Comments

  1. says

    Is that a No Man’s Sky image?

    No matter. I’m here to spread the gospel of Everything Everywhere All At Once. If we’re going to continue an Infinite Thread, that seems appropriate.

    Unless y’all had another discussion ongoing. In which case, I’ll bow out.

  2. fishy says

    I can’t listen to anything without getting angry.
    The first instance was some NYTimes show about how wonderful and, “transformative,” Elon Musk is to everything he touches.
    The second time was listening to Science Friday, a show I love and adore, but they had a guy on it selling a book that asked the question, what would I do with a million million dollars?
    The thing that made me angry was that he included in his book he was selling, the notion that humanity could expand far beyond this planet.
    It seemed to make the circle of stupid whole.

  3. birgerjohansson says

    It is the lower link, my cellphone cannot tell the difference between upper case I or lower case L.
    Fishy @ 3 I recommend listening to the latest The scathing atheist, they are practically channeling the rage of a continent of atheists and turning into brilliant sarcasm.

  4. chrislawson says

    fishy — I think it’s remotely possible that humans might one day live off Earth. However most people pushing the idea today are space fantasists who refuse to accept that (1) even if it happens, it won’t be in our lifetime — and probably not for many lifetimes, (2) it relies on humans not destroying ourselves in the meantime, (3) it’s not a solution to environmental degradation on Earth, and (4) in the context of the book you mention, a million dollars will put a 300kg payload into LEO…not even close to what’s needed for a feasible extraplanetary habitat.

    I strongly recommend Pohl and Kornbluth’s satire The Space Merchants. Way back in 1952 they could see the problem, right down to the deceptive political use of potential space habitats as a distraction from pressing problems.

  5. KG says

    blf@379 on the previous incarnation – thanks! I enjoyed that – and glad to see Mrs.Peel did get to throw the villain into the pond at the end.

  6. KG says

    birgirjohansson@5,
    It always irritates me when “What was the star of Bethlehem?” makes it annual appearance. The whole birth story in gMatthew (like the completely different and incompatible one in gLuke) is an obvious retcon, to account for the fact that a putative Messiah came from Galilee, not from Bethlehem as per prophecy.

  7. birgerjohansson says

    KG@ 9
    Before Adair did it, no one connected “Aeneas following a star to the site of future Rome” with “three wise men following a star”. Virgil’s tale had become widely known across the empire by the time the fourth gospel was written down.

  8. birgerjohansson says

    To give you a pause from justified rage, you can laugh at how stoopid the Republican narrative is.
    “GAM 297 Absolute Interference” has Heath, Eli, and Noah deconstructing the documentary the My Pillow guy put together in an attempt to prove the election was compromised.
    https://youtu.be/N3VvkG_QgtA
    :-)

  9. nomdeplume says

    @9@10 Whatever the origins, the blatant mind-numbingly stupid nonsense of “following a star” which eventually “stops” and somehow “points to a manger”, always leaves my feeling contempt for believers.

  10. KG says

    birgirjohansson@10,
    I haven’t read Adair, but I doubt the idea was original with Virgil either – heavenly signs and portents which gave divine “instructions” to people were a universal feature of belief systems until quite recently.
    nomdeplume@12,
    There are “starlike” things in the sky – planets and comets – which move relative to the “fixed stars”, and from a terrestrial viewpoint, can halt before reversing course. In any case, if you believe in miracles, a hovering star is pretty minor and if you don’t, you won’t be the kind of Christian who believes in the “star of Bethlehem” anyway.

  11. lumipuna says

    raven wrote at 348 on the last page of previous thread:

    I could see why Finland would want to join NATO.
    During WW II they fought two wars with Russia and lost 11% of their territory. Karelia was ethnically cleansed and ended up being settled by Russians.
    No one trusts the Russians these days.

    After WW II Finland would’ve been very willing to join a Western defence alliance, but it wasn’t feasible logistically (with Finland being surrounded by Soviet territories and neutral Sweden) or politically (the USSR only grudgingly allowed Finland to remain independent after the fall of Axis, and a certain amount of accommodation was needed).

    During the late Soviet and early post-Soviet era, Finnish political elite did develop a certain amount of trust in Russia – or at least their own ability to maintain peace with Russia via diplomatic means. We’d gotten used to being neutral, and hesitated giving up that image. Recent developments have been eye-opening in Western Europe, and also largely in Finland, but not so much in Baltic countries.

    I saw an interview with one the Baltic politicians where he said joining NATO was an obvious decision. Their choice was to wait for a knock on the door at 2:00 AM, followed by a trip to Siberia, and no one ever hears from them again. This happened to hundreds of thousands of Baltic people.

    AFAIK, after the invasion of Ukraine, Estonia’s response to the shocked Western community at large has been essentially “told ya so”, and to Finland’s Nato project in particular “why are you still hesitating?” The membership of Sweden and/or Finland would improve Nato’s territorial continuity and strategic/logistic ability to defend the Baltic countries, particularly Estonia.

    It’s happening right now in Ukraine. The Russians are literally kidnapping children.

    It happened to a friend of mine’s father. He was a German from Koenigsberg which is now Kaliningrad. They got moved to Poland and one day Russian soldiers took his father away. They never saw him again.

    Yikes indeed. Historical horrors are still here.

  12. says

    Good morning (or whatever part of the day it is where people are)!

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

    Russia’s foreign ministry barred entry to the country for Boris Johnson and other British government politicians and members. The move was in response to the government’s “hostile action” including sanctions against senior Russian officials, Reuters reports the ministry said in a statement.

    The Moscow Times’ Russian language service has been blocked in Russia over war coverage. The block came on Friday, after it published “what authorities call a false report on riot police officers refusing to fight in Ukraine,” the newspaper said.

    The battle for Mariupol is ongoing. If Moscow captures Mariupol, a city home to 400,000 people before the invasion, it would be the first big city to fall.

    Nine humanitarian corridors have been agreed for Saturday, the Ukrainian deputy prime minister, Iryna Vereshchuk, announced. Five of the nine evacuation corridors were from the east, in Ukraine’s Luhansk region, which local officials have said is under heavy shelling….

    And here’s a link to Meduza’s Ukraine liveblog. From a recent summary:

    Border attacks: Local Russian officials claimed Ukrainian forces were responsible for two attacks on Russian territory along the Ukrainian border. The governor of Russia’s Belgorod region reported that Ukraine had conducted airstrikes on the village of Zhuravlevka, damaging residential buildings and community facilities, while officials in the Bryansk region said Ukrainian helicopters had conducted airstrikes on residential buildings in the village of Klimovo, injuring at least seven people. Ukrainian authorities denied the claims: “The Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine’s Center for Countering Disinformation has already warned of the enemy’s intentions to commit a series of terrorist acts on Russian border territory to consolidate the Russian population against Ukrainians.”

    The war’s repercussions: The war in Ukraine could lead to “poverty, destitution, and hunger” for more than 1.7 billion people, or over a fifth of the world’s population, according to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres. He called for member nations to take the measures necessary to ensure “a steady flow of food and energy through open markets,” including lifting export restrictions and putting a cap on food prices.

    Disarming the populace: Signs calling for people to give up their firearms by Monday, April 18, have started appearing in Mariupol. According to the announcements, which are signed simply “administration,” citizens who keep their arms will be held criminally responsible, and searches for unsurrendered weapons will begin on Tuesday.

    No to Russian oil: The EU is reportedly planning to institute a ban on Russian natural gas over the course of multiple phases in order to give Germany and other countries time to find alternative suppliers, according to The New York Times. According to the Times’ sources, EU member countries won’t begin debating the embargo until after the French presidential election on April 24.

    Turning up the patriotism: Students in Russia’s Voronezh region will soon start their days with the raising of the Russian flag, according to Regional Governor Aleksandr Gusev. “It’s very important right now that we instill in our children the correct ideas about the Motherland and foster respect for their country’s values in them. Authorities in the Kaluga region recently announced a similar initiative; every Monday, the Russian national anthem will be played in Kaluga schools as the flag is raised.

    Navalny’s new strategy: In a Twitter post, Alexey Navalny called on foreign leaders to take new actions to combat the “Kremlin war criminal’s” information war. In a long Twitter thread, Navalny called for an ad campaign consisting of “stories, posts, and pre-roll ads” about topics like the “army’s monstrous losses,” the “yachts and palaces of the people sending the soldiers into battle,” and the “massacre of civilians.” According to Navalny, this kind of campaign should make 200 million impressions a day, reaching “every Russian Internet user twice” daily.

    Scientists leave Russia out: Russian Academy of Sciences President Alexander Sergeev spoke out about the international science community’s unwillingness to cooperate with Russian scientists, naming German scientists, French scientists, American scientists, and Chinese scientists: “Unfortunately, I can say directly that our Chinese academic colleagues have also pressed pause, and over the last month, we have been unable to enter into serious discussions, despite the fact that we previously had an excellent partnership with regular communication.”

    (Please support this journalism if you can!)

  13. says

    Guardian – “Russia warns US of repercussions if it sends more arms to Ukraine – reports”:

    Russia sent a formal warning to the US not to send more arms to Ukraine or it could face “unpredictable consequences”, it has been reported.

    According to the Washington Post, Moscow sent a diplomatic note, a démarche, warning that US and Nato deliveries of the “most sensitive” weapons systems to Ukraine were “adding fuel” to the conflict there and could bring “unpredictable consequences”.

    A spokesperson said the state department did not confirm any diplomatic correspondence as a matter of course, and made clear that the US would continue to send arms to Ukraine.

    “What we can confirm is that, along with allies and partners, we are providing Ukraine with billions of dollars worth of security assistance, which our Ukrainian partners are using to extraordinary effect to defend their country against Russia’s unprovoked aggression and horrific acts of violence,” the spokesperson said.

    The US is preparing to send the latest $800m (£610m) tranche of military aid to Ukraine, bringing to $2.6bn the total since the start of the war. The Biden administration has also made clear that it was sending increasingly heavy and sophisticated equipment, including helicopters, aerial and marine drones, and long-range 155mm howitzers, while training Ukrainian soldiers in their use.

    The US is also sending additional anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles of the sort that have contributed to the war effort so far in Ukraine….

    It is unclear whether Moscow has sent similar diplomatic notes to European countries….

  14. says

    CNN – “CNN Exclusive: ‘We need ammo. We need fraud examples. We need it this weekend.’ What the Meadows texts reveal about how two Trump congressional allies lobbied the White House to overturn the election.”:

    In the weeks between the 2020 election and the January 6 attack on the US Capitol, almost 100 text messages from two staunch GOP allies of then-President Donald Trump reveal an aggressive attempt to lobby, encourage and eventually warn the White House over its efforts to overturn the election, according to messages obtained by the House select committee and reviewed by CNN.

    The texts, which have not been previously reported, were sent by Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah and GOP Rep. Chip Roy of Texas to then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows. The text exchanges show that both members of Congress initially supported legal challenges to the election but ultimately came to sour on the effort and the tactics deployed by Trump and his team.

    “We’re driving a stake in the heart of the federal republic,” Roy texted Meadows on January 1. That text was first released in December by the House select committee and described as being written by a House Freedom Caucus member. Roy’s authorship has not been previously reported.

    When situated in the overall timeline of events between the election and January 6, the series of texts from Lee and Roy provide new details about how two Trump allies went from fierce advocates of the former President’s push to overturn Joe Biden’s win to disheartened bystanders. By January 3, Lee was texting Meadows that the effort “could all backfire badly.”

    But shortly after the election, both men were encouraging Trump to keep fighting….

    Much more at the link.

  15. Reginald Selkirk says

    The BBC had an article yesterday about how Russia’s war is driving a wedge between Russian Orthodox believers in Ukraine and their patriarch in Russia, but today I can’t find the link.

  16. says

    Nataliya Vasilyeva:

    It’s been more than 48hrs since the Moskva sank with 500 people aboard. We still haven’t seen any photos/videos of the rescued crew.
    What is most stunning we haven’t seen a single wife or mother going public about the loss, demanding answers from the Russian government.

    I’ve been covering Russia for 14 and I have seen space for public debate shrinking every year and people getting increasingly scared of speaking out but the level of fear we’re seeing now is unmatched.

    If you wonder why it’s stunning for Russia, please google “Kursk submarine.”

  17. says

    This is an everything thread, and I would love to talk about Everything Everywhere All At Once, one of my highly anticipated movies of the summer, but I haven’t seen it yet and all that is playing in Morris is Morbius and the latest wretched Harry Potteresque dreck, so I’m out of luck. Not going to see either of ’em.

  18. says

    I thought the Moskva was evacuated after the fire broke out, and was being towed to port. I’d be surprised if 500 sailors died aboard it.

  19. says

    Reginald Selkirk @ #20, was it this one? “‘I’m shocked by my church leaders in Moscow’ – priest in Ukraine”:

    The Russian Orthodox Church has echoed the rhetoric of the Kremlin in justifying the war in Ukraine. It is a stance that appears to be driving large numbers of Ukrainian priests and parishioners to turn their backs on Moscow.

    “I will never forget the moment when I woke up early to go to mass, only to suddenly hear the shocking sounds of bombing,” says Father Nicolay Pluzhnik.

    “The wonderful woman who cooked at our church and her son, who was in a wheelchair, were both killed when an artillery shell hit their apartment. I now know of several other of our parishioners who have died.”

    Like most clergy in the region of north-eastern Ukraine where he is from, Father Pluzhnik belonged to the branch of the Russian Orthodox Church which takes its direction from its religious leadership in Moscow.

    But now, he says, has applied to join the Ukrainian Orthodox Church – which was finally granted independence from the Russian Orthodox Church in 2019, in a move never recognised by Russia.

    He says many fellow priests who followed Patriarch Kirill in Moscow are doing the same because of the Church leader’s stance on the war….

    More at the link.

    For anyone interested, this topic has been covered a bit on the thread – see here, here, and here for example.

  20. says

    PZ @ #23, the Kremlin has said that. But they haven’t acknowledged any injuries or deaths, have lied repeatedly about the event, have only reluctantly and belatedly admitted to even a small fraction of Russian deaths in the invasion more generally, and haven’t provided evidence of the rescued sailors. And Ukraine is claiming the ship’s captain was killed. The reports that came out from other sources shortly after it was struck said 54 people (out of around 550) were rescued.

  21. says

    From the Yahoo! article linked @ #25:

    The captain of the Moskva warship was killed during an explosion and subsequent fire on board, according to Ukrainian reports.

    First Rank Captain Anton Kuprin, 44, was killed after the warship was hit by two Ukrainian Neptune anti-ship missiles, according to Kyiv sources.

    He “died during an explosion and fire on board the former flagship of the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Federation,” said Anton Gerashenko, advisor to the Kyiv interior ministry.

    The official added: “We do not mourn.”

    Other sources support the claim that Capt Kuprin was killed.

    Russia has claimed the crew was evacuated but there are increasing reports of lives lost on the battleship.

    A “farewell ceremony” to the cruiser is due to be held in Sevastopol on Friday at a monument in honour the 300th anniversary of the Russian fleet .

    There was no immediate confirmation from Moscow on Kuprin, but Russia has failed to announce many prominent military deaths in the 51-day war….

  22. birgerjohansson says

    If there were many survivors, they would be paraded before TV cameras to celebrate the heroic rescue of the crew. Methinks the human losses were substantial. Also, never trust anything Putin’s creatures claim. They are what Republicans will hatch into during their maturation cycle.

  23. birgerjohansson says

    Looking back to the destruction of the battlecruiser HMS Hood during WWII, a 90% death rate seems tragically plausible.

  24. KG says

    Russia’s foreign ministry barred entry to the country for Boris Johnson and other British government politicians and members. – SC quoting the Guardian@15

    Wow! How much did Johnson pay Putin for that??

  25. KG says

    Scientists leave Russia out: Russian Academy of Sciences President Alexander Sergeev spoke out about the international science community’s unwillingness to cooperate with Russian scientists, naming German scientists, French scientists, American scientists, and Chinese scientists: “Unfortunately, I can say directly that our Chinese academic colleagues have also pressed pause, and over the last month, we have been unable to enter into serious discussions, despite the fact that we previously had an excellent partnership with regular communication.” – SC quoting the Guardian@15

    Aside from the personal revulsion at the invasion of Ukraine one hopes they feel, Chinese scientists must be aware they will likely need to choose between cooperation with those Russian scientists who have not fled the country, and cooperation with the great majority of scientists in the world, publication in almost all the prominent journals, etc..

  26. raven says

    The Russian Orthodox church in Russia never left the Dark Ages. Neither has Russia.
    The Russian Pope-equivalent, Kirill is a Russian Nationalist and outright fascist.
    The Russian Orthodox church and Putin’s rule are closely linked together.
    This is a classic example of the harm that religion does to people and societies.

    A spiritual defense of the war in Ukraine? Putin’s patriarch is trying
    March 28, 2022 LATimes. edited for length

    He and Putin have long been close allies. Kirill once described the first 12 years of Putin’s rule as “a miracle of God.” Putin has said that Kirill’s father, who worked as a priest in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), baptized him in secret in 1952. The two men frequently appear in public together: at Easter services, visiting monasteries and traveling to pilgrimage sites.

    In recent years, Putin has increasingly highlighted his own religiosity: wearing a silver cross around his neck, kissing icons and famously immersing himself in the freezing waters of a lake in front of television cameras.
    and
    However, it is unclear how much agency Kirill has to denounce the war. Nearly 300 Russian Orthodox priests in Russia signed an open letter appealing for peace, but that’s a small fraction of the 35,000 priests there.

    71% of Russians identify as Russian Orthodox.
    The Russian Orthodox church is supporting Putin and the genocidal war against Ukraine and Ukrainians.

  27. says

    The Russian Orthodox church is supporting Putin and the genocidal war against Ukraine and Ukrainians.

    Apparently god wants his followers to fail spectacularly. Omniscience-trolling.

  28. Reginald Selkirk says

    @32 Apparently god wants his followers to fail spectacularly.

    We already knew that from the people he tells to run for political office.

  29. Reginald Selkirk says

    @15 @29 – Russia’s war seems to have been good for Johnson. Before it started, the talk was all about how he was not long for the office of Prime Minister.

  30. raven says

    The Russian and Ukrainian Orthodox churches have already split up, a few years ago. From the LATimes article.

    The schism between the two countries is not just geopolitical; it has played out in the church as well. For more than 300 years, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church was officially tied to the Russian Orthodox Church and overseen by the Moscow patriarch, but that is no longer the case. In 2019, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church was authorized by the patriarch of Constantinople to break away from Moscow and become autonomous. With 78% of Ukrainians identifying as Orthodox as of 2015, this reduced Kirill’s flock by one-third.

    Kirill refused to accept that Orthodox Christians in Ukraine were behind the split and, in a sermon March 13, blamed the schism on political pressure from outside forces.

    If the Russians win, it is likely that the Ukrainian Orthodox church will miraculously become part of the Russian Orthodox church again. A miracle aided by lots of gunpowder, high explosives, tanks, and tens of thousands of people killed.
    God works in mysterious ways. /s

  31. KG says

    Reginald Selkirk@34,
    Exactly. The latest issue of Private Eye (UK satirical magazine) has a photo of Johnson and Zelensky shaking hands, with a speech bubble coming from both, with the text “Thank you for coming to my rescue”. But in fact it was Putin rather than Zelensky who came to Johnson’s rescue: if his invasion had swiftly succeeded, as was generally expected*, that would have been at least as good for Johnson as what actually happened. The “Who’s next?” speculation would have been even louder than it is now, giving him at least equal opportunity for his Churchill impressions.

    *Including by me.

  32. raven says

    The head of the Russian Orthodox church, Kirill is a very creepy war monger who hates the West, gays, Ukrainians, and really just about everyone. It’s easier to say who he likes, the Putin faction of Russian society and that is it.

    …” that Ukrainians and Russians are one people, that Russia and Ukraine are one country, …” The Russians say this often. It is always news to Ukrainie and the Ukrainians.

    Wikipedia

    Kirill approves of the invasion, and has blessed the Russian soldiers fighting there. As a consequence, several priests of the Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine have stopped mentioning Kirill’s name during the divine service.[116] The Moscow patriarchate views Ukraine as a part of their “canonic territory”. Kirill has said that the Russian army has chosen a very correct way.[117]
    and
    On March 9, 2022, after the liturgy, he declared that Russia has the right to use force against Ukraine to ensure Russia’s security, that Ukrainians and Russians are one people, that Russia and Ukraine are one country, that the West incites Ukrainians to kill Russians in order to sow discord between Russians and Ukrainians and gives weapons to Ukrainians for this specific purpose, and therefore the West is an enemy of Russia and God.[121]

  33. KG says

    raven@35,
    It’s interesting that the Pope has scarcely put a foot anywhere other than in his mouth with regard to the invasion of Ukraine. Not only appealing to both sides to make peace, but planning to dedicate both Ukraine and Russia to “The Immaculate Heart of Mary”, thus offending all varieties of Orthodox Christians, since the doctrine of the “Immaculate conception” (by which Mary is declared to have escaped “original sin”) is one the Orthodox reject.

  34. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Mayor of Kyiv warns residents who have left that it is not safe to return.

    Earlier, we reported that Russia damaged a Ukrainian missile factory which produced Neptune cruise missiles, at least one of which Ukraine says were used to sink the Moskva warship.

    The attack was widely regarded by both parties as the most significant revenge strike by the Kremlin after the sinking of Russia’s flagship vessel in the Black Sea, The Guardian’s Lorenzo Tondo writes.

    On Saturday, after the attack on an armoured vehicle plant in the Ukrainian capital, the mayor of Kyiv, Vitali Klitschko, warned residents that the time was not right to return:

    Once again, I appeal to everyone: please do not ignore the air alarms. And those Kyivites who left earlier and are already going to return to the capital, I ask you to refrain from this and stay in safer places.”

  35. R. L. Foster says

    A report of the Anadolu Agency cited Lithuania’s Minister of National Defence Arvydas Anusauskas as saying on Thursday:

    “At 1.14 am, the cruiser lay on its side, and after half an hour, all the electricity went out. From 2 am, the Turkish ship evacuated 54 sailors from the cruiser, and at about 3 am, Türkiye and Romania reported that the ship had completely sunk. The related loss of Russian personnel is still unknown, although there were 485 crew on board (66 of them officers).”

    If the ship was lying on its side that could indicate that one of the missiles may have struck at the water line.

  36. says

    WaPo – “Russia believed the West was weak and decadent. So it invaded.”:

    …Russia presents itself as being at the forefront of the global culture wars, leading the resistance to liberal values. Russian anti-Westernism has religious implications: According to its own narrative, Russia is guarding true Christian faith, as embodied in the Eastern Orthodox church, from Western attempts to distort it, whether through Marxism in the 20th century or liberalism in the 21st.

    Ukraine plays an important role in this story. It is depicted as part of the “Russian world,” the cradle of Russian civilization, which for many centuries was centered not around Moscow but around Kyiv, capital of today’s Ukraine. Ukraine’s choice to orient itself toward the West and reconcile a Slavic Orthodox identity with liberal democratic values is thus dangerous to this Russian vision of itself.

    The arguments about gender freedoms and cancel culture that we hear today from Patriarch Kirill and Putin are nothing genuinely Russian. They derive from a global Christian right ideology, which Russian conservatives learned about in the 1990s.

    Right after the end of the Cold War, Christian right activists, especially from the United States, flocked into Russia; among them were Focus on the Family, CoMission and the World Congress of Families. From the 1990s onward, Russian conservatives have argued that the frustrations of their society falling apart result from painful liberal socioeconomic reforms. Their argument combines elements of a late-Soviet conservative social ethos, Russian Orthodox traditionalism and huge transnational influences.

