficult, but that’s what makes the chorus of voices all the more significant: Trump can’t say he didn’t know the truth when so many of those around him had already told him the truth.

    Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin, a member of the Jan. 6 committee, told the Post, “I mean, he understood what he was doing was wrong. I’ve never really doubted that from the beginning. But all of this evidence makes it certain that he had consciousness of guilt as he proceeded to try to overthrow the election result.”

  227. says

    U.S. job growth is off to an amazing start in 2022

    Forecasters expected job growth to be strong in the early months of 2022. They just didn’t expect it to be this strong.

    Expectations heading into this morning showed projections of about 440,000 new jobs added in the United States in February. As it turns out, according to the new report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the preliminary tally suggests the domestic job market is even hotter than forecasts predicted. CNBC reported:

    Nonfarm payrolls for the month grew by 678,000 and the unemployment rate was 3.8%, the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday.

    What’s more, job totals from December and January were both revised up, adding an additional 92,000 previously unreported new jobs — on top of the 678,000 jobs created in February.

    So far in 2022, the economy has created 1.16 million jobs, and that’s after just two months.

    […] the U.S. economy has now gained back 90 percent of its pandemic job losses — and it’s happened faster than hardly anyone thought possible a year ago.

    […] over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings point to wage growth of 5.1 percent.

    As for the political context, over the course of the first three years of Donald Trump’s term — when the then-Republican president said the United States’ economy was the greatest in the history of the planet — the economy created roughly 6.5 million jobs. This includes all of 2017, 2018, and 2019.

    According to the latest tally, since January 2021, the U.S. economy created 7.9 million jobs — well above the combined total of Trump’s first three years.

    For many years, I ran a chart at the bottom of posts about the monthly jobs reports, but the job losses at the start of the pandemic were so severe, it’s rendered the image largely meaningless. I’m still retooling it in the hopes of making it useful again.

  228. says

    The Supreme Court Is Poised To Shift Executive Branch Power To Itself

    It’s a right-wing dream decades in the making.

    The Supreme Court conservatives, exuding the heady self-confidence of a team that knows it cannot lose, haven’t been coy about the jurisprudence they want to reshape or tear down.

    Religious liberty, abortion, guns — the Court has recently taken up and dispensed with a whole swath of cases at astonishing speeds, often dramatically changing the bench’s long-held posture in relative silence through the shadow docket.

    But perhaps on no topic has the Court telegraphed its intent more clearly than the administrative state, the power of federal agencies to regulate and make rules. The dry name belies a system absolutely critical to every corner of American life.

    “If I want to dump chemical waste in a swamp, I’d prefer that the federal government not have power to regulate that,” Julian Davis Mortenson, professor at the University of Michigan Law School, told TPM. “If I want to pay people working in my factory a miserably tiny wage, or employ 12 year-olds, I’d rather the federal government not have the power to make a rule against that.”

    The Court is now stocked with justices hungry to shift the power back in the direction of those nonregulatory interests. In doing so, they’ll really be shifting power to themselves.

    “If the Supreme Court truly honored the rule of law and precedent, then they would acknowledge the power of the agencies that was granted to them by Congress in order to save our environment,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) told TPM of a recent illustrative case involving the Environmental Protection Agency. “But this is an extremist Supreme Court, so I’m very worried about the outcome.”

    Because Congress is already paralyzed on critical issues, the prospect of a future in which the administrative state is rendered toothless is also a future in which unelected, conservative Justices become the arbiters of what the government can and can’t do. It’s a right-wing fantasy, cherished and developed for decades, come to life. […]

    This skewed power balance is already on display. If agencies can’t be trusted to operate with some independence and Congress is unable to pass new laws governing what agencies can do or to clarify old ones, that leaves judges to decide the limits of agencies’ power.

    […] “The Court is absolutely comfortable second-guessing every single thing the government did in a compressed time frame during a pandemic,” Mortenson said. “Over the course of the 20th century, that’s absolutely gobsmacking. There is a full-throated commitment to instantiating preference for a narrower government dressed up in legal doctrines.” […]

    More at the link, including a historical perspective showing how we got here.

  229. says

    Kimberly Guilfoyle joins Jan. 6 subpoena club

    After an erratic video deposition gone awry with the Jan. 6 committee, a formal subpoena has been served to Kimberly Guilfoyle, Donald Trump Jr.’s fiancée and proud fundraiser for the rally in Washington, D.C., that her soon-to-be father-in-law incited to insurrection.

    The panel issued the subpoena on Thursday night, two weeks after Guilfoyle appeared remotely for the panel but failed to cooperate. Her attorney, Joseph Tacopina, cited a laundry list of grievances for her backing out, namely the very presence of committee members viewing her deposition.

    Fearing media leaks of her testimony, she said she expected to meet with counsel for the select committee exclusively. But according to Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, no such deal was ever struck.

    “The Select Committee staff sought your voluntary cooperation with its investigation. Though you professed to want to cooperate, you produced only 110 pages in response to 14 document requests,” Thompson wrote to Guilfoyle in a letter notifying her of the subpoena.

    The Feb. 25 interview was also slated to be transcribed, and, like other depositions, have full member participation. […]

    The committee is interested in Guilfoyle’s testimony because of her reported ties to fundraising for the rally at the Ellipse on Jan. 6. She allegedly helped raise $3 million from conservative Publix supermarket heiress and high-level Trump campaign donor Julie Fancelli.

    ProPublica first broke the news of Guilfoyle’s alleged fundraising activities after obtaining text messages sent to Katrina Pierson, a White House liaison for the rally.

    “Raised so much money for this. Literally one of my donors Julie at $3 million,” Guilfoyle wrote.

    Guilfoyle was pushing Pierson to let her have certain speakers on stage next to Trump, like “Stop the Steal” rally organizer Ali Alexander and Trump’s longtime adviser, craven Republican strategist Roger Stone.

    Hamfisted conspiracy peddler Alex Jones was among the group Guilfoyle reportedly wanted to bring out front.

    Guilfoyle also wanted to introduce Trump Jr.

    But “credible evidence” from the committee, Thompson wrote, has indicated that she was told by officials that Trump had concerns about sharing the spotlight with the trio.

    Guilfoyle was also in the Oval Office on Jan. 6 and backstage at the rally, seen celebrating with Trump Jr., former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, and others present, such as the outgoing president’s daughter, Ivanka Trump.

    Both Ivanka and Meadows have also been subpoenaed by the panel. Meadows waffled on cooperation with the committee months ago and awaits his fate from the Justice Department on a criminal contempt of Congress referral approved by the House of Representatives last year. [video available at the link

    The committee recalled Guilfoyle’s own words back to her in their demand, highlighting her spreading of Trump’s long-debunked lies about the outcome of the 2020 election on Jan. 6.

    “You later spoke at the rally held on the Ellipse in support of President Trump and his allegations of election fraud. You told the crowd, ‘We will not allow the liberals and the Democrats to steal our dream or steal our elections,’” Thompson wrote. “[You] were filmed backstage prior to your speech telling people to ‘Have the courage to do the right thing. Fight!’”

    Before handing down the subpoena, the committee said it did offer Guilfoyle one more chance to cooperate.

    She declined. […]

  230. says

    Update to #296 – Putin has now signed it into law.

    Guardian liveblog:

    Russia’s media watchdog Roskomnadzor said it had decided to block access to the Facebook network in Russia. It added that there had been 26 cases of discrimination against Russian media by Facebook since October 2020.

    UK foreign secretary Liz Truss posted a statement to Twitter following an announcement today that the UK will be bolstering sanctions against Russia.

    About 100 people could still be trapped under rubble after a missile attack hit a large apartment block in Borodyanka, a small town 60km north-west of Kyiv, Ukraine’s state emergency service said.

    A spokesperson for the service told CNN that “about 100 people may be trapped under the rubble” in Borodyanka but “it is impossible to give a more precise figure at the moment.”

    Rescuers do not have access to these people due to the constant shelling. We are ready to evacuate people as soon as there is an agreement on a ‘green corridor.

    Thousands of people living in the area near the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine are unable to evacuate because of ongoing shelling by Russian forces, Ukraine’s ambassador to the United Nations said….

  231. blf says

    Here in France, presidential-wannabe übernazi Éric Zemmour is not having a good time (yea!). Now, in addition to trying to explain why he’s so fond of Putin and anti-Nato (see @304), Far-right Zemmour guilty of copyright infringement in presidential campaign video (quoted in full):

    French far-right pundit and presidential candidate Éric Zemmour was found guilty of copyright infringement on Friday over his unauthorised use of film clips and newsreels in a video launching his run for the Élysée Palace.

    Zemmour, a writer and talk show pundit known for his polarising attacks on Muslims and immigrants, was ordered to pay a total of 70,000 euros to plaintiffs including French film directors Luc Besson and François Ozon.

    His 10-minute campaign video — in which he warned that the traditional France of Joan of Arc was disappearing under the weight of migration and foreign cultures — featured a clip from Besson’s 1999 biopic of the French Medieval heroine, starring Milla Jovovich.

    Other plaintiffs included movie production house Gaumont, which said it had received no requests from Zemmour’s team to use clips from Besson’s “Joan of Arc” or 1960s classic “A Monkey in Winter” starring Jean-Luc Belmondo, to which it owns the rights.

    Zemmour’s video, posted on social media on November 30, also featured multiple news clips of Muslims praying in the street, street violence, and the aftermath of terrorist attacks, triggering responses from media groups including FRANCE 24, whose footage was also used.

    At the time, FRANCE 24 said it was “opposed on principle to the use of its images and its logo in all political campaigns”, demanding their immediate removal.

    Zemmour, 63, has two convictions for hate speech and is appealing a third. He is currently polling in fourth position, at around 12%, ahead of the first round of France’s presidential election on April 10.

    Defending its use of film and media clips in the campaign video, Zemmour’s team claimed it had respected the right to use short quotes freely.

    However, French copyright rules state that brief extracts can be used only for reviews, opinion pieces, and scientific or informational articles — not for promotional content. Original authors can also take action if they feel their work has been distorted in its use — a charge which several writers and historians have laid against Zemmour.

    Hopefully, due to sanctions, he’ll have a hard time getting that €70,000 from Putin, landing him in even more hot water.

  232. says

    Followup to tomh @236.

    Transgender Teens and Their Families Prepare to Flee Texas

    “What choice do we have? I’d rather lose our home and our state than lose my child.”

    In a small town about an hour outside Dallas, a transgender teen I’ll call Amber began plotting out a safety plan with her mom. It was late February, and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott had just ordered child protective services to investigate parents who appeared to have authorized certain types of health care for their kids—care that Amber was receiving to assist with her gender transition. Puberty blockers and hormonal therapy are standard treatments approved by mainstream medical associations for trans teens like her. But the governor was now labeling them as a form of “child abuse.” He urged teachers, doctors, and community members to report their trans teen neighbors to authorities.

    “It just knocked the breath out of me,” Amber’s mom, Kate, recalled of the moment she read the news. She and Amber began thinking through how they might avoid scrutiny in their tiny conservative town. “Who do we know who is anti-LGBTQIA?” Kate wondered. “Who do we need to avoid?” (I’ve used pseudonyms for both Kate and Amber because of their concerns that they might be reported to child protective services.) They also began brainstorming about how to get out of Texas quickly if investigators came looking for them.

    Abbott’s directive was unprecedented in the United States, according to attorneys who study anti-transgender policies and legislation. He issued it one week before a crowded Republican primary election, based on a legal opinion written by state Attorney General Ken Paxton, who is facing a tough reelection later this year. “There is no doubt that these procedures are ‘abuse’ under Texas law, and thus must be halted,” Paxton said in a statement. “I’ll do everything I can to protect against those who take advantage of and harm young Texans.”

    The governor’s directive was nonbinding. But the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) has already started investigating at least one couple with a 16-year-old trans teen, according to a lawsuit filed on Tuesday by the American Civil Liberties Union and Lambda Legal, an LGBTQ rights group. The couple alleges that an investigator arrived at their home to interview the family and asked for the teen’s medical records. A DFPS spokesperson told reporters at the 19th that the agency has received at least three reports alleging abuse or neglect based on gender-affirming care for minors. On Wednesday, a state judge issued a temporary restraining order that prevents DFPS from continuing to investigate the parents who sued. But the agency can still investigate other parents, at least until the court meets again later this month.

    And trans teens, advocates, and their families are worried that the directive could become enshrined in law: Last year, the Texas Legislature debated a bill that would have classified gender-affirming medical care as child abuse. Though the bill failed to pass, there’s a chance that the state’s lawmakers, emboldened by the governor’s directive, could approve a similar bill when they reconvene next year. “We know that families are terrified,” Chase Strangio, an attorney at the ACLU, told reporters during a press call.

    President Biden condemned Gov. Abbott’s directive during his first State of the Union speech on Tuesday. He said he supported a federal bill that would protect LGBTQ Americans from discrimination. “The onslaught of state laws targeting transgender Americans and their families, it’s simply wrong,” he added.

  233. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Russia bans Twitter

    This just in: Russia has banned Twitter throughout the country, according to Interfax news agency.

    This story is developing- more details to come.

  234. says

    The White House on Friday distanced itself from Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-S.C.) call for the assassination of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

    “That is not the position of the United States government and certainly not a statement you’d hear come from the mouth of anybody in this administration,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at a press briefing.

    Psaki added that the administration believes there is still a diplomatic path forward should Putin choose to pursue it, despite the escalation in Russian tactics in recent days.

    “But no, we are not advocating for killing the leader of a foreign country or regime change. That is not the policy of the United States,” Psaki said.

    Graham on Thursday night suggested the only way the Russian invasion of Ukraine would end “is for somebody in Russia to take this guy out.”

