Comments

  1. says

    https://twitter.com/AVindman/status/1501243215139291139

    @SteveScalise is a fool and a liar. Trump called Zelenskyy to extort a investigation of @POTUS to try to steal the 2020 election. I exposed that effort & now your efforts are to rewrite history. You were complicit in inviting Russia’s war on Ukraine. Repent. #StandWithUkraine️

    Vindman was responding to this:

    Reporter: Given where we are right now, what rethinking have you done on Trump’s withholding of military aid to Zelenskyy as he pressured to investigate Biden.

    Scalise: If you look at that conversation, President Zelenskyy had called President Trump to thank him for the leadership.

    Video is available at the link.

  2. says

    The previous chapter of the Infinite Thread reached 500 comments and rolled over to a new chapter.

    For the convenience of readers, here are a couple of links back to the previous chapter.

    https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2022/01/14/infinite-thread-xxii/comment-page-4/#comment-2125213
    UK to phase out Russian oil imports by end of 2022. (posted by SC)

    https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2022/01/14/infinite-thread-xxii/comment-page-4/#comment-2125211
    The Guardian’s live coverage of Zelenskyy’s address (posted by SC)

  3. says

    A military green T-shirt, emblazoned with the Russian “Z” is for sale on Amazon. As Mark Sumner says, “For those who just can’t wait to showcase their love of war crimes and genocide.”

  4. says

    McConnell demands that school children go hungry before agreeing to funding bill, Ukraine aid

    It’s Tuesday, so that means Congress is scrambling to figure out both how to keep government from shutting down in three days and how to keep plans for getting out of town midweek. The House is going to try to get the omnibus spending bill that will fund the remainder of this fiscal year and provide $12 billion in aid to Ukraine to the floor by Wednesday morning, and that’s not out of the question. The bigger problem is, as usual, on the Senate side, where Republican leader Mitch McConnell is raising a last-minute hissy fit over school children being fed.

    Appropriations Chair Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) told reporters Tuesday morning that the bill is “close” to being done, with “a few more things to work out but we’re gonna get there.” Her “intention” is to have a bill wrapped up by Wednesday, when House Democrats are scheduled to decamp to Philadelphia for a retreat.

    […] There’s a big wrinkle in all that on the Senate side coming from Republicans—specifically coming from Minority Leader McConnell, who is having a hissy fit over a provision in the bill that extends pandemic relief to allow schools to serve universal free meals.

    He won’t say why he wants to make children go hungry, but he “is not budging,” one person involved in ongoing negotiations told Politico. “It hurts everybody in every state. These are things Republicans want.”

    That’s while, as of now, the Ukraine aid is linked to the spending bill, so you could rightly argue that McConnell is standing in the way of crucial aid to Ukraine in pursuit of making kids go hungry. He might have just picked this one provision to object to in order to get something else he might want to have happen: decouple the Ukraine aid from the spending bill and pass it. That would shield Republicans from blowback for delaying that aid. And it would force Democrats to pass another continuing resolution to keep government funded and eat up more time.

    […] The Biden administration bumped up its initial $10 billion to $12 billion on Monday for humanitarian, military, and economic assistance. As of now, that’s tied to the omnibus spending bill, which could also include $15 billion in pandemic funding. That’s down substantially from the $22.5 billion the administration requested to shore up public health programs to combat the next variants and to provide more vaccines internationally. About a dozen Senate Republican have threatened a shutdown over this and other COVID-19 issues. […]

    More details at the link.

  5. says

    Wonkette: “Russia Generously Offers To Let Ukraine Refugees Reach Safety In Russia” [/sarcasm]

    Twelve days into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the United Nations says about two million refugees have fled Ukraine for other countries, with the numbers expected to continue to increase. Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, said today that the next wave of refugees is likely to be even more desperate than the initial surge […]

    “If the war continues we will start seeing people that have no resources and no connections,” he said at a press conference in Oslo.

    “That will be a more complex situation to manage for European countries going forward,” adding that “even more solidarity” will be needed in Europe and beyond.

    […] The largest portion of refugees — about 1.2 million — have gone to Poland, which took in 141,000 people just on Monday, according to Polish border officials. DW reports that

    Hungary has taken in 191,348 and Slovakia 140,745, while Russia took in 99,300 and other European countries have accepted 210,239, according to the latest UN data on Tuesday.

    Japan has announced it plans to take in refugees from Ukraine and has so far let eight people into the country, the government in Tokyo said on Tuesday.

    […] US America has granted Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Ukrainians already in the country, which will allow roughly 34,000 Ukrainian nationals to get work permits for 18 months, subject to TPS renewal. So far, though, the US has no plans for mass evacuations of Ukrainian refugees to the US.

    The need is going to be long-lasting; Nancy Dent, the senior communications officer for the International Rescue Committee, told German news agency DW that “Even if the (war) were to stop right now, there would be a huge amount of humanitarian need” that would drive people to leave Ukraine until the country becomes safer.

    “We need people to be guaranteed access to jobs, able to rent houses, to make sure they can really stand on their own two feet again.”

    Beyond physical support, “the trauma support that they’re going to need is also huge,” Dent said.

    That’s especially true since the Russian military seems determined to provide a steady supply of trauma to Ukrainian civilians. Ukraine has accused Russia of shelling one of the “humanitarian corridors” that Russia declared would provide safe passage out of besieged Ukrainian cities. The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said that Russia had shelled civilians fleeing the port city of Mariupol, in Southeast Ukraine, for four days in a row, after Russia has announced civilians would be allowed to leave. Hundreds of thousands of people are trapped in Mariupol, which is without food or water, and the city is under constant attack.

    Foreign Ministry spokesperson Oleg Nikolenko said on Twitter,

    8 trucks + 30 buses ready to deliver humanitarian aid to Mariupol and to evac (evacuate) civilians to (nearby) Zaporizhzhia. Pressure on Russia MUST step up to make it uphold its commitments.

    Monday, Russia announced six “humanitarian” escape routes out of Ukraine, but they all led to border cities in either Russia or Belarus, the Russian ally from which many of the invasion forces entered Ukraine.

    Under the Russian offer, a corridor from the capital Kyiv would lead to Russia’s ally Belarus, while civilians from Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second biggest city, would be directed to Russia, according to maps published by the RIA news agency. […]

    A spokesperson for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said the Russian proposal was “completely immoral”.

    “They are citizens of Ukraine, they should have the right to evacuate to the territory of Ukraine,” the spokesperson said.

    Reuters reports that Russian troops have been allowing Ukrainians to evacuate two locations: the eastern city of Sumy, and the town of Irpin, just north of the capital, Kyiv.

    Dmytro Zhyvytsky, the governor of the Sumy region, said in televised comments around noon (1000 GMT) that the evacuation from Sumy was continuing and that the temporary ceasefire had largely held there.

    The first wave of vehicles that left the city met around 160 Russian military vehicles coming towards them but the incident ended peacefully when the civilian convoy stopped to let the Russian forces pass, he said.

    Around 1,000 foreign students had already been evacuated, Zhyvytsky said, and convoys of 20-30 private cars were leaving in waves.

    However, authorities in Sumy also said that late Monday, a Russian air strike had killed 21 civilians there, including two children. […]

    The Washington Post adds that the foreign students who were evacuated were mostly from India and China; the Indian foreign minister said all Indian students in Sumy had been successfully evacuated. Buses sent to evacuate Sumy also brought food and supplies into the city.

    In Irpin, civilians escaped by crossing an improvised footbridge across a river; the road bridge had been blown up by Ukrainian forces to prevent Russian military vehicles from getting to Kyiv. While the video below doesn’t show any violence, it’s heartbreaking: [video at the link]

    On Sunday, civilians in Irpin were shelled as they fled the suburb, and a family of four — two adults, two children — was killed near a military checkpoint, CNN reports […]

    In Slovakia, the BBC reports, an 11-year-old boy named Hassan arrived alone at the border with Ukraine, after traveling 600 miles from his home. He had only a backpack and a plastic bag with his passport. He also had the phone number of relatives in Slovakia written on the back of his hand, and a copy of the contact info on a slip of paper in his pocket.

    His mother, Julia Pisecka, put him on a train out of the country after the Russians shelled the nearby nuclear plant in Zaporizhzhia (the plant has been shut down with no release of radiation).

    Hassan, 11, left his home in Zaporizhzhia because his mother could not leave her elderly mother.

    She put him on a train and when he finally got to the border he was helped across by customs officers. […]

    His mother, in a video posted by Slovak police, thanked everyone for taking care of her son and explained why he had travelled across the country when it was in the grip of a Russian invasion.

    Slovakian authorities were able to locate Hassan’s relatives, who have picked him up; he’s in the process of applying for temporary protection in Slovakia. Slovakian charities are organizing aid for his mother and grandmother in Ukraine.

    If you’re able to help, this site has a regularly updated list of groups helping Ukrainian refugees and people still in Ukraine.

  6. says

    Oh, no, I think this is probably right: Putin may be paving the way to use chemical weapons in Ukraine.

    […] Putin’s government has repeatedly accused the United States of storing biological weapons in Ukraine, part of a disinformation campaign that could presage Russia’s own use of these illegal weapons of war.

    As was discussed in the previous chapter of this thread, rightwing doofuses in the USA have repeated the false story about “biolabs” in Ukraine, or about biological weapons labs supposedly supported by Dr. Fauci. Totally false, and ignorant at the same time.

    Russia signed treaties banning the use of biological and chemical weapons—in 1975 and 1997, respectively—but has maintained covert programs in apparent defiance of those agreements. Despite destroying most of its Cold War–era stockpile of chemical weapons by 2017, Russian military operatives used a nerve agent to kill Sergei Skripa, a Russian spy who had become a double agent for Great Britain, and his daughter in 2018. Russia used the same nerve agent in 2020 to poison Putin opponent Aleksei Navalny. (Navalny survived but is now in a Russian prison.) During the civil war in Syria, Bashar al-Assad’s forces, which were backed by Russia, used chlorine gas, sarin, and mustard gas against rebel fighters. […]

    The steady stream of Russian disinformation about the United States building bioweapons in Ukraine has sparked fears among experts that Putin is creating a pretext to deploy these weapons himself. “It’s plausible that Putin will use nuclear weapons in this conflict,” Weber [Pentagon official Andrew Weber, who has worked in Eurasian states like Kazakhstan and Georgia to remove nuclear material] told me. “I think it’s more likely that he would use chemical or biological weapons.” […]

    Weber, now a senior fellow at the Council on Strategic Risks, believes the Russian Foreign Ministry’s recent statements, including a tweet accusing the Pentagon of funding biological weapons’ development in Ukraine, are “almost a mirror image” of the disinformation tactics used in Syria […] “The audience for that is partly the Russian population as a way for them to demonize Ukrainians,” Weber notes, “and as a way to build support for the war inside Russia.”

    […] The Russian intelligence services have had a disinformation campaign for about 15 years accusing the United States of funding biological weapons laboratories in the countries surrounding Russia. […]

    What’s changed in recent months is that it’s gone from a disinformation campaign that used journalists in Bulgaria and plants of articles and social media, to becoming the official Russian government line. […] now it’s risen up to the official level, to the point where the 5,000-word manifesto that President Putin and President Xi released during Putin’s visit to the Olympics accuses the United States of investing in biological weapons’ laboratories all around the world.

    Only yesterday, I saw the Russian Foreign Ministry tweet that it had “evidence” of a biological weapons program in Ukraine that was funded by the Pentagon.

    […] These laboratories are by and large Ukrainian Ministry of Health laboratories. They’re more or less equivalent to US county health laboratories. They played a very important role in stemming Covid. But some of these laboratories do have what we call “select agent” or dangerous pathogen collections for the legitimate purposes of tracking bacteria and viruses that are endemic in Ukraine. Out of fear of Russian military attacks, they made a decision to destroy these pathogen collections on a defensive basis, so they were not spread into the environment or stolen by the Russian invaders.

    […] I’m concerned that the reason we’re seeing this escalation and propaganda directed at the United States and making false accusations that Ukraine has biological weapons is because that will be a cover for the Russian military’s use of these weapons, and then a false flag operation where they will try to blame it on on Ukraine.

    […] if we look at what the Assad regime did in Syria with chemical weapons, clearly, they see value in inflicting terror on the population. And biological weapons can do that. Chemical weapons can do that by demoralizing the resistance, and also, tactically, for clearing buildings in urban environments. So they saw both a military and psychological warfare utility in employing these terror weapons, specifically, because they cause so much terror in the target population. And if they can blame it on the United States and Ukraine, that’s just gravy.

  7. says

    Texas militia member convicted on all charges in first Jan. 6 trial

    Guy Reffitt, a Texas militia member who was at the head of an early wave of rioters who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, was found guilty of all five felony charges he faced related to the assault, including obstruction of an official proceeding, carrying a firearm during the attack and threatening witnesses.

    The verdict is an important milestone for the Justice Department in the first jury trial since the attack that threatened the presidential transfer of power more than 14 months ago. Reffitt faces a maximum of 20 years in prison from the obstruction counts alone.

    The unanimous verdict returned Tuesday after only about three hours of deliberations capped a week-long trial […] Prosecutors were aided in making their case by two star witnesses. One was Reffitt’s son Jackson, who reported his father to the FBI before Jan. 6 and later recorded conversations that he provided to the FBI. Jackson told jurors that his father became increasingly radicalized in 2020 and later threatened him and his sister Peyton if they thought about going to authorities with their concerns.

    The other key witness was Rocky Hardie, a member of the Texas Three Percenters who traveled with Reffitt to Washington in order to attend Donald Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally. Hardie, who was given immunity for his testimony, described their conversations — including Reffitt’s call to drag members of Congress out of the Capitol — and their decision to bring multiple firearms to Washington.

    Jurors also heard compelling and sometimes emotional testimony from a series of Capitol Police officers […] The police testimony was highly incriminating for Reffitt because three of the officers said they specifically recalled him being at the forefront of a large group of protesters who were surging up a stairway on the west front of the Capitol. […]

    While the officers pushed back on Reffitt, the mob swelled and grew angrier, throwing debris and using wooden boards to shield themselves from non-lethal projectiles. […] Officers testified that they were wary of using their firearms because of the size of the crowd and concerns that many of the members of the mob — some clad in military-style gear — were carrying weapons.

    In fact, Reffitt is one of the few members of the Jan. 6 mob charged with carrying a gun on Capitol grounds. To convince jurors of that charge, prosecutors showed a screenshot of a video in which a holster-like object can be seen on Reffitt’s belt, along with a silver glint that they say reflected a handgun. In addition, Reffitt himself was seen on video and in recordings provided by his son describing his “loaded” weapon and suggesting many others in the crowd were also armed.

  8. says

    Truckers helping to get supplies into Ukraine:

    […] Herzog and other organizers began by partnering with fellow Ukrainian Andrey Sokoliuk, who has a furniture business and two trucks that regularly transport goods to and from Ukraine. The initial idea was to send those two trucks and drivers back in. But that expanded into an effort to find Ukrainian drivers all over Europe, get them to Berlin and load them up with supplies.

    Over the past week, the organizers have overseen a massive donation drive — collecting baby and pet food, potatoes, batteries, fire extinguishers, medicine, boots, jackets and more. They have helped send more than a dozen trucks toward Ukraine.

    On Saturday, at a parking lot on the outskirts of Berlin, more than 100 volunteers […] sorted hundreds of cardboard boxes of donations from a constant flow of cars onto five waiting trucks.

    Food was in one area. Clothes and hygiene in another. Medicine in a third. Everything was labeled in German and Ukrainian.

    […] Pashkiuskiy — a thinner, younger man than many of the other drivers — said he wasn’t nervous starting his drive, but he wasn’t sure how he would feel when he entered Ukraine and began seeing familiar cities destroyed, and began driving on more dangerous roads. He said he was prepared to go to the front lines if needed.

    Pashkiuskiy said he was shocked to tears when he saw the efforts in Berlin to support his people.

    […] The trucks go on toward cities such as Lviv, Kharkiv and Kyiv, getting as close as they can to population centers. The supplies are unloaded from the trucks into smaller vans that can more easily navigate drop-offs at community centers, hospitals and homes.

    […] Maria Köster, who has organized a separate but similar effort, said the trucks she’s coordinating have gotten as close as 40 miles from Kharkiv, but haven’t ventured farther. “You can’t go there with big trucks,” said Köster, who was born in Moscow. “They’d be bombed in five minutes.”

    Instead, her group, which she organized with two Ukrainians living in Berlin, has connected with a politician in Kharkiv, who has soldiers protect the trucks while volunteers spend up to five hours unloading them into small vans. The volunteers then drive into the city without protection and drop off the food and supplies.

    […] so far it has been impossible to get trucks to parts of eastern Ukraine, such as Mariupol, that are under assault and running out of food and water.

    Herzog said finding drivers who are willing to go that far and risk their lives further has been hard. She hopes the team will eventually be able to find willing volunteers, as she knows those cities are most in need.

    “Sometimes, miracles happen,” she said. “We need a miracle, we need to get these people help.”

    Washington Post link

  9. says

    More re the video @ #489 in the previous chapter of the thread, from the Guardian’s Ukraine liveblog:

    The mayor of the Polish town of Przemyśl, a village near the main crossing point with Ukraine, has confronted Matteo Salvini, the leader of Italy’s right-wing League party, over his previous support for Vladimir Putin.

    Przemyśl Mayor Wojciech Bakun, invited Salvini, to visit a war-refugee centre while wearing a T-shirt with Putin’s face on, reports the Guardian’s Lorenzo Tondo from the village.

    During a news conference on Tuesday, Przemyśl Mayor Wojciech Bakun, standing beside Salvini, who had just arrived in Przemysl on a visit to show his support to the Ukrainian refugees, but is known for his previous pro-Kremlin views, pulled a T-shirt from his jacket showing Putin’s face and the words: “Army of Russia”. The garment was similar to one Salvini had worn in the past.

    “Come with me to the border and condemn him,” Bakun added, inviting Salvini to wear the T-shirt and visit with him a refugee centre “to see what your friend Putin has done.”

    As Salvini tried to interrupt Bakun explaining that he came here to “to help refugees, children, mums, dads, from Ukraine’’, the mayor said: “I won’t receive you”, before turning away.

    A group of Italians present at the news conference called Salvini “a clown” and “a buffoon’’.

    Salvini praised Putin in the past, describing the Russian president as “one of the best statesmen.”

    His party has also been accused of receiving money from the Kremlin, but Salvini has always denied those allegations.

    At the end of the news conference, Salvini said he was not “interested in rows with the Italian left or the Polish one.’’

    When asked if he condemned Putin, he replied: “certainly, obviously. We condemn the war”.

    Too late, buffone. I’m sure he’s not interested in rows about it – would much rather everyone just forget about his love for Putin.

  10. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Poland is ready to immediately transfer all their MIG-29 planes free of charge to the US government as part of a move to give the planes for use by the Ukrainian air force to repel the Russia invasion, the Polish government has announced.

    Poland also said it was asking the United States of America to provide it with used aircraft with similar operational capabilities. Poland is ready to immediately agree on the terms of purchase of these machines.

    The Polish government also asks other NATO countries – owners of MIG-29 planes – to act in a similar way.

    The move follows weeks of backstage negotiations and discussions in London between the Polish prime minister and Boris Johnson

  11. says

    More re #11 from the Guardian liveblog:

    Here’s the full statement from the Polish government following its announcement that it is ready to immediately transfer MIG-29 planes to the US for Ukrainian use:

    The authorities of the Republic of Poland, after consultations between the President and the Goverment, are ready to deploy – immediately and free of charge – all their MIG-29 jets to the Ramstein Air Base and place them at the disposal of the Government of the United States of America.

    At the same time, Poland requests the United States to provide us with used aircraft with corresponding operational capabilities. Poland is ready to immediately establish the conditions of purchase of the planes.

    The Polish Government also requests other NATO Allies – owners of MIG-29 jets – to act in the same vein.

  12. says

    From Laura Rozen’s thread on the Enrique Tarrio conspiracy indictment:

    …On 12/30-31, 2020, Tarrio communicated multiple times with individual known to grand jury. individual sent doc to tarrio 12/30 ‘1776 returns.’ doc set forth plans to occupy a few crucial buildings on jan. 6 incl House & Senate office bldngs with as many people as possible

    48. On jan. 3, 2021, members exchanged messages in (proud boys messaging group) MOSD about attacking the Capitol.

    p. 50: On Jan. 4, Tarrio posted a voice note “…You want to storm the Capitol.”…

  13. says

    Mike Jason, retired from the U.S. Army as a Colonel, now a professor, historian, author, and speech writer:

    “The world, with American leadership, Is trying to choke off an aggressive fascist state without starting WWIII. As a result, gas prices are going to go up. Hell, the price of everything is going to go up.”

    Commentary:

    […] On the surface, this tradeoff seems almost superficial. Bring down an aggressive fascist state without directly engaging the U.S. military, and while doing everything possible to prevent the war from expanding outside it’s current area of conflict? It seems like an easy deal.

    However, as Jason points out, just because it’s a better deal than an actual shooting war between NATO and Russia, doesn’t mean it’s a get-out-of-pain free card. For many people, the increases in costs will hit hard. There are millions of people out there who are always on the brink when it comes to their finances.

    There are also people out there who might have just made a decision—like buying a new truck—which seemed completely reasonable without factoring in a war they didn’t know was coming.

    “First, from my old unit pep talks: ‘don’t be an asshole.’ Now is not the time to make your dig about someone’s pick up truck choice or to be smug about your Tesla. Everything will cost more for everyone. Remember we are all in this together.”

    For better than a decade, oil prices have been remarkably low. After peaking around 2008, at a point when it looked like $100 a barrel and up was the indefinite future, the rapid spread of fracking across the U.S. and around the world brought on a super abundance; a world where oil production has been limited by demand rather than production. In Cheap Oil World, some of the dependencies and decisions that were made seemed entirely reasonable (so long, of course, as the environment, and specifically the critical damage to the climate, weren’t considered).

    But now we’re seeing the price of cheap oil and cheap natural gas. And if we’re not careful, we’ll pay for it in widening divisions in the U.S.

    Link

  14. says

    Former White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said after working under former president Trump it was clear to her he “admired” Russian President Vladimir Putin and his willingness to stifle dissent.

    “I think he feared him. I think the man intimidated him,” Grisham said of Trump and Putin during a Tuesday appearance on “The View.” “I also think he admired him greatly. I think he wanted to be able to kill whoever spoke out against him.” […]

    “He loved the people who could kill anyone, including the press,” Girsham said. “Donald Trump would be 54 feet below ground hiding [if his country was invaded]. And [Ukrainian president] Volodymyr Zelensky is out there fighting for his country.” […]

    Link

  15. says

    An indication of how bonkers the right wing fringe of the Republican Party is:

    Midway through a white nationalist’s conference in Orlando last month, one speaker drew applause calling for gruesome violence against “traitors” after excoriating critics of the “honorable” Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee and proponents of the “bioweapon” coronavirus vaccine.

    “We need to build more gallows,” the speaker said, adding that such a deadly fate would “make an example of these traitors who’ve betrayed our country.”

    The speech via video at the Feb. 25 conference organized by far-right activist Nick Fuentes, who has espoused racist and antisemitic views, wasn’t from another online agitator or fringe radio host.

    Rather, it was delivered by Arizona state Sen. Wendy Rogers, a Republican lawmaker who represents tens of thousands of constituents and has found a rising national profile as a face of the radicalized wing of the GOP.

    Rogers’s trajectory shows the political and financial incentives of going to extremes. After losing her earliest races as a mainstream Republican, she moved farther and farther right until she beat an incumbent by campaigning as the more conservative choice. Now, after a year of fanning bogus allegations about election fraud and other false claims, she is the most successful fundraiser in the Arizona state legislature.

    She raised nearly $2.5 million in 2021, outraising even statewide candidates for governor, attorney general and secretary of state, according to campaign finance records. Nearly $2 million of that money came from small donations from outside Arizona as she traveled the U.S. calling for the 2020 election to be overturned and demanding audits of the vote without credible evidence of fraud.

    While her support for […] Trump’s election falsehoods puts her in line with many Republicans, Rogers has moved unapologetically farther to the edges of American politics: Calling for jailing and executing her political opponents, identifying herself as a member of the Oath Keepers militia group, and attending a conference organized by a group linked to QAnon, the violent anti-government ideology.

    […] “She’s so great,” said Trump, who has endorsed Rogers’s reelection, at an Arizona rally in January. […]

    “I stand with the Christians worldwide not the global bankers who are shoving godlessness and degeneracy in our face,” she wrote on Feb. 27 on Telegram.

    She also has criticized Ukraine’s Jewish president, Volodymyr Zelensky, who has received global acclaim for inspiring his country and refusing to flee in face of death threats. “Zelensky is a globalist puppet for Soros and the Clintons,” she wrote. […]

    Washington Post link

    More at the link.

  16. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    The Coca-cola company is the latest multinational brand to announce that they will also be temporarily suspending all business in Russia, following similar announcements today from McDonald’s and Starbucks….

  17. Trickster Goddess says

    PSA: Simple workaround to read paywalled articles

    With most paywalled articles, the text is actually sent to your browser in the html code but then a script is executed to throw up a blocking banner in front of it. Many browsers (Firefox and MS Edge for certain, probably others) have a built-in function called ‘Reader view’ in Firefox or ‘Immersive reader’ in Edge that displays only the body text of the page, stripping away the headers, sidebars and scripts. This is toggled by pressing F9 or clicking the icon in the right side of the address bar next the the ‘Add to bookmarks’ star.

    When encountering a paywalled article, press F9, then reload the page. You can now read the clear text of the article.

  18. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    PepsiCo Inc, the multinational food, snack, and beverage corporation, has just announced that they will also be suspending all sales in Russia joining a number of Western companies who have announced similar decisions today.

    Trickster Goddess @ #20, thank you! I will try that!

  19. says

    Update to #s 10 and 11 from the Guardian liveblog:

    US Government Rejects Polish Plan

    A Polish plan to provide fighter jets to Ukraine will not go ahead as after the US government described it as “not tenable”.

    Polish foreign minister, Zbigniew Rau, previously said his government was “ready to deploy – immediately and free of charge – all their MiG-29 jets to the Ramstein airbase and place them at the disposal of the government of the United States of America”.

    However the US Department of Defense said the prospect of the jets departing from the base “to fly into airspace that is contested with Russia over Ukraine raises serious concerns for the entire Nato alliance”.

    Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said the plan was “not tenable”.

    “We will continue to consult with Poland and our other Nato allies about this issue and the difficult logistical challenges it presents, but we do not believe Poland’s proposal is a tenable one,” Kirby said.

    I wondered whether this was coming when I read that Victoria Nuland was in a hearing when the announcement came – it seemed like a surprise to the US government.

  20. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Hours after addressing UK parliament, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has posted a new video of a speech welcoming news the US and UK will impose a ban on imports of Russian oil, saying “another petrol station will be found”.

    “Either Russia respects international law and doesn’t wage wars, or it won’t have money to start wars. Another petrol station will be found. But it’s not only about money. Ban on imports of Russian oil to the US will weaken the terrorist state economically, politically, and ideologically as it is about freedom and the future where the whole world is heading.”

    Zelenskiy says there will be a “new Marshall plan for Ukraine”.

    More from the speech:

    “Look, the world doesn’t believe in the future of Russia, doesn’t talk about it. There is not a single word, not a single perspective. They talk about us, they help us. They are ready to help us with reconstruction after the war. It is because everyone saw that for the people, who so heroically defend themselves, ‘after the war’ will come.”

    Elsewhere Zelenskiy goes on to thank Ukraine’s “friends” for their support and calls on others to follow the example set by “the US, UK, EU, Australia, Canada, Japan, and other free countries” before making note of the anti-war protests in Russia.

    “I’m thankful to Russians who support Ukraine and take it to the streets every day and fight for us and themselves. They are fighting for peace. The war has to end. It’s necessary to sit down at the negotiations table but [do it] for honest and substantive talks and in the interest of people, not an old murderous ambition.”

    This is my argument in my many discussions with a friend who’s more pessimistic than I am. People keep talking about how Ukraine is an underdog, which is true, but it’s also a young democracy struggling against a dictatorship. The vast majority of people don’t want to live in Russia. They don’t see that system as the future, as dynamic, as a model to emulate. People recognize such systems as stale and oppressive and not conducive to human flourishing.

  21. Tethys says

    I think drones are a safer strategic choice than putting fighter jets at Rammstein. Wherever they take off from would then become a target.

    The planes could be kept in reserve, without giving Putin any fodder for his claims of western aggression. It’s a short flight from Poland to Kyiv.

  22. tomh says

    Re: #29–Simple workaround to read paywalled articles
    I’ve used this for years and posted it here more than once; it works for the NYT and many other sites, but for some reason doesn’t work for the Washington Post. However, the WaPo often offers a deal of $9.99 for a year.

  23. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Ukraine’s energy minister says Russian military units are “torturing” staff at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant to force them into making a public statement.

    Herman Halushchenko made the allegation in a social media post where he said operating staff had been “held hostage for four days”.

    “There are about 500 Russian soldiers and 50 units of heavy equipment inside the station. The employees of the station are physically and psychologically exhausted,” Halushchenko said….

  24. says

    Michael McFaul just said “I don’t see the difference between a Javelin and a MiG…” I’m open to being convinced, but I tend to agree. IIRC Putin said some statements from the leaders of Baltic nations a few days ago basically amounted to acts of war. Statements! I agree that direct engagement should be avoided to the extent possible, but I don’t think governments should be excessively cautious about supplying aid. Putin isn’t a good-faith actor here, and it’s counterproductive to make choices on the basis of a false belief that he is.

  25. says

    Michael Isikoff:

    7 years ago, Boris Nemtsov, the most popular of Russian oppo leaders, was gunned down on a Moscow bridge, the day before he was to lead a “march for peace” protesting Putin’s first war in Ukraine. The impact of that murder echoes today…

    In the aftermath of the murder, a troll at the shadowy Internet Research Agency, Lyudmila Savchuk, was ordered to churn out messages blaming the crime on “Ukrainian oligarchs.” She refused. “I don’t want to do their dirty work,” she said, adding about Nemtsov’s assassination…

    “It was the moment I realized that they could kill anyone they could kill all of us.” Savchuk turned whistleblower and reached out to a Russian investigative journalist, Andrei @soshnikoff, turning over internal emails & other docs documenting what the IRA was up to…

    using fake names and bots to plant disinformation on social media platforms advancing Putin’s interests and smearing his critics. @soshnikoff exposed the IRA in an independent Russian newspaper, Moi Raion, giving the world the first look at an operation that a year later…

    played a critical role in Russia’s intervention in the 2016 presidential election. As laid out by @DavidCornDC & me in #RussianRoulette, the story by @soshnikoff showed, even under Putin’s authoritarian regime, brave journalists could still challenge the powers that be…

    But all that changed when last week Putin signed a new law making it a crime-punishable by up to 15 years in prison- to publish “false information,” including calling the Ukraine action as a “war.” “It’s Orwellian,” @soshnikoff says on new @SkullduggeryPod explaining why …

    many Russian investigative journalists are fleeing the country. (@soshnikoff left for Prague a year ago.) The result, he explains, the Russian public is being cut off from truthful information about what’s going on in Ukraine which Putin calls a “special operation,” prompting….

    @vbass to ask, will we now have a new edition of Tolstoy’s epic, renamed “Special Operation and Peace.” You can listen to the full episode here… [link at the link]

  26. says

    Rep. Lieu: “Dear @DeptofDefense: Respectfully, your rationale makes no sense. You’re fine with MiGs departing from a Polish base into contested Ukrainian airspace but not from a U.S. base in Germany? All are NATO countries. And it’s Ukrainians who would be flying the jets.

    Just get it done.”

  27. says

    New episode of Fever Dreams – “Trump’s ICE Man Heads To Nazi-Palooza, Feat. Chris Mathias”:

    America First Political Action Conference, a white nationalist event, keeps its location secret, in part to keep the press away. This week’s guest, HuffPost Christopher Mathias, found the location anyway. He joins Fever Dreams to discuss his bizarre conversation with former ICE Director Tom Homan, who was a scheduled AFPAC speaker, but bailed out at the last minute. Elsewhere on the podcast, we check in on Donald Trump and far-right “Boogaloo Boys,” both of which have been daydreaming about conducting bizarre military stunts in Ukraine, like disguising American jets as Chinese and bombing Russia. (Trump’s suggestion.) Later, we visit the right-wing trucker convoy that attempted to encircle D.C. So far, they’re fighting a losing battle against beltway traffic.

  28. says

    New episode of Straight White American Jesus – “Between Heaven and Russia”:

    Why are American Christians rooting for Putin? How did the Russian autocrat become the ideal leader in their eyes? Brad speaks to Dr. Sara Riccard Swartz, an expert on Russian Orthodoxy and American religions, about her brand new book, “Between Heaven and Russia”… Historically a minority immigrant faith in the United States, Russian Orthodoxy is attracting Americans who look to Russian religion and politics for answers to Western secularism and the loss of traditional family values in the face of accelerating progressivism. These converts sought and found a conservatism more authentic than Christian American Republicanism and a nationalism unburdened by the broken promises of American exceptionalism. Ultimately, both converts and the Church that welcomes them deploy the subversive act of adopting the ideals and faith of a foreign power for larger, transnational political ends.

  29. StevoR says

  30. says

    Guardian – “Ukrainian opera director freed in Italy hits out at Russia’s misuse of Interpol”:

    A Ukrainian opera director who was arrested in Italy at Russia’s request has said he hopes to be “the last ever victim of Russian exploitation of Interpol”.

    Yevhen (Eugene) Lavrenchuk, 39, was imprisoned in Naples for more than two months after Russia issued a call for his arrest through Interpol’s “red notice”, an instrument once used to hunt fugitive criminals but which now includes the names of political dissidents.

    Lavrenchuk’s name was later removed from the most-wanted list, with the global police agency telling Russian and Italian authorities in early January that his inclusion was inconsistent with an article in its statute that forbids “any intervention or activities of a political, military, religious or racial character”.

    Russia responded by attempting to secure his arrest and extradition from Italy independently of Interpol, claiming Lavrenchuk had committed financial crimes when he was director of the Polish theatre in Moscow.

    Lavrenchuk left Russia for Ukraine in 2014 in protest at Russia’s annexation of Crimea that year. He said the allegations against him were “completely false” and that he was being persecuted by Russia for publicly voicing his dissent.

    Naples’ court of appeal last week released Lavrenchuk at the request of the Italian justice minister, Marta Cartabia, who said that “in consideration of the dramatic developments concerning Ukraine” Lavrenchuk could be subjected to “treatment contrary to his fundamental rights” if extradited to Russia, owing to the fact that he is Ukrainian and opposed to the Russian president, Vladimir Putin.

    A hearing is due to take place on 17 March at which Lavrenchuk is expected to be informed that the extradition attempt has been rejected….

    More at the link.

  31. says

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

    Guardian journalist Luke Harding reports on comments from the deputy mayor of Mariupol, Sergiy Orlov, who has just been speaking:

    Deputy mayor of #Mariupol Sergiy Orlov has just been speaking. Says city under “continuous Russian shelling”, genocide taking place, 1170 people killed, 47 buried today in a mass grave. No water, heat, power, gas, with residents drinking snow and burning firewood. “It’s medieval”

    Orlov: “Putin is intent on having Ukraine without Ukrainians. It’s pure genocide. The attack being waged by Russia isn’t simply treacherous. It’s a war crime. They are attacking us with aviation, shells, multiple rocket launchers.”

    Orlov says #Russian army has shelled evacuation corridor, mined the road and put in a check point. 200K people desperate to leave, only 2-3K able to get out daily on 21 municipal buses. The others destroyed. Russians deliberately shelling assembly points for those trying to exit

    #Russian soldiers also fire on private cars trying to escape the siege, Orlov says. Not at them but alongside so they are forced to return to #Mariupol. “They are shooting and bombing the humanitarian corridor. That’s the situation,” he says, calling for an immediate no-fly zone

    Orlov says Russian army has destroyed #Mariupol’s maternity hospital number nine, a 600-bed hospital. “It’s been annihilated,” he says. Moscow has also flattened the Azovstal metallurgical factory, which employed 11k people, as well as main admin building…

    US vice-president Kamala Harris is due to arrive in Poland later today to meet with leaders in Warsaw about the Ukraine crisis before travelling on to Bucharest.

    Reuters reports that she will collaborate with Poland and Romania on next steps to respond to Russia’s invasion and to reassure them of Washington’s support….

  32. KG says

    And Putin can always wave the threat of nuclear war. He always has raised that threat, either explicitly or implicitly. For Putin, it’s always 1955.

    However we get through this, the next step is to make sure that no one gets to raise that threat again. – Mark Sumner quoted by Lynna, OM @499 in Older Comments

    The only way to do that is to get rid of all nuclear weapons, everywhere.

  33. says

    Sarah Kendzior:

    “Once the Russians take over, as we saw in Syria and Crimea and Donbas, they create an Orwellian wasteland. Occupied regions in eastern Ukraine are ranked the same as North Korea in terms of how authoritarian they are.” — @AndreaChalupa on @gaslitnation

    “Wherever Russia goes, they bring mass death and terror. If you’re wondering why Zelensky refuses to surrender, it’s because even if he surrenders, there will be mass death and terror anyway. So Ukrainians fight day by day, hoping that the world will support them.

    “This is a fight not only for democracy but for survival. The alternative to fighting is to fall under an Orwellian regime of terror. Ukrainians will fight even to the death to fend that outcome off as long as possible.” — @AndreaChalupa on @gaslitnation

    Gaslit Nation link at the link.

  34. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Russia’s defence ministry has admitted some conscript soldiers are taking part in the Russian invasion of Ukraine – despite multiple denials by its president Vladimir Putin.

    The ministry said some conscripts – soldiers compulsorily drafted into the army – had been taken prisoner by the Ukrainian army.

    We have discovered several facts of the presence of conscripts in units taking part in the special military operation in Ukraine. Practically all such soldiers have been pulled out to Russia.

    Just yesterday, Putin had said Russia will not use any conscript soldiers in Ukraine in a televised message to mark International Women’s Day.

    I emphasize that conscript soldiers are not participating in hostilities and will not participate in them.

    They were shocked – shocked! – to discover they’d been using conscripts in the invasion.

    This was five days ago.

  35. raven says

    Ukraine warns of risk of radiation leak at occupied Chernobyl nuclear plant
    Reuters March 09/2022

    LVIV, Ukraine, March 9 (Reuters) – Ukraine appealed to Russia for a temporary ceasefire on Wednesday to allow repairs to be made to a power line to the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, warning that there could be a radiation leak if the electricity outage continued.

    The problem here is not with the power plants but the spent fuel storage pools.
    There are a lot of spent fuel rods in pools of water that need to be kept cool and under water.

    If there is a radiation leak, who gets the radiation depends on which way the wind is blowing.
    During the original Chernobyl meltdown, it was blowing north and most of the radiation went to Belarus, Russia, and on into Finland and Sweden.

  36. says

    Christo Grozev:

    Last night, on @pevchikh and @Kira_Yarmysh’s talk show I pledged my reputation insisting that Putin lies when he says Russia did not send conscripted soldiers to fight in Ukraine.
    It appears Putin now acknowledged he was “misled”. Maybe we should inform him of other things too?

    Translation of the statement at the link. They’re going to punish the officials responsible for failing to comply with Putin’s instructions, LOL.

  37. says

    From the most recent summary at the Meduza liveblog:

    …The list keeps on growing: The EU will expand its next round of sanctions against Russia to include more oligarchs and officials close to Putin, according to a series of tweets from the French Presidency of the European Council. 160 people will be added to the list of sanctioned individuals, including 146 members of Russia’s federation council, bringing the total number of EU sanctions targets to 862 people and 53 entities. The EU also clarified that the sanctions apply to cryptocurrency as well as traditional currency, addressing a loophole that had concerned some.

    No entry to the Baltics: Estonia is considering stopping visa issuance to Russian citizens. If it does so, it will follow Latvia, Lithuania, and the Czech Republic.

    The truth comes out: Russia’s Defense Ministry officially acknowledged that conscripts had been sent to Ukraine, despite earlier denials from Vladimir Putin. “Unfortunately, it has come to light that conscripts were present in the units of the Russian Armed Forces participating in the special military operation on Ukrainian territory. Almost all of these servicemen have already been withdrawn to Russian territory,” the Ministry said in a statement. They also claimed one Russian unit had been attacked by a Ukrainian territorial defense unit and taken hostage, including several conscripts.

    Finders, keepers: The Russian authorities have recommended receivership as a way to deal with all the foreign companies leaving Russia and ceasing operations there. Alexander Zhukov, the deputy speaker of the Russian parliament’s lower house, announced the bill’s introduction in the State Duma on Wednesday. If the bill passes, companies that are at least 25% owned by citizens of “unfriendly” states would be taken over by a third party. The new management would then have five days to either resume operations or sell their shares. United Russia called this process “the first step to the nationalization” of the property left behind by foreign companies who leave Russia.

  38. says

    Layers of deception: pro-Russian doofuses are now creating fake fact-checking videos in order to spread more disinformation and confusion.

    On March 3, Daniil Bezsonov, an official with the pro-Russian separatist region of Ukraine that styles itself as the Donetsk People’s Republic, tweeted a video that he said revealed “How Ukrainian fakes are made.”

    The clip showed two juxtaposed videos of a huge explosion in an urban area. Russian-language captions claimed that one video had been circulated by Ukrainian propagandists who said it showed a Russian missile strike in Kharkiv, the country’s second-largest city.

    But, as captions in the second video explained, the footage actually showed a deadly arms depot explosion in the same area back in 2017. The message was clear: Don’t trust footage of supposed Russian missile strikes. Ukrainians are spreading lies about what’s really going on, and pro-Russian groups are debunking them. […]

    It seemed like yet another example of useful wartime fact-checking, except for one problem: There’s little to no evidence that the video claiming the explosion was a missile strike ever circulated. Instead, the debunking video itself appears to be part of a novel and disturbing campaign that spreads disinformation by disguising it as fact-checking.

    Researchers at Clemson University’s Media Forensics Hub and ProPublica identified more than a dozen videos that purport to debunk apparently nonexistent Ukrainian fakes. The videos have racked up more than 1 million views across pro-Russian channels on the messaging app Telegram, and have garnered thousands of likes and retweets on Twitter. A screenshot from one of the fake debunking videos was broadcast on Russian state TV, while another was spread by an official Russian government Twitter account.

    The goal of the videos is to inject a sense of doubt among Russian-language audiences as they encounter real images of wrecked Russian military vehicles and the destruction caused by missile and artillery strikes in Ukraine, according to Patrick Warren, an associate professor at Clemson who co-leads the Media Forensics Hub.

    “The reason that it’s so effective is because you don’t actually have to convince someone that it’s true. It’s sufficient to make people uncertain as to what they should trust,” said Warren, who has conducted extensive research into Russian internet trolling and disinformation campaigns. “In a sense they are convincing the viewer that it would be possible for a Ukrainian propaganda bureau to do this sort of thing.”

    […] Media outlets around the world have responded to the onslaught of lies and misinformation by fact-checking and debunking content and claims. The fake fact-check videos capitalize on these efforts to give Russian-speaking viewers the idea that Ukrainians are widely and deliberately circulating false claims about Russian airstrikes and military losses. Transforming debunking into disinformation is a relatively new tactic, one that has not been previously documented during the current conflict.

    […] The videos combine with propaganda on Russian state TV to convince Russians that the “special operation” in Ukraine is proceeding well, and that claims of setbacks or air strikes on civilian areas are a Ukrainian disinformation campaign to undermine Russian confidence.

    […] “It’s very clear that this is targeted at Russian-speaking audiences. They’re trying to make people think that when you see destroyed Russian military hardware, you should be suspicious of that,” Warren said.

    There’s no question that older footage of military vehicles and explosions have circulated with false or misleading claims that connect them to Ukraine. But in the videos identified by Warren, the allegedly Ukrainian-created disinformation does not appear to have circulated prior to Russian-language debunkings.

    […] Tellingly, none of the supposed debunking videos cite a single example of the Ukrainian fakes being shared on social media or elsewhere. Examination of the metadata of two videos found on Telegram appears to provide an explanation for that absence: Whoever created these videos simply duplicated the original footage to create the alleged Ukrainian fake.

    […] Two Russian-language debunking videos contain metadata that shows they were created using the same video file twice — once to show the original footage, and once to falsely claim it circulated as Ukrainian disinformation. Whoever created the video added different captions or visual elements to fabricate the Ukrainian version.

    […] Joan Donovan, the research director of Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, called the videos “low-grade information warfare.” She said they don’t need to spread widely on social media to be effective, since their existence can be cited by major Russian media sources as evidence of Ukraine’s online disinformation campaign.

    “It works in conjunction with state TV […]

    The fake debunking videos have predominantly spread on Russian-language Telegram channels with names like @FAKEcemetary. In recent days they made the leap to other languages and platforms. One video is the subject of a Reddit thread where people debated the veracity of the footage. On Twitter, they are being spread by people who support Russia, and who present the videos as examples of Ukrainian disinformation.

    Francesca Totolo, an Italian writer and supporter of the neo-fascist CasaPound party, recently tweeted the video claiming that a Ukrainian flag had been removed from a military vehicle and replaced with a Russian Z. […]

    Link

  39. says

    Many very serious military analysts have stated from the outset that Russian victory on the conventional battlefield is inevitable, and they have behaved as if everything happening now is simply a prelude to that 10, or 15, or 20 years of smoldering insurgency that they’ve predicted. Some of the most respected voices on the war have even presented a rapid Ukrainian defeat as a good thing.

    Julia Ioffe: “I think the best case scenario is, this sounds horrible, they accomplish what they want to in Ukraine, install a puppet regime, withdraw without occupying it, and scare Ukrainians enough to not have another revolution to bring in a democratic government and keep things calm that way.”

    That’s the “best case scenario” offered up by one of the most experienced and respected voices on Russia and Eastern Europe as presented to Stephen Colbert. Given a second chance, Ioffe amended her statement. “Oh, no, I mean, best, best case scenario is Ukraine wins and drives them back, but…” And here she ends with a grimace, before going on to praise the Ukrainian people for how hard they are fighting for democracy.

    No one can fault Ioffe’s knowledge or insight in this area, but Ukrainians are not laying down their lives with the hope that Russia will simply turn them into a puppet state, without democracy or an ability to defend itself from a bully that can change the arrangement at any time. They’re not watching their cities reduced just so they can spend the next 15 years roaming the woods, hoping to give Russian forces a hot foot. Ukraine is trying to win this thing right now.

    The rest of the world either has to treat that as the desired outcome and send Ukrainians the weapons and materiel they require, or turn its face away. Because tossing Ukraine weapons in the expectation that they’re going to lose is wrong. Horribly wrong. if we really believe that every Stinger and Javelin sent to Ukraine is only extending this phase of an inevitable failure, what we’re doing is nothing less than sickening. If we don’t at least believe the capture of Kyiv is an “if” rather than a “when” then we are monsters not far removed from Putin. […]

    Link

  40. says

    Ukraine has been asking for a no-fly zone. NATO has been unwilling to do so, in part because it would explicitly commit NATO forces to shooting down Russian aircraft, ending any pretense that this was strictly a Russia vs. Ukraine war.

    But also in part because it wouldn’t necessarily help Ukraine against the bigger issue — Russian missiles, more than 500 of which have rained down on Ukrainian cities so far. Those missile launchers are sitting on the ground in Russia and Belarus, pounding positions up to 500 miles away. Going after them would greatly expand the war.

    Stopping them requires special equipment. The U.S. is sending the familiar Patriot anti-missile batteries to both Poland and Slovakia. But these are big, bulky systems with missiles almost 20’ tall, several of which may be needed to stop one incoming missile. Getting them into somewhere like Kyiv and keeping them maintained and supplied seems impossible.

    There’s the Iron Dome system, which is smaller and more portable, but Israel has a veto over its deployment, and they were unwilling to allow it to be sold to Ukraine before the invasion. It’s unclear that, even if they relaxed that refusal now, that the system could be adequately deployed, especially with supply lines into Kyiv coming under more pressure.

    Getting any kind of additional anti-missile system in place beyond the systems Ukraine already has in place is a dilemma. But when it comes to providing something that’s kind of an intermediate to the shoulder-launched weapons that are most effective against helicopters, and a more capable mobile defense battery that can go after more varied aircraft, the U.K. may have something in mind.

    iNews is reporting that the U. K. is considering sending Ukraine their “Starstreak” system. Starstreak is another man-portable air-defense system (MANPADS), but it’s a more capable, more versatile system capable of punching down fighter jets and fast moving craft like a much larger installation.

    “Starstreak’s lightweight 14kg missile has a claimed operational range of more than 7km … It is also reportedly the fastest short-range surface-to-air system in the world, with a peak velocity above Mach 3.”

    That’s a hard thing to outrun. […]

    Link

  41. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Western officials have warned of their “serious concern” that Vladimir Putin could use chemical weapons on Kyiv.

    In an assessment, they say an “utterly horrific” attack on the Ukrainian capital could be unleashed as Russian forces attempt to overcome the logistical issues that have apparently plagued troops headed towards Kyiv.

    One Western official said:

    I think we’ve got good reason to be concerned about possible use of non-conventional weapons, partly because of what we’ve seen has happened in other theatres.

    As I’ve mentioned before, for example, what we’ve seen in Syria, partly because we’ve seen a bit of setting the scene for that in the false flag claims that are coming out, and other indications as well.

    So it’s a serious concern for us.

  42. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    The World Health Organization (WHO) has verified 18 attacks on health care facilities, health workers and ambulances in Ukraine, resulting in 10 deaths and 16 injuries, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

    The WHO chief told a press conference:

    These attacks deprive whole communities of health care.

    Ukraine’s health system was proving “remarkably resilient” but the violence was creating a multipronged health crisis, WHO emergencies director Michael Ryan said.

    Some 1,000 health facilities, including hospitals and health clinics, are situated within 10 kilometres of the frontlines, he said.

  43. says

    Update, including a discussion of oil prices:

    As of noon Eastern Time on Wednesday, oil prices are down nearly $8 a barrel from the close of day on Tuesday. That change essentially undoes increases over the last three days, and shows that U.S. and U.K. restrictions on Russian oil were already largely worked into world prices. Far from predicting $300 / barrel oil, as Russia warned prior to U.S. action, the futures contracts now indicate a steady decline in prices, with prices at the end of the year falling below $90 a barrel. That would put the price of oil back where it was at the beginning of February, weeks before Russia actually invaded. Should prices stay where they are, or continue down, prices at the pump in the U.S. could begin to fall by next week, and the increase in cost of consumer goods can be expected to be more muted than some media analysts have been warning.

    In Europe, and particularly in Germany, Italy, Hungary, and other nations heavily dependent on Russian natural gas, the fiscal impact of the Russian invasion has been much greater. Not only are they seeing the same level of increases in transportation fuel, but natural gas prices have increased sharply—up 79% in the last week alone. Just on Tuesday, prices went up 33% to 285 Euros per megawatt hour. Future contracts for the summer are lower, trading at around 210 Euros, but just last year, the price of natural gas was closer to 15 Euros / megawatt hour. That’s a massive, order of magnitude increase. When it comes to bearing the economic weight of this war, Europe is shouldering a much greater burden than the U.S.

    Then there’s the Middle East. Obviously, many of the countries in the region aren’t hurting for oil or gas, but they do need wheat, and many of them get it from Russia. That includes more than half the wheat coming into Lebanon and two-thirds of what Egypt imports. There are also nations like Saudi Arabia which doesn’t import much Russian wheat, but that’s because they have their own dedicated farms scattered around the world — about a quarter of which are in Ukraine. Considering the past, current, and future behavior of Mohammed bin Jackass, the Saudis don’t actually get a lot of sympathy, but there are a lot of nations where lack of wheat from Russia and Ukraine is going to be a very big deal. […]The Middle East is going to be paying a lot more for bread. So will we.