    Today’s Russian discourse on traditional values is a hybrid of Christian right ideas from the global culture wars and nostalgia about Russia’s great Soviet and even greater imperial and Orthodox Christian past.

    This type of Russian cultural conservatism was marginal until around 2010, when it started to migrate to the center of Russian political life — decisively so during Putin’s third term as president. For Putin, the traditional values discourse was a good pretext for political repression — exemplified in the treatment of Pussy Riot — and a shield against rising opposition, which demanded more freedoms.

    Traditional values and the defense of Christianity were a suitable foundation for the new Russian foreign policy mission: becoming the leader of those countries and actors that were not, were no longer or had never wanted to be “liberal.”

    In the process of “learning” the global culture wars, Russian conservatives not only defined their national identity in relation to a global Christian conservatism, but also acquired a precise vision of the West as spiritually hollow and failing. Christian conservatives flocking to Russia conveyed an image of the West that was torn, weak and doomed, because it no longer had children, no longer had values, and did not even distinguish between men and women. As a result, many Christian conservatives from the United States and Europe looked to Russia with hope.

    Christian conservatives’ image of a failing and doomed West began to dominate views of Russian conservative elites during the late 2000s. But Russian elites saw their Western conservative partners as part of that failing West: they too were weak and pitiful heralds of a West in decline.

    This account of the West helped give birth to a new Russian triumphalism. Russian media filled with TV shows and “documentaries” on “Gayropa” and “Sodom.” These shows conjured up a caricature of weak “gayish” Western males and women who lost their femininity by competing with men in spheres where they could achieve nothing serious.

    …[This image of the West] resulted in an internal perception of Russia as world messiah and a force preventing the world from sliding into the chaos of evil, with a special mission of saving the world from liberal depravities. The Patriarch’s March 6 sermon expressed precisely that worldview.

    Fascinated by this flattering vision of Russia, elites, it seems, overestimated the nation’s strength and underestimated Ukraine’s. The Kremlin also appears to have underestimated the strength and unity of the collective West, which appears not as corrupted and not as weak as Russia imagined….

    There’s a link at the article to a new book by the authors, The Moralist International: Russia in the Global Culture Wars:

    The Moralist International analyzes the role of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian state in the global culture wars over gender- and reproductive rights and religious freedom. It shows how the Russian Orthodox Church in the last thirty years first acquired knowledge about the dynamics, issues, and strategies of Western Christian Right groups; how the Moscow Patriarchate has shaped its traditionalist agenda accordingly; and how the close alliance between church and state has turned Russia into a norm entrepreneur [blech] for international moral conservativism. Including detailed case-studies of the World Congress of Families, anti-abortion activism and the global homeschooling movement, the book identifies the key factors, causes and actors of this process. Kristina Stoeckl and Dmitry Uzlaner then develop the concept of conservative aggiornamento to describe Russian traditionalism as the result of conservative religious modernization and the globalization of Christian social conservatism.

    The Moralist International continues a line of research on the globalization of the culture wars that challenges the widespread perception that it is only progressive actors who use the international human rights regime to achieve their goals by demonstrating that conservative actors do the same. The book offers a new, original perspective that firmly embeds the conservative turn of post-Soviet Russia in the transnational dynamics of the global culture wars.

    Chrissy Stroop has done great work on this.

  37. R. L. Foster says

    Interesting follow-up on how Ukraine took out the Moskva.
    The sinking of the Moskva: Ukraine’s ingenious ruse that blew apart Russia’s flagship
    By Mark Nicol, Defence Editor for the Daily Mail

    The pride of Russia’s fearsome Black Sea fleet was taken out yesterday in one of the most cunning operations of the war.
    Ukrainian commanders destroyed the huge Moskva warship by using drones to distract its defence systems, allowing surface-skimming missiles to strike.
    The 12,500-ton cruiser’s protective sensors seemingly did not see the Neptune rockets heading its way because they were tracking Turkish TB2 drones.
    Two missiles slammed into the port side of the 611ft Moskva, rocking her violently and causing a catastrophic explosion and huge fires. As flames lit up the stormy Black Sea, the ship’s 510 crewmen frantically climbed into lifeboats and fled.
    The surprise attack took place at 2am yesterday as the Moskva, Russia’s main ‘command and control’ warship, was around 60 miles south of Odessa.
    The ship’s captain and air defence officers were said to be tracking the decoy TB2s, unaware a pair of Ukrainian-made Neptune R360 anti-ship missiles were heading their way after being launched from an artillery battery on the coastline.
    The missiles, each weighing a ton and with a range of 186 miles, approached the Moskva at sea level. Travelling at such a low trajectory in rough seas meant they were difficult to track. They hit their mark.
    After the attack, the ageing cruiser – which first launched in 1979 – was initially towed towards Crimea. US intelligence said it was still on fire.
    It had been expected to be written off as Russian shipyards are unable to operate because of international sanctions. But last night the Russian defence ministry said the Moskva had in fact sunk ‘while being towed in a storm’, the state news agency Tass reported.
    In terms of military hardware, the Moskva represents the largest single loss to Russia’s armed forces since the war began.
    Yesterday’s highly sophisticated sortie came just hours after the US acknowledged it was providing ‘direct intelligence support’ to enable precision targeting of Russian assets. It was also the culmination of a lengthy intelligence gathering operation which, the Daily Mail has learned, revealed the ship was operating in what sources described as ‘predictable patterns’ in the north-west Black Sea and often without escorts.
    It is customary for large cruisers, in particular flagships, to be accompanied by frigates which provide a protective screen.
    But perhaps because they assumed they could operate with impunity, Russian commanders neglected to guard the Moskva. The incident is expected to make Russian naval commanders more wary when operating near Ukraine’s coastline.

  38. StevoR says

    The already nasty election in Oz has gotten nastier for trans people with Scotty from Hellsong propersonally selcting and suprting a viciously transpohobic candidate fro the seat ocne held by the “Mad Monk” / Captain Catholic” ex-PM Tony Abbott :

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-04-15/trans-women-in-sport-politicised-and-weaponised/100989438

    As for casualties from the Moscow (Moskva), Russia’s account clearly doesn’t hold water although their ship is now beneath a lot of it.

  39. StevoR says

    @^ Fix : Scotty from Hellsong personally selecting and supporting a viciously transphobic candidate for the seat once held by ex=PM & friend of child rapist convicted beyond reasonable doubt by a jury Pell, Tony Abbott.

    See also : https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-04-16/nsw-treasurer-calls-for-liberal-candidate-warringah-to-be-dumped/100995112

    @ 28. birgerjohansson :

    Looking back to the destruction of the battlecruiser HMS Hood during WWII, a 90% death rate seems tragically plausible.

    Yes – and see also the losses of several British battlecruisers that blew up and sank quickly during the battle of Jutland noted here :

    https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2022/04/14/suddenly-were-in-the-passive-voice/#comment-2130251

    Specifically, the battlecruisers HMS Indefatigable sunk with only two survivors from her crew of 1,019 men and HMS Queen Mary sunk with just 9 survivors of her 1,275 man crew with HMS Lion very nearly meeting the same fate.

    Source : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Jutland#Battlecruiser_action

    Then in World War One‘s naval battles of Coronel and the Falklands the British and German flagships the Good Hope & Scharnhorst respectively were both lost with all hands to name a few other examples of sadly too many. .

  40. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    In the besieged port of Mariupol, Russian troops pressed their advances, hoping to make up for their failure to capture Kyiv by seizing their first big prize of the war, Reuters reports.

    “The situation is very difficult” in Mariupol, president Volodymyr Zelenskiy told the Ukrainska Pravda news portal.

    “Our soldiers are blocked, the wounded are blocked. There is a humanitarian crisis…Nevertheless, the guys are defending themselves.”

  41. says

    Kyiv Independent:

    Zelensky: Destruction of Mariupol defenders will put an end to negotiations with Russia.

    Zelensky said Russia wanted them to surrender and that Ukraine didn’t trust Russia in the light of the Ilovaisk battle in 2014 when Russia’s proxies massacred disarmed Ukrainian soldiers.

    Mariupol defenders are fighting at one against six, according to Zelensky, and they need heavy weapons as soon as possible, he said.

  42. says

    Many thanks to PZ for giving the Infinite Thread a new lease on life.

    As most of the people who comment here know, threads on Freethought Blogs have both time limits and #-of-comment limits. The Infinite Thread usually rolls into a new chapter automatically after it reaches the 500-comment limit. Less frequently, the thread hits a time limit and dies. PZ has to personally resuscitate it, give it new life. As a result, there is sometimes a short break in our infinite coverage of the news.

    For the convenience of readers, here are a few links back to the previous chapter:
    Comment 369, “How The Right’s ‘Groomer’ Rhetoric Is ‘Grooming’ People To Get Violent”

    Comment 368, “Republicans unveil new debate restrictions hand-tailored to protect Donald Trump.” Followup to SC’s comment 359.

    Comment 374, in which blf discusses the revelations of gold-gilded toilets etc. after the arrest of a Russian oligarch near Kyiv, and blf ties this to an episode of “The Avengers.”

    Comment 376, in which KG speculates about why authoritarians love gold toilets, and KG also reveals his crush on Diana Rigg as Mrs. Peel.

    Comment 352, in which Josh Marshall discusses the high tide of Republican malevolence in the US, with particular emphasis on Texas Governor Greg Abbott.

  43. says

    While Putin’s lackeys were lying about the cause of the sinking of the warship Moskva, they were at the same time vowing to retaliate, and they were moving other Russian ships in the Black Sea further from shore.

    So, yeah, they knew immediately that Ukraine had hit the warship. Russian lies are so clumsy.

  44. says

    Ukraine update: Two small towns at the center of the world

    […] about the defensive line established in 2014 between the Russian occupied areas of Ukraine and the areas under control of the Ukrainian military. Russia has been trying, in little ineffective fits and starts, to get around this line and surround the Ukrainian forces that defend it. The whole massive buildup going on at Izyum is part of Russia’s effort to finally, finally pull this thorn from it’s efforts to secure all of the Donbass. If, that is, Russia can manage to move more than a single unit at a time.

    This is that same story … on a smaller scale. [map available at the link]

    This is an image of two small towns in eastern Ukraine. On the west side is the town of Popasna, population 19,000 (in 2010). On the right is Pervomaisk, population 36,000. Don’t be fooled by the apparent line between the two; that’s just an artifact of the different times when satellites used by Google took images of the area. The left side was captured in the late fall of 2019, the right side in spring of the same year.

    From this altitude, nothing appears to be all that unusual about these two mid-sized towns. It’s easy to pick out streets and schools, stores and churches. In the narrow space between the two, there’s nothing that would be called a serious hill and not so much as a single continuously flowing stream, much less a river. It’s just fields. Flat farm fields with a few irrigation ditches. They might as well be in the middle of Illinois. Or Indiana. Or Iowa. One of those ‘I’ states.

    But distance is definitely deceiving. There’s nothing ordinary about these two little towns. And while they’ve gotten little attention so far, that two miles between them might be the center of the world.

    In April of 2014, pro-Russian separatists driving Russian tanks, firing Russian weapons, and accompanied by Russian forces, captured a number of towns in Luhansk. That included both Popasna and Pervomaisk. In July, Ukrainian forces drove the separatists from the area and in August Ukraine proclaimed both towns “secured.” Only Pervomaisk didn’t seem to be quite so secure. Separatists were still present in the area, and both sides ended up with artillery planted in the middle of civilian neighborhoods, exchanging fire in a very ugly battle. By January of 2015, half the town had either fled, or died. But eventually the town was left in the control of the pro-Russian forces of the Luhansk People’s Army. It’s been that way ever since.

    Meanwhile in Popasna, Ukrainian forces retook the town in June, 2014. Then pro-Russian forces took it in July. Then the pro-Ukrainian Donbas Battalion took it a couple of days later. That’s where the town has remained ever since — on the bleeding outskirts of Ukrainian control, held by a mixture of regular Ukrainian military and local territorial defense. As in Pervomaisk, a lot of the population departed. That’s probably good, because in all of what was previously a town of 20,000, there are now two functioning stores. There’s a grocery store on the map, but it’s operated by an aid agency that distributes food to local residents. Electricity is spotty, and good luck getting health care.

    Now, here’s a closer look at that apparently nondescript spot of farmland between the two towns. [image available at the link]

    Can you see it? Granted, what’s special here isn’t all that visible at this scale. One thing that might be surprising is that the road that seems so clearly visible on the north edge of this image isn’t really something vehicles can travel along. Not unless they are adept at getting around:

    1) Wrecks. Those light spots near the intersection southwest of the Pervomaisk nametag are mostly the remains of vehicles that were blown apart along this course.

    2) Potholes. Actually, potholes from hell. There are shell craters in this road, especially west of that intersection, that could swallow a car whole.

    3) Mines. That little intersection just east of the Popasna sign marks the west edge of a mine field.

    Here’s a closer look at that last one. [image available at the link]

    But there’s something in the fields between Popasna and Pervomaisk that’s even more special than the mine-laden road. It’s those things that look like barely visible squiggly lines running roughly north -south through the second image above. Seen from close up, they’re definitely not irrigation ditches.

    This time the line in the middle of the image really does mean something. It’s where almost exactly one mile of space has been left out. That’s what separates the trenches on the left, dug into some low hills outside of Popasna, from the trenches on the right, which are along a slight rise on the shoulder of a road near Pervomaisk.

    These are not a simple ditches. Like the trenches dug across France in World War I, these are elaborate constructions, braced by wood, intentionally non-linear to make them harder to target, and flanked by mounds of earth. Both sets of trenches have locations meant to allow armored vehicles to tuck inside for shelter. Both have gun emplacements for mortars and artillery, either connected to the trenches themselves or in the woods nearby. The Popasna line includes a number of small shelters, likely to allow soldiers to get some respite from the weather, or to act as local command posts.

    With all that in mind, here is a news item from Saturday morning. [full tweet available at the link]

    Russian military is making repeated efforts to break through Ukrainian lines in Luhansk Oblast near the towns of Rubizhne & Popasna […],

    […] When word comes that Russian forces have tried to break through at a location like Popasna, what it means—especially right now, in mud season—is that they have attempted to drive a column of vehicles up that wreck-strewn, potholed, heavily mined highway with entrenched forces firing into them from both north and south. It should be no surprise that such attacks are getting regularly repulsed. […]

    If you’ve ever been to a famous battlefield, one where the numbers of dead and wounded were simply hideous, odds are it was some place like this. Open fields, with little to no cover, where anyone who wants to be the aggressor has to cross a mile of grass in clear view of dug in defenders.

    For eight years, pro-Russian forces have been trying to push west into Popasna. They’ve failed. […]

    Keep in mind that all the images above date from 2019. You can bet that at this point both the trenches and the minefields and the lines of wrecks are all much larger.

    Given a few months, when things dry, those attacks can spread out into those flat fields, with tanks and other armor racing straight toward the forces in trenches; forces that at this point you can bet are all but saturated with anti-tank missiles. What happens then? See the dates when Popasna rapidly changed hands in 2014? June. July. Those are the months when forces here won’t be confined to moving along that shot-to-hell road.

    What happens then is anyone’s guess. But if Russia wants to take it, they’re going to have to coordinate more than a single small group of forces.

  45. KG says

    Lynna, OM@48,

    Apart from the very end, Mrs. Peel’s part in the extract blf linked to was unusually passive (being tied to the minature railtrack and gagged). I LoL’d at Steed’s (Patrick Macnee’s) bit of business as an impatient British commuter (with trademark suit, umbrella and bowler hat) waiting at the station for the toy train!

  46. says

    A visualization of the extremist networks among Jan. 6 defendants should shift the narrative

    One of the broad narratives about the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol insurrection that emerged from demographic assessments of the people subsequently arrested for placing the building and the police guarding it under siege was the general sense that, while organizations like the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys played central roles in the attack, the vast majority of the insurrectionists were just “ordinary citizens” who had no real extremist affiliations but were just swept up in the Trumpian hysteria. It turns out that may not be quite right.

    Radicalization expert Michael Jensen compiled a network map of all the people arrested for Jan. 6 crimes—which he originally thought would confirm the “J6 defendants are just ‘ordinary’ people with few links to extremists” conventional wisdom—and found as it kept piling up that he “no longer finds this narrative convincing.” As Marcy Wheeler adroitly observes: “I think people have lost sight of how important organized far right networks were to the riot.” [Image of networks is available at the link, it is well done. A larger version of the network image is available here: https://twitter.com/MikeAJensen/status/1514637133973184516/photo/1 ]

    Jensen, the principal investigator for the Profiles of Individual Radicalization in the United States (PIRUS) project at the University of Maryland’s National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START), compiled the network map from “several thousand pages of court documents and countless social media posts.” He found a total of 244 defendants with extremist connections, and created a visualization of those ties—as well as those between rioters—with the map.

    “That’s approximately 30% of all defendants. While that’s not a majority, a 30% rate of affiliation with extremism/extremist beliefs among a collective of apparently “ordinary” individuals is an astounding number,” Jensen writes on Twitter. […]

    Of these 244 defendants, 108 were members of at least one extremist organization. 136 self-identified as members of extremist movements or publicly praised extremist groups and their beliefs. These defendants form nearly 700 dyadic relationships to extremist groups/movements and other defendants with extremist affiliations. These aren’t ordinary relationships—or, at least, they shouldn’t be.

    Moreover, the “ordinary people” argument misses what the visualization shows—that J6 involved a number of influential defendants who acted as bridges in a larger network, facilitating the flow harmful ideas from one movement to another. Sure, the J6 defendants are “ordinary” in the sense that most of them have families, neighbors, and jobs, but who really believes that those are the things that distinguish extremists from everyone else?

    [Good point!]

    Jensen points to the work of another expert at American University’s Polarization and Extremism Research & Innovation Lab, Cynthia Miller-Idriss, in coming to terms with the reality that far-right extremism has been mainstreamed, and how that has happened, primarily through online radicalization—how “people radicalize in a vast and ever-expanding online ecosystem, a process that often involves no contact with particular organizations”:

    As ordinary individuals encounter these ideas, whether through custom-tailored propaganda or through more grassroots efforts amplified by social media, they assemble them into their own personalized belief systems. This is a far cry from more traditional models of radicalization in which people gradually adopt an identifiable group’s ideological framework—such as fascism or neo-Nazism—that calls for violent solutions against a common enemy. These more coherent processes involve initiation rites, manifestos, leaders, and a chain of command that guide beliefs and actions. Those elements are largely absent from today’s patchwork, choose-your-own-adventure mode of radicalization.

    Miller-Idriss’s point is that “Extremism has gone mainstream; so must the interventions needed to address it.” And as Jensen observes, it’s likely that the “ordinary people” narrative surrounding J6 only makes this problem worse.

    “It depicts aligning with extremist groups, even if indirectly, and/or adopting their beliefs and attempting to violently end democracy as something “ordinary” people do,” he writes. “It’s not.”

    Heidi Beirich, the longtime intelligence director at the Southern Poverty Law Center now with the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism, explains that this radicalization has been openly encouraged by Republican officeholders and a broad array of right-wing pundits, who have promoted white-nationalist and other far-right conspiracy theories into the mainstream of public discourse, ranging from the racist “Great Replacement” theory claiming that liberals are deliberately seeking to displace white voters with a tide of nonwhite immigration and civil rights, to the contradictory claims that “leftists” and “antifa” were actually responsible for the Jan. 6 violence and that the rioters simultaneously righteous “patriots” seeking to defend the nation from a communist takeover.

    Beirich cites a recent University of Chicago Project on Security and Threats report identifying an active American insurrectionist movement comprising some 21 million people. These radicalized Trump followers believe that “Use of force is justified to restore Donald J. Trump to the presidency” and that “The 2020 election was stolen, and Joe Biden is an illegitimate president.” About 63% of them believe in the Great Replacement theory, while 54% subscribe to far-right QAnon conspiracism. [The numbers are astounding.]

    It also notes that this insurrectionist movement is made up of “mainly highly competent, middle-aged American professionals,” leading the researchers to warn that their continuing radicalization “does not bode well for the 2022 midterm elections, or for that matter, the 2024 Presidential election.”

    Marcy Wheeler notes that Jensen’s map reveals how massive an influence QAnon networks were in fueling the insurrection. She observes “how much more effective QAnon was at getting bodies where they needed them than the militias (the Proud Boys were busy moving other bodies around). Note how many QAnoners there are here.”

    Moreover, as she explains, the map gives weight to the reportage this week by The New York Times’ Alan Feuer, revealing the key role that a Roger Stone minion and QAnon influencer named Jason Sullivan had in fomenting the Jan. 6 violence:

    More recently, Mr. Sullivan has taken an active role in promoting the QAnon conspiracy theory, which holds that prominent liberals belong to a cult of Satan-worshipping pedophiles. At a public appearance last year with Ms. Powell and Mr. Flynn, Mr. Sullivan called Hillary Clinton a “godawful woman” and then made a gesture suggesting she should be hanged.

    On the conference call ahead of Jan. 6, Mr. Sullivan told his listeners that he was an expert at making things go viral online, but that it was not enough to simply spread the message that the election had been stolen.

    “There has to be a multiple-front strategy, and that multiple-front strategy, I do think, is descend on the Capitol, without question,” he said. “Make those people feel it inside.”

    As Wheeler says: “If someone can be shown to have triggered the QAnoners, it is an important detail. FBI was investigating this within weeks after the riot.”

  47. birgerjohansson says

    “A different bias” has a podcast at Youtube. Headline; “British Politics – incompetent or corrupt?”
    My answer: “Yes.”

  48. says

    In many ways, the universe has been telling humanity the same story, over and over again, for at least half a decade now, and the moral of that story is that Nationalists Cannot Do One Fucking Thing Right, on account of the debilitating inefficiencies of their rage-warped raisin brains.

    And yet, despite the clarity and the repetition, here we are once more, talking about putting Marine Le Pen in charge of a whole-ass country [France]. And like, how many mass graves is it gonna take to drive this shit home, people? Problem-solving is not what this ideology is about.

    Sigh. I would desperately like to be a member of a species that’s capable of learning.

    Anyway.

    What a colossal dumbfuck is Vladimir Putin, huh?

    Just how many different ways are you lookin’ to humiliate the “Motherland” on the world stage, Mr. Shirtless Cowboy Czar Man? Future historians will be unable to speak your name without shaking their heads and chuckling derisively.

    Fifty fucking days into the Special Military Operation™️ that was supposed to take two days, the Russian military has graduated from Retreating in Shambles to In Hindsight We Probably Shouldn’t Have Left That Black Sea Flagship Out Where Ukraine Could Sink It, so I’d say throw ‘em a party, but I think we all know Russia lacks the logistical capacity to transport cake to the front lines without losing another thousand conscripts.

    […] Meanwhile, the plan to fragment and weaken NATO is going so well, the debate on membership in Finland and Sweden has swung from “hard nah” to “would it be tacky to include baked goods with our application packet?” which, when you think about it, is the entirely inevitable consequence of A) starting a war of aggression in Europe, and B) fucking it up this badly.

    The Russkies have threatened retaliation, of course. They’re doing quite a bit of threatening these days, which, like…you and literally what army, dawg? Incidentally, y’all are the ones who decided to wander into somebody else’s country and start murdering children, so you’re not allowed to get all fussy when folks fight back. [Correct!]

    I mean, yeah, I imagine it’s downright aggravating, watching that endless supply of Western weapons flow to the army that’s kicking your loser army’s ass, but that’s why we don’t start wars, now ISN’T IT?

    […] Zelensky’s shopping the most advanced arsenals in the world, on Instacart, from the comfort of Kyiv, aka That City You Completely Fucking Failed to Conquer. […]

    Tucker Carlson, multi-tasking fascist beaver that he is, won’t let his content-creating obligations to Putin’s propaganda machine interfere with his existing domestic radicalization/stochastic terrorism program. It made distressingly few headlines this week, when the most watched man on cable openly, casually called upon his viewers to physically assault public school teachers. [Links to that information and more are included in the article available at the main link.]