    “Is there a Brutus in Russia? Is there a more successful Colonel Stauffenberg in the Russian military?” Graham posted on Twitter, referring to the assassin of Julius Caesar and the attempted assassin of Adolf Hitler, respectively.

    The commentary drew backlash from some Republicans, who called it a bad idea and unhelpful amid heightened tensions globally.

    “This is an exceptionally bad idea. Use massive economic sanctions; BOYCOTT Russian oil & gas; and provide military aid so the Ukrainians can defend themselves,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) tweeted. “But we should not be calling for the assassination of heads of state.”

    Global leaders have grown increasingly concerned about Putin’s mindset and conduct as the attacks on Ukraine escalate. There have been widespread reports of Russian attacks targeting civilian areas indiscriminately, and fighting broke out late Thursday at a nuclear plant.


    Putin has been pumping out propaganda that claims the USA is trying to take him out. Senator Graham played right into Putin’s hands. Graham is a dunderhead.

  235. Akira MacKenzie says

    “But no, we are not advocating for killing the leader of a foreign country or regime change. That is not the policy of the United States,” Psaki said.

    “It has long been U.S. policy to only have the CIA/NSA murder foreign leaders or topple governments when they threaten our ‘ nation’s ability to exploit their peoples for cheap labor and recourses,” Jen Psaki would say if she were honest. “While nuclear Armageddon would certainly end our billionaire and millionaire master’s profiteering once and for all, Putin and the Russians are too white to attack or remove from power. That, and unlike all of they smaller nations we subjugated, Russia can actually fight back.”

  236. says


    Last month, Senator Rick Scott of Florida unveiled his 11-Point Plan for America. In doing this, he achieved the impossible. He actually came up with a plan so terrible that Mitch McConnell, known lover of terrible ideas, had to agree that it went a bit too far. McConnell criticized the plan this week, saying, “We will not have as part of our agenda a bill that raises taxes on half the American people and sunsets Social Security and Medicare within five years.”

    Naturally, Scott has taken to the Wall Street Journal to defend his terrible plan in a terrible op-ed, in which he whines about no one wanting to go along with his ideas and says some pretty terrible things about poor people.

    But he begins with drama.

    I have committed heresy in Washington. I’ve been in the Senate for only three years, and I have released an 11-point plan with 128 ideas on what Republicans should do after we win the coming elections and take control of the Senate and House. In the real world beyond the Beltway, Republicans and independents demand bold action and a plan to save our nation. They see no point in taking control of Congress if we are simply going to return to business as usual.

    Technically, “in the real world beyond the Beltway,” Republicans mostly seem to care about getting to see mass arrests of Democrats, and some action to be taken against Bill Gates for trying to put the Mark of the Beast into everybody. But sure, probably a lot of them would be thrilled to get rid of Social Security and Medicare entirely, so long as they get to keep their Social Security and Medicare.

    We are losing this country. The militant left has seized control of the federal government, the news media, big tech, academia, Hollywood, the Democratic Party, most corporate boardrooms and even some of our top military leaders. The elites atop our nation’s institutions are working hard to redefine America and silence their opponents. They want to end the American experiment and replace it with a woke socialist utopia, and we are sitting around watching it happen.

    Yes, who among us would want to live in a woke socialist utopia where everyone has health care and is able to get a well-paying job that allows them to eat and pay rent and people aren’t discriminated against? Fools, really. Why try to make things nice for everyone when we could all be miserable instead?

    If we have no bigger plan than to be a speed bump on the road to socialism, we don’t deserve to govern. Most Republicans in Congress agree, but many live in fear of speaking the truth in Washington. If you do, the Democrats will attack you and use it against you. Therefore, they tell us, it’s best to keep your head down, vote as directed, and be quiet. But Americans have never had more information than they do today. They demand and deserve the truth, and it’s time to give it to them.

    Yes, the problem with Republicans is that they are always voting for things that Democrats want and being too quiet. Especially when they’re speaking at white nationalist conferences.

    I’ve been told there are unwritten rules in Washington about what you can and cannot say. You can’t tell the public that Social Security and Medicare are going bankrupt. You can’t talk about term limits, because, while voters want them, nobody in Washington does. You can’t talk about balancing the budget or shrinking the debt.

    If those rules exist, written or not, it’s difficult to find any examples of anyone following them, particularly Republicans, who say these things regularly whether they are true or a good idea or not. Social Security is not going bankrupt, because the majority of benefits are funded by payroll taxes, which will obviously continue to exist well into the future. Medicare is also not going bankrupt.

    It turns out you also can’t point out that the federal government has figured out how to disconnect many Americans from fiscal reality. Politicians peddle a fiction that they can waste as much money as they want with no downside. They even have a fancy name for it—“modern monetary theory”—and President Biden’s crowd pushes it like crazy. Their plan is to give away money borrowed from your grandkids, get re-elected, and never pay a penalty for their irresponsibility.

    Rick Scott’s “fiscal reality” is one in which he is rich and poor people stay poor.

    First of all, you have to spend money to make money. The programs Democrats push for are things that will allow people to make more money, live well and invest in their futures — which means that they will then be able to pay more money in taxes. No one is being helped out by people having piles of medical debt and student debt, no one is being helped out by absurdly expensive childcare, and it’s certainly not clear what good any of that is doing anyone’s grandkids. Does Rick Scott imagine that these supposed grandkids will have to live lives of austerity to make up for whatever spending we’re doing now? What does he actually think these grandkids will have to deal with? Because neither he nor anyone else who makes this claim ever actually explains that.

    So, I went out and made a statement that got me in trouble. I said that all Americans need to have some skin in the game. Even if it is just a few bucks, everyone needs to know what it is like to pay some taxes. It hit a nerve. Part of the deception is achieved by disconnecting so many Americans from taxation. It’s a genius political move. And it is bankrupting us.

    Everyone does know what it is like to pay some taxes, including those who are too poor to pay federal income taxes. But as you may be guessing, the next paragraph is where Scott rages against the masses of imaginary poor people he claims are stealing all of your tax money because they are too lazy to work.

    I’m a tax cutter—always have been, always will be. I cut taxes more than 100 times as governor of Florida. But now Chuck Schumer and the Democrats are faking outrage about my plan. Yet Americans want everyone to pay their fair share. Working Americans already pay taxes on their income, and retirees have paid plenty. The change we need is to require those who are able-bodied but won’t work to pay a small amount so we’re all in this together. That means both free-loaders who abuse the welfare system and billionaires who pay lawyers and lobbyists to help them get around the tax laws. This may be a scary statement in Washington, but in the real world it’s common sense.

    This idea that there are just millions of able-bodied Americans out there who aren’t working and instead just abusing the welfare system is absurd. First of all, we have work requirements for most forms of public assistance, despite the fact that study after study has shown that work requirements are actually a bad idea. We have them because they make stupid people feel good, so it would be nice if those people could acknowledge that they exist.

    Second, we simply do not have enough living wage jobs in this country for everyone to have one. As long as we are playing this game of musical chairs with people’s lives, we have to figure something out that allows for everyone to survive. If we had enough living wage jobs for everyone to have one, then perhaps we could talk about all of these supposedly able-bodied-but-lazy people who are abusing the welfare system. Right now we can’t.

    It’s hard to say which Biden policy has been the most corrosive for America, but paying people not to work is near the top. Disconnecting paychecks from work is cultural cancer. There is honor and dignity in work.

    Which Biden policy would that even be? Would it be the one that also happened during the Trump administration, that allowed people who lost their jobs during the pandemic to get additional unemployment benefits? Or is it one that exists solely in the imagination of Rick Scott?

    I learned this growing up in public housing in a very poor family. My mom often worked multiple jobs, and she taught us that the only way up was to work your way up. But left-wing policies have sent jobs overseas and replaced them with checks from a federal government that has amassed the largest debt in human history.

    What does Rick Scott think public housing is? For that matter, what does he think the GI Bill is? Because that’s how he went to college. Does he imagine that tax money is not used to fund either of these things? That they are benefits that appear out of thin air? Or is it different because he and his mother were somehow morally superior to others who rely on government benefits to survive?

    Additionally — let’s be clear, again, that NAFTA was a Republican project. It was negotiated by George HW Bush. Bill Clinton was obligated to sign it, but actually added two side-accords — the North American Agreement on Labor Cooperation (NAALC) and the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation (NAAEC) — beforehand so it was slightly less terrible for American workers than the original Republican version.

    If our government were actually as “woke” as Scott fears they are, we would not allow imports from countries that use sweatshop labor and we would not allow American corporations to use overseas sweatshop labor, child labor, or slave labor. We would have strong unions, strong labor protections, no at-will employment, and no Right-To-Work-For-Less nonsense.

    The working class, the middle class, are the heroes of America, and they have been carrying the burden alone, while others—including both woke “victims” and some billionaires—pay nothing.

    There will be many more attacks on me and this plan from careerists in Washington, who personally profit while ruining this country. Bring it on. The American people are fed up, and they will show that at the ballot box this November.

    Billionaires? Yeah. They do not pay their fair share, and they should. As far as “woke victims” go … who would that even be? Is he just playing Mad Libs now? It seems quite clear Scott is just making shit up that he thinks sounds good and that he thinks will enrage the people he needs to motivate to get out there and vote for him and his fellow Republicans. It also seems worthwhile to note that the man complaining about “careerists” in the US government has had a career in the US government for over a decade now, first as governor of Florida and now as a US senator from Florida. If he feels so strongly about people not having careers in government, perhaps he should take this opportunity to end his own.

    BTW, Rick Scott oversaw “the largest Medicare fraud in the nation’s history.” Reference link with details about how Rick Scott’s company stole money that should have gone to health care for seniors.

  237. says

    Lynna @ #336, to clarify, my comment/link were about how Similar Putin’s plan is to the Nazis’ plan for Britain and other countries they occupied or planned to occupy.

  238. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    More on Russia’s ongoing online censorship: following a ban on Twitter in Russia, Youtube also appears to be blocked throughout the country….

  239. says

    SC @338, yes, I got that. You are correct. It was a standard Nazi play. I should have made it clear that I understood that historical context.

    I was just responding to Akira’s interpretation of your comment, because that interpretation seemed to be a form of what-about-ism. It was pointed out that U.S. doofuses had, in the past, tried to assassinate leaders of other countries.

    I really want the discussion to focus on the fact that, despite what Senator Doofus Graham says, the USA is not trying to assassinate Putin, we are just trying to get him to stop murdering Ukrainians, and specifically to stop trying to assassinate Zelenskyy.

    Furthermore, it does not help in any way for Graham to bolster Putin’s propaganda. Russian TV will be playing Graham’s comments repeatedly as a way to try to justify Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, (Ukraine being, in Putin’s mind, a puppet of the USA … a proxy assassin working for the USA). Putin is paranoid. He is not a rational actor. He is a liar. He is lying to his own people in order to justify a way in which thousands of people are dying, including Russians. Let’s not help Putin.

  240. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 336

    I know it is, but until those claiming to represent what laughably passes for a “Left” in America (i.e. the Dems), I’m bringing our national hypocrisy up.

  241. says

    Lynna @ #340,

    I was just responding to Akira’s interpretation of your comment, because that interpretation seemed to be a form of what-about-ism. It was pointed out that U.S. doofuses had, in the past, tried to assassinate leaders of other countries.

    Ah. But I think Akira was responding directly to your comment @ #320 rather than mine @ #332, which wasn’t about the US at all. (Incidentally, the book by Sybil Oldfield at my link sounds interesting and relevant.)

  242. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Poland has arrested a Spanish journalist on suspicion of being a Russian spy who was planning to “go to Ukraine in order to continue his activity,” Internal Security Agency (ABW) said on Friday.

    The suspect, identified as an “agent of Russia’s military intelligence agency (GRU)”, is currently detained in Przemysl – near Poland’s border with Ukraine on Sunday night, ABW said in a statement.

    The note released by the Police said he was of Russian origin.

    ABW said the man carried out operations to benefit Russia and travelled in Europe and elsewhere under the cover of being a journalist.

    His lawyer, Gonzalo Boye, told Reuters he had not yet been able to contact his client. He tweeted earlier that his client had been charged with espionage and was being held in Rzeszow prison.

    Spain’s foreign ministry said it had been informed by Polish authorities of the charges but could not provide any details. It said it would offer consular assistance.

    “Before his detention, he was planning to go to Ukraine in order to continue his activity,” said Spain’s foreign ministry.

  243. Jean says

    Lynna @340, the problem is that there is no way out of this while Putin is in power. For whatever reason, he’s painted himself into a corner and he won’t back down. So he’s going to level Ukraine and try to occupy it and the rest of the world will continue with sanctions until one side decides to escalate this and all hell will break loose.
    But it won’t be the US or any other country who will get Putin out (alive or not). It will have to come from inside and even that is going to be tough since he’s so paranoid as can be seen by the public meetings we’ve all seen. He knows what he would do if the tables were turned and he’s not going to let someone else take him out.
    So honestly, I don’t see how we get out of this with a habitable planet. I don’t trust Putin to make rational decisions but I also don’t trust the US or China to not make things worse.
    I’d like to hear counter opinions but I’m not hopeful anyone can provide a convincing one.

  244. says


    Moscow update:

    — Facebook/Twitter blocked
    — 15 year jail for “fake news” on war
    — Liberals and Russian journalists fleeing
    — BBC/BBC Russian ceases operation
    — Last liberal TV and Radio blocked
    — Russian language foreign news mostly blocked
    — 8000+ arrested


  245. says

    Julia Davis:


    Putin called for the “normalization” of relations with other states, saying Moscow has “absolutely no ill intentions with regard to our neighbors” and claiming there is ‘no need’ for sanctions on Russia

    WaPo link at the link. From Time magazine in 2014 – “75 Years Ago: Hitler’s Phony Plea for Peace”:

    On Oct. 6, 1939, Adolf Hitler returned from touring the trampled city of Warsaw to address the Reichstag. He was ready to do something surprising: ask the world for peace.