    But none of these costs come close to the impact that the sanctions are already having in Russia. The average Russian has already seen their life savings reduced in value by over a third, and they are now losing what’s left at a rate of about 10% a day. Russia is headed for what could be the biggest inflation spike in a century. Those old images from Weimar Germany, with people carting around shopping carts full of Marks to bring home a loaf of bread? Russia isn’t quite there, but with the ruble crashing, interest rates doubling, and the cost of every day items going up more in a week than what U.S. media markets just got through wringing their hands over in a year, the biggest damage being done by Russian sanctions is being done … in Russia. Which is good. Because that was the idea.

    Russia’s economy is going to be absolutely pulverized by the sanctions. For Russians, who were already the next-to-poorest nation in terms of individual wealth in all of Europe (exception: Ukraine). The median average wealth by individual in the U.S. was $79,274 in 2021—a number that would put the U.S. near the bottom when matched against E.U. nations—but the median wealth in Russia before the invasion was $5,431. Now, chop off a third, then start squeezing. For the average Russian, this war is going to be the difference between being poor, and being grindingly, horribly impoverished.

    […] As far as Russia is concerned, this already is World War III. As far as the use of nuclear weapons, everyone already has their butt hanging over the line.

    That doesn’t mean “Screw it, let’s just go all in…” It does mean, “Hey, maybe we better think of a way out.” Over the course of the war, Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelenskyy has occasionally stated that he was open to solutions that many in the West might not find great solutions — including deals in which Ukraine would agree not to join NATO, or where some form of autonomy might be given to the regions in eastern Ukraine that Russia declared as tiny “republics.”

    Zelenskyy knows that an end to this — and end that doesn’t involve everyone calculating how many strontium isotopes are in their food for the next three generations — has to be one that doesn’t leave Russia, and specifically Putin, so humiliated that they feel like they are being constantly kicked and laughed at by the rest of the word. What that deal looks like exactly isn’t clear. But someone better work it out before Putin decides that a few tactical nukes aren’t just the message he needs to get people to back down from those sanctions.

    Link

  44. says

    Astronaut Scott Kelly:

    Mr. Medvedev, I am returning to you the Russian medal ‘For Merit in Space Exploration,’ which you presented to me. Please give it to a Russian mother whose son died in this unjust war. I will mail the medal to the Russian embassy in Washington.

  45. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Russian president Vladimir Putin has rejected every off-ramp offered by the US to de-escalate and has, instead, ramped up Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, said US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, reported Reuters.

    “We’ve sought to provide possible off-ramps to President Putin. He’s the only one who can decide whether or not to take them. So far, every time there’s been an opportunity to do just that, he’s pressed the accelerator and continued down this horrific road that he’s been pursuing,” Blinken said at a joint news conference with his British counterpart Liz Truss.

    “He has a clear plan right now to brutalize Ukraine but to what end?” Blinken said, adding that Ukrainians have shown that they would not accept any “puppet regime” that Putin might try to install to replace the elected Ukrainian government.

    “If he tries to enforce such a puppet regime by keeping Russian forces in Ukraine, it will be a long, bloody, drawn-out mess,” Blinken said.

    Senior U.S. defense officials last month assessed that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is designed to ‘decapitate’ Ukraine’s government.

  46. says

    Interesting:

    I spoke this afternoon to a senior European intelligence official. The picture shared about what’s happening in Ukraine differs from U.S. government assessments, especially on Russian losses. So let me present (without commentary) what this source said:

    “From our estimate, the KIA figure on the Russian side was anywhere from 7,000 to 9,000 a few days ago.”

    “Bad morale, lack of manpower” is a huge issue on the Russian side. “They’re calling in reservists, offering money and contracts to people to go fight and, as you’ve seen, relying on conscripts.”

    “It’s not a popular war in the Russian military from what we’ve seen. People are terrorized, threatened with lawsuits if they decline to fight.”

    Anti-armor missiles are “the superstars right now.”

    Ukraine still has “decent air defenses, especially short- to mid- range.”

    One reason why Russian fixed-wing aircraft are being shot down is that “cloudy weather is forcing them to fly at lower altitudes.”

    “Russia doesn’t have the power to keep going like this for very long. Time isn’t on their side, nor do they have a recipe for winning. They can’t win hearts and minds, that’s for sure.”

    In two weeks, Russia has used up “a lot of their precision-guided missiles, a valuable commodity in their arsenal.”

    “As long as the Western resupply channels remain open and Ukraine still fields a decent number of fighters, then they’re OK.”

  47. says

    Meduza – “‘The poorer ones are already starving’ Russian troops have controlled Kherson for a week. Here’s what life is like there now.”:

    Russian troops entered Kherson on March 1. Since then, the southern city has been under their de facto control. Ukrainian politician Ihor Kolykhaiev remains the city’s mayor. He has already been forced to notify residents of the Russian troops’ demands: “walk alone or, at most, in pairs,” “do not provoke the soldiers,” and “stop what you’re doing immediately upon request.” This has not, however, prevented Kherson residents from holding large-scale, pro-Ukrainian rallies. Meduza spoke with Kherson-based journalist Konstantin Ryzhenko about the current state of the city….

  48. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    John Kirby, the Pentagon spokesman, has been talking about the plan to deliver Polish MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine. In short, the plan is off.

    He said the US defence secretary, Lloyd Austin had being talking to his Polish counterpart, and had “stressed that we do not support the transfer of additional fighter aircraft to the Ukrainian Air Force at this time, and therefore had no desire to see them in our custody either.”

    Kirby went through the reasons, the US was against the transfer of combat aircraft.

    “First, we believe the best way to support Ukrainian defense is by providing them the weapons and the systems that they need most to defeat Russian aggression, in particular, anti-armor and air-defense. We, along with other nations, continue to send them these weapons and we know that they’re being used with great effect. The slow Russian advance in the north and the contested airspace over Ukraine is evidence alone of that.”

    “Although Russian air capabilities are significant, their effectiveness has been limited due to Ukrainian strategic operational and tactical ground-based air-defense systems surface to air missiles, and Manpads [shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missiles]. Secondly, the Ukrainian Air Force currently has several squadrons of fully mission capable aircraft. We assess that adding aircraft to the Ukrainian inventory is not likely to significantly change the effectiveness of the Ukrainian Air Force relative to Russian capabilities. Therefore, we believe that the gain from transferring those MIG-29s is low.”

    “Finally, the intelligence community has assessed the transfer of MiG-29s to Ukraine may be mistaken as escalatory and could result in a significant Russian reaction that might increase the prospects of a military escalation with Nato. Therefore, we also assess the transfer of the MiG 29 to Ukraine to be high risk. We also believe that there are alternative options that are much better suited to support the Ukrainian military in their fight against Russia. We will continue to pursue those options.”

  49. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Russian’s delegation at peace talks with Ukraine “will not concede a single negotiating point,” reported a RIA news agency today.

    From Reuters:

    Russia’s delegation at peace talks with Ukraine “will not concede a single negotiating point,” RIA news agency cited negotiator Leonid Slutsky as telling a television station on Wednesday.

    The two sides have carried out three rounds of talks since the start of the Russian invasion. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is scheduled to have talks in Turkey on Thursday with his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba.

  50. says

    Republican politician being even worse than usual:

    * Robert Regan, a Republican candidate who’s likely to soon win a seat in the Michigan state House, said over the weekend that he’s told his daughters to “just lie back and enjoy it” if raped. The Washington Post noted that he made the comments as part of a bizarre analogy about contesting the results of the 2020 election.

    * On a related note, The Detroit Free Press reported that Michigan GOP leaders have denounced Regan’s rhetoric, on this and other matters, state Republican Party Chairman Ron Weiser and others affiliated with the party have not called on Regan to withdraw from an upcoming special state House election.

    Summaries above are from Steve Benen.

    Related links:
    Washington Post link

    Detroit Free Press link. A photo of the smiling white guy asshole is available at the link.

  51. says

    Followup to comment 63, regarding Robert Regan:

    During an appearance Sunday on a livestream hosted by Coalition to Rescue Michigan, Robert Regan, who last week won the GOP’s special primary for Michigan’s 74th district, suggested the Biden administration has been weak, contributing to the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.

    “Everybody knows how weak we are. Putin is a tyrant. Putin is KGB. We all know who he is. He understands the United States cannot be trusted to protect him against corrupt Ukraine, the money laundering capitol of the world, human and drug trafficking,” Regan said during the stream.

    “Putin said, ‘I have to protect my country, have to protect my children.’ I can’t count on the United States. So what he did, he took some proactive action. He went in Ukraine, knocked out the bio labs, knocked out the missile sites so he can protect his people, which was all a direct reflection on a weak president,” Regan added.
    [See comment 8 for the stupid “biolab” conspiracy theory to which Regan referred.]

    Asked by the NBC affiliate about his Putin comments, Regan backtracked his initial response

    “I would not say that I specifically support the activities of Vladimir Putin,” Regan said. “All I was trying to suggest is when I see someone like George Soros say we absolutely need to support Ukraine and I see all of the news media jump on board and say, ‘We all need to get behind Ukraine and condemn Putin,’ we’ve just been lied to for the last two years.”

    Regan, a local entrepreneur, also used a rape analogy when discussing his beliefs that the 2020 presidential election should be decertified.

    “You know that’s kind of like having three daughters and I tell my daughters, well, if rape is inevitable, you should just lie back and enjoy it. That’s not how we roll. That’s not how I won this election,” Regan said on the live stream.

    Regan later clarified that he would never say such a thing to his daughters, according to the NBC affiliate.

    “And my comment was, listen, you would never say something like that to a woman,” Regan said. “I have three daughters and I would never say that if rape is inevitable you should just lie back and enjoy it. I mean, that’s horrible. Nobody agrees with that.”

    Regan’s remarks come two years after his daughter, Stephanie, urged local voters to not elect her father during a previous House run.

    “If you’re in Michigan and 18+ pls for the love of god do not vote for my dad for state rep. Tell everyone,” Regan wrote in her Twitter post.

    Link

  52. says

    Wonkette:

    Former attorney general Bill Barr is currently on a rehabilitation tour where he peddles his new crap book, as well as the farcical notion that he isn’t complete garbage.

    […] Barr described the “unsettling moment” when he had to inform President Whiny Baby that he’d lost the election. By the way, Barr was the attorney general, not Trump’s campaign manager or grief counselor. Trump was already trying to stage a coup with obvious lies about “election fraud,” and Barr had to tell him the gig was up.

    BARR: I went in to talk to the president about the election and uh uh, he was livid and shaking, showed a lot of temper and yelling. That was a little unsettling.

    “Unsettling” is apparently Barr’s polite euphemism for “batshit.”

    BARR: But the other thing that was actually unsettling was later when I went in to actually give him my letter of resignation, he started talking about how he had actually won the election and how the machines were rigged and that he was actually going to be there for another term. And he was very confident of that. And I just felt this showed a detachment from reality that was stunning to me. He was willing to accept anything, no matter how fanciful, as long as it didn’t make him a loser in the election.

    Then the nation’s chief law enforcement officer peaced out and left an obvious gibbering maniac in the Oval Office.

    Barr’s ass-kissing resignation letter reads as if he’s trying to match Trump with paranoid delusional fantasies. He claims that Trump graciously reached out to his political opponents in his 2016 victory speech but was met instead with “a partisan onslaught against you in which no tactic, no matter how abusive and deceitful, was out of bounds.” Barr ignores Trump’s deranged “American carnage” inauguration address, which George W. Bush succinctly described as “some weird shit.”

    It’s also hard to believe that Trump’s infantile tantrums shocked Barr. After Trump’s first attorney general Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation, Trump privately tormented and publicly tore down the Confederate monument. Barr’s incredibly naive if he assumed they’d have a better working relationship. Like so many other self-proclaimed “adults in the room,” Barr thought he could manage Trump and advance his own rightwing agenda. You’d think all these supposed religious conservatives would recognize the proverb about “sowing the wind and reaping the whirlwind.”

    BARR: The truth is [Trump] lost the election. I understand a lot of these very sensational stories come out online and in social media but they’re simply not accurate.

    And this is who Barr would vote for again. […] Meanwhile, Barr did absolutely nothing to prevent Trump’s attempted coup. He needs to stop already with these self-serving interviews. No one’s buying what he’s selling.

  53. says

    There are 2 stories on TV right now. One is about the grotesque shelling of civilian hospitals in Ukraine and the massive refugee crisis.The other is about the immense pain and suffering of Americans dealing with the horrors of rising gas prices. Each is equally tragic apparently”

    I think it was on CNN the other day when they went to a correspondent in Los Angeles who talked about how some are having to resort to “rationing” gas – not governments but individual people, making fewer trips and combining several errands to use less. Like, WTF? Imagine how wasteful they must be ordinarily!

  54. says

    Jen Psaki:

    We took note of Russia’s false claims about alleged U.S. biological weapons labs and chemical weapons development in Ukraine. We’ve also seen Chinese officials echo these conspiracy theories.

    This is preposterous. It’s the kind of disinformation operation we’ve seen repeatedly from the Russians over the years in Ukraine and in other countries, which have been debunked, and an example of the types of false pretexts we have been warning the Russians would invent.

    The United States is in full compliance with its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Biological Weapons Convention and does not develop or possess such weapons anywhere.

    It’s Russia that has a long and well-documented track record of using chemical weapons, including in attempted assassinations and poisoning of Putin’s political enemies like Alexey Navalny.

    It’s Russia that continues to support the Assad regime in Syria, which has repeatedly used chemical weapons. It’s Russia that has long maintained a biological weapons program in violation of international law.

    Also, Russia has a track record of accusing the West of the very violations that Russia itself is perpetrating. In December, Russia falsely accused the U.S. of deploying contractors with chemical weapons in Ukraine.

    This is all an obvious ploy by Russia to try to try to justify its further premeditated, unprovoked, and unjustified attack on Ukraine.

    Now that Russia has made these false claims, and China has seemingly endorsed this propaganda, we should all be on the lookout for Russia to possibly use chemical or biological weapons in Ukraine, or to create a false flag operation using them. It’s a clear pattern.

  55. says

    Jake Tapper:

    Reminder: In 2019 a NYT investigation found that the Russians had bombed 4 hospitals within 12 hours in Syria.

    Last year, Physicians for Human Rights looked at the campaign by Assad/Putin to bomb Syrian hospitals — over 10 years, 600 attacks on at least 350 separate medical facilities, at least 930 medical personnel killed…

  56. Trickster Goddess says

    Re #25 tomh:

    Re: #20–Simple workaround to read paywalled articles

    I’ve used this for years and posted it here more than once; it works for the NYT and many other sites, but for some reason doesn’t work for the Washington Post. However, the WaPo often offers a deal of $9.99 for a year.

    It does work on the Post, but the trick there is to hit F9 while the page is still loading. But good on you for supporting journalism with your subscription.

  57. Pierce R. Butler says

    South Korea has elected a new president (to take office in May).

    Yoon Suk Yeol, a conservative former top prosecutor and foreign policy neophyte, was elected South Korea’s new president on Thursday, a win expected to herald Seoul’s drive to seek a stronger alliance with the United States and take a tougher line on North Korea. … Wednesday’s election boiled down to a two-way showdown between Yoon and Lee, who spent months slamming, mocking and demonizing each other in one of the most bitter political campaigns in recent memory. Their fighting has aggravated the country’s already severe domestic divisions …

    … Yoon was accused of stoking gender animosities by adopting a Trump-like brand of divisive identity politics that spoke almost exclusively to men. He vowed to abolish the country’s Gender Equality and Family Ministry in an apparent bid to win the votes of young men who decry gender equality policies and the loss of traditional privileges in a hyper-competitive job market.

    [sigh] [groan]

  58. says

    NBC News:

    Amazon halted retail shipments to customers located in Russia and Belarus on Tuesday as part of its ongoing opposition to the invasion of Ukraine. The e-commerce giant also suspended Russian access to its streaming service, Prime Video, and will not be accepting any additional AWS customers or third-party sellers based out of either Russia or Belarus.

  59. says

    NBC News:

    A New York state judge on Tuesday said Smartmatic can pursue its $2.7 billion defamation lawsuit claiming that Fox News Network, Rudolph Giuliani and others falsely accused the electronic voting systems maker of helping rig the 2020 U.S. presidential election to favor Democrat Joe Biden.

  60. says

    “Son in Ukraine: My dad in Russia doesn’t believe we’re being bombed.”

    4-minute YT video at the link. This is a CNN interview from earlier today, but he was just on with Lawrence O’Donnell on MSNBC. His name is Misha Katsurin, and he and others have started a site to help others in Ukraine – he says they have 11 million relatives in Russia – to talk to their families and help them to overcome two decades of propaganda and understand the reality of what’s happening in Ukraine.

    It occurs to me how similar this is to the situation with COVID/vaccine denialists, whose views are so twisted by disinformation (some of that is a product of Russia as well) that it’s hard for them to appreciate risk or how they might be endangering themselves and others. (And that death toll grinds on: COVID killed 1,575 in the US yesterday; it officially killed 637 in Russia, but the reality is likely closer to the US number.) Given the shared message of Russian state TV and Fox “News,” it’s essentially the same propaganda bubble.

  61. says

    Maria Butina is now a propaganda doll. Pull her string and she spouts Kremlin propaganda.

    […] Convicted Russian spy Maria Butina just did a bizarre and rather concerning interview with the BBC in which she argued that Ukraine is “bombing” its own civilians and pushed Kremlin talking points that President Vlodymyr Zelensky, a Jewish descendant of Holocaust survivors, is a Nazi.

    The interview honestly sounds like a confused hostage video. I’ll get into the details more below. But since serving 15 months in U.S. prisons after being convicted of working as an unregistered foreign agent — for attempting to infiltrate the National Rifle Association and after admitting to helping set up a Russian backchannel for conservative strategists ahead of the 2016 election — Butina returned to Russia in 2019. And she’s a politician now — apparently a fairly successful one. Butina became a member of the Russian parliament’s lower chamber in 2021 and has batted away accusations that President Putin helped hand her the position as a “reward” for her criminal endeavors in the U.S.

    “It’s not a reward,” she told the New York Times in November 2021. “I wasn’t a spy. I wasn’t working for the government. I was just a civilian.”

    Since joining Russia’s parliament, Butina has used her platform to “to cast herself as an expert on both America and penal systems,” in the Times words. She also reportedly had a hand in writing President Putin’s recent media censorship law — the very law that prompted the New York Times and other Western media outlets to pull their correspondents out of Russia in recent days. The law essentially criminalizes any reporting on Russia’s war on Ukraine that veers from the Kremlin’s framing of events, with penalties of up to 15 years in prison.

    […] in the interview published today she argued that she hasn’t seen any evidence that suggests Russia is bombing Ukrainian civilians despite an ongoing onslaught of photo and video evidence, much of it verified by government and independent experts, and media reports from journalists in Ukraine that very much prove otherwise.

    “We have tons of evidence Russian army does not bomb civilian population. … We just don’t do it,” she said. “Russians just don’t do it.”

    “Russia is not bombing civilians, Russian military troops actually having humanitarian corridors,” she said, adding that, “In my region, we helped people evacuating from Donbas.”

    The BBC interviewer pushed back, asking Butina if she actually believes that Ukraine is, in fact, bombing and killing its own people. “I hope not … I hope no one in the world can bomb their own population,” she responded, before arguing that “according to his actions,” Zelensky is “absolutely” a Nazi.

    “You know I do believe that Nazism is not about just one nation, it’s about killing, murdering, torturing, alienation, based on their race, their gender, their nationality, country of origin and what we see today,” she said.

    Both arguments have clear ties to the Kremlin’s official defense of its bloody actions in Ukraine. In the days and hours before declaring war on the country two weeks ago, Putin justified the offensive by arguing he was working to “denazify” the Ukrainian government — an addled claim for numerous reasons, including, most obviously, Zelensky’s heritage.

    While it is unclear why or how Butina believes that Russia is not the nation responsible for bombing cities in Ukraine, her statement mimics Putin’s initial claims about the invasion, and similar claims echoed by others in his government about a Ukraine-orchestrated “genocide.” Following its first attacks on the country late last month, Russia’s defense ministry claimed the Russian military had no intentions of targeting Ukrainian cities or civilians. That argument has, of course, proven to be as false as the rest of the country’s propaganda.

    Link

  62. StevoR says

    ^ Stole from, plundered are still stealing from.

    Including stealing their people and using them as slaves to build America on their backs and with their imported tears, sweat and blood. The Black Man’s Burden? (To allude to the racist old Kipling poem.)

    Also read Dr Susan George’s A Fate Worse than Debt’

  63. blf says

    Here in France, übernazi Éric Zemmour, who, in part due to his hair furor-like fawning over Putin is now having a very hard time of it, demonstrates yet again just how evil he is, (the headline is rather misleading so I’ve added corrections) French far-right candidate Zemmour says [very few] Ukrainians welcome, but not [any Muslim or] Arab refugees:

    French far-right presidential contender Éric Zemmour, on the back foot over past support for Russian President Vladimir Putin, says Ukrainians with family links to France should be given visas, unlike those fleeing conflicts in Arab Muslim nations.

    Zemmour warned[snarled] on Tuesday that an “emotional response” risked unleashing a flood of refugees across Europe after the European Union agreed to give Ukrainians who flee the war the right to stay and work in the 27-nation bloc for up to three years.

    […]

    Zemmour applauded Britain’s more stringent approach. Britain on Monday rejected calls to ease visa requirements for Ukrainian refugees.

    Teh “U”K is only allowing in Ukrainians with a visa who have family members already in teh “U”K (or something like that), making it exceptionally hard for those qualifying to obtain a visa (including making applicants stand outside in freezing cold for hours), and then, in some cases, preventing people with a valid visa form entering.

    Teh “U”K is also pissing off the Irish (always a bad idea!). Ireland, as part of the EU, has granted visa-free access and the right to stay and work (in line with EU policy). So teh “U”K’s government is freaking out: Due to the essentially completely open land boarder with N.Ireland (part of teh “U”K), that means some people might go to N.Ireland and from there sneak into Britain, and and and… can’t be having that, such people are refugees, not the Russian owners of both Londongrad and teh Boris’ “government”.

    Last figure I saw, teh “U”K had allowed in around 400 — that’s not a typo, just four hundred — Ukrainian refugees; Ireland has already over 2,000, apparently many of them children. As Ukrainians arrive in Ireland (mostly(?) at Dublin airport), they are being giving social security numbers, medical cards, etc., apparently including SIM cards, and being housed in the homes of volunteers.

    Back to the French überkook:

    [… He also bellowed in a cloud of spittle] it was acceptable to have different rules for would-be asylum seekers from Europe and those from Arab Muslim nations.

    The Ukraine refugees are not being treated as asylum seekers, nor are they being required to apply for asylum (under the EU scheme).

    […]
    It’s a question of assimilation, Zemmour said[burbled with his eyes spinning and foam dripping from his mouth]. There are people who are like us and people who unlike us. Everybody now understands that Arab or Muslim immigrants are too unlike us and that it is harder and harder to integrate them.

    […]

    Europe[The EU]’s open-arm welcome to fleeing Ukrainians contrasts with the reluctance to accept large numbers of refugees from conflicts in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, with some Arab refugees complaining of double standards.

  64. StevoR says

    ”Trapped in Idlib’ (Syria under attack from RuSSia & its other puppet dictator) Extremely powerful viewing on ABC’s Foreign Correpondent tonight. Can be watched (I hope?) here. WARNING : Confronting potentially distressing material, war, aftermathof war, pain, grief, human misery.

    https://www.abc.net.au/foreign/trapped-in-idlib/13790990

    30 minutes long. There’s a transcript there too. Syrians in their own words and with a reporter from the country.

  65. says

    Yahoo! – “Trump’s PAC is fundraising for a new ‘Trump Force One’ jet after a plane he was traveling in was forced to make an emergency landing this past weekend”:

    Former President Donald Trump is fundraising for a new “Trump Force One” airplane [after] a private jet he was traveling in was forced to make an emergency landing this weekend.

    The Trump Save America PAC sent an email on Wednesday titled “Update: Trump Force One,” touting a reveal of a new Trump plane.

    Trump’s PAC sent the message just hours after news broke that a plane Trump was traveling in was forced to make an emergency landing in New Orleans shortly after takeoff on Saturday after one of its engines failed. According to the Washington Post, the plane belonged to a GOP donor. Trump hitched a ride back to his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida on a GOP donor’s jet, Politico reported.

    The fundraising email said Trump had “a very important update on his plane.” It urged potential donors to recall how Trump used to travel the country in his own “Trump Force One” before he became “the greatest President of all time.”

    The email included an animated, looped GIF of a plane taking off, along with the words “Do you want to see President Trump’s new plane?” The link, however, goes to a site calling for monthly recurring donations of up to $2,500 a month.

    “I need to trust that you won’t share it with anyone: my team is building a BRAND NEW Trump Force One,” said the message signed by Trump.

    “The construction of this plane has been under wraps — not even the fake news media knows about it — and I can’t wait to unveil it for everyone to see,” it continued.

    Emails to Trump’s press office were not immediately returned….

  66. says

    Here’s a link to today’s Guardian (support them if you can!) Ukraine liveblog. From there:

    Dramatic drone footage is circulating this morning of a Ukrainian ambush on a column of Russian tanks just outside Brovary, in a location around 35km direct drive away from the centre of Kyiv, Dan Sabbagh writes.

    Bellingcat, the specialist open source investigators, said they had geolocated the video, to a lightly inhabited area on the E95 road heading towards Kyiv – a direct route to the east of the capital where Russian forces are trying to mass.

    [here’s the video from Bellingcat on Twitter; pretty sure I heard “Bayraktar” near the end]

    The well produced 45 second video circulating is a montage of the fighting on the road, with audio that appears to be a Russian commander reporting the attack to his superiors and the death of a regiment leader. That could also suggest the battle filmed did not take place today.

    One Russian military expert who reviewed the video, Rob Lee, a former US marine and PhD student at King’s College London, said he thought this displayed “very poor tactics” on the part of the Russians, with a force clearly positioned “on an obvious avenue of approach”.

  67. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    The Hermitage museum in St Petersburg has demanded the return of art works loaned to Italy from its collection as the consequences of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and sanctions hit the culture sector, Angela Giuffrida reports.

    The Russian state museum, one of the oldest and largest in the world, has asked for pieces currently on display at exhibitions in Milan to be returned by the end of March….

    Ukraine is investigating 38 cases of alleged treason against local officials and law enforcement officers accused of aiding Russia, Ukraine’s state bureau of investigation said.

    Criminal proceedings have been launched against several police officers in the Ukrainian cities of Mariupol and Kherson….

    From their most recent summary:

    The British home secretary has pledged to streamline the online visa application system for Ukrainians following heavy criticism of her response to the crisis. Priti Patel said that from Tuesday, Ukrainian refugees will no longer have to go to a visa application centre to provide their biometrics before coming to the UK.

    A humanitarian convoy trying to reach Mariupol today has been forced to turn around due to fighting, Reuters reports the Ukrainian deputy prime minister has said.

    A meeting between the Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers, Sergei Lavrov and Dmytro Kuleba, in Turkey ended with little progress appearing to have been made. In a news conference afterwards, Reuters reports that Kuleba said that no progress was made on a ceasefire and that Lavrov did not commit to a humanitarian corridor in Mariupol, where he said the situation was most difficult.

    The US vice-president, Kamala Harris, says she will discuss issues with Poland that will force Russia to pay a price for its invasion on Ukraine, reports Reuters. Speaking today during a visit to Warsaw, she also said that Poland was doing “extraordinary work” to help Ukrainian refugees.

    An airstrike on a hospital in Mariupol yesterday killed three people, including a child, the city council said today, reports the Associated Press. The attack wounded 17 people in the besieged port city, including women waiting to give birth, doctors and children.

    More than 2.3 million people have fled Ukraine so far since the start of the Russian invasion two weeks ago, the UN said today. The UN migration agency said that of those who have been forced to take refuge in neighbouring countries, 112,000 people are third-country nationals.

    The UK has frozen the assets of seven Russian businessmen including Roman Abramovich, Igor Sechin, Oleg Deripaska and Dmitri Lebedev after they were added to the country’s sanctions list, reports Reuters. Abramovich is the owner of Chelsea Football Club, Deripaska has stakes in En+ Group, Sechin is the chief executive of Rosneft and Lebedev is chairman of the board of directors of Bank Rossiya.

    Russia’s foreign ministry has said they will no longer participate in the Council of Europe, the continent’s leading human rights organisation founded in response to the humanitarian outrages of the second world war….

  68. says

    CNN – “China’s promotion of Russian disinformation indicates where its loyalties lie”:

    In public statements and at international summits, Chinese officials have attempted to stake out a seemingly neutral position on the war in Ukraine, neither condemning Russian actions nor ruling out the possibility Beijing could act as a mediator in a push for peace.

    But while its international messaging has kept many guessing as to Beijing’s true intentions, much of its domestic media coverage of Russia’s invasion tells a wholly different story.

    There, an alternate reality is playing out for China’s 1.4 billion people, one in which the invasion is nothing more than a “special military operation,” according to its national broadcaster CCTV; the United States may be funding a biological weapons program in Ukraine, and Russian President Vladimir Putin is a victim standing up for a beleaguered Russia.

    To tell that story, major state-run news media outlets — which dominate China’s highly censored media space — have been largely echoing Russian state media stories or information from Russian officials.
    A CNN analysis reviewed nearly 5,000 social media posts from 14 Chinese state media outlets during the first eight days of Russia’s invasion posted onto China’s Twitter-like platform, Weibo. The analysis found that of the more than 300 most-shared posts about the events in Ukraine — which were each shared more than 1,000 times — almost half, about 140, were what CNN classified as distinctly pro-Russian, often containing information attributed to a Russian official or picked up directly from Russia’s state media.

    The analysis, which focused on stories that got the most play on social media, may not be representative of all posts shared by state media outlets on Weibo. But it provides a snapshot of the state media-produced information that is most visible to the more than half a billion monthly users on the popular platform.

    It’s not clear the extent to which these posts may be explicitly the result of a coordinated propaganda campaign between the two countries, but it is consistent with an ongoing pattern in which Russian and Chinese media have amplified and reinforced their often-interchangeable talking points on issues such as the treatment of Russian dissidents, Hong Kong pro-democracy protests, the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic, or the supposed American role in fomenting “color revolutions” against authoritarian regimes.

    Such mutual reinforcement has also spilled over into the extensive overseas and English-language propaganda operations that both countries have built to promote their views globally — a route made more important with Russia’s state media outlets being banned on air and online in parts of the West.

    In China’s top-down government-controlled media environment, all state-affiliated content is vetted and issued in accordance with government directives. That China has chosen to follow Russia’s lead in deliberately mischaracterizing the war only serves to underline Beijing’s closeness to Moscow — and almost makes a mockery of China’s self-proclaimed impartiality in helping to engage with Russia and bring an end to the violence.

    Another sign of this has been which voices have been allowed to thrive on China’s heavily censored social media platforms in the wake of the invasion. There, pro-Russia and anti-Western, nationalistic voices have also dominated, while there has been a suppression of pro-Ukrainian or anti-war messages on platforms and across the media landscape.

    One glaring example came Friday, when CCTV broadcast a speech from International Paralympic Committee President Andrew Parsons, at the opening ceremony of the Beijing Paralympic Games, in which many parts of the speech were muffled and were not translated.

    The offending context? Parsons’ “message of peace,” in which he did not name Russia or Ukraine but said he was “horrified at what is taking place in the world.”

    Those voices from within China who have tried to speak up — including five history professors who penned an open letter voicing their strong opposition to “Russia’s war against Ukraine” — have seen their posts swiftly deleted or social accounts suspended.

    A number of content-sharing arrangements exist between Chinese and Russian media outlets, and the shared vision is clear: these outlets together can “break the monopoly of Western media,” as a Global Times report on a China-Russia media forum in 2015 put it.

    Fast-forward to the crisis in Ukraine and the upside of that collaboration, for one partner anyway, is clear.
    In the European Union, Kremlin-backed media outlets RT and Sputnik were officially banned as of last Wednesday, with companies like Meta, parent of Facebook and Instagram, and Google’s YouTube stepping in to block their content.

    But, on China’s channels like CGTN and Global Times, which continue to operate, those Russian talking points are still getting through.

    Already this week, posts from those accounts have suggested Ukraine and the US have pro-Nazi leanings, repeated Russian misinformation on the laboratories, and cited Russia denying that it plans to overthrow the existing government in its “special military operation” in Ukraine.

    Much more at the link.

  69. blf says

    Beyond the smoke screen it’s business as usual in Russia for British American Tobacco [(BAT)]:

    A BAT statement strained to create the impression of change, but any specific action was lost in a fog of corporate-speak

    If you are a member of the board of British American Tobacco, courting popularity was probably never a top personal priority. Even so, the people overseeing a large and widely held FTSE 100 company may still feel obliged to explain why, amid the broad boycott of Russia by multinationals, they think it’s fine to carry on business in the country roughly as normal.

    A statement attributed by BAT to “a spokesperson” strained to create the impression of change, but any specific action was lost in a fog of corporate-speak. Suspending an unspecified sum of capital expenditure, rationalising marketing activities and scaling our business activities appropriate to the current situation commits the company to very little. BAT’s bottom line is this: “Our business in Russia continues to operate.”

    In other words, a large factory in St Petersburg will keep producing [multiple brands of death sticks], and a head office in Moscow, plus 75 regional offices, will continue to distribute. BAT accounts for about a quarter of the cigarette market in Russia.

    Naturally, BAT included a line about its “duty of care” to 2,500 local employees. But other large companies selling consumer inessentials have concluded that their equivalent duties are best fulfilled by suspending operations while continuing to pay the workers. What they want to avoid is paying tax revenues to Putin’s regime. And remember, in the tobacco industry, excise revenues also apply.

    The FTSE 100’s other [death stick] merchant, Imperial Brands, with 1,000 local employees, has opted for a clear suspension of activities. Unlike BAT, Imperial is halting production in its Russian factory and is stopping all sales and marketing. It is not messing about with “rationalising” and “scaling”.

    One can only conclude that BAT (corporate slogan: building a better tomorrow) cares less about its contribution to Putin’s coffers. […]

  70. says

    Russia just threatened to attack the world’s civilian airports in other transportation infrastructure in retaliation for arming Ukraine’s defense.

    The Russian MFA tweeted:

    Maria #Zakharova: We call on #EU & #NATO countries to stop the thoughtless flooding of the unviable #Kiev regime with the latest weapons systems in order to avoid enormous risk to intl civilian aviation & other means of transport in Europe & beyond.

  71. blf says

    Riga (Latvia) and Vilnius (Lithuania) have just nicely snarked Putin, Lithuania names road leading to Russian embassy “Ukrainian Heroes’ Street” (‘Latvia has also changed the Russian embassy’s address, to “Independent Ukraine Street”):

    […]
    “From today, the business card of every employee of the Russian embassy will be decorated with a note honouring Ukraine’s fighting, and everyone will have to think about the atrocities of the Russian regime against the peaceful Ukrainian nation when writing this street name,” Vilnius mayor Remigijus Simasius claimed in a statement.

    […]

    Simasius had announced the move last week and on Wednesday workers put up two new street plates with the name in Lithuanian and Ukrainian.

    This is not the first time Vilnius has used signs and symbols to get its point across to Russia.

    In 2018, the city renamed a square outside the embassy after Boris Nemtsov, a prominent opposition figure gunned down near the Kremlin by unknown assailants.
    […]

    The portion of Wisconsin Ave in front of the Russian embassy in DC was also renamed Boris Nemtsov Plaza.

  72. says

    War criminal:

    “Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Russia did not attack Ukraine and does not plan to attack other countries.”

    Asked how Russia can justify bombing a maternity ward, Lavrov says it’s “not the first time we see pathetic outcries concerning the so-called atrocities perpetrated by the Russian military” & that public opinion is manipulated by “very emotional” reports

    Lavrov says the Russian delegation told the UN security council three days ago that the hospital had been “taken over” by Ukrainian radicals and “all the mothers and nurses were chased out of there”. (Clearly not the case)

  73. blf says

    Michael Flynn Falsely Claims the Word ‘Creator’ Appears in the Constitution Four Times (RWW edits in {curly braces}):

    […]
    Flynn […] has endorsed [MAGA pastor Jackson] Lahmeyer, a fellow right-wing conspiracy theorist, in his bid to unseat Sen James Lankford in the [Oklahoma] Republican[thug] primary. On Saturday, he used his time at Lahmeyer’s campaign rally to deliver a rambling speech insisting that this nation is locked in a spiritual war against the likes of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — who he called a demon — and therefore needs elected leaders[kooks] like Lahmeyer who realize that the rights enshrined in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights come from God. [no, this is not The Onion! –blf]

    “Democracy is always a fragile type,” [an actual true statement (only one quoted, wouldn’t make a very entertaining drinkingcheese game) –blf] Flynn said. You read the Federalist Papers, you read {the Founder’s} writings — because this is all about the people that we’re talking about tonight running for office, and others that are out there — you read all these things, you study the history of this country, you study how it was founded. That’s why the word ‘Creator’ is in the Constitution four times. ‘We are endowed by our Creator.’

    [… T]he word “Creator” appears zero times in the Constitution. The phrase “endowed by their Creator” actually appears in the Declaration of Independence.

    In fact, the word “create” appears only once, as “created”, in section 6, where serving Senators and Represenatives are prohibited from also holding a civil service or similar position. (I didn’t check any of the amendments.)

    But Flynn wasn’t done.

    When you go home, look at the Bill of Rights and lay the Ten Commandments right down next to them, Flynn continued. Put them right next to each other, and you’ll get a sense of how they developed the Bill of Rights. The rights that the Creator gave us. These are God-given rights; these are not man-given rights.

    Then you take two other documents, our Constitution and for those who study the Bible, and you look at those two documents because there’s so much {in common}, Flynn added. The Constitution and the Bible, those two documents are the fulfillment of the promises in the Bill of Rights and the Ten Commandments. That is what gives us our ability to be able to be this free, just unbelievable country that we are.

    Off the top of my head, the only thing I can think of which is, loosely speaking, “common” with teh babliel is slavery, supporting it but (at least with the KJV) being quite coy about describing or naming it: other persons and maidservant / manservant.

  74. says

    From the most recent summary at the Meduza liveblog (link @ #44):

    No more YouTube monetization: YouTube has suspended monetization for all creators based in Russia, including revenue streams linked to YouTube Premium and YouTube Music subscriptions, sponsorship, “Super Chat,” “Super Stickers,” and merch sales. The service previously disabled showing ads to users in Russia. YouTube has served as a major platform for independent content in Russia, with vloggers like Yury Dud gaining tens of millions of views per video. Google also informed Android users that paid apps and games will soon become unavailable in Russia on the Google Play store due to problems with the existing payment system.

    The president cannot be deplatformed: Russia’s federal media regulator has ordered TikTok to unblock a video address from Vladimir Putin. (The agency has not specified publicly which video it means.) Roskomnadzor says TikTok has restricted access to “the video” for foreign users.

    Top secret bat experiments: Russia’s Defense Ministry has accused Ukraine of accepting U.S. funding to create and develop biolabs that it then used to conduct experiments on coronavirus samples from bats. On behalf of the Pentagon, Ukrainian scientists were studying mechanisms for the covert spread of deadly pathogens, claims Moscow, vowing to present “documents” to prove its outlandish allegations. White House spokesperson Jen Psaki has warned that Russian allegations about supposed U.S. biological weapons labs in Ukraine mean “we should all be on the lookout for Russia to possibly use chemical or biological weapons in Ukraine, or to create a false flag operation using them.”

    Et tu, Brute? Chinese smartphone manufacturers Xiaomi, Oppo, and Huawei have cut shipments to Russia by at least half, due to international sanctions and the ruble’s devaluation. Their products currently make up about 60 percent of Russia’s smartphone market.

    How to seize an industry: Following through on legislators’ calls for the nationalization of property owned by foreign companies leaving Russia due to the war in Ukraine, the Economic Development Ministry has drafted a bill that would entrust management of these seized assets to the VEB[dot]RF state development corporation and to Russia’s Deposit Insurance Agency. It would be these organizations’ job to “repackage” seized businesses into new entities and then sell them at public auction. If no suitable buyer can be found, the state itself would act as the buyer. Separately, a consumer rights group has petitioned the federal government cabinet and the Attorney General’s Office with a list of roughly 60 foreign companies whose property in Russia should be nationalized, the group says. The list includes corporate giants like Apple, IKEA, Microsoft, IBM, Shell, McDonald’s, Porsche, Toyota, and more.

    The hospital attack in Mariupol: United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres denounced an airstrike against a hospital in Mariupol, including its maternity and children’s wards. “Civilians are paying the highest price for a war that has nothing to do with them,” he tweeted. Ukrainian officials later reported that a Russian attack on the hospital in Mariupol killed three people, including one child.

  75. says

    Guardian – “Trump lawyer knew plan to delay Biden certification was unlawful, emails show”:

    Interrupting the certification of Joe Biden’s election win on 6 January last year as part of the scheme to return Donald Trump to office was known to be unlawful by at least one of the former president’s lawyers, according to an email exchange about the potential conspiracy.

    The former Trump lawyer John Eastman – who helped coordinate the scheme from the Trump “war room” at the Willard hotel in Washington – conceded in an email to counsel for then vice-president Mike Pence, Greg Jacob, that the plan was a violation of the Electoral Count Act.

    But Eastman then urged Pence to move ahead with the scheme anyway, pressuring the former vice-president’s counsel to consider supporting the effort on the basis that it was only a “minor violation” of the statute that governed the certification procedure.

    The admission that the scheme was unlawful undercuts arguments by Eastman and the Willard war room team that they believed there was no wrongdoing in seeking to have Pence delay the certification past 6 January – one of the strategies they sought to return Trump to power.

    It additionally raises the prospect that the other members of the Willard war room – including Trump’s former attorney Rudy Giuliani and Trump’s former strategist Steve Bannon – were also aware that the scheme to delay or stop the certification was unlawful from the start….

    More at the link.

  76. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Twitter has taken down a post by the Russian embassy in London claiming Wednesday’s attack on a maternity hospital in Mariupol had been staged.

    Russia’s defence ministry has denied responsibility for the strike and accused Ukraine of a “staged provocation” there, claiming Russia carried out no air strikes on ground targets in that area on Wednesday out of respect for an agreed “silent regime”.

    Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov earlier claimed the hospital had been taken over by the Azov battalion – a volunteer group fighting alongside the Ukrainian army – “a long time ago” and that all pregnant women had been taken out of the building.

    Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy said today that three people, including a child, were killed in Wednesday’s air strike on the hospital.

    Their lies about this crime keep changing.

  77. says

    Julia Davis at the Daily Beast – “Even Russian State TV Is Pleading with Putin to Stop the War”:

    There is a notable mood shift in Russia, as darkness sets over its economy and the invasion of Ukraine hits major problems. While the beginning of President Vladimir Putin’s full-scale war against Ukraine was greeted with cheers, clapping and demands of champagne in the studio, the reality sobered up even the most pro-Kremlin pundits and experts on Russian state television.

    The ugly truth about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is slipping through the cracks, despite the government’s authoritarian attempts to control the narrative.

    The Kremlin-controlled state media is doing its best to flip the situation upside down, blaming the victims of Russia’s aggression for all of the casualties….

    Putin’s most trusted propagandists are becoming ever more desperate to distort or deny the evidence of the atrocities because the truth is finding its way past the roadblocks erected by the Kremlin. Russian citizens are not pleased either with the war, nor with the financial price they have to pay for their leader’s ill-conceived military conquests.

    Even the infamous show run by Vladimir Soloviev—who was recently sanctioned as an accomplice of Putin by the European Union—became dominated by predictions of Russian doom and gloom….

    [Lots of doom and gloom at the link!]

    Prior to the invasion of Ukraine, state TV experts predicted that Russia could overtake it in a matter of minutes or a few days. Stunned by the fierce resistance on the part of Ukrainians, Soloviev described them as “the army that is second in Europe, after ours, and which has been prepared for eight years and armed with everything you can imagine.”

    Soloviev added: “This is a frightening war that is being waged against us by America.”

    To lighten the mood in the studio, the host resorted to one of the favorite pastimes of many Kremlin propagandists: playing yet another Fox News clip of Tucker Carlson and his frequent guest Ret. Col. Doug Macgregor. In the translated video, Macgregor predicted Russia’s easy military victories over Ukraine and its total invincibility to western sanctions. Soloviev sighed and smiled: “He’s a lot more optimistic than my previous experts in the studio.”

  78. says

    Trump confirms yet again that he is ignorant, and that his addled mind gets stuck on certain topics and stays there for months or years at a time:

    During an interview yesterday, Donald Trump was asked a straightforward question about the crisis in Ukraine: “How does this all end? Is this going to be a long-term thing? How do you see it unfolding?”

    […] as HuffPost noted, Trump’s attention quickly turned to windmills. No, seriously.

    “Well, and I said this a long time ago, if this happens, we are playing right into their hands. Green energy. The windmills don’t work. They’re too expensive. They kill all the birds. They ruin your landscapes,” Trump answered. “And yet the environmentalists love the windmills. And I’ve been preaching this for years. The windmills ― and I had them way down ― but the windmills are the most expensive energy you can have. And they don’t work.”

    It’s worth emphasizing for context that Trump didn’t eventually get to this anti-windmill rant after trying to answer the question in a more serious way. Rather, as the YouTube video shows, after being asked about his expectations for the ongoing crisis, it was literally one second later when [Trump’s] thoughts turned to, of all things, windmills.

    If this sounds at all familiar, it’s because the former president has long been preoccupied with the subject. It was nearly three years ago, for example, when Trump told congressional Republicans that unidentified people believe the noise generated by wind turbines “causes cancer.”

    The then-president insisted at the time that people should trust his judgment on the issue because, as he put it, “I know a lot about wind. I know a lot about wind.”

    He does not know a lot about wind — Trump’s condemnations of wind power routinely have no basis in reality — and to think that wind power is somehow responsible for the ongoing war in Ukraine is obviously bonkers.

    Complicating matters is the motivation behind the strange rhetoric: As we’ve discussed, Trump’s opposition to wind power appears to have a lot to do with his Scottish golf resort, not his interest in ornithology or energy policy.

    Nevertheless, the larger takeaway for the public is striking: The former president and current leader of one of the nation’s two political parties was asked about the future of an international security crisis. His response focused on windmills.

    Link

    Trump is the dunderhead that most Republicans want to vote for in the next presidential primary.

  79. says

    Update from Mark Sumner:

    Long before Vladimir Putin sent the tanks over the border into Ukraine, he began building a propaganda case that has helped his war maintain majority support inside Russia, even though the average Russian is seeing their meager life savings absolutely destroyed. Part of the story he’s been selling is that Ukraine is, improbably, run by Nazis. To create that story, Putin leaned on the existence of right-wing nationalist parties, particularly in the southeastern section of Ukraine, even though those parties enjoy far less support than similar parties in every other European nation.

    That wasn’t the only reason Putin gave for rolling over the border. Before the invasion of Crimea in 2014, Russian propaganda artists had sketched out another justification for destroying a neighboring nation. That story, in terms that sound all too familiar, is that Ukraine was harboring “weapons of mass destruction.” Specifically, that it was hosting bioweapons labs were the U.S. was cooking up a nasty attack on Russia.

    Just like the Nazi claim, Putin was able to hook this ludicrous charge onto something real. That reality being a series of Soviet bioweapons research labs, left behind in Ukraine, which the U.S. agreed to help clean up all the way back in 1993. Russian propaganda was all about reversing the direction of this action, claiming that the U.S. was actually expanding these programs, rather than shutting them down. Cooperation between Ukrainian scientists and U.S. scientists has continued as part of the “Biological Threat Reduction Program.” Russia has continued to hammer the idea that this is a bioweapons program, not an effort to halt the spread of disease and safely close down old labs.

    Under this program, the U.S. helped Ukraine construct two Biosafety Level 2 labs, one in Kyiv, the other in Odessa. These are nothing like the labs associated with actual bioweapons research. A Biosafety 2 lab is at the same level as labs used in many universities and hospitals. It is “applicable to clinical, diagnostic, teaching, and moderate-risk agents that are present in the community.” If you live in a U.S. city, there are many labs with this designation near you. […]

    But Russia is once again pressing the idea that these labs, including the older Soviet facilities, are “U.S. funded bioweapons labs” that it is trying to eliminate during the invasion. It’s all part of casting Putin’s war—in which Russia is bombing maternity hospitals, leveling villages, and blasting missiles through kindergartens—as justifiable. Also, claiming that they are addressing a threat of WMDs, helps Putin to justify using WMDs like the thermobaric TOS-1 system and potentially chemical weapons. None of this, considering Russia’s demonstrably monstrous actions, should be surprising.

    What is shocking is how many people in the U.S. are hurrying to help Putin sell a conspiracy theory that casts Russian invaders as the good guys and the American government as the villain. As CNN reports, QAnon has been on this theme for weeks. QAnon is actually casting the whole war as a joint effort between BFFs Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin to smash bioweapons labs and pedophile rings, some of which are operating—and this claim has actually been made—at Joe Biden’s Black Sea villa. It shouldn’t be necessary to go to Poynter’s fact checking site for something this sickening and ridiculous, but just in case:

    “We found no evidence that Russian President Vladimir Putin bombed property owned by President Joe Biden or that the president owns any villas in Ukraine. Claims about nefarious biolabs in Ukraine — some supposedly ‘U.S. owned’ — have permeated social media since the Russian invasion. But these claims are also bogus, and part of disinformation efforts by Russians. And the claim about ‘pedophile rings’ is unsubstantiated.”

    […] see Tucker Carlson who is, unaccountably, still on Fox News, defending Russian claims, laughing at Nuland, and claiming that “this is all entirely real.”

    What might be a bit more surprising — but probably shouldn’t be at this point — is this statement from Kentucky Republican Rep. Thomas Massie, here citing professional troll Glenn Greenwald. [Tweet available at the link. Massie tweeted: “There’s so much propaganda on both sides that I didn’t take the concern over Ukrainian biological labs seriously …until now. This is a serious admission, under oath, from a person who would know.” That bullshit was in response to Glenn Greewald’s tweet: “Victoria Nuland: Ukraine Has ‘Biological Research Facilities,’ Worried Rusia May Seize them.”]

    Yes, this is a “serious admission, under oath,” to something that the United States has been publicly and openly working on, in conjunction with the Ukrainian government, since there has been a Ukrainian government. There was no secret here. No hidden agenda. The way that both Greenwald and Massie are presenting this is deliberately skewed in a way that gives them the excuse to do what they wanted to do all along — support Vladimir Putin. Massie, by the way, voted against a House resolution to support the people of Ukraine.

    There were just three votes against that resolution of support: Massie, Paul Gosar, and Matt Rosendale. […]

    Link

  80. says

    Meanwhile, in Chernihiv region, the Russian military has abandoned 10 fully operational tanks, a SAM unit, and a medevac vehicle following a contact with the Ukrainian military on March 10.

    https://twitter.com/IAPonomarenko/status/1501965708674093058

    Photo at the link.

    The post is in response to an ignorant New York Times headline: “Russia’s Military, Once Creaky, Is Modern and Lethal.” The NYT article is from January, 2022, which is well before the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Still stupid.

    An excerpt from the article:

    […] Under Mr. Putin’s leadership, it has been overhauled into a modern sophisticated army, able to deploy quickly and with lethal effect in conventional conflicts, military analysts said. It features precision-guided weaponry, a newly streamlined command structure and well-fed and professional soldiers. And they still have the nuclear weapons.

    The modernized military has emerged as a key tool of Mr. Putin’s foreign policy: capturing Crimea, intervening in Syria, keeping the peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan and, just this month, propping up a Russia-friendly leader in Kazakhstan. Now it is in the middle of its most ambitious — and most ominous — operation yet: using threats and potentially, many fear, force, to bring Ukraine back into Moscow’s sphere of influence. […]

    Sounds like Russian propaganda. The news about abandoned Russian tanks is an apt corrective.

  81. says

    Oryx has now passed 1,000 Russian vehicles and aircraft, photographically identified as destroyed, abandoned, or captured by Ukrainian forces.

  82. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Russia has banned exports of wheat, meslin, rye, barley and corn to the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) until 31 August, the Russian economy ministry said.

    Russia’s decision to suspend exports to EEU member countries – Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan and Russia itself – is to secure its home market with enough food, the ministry said.