    […] Now that Eric Greitens’ ex-wife claims extensive documentation in support of her abuse allegations, perhaps it’s started to dawn on Missouri Republicans that a disgraced, chronically violent lunatic is not the best available fit for the open U.S. Senator gig, though I’ll concede the example set by Josh Hawley muddies the waters, standards-wise.

    […] Like their comrades in the Kremlin, America’s ultra-right extremists tend to be men of grandiose ambition, but negligible ability, which is my cutesy little way of bringing up Mark Meadows, who clearly lacks the intellectual bandwidth necessary for the life of high-stakes crime he’s chosen for himself. Still, I suppose it was kind of him to leave such a damning digital trail […] [See SC’s comment 19]

    Oh, and Mark has finally been removed from the voter rolls in North Carolina, having been caught committing honey bunches of voter fraud there. […]

    […] Speaking of the world’s greatest deliberative body*, the Dotard-in-Exile endorsed carpetbagging huckster fuckwit Mehmet Oz in the competitive Republican Pennsylvania Senate primary, CUZ HE SAW HIM ON THE MAGIC BOX THAT TALKS, you see. […]

    “Wow, we took a television addict with late-stage brain rot and anointed him kingmaker, WHERE DID IT ALL GO WRONG?”

    Now that the gates of kakistocracy have swung wide enough to lure Sarah freaking Palin back, the idea of vetting these candidates at all seems quaint and faintly snobbish. I mean, of course the dude who manufactures the tear gas used against Black Lives Matter protesters showed up, OF COURSE HE DID.

    You creeps are under no obligation to keep propping up the utterly valueless currency that is Donald Trump’s dank, clammy endorsement, by the way. Didn’t do shit for Mo Brooks. It’s not doing shit for insider-trading milksop David Perdue, though by all means, flush half a million bucks down that toilet, kids.

    […] A routine, entirely non-controversial courthouse-renaming bill, the sort of thing even C-SPAN junkies can’t get into, erupted like a Troma film cyst, thanks to the rampaging bigotry of the feral, white nationalist cult that is the House Republican Conference. America, if you’re listening, I know inflation sucks, but the Ku Klux Klownshow is not the answer.

    Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt signed a breathtakingly regressive abortion bill into law, no doubt daydreaming of being chosen as the lucky theocrat who gets to hold Anti Choicey Barrett’s hand when she fulfills her lifelong ambition to Make Women Legally Incubators Again. […]

    Texas Governor Greg Abbott is so fucking thirsty for Fox News airtime that he took a tire iron to the nation’s already-battered supply chain […] In a marginally sane world, you’d expect the electorate to turn on an incumbent who abused his power to directly, intentionally harm his constituents, and indeed the whole dang economy, for the sake of a pathetic stunt that didn’t even fucking land […]

    the Party of Lincoln retreated in terror from the field of presidential debates, presumably forever, which actually makes sound strategic sense, considering their frontrunner spent years bragging about passing a cognitive test.

    Plus, the week saw a not-particularly-rare double serving of that uniquely American shit sandwich: the public mass shooting. I simply cannot figure out how this keeps happening in a nation where gun policy is set by sociopaths with unweaned cowboy fantasies.

    Anyway, Elon Musk is attempting a hostile takeover of this blog; I’m gonna go see if I can trick him into paying in beer. You folks stay safe n’ sane out there…if you can! […]

    Link

  49. says

    Russia may have lost a piece of the true cross on Maundy Thursday

    Russia could be implying that “unpredictable consequences” means launching a tactical nuclear weapon at Kyiv, perhaps at Zelensky himself. Retaliation strikes since the sinking of the Moskva have increased including a strike near Kyiv. The next phase of major combat has yet to begin, although attacks continue. The revelation of atrocities against civilians also continues, as does the flow of disinformation and the apparent lack of diplomatic negotiations. [maps and information presented in tweets are available at the link]

  50. Jean says

    I’m surprised that most of what is said about the missile factory bombing is that this negate the Russian narrative about the Moskva sinking. What is not mentioned is that this is a very explicit example that the Russians can easily target military assets instead of targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure, But that was obvious to everyone from the start. Still it would seem useful to mention it.
    But one more thing that I don’t understand is that this factory was only targeted as retaliation for the Moskva sinking and not very early in the conflict. It’s not as if they couldn’t do it then or that they did not have troops and artillery not far from there early on. Why would they not make it a priority to destroy such a military target that could come back to bite them in the ass? Are there other military targets that have been ignored in order to target civilians? I think that some reporting on this would be illuminating and I’m surprised that it has not been mentioned (or I missed it).

  51. birgerjohansson says

    Lynna @ 50
    So after spring, when the fields dry up, they will have a re-enactment of the battle of Kursk -especially the Prochorovka bit- , but with more missiles and drones.
    BTW the Chieftain (aka Nicholas Moran) just had a Youtube podcast under the title “No, the tank is not dead”

  52. birgerjohansson says

    Ha! The eejit quoted ivermectin 25 times as a proven, effective drug against covid, and his -often elderly and vulnerable- listeners believed him.
    He constantly followed a media strategy designed to discredit vaccines and masks as protection against the virus. Now one million Americans have died. And Sean Hannity tries to launch a new reality, 1984-style where he never promoted ivermectin. Do NOT let him get away with it .
    I know this may sound presumptious, but I would ask you to pass on the link where Hannity gets debunked, to help expose him for the greedy lying swine he is.

    (Yes, I know our porcine fellow mammals lack Hannity’s character flaws. I am open to suggestions about better descriptive words, but language is kinda inadequate sometimes)

  53. says

    Exclusive Audio: Far-Right Paramilitary Member Warned 1/6 Committee Witness Against Speaking Out

    “You talk a lot publicly, and that’s what makes you a target.”

    In a phone call last month, a member of a far-right paramilitary group warned an Arizona woman who gave congressional investigators information about the outfit’s efforts to push Donald Trump’s Big Lie that she might be hurt or killed if she continued to speak out.

    “You put shit out there. You follow people around and take pictures,” Michael Kenny, a member of 1st Amendment Praetorian, or 1AP, a shadowy group of former military members that has worked with former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, told Staci Burk on the March 1 call. “You talk a lot publicly, and that’s what makes you a target.” Burk is onetime Republican activist who is now studying for her law degree.

    “There was a number of people, you ruffled their feathers,” Kenny said moments later. “If you put anybody in jeopardy of prison time, or you know, if you might hurt them financially or whatever, people get edgy, you know? People don’t think clearly. You need to think about the easy way.”

    Burk said that she considered this call, during which Kenny mentioned the possibility she could be murdered, a death threat. She reported the call to the FBI, she told me. She said it was the most overt of a series of threats she received after news outlets revealed that she was cooperating with the select committee investigating the January 6 attack. Burk recorded the conversation and shared the audio with Mother Jones. [audio file is available at the link]

    “I got scared,” Burk said of the call. Her unsettling conversation with Kenny caused her to briefly “pull back” from talking to the January 6 committee and reporters, she said, though she later resumed that cooperation.
    [snipped lots of details about Burk’s cooperation with Trump’s “Kraken” lawyer Sidney Powell, etc.]

    […] According to Burk, in late November 2020, Flynn personally dispatched 1AP members, including Kenny, to her home to protect her against alleged threats resulting from her election fraud claims. Rotating teams of three to five group members stayed in her home through mid-January. Burk said she grew increasingly suspicious of the men, who she came to feel were effectively imprisoning her to assure she stuck by her allegations. She also began to suspect the supposed threats might have been faked by her supposed protectors. She began recording the men, as well as her phone calls with Flynn’s brother Joseph and a handful of ex-military figures who helped Michael Flynn promote election fraud allegations.

    In text messages, Joseph Flynn did not directly dispute Burk’s account. “This is a non story,” he wrote. He also said: “Anyone that reads Mother Jones is mentally unstable. I do not wish to encourage their illness.”

    Burk last year began speaking to reporters investigating events connected to January 6. Starting in August, she also participated in multiple interviews with committee investigators and turned over her audio recordings to the panel. “They were super happy to talk to me,” Burk said. “They wanted everything about 1AP.” […]

    “If you ticked somebody off enough.” Kenny [said]. “Just give it some thought. Let your imagination run away with yourself. I’m sure you can figure it out. You’re not stupid. You don’t need me to fill any gaps for you. You know exactly what I’m telling you.”

    Yikes. Sounds very scary to me.

  54. says

    Jean @58: “What is not mentioned is that this is a very explicit example that the Russians can easily target military assets instead of targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure […]”

    Good point.

    One of my ill-informed thoughts was that maybe the Russians do not have that many of the longer range missiles. It’s easier for them to lob short range missiles and artillery shells into places like Mariupol.

  55. says

    Wonkette: “Satanic Venom, Demon Clones And Other Normal Things The Right’s Been On About This Week”

    This week, Person I Honestly Have No Good Way Of Succinctly Describing Stew Peters debuted a documentary called “Watch The Water,” all about how COVID is actually caused by snake venom that was put in the water by the Vatican as part of an evil Catholic plot to put Satan’s DNA in everyone. This, of course, is a very important scientific discovery from chiropractor/acupuncturist Dr. Bryan Ardis.

    The title itself was taken from Q drop (though Peters claims to not be a Q person) that devotees have been trying to “decode” for years now, and Dr. Ardis uses much of the same unassailable logic to assert his theory that they use to explain that JFK Jr. is still alive and people eat babies. For instance, he explained that the word “virus” means “venom” in Latin and “corona” means crown, so calling it coronavirus was the Vatican’s way of secretly signalling to us all that it is actually a “King Cobra Venom Pandemic.” Now, sure — coronavirus is a term that has been used since 1965 to refer to a particular family of viruses — but who is to say that the Vatican hasn’t been planning ahead?

    Dr. Ardis explains:

    If I was going to do something incredibly evil, how ironic would it be that the Catholic Church, or whoever, would use the one symbol of an animal that represents evil in all religion? … You take that snake or that serpent, and you figure out how to isolate genes from that serpent and get those genes of that serpent to insert itself into your God-given created DNA. I think this was the plan all along; to get the serpent’s—the Evil One’s—DNA into your God-created DNA. And they figured out how to do this with this mRNA [vaccine] technology. They’re using mRNA—which is mRNA extracted from I believe the king cobra venom—and I think they want to get to that venom inside of you and make you a hybrid of Satan.

    Well that just seems very plausible […]

    In hopes of bolstering the documentary’s credibility, Stew Peters welcomed Dr. Stella “Demon Sperm” Immanuel to his show to discuss the theory. The good doctor helpfully explained that there are demon clones everywhere, and that she regularly sees demons just walking down the street like regular people. [Tweets and videos available at the link]

    Dr. Immanuel, whose wisdom has been praised by Donald J. Trump, then compared it to the 1980s John Carpenter documentary They Live.

    And this was all with a straight face. Of course, given that she has previously asserted that the country is run by Reptilians, that doctors are using alien DNA in medical experiments and that endometriosis is caused by having sex with demons in one’s sleep, she’s had some practice.

    There is something that feels intrinsically wrong about mocking her or even about mocking Stew Peters or the guy who thinks the Pope is trying to turn everyone into a Satan-human-hybrid, because under normal circumstances we would just hope that they get the psychological help they need.

    That being said, there is a whole information ecosystem that exists now in which one need not have a delusional disorder to believe these kinds of things, and it’s one that is making people actively dangerous by convincing them not to get vaccinated. So we’re really doing a public service by being as clear as possible that “demon clones” are not a thing and neither is Satanic gene therapy.

  56. says

    […] doofy-haired, confused labrador-faced, bow-tie aficionado Tucker Carlson, is whining about how evil feminists are the thing keeping him from living his best Charles Atlas life.

    This week, Carlson dropped the trailer for his upcoming documentary “The End of Men,” which I guess is supposed to be a montage of all of the things we are missing out on by murdering masculinity all the time. [video is available at the link>

    These activities include: muscled men doing pushups, muscled naked men shooting at bottles of canola oil, muscled men milking cows without a bucket (buckets are for ladies and girly men — real men just squirt the milk directly on the ground and lick it up), muscled men rasslin’ … and then a naked man charging his dick at a power station? [photo at the link] I guess? Unless he’s tanning his testicles, which is apparently also a thing for Tucker. Then half-naked muscled men flip some big tires, cut down a tree, and take a bath outside at what I am like 90 percent sure is the same terrible spa they went to on Real Housewives of Salt Lake City. [video available at the link]

    Then there is a manly beared man standing outside at night gulping down a bunch of raw eggs, which I know from Rocky Horror is supposed to be a very manly thing to do, and after that I think it’s another guy going into some kind of tanning situation.

    Over this montage, and over the triumphant music blaring in the background, there’s a British guy talking, and he says …

    Once a society collapses then, you’re in hard times. Well, hard iron sharpens iron as they say, and those hard times inevitably produce men who are tough, men who are resourceful, men who are strong enough to survive. Th-th-they go on to reestablish order, and so the cycle begins again.

    Uh, ok?

    I feel like Tucker’s intention here is that men look at this and think “This could be us, but for the feminists!” and women are supposed to think “Oh no! What have we wrought! We could have had men like this, licking milk up off the ground and flipping giant tires around in the desert, but no! We had to have human rights!”

    And I don’t think that’s happening. At least not for me. I mean, frankly, it’s not even hot […] You think they’d be better at it by now, come up with something more appealing, some case more convincing, but no. Nope. Just dick power charging/tanning stations and raw eggs. You would think that people so desperate to bring toxic masculinity back would make a better case for it than “Hey, here’s a guy in an outside bathtub. You like that? Hmm?”

    That being said, I certainly look forward to watching this documentary, so that I can learn more about the kind of super manly man Tucker Carlson would be, were it not for evil feminists forcing him to get that particular haircut.

    https://www.wonkette.com/what-the-hell-is-happening-here-tucker-carlson

  57. says

    Ukraine update: Goodbye to Moscow

    […] the U.S. Department of Defense has now confirmed that the Russian missile cruiser Moskva (“Moscow”) sank after being struck by Neptune missiles fired by Ukrainian coastal defense. Honestly, the U.S. was very likely aware of this from before the moment when the missiles struck home, because even if Ukraine controlled the Bayraktar drone that distracted the Moskva’s single radar, someone with very sophisticated equipment (like *cough* a U.S. AWACS plane *cough*) had to inform Ukraine that the Russians were genuinely directing their attention at the drone. So the whole gee, we’re not sure, could of been … yes, yes, seems like it was Ukraine act from the U.S. side was a bit of theater.

    With a displacement of over 12,000 tons and a length greater than two football fields, the Moskva was a large ship. In fact, it may be the largest ship to go down in war since World War II. Argentina lost the light cruiser General Belgrano during the Falklands War in 1982, but even though that ship carried a crew twice the size of the Moskva, it was actually about 3,000 tons lighter and just a smidge shorter.

    And there’s another way that the Moskva may be a larger loss. [Tweets, image, and video available at the link. The video shows about 50-60 sailors.]

    The Moskva carried a complement of 510, including officers. If 58 is an accurate count of survivors, then 452 men went down with the flagship of the Black Sea fleet. That Argentine ship in 1982 had a crew of 1,138 when a British submarine scored a direct hit with three torpedoes. Over 250 were killed in the resulting explosions. However, as the ship began to list, the captain ordered the crew to abandon ship. Life rafts were deployed and, despite increasingly bad weather, rescue vessels later pulled 772 men out of the water. Total losses were 323 killed.

    Whatever happened with the Moskva under cloud cover on the Black Sea, it does not seem to have been an orderly evacuation. The loss of crew also seems to be largest recorded since World War II.

    At this point, Ukraine estimates that 20,000 Russian soldiers have been killed. Oryx records over 2,900 large pieces of equipment destroyed, including over 500 tanks. Not only has Russia lost the flagship of the Black Sea fleet, it earlier lost the 370’ long, 3,400 ton landing ship Saratov. At least two other large ships have withdrawn from the fight after being damaged in the same attack that set the Saratov on fire, resulting in its sinking.

    Most of what is being spread around Russian television is ridiculous, even as propaganda. But those claims that this is already World War III? Measured on a scale of the losses Russia is racking up, they may be right.

  58. says

    https://twitter.com/EricaMarat/status/1515045076493381635

    Kazakhstan has now explained that the May 9 parade is not feasible because the priority is to maintain combat readiness of the armed forces to ensure protection and defense of gov and military facilities. Hands down, this is bold.

    Kazakhstan won’t hold victory parade on May 9. Significant symbolic gesture that points at how the war in Ukraine undermines Russia-centric view of the Soviet history twitter.com/tengrinewskz/s…

  59. birgerjohansson says

    Tucker Carlson’s best natural weapon is not his middle-aged set of muscles, but the tentacles of the symbiont sitting on his head.
    You know, just send zombie Epaminondas and the zombie sacred band of Thebes to give him a big ass-kicking. That will show him “gay” is not “effeminate”.

  60. says

    Quoted @ Lynna’s #56:

    And yet, despite the clarity and the repetition, here we are once more, talking about putting Marine Le Pen in charge of a whole-ass country [France].

    I’m sure I’ve quoted from and or talked about some of the arguments in Michel Eltchaninoff’s 2017 Inside the Mind of Marine Le Pen here before, but because it’s especially relevant now and also because she’s the Thomas Edison of self-reinvention and has been successful at playing this down, I’m going to post several quotes about Le Pen’s relationship with Putin and Putinism:

    Her real role model…is Vladimir Putin, and she never misses an opportunity to demonstrate her deference toward the Russian president. She ‘admires’ him, and in this sense offers continuity with her father, who makes no secret of his affinity with Putin. When one thinks about it, one realizes that all the core foreign policies of Marine Le Pen’s FN are modeled on those that the Russian president has been developing since the mid-2000s: an increasingly virulent hostility towards the US and NATO, hatred toward what are perceived as hypocritical human rights concerns, support for Israel but also for Syria and Iran, an identity-centric, ‘rooted’ vision of national entities, a desire to unravel the European Union, and so on.

    Logically, she is opposed to Western sanctions against Russia. She concludes that ‘France has no global vision’, indeed regrets that her country has not adopted a ‘Putinian’ worldview. Just as Vladimir Putin has launched his ‘Eurasian Economic Union’, so she – just like her father – supports a ‘truly regional and continental politics in Europe, from Brest to Vladivostok’, implying the dilution of the EU inside a Eurasia under Russian protection. She would offer Russia ‘an advanced strategic alliance, based on an in-depth military- and energy-oriented partnership, rejection of interventionist wars, and support for the international rule of law’. Her dream is of a ‘pan-European union of sovereign states including Russia and Switzerland and respecting the status of neutrality, national law and national tax systems’.

    But Vladimir Putin represents something more in the FN’s eyes. Beyond his desire to resist American hegemony, he embodies a political and philosophical model whose principle features the party shares. Since his return to the presidency of the Russian Federation in 2012, he has deployed an overtly anti-Western discourse. Through differing intermediaries, he has initiated an ambitious plan of political influence that seeks to bring together, across the world but particularly in Europe, all followers of a new paradigm. This ‘Putin Doctrine’ mixes a fierce brand of conservatism (sacrificial patriotism, cult of the leader, appeal to religiosity against a Europe forgetful of its roots and traditions, homophobia) with the exaltation of a specific ‘Russian way’, which each sphere of civilization may borrow as it sees fit, and with a Eurasian dream on top of this: the project of a power uniting the peoples of Eastern Europe and Central Asia around Moscow – an alternative to Atlanticist might and political Europe.

  61. says

    More quotes from Inside the Mind of Marine Le Pen:

    Putin charges ‘many Euro-Atlantic countries’ with rejecting ‘their roots, especially those of Christianity, the foundation of Western civilization’, and with abandoning ‘ethical principles and traditional identity: national, cultural, religious or even sexual’. A supportive Marine Le Pen remarks: ‘Mr Putin is a patriot. He is attached to the sovereignty of his people. He is aware that we are defending common values. These are the values of European civilization’, of ‘a Christian heritage’.

    It might seem paradoxical that Le Pen should flirt with a leader with undisguised disdain for Europe, which he views as decadent. Yet the FN seems to prefer being in Moscow’s debt to acting as Washington’s ‘vassal’ and, as such, is clearly affiliated with a country that is gambling on the disintegration of the EU.

    Vladimir Putin’s uncontested dominance in Russia since 2000, at the cost of significant democratic setbacks, panders to French nostalgia for the strongman or providential leader. The cult of personality prevails within the FN, and Marine Le Pen likes to pose as the savior of a country on the brink of a precipice.

    She even seems to endorse Putin’s statements on the political and moral function of war, telling students in Oxford: ‘My generation and your generation have not known war, occupation and barbarism. They have been put to sleep by the gentle music of triumphant globalization, mass consumption, global communication and easy travel, by globalizing culture and King Internet, by individualism’. In short peace makes people soft, and this is the notion expressed by Putin when he contrasts Russian man, driven by ideals and ready to sacrifice his life, with the pragmatic West, motivated only by material comfort and incapable of risking its existence. With a ‘cultural code’, but also a ‘powerful’ ‘genetic code’, a Russian has nothing to fear from decadent Westerners. It appears, then, that Putin and Le Pen are in agreement with regard to ‘the ethical moment in war’.

  62. says

    More quotes from Inside the Mind of Marine Le Pen:

    She follows the path traced by Putin, both officially and very faithfully. She is also financially dependent on Russia. Yet this attitude is somewhat bizarre. Since her arrival at the head of the FN, Le Pen has tried to persuade the public of her party’s unqualified adherence to democratic principles, even considering that it is more democratic than all others. And yet the system she takes as her model, in international relations as in politics, generally is not an irreproachable democracy – far from it.

    The least one can say is that her view of the world is not driven by the ideal of democracy.

    She is convinced that throughout the world, from Putin’s Russia to Brexit Britain, via Trump’s America, Orbán’s Hungary, Poland, Austria, China and India, an ‘identitarian’ cycle is starting to emerge. This movement, according to her, is inevitable: ‘Historical cycles cannot be stopped’.

    She encourages a movement against the traditional parties and their globalized ‘godfathers’, against the bourgeoisie and the bobos, against immigrants and Muslims, against the debilitating ‘spirit of ‘68’, and in doing so she asks for the support of the ideological leader of ‘identitarian’ Europe, Vladimir Putin – support that he is more than willing to provide.

  63. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Zelenskiy says world ‘needs to prepare’ over Russian nuclear threat

    Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskiy is warning again that the world “needs to prepare” for the possibility of his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin ordering the use of nuclear weapons in his country, according to AFP.

    Speaking with Ukrainian journalists in Kyiv on Saturday, Zelenskiy said:

    We shouldn’t wait for the moment when Russia decides to use nuclear weapons. We must prepare for that. [They] can use any weapon, I’m convinced of it.

    Zelenskiy said anti-radiation medicine and air raid shelters would be needed.

    The Ukraine leader had warned on Friday, in an interview that will air on CNN tomorrow morning, that he believes Putin would not hesitate to turn to tactical nuclear weapons if he felt things were going badly:

    We should think not be afraid, not be afraid, but be ready. But that is not a question for Ukraine, not only for Ukraine, but for all the world, I think.

    On Thursday, the CIA director William Burns said that Russia’s poor military performance raised the risk that Putin could deploy a nuclear weapon. He made his remarks in an address at Georgia Tech, reported by The Hill:

    Given the potential desperation of Putin and the Russian leadership, given the setbacks that they’ve faced so far militarily, none of us can take lightly the threat posed by a potential resort to tactical nuclear weapons or low-yield nuclear weapons.