    Except that his peace speech — delivered 75 years ago on Monday — was far from peaceful. As TIME noted in its coverage of the event, Hitler spent about 60 of the 80 minutes speaking about other things. And, when he finally moved on to the subject, the oratory was, unsurprisingly, full of untruths.

    Here’s what TIME reported in the Oct. 16 issue:

    The Polish victory came first on Speaker Hitler’s list, accompanied by three bare-faced lies. Lie No. 1: “A state of no less than 36,000,000 inhabitants took up arms against us. Their arms were far-reaching, and their confidence in their ability to crush Germany knew no bounds.” Lie No. 2: In spite of the “violations and insults which Germany and her armed forces had to put up with from these military dilettantes,” the First Soldier of the Reich claimed that he “endeavored to restrict aerial warfare to objectives of so-called military importance, or only to employ it to combat active resistance at a given point.” (For photographs and an accompanying eyewitness account of German restricted aerial warfare see p. 45.) Lie No. 3: All objective reports of the last days of besieged Warsaw agree that the Germans refused point-blank to allow the garrison to evacuate non-combatants from the city. Herr Hitler’s variorum: “Sheer sympathy for women and children caused me to make an offer to those in command of Warsaw at least to let civilian inhabitants leave the city. . . . The proud Polish commander of the city did not even condescend to reply.”

    The German victory, though it had to be won at times over odds of 6-to-1, was not only sweet but cheap in casualties, said the Führer (see p. 44). And now “German soldiers have once more firmly established the right to wear the laurel wreath of which they were meanly deprived in 1918.”

    If TIME readers flipped to page 45, as suggested by the parenthetical about “restricted aerial warfare,” they would find a tale of the slaughter of Polish civilians.

    The speech continued, this magazine reported, with a discussion of good relations with Britain and France, and Hitler’s hope that the nations of Europe could settle on a peace — but only a peace in which German demands would be met.

    And, despite the ostensibly peaceful nature of the speech, Hitler couldn’t resist ending on an ultimatum: “If, however, the opinions of Messrs. Churchill and his followers should prevail,” TIME reported him saying, “this statement will have been my last.”

  246. says

    Followup of sorts to comment 340.

    The War That Russians Do Not See, By Masha Gessen

    New Yorker link

    A majority of people in Russia get their news from state television, which depicts their country not as the aggressor in Ukraine but as a victim of the West.

    Pushkin Square, in the center of Moscow, is a traditional site of protest. Since Russia began its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, on February 24th, most of the square has been cordoned off, with police in riot gear and National Guard soldiers in full combat gear stationed around its perimeter most of the day. On the first day of the war, police made hundreds of arrests in Pushkin Square; on most nights since, they have netted only a handful of people, often as soon as the protesters got off the subway. At about seven-thirty on Wednesday evening, three policemen in riot gear were dragging a young woman with a braid onto a police bus; a few paces behind them, three more officers dragged another young woman.

    Meanwhile, pedestrian traffic around the square flowed smoothly and speedily. People went in and out of the Metro and a three-story H&M store. They did not stop and stare at the mute scenes of arrest. They did not seem to notice, and the not-noticing did not appear effortful. It seemed, rather, that the Muscovites going about their business and the young women being arrested inhabited different realities. The protesters lived in a world where Russia was waging a brutal, inexplicable war in Ukraine, where it was bombing residential neighborhoods in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city. The rest of the people in the square lived in a world where this war did not exist.

    A majority of Russians get their news from broadcast television, which is fully controlled by the state. […] There are more Russians over the age of forty-five than those between the ages of fifteen and forty-four. Even those who get their news online are still unlikely to encounter a narrative that differs from what broadcast television offers. The state continues to ratchet up pressure on the few surviving independent media outlets, blocking access to their Web sites, […] What the vast majority of Russians see, Gudkov said, are “lies and hatred on a fantastical scale.”

    State television varies little, aesthetically and narratively, from channel to channel. Aside from President Vladimir Putin interrupting regular programming in the early hours of February 24th to announce a “special military operation” in Ukraine, the picture has changed little since before the war. There is no ongoing live coverage, no acknowledgment that what’s happening is extraordinary, even as Russian bombs fall on Ukraine’s residential areas and the Russian economy enters a tailspin. The news lineup, too, changes little day to day. On Thursday, the 7 a.m. newscast on Channel One lasted six minutes and contained six stories: a new round of Russian-Ukrainian peace talks in which Russia was eager to seek “common ground”; the “shelling of the Donetsk People’s Republic by the Ukrainian armed forces,” from which “twenty-five civilians have died.” A segue: “And now let’s look at footage from the Chernigov region, an area that is now controlled by the Russian armed forces. . . . Civilians continue driving around on their regular business.” (There were no civilians in the footage shown, only an endless sequence of armored vehicles.) Then: “Russia has prepared more than ten and a half thousand tons of humanitarian aid for the people of Ukraine”; “The West is pumping Ukraine full of offensive weapons”; “Aeroflot is organizing charter flights to return Russian citizens stranded in Europe.” Then the young male host announced, “The next scheduled program is ‘Good Morning.’ ” There was no mention of Kharkiv or Kyiv, which had been bombed the day before. Most remarkably, there was no mention of Russian military casualties […]

    Gudkov summed up the world view shaped by Russian television: “Russia is a victim, as it has been ever since the Second World War. The West aims to establish world domination. Its ultimate goal is to humiliate Russia and take possession of its natural resources. Russia is forced to defend itself.” Days before the full-scale invasion began, the Levada Center asked Russians who they thought was responsible for the mounting tensions in Ukraine. Three per cent blamed Russia, fourteen per cent blamed Ukraine, and sixty per cent blamed the United States.

    […] Most of Russia’s propaganda language is plainly Orwellian. After a few days, newscasts were consistently referring to the war as an “operation to restore peace.” On Tuesday night, when the TV Rain Web site was blocked, the channel was broadcasting a story about how the government, working through ad agencies, was offering to pay bloggers and TikTokers to post talking points about the war. “All posts should be accompanied by #LetsGoPeace and #DontAbandonOurOwn,” the offer began. […]

    On March 1st, schools around the country held special social-studies classes on the war in Ukraine. The online publication Mediazona, another independent news organization that has been branded as a “foreign agent,” obtained a script sent out by the education ministry. Its F.A.Q. section begins, “Question: Are we at war with Ukraine? Could this have been avoided? Answer: We are not at war. We are conducting a special peacekeeping mission, the goal of which is to contain the nationalists who are oppressing the Russian-speaking population.”

    […] The state’s twenty-four-hour news channel, Rossiya 24, drones on about villages and towns that have been “liberated,” but they name small towns that are unfamiliar to most viewers. The pictures onscreen often contradict the words spoken over them. […] “It’s not just the arguments—it’s the uninterrupted flow” of propaganda, Gudkov said. “Viewers are just caught in this flow.”

    Although there is supposed to be no war, there is a sense of constant threat and aggrievement. In 2014, when Russia first invaded Ukraine, an army of propagandists struggled to find the right framing. Finally, they unleashed the war language that Russians know best: that of the Second World War. They called Ukrainians fascists—“UkroNazis”—and accused them of genocide. In this story, the 2014 revolution in Ukraine was carried out by Nazis who want to exterminate the country’s Russian-speaking population, beginning with the eastern region of the Donbass. […]

    On an episode of a political talk show that has aired several times since the war began, a group of six pundits discussed plans for the “de-Nazification” of Ukraine after it is “liberated.” Their consensus seemed to be that most Ukrainians were not bad people, just stupid and brainwashed by nato, fascists, and imperialist forces who want to return Russia to the status of “a colony exploited by the West.” Speaking on Rossiya 24, on Thursday morning, Eduard Basurin, the deputy head of the Donetsk People’s Republic Militia, spoke about Mariupol, a Ukrainian city that was then surrounded by Russian troops. “Mariupol has become a concentration camp,” he said. He claimed that Ukrainian troops had herded civilians into the city’s steelworks, which had been planted with explosives: “If the city’s defenses are breached, they will blow the factory up and then use the video footage to say that the Russian artillery is killing civilians. Can you imagine the cynicism?” The next story: “The Russian Defense Ministry’s convoy delivers critically needed humanitarian cargo to residents of the Kharkiv region.” […]

    The nice thing about a war that’s not a war is that it’s easy to look away—without looking away from the television. The airwaves fill with reassurances: Russian banks don’t need swift; Europe’s sanctions only mean that fuel prices will go up in the West; the Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich is selling Chelsea Football Club not because he might soon face sanctions but because the club kept losing money; the foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, has promised that “our Western partners will get over themselves.” Peace and prosperity are just around the corner.

  247. says

    Jean @344, good points.

    As a followup, here are some excerpts from an article by Josh Marshall:

    In a new article in Foreign Affairs, Liana Fix and Michael Kimmage explain how even if Russia loses its war in Ukraine, the international outlook that creates is a dark one. Far better than it winning. But still very dark. […] “History has shown that it is immensely difficult to build a stable international order with a revanchist, humiliated power near its center, especially one of the size and weight of Russia.”

    […] The threat posed by Russia, especially in recent years, is much more tied to its weakness than its strength. It is very much a “revanchist, humiliated power near” the center of the global order. And Vladimir Putin himself has increasingly embodied that posture with his focus on what he views as the catastrophic and tragic collapse of the Soviet Union […]

    People may not be terribly worried at the moment about potential Russian national humiliation. But it’s still a problem we need to be concerned with […] [Conventional wisdom] has had it that the Russian army reached its nadir in the late ’90s and early 2000s and then underwent a period of reforms which left it leaner but meaner. So not its old Soviet self but a powerful modern military with first class weaponry. But what we’ve seen in Ukraine is an army suffering from basic failures of logistics, planning, coordination and morale. [And the Russian army is even lacking in basic equipment: night vision capabilities, bulletproof vests, etc.]

    As before, the biggest challenge we face dealing with Russia is not its power but its relative weakness and the toxic political dynamics operating within it which are driven by that weakness. Or perhaps better to say Russia’s weakness relative to its history and beliefs about its proper standing in the global order. China is a rising power, with vast and growing economic might and now increasing military might. People can differ on whether and how the U.S. can coexist with that rising power. But there’s no question that is a rising power. Russia is quite different. And that’s been the story for the last three decades. Now that dynamic seems only likely to intensify.

  248. says

    Putin didn’t have the army he thought he had, because of corruption he allowed


    Yes, Minister Serdyukov indeed reformed the army. He increased its efficiency, fought with corrupt and crony armament producers improving the army supplies. As a result he became extremely unpopular, made tons of powerful enemies and was ousted in 2012 losing his power and status.

    His successor Shoygu knew better than that. Now who’s Shoygu? Shoygu is the *only* single Russian minister who uninterruptedly worked in government since 1991, since the very beginning of Russian Federation. He worked for all presidents, all prime ministers avoided all purges […]

    Exit defense minister who fought crony oligarch arms dealers, enter guy who knew how to “get along.”

    As a result, Kamil Galeev tweets that “Shoygu […] pandered to old military establishment [and] stopped arguing with army suppliers about the equipment cost and quality.”

    The cost of the equipment, whatever. Defense contractors will bilk. It’s what they all do. But the quality of the equipment is a different matter. During peacetime, no one cared. The myth of the Russian Bear was enough to strike fear in the hearts of all potential adversaries. But now that they’re locked in a war with an enemy willing to punch back, all that corruption is coming home to roost. […]

    Those who have watched the evolution—or rather the deterioration—of Russia’s military and the defense-industrial base that supports it are pointing out that the poor performance of Moscow’s forces has been a process unfolding for years now.

    Today “Russia has no more Kalibr missiles left in strategic reserve,” said a Ukrainian defense enterprise director familiar with the program, “but that is not the end of their troubles. The guidance system, the seeker head and other critical modules [in the missile’s front end] contain about 60% imported electronic components. None of these will be available after the long list of sanctions being imposed on Russia now, so it is hard to see where any new missiles would ever come from.” […]

    The Kalibr is not the only program in trouble. One Ukrainian intelligence officer tells Breaking Defense that there are “numerous shortages of [Russian] weapon systems. The famous KBM plant in Tula and other factories controlled by longtime Putin allies the Rothenberg brothers are unable to physically fulfil orders for infantry weapons and ammunition.

    “Weapons that are officially on the books and should be available for delivery to active-duty units are missing and the next production runs will be complete only in three to four months,” the officer said. Even that estimate assumes that the raw material inputs have not been pilfered as well and are still available—if not, the time frame could be considerably longer.

    The end result? Equipment that breaks down at its most basic level. […] tires are failing on Russian vehicles. When I was in Cuba a few years back, I was able to buy cigars from a guy who worked at the official state factory making them. Everyone pilfered a certain amount, which they would then sell on the black market. That’s what’s clearly happening here: the Rothenbergs and other arms manufacturers pilfer; the steel-, iron-, and component-manufacturers pilfer; the plant managers pilfer; the employees pilfer; the unit commanders pilfer; the supply officers pilfer; the soldiers pilfer. It’s a wonderful grift. Everyone benefits! Well, except when war is called. Suddenly, all that equipment that was supposedly in the field turns out to have been an illusion, long sold off for Italian villas and bottles of vodka. That’s likely why we haven’t seen much of a Russian Air Force in action. I bet they can’t even get their birds in the air.