    Russia will also ban sugar exports to third countries until 31 August but some exceptions would be possible for the EEU countries, the ministry added.

  83. says

    Daniel Dale at CNN – “Fact check: Pro-Russia social media accounts spread false claims that old videos show Ukrainian ‘crisis actors’”:

    Pro-Russia accounts on social media are trying to convince the public not to believe accurate news reports about Ukrainians suffering and dying.

    To sow doubt, the pro-Russia accounts, joined by accounts that are critical of the “mainstream media,” are spreading false claims that media outlets have been broadcasting phony footage of Ukrainian “crisis actors”: happy, healthy people who are merely playing the role of terrified or deceased war victims for the cameras.

    Videos that are being falsely described as depicting Ukrainian “crisis actors” have been viewed millions of times on various social media platforms over the past two weeks. Thousands of people appear to have shared these videos because they had been duped, not because they were maliciously trying to spread incorrect information.

    Their confusion is unfortunate but understandable. False claims about “crisis actors” rely on a two-step process that can be bewildering to people who aren’t experts on conspiratorial thinking.

    Here’s how the deception works.

    First, the people behind the deception find videos that were indeed staged – but staged for benign purposes unrelated to the war in Ukraine. One example is footage of actors pretending to be terrified during a 2013 film shoot for a British science fiction movie.

    Second, social media accounts falsely claim or suggest that the acting was done by people pretending to be Ukrainian war victims, even though the footage actually has nothing to do with the war, and falsely claim or suggest that the mainstream media promoted this footage as if it was from the war, even though media outlets didn’t actually do so.

    Here are three examples of false claims about Ukrainian “crisis actors” that have circulated on social media over the past two weeks. CNN could not immediately determine who was originally behind this dishonesty….

  84. says

    Followup to comment 108.

    Wonkette:

    […] Greenwald painted this as some huge smoking gun admission, and a truly embarrassing moment for Nuland. If you read his recounting of her testimony, you’d think she was a deer caught in headlights trying to protect a secret bio-weapons lab in the forest. He acts like GOP Senator Marco Rubio really caught Nuland in a big whopper. But no, if you watch it yourself, you’ll see that both Rubio and Nuland were talking about this in context of Russian propaganda about false-flag Ukrainian chemical/bio-weapons attacks, and Nuland said if there’s any attack of that sort, she is 100 percent certain it will come from Russia. In fact, she said it’s “classic Russian technique to blame on the other guy what they’re planning to do themselves.” […]

    And then to Tucker …

    Speaking of, the conspiracy theory made its way to Tucker last night, because of course it did. He accused Victoria Nuland of doing false-flag disinformation attacks to poor dear innocent Russia:

    TUCKER CARLSON: Okay, just get a pen. It is a classic Russian technique to blame on the other guy what they are planning to do themselves, that is what Victoria Nuland said. We almost laughed out loud. So what you are saying, Victoria Nuland, if, for example, you were funding secret bio-labs in Ukraine but wanted to hide that fact from the people who were paying for it in whose name you are doing it, then you might lie about it by claiming the Russians were lying about it. In other words, you might mount a disinformation campaign by claiming the other guy was mounting a disinformation campaign. Is that what you are saying, Victoria Nuland? It’s pretty funny. What is not funny is that this is all entirely real.

    Tucker almost laughed out loud when it was suggested that Russians are known for doing false-flag attacks. And then he said Nuland is the real false-flagger […]

    According to Acyn Torabi from Media Matters, Tucker even played propaganda statements from China and Russia. Apparently he said he had to, because of how America lies so much.

    After Tucker’s show, Jennifer Griffin, one of the only real reporters on Fox News, appeared on Hannity and debunked the everloving fuck out of the entire conspiracy theory: [video available at the link, scroll down to view it]

    […] This morning in the Senate Intelligence Committee, again under questioning by Rubio, DNI Avril Haines explained that all over the world there are labs that have materials that shouldn’t be misused or get into the wrong hands, and said that’s what Nuland was talking about. She compared it to how nuclear power plants have materials that local residents shouldn’t eat — we paraphrase! — but that doesn’t mean nuclear power plants are the same as nuclear weapons.

    We are sure Glenn Greenwald will post Haines’s clarification and write a post about what a fucking idiot he is sometime today. […]

  85. says

    […]Beating resistance down by specifically killing children, pregnant women, and the most vulnerable is the strategy. The cruelty is the point. Take this example of how that strategy has worked in the past from The New Yorker.

    “Just to give an example of the type of brutality that the Russians brought to Syria, the United Nations shared a list of hospitals and clinics in Idlib Province with the Syrian government and the Russians basically in the hopes of getting the Russians to avoid accidentally hitting these places. And, instead, the Russians used this list to target these hospitals.”

    This is a war on the whole concept of civilization, one that we’ve turned a blind eye to for far too long. Woe to everyone should Ukraine fall.

    Link

  86. says

    From the latest summary at the Guardian liveblog:

    …Ukraine opened seven humanitarian corridors for civilians to evacuate on Thursday but not a single person was able to leave the besieged port city of Mariupol, the Ukrainian deputy prime minister said. In Ukraine’s north-eastern Sumy region, more than 12,000 civilians were evacuated by car or bus, state emergency service said.

    Hundreds of thousands of people in the besieged Ukrainian port city of Mariupol face an “increasingly dire and desperate” humanitarian situation, says the International Red Cross. A delegation lead said people in Mariupol had “started to attack each other for food” and many people report having no food for children.

    Boris Johnson has voiced fears that Russian president Vladimir Putin may use chemical weapons in Ukraine. Echoing language used by the White House, the UK prime minister said Russian claims about its enemies getting ready to use chemical weapons were “straight out of their playbook”.

    ….

    Yesterday’s airstrike on a maternity hospital in Mariupol was the third time Ukrainian maternity hospitals had been destroyed since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a UN official said. Three people including a child were killed in the airstrike, Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said….

  87. blf says

    German court rules far-right AfD party a suspected threat to democracy:

    Domestic intelligence agency can now tap communications and use undercover informants to spy on activities

    […]

    The court dismissed a legal challenge brought by the AfD last March that delayed plans by Germany’s Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) to put the party under surveillance.

    The administrative court in Cologne however found that there were “sufficient indications of anti-constitutional goals within the AfD”, it said in a statement.

    As a result, the BfV is allowed to officially classify the anti-Islam, anti-immigrant party as a “suspected case of right-wing extremism”.

    The classification authorises intelligence agents to tap the party’s communications and use undercover informants.

    […]

    The court also criticised the extremist leanings of the AfD’s youth wing, saying along with [the now-disbanded hardline faction] “Wing” supporters these members believed that the German people should be kept ethnically intact and ‘outsiders’ should be excluded as far as possible.

    “This goes against the Basic Law,” the court said, referring to Germany’s constitution.

    […]

  88. Tethys says

    1420 is a Russian school that teaches about democracy. They have a YouTube channel with daily updates on the views of random citizens.

    It’s been all about Ukraine since they invaded, with the general consensus being horror.

    https://m.youtube.com/c/1420channel

  89. says

    Washington Post:

    School districts that required masks this fall saw significantly fewer coronavirus cases than those where masks were optional, according to a large study of Arkansas schools by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  90. says

    Followup to comment 120.

    More detail:

    […] The CDC looked at 233 school districts and found those with mask requirements saw a 23 percent lower incidence of coronavirus cases. Rates in districts with partial requirements — for instance, places that required them in hallways but not classrooms — were in between.

    “Masks remain an important part of a multicomponent approach to preventing Covid-19 in K-12 settings, especially in communities with high Covid-19 community levels,” concluded the study, which published Tuesday.

    The researchers also examined 26 school districts that instituted a mask requirement during the course of their investigation. A week after the new policy took effect, infections significantly decreased among students and staff. […]

  91. says

    New York Times:

    The Biden administration on Wednesday restored California’s legal authority to set auto pollution and mileage rules that are tighter than federal standards, a potent climate policy that had been stripped away by former President Donald J. Trump.

  92. says

    It’s Official: Texas Republicans’ New Voting Law Disenfranchised Thousands Of Otherwise Eligible Voters

    https://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/texas-voting-law-sb1-primary-election

    As Texans’ ballots were cast and tallied across the Lone Star State last week, Monica Emery received multiple letters from county election officials saying that her attempt to vote by mail had failed.

    The problem, she learned, stemmed from SB1, Texas Republicans’ restrictive new voting law that not only requires an ID number on voters’ absentee ballots and applications, but also that the type of ID number match the number that a voter originally used to register.

    That law, signed by Governor Greg Abbott (R) last year, has now caused a massive spike in rejected applications to vote by mail. And for absentee voters in last week’s primary election, many of whom are elderly or disabled, it added an extra hurdle to what was once a simple process.

    Apparently, the number Emery wrote on her ballot — she thinks it was her driver’s license number — was not the one she used when she registered to vote. Other options include various state ID numbers and the last four digits of her Social Security number. Any of those numbers could be a voter’s ID number, it’s a question of which one a voter provided when they first registered.

    “I did that 40 years ago,” Emery told TPM of her voter registration. […]

    The rejection rates are staggering. In booming Collin County, for example, nearly 14% of mail-in votes were ultimately rejected, the election administrator there told TPM. Incoming data from several other counties show similar rates across the state.

    “That is apocalyptic. It calls into question whether this is even a free and fair election,” said James Slattery, senior staff attorney at the Texas Civil Rights Project’s voting rights program. “The sheer, catastrophically high rate of rejections has been very bad.”

    Unlike many others, Emery was able to fix her ballot, filling out multiple forms to “cure” the error in the days following Election Day, and consulting with attorneys and election officials to make sure her vote counted. Finally, she received word from the county on Monday, on the last possible day to fix ballot issues, that her vote had been tallied. (Texas’ new online “ballot tracker” website apparently didn’t get the memo: It continued to label her ballot “rejected.”)

    But Emery, a retiree in the Dallas area, was one of the lucky ones. She’s “perfectly healthy.” She lives near her polling place. She knows her county officials and they had the bandwidth to help her. And she had additional help from multiple lawyers who she’d contacted for help. But what about her son, a pilot in the Air Force currently living in the United Kingdom? What about her elderly friend down the road, living with long COVID? Would they have been able to handle a tricky rejection letter? Would they have received word that their ballots had been rejected in time? She doubted it.

    […] Absentee voting in Texas is limited to certain groups, including those 65 and older, the sick and disabled, and anyone out of the county on Election Day and during the early voting period. […] even after the six-day window for voters to “cure” their ballots — filling out paperwork to fix whatever errors there were on their initial vote — thousands of Texans were disenfranchised […]

    In Travis County, home to Austin, 16% of the roughly 11,200 mail-in ballots were initially rejected, and only half of voters were able to cure those rejections in time to be counted […] Almost three of four rejected ballots were from Democrats […]

    In Williamson County, north of Austin, 11.5% of ballots were rejected in the final tally — “absolutely higher than anything we’ve ever encountered before,” Elections Administrator Chris Davis told Austin’s NPR station KUT. In El Paso County, the final rejection rate was about 16%, or 725 mail-in ballots, the Associated Press reported.

    […] “If we had rejections before SB1, it was usually in the single digits.”

    […] In years past, Texas officials confirmed absentee voters’ identities with signature verification, a tried and true method that’s easy for voters.

    Now, it’s a minefield of potential errors. Did you use the wrong ID number? Did you forget to write one at all? Did you seal your ballot envelope without realizing that the field for your ID number was strategically placed beneath the envelope flap? Have you forgotten what ID number you registered with, potentially decades ago? Your vote is now at risk.

    […] One 77-year-old Texas voter, who asked that her last name not be used, told TPM she’s voted in every election since she became a U.S. citizen in the ‘70s. But this year, she only managed to get her ballot counted because a county elections worker made the 45-minute drive out to her home to collect her corrected paperwork.

    Madeleine hadn’t seen the space for an ID number on her ballot envelope — it’s hidden under the envelope flap to prevent identity theft — and her attempts to fix the error on the state’s new ballot tracking webpage didn’t work. […]

    “Maybe it’s because I’m old and live some distance away — they came to my house to pick up that form,” she recalled. […]

    “I’m so angry with what the Texas legislature did to us, really,” she said.

    […] Less predictable is who exactly the confusing new requirements will hurt. While much of Republicans’ antagonism towards voting by mail stems from former President Donald Trump’s efforts to toss ballots in 2020, it’s not clear that knotting up the system will hurt Democratic voters more than Republican ones.

    […] “It’s one thing to make unsubstantiated allegations of widespread fraud,” he said. “It’s another to reject hundreds of thousands of ballots, which is what Texas is on the path to do in November if this primary is any indication.”

  93. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Satellite images show a large Russian military convoy, last seen north-west of Kyiv near Antonov airport, has largely dispersed and redeployed, a private US company said on Thursday.

    Maxar Technologies said images taken on Thursday show armoured units manoeuvring in and through the surrounding towns close to the airport, according to a Reuters report.

    It said images also show convoy elements further north have repositioned near Lubyanka with towed artillery howitzers in firing positions nearby.

  94. says

    Food & Wine – “Stolichnaya Vodka Officially Changes Its Name to ‘Stoli’ Outside of Russia”:

    …Stoli Group wrote that this rebrand ending its use of the full Stolichnaya name came as a “direct response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine” with three factors playing into the decision: “the founder’s vehement position on the Putin regime; the Stoli employees determination to take action; and the desire to accurately represent Stoli’s roots in Latvia.”

    On that final point, Stolichnaya’s modern history can be a bit confusing. The dissolution of the Soviet Union began a still-ongoing debate over whether Stolichnaya remains a Russian state-owned brand or if it became a private entity — and both sides make a version of the vodka. In Russia, Stolichnaya Vodka is state-owned and that “Stoli” will keep the full name. But for most of the rest of the world, the United States included, Stolichnaya Vodka is produced in Latvia by the Luxembourg-based Stoli Group, controlled by the exiled Russian billionaire Yuri Shefler.

    And so to further differentiate this non-Russian-produced Stolichnaya from its Russian counterpart, Shefler announced late on Friday that his company would be ditching the “-chnaya” from its signature vodka’s name.

    “While I have been exiled from Russia since 2000 due to my opposition to Putin, I have remained proud of the Stolichnaya brand,” Shefler said in the announcement. “We have made the decision to rebrand entirely as the name no longer represents our organization. More than anything, I wish for ‘Stoli’ to represent peace in Europe and solidarity with Ukraine.”

    Shefler likely has another motive as well: Since many of those opposing the war didn’t understand the subtleties of the multiple owners of the Stolichnaya brand, plenty of people could be seen dumping out bottles of the Shefler-produced Stoli — a move that could hurt his pockets while having no real impact on Russia. And Stoli Group has a number of business interests in the U.S. to protect.

    But Damian McKinney, global CEO of Stoli Group, reinforced that this was about more than just money. “This is very personal to us. As a former Royal Marine Commando, I know all too well the horrors of war,” he stated. “We have employees, partners and distributors in the region directly impacted. They are asking that we take a bold stand. This is one actionable, meaningful thing we can do to make it clear that we support Ukraine.”

    The day before the rebrand announcement, Stoli Group also announced that they would be working to support World Central Kitchen’s…efforts to help those affected by the conflict.

  95. says

    Toronto Star – “Russian-language propaganda stations spread hate in Canada for Ukrainians, say critics”:

    A group of Russian-language journalists in Canada are demanding the federal government remove from this country’s airwaves a pair of Russian-language television channels the journalists say spread hate and propaganda.

    Last week, Canadian television providers pulled English-language network RT, formerly known as Russia Today, from their services. But Russian-language channels, RTR Planeta and Channel One Russia, are still available and spreading “weapons grade war-mongering,” says a letter from the Canadian Association of Russian Language Media.

    “This aggressive propaganda is used to justify Putin’s invasion, spread anti-Ukrainian hate and radicalize parts of the Russian speaking community in Canada,” reads the letter, signed by 18 journalists from a number of outlets including Russian Canadian Broadcasting, Russian Infotrade LTD and Russianweek[dot]ca.

    “Even though we are fully committed and desperately trying to deliver to our viewers, listeners and readers the truth about unfolding events, in accordance with the international journalistic practises and standards, our voices are simply no match to the 24/7 Kremlin war propaganda machine.”

    The organization has sent the letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland and Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez. It asks that a directive be issued to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to pull all channels approved, controlled or owned by the Russian state from public airwaves.

    RTR Planeta, an international service of Russian state-owned broadcaster VGTRK, and Channel One Russia are a source for Russians around the world of news and commentary in their language. However, the channels deliver mistruths more than anything, argues Alla Kadysh, a Russian-language radio and podcast host in Toronto who signed the letter.

    “It’s been going on for years; it’s basically lies and projections,” Kadysh said of RTR Planeta, whose recent broadcasts have not been seen by the Star. “It’s basically hate-mongering. It’s got to the point where you can’t watch it three or four minutes, you’d go crazy.”

    Critics of the channels say RTR Planeta is particularly sinister. Kadysh said she concerned it is radicalizing its viewers, as presenters frequently call Ukrainians “Nazis” and report false news about the Russian invasion of Ukraine. She fears it is stoking hatred that may lead to violence here in Canada as the war continues.

    She said many in the Russian community have bought into the rhetoric.

    “I talk to people like this every single day,” Kadysh said. “They don’t believe anything you say because they are already conditioned to believe only Russian propaganda. You talk to these people and there’s something wrong with them.”

    RTR Planeta’s signal hasn’t been available since last week due to an unknown reason; a message on the screen blames technical difficulties. The channel’s website has also been down.

    The Star has made attempts to speak to the channel’s representatives, but has not been successful.

    Marcus Kolga, a disinformation expert with the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, says Russian news channels available to Russians abroad are meant to keep them loyal, and Ukrainians have been described on their broadcasts as ‘dogs that need to be put down.’

    “The shows that they have on there are using extremely inflammatory language to describe the Ukrainians today,” Kolga said, referring to RTR Planeta. “They’re calling them dogs, dogs that need to be put down, this is the kind of language you hear where governments and organizations are about to engage in genocide.”

    …Some countries have already taken the step of banning RTR Planeta.

    Last week, Lithuania banned the broadcaster along with a number of other Russian stations. A majority of the country’s population speaks Russian, causing the government concern.

    Lithuania’s ambassador to Canada, Darius Skusevicius, told the Star the Lithuanian government didn’t want the country subjected to the “lies” of Russian television.

  96. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    The British public will be able to offer accommodation to Ukrainian refugees as the government announces a new route to the UK for those fleeing the Russian invasion.

    After criticism of the government’s strategy and the bureaucratic delays facing Ukrainians with family ties to the UK, the British public will be asked to house refugees who have no family ties who would be eligible to work, access state benefits and public services.

    Government sources confirmed to the Guardian that as part of the widening of the sponsorship scheme, individuals, charities, businesses and community groups will be able to register to offer accommodation and employment via a hotline and webpage.

    Those offering a place to stay will be vetted and have to agree to house a refugee for a minimum period.

  97. says

    Dan Lamothe:

    The Thursday background briefing at the Pentagon about the war in Ukraine has concluded. It’s Day 15.

    Some takeaways:

    Yesterday, there was a great deal of focus on the U.S. scuttling a Polish proposal to send MiG-29 jets to Ukraine via U.S. officials in exchange for the United State sending Poland some F-16s. It’s seen as high-risk with limited value in the Pentagon’s eyes.

    Today, the senior U.S. defense official briefing reporters said the U.S. *is* considering sending other sophisticated weapons, including air-defense weapons that are more significant than MANPADS. That means something better than a Stinger missile.

    The senior defense official declined to say what that more sophisticated system could be. One option might be the S-300, an air defense system the Ukrainians have in limited quantities. Some NATO countries, such as Bulgaria, have it available.

    Some troubling battlefield updates: Chernihiv is now assessed to be isolated, joining Mariupol in that regard. Bombardment and ground battles continue in numerous locations.

    The front of the long-stalled Russian military convoy north of Kyiv has made incremental progress, moving from about 20 km outside the city center to 15 km away. That’s a new development.

    Another advance on Kyiv is now 40 km to the east of the city, the senior U.S. defense official says.

    U.S. has made weapons deliveries to the Ukrainians within the last 24 hours, with more planned within the day. Plan is to get them “as much and as fast as we can, for as long as we can.” No transfer has been interrupted by the Russians – “yet,” the senior defense official says.

    Pentagon now assesses that 775 missiles have now been launched at Ukraine during the invasion. That number continues to rise by a few dozen per day.

    Pentagon throws cold water on any proposal to send Patriot missiles to Ukraine. Ukrainians are not familiar with it, so doing so would requiring U.S. troops in Ukraine, senior defense official says.

    U.S. does not have an assessment for what kind of weapon was used on the hospital in Mariupol.

    “It’s entirely possible that we will never know that,” the senior U.S. defense official says, acknowledging the vast destruction caused.

    Pentagon also attempts again to stamp out conspiracy theories that there are U.S. bioweapon labs in Ukraine.

    “We’re doing this because the Russians and Chinese thought it was important to put out a bunch of lies,” the senior defense official says. “They just flat-out lie.”

  98. raven says

    Texas confirms 9 investigations of transgender minors receiving gender-affirming health care

    By Ashley Killough, CNNUpdated 8:05 PM ET, Thu March 10, 2022

    Latest headline.

    This is an ancient practice that we see often from fundie xians.
    It is a witch hunt.

    These days witches have other names, commies, gays, scientists, medical doctors, Fauci, and here they are…children.

  99. blf says

    Trump told former Ukrainian president Crimea was Russian:

    In her new book, then US ambassador to Ukraine [Marie Yovanovitch], reveals Trumps ‘obsequiousness toward Putin was a cause for concern’

    At an Oval Office meeting with then Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko in 2017, Donald Trump asked his national security adviser if US troops were in Donbas, territory claimed by Russian-backed separatists, which Vladimir Putin last month used as pretext for a full and bloody invasion.

    Describing the meeting in a new book, the then US ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, writes: “An affirmative answer to that question would have meant that the United States was in a shooting war with Russia.”

    Yovanovitch adds: “I pondered whether it was better to interpret Trump’s question as suggesting that the commander-in-chief thought it possible that US troops were fighting Russia-led forces, or instead as an indicator that the president wasn’t clear which country was on the other side of the war against Ukraine.

    “Either way, it was disconcerting that he did not seem to know where we had our troops — his troops — deployed. I could only imagine what the Ukrainians were thinking.”

    STOP! No, Ambassador, the States military is NOT “the president’s troops”, much less the then-squatter’s troops. Whilst hopefully just poor phrasing on the Ambassador’s part (which itself is disconcerting), the assertion is also disconcerting.

    Trump fired Yovanovitch in 2019, amid attempts to withhold military aid to Ukraine in return for political dirt on Joe Biden and other rivals, an affair which fueled Trump’s first impeachment.

    Yovanovitch describes the Trump-Poroshenko meeting in Lessons from the Edge: A Memoir, which will be published on Tuesday. […]

    Yovanovitch also writes that Trump told Poroshenko Ukraine “was a corrupt country, which he knew because a Ukrainian friend at Mar-a-Lago had told him”.

    Trump, she says, also said: Crimea was Russian, as the locals spoke Russian.

    Therefore, Scotland, Ireland (all-island), the States, etc., are English; Mexico and all of Central and Latin America (except Brazil) is Spanish; and so on. Just how stooopid is hair furor?!

    […]
    Echoing descriptions of Trump’s favored working techniques by multiple close aides, Yovanovitch says Poroshenko deployed “visual aids, which Trump really liked” as he “ably pushed back” and made his case for support.

    Poroshenko requested the inclusion of Javelin anti-tank missiles in a package of security aide. Trump seemed open to the idea, Yovanovitch writes. […]

    [… H]er description of the meeting echoes others […], which have shown Trump risking embarrassment and mishap when one-on-one with world leaders.

    Trump’s ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, recently revealed that Trump risked disaster in an early meeting with his counterpart Reuven Rivlin, when he praised the Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and criticized Benjamin Netanyahu, then the Israeli prime minister, for being unwilling to seek peace.

    Trump’s comments “knocked everyone off their chairs”, Friedman wrote.

    Participants in the meeting with Poroshenko appear to have stayed seated.
    […]

    I didn’t stay seated, I fell off my chair laughing at the Grauniad’s snark (and in a straight-news article!).

  100. says

    Brony @126, all too true.

    In other news, Steve Benen summarized some disturbing news that was first posted at BuzzFeed:

    Steve Bannon is expanding his media operation, launching a new program that will focus on key state and local races. “We think there’s an opportunity to literally destroy the Democratic Party as it currently exists in the November elections this year,” Bannon told BuzzFeed News.

  101. says

    Politico:

    Former President Donald Trump on Thursday was given several chances during a Fox News interview to reject autocrats and walk back his praise for President Vladimir Putin of Russia but didn’t. Fox’s Sean Hannity set Trump up multiple times during the 30-minute exchange to criticize Putin, but the former president didn’t go along. He instead touted his relationships with Putin, the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Xi Jinping of China.

    Commentary:

    […] The host asked, “I think you also recognize he’s evil, do you not?” Trump largely dodged the question, saying that the Russian leader has “changed,” adding, “If I were dealing with him, he wouldn’t have changed.”

    According to the CQ transcript, it led Hannity to try again. “I’ve known you well over 25 years,” the host said. “And when you got criticized for saying that Vladimir Putin is ‘smart,’ we’ve had many conversations, and you’ve often quoted to me Sun Tzu, ‘The Art of War’: ‘Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.’ Is that how you viewed Vladimir? Did you view Vladimir Putin and people like President Xi and Kim Jong Un and the Iranian mullahs as enemies that you needed to keep close?”

    Trump seemed reluctant to accept the premise. “I got along with these people; I got along with them well,” the Republican replied. He added, “I got along with [Kim Jong Un] well. We understood each other. I got along with Putin. I got along with Xi.”

    The determined host pressed on, clearly trying to get the answer he was looking for.

    “I want to understand your thinking, though, and the thinking is, we got along [with these foreign adversaries] but you knew that they were looking out for their interests at all times. And you understood that they were capable of evil things.”

    Trump still wouldn’t bite. “Putin is for Russia,” the former president said, before blaming the crisis in Ukraine on President Joe Biden.

    [Trump] concluded, “Putin will tell you this — if he was telling the truth, and I am sure he has told it to all of his inner sanctum — nobody was tougher on Russia than me.”

    First, Trump’s record of weakness toward Russia is overwhelming. And second, Trump couldn’t even bring himself to get tough with Putin in this interview.

    Link

  102. blf says

    (Slightly-edited cross-post from poopyhead’s Russia has wacky conspiracy theorists, too? thread.)

    Putin’s about to have the entire world laughing at him, Russia to go to UN with its claims of US-backed biological weapon plot (my added emboldening):

    […]
    Russia is preparing to put before the UN unfounded claims of a US-orchestrated biological weapon plot in Ukraine […].

    The UN security council is meeting on Friday at Russia’s request to discuss Moscow’s claim that the US-backed laboratories in Ukraine were working on biological weapons to target Russians. […]

    The head of the Russian military’s radiation, chemical and biological protection troops, Igor Kirillov, said on Thursday that US-backed labs in Kyiv, Kharkiv and Odesa were working on dangerous pathogens, custom-designed to target Russians and other Slavs. According to Russian-state media, Kirillov alleged the US planned to exploit Ukraine’s “unique geographical position” by sending migratory birds carrying deadly diseases into Russia.

    The Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, made a similar claim on Thursday, alleging that US-backed labs in Ukraine were working to “develop ethnically targeted biological weapons”. […]

    As per SC@97, “Putin believes in gene bombs”. Now his minions are going to go the UN Security Council with, presumably, this wacky unscientific conspiracy theory, presumably with the added migratory birds nonsense (Russian Defense Ministry: … the United States is training migratory birds to migrate from Ukraine to Russia and distribute bacteriological weapons), and the complete lack of any evidence (or more likely, the misrepresentation and outright falsification of medical and biological research (most or probably all publicly-known)). Popcorn time — assuming the council members have read their briefs, etc., it should be a very amusing show, a complete humiliation of Putin (who probably won’t take it well, and so the anticipated-rebuke may be “toned down” or put in more “diplomatic terms”, just to keep the madman from going even further off the plank).

  103. lumipuna says

    Reading the news over recent days, it occurred to me that Vladimir Putin has basically invented a time machine and taken Russia back to ca. 1984 (Orwell reference not intended):

    No freedom of speech, much less freedom of press
    Only the flimsiest pretense of democracy
    Traveling abroad near impossible
    Population has minimal connections to outside world
    No consumer access to western brands, luxury or otherwise
    Mounting supply chain issues for basic necessities
    Economy going down the drain
    Young men getting killed or injured in a botched foreign war
    Vague threat of a nuclear holocaust

  104. blf says

    This is a really groovy find, Roman boat that sank in Mediterranean 1,700 years ago gives up its treasures:

    Finds from fourth-century wreck ‘perfectly preserved’ just 2m below the surface off one of Mallorca’s busiest beaches

    One squally day or stormy night about 1,700 years ago, a boat carrying hundreds of amphorae of wine, olives, oil and garum — the fermented fish sauce that so delighted the ancient palate — came to grief during a stopover in Mallorca.

    The merchant vessel, probably at anchor in the Bay of Palma while en route from south-west Spain to Italy, was quickly swallowed by the waves and buried in the sands of the shallow seabed.

    Until last month, its miraculously preserved treasures had lain untouched, despite sitting just 2 metres beneath the bellies of the countless tourists who swim off one of the busiest beaches in the Balearics.

    Now, however, the boat — known as the Ses Fontanelles wreck — is giving up its archaeological, historical and gastronomic secrets. A recovery operation […] involving experts from three Spanish universities in the Balearics, Barcelona and Cádiz, has retrieved about 300 amphorae as well as other objects that offer priceless insights into the Mediterranean of the fourth century AD and the crew’s daily lives.

    In addition to the clay jars — which still bear their painted inscriptions or tituli picti — archaeologists have found a leather shoe, a rope shoe, a cooking pot, an oil lamp and only the fourth Roman carpenter’s drill recovered from the region.

    The boat, which is 12 metres long and between 5 and 6 metres wide, emerged three years ago after a summer storm churned up the waters of the bay. Its appearance confirmed anecdotal reports from divers dating back to the 1950s, and prompted the [the island’s governing body] Consell de Mallorca to take action.

    [… T]he team is now looking at how best to recover the hull of the wreck, which lies just 50 metres off the beach, those who brought up the cargo in an operation that ran from November 2021 to mid-February are still a little breathless over what they have found.

    None of the team had expected the sands of the bay to have done such a spectacular job of sealing the wreck off from oxygen and preserving its organic materials.

    “Things have been so perfectly preserved that we have found bits of textile, a leather shoe and an espadrille,” says Dr Miguel Ángel Cau, an archaeologist at the University of Barcelona.

    “The most surprising thing about the boat is just how well preserved it is — even the wood of the hull … It’s wood that you can knock — like it’s from yesterday.”

    The team, who established that the boat set sail from Spain’s Cartagena region by analysing the minerals in the amphorae’s clay, say it is hard to overstate the significance of the find.

    “It’s important in terms of naval architecture because there are very few ancient boats that are as well preserved as this one,” says Dr Darío Bernal-Casasola, an archaeologist at the University of Cádiz. […]

    What’s more, he adds, the amphorae represent an improbable subaquatic archaeological hat-trick: “It’s incredibly difficult — almost impossible — to find whole amphorae that bear inscriptions, and also still have the remains of their contents. The state of conservation here is just amazing. And you have got all this in just 2 metres of water where millions of people have swum.”

    […]

    More at the link, including some images.

    The mildly deranged penguin claims she vaguely remembers ordering some cheeses from the Cartagena or Murcia around that time which never arrived. I point out it’s presumably rather well-aged by now…

  105. blf says

    Judge blocks Donald Trump’s effort to countersue rape accuser E Jean Carroll:

    New York judge accuses ex-president of ‘bad faith’ in tactics that would have further delayed defamation lawsuit

    Donald Trump cannot countersue the US writer E Jean Carroll, who says he raped her in the mid-1990s, a federal judge ruled on Friday. The former president[Wacko House squatter] had argued that her defamation lawsuit against him violated a New York state law intended to protect free speech.

    US district judge Lewis Kaplan in Manhattan said a ruling for the one-term Republican[occupying thug] would needlessly cause further delays for Carroll’s lawsuit, which began in November 2019.

    He also accused Trump of engaging in “bad faith” to prevent Carroll, 78, from pursuing a case that could have been decided long ago.

    “The defendant’s litigation tactics, whatever their intent, have delayed the case to an extent that readily could have been far less,” Kaplan wrote.

    […]

    Lawyers for Trump had previously appeared before a federal appeals court to argue that the US government should take his place as the defendant in the defamation case.

    They said late last year that he was not trying to dodge personal liability in the lawsuit by Carroll but just wanted to keep future presidents from being burdened by legal claims.

    This is not political. This is not about being a Democrat or a Republican. It is solely to protect the presidency as an institution, attorney Alina Habba said[nonsensically burbled] at the time.

    […]

  106. says

    Joe Biden is on track to deliver the deficit reduction he promised:

    […] “[B]y the end of this year,” [President Joe Biden] boasted, “the deficit will be down to less than half what it was before I took office.” Biden added that he would soon become the only president “ever to cut the deficit by more than $1 trillion in a single year.”

    And while it’s impossible to say with certainly what to expect in the coming months, at least for now, the president appears to be on track to deliver on his boast. Bloomberg News reported yesterday:

    The U.S. budget deficit shrank by more than half in the first five months of the latest fiscal year as government pandemic spending wound down and revenue jumped. The shortfall in the October-to-February period was $475.6 billion, 55% smaller than the same five months a year earlier, and the least for the timeframe since the fiscal year ended in 2018, according to Treasury Department data released Thursday. The gap narrowed to $216.6 billion last month, compared with $310.9 billion in February 2021.

    The deficit in Biden’s first year was $360 billion smaller than the budget shortfall from Donald Trump’s final year in office, and in the Democrat’s second year, it’s on pace to be $1 trillion smaller.

    […] there’s Sen. Joe Manchin. The conservative West Virginia Democrat, having already effectively killed the Build Back Better plan, has signaled a willingness to support some kind of new package, just so long as deficit reduction is part of the plan.

    The White House can now credibly tell the senator his priorities are already being addressed — […] at a pace without precedent.

    […] The White House and congressional Republicans swore up and down in late 2017 that they could slash taxes for the wealthy and big corporations without increasing the deficit because, as they repeatedly insisted, “tax cuts pay for themselves.” We didn’t need additional evidence that their ridiculous belief was, and is, wrong, but the evidence soon followed anyway.

    Then, of course, the pandemic hit, at which point the annual deficit ballooned to over $3 trillion.

    […] when it comes to the deficit, Americans have endured a remarkably consistent pattern for four decades.

    It starts with a Republican presidential candidate denouncing the deficit and vowing to balance the budget if elected. That Republican then takes office, abandons interest in the issue, and expresses indifference when the deficit becomes vastly larger. Then a Democrat takes office, at which point GOP lawmakers who didn’t care at all about the deficit suddenly decide it’s a critical issue that the new president must immediately prioritize.

    During the Democratic administration, the deficit invariably shrinks — a development Republicans tend to ignore — at which point the entire cycle starts over.

    […] polls continue to show that most Americans see Republicans as the party most trustworthy to reduce the deficit, […] even in the face of four decades’ worth of evidence. [Aaarrrrggghhh!]

    Link

  107. says

    […] Satellite imaging company Maxar released photos on Thursday suggesting that Russia had repositioned its infamously stalled convoy to launch artillery strikes on and storm Kyiv. The Kremlin launched missiles at far western Ukraine, while the White House warned that Russia may be about to deploy a chemical weapons attack. And while negotiations between Russia and Ukraine continue, it’s not clear that the Kremlin’s core goals have really changed. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov claimed at talks in Turkey on Thursday that Russia “did not attack Ukraine.”

    In either scenario, it seems that this stage of the conflict may be at an inflection point: is this a point from which we’ll see a big comedown? Or a prelude to something far, far worse? […]

    Link

  108. says

    Ukraine update: Still quiet on the western front? by Mark Sumner

    No matter what map of Ukraine you use — one of those that falsely makes it seem like Russia is occupying large areas of the country, or one that shows just how tenuous their control is along way too many disconnected corridors — one thing becomes immediately clear: The action is in the east. All of the major conflicts have occurred east of a line running from the Kyiv suburbs, down to the area around Mykolaiv in the south.

    […] There’s not just the long Russian border that runs past cities like battered Kharkiv, but the Russian occupied areas in Donbas. […]

    on Friday came reports that a pair of Russian bombers were engaged in what appears to be a false flag operation, veering into Ukraine, then firing missiles back into a village on the Belarus side of the border. [WTF!] This action took place near a village called Bukhlichi, nearly 200 miles west of Kyiv. The action took place one day after Alexander Lukashenko was called to Moscow, and within minutes of the event, Belarusian troop transports were seen moving along the M10 highway, east of Brest.

    All of this suggests the possibility that, should Belarus make its delayed entry into this conflict, troops could enter Ukraine far to the west of current conflicts, opening a western front in the conflict. However, it’s not at all clear this would require Ukraine to shift around forces in the east. For one thing, Lyiv has been the training site for new volunteers within Ukraine. It’s also the entry point for international volunteers seeking to join the Ukrainian cause. Should Belarus come across the border, they could be facing forces that are moving directly north to meet them. And if those Ukrainian forces are mostly green — so are those from Belarus.

    One other factor: The western part of Ukraine is not like the mostly level areas that have been visible around Kyiv and points east. The western part of Ukraine is crinkled into the foothills and eastern peaks of the Carpathian Mountains. The area is sparsely populated, cut through with many fewer highways, and more heavily wooded. Any movement into the area is likely to be quickly met with force, because it could threaten both Ukrainian supply lines and the movement of refugees seeking to reach Poland and Slovakia.

    Any enemy convoys moving into the region, might want to consider how close they are not just to the point where foreign troops are coming to join Ukraine, but also how handy they would be the the point where NATO anti-tank weapons are making their entry.

    Link

  109. says

    Followup to comment 142.

    Also from Mark Sumner:

    Quite a surprise to see Russia losing vehicles near Mariupol, considering the concentration of forces in that area. The city has been encircled for almost a week, with Russia shelling civilians who attempted to evacuate after first agreeing to a humanitarian corridor. On Wednesday, Ukrainian forces supposedly pushed into the area, possibly in an attempt to provide some relief to the city, which has also been without food, water, and electricity. Civilian casualties in Mariupol are now over 1,600.

    It’s unclear how close Ukrainian forces came to the city, though there were reports of fighting on the outskirts. Should Ukraine actually break through to Mariupol it would be a tremendous victory — both militarily and psychologically. The possibility of this seems remote, but then, the current situation would have seemed impossible two weeks ago.

    See also:
    https://twitter.com/UAWeapons/status/1502369561215184901

  110. says

    Another point to remember:

    Many of Russia’s 200 sorties never leave Russia or Belarus. They get up in the air, fire missiles toward Ukraine, and land. A lot safer than way than actually entering Ukrainian airspace.

    Also good to note is this news from Andrei Soldatov:

    Putin appears to be truly unhappy with the FSB in Ukraine: he attacked the 5 Service SOiMS (FSB’s foreign Intelligence branch). Sergei Beseda, head of the Service, and his deputy Bolukh, head of the DOI, placed under house arrest, according to my sources inside.

  111. says

    NPR Interview With Masha Gessen Scared The Living Sh*t Out of Me

    I don’t know if anyone else caught this, but NPR did an interview with Masha Gessen, a Russian-American reporter […]

    Gessen’s basic assessment of Putin was this. (I’m paraphrasing from memory)

    If he loses, or it looks like he is losing, he will escalate. Maybe even use a tactical nuke Against Ukraine. Or even against Poland to intimidate “the West” into no longer sending aid. That probably sets off a chain of escalation that leads to, well…the end.

    If he wins, Putin will be emboldened and feel he was justified. He will invade another country. And another. And another. Eventually that will be a NATO country and that sets off a chain of escalation until, well, the end.

    So…the best we can hope for is some kind of very slow, very bitter victory that forces Putin to at least PAUSE before his next move and hope that he…dies? Is replaced? […]

    Gessen doesn’t seem like a crackpot. Or an alarmist. NPR isn’t known for being overly dramatic. The interviewer kept asking—so what is the sane option here? What do we DO?

    I don’t think anyone has an answer.

    […] I was convinced this argument was at least probably right. And I was near tears. Part of it was fear. But part of it was just despair. That one man and one delusion could turn every man and every woman and every dream to dust. [My sentiments exactly.]

    […] I felt guilt and shame for all the small ways all of us let the world get to this point. The world has had nuclear weapons for almost 80 years and yet we still have no sane way to deal with them. MAD is as mad now as it was then and it doesn’t work on a country that is led by ONE man if that man is a sociopath and a narcissist. Other people are literally unreal to him. The only death that would matter is his own and if he thinks he’s going to die anyway then…what deterrent is there?

    […] a country WITH nukes can just invade you and no one will come to your aid. Not really. Putin learned that lesson well.

    I’ve been involved in politics my whole life. But I couldn’t stop Bush. Couldn’t even get my own parents to vote for Kerry. Couldn’t stop Trump. Even though it was literally my job. I kicked and screamed and tried to get the “yes men” and “yes women” above me to see we were skidding off a cliff but no one listened. I blame myself for not being loud enough or persuasive enough.

    Yeah, I know. It’s not my fault. But it is. And yours. And ours. […] And yet we still stumble toward the cliff about to fall off.

    [Putin] he will be crushed. And he literally has no one to reach out to. No one to confide in. He will feel betrayed by all the people who told him everything was going to plan. He will be completely cut off from all of humanity.

    But we don’t have the choice to cut ourselves off from him. Not really. […]

    Lord have mercy on us all.

  112. says

    Deutsche Bank reverses after criticism, will withdraw from Russia

    Deutsche Bank released a statement Friday saying they are “winding down” operations in Russia following criticism of their previous stance to stay in the country.

    “Deutsche Bank has substantially reduced its Russian exposure since 2014. Like some international peers and in line with our legal and regulatory obligations, we are in the process of winding down our remaining business in Russia while we help our non-Russian multinational clients in reducing their operations. There won’t be any new business in Russia,” the bank said.

    The decision to leave Russia came a day after the company told its staff it would not be pulling out of Russia despite dozens of other companies and banks doing so.

    “We are often asked why we are not withdrawing completely from Russia. The answer is that this would go against our values,” Chief Executive Christian Sewing told staff on Thursday, Reuters reported, adding it wouldn’t “be the right thing to do in terms of managing those client relationships and helping them to manage their situation”.

    The outlet previously reported on investors who were angry at Deutsche Bank’s decision not to leave Russia in retaliation for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

    The decision also comes a day after Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said they would be leaving Russia due to the sanctions and war.

    Other financial firms that have left Russia include Mastercard and Visa, who said cards issued in Russia will no longer be operational in the country.

    From comments posted by readers of the article:

    Their laundering values….
    ——————–
    With Russian banks cut of from SWIFT and the Deutsche Bank laundromat leaving Russia, it’s going to be hard times for Trump Org.
    ————————–
    These last few weeks they must of made billions laundering.
    ————————–
    The Russian oligarch money launderer of choice pulling out?
    That’s a pretty big step.
    ———————–
    My company always gets a flood of candidates from DB whenever we post a job opening.

    The morale is abysmal there. Anyone who can get out, runs for their life at the first chance.

  113. says

    Wonkette:

    […] Yay, another rightwing conspiracy theory about Ukraine that’s obviously coming directly from the Kremlin. American rightwingers obviously can’t just be on the side of the nation that was invaded for no reason, which is currently having its children blown up by an evil enemy power. They have to support the murderers. You know why? We don’t fucking know why. There’s something wrong with them.

    So, did Ukraine blow up its own children’s hospital/maternity ward in Mariupol to false flag Russia and make it look bad? You know, because apparently Russia doesn’t look bad enough on its own, what with how it’s raining hell from the sky on a sovereign nation that didn’t do anything to it but refuse to take orders from Russia.

    That’s what some piece of shit on One America News thinks maybe happened. [video at the link]

    DAN BALL (HOST): We all know, you know as a vet, I know as a vet, our country’s guilty of it, other countries do it all the time. During war, there’s propaganda. We’ve already seen a lot of propaganda coming from Ukraine. The 13 soldiers on Snake Island didn’t die in a gun battle, they were taken prisoner. The supermodel, Ukrainian supermodel isn’t fighting the war, that was a modeling picture with an airsoft gun. There’s tons of stories that are false.

    Yes, Ukraine is winning the propaganda war, at least in the free world. That’s just a fact. Hell, Ukraine’s president is a good example of that.

    That Vice interview of Volodymyr Zelenskyy sitting all hot and sexy on those dimly lit stairs? The pics and videos of him standing with his posse on the streets of Kyiv at night telling his people he’s not fuckin’ leaving? Telling America he doesn’t need a ride, he needs ammunition? That’s all propaganda, in the purest sense of the word. And it’s good. It’s getting your message out there, and people saying FUCK YEAH.

    Maybe this is what happens if you elect a media mogul and show business guy who isn’t a completely incompetent buffoon. Zelenskyy’s a badass. He’s smart. He’s sincere and he’s real, but he also knows how to set up a camera shot […]

    That’s one kind of propaganda.

    Then there’s this kind:

    BALL: Today we learn that a hospital was hit. Children were killed, dozens were injured, right? In Mariupol, in Ukraine. Russia immediately says, we didn’t hit that hospital. They’re saying Russia did. We know there’s special operatives and, if you will, undercover forces within the Ukrainian military that do Zelensky’s bidding. I’m not saying somebody staged this to make things look worse, but they haven’t denied other — hitting other stuff. They immediately denied hitting this hospital. And we know there’s been false stories out in the media already about this war.

    Yeah so go fuck yourself. This is just straight up Kremlin propaganda, just like all the lies circulating about Ukrainian bio-research facilities are straight up Kremlin propaganda. Everybody who knows anything about Putin’s Russia knows they are the kings of creating false flag ops to manipulate people. Pointing at Ukraine and saying “no THEY’RE the real false flaggers” is itself a false flag op Jesus Christ you idiots.

    But listen, don’t take it from us. Take it from this thread full of Russia’s ever-changing bullshit about whether they did the bombing, or it was a legitimate target, or it was fine because it was full of Azov (actual far-Right Nazis who do exist in Ukraine), or maybe they didn’t do it after all. This article in the Wall Street Journal has some more bullshit if you want more bullshit. [Thread is available at the link.]

    […] that is the point of Russian propaganda. They don’t necessarily want to convert you to their way of thinking. They want to throw so much bullshit out there that average people say “Who knows? There’s propaganda on both sides!” and go about their days without worrying too much about who is bombing what children’s hospitals where.

    Of course, an informed consumer of news could always read this Isaac Chotiner interview with Anand Gopal in the New Yorker, which discusses how intentionally bombing hospitals is Putin’s entire m.o. in war, as he demonstrated in Syria. Gopal is an expert who knows pretty much everything about the war in Syria, and what Putin did there.

    [T]he Russian massacres were numerous. They were using cluster munitions. […] Just to give an example of the type of brutality that the Russians brought to Syria, the United Nations shared a list of hospitals and clinics in Idlib Province with the Syrian government and the Russians basically in the hopes of getting the Russians to avoid accidentally hitting these places. And, instead, the Russians used this list to target these hospitals.

    So it was part of the Russian strategy — to attack hospitals. And that was, I think, partly to break the morale of not just the rebel movement but the population. […] [I]t got to a point where people in Idlib had to put their clinics literally underground. I saw hospitals that were underground because the Russians would target anything that looked like a humanitarian center or a hospital.

    Volodymyr Zelenskyy called Russia’s strike a “war crime” and “proof that the genocide of Ukrainians is taking place.” The US and NATO have condemned it.

    But sure, OAN shitwad, tell us more about your very curious questions.

    As JoeMyGod notes, this is the same [guy] who begged his viewers to send him dirt on the CEO of AT&T after DirecTV dropped OAN.

    So that’s what this particular conspiracy theory is about. It’s catching on in the more rancid parts of the rightwing internet. It’s only gonna get worse from here, kids.

  114. blf says

    Lynna@146 quotes “financial firms that have left Russia include Mastercard and Visa, who said cards issued in Russia will no longer be operational in the country.”

    Not quite — cards issued in Russia (which is probably a technical oversimplification but the details aren’t relevant) will no longer work outside of Russia. They will continue to work in Russia, at least until they expire. I’m uncertain, but I believe it will be impossible to renew expired Russian cards, and possibly impossible to replace lost or stolen Russian cards. (As far as I am aware, it is not possible to extend the valid-lifetime of a card.)

    This is from memory and so is perhaps slightly garbled (and my work in a part of the industry didn’t really involve these sorts of matters so I’m not an expert here): The reason cards will continue to work inside Russia is nothing nefarious on the part of Visa or Mastercard — it’s how the system works. Neither Visa nor Mastercard are involved with intra-country (internal) transactions once the card is issued (at least as long as it isn’t reported lost or stolen?); those transactions are handled essentially-entirely by the card-issuer (card issuing-bank in Russia). Transactions outside Russia will involve a local (“correspondent”?) non-Russian bank, which is presumably where the blocking happens; Visa and Mastercard can mandate such blocking. Transactions originating in Russia using a non-Russian card (a possibility which never seems to be mentioned!?) can also be blocked, albeit by the receiving (non-Russian card-issuing) bank.

    I’m uncertain at what level (i.e., when, or to what granularity) Visa and Masercard are involved in the issuing of cards. They probably can (and presumably have) stop selling blocks of enabling codes, which is why I tend to believe claims Russian banks won’t be able to issue or replace cards (eventually).

  115. says

    Experts say a recent wave of pro-Putin disinformation is consistent with the work of Russia’s Internet Research Agency, a network of paid trolls who attempted to influence the 2016 presidential election.

    Just before 11 a.m. Moscow Standard Time on March 1, after a night of Russian strikes on […] Ukrainian cities, a set of Russian-language Twitter accounts spread a lie that Ukraine was fabricating civilian casualties.

    One account created last year, @Ne_nu_Che, shared a video of a man standing in front of rows of dark gray body bags that appeared to be filled with corpses. As he spoke to the camera, one of the encased bodies behind him lifted its arms to stop the top of the bag from blowing away. The video was taken from an Austrian TV report about a climate change demonstration held in Vienna in February. But @Ne_nu_Che claimed it was from Ukraine.

    “Propaganda makes mistakes too, one of the corpses came back to life right as they were counting the deaths of Ukraine’s civilians,” the tweet said.

    Eight minutes later, another account, @Enot_Kremle_Bot, tweeted the same video. […]

    Two other accounts created last fall within a few days of @Enot_Kremle_Bot soon shared the same video and accusations of fake civilian casualties. “Ukrainian propaganda does not sleep,” said one.

    The Twitter profiles are part of a pro-Putin network of dozens of accounts spread across Twitter, TikTok and Instagram whose behavior, content and coordination are consistent with Russian troll factory the Internet Research Agency, according to Darren Linvill, a Clemson University professor who, along with another professor, Patrick Warren, has spent years studying IRA accounts.

    The IRA burst into the American consciousness after its paid trolls used thousands of English-language accounts across social media platforms to influence American voters during the 2016 presidential election. The IRA was at the center of a 2018 Department of Justice criminal indictment for its alleged effort to “interfere with elections and political processes.”

    […] they posted at defined times consistent with the IRA workday, were created in the same time frame and posted similar or identical text, photos and videos across accounts and platforms. Posts from Twitter accounts in the network dropped off on weekends and Russian holidays, suggesting the posters had regular work schedules.

    […] The pro-Putin network included roughly 60 Twitter accounts, over 100 on TikTok, and at least seven on Instagram, […]

    The most successful accounts were on TikTok, where a set of roughly a dozen analyzed by Clemson researchers and ProPublica racked up more than 250 million views and over 8 million likes with posts that promoted Russian government statements, mocked President Joe Biden and shared fake Russian fact-checking videos that were revealed by ProPublica and Clemson researchers earlier this week. On Twitter, they attacked jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny and blamed the West for preventing Russian athletes from competing under the Russian flag in the Olympics.