    Moscow has said it would use a nuclear weapon on Ukraine in the case of an “existential threat” against Russia, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told CNN in a recent interview.

    Joe Biden, the US president, is “deeply concerned” about an escalation of the conflict to a point where nuclear weapons become possible,” Burns said.

  64. says

    British fighter Aiden Aslin was captured by the Russians in Ukraine. There’s a video of him in which he appears to have been roughed up. His friends running his Twitter account just tweeted: “We received proof of life today. Aiden is still kicking!”

  65. says

    HuffPo – “Florida Continues Attack On Education After Rejecting 54 Math Textbooks Due To ‘CRT'”:

    Florida officials continued their war on education this week after rejecting more than 50 proposed math textbooks that allegedly “included references to Critical Race Theory.”

    The Florida Department of Education announced Friday it would not include 54 of the 132 ― or 41% ― of math textbooks on the state’s adopted list, citing “CRT” as one of the main reasons.

    “Reasons for rejecting textbooks included references to Critical Race Theory (CRT), inclusions of Common Core, and the unsolicited addition of Social Emotional Learning (SEL) in mathematics,” the statement said. “The highest number of books rejected were for grade levels K-5, where an alarming 71 percent were not appropriately aligned with Florida standards or included prohibited topics and unsolicited strategies.”

    The state’s Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis said without evidence that the math textbooks “included indoctrinating concepts like race essentialism, especially, bizarrely, for elementary school students.”

    Democratic state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith said in a tweet that the governor “has turned our classrooms into political battlefields and this is just the beginning.”

    Public school textbooks in Florida are reviewed by subject every five years. The next subject up for review will be social studies textbooks next month.

  66. says

    Julia Davis:

    Watch what happens when one pundit on Russian state TV tries to ask why it’s taking so long for Russia to win in Ukraine: head of RT Margarita Simonyan nearly pecks his head off, as she argues that Russia is fighting NATO in Ukraine. He quickly backs down: “I didn’t complain!”

    Video (with subtitles) at the link.

    Markos Moulitsas:

    “It’s all of NATO” she says. If it was all of NATO, Russia wouldn’t last long. Take nukes off the table and see how long Russia lasts against a modern, well-trained and well-equipped foe.

  67. nomdeplume says

    Bemused by the idea that Russia would “retaliate” for the sinking of the Moskva. I guess the idea is that when you invade a country the residents must not resist in any way, and certainly must not achieve any victories, or they will be punished even more. Mind you all invading armies since time began have belived this.

  68. nomdeplume says

    @13 Sure, but a comet doesn’t provide “directions” to someone on the ground. Nor do planets – and in any case the “retrograde” of Mars wouldn’t have been seen as anything special – even is some form of conjunction (as I have seen suggested). The whole story, accepted by generations of children and adults, requires only a moment’s thought to see its absurdity. And yet for fundamentalists that moment’s thought is never given (as it is not for other absurdities like the Garden of Eden, Noah, Joshua and Jericho, Jonah and the Whale, Job’s wife, Lazarus, the Resurrection….).

  69. StevoR says

    @ 48. Lynna, OM : Thanks. I thought there was something like that but wasn’t quite sure.

  70. StevoR says

    @ nomdeplume : Thinking of precedent there is the old “Remember the Maine!” slogan that followed the sinking of that American battleship that started the Spainish American War :
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Maine_(1889)#/media/File:Remember_the_Maine!And_Don’t_Forget_the_Starving_Cubans!Victor_Gillam(cropped).jpg

    Incidentally, it is plausibly argued by some that the USS Maine blew itself up from spontaneous combustion of a sort in its coal bunker although there is debate over whether that or a mine actually destroyed the ship. Incidentally, the wreck of the Maine was later refloated and deliberately sunk further from Havana harbour to prevent it blocking harbour space and forming a shoal and to recover bodies of many of its crew. See :

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Maine_(1889)#Raising_and_final_sinking )

    Plus the “Remember the Lusitania!” slogan that ushered the USA late into WW I :

    (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sinking_of_the_RMS_Lusitania )

    Then, of course, there’s the non-marine “Remember the Alamo!” and so on..

  71. says

    Here’s a link to today’s Guardian Ukraine liveblog (would prefer it without the quotes from Johnson, the Pope, the archbishop of Canterbury, and the Russian ambassador-at-large). From there:

    The Ukrainian president has said the situation in Mariupol was ‘inhuman’ [sic] and called on allies to provide heavy weapons in order to save the city from Russian forces.

    He insisted that leaders of other countries must provide weapons ‘immediately’ or intervene to force Russia into further negotiations.

    Russian troops have maintained a blockade in Mariupol since the early days of the invasion at a horrific cost to trapped and starving civilians.

    The president of the European Commission has urged member states to supply Ukraine with weapons systems “quickly” and suggested that a next round of EU sanctions could target Russia’s powerful Sberbank and include an embargo on Russian oil.

    “It applies to all member states: those who can should deliver quickly, because only that way Ukraine can survive in its acute defensive battle against Russia,” Ursula von der Leyen told Germany’s Bild am Sonntag newspaper.

    Several European nations appear to be vacillating over the export of heavy weapons such as tanks or fighter jets, amid concerns that such a move could formally escalate the war in Ukraine into a direct conflict between Russia and Nato member states.

  72. says

    Guardian – “EU anti-fraud body accuses Marine Le Pen of embezzlement”:

    The European Union’s anti-fraud body has accused Marine Le Pen and several of her party members – including her father – of embezzling about €620,000 while serving as members of the European parliament.

    France’s investigative website Mediapart published a section of the new 116-report alleging that the MEPs misused EU funds for national party purposes.

    The claims come a week before the second round of the presidential election, on 24 April, in which Le Pen will go head to head with Emmanuel Macron.

    A spokesperson for Le Pen’s far-right Rassemblement National (National Rally) party questioned the timing of the accusations. Le Pen’s lawyer Rodolphe Bosselut told Agence France-Presse he was “dismayed by the way that Olaf [the European anti-fraud office] is acting”. He insisted some of the report related to “old facts, more than 10 years old”.

    According to Mediapart, Olaf sent the report to French investigators in March. It accused Le Pen of have personally diverted almost €137,000 of EU funds during her time as an MEP between 2004 and 2017. Her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen; Louis Aliot, her former partner and an ex-vice-president of the RN, who is now mayor of Perpignan; and Bruno Gollnisch, another party heavyweight, are also cited in the report as having misused public money. All have denied any wrongdoing.

    In one incident reported by Mediapart, Marine Le Pen is said to have made a claim in 2010 worth €5,000 for hotel rooms for 13 far-right party members to take part in a conference titled European Regions and the Financial Crisis. However, one of those taking part allegedly wrote to the European parliament and claimed the meeting was used to discuss the party presidency. The unnamed participant told investigators that Le Pen had hung a European flag on the way for the purpose of having photographs taken, then ordered colleagues to “put that shit away”.

    The Paris public prosecutor’s office has said the file is “being examined”.

    None of those mentioned in the report are accused of personally profiting, but of claiming EU funds to pay for RN – previously the Front National (FN) – staff and events instead. Le Pen has said she was not aware of having done anything wrong.

    Le Pen has been under investigation since 2018 on allegations of “breach of trust” and “misuse of public funds” over the alleged use of EU money for European parliamentary assistants to finance the salaries of party staff. The same year, an EU court ruled the bloc could recover more than €41,000 of public funds that Le Pen had used to pay her bodyguard, a former paratrooper who was her father’s security for 20 years.

    The latest opinion poll published by Ipsos for FranceInfo and Le Parisien suggests Macron could win next week’s runoff by 10 percentage points.

    Both candidates are attempting to woo supporters of the radical left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who narrowly failed to qualify for the second round. On Sunday, Mélenchon published the result of a consultation of 310,000 paid-up supporters as to how the 7.7 million people who voted for him last week would vote next Sunday. Of the more than 215,000 who took part, almost 38% said they would cast a blank vote [asshats], while 33.4% said they would vote for Macron and just under 29% said they would abstain [also asshats]….

  73. says

    Guardian – “Rightwing populist parties blight climate policy, study finds”:

    Rightwing populist parties have a detrimental impact on climate policy, researchers have found for the first time, amid growing fears of a similar movement in the UK.

    The study, by the universities of Sussex and Warwick, looked at the policy of more than 25 countries over a period of more than a decade. Researchers created a climate policy index and compared it with a baseline of a centre-right government. They found the combined effect of the presence of a rightwing populist party in parliament and in government was associated with a reduction in the index of about 25% on average.

    But while rightwing populist parties had a negative impact on climate policy across the board, EU membership and proportional representation voting systems lessened the effect.

    Matthew Lockwood, from the University of Sussex, said populist parties were a growing concern, owing to the cost of living crisis and the Russia-Ukraine war.

    “The thing about rightwing populist parties is they tend to be very reactive to crisis,” he said. “In Europe, a lot of that has been on immigration, and in the UK it has been Brexit. And these issues have gone off the boil a bit so the people who were pushing for Brexit are now in the net zero scrutiny group. It’s the same people reacting to a crisis but now pushing against climate action.”

    There are fears that the risk is greater in post-Brexit Britain if those who wish to delay climate action become a louder voice in government….

    More at the link.

  74. blf says

    Oh for feck’s sake, Leftist party consultation shows majority will abstain, vote blank in Macron–Le Pen run-off:

    Most members of leftist candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s party will abstain or leave their ballot papers blank in the presidential run-off between President Emmanuel Macron and his far-right challenger Marine Le Pen on April 24, an internal consultation showed.

    […]

    According to results published on Sunday from about 215,000 people who took part, more than 66% said they would abstain, leave their ballot paper blank or spoil it. Just over 33% said they would vote for Macron. The option of voting for Le Pen was not given to respondents.

    […]

    An IPSOS-Sopra-Steria poll on Saturday showed that some 33% of Mélenchon voters would back Macron with 16% supporting Le Pen on April 24. But more than 50% of people questioned declined to give their view.

    With the electorate fragmented and undecided, the election will likely be won by the candidate who can reach beyond his or her camp to convince voters that the other option would be far worse.

    Macron borrowed directly from Mélenchon’s platform on Saturday by promising to put his next prime minister in charge of “planification écologique” (ecological planning) — a concept popularised by Mélenchon.

    Addressing hundreds of supporters in central Marseille, Macron promised a “complete renewal” of his policies. He said he would also appoint a minister of “energy planning” with “a mission to make France the first leading nation to end oil, gas and coal consumption”.

    As I pointed out in @217(previous edition), Macron can reach the understandably disappointed Mélenchon supporters by improving his (and working with Mélenchon) on both ecology / environment and education — two areas were teh le penazis are spewing a lot of racist nonsense. (Actually, most, perhaps all, of teh le penazi’s positions, on anything, are racist nonsense, or whatever it is Putin wants on the day.)

  75. says

    Podcast episode – This Is Critical – “Putin’s Brain”:

    Does a shadowy and dangerous Russian philosopher hold the key to the war in Ukraine? Ethnographer Benjamin Teitelbaum explains the life and work of Alexander Dugin—the occultist, far-right folk hero, and geopolitical strategist who says Russia is just getting started.

    (I don’t care for the references to “tribal instincts” towards the end, but that aside.)

  76. says

    Which military force has more Nazis? Which country’s leaders are more markedly white supremacist? Riddled with fascist elements? Kind of a ridiculous argument in some ways, but since Putin rationalized the invasion of Ukraine on the premise of “denazification,” we are going to take a closer look with journalist David Neiwert:

    One of Vladimir Putin’s primary propaganda points when rationalizing his assault on Ukraine as a “denazification” program is to trot out as proof of his claims the Azov Battalion, the Ukrainian fighting unit founded by neo-Nazi nationalists and still reportedly dominated by them. [neo-Nazi influence in the Azov Battalion fluctuates, and is a matter of dispute. See comment 277, comment 288 from KG, and comment 304 in the previous chapter of this thread.] In doing so, he has effectively obfuscated the reality that Russian forces are even more riddled with fascist elements—including forces currently leading their fight in the Donbas region of southeastern Ukraine.

    The largest of these is the Russian Imperialist Movement (RIM), a white supremacist paramilitary organization listed by American authorities as a terrorist body, and the Wagner Group, a private military proxy closely linked to Putin with a history of neo-Nazi activity. Russian troops arriving in Donbas have been recorded flying the RIM flag—a combination of historical Russian flags from its imperial era—while Wagner Group’s mercenaries have been sighted in Donetsk and elsewhere; notably, German intelligence has connected them to the atrocities in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha.

    Social-media videos out of the Rostov Oblast have shown Russian troop convoys heading toward the Donbas region with soldiers bearing the RIM flag and other imperialist banners. The same flag flies at RIM marches, where the rhetoric is thick with bigotry directed at Jews and Ukrainians. Denis Valliullovich Gariev, the militant leader of RIM who was one of three RIM leaders sanctioned by the United States, was quoted as saying, “We [RIM] see Ukrainian-ness as rabies … either quarantine or liquidation, or he’ll infect everyone.”

    The same flag was seen in mid-March flying with Moscow-backed separatist troops in Donetsk on a Telegram post shared by a pro-Putin channel. Much of the far-right content on these Telegram channels—as well as the Russian social-media platform VKontakte (VK)—is related to a neo-Nazi unit called Rusich that is part of Wagner Group, some of it bearing the Wagner name and logo.

    Pentagon authorities estimate that about 1,000 Wagner mercenaries have been deployed in eastern Ukraine, where Russia has refocused its current war effort. Rusich militiamen have been spotted on the Russian-Ukrainian border where the offense is being launched.

    Russian officials deny having any connection to the Wagner Group, which does not officially exist. An incredibly secretive organization, its true ownership and funding sources remain unclear. But experts say it has served as a tactical tool for the Kremlin in hot spots where Russia has political and financial interests, and has deep ties to Putin—in fact, it is widely considered his private army.

    Putin is reported to have ordered Wagner Group operatives into Kyiv to assassinate Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who has reportedly survived about a dozen such attempts. About 400 Wagner mercenaries were reported to have entered the Kyiv area from Belarus, and were offered “hefty bonuses” for killing key political and media figures, including the mayor of Kyiv, Zelenskyy, and his entire Cabinet.

    According to German intelligence officials, Wagner Group operatives were primarily responsible for spearheading the butchery that has been reported and substantiated in Bucha. Der Spiegel reported that comments from troops intercepted by German intelligence—including flippant remarks about shooting men on bicycles, and orders to first interrogate soldiers and then shoot them—that demonstrate the atrocities in Bucha “were neither random acts nor the product of individual soldiers who got out of hand.”

    The Wagner Group mostly comprises retired regular Russian servicemen, typically aged between 35 and 55. The Kremlin has effectively used their mercenaries to wage deniable war and otherwise prop up its interests in places like Syria, Libya, Mozambique, and more recently in the Central African Republic and Mali. They also played a key role in Putin’s long war on Ukraine, with its fighters helping him illegally annex Crimea in 2014.

    The group’s founder, Dmitry Utkin, named it after Hitler’s favorite composer, Richard Wagner, and is himself fond of fascist symbols; he has a Nazi eagle, along with swastikas and SS lightning bolts, tattooed on his torso. Reportedly Wagner mercenaries have left behind neo-Nazi propaganda in combat zones, including graffiti with hate symbols.

    The Wagner militia unit Rusich has been spotted in southeastern Ukraine as well. It was founded nearly a decade ago in St. Petersburg by a Red Army paratrooper named Aleksei Milchakov and Yan Petrovskiy, a Norwegian neo-Nazi, after the pair met at a white supremacist RIM event.

    Milchakov has previously posted horrifying pictures of himself on social media slicing off the ears of dead soldiers, as well as selfies in which he is carving the kolovrat, a Slavic far-right version of the swastika. He also has boasted about being a neo-Nazi and claims he “got high from the smell of burning human flesh.” [Sounds like a real Nazi to me.]

    Rusich is believed to consist of several hundred soldiers, and their signature uniform patch is a white supremacist valknut insignia. Its idea of humor on social media is a cartoon of a Russian soldier returning home with gifts for his family, stolen from Ukrainians and covered in blood. Its caption reads: “If you are a real man and a Russian, join our ranks. You will spill liters of blood from vile Russophobes, and become rich and cool.” [Oh, that’s nice: encouraging looting as well.]

    One of Wagner’s key functions, according to the Soufan Center, a New York-based nonprofit think tank, is that it provides the Kremlin with “a thin veneer of plausible deniability as it engages in the pursuit of finance, influence, and vigilantism not in keeping with international norms.”

    […] For neo-Nazis and white supremacists, “Ukraine could become their version of what Afghanistan was for the jihadi movement in the 1980s,” said Steven Stalinsky, the executive director of the Washington-based Middle East Media Research Institute. “Being on the ground in a real-world fighting situation will allow them to gain valuable experience, as they further hone their skills in weapons, planning attacks, using technology in war including communications and encryption, and using cryptocurrency for clandestine funding of their activity.”

    Outfits like Rusich are the spear tip of a much larger neofascist element within Russia, embodied by the Russian Imperial Movement. Its ideology is much more than simply nostalgic for the Russia of two centuries ago; concerned with fighting against globalization, multiculturalism, and liberalism, RIM is part and parcel of a broader international white supremacist project, which also enjoys Putin’s sponsorship and support. Its “membership is rigid and adheres to the dualistic beliefs that members should be part of the Russian Orthodox Church and conform to the group’s view of the necessity of creating a Russian Imperial state,” according to the Soufan Center.

    RIM’s activism now includes running a kind of international “summer camp” for young right-wing extremists called Partisan, a paramilitary training course it sponsors near St. Petersburg. It claims to train civilians for upcoming “global chaos.” It draws participants from around Europe.

    Two of its graduates from Sweden, both members of the neo-Nazi group Nordic Resistance, returned home to Gothenburg and attempted to blow up a home for asylum seekers, as well as a gathering of leftists at an alternative bookstore. (Another bomb was accidentally ignited by a garbage worker who was permanently maimed in the blast.) They likely learned how to construct the bombs at Partisan.

    […] pro-Kremlin propaganda was having a greater impact on far right websites in Sweden.

    […] While the RIM has a long and well-publicized record of sponsoring far-right activities throughout Europe, its presence in North America has been limited. Matthew Heimbach, former leader of the neo-Nazi Traditional Workers Party (TWP), at one time hosted a RIM leader and visited with him at historic sites in Washington, D.C., and Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

    Heimbach continued to cultivate those ties, traveling to Russia to return the favor by meeting with RIM leaders at their annual gathering, the World National Conservative Movement conference. “I see Russia as kind of the axis for nationalists,” said Heimbach. “And that’s not just nationalists that are white—that’s all nationalists.”

    A neo-Nazi organization that recruited members online, The Base, also has potential ties to Russian intelligence, and its American founder currently resides in Russia. That group also held paramilitary training sessions in the Pacific Northwest. Several members of The Base were arrested in January 2020 just prior to a planned right-wing gun rally in Richmond, Virginia, where they reportedly intended to wreak violent havoc by opening fire on police forces and civilians.

    It’s true that American extremists have long been attracted to Ukraine’s Azov Battalion as an opportunity for paramilitary training. Members of the California-based Rise Above Movement participated in such training prior to their participation in the deadly and violent 2017 Unite the Right riot in Charlottesville, Virginia, for which several of them have ended up facing federal charges.

    […] Experts estimate nationalists comprise about 2% of Ukraine’s population, with the vast majority having very little interest in anything to do with them […]

    experts on the European far right like Anton Shekhovtsov say the Azov of 2022 is nothing like the group from eight years ago, since those seeking to fight with Azov today are motivated, for the most part, by Ukrainian nationalism and not far-right extremism. However, it notes: “Despite the evolution of the movement since 2014, its brand still remains popular with far-right extremists, and its future trajectory will bear watching.” [That is basically my take on the situation as well.]

    A Washington Post report on the battalion interviewed Azov fighters and one of its founders, as well as experts who have tracked the battalion from its beginnings, and found a more complex and nuanced situation than the Kremlin’s crude characterizations. They concede that while some extremists remain in their ranks, the militia has evolved since 2014 and, under pressure from U.S. and Ukrainian authorities, has toned down its extremist elements.

    […] “So while the far-right element is still a factor, I think it’s a much smaller part of the overall whole. It’s been diluted, in some respects.”

    […] Adam Hadley, the executive director of Tech Against Terrorism, a London-based counterterrorism initiative, said their analysis indicated that Russian-backed forces in Ukraine, including the Wagner Group, are “almost certainly connected with extreme far-right organizations.”

    Hadley added: “Given Putin’s absurd demands for the ‘denazification’ of Ukraine, we suggest he should first root out neo-Nazis in his own ranks before pointing the finger at others.”

    Link

  77. says

    Avi Scharf, Haaretz:

    Russia summoned Israeli Ambassador for a reprimand after Israeli FM Lapid’s ‘regrettable’ remarks on Ukraine war

    Moscow criticized ‘anti-Russian’ remarks by Lapid, where he defended vote to suspend Russia from Human Rights Council: ‘Poorly camouflaged attempt to use Ukraine to distract attention from one of oldest unsettled conflicts – the Palestinian-Israeli one’

  78. says

    Kyiv Independent:

    Italian PM: I am beginning to think that it’s useless to talk to Putin.

    Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, in an interview with Corriere Della Serra, said he asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to declare a ceasefire, yet Putin told him that the “time hasn’t come yet.”

  79. says

    Ukraine Update: […] the massive logistical effort to support Ukraine

    On March 7, the United States announced that it would send 400 troops to Lithuania to compliment 600 already there. On April 7, we saw American artillery passing through Poland. [Tweet and video available at the link]

    At the time, people wondered if that was equipment headed to Ukraine, but nope, it was part of that American reinforcement of NATO’s eastern flank. That unit was around 100 Pennsylvania National Guard soldiers with 10 M109 Paladin howitzers and supporting equipment. So not a particularly big column. Yet from the announcement of the new deployment to arrival, it took five weeks. Moving heavy equipment, its logistical support, and tons of ammunition takes time. […] Russia’s pre-invasion buildup itself took at least five months, and they have a robust rail system to internally move material.

    That’s why it’s a little frustrating seeing things like this: [Tweet available at the link, in which the lazy conclusion that “nobody has a true sense of urgency yet” is repeated.]

    We can concede that material isn’t getting there fast enough. But that has nothing to do with a “lack of urgency.” Logistical challenges don’t disappear just because Ukraine is one of the good guys. Moving enough material to equip and sustain an Army that has grown to half a million strong takes time. Take a look at the latest $800 million aid package from the United States:
    – 18 155mm Howitzers and 40,000 artillery rounds;
    – Ten AN/TPQ-36 counter-artillery radars;
    – Two AN/MPQ-64 Sentinel air surveillance radars;
    – 300 Switchblade Tactical Unmanned Aerial Systems;
    – 500 Javelin missiles and thousands of other anti-armor systems;
    – 200 M113 Armored Personnel Carriers;
    – 100 Armored High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles;
    – 11 Mi-17 helicopters;
    – Unmanned Coastal Defense Vessels;
    – Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear protective equipment;
    – Medical equipment;
    – 30,000 sets of body armor and helmets;
    – Over 2,000 optics and laser rangefinders;
    – C-4 explosives and demolition equipment for obstacle clearing; and
    – M18A1 Claymore anti-personnel munitions configured to be consistent with the Ottawa Convention.

    An M113 weights 12 tons. So we’re talking about moving 2,400 tons of armored personnel carriers. A Hummer is 3 tons, so another 300 tons. Those howitzers are around eight tons. There’s only 18 of them, but the ammo? Around 2,000 tons. The rest of this stuff adds up to thousands of additional tons. There is only so much transport capacity available. The fact that the United States can move this much material in a month is incredible. Remember, the last $800 million aid package was announced on March 16, while this latest one was announced April 13. Pentagon delivers the aid as quickly as it can, after which the next package is announced.