    The poor 18-year-old conscripts dragged off to a war they didn’t ask for get f’ed as a result. But it’s hard to feel sorry for anyone else. […]

  249. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    CNN will stop broadcasting in Russia. A spokesperson for the news channel said on Friday it would cease broadcasting “while we continue to evaluate the situation and our next steps moving forward,” Reuters reported.

    Meanwhile, Bloomberg News said it would temporarily suspend the work of its journalists inside Russia in response to a new law passed by Putin the outlet says “criminalizes independent reporting in the country”.

    “We have with great regret decided to temporarily suspend our news gathering inside Russia,” John Micklethwait, the Bloomberg editor-in-chief, said. “The change to the criminal code, which seems designed to turn any independent reporter into a criminal purely by association, makes it impossible to continue any semblance of normal journalism inside the country.”

    The BBC announced earlier today it would temporarily halt its news operation in Russia due to the new law, as has the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.

  250. says

    In a break with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Russia’s second largest oil company called for the country’s invasion in Ukraine to end, joining a growing list of organizations, in and outside of Russia, urging for peace.

    “The Board of Directors of LUKOIL expresses herewith its deepest concerns about the tragic events in Ukraine. Calling for the soonest termination of the armed conflict, we express our sincere empathy for all victims, who are affected by this tragedy,” Lukoil’s board of directors said in a statement on Thursday.

    “We strongly support a lasting ceasefire and a settlement of problems through serious negotiations and diplomacy,” the statement continued.

    The board of directors added that the company would try to continue its operations in all countries and regions where it currently has a presence. […]


  251. says


    Insane dandy Roger Stone […] spent a great deal of Donald Trump’s presidency whoring for pardons for himself and many of his associates. Which would have been unnecessary if they hadn’t committed so many crimes, but we digress. […]

    The Washington Post brings us the details of Stone’s efforts, as recorded on camera by some documentary filmmakers who were following him around at the time. It seems that a few days before the merciful end of the Trump administration, Stone filed a five-page document dubbed “Stone’s Plan” that he hoped would convince then-President Brainworms to pardon literally every mountebank and rapscallion whose name you have been reading in Justice Department documents for the last seven years. And even some you’ll be surprised about! All of it written with the kind of conspiratorial language and paranoia that tickled Trump […]

    Check out the document’s second paragraph, for example:

    Any challenge to the results of the 2020 election, even those made pursuant to the United States Constitution, is now to be considered sedition. Any person who makes, or has made, such a challenge, to include members of Congress, is to be deemed a “domestic terrorist”.

    And who did Stone want preemptively pardoned so they would not be swept up by the leftist Wehrmacht? There are the obvious ones, such as the GOP legislator who challenged the electoral vote counts on January 6 — Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, and Matt Gaetz, among others.

    There are random friends of Stone and supporters of Trump. It’s not really clear what the supporters have done to merit preemptive pardons. But whether they committed any crimes is of course not the point, just that Joe Biden’s Stasi might toss them all in the gulag for the crime of loving their president so darn much.

    Except for Joel Greenberg, the Florida tax collector who was recently indicted on a couple of dozen charges, including sex trafficking minors to Gaetz. That guy needs all the pardons he can get.

    And, according to the Post, Stone also weirdly but fittingly pushed pardons for currently imprisoned members of the Colombo crime family:

    Stone’s pardon wish list also included Michael Sessa and Victor Orena, former members of the Colombo crime family serving life sentences for murder and racketeering convictions in the 1990s. Their attorney, David I. Schoen, has also represented Stone.

    Schoen has a wild theory that Andrew Weissman, who was Robert Mueller’s second-in-command during his investigation, railroaded the Colombo bosses during another investigation 30 years ago. Ergo, pardoning them would be a giant middle finger to the Deep State, or something.

    Stone also told the filmmakers that Trump had as much responsibility to protect his supporters from this leftist Wehrmacht as Franklin Roosevelt had to protect Jews from the Holocaust. Which, sure, if Jews in Europe had had access to bail, defense lawyers, fair trials … uh, this would still be an incredibly offensive comparison.

    Stone’s plans were reportedly foiled by two entities. The first is the White House Counsel’s Office, either because it was simply too frenzied a period of time for them to consider all these pardons, or because whatever else you can say about Trump administration employees, at least a few of the lawyers were not insane.

    The second is barely sentient pipe cleaner Jared Kushner. It’s not clear why Stone thinks Kushner sandbagged him, only that Kush did the thing and so Stone will have someone do the other thing as revenge:

    “In two weeks he’s moving to Miami,” Stone told Alejandro, before whispering: “He’s going to get a beating. He needs to have a beating. And needs to be told, ‘This time we’re just beating you. Next time we’re killing you.’ ” Aware the filmmakers were nearby, Alejandro urged Stone to say he was joking. “No, no, it isn’t joking. Not joking. It’s not a joke,” Stone replied.

    Later that day, in a car with the filmmakers, Stone returned to the subject of Kushner during a call with a friend named Tom. Stone said Kushner needed to be “punished in the most brutal possible way” and would be “brain dead when I get finished with him.”

    Of course at the time Jared still had Secret Service protection. We didn’t say this was a good plan!

    Oh well, Stone got his pardon […]

    Roger Stone Was Going To Have Jared Kushner Sleep With The Fishes

  252. says

    More regarding Roger Stone, from Wonkette:

    […] letting a Danish film crew follow him around with a camera during the 2020 election and its aftermath seems like a pretty substantial error in judgment […]

    The Washington Post got its hands on the footage, as well as documents that ratfucking genius handed over to the filmmakers, and it’s A LOT. […] Let’s talk now about what Roger Stone said he did in the lead-up to January 6, and what the filmmakers caught on tape, because those two things are not the same.

    “Any claim, assertion or implication that I knew about, was involved in or condoned the illegal acts at the Capitol on Jan 6 is categorically false and there is no witness or document that proves otherwise,” Stone told the Post when it contacted him for the story.

    Hmmmm. Roll tape!

    It started long before the first vote was cast, with Stone telling his assistant Enrique Alejandro in July of 2020 that Trump should simply wield the power of the presidency to stay in office.

    “It’s going to be really nasty,” Stone said at home on July 9, 2020, predicting that Democrats would try to steal the election. “If the electors show up at the electoral college, armed guards will throw them out,” he said, apparently referring to ceremonial meetings of electors in state capitals.

    “ ‘I’m the president. F— you,’ ” Stone said, imagining Trump’s remarks. “ ‘You’re not stealing Florida, you’re not stealing Ohio. I’m challenging all of it, and the judges we’re going to are judges I appointed.’ ”

    The film crew documented Stone in the days after the election re-mobilizing the “Stop the Steal” campaign, something he’d generated in 2016 to harass Democratic voters and allege fraud if Trump lost.

    “We’re going to raise money from Stop the Steal — it will be like falling off a log,” he said gleefully, before throwing himself into the effort to overturn Biden’s win.

    By November 5, Stone was reconnoitering with Michael Flynn, promising that he could “document an overwhelming and compelling fraud” in all the swing states. By sheer coincidence, everyone in Trump’s orbit immediately started tweeting the hashtag #StopTheSteal.

    According to the Post’s reporting, the film strongly suggests that Stone was the genesis of much of Trumpland’s post-election messaging. “Our slogan should be ‘count every legal ballot,'” he told Flynn, just hours before Trump vomited the same words out in the White House briefing room. “If you count the legal votes, I easily win,” he insisted.

    But Stone apparently wanted to keep his role in the events under wraps, writing in a Nov. 30 blog post that he was “not a participant” in the efforts to overturn the election. For instance, Stone appears to have significantly downplayed his relationship with Ali Alexander, who had a copy of Stone’s Stop the Steal action plan on his laptop on November 5 and met with Stone at his home in Florida on November 12.

    After Stone received a pardon in December, Alexander, who has now testified before the House January 6 Select Committee, gushed, “Roger’s fully in the fight now. Roger wasn’t allowed to be fully in the fight. We’ve taken the leash off the pit bull. So, this is something Roger and I have been planning for a long time. And, finally, he’s off the leash. So, you know, it’s a knife fight, and your two knife fighters are Ali Alexander and Roger Stone. And you either fight with us or you get slashed.”

    Alexander’s attorney offered this hilarious response to reporters’ queries:

    An attorney for Alexander, Paul Kamenar, told The Post that Alexander and Stone were “friends and brothers-in-Christ” but had no part in the violence on Jan. 6 and did not anticipate it. “Ali has never participated in a literal knife fight nor advocated one,” said Kamenar.

    Alrighty then.

    Stone also established encrypted communications channels with far-Right militia figures such as Proud Boy leader Enrique Tarrio and Oath Keepers head Stewart Rhodes and henchmen John James and Brian Ulrich. Those three particular Oafs were all charged with seditious conspiracy, and James pled guilty yesterday and agreed to cooperate with the Justice Department. These are the group of “protesters” who marched into the Capitol in formation and had a giant arsenal of weapons stored at a Comfort Inn in Arlington.

    Stone, who seems to struggle with the concepts of causation and object permanence, sent those messages while cameras were pointed at his phone. Nonetheless, he denies their existence, and/or accuses the Post of cahootsing with the January 6 Committee to steal them.

    “Your assertions regarding my text messages or Signal messages only proves the leaking of the partisan Jan 6 witch hunt or illegal methods of collection on your part,” he huffed, perhaps unaware that a screenshot of an encrypted text is not itself encrypted. [LOL]

    Whatever. Take a wild-ass guess which self-professed “libertine” and “dirty trickster” James and Ulrich were guarding on January 5, 2021.

    […] In the end, Stone didn’t attend the January 6 rally at all. After some kind of drama involving Bernie Kerik, he changed his mind, saying, “The point is, I don’t want to be turned away. That’s what they want. You don’t want to reach for something and not get it.” Which is how he wound up watching the attack on the Capitol from a hotel room, after which he beat a hasty retreat from DC on a private plane out of Dulles. […]

    Stone accuses the Post of employing “a clever blend of ‘guilt by association,’ insinuations, half truths, anonymous claims, falsehoods and out of context trick questions” to make him look bad. As if he weren’t more than capable of doing that all on his own.

    “You attribute things to me I never said,” he complained, going so far as to suggest that the videos he was dumb enough to let those Danes take were “deep fakes.” […]


  253. says

    “‘People Are Not Coming Back to the Closet’: The Fight for Ukraine Is Also a Fight for LGBTQ Rights”:

    Vladimir Putin’s assault on LGBTQ rights made him a hero to the global far right and a pariah in Ukraine. As the invasion enters its second week, queer Ukrainians are fighting back….

    It might seem like the comments @ #s 66 and 189 aren’t related to the posts about the Russian attack on Ukraine in this thread, but they are. Masha Gessen’s book The Future Is History (which I can’t really recommend overall, but for tangential reasons; for a similar sort of book I thought was better, I recommend Joshua Yaffa’s Between Two Fires) has two enlightening chapters – 13 and 19 – about changes in Russian academia, and specifically in the sociology department at Moscow State University.

    In 2007 there were student protests against the quality of instruction in the department under its conservative ideologue of a department head. The reactionary response was swift on the part of the Union of Orthodox Christians, who characterized the protests as a “training ground” for an “Orange Revolution” in the department. (In fact, an independent panel found the level of instruction to be low. The descriptions of the curriculum are laughable. Plagiarism abounded and much “scholarship” was linked to discredited people and claims in the US.)

    In the 1990s, with the help and support of USians like Allan Carlson from Hillsdale College in Illinois, the World Congress of Families had been founded in Russia. Both Gessen and Chrissy Stroop have done fantastic work on this organization, which is designated a hate group by the SPLC. I had previously thought the movement’s direction of influence went almost entirely from the US to Russia, but their work shows that the Russians always saw themselves as and aspired to be seen as its standard-bearers. The WCF is exactly what people would imagine – all problems are caused by “attacks on the [patriarchal] family” from the “decadent West” and so forth.

    So the stage was set. After the 2007 protest, Alexander Dugin (!) was appointed to run the Center for Conservative Studies in the department. His classes were made mandatory. Here’s how Dugin himself described the purpose of the center at its founding:

    The goal of the Center for Conservative Studies is to become the center of development of conservative ideology in Russia…. We also need to train a conservatively minded academic and government elite, there is no reason to hide this fact. They must be conservative ideologues. And we must place people in power and in positions of authority in the academy.

    Meanwhile, Ukraine was on a different trajectory, with a flowering of LGBT organizations and scholarship and a growing group of critical intellectuals.

    Beginning in 2012, a “protect the children” anti-gay panic emerged in Russia, leading to the passage of the notorious 2013 anti-gay law but not ending there. This fomented a campaign of terror and violence against LGBT people, condoned and even encouraged by the state. And gender or LGBT scholars were excluded, isolated, harassed, unfunded, persecuted, fired.

    Crucially, LGBT people/activists, feminists, gender scholars,… were seen as agents of American power against which Russia was the last hope and defender of “Western Civilization.” This idiotic conspiracy narrative has permeated the right in the US, Europe, and elsewhere, and many have come to see themselves as aligned with Putin against these imaginary forces of decay and destruction. And it’s not incidental to but forms part of Putin’s geopolitical/historical/spiritual vision and his interpretation of events in Ukraine.

    These people and groups are very likely in the crosshairs of the Russian invaders in Ukraine, continue to be so in Russia, and would be anywhere this movement holds power. Our struggles against educational gag laws, Christian nationalists, Trumpism, the movement against reproductive and LGBT rights, the rightwing Catholic movement described @ #260, etc., are the same fight as the one against Putin.