    […] A popular post by the account @QR_Kod accused the Ukrainian military of using civilians as human shields. Another post by @QR_Kod portrayed Ukraine as provoking Russia at the behest of its NATO masters. Both tweets received hundreds of likes and retweets and were posted on the same day as the body bag video. […]

    The findings indicate that professionalized trolling remains a force in domestic Russian propaganda efforts and continues to adapt across platforms […]

    “I can’t stress enough the importance of understanding the way that this is a tool for Putin to control narratives among his own people, a way for him to lie to his own people and control the conversation,” Linvill said. “To suggest that the West is blanketly winning this information war is true only in some places. Putin doesn’t have to win the information war, he just has to hold his ground. And these accounts are helping him do that.”

    After inquiries from ProPublica, all of the active accounts were removed from TikTok, and nearly all were suspended by Twitter. Meta said it removed one Instagram account for violating its spam policy and that the others did not violate its rules. None of the platforms attribute the accounts to the IRA. Twitter and TikTok said the accounts engaged in coordinated behavior or other activity that violated platform policies.

    […] TikTok removed an additional 98 accounts it determined were part of the same pro-Putin network.

    […] Twitter declined to offer more details on why it left roughly 30 accounts that it identified as violative online to continue spreading propaganda. […]

    Platforms may be hesitant to attribute activity to the IRA in part because the agency has adapted and made its efforts harder to expose, according to Linvill. But he said social platforms should disclose more information about the networks it removes, even if it can’t say with certainty who is running them.

    […] We name and disclose computer viruses or hacker groups, for instance, because that is in the public interest,” [Linvill] said. “The platforms should do the same. The Russian people should know that some sophisticated and well-organized group is covertly using social media to encourage support for Putin and the war in Ukraine.”

    The Internet Research Agency is a private company owned by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a Russian entrepreneur known as “Putin’s Chef.” Prigozhin is linked to a sprawling empire ranging from catering services to the military mercenary company Wagner Group, which was reportedly tasked with assassinating President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. The IRA launched in St. Petersburg in 2013 by hiring young internet-savvy people to post on blogs, discussion forums and social media to promote Putin’s agenda to a domestic audience. After being exposed for its efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. election, the IRA attempted to outsource some of its English-language operations to Ghana ahead of 2020. […]

    But it never stopped its core work of influencing Russian-speaking audiences. The IRA is part of a sprawling domestic state propaganda operation whose current impact can be seen by the number of Russians who refuse to believe that an invasion has happened, while asserting that Ukrainians are being held hostage by a Nazi coup.

    […] many of the accounts adopt an approachable and humorous tone to generate engagement and appear relatable to younger audiences present on social media.

    “They’re very critical of prominent Russians who have criticized this war, questioning their patriotism,” Stronski said. “They’re saying in effect that during wartime you shouldn’t be criticizing your own. You should be lining up behind the state.”

    […] Before the account takedowns, the Russian government had begun closing off the country from global social media and information sources. It restricted access to Twitter and blocked Facebook. The Russian legislature passed a law that allows for a 15-year sentence for people who contradict the official government position on the war. As a result, TikTok announced it would pause uploads of new videos in Russia.

    Some of the accounts in the network saw the writing on the wall and prepared their audience to move to Telegram, a Russian messaging service.

    “Friends! With happiness I’d like to tell you that I decided to make the t.me/enot_kremlebot channel, in which you will see analytics to the fullest extent. Twitter could block us any minute!” tweeted @Enot_Kremle_Bot on March 5. “I really don’t want to lose my treasured and close-to-my-heart audience! Go to this link and subscribe.”

    Link

  116. says

    NBC News:

    President Joe Biden on Friday called on Congress to join the European Union and the Group of Seven industrial nations in suspending normal trade relations with Russia, allowing new tariffs to be imposed in response to the ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

    In a speech, Biden said the U.S. will also ban imports of Russian diamonds, seafood and vodka, denying Moscow more than $1 billion in export revenues, according to a White House estimate.

    […] Revoking normal trade relations, which requires congressional action in the United States, would end Russia’s status as a “most favored nation,” a classification within the World Trade Organization that exempts a country from tariffs. […]

    Link

  117. says

    NBC News:

    The Senate passed a massive $1.5 trillion spending bill Thursday that would prevent a government shutdown and provide $13.6 billion in emergency aid for Ukraine. The legislation passed 68-31 after it received House approval Wednesday. President Joe Biden is expected to sign the measure into law before government funding runs out Friday night.

  118. says

    Washington Post: How the right embraced Russian disinformation about ‘U.S. bioweapons labs’ in Ukraine

    This is a fact-checking article that thoroughly debunks the “bioweapons” lies.

    Excerpt:

    “Bioweapon labs in Ukraine prove US criminal activity, diplomat says”

    [That’s the] headline of Tass news article, quoting Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, the morning of March 9

    “Under oath in an open committee hearing, Toria Nuland just confirmed that the Russian disinformation they’ve been telling us for days is a lie and a conspiracy theory and crazy and immoral to believe is, in fact, totally and completely true.”

    [OMFG, such bullshit]

    Tucker Carlson, remarks on his Fox News show, the evening of March 9

    Russian disinformation often begins with a speck of fact, which is then twisted into a full-blown conspiracy theory. The technique makes it easier to spread and take root among the country’s supporters. Note how quickly the party line uttered by the Russian Foreign Ministry was embraced by Carlson.

    In this instance, Russia for years has been seeding the ground to claim that the United States set up biowarfare labs in Ukraine and other former Soviet republics. Then, brief remarks by Victoria Nuland, the undersecretary of state for political affairs, were twisted to provide “confirmation” of the disinformation program.

    The Facts
    The Russian claims about Ukrainian labs bear the earmarks of the Soviet Union’s long-running campaign of false allegations that the United States used biological weapons. The KGB, for instance, in the early 1980s spread false claims that a U.S.-funded research project in Pakistan was sending “killer mosquitoes” into Afghanistan, leading to local outrage that ended the program.

    After the Soviet Union collapsed, former officials admitted the fabrications. But Russian disinformation about biological weapons resumed again in earnest after Vladimir Putin took control in 1999 […] the effort is designed to distract from Russian’s own biological weapons program.

    […] In 2015, the Russian state-owned news channel Rossiya-24 aired an alarming one-hour report. Tens of thousands of pigs in Ukraine and Georgia were dying because of a mysterious disease — and the reporter claimed U.S.-funded biological research facilities in those countries were to blame.

    […] Three years earlier, Gennady Onishchenko, then the chief of Russia’s consumer protection agency, accused Georgia of “economic sabotage” by introducing the African swine fever (ASF) virus into Russia. […] The facility was the first in the region that met Biosafety Level 3 standards, meaning it was equipped to study serious or lethal human diseases.

    […] Eventually, Russian officials alleged that ASF — which killed nearly 800,000 pigs in Russia and neighboring countries between 2014 and 2017 — was developed in the Georgia lab with the aim of curtailing Russia’s pork imports. (Never mind the outbreak started in 2007, four years before the lab opened.)

    The attacks on the U.S.-funded labs in the region became even more pronounced after Britain in 2018 said the Russian government was responsible for the attempted killing of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal via the nerve agent Novichok.

    Here are the specks of truth that Russian officials are using to spread their propaganda. The labs were initially funded by the Pentagon’s Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), as part of its cooperative biological engagement program. And the labs do study African swine fever — but with the aim of preventing its spread.

    At a 2017 conference hosted by the DTRA, for instance, a Ukrainian official outlined laboratory efforts at improving the diagnosis, surveillance and prevention of ASF in wild boar populations. [snipped more details of scientific papers detailing prevention etc.]

    All of those efforts are in line with a statement posted on the website of the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine — that the program helps “ensure Ukraine can detect and report outbreaks caused by dangerous pathogens before they pose security or stability threats.”The United States and Ukraine in 2005 had signed an agreement under which the Defense Department, at no cost to Ukraine, would assist the Ministry of Health in making sure that Ukrainian labs studying diseases could not be used to develop biological weapons and in better detecting, diagnosing and monitoring infectious-disease outbreaks.

    […] “The Russian charges that the Lugar Center and other biological labs in the Caucasus and Central Asia are making banned bioweapons are unfounded,” wrote biological threat expert Filippa Lentzos in 2018. “Last week a group of international experts, including this author, visited the Lugar Center by invitation of the Georgian government. We were given access to all areas of the site, examined relevant documentation, and interviewed staff, and concluded that the Center demonstrates significant transparency. Our group observed nothing out of the ordinary, or that we wouldn’t expect to see in a legitimate facility of this sort.”

    […] despite the constant debunking, the Russian propaganda that the United States has bioweapons labs in Ukraine has taken root, especially on the right, with the hashtag #usbiolabs trending on Twitter as the Russian invasion of Ukraine commenced. “Would the Russian invasion of Ukraine be justified if it were for biodefense?” asked Robert W. Malone, a prominent vaccine skeptic, on March 9. [JFC]

    The latest iteration of this claim was sparked by a brief exchange during a Senate hearing on March 8 between Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Nuland. Rubio asked whether Ukraine has biological or chemical weapons. Nuland responded by talking about the research labs and the U.S. concern that Russia would get access to them.
    “Ukraine has biological research facilities, which, in fact, we are now quite concerned Russian troops, Russian forces, may be seeking to gain control of,” Nuland replied. “So, we are working with the Ukrainians on how they can prevent any of those research materials from falling into the hands of Russian forces should they approach.” [Well, that was clumsily handled!]

    Following the lead of the Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman — who asserted Nuland’s comment was proof of the United States’ “illegal and criminal activity on Ukrainian soil” — Carlson and many others on the right jumped to the conclusion that this meant the labs really were biological weapons facilities.

    Carlson briefly acknowledged numerous fact checks that previously had debunked the claim but then embraced the latest Russian spin as the truth. Russian state TV then featured Carlson’s take the next day, completing the circle.

    […] the State Department and the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine expressly denied Russia’s renewed claim that Ukraine possessed U.S.-funded bioweapon labs after China’s Foreign Ministry echoed that falsehood to distract from scrutiny of the origins of the coronavirus. [That was during the Trump administration.]

    In reality, Nuland’s statement about “biological research facilities” did not confirm allegations of bioweapons labs. African swine fever, for instance, is not a human pathogen. But it does devastate pigs and can be used as an economic weapon, so it is considered by the United States to be a potential biowarfare agent — especially in countries (such as the United States) with little experience with it. […]

    More at the link. The lies were rated four Pinocchios.

  119. says

    Ukraine update: The price of ‘we need to do more’ is much higher than most people realize

    [We] see people shocked by Russia’s brutality in Ukraine demanding that we “do more.” This is a common sentiment, from very smart people [Tweet from John Spencer is available at the link.]

    Spencer is military, an expert on urban warfare. He gets the stakes, but he’s so moved by the images coming out of Ukraine that he feels compelled to throw all caution to the wind and demand that we “do more.” To many, it’s a moral imperative that we act. How can we say “never again” when talking about the Holocaust when we allow mass murder to take place in Ukraine?

    I’ll ignore the eurocentrism of that argument since none of those people have demanded we “do something” about the mass carnage in Yemen, Myanmar, or Africa. Heck, 5.4 million civilians died in the Second Congo War, between 1998-2003. I’m willing to bet most of you didn’t even know that war existed. But I get it, Ukraine looks like rural Illinois, unlike Iraqi deserts, Vietnamese jungles, or Afghan mountains. Sure, they don’t speak a western language, but they’re white enough, and photos don’t have audio on them anyway.

    This thread is fantastic: [thread from Mike Mazarr is available at the link]

    To summarize, whenever world powers act on impulse and a feeling of urgency, they get sucked into bigger disaster.

    Here, we don’t have to go far to see how disastrous engaging militarily in this war would be for the world. Let’s even take the nightmare scenario off the board—let’s assume Vladimir Putin won’t be so mad as to launch nuclear missiles [I think he is that mad.] Even if that was guaranteed, enlarging the war would be folly. The reason is simple:

    The argument for doing more is predicated on the civilian carnage we’re seeing in Ukraine. Putin must be stopped, it is argued, to save civilian deaths. However, a wider war doesn’t mean fewer civilian deaths, it means more. If Russia’s modus operandi is to bombard its foes into submission, what makes anyone think that Russian bombs and missiles would stop falling on population centers? What’s more likely is that they’ll start falling on more population centers. Suddenly, capital cities like Warsaw, Vilnius, Riga, Tallin, Bucharest, and Sofia would be in range of Russia-based missile systems, and many more in range via Russian naval and strategic air assets in the Mediterranean, North, and Baltic seas.

    And that’s not including the Belorussian and Russian civilians who would die on the other side of the line […] Even if we take nuclear weapons off the table, what’s stopping a desperate Putin from dropping chemical weapons on population centers across the region? Are we willing to put tens of millions of new civilians at risk, to feel better about the millions currently at risk? I know this sounds heartless, and especially so to those currently trapped in Russia’s line of fire. But adding a broader international profile to the casualty list doesn’t bring back the victims of Russian aggression. It just adds to them.

    We are doing a lot. We’ve armed Ukraine with modern weapons systems that have allowed it to fight a vastly superior enemy to a standstill. […] We’re fighting for freedom and democracy and the right of self-determination, and Ukrainians knew the stakes, and they decided to fight. Our job is to support them in that fight, and make sure they get the most effective equipment for the job. (So not fighter jets, because they’re difficult to maintain and easy to destroy, but new air defense systems that can reach higher altitudes than the man-portable ones currently used so effectively by Ukrainian forces, to name one example.)

    It’s okay to be frustrated and want there to be more to do. But remember, actions have consequences, and in this case, additional civilian deaths. And so we need to manage the situation as carefully as President Joe Biden has thus far. […]

  120. says

    Followup to comment 155.

    Posted by readers of the article:

    Worth recalling that there are very few examples in history featuring a wholesale invasion of one European country by another (larger) adversary that have remained confined within the boundaries of the country being invaded.

    Mistakes happen, or treaty obligations get triggered. The adversary gets a taste for “success” and proceeds further.

    Net result an expanded conflict.
    ———————–
    If the war expands it expands, but “well, it was going to expand anyway” is no reason to provoke it.
    ————————-
    Of course, this larger war is already underway and has been for some years now. Fascism is here in the USA now, and one of the big reasons we have fascism right now here in the USA is Putin. Putin has been actively working to weaken America specifically, and our western alliance more generally. Putin is one of the reasons we had Trump as POTUS, a deadly riot at the Capital Building, and more neo-nazi parades in America.

    No one can deny Putin is seeking to end democracy in Europe, and is funding American conservatives to end democracy here in America.

    Ukraine’s fight is OUR fight — it is the fight for democracy. This isn’t just happening “over there”.

    Of course, we could end further bloodshed by following thru with the Trump plan: simply give Ukraine to Putin (and any other countries Putin wants). But appeasement did not work to prevent a wider war in the 1930’s, and we have no reason to think it will help today.

  121. says

    Scumbags and grifters:

    […] On Friday, it was reported that the Trump scam machine, besides being total hooey, has such little regard for the millions of MAGA suckers it cons that it has been fundraising off of promises of meet-and-greets—and then just blowing them off. That’s some cold-blooded hubris.

    The Washington Post reports that Trump’s political action groups promoted a contest for small-dollar donors in a series of more than a dozen emails. Give a little money and you would be entered into a contest of sorts to be flown out and put up in a New Orleans hotel, with a chance to shake the short stubby hand of the disgraced, twice-impeached Trump in person. That was supposed to happen this past weekend. According to four people WaPo spoke with, nobody was flown out and nobody except big-check donors got a chance to meet the former president.

    Link

    Photo at the link of people taking a photo with a cardboard Trump.

  122. blf says

    Follow-up to @158, the Grauniad has an article on the new Ukrainian stamp, Ukraine reveals ‘Russian warship, go fuck yourself!’ postage stamp (I like how the Grauniad doesn’t bother with the euphemism quoted in @158). An amusing snippet:

    Zelenskiy himself has been a ubiquitous presence across social media with live videos proving he has not fled and remains in Kyiv. He has also constantly worked the phones with western leaders in an effort that has been credited with helping to rally a united western front, both among governments and many large global companies.

    Two presidents meet with their respective defence ministers. pic.twitter.com/R16wtp6B8C

    Vladimir Putin, meanwhile, has made it a crime to call the war a war, all but banned social media and cracked down on internet access, ensuring that most Russians get their news only from state media.

    The image at the embedded link (from Shaun Walker) is very illustrative

  123. says

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

    Belarus denies plans to join Russian invasion

    Belarusian armed forces’ chief of general staff, Viktor Gulevich, said Belarus has no plans to join the Russian invasion of Ukraine but is sending five battalion tactical groups (BTGs) to its border on rotation to replace forces already stationed there.

    On Friday, a top Ukrainian security official warned Belarus not to send troops to Ukraine amid fears that Belarus was planning to join Russian armed forces within hours.

    Gulevich denied plans to invade Ukraine today:

    I want to underline that the transfer of troops is in no way connected with (any) preparation, and especially not with the participation of Belarusian soldiers in the special military operation on the territory of Ukraine.

    Belarus has served as a staging post for Russian troops, missiles and aircraft, but it has not deployed its own forces in active battle….

    Russian army has suffered its biggest losses in decades, Zelenskiy says

    In his latest video address to the nation, the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, claimed 31 Russian battalion tactical groups have now been rendered incapable of combat.

    The Russian troops are suffering great losses. We could even now talk about the greatest blow to the Russian troops in tens of years.

    Zelenskiy urged Russia to uphold an agreed ceasefire to allow evacuations to proceed from the besieged port city of Mariupol, after blaming Moscow for the failure of previous attempts

    He went on to demand the immediate release of Ivan Fedorov, the mayor of the southern Ukrainian city of Melitopol, who Ukraine says was kidnapped by Russian forces.

    Zelenskiy said he was in constant talks with Ukraine’s international partners about the situation with Melitpol’s mayor.

    We appeal to all world leaders who speak to Moscow – France, Germany, Israel, and others.

    The Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, called on the leaders of France and Germany to help secure the release of Ivan Fedorov, the mayor of Melitopol, who Kyiv says was abducted by Russian forces, AFP reports.

    Zelenksiy was speaking in his latest video address, where he said 2,000 Ukrainians demonstrated in Melitopol on Saturday against the Russian invasion and to demand the release of their mayor.

    Do you hear, Moscow? If 2,000 people demonstrate in Melitopol against the occupation, how many are there in Moscow against the war?

    Russia warns that Moscow now considers arms shipments to Ukraine as ‘legitimate targets’ for military

    A senior Russian diplomat has warned that from now on Moscow will consider arms shipments to Ukraine as “legitimate targets”.

    The comments by the deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov, reported by Sky News and BuzzFeed News, are likely to raise fears over a potential escalation in the conflict in Ukraine.

    Ryabkov said that Russia had made its position clear to the US.

    He said that Russia “warned the US that pumping weapons from a number of countries it orchestrates isn’t just a dangerous move, it’s an action that makes those convoys legitimate targets”.

    Denouncing US sanctions against Moscow, he said they were an “unprecedented attempt to deal a serious blow to various sectors of the Russian economy”.

    But he insisted that Russia did not intend to expel western media and businesses, adding: “We aren’t going to escalate the situation.”

  124. says

    Also in the Guardian – “Russian flags come down in New York’s Little Odessa: ‘Putin has turned it into a fascist symbol’”:

    …Few people in Brighton Beach, home to one of the world’s largest concentrations of immigrants from the former Soviet Union, are indifferent to Putin’s war on Ukraine. Many were themselves refugees from Soviet Ukraine and are horrified to see Russian artillery shells hit apartment buildings and a new generation torn from their homes by an oppressive regime….

  125. says

    The Ezra Klein Show:

    “Fiona Hill on the War Putin Is Really Fighting”:

    …We discuss how Putin’s motivations and ambitions have changed dramatically in the last decade, why Ukrainian identity is absolutely central to understanding this conflict, whether NATO expansionism is responsible for the current conflict, the different pathways the war could take, how political incentives have created a spiral of escalation for Russia, Ukraine and the West, whether the economic pain of the sanctions can incentivize regime change in Moscow, the possibility of China playing a mediating role in resolving the conflict, the dangers of backing Putin into a corner, whether Putin is willing to use nuclear weapons, what de-escalation could look like at this point, and much more….

    “Masha Gessen on Putin’s ‘Profoundly Anti-Modern’ Worldview”:

    …This is a conversation that starts in Moscow, as Gessen describes what it was like to be there during the first days of the invasion. We talk about the eerie sense of normalcy in the city as the ruble crashed and the odd sense of calm in Pushkin Square as policemen in combat gear dragged protesters into a police bus. We then take a wider view on how Russians responded to economic sanctions in the past, how totalitarian societies make it impossible for people to form opinions [weird claim – SC], where Putin sees himself in a lineage of “brutal, expansionist dictators” like Ivan the Terrible and Joseph Stalin, why Putin governs Russia as if it were a 19th-century empire, what we learn when we listen closely to Putin’s speeches and how this latest act of aggression is likely to play out.

  126. StevoR says

    Quoting for truth – Chase trangio on twitter :

    I would rather my kid change their sense of gender 200 times before puberty than die before they could live. Your anxiety over young kids claimimg a truth of who they are is about you not them, not medicine, not some grave threat. Deal with your shit and let others live.

    Typed out from meme shared by ftiend of mine, any typographical errors mine.

    My view FWIW :

    Staggers me that anyone wouldn’t.
    We’re all individuals.
    All ourselves.
    Who else should decide for us, who and what we are?
    People.
    We’re all people, people.
    We can all treat each other with kindness and respect and allow each other to be each other, can’t we?
    Think and be kind.
    I will never tell anyone else what gender they should be or are, what sexuality or orientation or life they should live as.
    Because that ain’t my choice. Its theirs.
    As long as it isn’t hurting me or others.
    Which it won’t be here.
    How is this hard or not obvious as F?

    Too basic?Too hard? I just .. fucksake…

  127. blf says

    A snippet from Meduza’s live blog:

    Let’s do a Holocaust analogy!
    Leningrad front man Sergey Shnurov has released a new music video, titled “No Entry,” where he compares Europe’s modern-day treatment of Russians to the Nazis’ persecution of the Jews. “Russian is a new Jude for you; you’d burn us all in a furnace,” sings Shnurov, flanked by two men wearing traditional kosovorotka shirts emblazoned with the Star of David. […]

    Shnur, as he is also known, according to Ye Pfffft! of All Knowledge:

    Art critic Artyom Rodnaryov thinks that the main audience of Shnurov are clerks who need someone to channel their aggression. Most of the Shnur’s songs excessively use obscene words and have a very simple composition, thus fulfilling this function.

    In 2016, Shnurov reported the highest income of all singers in Russia ($11 million).

    In 2017, he was on the cover of the Russian edition of Forbes.

  128. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    The French president, Emmanuel Macron, has called for an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine in a call with Russian president, Vladimir Putin.

    Citing a German government spokesperson, Reuters reports that the 75-minute phone call included Putin, Macron and German chancellor Olaf Scholz….

    Russian forces are reportedly planning to conduct a “pseudo referendum” in Kherson, the Ukrainian city under Russian occupation.

    The deputy head of the local council in Kherson told Reuters that it wants to create a new breakaway republic.

  129. blf says

    The Nasa/JPL Mars helicopter Ingenuity has just completed, successfully, its 21st(!) flight. To-date, it’s flown a total distance of 4.65km, greater than Perseverance’s total of 4.39km. The two machines are heading towards a rendezvous near the original landing site, and then towards Jezero Crater’s river delta.

  130. says

    “Ukraine update: Russia threatens to break the supply chain holding Ukraine together,” by Mark Sumner

    Photo at the link shows a Ukrainian soldier with his UK-made MBT LAW, and a former Russian armored personal carrier.

    As of Saturday, the Ukrainian military of defense reported that they had captured, destroyed, or disabled 2,550 Russian vehicles and aircraft. Oryx has definitively identified at least 1,164 of these vehicles using photographs and videos of captured or destroyed equipment. This includes an amazing 108 T-72 tanks—the definitive thing you do not want to drive down a Ukrainian roadway.

    The biggest reason that Ukraine has been able to eliminate such massive amounts of equipment from the battlefield is simple—portable anti-tank and anti-aircraft defenses. Russian aircraft have fallen to not just U.S.-made Stingers, but to aging Warsaw Pact Strelas and Polish Pioruns fired from updated Soviet launchers. British Starstreak systems are on the way. [That’s great news about the British Starstreak systems.] And, of course, there are the Turkish Bayraktar drones, whose ability to deal with Russian vehicles and artillery installations is the poster child for how quickly the modern battlefield is changing.

    On the ground, “Saint Javelin” has become the emblem of Ukraine’s ability to to turn Russian heavy metal into scrap. However, the real arsenal in the hands of Ukrainian soldiers is incredibly varied, including such items as Spanish C90-CRs, Swedish M2 Carl Gustaf (that were actually sent by Canada), German Panzerfaust, and better than 3,500 MBT LAW systems from the U.K. All of these—along with weapons actually made in Ukraine, like the highly effective Corsar, and an array of left over Soviet hardware—have been put to effective use.

    On Saturday, Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelenskyy stated that Ukraine has lost 1,300 soldiers so far in this war. No matter whose estimate is used, that’s a fraction of Russian losses, but there’s no doubt that the hard-won victories Ukraine has scored to date are a mixture of their ironwilled resistance, and a steady stream of defensive weapons coming in from other nations.

    Russia knows this as well. On Friday, Russia issued at least two statements making it clear it considers efforts to resupply Ukraine as “legitimate targets” for Russian attacks. That includes a statement from Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov who warned that “the U.S. pumping weapons from a number of countries it orchestrates isn’t just a dangerous move, it’s an action that makes those convoys legitimate targets.”

    Exactly how these weapons are getting into Ukraine is definitely not a subject widely discussed in public. They’re almost certainly being landed in Poland and moved down the highway by transport trucks to reach Kyiv and other areas along the frontline of the war.

    To what extent Russia is capable of disrupting these lines of supply isn’t clear. However, it is clear that if they move to do so, not only is it likely to cause disruptions in the supply of weapons to the Ukrainian military, but to the already fragile supply of medicines and food coming into the eastern half of Ukraine. It could also interfere with the lines of refugees moving out of the country to the west.

    If Russia attempts to interdict supplies from the West, it will send a signal inside and outside Ukraine that the war is moving to a new phase, but how any of the nations involved would react is far from clear. To some extent, Russia not attacking the supply chain, or escaping refugees, has been part of what has allowed Western nations to stay on the sidelines. Attacking those lines represents a risk to both sides.

    […] Though Ukrainian forces have repeatedly beaten back attempts to seize Kyiv, or Kharkiv, or Sumy, Russia doesn’t have to win every assault to ultimately win the battle. And with Russian forces drawing closer to Kyiv on three sides, the prospect of the kind of withering artillery and missile barrage that has flattened much of Mariupol is looming over the city. […]

    Link

  131. says

    In the last day, Putin has made a number of statements along these lines:

    The USSR always lived under sanctions and succeeded, claims Putin.

    Per capita consumption in the USSR never exceeded 1/3 that of the US.

    20% of the USSR’s population lived on less than 75 rubles per person a month.

    4 – 5 million Soviet families lived below the poverty level.

    https://twitter.com/visegrad24/status/1502626115566850049

    Commentary:

    There are a couple of things to note. One is that Putin is consistently talking about the USSR rather than Russia. Each day of the war, this seems to become more common.

    Second, notice how the man who has a mansion the size of a football stadium is explaining to his people how they won’t mind grinding poverty. That they’ll be just peachy mired in the kind of hopeless gray misery and starvation that marked life for ordinary people—though not the party elite—in his beloved Soviet Union.

    At least when Marie Antoinette said “let them eat cake,” it had a festive ring. Putin’s message to his people is more “you’ll eat nothing, and like it.”

    (And yes, I know the cake quote is apocryphal.)

    Link

  132. says

    Russian energy officials claim control of Ukraine’s largest nuclear power plant

    Russian officials traveled to Ukraine’s largest nuclear power plant and claimed control of the facility, CNN reported, citing information from the country’s state-operated nuclear energy company.

    Eleven officials from Russian atomic energy company Rosatom arrived Friday at the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Station claiming that the plant now belonged to their company.

    Previously, the plant was occupied by the Russian army for over a week.

    The group of Russians included two high-level engineers from large Russian nuclear power plants in Balakovo and Rostov.

    “According to a representative of this group, they were sent to assess nuclear and radiation safety after the shelling and seizure of the station, as well as to provide assistance with repairs,” read a statement from Ukrainian nuclear energy company Energoatom, according to CNN.

    “Another reason for their appearance was voiced as the refusal of the pro-Ukrainian leadership and ZNPP personnel to cooperate with the invaders,” it continued.

    Energoatom claims that Ukrainians have been forced to work at the Zaporizhzhya power plant at gunpoint while Russian forces have occupied the station.

    The six power units located at Zaporizhzhya are in operating condition, but Ukrainian station management is forced to follow Russian orders on all technical issues, according to the company.

    The International Atomic Energy Agency reported Saturday that two out of four of Zaporizhzhya’s high-voltage power lines have been damaged. However, the power that the plant requires to continue safe operations can be provided by one line.

  133. says

    Wonkette: “Texas Won’t Be Able To Throw People In Jail For Being Good Parents To Trans Kids … For Now”

    Back in February, Texas Governor Greg Abbott and his sidekick, AG Ken Paxton, got together to make it illegal for parents and doctors to provide care to trans children beyond yelling at them that they will just have to suck it up and pretend to be the gender they were assigned at birth. Neither of them had or have any clue what the gender affirmative model is, nor did they have any desire to look into it, so they imagineered their own version of what it was and then criminalized it based on that.

    To be fair, the version they invented in their heads was pretty bad and irresponsible, and if it existed anywhere in any reality in the known universe, it would be quite fair to ban it. Unfortunately, along with criminalizing this imaginary version of gender affirmative care — in which doctors were thoughtlessly slinging out hormones and brand new genitals to any three-year-old playing pretend — they also criminalized the very normal and very thoughtful real version of gender affirmative model supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics, Texas Pediatric Society, and which has long been considered the official standard of care for transgender and gender expansive children by the American Psychiatric Association.

    But good news! A judge with a brain in her head has decided that perhaps this is not the greatest idea in the world and has dropped an injunction on Gregg Abbott’s grand plan to throw parents and doctors who give gender affirmative care to children in prison for child abuse.

    Via CNN:

    “The court finds sufficient cause to enter a temporary injunction,” Judge Amy Clark Meachum in Travis County said Friday evening.The judge said Abbott’s order was “beyond the scope of his authority and unconstitutional” and that the parents of a transgender child and a psychologist who filed suit against the governor were likely to succeed at trial, which is set for July. […]

    Meachum ruled in district court last week the state must stop a child abuse investigation of a family seeking gender-affirming health care for their transgender child. That decision came after the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Texas and LGBTQ civil rights organization Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit on behalf of the parents of a transgender girl. The child’s mother, a DFPS employee, was suspended from her job because of Paxton’s legal opinion.

    Abbott and Paxton appealed Meachum’s decision, but the state’s Third Court of Appeals dismissed the appeal over jurisdiction.

    Good.

    It’s clear what this is all about. Bigoted adults feel like they’re being left behind by the culture — which they are — and they think if they can stop gender affirmative care, if they can stop people from coming out as transgender or nonbinary, they’ll have a little more time getting to live in a world they feel they understand. Unfortunately, this hurts children. It hurts parents. It hurts medical professionals who want to give children the best standard of care.

    Hopefully, Judge Meachum is correct and the parents and doctor of that child will win in court and Texas will not be looking at a future filled with kids being taken away from loving, caring parents and those parents being thrown in prison for doing what’s right for their children. Because there’s no way that would end well.

    Link

  134. says

    Russia’s cyberwar is being fought against Russians

    When it comes to the actual war on the ground, Russian forces have been astoundingly incompetent.

    Some of it is due to extraordinary bad planning that was made on the assumption that Russia would simply roll into Kyiv and enjoy the parades. Russian intelligence was bad, their logistics were miserable, and the performance of their military overall has just been staggeringly poor. Yes, as the pundits at the U.S. War College once said, “quantity has a quality all its own,” and Russia enjoys a large numerical edge over Ukraine, but so far that quantity-quality hasn’t made up for a military that seems intent on doing everything wrong. It’s been over 70 years since the last time the Russian army had to face a significant fight against an opposing convention force, and they seem to have spent that time watching the own propaganda rather than making plans.

    It’s not just the boots-on-the-ground end of the war where Russian inefficiency has been surprising. So far, Russia hasn’t demonstrated any particular use for what was supposed to be one of their signature strengths—cyberwarfare. Yes, close to a million people in Ukraine are currently without power, but that’s because of blunt force trauma to their power supply, not any sort of clever hack. Even if Russia has been able to slide some of their bot armies to servers in India and elsewhere, the extent of their power seems to be getting Tucker Carlson and Republican Rep. Thomas Massie to repeat their talking points. And really, they didn’t need any magic to pull that off.

    But Russia may be doing better in this fight that we might assume.

    As The Washington Post reports, Russia’s cyber-warriors were clearly preparing for this event months in advance. Last September, agents from various post-KGB agencies threatened Russia-based executives from both Google and Apple, bullying them into removing apps with physical threats. By limiting access to information that failed to reflect the party line, they were laying “the groundwork for the Soviet-style suppression of free expression.”

    What’s the outcome of the digital conflict? From the Western side, all may appear peaceful, but that’s not the point of this particular fight. Russia’s cyberwar is being conducted against Russians. In particular, it’s goal is to severe connections between Russians and the rest the world, preventing them from accessing any social media or online news that isn’t singing the glories of Vladimir Putin and praising the victories of the Russian — no, make that Soviet — military.

    Years of experience with China’s Great Firewall shows that such efforts are never perfect. However, they can be more than sufficient. Most people are not going to hack their phones or risk prison just to get unfettered access to Twitter or Facebook. The Silicon Curtain is a key element to assuring that Putin’s War retains majority support in Russia. […]

    “I don’t think it’s an over dramatization to say that Putin is longing for a return to Soviet Union times,” said Institute for Modern Russia founder Pavel Khodorkovsky, “not only in geopolitical power but in terms of total control inside the state.”

    That would be the same kind of control that insisted Ukraine was happy and healthy, even as the area was in the middle of the Holodomor, a man-made famine in which millions of Ukrainians were starved to death. Putin’s cyberwar doesn’t seem all this effective from this side of the curtain, but there’s no doubt he hopes to use it to hide a new generation of horrors from those he nominally leads.

    Link

  135. blf says

    A missile launched from India crashed in Pakistan several days ago. No-one was hurt and damage was minimal. India says the launch was an accident during routine maintenance. Pakistan has confirmed the missile was unarmed, so an accident of some sort isn’t implausible — but one immediately wonders about safely systems and so forth. Pakistan is understandably annoyed, and particularly upset India didn’t immediately get in contact or issue a warning (apparently causing some in Pakistan to wonder if the missile was actually under India’s control, or some rogue faction). India has apologised and announced an inquiry, which Pakistan (understandably) wants to join, Pakistan demands joint probe into ‘accidental’ India missile fire[launch] (“Dissatisfied by New Delhi’s explanation, Islamabad seeks a joint investigation to accurately establish the facts surrounding the incident”).

  136. blf says

    Putin propagandist news host has British home and citizenship:

    […]
    One of Russia’s most popular television news presenters, who has been accused of being a propagandist for the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, has British citizenship and a family flat in west London.

    Sergei Brilev has been reporting on the war in Ukraine on the state-controlled Rossiya 1, which tightly follows the Kremlin’s messaging. The channel describes the war as a special military operation launched to protect Ukrainian citizens from abuse and genocide.

    British government ministers are coming under pressure to impose sanctions on Brilev. […]

    Other Russian television anchors have already faced sanctions by the EU over the state-backed disinformation about the Ukraine invasion.

    Olga Skabeyeva, 37, a talkshow host on Rossiya 1, was put under sanction by the EU last month, accused of spreading “anti-Ukrainian propaganda”. Another presenter on the channel, Vladimir Solovyov, 58, has also been the target of EU sanctions. It has been reported that two villas owned by him at Lake Como in Italy, worth €8m (£6.7m), have been sequestered by the authorities.

    Brilev is one of Russia’s best-known broadcasters. He was the official co-commentator for Putin’s presidential inauguration in 2018, when he was accused of failing to report on protests and detentions relating to the ceremony. He is also a member of the Russian international affairs council, co-founded by the Russian ministry of foreign affairs and presided over by the minister of foreign affairs, Sergei Lavrov.

    An investigation by the now jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny in November 2018 revealed he was on the electoral roll in Britain and his wife owned a flat in Chiswick, west London, bought for £700,000 in March 2016.

    The presenter confirmed the claims on Facebook […]

  137. blf says

    Ukraine recalls its peacekeepers to fight Russian forces (video):

    […] Some 250 Ukrainian peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of Congo prepare to return home to face Russian forces. Also, Egypt bans exports of staples such as wheat and flour in an effort to secure food reserves. The country depends heavily on wheat imports from Ukraine and Russia. And Nigeria sees long queues at the petrol pump, grounded flights and electricity cuts due to fuel shortages. Prices are surging, partly because of the war in Ukraine.

  138. says

    Good. He was arrested.

    Police announced Saturday they had arrested far-right activist and Idaho gubernatorial candidate Ammon Bundy for allegedly trespassing.

    He was taken to Ada County Jail for one count of misdemeanor trespassing after allegedly showing up with several supporters at St. Luke’s Meridian Medical Center and refusing to leave the property, according to a press release from the Meridian Police Department.

    Bundy and his supporters showed up at the medical center after a 10-month-old child who had been taken into police custody was brought there to get medical treatment, according to the release. Bundy said in a post on Twitter that the child was “my very good friend Diego’s grandson.”

    Police said they had been alerted early in March that the child had been admitted to the hospital with severe malnourishment. After the child gained weight and was released into its parents’ care, a follow-up appointment a week later found that the child had again lost weight.

    The child’s parents canceled a subsequent follow-up appointment and could not be located, according to police, which led medical staff to alert authorities, saying the child’s case could be life-threatening.

    Police took the child into custody after the family refused to allow officers to check on the child following another missed examination, the release said. […]

    Link

  139. says

    Wonkette: “QAnon People Devastated To Discover How Search Engines Work”

    This week, DuckDuckGo CEO Gabriel Weinberg announced on Twitter that he opposes the Russian invasion of Ukraine and that “[a]t DuckDuckGo, we’ve been rolling out search updates that down-rank sites associated with Russian disinformation.”

    Most people would consider that a good thing. Not having disinformation and blatant propaganda pop up when searching for information on current events is certainly convenient. […]

    Far right conspiracy theorists, however, have gone right off the deep end, crying censorship and revealing that they really never knew how search engines worked to begin with. As you are probably aware by now, the QAnon right is very much Team Putin in all of this. The belief is that Putin and Chinese president Xi Jinping are working together with Trump to “eliminate the New World Order.” Not the wrestling association, the conspiracy theory.

    For a long time, DuckDuckGo had been one of the preferred search engines of the far Right, owing to the fact that they believed the site did not “censor” results. Like, they really truly thought there were no site rankings and whatever came up was just entirely random. This, of course, would be very unhelpful and ridiculous. It would make it impossible for anyone to look up anything.

    In the responses to the tweet, there were a lot of people whining that they should put the truth and the misinformation out equally and neutrally, and let them decide for themselves what they believe. Because sure, people who don’t know how search engines work should definitely be able to discern the truth from bullshit.

    There were, of course, multitudes of “DuckDuckGo has been compromised!” and “Where should I go, what should I do now that I can’t use ‘DuckDuckGo'” posts on a prominent QAnon site yesterday. […]

    Some users announced their plans to switch to the Brave search engine (which also uses site rankings to determine what to show people first), but far more pushed for everyone to switch to Yandex, the other most popular search engine among internet kooks. Unsurprisingly, Yandex is based in Russia — which means Russian disinformation is prominently displayed in its search results. One of the first sites that comes up for any result is the Russian state-controlled “news” site Russia Today, which to these folks signals true neutrality.

    One user was particularly delighted by the number of search results on the site for “Joe Biden dementia,” because again, they want unbiased, neutral search results. […]

    Yandex also happens to be the site conspiracy theorists used during the ridiculous “Wayfair is selling mole children in industrial storage units!” conspiracy to determine that the whole thing was part of an evil plot by known child-eater Tom Hanks.

    To be clear, there’s nothing wrong or “far right” about DuckDuckGo itself. It’s a search engine that doesn’t track your searches, unlike Google and Bing and other search engines. The fact that these idiots thought it was something it wasn’t has nothing to do with them.

    Link

  140. blf says

    Guatemala increases punishment for abortions and bans same-sex marriage:

    Congress passes law targeting LGBTQ+ community, while women now face up to 10 years in prison for terminating pregnancies

    […]

    Late on Tuesday — International Women’s Day — Guatemala’s congress passed a Protection of Life and Family law that also targeted the LGBTQ+ community.

    Guatemalan women convicted of terminating their pregnancies can now face sentences up to 10 years that before were a maximum of three. The congress imposed even heavier penalties for doctors and others who assist women in ending pregnancies.

    Abortions are legal only when the life of the mother is at risk.

    On Wednesday, which Guatemala’s congress declared Life and Family Day, President Alejandro Giammattei said in a speech at the National Palace, This event is an invitation to unite as Guatemalans to protect life from conception until natural death.

    Lawmakers backing the legislation said the law was necessary because minority groups in society propose ways of thinking and practices that are incongruous with Christian morality.

    Vicenta Gerónimo, who voted against the legislation, said it violated human rights, especially of women in rural areas where there is no government health infrastructure.

    The legislation passed with 101 votes in favor and eight against. Fifty-one lawmakers were not present.

    […]

    “The approval of this dangerous initiative represents a threat to the rights of women and LGBT people in the country,” said Cristian González of Human Rights Watch. He also said the legislation served as a distraction from President Giammattei’s systematic dismantling of the justice system.

    […]

    The Guatemala legislation also explicitly prohibited same-sex marriage […] and banned schools from teaching anything that could deviate {a child’s} identity according to their birth gender.

    Lawmaker Armando Castillo, an ally of Giammattei’s administration, defended the legislation, saying that the only thing it did was protect heterosexual people who have no interest in diversity.

    But the opposition lawmaker Lucrecia Hernández warned her colleagues that the “law stigmatizes people, discriminates and foments intolerance and hate speech and crimes”.

  141. blf says

    Lynna@180, I myself use DuckDuckGo and Brave (search engines, and sometimes, browsers), along with Tor and assorted other technological tricks, when poking about to see what teh wack-a-loons are bellowing.

    One of those tricks is a VPN, which can also be used to bypass censorship, e.g., Russians seek to evade social media ban with virtual private networks [VPNs]. The VPN I use — which I pay for — happens to have servers in Russia (but not Belarus), and also in Ukraine, which means that — in principle — I can see that Russians see… not that it does me much good, as I cannot read Russian.

       There are free so-called VPNs. None of the ones I know of are true VPNs and need to be approached with caution.

  142. blf says

    Addendum to @182, I’ve also used the Yandex search engine on occasion — from memory, it has(? had?) one of the better “reverse image search” features — but have no idea what results it finds now, or more generally.

  143. blf says

    UK visa red tape distracting fighters on frontline, says Ukraine’s former PM:

    […]
    Red tape holding up refugees from reaching the UK could be distracting husbands and fathers left behind to fight Russian forces as they worry about the safety of their families who have fled, a former prime minister of Ukraine has said.

    Volodymyr Groysman was Ukraine’s premier between 2016 and 2019, and has been warning about the threat from the Kremlin for many years.

    He led a government taskforce coordinating investigations into the crash of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17, which was shot down by a missile launched from an area of Ukraine controlled by pro-Russia separatists in July 2014.

    He also led the resettlement of Ukrainians from the occupied Donbas and Crimea.

    Now, although he remains in the country, his whereabouts are kept secret as he finds himself on Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s kill list as he works to defend his home.

    […]

    Groysman said he had known Johnson “personally … for many years already”. We’ve met on several occasions, I can tell you that he is real, he is genuine and he’s a strong world leader, who is clearly on the good side. We feel the support and we are very grateful for the support.

    I put the second part of Mr Groysman’s quote in eejit quotes as much of it is nonsense — not strong but craven and beholden to ruble-denominated interests, not at all genuine except in the sense of a fraud, and very rarely on the good side unless the side is paying in rubles. Nonetheless, I presume Mr Groysman is being “diplomatic”, or trying to “butter up” Johnson and his ruble-loving cronies, rather than an eejit.

    [… Groysman, who said he could hear bomber jets outside during his interview:] “If there is a possibility to cut this [visa] red tape for Ukrainians and to help those people of course it will be welcome, because I think you’re not going to regret the fact that you care about Ukrainians because Ukrainians are very good people, they are very bright, they need your help.”

    […]

    The British Red Cross said the quickest way of fixing the problem would be to remove the requirement for a visa, which has been done in other countries.

    […]

  144. Jean says

    It seems Saudi Arabia has taken advantage of the current world focus to execute 81 people in a single day. The prince probably thought that he could get away with it without much blow back since the world needs their oil right now. And he’s probably right, unfortunately.

  145. blf says

    Follow-up to @81 and my short synopsis of how Ukrainian refugees are being welcomed in Ireland, Dublin welcomes dazed Ukrainian arrivals with food, buggies and toys:

    An airport building is turned into one-stop shop for life essentials and legal support

    [… Natalya] had made the gruelling 30-hour journey from Kyiv to Warsaw a week earlier but had been stymied by UK immigration rules. Her boyfriend described how she had been denied travel at the boarding gate because the plane was transiting through Stansted.

    “They did not allow me on the plane because they asked for a visa for the UK. I said ‘how can I get a visa? There is a war in my country’,” said Natalya, who had left a good job in Kyiv working for a media agency.

    She had no such problem getting into Ireland. “It was very easy. Someone just said, ‘who is from Ukraine?’ and they gathered up the group and took us to the plane.”

    […]

    Within minutes of arrival, they are taken to a welcome building with food, drinks, phone chargers, toys and people buzzing around to help with registration for residency.

    During a week in which the UK and the Home Office were battered by sharp criticism for insisting that Ukrainians must apply for a visa before entering the UK, the contrast in Dublin could not have been starker.

    While one builder in Calais complained that British authorities had “treated us worse than the water in the toilet”, turned away after a 2,000-mile journey because they had no visa for the UK, Ireland lifted visa restrictions and extended the right to live and work for up to three years.

    As the numbers of arrivals ballooned in Ireland, the government decided the refugee crisis should be met with a humanitarian response with efforts to simplify all the paperwork needed. Crucially, it would be completed after arrival, not before.

    The Dublin Airport Authority decided to donate its headquarters and government departments dealing with housing, health, and immigration together set up a “one-stop shop” to ease the plight of refugees.

    “This is the first port of call for so many people who are arriving from Ukraine who have fled over the past number of days. What’s really important is that when they arrive first they get a very warm welcome,” said justice minister Helen McEntee.

    A bright and airy building, 500 metres from the arrivals hall, it was bustling with activity with toys, sim cards, cots, changing rooms and pallets of free food and soft drinks.

    Arrivals first sat down to complete the paperwork that will generate Ireland’s equivalent of a national insurance number and temporary residency protection.

    While immigration checks were completed, refugees were invited to wait upstairs in a newly created lounge complete with colourful cushions brought the day before from Ikea.

    Mothers could leave their children in a supervised soft play area next door or pick up toiletries and care packages from a series of rooms converted into free shops stacked with everything from toothpaste and tampons to shampoo and baby clothes. The airport authority had even brought down its collection of lost buggies.

    And a longer article in the Irish Times, Ukraine refugee crisis: The different approaches taken by Ireland and the UK:

    State has opened the door to Ukrainians while the UK talks security concerns

    The contrast in the approaches taken by the Irish and British governments to Ukrainian people seeking refuge as they flee the Russian invasion could not be sharper.

    At Dublin Airport, there is a “one-stop shop” — as Minister for Justice Helen McEntee described it — where people fleeing the war-torn country receive a Personal Public Service (PPS) number allowing them to work and access supports and where they can register for accommodation where necessary.

    There is access to phone chargers and SIM cards. In a dedicated room at the airport, there are toys, baby food and nappies for the many children arriving into the country.

    The Government waived visa requirements for Ukrainians the day the Russians attacked and, in concert with other EU countries, is offering temporary protection for at least a year.

    On the UK side, there are obstacles and red tape, lots of it. TV and newspaper reports have relayed stories and images of desperate, exhausted families being turned away by UK immigration officials and lines of people, including elderly people in their 90s, standing outside a British visa centre in eastern Poland in the snow queueing for the papers to travel to Britain.

    Since the invasion, 2,965 Ukrainian nationals, mostly women and children, arrived at Dublin Airport as of Wednesday, including 486 on Sunday, the highest daily number of arrivals.

    In the UK, a country with a population 13 times the size of Ireland’s, just 957 visas were approved by Wednesday for Ukrainians, while 22,000 applications had yet to be processed.

    Where McEntee talked about how she was considering taking in Ukrainian refugees into her own home, her British counterpart Priti Patel, the UK home secretary, was discussing balancing the risk of security concerns about letting Russians infiltrate the UK by claiming to be Ukrainian refugees while responding to the Ukrainian refugee crisis.

    […]

    The British government has been criticised as an international outlier for a slow and inadequate response to the humanitarian emergency […]

    On Thursday, the UK relaxed [slightly! –blf] its restrictive post-Brexit entry requirements for Ukrainians, [… but t]he new UK rules will exclude anyone who left Ukraine without their passport or a form of identity document. Given the haste with which some left, this could exclude many.

    At Dublin Airport, State officials at the border management unit have shown flexibility by accepting identification issued by the Ukrainian government or an authority recognised by it that establishes identity and nationality to the satisfaction of an immigration officer.

    This week, McEntee gave short shrift to a Daily Telegraph report about security concerns expressed by an unnamed British government source about Ireland’s approach to the war refugees and how the Government had basically opened the door to everyone in Ukraine [this nonsense is what triggered my rant in @81 –blf].

    “It is not like there are no checks at all,” said one source. “But we have to accept that people had to leave Ukraine in very extreme circumstances and may not have been able to get access to their passport. If they show up and don’t have a passport, we will ask for other identification.”

    […]

    Also, Almost 14,500 housing offers for Ukrainian refugees –Irish Red Cross:

    Dublin hotel suspends appeal for clothing and toiletries after ‘overwhelming’ response

    There have been almost 14,500 pledges of accommodation from Irish people to Ukrainian refugees, the Irish Red Cross has said.

    […]

    When the Red Cross previously sought pledges for accommodation for refugees from Syria, there were 1,000 offers. [yes, sadly, bigotry — which is what I suspect is going on here — is a problem in Ireland –blf]

    […]

    The huge volume of offers is being processed by a team of volunteers who will telephone to acknowledge each pledge and this will take time, he said.

    The refugees are currently arriving into emergency accommodation such as hotels or reception centres. Then, when the pledges have been organised, the Irish Red Cross will match them with a family.

    […]

    Meanwhile, a hotel in Dublin housing Ukrainian refugees had to suspend an appeal for clothing and toiletries after it was “overwhelmed” by the public response.

    The Red Cow Moran hotel, on the Naas Road in Dublin 22 [West Dublin –blf], issued a public appeal for clothes, underwear, shoes, toiletries, period products and children’s toys after more than 300 Ukrainian refugees arrived at the facility.

    In an update posted on social media on Friday afternoon, the hotel issued a “heartfelt thanks to all for the donations”.

    “The response to our clothing/toiletry appeal has been overwhelming. We need time to process what we have so please hold off on any further donations for the time being,” the statement said.

    “Once we know what is still required we will send out an appeal for same. Thank you.”

  146. blf says

    Mississippi teacher fired for reading I Need a New Butt! to children:

    Toby Price’s termination for sharing the humorous children’s book has sparked criticism and a wave of support

    An elementary school administrator in Mississippi has said he was fired for reading I Need a New Butt!, a humorous children’s book about bottoms, to a class of second-graders [on March 2nd, Read Across America Day].