    The Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) community tracks every flight to Rzeszów-Jasionka Airport in Poland, the global hub for the Ukraine equip and resupply effort, about 90 miles from the Ukrainian border. It is a never-ending parade of American, British, Canadian, Ukrainian, and other allied planes planes delivering goodies for the war effort. Here is a Ukrainian cargo plan flying in new TB2 drones from Turkey on Friday. [Tweets and map available at the link]

    For fun, I looked up that plane to see what it was up to Saturday, and it made a run from Romania to Rzeszów. Weird, given that Romania shares a border with Ukraine, but a clear sign that logistically, it’s simply easier to manage everything out of the Rzeszów hub. […]

    On Friday, Rzeszów hosted two Canadian cargo planes (one from Macedonia, the other from Prestwick, England), one American cargo flight from Dover Air Force base, one charter cargo flight from Sweden, that Ukrainian flight from Tekirdag, Turkey, with the TB2 drones, one MEDAVAC flight likely shuttling war wounded to Oslo, Norway, and assorted smaller craft from several NATO militaries, perhaps bringing in trainers and other VIPs aiding in the war effort.

    The day prior, on Thursday, the airport hosted three American cargo flights, and one each from Spain, France, the Czech Republic, Ireland, and Turkey.

    On Saturday, this Australian Air Force cargo plane brought Bushmaster armored cars to Rzeszów. Australia announced this donation of 10 Bushmasters on April 4, arriving on the 16th. Moving heavy equipment takes time, and this was just 10 vehicles, not several hundred.

    Meanwhile, NATO is rubbing Russia’s nose in these shipments. Those planes could turn off their transponders and arrive in secret, but they’re actively broadcasting their presence, their source, and their destination. They want Russia to know what they’re up to, repeatedly reminding them of Western resolve, perhaps hoping it erodes Russia’s own. Russia is certainly helpless to do anything about it.

    Meanwhile, we haven’t talked about ammo yet. Vehicles and killer drones and aircraft are the sexy big-ticket items. But an army runs on its stomach … and on ammunition.

    A Note on Munitions Consumption:

    […] Rarely is the rate of consumption addressed.

    I believe some context would be beneficial here. The basic load for a rifleman when I was deployed was 210 rounds—7 mags of 30. Many of us carried more depending on circumstances & expectations. Add 2 pistol mags for another 30 (2×15). So 240 rounds at bare minimum.

    You’ll notice we’re leaving out machine guns, SAWs, and other platforms for the moment. Ukraine has mobilized reserves, territorials, militia, and has increasing numbers of volunteers joining its ranks. For ease of math, let’s ballpark their forces at 100K combat personnel operating in an infantry capacity. Just to give those personnel a SINGLE basic combat load is 24 million rounds of ammo. In heavy fighting, especially in urban areas, infantry can burn through that basic load in less than a day.

    Now let’s talk artillery. The UAF uses a similar organization to the Russians when it comes to artillery, on paper. Self-propelled] Artillery Battalions (for example) consist of 3 companies of 6 self-propelled guns—18 total. This is easy math, 1 battalion firing a measly 11 rounds/gun eats 198 rounds. In a prolonged or support fire intensive engagement, a single battalion can easily burn a thousand rounds in a day.

    24 million rounds weighs around 11 tons. And remember, that’s a single combat load! A thousand 152mm artillery rounds weighs around 48 tons. And that doesn’t include machine gun ammo, anti-tank and anti-air missiles, grenade launchers, tank rounds, Infantry Fighting Vehicle cannon rounds, and mortar rounds. In WWII, an estimated 45,000 rounds of small-arms munitions were fired for each enemy kill. It was 50,000 in Vietnam. A lot of ammo is fired in combat. A LOT.

    Bottom line, fighting a conventional war eats ungodly amounts of ammunition, and Ukraine can’t manufacture it for itself. Some of it gets captured from the Russians, but most of it has to come from outside, eating into the logistical chain feeding Ukraine’s war effort. There is only so much Ukraine can pick up from Poland and shuttle back home at any given time, and how do you even begin to prioritize this stuff? Ukraine desperately needs it all and more, and it needs it yesterday!

    That’s why NATO has prioritized certain shipments over others, like anti-tank, anti-aircraft missiles, and small arms munitions the first month of the war. Ukraine was demanding aircraft, but the logistical footprint could’ve displaced the missiles that turned the tide in the Battle of Kyiv. Indeed, the Pentagon has repeatedly referred to logistics as the reason for holding back certain weapons. For example, it’s great we’re finally sending artillery howitzers to Ukraine, but NATO artillery uses 155mm rounds, which are incompatible with the 152mm Soviet-era guns Ukraine already has in service. Now Ukraine has to make sure the right caliber rounds get to the right units, […] Ukraine can’t grab existing stock from elsewhere to feed their American-sourced guns.

    However paternalistic it may sound, American logistical prowess is the best in the world. […]

    Anyway, I wrote this because I was triggered by people who think big, heavy, and voluminous military gear and ammunition magically show up after pressing an order button on a phone app. There are people around the globe busting their asses to get gear to Ukraine as quickly as humanely possible. Could “more” be done? Perhaps, but people need to stop acting like nothing is being done. When the story of this war is written, this massive international logistical effort will be a major reason Ukraine triumphed against the Russian bear.

  80. blf says

    Brony@97, They™ would not put glorious leader’s DNA in The Database, that would make it easy to identify the reptilians. Also, angels, whether risen, fallen, sauntered vaguely downwardsss, or my sstuck ssss key, are neither alive nor have a body, so don’t have any DNA, albeit as they are fossilised, it may be possible to recover some fragmentss (or in the cassse of the s key, remove the obssstruction).

  81. blf says

    Whilst I have no reason to think the video is genuine (but also cannot say it isn’t genuine), there is an “amusing” video of the (allegedly) Muskva burning (video, play with sound on).

    (I put “amusing” in quotes because there (presumably) are sailors onboard that ship, which is not funny at all.)

  82. says

    France 24 – “On This Day in 2002: Doomed Socialist favourite laughs off threat of Le Pen in presidential final”:

    Any presidential campaign has its emblematic moments that change the course of the race, be they breathtaking instant tide-turners or incidents laden with meaning only in hindsight. With French voters set to elect a president on April 24, FRANCE 24 looks back at telling moments from campaigns past. In the spotlight: Prime Minister Lionel Jospin, the Socialist Party candidate, roars with laughter at the thought of not making it to the second round, even as the 2002 race rumbles towards disaster….

  83. says

    Julia Davis, Daily Beast (non-threader):

    Since the assertion that the Ukrainian government is a “Nazi regime” doesn’t hold water, the Kremlin’s mouthpieces are portraying Moscow’s invading hordes as modern-day crusaders and their opponents as demons and satanists.

    “This is truly a holy war.”

    Host Vladimir Solovyov, who recently lost access to his multimillion-dollar Italian villas, asked: “What’s more important: a prosperous life, when everything is simple, or when you’re heading into the unknown? But you believe & your faith creates miracles”…

  84. says

    More from Julia Davis:

    Russian state TV pundits are working overtime to demonize and dehumanize Ukrainians:

    “Ukraine is Gollum.”

    “Ukrainians are “the unclean.””

    “The Ukrainian God is the Devil.”

    The blame being placed on Russia for its massacres in Ukraine is “Satanism.”

    Host Vladimir Solovyov urged the Russians not to worry about inflation, but instead to focus on the positives: “There is no civil war, no intervention… and the war is not taking place on our territory.”

  85. says

    What happens when Republicans in Congress stop coronavirus funding:

    Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) on Sunday said millions of vaccine doses will expire if Congress does not pass additional COVID-19 funding.

    “We are going to lose millions of doses of vaccine that will expire,” Coons told moderator Margaret Brennan on CBS’s “Face the Nation” when asked if vaccines will go bad should Congress not approve more funds.

    “I think we should treat this as emergency spending. But frankly, we’ll negotiate what we have to in order to secure a chance to move forward and not waste the vital vaccines America has already purchased,” he added.

    The comments come as the Senate is embroiled in a battle over COVID-19 funding. A bipartisan group of senators announced earlier this month that they had reached a deal for a $10 billion COVID-19 deal, but some Republicans are now demanding a vote be held for an amendment to reinstate Title 42 in exchange for their support for the funding.

    The Biden administration earlier this month rescinded Title 42, a controversial Trump-era policy that allowed for the expulsion of migrants at the border and blocked them from seeking asylum.

    Congress, however, is currently on recess. […]

    Link

  86. blf says

    Yesterday was so pleasant and nice I went out and had a grand lunch on the terrace of a great restaurant overlooking the local harbour (everyone else seemed to have the same idea, it was busy!). Anyways, I order the duck as the main course… completely forgetting I had purchased a duck that very morning at the local organic outdoors market (with the intention of eating it today). The restaurant-prepared duck was brilliant. My own, today? Rather good, actually, stuffed with shallots, poutine fumée (very roughly, “smoked putin”), and MUSHROOMS!, drizzled with olive oil, freshly-squeezed orange-lemon juice, and local herbs. However, I’ve now ingested so much duck I ma–quack–y star–quack–t qua–quack–cking (the mild–quack–ly de–quack quack–rang–quack–ed p–quack–enguin is hurriedly getting back into her duck-proof armoured suit (which seems to be a great cure for the qua–quack–cks (m–quack–aybe–quack–?).

  87. blf says

    Turns out an awful lot of US politicians see no problem with kids going hungry (my added emboldquack–ening):

    Last year the US government lifted millions of children out of poverty when it expanded the Child Tax Credit — and then the policy was simply chucked away

    Child poverty is bad. I think we can all agree on that, right? Americans are divided on lots of issues but it’s reasonable to suppose that, no matter where someone sits on the political spectrum, they would want kids to have enough to eat. Right?

    Wrong. As it turns out an awful lot of politicians have no issue at all with kids going hungry. Last year the federal government lifted millions of American children out of poverty with the stroke of a pen when it expanded the Child Tax Credit (CTC) as part of the American Recovery Plan. There was nothing particularly revolutionary about this policy: lots of rich countries provide some version of a universal child benefit. But, while it wasn’t revolutionary on a global scale, the CTC transformed the US: monthly child poverty was slashed by roughly 30%. About 3.7 million children saw their lives improve. And then, at the end of 2021, the CTC expired and congress failed to extend it. Those 3.7 million kids went hungry again; a February study found that child poverty increased by 41% in after the program expired. In short: a wildly successful policy that improved millions of people’s lives was simply chucked away.

    Republicans — the party that loves loudly proclaiming how pro-life they are and how much they care about family values — are largely to blame for the CTC expiring. Every single Republican in congress opposed extending the CTC. Joe Manchin, a supposed Democrat, also helped kill the program; he reportedly told colleagues that he worried that parents would waste the money they were being given on drugs. Did he have any evidence for this? No, of course not. In fact, studies show that 91% of households making less than $35,000 a year used the money to pay for food, shelter, clothing and other necessities.

    While Republicans and Manchin bear the bulk of the responsibility for sabotaging the CTC, there’s plenty of blame to go around. The fact that much of the media insists on describing Manchin as a moderate, for example, doesn’t help matters. Terminology like this helps push the idea that bowing to corporate interests is “moderate’ while helping pull kids out of poverty is “radical”; it makes it easier for people like Manchin to pretend they’re being sensible instead of just selfish. And the Democrats are hardly blameless either. They’re absurdly bad at messaging and often seem to care more about compromising with their colleagues across the aisle instead of fighting for ordinary Americans.

    The short-lived CTC reveals one of the big lies in politics: the idea that it’s far too difficult to do anything about big problems like poverty. […]

  88. Pierce R. Butler says

    Lynna @ # 98, quoting DailyKos: … the United States announced that it would send 400 troops to Lithuania to compliment 600 already there.

    “You guys look really professional in those desert fatigues!” Couldn’t they say nice things just as well by Zoom?

    SC… @ # 103, quoting Julia Davis quoting Vladimir Solovyov: … and the war is not taking place on our territory.

    Does that mean Russia has now renounced all claims to Ukrainian territory?

  89. blf says

    As mentioned in the previous version of this series-of-threads, teh “U”K is proposing to set up concentration camps in Rwanda where asylum-seekers would be detained (i.e., indefinitely prevented from entering teh “U”K). Jacob Rees-Mogg, one of the most odious alleged-people in teh “U”K’s parliament (a strong supporter of brexit, and now teh Minister for Brexit), “thinks” this is a good thing, Rwanda asylum plan is almost Easter story of redemption, says Rees-Mogg:

    Minister for Brexit opportunities defends scheme after archbishop of Canterbury voices strong criticism

    Jacob Rees-Mogg has defended the government’s plans to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda as almost an Easter story of redemption after the policy was criticised as “depressing”, “distressing” and ungodly by church leaders.

    The archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, used a scathing Easter Sunday address to say that the scheme “must stand the judgment of God — and it cannot”.[]

    “Subcontracting out our responsibilities, even to a country that seeks to do well, like Rwanda, is the opposite of the nature of God, who himself took responsibility for our failures,” he said.

    Welby’s intervention came as it emerged that the civil servant in charge of the Home Office said he did not have evidence to show that the plan to fly people 4,000 miles to Rwanda would act as a deterrent — and therefore could not be sure it would be a good use of public money.

    Regardless of the mode of transport (excepting, perhaps, sailing ship), it also very very stoooopid w.r.t. the Climate Catastrophe.

    Rees-Mogg, the minister for Brexit opportunities, said the Church of England’s most senior clergyman misunderstands the policy and that it was in fact almost an Easter story of redemption for Rwanda.

    The former Commons leader said the UK was providing an opportunity to Rwanda and that the policy therefore must be a good thing.

    [… lots of blithering, which rather notably fails to explain why sending aslyum-seekers to Africa is anything other than an attempt to move the people out-of-sight, out-of-mind, and push the responsibility for their care onto Rwanda…]

    This must be a good thing is rather like Arbeit macht frei.

      † Whilst the referring to a non-existent Magic Sky Farie almost earned this (and other comments) being set in eejit quotes, I refrained, as that spurious nonsense adds nothing to their substantive criticism of this proposed concentration camp policy.

  90. blf says

    Nasa/JPL’s Mars helicopter Ingenuity has now flown five times as much as planned, completing its 25th(!!) flight, and “broke its distance and ground speed records, traveling 704 meters at 5.5 meters per second while flying for 161.3 seconds” (Mars helicopter Ingenuity aces record-breaking 25th flight), adding “Friday [April 8th]’s flight was the second in five days for Ingenuity and its fifth sortie in the last month. Such activity isn’t surprising; Perseverance has been making serious tracks on its drive to the [Jezero Crater] delta, and Ingenuity needs to keep up.” Ingenuity needs to keep in radio-range of the rover, but to prevent accidents, also ahead of it.

  91. blf says

    Covid: Global death toll of 15m more than double previously believed, says WHO:

    India stalling organisation’s efforts to make global pandemic death toll public

    An ambitious effort by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to calculate the global death toll from the coronavirus pandemic has found that vastly more people died than previously believed, a total of about 15 million by the end of 2021, more than double the official total of six million reported by countries individually.

    But the release of the staggering estimate, the result of more than a year of research and analysis by experts around the world and the most comprehensive look at the lethality of the pandemic to date, has been delayed for months because of objections from India, which disputes the calculation of how many of its citizens died and has tried to keep it from becoming public.

    More than a third of the additional nine million deaths are estimated to have occurred in India, where the government of prime minister Narendra Modi has stood by its own count of about 520,000. The WHO will show the country’s toll is at least four million […]

    […]

    The delay in releasing the figures is significant because the global data is essential for understanding how the pandemic has played out and what steps could mitigate a similar crisis. It has created turmoil in the normally staid world of health statistics. A feud cloaked in anodyne language is playing out at the United Nations Statistical Commission, the world body that gathers health data, spurred by India’s refusal to co-operate.

    […]

    The [New York] Times spoke with more than 10 people familiar with the data. The WHO had planned to make the numbers public in January, but the release has continually been pushed back. Recently, a few members of the group warned the WHO that if the organisation did not release the figures, the experts would do so themselves, three people familiar with the matter said. WHO spokesperson, Amna Smailbegovic, told The Times. “We aim to publish in April.”

  92. says

    Pierce @109:

    SC… @ # 103, quoting Julia Davis quoting Vladimir Solovyov: … and the war is not taking place on our territory.

    Does that mean Russia has now renounced all claims to Ukrainian territory?

    Ha! LOL

  93. KG says

    blf@112,
    The Economist estimates 20.7 million deaths (calculated as excess deaths over what would be expected globally without the pandemic), with 95% confidence interval of 14.4 million to 24.3 million. I’ve seen another estimate somewhere which was also around 20 million, so the WHO estimate is on the conservative side.

  94. says

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

    At least six people were killed and eight wounded in missile strikes in different areas of the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, according to the regional governor. Images show smoke billowing across the city and firefighters tackling blazes.

    Zelenskiy said he has invited Emmanuel Macron to visit Ukraine to see for himself evidence that Russian forces have committed “genocide”, a term the French president has avoided using.

    Two British fighters captured in Ukraine by Russian forces have appeared on Russian state TV and asked to be exchanged for a pro-Russian politician who is being held by the Ukrainian authorities.

    It was unclear how freely the two men – Shaun Pinner and Aiden Aslin – were able to talk.

    Both spoke after being prompted by an unidentified man, Reuters reports. Both asked the UK’s Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, to help bring them home in exchange for Ukraine releasing Viktor Medvedchuk, the oligarch and opposition politician who was arrested last week.

    The Kremlin last week turned down Ukraine’s offer of a prisoner exchange for Medvedchuk, Vladimir Putin’s closest ally in Ukraine, who was arrested on in what was described as a “lightning-fast and dangerous” operation.

    Separately, Ukraine’s security services is reported to have released a video of Medvedchuk asking for Putin to exchange him for Ukrainian forces in the besieged city of Mariupol.

  95. says

    Guardian – “‘Election integrity summits’ aim to fire up Trump activists over big lie”:

    An influential conservative group that includes two Trump allies who helped push lies about voter fraud in 2020 is spearheading “election integrity” summits in battleground states, advocating for expanded poll watching, “clean” voter rolls and other measures watchdogs say could curb voting rights to help Republican candidates.

    The Conservative Partnership Institute (CPI) “election integrity network” is run by the veteran GOP lawyer Cleta Mitchell, who helped to spread misinformation about supposed election fraud in 2020.

    Mark Meadows, Donald Trump’s last White House chief of staff, is a senior partner of the CPI and reportedly had a lead role in at least one of its summits.

    Mitchell, CPI’s senior legal fellow, has hosted multi-day summits, seeking to mobilize hundreds of conservative activists for elections this year in Georgia, Arizona and Pennsylvania, all states that Trump lost to Joe Biden, and Florida, which he won.

    CPI is slated to hold summits this spring in Virginia, Michigan and Wisconsin, as it seeks to build “election integrity” infrastructure in swing states.

    Powerful groups on the right such as Heritage Action and Tea Party Patriots Action have participated in previous summits.

    Ties between CPI and Trump were underscored last July, when the former president’s Save America leadership Pac donated $1m to the group weeks after the House voted to create a committee to investigate the attack on the US Capitol on 6 January 2021 by Trump loyalists seeking to disrupt certification of Biden’s election victory.

    Mitchell’s election summits began in February this year….

    The push to forge state election “integrity” networks is occurring while Mitchell and Meadows face congressional scrutiny and other investigation of their efforts to help Trump stay in power.

    In Pennsylvania, a three-day summit in late March was advertised to include sessions on how to form a “local election integrity taskforce”; how to protect “vulnerable voters from leftist activists”; “researching your local election office”; “monitoring voting equipment and systems”; and more.

    Some “election integrity” meetings have drawn powerful conservative groups such as FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity that have to varying degrees amplified false claims about the 2020 elections.

    Some groups at the summits have been bankrolled by donors including the oil and gas billionaire Charles Koch, billionaire businessman Richard Uihlein and the conservative Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, where Mitchell is a board member.

    CPI gatherings have also been attended by GOP figures including candidates running for governor in Pennsylvania and the sitting Florida governor, Ron DeSantis.

    According to the Center for Media and Democracy, at a secretive January meeting with leaders of Tea Party Patriots and conservative groups from several states, Mitchell and CPI distributed a “citizens’ guide to building an election integrity infrastructure” to promote the summits and her message.

    Mitchell was also tapped last March by FreedomWorks to spearhead what it billed as a $10m drive to push tougher voting laws in more than half a dozen states and to fight Democratic proposals to make voting easier….

  96. says

    Reuters – “Alex Jones’ InfoWars files for bankruptcy in U.S. court”:

    Far-right wing website InfoWars on Sunday filed for voluntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas in the face of multiple defamation lawsuits.

    Chapter 11 bankruptcy procedures put a hold on all civil litigation matters and allow companies to prepare turnaround plans while remaining operational.

    Alex Jones, founder of InfoWars, was found liable for damages in a trio of lawsuits last year filed after he falsely claimed that the 2012 Sandy Hook school massacre was a hoax….

  97. says

    Citizen Lab – “CatalanGate: Extensive Mercenary Spyware Operation against Catalans Using Pegasus and Candiru”:

    In 2019, WhatsApp patched CVE-2019-3568, a vulnerability exploited by NSO Group to hack Android phones around the world with Pegasus. At the same time, WhatsApp notified 1,400 users who had been targeted with the exploit. Among the targets were multiple members of civil society and political figures in Catalonia, Spain. The Citizen Lab assisted WhatsApp in notifying civil society victims and helping them take steps to be more secure.

    The cases were first reported by The Guardian in 2020. Following these reports, the Citizen Lab, in collaboration with civil society organisations, undertook a large-scale investigation into Pegasus hacking in Spain. The investigation has uncovered at least 65 individuals targeted or infected with Pegasus or spyware from Candiru, another mercenary hacking company.

    The hacking covers a spectrum of civil society in Catalonia, from academics and activists to non-governmental organisations (NGOs). Catalonia’s government and elected officials were also extensively targeted, from the highest levels of Catalan government to Members of the European Parliament, legislators, and their staff and family members. We do not conclusively attribute the targeting to a specific government, but extensive circumstantial evidence points to the Spanish government….

    One of the categories of hacking victims is “Lawyers Representing Prominent Catalans,” which seems especially problematic.

  98. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Military analysts consulted by the Guardian say images purporting to show the Russian cruiser Moskva shortly before the ship sank in the Black Sea looked consistent with the vessel but that the photographs would require independent confirmation.

    The source of photos and the video is unknown and it was first brought to public attention by open source intelligence researchers following the Russian war in Ukraine.

    In the images, which have not been independently confirmed, a plume of black smoke is seen rising from the heavily damaged Moskva, which was reported to have been hit by a Ukrainian missile strike last week.

    The images show that the ship’s lifeboats have been deployed and there are no sailors visible on deck, suggesting the ship may have been abandoned. In the images, the Moskva is listing to port as two fire-hoses shoot streams of water into the air.

    A three-second video filmed from a nearby ship appears to show a rescue tug approaching the burning Moskva. The short recording ends abruptly as a man nearby yells: “What the fuck are you doing?”

    “I believe the video is real. What we see shape, size. It is the Moskva,” Yörük Işık, a journalist and expert ship spotter who photographs Russian warships traveling through the Bosphorus , told the Guardian.