  254. says

    barely sentient pipe cleaner Jared Kushner


    “In two weeks he’s moving to Miami,” Stone told Alejandro, before whispering: “He’s going to get a beating. He needs to have a beating. And needs to be told, ‘This time we’re just beating you. Next time we’re killing you.’ ” Aware the filmmakers were nearby, Alejandro urged Stone to say he was joking. “No, no, it isn’t joking. Not joking. It’s not a joke,” Stone replied.

    Later that day, in a car with the filmmakers, Stone returned to the subject of Kushner during a call with a friend named Tom. Stone said Kushner needed to be “punished in the most brutal possible way” and would be “brain dead when I get finished with him.”

    We (rightfully) laugh at Stone, but he is truly evil.

  255. says

    “On the ninth day, Kyiv is still free,” by Mark Sumner

    Travelers to China are often surprised by the efficiency of the Great Firewall. For a westerner dropping in, it can be a shock to find that Twitter is blocked. And Facebook is blocked. And even Google searches are blocked. Instead, both visitors and Chinese citizens are restricted to using the local domestic equivalents — equivalents that somehow lack any information on Chinese actions against Uyghurs, the protest at Tiananmen Square, and the circumstances of how Tibet ceased to be a free, independent country. Though clever students and hackers are forever finding a way around some parts of the Great Firewall, and Chinese officials sometimes turn a blind eye to their efforts, there’s a second wall that backs up the technological one: legislation. The consequences of peeking through a crack in that wall can be startlingly harsh.

    At a small college in Fulton, Missouri, former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill stopped by in 1946 to deliver a speech about a different kind of wall. He did so at the request of President Harry Truman, who pointed out that the college was named Westminster, and said that, should Churchill have the time for a visit, ”This is a wonderful school in my home state. If you come, I will introduce you. Hope you can do it.”

    Churchill did. And it was at this little college he made the speech which included the line, “From Stettin in the Baltic, to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the continent.” That speech is sometimes regarded as the informal start of the Cold War.

    Now we are, as Fiona Hill stated so clearly, in the midst of a different kind of world war; one in which a single nation — Ukraine — is bearing all the physical burden of conflict, while the rest of the world watches to see if they can bring an aggressor to bay by denying them money. And super yachts. And new iPhones. The question now really is about what will be the extent, and the cost, of that war before Russia’s inevitable defeat.

    In this new not-so-cold war, Russia is pulling around it a new kind of wall. A silicon curtain. In the last few days, Russia has blocked Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. It’s a cruder thing than the Great Firewall, with little subtlety or fallbacks. It’s just chopping its populace off from the world, in an effort to feed them a fantasy in which Vladimir Putin is right, and everyone, everyone, everyone else is wrong. Like China, it’s already started building up the legislative wall to back up that technological severing. That’s a crude thing too, offering nothing but harsh penalties to anyone who lets a little light slip through the Silicon Curtain.

    […] the BBC has temporarily suspended the work of all journalists in Russia. This is in response to the draconian censorship laws forced through the Russian parliament in the last two days.

    Those laws mean 15 years in prison for anyone who dares to publish the truth about what’s happening in Ukraine.

    […] while Ukraine is continuing to hold Kyiv, Odessa, and other key cities in the center and west of the country, “the Donbas frontline is approaching a critical stage.”

    Russian forces managed to come very close to the city of Mykolaiv and temporarily captured Kulbakyne airport before Ukrainian forces successfully drove the Russians from the area. Since Russia now occupies Kherson, Mykolaiv is quickly becoming the front line and is expected to be under attack within hours.

    Some reports that the city of Sumy in the east has been encircled, but Ukraine remains in control and those reports have not been confirmed.

    Russian forces are now on the attack in the areas of Slavyansk and Lysychansk, a successful push from Russia could leave Ukrainian forces in northern Donbas cut off from supply and surrounded.

    Mariupol is entering another day of absolute misery. The city is without power, water, or heating. Ukrainian forces continue to hold the city, but it is completely encircled and Russia is constantly shelling the edges of the city. Unless Ukraine can get some relief to the area, it may not hold much longer.

    Kyiv is holding, and Ukrainian forces have pushed Russian troops out of the immediate western suburbs. However, a large mass of Russian troops and hardware is forming to the northwest of the city.


  256. says

    “On the ninth day, Kyiv is still free,” by Mark Sumner

    Travelers to China are often surprised by the efficiency of the Great Firewall. For a westerner dropping in, it can be a shock to find that Twitter is blocked. And Facebook is blocked. And even Google searches are blocked. Instead, both visitors and Chinese citizens are restricted to using the local domestic equivalents — equivalents that somehow lack any information on Chinese actions against Uyghurs, the protest at Tiananmen Square, and the circumstances of how Tibet ceased to be a free, independent country. Though clever students and hackers are forever finding a way around some parts of the Great Firewall, and Chinese officials sometimes turn a blind eye to their efforts, there’s a second wall that backs up the technological one: legislation. The consequences of peeking through a crack in that wall can be startlingly harsh.

    At a small college in Fulton, Missouri, former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill stopped by in 1946 to deliver a speech about a different kind of wall. He did so at the request of President Harry Truman, who pointed out that the college was named Westminster, and said that, should Churchill have the time for a visit, ”This is a wonderful school in my home state. If you come, I will introduce you. Hope you can do it.”

    Churchill did. And it was at this little college he made the speech which included the line, “From Stettin in the Baltic, to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the continent.” That speech is sometimes regarded as the informal start of the Cold War.

    Now we are, as Fiona Hill stated so clearly, in the midst of a different kind of world war; one in which a single nation — Ukraine — is bearing all the physical burden of conflict, while the rest of the world watches to see if they can bring an aggressor to bay by denying them money. And super yachts. And new iPhones. The question now really is about what will be the extent, and the cost, of that war before Russia’s inevitable defeat.

    In this new not-so-cold war, Russia is pulling around it a new kind of wall. A silicon curtain. In the last few days, Russia has blocked Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. It’s a cruder thing than the Great Firewall, with little subtlety or fallbacks. It’s just chopping its populace off from the world, in an effort to feed them a fantasy in which Vladimir Putin is right, and everyone, everyone, everyone else is wrong. Like China, it’s already started building up the legislative wall to back up that technological severing. That’s a crude thing too, offering nothing but harsh penalties to anyone who lets a little light slip through the Silicon Curtain.

    […] the BBC has temporarily suspended the work of all journalists in Russia. This is in response to the draconian censorship laws forced through the Russian parliament in the last two days.

    Those laws mean 15 years in prison for anyone who dares to publish the truth about what’s happening in Ukraine.

    […] while Ukraine is continuing to hold Kyiv, Odessa, and other key cities in the center and west of the country, “the Donbas frontline is approaching a critical stage.”

    Russian forces managed to come very close to the city of Mykolaiv and temporarily captured Kulbakyne airport before Ukrainian forces successfully drove the Russians from the area. Since Russia now occupies Kherson, Mykolaiv is quickly becoming the front line and is expected to be under attack within hours.

    Some reports that the city of Sumy in the east has been encircled, but Ukraine remains in control and those reports have not been confirmed.

    Russian forces are now on the attack in the areas of Slavyansk and Lysychansk, a successful push from Russia could leave Ukrainian forces in northern Donbas cut off from supply and surrounded.

    Mariupol is entering another day of absolute misery. The city is without power, water, or heating. Ukrainian forces continue to hold the city, but it is completely encircled and Russia is constantly shelling the edges of the city. Unless Ukraine can get some relief to the area, it may not hold much longer.

    Kyiv is holding, and Ukrainian forces have pushed Russian troops out of the immediate western suburbs. However, a large mass of Russian troops and hardware is forming to the northwest of the city.


  257. says

    Even though flights to almost every destination have been blocked, Russian airline executives seem to be making escapes while they can.

    ❗️The head of Aeroflot, Mikhail Poluboyarinov, has left his post and probably #Russia as well

    Earlier, the head of Pobeda Airlines, Andrei Kalmykov, also left his post. On March 4, he published a farewell letter to the employees.

  258. says

    Followup to comment 271 and many more comments related to the attack on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station.

    The Russian ambassador to the U.N. claimed that Russian forces did not attack the plant. Instead, he lied, Russian forces were trying to protect the nuclear power station.

  259. says

    News I’ve gathered from Twitter this morning:

    “Huge turnout at a protest against the Russian occupation in Russian-occupied Kherson.” Video at the link.

    The humanitarian corridors for the evacuation of civilians from Mariupol and Volnovakha had to be postponed because Russia won’t stop shelling.

    Inditex, the owner of the brands Zara, Bershka, Pull & Bear, Oysho, ceases operations in #Russia and closes stores.”

    PayPal is also suspending its services in Russia.

    Aeroflot is suspending all international flights beginning on Tuesday.

  260. says

    I’ve seen reports of a Ukrainian counteroffensive underway near Kharkiv. Interestingly, the Ukrainian military is claiming this was made possible by the withdrawal of some Russian forces.

  261. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Italian police have seized villas and yachts worth at least €140m (£126m) from four high-profile Russians who were placed on an EU sanctions list after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, sources told Reuters today.

    A police source said a villa owned by the billionaire businessman Alisher Usmanov on Sardinia, and a villa on Lake Como owned by the Russian state TV host Vladimir Soloviev, had both been seized.

    In addition, sources confirmed that yachts belonging to Russia’s richest man, Alexei Mordashov, and Gennady Timchenko, who has close ties with the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, were impounded overnight in northern Italian ports.

  262. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Russian forces have seized a psychiatric hospital with 670 people inside in the town of Borodyanka in Ukraine’s Kyiv region, the regional governor Oleksiy Kuleba has said.

    Today we do not understand how to evacuate these people, how to help them,” Kuleba said. “They are running out of water and medicines,” Kuleba said. “These are people with certain special needs, they need constant help … many of them have been bedridden for years.”

    Borodyanka is around 60km from Kyiv.

    I don’t want to be critical since it’s an invaluable resource, but several recent posts there in the past few hours have just been transcribing what Putin says. And MSNBC is also doing what I complained about CNN doing @ #243. Compare Time’s coverage of Hitler’s 1939 speech quoted @ #346.

  263. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the president of Ukraine, has rounded off an hour-long video call with United States senators in which he called for more support to defend his country from Russia’s invasion.

    All 50 US senators were invited to the Zoom call, with aides briefing reporters afterwards that Zelenskyy requested the delivery of more planes and drones. James Lankford, a Republican senator, tweeted afterwards that the Ukrainian president also wants “the world to stop buying Russian products (like oil and gas).”

    Zelenskyy made a “desperate plea” for eastern Europe to provide Russian-made aircraft to Ukraine during a call the call, according to the Senate’s majority leader, Chuck Schumer.”These planes are very much needed. And I will do all I can to help the administration to facilitate their transfer,” Schumer said in a statement, Reuters reported.

    Congressional leaders are working on a package worth around $10bn in economic and security assistance to Ukraine, with aides briefing that fighter jets may be sent to the conflict via a third country. Chris Van Hollen, a Democrat, tweeted that Nato should “immediately facilitate the transfer of fighter aircraft from Poland, Romania, and Slovakia to Ukraine.”

    Western leaders have so far rebuffed Zelenskyy’s request to establish a no-fly zone over Ukraine. But the senators expressed strong support for the country following the meeting….

  264. says

    Yahoo! Sports – “Mercury center Brittney Griner reportedly detained in Russia on drug charges”:

    Phoenix Mercury All-Star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner has reportedly been detained in Russia on drug charges.

    The New York Times reported that the Russian Federal Customs Service detained an American basketball player at Sheremetyevo Airport near Moscow after finding hashish oil vape cartridges in her luggage. The Customs Service didn’t identify who was arrested, saying only that she’d won two Olympic gold medals.

    A Russian news service identified the player as the 31-year-old Griner,…

    According to independent Russian news agency Interfax, the arrest happened in February, just after Griner had arrived at Sheremetyevo Airport from New York.

    Griner hasn’t posted on social media since Feb. 5. A statement released by the Customs Service says a criminal case has been opened into the “large-scale transportation of drugs.” In Russia, a conviction on those charges carries a sentence of 5-10 years in prison.

    Griner has played in Russia during the offseason since 2015, where salaries are higher for WNBA players….

  265. says

    Update from Mark Sumner:

    At the start of Saturday, Mariupol remains surrounded. An agreement to allow civilians to evacuate the heavily-shelled city was violated by Russian forces that fired into those trying to escape. Now the reduction of the city continues. If Mariupol falls, it will leave Russia in complete control of a large, connected section of southern and eastern Ukraine, giving them more flexibility in the movement of troops and armor, and new positions from which they can fire into cities deeper in Ukraine.

    Elsewhere, Russian troops occupy the center of Kherson. Sumy is thought to be fully encircled. Guns and missile batteries across the border in Russia continue to fire into battered Kharkiv.

    By Friday evening, Russia had fired over 500 missiles into Ukraine. Some were medium-range missiles launched from nearby in Russia or Belarus. Some were ballistic missiles fired from much farther away. Those missiles have smashed up homes, apartment buildings, schools, hospitals, and television stations. They’ve burned people alive on the grounds of a Holocaust memorial. And they’re just a fraction of what has been pumped out by GRAD systems that fire dozens of small missiles a minute.

    By most measures, the over 160,000 Russian troops now in Ukraine are steadily, if more slowly than expected, taking control of the country. Worse, Russia has openly adopted the tactic it used in Chechnya, Syria, and Georgia; the tactic of grinding civilians areas into bloody dust until resistance collapses. All over Ukraine, cities are getting that Grozny look: streets full of rubble, burned out cars, buildings looking as if they’ve been gnawed by Godzilla-sized rats.