    […]

    I Need a New Butt!, for readers aged between four and eight, is about a boy who sets out to find a new bottom after seeing a “crack” in his buttocks which makes him afraid it is broken.

    Price, who has been teaching for 20 years, said the district superintendent, Delesicia Martin, called him into her office and told him he was being placed on leave. Two days later, Price said, he was accused of breaking the Mississippi Educator Code of Ethics, and fired.

    […]

    In a letter to Price, the superintendent reportedly called the book inappropriate, pointing to references to flatulence and noting that it described butts in various colors, shapes and sizes (example: fireproof, bullet proof, bomb proof).

    Price said school officials told him they feared complaints from parents and Martin said he had been unprofessional. Price told the [NY]Times he had a lawyer and would fight his firing.

    […]

    Pen America, the authors’ organization, urged school officials to reverse their decision.

    “Certainly, the book in question is meant to be humorous for a young audience, and fellow educators might reasonably question if it was the optimal choice for this particular occasion,” the organization said.

    “But in positioning the act of reading a book as a violation of ethics, the district is implying that any educator could be terminated under similar circumstances, whenever an anonymous source feels a book read to students is ‘inappropriate’ for any reason.

    “Such a precedent could be readily abused, enforced with unbridled discretion to censor the reading of books in schools.”

    Price told the Times literacy instruction was crucial at his school, in a county where more than 21% live under the poverty line.

    “We have a lot of reluctant readers,” Price said. “I am a firm believer that reluctant readers need the silly, funny books to hook them in.”

    […]

    Price received support on social media, including on the school’s Facebook page.

    “My granddaughter heard him read the book and thought it was hilarious and not at all inappropriate!” one commenter wrote. “When they do have a hearing, believe me, me and Baby Girl’s gonna be front and center!”

  147. blf says

    Whilst I’m uncertain about the reliability of the source, some (admittedly quick) Generalissimo Google searching does confirm the story, Conspiracy theorist Graham Carey claims Ukraine is bombing their own people:

    The Finglas [Ireland] native makes a series of bizarre claims about Ukraine’s puppet government and the invasion by Russian forces.

    An anti-vax conspiracy theorist, who previously protested outside Leo Varadkar’s home [and referred to the Tánaiste (broadly, Vice President) with homophobic slurs, also calling him a pedophile –blf], has claimed that Ukraine are bombing their own people in his latest rant.

    Graham [“Fairy Cake”] Carey […] shared his latest conspiracy theory about the Russian invasion of Ukraine in a video posted on Twitter by Ireland Against Fascism.

    […]

    {Ukraine} blocking me because of what’s going on in Russia because I’m telling you the truth, he says in the video.

    Many others are going to get blocked and have their pages removed. They are applying to Google and Facebook to remove accounts who are spreading disinformation about Ukraine, he adds, using his fingers to imply air quotes.

    Ukraine are bombing their own people, it looks like. From what I’m seeing, they’re bombing their own people.

    A lot of mistakes were made from the mainstream media. They’re not mistakes — they’re purposely lying to you about it and are going to be blocking people like me for telling you the truth.

    Putin has destroyed 11 biolabs in Ukraine that were brought in by the Biden family back in 2014/2015.

    We also have Ukrainian rebels fighting on the side of the Russians. You won’t hear any of this on the news. They’re trying to get rid of their government because they’re evil b*****ds.

    […]

    Geesh! What I particularly like was how Ireland against Fascism described Fairy Cake Carey’s rant:

    Fairy Cake Carey has given up being a Virologist — before ye get too happy, he’s now become a military strategist. And he’s stepped up his conspiracy theories to a whole another level.

    Jack of all trades and master of none is our wee Carey.

    Some of the replies / comments are hilarious; e.g., “That lot need to replace the tinfoil hats with titanium ones instead.”

  148. says

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

    Death toll in air attack on military base near Lviv rises to 35

    The governor of Lviv said that 35 people are now confirmed dead after the rocket attack on the International Peacekeeping and Security Centre base on Sunday morning….

    The mayor of a city in southern Ukraine is the latest to have been kidnapped by Russian forces, according to Ukraine’s foreign minister.

    Dymtro Kuleba said that Yevhen Matveyev has been “abducted” by Russian forces.

    This comes after the mayor of Melitopol Ivan Fyodorov was arrested by Russian forces on Friday, with the city seeing intense fighting in recent days….

    About 1 million people are without gas and heating in Ukraine amid the ongoing invasion, according to the country’s gas transmission system provider.

    GTSOU said its workers were out trying to fix damage caused by shelling and get supplies back up and running.

    Shelling has damaged infrastructure in Donetsk, Luhansk and Mykolaiv. Engineers were stopped from getting to a gas distribution centre in Bashtanka because of ongoing fighting. One centre in Prybuzke was shut down because of damage to equipment.

    The Pope has said Ukrainians are being massacred and called for the invasion to stop, in his Sunday address at the Vatican.

    Pope Francis told thousands gathered at St Peter’s Square for his Sunday blessing: “In the name of God, let the cry of the suffering people be heard, and let the bombings and attacks stop.

    “In the name of God, I ask you, stop this massacre.”

    He also called the invasion “unacceptable armed aggression”. The 85-year-old added that bombings of children’s hospitals and civilian targets are “barbaric” [sic] and have “no valid strategic reason”.

    More than 14,000 people in 112 cities have been arrested in Russia for anti-war protests since the start of the invasion of Ukraine, according to an independent human rights body in the country.

    The Orthodox world’s spiritual leader Barthomew I has called for a ceasefire in Ukraine while praising the nation’s “powerful resistance” against invading Russian forces.

    Making a rare political intervention during a mass attended by the visiting Greek prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the ecumenical patriarch appealed for the violence and bloodshed to end.

    Orthodox Christianity is the main religion in Ukraine, split between various strands.

    This is not the first time that Bartholomew has sided with Ukraine.

    As head of eastern Orthodox Christians, the spiritual leader took the unprecedented step in early 2019 of officially recognising the Orthodox church of Ukraine, granting it the status of autocephaly or self-governorship within the communion of Orthodox churches.

    The move, which rendered it independent from the Russian Orthodox Church, caused uproar in Moscow, which subsequently broke ties with the ecumenical patriarchate.

  149. blf says

    From about ten days ago, Trump-loving, COVID-denying, Russia-defending conspiracy theorist wins special Michigan House election:

    A Trump loyalist and conspiracy theorist who defended Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, said COVID-19 is no worse than the flu, and wants to overturn the 2020 presidential election in Michigan is one step closer to being an elected state representative.

    On Tuesday, Robert Regan won the special primary election for the 74th state House District seat representing Kent County on Michigan’s west side. He defeated three other Republicans, beating Steven Gilbert by just 81 votes […].

    Regan will face Democrat Carol Glanville in the general election on May 3, and he is a heavy favorite to win in the predominantly Republican district.

    […]

    In a rambling, conspiracy-ridden, 15-minute interview […], Regan made outlandish claims about widespread voter fraud and said he would support decertifying the 2020 presidential election either through a ballot initiative or in the Legislature.

    […]

    I will do everything I can to look at what happened in 2020, Regan says.

    Asked about his position on Russia, two days after the state House passed a resolution condemning the invasion, Regan calls Ukraine one of the most corrupt countries in the world for money laundering and said Russia has a right to defend itself from Ukraine’s alleged biological weapons.

    Your job is to protect your country, Regan says. Are you going to wait for them to unleash a biological weapon or are you going to take proactive action?

    […]

    We know that COVID is nothing more than the flu … and we know that vaccinations are experimental, Regan says. Now we are expected to believe the mainstream media is telling the truth about Ukraine?

    But, Regan later insists, he doesn’t necessarily support Russia as a leader.

    I’m not saying Putin is a good man, Regan says. “We know that he is a tyrant with ties to the KGB.”

    I set only the first part of that in eejit quotes because he’s obviously randomly babbling and other quotes seem to contradict his assertion about himself. But he did get the “tyrant” part correct.

    […]
    He often invokes biblical scripture, and denies the existence of systemic racism and white privilege.

    One of his three daughters, Stephanie Regan, had enough of her father’s extreme views in 2020 and urged voters not to support him when he was running for another state House seat that year.

    “if you’re in michigan and 18+ pls for the love of god do not vote for my dad for state rep,” his daughter tweeted. “tell everyone.”

    The next day, Stephanie Regan implored voters to do more research on his campaign, writing, “I don’t feel safe rn sharing further information regarding his beliefs, but please look him up and just read for yourself.”

    […] Regan blamed his daughter’s university education.

    A lot of students when they go off to these liberal university campuses, like the University of Colorado, the University of Texas and Austin — and she went to the University of Colorado in Boulder — and you know, they just kind of get sucked into this Marxist, communist ideology and she and I just don’t see eye to eye when it comes to the whole socialism, communism, Marxist philosophy, he said, adding, I don’t buy into this whole systemic racism thing at all.

    Regan’s ex-wife, Julie Welch Horning, responded on Facebook, saying, “I am heartbroken for my kids.”

    “Silence is permission for ‘Robert Regan’ to continue to lie about his parenting and to continue to gaslight his kids to further his political campaign,” she wrote.

    Horning said Regan has been estranged from some of his family and never helped raise Stephanie or her siblings, despite the nuclear family depictions on his campaign website.

    [Detroit] Metro Times didn’t ask him about his relationship with his family. After 15 minutes of lies, we had enough.

  150. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    A New York Times journalist has been killed near Kyiv, the region’s head of police has confirmed.

    Award-winning video journalist Brent Renaud, 51, was shot when Russian forces opened fire on a car near Irpin.

    Another journalist with him at the time has been taken to hospital for treatment after the attack.

  151. says

    Jim Sciutto:

    As Russia expands its missile strikes to W. Ukraine, it is:
    1- Targeting US/NATO supply lines
    2- Targeting US/NATO training sites for UKR military
    3- Striking dangerously close to Poland, a NATO ally
    4- Striking area flooded with refugees
    5- Exposing its nationwide ambitions

  152. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Delegates from both sides of peace talks have sounded positive, ahead of more negotiations in the next few days.

    Ukrainian negotiator and presidential advisor Mykhailo Podolyak said talks had become more constructive.

    “We will not concede in principle on any positions. Russia now understands this. Russia is already beginning to talk constructively. I think that we will achieve some results literally in a matter of days,” he said in a video posted online.

    Leonid Slutsky, a Russian delegate said there had been significant progress and they hoped to soon arrive at a “joint position”, Reuters reports.

    The state-owned RIA news agency said he was comparing the state of talks now with those when they first started, saying there had been “substantial progress”.

    This comes a day after the French and German presidents, Emmanuel Macron and Olaf Scholz said Vladimir Putin did not show a willingness to end the war during a call on Saturday.

  153. blf says

    In teh “U”K, TREF / transphobe JK Rowling says [Labour leader] Keir Starmer misrepresents law over ‘woman’ definition (Grauniad edits in {curly braces}):

    […]
    JK Rowling has accused Keir Starmer of publicly misrepresenting equalities law, in what she says is yet another indication that the Labour party can no longer be counted on to defend women’s rights[TERF / transphobe bigotry].

    […]

    Starmer, formerly the director of public prosecutions, the most senior prosecutor in England and Wales, said: “A woman is a female adult, and in addition to that trans women are women, and that is not just my view, that is actually the law. It has been the law through the combined effects of the 2004 {Gender Recognition} Act and the 2010 {Equality} Act.”

    He called for reforms to the Gender Recognition Act, under which people diagnosed with gender dysphoria who have lived in their acquired gender for at least two years can apply to be legally recognised.

    “The process that people have to go through does need to be looked at,” he told the Times. “If you talk to anybody who’s been through the process, there’s a real issue about respect and dignity.”

    On Saturday Rowling said in a tweet: I don’t think our politicians have the slightest idea how much anger is building among women from all walks of life at the attempts to threaten and intimidate them out of speaking publicly about their own rights, their own bodies and their own lives.

    [… more clewless ranting…]

    Rowling said innumerable gay people had written to her saying they felt under attack. She said: Like women, they — especially lesbians — are under attack for not wishing to be redefined and for refusing to use ideological language they find offensive[, unless I assert it, in which case it’s both true and inoffensive].”

    Under the 2004 Gender Recognition Act in England and Wales, a transgender person is legally recognised as their acquired gender only after they have received a gender recognition certificate (GRC). But the Equality Act 2010 provides protection for trans people who have not yet transitioned or obtained a GRC.

    Section 7 of the act gives protection to anyone with the protected characteristic of “gender reassignment”, defined as anyone who “is proposing to undergo, is undergoing or has undergone a process (or part of a process) for the purpose of reassigning the person’s sex by changing physiological or other attributes of sex.”

    The Equality Act also allows providers of separate or single-sex services to provide a different service to, or exclude, someone who has the protected characteristic of gender reassignment, including those with or without a GRC, provided that the service providers can prove it is “a proportionate means of achieving legitimate aim”.

    In the Times interview, Starmer called for a “more considered, respectful, tolerant debate about these issues,” adding: “I don’t think it furthers the interests of anybody to continue the debate in the way that it’s been going on now for some time.”

  154. blf says

    Exposing New Zealand’s ‘disturbing’ Putin Fan Club:

    […]
    The Kiwis have formed a “Vladimir Putin Fan Club” and post propaganda daily, sharing false claims of bio-weapons and Nazi governments, in an attempt to justify the destruction that has taken the lives of innocent civilians all over Ukraine.

    The group is part of a wider “disturbing” spread of Russian propaganda in New Zealand, according to disinformation researcher Sanjana Hattotuwa[, who works with The Disinformation Project].

    “I think one has to be very concerned about it, we’ve never seen this volume of Russian disinformation,” he told 1News this week.

    “The emergence of it, the entrenchment and the expansion and the speed at which it has occurred in Aotearoa New Zealand is surprising, it’s something that we’ve never seen anything akin to before in our research before here.”

    The Putin “fan club” has 4400 members on Facebook and appears to be full of home-grown New Zealand conspiracy theorists.

    […]

    One member, posting on the same day that an air strike pummelled a children’s hospital in Mariupol, shared material directly from Russian state-controlled news outlet Sputnik.

    Other Putin “fans” claimed NATO had opened the doors of hell and suggested that history will reflect that Russia intervened when she had to.

    While another Kiwi shared an email he [claimed to have –blf] had sent to the Russian embassy in Wellington, saying it was sad Putin had added New Zealand to his list of unfriendly countries.

    Please pay no attention to the psychopath lunatic PM Jacinda Ardern, Russian diplomats were [allegedly–blf] told.

    These circus clowns are not liked here, in fact they are very much hated.

    Foreign policy analyst Stephen Hoadley, an associate professor at Auckland University, said the group appeared to be caught up in a wider Russian effort to create disenfranchisement and distrust in government.

    “Every narrative that the Russians put forward blames somebody else — saboteurs, the West, the United States — so this sows dissent and division in the target population,” he said.

    “The propaganda easily piggybacks onto existing social discontent and those who are discontented are quite open to conspiracy theories and to the Russian view, the disinformation view, of the world.”

    The Russians used a “scatter-gun” approach, with New Zealand at the “end of a long chain of social media”, Hoadley added.

    “I don’t the Russians are specifically targeting New Zealand, they are targeting social media,” he said.

    “They’re using proxies — that is individuals or blogs or accounts which are receiving Russian messages and sending them on as if they were their own.

    “These are disguised Russian messages, by what the Soviets called ‘useful idiots’.”

    [… S]ome New Zealanders are living in an alternate reality, immune to the horrors of war.

  155. StevoR says

    Astronomy news here that’s going to be live streamed in very roughly about 3 hours from now asnear-earth asteroid safely flies by our planet but we get a hopefully good look at it

    See also :

    https://www.space.com/asteroid-2022-es3-earth-flyby-webcast

    Oh and also see :

    https://www.thespaceacademy.org/2021/09/astronomers-received-radio-signals.html?m=1&fbclid=IwAR3npwO7Yh2DcVrW7fnY79Fjq3t6f6dmGQfQPhz8iy_thrPOfNdSDg0_c5U

    Although we’re talking a Hot Jupiter’s natural radio emissions and that’s an exoplanet NOT a constellation as rather gobsmackingly badly described there.

  156. blf says

    Notorious anti-migrant, anti-vaccine, New World Order and “Great Reset” nutter, possible pedophile-defender, and pro-Trump Archbishop[eejit Carlo Maria] Viganò pushes conspiracy theories about Ukraine and Russia in 10,000-word letter:

    As Pope Francis continued attempts to mediate the conflict in Ukraine, former Vatican envoy and outspoken papal critic Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò released a letter Monday (March 7) blaming deep state forces in the United States, the European Union and NATO for triggering the current war and demonizing Russia.

    The United States of America and the European States must not marginalize Russia but build an alliance with it, not only to restart trade for the prosperity of all, but in lieu of the reconstruction of a Christian Civilization, which will be the only one able to save the world from the transhuman and medical-technical globalist monster, the archbishop[eejit] wrote[incoherently ranted] in his nearly 10,000 word letter.

    […]

    The archbishop[eejit] said in his letter that Putin has been cornered by an aggressive NATO, backed by the United States, which is seeking to escalate the conflict for its own gains. “This is the trap for Russia just as much as Ukraine, using both to allow a globalist elite to bring its criminal plot to fruition,” Viganò wrote.

    So-called democratic states, according to Viganò, have imposed censure and intolerance over dissenting opinions. The pandemic has exacerbated this dynamic, the archbishop said, adding that global media outlets shamelessly lied with the cooperation of governments and the Catholic hierarchy[, adding, and the Chicago Cubs did not win the 2016 World Series].

    Viganò said the ostracism of those who have opposed the administration of COVID-19 vaccines was similar to the treatment reserved for those who refuse to call Putin an “invader” or “tyrant.”

    […]

    Viganò adopted Russian President Vladimir Putin’s justifications for attacking Ukraine, lamenting the lack of media coverage of supposed neo-Nazi groups in Ukraine that have allegedly attacked Russian-speaking Ukrainians in the autonomous eastern Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk. […]

    […] Viganò sees a deeper plot to institute a new world order. Naming the United Nations, NATO and the International Monetary Fund as well as the European Union and billionaire philanthropists like George Soros and Bill Gates, the archbishop identified a global conspiracy, initiated by an American deep state, to introduce a world government based on economic interests and progressivism.

    Viganò portrayed Zelenskyy as an EU puppet, an affable outsider introduced to foment Ukrainians’ feelings against Russia.
    […]

    This archeejit keeps coming very very close to being antisemitic. Some (admittedly quick) Generalissimo Google™ searching indicates that they are, using antisemitic dog whistles (e.g.), and the bonkers “Great Reset” conspiracy theory itself is laced with antisemitic dog whistles. From What is the Great Reset — and how did it get hijacked by conspiracy theories? (BBC, June 2021):

    [… T]he Great Reset is a strategic part of a grand conspiracy by the global elite, who somehow planned and managed the Covid-19 pandemic.

    In this narrative, lockdown restrictions were introduced not to curb the spread of the virus, but to deliberately bring about economic collapse and a socialist world government, albeit run for the benefit of powerful capitalists.

    The nebulousness of this conspiracy theory means it has found followers among anti-vaccine activists, anti-lockdown campaigners, new-age healers, and those on the far right and far left.

  157. says

    From the most recent summary at the Guardian liveblog:

    A Russian air strike has killed at least 35 people and wounded 134 at a military base in Yavoriv, 50km west of Lviv and less than 10 miles from the Polish border. The attack happened hours after the Kremlin had warned that western supply lines into the embattled country were “legitimate targets”.

    Brent Renaud, an award-winning US film-maker whose work has appeared in the New York Times and other outlets, has been killed by Russian forces in town of Irpin, outside Kyiv. Juan Arredondo, a US photographer, was wounded and is in hospital.

    The Ukrainian port city of Mariupol is running out of its last reserves of food and water, according to its local authority. Earlier on Sunday, president Volodymyr Zelenskiy said a supply convoy was only two hours away from the city, where 400,000 people are currently stuck.

    Kyiv has a two-week supply of food in case of a blockade, its local authority has reported.

    Nine people were killed in airstrikes on the southern Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv. The city is seen as key in any future assault on the port of Odesa, further down the Black Sea coast.

    Polish president Andrzej Duda says he fears Vladimir Putin could use chemical weapons, and if so it would be a “gamechanger” in the conflict….

  158. says

    Guardian – “‘My mother says I am betraying Russia’: Putin’s invasion divides the generations”:

    …For others, like Dmitry, a tech consultant in Moscow, the war has already had disastrous consequences for his relationship with his family.

    “After the invasion, I wanted to move in with my parents to try to tell them what is really happening,” Dmitry said.

    During the first week of the war, he went through a daily ritual of showing his parents video clips of Russian shelling of Ukrainian cities and critical reports by independent bloggers and media outlets.

    “But none of it had any impact. It actually only made them more convinced that they were right. After a week, I moved back out of the house, and my mother has since texted that I am betraying my country.”

    The final straw came last Thursday, when his father sent him a news clip that claimed that Wednesday’s bombing of a maternity hospital in Mariupol had been staged by the Ukrainian authorities, with actors posing as injured mothers. This conspiracy theory has also been promoted by Russian officials.

    “It made me so angry. I am not sure we will ever be able to sit at the same table again,” Dmitry said, shrugging. “I think they have been zombified by state propaganda, and they truly see me as an enemy of the state. I have given up.”

    For some, even their own experiences of being shelled have not been enough to convince their loved ones about Russia’s real activities….

  159. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Russia would pay ‘severe price’ for chemical weapons attack – US

    The US national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Russia will pay a “severe price” if it uses chemical weapons in Ukraine.

    He told US TV network CBS’s Face the Nation that any attack on NATO would trigger a full response by the alliance – and that they were looking at the potential threat of a chemical weapons attack.

    Sullivan added that they were in direct contact with Moscow to warn against any move.

    He said: “The use of weapons of mass destruction would be a shocking additional line that [Russian president Vladimir] Putin is crossing in terms of his assault on international law and international norms.”

  160. blf says

    StevoR@200 claimed (I’ve stripped-out all the spurious nonsense from the URL):

    https://www.thespaceacademy.org/2021/09/astronomers-received-radio-signals.html

    Although we’re talking a Hot Jupiter’s natural radio emissions and that’s an exoplanet NOT a constellation as rather gobsmackingly badly described there.

    Eh? That link, Astronomers received Radio signals Coming From Planet in the Boötes Constellation (my added emboldening):

    A team of astronomers led by Cornell postdoctoral researcher Jake D Turner, Philippe Zarka of the Observatoire de Paris-Paris Sciences et Lettres University, and Jean-Mathias Griessmeier of the Université d’Orléans, has revealed in a paper published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics that they have identified what they believe is a radio emission coming from an exoplanet in the constellation Tau Boötes.
    […]

    There are no other uses of the word “constellation” other than in the two emboldened phrases (plus a video caption I haven’t bothered to quote), both of which clearly say “from a planet in the Boötes constellation”. The unquoted video caption also does not claim emissions are coming from a constellation as rather gobsmackingly badly described there.

  161. says

    SC @203, “zombified by state propaganda” is an accurate description.

    blf @201, oh my. ” […] the reconstruction of a Christian Civilization, which will be the only one able to save the world from the transhuman and medical-technical globalist monster.” The Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò made it plain just what kind of eejit he is.

  162. says

    From text quoted by blf @188: “Putin has destroyed 11 biolabs in Ukraine that were brought in by the Biden family back in 2014/2015.”

    OMFG. That’s a lot of lies for just one sentence.

    I enjoyed this response that you also included: “Fairy Cake Carey has given up being a Virologist — before ye get too happy, he’s now become a military strategist. And he’s stepped up his conspiracy theories to a whole another level.”

  163. blf says

    Back in early-January 2022 (Jan 4th, and discussed in this series of poopyhead threads at the time), antisemite anti-vax loon David Bateman, founder of Entrata, a company making rental-management software, send an utterly deranged vile rant to all of Utah’s legislatures and certain CEOs. Entrata is known to have moved fast to distance themselves from the rant and fire Bateman, but it seems they did more than that, and got it right. An interesting snippet from Entrata’s Handling of Founder’s Scandal Showcases the Company’s Core Values (late-January 2022; most of this article is full of business drivel):

    Utah-based property software company Entrata landed in the news recently for a reason that they would rather not be. The company’s founder and then-board member, David Bateman, sent an unhinged email to several Utah political leaders and tech sector executives, plunging the company into crisis management mode. Bateman’s email, which only had the word Genocide in the subject heading, was laced with antisemitic vitriol and conspiracy theories about how the Covid-19 vaccine will lead to systematic extermination of billions of people. […]

    […] Bateman sent his vile rant at exactly 4:59am, according to Forbes. In a flash, the email had leaked to the press, but what was interesting was the refreshing speed of Entrata’s response to the scandal. Later that day, at 5:32pm, [CEO Adam] Edmunds issued a statement that Bateman’s opinions “were his alone, and do not reflect the views or values of Entrata.” An hour after that, Entrata’s board of directors asked Bateman to resign. Two days later, Bateman was instructed to divest all of his equity holdings in the company. […]

    […] Entrata has since reached out to a local rabbi to help them comprehend the roots and impact of their now-former colleague’s prejudice. At their behest, Rabbi Sam Spector met with Entrata’s executives to, as Forward writer Arno Rosenfeld put it, “walk them through the history of classic antisemitic conspiracy theories like the blood libel and the claim that Jews were responsible for spreading the Black Plague through Medieval Europe.” Entrata even offered a six-figure donation to put towards repairs and renovations for Spector’s crumbling synagogue, Kol Ami. “Spector said he was heartened to see the company and political leaders across the state condemn Bateman,” continued Rosenfeld, “but never expected that Entrata’s response would go beyond severing its relationship with their founder.” Entrata plans to invite Spector back to speak to the company’s whole 2,500-person workforce (which is split between the United States and India).

    […] Members of Utah’s Jewish community are praising Entrata for building bridges.

    And without all the business drivel, Jewish leaders praise Entrata for building bridges after company founder sends anti-Semitic email (mid-January 2022):

    […]
    Rabbi Samuel Spector with Congregation Kol Ami says he was surprised to get a phone call from top officials of Entrata on Friday [Jan 7th?] morning. Company management asked to speak with him, in person, to apologize for Bateman’s comments. He says he told Entrata officials that an apology wasn’t necessary since Bateman’s comments did not represent the views of the tech company or its workers.

    He says Entrata insisted.

    “They said, ‘We still want to meet with you, and we want to help your community. Would you come down here and meet with our team?’” Spector says.

    During this meeting, Entrata offered a six-figure donation to Congregation Kol Ami. Spector says these funds couldn’t come at a better time, since their building is in dire need of upgrades

    “Our building is 50 years old and pretty much everything in it. The boiler, the chiller, the bathrooms and the prayer books are all 50 years old, too,” Spector says. “Prior to this gift, we were wondering, ‘How are we going to do this? How will our building stay standing in 10 years?’”

    Spector says officials at Entrata are doing everything it can to remove antisemitism from the company.

    “They are having me do a presentation to their 2,500 employees, including those in India, this Thursday [Jan 13th?] on the history of antisemitism and how to identify antisemitism,” he said.

    Spector doesn’t want to divulge exactly how much Entrata donated. He added that the tech company had no intention of making the donation public knowledge. However, Spector says his congregants wanted to give credit to the company and its workers, since employees are still receiving backlash from Bateman’s comments.

    Spector said, “It’s very easy for people to get attention for doing the wrong thing, like David Bateman. They deserve attention for doing the right thing.”

    […]

  164. says

    Ukraine update: Another day, another Russian battlefield stalemate

    Update from the four major axes:

    Kyiv (north): Not much, Russians “regrouping.” Honestly, not sure what they’re “regrouping,” as recent forays have been anemic in scope. Russia continues to be unable to mount any serious attack. They were silent on the northwest approach (though Ukraine claims to have been quite active), and engaged only in “limited” incursion on the northeastern approach. Looks like that northeastern incursion suffered some loses: [Images and tweet available at the link]

    Russians clearly don’t have manpower to mount a serious assault on the city of 2.9 million. Their goal may simply be to get artillery close enough to pull a Kherson or Mariupol—indiscriminate shelling of civilians in an attempt to terrorize Ukraine into submission. The ubiquitous GRAD MLRS rocket artillery systems have a maximum range of 21 kms, which right now only reaches some of the outer suburbs. Continuing to keep them out of range is a top Ukrainian defensive priority.

    Kharkiv/Sumy (northeast): [map available at the link]

    The map hasn’t changed. The Institute of War recaps, “Russian forces did not secure any new territory in northeastern Ukraine and may be redeploying forces attacking eastern Kyiv to defend against Ukrainian counterattacks in Sumy Oblast.” Previous days brought reports that Russian troops encircling Kharkiv had also been pulled to help with securing those lines.

    Remember, Russia doesn’t have that many troops. 190,000 sounds like a lot, but only a small percent of those actually shoot anything—the vast majority are support (truck drivers, supply, mechanics, medics, command and control, fuel, etc). Then, spread them out along four major axes, and over a dozen lines of attack, and suddenly things don’t look so daunting. It can’t be stated enough—this is the reason Russia is trying to terrorize Ukraine into submission. They just don’t have the forces to actually win on the battlefield.

    So they have to pull forces from Kyiv axis and the siege of Kharkiv, but not for new offensive efforts, or to finally take Sumy and secure that territory. But to protect their lines.

    Let me stress that: They’re taking precious troops away from the sieges of both Kyiv and Kharkiv, just to guard their supplies, lest, they keep suffering more of this: [video and tweet available at the link]

    So if they can’t secure their lines, how are they going to actually take on cities with hundreds of thousands to millions of pissed off, motivated defenders? On top of that, they’re suffering serious battlefield casualties. [video available at the link]

    [From the tweet]:

    The hospitals & mosques of Belarusian cities of Homiel, Mazyr, Naroulia are full of dead & wounded Russian soldiers, @RFERL reports. Medics were threatened & forced to sign NDAs. I spoke with a woman from Mazyr today. She said that it feels like living under occupation.

    No more reinforcements are coming from Russia, at least not anytime soon. Meanwhile, replacing dead and injured Russians with low-quality Belorussian or Syrian mercenaries with no real skin in the game won’t fix their problems. That’s just more bodies to equip, feed, fuel, and supply, but with fewer support troops and no experience integrating into Russian operations. […]

    Donbas (east): Mariupol, on the far southeastern corner of Ukraine, is surrounded, under massive bombardment, running out of food, no electricity, and it’s still holding on. Russia did make a move on the city’s western edge. [Images and tweet available at the link]

    […] The fact that Russia can’t manage to send more than a few hundred men into battle at any one time continues to confirm Russia’s inability to coordinate combined-arms actions.

    As a result of their shocking ineptitude, a big chunk of Russia’s already thin forces are stuck in a corner that should’ve long-ago been secured. Those are troops that can’t work to encircle Ukrainian defenders on the separatist Donbas border, and they can’t help secure supply lines supporting the siege of Kyiv. […]

    Crimea/Kherson (south): IFW writes, “Russian advances from Crimea toward Mykolayiv and Zaporizhya and in the east around Donetsk and Luhansk made no progress in the last 24 hours.” [Map available at the link.]

    Mykolayiv is on the Southern Bug river, and all crossings are all solidly in Ukrainian hands. Russia has solidified its hold on Kherson, but supply lines from there to Mykolayiv are 72 km long (~40 miles), and Ukraine territorial defense forces are actively harassing those lines. [video and tweet available at the link]

    So stop me if you’ve heard this story before—Russian advances are stalled because of logistical problems. Instead, Mykolayiv is being leveled by Russian artillery.

    […] I never bought into predictions that Belarus would enter the war, opening up a new front in western Ukraine. How could they? You think Russian troops are bad, Belarusian ones would be exponentially worse. And they were then supposed to maintain yet another line of supply? Belorussian dictator Alexander Lukashenko has turned Vladimir Putin’s conspiracy theories against him as an excuse to not engage militarily:

    Lukashenko has previously claimed Belarus will not participate in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine so that Belarusian troops can defend Belarus from what they allege to be a planned NATO attack through Poland and Lithuania

    Note, there is no indication that Belarussia has actually deployed troops in defensive positions on the Polish and Lithuanian border. Lukashenko is full of shit, Putin knows he’s full of shit, and there’s nothing Russia can do about it.

  165. blf says

    Lynna@210 quotes, “Lukashenko is full of shit, Putin knows he’s full of shit, and there’s nothing Russia can do about it.”

    There’s a Russian tea blend, called Polonium, a rare gift, which Putin has given in the past to people who weren’t being cooperative.

  166. blf says

    Joe Biden is a fossil: 328m-year-old vampire squid named after president:

    Scientists name ‘incredibly rare’ fossil in recognition of Biden’s ‘plans to address climate change and to fund scientific research’

    A newly discovered fossilized vampire squid has been named after the US president, Joe Biden, a team of paleontologists has announced.

    The Syllipsimopodi bideni, which has been described as an “incredibly rare” fossil, was first dug up in Montana and then donated to the Royal Ontario Museum in Canada in 1988.

    But it sat untouched in a drawer for decades until a scientist pulled it out for a closer look.

    Speaking to the New York Times, Christopher Whalen, a paleontologist from New York’s American Museum of Natural History, said he first noticed the squid’s preserved arms and saw small suckers in the rock.

    “This was sitting in a museum since the 80s and no one realized it was important,” said Whalen. “We chanced on that importance because I happened to notice the arm suckers.”

    The Syllipsimopodi bideni drifted across oceans nearly 328m years ago. According to Whalen, it is the oldest known ancestor of vampyropods, a group that includes vampire squids and octopuses.

    The fossil’s first name translates roughly to “prehensile foot”, since it has 10 arms and is the oldest known cephalopod to have suckers on each of its arms. Modern vampire squids, which are not squids but close relatives to the octopus, have eight arms and two stringy filaments.

    According to the paper, the fossil even appeared to contain a preserved ink sac.
    […]

    There are two images, one of each fossil, at the link. Sadly, the older but not-noticed-before one has the smaller image.

  167. says

    The obscure ‘Russian Christian Fascist’ philosopher motivating Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine

    […] In 2015 the Russian people were treated to a 150-minute documentary, aired on Russian television, glorifying Vladimir Putin’s beneficent accomplishments as Russia’s supreme leader. In this grandiose propaganda piece, directed by Nikita Mikhalkov, the kleptocratic, murderous former KGB officer was portrayed not only as a political genius but also mythically reimagined as the living incarnation of a newly resurgent Russian spirit.

    As Anton Barbashin and Hannah Thoburn, writing for Foreign Affairs, noted at the time, the film incessantly reinforced the message that Putin was “the only thing holding the country together.” Curiously, among the allegedly noble deeds of Putin hawked in the film, six full minutes were devoted to Putin’s effort to repatriate the remains of an obscure Russian philosopher named Ivan Ilyin.

    Putin’s own interest in Ilyin became apparent after 2006, when he began to feature the philosopher prominently in some of his major addresses to the public. Vladislav Surkov, once known as the “Gray Cardinal of the Kremlin” and as the Kremlin’s chief propagandist, is also fond of quoting Ilyin, whose writings he has used as a tool to promote Putin’s idea of sovereign democracy. Putin assigned his regional governors to read Ilyin’s book Our Mission over the 2014 winter break.

    Little known in the West and largely forgotten in Russia until the early 2000s, Ilyin (1883-1954) had actually been expelled by the Bolshevik state shortly after the Revolution. His early writings, relying on a novel interpretation of the Biblical creation myth, demonstrated antipathy to secular human society and held that all efforts by mankind to impose a pluralistic political order were simply deepening man’s estrangement from God, and that this estrangement could only be corrected by the intervention of a unifying political leader. The means such a leader employed to “unify” the sinful, impure secular world were beside the point, as the end goal (generally speaking) was reunification with the original Divine plan. Since nothing could possibly be more important than that, any means to achieve it were permissible (including, presumably, violence, murder, and genocide). [wow]

    In the 1920s Ilyin began to embrace fascism in the personage of Benito Mussolini, gradually adopting and embracing violent upheaval and reordering of society in the furtherance of such “divine” political ends. Given this messianic, nationalistic imperative, the arbitrary and brutal accumulation and use of power was simply a manifestation of “law” in Ilyin’s view. For Ilyin, the “consciousness” of the Russian people was best suited to this task. As observed by Timothy Snyder for the New York Review of Books, Ilyin’s writings can be fairly characterized as eclectic, if not wholly incoherent, but one singular aspect of his writing “is his metaphysical and moral justification for political totalitarianism, which he expressed in practical outlines for a fascist state.”

    Barbashin and Thoburn pointedly disparage Ilyin’s bona fides as a genuine philosopher: “Never a deep or clear thinker, he was not truly an academic or philosopher in the classical sense, but rather a publicist, a conspiracy theorist, and a Russian nationalist with a core of fascistic leanings.” […]

    Ilyin’s reemergence among the Russian kleptocracy dovetailed with Putin’s own rise to power in the early 1990s, and, according to Snyder, his views and theories now “guide the men who rule Russia today.” In other words, Russian exercise of what we (the uninitiated) see from our dim perceptions as lawless totalitarianism—and importantly, kleptocracy—can be justified as a “law” unto itself:

    Because Ilyin found ways to present the failure of the rule of law as Russian virtue, Russian kleptocrats use his ideas to portray economic inequality as national innocence. In the last few years, Vladimir Putin has also used some of Ilyin’s more specific ideas about geopolitics in his effort translate the task of Russian politics from the pursuit of reform at home to the export of virtue abroad. By transforming international politics into a discussion of “spiritual threats,” Ilyin’s works have helped Russian elites to portray the Ukraine, Europe, and the United States as existential dangers to Russia.

    […] as The New York Times’ David Brooks observed shortly after Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, “Even hard-eyed men who play power politics need to feel that their efforts are part of a great historic mission.” Arguing that Putin’s enamor of Ilyin foreshadowed a dangerous time when Russian geopolitical aims could not be moved by rationality or objective self-interest, Brooks (in 2014) specifically pointed out Putin’s statements about Ukraine at the time he consecrated Ilyin’s remains in 2009:

    The event sent him into a nationalistic fervor. “It’s a crime when someone only begins talking about the separation of Russia and the Ukraine,” he said on that day. […]

    The danger is that Russia is now involved in a dispute in Ukraine that touches and activates the very core of this touchy messianism. The tiger of quasi-religious nationalism, which Putin has been riding, may now take control. That would make it very hard for Putin to stop in this conflict where rational calculus would tell him to stop. […]

    The implication for Western policymakers is that we may not be dealing with a “normal” regime, which can be manipulated by economic and diplomatic carrots and sticks. Threatening to take away inclusion in the Group of 8 or freeze some assets may become irrelevant because the Russian regime will have moved up to a different level. The Russian nation may be motivated by a deep, creedal ideology that has been wafting through the culture for centuries and has now found an unlikely, cynical and cold-eyed host.

    Last week, Timothy Snyder […] emphasized the connection between Ilyin’s warped philosophy of “Russian Christian Fascism” and the Putin regime’s behavior over the last decade.

    Questions about the influence of ideas in politics are very difficult to answer, and it would be needlessly bold to make of Ilyin’s writings the pillar of the Russian system … and yet, most often in the Russia of the second decade of the twenty-first century, it is Ilyin’s ideas that to seem to satisfy political needs and to fill rhetorical gaps, to provide the “spiritual resource” for the kleptocratic state machine. In 2017, when the Russian state had so much difficulty commemorating the centenary of the Bolshevik Revolution, Ilyin was advanced as its heroic opponent. In a television drama about the revolution, he decried the evil of promising social advancement to Russians…[.]

    Russian policies certainly recall Ilyin’s recommendations. Russia’s 2012 law on “foreign agents,” passed right after Putin’s return to the office of the presidency, well represents Ilyin’s attitude to civil society. Ilyin believed that Russia’s “White Spirit” should animate the fascists of Europe; since 2013, the Kremlin has provided financial and propaganda support to European parties of the populist and extreme right. The Russian campaign against the “decadence” of the European Union, initiated in 2013, is in accord with Ilyin’s worldview…[.]

    According to Snyder, Ilyin’s influence is even more evident with respect to Putin’s attitude toward Ukraine:

    Since 2012, Russian policy toward Ukraine has been made on the basis of first principles, and those principles have been Ilyin’s. Putin’s Eurasian Union, a plan he announced with the help of Ilyin’s ideas, presupposed that Ukraine would join. Putin justified Russia’s attempt to draw Ukraine towards Eurasia by Ilyin’s “organic model” that made of Russia and Ukraine “one people.”

    Snyder also believes the West critically erred in 2014 in accepting Russia’s framing of its relationship to Ukraine […]
    Snyder also believes this same strain of wholly lawless pseudo-“philosophy” was evident in the actions of Donald Trump: “In office, Trump imitate[d] Putin in his pursuit of political post-truth: first filling the public sphere with lies, then blaming the institutions whose purpose is to seek facts, and finally rejoicing in the resulting confusion.”

    As a practical matter, it may no longer make any difference who or what motivated Putin’s ill-conceived invasion of Ukraine; his war of choice is now a fait accompli and the rest of the world is forced to grapple with the consequences. But it may go a long way toward explaining why he won’t stop, despite all the glaring miscalculations he has demonstrated so far. History has no shortage of self-deluded despots leading their countries to disaster based on their refusal to admit the folly of their own fixed, immutable beliefs. Ukraine is the supreme test of Putin’s twisted worldview, and he’s failing that test.

  168. says

    Interesting way in which Anonymous is fighting disinformation.

    […] This is the latest attempt by anonymous to reach the Russian people- this time using Whatsapp.

    The message reads:

    Dear Russians, your media is being censored. The Kremlin is lying. Find out the truth about Ukraine on the free web and on the Telegram app. Time to overthrow dictator Putin!

    If you use WhatsApp, this script will work automatically with your phone.

    -copy text with button

    -generate a number with the whirly

    -hit send

    -repeat

    You should reach over 50% of the numbers, if my experience is typical. And with Whatsapp, you can see when people read them.

    A better explanation is available at the link. The Anonymous message was sent in both Russian and English.

  169. says

    […] In a new exclusive report, Mother Jones reporter David Corn reveals that Russia hasn’t simply noticed Tucker’s pro-Putin puffery, it can’t get enough of that good old-timey Cold War propaganda.

    Mother Jones:

    On March 3, as Russian military forces bombed Ukrainian cities as part of Vladimir Putin’s illegal invasion of his neighbor, the Kremlin sent out talking points to state-friendly media outlets with a request: Use more Tucker Carlson.

    “It is essential to use as much as possible fragments of broadcasts of the popular Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who sharply criticizes the actions of the United States [and] NATO, their negative role in unleashing the conflict in Ukraine, [and] the defiantly provocative behavior from the leadership of the Western countries and NATO towards the Russian Federation and towards President Putin, personally,” advises the 12-page document written in Russian. It sums up Carlson’s position: “Russia is only protecting its interests and security.” The memo includes a quote from Carlson: “And how would the US behave if such a situation developed in neighboring Mexico or Canada?”

    Well, this memo’s not exactly surprising, given that Tucker literally said he was rooting for Russia when it comes to its manufactured disputes with Ukraine.
    […]

    Link

  170. blf says

    Russian Orthodox church in Amsterdam announces split with Moscow:

    […]
    A Russian Orthodox church in Amsterdam has announced it is to split with the Moscow patriarchate in the first known instance of a western-based church cutting ties over the invasion of Ukraine.

    “The clergy unanimously announced that it is no longer possible for them to function within the Moscow patriarchate […],” the clergy said in a statement posted on its website.

    […]

    The head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, a trusted ally of President Vladimir Putin, has declined to condemn Kremlin’s decision to invade its neighbour, referring to Russia’s opponents in Ukraine as evil forces. In a Sunday sermon last week he also said gay pride parades organised in the West were part of the reason for the war in Ukraine.

    The power of da da da dum, Teh Gay, is amazing.

    […]
    More than 280 Russian Orthodox priests and church officials from around the world have signed an open letter expressing their opposition to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. […]

    […]

    A Russian member of the church’s choir who was standing outside the told the Guardian she supported the decision to separate from Moscow. “Once the war started, there was only one way out of this,” she said, asking not to give her name.
    […]

    And then are thieves, Ukraine funds stolen in burglary of Russian Orthodox church in Oxford [UK]:

    […]
    A Russian Orthodox church in Oxford has been burgled and several valuable items were stolen, including a collection to support refugees from Ukraine.

    St Nicholas church in Oxford was ransacked in the early hours of Saturday, the archpriest Stephen Platt said, and the church safe and money boxes were forced open.
    […]

  171. says

    Let’s hope China doesn’t give Putin what he wants. New reports indicate that Russia wants to get military equipment from China:

    Russian officials have reportedly contacted Chinese counterparts about obtaining military equipment from the country amid the Moscow’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

    U.S. officials told the Washington Post and New York Times of the potential arms deal, but did not disclose any details on what type of weaponry had been requested by Russia.

    The Times reported that Moscow also requested additional economic support from Beijing, which has become a key ally as much of the world seeks to isolate Russia.

    National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, who is planning to meet Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi this week, warned China on Sunday against providing any material support to Russia to help it cope with global sanctions.

    “We are communicating directly, privately to Beijing, that there will absolutely be consequences for large-scale sanctions evasion efforts or support to Russia to backfill them,” Sullivan told CNN.

    “We will not allow that to go forward and allow there to be a lifeline to Russia from these economic sanctions from any country, anywhere in the world.”

    In a televised interview on Sunday, Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov shared that part of Russia’s gold and foreign exchange reserves are in Chinese currency, according to the Post.

    “And we see what pressure is being exerted by Western countries on China in order to limit mutual trade,” Siluanov said during his interview.

    “But I think that our partnership with China will still allow us to maintain the cooperation that we have achieved, and not only maintain, but also increase it in an environment where western markets are closing.”

    […] Some officials have said that Russia is running low on some types of ammunition amid the ongoing crisis, the Post noted.

    “If Beijing is offering any type of military assistance to aid Moscow’s war in Ukraine, the spillover effects on U.S.-China policy could be vast,” former U.S. Indo Pacific Command adviser Eric Sayers told the Post.

    Link

  172. says

    Pfizer CEO says a fourth booster shot ‘is necessary’

    Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said on Sunday that a fourth dose of the COVID-19 vaccine will be necessary to continue to help keep hospitalizations manageable and sicknesses more mild.

    “Right now, the way that we have seen, it is necessary, a fourth booster right now. The protection that you are getting from the third, it is good enough, actually quite good for hospitalizations and deaths,” Bourla said while appearing on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

    “It’s not that good against infections […] But we are just submitting those data to the FDA [Food and Drug Administration], and then we will see what the experts also will say outside Pfizer,” he added.

    […] “We are working very diligently right now … to make not only a vaccine that will protect against all variants, including omicron, but also something that can protect for at least a year,” he said. “And if we be able to achieve that, then I think it is very easy to follow and remember so that we can go back to really the way used to live.”

  173. says

    Power restored to Chernobyl nuclear plant, Ukrainian officials say

    Ukrainian officials said power has been restored to the Chernobyl nuclear power plant on Sunday, after warning of an increased risk of radiation leaking after Russian forces reportedly knocked the plant off the energy grid earlier in the week.

    Ukrainian atomic energy ministry said in an online post on Sunday that cooling systems would operate normally after relying on backup power, Reuters reported.

    Ukrainian officials had warned about a potential radiation leak if a high voltage power line connected to the plant wasn’t repaired, according to Reuters. […]

  174. says

    Thousands of Russians streamed out of train stations and airport terminals in Europe this week, leaving behind a home country that is increasingly isolated from the rest of the world and a government that is moving to stamp out dissent.

    Many did not book a return ticket.

    Some expressed fury at Russian President Vladimir Putin for the invasion of Ukraine. Others said they were ashamed. Several were afraid to talk.

    “It is pointless to remain. There is no future for us,” said Vyacheslav, 59, who left Russia’s St. Petersburg with his wife and 7-year-old daughter by high-speed train Monday morning. By early afternoon, he and his family had made it to Helsinki, the Finnish capital, where Russians have been welcomed with flowers and signs in recent days.

    “Putin is crazy,” said a Russian woman who arrived by plane in Belgrade, the Serbian capital, with her teenage son over the weekend.

    […] Some are rushing to leave Russia for good, as they fear border closures that would isolate them from family abroad, or worry about being conscripted. Those who leave say they vehemently oppose the invasion and were alarmed by the Kremlin’s chilling crackdown on the few remaining platforms of criticism.

    Some Russians who arrived in European cities in the past week appeared to be fearful of the Kremlin’s reach, amid reports that Russian authorities are questioning and searching some outbound travelers. Several of the Russians who left for political reasons refused to provide their full names, citing concerns for relatives who stayed behind or that they may not be allowed to return to see friends or family.

    […] In northern Europe, some crossed the Russian border by car, bus or train into Finland. Others scrambled to get tickets for the few remaining flights to the east and south of Europe, with Turkey and Serbia among the main destinations.

    As Air Serbia planes from Moscow arrived in Belgrade last week, Natalia Gryzunova struggled to carry her two large suitcases and three pieces of hand luggage. She said she had long opposed Putin and was deeply relieved after fearing she might not find a way to leave.

    “I haven’t slept well since February 24th,” she said. “I cry every day.”

    […] In Helsinki, hundreds of Russians arrived at the railway station and main long-distance bus station on Monday. Finnish train operator VR said its twice-daily train connection from St. Petersburg to Helsinki has been so overbooked since the invasion that it is exploring adding another daily train. […]

    Washington Post link

  175. says

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

    Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba has called for a global boycott of international companies that have kept their operations open in Russia, Reuters reports.

    In a briefing today, Kuleba said sanctions pressure should be increased on Russia and called for international ports to bar passage to Russian ships and cargo….

    Squatters have occupied a mansion belonging to the Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska in central London, Diane Taylor reports.

    The five squatters in the building in Belgrave Square – two from eastern Europe, though not from Ukraine – say they feel their countries are also under threat from Vladimir Putin. Their plan is to open up the mansion, which they say “has too many rooms to count” including a cinema and a wine cellar, to Ukrainians fleeing the war, along with other refugees needing shelter.

    In a message to Russian oligarchs, the squatters said: “You occupy Ukraine, we occupy you.”

    A significant police presence barred entry to the cream-coloured stone building with a black front door and pillars at the entrance. Officers were later seen using a drill to break through the front door and entering the building. The squatters shouted: “Criminal damage” from the balcony above.

    This part of London has been nicknamed “oligarchs’ quarter” because so many wealthy Russians have bought properties here, a stone’s throw from Buckingham Palace.

    Deripaska is an aluminium magnate. He has called on Putin to make peace with Ukraine. He was among seven Russian oligarchs put under UK government sanctions last week.

    More than 160 private cars have been able to leave the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol and were en route to the Russian-occupied town of Berdyansk, the city council said….

    The mayors of Poland’s two largest cities have said they are struggling to cope with the huge number of refugees arriving from Ukraine, as UN figures show more than 1.7 million people have crossed into Poland in the weeks since Russia’s attack began….

  176. says

    Also in the Guardian (support them if you can!):

    “Australia and the Netherlands launch legal action against Russia over MH17 disaster”: “The two countries will allege Russia breached international aviation law for its role in 2014 downing of the Malaysia Airlines flight over Ukraine…”

    “Kremlin memos urged Russian media to use Tucker Carlson clips – report”: “Russian government document instructed outlets to show Fox News host ‘as much as possible’, Mother Jones says…”

    “Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov says he is in Ukraine”: “Kremlin ally posts video said to be from Hostomel and warns Ukrainians to surrender ‘or you will be finished’…”

    “Pregnant woman and baby die after attack on hospital in Mariupol”: “Woman was taken to another hospital in city in south-east Ukraine where medics could not save her or her child…”

    She’s the woman who was seen in photographs being carried out on a stretcher.

  177. says

    In South Carolina, a GOP candidate is touting a 2022 platform of sorts. It’s different in ways that help capture what’s wrong with too much of her party. Rep. Katie Arrington is backed by Trump.

    […] The Charleston-area district leans heavily in Republicans’ direction — the GOP presidential ticket has won South Carolina’s 1st with relative ease in every recent cycle […]

    But in practice, the district generates far more attention for a reason.