  99. blf says

    The Onion, Dianne Feinstein Argues She Still Perfectly Mentally Fit To Continue Captaining Submarine (quoted in full):

    Defending her performance against recent reports of cognitive decline, senior United States senator Dianne Feinstein argued Friday that she was still perfectly mentally fit to continue captaining the submarine. “If my fish colleagues have any doubts about my ability to damn the torpedoes or up the periscope, they simply haven’t told me,” said Feinstein, who admitted that she had briefly forgotten her first lieutenant’s name during a meeting at his battle station before blaming it on stress related to enemy ships rapidly pinging on radar. “Until I hear a compelling reason why I should step down as captain of this ship, I’m afraid I’ll just have to chock up these rumors to a mutiny brewing among my crew.” Feinstein declined to discuss her retirement, stressing that even if the submarine should spring a leak, she was prepared to go down with the ship.

    It’s been mentioned previously (with examples) in this series of poopyhead threads that Senator Feinstein does appear to have some sort of presumably age-related impairment (from my own faulty memory, asking questions again which she asked a few moments before; misunderstanding simple statements (not the devious / nefarious misconstruing teh thugs routinely do, but seemingly-genuine confusion; denying there is possibly an issue; etc.)).

  100. says

    Thanks, blf @ #127. The whole thing is so sick I’ve been having a hard time believing it’s real. That shameful attempt to defend it might have finally made it sink in.

    Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell quoted in the article:

    Do we want to continue to be known as a country that opens proper, legitimate pathways for all who flee violence, conflict and oppression, not just those from Ukraine, but also those fleeing other conflicts and the effect of climate change?

    So I guess Ukrainians are excluded from this proposal.

  101. says

    Two more episodes of This Is Critical (the first is at #93 above):

    “The Red-Pilling of Yoga World”:

    The namaste folks are just about downward dog and world peace, right? Maybe not. Conspirituality podcast host and former cult member Matthew Remski reveals the sinister rightward lurch of yoga and the wellness industry.

    “Why Are We Still Dieting?”:

    We have to stop. Ragen Chastain, the prominent Health at Every Size advocate, explains what we get wrong about weight loss, size stigma, and inclusive healthcare.

  102. blf says

    Some cartoons in the Grauniad:

    ● Chris Riddell, The Tory party flounders as it rots from both ends, “It’s the return of the nasty party as Boris Johnson decides to send asylum seekers to Rwanda and partygate rolls on”. “Partygate” is the name given to the ongoing-scandal where the alleged-PM and others held multiple parties during pandemic lockdowns, lied about it, and are now being investigated by the police (who have issued some fines); the police investigation is widely thought to be a sham, which is the(? a?) proximate reason the then-commissioner, Cressida Dick, was forced out.

    ● Tom Gauld, How to tackle criticism.

    ● Ben Jennings, On the UK’s cost of living crisis (Trigger Warning! Child hunger (see @108 for a States-side analogy)).

    On @108, I just realised I included a reference to my joke about turning into a duck do to eating a surfeit of same, which was very very insensitive of me when excerpting an article about child hunger. I apologise. I neglected to notice that exceptionally-poor juxtaposition at the time, and offer no excuses. Sorry!

  103. says

    From the responses to the tweet @ #135:

    The “Guards” tag is an exceptional honour usually reserved for units who make the biggest contribution in battle, and especially for those who have lost large amounts of troops in the line of duty. Putin’s decision degrades the sacrifices of WW2 troops who deserved the title.

    For a man who claims to be defending the memory of Russian sacrifices in World War 2, Putin sure does spend a lot of time totally trashing it.

  104. says

    Bad news when it comes to democracy in Wisconsin:

    […] the conservative majority on the state Supreme Court approved new state legislative maps drawn by the Republican-led state legislature. As The New York Times noted, the new court-approved maps “essentially lock in overwhelming Republican majorities in the Assembly and the Senate for the next decade.”

  105. blf says

    SC@132, My current understanding is teh “U”K’s alleged-government is being very shifty, unclear, and actively misleading about just who they want sent to concentration camps in Rwanda. For example, a snippet from Priti Patel: Rwanda plan critics fail to offer their own solutions (Patel is teh “U”K’s Home Secretary, who has never met an asylum seeker — and very probably any immigrant in general — she didn’t loathe (Ukrainians included), quite similar to hair furor’s Stephen Miller in the States (presumably including the racism)):

    [… I]t emerged that the UK will take in some people granted refugee status by Rwanda — a fact that was not previously highlighted in government briefings.

    The memorandum of understanding between the two countries states: “The participants will make arrangements for the United Kingdom to resettle a portion of Rwanda’s most vulnerable refugees in the United Kingdom, recognising both participants’ commitment towards providing better international protection for refugees.”

    The detail was first reported by the Mail, which quoted a Home Office source as saying it would apply to “a number in the tens, not hundreds”. It said it was likely to apply to people with complex needs, such as physical or mental health problems.

    Much more significantly, a snippet from Priti Patel accused of misleading parliament over controversial borders bill:

    The home secretary told MPs that the widely criticised nationality and borders bill would create new safe and legal routes to the UK for asylum seekers, suggesting that new routes would ensure that people no longer need to risk their lives trying to reach the UK.

    During a parliamentary debate last November — held the day after 27 people drowned in the Channel as they tried to cross from France — Patel assured MPs that the bill does create safe and legal routes.

    However, the Home Office has now admitted that the proposed legislation, which is due to go back to the House of Commons this week, in fact contains no provision to provide safe government-backed routes for asylum seekers.

    […]

    Sophie McCann, advocacy officer at MSF UK [Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders)], said the contradiction was indicative of the manner in which the government and the home secretary had tried to sell the deeply divisive proposals to reform the asylum system: “This is just the latest instance of this government being either deeply misleading or secretive about the provisions and impact of the bill.”

    She added: “Again we see the government’s slippery relationship with the truth when it comes to acknowledging the harm that will be done to vulnerable people seeking safety to the UK.”

    […]

    Even so, the Home Office has attempted to give the impression that the proposed legislation offers safe routes: a factsheet it released last December was titled: Nationality and borders bill: safe and legal routes.

    […]

    McCann said: “There are almost no safe ways for someone fleeing war, persecution or poverty to travel to the UK. Instead of helping those most in need, the nationality and borders bill will increase people’s risk of dying trying to get here.”

      † Disclaimer: I am a regular donor to MSF (France).

  106. says

    Full Clip: Trump nodded after Roger Stone said, ‘Ron DeSantis is a piece of shit’ at Mar-a-Lago this weekend….”

    Video clip at the link. As they note, it also shows how the area around Trump’s table is roped off. Josh Dawsey from WaPo was describing recently how every time Trump enters the dining room (or any public area there – I can’t remember), people stand and applaud. It all has a surreal, mafia-like vibe.

  107. says

    Ukraine update: Ukraine makes a play for Izyum salient supply lines

    If you’ve been seeing the words “Izyum salient” from me and Mark Sumner lately, it’s because the Russian-held city is one of two pivotal cities for Russia’s designs on the eastern Donbas front. In short, with little progress pushing out from pre-invasion rebel-held territory (in purple below), Russia is attempting to encircle entrenched Ukrainians from Mariupol in the south, and Izyum in the north. The effort looks like this: [map available at the link]

    That body of water you see northeast of Izyum is the Oskii river. Ukraine has blown the river crossings, forcing Russia to loop to its north to get to Izyum. Reinforcements and supplies coming in from Russia have to travel down those same roads, which are in range of Ukrainian artillery pounding them from the west. [video available at the link]

    A military salient is a projection into enemy territory, and the Izyum salient is particularly long and exposed. There are an estimated 15,000 troops around Izyum according to Ukrainian General Staff, and they’re all dependent on those long supply lines to feed a combat unit’s exhaustive ammunition, fuel, spare part, and food demands. So while Russia tries to push that salient further south, Ukraine is working to cut off those supply lines. [map available at the link]

    Kupiansk is at the crossroads of everything. The rail lines from Russia, and others from the Russian-occupied east, connect to the city, making it a natural resupply point for this entire front. [photos at the link]

    If the Ukrainians were to somehow reach the city, the Izyum salient would be fully cut off.

    And they’re trying! This weekend Ukraine liberated a handful of settlements to Kharkiv’s southeast. At the same time it also made headway pushing Russians north of the city toward the Russian border. […] Ukraine might want to avoid the creation of a “Kupiansk salient,” thus the need to secure that northern flank.

    All that said, there is a Ukrainian salient forming, so why isn’t Russia raining artillery on those advancing troops? This is what the terrain looks like around those newly liberated settlements: [image available at the link]

    Like the rest of the region, it’s flat, mostly open farmland, punctuated by the occasional grove of trees (which are still not fully foliated). There’s no reason Russia couldn’t pound advancing Ukrainians the way Ukraine pounded that Russian supply column in the video above. Down south near Kherson, similar open terrain has hampered Ukraine’s offensive to take the city, as approaching Ukrainians face a barrage of artillery fire. It’s one major reason Ukraine has been begging for more artillery, counter-battery radar, precision-guided rounds, and suicide drones. Without artillery, Russia is nothing. Yet here, in one of the main Russian gathering spots, Russia doesn’t seem able to bring any extra guns to bear.

    North of Izyum, some pro-Ukrainian sources are claiming Ukraine is counterattacking east of Izyum, up the eastern bank of the Oskil. Careful with those claims, as it is Russia attacking south along that bank: [map available at the link]

    Ukraine general staff claims they repelled an attack on Lozove on Sunday. Note how strategic that little hamlet is. If Russia takes it, they will be one step closer to securing an east-west connection between the Russian-occupied east and Izyum. Russia knows full well how tenuous and exposed its supply lines currently are, and is actively working to establish a more direct, more secure route.

    Yet cracks are starting to appear in Russia’s war efforts. For one, separatist forces have been moved to the Izyum area. While Russia might prefer using proxy forces to avoid death notices back in the Motherland, fact is, they are next to useless. Untrained, unmotivated, and fully aware that they are nothing more than cannon fodder to the Russians. Where are all those supposedly elite troops pulled out of the Kyiv and Sumy axes? They don’t seem to be making their way back into Ukraine in the expected numbers.

    Meanwhile, the Ukrainian General Staff announced that “In the territory of Donetsk and Luhansk [Donbas] regions, ten enemy attacks have been repelled, fifteen tanks have been destroyed, twenty-four units of armored and ten units of automobile equipment, as well as three enemy artillery systems.” As usual, the claimed equipment losses are less interesting than the daily confirmation that Russia continues its piecemeal drip-drip-drip attack strategy. Rather than gather its forces for one major overwhelming assault, it spreads out its combat power along numerous under-resourced attacks with little chance of success.

    Yesterday’s 10 attacks are more than the five to six daily attacks we’ve been seeing the last few weeks, so tempo might be increasing. But if a major offensive were genuinely in the wings, why waste men and equipment on these doomed strikes? I maintain that Russia is incapable of fully opening the spigot.

    For its part, Ukraine continues its consistently successful rope-a-dope strategy of trading land for blood any time it is dislodged from its prepared defenses (like the city of Izyum). Look at this video of a Russian armored vehicle heading south of Izyum toward the front lines: [images and video available at the link]

    As it drives, look at the armored vehicle graveyard it’s passing, and then take a look at the direction of the cannons: all pointing south. These are almost all Russian vehicles, destroyed on their southern approach. Every meter costs Russia equipment and troops it can no longer easily replace, while extending frail supply lines they struggle to protect and maintain. And while that terrain is mostly flat and open, there are also trees growing their spring leaves, and destroyed houses perfect for future ambushes. In this salient, Russia only controls the roads, and even so, only tenuously.

    The Izyum weather forecast is fantastic: [forecast available at the link, rain predicted for the next 7 out of 8 days]

    General Mud will be around for a while. Plenty of time for Ukrainian artillery to keep pounding cold, wet, miserable Russians and separatists waiting to die. Also time for new Ukrainian artillery to arrive, adding to the pressure.

    Russia’s pipe-dream pincer maneuver ain’t happening. And at this point, neither is any major offensive.

  108. says

    Description of a video that was posted on Twitter, with a warning that it was age-restricted due to its graphic nature:

    Donbas scrubs roll into town in a white Ford Transit [there’s also a pink van], huddle against a fence and under the van for safety as they’re ambushed, and with the drone watching and guiding, an Azov guy just drops a grenade into the cowering huddle.

    I didn’t include this for funsies. The ambush also geolocated far from the Azov factory, and that’s the thing. This isn’t a conventional battle anymore. With tunnels and rubble, Azov can likely roam the city with similar hit and run ambushes. They’re not “holding ground,” but they’re still attriting Russian and seperatist forces.

    Link. The video can be viewed at the link. Scroll down to the 9:24:00 AM post.

    Interestingly, it looks like the Russian troops in that video are traveling in stolen civilian vehicles.

    Addition info regarding training of Ukrainian troops: The U.S. military will soon begin training Ukrainian forces outside the country on the 18 x 155mm howitzers. White House has ordered 40,000 rounds rushed to Ukraine.

  109. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Marina Ovsyannikova, the Russian TV editor who interrupted a news broadcast to protest against the Ukraine war, has written a piece for Haaretz in which she says how footage from the Ukrainian town of Bucha changed her mind on the rightfulness of sanctions against Russia.

    She writes:

    Before the footage emerged of Russian war crimes against Ukrainian citizens in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha, I said sanctions should only be imposed on Putin and his family, and that ordinary Russian citizens should not be made to suffer under them.

    Since Bucha, I see it differently. I believe there have to be tough sanctions. That all Russians bear the collective guilt. Every one of us. Like the Germans after their crimes in World War II, we are going to have to spend decades begging for forgiveness for what we have done.

    Ovsyannikova, who describes herself as “a patriot”, was fined 30,000 roubles ($280) by a court in Moscow in March for the “spontaneous” act of rebellion in which she appeared during the live newscast with a sign saying “No War”.

  110. says

    About damned time: Greg Abbott ends disastrous stunt that cost fruit and vegetable producers an estimated $240 million

    GOP Texas Gov. Greg Abbott raised the white flag on Friday, reversing his stunt that forced commercial vehicles to undergo unnecessary secondary inspections at ports of entry. The failed political calculation, announced April 6 in retaliation for the Biden administration’s just decision to end Stephen Miller’s policy, was the target of intense bipartisan blowback after causing immense traffic delays and financial losses for food producers.

    “A lot of our members are absolutely flabbergasted that this was allowed to happen and that it happened for so long for the sake of border security,” Texas International Produce Association President Dante Galeazzi told The Texas Tribune on Friday. “We feel like we were used as bargaining chips.”

    But this trainwreck of a policy had no basis in border security either. The director of the Texas Department of Public Safety admitted that the redundant checks “did not turn up any human or drug trafficking during the inspections,” the Associated Press reported.

    Of course, you won’t hear one smidge of regret from Abbott. Nah. Instead, he was more preoccupied on how to save face amid this self-created disaster, and he began that process by staging a photo-op with the governor of the Mexican state of Nuevo León. But their agreement provided “little relief for the overall trade logjam,” The Texas Tribune reported at the time.

    Abbott on Friday touted agreements with four other Mexican governors as part of ending his policy forcing redundant inspections. The unnecessary checks were happening after U.S. border officials had already conducted their inspections. “But three of the four Mexican governors said they will simply continue security measures they put in place before Abbott ordered the state inspections,” The Texas Tribune now reports.

    So how much did Abbott’s political stunt cost businesses and consumers in his state (and across the nation)? Fresh Produce Association of the Americas President Lance Jungmeyer told CNN that the losses to vegetable and fruit producers alone were estimated at over $240 million. There are also the losses to the workers transporting this food, and the losses to consumers now facing higher food prices. Democrats need to be shouting about this from the rooftops.

    There’s also Abbott’s conduct itself. I mean, a governor intentionally interrupting international trade as political payback for a federal government’s policy decision seems like an abuse of power. We already know Abbott has sought to usurp federal immigration policy through his unconstitutional Operation Lone Star scheme, which has jailed asylum-seekers without any charges for months on end. The state’s corrupt attorney general, Ken Paxton, also seems to have made a blatant admission on air [He admitted that, “The governor has figured out we can stop trade along the border, slow it down, and it will create pressure on Mexico and some of their governors to work out a deal to help us with border security.” That’s blatantly unconstitutional.]: [video available at the link]

    But appeals for the Justice Department to probe the scheme have so far seemed to go nowhere. Now a shameless Abbott continues to use vulnerable people as props through his despicable stunt sending asylum-seekers to Washington, D.C., by bus.

    “There’s only person that this helped, and that was Greg Abbott,” Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke said last week. “For everyone else, this has been terrible. It’s sending prices through the roof, spiking inflation even higher in the state of Texas.” The former congressman told MSNBC’s Joy Reid that food has “literally been rotting” in stalled trucks. Companies that make electronics and build trucks have also faced problems due to exacerbated supply chain problems.

    “He is tanking the Texas economy,” O’Rourke continued. “The worst part of all of this is we gained nothing from a security or safety perspective. These DPS troopers providing these additional inspections can only check the pressure in the tires and the quality of the engine. They’re literally not allowed to go into the cargo hold. That inspection is already done by Customs and Border Protection. So this was a purely political stunt that has done deep damage not just to the Texas economy, but the national economy.”

    Beta O’Rourke is correct.

  111. blf says

    Here in France, where the second round Presidential election is next Sunday (April 24th), Macron lead over Le Pen stabilises as election scrutiny intensifies:

    […]
    Six days from the runoff that will decide who occupies the Élysée Palace for the next five years, all 16 polls carried out since the first-round vote on 10 April have put the incumbent [President Macron] ahead, by between seven and 12 percentage points [over teh penazis].

    [… P]olls suggest a far more intense second-round scrutiny of [teh le penazis’] economic, welfare, immigration, foreign and environment policies […] may have slowed her momentum.

    Media outlets have highlighted Le Pen’s recent call for a strategic rapprochement with Moscow after its war against Ukraine, her promise to remove existing wind turbines and ban new ones, and her proposal to ban the Islamic headscarf in public places.

    What is it with authoritarians and windmills? Hair furor, e.g., is notoriously more-batshite-than-usual loony about them.

    Her team on Monday played down the headscarf proposal, saying it was not her priority in the fight against extremism, and also hit back at the suspicious timing of embezzlement accusations against her by the EU’s anti-fraud office, OLAF [see SC@89].

    Multiple analyses have argued that one of the cornerstones of the far-right leader’s manifesto — a law on immigration, identity and citizenship that would establish a national preference for French nationals for jobs, welfare, housing and benefits — would violate the principle of equality enshrined in France’s constitution.

    The law — which Le Pen has said she aims to pass by referendum — would exclude non-nationals and dual nationals from many public-sector jobs and restrict access to benefits. It would also cancel automatic citizenship rights for children of non-nationals born in France, and make naturalisation significantly harder.

    That proposed law, at least as described here by the Grauniad, would directly affect me — I’m not a French citizen.

    Le Pen’s draft law “would constitute a radical break with France’s identity”, Dominique Rousseau, an emeritus professor of constitutional law, said on Monday, adding that it would also “breach European law, set France on the same path as Hungary or Poland, and lead to a progressive or indirect Frexit”.

    Economists have been similarly scathing about the far-right leader’s “incoherent” economic plans, including lowering the retirement age to 60, which Jean Tirole, the French winner of the 2014 Nobel prize for economics, warned this weekend would cost €68bn more than estimated and “permanently impoverish the country”.

    Lawyers, NGOs and teachers have also criticised Le Pen’s plans to grant police a presumption of self-defence and the right to file anonymous complaints; radically boost the number of prison sentences; deny healthcare to undocumented migrants and restore neutrality to an education system based on traditional values.

    Analysts say the harsher second-round spotlight is making it harder for Le Pen to maintain the affable image on which she relied to sell a platform that Le Monde has described as “superficially soft — but fundamentally far right”.

    […]

    Polls suggest about 33% of the radical leftist’s [Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s] voters — mostly moderates who backed Mélenchon because he was the only left-wing candidate with a chance of reaching the second round — will back Macron. Several surveys, meanwhile, have suggested that not all voters who backed Zemmour will cast their ballots for Le Pen.

    Barring surprises, the next significant event is presumably the Macron–Le Pen debate on Wednesday. Teh le penazi führer made a complete arse of herself in the debate last election (2017). Hopefully, not only will she also do so this time, but Macron isn’t so arrogant as to be ill-prepared (recalling that one debate where President Obama, normally well-prepared, wasn’t).

    (Apropos of nothing, I was listening (on repeat) to Eivør Pálsdóttir: Tròdlabùndin (video) whilst editing this comment. Don’t understand a word (of the song, I thinnkg the commen’ts got not to maany Tpyos oferings)), but it prevented me from getting overly-angry at those who won’t vote against teh le penazis.)

  112. says

    Brandy Zadrozny of NBC has a new podcast, “Tiffany Dover Is Dead.”

    Welcome to one of the internet’s weirdest obsessions. Back in December of 2020, a nurse named Tiffany Dover fainted on camera while she was talking to reporters after getting her first COVID shot. She got right back up and gave another interview, but it was too late. A conspiracy theory was already racing around the world: Dover had died. She’d been replaced by a body double. And an ever-expanding list of conspirators was in on the cover-up, including the drug companies, the hospital, the media, and maybe even the Pope. Tiffany Dover is alive and well, but she’s stayed silent through it all. And now her story has been hijacked by total strangers trying to make people doubt the safety of the COVID vaccine. In this first season of Truthers, a podcast project about misinformation and conspiracy theories, NBC News reporter Brandy Zadrozny sets out to show what’s true and what isn’t—and how one person’s life became a weapon in a global information war.

    Here are the first two episodes – I think they’re the only ones available – on YT:

    Episode 1:

    The story of Tiffany Dover begins, ironically, in a moment of hope. The COVID vaccine is finally arriving in communities across America. Tiffany, the head nurse in her hospital’s COVID unit, proudly gets the shot, and then faints while taking questions about it. As she falls into the arms of the doctors standing behind her, the local news cameras turn away. By the time she returns to the podium 20 minutes later, a new conspiracy theory has been hatched: Tiffany Dover had died and been replaced by a body double. Brandy Zadrozny sets out to trace how the theory started, and to find the people who are keeping it going—those who truly believe that vaccines kill, and those who are just addicted to the game.

    Episode 2:

    Brandy’s attempts to get in touch with Tiffany Dover are yielding only silence. So she heads to Chattanooga to prove that she’s alive—or at least, not dead. After stakeouts at Tiffany’s house and workplace don’t pan out, Brandy searches everywhere for records: the police department, the Office of Vital Records, grave registries. Nothing. Brandy meets with the local TV reporter who covered the vaccination event, and who got caught up in the conspiracy theory herself, and she questions a hospital official about CHI Memorial’s handling of the incident. Meanwhile, the theory is rolling right along, spreading more lies, and dragging in new victims.

  113. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Ukraine’s presidential chief of staff said today that “the second phase of the war has started,” in reference to Russia’s new assault launched in eastern Ukraine, reports Reuters.

    Chief of staff Andriy Yermak’s comments are in line with remarks from Ukraine’s top security official, who said earlier today that Russia had launched its new offensive in eastern Ukraine.

    “Believe in our army, it is very strong,” wrote Yermak on the Telegram messaging app to assure Ukrainians that Ukraine’s forces could hold off the offensive.

    Ukraine’s general staff also announced today that Russia launched its attack in eastern Ukraine.

    From the Kyiv Independent:

    General Staff reports beginning of Russia’s offensive in the east. Russian forces stepped up offensive and assault operations in several directions in the east of Ukraine.

    Russia continues to form additional military units in occupied Crimea and in the bordering Rostov Oblast.