    And still, the outcome on the ground seems somehow less inevitable by the day. Even as Russia is drawing in its forces, sending even more equipment to the battle, and calling in its most experienced generals to take direct command in the field, the prospect that Ukraine might just win this thing—not in a “after 10, or 15, or 20 years of guerilla fighting” sense, but 10, or 15, or 20 days from now—seems entirely… thinkable.

    All over Ukraine, both on the ground and in the air, there are signals of hope as well as signals of despair. And there are even more reasons to think that Russia is a paper bear, its cruelty the only thing it has left.

    One definitely not good sign — images of a Ukrainian camp outside Kherson give a clue as to how forces withdrew from the area, leaving behind huge amounts of ammunition, vehicles, and supplies. And yes, at least some of this imagery was supplied by RT, so don’t be surprised if we eventually learn that part, most, or all of this was simply staged for propaganda purposes. (See later update: It now appears that this location was actually at a site some distance from Kherson and was likely overrun on the first day of the invasion.) […]


  266. tomh says

    Anchorage Daily News
    Alaska campaign finance commission erases all limits on donations to political candidates
    By Nathaniel Herz / March 4, 2022

    The commission charged with enforcing Alaska’s campaign finance laws has lifted all limits on donations to candidates for governor, state legislative seats and municipal races — a decision that could allow a huge wave of cash to flow into Anchorage elections next month and state elections in August.

    The Alaska Public Offices Commission, in an order released late Thursday, eliminated the caps in response to a federal court’s decision in a years-long lawsuit that pitted free speech rights against limits set by state lawmakers to curb the influence of money on Alaska politics.

    The federal court had invalidated Alaska’s $500-a-year individual donation limit to candidates, saying it was too low. But it did not set new limits, leaving the question of replacement caps in the hands of the commission and the state Legislature.

    The commission’s staff recommended that the limit be raised to $1,500. But such a decision requires at least four votes by the commission’s five members, and after a meeting Monday, only three agreed in their formal, three-page order issued Thursday, which was first reported by the Alaska Landmine.

    That means that until and unless the Legislature takes action, there are no longer any individual-to-candidate contribution limits in effect, the commission said in its announcement.

  267. says

    When it comes to keeping track of the equipment that has been visually identified as lost or captured on both sides, Oryx has become the go-to site for the most accurate list. Their numbers are never going to match up to the totals claimed in the field, but these are vehicles that have been identified and confirmed.

    From Oryx:

    100 Russian tanks are now visually confirmed to have been destroyed, damaged, abandoned or captured in Ukraine. 🇷🇺🇺🇦


    – 10 T-90As
    – 7 T-80BVMs
    – 25 T-80U(D)s
    – 20 T-72B3 Obr. 2016s

    Full list available here:

  268. says

    COVID and war:

    Just as the Russian invasion of Ukraine was beginning, something else happened in the world that was fairly significant — the U.S. slipped out of the top spot when it comes to new cases of COVID-19. Oddly enough, that top position is now occupied by, of all places, South Korea. Two years into the pandemic, omicron blew past the steps Seoul had taken to keep the disease in check day to day, and on Friday they reported over 250,000 new cases. Other nations, such as Vietnam, which had largely been able to control the spread of COVID-19 pre-omicron are now in the midst of their worst spikes of the whole pandemic.

    Over the last ten days, there hasn’t been much opportunity to do a real update on the situation with COVID-19 in the U.S. Back on the first of February, I wrote this: “Within the next few weeks, we’re going to reach a critical moment in the COVID-19 pandemic—one that will tell us whether we’re in for that long-awaited near-normal by summer, or whether we’re going to go on fuming and arguing over the appropriate level of social distancing indefinitely.”

    The good news here is that the U.S. has punched through the “floor” left behind by delta. Even with the BA.2 sub-variant becoming more common, daily case counts and deaths continue to decline. The U.S. is now all the way down at the #10 spot worldwide when it comes to daily cases, and at the moment the math suggests that cases are going to flatten out for a few months between about 20,000 and 30,000 cases a day nationwide. That’s about twice as many as the U.S. experienced in the pre-delta spring of 2020, but its by far the best that conditions have been at any other point in the pandemic. Don’t throw away all caution, but the current conditions are getting better.

    However, it’s very much worth noting that one of the nations currently in the top ten list, with a daily count of new cases twice that of the U.S., is Russia. Ukraine was also not in good shape — recording 25,000 new cases on Feb 24. Which was, understandably, the last time anyone in Ukraine was lining up to take a COVID-19 test.

    Right now in Ukraine there’s no doubt that the greater threat is death by Russian bullet, bomb, or missile than anything that might come from COVID-19. But what’s happening in Ukraine isn’t just an invasion, it’s an invasion taking place in the middle of a pandemic, between two nations that were among those being hit the hardest in the world. Both soldiers and civilians are crowded together, under stress, poorly fed, and generally in every condition you don’t want to see facing a pandemic. What this means for either Russia or Ukraine isn’t clear. It’s also not clear how much effect this will have on nations like Poland which is seeing an influx of over a million refugees. For the most part, this is likely to be just one more misery heaped on top of all the rest.


  269. says

    Mark Sumner:

    In the read out of a call between Israeli PM Bennett and Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelenskyy that was published earlier this week, Zelenskyy asked Bennett to act as a potential mediator between Ukraine and Russia. Several other leaders have put themselves, and their nations, forward as potential mediator.

    The question is if Putin is ready to listen to anyone.

    Barak David:

    BREAKING: Israeli Prime Minister Bennett travelled secretly to Moscow. Meeting Putin now.

  270. says

    See, this is why you don’t let narcissistic assholes run counties. Because countries come with armies. We should have known, I suppose, that even war would find a way to be dumber in this age of fuckheads run amuck, but my God, it’s soul-crushing, how stupid this all is.

    From its inception, this blog has dedicated probably 60% of its space to the multitudinous errors of just one man: Donald John Trump. […] between the malice and the imbecility, that dude fucks up a whole fucking bunch. […]

    But please keep all of it in mind as I say I have never watched anybody fuck up anything as epically and as completely as Vladimir Putin fucked up his disgusting little war. […]

    What an evil, stupid, little man. To launch a bloody war of aggression, upon a neighbor, for vanity and petty greed, and based on an utterly delusional appraisal of…Jesus, of everything, every single aspect of this morass, the conceited ghoul.

    We all know what’s said about the best-laid plans, and I think if we extrapolate from that point to whatever this THE FUCK WERE YOU THINKING debacle must’ve looked like on paper, it’s easy to understand how we landed where we did.

    […] I don’t even know where to start. How about the linchpin assumption, which apparently held Mr. Super Spy’s entire master plan together, that he could start his war, aaaaaand nobody would fight back? Whole dang country just, what, thanks Vlad for making room for ‘em under his thumb?

    That’s pretty weird, as assumptions go. And judging by his military’s bungling in the aftermath, he didn’t see much need to work up any sort of plan B, did he? […]

    A most definitely incomplete list of Things and People Chessmaster Poot-Poot Disastrously Underestimated: Biden, Zelenksy, NATO, pretty much every single Ukrainian, Zelensky, How Hard War Is Generally, Western unity, Zelensky, Zelensky, Zelensky, and Zelensky.

    While simultaneously overestimating, to an equally suicidal degree: the Russian army, his own ability to set the narrative, his budding bromance with Xi Jinping, his so-called “fortress economy,” and, above all things else, the strategic genius of one Vladimir Putin.

    […] The invading Russians have, um, not exactly been greeted as a liberators, likely because of the way they keep raining death down on innocent people who were just minding their own business.

    Stripped, by Wily Joe Biden, of the capacity to justify military aggression with a false flag attack, the best narrative the master manipulator could muster was some feeble sputtering about “de-Nazification,” like a paint-covered kindergartner blaming the dog for the crude treasure map that appeared on the living room carpet.

    But the dictator handbook says the bigger the lie, the harder you have to stick to it, so Comrade Shitferbrains is still trying to gaslight Macron into accepting him as Indiana Jones, socking fascists in the jaw, rather than a crazy old man, working through a war crimes bucket list. […]

    You fucked this up so bad, kid. You aimed for the history books, and landed in the Darwin Awards. You were gonna be the Tsar that brought back the U.S.S.R., weren’tcha? Whoops.

    You sure did make a Great Man of Volodymyr Zelensky, though. […] I’ll bet that eats away at you, too, in whatever spare moments might be available to a man getting pummeled from every direction by the wrath of God.

    Yes, Putin now begins what looks to be a lengthy residency in Consequencesville. I’m actually dead as I write this, having foolhardily made a drinking game of the steady stream of sanctions announcements.

    Congratulations are clearly in order. You’ve made your currency worthless. Pissed on decades of hard-won good will, business ties…good luck rebuilding those bridges, champ. Even your closest allies will have a hard time forgetting this lesson, on the hidden costs that accompany your “friendship.”

    I see you had to shut down your stock market to keep it from disintegrating to atoms. The big, bad foreign currency reserves that were supposed to shield you from sanctions turned out to be held in foreign banks, and are thus forever lost to you, because you clearly thought this thing through real, real hard. Anyway, I imagine your financial planner has already been sent to a gulag.

    Damn near every sporting and cultural institution on Earth has severed ties with your overnight pariah state. Every ten minutes you hear about another one […] I’m sure you’re fine; angry soccer fans seldom lash out, right?

    And because you’re committing war crimes all over television and the internet, you are manufacturing, in verdant abundance, all the public outrage necessary to guarantee the very outcomes this mess was designed to thwart. […]

    NATO is all tight now, dog. Thanks to you. NATO is having sleepovers where everybody talks about […] how much everybody fucking hates you. And there’s a line out the door to join it now, too; to join the European Union and all those other institutions you hoped to scare away from your doorstep. Nice work.

    Oh, and you’ve inspired Europe to invest even more heavily in defense, including, surely, the very weapons Ukrainians are currently using to beclown your military.

    And frankly, none of this should surprise anyone; it’s precisely the stuff one should expect to happen when one marches an army into a whole ‘nother country and orders it to start killing people.

    Yet somehow, in the middle of this entirely predictable shitstorm, at the far, far end of some Kubrick-looking table, sits Vladimir Putin, [….] baffled into a stupor that anybody bothered to fight back at all.

    […] I bet the walls close in a bit more with every seized oligarch yacht, huh? Well, I’m sure temperatures will cool if you just light a few more nuclear plants on fire, you idiot. You fucking idiot. Fucking fuckup. FIRE IN A NUCLEAR PLANT FUCKING FUCKUP.

    […] Back stateside, comic relief has been provided by the leading lights of MAGA Nation, and their skeleton-crushing contortions, as they attempt to squirm out from under years of unabashed Putin pimping.

    Hey, if anybody from that side of the American reality divide happens to be hate-reading this post on their sister’s Facebook wall, may I gently suggest that when a figure who has been presented to you as admirable instead pulls Hitler shit, you reevaluate your trust in those who made the presentation?

    Like, hey Mike Pompeo, what was it you called Vlad on the eve of his campaign of atrocities? “Very savvy,” was it? “Elegantly sophisticated,” even? That was your assessment while he was marshaling his forces to slaughter civilians? […]

    Yes, despite the week’s helpful insight into Where This Whole Authoritarian Thing Leads, the Republican Party keeps stumbling heedlessly rightward. Assaults on reproductive rights and education keep escalating. And the politicians keep getting crazier and crazier. […]

    And don’t forget Kevin McCarthy’s predictable impotence before the Yeah We’re Nazis Wanna Make Somethin’ Of It wing of his caucus. Remember when “House Minority Leader refuses to condemn members who spoke at a white nationalist conference where the organizer LITERALLY PRAISED HITLER” would’ve been a seriously shocking headline? That was a healthier time. […]


  271. says

    […] A number of mainstream media outlets, including Military Times and Time, have published step-by-step guides on joining the military in Ukraine. The Ukrainian government instructed interested volunteers to contact its consulates this week.

    Several veterans who contacted the consulates this week said they were still waiting for a response, and believed staff members were overwhelmed.

    […] To an extent not seen in past conflicts, the impulse to join has been fueled partly by an increasingly connected world. Americans watching real-time video in Ukraine can, with a click, connect to like-minded volunteers around the globe. A veteran in Phoenix can find a donor in London with unused airline miles, a driver in Warsaw offering a free ride to the border and a local to stay with in Ukraine.

    Of course, war is rarely as straightforward as the deeply felt idealism that drives people to enlist. And volunteers risk not only their own lives, but also drawing the United States into a direct conflict with Russia.

    “War is an unpredictable animal, and once you let it out, no one — no one — knows what will happen,” said Daniel Gale, who lost a leg in Iraq before going on to teach leadership for several years at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and retiring as a lieutenant colonel. He said he understood the urge to fight but said the risk of escalation resulting in nuclear war was too great.

    “I just feel heartsick,” he said. “War is terrible and the innocent always suffer most.” […]

    On Thursday, the Russian Defense Ministry spokesman, Igor Konashenkov, told the Russian News Agency that foreign fighters would not be considered soldiers, but mercenaries, and would not be protected under humanitarian rules regarding the treatment of prisoners of war.

    […] Asked during a news conference this week what he would tell Americans who want to fight in Ukraine, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken pointed to official statements, first issued weeks ago, imploring U.S. citizens in the country to depart immediately.

    He said: “For those who want to help Ukraine and help its people, there are many ways to do that, including by supporting and helping the many NGOs that are working to provide humanitarian assistance; providing resources themselves to groups that are trying to help Ukraine by being advocates for Ukraine and for peaceful resolution to this crisis that was created by Russia.”

    That has not dissuaded a number of veterans who are all too familiar with the risks of combat. […]

    New York Times link

    More at the link, including the story of a retired U.S. Marine who is headed to Ukraine hoping to train Ukrainians in his expertise: armored vehicles and heavy weapons.