    Starting nearly a decade ago, South Carolina’s 1st was represented by former Gov. Mark Sanford, with locals willing to overlook the Republican’s “Appalachian Trail“ controversy. In 2018, however, the congressman, deemed insufficiently loyal to Donald Trump, lost in a GOP primary to state Rep. Katie Arrington, who enjoyed the then-president’s backing.

    This didn’t work out well for the party: Arrington ended up narrowly losing in the general election to Democrat Joe Cunningham, who flipped the reliably GOP district from “red” to “blue.”

    Two years later, it flipped back, with Cunningham narrowly losing to Republican Rep. Nancy Mace.

    The trouble is, Mace’s idiosyncratic tendencies has led the right to conclude that she isn’t Trumpy enough, either, so Katie Arrington is back: The former state legislator has launched another GOP primary campaign, and again enjoys the former president’s backing.

    Interestingly enough, Arrington has a campaign platform of sorts, and she shared it with a conservative outlet as part of Trump’s South Carolina rally on Saturday. […]:

    At the rally, Arrington listed her four priorities if she unseats Mace: “First thing we need to do when we get [to D.C.] is fire [Dr. Anthony] Fauci. Second thing: Get rid of the Department of Federal Education [sic], and third thing, start impeaching [President Joe] Biden and open Hunter Biden’s laptop.”

    In much of the country, congressional candidates will spend 2022 talking about the economy, energy policy, international affairs, immigration, education, and health care. But in the GOP primary in South Carolina’s 1st congressional district, Arrington’s vision is a little … different.

    […] it’s not up to Congress to determine Dr. Anthony Fauci’s career path. We could also kick around how misguided the rest of Arrington’s wish list is.

    But that would miss the point. The candidate’s post-election agenda, to the extent that anyone should see this as an actual platform for a congressional hopeful, is obviously unserious.

    […] she peddles nonsense like this as a campaign tactic, assuming that red-meat rhetoric that will advance her ambitions in a GOP primary.

    […] it’s easier to believe Arrington was sincere — and her goal isn’t to do real work as a federal lawmaker, but rather, she hopes to effectively be a post-policy, far-right pundit with congressional voting privileges.

    This is how too much of Republican politics works in 2022.

    Link

  178. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Ukraine’s prime minister Denys Shmyhal has urged the Council of Europe to expel Russia from its ranks in what would be a historic first at the human-rights body.

    Addressing parliamentarians from across Europe via video link at an emergency meeting of the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, Shmyhal said:

    The right to life is one of the key fundamental rights and today at the centre of Europe this right is being violated every minute and every second.

    Ukraine demanded Russia to be ousted from the Council of Europe, he said, because they could not stay “in this single European family where human life is the highest value”.

    Russia announced on Friday it would leave the Council of Europe, shortly before it was stripped of its voting rights. But no country has ever been expelled from the human rights body, founded in the ashes of world war two in 1949.

    The Ukrainian prime minister criticised the Council of Europe for reinstating Russia’s voting rights in 2019, after relations were restored in a decision that attempted to draw a line under the seizure of Crimea in 2014. The decision to bring Russia back “showed a poor understanding by the world of the real threat that Putin’s regime is”, he said, adding that Europe had chosen “the road of pacifying the aggressor rather than defending the values of democracy, the rule of law, of human rights”.

    After the annexation of Crimea, many governments baulked at expelling Russia completely, because they did not wish to deny Russians the protection of the European Court of Human Rights.

    Ukraine could also lose a legal avenue to pursue Russia, but Shmyhal said the Kremlin could not hide from the consequences of its actions: “we all know that punishment for genocide and terrorism cannot be avoided.”

    He repeated Ukraine’s pleas for a no-fly zone, that Nato countries have so far refused in a speech that recounted the appalling toll of the war on Ukrainian civilians. Almost 90 children had been killed, he said, and thousands of people were without food, water and heat; hundreds of schools and hospitals had been destroyed and nuclear power plants were “on the brink of disaster”.

    Citizens in Crimea were being forcibly conscripted into the army of the “enemy state”, he said, adding one anecdote without additional details:

    A Russian military pilot is dropping bombs on his own mother in Poltava region. It’s hard to believe that, but even such crazy things become normal life for the aggressors .

    Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenkskiy had been due to address the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe earlier on Monday, but pulled out due to “urgent unforeseen circumstances” and asked the prime minister to take his place.

    The Council of Europe is due to take a decision on Russia’s future in the organisation on Tuesday.

    Zelenskyy is scheduled to address the US congress on Wednesday morning at 9 ET.

  179. says

    Followup to the last paragraph of SC’s comment 226.

    […] To confirm which hospitals have been damaged, The Post examined more than 500 videos and photos, reviewed social media posts from the hospitals, spoke to witnesses and hospital employees, and compared key details from these incidents to reports from Ukrainian officials, the United Nations, the World Health Organization, Human Rights Watch, the Center for Information Resilience and ACLED, a group that monitors armed conflict around the world.

    The Post’s visual analysis verified nine incidents, including the strike in Mariupol, where hospitals faced direct damage as a result of a reported Russian attack. There were fatalities in at least three of the incidents verified by The Post, according to officials. Three of the facilities specifically served women or children. […]

    Washington Post link

  180. says

    From Barak Ravid: Israel announces publicly for the first time it will comply with the international sanctions against Russia. FM Lapid says, “Israel won’t be used as a means to bypass the sanctions on Russia.”

  181. says

    Tulsi Gabbard called ‘Russian asset’ after tweeting about ‘biolabs’ in Ukraine

    […] former Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard received a donation to her 2020 presidential campaign from an alleged Russian agent. To double down on her suspicious relationship with the Kremlin, Gabbard turned to Twitter to announce a bizarre conspiracy theory about U.S.-funded biological laboratories in Ukraine… apparently mimicking Russian-backed talking points.

    Gabbard claimed the “undeniable facts” that there are 35 to 40 “U.S. funded biolabs” in Ukraine currently conducting research into dangerous pathogens. She pretended to be extremely concerned that these “deadly pathogens” could be released if Russia targeted them.

    “Like COVID, these pathogens know no borders,” Gabbard said. “If they are inadvertently or purposely breached or compromised, they will quickly spread all throughout Europe, the United States, and the rest of the world, causing untold suffering and death.” […]

    It didn’t take long for people to condemn Gabbard for her batshit crazy comments.

    “Her treasonous lies may well cost lives,” Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), tweeted Sunday.

    Gabbard responded to Romney Monday with a long and winding road of tweets with her evidence of the Ukraine lab conspiracy, ending with a demand he “apologize” and “resign.”

    She signed off with “Aloha.” […]

    And of course, it didn’t take long for comrade Tucker Carlson to feature Gabbard, giving her a chance to complete her total transmutation from Democratic presidential candidate to conservative to full-on American turncoat.

    Gabbard doubled down on the crazy, telling Fox’s Carlson that Victoria Nuland, an American diplomat serving as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, didn’t deny to Sen. Marco Rubio that bioagents existed in Ukraine. Gabbard additionally accused the Biden administration and Nuland of trying to cover up the alleged labs.

    GOP rep. Adam Kinzinger tweeted that Gabbard was spreading “actual Russian propaganda” and accused her of being “traitorous.”

    Gabbard has a long and strange history with pro-Russian sentiments. In 2015, when Russia began bombing Syria, she applauded the win as a fight against terrorism. (Russian troops were targeting Syrian rebel groups and not al-Qaeda-aligned rebels.) Russia was simply defending itself, she said. These are Russian talking points, as Vox writer Zack Beauchamp pointed out.

    It was Gabbard’s visit with Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad in 2017 and her penchant for favoring Russian dictator Vladimir Putin’s involvement in the country that ended her relationship for good with the Democratic Party. That, and hiring an adviser with links to the Kremlin. […]

    If you can stomach Tucker Carlson’s interview with Gabbard. See below: [video available at the link]

    David Weissman, a U.S. Army veteran known for no longer supporting Donald Trump, tweeted: “Can it be any more clear? Comrade Tulsi Gabbard’s latest video proves Hillary Clinton’s claim to Tulsi being a Russian asset.”

    Jon Cooper, a prominent fundraiser for President Barack Obama added: “Who’s the bigger TRAITOR—Tucker Carlson or Tulsi Gabbard?”

    Filmmaker Gerard Bush called the congresswoman a “treasonous liar; a Russian asset and a stain on American democracy.”

    Despite Gabbard’s repeated denials of being a Russian spy, what can’t be denied is the number of times she has appeared as a guest on Tucker Carlson’s show—at least four times in the week Putin invaded Ukraine.

    And what’s worse? Russian state television features translated clips of the interviews.

  182. blf says

    Here in France, a billion-euro music record label and distributor, is (presumably) about to have a meltdown, Music group Believe advises clients how to work around Russia sanctions:

    […]
    The French music group Believe […] has pledged to keep its operations open in Russia and is advising partners how to work around sanctions imposed over the invasion of Ukraine.

    The company, one of France’s biggest tech businesses valued at €1.1bn (£920m) on the Paris stock exchange, sent a newsletter on Friday to its partners in Russia, including record labels and artists, updating them on its operations in the region.

    The update, which the Guardian has reviewed in both the original Russian and an English translation, assures its partners that it continues to operate and will continue to make scheduled payments, except to those whose accounts are with banks that have imposed sanctions.

    The letter then goes on to offer solutions to legally circumvent the banking ban by advising opening a new account with a restriction-free bank and then linking it to Believe.

    […]

    The position adopted by Believe, which serves artists and independent music labels around the world to build popularity via social media and put their work on streaming platforms such as Apple Music, is in stark contrast to leading players in the music industry.

    The world’s biggest record companies — Universal Music, Sony Music and Warner Music — have suspended or closed their operations in Russia in response to the invasion of Ukraine, as have the streaming services Spotify, YouTube, Deezer and TikTok.

    […]

    “They are a public company and they are watching every other business — including the music industry — suspend or shut operations because of what is happening in Ukraine,” said one music industry executive. “Believe has gone in the opposite direction and is not just promoting that they are still in the marketplace but are also actively working to show partners how to get around sanctions.”

    […]

    Companies and artists who work with Believe outside Russia were not party to the memo and are not connected with its stance on continuing operations and payments in the country.

    David Bianchi, global chief executive of Various Artists Management, which represents [… some] artists that have worked with Believe, said: “We were unaware of this situation and are holding urgent talks with Believe to ascertain all the facts in this matter.

    “Various Artists and the artists we represent stand in full solidarity with Ukraine. We will not be undertaking any commercial or cultural activities that involve Russia or with companies and individuals who are connected to Russia moving forward.”

    Bianchi said that he had asked Believe UK to remove all marketing and promotional imagery relating to [one of their artists] from its website.

    Believe did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

    However, on the situation in Russia the company has previously said its “priority is to ensure the safety of our team members, artists and labels and that of their families in the region, support humanitarian efforts for Ukrainian refugees and adapt our activity in compliance with global sanctions”.

    I’ve deliberately redacted the names of artists / bands and companies who mentioned as having worked with Believe Music (excepting Various Artists Management, whose CEO David Bianchi is quoted and sounds pissed-off (when translated from “executive-speak”)), mostly because they are very unlikely to be involved or consulted (as the article makes clear). The linked-to Ye Pffft! of All Knowledge article claims Believe is already known for dubious ethics:

    Although operating from its global headquarter (Believe SA) in Paris, France, the company is legally headquartered (as Believe International) in Luxembourg[, …] a common destination among multinational companies looking for tax exemptions. […]

    […]

    Believe has been accused of copyright trolling, particularly on YouTube, where it has been alleged to engage in claiming copyright for works that are either copyright free or that they do not own the rights to. The company was the subject of a New York federal lawsuit alleging that they were behind large scale, willful copyright infringement.

    About that lawsuit, Round Hill sues TuneCore and parent Believe in $32.8m US lawsuit, alleging copyright infringement (August 2020):

    […]
    New York-based publisher Round Hill Music is suing DIY distributor TuneCore and its parent Believe, alleging that the latter two companies “reproduced and distributed musical compositions owned or controlled by Round Hill… despite knowing that {these} compositions were never properly licensed”.

    […]

    Round Hill’s suit further claims that is has not been “properly paid” by the defendants for the use of its compositions, and that it has provided notice to Believe on “multiple occasions” via its agent, Audiam, that these songs were unlicensed.
    […]

  183. says

    Texas Tribune reporting:

    […] Beto O’Rourke, the Democratic nominee for Texas governor, called the Republican incumbent, Greg Abbott, a “a thug” and an “authoritarian” on Saturday and compared Texas energy executives to Russian oligarchs in a blistering critique that presages an election that is about eight months away.

    “I just had a chance to meet with the ambassador from the EU,” O’Rourke told Evan Smith, the CEO and co-founder of The Texas Tribune, in a crowded hall at the South by Southwest festival. “We talked about the fact that you’re seeing the continued rise of authoritarians and thugs across the world. And we have our own, right here, in the state of Texas.”

    Smith asked, “Greg Abbott is a thug in your mind?”

    O’Rourke replied, “He’s a thug, he’s an authoritarian.

    “Let me make the case. Not only could this guy, through his own incompetence, not keep the lights on in the energy capital of the planet last February, but when people like Kelcy Warren and other energy company CEOs made than $11 billion in profit over five days — selling gas for 200 times the going rate; not only did he not claw back those illegal profits; not only was there no justice for more than 700 people who were killed, who literally froze to deaths in their homes, outside, in their cars, people who are paying now tens of billions of dollars cumulatively to pay for the property damage that the flooding that ensued caused in their homes, but he’s taking millions of dollars in payoffs from these same people. I mean, he’s got his own oligarch here in the state of Texas.”

    […] Democratic gubernatorial nominee Beto O’Rourke stopped in East Texas on Thursday afternoon to hold a public town hall as part of his People of Texas Campaign.

    KETK’s Sarah Alegre reported live in Nacogdoches to bring full coverage of the event, which started at 5:30 p.m. at the Fredonia Hotel Courtyard.

    O’Rourke spoke about expanding Medicaid, increasing pay for teachers and raising the minimum wage in Texas. […]

    Health & Democracy are on the ballot this year and there is absolutely no reason whatsoever for any Democratic voter to not feel unenthused or unmotivated to vote. Not. A Single. Reason. So let’s get ready to flip Texas Blue. Click below to donate and get involved with Beto and his fellow Texas Democrats campaigns:

    Beto O’Rourke for Governor

  184. says

    Here’s a livetweeted thread about the occupation of the Deripaska mansion @ #225:

    Tons of police at the Belgrave Square occupation of Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska’s London property.

    Officers shooing away anyone without an accredited press card..

    Anarchists occupying the house are from revolutionary group London Mahknovists [see here] – and say they won’t leave until Putin stops the war.

    Huge international media interest in this eviction – I’m stood next to a Polish TV crew.

    Just spoke to a protestor on the balcony – one of five – who says riot police are inside the building asking them to leave.

    Tells me the group have no leader – “we are anarchists” – and he is from Eastern Europe living in London while other members are from other countries.

    Protestors are asking the crowd to order them a pizza as police descend in the cherry picker to cheers.

    Shouts of “pizza or death” and “tout le monde deteste la police”

    The activists are now telling police they will only come down if they are not arrested and can walk away.

    “If the cops want to accept our proposal we will come down right away.. no reason to be arrested for burglary. We are here to protest.”

    Protestors are demanding police give them a questionnaire “like Boris Johnson who they have actual evidence of committing crimes”

  185. blf says

    There’s a rather good essay by Dmitry Glukhovsky (“a Russian author and journalist”) in the Grauniad, Ordinary Russians did not want this war, but Putin is trying to make us all complicit:

    […]
    Why did the Kremlin tell us to call this war a special operation? Because no one in Russia wanted war. Everyone was afraid of war. War is real people leaving their homes and returning in zinc coffins. It’s smoking ruins where flourishing cities once stood. It’s ever-present fear. It’s poverty, starvation, collective insanity.

    This war was not wanted by the ordinary people who are going to pay for it. Nor by the businesses that will collapse as a result, nor the so-called elites who will be cut off from the world and deprived of their usual feeding troughs. Since the war began, normal life ended for everyone in Russia, and life under martial law began.

    Vladimir Putin personally declared the war in Ukraine. For an hour, across every TV channel, he tried to explain why war was essential — because Ukraine is a non-state that in principle does not deserve to exist. The invasion was founded on Putin’s personal hatred. He wanted the glory that he hoped a war would crown him with. He was counting on a Blitzkrieg: on the day the war began, TV stations ecstatically promised Kyiv’s capture by noon.

    But Putin was not prepared to take responsibility for this alone. And so, before the invasion began, he assembled the Russian security council — everyone who might later be able to say “I didn’t know” — and presented them with the facts[his alternative facts (is what I presume Glukhovsky means) –blf]. He smeared everyone who might have attempted to separately broker agreements that would avoid this descent into war. It isn’t me, Putin told the world. It’s us — everyone who is truly at Russia’s helm. The west has no one to negotiate with here. So if a case is one day heard in The Hague about the war in Ukraine, its defendants will be an entire group. Each person in this group surely keeps this prospect in mind.

    [… Russia’s security council. etc., were similarly blackmailed into supporting Putin…]

    Putin’s regime is now attempting to make its crimes into those of the entire Russian people. To make us complicit. To brand the forehead of every Russian with the letter Z. Putin needs to do this in order to shift responsibility away from his regime and towards ordinary people; to convince the west that Russia is not destroying peace in Europe simply because of the whims of a group of madmen, but because of the will of all of Russia. He needs to convince Russian people that this war is being waged in the name of their survival.

    The regime is staging propaganda events to drum up popular support. It has organised administrative auto races under the Z flag through 80 Russian regions. Terminally ill children from a Kazan hospice have been arranged in a Z pattern against white snow and photographed from above. New explanations have been offered for the bloodshed: Ukraine had chemical or bacteriological weapons; it wanted to build an atom bomb; it wanted to attack first. At any price, by whatever lie, Putin must prove this slaughter makes sense, that the people and not just the Kremlin needed this war.

    But Russians must remember that by supporting the Z we are supporting the bombing and shelling of peaceful Ukrainian cities. We are supporting the destruction of hundreds of schools and driving millions of people from their homes. We are supporting the sundering of fraternal ties between families and our two countries for ever. We are supporting Russia’s profound isolation, its inevitable weakening and its transformation into a colony for China’s raw materials. Those who believe this propaganda must remember that the rest of the world now sees Russians as invaders. Before too long, they will see us as war criminals. And this will become a part of our history for ever. We are all being smeared — smeared with the blood of peaceful Ukrainians and our conscripts, who were sent into hell for training exercises.

    This is not our war, and we must remember that. We must talk about that. We cannot let them speak for us.

  186. blf says

    There’s a weekly(?) cartoon series running in the Grauniad, Edith Pritchett’s Venn diagrams, and at least the first panel in this week’s edition, about Londongrad’s sanctions, seems rather good.

  187. says

    Terrible timing for this: Why a federal judge has left a Navy destroyer stuck on the sidelines

    According to the Pentagon, a judge has effectively placed “a guided missile destroyer out of commission.” It’s the result of an anti-vaccine commander.

    […] Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern explained late last week:

    U.S. District Judge Steven Douglas Merryday has effectively stopped the federal government from deploying a $1.8 billion warship and its 300-person crew, the Justice Department confirmed in a hearing at a federal courthouse in Tampa, Florida, on Thursday. The Navy will not deploy the ship, a guided-missile destroyer, until it can reassign the commanding officer, who refuses to get the COVID-19 vaccine. But Merryday, a George H.W. Bush nominee, is blocking the officer’s reassignment, claiming the move would violate his religious freedom.

    Let’s acknowledge at the outset that this is a story missing some proper nouns. As The Virginian-Pilot’s report noted, the court filings did not name the ship’s commander or the name of the specific Navy destroyer. That said, the article added that the ship in question is in Destroyer Squadron 26, which is part of the USS George H.W. Bush carrier strike group. What’s more, “The strike group has just started a critical training phase to prepare for deployment.”

    But, at least for now, one ship can’t deploy.

    […] The commanding officer in question, like all active-duty troops, was told to comply with the military’s Covid-19 vaccine policies. He refused and requested a religious exemption. The Navy declined the request and told him to get vaccinated, not only for his benefit, but for that of his sizable crew.

    The commanding officer refused again.

    Slate’s Stern added in an earlier report that Vice Admiral D.W. Dwyer and Captain Frank Brandon have said this commander’s anti-vaccine posture is part of a broader pattern of “insubordination” and “deceptive behavior.” Making matters worse, the Virginian-Pilot’s report added:

    Brandon said when the commander embarked on the destroyer in November, he “could barely speak,” and admitted he had a sore throat. Brandon ordered a COVID-19 test, which came back positive. He said the commander had been in contact with members of the destroyer’s crew over two days while infected with the contagious virus, including at one point 50 or 60 people packed shoulder to shoulder in a confined space.

    At this point, the next move seems obvious: The Navy wants to simply replace the ship’s commanding officer.

    But Judge Merryday, a George H.W. Bush appointee best known for throwing out the CDC’s cruise safety regulations last year, won’t let the Navy do that, saying a reassignment would punish the commander for his religious beliefs.

    And so, the $1.8 billion warship is stuck during a time of crisis. Its commanding officer could get the safe, free, and effective vaccine, but he doesn’t want to. The Navy could find a replacement, but a conservative judge won’t let it, and the Navy won’t deploy a ship if it doesn’t trust the person leading it.

    In a court filing, the Pentagon said the judge’s existing order “presents a direct and imminent threat to national security during a global military crisis.” The Defense Department added, “By forcing the Navy to keep in place a commander of a destroyer who has lost the trust of his superior officers and the Navy at large, this Order effectively places a multi-billion dollar guided missile destroyer out of commission.”

    At a Thursday hearing, the judge — who boasted that masks were never required in his courtroom — didn’t appear willing to budge. […]

  188. blf says

    St Patricks Day is this Thursday (17th March), and instead of the usual Green, Irish embassies have been asked to encourage using Ukraine’s Blue & Yellow colours, Green turns blue and yellow this St Patrick’s Day for all the right reasons:

    […]
    As a consequence of war in Europe, St Patrick’s Day will not be as green as usual this year. Other colours take symbolic priority, and it is obvious why. Celebratory assertions of national pride might be perceived as vapid and incongruous when it’s another country being vacuum-bombed.

    So the 13th annual Global Greening — the lighting up of hundreds of monuments and sites around the world — has been suspended, with Taoiseach Micheál Martin asking Irish Embassies to encourage participating landmarks to shine in the blue and yellow of Ukraine instead.

    In some countries this request will find favour, in others it won’t. Some landmarks could choose to dissolve green lights to blue and yellow ones. Others with unbroken links to Russia will likely stick to their standard illuminations rather than express solidarity with a country Vladimir Putin is attempting to shell out of existence.

    That certain national identities are deemed less controversial than others — by regimes that permanently host more Irish pubs than polling stations, for instance — is a facet of world affairs that has both contributed to the success of Global Greening and could now hinder this bid to ally it to sympathy for Ukraine.

    […]

    In recent years several Russian landmarks have gone green on March 17th. In 2019, a trio of Moscow buildings did: the Central Telegraph Building, Izvestia Hall and Rossiya Theatre. In 2020, Krymsky Bridge in the capital and St Petersburg’s Palace Bridge joined in, though in 2021, it was the Palace Bridge in Putin’s home town that was the sole Russian participant.

    This year no Russian or Ukrainian landmarks were destined to be involved, but the department and Tourism Ireland still wisely concluded that pushing this now familiar strand of St Patrick’s Day marketing would be inappropriate. Many world-famous monuments, from the Eiffel Tower to the Empire State Building, have only just been lit in Ukrainian colours after all.

    That these blue-and-yellow tinges are of limited use to the Ukrainian fightback — and outright hollow gestures in the case of 10 Downing Street and the world-beating chaos of its Ukrainian visa scheme — is beside the point. For Ireland to say “it’s our turn now, guys” would have seemed a bit tacky.

    [… more about the “Global Greening” Irish promotional initiative…]

    The Taoiseach spent Sunday morning politely fielding the BBC’s questions about Irish neutrality, stressing that Ireland was not politically or morally neutral on Ukraine and suggesting that Irish military neutrality would be something to “reflect on” in future. As far as Brand Ireland is concerned, this is new.

    So far, of course, only the colours have changed. For the London festivities that followed, Martin wore a shamrock-patterned green tie, actual shamrock on his lapel and a scarf in a mossy shade of green. Above it, rested a second, more prominent scarf in blue and yellow.

    Green may still be the primary colour of this St Patrick’s Day, but it would be wrong for it not to share the light.

  189. blf says

    Some snippets from Meduza’s live blog (out-of-order):

    Out to Lunch
    Russia’s Central Bank extended the shutdown of the Moscow Exchange equity market to at least March 18 [Friday], hoping to shield domestic investors from the impact of international sanctions. Just more than two weeks into the war, more than $30 billion has been erased from Russia’s annual gross domestic product, reported Bloomberg. This rivals all the setbacks of two years of pandemic restrictions and economic contraction.

    That’s ours now
    The Wall Street Journal reported that Russia’s Attorney General’s Office threatened to arrest local leaders of Western companies for criticizing the Russian authorities. The agency also threatened to seize all assets of companies that decided to withdraw from the Russian market, according to anonymous sources who spoke to the Journal. Russia’s Economic Development Ministry has already drafted a bill that would provide a pathway to nationalize for seized foreign property.

    We’ll take those, too
    Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law allowing foreign planes leased to Russia-based airlines to be registered as the airlines’ property. The law also allows Russian airworthiness certificates to be issued to foreign aircraft. Russia’s need for this law arose after the EU banned leasing aircraft to Russian airlines; European planes that were leased to Russian companies were arrested abroad, leading to the almost complete cessation of flights from Russian Airlines outside of Russia’s borders. However, almost half of commercial planes leased to Russia were registered in Bermuda. Since March 13, when the Bermuda authorities suspended these planes’ airworthiness certificates, the companies have been flying them illegally.

    Under new management
    In the occupied Ukrainian city of Melitopol, the Russian military installed as “mayor” Galina Danilchenko, a former city council member and member of the pro-Russian and Eurosceptic political party Opposition Platform — For Life. In a video address to the public, she said her main task is to help the city adjust to the new reality. A day earlier, on Friday, Russian soldiers abducted Melitopol’s elected mayor, Ivan Fyodorov, and dragged him from his office with a bag over his head to an undisclosed location. The Russian media reports that Fyodorov will face charges for allegedly funding and assisting the terrorist organization Pravyi Sektor.

    Пра́вий се́ктор, or Pravyi sektor (Right Sector) are nazis, albeit to what extent Mayor Fyodorov has or had any involvement with them is unknown (to me). Even if Mayor Fyodorov is reprehensible, kidnapping by an invading army controlled by a madman who denies the very existence of the country he’s invading, and who installs then a puppet-“mayor”, is not at all the right way to go about justifying or removing the elected-Mayor from office.

    The fight for history’s first draft
    Anonymous Telegram channels have started leaking the personal data of Wikipedians in Russia and Belarus, targeting volunteers who moderate the website’s entries for issues and incidents connected to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Wikipedia’s Russian branch has urged all moderators in Russia and Belarus to take extra steps to mask their identities when accessing Wikipedia.

  190. blf says

    Russian state TV editor interrupts live news broadcast with anti-war message (image at the link; quoted in full):

    During an evening news broadcast on March 14, Channel One editor Marina Ovsyannikova ran on stage with an anti-war banner that read, “No War. Stop the war! Don’t believe the propaganda! They’re lying to you here! Russians against war.” During the few seconds before the broadcast cut away, Ovsyannikova repeated the words, “No to war! Stop the war!” She was promptly arrested. The authorities say she will face misdemeanor charges for violating Russia’s new ban on “disinformation” about the invasion of Ukraine.

    In a prerecorded message shared on social media after the live-television incident, Ovsyannikova made the following remarks: “What is happening in Ukraine is a crime. And Russia is the aggressor here. And responsibility for this aggression rests on the conscience of a single man: Vladimir Putin. My father is Ukrainian. My mother is Russian. And they’ve never been enemies. And this necklace I’m wearing is a symbol of that fact that Russia must immediately end this fratricidal war. And our fraternal peoples will still be able to make peace. Unfortunately, I’ve spent many of the last few years working for Channel One, doing Kremlin propaganda, and I’m deeply ashamed of this. Ashamed that I allowed lies to come from the TV screen. Ashamed that I allowed the zombification of Russian people. We were silent in 2014 when all this had just started. We didn’t protest when the Kremlin poisoned Navalny. We just silently watched this anti-human regime at work. And now the whole world has turned its back on us. And the next 10 generations won’t wash away the stain of this fratricidal war. We Russians are thinking and intelligent people. It’s in our power alone to stop all this madness. Go protest. Don’t be afraid of anything. They can’t lock us all away.”

  191. Jean says

    blf @241: There is $300 billion in frozen assets from the central Russian bank. This would go a long way towards paying back at a fair market value all the foreign assets seized by the Russian government. If they want to nationalize the properties, they should pay for it, willingly or not.

  192. blf says

    Anyone interesting in some fresh salmon risotto? Tomorrow morning is market day, and so as per usual, I was finishing up any leftovers, etc., to make room in the refrigerator for incoming fresh foods. This week, the problem was the freezer, which was stuffed full, including some lovely fresh salmon from last week’s market. So I decided to make a simple salmon risotto — rice, butter, the leftover juices from a previous risotto, coconut milk, some epices poisson (a mix of various herbs, mustards & other spices, and penguin feathers), and what turned out to be a whopping great chunk of salmon. That‘s why the freezer was full, it was mostly salmon!

    Oops. Well, double oops. I “compensated” by adding more rice (and a dash of vin), turning what was already a large(r-than-expected) dinner into something that was quite tasty — albeit it could have used a touch of lemon and perhaps a wee bit less of those epices — BURP!, but leaves behind a generously-sized leftover which will now take up valuable space in the refrigerator…

    Since no cheese was involved, the mildly deranged penguin is unhappy, but has agreed to launch the leftovers by trebuchet, especially if some cheese is then involved… Anyone interested?

    Sadly, there isn’t enough to make any real difference to Mariupol.🇺🇦

  193. says

    Ukraine update: Most Russian troops are support, not fighters, and they are stretched too thin

    I recently wrote about the logistics of my multiple rocket launcher system (MLRS) artillery unit—nine rocket launchers supported by over 50 vehicles. Here we can see a Russian artillery battery and its logistics chain: [video at the link]

    This is south of Kharkiv, in the Donbas region out east. I count five self-propelled artillery vehicles. two armored personnel carriers, likely for security once deployed. Two command and control vehicles, likely fire direction. Two jeep-like vehicles, were officers likely ride. Three fuel trucks (take those out, and the whole battery grinds to a halt). Two vehicles are either recovery (to pull stuff out of mud), or ammunition autoloaders. And 22 supply trucks to carry ammo, spare parts, food, and other supplies.

    So that’s 33 vehicles supporting five artillery cannons. That’s why logistics are so hard. Like I keep saying, only a minority of combat forces deployed actually shoot anything. Everyone else is supporting the shooters (infantry, armor, and artillery). And if you take out that supporting cast, the combat arms guys can’t move, can’t shoot, can’t eat, and are stuck in the mud.

    In that artillery battery, only 13% of resources are actually focused on combat. The rest are support. Now let’s look at a Russian Battalion Tactical Group.

    According to the Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, as of August 2021 Russia had about 170 BTGs. Each BTG has approximately 600–800 officers and soldiers, of whom roughly 200 are infantrymen, equipped with vehicles typically including roughly 10 tanks and 40 infantry fighting vehicles […]

    That’s 200 actual fighting men, out of 600 to 800 soldiers: just one-fourth to one-third of the total unit. But it’s even worse than that, according to this excellent U.S. Army report on Russian operations in Ukraine:

    According to Russian Army manuals, in the field as many as 50 percent of infantry soldiers can be required for local security and routine administrative tasks.

    So of 200 infantry, half of those are tasked with local security. Thus, once again, we’re between 12-15% of all soldiers actually doing the fighting, the rest in support. Meanwhile, “The supporting units consisted primarily of lower-quality conscript soldiers. This distinction is important: conscripts must be supervised continuously for even the simplest of tasks and are rarely used in combat.”

    Ukraine is a country of 40 million. Even today, after massive refugee flows to the west, Kyiv still has 1.9 million residents left (from 2.9 million pre-war). Besieged Mariupol had 446,000 before the war. Kharkiv, 1.4 million. Russia’s invading force of 190,000 seems like a big number at first blush, but in the context of Ukraine’s size and population, it was woefully inadequate.

    Now consider how few of those troops actually fight, and that number is shockingly small. Using that 15% ratio, Russia only has around 28,000 combat troops. No wonder they can’t take anything of note! Suddenly, 5,000 to 12,000 dead Russians (depending on whether you believe U.S. or Ukrainian numbers) seems exceptionally high, doesn’t it, given that combat deaths will be disproportionately borne by infantry and armor troops.

    Now take ~28,000 combat troops, or whatever’s left of them, and spread them out over four major axes (~7,000 each), and then through more than a dozen separate advances in those axes. Again, it’s no wonder they’re stuck everywhere, to the point that 15,000 freezing Syrians would have little practical effect. But wait, there’s more! From that U.S. Army report linked above:

    A U.S. BCT fields 600 riflemen and 250 armored fighting vehicles compared to 200 and 50 in a Russian BTG. Thus, to destroy a BCT requires destruction of 180 and 75, whereas destruction of 60 and 15 will force a BTG to withdraw and reconstitute.

    A brigade combat team (BCT) is the U.S. Army’s basic maneuver unit. That is, the smallest deployable unit able to stand on its own (with intelligence, artillery, support, and other assets). Russia is organized around the much smaller BTG, which is what we see in Ukraine. Problem is, as that report states, it doesn’t take a lot of casualties to knock a BTG out of commission.

    At the start of the war, Russia had 120 BTGs around Ukraine. Two days ago, the Ukrainian General Staff claimed it had damaged or destroyed 31 Russian BTGs, which seems reasonable, given you only need to kill or incapacitate 60 soldiers or 15 vehicles to force its withdrawal. So while it may be true, as the Pentagon announced today, that Russia still has a little less than 90% of its forces available, that is far less impressive if it has lost a quarter of its initial BTGs. And sure, the remnants will reconstitute, but they will necessarily be of lower quality—troops who have never trained together, with leadership they don’t know or trust, and backfilled with new recruits, foreign fighters, or even greener conscripts.

    What Russia has, and plenty of it, is artillery, and it’ll continue flattening cities to rubble. But there’s a reason that attempted efforts to take Kyiv, Chernihiv, Kharkiv, Mariupol, Sumi, Mykolayiv, and many others have stalled. Russia may yet starve some of these cities into submission, but that takes time Russia doesn’t have, while Russians back home starve […], oligarchs lose their precious yachts, and troops in the field starve with empty rifles.

  194. says

    From a Wonkette article discussing an entertaining conspiracy theory:

    […] As amazing as an evil Satanic cult run by Lady Gaga and Helen Mirren sounds, it seems far more likely that they were just being silly, like normal people who don’t spend all day analyzing everyone else’s behavior for secret symbols so they can feel like they live in a Dan Brown novel.

    Link

    More at the link.

    Of course it is funny and ridiculous. But rightwing nutcakes are taking this new, supposedly “evil satanic cult run by Lady Gaga and Helen Mirren” seriously.

  195. blf says

    Jean@243, Thanks for not claiming those frozen funds are “seized” (an understandable if incorrect term which has been used), but frozen.

    I don’t recall where I read it now, nor did I try to verify the claim, but ironically, apparently, a high percentage of the various frozen assets (be they funds, superyachts, etc.) are in countries with a historically-strong rule-of-law ethos (unless you’re black, poor, etc.), precisely because seizure (especially -without-compensation?) is difficult to accomplish and requires unbiased fair legal proceedings. A problem is that, at least for physical assets (e.g., superyachts), arresting / freezing them requires physical access, which is why there’s been a notable sailing of the more-obvious potential-targets to areas without suitable extradition treaties.

    Also, apparently Putin has at least threatened to pay for any confiscated assets in rubles, which accomplishes nothing. And since a ruble is currently worth less than one cent, that’s a lot of rubles (absurdly presuming the assets are fairly-valued and the exchange rate isn’t artificial / manipulated) — which won’t help the rapidly-tanking Russian economy an iota (presuming the rubles used to “pay” for the confiscated assets just sit in Russian banks or similar).

  196. says

    A high-voltage power line at the former Chernobyl nuclear plant has once again been damaged by Russian forces, Ukraine’s nuclear agency said Monday, just one day after Energy Minister Herman Halushchenko announced that power had been restored following a Russian attack last week that disconnected the site from the electricity grid.

    “Reliable power supply to the Chernobyl nuclear power plant is critical from the point of view of nuclear safety,” Ukraine’s nuclear agency said.

    Ukrenergo, the Ukrainian utility that carried out the repairs over the weekend, said in a Facebook post Monday that the power line has again been damaged by “the occupants.” The company said its workers would have to return to the site to continue restoration.

    Officials have expressed concern that a lack of power at the closed plant and surrounding area would jeopardize cooling systems for more than 20,000 spent nuclear fuel rods that remain at the site. […]

    Washington Post link

  197. says

    Washington Post link

    “Attack on Ukrainian base came from warplanes inside Russia, Pentagon says, underscoring limits of a no-fly zone”

    That’s right, those planes never left Russian airspace. They flew toward Ukraine, but did not cross into Ukrainian airspace. Those planes fired their missiles while they were still safely inside Russia.

    “The assault in Yavoriv, about 15 miles from Poland’s border, did not disrupt shipments of Western military aid, despite Russia’s claims, a senior U.S. official said”

    More at the link.

  198. says

    From the Guardian liveblog:

    More details on a Fox News journalist injured earlier today while working in Ukraine.

    The US rightwing TV news channel reports that its correspondent Benjamin Hall has been wounded “while news gathering” not far from the capital Kyiv.

    Fox says so far it has “minimal” details and the journalist is in hospital.

    The US department of defence’s John Kirby, now holding a press conference in Washington, DC, expressed concern and thoughts for Hall. He also paid tribute, noting that “there are journalists from around the world trying to uncover the truth” of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

    The United States has held “intense” high-level talks with China in an effort to try to dissuade Beijing from supplying arms to Russia, at a meeting in Rome which the White House sees as critically important not just for the war in Ukraine but also for the future of the global balance of power….

    Russia has asked China for missiles, drones, armored vehicles: Financial Times

    The United States told allies that Russia has requested military gear from China, including missiles, drones, and armored vehicles, and that China “responded positively” to the request, the Financial Times reports.

    Financial Times journalist Demetri Sevastopulo also reported that the European allies who received this information have asked the United States to share the underlying intelligence that they are using to reach this conclusion.

    It’s not clear from the United States’ cables to allies if China is already providing the requested support, or has simply pledged to do so, the Financial Times reported.

    US expresses ‘deep concerns’ on Russia-China ‘alignment:’ AFP

    The United States expressed concern Monday about “alignment” between Russia and China, after high-ranking US and Chinese officials met for seven hours on the Ukraine war and other security issues, Agence France-Presse reported.

    “We do have deep concerns about China’s alignment with Russia,” a senior US official told reporters, speaking on condition of anonymity, adding: “It was a very candid conversation.”

    Russia has asked China for pre-packaged meals to feed soldiers, CNN reports

    Amid reports that Russia has asked China for military equipment, including missiles, drones, and armored vehicles, is a telling detail: Russia has also asked China for help feeding its troops, CNN reports.

    Russia’s request for Chinese military support included a request for nonperishable food, known in the US context as “meals, ready-to-eat,” or MREs, CNN reports.

    The request “raises questions about the fundamental readiness of the Russian military,” CNN reports.

  199. says

    The best part of the news of Russia begging China for MREs: guess who got the corrupt government tender to provide the MoD with food? Forbes Russia detailed how 92% of the business went to firms linked to Prigozhin:…
    Corruption may be what saves Ukraine.”

    I think I remember this from when I was posting here about Prigozhin poisoning schoolchildren in Moscow:

    A Moscow court has ordered catering magnate Yevgeny Prigozhin’s company to compensate the parents of schoolchildren who suffered food poisoning last year, Interfax reported Friday.

    The parents sued Prigozhin’s business alongside other companies, schools and officials this spring for the December 2018 dysentery outbreak in several state-run daycare centers and kindergartens. Officials confirmed 127 overall food poisoning cases that anti-corruption activists tied to Prigozhin, who is widely labeled “Putin’s chef” for organizing banquets for the Russian president.

    The Meshchansky district court ruled Thursday that the Vito-1 and Concord food processing companies (the latter is registered under Prigozhin’s name) pay the parents 300,000 rubles ($4,700), Interfax reported.

    “They awarded 10,000-15,000 [rubles] per child,” Interfax quoted prominent anti-corruption lawyer Lyubov Sobol as saying.

    Parents can decide to appeal the ruling because the compensation is too meager, Sobol said in a video outside the courthouse shared on Twitter.

    Companies linked to Prigozhin have signed nearly 5,400 state contracts worth $3.2 billion with the military, schools and hospitals since 2011, the U.S.-funded Current Time news channel reported this year.

    The Associated Press reported that Prigozhin has won $2 billion in Moscow school food-supply contracts since 2009.

    Three of Prigozhin’s entities, including his Concord catering business, were indicted in the U.S. over an alleged criminal and espionage conspiracy to tamper with the country’s presidential election. The U.S. special prosecutor also personally charged Prigozhin.

    Reports have also linked Prigozhin to Russia’s push for influence in Africa and deployments of private mercenaries in Syria and Ukraine.

    Sobol, who was added to Putin’s “extremists and terrorists” list this year, is no longer in Russia.

  200. blf says

    The Onion:

    ● Deepak Chopra Explains That Divinity Can Be Found Even Within The Random Bullshit He Makes Up:

    Expounding upon the immutable, transcendental beauty of the universe, bestselling author and New Age guru Deepak Chopra told reporters Monday that divinity can be found even within the random bullshit he’s always making up. “When you quiet yourself, open your heart, and really listen, you can find enlightenment anywhere, including in the trite garbage I just rattle off the top of my head in order to sell you books,” Chopra said before appropriating a series of scientific terms and misusing them to justify the quasi-intellectual rhetoric that has garnered him a personal net worth estimated at more than $150 million. […] At press time, reports confirmed Chopra had secured another multimillion-dollar advance after spending an hour or two on a book proposal titled How To Live Forever And Never Feel Sadness Or Pain Of Any Kind.

    ● Texas Bans Consensual Sex:

    Joined by Republicans from the state legislature in a highly publicized ceremony, Texas governor Greg Abbott signed a law Thursday banning consensual sex. “I’m proud to sign this bill into law today making all consensual sexual acts punishable by a minimum of 10 years in prison,” said Abbott, who was applauded by religious and other right-wing interest groups for standing up for traditional family values. “Consensual sex has always been immoral, and now it’s finally illegal, too. Enthusiastic, continuous, specific, freely given, and clearly communicated sexual consent will not be tolerated in Texas. Any person who sets up two friends on a date who then go on to have a consensual sexual relationship will also be held responsible and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.” At press time, the US Supreme Court had issued a ruling declining to block the new law.

  201. johnson catman says

    re Lynna @246: I informed my wife that I was joining the Satanic Cult run by Lady Gaga and Helen Mirren and she decided that she was all-in for that as well.

  202. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelenskiy has thanked the Russian TV employee who interrupted a broadcast on Monday night to shout out “No to war”. Marina Ovsyannikova also held up a placard saying “Don’t believe the propaganda. They’re lying to you here”.

    Zelenskiy said he was “thankful” to her and others “trying to deliver the truth”:

    I’m thankful to those Russians who don’t stop trying to deliver the truth, who are fighting against disinformation and tell real facts to their friends and families, and personally to that woman who went in the studio of Channel One with an anti-war poster.

    Those who aren’t afraid to protest. As long as your country isn’t completely closed from the rest of the world, turning into a huge North Korea, you have to fight, you don’t have to miss your chance.”

  203. StevoR says

    Happy Ides of March y’all!

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ides_of_March

    Today is also the first anniversary of the Women’s March on Canberra following the rape of Brittany Higgins & the revelation that our then Federal AG Christian Porter had raped a woman (do I need to add “allegedly” here because I believe her and am sure he did.) :

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2021_March_4_Justice

    Plus the anniversary of the Christchurch Mosque massacre when an Australian White Supremacist Islamophobe murdered fifty-one Muslims in cold blood and streamed it online as he committed that act of terrorism :

    https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2019/03/14/nazi-terrorist-on-murder-spree-in-new-zealand/

    Well, it was the 15th here in Oz and Aotearoa / NZ, the USA being a day behind us timezones~wise.

    Oh and Wikipedia’s ‘On this day’ page notes today is also :

    1917 – Tsar Nicholas II of Russia abdicates the Russian throne, ending the 304-year Romanov dynasty.

    &

    1939 – Carpatho-Ukraine declares itself an independent republic, but is annexed by Hungary the next day.

    Plus :

    1990 – Mikhail Gorbachev is elected as the first President of the Soviet Union.

    For whatever little any of this is worth but hopefully interesting..

    Apparently March is a partciularly ba dmonth fro Russian tyrants since Tsars Nicholas I,Ivan theTerrible, Alexander III & also Stalin all died inthis month..

  204. says

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

    Two powerful explosions rocked the Ukrainian capital Kyiv before dawn on Tuesday. Emergency services said two people died when an apartment building in Kyiv was attacked.

    An adviser to Ukrainian president Volodymr Zelenskiy said on Tuesday the war in Ukraine was at a crossroads that could lead to an agreement at talks with Russia or a new Russian offensive.

    Russia’s defence ministry spokesperson Igor Konashenkov said on Tuesday that Russian forces had taken full control of all territory in Ukraine’s southern Kherson region, Russian news agencies reported.

    An adviser in the Ukraine government says the the war should be over by May because Russia will run out of resources to keep the invasion going.

    The leaders of Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovenia are travelling on Tuesday to Kyiv on a European Union mission to show support for Ukraine as Russia’s invasion intensifies.

    The British Ministry of Defence (MoD) says Russia has reportedly installed its own mayor in the city of Melitopol following the alleged abduction of his predecessor on Friday.

    Nearly all of the Russian military offensives in Ukraine remain stalled after making little progress over the weekend, according to a Penatgon briefing. Russian troops are still about 15km (nine miles) from the centre of Kyiv, a US defence official said, Reuters reports.

    Volodymyr Zelenskiy has used his latest address to urge Russian troops to choose surrender over the “shame” of continuing with the war. Speaking partly in Russian, he said the war had become a “nightmare” for Russia and that it had lost more soldiers in Ukraine than during both Chechen wars combined.

    The Kremlin said on Tuesday that the actions of a woman who interrupted a live news bulletin on Russia’s state TV Channel One on Monday to denounce the war in Ukraine amounted to “hooliganism”.

    US president Joe Biden is considering travelling to Europe for in-person meetings with Nato allies, Reuters reports. Biden could meet other leaders in Brussels on 23 March and then travel to Poland, the report said.

    UK ministers have imposed a series of new export bans and tariffs on Russian products, the morning after the passage of an economic crime bill, intended to make it swifter and easier to target oligarchs and Russian interests.

    Ukraine will make a fresh attempt to deliver supplies to civilians trapped in the encircled city of Mariupol on Tuesday, deputy prime minister Iryna Vereshchuk said.

    The EU has this morning formally agreed to a fourth package of sanctions, including an asset freeze and travel ban on Chelsea football club owner Roman Abramovich. The full details are expected to be published in the Journal of the European Union later today.

    Almost 89,000 people have offered homes to Ukrainian refugees in the first hours of a government scheme that allows families and individuals to bring them to the UK….

    Also from there:

    Vladimir Putin plans to order the mass logging of Ukrainian forests to be sold as lumber in Russia, a document published by Ukraine’s military intelligence claims.

    The document, published by the Ukrainian defence intelligence today, reportedly shows a letter from Russia’s minister of defence, Sergei Shoigu, addressed to the Russian president.

    The letter discusses the subject of “the possibility of felling on defence lands”, Ukrainian intelligence claims, with the money from the sale of the wood going to funding the Russian army.

    Note: the Guardian has not been able to verify these reports.

    The United Nations has called on Russian authorities to make sure that an anti-war protester who interrupted Russian state television is not punished for exercising her right to free speech….

  205. says

    In court today, even though he’s looking at prison extensions that will likely keep him locked up until after Putin is dead, Alexey Navalny took a moment to praise Marina Ovsyannikova and repeat her words that the Kremlin can’t imprison everyone.”

  206. raven says

    Can states limit abortion and gender-affirming treatments outside their borders?
    March 15, 20225:00 AM ET Vanessa Romo NPR

    Legal experts say so-called bounty hunter bills, including the Missouri measure that would let people sue anyone they suspect of helping a resident get an abortion in another state, are most certainly unconstitutional, with little chance of withstanding legal challenges. Here, abortion-rights activists gathered to protest Republican-led restrictions in St. Louis last September.
    Jim Salter/AP
    Conservative lawmakers across the U.S. have unleashed a wave of state legislation attempting to restrict access to abortions and to gender-affirming medical care for transgender youth by allowing lawsuits to be filed against anyone who helps them.

    But now there’s a new twist in what appears to be a broader Republican strategy: Representatives in multiple states are pushing bills that would attempt to limit what residents can and can’t do even beyond state lines.

    Recently in Missouri, a state representative introduced a measure that would let people sue anyone they suspect of helping a resident get an abortion in another state.

    More than 1,500 miles away, an Idaho bill seeking to ban gender-affirming care for youth would have made it a felony to help a child access care outside the state. While Idaho Senate leaders last week said they will not be taking up the bill — essentially killing it, for now — it was easily passed by the Republican-led Idaho House a day earlier.

    Legal experts say these so-called bounty hunter bills are most certainly unconstitutional and have little chance of withstanding legal challenges.

    “States are free to have their own rules, and those rules differ from state to state.
    But the notion that a state can tell its citizens what they could do, not just within but without their borders, really is anathema to how we think of our constitutional system,” Stephen Vladeck, a constitutional scholar and law professor at the University of Texas School of Law, tells NPR.

    The chilling effect of these experimental bills is a win for their backers, even when they don’t pass
    At their core, Vladeck says, such bills are legal experiments intended to slowly erode constitutional protections. “What’s ominous and scary about them is that if they work even a little, even the fact that they’re part of public discourse, they’ve done a ton of damage to our constitutional system.”

    Even if they’re not enforced or enforceable, he says these laws might discourage people from engaging in the underlying conduct — in this case, keep them from traveling out of state for abortions or to receive gender-confirming care. “And we might never know that those folks were chilled. We might never know that the mere existence of these laws has that effect.”

    GOP legislators are trying to turn their Red states into prison camps.
    By preventing residents from going out of state for such things as Trans gender medical care, abortions, and legal marijuana.
    This is all being pushed by the same creeps that ramble on endlessly about their “freedumbs”.

    These bills are probably not legal.
    But the notion that a state can tell its citizens what they could do, not just within but without their borders, really is anathema to how we think of our constitutional system,” Stephen Vladeck, a constitutional scholar and law professor at the University of Texas School of Law, tells NPR.

    These bills will only penalize the poor, young, and clueless.
    The well educated middle class will just run the borders and do what they want anyway.
    There is no way that Idaho or Texas can enforce their laws beyond their borders and most people can figure that out in a few minutes.

  207. tomh says

    Republican lawmakers sue CDC over commercial travel mask mandate
    KEVIN KOENINGER / March 14, 2022

    BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (CN) — A group of 17 Republican lawmakers, many of them vocal anti-maskers, sued the Centers for Disease Control and its director Monday, claiming its commercial travel mask mandate causes them financial harm because they must purchase a mask every time they use commercial airlines.

    Thomas Massie, Rand Paul, Lauren Boebert, and Marjorie Taylor Greene, among others, sued the CDC, Director Rochelle Walensky, and Chief of Staff Sherri Berger, in a Kentucky federal court Monday.

    The members of Congress seek an order to set aside the “transportation hub” mask mandate, which the CDC issued on Jan. 29, 2021, and requires individuals who use certain forms of transportation to wear masks.