  114. KG says

    blf@146,
    both Wikipedia and Politico show Macron about 8% ahead in the polls, and with some shift in his favour since the first round voting. They would have to be badly wrong, or the debate or a terrorist attack would have to badly damage Macron (none of these are impossible of course), for Le Pen to win. This morning on BBC Radio 4’s Today there was a long item talking up Le Pen’s chances, and the consequences particularly for the EU if she won. The presenter Nick Robinson (a known Tory, but not known as far right) interviewed a senior person at Le Monde (I didn’t catch her name or title), and was almost wetting himself with excitement at the prospect of a fascist victory. She was quoting a 9-10% lead for Macron, and also saying Le Pen would need a parliamentary majority to enact her programme – here I consider she underestimated the danger of a Le Pen win even without such a majority, as she would set about eliminating all constraints on he power tout suite, but I think – I’d had as much as I could take at this point and switched off – he was going on to say if she won the presidency she could then expect a lot more seats in Parliament. What is it with these political journalists? I guess they think their pontifications would be in even greater demand after a fascist win, but the eagerness to talk up the chances of it is creepy.

  115. says

    Shaun Walker, Guardian:

    Watching Graham Philips “interviewing” captured Brit Aiden Aslin.

    “Just to be absolutely clear you’re saying this absolutely of your own free will with no coercion?” he says, to a man who is literally in handcuffs

    (Similarly sceptical about the “revealing” interviews of Russian soldiers captured in Ukraine)

  116. blf says

    KG@149, “[Someone from Le Monde] was quoting a 9–10% lead for Macron, and also saying Le Pen would need a parliamentary majority to enact her programme — here I consider she underestimated the danger of a Le Pen win even without such a majority, as she would set about eliminating all constraints on he[r] power tout suite“.

    A 9–10% Macron lead fits in my@146 quoted 7–12%.

    On the parliamentary majority mostly-nonsense, the French Presidency is often called “the most powerful elected position in the world”, not due to the number of nukes or whatever, but because of the range of duties / powers and lack of (formal) checks-and-balances. In addition, on the proposed immigration, identity and citizenship law, teh le penazi führer’s proposal is “to [be] pass[ed] by referendum”. I do not know what that involves in France (or even if there is such a mechanism), but it does suggest she intends to bypass Parliament and her lack-of-support there. Whether or not such a maneuver would succeed (if it is even allowed) I have no idea, but if one is sufficiently deluded to allow in Le Pen (by not voting against teh le penazis), I’m not too confident she’d be told to “feck off”.

  117. says

    Jay Rosen:

    A clip you have to watch. I was waiting for it to come online.

    Watch @mashagessen stop the interview and explain to @brianstelter: when everything a source says is a lie, you do not engage with that source because that only spreads their propaganda.

    Link to the video clip at the link.

  118. says

    Ukraine Update: There’s no ‘off ramp’ for Putin as Russia’s weaknesses are laid bare to all

    The Economist:

    This unexpected weakness of Russia in military matters arises from four concurring causes, of which three are inherent in her system, and, if not absolutely incurable, are at best little likely to be cured …

    The Russian armies are often armies on paper only. Not only are their numbers far fewer than are stated in official returns & paid for out of the official purse, but they are notoriously ill-provided w everything necessary to the effective action of a soldier …

    The colonels of regiments & officers of the commissariat have a direct interest in having as large a number on the books and as small a number in the field as possible, inasmuch as they pocket the pay and rations of the difference between these figure …

    [E]very pair of shoes or great coat intercepted from the wretched soldier is a bottle of champagne for the ensignor major; every ammunition wagon which is paid for by Government, but not provided, is a handsome addition to the salary of the captain or the contractor …

    This horrible and fatal system originates in … Russian autocracy … […] What can a despot do who has no instruments that can be trusted? …

    [T]ill a free Press be permitted in Russia & encouraged to unveil and denounce abuses; till the rights & feelings of annexed territories be habitually respected, we do not think that Russia need henceforth be considered as formidable for aggression. She has been unmasked.

    That pretty much sums up Russia’s problems … in 1854. The more things change, the more Russia remains awful in how it treats its neighbors, how it treats its people, and how it manages to maintain its vast empire despite repeatedly shooting itself in the face with rank incompetence and grift. Well, some things change: Champagne has been displaced by vodka. Likely cheaper, quantity over quality.

    Although Russia suffered a number of defeats, Emperor Nicholas II remained convinced that Russia could still win if it fought on…As hope of victory dissipated, he continued the war to preserve the dignity of Russia by averting a “humiliating peace”.”

    Oh boy, things really don’t change, do they? As of now, Vladimir Putin is still projecting confidence. After meeting with Putin face to face, Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer said the Russian dictator “believes he’s winning the war.” But can he really be believing that? It’s kind of like Donald Trump, right? Does he really think he won in 2020, or is he full of shit? We’ve reentered a zone in which logic is severely lacking.

    But at some point, that reality will have to kick in. What if May 9 rolls around and there’s no major Donbas victory to trumpet in Putin’s precious World War II parade? What if all he has to show for his folly is the remaining husk of Mariupol, along with the deaths of tens of thousands of his soldiers, tens of thousands more injured and maimed, the humiliating retreat from Kyiv, the even more devastating loss of the Moskva, and international pariah status? Boy, that FIFA World Cup will sure be fun without Russia’s participation, and yeah, Russian fixation with McDonald’s is weird, but they can’t even indulge in that.

    Among its war rationales, Russia claims it needed to prevent a NATO country on its border. [Map available at the link]

    Prior to the invasion, there was one NATO nation bordering mainland Russia (as opposed to the Kaliningrad outpost on the Baltic Sea): Norway, with a 121-mile strip in the Arctic. Russia also shares a maritime border with the United States. Neither of those are near Russia’s most important region for its ruling elite: that around Moscow and St. Petersburg. [edit: Ugh, Estonia and Latvia border Russia. And there’s St Petersburg not too far from either.]

    Now Finland and Sweden are both en route to becoming NATO members by summer. Finland has a 1,335-kilometer (830-mile) border with Russia, and just as terrifying for Russia, that border is just 400 kilometers (250 miles) from St. Petersburg. In fact, Russia’s Winter War with Finland was fought, in part, to push the Finnish border further away from that key Russian city—something Stalin got at the cessation of hostilities with the annexation of the Karelian Isthmus. Rather than prevent the encirclement of Russia by NATO nations, Russia has actively encouraged it.

    The United States can hardly believe its luck. The combination of a resurgent European commitment to its collective defense in the number of nations joining the alliance, the commitment to increased defense spending, and the movement toward a European Union military force all mean that in the mid- and long-term, the United States can shoulder less of the European burden as it seeks to counter China’s increased aggression out east.

    […] Back to Russia: How does Putin save face and salvage any sort of real victory in Ukraine? How does he avoid the 2022 version of Nicholas’ “humiliating peace?” Pre-invasion, there was a great deal of diplomatic effort expended on giving Putin an “off ramp,” and he could’ve gotten something out of it, like a NATO promise to avoid permanent bases in the Baltic nations and Poland and information sharing during military exercises. Russia could’ve maybe gotten Ukraine to refrain from NATO membership for X number of years. But now? No one is feeling charitable toward a war criminal, and Russia’s battlefield performance isn’t scaring anyone anymore. Ukraine is certainly in no mood to compromise on anything. They’ve been too busy burying their murdered civilians to give Putin any charitable “off ramp.”

    So the war will continue until the Russian government and military establishment finally do something about Putin, and then we hope nuclear weapons remain tightly buttoned up in the chaos that ensues.

  119. says

    Endorse (except the “truly Christian” bit) – Illia Ponomarenko:

    An idea for the Pope: come by yourself and try to bring out all the wounded, all civilians, and children, from the city of pain and destruction.
    That would be a truly Christian act.
    Endless preaching of peace for the sake of god isn’t helping.
    #Mariupol

  120. blf says

    A sign you’ve had perhaps too much to drink is when pouring the last glass of port out of the decanter, you miss the glass and pour about half over yourself — or in the mildly deranged penguin’s case a few moments ago, mostly on the floor. Fortunately, (1) The floor being tile (as is common in S.France (cooler in the hot summer)), this is embarrassing, not damaging, albeit slippery; and (2) About half was saved — made it into the glass — to be enjoyed in a more usual manner.

    No cheese was harmed in this accident. The duck, having now all been ate, didn’t object.

  121. says

    Madison Cawthorn spent thousands in taxpayer money while tweeting about Democrats wasting money

    Republican Rep. Madison Cawthorn has been a busy bee these past few weeks. The blaring drone of his misinformation madness machine (aka his mouth), usually reserved for simply telling vacuous lies, has been cranked up to slander of late. His relentless pathological need to say anything and everything in order to glorify himself has led him to slander his own political party. Whether these moves by Rep.Cawthorn are a desperate attempt at boosting fundraising numbers remains to be seen.

    Recently, the youngest GOP fiscal conservative hypocrite has been under the microscope after his FEC campaign filings revealed his finances to be what economists would call piss poor. […]

    The Examiner broke down some of the expenses accrued during the week of Aug 6-10:
    – $2,950 allotted to his Skylaranna resort stay.
    – $556 for four trips to local grocery stores that week.
    – $491 spent at Papa’s and Beer Mexican Restaurant
    – $382 worth of Chick-fil-A
    – $53 at Joey’s NY Bagel
    – $47 at Bojangles

    […] What was Madison talking about while signing away American taxpayer cash to resorts and fast food and beverage joints?

    Democratic politicians certainly love wasting your hard-earned tax dollars while forcing your businesses to shut down.

    The fact that this story has come through a conservative media outlet like the Examiner is just another example of the civil war going on within the den of thieves called the Republican Party. Cawthorn’s hyper-MAGA-style hucksterism has freaked out the more neocon established sectors of the party. That’s in part because the conservative Christian political party may be having all kinds of non-Christian-style drug-fueled orgies (if Madison is to be believed), and also because Cawthorn and other Republican members of Congress like Lauren Boebert and Paul Gosar represent a new tea party-inspired rat that has climbed aboard the sinking Republican ship. And trapped in a small space, rats will eat anything until there is only one rat left.

    But to put Cawthorn’s expenses into perspective, the Washington Examiner gave an easy-to-understand comparison of Madison’s frivolousness—even in his own craven and corrupt political party:

    About 286 representatives reported spending $0 for legislative planning events in 2021, House disbursement records show. The 149 representatives that did pull from their allowance to pay for legislative planning expenses spent $1,170 on average.

    Only one representative spent more than Cawthorn for legislative planning events in 2021: Republican Rep. Kay Granger of Texas, who reported spending $6,000 for legislative planning that year.

    In a different time in our country’s history, Rep. Cawthorn would have been expelled from the House of Representatives […]

    It seems like Madison thinks of those “dollars” as “HIS” dollars, not “OURS.” It is important to realize here how truly malignant a narcissist like Cawthorn is. As the Smokey Mountain News reported on Monday, a former Cawthorn staff member is filing a labor violation claim against him, saying she was fired after being “denied leave when her uncle passed away and her husband had a heart attack during the same week.”

    Lisa WIggins was a former caseworker and campaign aide to Rep. Madison Cawthorn, whose complaints were legally recorded by “David Wheeler, co-founder of nonpartisan advocacy PAC American Muckrakers.” Among other things, Wiggins explains that Cawthorn has closed virtually all of his district offices, making it more than difficult for constituents to interact with their representative. She also claimed that Cawthorn’s home offices in Henderson, North Carolina, housed more liquor bottles than water bottles.

    “As far as the candidate himself, I mean, he’s just a bad person. He’s a habitual liar and he’s going to say and do anything he can to your face but behind your back he’s completely opposite,” she said. “There’s some good stories I have – a lot of good stories.”

    Please, Miss—may I have another?

  122. says

    Re #141 – Pussy Riot:

    VERY important day for our media outlet Mediazona – we have officially stopped complying with all the fucked up censorship rules set by Russian government.

    @mediazzzona continues its powerful reporting from the war – we need your support to keep running….

    Link to donate at the link.

  123. says

    Sigh. OMG.

    This is a summary of mass shootings in the USA over the weekend:

    * The weekend’s mass shooting in South Carolina: “Police made an arrest following Saturday’s South Carolina mall shooting in which nine were shot and five others sustained injuries while fleeing, police said.”

    * The weekend’s other mass shooting in South Carolina: “Authorities in South Carolina say they are investigating shooting at a club in Hampton County early Sunday that left at least nine people injured.”

    * The weekend’s mass shooting in Pennsylvania: “Two 17-year-olds were killed and at least eight others were shot in a mass shooting early Sunday in Pittsburgh, police said. The shooting happened just after 12:30 a.m. during a party at a short-term Airbnb rental property in the city’s North Side, the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police said in a news release.”

    * The weekend’s mass shooting in Oregon: “A shooting left one teenage boy and three other teens injured in Southeast Portland near the city’s border with Gresham on Sunday night, according to family members of some of the victims.”

    Link

  124. says

    Would you pay for John Eastman for advice? I wouldn’t.

    Republican reps pay for notorious Team Trump lawyer’s counsel

    John Eastman isn’t just trying to overturn the 2020 race, he’s also getting paid by a fundraising committee run by two of the GOP’s most infamous members.

    Given the seriousness of the controversies surrounding John Eastman, it’s tempting to think the Republican lawyer would quietly retreat to the sidelines. That’s clearly not happening.

    As recently as a month ago, Eastman was in Wisconsin, meeting with the Republican Speaker of the Wisconsin Assembly, reportedly urging the legislator to decertify the results of the 2020 election — a step that is not legally possible, even if it were warranted, which in this case it’s not.

    ABC News recently quoted an activist who was on hand for the meeting, saying that Eastman pushed for “either a do over [election] or having a new slate of electors seated that would declare someone else the winner.”

    As ridiculous as this story appears, Eastman didn’t deny its accuracy. On the contrary, he seemed to confirm that the meeting occurred, though he added last week that the details of the conversation must remain “confidential.”

    It was against this backdrop that Politico reported on Friday about two high-profile Republican members of Congress paying for Eastman’s legal counsel.

    Put America First, a joint fundraising committee run by Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), paid at least $25,000 for legal services since September to the Constitutional Counsel Group. That’s the law firm of John Eastman, a onetime legal adviser to former President Donald Trump.

    […] In theory, there’s sometimes a distinction between paying a lawyer and paying the lawyer’s firm, though in this case, Greene’s campaign issued a written statement confirming the arrangement with the highly controversial attorney.

    “Dr. Eastman is one of the leading constitutional attorneys in the country,” the Georgia Republican’s team said. “When we need advice on significant constitutional issues, we have occasionally sought his counsel. The particular issues for which we sought his advice are protected by attorney-client privilege, however.”

    […] What’s striking to me about these revelations, however, is the fact that Eastman’s legal counsel is still sought at all.

    […] it was in the summer of 2020 when Eastman published a bizarre piece that argued that Vice President Kamala Harris was ineligible for national office because her parents immigrated to the United States. Soon after, he began working with Trump — the then-president saw him on Fox News and was impressed — and as part of that work, Eastman filed a brief in December 2020 on Trump’s behalf that asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the 2020 presidential election. (It was filled with factual errors — including an obvious one literally on the first page.)

    Soon after, he authored what’s become known as the Eastman Memo, which effectively outlined how Republicans could execute something resembling a post-election coup.

    This, naturally, made him a witness of great interest to the committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack, but when Eastman sat down with congressional investigators, the Republican lawyer reportedly pleaded the Fifth — by some accounts, nearly 150 times.

    The panel proceeded to subpoena Eastman’s records, most notably the emails from his time working with Trump to overturn the election. The Republican lawyer tried to block that effort, claiming the materials were protected by attorney-client privilege.

    It led the Jan. 6 committee to argue that communications between attorneys and clients are not protected if they’re discussing committing crimes. Three weeks ago, a federal judge agreed, concluding, “Based on the evidence, the Court finds it more likely than not that President Trump corruptly attempted to obstruct the joint session of Congress on January 6, 2021.”

    [Eastman is now] picking up sizable checks from a joint fundraising committee run by two of Congress’ most outlandish members.

  125. blf says

    Arab party suspends Israeli coalition govt[alleged-“government”] membership amid Jerusalem violence:

    Israel’s fractious governing coalition faced a new split on Sunday when Arab-Israeli party Raam “suspended” its membership, after violence around a flashpoint Jerusalem holy site that wounded 170 people over the weekend.

    The government […] had already lost its razor-thin majority this month when a religious Jewish member quit in a dispute over leavened bread distribution at hospitals.

    Since then, days of violence around Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, sacred to both Muslims and Jews, put Raam under pressure to quit too.

    “If the government continues its steps against the people of Jerusalem… we will resign as a bloc,” Raam said in a statement.

    The declaration came hours after more than 20 Palestinians and Israelis were wounded in incidents in and around the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount.

    The latest clashes take the number of wounded since Friday to more than 170, at a tense time when the Jewish Passover festival coincides with the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

    […]

    The Palestinian Red Crescent [Red Cross] said 19 Palestinians were injured, including at least five who were hospitalised. It said some had been wounded with rubber-coated steel bullets.

    [… lots of religious (i.e., bigoted) posturing…]

    Alleged-PM Naftali Bennett is, of course, not helping, “[saying] that the security forces ‘continue to receive a free hand… for any action that will provide security to the citizens of Israel'”.

  126. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    A Kharkiv restaurant affiliated with World Central Kitchen, a charity tied to celebrity chef José Andrés, was been hit by a Russian missile, according to the organization’s CEO Nate Mook, who shared video footage of the devastation on Twitter last Saturday.

    The day before, he said, workers were serving meals to families as they fled. Four workers were wounded in the attack and have been hospitalized. Another person not affiliated with the restaurant was also killed in the strike, he said, adding “just a tremendous amount of carnage left behind for no reason”.

    This is the first warzone WCK has operated from and, Washington Post reports, it was the first time in the organizations 12-year history that one of its relief kitchens had been attacked.

    Mook told the Washington Post that one worker, a woman named Yulia, suffered what he believed were third-degree burns. She remains hospitalized along with three others who are expected to be released in the coming days. All, he said, were in good spirits. Three other women are expected to be released in the coming days

    Mook called the scene “absolutely horrific brutality,” but later shared that workers were already relocating usable supplies and equipment in the hopes to begin serving again by Tuesday. “This is the reality for so many right now in Kharkiv” he said in the tweet showing the damaged restaurant and city street. “Coming to work, cooking for people that are hungry is an immense act of bravery.”

  127. says

    I have a 5 mb png that I need to convert to something smaller than 1 mb without quality loss. I’m working through what I have and thought I would see of anyone can recommend an android app. Snapseed didn’t work.

    Anything less and the protein subdomains of all the enzymes involved in Ribose biosynthetic processes won’t show up. I may just post a low rez image linked to a high rez if I can.

  128. blf says

    Brony@166, Two different thoughts: (1) Can you reduce the image dimensions?
    Or, (2) Perhaps convert to something like TIFF?

    Forget about, e.g., converting to JPEG, that will result in image data loss.
    “Optimizing” the PNG may help, but probably not much if the goal is a 5→1MB(? MiB?) shrink (in my experience).

    No idea about Android apps; I use a Linux workstation.

  129. says

    @blf 169
    I don’t know if I can reduce the dimensions. I had to use the largest canvas size, and all of my hydrogens are implied.
    I can reduce the size of parts of the drawing and move things together, but that will take time. I’m looking for easy things that get me past an image size limit first. I’ll try tiff.

  130. blf says

    Brony, 1MB(? MiB?) is a very small file-size limit for a PNG. (Please note here I’m being careful to distinguish between the file’s size and the dimensions — both are commonly referred to as the “image size”, which is frankly confusing.)

    JPEG with a high “quality” setting might work (my previous comment about JPEG presumed the more-typical not-so-high “quality” setting). Sometimes, if my memory is correct, JPEG “quality” is referred-to as “compression (ratio?)” or somesuch… In any case, however, JPEG deteriorates the more times it is written, unlike PNG or TIFF (or SVG (as I recall)).

    TIFF (and SVG) aren’t always supported / recognised, which is an annoying stoooopidity.

    It’s a minefield. E.g., I assume since the original is PNG (i.e., RGB), this isn’t for printed-on-paper (high-quality-)publication, as RGB is shite for that (in which case you want CMYK (usually), which is awkward to convert-to, and not so good for screen displays — and that’s ignoring the colour correction profile minefield).

  131. says

    Lynna @ #155, LOL. I read this quoted sentence from the Economist several times because I liked it so much (though I would remove the second are):

    This unexpected weakness of Russia in military matters arises from four concurring causes, of which three are inherent in her system, and, if not absolutely incurable, are at best little likely to be cured …

    Of course it would have to be from 1854!

  132. StevoR says

    For those – & I know there’s a couple here – also in Adelaide, Sth Oz here, possibly interesting viewing tonight on SBS c-3 ‘Insight’ at 8.30 pm so -yikes starting in under ten minutes now – on trans athletes :

    https://www.sbs.com.au/news/insight/article/are-transgender-athletes-really-a-threat-to-womens-sport/4d0lseviu

    Via ABC online TV Guide :

    Insight
    Tuesday, 19 Apr
    8:30 PM – 9:30 PM [60 mins]ctc

    Insight talks about striking the balance between transgender athletes and fairness in sport.

  133. StevoR says

    Apologies for the very short notice – should be available afterwards via SBS on Demand.

    Bloody hell time goes quickly..

  134. says

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

    Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director general of the World Health Organization (WHO), has condemned attacks on healthcare workers and provisions in Ukraine. He tweeted:

    WHO unequivocally condemns the continued increase in attacks on health care in Ukraine. They must stop. To date, WHO has verified 147 attacks, including 73 people killed, and 53 injured. War will not be a solution. Once again, I call on Russia to end the war.

  135. says

    Guardian – “‘Hatred, bigotry and untruth’: communal violence grips India”:

    …Over the weekend, almost 140 people were arrested in connection with incidents of communal violence and rioting between Hindus and Muslims in the states of Uttarakhand, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka during celebrations of Hanuman Jayanti.

    It had been a similar story in previous weeks….

    The surge in communal violence has sparked concern among many in India who fear the country is becoming more polarised than ever along Hindu-Muslim lines. For many, the blame has been directed at the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata party, led by the prime minister, Narendra Modi. The BJP is accused of overseeing a religiously divisive agenda and emboldening hostility towards India’s 200m Muslims, relegating them to second-class citizens. Meanwhile, Hindu vigilante groups such as VHP have been allowed to operate freely and have increasingly begun to take the law into their own hands.

    “There is a strong case to be made that we are passing through the most difficult phase for Muslims in independent India,” said Asim Ali, a political researcher at the Centre for Policy Research thinktank, writing in the Telegraph, an Indian newspaper. “Being in the crosshairs of the dominant party of the country is a bad place to be for a community, and the Hindu nationalist stance towards Muslims seems to be becoming more hostile with time.”

    The wave of violence in recent weeks, added Ali, was evidence that “this anti-Muslim mobilisation … has also acquired a momentum of its own”.

    Over the weekend, the leaders of 13 opposition parties condemned Modi for staying silent over the surge in communal violence. “We are shocked at the silence of the prime minister, who has failed to speak against the words and actions of those who propagate bigotry and those who, by their words and actions, incite and provoke our society,” they said in a statement.

    Activists and academics have pointed to increasingly violent rhetoric against Muslims seeping into India’s mainstream, stirring up communal tensions to dangerous levels. In December 2021, a religious assembly of Hindu holy figures was held in Haridwar, Uttarakhand, during which the speakers called for a genocide against Muslims. Last week, police arrested Bajrang Muni Das, a Hindu priest accused of threatening mass rape against Muslim women during a speech two weeks ago in presence of officers.

    The attacks also come after the passing of state legislation accused of being discriminatory towards Muslims, including a hijab ban in schools in BJP-ruled Karnataka.

    Writing in the Indian Express over the weekend, the leader of the opposition Congress party, Sonia Gandhi, said: “an apocalypse of hatred, bigotry, intolerance and untruth is engulfing our country today … We as a people cannot stand by and watch as peace and pluralism are sacrificed at the altar of bogus nationalism.”