  272. says

    […] Zelenskyy branded Russian soldiers “children who are being used” and Kyiv has broadcast its willingness to allow captured Russian soldiers to call home and tell their families what is happening in the conflict.

    The country’s defense ministry posted a flyer on its Facebook on Tuesday that said, “Ukraine has made the decision to return POW to their mothers if they come to Ukraine.”

    “We have to increase the effectiveness of our information warfare, our information impact on the Russian soldiers, especially officers and generals, because soldiers are 90 percent disoriented having no desire to come and die here,” Polyakov said. […]


    More at the link.

  273. tomh says

    Florida Senate Passes Voting Bill to Create Election Crimes Agency
    Nick Corasaniti / March 5, 2022

    The Florida Senate passed a sweeping new bill overhauling the state’s electoral process, adding new restrictions to the state election code and establishing a law enforcement office dedicated solely to investigating election crimes.

    The bill, which passed 24-14, now goes to the state’s House of Representatives, where it could pass as soon as next week and land on the desk of Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, who is expected to sign it. ….

    The legislation is poised to become the first major election-related bill to pass this year in a critical battleground state, and it would indicate no sign of cresting for the wave of new election laws, adding more restrictions to voting, that began last year — with 34 laws passed in 19 states.

    The core of the bill is the establishment of a permanent election crimes office within the Department of State, which would make Florida one of the first states to have an agency solely dedicated to election crimes and voter fraud, despite such offenses being exceedingly rare in the United States…..The bill would also raise the penalties on those collecting and submitting more than two absentee ballots from a misdemeanor to a felony.

    Uniformed law enforcement officials have been used in the past to deter and suppress voters. In 1982, the Republican National Committee dispatched a group of armed, off-duty police officers known as the National Ballot Security Task Force to linger around New Jersey polling locations during a closely contested governor’s election. The Democratic National Committee sued, forcing the R.N.C. into a consent decree to ban such tactics.

    In addition to the new Office of Election Crimes and Security, the bill adds other new restrictions to voting, including banning ranked-choice voting; raising the cap on fines of third-party registration groups from $1,000 to $50,000; extending a ban on private funding for election administration to include the “cost of any litigation”; and replacing references to “drop boxes” with “secure ballot intake stations.”

  274. blf says

    Lynna@381 quotes, speaking of Putin, “I imagine your financial planner has already been sent to a gulag.”

    There’s an interesting article in the Grauniad today, Russia’s central bank head ‘is mourning for her economy’:

    Elvira Nabiullina, noted for her symbolic outfits, wore funereal black when announcing the economic response to sanctions

    Elvira Nabiullina could barely hide her unease. The governor of the central bank of Russia — famed for sending coded messages with her attire — had chosen to dress in funereal black as she warned about the devastating hit to the Russian economy from sweeping sanctions imposed by western governments in retaliation for the invasion of Ukraine.

    With the rouble plunging by more than a quarter and queues forming for foreign currency, Nabiullina announced last Monday that the central bank’s key interest rate would more than double to a record 20%, to curb soaring inflation. In steps to cushion the blow for ordinary Russians, capital controls would be put in place, while the stock market would temporarily close.

    Her choice of clothing, as well as an awkward appearance on TV with Vladimir Putin at an emergency meeting on Monday [image at the link –blf], have raised questions over what she really thinks about his decision to wage war. Ashen-faced and remote, did she really support the war?


    Highly respected in the international community, including among some of Putin’s harshest critics, Nabiullina is viewed as a moderniser who reformed the central bank and kept Russia’s economy out of worse trouble despite challenging conditions since taking her post in 2013.

    [… Professor of economics at Sciences Po in Paris and leading authority on Russia, Sergei Guriev:] “She is trusted by Putin. She has built a lot of elements of fortress Russia — not just foreign exchange reserves but also a domestic payment system and the payment card ‘Mir’ — but I am sure she was not part of the narrow circle making the decision on going to war.”


    In recent years she has taken public positions to urge the government to accelerate reforms to encourage private investment. “She is a brilliant governor. The war is not her fault,” said one Russian economist based in London. “Putin makes geostrategical decisions with huge economic consequences and leaves it to his team of experienced technocrats to pick up the pieces and sort out the mess.”

    […] Russian economists question whether she will stay when her five-year term expires in June, although they say her priority could be to help protect ordinary Russians from the consequence of Putin’s actions by staying in post.

  275. blf says

    A snippet from Far right and far left alike admired Putin. Now we’ve all turned against strongmen (also see @328):

    [French president-wannabe übernazi Éric Zemmour] returned the support the Kremlin has given him by saying that the French should not treat Putin’s victims as refugees because they would submerge France under a wave of immigration.

    Cheeringly, Zemmour’s image of Ukrainians pushing French heads under water, as if they were aggressors rather than victims, did nothing to stop the decline in his support. […]

    I’d forgotten that “Putinist”, as the Guardian’s columnist (Nick Cohen) calls them, opposes Ukrainian refugees in France. (I have no idea about teh le penazis, and suspect those Putinists have no idea either.)

  276. blf says

    Groundbreaking female composer’s lost madrigals to be heard for first time in 400 years:

    Maddalena Casulana’s newly rediscovered songs will feature on BBC Radio 3 to mark International Women’s Day [8th March]


    Maddalena Casulana became the first female composer to publish her own music at a time when such creativity was far from encouraged in women. She believed that men were making a “futile error” in assuming that women could not compose as well as they could and she brought out three books of madrigals under her name between 1568 and 1583, although only one of those collections has survived complete.

    Now a further 17 madrigals have been added to her small surviving repertoire and 12 of those will be premiered on 8 March as part of BBC Radio 3’s special programming for International Women’s Day.

    In what is seen as one of the most important musicological discoveries of recent years, Laurie Stras, professor of music at the universities of Southampton and Huddersfield, has tracked down the lost alto partbook of Casulana’s 1583 book of five-voice madrigals, with such evocative titles as Breeze that Murmurs in the Woods.

    Vocal or instrumental polyphonic music was handwritten or printed in the 15th and 16th centuries in partbooks, with each part appearing separately.

    Stras said that Casulana’s madrigals could not have been performed without the missing parts: “It would be like performing a string quintet without the second violin. It wouldn’t have made sense. I’ve been able to complete it. The jigsaw puzzle has slotted into place.”

    She tracked down missing parts from the printed edition to the Russian State Library in Moscow, piecing together the music through other fragments in the Gdańsk Library of the Polish Academy of Sciences. It was from that Polish archive that the missing parts had disappeared in the second world war. They were presumably looted. They still bear Gdańsk’s catalogue numbers.

    Stras said: “The reason that these madrigals are really important is that Casulana was acknowledged by her male contemporaries as a wonderful composer. […]”


    Noting that little is known about Casulana, who is thought to have died in 1590, Stras said: “How did she get to be so good? Where did she get that knowledge and that skill, because you’re not just born with being able to write five-voice polyphony. It’s really hard.”

  277. says

    Ukraine Update: The Russian Air Force is finally showing up, and getting shot down

    One of the early stories of the Russian invasion of Ukraine has been the near-absence of Russian aircraft over Ukrainian air space. Given the sheer size and supposed technical superiority, Russia was expected to have air superiority within hours of their invasion, eliminating their much smaller Ukrainian counterparts, as well as the nation’s rudimentary air defense system. Ukrainian efforts to deploy a more modern system, like Israel’s Iron Dome, had been stymied.

    Instead, 10 days into the war, the Ukrainian air force continues to fly sorties, and until yesterday, there was scant evidence of Russia’s vaunted Air Force. The invaders were far more content lobbing over 500 guided missiles at Ukrainian targets—which now include civilian structures. This is why a no-fly zone never made much sense, no matter how desperately people in and outside of Ukraine advocate for it. Ukraine is being leveled by guided missiles and rocket artillery, not air strikes. It seemed Russia was far happier losing conscripts and cheap armored vehicles, than their top-of-the-line, expensive aircraft.

    “[I]t is clear to us that Russia is losing aircraft and helicopters at a damaging rate,” wrote the Atlantic Council, emphasis theirs. “We believe that a root cause of these Russian losses is the Kremlin’s failure to secure even localized air superiority over Kyiv. As a result, Russian aircraft and helicopter losses have been surprisingly high and unsustainable, Russian attack aircraft and helicopters do not have the freedom of movement to provide close air support to their columns of mechanized forces, and Ukraine’s Turkish-made TB2 unmanned aerial vehicles have been able to operate and destroy a shocking number of Russian vehicles.”

    That has started to change over the last 24 hours, as that invisible Air Force has finally made itself seen. No one quite knows why, but there are theories. One is that as Russia’s offensive stalls, there is greater pressure from dictator Vladimir Putin for battlefield successes, and that means throwing everything in their arsenal at the Ukrainian resistance—including their expensive weaponry.

    Another theory is that Russia’s stock of guided missiles is running low, forcing Russia to send aircraft to drop “dumb” bombs on targets. Smart munitions are guided, they can lock on their target, and can be fired from a distance. Dumb munitions land wherever momentum and gravity dictate (just like back in WWII). So planes have to fly over the cities they are targeting to continue wreaking their havoc and destruction, putting them in range of man-portable anti-air missiles.

    Yet another theory is that Russian pilots simply suck. “Official Russian military statements suggest that Russian pilots fly a bit under 100 hours a year, compared to U.S. Air Force pilots who fly around 180-240 hours a year,” reports Task & Purpose. “Without enough training, pilots might struggle to master the hundreds of new jets Russia has acquired in recent years. Leadership may be hesitant to commit to large-scale combat operations which would show up the gap between external perceptions and the reality of their capabilities.”

    Whatever the reasons, Russia now has to additionally contend with thousands of new anti-air missiles Ukraine is getting from its allies. While the thousands of Stingers it is getting from the United States, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, Latvia, and Lithuania are generating headlines, other missile systems sent by Poland, Slovakia, France, and the Czech Republican are also capable of wreaking havoc on Russia air assets. […]. As a result, the Russian Air Force is having a bad day:

    Definite list of Russian Air Force losses over #Ukraine in the past 26 hours:

    – 1x Su-30SM multirole aircraft
    – 2 Su-34 strike aircraft
    – 2 Su-25 close air support aircraft
    – 2 Mi-24/35 attack helicopters
    – 2 Mi-8 transport helicopter
    – 1 Orlan-10 UAV

    We can confirm 20 downed Russian aircraft. That is 1.3% of Russia’s entire air force (1,511, pre-war). Ukraine claims dramatically higher numbers. No matter what the real number is today, a couple more days like this, and those numbers will really start to bite.

    More fighter jets for Ukraine don’t make sense—they are expensive to maintain, logistically, and are easier to shoot down than alternatives. A no-fly-zone is a declaration of war against Russia. We don’t need a nuclear confrontation. The alternatives to both are far better and more effective anyway: Flooding the country with man-portable missiles makes every Ukrainian unit an air defense system. And the more planes are shot down, the more fearful Russia will be of committing more planes to the mission. And drones are the best, cheapest (both in unit costs, and in logistical costs), way to harass Russian forces and supply lines from the air.

    Ukraine has the manpower, and increasingly, the weaponry to hold inflict serious damage on advancing Russians. Russia will have to decide how much pain they’re willing to endure.

  278. says


    Some of those Canadian truckers, the ones who were astroturfed by big anti-vaxxers ostensibly to protest mask and vaccine mandates […] created a loose enough anti-establishment network to now turn their attentions on vague conspiracy. That means QAnon! Yeehaw! As NBC News reports, some of these newfound foreign policy analysts are really blowing things out.

    But as its Covid mission has become less clear, the group’s channels have turned to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, where conspiracy-minded thinking has flourished. While some group members have admonished Russian President Vladimir Putin for the invasion, QAnon and anti-vaccine contingents within the groups have seized on a false conspiracy theory that the war is a cover for a military operation backed by former President Donald Trump in Ukraine.

    The conspiracy theory, which is baseless and has roots in QAnon mythology, alleges that Trump and Putin are secretly working together to stop bioweapons from being made by Dr. Anthony Fauci in Ukraine and that shelling in Ukraine has targeted the secret laboratories. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has emerged in the past year as a main target for far-right conspiracy theories.

    […]It is important to understand how godly people like Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin are. In fact, it is sort of essential since so many QAnon folks come from a religious Christian upbringing, and trying to break free of reality needs some kind of scaffolding. Pastor Johnny Enlow is sort of considered a spiritual leader amongst some Q-types. If you think you’ve heard the name before, that’s probably because he’s made some headlines promoting the belief that Donald Trump is actually still the secret president, and Enlow has continued to have “visions” of Trump “seated on a throne holding a golden scepter. He also had a golden crown on his head.”

    Well, guess what? According to this Qastor (see what I did?), Vladimir Putin “is a key chess player of God,” and Russia is a better place to live than America. U.S.A., Q.S.A., U.S.A.! (I did it again!) […]

    And that is where we are. Everything is going according to plans that seem to change on the hour, every hour, depending on QAnon influencer feelings and the continuous contradictions that reality confronts them with every day.


    Yes, there’s even more dumfuckery chronicled at the link. There’s also a disheartening video featuring Johnny Enlow. How do those dumbasses get some women to sit next to them focusing an adoring gaze on the bullshit-spewing visage of yet another god-addled dunderhead?

  279. blf says

    Follow-up to Lynna@390, False Claims of US Biowarfare Labs in Ukraine Grip QAnon:

    The conspiracy theory has been boosted by Russian and Chinese media and diplomats.