    The lawsuit was filed in Massie and Paul’s home state of Kentucky and claims the CDC lacked the authority to impose the mandate, which requires masks for all travelers on commercial airlines and in subway stations, among other forms of transportation.

    Violations of the mandate can result in criminal penalties.

    The complaint says the mandate is a burden on the elected representatives because of the frequency with which they travel for their jobs and also exacts a financial toll.

    “The requirement to wear a mask pursuant to the mask mandate requires the members to purchase masks, causing them ongoing financial harm in the form of out-of-pocket expenditures for the purchase and use of each mask,” the complaint states
    […]

    Kentucky Congressman Thomas Massie released a statement with the lawsuit, which he said took on added significance after reports that President Biden plans to extend the mandate through April 18.

    “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not have the legal authority to force people traveling on commercial airlines to wear masks,” said Massie. “Congress never passed a law requiring masks on commercial flights. This lawsuit targets the faceless bureaucrats who are behind the CDC’s unscientific regulation so that this illegal mask mandate can be brought to a permanent end.”

    Congressman Dan Bishop from North Carolina said in the same statement that the mandate has “caused so much damage to this country.”

    Several of the lawmaker plaintiffs are no stranger to controversies involving mask mandates. Both Lauren Boebert of Colorado and Andrew Clyde of Georgia were recently fined for their refusal to wear masks on the House floor during the pandemic.

    In January, The Hill reported that Clyde had been fined $500 dozens of times and had amassed more than $58,000 in total fines since the onset of the pandemic.

    The CDC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

  208. says

    PALM BEACH (The Borowitz Report)—Donald J. Trump has reached out to Vladimir Putin to help Russia file for bankruptcy, the former U.S. President has confirmed.

    Calling the Russian economy “in very, very bad, terrible shape” as a result of Western sanctions, Trump said that bankruptcy was “quite frankly” Putin’s only option.

    “Bankruptcy is scary the first time you do it,” Trump said. “But once you’ve done it five or six times it’s the easiest and most beautiful thing in the world.”

    Trump said that “the first thing Putin should do is stop paying his bills, and that’s something I can show him how to do.”

    The former President also offered to send his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to Moscow to advise the Russian Federation on bankruptcy.

    “No one can get you into bankruptcy faster than Jared,” Trump boasted.

    New Yorke link

  209. says

    johnson catman @254: “I informed my wife that I was joining the Satanic Cult run by Lady Gaga and Helen Mirren and she decided that she was all-in for that as well.”

    Good. I’ll see you there then. Sounds fabulous.

    SC @264, Alexey Navalny is a hero.

    From text quoted by SC @262:

    The letter discusses the subject of “the possibility of felling on defence lands”, Ukrainian intelligence claims, with the money from the sale of the wood going to funding the Russian army.

    As you noted, that logging plan hasn’t been confirmed yet, but if it is true, it certainly makes the Russians look desperate for funds.

    StevoR @259, well if March has been, historically speaking, a bad month for Russian leaders that could be good news for us. Here’s hoping. Putin is very interested in Russian traditions and history, right?

    From text quoted by blf @253:

    “[…] Enthusiastic, continuous, specific, freely given, and clearly communicated sexual consent will not be tolerated in Texas. Any person who sets up two friends on a date who then go on to have a consensual sexual relationship will also be held responsible and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

    Ha! Funny. The Onion has to really reach far to come up with satire that is more extreme than Abbott’s actual policies.

  210. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Fox News has confirmed its cameraman Pierre Zakrzewski was killed while reporting in Ukraine on Monday.

    Fox News chief executive [and cynical shitheel] Suzanne Scott wrote to employees this morning:

    It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that we share the news this morning regarding our beloved cameraman Pierre Zakrzewski.

    Zakrzewski was with correspondent Benjamin Hall “when their vehicle was struck by incoming fire”, Scott said. Hall remains hospitalised in Ukraine, he added.

    Pierre was a war zone photographer who covered nearly every international story for Fox News from Iraq to Afghanistan to Syria during his long tenure with us.

    His passion and talent as a journalist were unmatched. Based in London, Pierre had been working in Ukraine since February.

  211. says

    Dan Lamothe:

    With @SecDef and his team in transit to Europe today, there is no background briefing at the Pentagon today about the war in Ukraine. The Pentagon has just released this, though:

    “On day 20 of Russia’s war, we continue to assess limited to no progress by Russian ground forces in achieving their objectives.”

    “Kyiv remains under bombardment by long range fires, with civilian targets – to include residential areas – being struck with increasing frequency. But leading elements of Russian forces have not appreciably advanced on the city.”

    “We estimate Russian forces are still about 15-20km to the northwest and about 20-30km to the east. Ukrainians hold Brovary and are still defending Kyiv.”

    “Chernihiv remains isolated, but we still assess that Ukrainians are working to keep a line of communication open.

    “Mariupol is likewise isolated and still suffering heavy bombardment.”

    “Russian forces are still on the outskirts of Kharkiv, where, as before, they face stiff Ukrainian resistance.

    “We’ve observed no apparent movement toward or past Mykolaiv.”

    “While we have observed some LSTs operating in the northern Black Sea, we are not seeing any imminent amphibious movement toward Odesa.”

    “There are no changes to the air picture to report. The Russians have now fired more than 950 missiles. There are no new strikes into western Ukraine to report.”

    “We assess that the Russians have approximately 90% of their combat power available to them; same for the Ukrainians.”

    “We have seen no movement of Russian forces stationed elsewhere in Russia being deployed to the west to reinforce the BTGs the Russians already have in Ukraine. And we’ve seen no evidence of Russian efforts to flow in additional supplies from inside Russia or from elsewhere.”

    “But we have reason to believe the Russians are considering their resupply and manning options.

    “We still have no indications of Belarus inserting troops or preparing to do so.”

    “We have no updates on the convoy. It is still stuck.

    “We have nothing to report with respect to Russian chemical or biological weapons.”

    “We cannot confirm Ukrainian reports of the deaths of senior Russian officers.”

    “Security assistance from the United States and other nations continues, to include over the last 24 hours. We will not detail the specifics, but these shipments did include weapons.”

  212. says

    Senate Republicans scramble to undermine possible deal with Iran

    In 2015, GOP senators rejected an international nuclear agreement with Iran before it existed. In 2022, they’re doing it again.

    It was about a month ago when Biden administration officials held a closed-door briefing with senators on Iran’s nuclear program. As we discussed soon after, it was apparently a sobering discussion: Politico reported that U.S. intelligence agencies believe Iran is now at a stage in which it could produce enough material for a nuclear bomb in as little as two months.

    With this in mind, the United States and its partners have spent months working on a new international nuclear agreement with Tehran, and an agreement was very nearly complete until late last week. Russian negotiators made eleventh-hour demands that threatened to derail the entire process, and created a diplomatic “pause” in the talks.

    Whether the process can be salvaged is unclear, though U.S. officials have reportedly explored the possibility of an agreement that excludes Russia altogether.

    Excluding Russia sounds like a good idea.

    The contours of a deal seem obvious: Iran shelves its nuclear program and allows international inspections of its facilities, and in exchange, the West pulls back its sanctions that severely weaken Iran’s economy. As Politico reported yesterday, it’s an agreement Senate Republicans still hope to prevent.

    The entire Senate GOP conference — except for Rand Paul — is vowing to oppose the revived Iran nuclear deal that the Biden administration is pushing for…. The GOP senators, who backed Donald Trump’s move to exit the deal and impose crushing sanctions on Iran, are slamming the new agreement, which would include sanctions relief. “By every indication, the Biden administration appears to have given away the store,” the senators wrote in a joint statement.

    Note, last month, a group of Senate Republicans warned in a letter to the White House that any deal would “likely be torn up” the next time there’s a GOP president. [Assholes] That letter was signed by 33 Republican senators.

    Yesterday’s joint statement was endorsed by 49 GOP senators, suggesting Republican opposition is intensifying.

    Part of what’s amazing about this is the fact that these lawmakers still consider themselves credible on the subject. […] we’ve arrived at this dangerous point because Donald Trump abandoned the original international nuclear agreement with Iran — the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). After that move, which congressional Republicans endorsed, the West lost verification access to Tehran’s program, and Iran almost immediately became more dangerous by starting up advanced centrifuges and ending its commitment to limit enrichment of uranium.

    It fell to the Biden administration to clean up the Republicans’ mess.

    In the short term, it doesn’t much matter whether GOP lawmakers approve of an agreement — if a deal eventually exists — since the policy wouldn’t have to be ratified by Congress. Members could vote on a measure to block the policy, but even if such a resolution were to pass — an unlikely scenario — President Joe Biden would veto it.

    But that doesn’t make the 49 senators’ statement irrelevant. Indeed, the mere fact that these GOP lawmakers are speaking out and making threats may have an adverse effect on the process. Let’s not forget that in 2015, during the original JCPOA talks — known at the time as the P5+1 talks — 47 Senate Republicans wrote an open letter to Iranian officials, telling them not to trust the United States, as part of an effort to sabotage American foreign policy and derail the international diplomacy.

    […] Seven years later, Senate Republicans aren’t being quite as bold in their sabotage efforts, but their efforts aren’t unfolding in a vacuum: Negotiators will almost certainly take note of the fact that one of the United States’ two major parties is already opposed to the deal they’re currently working on.

    What’s more, the GOP’s rejection of the as-yet-unfinished policy appears wholly detached — again — from the discussion over whether the agreement actually works.

    As we’ve discussed in detail, the original JCPOA, as negotiated by the Obama administration, did exactly what it set out to do: The agreement dramatically curtailed Tehran’s nuclear ambitions and established a rigorous system of monitoring and verification. Once the policy took effect, each of the parties agreed that the participants were holding up their end of the bargain, and Iran’s nuclear program was, at the time, on indefinite hold.

    […] As for why Iran might enter an international agreement, knowing that a future Republican administration would rip up the deal, the calculus is straightforward: Something is better than nothing.

    The New York Times recently reported, “Even if a new agreement lasts three years, American diplomats and other supporters said it would still meet its main objectives: easing Iran’s economic pain while slowing its suspected march to a nuclear bomb.”

  213. says

    I think it is hilarious that Putin sanctioned Hillary Clinton. Is he trying to make himself the but of more jokes and mockery?

    White House scoffs at Russian sanctions

    White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Tuesday shrugged off Russian sanctions on top U.S. officials, even taking a jab at Moscow to suggest it may have inadvertently sanctioned President Biden’s late father.

    Russia’s foreign ministry earlier Tuesday announced it had sanctioned Biden, Psaki, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, CIA Director William Burns, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Biden’s son Hunter Biden.

    “I would first note that President Biden is a junior, so they may have sanctioned his dad, may he rest in peace,” Psaki said when asked about the impact of the sanctions.

    “The second piece I would say is that, it won’t surprise any of you, that none of us are planning tourist trips in Russia. None of us have bank accounts that we won’t be able to access. So we will forge ahead,” she added.

    Russia also announced sanctions on Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau […]

  214. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    MPs from across the continent have voted to expel Russia from the Council of Europe over the invasion of Ukraine in a further sign of the Kremlin’s estrangement from the western democratic order.

    The vote has huge symbolic value, although is also something of a formality, after Russia announced earlier on Tuesday that it was quitting Europe’s leading human rights organisation, effectively jumping before it was pushed.

    MPs from the Council of Europe’s 46 other member countries voted for a resolution that said: “In the common European home, there is no place for an aggressor”.

    Russia’s withdrawal from the organisation, created in the ashes of world war two to protect peace and human rights, is a highly symbolic moment. The Council of Europe, which Russia joined in 1996, devised the European Convention on Human Rights and played a role in promoting democracy in central and eastern Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

    Russia’s withdrawal means it will no longer be party to the convention on human rights or subject to judgments of the European Court of Human Rights. Russian citizens and human rights activists will be denied the protection of the court, although Moscow often ignored the judgements.

    As MPs from across the continent denounced Russia’s brutal war in Ukraine during a debate in Strasbourg, the Council of Europe urged Russia in a tweet to release opposition leader Alexei Navalny and fulfil a judgment from the court of human rights.

    In a draft version of the text MPs voted on, the Council said:

    The Assembly deplores that, despite the many appeals to cease the hostilities and to comply with international law, the Russian leadership has persisted in its aggression, escalating the violence in Ukraine and making threats should other States interfere. Through its attitude and actions, the leadership of the Russian Federation poses an open menace to security in Europe.

    After the Russian government submitted a formal letter of withdrawal, Leonid Slutsky, head of the International Affairs Committee of Russia’s lower house of parliament, accused the Council of “Russophobic hysteria” and claimed it had become a satellite of Nato and Washington. Writing on his Telegram Channel, he said Russia would “need to denounce” the European Convention on Human Rights, adding: “But don’t be afraid. All rights will be guaranteed in our country, necessarily and unconditionally.”

  215. says

    Ukraine update: ‘Kyiv’s wartime supply chain is remarkable’, by Mark Sumner

    Journalists in Kyiv continue to be amazed at how the city has been able to bring in food and medical supplies despite Russian forces that have been attempting to encircle the Ukrainian capital for twenty days. Shelves in Ukraine are better stocked than even some areas not under conflict — and much better than the empty shelves in parts of Russia.

    On Tuesday, the strength of those supply lines was demonstrated by a diplomatic train that left Poland and then arrived safely in Kyiv, delivering the prime ministers of Poland, Slovenia, and the Czech Republic to a meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. While President Zelenskyy has been clear that he no longer expects Ukraine to become a member of NATO, it is still seeking to become a member of the European Union. Ukraine’s application for membership was given rapid acceptance last week, and the process of moving the nation toward full membership is proceeding on an express track. However, leaders of other EU nations have made it clear that the visit from the three prime ministers does not represent an official mission representing the EU.

    Even so, it’s expected that the visiting prime ministers are bringing with them a package of financial proposals designed to help Ukraine rebuild the areas destroyed by Russia as, no matter how the war turns out, it’s unlikely Russia will ever provide adequate reparations. Also under discussion is what steps can be taken to help guarantee Ukraine’s continued independence. What form those guarantees might take isn’t exactly clear. The EU doesn’t currently have any sort of army, and despite some members pulling for the creation of a combined force, it’s unclear that will happen, even in the wake of this war. Another alternative might be for the individual nations within the EU to treat their relationship with Ukraine as providing some sort of guarantee of mutual protection, along the same lines as NATO. But any promise to protect Ukraine by a nation that’s also a member of NATO could bring a large number of potential complications so …

    In any case, Zelenskyy and the three prime ministers are expected to hold a joint press conference in the next few hours, during which the public is likely to learn more details of the the proposals.

    Meanwhile, President Joe Biden is expected to travel to Europe next week as NATO leaders hold a special session. There are expectations that while in Europe, President Biden will visit Poland and speak with Ukrainian refugees, as Vice President Kamala Harris did last week. It’s not clear that Biden will travel into Ukraine itself, but the visit from the neighboring prime ministers and the special session of NATO show the unprecedented level of unity and cooperation that has been generated since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb 24.

    Link

  216. says

    Followup to comment 278.

    Also from Mark Sumner:

    Oil prices are now down to $95, just $3 more than where they were on the day Russia rolled into Ukraine. Futures at the end of the year at $84. Prices are now $35 off their peak — even though the media is still playing up gas prices as if they’re going to continue climbing forever.

  217. says

    A tiny, largely unknown Christian college is at the epicenter of today’s dark conservative movement

    You have likely never heard of Hillsdale College. It’s a tiny Christian school in southern Michigan, but it’s stealthily worming its way into every conservative movement brewing in the nation. It is quite literally at the epicenter of book banning movements, anti-vaxx and critical race theory (CRT) communities, climate science deniers, and Republican legislation.

    Hillsdale College offers school boards and right-wing policymakers a template for conservative curriculums and attacks on liberalism. The institution espouses that the Jan. 6 insurrection was a hoax and that, according to outstanding reporting from Salon, Russian president Vladimir Putin is a “hero to populist conservatives around the world.”

    Oh, FFS, even Putin as a “hero.”

    Hillsdale’s “patriotic education,” aka the 1776 Curriculum, is at the base of what many conservative school board members want in place of the books they’re banning and the “CRT” they’re making illegal to teach.

    The frightening thing is that Hillsdale, like a virus unchecked, is rampant. In 2020 the college began building a Center for Faith and Freedom in Connecticut, and last December the school launched the Academy of Science and Freedom in Washington, D.C., to give a voice to three COVID-19 conspiracy theorists—including Dr. Scott Atlas, Donald Trump’s former pandemic adviser.

    Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee plans to build 50 new charter schools in partnership with the college, using the 1776 Curriculum to battle “anti-American thought,” Salon reports.

    One parent-turned-conservative educational activist is Jeff Barke, who told Salon he became radicalized (as it were) after spending time at Hillsdale, calling the school a “beacon of liberty” that is “fighting to return America back to its founding roots.” We can only imagine what roots he’s talking about, since many of the right-wing school board parents are refusing to have their kids taught about American history that includes slavery and Jim Crow.

    Barke and his wife Mari are big-time donors to the college. Jeff Barke once sat on the Los Alamitos, California, school board but lost his position after vocally advocating against climate change science. Meanwhile, Mari Barke sits on the Orange County Board of Education. She ran for the seat with talking points around “school choice and parental rights.” She raked in $425,000 for her campaign, much of which came from the Charter Public Schools PAC, a state-level affiliate of the State Policy Network, a coalition of more than 150 right-wing groups that promote model conservative legislation, per Salon.

    […] Per the school’s website, it “operates independently of government funding” and has since the 1980s, which gives it the ability to avoid reporting on student demographics or sex discrimination.

    Hillsdale College President Larry P. Arrn, who came to the college in 2000, got himself into hot water in 2013 when he said state officials made a visit to the campus to determine if there were enough “dark ones” enrolled. [video available at the link]

    […] Hillsdale has been a virtual feeder for former failed President Trump’s administration, offering up alumni, staff, and conservatives jockeying for spots to speak at the school. In 2009, Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas […], was hired to help launch a satellite campus in Washington, D.C.

    […] As Politico reported in 2018, most of those who contribute money to Hillsdale aren’t all that well-known. They’re simply acolytes of the gospel of Arnn, and that keeps the money flowing. “They’re just your typical crotchety conservatives,” a Hillsdale student told Politico.

    But those same unknown conservatives are funding the people driving trucks into D.C. and Canada to complain about issues that don’t even exist, and rioting on Jan. 6 to overtake the government, and supporting the suburban moms pushing to ban books by award-winning authors, and putting teachers in legal trouble for teaching the truth of American history. It doesn’t matter how unknown they are: They’re discriminating against Americans […]

    Link

  218. says

    Ukraine Update, by Mark Sumner:

    […] Yes, war is terrible. Yes, this war is terrible. Yes, cities like Kharkiv and Sumy and Mariupol have been heavily damaged by artillery. Yes. thousands have died. Yes, almost a thousands missiles have fallen. And yes, artillery is shelling the outskirts of Kyiv even as missiles and rockets plunge toward the heart of the city.

    But Kyiv has not fallen. It’s not about to.

    On Tuesday afternoon, the U.S. Department of Defense put out a statement assessing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as we move to the third week of this war. […]

    “On day 20 of Russia’s war, we continue to assess limited to no progress by Russian ground forces in achieving their objectives,” says the Pentagon spokesman. “Kyiv remains under bombardment by long range fires, with civilian targets—including residential areas—being struck with increasing frequency. But leading elements of Russian forces have not appreciably advanced on the city.”

    For those who really must have numbers, the Defense Department estimates that Russian forces are still about 15-20km away from the city on the northwest, and about 20-30km away on the north east. That’s pretty much where they have been since about the second day of the war. “Ukrainians hold Brovary and are still defending Kyiv,” says the Pentagon.

    The areas that are isolated — Mariupol and Chernihiv—remain isolate, but Ukraine is working to restore some kind of contact and coordination. Meanwhile, “stiff Ukrainian resistance” has prevented any Russian progress at Kharkiv or on the approaches to Mykolaiv.

    […] Pentagon sees no sign that significant additional forces are on their way to help Russia break out of this stalemate. In fact, they report “We’ve seen no evidence of Russian efforts to flow in additional supplies from inside Russia or from elsewhere.” Which is genuinely shocking.

    Ukrainian cities are burning. Russia’s economy is collapsing. And Russia may be out of supplies to send. Stay tuned.

    Link

  219. says

    This has good smack across the face mixed with salt in the wound energy, as Mark Sumner described a tweet that included a photo of world leaders gathered for the 2019 Summit in Osaka.

    From Visegrád 24:

    Speaking to media after meeting with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Poland’s Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau stated there are discussions about Poland taking Russia’s seat in the G20.

    Founded in 1999, it consists of 19 of the world’s largest economies and the EU

  220. says

    Citing ‘humiliated’ white people, Mississippi governor signs anti-critical race theory law

    Less than a year after Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves said, “I am not aware of any school district that currently allows for” the teaching of critical race theory (CRT) in his state, he sounded the alarm about the alleged spread of CRT that had forced him to sign a bill banning it.

    “Students are being force-fed an unhealthy dose of progressive fundamentalism that runs counter to the principles of America’s founding,” Reeves said as he signed the law, in a pretty straightforward admission that racism is one of the principles of America’s founding. “Children are dragged to the front of the classroom and are coerced to declare themselves as oppressors, that that they should feel guilty because of the color of their skin, or that they are inherently a victim because of their race.”

    Big claim there, but, “He did not point to any real-life examples of the scenario he described happening in Mississippi, though he may have been referring to a single alleged incident at a public charter school in Las Vegas, Nevada,” the invaluable Ashton Pittman of the Mississippi Free Press noted. Nor could the bill’s author point to any such examples at the time he introduced it in the state Senate. […]

    “I want to set the record straight about critical race theory because the radical left and the media continue to spread misinformation on this critical issue,” said Reeves in his statement about the law. “And while they may be okay lying to you, I believe you deserve the truth. Across this great country, we’re seeing a full-court press by a vocal minority of well-organized and well-funded activists who seek to tear down the unity that has helped make our country great.”

    We are in fact seeing a full-court press by a vocal minority of well-organized and well-funded activists, but they’re on Reeves’ side. They’re the reason Reeves is signing a law banning something he said less than a year ago was nonexistent in Mississippi schools, without offering any evidence that anything had changed in the intervening months. They’re the reason state after Republican-controlled state has passed anti-CRT laws, just all of a sudden discovering a massive problem they hadn’t even been aware existed until right-wing think-tanker Christopher Rufo began an organized campaign to make it an issue—“We have successfully frozen their brand—‘critical race theory’—into the public conversation and are steadily driving up negative perceptions,” Rufo tweeted in March 2021—with Fox News eagerly offering a platform. […]

  221. says

    Trump FREAKS OUT Over More Cable Companies Dropping the Failing One America News Network (OAN).

    Any development that irritates Trump because it reduces his media coverage is a good thing, right?

    Never let it be said that Donald Trump doesn’t know where his priorities lie. While the rest of the civilized world is consumed by the heinous war crimes being committed by Trump’s BFF Vladimir Putin against the innocent people of Ukraine, Trump is busting his prodigious gut over the dire prospects for his favorite disinformation and Russian propaganda disseminator, One America News Network (OAN).

    In a tweet posted by his Twitter ban defying spokes-shill, Trump unleashed a totally delusional diatribe against cable companies that he said were “terminating a very popular and wonderful news network (OAN).” His extended, run-on rant whined that…

    “Time Warner, the owner of Fake News CNN, has just announced that they will be terminating a very popular and wonderful news network (OAN). Between heavily indebted Time Warner, and Radical Left Comcast, which runs Xfinity, there is a virtual monopoly on news, thereby making what you hear from the LameStream Media largely FAKE, hence the name FAKE NEWS! I believe the people of this Country should protest the decision to eliminate OAN, a very important voice. Likewise, Comcast is terrible and expensive. Let them know that you’re sick and tired of FAKE NEWS! In this modern age of technology, they are no longer necessary. Demand that OAN be allowed to stay on the air. It is far bigger and more popular than anyone knows, and importantly, it represents the voice of a very large group of people!”

    Holy Shih Tzu! There is a lot of crazy to unwrap there. Let’s begin with the fact that there is no such thing as “Time Warner.” It ceased to exist in 2016 when it was acquired by Charter Communications and folded into Spectrum. Furthermore, the former cable company Time Warner (now Spectrum) was not the owner of CNN. That’s WarnerMedia, which was just acquired by Discovery Networks. So Trump is, as usual, pitifully ignorant of the business he is raging against.

    Trump goes on to claim that OAN is “a very popular and wonderful news network [and] is far bigger and more popular than anyone knows.” Really? If no one knows how popular it is, than it is, by definition, unpopular. OAN’s audience is actually so small that it isn’t even tracked by Nielsen. [LOL LOL]

    Moving on, how can Trump say that there is a “virtual monopoly on news” when Fox News is the highest rated cable news network? And what about right-wing outlets like Newsmax, Sinclair, and News Nation? Trump’s tedious wailing about “fake” news is just his description of any news with which he disagrees. If the fake label belongs anywhere, it is with OAN and Fox, where facts have been discarded in favor of propaganda.

    […] Someone should tell Trump that OAN is already “allowed” to be on the air. They just need to offer a product that justifies its carriage financially. Under free market capitalism, which Republicans used to pretend to advocate, cable companies are also allowed to make business decisions as to which channels they carry.

    Finally, this entire episode of Trump’s Daily Tantrum was totally contrived in his diseased brain. OAN has not been carried on Charter (Spectrum) or Comcast for years. It’s puzzling what triggered this outburst because there isn’t any news on this subject except for a report that OAN has filed a wholly meritless lawsuit to contest DirecTV’s decision not to renew their contract.

    […] OAN is currently being sued by Dominion Voting Systems and Smartmatic software for propagating Trump’s lies about election fraud. Separately, they are being sued by two former Georgia election workers who are victims of Trump’s election deceptions that were prominently pushed by OAN.

    Trump, meanwhile, is behaving in his typically deranged and utterly hypocritical manner. The rabid “cancel culture” critic has been bellowing for boycotts of DirecTV and other media companies that aren’t sufficiently worshipful. He’s been similarly barking at social media platforms, many of which have banned him for concocting and spreading dangerous lies. Perhaps he thinks people will just switch to his own Twitter rip off. But given the disastrous launch of Trump’s hysterically named TRUTH Social, that isn’t likely to happen either. SAD!

  222. says

    More threats, more blustering, and more posing as violent thugs:

    A key champion in the Russian media of Vladimir Putin’s illegal attack on Ukraine served up a troubling threat on Monday: this war will go beyond Ukraine.

    State television host Vladimir Solovyov is well-known as a fanatical pro-Putin propagandist and a top cheerleader for the war with Ukraine. He claims the Russians are acting in self-defense and liberating a Ukraine that poses an existential threat to Russia. Last month he railed against sanctions imposed on Russia, perhaps because they affected his ownership of villas in the Lake Como region of Italy. This week, he said that the sanctions should be answered with nuclear strikes, exclaiming, “I still think that those who took our money should be told, you have 24 hours to unfreeze our funds, or else we’ll send you what you know we’ve got. Your choice. Tactical or strategic, take a pick. You took our money, you’re the thieves, our talk is short with you: a bullet to the head.”

    Bluster is his style. And on his broadcast, The Evening with Vladimir Solovyov, he also recently proclaimed that the attempted conquest of Ukraine is only the beginning of Putin’s grand plan. In keeping with Putin’s brazen disinformation campaign, he depicted the Russian invasion as a crusade against Nazism. He compared recent events in Germany in which Ukrainian refugees have shouted, “Glory to Ukraine, glory to the heroes, death to enemies,” to Nazi rallies where Germans once yelled, “Heil Hitler.” He also told the West to stick the next round of sanctions “up your ass.”

    He then turned to geostrategy. He reminded viewers that Putin has demanded that NATO return to its 1997 configuration—that is, before the Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, the Baltic states, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Albania, Croatia, Montenegro, and North Macedonia joined the Western military alliance. He suggested that after that occurs, nuclear weapons—presumably under Russian control—would be deployed in former Soviet bloc nations. The goal is the restoration of Russia as a nuclear superpower that dominates much of Europe, far beyond its current borders. That is, this war is about far more than keeping Ukraine from aligning with the West.

    Solovyov spelled it out: “And if you think we’re going to stop with Ukraine, think 300 times, I will remind you that Ukraine is merely an intermediate stage in the provision of the safety of the Russian Federation.” [video available at the link]

    Bombastic and cheeky, Solovyov (sometimes spelled Soloviev) has long been controversial. Last year, he was blocked from the social media app Clubhouse for anti-queer comments. He was banned from entering Latvia a year ago after he described Adolf Hitler as a “very brave man” while criticizing Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. (He also produced an admiring documentary about Italian fascist leader Benito Mussolini.) Alla Gerber, the president of the Russia Holocaust Foundation, called Solovyov “crazy and dangerous,” noting that to “to compare the oppositionist, a man who is fighting for democracy, with Hitler, you have to be a madman and a very bad person.” It was Navalny’s anti-corruption organization—now banned in Russia—that revealed Solovyov owns those two villas in Italy. […]

    Solovyov has for years vociferously supported the Kremlin’s propaganda about Ukraine, casting the conflict in eastern Ukraine as a righteous battle between Ukrainian fascists and Russian anti-fascists. When Russia was recently slapped with tough sanctions, he took it personally and complained on one of his broadcasts […]

    Link

  223. says

    […] Hundreds of people fled Mariupol for the second straight day via a humanitarian corridor on Tuesday, but Ukrainian officials told Reuters that those who escaped were a small fraction of the 200,000 trapped in the city and in need of urgent assistance. Russian forces have continued to block a much-needed aid convoy from getting in, Ukrainian officials said.

    […] “In the city center, it’s a real meat grinder: This land is soaked in blood, bitterness and despair,” one Mariupol citizen said in a video posted online Sunday. The video showed empty streets, blocks of broken windows and stores stripped of food by starving citizens. It lingered over men cooking their dinner over a campfire in a city that has endured subzero temperatures and nearly two weeks without heat or water.

    “The world doesn’t know what’s happening here,” the narrator said as he navigated past blown out buildings. “It’s terrible.”

    […] Even under the best of circumstances, urban warfare is a bloody business that exacts its heaviest toll on civilians trapped in the crossfire. The Russian version of urban warfare has proved itself to be especially cruel in recent decades, Konaev said. Because of their huge logistics challenges and seemingly poor morale, Russian forces have struggled to take large Ukrainian cities. The Russian forces, however, still possess the air power and artillery cannons to flatten them. Increasingly, the Russians appear to be using their massive firepower advantage — especially in Mariupol — to depopulate Ukraine’s urban centers and then take them over.

    […] The city council reported that 1,582 civilians had died in the first 12 days of the fighting in Mariupol. In the last four days, 1,000 more civilians have been killed, driving the death toll to more than 2,500, Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to the Ukrainian president, told Reuters. News agencies, which have limited access to Mariupol, have been unable confirm the totals.

    […] To survive, Mariupol residents have resorted to cutting down trees for firewood, melting snow and breaking open heating systems in search of potable water, according to aid groups with personnel in the city. Most supermarkets have been stripped bare of any remaining food.

    “The sound of warfare is constant. Buildings are struck and shrapnel flies everywhere,” Sasha Volkov, the ICRC’s leader in Mariupol, said in a statement. “This is the situation every person in the city faces.”

    […] In a rare call from the city, where cellphones work intermittently at best, a Mariupol official struck a similar note in a brief interview with NPR: “It’s absolutely terrifying. It’s absolutely destroyed now,” he said. “It’s more like a ruin from a historical movie about World War II.”

    A big remaining question is why the Russians have chosen to concentrate so much artillery and misery on Mariupol, which sits 35 miles from the Russian border and for years has depended on close relations and heavy traffic from its neighbor.

    “Nobody in their right mind thinks this war can be solved with a full-fledged victory by one side or the other,” said Olga Oliker, a program director with the International Crisis Group, in a recent discussion posted online. “They are fighting for the negotiating table.”

    […] Despite the carnage and suffering in Mariupol, military analysts warned that the situation could still get far worse. In Chechnya, Russian forces fired as many as 30,000 artillery rounds into Grozny in a single day, said John Spencer, a retired Army major and chair of Urban Warfare Studies with the Madison Policy Forum. In Syria, large swaths of Aleppo were rendered uninhabitable. […]

    Washington Post link

  224. says

    Followup to comment 276.

    NBC News:

    Former Secretary of State and 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton on Tuesday ridiculed Russia’s announcement that it was slapping her with sanctions. “I want to thank the Russian Academy for this Lifetime Achievement Award,” Clinton said in a tweet linking to the sanctions announcement.

  225. says

    From The Hill, a scary warning:

    About a third of wastewater sampling sites across the U.S. are showing an uptick in COVID-19 cases, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

    NBC News:

    Hong Kong’s worst outbreak of the pandemic didn’t come until 2022, but the scenes are right out of 2020. Hospitals and morgues are overflowing, with bodies left unattended in hallways and in rooms with living patients.

  226. says

    Cleveland newspaper:

    Gov. Mike DeWine on Monday signed Republican-backed legislation to allow people in the state [Ohio] to carry a concealed handgun without a permit or training and no longer require them to proactively tell law enforcement during traffic stops that they’re armed.

  227. says

    […] What’s more shocking is “no more Russian supplies.” What the WHAT? For all the talk about Russia’s exposed supply lines, we at least assumed that there was an effort to actually run supplies through them! There is only so much food troops can pillage from locals in the middle of a war zone. Without any real sustenance, with no fuel, and with no ammo … what’s the point? I’m going to hold out for the possibility that this is either a mistake, or a temporary situation. Because if there really are no more supplies for the invading army, it won’t be long before it collapses. […]

    Link

    More at the link, including discussions of Belarus joining the fight (not likely); and the really unlikely scenario in which Russia launches an amphibious assault on Odesa (reasons and facts provided).

  228. Pierce R. Butler says

    An interesting/scary update from Salon:

    … in parts of Europe — where COVID-19 restrictions eased a couple months before they did in the U.S. — infection rates are starting to climb. … the past week has brought an increase in COVID-19 cases to nearly half of all European countries. Countries seeing the biggest surges include Finland, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

    Oddly (to me) the nations receiving the most war refugees don’t show up on the list of increasing c-virus nations.

    … early research shows that BA.2 is more transmissible and can reinfect people who were previously infected with BA.1— although the same research also suggests that reinfection is rare. … Eric Feigl-Ding, chief of COVID-19 risk task force at the New England Complex Systems Institute, told Salon that “signals” are there that suggest that BA.2 will cause the pandemic to get worse again in the next couple of months.

    “I think late April is when things will start to get really worrisome,” Feigl-Ding said. “And then I think May is when I think it will get much worse… Feigl-Ding has a track record of getting predictions right. … As Bloomberg reported, a wastewater network that monitors for COVID-19 trends shows that cases are once again rising in many parts of the country. … Feigl-Ding said that the low booster rate in the U.S. could make the U.S. more vulnerable to a BA.2 wave, too. To date, only 44 percent of fully vaccinated people in the U.S. have received a booster dose, according to CDC data.

    … much of our relative quiet owes to our wall of immunity from vax, infections, or both. All these protections are waning,” [chair of University of California, San Francisco’s department of medicine Bob] Wachter said. … Feigl-Ding told Salon he wishes politicians waited just another month to lift mask mandates.

  229. Trickster Goddess says

    Russian soldiers are refusing to redeploy to Ukraine, citing reasons including unwillingness to become ‘cannon fodder’ (photographic proof)

    A verified source leaked photographs of personal statements written by Russian soldiers who participated in the military actions at the Ukrainian territory and returned to their home bases. The personal statements are addressed to the commander of their military units and state that their authors refuse to go back to the area of combat operations in Ukraine.

    The Guildhall news agency in Ukraine received the personal statements written by the soldiers and officers belong to the 41st Combined Arms Army that deployed to Ukraine in full at the start of the invasion. Among the reasons for refusal the soldiers specified their unwillingness to be used as ‘cannon fodder,’ commanders’ failure to explain the reasons for the military operation in Ukraine, scarcity of technical means and ammunition, communications failure within the chain of military command, and many others.

    Excerpts from individual letters follows, along with photographs of handwritten letters.

    Euromaidan Press

  230. lumipuna says

    Re Washington post quotes at 222:

    “It is pointless to remain. There is no future for us,” said Vyacheslav, 59, who left Russia’s St. Petersburg with his wife and 7-year-old daughter by high-speed train Monday morning. By early afternoon, he and his family had made it to Helsinki, the Finnish capital, where Russians have been welcomed with flowers and signs in recent days.

    I haven’t heard of the flowers and welcome signs, though there is definitely some sympathy for Russians who want to get out. Most of these people aren’t staying here in Finland anyway. OTOH, some Finns seem to to be letting out their old russophobia against ethnic Russians who live in Finland.

    (Some people have left flowers and signs in support of Ukraine in front of the Russian embassy in Helsinki)

    In Helsinki, hundreds of Russians arrived at the railway station and main long-distance bus station on Monday. Finnish train operator VR said its twice-daily train connection from St. Petersburg to Helsinki has been so overbooked since the invasion that it is exploring adding another daily train.

    I heard that several international reporters and film crews have recently visited small towns next to the border in southeastern Finland. The border crossing stations in that area are now one of the main routes for people leaving Russia, and the foreign reporters are reportedly expecting to see the small border towns flooded with Russians, but nobody’s actually staying over there. People immediately go to Helsinki and further.

    Another point of interest is asking local the Finns, how does it feel to live just a few kilometers from Russia? The general answer is, not very dramatic once you get used to it, though right now it’s become slightly unnerving.

    The border itself seems to be a popular “exotic” background for outdoor shots, along the lines of “I’m here standing next to sign that warns in several languages that it’s illegal to walk closer to the border line, which is a few hundred meters away. Looking across this snow-covered field, you can see some trees growing on the Russian side…”

  231. says

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

    Zelenskiy to address US Congress

    Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy is due to address the US Congress, remotely from Kyiv, in the next few minutes in a vital address as his country and city are under fire from the Russian invasion.

    Zelenskiy is scheduled to make an address at 9am Washington time (1pm GMT)….

    This is beginning now.

  232. says

    Also from the Guardian liveblog:

    The Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said he sees possible room for compromise in talks with Moscow as the Russian delegation’s positions sound more “realistic”. In his daily video address on Telegram, Zelenskiy urged Russian businesspeople and other citizens to oppose the war.

    However, Ukrainian presidential aide Mykhailo Podolyak said there are “fundamental contradictions” in talks aimed at ending Russia’s military offensive but there is “certainly room for compromise”.

    The Kremlin’s spokesperson Dmitry Peskov on Wednesday said that Ukraine becoming a neutral state with a status comparable to Austria and Sweden is being discussed at talks with Kyiv and would be a “compromise”.

    Ukraine’s armed forces are conducting small-scale counterattacks on several fronts and Russian troops have not been able to gain ground because of a lack of resources, Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said on Wednesday.

    In Kyiv, a 12-storey residential building has been damaged after it was hit by Russian shelling this morning.

    Ukraine’s second-largest city of Kharkiv also came under attack overnight with two people confirmed dead and two residential buildings destroyed, Ukraine’s state emergency services said in an update this morning.

    A senior Ukrainian official said it was an “open question” whether a humanitarian corridor would be opened on Wednesday to evacuate more civilians from the besieged Ukrainian port city of Mariupol.

    Nato is set to tell its military commanders on Wednesday to draw up plans for new ways to deter Russia following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, including more troops and missile defences in eastern Europe, officials and diplomats said.

    US president Joe Biden is expected to announce an additional $800m in security assistance to Ukraine on Wednesday, a White House official said as reported by Reuters news agency.

    The US Senate unanimously passed a resolution late on Tuesday night condemning Russian president Vladimir Putin as a war criminal, a rare show of unity in the deeply divided Congress.

    Russian forces have reportedly taken patients and medical staff of a hospital in the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol hostage. According to the BBC, the city’s deputy mayor Sergei Orlov said there were 400 people in the hospital and the Russian army were “using our patients and doctors like hostages”.

    About 2,000 cars were able to leave Mariupol, according to local authorities.

    A woman who interrupted a live news programme on Russian state TV last night to protest against the war in Ukraine has been fined 30,000 roubles (£215) by a Russian court. Marina Ovsyannikova, a Russian television producer, was found guilty of flouting protest legislation, the Russian state news agency RIA reported.

    Russian forces have allegedly abducted the mayor and deputy of the Ukrainian port city of Skadovsk, according to Ukraine’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba.

    Oleksandr Yakovlev, mayor of Skadovsk, a port city in the Kherson region of Ukraine, and his deputy, Yuri Palyukh, were allegedly taken by Russian military, local media reported.

    A video reportedly showing people gathering in the city to protest the “kidnapping” of Yakovlev and Palyukh was shared by Ukrainian activist Artem Kostyuchenko.

    A tweet from the US embassy in Kyiv:

    Today, Russian forces shot and killed 10 people standing in line for bread in Chernihiv. Such horrific attacks must stop. We are considering all available options to ensure accountability for any atrocity crimes in Ukraine.

  233. says

    Jim Sciutto: “New: US & NATO allies are sending several surface-to-air missiles systems to Ukraine. A senior US official tells me these systems include Soviet-era SA-8, SA-10, SA-12 and SA-14 mobile air defense systems, w/range higher than Stingers, giving capability to hit cruise missiles.”

  234. blf says

    A snippet from the Meduza live blog:

    Disloyal businesses
    Lawmakers from [Russia]’s ruling political party have proposed legislation that would make it a felony to enforce Western sanctions inside Russia. The law would penalize Russian companies that refuse to work with sanctioned banks and other businesses under the pretext that they would risk becoming sanctioned themselves. Obeying foreign sanctions within {Russia} constitutes indirect support {of the sanctions}. There’s no other word for this but betrayal, said Andrey Turchak, a senior member of United Russia.

  235. says

    Remember when Putin wanted to remind the world Russia was still a SUPERPOWER?

    Russia’s Vladimir Putin was seething. It was obvious to him that Russia was a glorious SUPER POWER of unheralded strength and might, yet his biggest foe, the United States of America, yawned in his face and announced to the world that it was going to go over there, where its real challenger stood—in Asia. So in the mold of Kim Jong-Un, Putin threw a tantrum to get the world’s attention, massing 190,000 troops around Ukraine and in Belarus to, as one observer noted, “remind Western leaders of Russia’s status as a nuclear superpower, and the risks associated with confronting it militarily.”

    Well, no one was confronting it militarily. The one time the United States military came into contact with Russian “mercenaries” in Syria, 200-300 Russian soldiers “mercenaries” ended up dead. Guess how many Americans were killed? Of the 40 involved, zero died. Oh, and zero were injured. You can bet Putin took note—just one more indignity in a long litany of indignities. Indeed, Putin called the breakup of the Soviet Union “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century.” A century that included the Holocaust, mind you, not to mention 24 million dead Russians in World War II.

    So Putin embarked on a military “modernization.” His army would rely less on low-quality conscripts and more on professional contract soldiers. His soldiers would be equipped with the best and greatest gear, tanks, planes, missiles, you name it. His propaganda machine mastered social media to the point where it elected him a favorable American puppet president. Had he been reelected, NATO would’ve been smote forever! He successfully fomented rebellion in Georgia and Ukraine, thus blocking their acceptance into NATO (which doesn’t allow new members with simmering territorial disputes). He propped up puppets in Belorussia and Kazakhstan and supported Armenia in its war against Azerbaijan. He goaded several former Soviet republics to join Russia in its Collective Security Treaty Organization, tying them firmly to Moscow. And he had a favorable stooge running Ukraine! Until he didn’t after a popular revolt overthrew that government, leading to the split of the Donbas region, eight years of war, and now Big War.

    Putin propagandist and Duma parliament member Oleg Matveychev spoke on air to the feeling of being aggrieved that Putin is channeling so poorly. “We should be thinking about reparations from the damage that was caused by the sanctions and the war itself, because that too costs money and we should get it back. The return of all Russian properties, those of the Russian empire, the Soviet Union and current Russia, which has been seized in the United States, and so on.” Among those properties? Alaska and California. Russia is a victim. Everything was taken from them. But they are so MIGHTY! And now they’re taking it back! And the world was worried. Diplomats shuffled around European capitals trying to appease Putin, finding the magic words that would see him back off his invasion threats. However, Putin never saw this as an invasion, just the return of Russia’s rightful property. “I am confident that true sovereignty of Ukraine is possible only in partnership with Russia.”

    So the world watched in dread as Russian tanks crossed into Ukraine while Russian planes and missiles pummeled targets. We were about to witness a global superpower’s shock and awe […] Except we’ve seen a different kind of shock and awe. This isn’t precision-guided munitions systematically targeting government and military targets, air defenses, weapons depots, and military formations. Russia doesn’t have that capability. They have mostly dumb bombs. And while Baghdad fell in three weeks as American troops systematically worked their way through 800 kilometers (500 miles) of towns to get to Baghdad, Russia still hasn’t taken a city on its border. It’s as if the United States invaded Mexico and couldn’t manage to enter Cuidad Juarez or Nogales. We’re not even talking guerrilla warfare here. They can’t even punch their way into towns a few kilometers from Russia itself! They don’t even need supply lines for those towns.

    Russia has nuclear weapons, but that doesn’t make them a global superpower, as Pakistan, France, the U.K., India, North Korea, and Israel well know. China has achieved superpower status on the strength of its economy, the second largest in the world. Russia ranks 11th in GDP behind Italy, Canada, and South Korea. It’ll be far lower down that list once 2022 numbers are compiled. When the United Nations called a vote on the matter, most of Russia’s friends—including Cuba!—nervously avoided eye contact, with only four rogue regimes siding with the murderers (North Korea, Syria, Belarus, and Eritrea). Supposed ally Venezuela couldn’t even be bothered to show up.

    And what of its vaunted military? Well, it has a lot of artillery and a complete lack of moral aversion to indiscriminate murder of noncombatant civilians. It certainly isn’t winning any battles with its superior equipment, well-honed tactical brilliance, or smart weapons and munitions. Russia is a dumb, clumsy oaf with a big club as a […] nimble, creative, and clever opponent inflicts death by a thousand paper cuts. Worst of all, that enemy is doing a good job of stealing that club and using it against Russia.

    Global superpower? Hardly. More like regional bully and soon, Chinese vassal state. Putin is good at lying to his people, so I can’t wait to see what his propagandists come up with to cover for Russia’s inevitable humiliating retreat. “He promised not to join NATO! HUZZAH!” they might bellow, hoping everyone forgets promises of regime change, “denazification,” and full integration of Ukraine into Russia. But Putin will know that European generals will be snickering at him and his military. The U.S. will be like, “Okay … now back to China!” Ukraine will be the toast of the free world, with hundreds of billions in aid flowing to rebuild both civically and militarily. And all those central Asian satellite states and breakaway regions propped up with Russian paratroopers? Those places are going to get feisty.

    But most of all, the world will move on, forgetting about Russia, because no matter how devastating and humiliating Putin thinks the dissolution of the USSR was, this will be 1,000 times worse.

  236. blf says

    Recent snippets from the Meduza live blog:

    Back in business
    The Ukrainian and Moldovan electricity grids have been linked to the EU grid. While this process would ordinarily have taken a year, according to EU energy commissioner Kadri Simson, it was achieved in just two weeks. The two countries’ grids were previously connected to the Russian grid and had been since the Soviet Union, although Ukraine had long planned to link its grid to the EU’s in 2023.

    Another site down
    The BBC website has been blocked in Russia. According to a foreign ministry spokesperson, the move is just the beginning of response actions to an information war unleashed by the West.

    I’m a bit confused here, as I thought “the BBC website” was already blocked (on c.4th March), and as a result, the BBC reactivating its shortwave radio service. My guess is that earlier block was of the Russian-language site, and this most recent block is of the English-language(? all other?) BBC websites.

    In his own world
    Vladimir Putin gave a falsehood-laden televised speech on Wednesday in which he claimed that Russia’s special military operation was going according to plan. He acknowledged Western sanctions’ negative effects on the Russian economy more than he has in the past, but assured listeners that the country has the tools to withstand them. He also claimed that invading Ukraine was necessary because the pro-Nazi regime in Kyiv was close to obtaining weapons of mass destruction.

  237. says

    This may be the biggest news of the day when it comes to U.S. support of Ukraine.

    Several days ago, Biden mentioned that the U.S. wanted to send Ukraine something that would be better than either Stinger missiles or the aircraft that it wanted. What that better system might be was a mystery — but now that mystery may be solved.

    The AeroViroment Switchblade 300 and 600 are not anti-tank or anti-aircraft missiles in the conventional sense, but man-portable “tactical missile systems.” They’re essentially a cross between a drone and a missile that can launch, stay in the air for an extended time, and then dive down to attack a specific target. The common name for this kind of weapon is a “kamikaze drone.”

    They’re as small as many observation drones, but they include a powerful warhead that can be delivered by remotely steering the drone to a target on the ground. In short, they’re air cover for troops that don’t have air cover.

    They can reach altitudes of 15,000 feet, but are really more useful at extremely low altitudes. They can perform tasks like popping over a line of buildings, looking for enemy troops or vehicles below, then swooping down. Because they’re under human control to the last second, they can also be called off — even allowed to impact without exploding.

    Or … it can also be given an image, including an image of a building, vehicle, or even an individual person, and semi-autonomously track down and destroy that target. This is a genuinely revolutionary weapon, and one that the U.S. has not previously shared. [Video available at the link]

    One other advantage of the Switchblade — it’s cheap. Like $6,000 cheap. Meaning it’s much cheaper than even the Javelin anti-tank system.

    Link, scroll down to the 9:03:18 post by Mark Sumner.

  238. says

    Perfidy:

    Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) gave truckers in the so-called “People’s Convoy” a tour of the Capitol last week — even as the building remains mostly closed to the public.

    A senior congressional aide alerted the Department of Justice about the truckers’ presence out of concern that the guided tour could help the protesters plan an entry into the building.

    […] The Capitol has been closed to public tours since the outbreak of Covid in the spring of 2020. Since this past December, the Senate has been allowed to give small public tours in a limited area on the Senate side, with a limit of two tours per week.

    […] “Hard-working Kansans — especially those who have driven over 1,000 miles to get to D.C. — deserve access to their U.S. Capitol,” Marshall’s office wrote in a statement responding to questions about his Thursday tour. The statement added that Marshall supports immediately reopening the Capitol to members of the public.

    […] The trucker protests come amid heightened concerns about the safety of the Capitol after the Jan. 6, 2021 riot.

    The senior congressional aide said he overheard a Capitol Hill police officer complain about the truckers being allowed in the Capitol. He said he reported the tour to the Justice Department.

    […] While the trucks with the convoy have been mainly circling the Beltway to disrupt traffic, on Monday they drove through parts of downtown Washington. The National Park Service partially denied their request to hold a two-week rally on the National Mall.

    “Today we’re getting right next to their walls,” said Mike Landis, a People’s Convoy co-organizer, per the Washington Post. “We’re not going to go in and throat-punch them just yet, even though I know we would all love to do that.”

    Participants in the convoy have met with several members of Congress this month, including Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), and threatened to keep circling the Beltway until their demands to drop Covid restrictions are met. […]

    Link

  239. blf says

    Vaguely-related to Lynna@309, About a week ago an ad appeared on YouTube in the middle of a show (Colbert, I think?). I normally impatiently wait for the “Skip ad” button to appear, but this one was different: It was a neatly-produced ad arguing for Ukraine to join the EU, laying out a variety of reasons and ending by pointing out that Ukraine is currently defending the rest of Europe. I don’t know who produced it, haven’t seen it since, and haven’t been able to find a copy anywhere.

  240. says

    Wonkette:

    Quick update on the story we featured yesterday, about Marina Ovsyannikova, the hero producer for Russia’s Channel One who risked her livelihood (and her life) to mount an on-air protest, holding a sign telling viewers not to believe the propaganda and that they are being lied to.

    As we published that story, Ovsyannikova had just appeared in a Russian clown court — we mean Russia’s judicial system is fake, not that it’s run by actual clowns! — and was found guilty of a misdemeanor related to the video she posted when her protest went up.