    Pro-Russian channels and QAnon conspiracy theorists think Moscow is launching airstrikes on Ukraine to destroy bioweapon-manufacturing labs in order to prevent the American infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci from creating a sequel to the COVID-19 virus.

    This theory hangs on the entirely discredited idea that the coronavirus was designed as a bioweapon, perhaps by the US government itself. And yet, the theory is being shared thousands of times, faster than regulated social media networks can yank the conspiracy theory down. On unregulated platforms, such as Telegram and 8chan, the conspiracy theory has become incredibly popular, racking up hundreds of thousands of hits each day.

    The theory is now being actively contributed to, and promoted, by one Russian embassy, an official Russian state propaganda outlet, and media channels in Serbia and China.

    [… previous variants of this nonsense from both Russia and China…] The conspiracy theory even pushed the Security Service of Ukraine to debunk the allegation of American-run bioweapons facilities in 2020.

    Yet the conspiracy theory emerged with new purpose this week. The most recent incarnation of this conspiracy theory seems to have begun with the moderately prominent — and now suspended — Twitter account @WarClandestine, which posted two maps comparing Russian airstrikes and US biolabs in Ukraine.

    It certainly appears Putin is targeting the cities and locations with #USBiolabs present, the account tweeted. He is 100% going after the alleged bioweapons.

    [… some details on that now-suspended account, including qAnonsense blathering…]

    The supporting evidence for @WarClandestine’s Ukrainian bioweapons idea is flimsy, even by conspiracy theory standards: The account rests on little more than the assumption that all laboratories that accept American funding are responsible for creating bioweapons. It also uses the nebulous term biolabs to describe a wide swath of facilities, which are numerous and common in every European country.

  280. blf says

    Oops, me@391, There’s more to the article that implied by my excerpt (i.e., it doesn’t end where the excerpt suggests it does — my mistake), some snippets from the remainder:

    Within hours of the initial tweet, the conspiracy site Infowars published a story largely regurgitating the conspiracy theory. […]

    The baseless nature of the conspiracy theory was picked up by such debunkers as Snopes [Ukraine, US Biolabs, and an Ongoing Russian Disinformation Campaign …].

    With Russia’s war effort struggling against fierce Ukrainian resistance, the Russians gave the story a boost.

    On Feb 27, the Russian Embassy in Bosnia and Herzegovina came out endorsing the theory, posting on Facebook, according to Serbian broadcaster N1, that the United States was filling Ukraine with biolabs, which were — very possibly — used to study methods for destroying the Russian people at the genetic level.

    The premise of the theory is baseless. Ukraine has no labs labeled as “BSL-4,” the highest grade that allows them to work on the most dangerous pathogens, and only one BSL-3 lab. American support for the facility is not secret and has funded science on a number of zoonotic diseases in Ukraine: Washington also funds facilities in Georgia and even Russia-friendly Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan. The United States has been engaged in a program known as the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, which cooperates on reducing epidemiological risk in Ukraine and elsewhere: Some of the Russian reporting has mistranslated this as the Special Defense Weapons Agency.

  281. blf says

    Nutcakes (non-edible variety) in the Netherlands, Coronavirus conspiracy theorists come out for Putin as pandemic fades:

    With the invasion of Ukraine dovetailing with the ending of coronavirus restrictions in the Netherlands, the conflict is taking over from the pandemic as the focal point for online conspiracy theorists.

    Willem Engel, a dance teacher who mounted a string of legal challenges against the government’s pandemic control measures, backed by crowdfunding campaigns, accused the Dutch government on Twitter of violating arms trade treaties by sending weapons to Ukraine.

    He also praised Russian leaders as smarter and more sympathetic than their western counterparts and said Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy was running a failed state that was trying to start a nuclear weapons programme.

    For other self-styled coronavirus sceptics, the conflict is a distraction from the failure of western governments’ pandemic strategies. The corona story isn’t very credible any more in the west, so now they’re starting up with Ukraine and Russia because they need to imprint a new model of fear in our heads, said Tom Zwitser on right-wing channel De Blauwe Tijger.

    [… other examples…]

    Jelle van Buuren, lecturer at Leiden University’s Institute of Security and Global Affairs, told the Telegraaf that support for Putin that already existed in online groups portraying coronavirus as a hoax by western governments was now coming to the fore.

    ‘There is a lot of resistance in these circles to everything with a whiff of emancipation, gay rights, abortion, the liberal western agenda,’ he said. ‘They see Putin as an important ally.

    ‘His authoritarian style is attractive: a man who is brave enough to take action, in stark contrast to the weak western leaders.’

  282. says

    blf @393, I hadn’t thought about this before, but really a nutcake’s favorite conspiracy theory must become quite boring over time. So, of course the nutcakes have to switch to new conspiracy theories. For awhile, they’ll enjoy embroidering their new conspiracy theory. They’ll add layers. Eventually, they’ll move on to a new round of addlepated nonsense.

  283. says

    Followup to me in comment 394. I do note that the admiration for Putin is not new, nor is it new to see Dr. Fauci as a sinister figure cooking up bioweapons, however those ingredients of the conspiracy theories have a new flavor, a new twist, as the nutcakes add the war in Ukraine.

  284. blf says

    Why Putin’s M.O. Feels So Right to Trumpists:

    If you deny your opponents’ legitimate claim to power, then you can justify any means to deprive them of it.


    The real reason for Putin’s aggression is that he considers the very idea of Ukraine’s self-governance illegitimate. Ukrainians have no right to choose their own leaders, so those democratically elected leaders have no authority. The intimidation and violence Putin brings against them is justified, for they have no right to what they claim.

    That’s terrifying for Ukrainians, and it should be a blaring alarm for Americans. Because it’s the exact same contempt that festers at the heart of the Trumpist GOP’s attack on our democracy. And Trumpism’s most powerful propagandists spent the week celebrating it.

    [… all the usual suspects, including Tuckyo Rose…]

    Will Saletan at The Bulwark noticed how closely Carlson tracked with Father Charles Coughlin, the antisemitic priest who in the 1930s urged listeners of his popular, isolationist radio show to train their contempt not on Adolf Hitler but on the real enemy at home: Jews.

    Carlson wants viewers to grant minorities, LGBTQ people, and Democrats the same agency and legitimacy Coughlin reserved for Jews. Maybe Putin is bad, and maybe he isn’t, but you know who’s worse? Democrats.

    […] Arizona GOP Gov Doug Ducey, also a Senate candidate, was asked about GOP State Sen Wendy Rogers’ open embrace of white nationalism [who apparently bellowed at Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes’ nazithon]. She’s still better than her opponent, Felicia French, Ducey said, referring to a combat veteran who’s also a Democrat. […]

    Ducey, Carlson, and Donald Trump already understand about the GOP what Putin understands about Russians following Ukraine. First, you grant your opponents no legitimate claim to power, and thus no right to govern. Then you can justify any means to deprive them of it.

    You might find yourself rationalizing your candidate accepting foreign interference in a presidential election; or countenancing two years of obvious lies that usurpers didn’t win 2020, but must have stolen it; or signing off on laws designed to make sure fewer Americans vote. You might realize you’d rather risk COVID […] than wear a mask like the fake president wears.

    You might even decide that a crowd that formed a violent mob, assault police, and stormed the Capitol to stop the peaceful transfer of power had its reasons. Riots aren’t pretty, but allowing the true enemy to take the White House is worse.

    As Donald Trump said of Putin’s invasion this week, How smart is that?

  285. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    The humanitarian situation in the southern Ukrainian port of Mariupol is “catastrophic” and it is vital that civilians be evacuated, a senior official from the NGO Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières MSF) has warned….

    Canada tells its citizens in Russia to leave while they can – government

    Canada told its citizens on today to leave Russia “while commercial means are still available,” saying security conditions were unpredictable and could deteriorate without notice.

    “Flight availability is becoming extremely limited … The ability of our embassy to provide consular services in Russia may become severely limited,” Canada’s foreign ministry said in a travel advisory.

    Mastercard and Visa have now suspended all operations in Russia.

  286. says

    Lynna, thanks for the DK link @ #389 – very informative.

    One thing I don’t understand: That’s the second or third expert I’ve seen say that they don’t need or couldn’t really use jets. But they keep asking for them. I’d think they would know if they can use them or not. I don’t get it.

  287. blf says

    From the (current?) Meduza liv blog (10 hours ago as I type):

    While meeting with women pilots and flight attendants on Saturday, Putin spoke publicly about the war in Ukraine and Russia’s financial instability:
    ● Russia’s Armed Forces have destroyed almost all of Ukraine’s military infrastructure.
    ● Russia hasn’t sent a single conscript into battle. All troops involved in combat are professional contract soldiers. There are no plans to deploy either draftees or reservists in battle.
    ● The Ukrainian authorities are now executing without trial or investigation anyone who opposes the military operations against Russia.

    And the Chicago Cubs did not win the 2016 World Series, Danger Mouse is really Penfold in disguise, hair furor has won all presidential elections since the 1490s when a Russian balloonist cleverly circumnavigated the flat earth and found turtles all the way down, and Moby Dick is the origin of Euclidean geometry.

  288. says

    Logistics thread:

    A tweet thread on why we are almost certainly overestimating the amount of strength the Russian Army has on hand, and the amount they can actually get to Ukraine when their first force losses get so high that it starts becoming combat ineffective. Yes, its logistics.

    Why does this all matter–it reveals that almost certainly that Russian combat strength started significantly below the stated levels, and is dropping fast as damaged but not destroyed equipment still in Russian hands cant be repaired and resupplied.

    And all of this will get worse as Russia’s weak link of trucks further wastes away….

    Ukrainian path to victory is clear. Go for every Russian truck they can see, particularly fuel trucks. Russian Army will freeze in its tracks.

    Btw. Replacing military grade trucks with civilian ones is catastrophic on many levels. You have to stick to better roads, they are less robust and you can’t stock spare parts for all the different models

    We might be about to witness a logistic collapse

  289. says

    SC @399: “That’s the second or third expert I’ve seen say that they don’t need or couldn’t really use jets. But they keep asking for them. I’d think they would know if they can use them or not. I don’t get it.”

    Same here. I am keeping an eye out for more information.

    I will note that there are good arguments against establishing a no-fly zone, (it is basically a declaration of war against Russia for one thing), and yet the Ukrainians continue to ask for that. They very insistently ask for a no-fly zone.

    Perhaps it is a similar situation with the request for MIGs that Ukrainian pilots could fly. There are arguments against supplying such maintenance-intensive aircraft, when perhaps armed drones and man-carried (or vehicle-mounted) anti-aircraft weapons would be of more immediate use.

    I think Zelenskyy and his fellow Ukrainians are looking for anything and everything that might help them. I understand that.

    I don’t have urban warfare experience, so I can’t really judge the effectiveness of giving airplanes to the Ukrainians versus giving them other weapons. One question occurred to me: are the planes considered offensive weapons instead of defensive?

    I would like to see more experts discussing this issue.

  290. raven says

    That’s the second or third expert I’ve seen say that they don’t need or couldn’t really use jets. But they keep asking for them. I’d think they would know if they can use them or not. I don’t get it.

    I think it is because planes and helicopters are deadly against armored vehicles, trucks, and truck convoys.
    Particularly the US A10 Warthog.

    Wikipedia Highway of death

    On the night of 26–27 February 1991, some Iraqi forces began leaving Kuwait on the main highway north of Al Jahra in a column of some 1,400 vehicles. A patrolling E-8 Joint STARS aircraft observed the retreating forces and relayed the information to the DDM-8 air operations center in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.[279] These vehicles and the retreating soldiers were subsequently attacked by two A-10 aircraft, resulting in a 60 km stretch of highway strewn with debris—the Highway of Death.

    Two US A10s destroyed a convoy of 1,400 vehicles leaving Kuwait. What they do is bomb the front of the convoy and then the back. The middle is boxed in and sitting targets.

    Some of the Russia convoys are 20 miles long and they have to stay on the roads because it is mud season.

    Strangely enough, even though the Iraqi convoy was destroyed, they didn’t kill all that many Iraqi soldiers. They were smart enough to get out and run into the desert.

  291. says

    Technical workarounds to address media bans in Russia:

    […] some outlets are refusing to be silenced. In response to the ban, the BBC posted a statement on its website that said, “Access to accurate, independent information is a fundamental human right which should not be denied to the people of Russia.” It attached instructions on how to circumvent the media blackout by accessing BBC content through two apps: Psiphon, a censorship circumvention tool, and Tor, an anonymous browser. Voice of America also vowed, in a statement, to “promote and support tools and resources that will allow our audiences to bypass any blocking efforts imposed on our sites in Russia.” […]

    Since the invasion, VOA’s Russian-language site has seen a major increase in traffic, according to Matthew Baise, director of digital strategy and audience development at VOA, rising from 40,000 visits per day to around 250,000, with about 20 percent of that traffic coming through circumvention networks such as VPNs. Patrick Boehler, head of digital strategy at RFE/RL tweeted last week that data from CrowdTangle showed that independent, Russian-language news stories were being shared, worldwide, more often than stories from state-run media.

    […] In a tweet on Friday (and a post on its website), the BBC pointed readers to Psiphon, a free, open-source app created by the University of Toronto’s Internet-freedom center Citizen Lab. Alternately, it directed people to access BBC’s website via the Tor app, widely used during the Arab Spring of 2010 to access blocked social media sites. For anyone unable to download either app — given Russia’s crackdown — the BBC invited people to send a blank email to or to receive a safe link.

    Circumventing censorship is sometimes low-tech. In China, social media users have taken to posting upside-down screenshots of articles on platforms such as Weibo (akin to Twitter). Russian readers still have access to RFE/RL’s newsletter “The Week In Russia,” for instance, because emai