    In that video, Ovsyannikova said she regretted doing “Kremlin propaganda” for Channel One and lying to the Russian people. She laid the blame for the Ukraine war squarely at Vladimir Putin’s feet and talked of how Ukraine and Russia were never supposed to be enemies. She said, “It is only in our power to stop this madness. Take to the streets. Do not be afraid. They can’t jail us all.”

    She was fined 30,000 rubles (worth about $250 in American money) and she has been released, after being interrogated for 14 straight hours. She still could be charged with a felony for the on-air protest.

    Here’s what she said once she was free:

    “It was my anti-war decision. I made this decision by myself because I don’t like Russia starting this invasion. It was really terrible,” she said in English as she left the courthouse.

    And here’s some video of that: [video available at the link]

    Still defiant. Good for her.

    So that’s one part of this update.

    […] Meduza, basically the only independent Russian news source left (because it’s based in Latvia), did some original reporting on the state of the state-run media in Russia and its relationship to this war. Specifically Meduza found out that many in the Russian media are privately opposed to the war, and that 100 percent of them know they are lying to viewers:

    From the very beginning of the war, “all the staff at Channel One have been on edge,” says a source with close ties to the television network. “Everyone, without exception, knows that they’re lying. Right there in the studio, they’ve got monitors showing reports from Reuters and AP, while they’re getting guidelines and scripted stories from higher up that are utterly divorced from reality,” the source told Meduza, saying that employees at all levels have started panicking and asking themselves why they’re broadcasting lies. Senior management says life will return to normal once Zelensky is out of the picture, but the Ukrainian president’s staying power has frayed the nerves of anyone with “brains and access to real information.”

    “Ovsyannikova has brains, and she has information access, since she worked in one of the important bureaus, the ‘Cities Service,’ where they collect stories from around the world and work with different correspondents,” explained the source, adding that he expects her to face a show trial eventually. The authorities will make an example of her, he said.

    Apparently the story is similar at some other Russian fake news outlets. This account is striking:

    A source with ties to one of Russia’s other major state media outlets, the All-Russia State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company (VGTRK), told Meduza that several journalists there, too, are unhappy on the job. “They’re forced to talk about the ‘peacekeeping special operation’ while many also have close relatives of draft age whom they’re trying to get out of the country by any means necessary,” the source told Meduza, arguing that the duplicity required to report the government’s falsehoods inflicts “huge psychological trauma” on the journalists themselves.

    Elena Afanasyeva, who left Channel One in 2021, talks about what the climate at Channel One is really like, saying that many oppose the war, “but they can’t leave or are afraid to leave because they’ve got kids or parents to look after, they’ve got mortgages, their savings are decimated, or they fear unemployment and being blacklisted.”

    Meduza also spoke to a journalist named Igor Riskin, who used to work with Ovsyannikova. He had experienced something similar when he worked for Channel One during Russia’s war against Georgia:

    Russia’s war with Georgia in 2008 — particularly the way his colleagues at Channel One covered it — deeply disillusioned Riskin. “And I was responsible for it, too, even though I wasn’t participating directly,” he told Meduza. Unlike Marina Ovsyannikova, he didn’t stage any protests when he resigned in 2009. “I just left,” he says.

    And as if on cue after Ovsyannikova’s protest, there are now reports of just massive waves of resignations hitting Russian state media right now, with some fleeing the country. One such resignation came from Zhanna Agalakova, a foreign correspondent for Channel One:

    Agalakova says she doesn’t know what the current mood is at Channel One. She told Meduza that she handed in her notice on March 3 and her last day on the job is this Friday. “My freedom comes on Friday,” she said. “I can’t wait.” Asked why she decided to resign, Agalakova told Meduza, “I think the answer is obvious.”

    We’ve made mention in the past few days of Russian media figures who know they’re lying about Russia’s brutal war on Ukraine. Margarita Simonyan, who runs RT, is one of the most disgusting, just a garbage human being. Now we can safely assume they all know they’re lying, and differentiate between those doing something about it — including resigning — and those who are not.

    Russian journalist Denis Kataev, writing in the Guardian, says one of his sources told him a “red line has been crossed.” He predicts there will be more actions from Russian media figures, and that what Ovsyannikova did will “go down in the history books.”

    We can only hope.

    https://www.wonkette.com/marina-ovsyannikova

  241. blf says

    Numerology and bad linguistics with a seasoning of alternative facts, Trucker Convoy Protester Spouts Wild COVID Conspiracy Theory in Viral Video:

    [… Some kook] insisted that COVID-19 was a coded message for see sheep surrender, a conspiracy theory that was already debunked by a Reuters fact-check report in 2020.

    When it came out it was ‘corona’ right? the woman said.

    Corona is six letters, when you use gematria and say A is 1, B is 2, C is 3 and you put Corona lined up is 6-6. So that is 6-6-6.

    But we found that out, so they’re saying the right-wing crazies found it out, so they changed it to COVID-19.

    […]

    The woman in the video continued to explain her beliefs regarding the word COVID-19.

    {COVID-19} Which is ‘C’, what is this see? the woman said while gesturing to use your eyes.

    ‘Ovid’… look it up. Ovid means sheep.

    ’19’, military code for surrender, see sheep surrender.

    […]

    The word “ovid” does not mean sheep. In Latin, the word for sheep is “ovis.”

    […]

    Regarding 19, it is not clear which military codes the woman is referring to.

    […]

  242. says

    Wonkette:

    Fox News’s Rachel Campos-Duffy — the one who used to be on “The Real World” — has done something science previously thought impossible: She made Brian Kilmeade look like the smart one. […]

    It happened on yesterday’s “Fox & Friends,” when Campos-Duffy insisted over and over and over again that America had caused Russia to go to war against Ukraine, because Kremlin talking points are just really big on Fox News these days. This gave Brian Kilmeade opportunity after opportunity to show his foreign policy chops. […]

    And to be clear, reminding one’s co-host 95 times that Vladimir Putin doesn’t actually have the authority to dictate what countries that aren’t called “Russia” do shouldn’t really qualify as foreign policy prowess, but we are grading on a serious “Fox & Friends” curve here. […] [video is available at the link]

    RACHEL CAMPOS-DUFFY (CO-HOST): I don’t know, if you look at that map and the areas that they have that you say could end up in this peace agreement, that’s true. And that’s why we should have never provoked them. I mean, they made very clear that there was a red line. The red line was a neutrality for Ukraine, that they could not enter NATO. And in the end, when they get this — if they get this peace agreement — in the end, that’s probably going to end up being the case anyway.

    BRIAN KILMEADE (CO-HOST): No.

    Just “no.” He just said “no.” As in “everything you just said is bugfuck.” As in “play again next time.” As in “don’t know where to start with how wrong that all is.” He just said “no.”

    CAMPOS-DUFFY: I bet you that one of the conditions will have to be that Ukraine, you know, promise to remain neutral, will not be part of NATO.

    KILMEADE: Well, I’ll tell you what, you can never give in to what Russia wants other nations to do. You decide —

    Because Russia is actually not the boss of other countries? Because Ukraine wasn’t anywhere near being accepted into NATO in the first place? Because potential NATO membership isn’t actually why Putin invaded and started murdering Ukraine?

    CAMPOS-DUFFY: Well —

    KILMEADE: They are going to decide to go into NATO —

    CAMPOS-DUFFY: Well, we —

    KILMEADE: — to go into the European Union, when they are a European society that wants that?

    CAMPOS-DUFFY: We have a Monroe doctrine

    “We have a Monroe doctrine.” Because this can’t be about Ukraine being allowed to make its own decisions as a sovereign nation, we have to invoke a really old US policy (one the Obama administration officially buried but the Trump administration tried to bring back) about outside colonization. If that reminds you of some Kremlin apologetics masquerading as an intellectual argument, you’re not imagining things. Seems to be going around these days.

    CAMPOS-DUFFY: … and I think we would be very concerned about this kind of action in our hemisphere. I think he said ‘keep it neutral.’ And in the end, probably Ukraine is going to lose more land because of this. Again, the main problem here as you see, and as we discussed earlier —

    KILMEADE: Is Vladimir Putin.

    The problem is Putin. He explained that the problem is Putin. Putin did this. Not us. Putin isn’t the boss of Ukraine. Ukraine is.

    CAMPOS-DUFFY: Well, no, actually, the main problem is still China. And now we have created a bigger bloc. China and Russia together. This is why our policy makers aren’t thinking long-term.

    She thinks the main problem in Russia’s war against Ukraine is “China.” We’ll agree that China is a problem here, in ways that cannot be explained in single sentences uttered by Fox News personalities, but we question the math that says the “main problem” is China.

    STEVE DOOCY (CO-HOST): Right.

    Steve Doocy said “right.”

    CAMPOS-DUFFY: Provoking this has brought our two enemies closer together.

    KILMEADE: We did not provoke the war.

    We didn’t provoke this.

    CAMPOS-DUFFY: No, no.

    KILMEADE: They provoked the war.

    They provoked this.

    CAMPOS-DUFFY: Well, they had a red line. And we had an agreement in November, a security agreement —

    KILMEADE: They can’t make a red line in other countries, Rachel. It’s not up to them to make a red line in other countries.

    They can’t do that, Rachel.

    CAMPOS-DUFFY: This is the fate of the geography of Ukraine, and they could have remained a free country. We could have armed them.

    A free country that has to run most of its major decisions by Vladimir Putin.

    […] And that is how you make Brian Kilmeade look like the brainy genius knowledge bowl nerd. Just keep repeating Kremlin propaganda so obvious and stupid even he is like “Jesus Christ, dude.”

    In other news, there may be a spot coming free at Channel One in Russia, so if Rachel Campos-Duffy wants to throw her hat in the ring, she could apply for an opportunity to spread Kremlin propaganda from their home office.

    Link

  243. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    NASA just released the first picture of a star after completing the mirror alignment, so all the photons fall on one pixel.

    Link

    Now they need to make sure all the instruments are aligned, and and at the proper operating temperature. before the science can begin.

  244. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Augh, my #315 that picture was from the James Webb Space Telescope.

  245. blf says

    Truth Social: the failing anti-Twitter platform even Trump barely uses:

    The former president[Wacko House squatter], banned from mainstream social media, promised to fight back against Big Tech. It’s not going well

    Truth Social, Donald Trump’s new social media network, was supposed to be a major new platform [for Nunne’s Cow] where Republicans and Democrats alike could converse in an environment free from the censorship of big tech[everyone but Putin], an environment with an ironclad commitment to protecting vigorous debate [to prove the Chicago Clubs did not win the 2016 World Series].

    Instead, nearly a month after its launch, Truth Social has become a laughingstock, marked by a botched rollout, a share price collapse [from c.94$ to c.65$ –blf] and, in Trump, a figurehead who doesn’t actually post much to his own social media platform.

    […]

    We live in a world where the Taliban has a huge presence on Twitter, yet your favorite American president has been silenced. This is unacceptable, Trump said[hair furor hallunicated].

    […]

    When the launch date came round, however, tens of thousands of people were unable to access Truth Social. The Guardian attempted to sign up on 21 February and was finally granted access on 5 March.

    […] Trump is said to be unhappy with his new social media network. According to the Daily Beast, people close to Trump “have heard the former president on the phone swearing gratuitously and asking things like: What the fuck is going on” with Truth Social.

    Trump is said to be particularly piqued by the sluggish rollout — some would-be Truth Social users are still waiting to get on to the platform — and upset that Truth Social is not more popular.

    [… T]he problems with Truth Social go deeper than the fact that barely anyone uses it.

    At the time of writing, there is no way to use Truth Social on a webpage, with a user forced to download the app to their phone. That only works, however, if they have an iPhone, because Truth Social is not yet available as a Google app. Shared links to individual Truth Social posts bring up an error message.

    The site itself is barely distinguishable from Twitter […]

    [… T]he Truth Social app is sluggish, while the list of profiles suggested to new users is thin at best — largely because, as Politico reported: “Many major players in the conservative world aren’t on the app.”

    The missing major players appear to include the rightwing media figures Steve Bannon, Glenn Beck and Tucker Carlson, as well as Trump’s sometime lawyer Rudy Giuliani. (There is a @RudyGiuliani account on TruthSocial, but it has just 35 followers and is unverified.)

    The big-name conservatives who have joined don’t seem to be seeing much reward. According to Truth Social Sean Hannity has 266,000 [followers?] on the platform, but the Fox News host’s “truths” are struggling for engagement. Hannity posted several [“]truths[”] on Tuesday morning; more than four hours later one post had been liked by 10 people, another by just nine.

    Trump’s one [“]truth[”] has been liked 86,000 times, and received 13,000 replies, although many of those appear to be spam postings advertising a niche conservative cryptocurrency.

    There is little evidence of political diversity on Truth Social[…]

    [… A] bigger problem might be that Truth Social is far from the free speech utopia Trump promised.

    [… A] review of Truth Social’s terms of service reveals a comprehensive list of things people can and cannot do and say on the platform.

    Users’ posts should not contain “profanity, or abusive or racist, language”, according to Truth Social’s rules. Posts should also “not contain discriminatory references based on religion, race, gender, national origin, age, marital status, sexual orientation, or disability”.

    Truth Social also reserves the right to “refuse, restrict access to, limit the availability of, or disable” anyone’s posts. People should also not make contributions which are “false, inaccurate, or misleading”, which could prove a problem for a site founded by a man who continues to lie about the accuracy of the 2020 presidential election.

    To Truth Social’s credit, however, its terms of service do provide an avenue for users to get in touch, should they have any issue with these draconian rules.

    Truth Social even provides a physical address where users can direct their complaints, and it seems that those complaints will go right to the top. The address is in Palm Beach, Florida, at 1100 South Ocean Blvd. Specifically, it is the address of Mar-a-Lago, the private members club and vacation resort where Trump has lived since leaving the White House.

  246. says

    Ukraine update: Ukraine may be under attack, but it’s Vladimir Putin who looks weaker by the day

    On Wednesday, Financial Times reported that Ukraine and Russia were actually making substantial progress toward an agreement to end the war. By any measure, the “15 point plan” described seems like an admission of defeat for Russia, with barely any effort to brush over their defeat.

    The draft agreement would supposedly start with a ceasefire and a withdrawal of Russian forces. In exchange, Kyiv would “declare neutrality” and accept some limits on its armed forces. However, where Moscow went into the war demanding that Ukraine be disarmed, that no longer appears to be on the table. Instead Ukraine would keep its military, with unspecified “limits” on what might be added. The idea of neutrality has also been dialed way back to something that the Kremlin has described as “like Sweden.” Ukraine would reportedly declare that it’s not seeking to join NATO, but would be able to seek some form of protection agreement from the U.S. and European partners. Ukraine would not host foreign military forces, but would be able to call on this new alliance in a conflict. Which … seems very much like Ukraine joining NATO in all but name. In fact, for Ukraine, it may be better.

    According to the Financial Times,

    “The biggest sticking point remains Russia’s demand that Ukraine recognize its 2014 annexation of Crimea and the independence of two separatist statelets in the eastern Donbas border region.”

    If that’s where the negotiations are standing, then the real question is will Russia get anything? Ukraine could easily agree to the mutual protection deal being proposed and the meaningless statement of neutrality that now seems to be the Moscow line. That they’re negotiating on whether Russia gets some kind of formal stamp on the areas it controlled at the outset of the invasion, is an amazing level of Not Winning.

    It’s worth nothing that Zelenskyy’s chief of staff responded to this article with a statement that indicates Ukraine has agreed to nothing except a ceasefire, Russian withdrawal, and that Urakine will get security guarantees from multiple countries. Which makes it seem as if what FT put forward was the best that Russia currently hopes to get, with Ukraine negotiating to give Moscow even less.

    Meanwhile, back in Russia, Putin’s base appears to be seriously in doubt. He declared his own oligarchs to be traitors, is attacking those trying to flee the country, and is making a call that sounds very, very much like a demand for a Stalin-esque purge of Russian leadership — if not a general purge of Russia. With the possibility of a default looming as soon as today, Russia’s economy is falling apart, the educated class is leaving in droves, and oligarchs are scrambling to find a financial haven elsewhere—anywhere—as connections to Putin turn poisonous.

    Thousands of Ukrainians have died for Putin’s mistake, but now he appears to be ready to extend this war into Russia. Predictions that the future of Russia looks like a cross between the USSR and North Korea are appearing all too accurate.

  247. says

    https://twitter.com/mjluxmoore/status/1504134285401415681

    Ominous words from Putin about a “natural and necessary cleansing of the nation” to “spit out like flies” all representatives of a fifth column and “traitors” who do not back the Kremlin line. No wonder thousands are leaving the country in fear.

    Sounds Stalinesque and/or like the North Korean leader threatening his relatives and his Generals.

  248. says

    Mark Sumner:

    Russian moves toward nationalizing the assets of manufacturers and retailers who have idled their businesses in Russia, will do more than the war when it comes to making sure no one invests a dime in the place for decades to come.

  249. blf says

    Follow-up to Lynna@318, That FT reported-“plan” is, according to Ukraine, nothing more than Russia’s current(?) position. From the Grauniad’s current one madman’s war live blog:

    A report by the Financial Times [FT] about a proposed 15-point peace plan between Moscow and Kyiv only shows “the requesting position of the Russian side”, Ukrainian negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak said.

    Podolyak, a senior adviser to the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said Ukraine had its own requesting positions in negotiations with Russia.

    “The only thing we confirm at this stage is a ceasefire, withdrawal of Russian troops and security guarantees from a number of countries,” he added.

    […]

  250. says

    Followup to blf’s comment 306.

    “We cannot be defeated.” Per Zelenskyy, electricity now flows freely “from Lisbon to Mariupol.”

    “The enemy expected that the Ukrainian power system would collapse, that we would not be able to cope, so he seized the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, deliberately bombed and keeps bombing thermal power plants in Ukrainian cities and power lines. But the Ukrainian energy system has worked stably and steadily throughout the 21 days of the war, as recognized by Europeans. And starting from today we are no longer alone. As of today, Ukrainian electricity flows to Europe and European electricity flows to Ukraine,” said Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

    According to him, from now on the Ukrainian energy system has reliable energy reserves, which are located abroad, so it is protected from attacks by the invader.

    “I am thankful to all the EU member states, personally to President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, European Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson and dozens of people from Ukraine and Europe who worked day and night during these days of war, so that today we can say this: Ukraine is in the “energy EU”. We now have a single energy circulatory system from Lisbon to Mariupol. Ukraine is in the “energy eurozone”. We cannot be defeated,” the President said.

  251. says

    Wonkette: Ammon Bundy Branches Out Into ‘Let Parents Starve Baby’ Protests, For Freedom

    Professional rightwing grievance monger Ammon Bundy has created more chaos in Idaho, where he’s running for governor. Since Saturday, Bundy supporters have been protesting outside St. Luke’s Hospital in Boise, where a 10-month-old baby is being treated in an alleged child neglect case. The baby is the grandson of Bundy’s favorite wingnut pastor and campaign consultant, Diego Rodriguez, who officiated at Bundy’s big superspreader Easter jamboree in April 2020. The boy was hospitalized March 1 and found to be “suffering from severe malnourishment,” according to the Meridian Police Department; after his release, the baby’s parents missed a follow-up appointment and couldn’t be located, after which the police got involved.

    […] St. Luke’s went into lockdown for over an hour in response to a security threat related to the protests. Local TV station KTVB has the details:

    “THIS IS NOT A DRILL,” read an automated message sent to employees shortly after 1:30 p.m. “An external threat has been identified at Boise hospital location and a lockdown is in progress.”

    Nurses, doctors, and other employees were instructed not to enter or exit the building, and not open the doors to anyone. Incoming ambulances carrying patients were diverted away from St. Luke’s to Saint Alphonsus and other area hospitals.

    People seeking medical attention were asked to go to other facilities, while the general public was urged to avoid the area entirely.

    Well, that is so not helpful when it comes to healthcare in the region.

    […] Here’s video, from KTVB-TV: [video available at the link]

    The protests have been organized by Bundy, who is on trial this week for trespassing at the Idaho Capitol building last spring in protest of the state’s efforts to control the coronavirus pandemic. He actually posted a video Tuesday from the courthouse where the trial has been taking place, summoning his mob to show up at the hospital.

    […] the mess started last week, when, according to the baby’s aunt, Miranda Chavoya, a pediatrician recommended the child go to the emergency room because he was unable to digest proteins and had lost weight. After he gained weight, the baby was released to his parents on March 4.

    But last Friday, the baby’s mother left a message saying she didn’t feel well and would reschedule a doctor’s appointment. The Meridian Police statement says that on Friday,

    when the parents canceled the next follow-up appointment and could not be located, the Meridian Police were contacted and advised this child’s condition could lead to severe injury or even death if not treated.

    Health and Welfare was able to contact the child’s father, who agreed to bring the child in for an examination, but then failed to show up.

    The statement added that when police tried to check on the child at a home in Meridian, a Boise suburb, “the occupants were uncooperative and refused to let officers check on the child’s welfare.” Police left to get a warrant, but when they returned, the parents and baby had left […]. Eventually, the police found the father’s car, did a traffic stop, and got the baby to the St. Luke’s Hospital in Meridian, after which he was transferred to the Boise location.

    Saturday, Ammon Bundy decided to do his part to make the situation better, so he took to social media, including YouTube, to call for people to show up at the hospital. In a mass text to Bundy’s creatively named organization “People’s Rights,” Bundy called for “boots on the ground … to demand that the baby have family present.”

    In a Twitter post Saturday, Bundy explained that the whole thing was tyranny, nothing short of tyranny:

    Last night my very good friend Diego’s grandson was medically kidnapped because a medical practitioner called (child protective services) for a missed doctor appointment. If this happened to them, it could happen to you. We must stand against this medical tyranny.

    We like the part where Bundy doesn’t say a word about the baby being malnourished, the doctor’s concerns that he might be at risk of dying, or the police’s thwarted attempts to check on the baby’s welfare. Because apparently if parents are OK with their child starving, that’s no one’s business but theirs.

    […] On his blog, Diego Rodriguez has claimed CPS was simply out to get rich off “kidnapping” his grandson, insisting that

    You always follow the money—when a child is kidnapped and put into CPS, CPS makes tens of thousands of $. Once they take a child from CPS into foster care, they get even more money!

    This is CHILD TRAFFICKING—PURE AND SIMPLE!!!
    He also referred to yesterday’s lockdown at St. Luke’s as an effort to “protect their child-trafficking ring” and that a “reputable source” informed him the state was “going to try to take Baby C___ right now and sneak him off into foster care today!”

    He also insisted the baby was medically fine, but that his parents, who have seen him at the hospital where he’s been “kidnapped” by the “child trafficking ring,” say he is

    not even the same child. He is unresponsive and lethargic and his spirit has completely changed. He is unrecognizable from the child he was when they stole him away from us.

    Rodriguez also said that’s only to be expected under the tyranny of the “‘experts’ at St. Lukes who harm and kill babies all the time,” […]

    Also on the blog, which we’re not linking to for fairly obvious reasons, Rodriguez has posted the names and photos of two Meridian Police officers, and of an Idaho CPS social worker, who are identified as “The Main People Responsible for Baby C___’s Kidnapping.” […]

    In a social media post today, Bundy — or perhaps Rodriguez — called for continued protests at the hospital, and also said that protests would be held at the homes of the social worker and one of the officers […]

  252. blf says

    In Lynna@312, Denis Kataev’s column in the Grauniad was mentioned. Two snippets from Marina Ovsyannikova broke the state propaganda machine — others will follow (the entire article is worth reading):

    The programme [Marina Ovsyannikova] protested on, Vremya, is a legacy of the former USSR. It is perhaps the most prestigious news show on Russian TV. For millions, it is part of a daily habit for years, even decades, to watch the big evening news at 9pm.

    My added emboldening:

    Just three seconds on air can inspire people and give them strength. The consequences will be very unpleasant for the Kremlin people who control the media in Russia. Many of them are saying nothing happened, as if Ovsyannikova never existed. In his new novel, Doctor Garin, the great Russian writer Vladimir Sorokin portrays Putin as a character who constantly says “it’s not me”, denying everything. That lie is the central pillar of the regime. Nothing bad is their fault. And nothing like this — contradicting them — is supposed to happen. Especially on these channels they’re supposed to control.

  253. says

    blf in comment 325, thanks for the additional information. That was an insightful column in the Grauniad.

    In other news related to Russia, “Russian forces bombed a theater where hundreds of Ukrainian civilians were sheltering in the besieged port city of Mariupol on Wednesday, the country’s foreign minister said in a tweet, calling the attack a ‘horrendous war crime.’” (Summarized from an NBC News article.)

    Ukrainian officials said that the Russians would have known that the theater harbored civilians. Hundreds of peaceful non-combatants were in there.

    As usual, as expected: “Russian media sources, citing the country’s Ministry of Defense, claimed that “Ukrainian nationalists” blew up the theater, without providing evidence.”

  254. says

    Ukraine update: Mariupol wasn’t meant to be this way

    In the south of Ukraine, on the shores of the Azov Sea, is Mariupol. It’s never been a perfect place. Fifteen years ago, it was known as the most environmentally-damaged city in Ukraine, with old Soviet-era steel factories and chemical plants pumping out high levels of pollution. But over the next decade, Mariupol worked to cut those levels in half while keeping the levels of manufacturing in the area high. It may be the only city in the world that has an official “Metallurgist Day” holiday as well as an “Engineer Day.”

    It also became a city known for it’s art, for music, and for supporting a growing Ukrainian film industry. That merger seemed to define the city — the hard bones and damage left behind by decades of Soviet control, softened by an appreciation that things could be better, could be brighter, could be more than a utilitarian gray. It was a city known for it’s public sculptures, it’s large-scale murals, for growing a point of light and color between the smokestacks and the piers.

    In 2018, Mariupol hosted “Gogol Fest, which has nothing to do with any sort of search engine or a very large number or something you wear underwater. It’s named for Ukrainian writer Nikolai Gogol, and it’s a celebration of music, art, theater, literature, and cinema. Tens of thousands came to the city (population 430,000) to attend concerts and plays, or catch the premiere of new Ukrainian films.

    Mariupol was far from any kind of paradise. After Russia’s first invasion of Ukraine, it was pinned between Russian occupied Crimea and the areas of Donbas where Russia was supplying a separatist movement. The kids enjoying tea and pastry might be happy in this photograph [photo available at the link], but they had just come in out of a cold and rainy day, where they had joined in helping territorial defense forces with what seemed to be a unending task over the last decade — digging trenches and building defenses around the city to guard against the day when Russia came again.

    Now that day has passed. Some of those same kids are probably trapped inside the city at this moment. Cold. Starving. Battered every day by Russian bombs. Some of them may have been at the Mariupol Theater, where over 1,000 people had gathered to shelter near the center of the city after Russian artillery had shattered their homes and apartment buildings in the outer rings of the city.

    Unlike other cities in Ukraine, Mariupol’s position near Crimea and Donbas allowed it to be quickly encircled by Russian forces. There have been multiple attempts to evacuate the populace, all of which have ended when Russia begin shelling or firing into the walking civilians. There have been multiple attempts to bring food into the city which has been without supplies for over ten days. Russia has blocked all those attempts. There was a negotiated “green corridor” though when Russia agreed to allow people to leave, but when Ukrainian troops removed the barricades from that corridor, Russian forces tried to use that opening to charge into the city. In Mariupol, children are being buried in trenches. Bodies have been left on streets, because whenever someone tries to retrieve them, Russian troops fire at them.

    Mariupol isn’t supposed to be this way. No city is. But humanitarian convoys must be allowed into the city to break this worse than medieval siege, bring in food, and bring out children and the injured. […]

    Images and tweets are available at the link.

  255. says

    Missouri radio station continues to air literal Russian war propaganda

    […] Fox News’ Tucker Carlson has all but declared eternal fealty to the Motherland, and Trumpian Mini-Me’s like Madison Cawthorn and Marjorie Taylor Greene have decided to give plenty of aid and comfort to their longtime war-criminal crush, but the problem actually runs deeper than that.

    Conservatives’ residual fondness for Putin, a putative “Christian” who hates “woke” ideologies like treating fellow humans with dignity and respect, is taking some time to fade, even as this strong and brilliant leader indiscriminately pounds free cities into rubble. And while I’d love to get a look at Tucker’s Venmo history, I can’t prove that he’s actually on Putin’s payroll. Unfortunately, at least one American most definitely is.

    Indeed, on Liberty, Missouri, radio station KXCL, you can still hear literal Russian propaganda as the country crimes its way from Crimea to Kherson to Kyiv:

    Fault Lines is a show featured on Radio Sputnik, broadcast programming produced in Washington D.C. and funded by the Kremlin. The show regularly airs on KCXL, a small station in Liberty, Missouri that can be heard for miles in any direction.

    Radio Sputnik’s narrative on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is in stark contrast to most coverage of the ongoing conflict, described largely as an unprovoked attack on Ukrainians led by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

    Yes, it’s “described” as an unprovoked attack on Ukrainians by Putin because that’s what it fucking well is. There’s not a lot of gray area involved—in Putin’s head or elsewhere.

    Nevertheless, Missourians are still hearing outrageous takes like this, from Fault Lines host Jarmarl Thomas: “[Ukrainian President Volodymyr] Zelenskyy isn’t the brimming, shining hero the West has made him out to be. That’s the narrative that’s required in order to solidify this idea this is unprovoked.”

    Okay, then. Sheesh, the station must be getting paid a king’s ransom to run this kind of garbage, eh?

    As the Russian invasion of Ukraine rages on, scrutiny of Kremlin-sponsored media like Radio Sputnik continues to mount. And for KCXL owner Pete Schartel, that scrutiny comes in the form of renewed pressure for him to stop broadcasting programming that keeps the radio station in business.

    The amount Schartel is taking to jettison his soul and keep his station going? Erm, $5,000 a month to air six hours of Radio Sputnik. Hope it’s worth it, Pete!

    Schartel continues to air the agitprop despite a call from the National Association of Broadcasters to stop carrying Putin-friendly programs. Schartel’s response? He says the NAB’s guidance is a “knee-jerk” reaction that’s prompted angry calls to the station and led some listeners to call him and his wife “traitors.” So, naturally, he fell back on the weakest excuse in the book: “If I did [cut the program] we’d be doing exactly the primary thing we criticize the old Soviet Union and other communist regimes of doing where they don’t allow free speech,” Schartel said.

    Ugh. The First Amendment excuse. Dude, the First Amendment doesn’t require you to do regular favors for bloodthirsty dictators. […]

    Of course, Putin isn’t the only questionable figure Schartel has blessed with airtime. The station also carries TruNews, which the Anti-Defamation League has flagged for antisemitic and anti-LGBTQ content. Because of course this guy is a shitheel right-wing dickhead. How could he not be?

    For the record, Schartel appears unchastened by the unwelcome attention he’s received lately. He plans to keep airing Radio Sputnik as long as he can. Hopefully, that’s not much longer.

  256. says

    One of Trump’s closest White House advisers admits that ‘it’s hard to describe how little he knows’

    The disgraced former president’s top national security adviser has been doing a slew of interviews the past few weeks. With Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, John Bolton, like most former national security advisers, has found himself being asked for his opinion on rapidly changing events. John Bolton’s bona fides as a truly terrifying warmonger span decades, and he has been critical of Trump—for a price. Bolton says what most of us already know: Trump’s extortion attempts, in the form of holding back military aid from Ukraine in order to dig up dirt on then-candidate Joe Biden’s son Hunter, is a big part of the reason Vladimir Putin did not invade Ukraine until now.

    “He obviously saw that Trump had contempt for the Ukrainians. I think that had an impact,” Bolton told VICE earlier this month. Bolton goes on to detail a phone conversation Trump had with Vladimir Putin, shortly after Volodymyr Zelenskyy was elected, during which Trump asked Putin how he felt about him. According to Bolton, Trump’s lack of knowledge and backbone in that conversation likely reinforced Putin’s belief that Trump didn’t have strong feelings in support of Ukraine’s leadership.

    Trump’s choice to bring Bolton on to replace H.R. McMaster was considered ominous at the time, since Bolton’s No. 1 foreign policy idea has always seemed to be “invade everybody.” But Bolton was in the rooms where Donald Trump conducted foreign policy discussions and played little brother to Putin. “Trump had no idea what the stakes were in Ukraine,” Bolton said.

    […] Trump’s interest in Ukraine, according to Bolton’s book, only perked up in “the summer of 2019 when [Trump] realized that he could have the possibility of holding up the obligation and delivery of substantial security assistance [to Ukraine] in an effort to get access to the Hillary Clinton computer server that he felt was in Ukraine, finding out about Hunter Biden’s income in Ukraine, and all of these things in this spaghetti bowl of conspiracy theories. That was the first time he really focused.”

    In fact, Bolton explained to VICE, Trump’s lack of curiosity for anything is profound. “It’s hard for me to describe how little he knows,” Bolton tried to explain. This true mediocrity is why Trump’s reasoning for things is so whimsical and useless. He has no context or knowledge for much of anything. “He once asked [then-White House Chief of Staff] John Kelly if Finland was part of Russia. What he cared about was the DNC server, and Hunter Biden, and the 2016 election, and the 2020 election. That’s what it was all about. And I think he had next to no idea what the larger issues were.”

    […] “I think one of the reasons that Putin did not move during Trump’s term in office was he saw the president’s hostility of NATO. Putin saw Trump doing a lot of his work for him, and thought, maybe in a second term, Trump would make good on his desire to get out of NATO, and then it would just ease Putin’s path just that much more.” In another interview, Bolton said of Trump’s threats to pull out of NATO, “I think Putin was waiting for that.”

    Bolton’s beef with Trump has also led him to rail against the right-wing narrative that Trump was tough on Putin, with the U.S. under Trump applying sanctions to Russia. “In almost every case, the sanctions were imposed with Trump complaining about it, saying we were being too hard,” he told Newsmax when that ultra-right-wing outlet tried to get him to go along with the narrative that Biden was at fault for everything in the history of ever. [Yep, that’s what I thought the sanctions scenario was during the time of Trump as the squatter in the White House.]

    […] Bolton said that he believed Vladimir Putin’s lack of open invasion of Ukraine during the Trump administration was possibly predicated on the Russian dictator’s belief that Trump would pull the United States out of NATO during a second term in office.

    Arguably the saddest exchange between Bolton and VICE’s interviewer is the one when Bolton says he is unsure what Trump would have done if Russia had invaded Ukraine when Trump was in office. He joked, “He never got that server! Those Ukrainians wouldn’t give him the server!” […]

  257. says

    Talent fleeing Russia:

    Top Russian ballerina Olga Smirnov left her country to join the Dutch National Ballet after Russia invaded Ukraine.

    The company announced her move on Wednesday, saying her opposition to the war and Russian organizations being cut off from international events caused her to leave the country.

    “I have to be honest and say that I am against war with all the fibers of my soul,” Smirnov said in a Telegram post earlier this month. “I never thought I would be ashamed of Russia, I have always been proud of talented Russian people, of our cultural and athletic achievements. But now I feel that a line has been drawn that separates the before and the after.”

    “Dutch National Ballet is a good fit for me and a great place to further my career as a ballerina. I had been thinking about this type of a move for quite a while – it’s just that the current circumstances accelerated this process,” she said.

    Smirnov was a star in the Russian Bolshoi Ballet and a popular cultural figure in the country. […]

    Link

  258. says

    Here’s what the U.S. is doing instead to bolster the Ukrainian military:

    The $800 million military assistance package
    800 Stinger anti-aircraft systems — a lightweight, reusable launch system used to destroy helicopters or low-flying planes.

    2,000 Javelin anti-armor systems – a shoulder-mounted, anti-tank weapon system that can target any vehicle that emits heat and can be operated by one person. Like the Stinger, its launcher is reusable.

    1,000 light anti-armor weapons – man-held, vehicle armor-penetrating guns

    6,000 AT-4 anti-armor systems – a Swedish-made, man-held, single-shot anti-armor weapon used by American special operations forces.

    100 Tactical Unmanned Aerial Systems – Drones known as the Switchblade 300, a system equipped with cameras, guidance systems, and explosives

    7,000 small arms including grenade launchers, rifles, pistols, machine guns, and shotguns

    Over 20 million rounds of small arms ammunition, artillery and mortar

    25,000 sets of body armor and 25,000 helmets

    The previous $1.2 billion
    More than 600 Stingers

    About 2,600 Javelins

    Five Mi-17 helicopters – Soviet-designed Russian military helicopters that Ukrainian pilots are trained on

    Three patrol boats

    Four counter-artillery and counter-unmanned aerial system tracking radars

    Four counter-mortar radar systems

    600 small arms including grenade launchers, machine guns and shotguns

    Nearly 40 million rounds of small arms ammunition and more than 1 million grenade, mortar, and artillery rounds

    70 High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles and other vehicles

    Secure communications, electronic warfare detection systems, body armor, helmets, and other tactical gear

    Military medical equipment for treatment and combat evacuation

    Explosive ordnance disposal and demining equipment

    Satellite imagery and analysis equipment

    […] The types and amount of specific equipment shipped to Ukraine is unknown and could vary based on the ever-changing conflict, but the Pentagon said it would consider the following:

    Anti-air capabilities – including Stingers
    Anti-armor capabilities such as Javelins
    Small arms and ammunition
    Tactical gear such as clothing, body armor and helmets
    Meals Ready to Eat
    Military medical equipment such as first aid kits

    Link

  259. says

    Marjorie Taylor Greene Calls Daylight-Saving Time a Conspiracy to Control Clocks

    WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—One day after the U.S. Senate passed a bill that would make daylight-saving time permanent, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene alleged that D.S.T. is a “conspiracy to control clocks.”

    “My message to the American people is very simple: be afraid, be very afraid,” Greene said. “He who controls clocks controls time itself.”

    Claiming that the movement to make D.S.T. permanent has been spearheaded by a “cabal of international élites,” Greene said, “When we lose an hour, who gets that hour? The Rothschilds, that’s who.”

    Greene said that she would not “stand idly by while a foreign banking family hoards our precious hours in their offshore time vaults.”

    Instead, the Georgia Republican proposed her own legislation, which would make time stand still for the foreseeable future.

    “First, they came for our clocks,” she warned.

    New Yorker link

  260. says

    Followup to comment 321.

    About Putin’s rant today:

    [Today, Putin] vowed a purge of disloyal Russian officials as he looks to pin blame for Russia’s still-astonishing battlefield incompetence on anyone other than himself and the other oligarchs that turned Russia from a would-be superpower to a hollowed-out kleptocracy. Ukrainian artillery appears to be increasing now that Russian forces are bogged down into relatively stationary positions, but of even more consequence may be a newly announced U.S. shipment of an unknown number of the sort of small, cheap drones that Ukraine’s defenders have been using to such devastating effect already.

  261. says

    ‘They can row home’: Russian oligarch’s yacht is stranded because Norwegians refuse to refuel it

    Vladimir Putin’s fatal error was assuming everyone in the United States was as weak, venal, oafish, and self-aggrandizing as Donald Trump, when in reality no more than half of us are. […]

    Sure, Vlad’s campaign to get Trump reelected failed—so Trump wasn’t able to simply hand him Eastern Europe by pulling out of NATO like he’d planned—but Putin probably thought the U.S. was too divided to put up much resistance to his schemes, and then bang-bang Biden’s silver hammer came down upon his head.

    And while the globe—and especially Ukraine—has now been served a plate of thin gruel […] we do occasionally get to enjoy a soothing sip from a sassy schadenfreude digestif.

    The latest dollop of good news amidst this world of hurt? This item from The New York Times:

    A Russian-owned superyacht is stranded in northern Norway because local oil suppliers refuse to refuel the ship amid Russia’s war in Ukraine and the sanctions that many countries have imposed on Moscow as a result.

    The yacht, “Ragnar,” is owned by the Russian oligarch Vladimir Strzhalkovsky, a former K.G.B. agent who made his fortune in nickel mining and is a longtime associate of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia. Mr. Strzhalkovsky has also served as deputy minister.

    Now, Strzhalkovsky isn’t actually on the EU’s list of sanctioned Russians, but that hardly matters to the folks who would ordinarily be expected to fuel the yacht up. In no uncertain terms, they’ve told the yacht’s crew to take a flying fuck at a rolling ponchik. (Norway isn’t a member of the EU, but it is part of the European Economic Area.)

    Sven Holmlund, a local oil supplier, offered little sympathy for those aboard the vessel. “Why should we help them?” he told NRK. “They can row home. Or use a sail.”

    […]

  262. says

    Guardian – “Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe returns to the UK after six-year ordeal”:

    Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been reunited with her family, hugging and kissing her seven-year-old daughter in emotional scenes at RAF Brize Norton after returning to Britain for the first time since she was detained in Iran six years ago.

    Wearing a blue dress and a yellow scarf, the colours of Ukraine, Zaghari-Ratcliffe stepped off a government-chartered flight from Oman at the Oxfordshire airbase in the early hours of Thursday morning.

    Alongside 44-year-old Zaghari-Ratcliffe as she disembarked was fellow British-Iranian Anoosheh Ashoori, 67, who was also released from jail in Iran on Wednesday.

    They walked across the tarmac together, gesturing to photographers, before entering the airport building for a private reunion with their families.

    Zaghari-Ratcliffe was seen hugging her daughter, Gabriella, inside the reception building. She carried the girl in her arms as they were surrounded by other family members, including her husband, Richard, who campaigned for years for her release….

  263. raven says

    The Covid-9 virus attacks a number of organs. There have been a lot of reports about it causing diabetes in survivors.
    It also causes heart, kidney, and brain problems.
    I’ve recently seen the kidney one. A 74 year old antivaxxer went from normal kidney function to kidney dialysis in a few weeks.

    Scientists explore potential connection between Covid and diabetes
    March 16, 2022, 4:14 PM PDT By The Associated Press edited for length

    Just six months after a mild case of Covid-19, the Crown Point, Indiana, boy was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. His parents were floored — it didn’t run in the family, but autoimmune illness did and doctors said that could be a factor.

    It’s clear that in those who already have diabetes, Covid-19 can worsen the condition and lead to severe complications. But there are other possible links.

    Emerging evidence shows that the coronavirus — like some other viruses — can attack insulin-producing cells in the pancreas — a process that might trigger at least temporary diabetes in susceptible people. Rising cases might also reflect circumstances involving pandemic restrictions, including delayed medical care for early signs of diabetes or unhealthy eating habits and inactivity in people already at risk for Type 2 diabetes.

    A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report looked at two large U.S. insurance databases that included new diabetes cases from March 2020 through June 2021. Diabetes was substantially more common in kids who’d had Covid-19. The report didn’t distinguish between Type 1, which typically starts in childhood, and Type 2, the kind tied to obesity.

    Her hospital has seen a 30 percent increase in Type 1, compared with pre-pandemic years, Thomas said. It is not known how many had Covid-19 at some point, but the timing raises concerns that there could be a connection, she said.

    Experts have long theorized that some previous infection may trigger that autoimmune response.

    They are seeing increases in Type 2 diabetes as well.

  264. says

    Guardian – “Orbán treads fine line as Hungarian opinion swings against Russia”:

    After Russian missiles began falling on Ukraine in the early hours of 24 February, much of Europe’s media reported the bloody details of Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked all-out attack.

    In Hungary, however, the state news agency, the Hungarian Telegraph Office (MTI), took a different line. Instead of using the word “war”, it described a “Russian military operation”, wording close to the Kremlin-mandated phrase special military operation. During the first five days of the war, the influential agency referred to a “Russian military operation” (orosz hadművelet) 431 times, according to Zsuzsanna Wirth, a journalist with the investigative media outlet Direkt36, who has studied how the government controls MTI.

    Only after criticism, did MTI begin to use the word “war” in its coverage.

    For years Viktor Orbán’s government has been Vladimir Putin’s staunchest ally in the EU, with Kremlin talking points relayed across Hungarian state media. Now the Hungarian government faces a stark choice between Moscow and the EU, although it appears Budapest is trying to have it both ways.

    Through a series of leaked memos, Wirth uncovered how the government had long told Hungary’s main news agency what to write, from covering the opposition to the Covid pandemic – and Russia. Sensitive topics were off limits, including the difficulties Russia’s Sputnik vaccine encountered in getting an EU licence, Russia’s loan to fund the expansion of the Paks II nuclear power plant and Putin’s time in quarantine.

    When Russia invaded Ukraine, that pro-Kremlin stance came under fire. Opposition politicians organised a demonstration outside the headquarters of the MTVA, the umbrella organisation for Hungarian state TV, radio and the news agency. At another anti-war protest, people shouted “Russians out” at the gates of the Russian-backed International Investment Bank, an institution with Soviet roots that opened a headquarters in Budapest in 2019.

    “There was an outrage in Hungary because of how the public media reacted to this war of Russia and there were also protests, real crowds showed up and there were people protesting against the media,” Wirth said. “I think that must have played a role in this switch [calling the invasion a war]. I think they must be more careful than they used to be before. They could do Russian propaganda on public media quite openly, now it’s a bit more difficult for them.”

    EU officials believe Orbán is treading a fine line, as Hungarian public opinion swings against Russia in the final weeks of the Hungarian election campaign. Although the united opposition is trailing the government in the polls, Orbán is seen as seeking to avoid criticism of his pro-Russia policy before voting on 3 April. His leading rival, Péter Márki-Zay, a conservative supported by six opposition parties, has accused Orbán of being too accommodating towards Russia and China.

    “We only have one choice: we must choose Europe instead of the east and freedom instead of authoritarianism,” Márki-Zay said at an opposition rally on Tuesday.

    While Orbán wants to stay on board with the EU and Nato, there is a different message for his domestic audience. The Hungarian state media machine continues to regurgitate Kremlin talking points, while downplaying the brutality of the war. One national security “expert” on state TV compared Zelenskiy to Adolf Hitler; another talking head on Pesti, a private network that receives state funding, said there was no such thing as the Ukrainian people and culture, while the language was just a dialect of Russian.

    Both examples were collated by the NGO Átlátszó, which also reported how Hungarian state TV described Russian-controlled territories in east Ukraine as “areas between Russia and Ukraine”, a description that chimes with Moscow’s narrative, although not Hungary’s official policy.

    “Hungarian pro-government media, but also public media is still overly dominated by pro-Russian narratives, and even pro-Russian disinformation is prevalent in the Hungarian media space,” Hegedüs said. “Changing the narrative harshly or making a U-turn could pose some very uncomfortable questions to the governing party in the middle of the election campaign, which they would like to avoid.”

    More at the link.

  265. says

    Guardian – “Netflix US revives TV comedy that launched Zelenskiy to Ukraine presidency”:

    The comedy satire in which Volodymyr Zelenskiy unexpectedly becomes Ukraine’s president will be aired again on Netflix in the US.

    The resurrection of the TV series Servant of the People comes amid a global outpouring of praise for the former comedian who is now leading his country’s fight against the Russian invasion. “You asked and it’s back,” Netflix announced.

    Servant of the People sees Zelenskiy, who is now 44, play a teacher who unexpectedly becomes president after a video of him complaining about corruption goes viral….

    More at the link.

  266. says

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

    Rescue workers say ‘there are survivors’ in rubble of Mariupol theatre

    Rescue workers searching in the rubble of a theatre smashed by a Russian airstrike in the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol say they believe there are survivors to Wednesday evening’s attack.

    Ukrainian authorities are struggling to determine the fate of hundreds of civilians who had been sheltering in the theatre after images showed an entire section of the three-storey building had collapsed after the strike….

    A Russian court has extended the arrest of US basketball star Brittney Griner for at least two more months, according to Russian state news agency Tass….

    More than 187,000 refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine have arrived in Germany since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine three weeks ago, according to Germany’s interior ministry.

    German police have recorded 187,428 refugees, mostly women, children and the elderly, as of Thursday, the ministry said.

    Around 4,500 Ukrainian refugees have also been registered in Spain so far although the real number is likely much higher, Spain’s migration minister Jose Luis Escriva said today.

    Escriva said:

    It is difficult to know the real number of refugees because many go directly to their families here in Spain without registering with the authorities.

    More than three million people have fled Ukraine in what the UN Refugee Agency called Europe’s worst refugee crisis since the Second World War.

    Volodymyr Zelenskiy has invoked the fall of the Berlin Wall in an attempt to persuade German MPs to do everything possible to halt Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

    Speaking to the German parliament via video, the Ukrainian president said attempts to address Germany’s links with Russia over the years had been repeatedly met with the response: “Economy, economy, economy”.

  267. says

    Raf Sanchez, NBC:

    I’ve just come back from three weeks in Moscow. I spent a lot of that time in our bureau, where the TVs are tuned to Russian state television.

    A couple observations on what ordinary Russians are being told – and aren’t being told – about the war in Ukraine:

    The Kremlin is showcasing individual Russian soldiers it says fell heroically in battle. And it’s showing senior officials pinning medals on lightly-wounded troops in hospital.

    But it isn’t saying how many Russian troops in total have been killed.

    The last update was on March 2, when the government said 498 troops had been killed. The Russian public has had no new numbers since then. (See our MSNBC coverage of that below.)

    Putin condemned the West this week for “speculating on the combat losses”.

    Russian state TV spent a lot of time talking about high gas prices in the US – saying they were a sign of American sanctions backfiring.

    And a lot of clips of Fox’s Tucker Carlson criticising the US or Ukraine. Like several times a day.

    Russian state TV also jumped on comments by Republican congressman Madison Cawthorn, who called Zelenskyy “a thug”. That got played over and over.

    Endless claims that Ukraine is led by neo-Nazis.

    Sometimes cloaked as a history lesson (a lot of talk about Bandera, a Ukrainian ultra-nationalist who died in 1959).

    But often it’d more blatant, like this clip claiming to show a Nazi flag in a captured Ukrainian base.

    Clips at the link.

  268. Akira MacKenzie says

    Salon – “Donald Trump, Michael Flynn call for violence — they’re not kidding, but the media doesn’t care”

    Donald Trump, Steve Bannon, Tucker Carlson, Michael Flynn and the other leaders of the American neofascist movement are very generous, in their own sinister fashion. They make their escalating threats of right-wing violence, insurrection and other forms of mayhem in public. There is little skulduggery or subterfuge involved.

    Why are they so bold? Because they have suffered no serious long-term negative consequences for their behavior. And for the most part, the Republican fascists and the larger white right are winning in their war against American democracy. Momentum is on their side. Why should they conceal their intentions?

    […]

    How did the American mainstream news media respond to Trump’s most recent white supremacist threats of violence and “race war”? For the most part, they ignored it. If an obligatory comment was offered about Trump’s hate rally in South Carolina, it was derisive. Those reporters who did write about Trump’s speech defaulted to obsolescent and dangerous habits of “horse race” political journalism, or whitewashing Trump’s speech by focusing on “policy issues” or his signals that he is likely to run for president again in 2024. Such an approach normalizes, and therefore empowers, Trumpism and neofascism.

    America’s mainstream news media and larger political class continue to demonstrate that they are unwilling to respond to the escalating threats posed by the Trump movement and the larger white right.

    My theory: The press and the Dems are ignoring the threat because they think that “The Process” and our vague, outdated constitution will somehow stop them. The fact that Trump was elected at all despite his open, naked fascism proves as many on the “far left” have said “The Process will not save us.”

  269. says

    A bit of a random question, but… is anyone else suddenly getting a lot of survivalist/prepping videos recommended on youtube?
    I haven’t watched a video on that subject in years, so I’m wondering if the algorithm is responding to a lot of other people searching for videos like that. Not sure if that’s how it works, but I guess it would make sense.

  270. says

    Christo Grozev:

    Three independent sources report that the deputy chief of Russia’s Rosgvardia (a unit of RU’s interior army which has had tremendous losses in Ukraine), Gen. Roman Gavrilov has been detained by FSB. Gavrilov had also previously worked in FSO, Putin’s security service.

    The reason for the detention is unclear: per one source he was detained by FSB’s military counter-intelligence department over “leaks of military info that led to loss of life”, while two others say it was “wasteful squandering of fuel”, ahem.

    While it’s hard to guess what exactly the purge/reshuffling at the top of the siloviks will result in, one thing is clear: it’s doubtless that Putin recognizes the deep s**t this operation is in. I.e. it’s so bad that he changes horses in midstream – a big no-no during war.

    “Totally untrue, I just spoke with the general”, posts senior United Russia official Alexander Hinshsten.

    ..and now Russian media report he’s been fired.