  136. says

    Guardian – “From prorogation to partygate: 1,000 days of Boris Johnson as PM”:

    Tuesday marks 1,000 days since Boris Johnson first began working in Downing Street on 24 July 2019. When he came to power, many warned that UK was in for a bumpy ride. He promised to defy the “the doubters, the doomsters and the gloomsters”, but since then his premiership has exceeded even the gloomiest, most doom-laden fears of his doubters and detractors.

    Here is a list of some of the most notable scandals, U-turns and examples of law breaking.

    August 2019
    Unlawfully proroguing parliament

    The supreme court unanimously ruled that Johnson’s decision to prorogue parliament at the height of Brexit crisis was unlawful. In a devastating judgment, Lady Hale, the president of the court, said the move was “unlawful, void and of no effect”.

    3 September 2019
    Purge of senior Tory MPs

    Johnson removed the whip from 21 senior Tories who defied the government by voting to delay Brexit to prevent the UK leaving the EU without a deal. The prime minister’s chief adviser, Dominic Cummings, who was believed to be behind the move, was quoted as saying: “When are you fucking MPs going to realise we are leaving on 31 October? We are going to purge you.”

    31 January 2020
    Leaving Brexit unresolved

    As promised in the election the UK formally left the EU on 31 January. But Brexit is far from done. Unresolved rows rumble on over UK imports, fishing, and the Northern Ireland border.

    March 2020
    Fatally slow response to Covid

    Medical experts believe that 20,000 deaths from Covid could have avoided if Johnson had not delayed the decision to introduce the first lockdown. The prime minister skipped the first five Cobra meetings about the virus and boasted of shaking hands with medical staff on his first hospital visit to a Covid ward. [And then caught COVID and was hospitalized!]

    May 2020
    Backs Cummings over lockdown breaches

    The Guardian and the Daily Mirror reveal that Dominic Cummings breached lockdown rules by travelling to Durham and Barnard Castle with his family after they contracted Covid. The revelations prompt widespread anger, including among dozens of Tory MPs, and the first accusation that the government is operating by different rules from the rest of the country.

    16 June 2020
    U-turn on school meal vouchers

    Johnson’s government had refused to provide £15 food vouchers for some of England’s poorest families, but was forced into a humiliating U-turn after a campaign launched by the footballer Marcus Rashford.

    Summer 2020
    Test-and-trace failures

    Johnson promised a “world beating” test-and-trace system for tackling coronavirus in England. Instead the £12bn scheme was dogged by delays, IT problems, expensive contracts and proved only to have a “marginal impact”.

    8 September 2020
    Attempting to break international law

    The Northern Ireland secretary, Brandon Lewis, admits that plans to reinterpret the Brexit arrangements for Northern Ireland will break international law “in a very specific and limited way”. The move was eventually abandoned after the resignation of the UK’s top legal civil servant, Jonathan Jones, and a mutiny in the House of Lords by a gang of former Tory party leaders.

    November 2021
    Paterson lobbying scandal

    Johnson’s botched attempt to shield his friend and former minister, Owen Paterson, from suspension for lobbying rule breaches prompts 100 Tory MPs to rebel. The prime minister reversed the plan 24 hours later forcing Paterson to resign and engulfing the government in accusation of sleaze. The Liberal Democrats win the resulting byelection in Paterson’s previously safe Tory seat of North Shropshire.

    12 April 2022
    Johnson and Sunak fined over Partygate

    Johnson becomes the first sitting prime minister to be criminally sanctioned when he is given a £50 fixed penalty notice for breaking his own Covid laws by attending a party for his birthday in No 10. The chancellor and Carrie Johnson are also fined.

  137. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    ‘Non-stop bombardment of civilian districts’ in Kharkiv, city mayor says

    Kharkiv mayor, Igor Terekhov, said Russian forces have been engaged in a “non-stop bombardment of civilian districts” in Ukraine’s second city since Sunday.

    In an interview with CNN, Terekhov said:

    In the last few days, [Russian shelling] has been in the centre and it’s targeting peaceful civilians.

    The enemy is targeting civilians, many people are wounded and some unfortunately dead. In the past day and a half, we’ve had 15 people killed and more than 50 wounded. Those 15 killed was just in one attack.

    Moldova’s president called for people and opposition politicians to refrain from using Russian symbols during 9 May celebrations to mark victory in the second world war because Russian troops were killing civilians in Ukraine.

    “It is impossible to combine in the same symbol the memory of lives given for peace and the current inhumane war,” Reuters reports president Maia Sandu told a briefing.

    Last week, Moldova’s parliament voted to outlaw the ribbon of St George in response to Russia’s latest invasion of Ukraine. Under the new law, anyone who makes, wears or displays the striped ribbon faces a fine of at least 900 lei (£38/$49) or 69 hours of community service.

    Sandu urged her opponents not to divide society for the sake of their political interests.

    “Moldova defends its neutrality and peace in society. That is why the symbols of the war waged against Ukraine are prohibited in the Republic of Moldova. I urge politicians to refrain from any provocation,” Sandu said.

    Sadu’s pro-Russian predecessor Igor Dodon has urged people to “go on the Victory March with a St George ribbons” despite the possible fines.

  138. says

    Lawfare – “The Far-Right Idealized the Russian Military. Ukraine Exposes All the Ways They’re Wrong.”:

    Gender narratives feature heavily in the rhetoric, messaging and propaganda of the far right. The online ecosystems frequented by this movement are rife with rhetoric and visual content that is rooted in misogyny and calls for the subjugation of, and violence against, women and girls. This sexist rhetoric intersects with racist, anti-Semitic, anti-LGBTQ+, and anti-democratic narratives to reinforce the violent worldview of far-right extremism and white supremacy.

    One popular falsehood among the far right has been that security is defined by masculinity, and that Russia is the apex of this ideal. This idea has seeped from the fringe to permeate the mainstream, as demonstrated by Sen. Ted Cruz last year when he equated diversity to a U.S. military filled with “pansies.” And on April 5, Rep. Matt Gaetz admonished the U.S. military for falling behind in capabilities and strategy because of “mandatory pronoun training” and other “woke-ism” causes. The ongoing conflict in Ukraine is a strong refutation of these baseless beliefs.

    For years now, Russian President Vladimir Putin has learned how to court the far right and tap into their shared disdain of democracy and liberalism. To that end, Russia has made common cause with right-wing political movements in the United States and Europe, as well as through “indirect” support to Western extremist groups. Putin is now in search of fault lines to challenge the cohesion and resolve of the international response to his actions in Ukraine.

    To understand the reactions to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine among the online far right, analysts must understand the gender dynamics of these groups. Social and cultural issues provide an ideal focal point for these communities. Russia has been exploiting issues of gender, sexuality and race in the West for years. Putin has mastered how to play into the far right’s lionizing of traditional values and hypermacho authoritarian politics, including the use of sexist and anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric.

    Take, for example, a common talking point among the far right and white supremacists that the United States and other Western militaries are being destroyed by diversity. Milestones in support of gender integration, diversity, and inclusion in the armed forces are met with vitriol and assertions that Western militaries cannot possibly include women, minorities, and LGBTQ+ soldiers without reducing military effectiveness and fighting power.

    The far right is fixated on the idea of “natural” gender roles, with men cast as the protectors of white identity in their countries and their women as fragile victims needing to be defended. Their worldview dehumanizes and threatens with violence non-white populations, feminists, and the LGBTQ+ community, whom they consider agitators and subversives not entitled to full rights of citizenship. The far right fights to keep gender equality, LGBTQ+ rights, racial equality, and other human rights causes out of national institutions under the banner of fighting “wokeness,” and their approach to the military is no different. The inclusion of people with diverse gender identities and sexual orientations in the armed forces, as well as efforts to combat historical racial inequality, has been met with expected derision by the far right, and even by some right-wing politicians. “Anti-woke” military discourse on the far right claimed that they would be proven right should the “ranks of wokeness” meet Russia on the battlefield. Events in Ukraine expose how hollow this thinking always was.

    The reasons for Ukraine’s military successes to date are myriad and will be studied by military scholars for years to come. Some aspects, though, directly refute the far-right narrative and are worth highlighting: Women make up an estimated 15 percent of Ukraine’s armed forces and contribute heavily to noncombat support roles. Ukrainian LGBTQ+ soldiers are participating in combat operations and fighting for their country and their lives. And, in reforming its military, Ukraine did not look eastward to Russia but instead west toward meeting NATO military standards, which has included embracing NATO’s common values, rules, and processes, as well as promoting civilian control of the armed forces. This outlook has paid dividends for Ukraine, in contrast to Russia’s mounting death toll, low morale, and inability to control criminality and looting. Accusations of Russian war crimes abound, exposing the vacuous, and often gendered, Russian tropes that assert that their military defends the defenseless.

    In Ukraine, the world can see on display the weakness of Russia’s antiquated and ineffective concept of power. Security experts should capitalize on the moment to dismiss once and for all the far-right fiction that masculinity wins wars, that security is not inclusive and that Russia represents any semblance of enviable military standards in the 21st century.

  139. says

    Rachel Maddow last night:

    “‘Eliminationist Rhetoric,’ A Fascist Tool, Gains Alarming Foothold In Trump-Era Politics”:

    Rachel Maddow looks at how false accusations of pedophilia have become a common tactic by Vladimir Putin to eliminate politically problematic opponents, with such “eliminationist rhetoric” being a hallmark of fascists that has become a significant strand of U.S. politics in the Trump era.

    (Contains that “beast” nonsense, but I’ll set that aside.)

    “Republican Smear Operation Exposed In New Report”:

    Jane Mayer, chief Washington correspondent for the New Yorker, talks with Rachel Maddow about her reporting on The American Accountability Foundation, a Republican group dedicated to using smear tactics and “phony research” to block every nominee President Biden puts forward for any position.

  140. tomh says

    Federal judge strikes down mask mandate for travelers
    MEGAN BUTLER / April 18, 2022

    TAMPA, Fla. (CN) — A federal judge in Florida vacated the government’s traveler mask mandate on Monday, opening the door for millions of air passengers to fly without face coverings for the first time in the pandemic era.

    U.S. District Judge Kathryn Mizelle, a Donald Trump appointee, concluded that the mask mandate exceeds the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s statutory authority under the Public Health Services Act because it isn’t directly related to sanitation. Under the court’s statutory interpretation, the CDC’s sanitation measures refer to the action of cleaning something, not keeping something clean.
    […]

    Some opponents of Monday’s ruling are questioning Judge Mizelle’s acumen based on the American Bar Association Standing Committee rating her as “not qualified” when she was nominated in 2020 due to her lack of experience practicing law.

  141. rorschach says

    @188,

    “A federal judge in Florida vacated the government’s traveler mask mandate on Monday, opening the door for millions of air passengers to fly without face coverings for the first time in the pandemic era.”

    Twitter was today full of people caught up mid-air when pilots or flight attendants of eg Delta announced that the mask mandate had been cancelled, and that masks may be taken off right now. A lot of vulnerable people trapped at 35000 feet.

  142. says

    SC @184, both of those segments of the Rachel Maddow Show were really well done. The research, and Rachel’s explanations concerning the import of her conclusions … both were impeccable. Thanks for posting the links.

    I have noticed that Russian propaganda is focusing less on supposed Nazis now, and that it is shifting to claiming that anyone who opposes Russia/Putin is a pedophile and a satanist. Sheesh. It’s as if the rightwingers have gone QAnon crazy on a worldwide basis.

  143. says

    Ukraine update: What we learned from the first day of Russia’s big Donbas offensive

    Season two of Putin’s war in Ukraine is now underway, and while it’s early, we’re starting to get an idea of Russia’s designs. Say goodbye to a push toward Dnipro (the notion was idiotic), and so long pipe-dream pincer—a 200-kilometre attempted encirclement of Ukrainian defensive positions on the eastern Donbas front—that was stupid too. What we’re getting instead is the same shit from the last eight years: direct attacks on the entire Donbas front lines. It looks like this: [map available at the link]

    Not only is the entire front under pressure, but the Izyum salient is pushing toward Slovyansk (pre-war population 111,000), and Kramtorsk (population 157,000). The pincer maneuver would’ve aimed to cut off Ukraine resupplies to this entire region, starving a third of Ukraine’s army into submission. Perhaps after Mariupol, which still hasn’t fallen, Russia decided that would take too long—parades must be marched on May 9 after all. So Russian troops are gunning for the region’s two major population and cultural centers, cutting them off from supplies, and maybe attempting a Mariupol-style operation to take them.

    For once, a Russian move doesn’t appear utterly idiotic. […] Russia can’t maintain long supply lines. This minimizes that deficiency while also making them less vulnerable to Ukrainian artillery hitting them hard from the west. And broad pressure across a wide line means they can keep doing their small-scale advances without having to figure out how to mass forces for a major singular push.[…]

    The amount of territory exchanging hands was minimal, but of course it’s early. [maps available at the link]

    […] Russia began the war with 120-130 battalion tactical groups (BTG), which have a paper strength of 800-1,000 troops, 1,200 tanks, and around 5,000 infantry fighting vehicles. We’ve discussed at length how most BTGs showed up understrength, and how few soldiers in a BTG are actually combat troops (230, to be exact). The problem has only gotten worse as the war has attritted unit strength (dead, wounded, and destroyed equipment), and soldiers desert and outright refuse to redeploy after fighting in Kyiv, Kharkiv, and Sumy regions. Russia has lost at least 519 tanks and 838 armored fighting vehicles. Those are just publicly available, visually confirmed losses, which means the real number is even higher. So unbelievably, Russia has lost around half the tanks they likely started with, and those were their best, most modern tanks. The stuff coming in from reserve piles is 1960s crap.

    The Pentagon thinks another 22 BTGs are currently being rebuilt/retrofitted outside of Ukraine, and another 12 around Mariupol (though the open source intelligence community has only been able to identify around six).

    You look at those numbers, and wow, that sounds like a lot! Yet 22 are still hypothetical units, not engaged. Ukraine claims many of these units are refusing orders to deploy, and they’ve released intercepted calls supporting that assessment. Whether it’s six or 12 around Mariupol, they’re still stuck there trying to deal with only 1-2,000 remaining Ukrainian defenders, in a massive city-sized factory literally designed to withstand a nuclear attack (no joke). [good drone videos are available at the link]

    So for now, as the big offensive gets underway, we’re talking 76 BTGs. At full strength, that would be 760 tanks, 3,000 infantry fighting vehicles, and 17,480 soldiers. Of course, we’ve seen Russia put all manner of unqualified, untrained soldiers in vehicles, so let’s assume double that were thrown into the wood chipper: that’s still only about 35,000 troops trying to take and hold an area that is hundreds of square miles, with deeply entrenched and protected defensive positions. […]

    Of course, we know know that Russia isn’t fielding full-strength BTGs. They never did—the entire concept of the BTG was designed by grifters to make it easier to pilfer material and money—a regiment kept one BTG ready for missions like Syria and stole from the other two for villas, dachas, and vodka. The Russian army was ill equipped to send 120-130 of its total 170 at the start of the war. It’s even worse now. Take this video, for example: [video available at the link]

    It’s not a gigantic column. It’s a BTG. Except that instead of 40 IFVs, I counted 30 or so. No tanks when it’s supposed to have 10. And as you can see, there are lots of supply trucks, so no matter how many soldiers they force into combat roles from the supply teams, they can’t get them all on the front lines. They need to ferry fuel, ammo, and supplies. They need their mechanics and other maintenance people alive to fix broken gear. Too bad we can’t count soldiers, but already, this BTG is below combat strength (it has lost over a third of its vehicles even before it reaches the front). Not that Russia cares, since it’s just throwing them into frontal assaults without thought of tactics.

    With enough artillery, air support, and frontal assaults, Russia might finally punch through some of the prepared lines. Seems kind of inevitable, actually. Then what? They fight their way to Sloviansk and Kramatorsk and once again find what they’ve found in every city of any significant size: Russia doesn’t know how to do urban warfare, and a small, outgunned defensive garrison can tie up Russian forces nearly indefinitely.

    The two cities will be reduced to rubble, that we can assume. But that doesn’t end resistance. In fact, it gives defenders more places to hide and ambush the enemy. And these two towns are not Mariupol, isolated, deep in the country’s southeast corner, far from friendly lines. There’s an entire Ukrainian army breathing down their necks just on the western edge of the Donbas region. By most estimates, one-third of the Ukrainian army is in Donbas, which means that most of the rest is right outside the door, preparing to engage.

    Meanwhile, Ukraine is on the offensive around Kharkiv, threatening Russia’s supply lines. It looks like this: [map available at the link]

    Two major rail lines from Russia converge at Kupiansk, as well as another from the Russian-occupied east. Take that out, and that entire Izyum salient is in trouble. Of course Russia is attempting to connect that salient with Russian-held territory in the east, but even if they connect, losing direct access from Russia will dramatically reduce Russia’s abilities to resupply that entire area, and bottleneck their supply lines into fewer roads—both slowing down the pace of supply (traffic jams), and making those convoys easier ambush targets.

    My guess is that Kupiansk is too valuable to lose, and Russia will have to move troops north to protect those supply lines. That’s called “fixing the enemy in place.” Every BTG babysitting their supply lines north of the Izyum salient is one less BTG on the offensive down south, just like every BTG trying to dislodge Ukraine from the Azovstal steel plant is one less BTG pushing north.

    Please note that I write these late at night before going to bed, Pacific time. Lots can change by the time the morning crew publishes this live. We are definitely in “fog of war” territory here, so I’m using the best available information at the time I write this. On Tuesday, I’ll be digging for details on the specific attacks: Is Russia attacking with larger force, or are they still limited to one or two BTGs per attack? Also, word is that Ukrainian artillery reinforcements are making it to the east in time to engage. Will we see some of the results? If true, that’ll make things particularly unpleasant for Russians on the Izyum salient. I’ll be paying close attention to Kharkiv and whether Ukraine pushes that attack, and whether Russia rushes defensive troops to protect their lines.

    As for Kherson down south, Russia is laying down a wall of artillery, preventing Ukrainian forces—lacking sufficient armor and artillery of their own—from traversing that wide-open exposed terrain. I suspect Ukraine will prioritize the eastern Donbas front over Kherson’s liberation for the time being. Still, Ukraine continues to reportedly roll back Russian forces from the Kryvyi Rih approach. The little white circles (look like dots) I circled below are all settlements liberated in the last few days. [map available at the link]

    One last thought: Russia must really be freaked out about arriving Western arms shipments and Putin’s May 9 deadline, because this attack is coming at a really shitty time: spring rainy season. While the forecast is showing less rain than it did yesterday, it’s still wet season, preventing the ground from drying out.

    Russia’s heavy equipment will need to either stay on roads, where they are easy to ambush and target with artillery, or they risk a losing confrontation with General Mud. Not that any of the good guys are complaining, however. Ukraine could use all the help it can get.

  144. says

    Sigh. More of the same:

    In Nebraska, Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts was asked yesterday about Charles Herbster, the frontrunner in the GOP race to replace him, who’s been accused of groping eight women. Ricketts, who is term-limited and can’t run again, told reporters, “I think he needs to apologize to the women, then I think he should seek help, then he should step out of the race.”

    Donald Trump’s political operation announced this morning that the former president will hold a rally in Nebraska on April 29. Despite the seriousness of the accusations against him, Herbster will apparently be a special guest speaker at Trump’s event.

    Link

    In other Nebraska news, Republicans are holding an anti-Earth Day summit in Nebraska.

    [Republicans will] gather in Lincoln, Nebraska, on Earth Day to hold an anti-environmentalist summit. The “Stop 30×30 Summit” is meant to address an ambitious plan proposed by the Biden administration to protect at least 30% of the U.S.’s land and 30% of its oceans by 2030. Instead of looking toward conservation and environmental justice for the sake of combatting climate change, the Republicans featured in this summit will mostly pitch bringing back colonialism by way of land grabs. According to Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts, the 30×30 plan constitutes government overreach and could prevent states like his from making the most out of the land it has a history of destroying. […]

    Ricketts eventually signed an executive order in an attempt to prevent the 30×30 plan from taking effect in Nebraska even though the Biden administration admitted the program would be voluntary, albeit with incentives offered for adopting it. In an interview with Nebraska Public Media, Nebraska Farm Bureau President Mark McHargue, comically explained that Ricketts was on to something since the government didn’t check with Nebraskans who use the lands its looking to protect. […] You know who really has great insight on America’s lands? The Indigenous community essential to the 30×30 plan.

    Joining Ricketts for this anti-Earth Day summit as keynote speakers are former Interior Department Secretary David Bernhardt, who literally spent years lobbying for the oil and gas industry before joining the Trump administration, and Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert, a Republican with a 0% rating from the League of Conservation Voters who introduced a bill to prevent 30×30 from taking effect. Boebert, who recently flexed her political might to rally against adding gray wolves to the endangered species list, is pretty much the exact person I think of if I want to make sure I’m doing right by the environment. She’s like a bizarro barometer: If I’m doing something she hates, chances are it’s for the benefit of the planet. [snipped details of other attendees]

    This $75-per-ticket event ($125 per person if you didn’t buy before April 7) is a fairly clear attempt to continue lining the pockets of its organizers, the American Stewards of Liberty. […] the group “is largely funded by taxpayer dollars, raking in over $700k from county governments in recent years. It also received a $54,000 forgivable loan through the Paycheck Protection Program in 2020. The nonprofit uses the vast majority of its money—94%—to pay hefty salaries to its husband-wife executive duo, Margaret and Dan Byfield.” The organization has consistently pushed back against conservation efforts, raking in donations in the process. In Kern County, Utah, alone, the group received $483,000 from officials who wanted their expertise in blocking the 30×30 plan. It’s anyone’s guess just how much the American Stewards of Liberty will receive for this event, where sponsorship registration ranges from $1,000 to $10,000.

    Link

  145. says

    Ummm, arrogant much?

    I can do whatever I want, and nobody can stop me, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) told Fox News Host Sean Hannity on Monday evening.

    Abbott told the host that he would restart his policy of blocking commercial traffic at the border if Mexico allowed “illegal immigration to continue to flow into the state of Texas.”

    The Texas governor ended his policy of adding redundant, state-level “safety inspections” — which trucks entering from Mexico had to clear after federal border checks — last week, boldly declaring victory after several Mexican state governors announced that they had struck a deal with him to do what they were already doing: patrol their side of the border.

    The policy wreaked havoc in Mexico and the U.S., leading to massive delays at the border and causing huge amounts of imported fruit to rot before it could make it to supermarkets across the country.

    Abbott admitted to Hannity on Monday that the havoc was the point, as part of a broader pressure campaign he was running.

    “What [Mexican President Andrés Manuel] López-Obrador needs to understand is that if Mexico, and the states of Mexico, if they continue to allow illegal immigration to continue to flow into the state of Texas, I have the capability at any time to turn those inspections back on,” Abbott said.

    He added that the inspections will “backlog those trucks that are trying to come across the border. That will cause havoc in Mexico.”

    […] Abbott left the material and financial cost unspoken, which includes a week of delayed and undelivered perishable items shipped from Mexico.

    Link

  146. rorschach says

    @Lynna 196,
    “Ummm, arrogant much?”

    Hello old friend, I dont think Abbott’s problem is that he is arrogant. He is a dumb fascist beholden to Taliban-style theocrats dumber than a loaf of bread who have crept into all areas of public life there over the decades, and now the Overton window is at a point where this kind of shit is close to getting a pass with voters and media as being just a normal position to be holding.

  147. says

    Wonkette:

    The more evidence that comes out about January 6, 2021, the more we learn that the call was coming from inside the House. Specifically, Republican members of Congress, who appear to have been in communication with the violent militia members seeking to overthrow the government.

    The latest data set is a 337-page cache placed on the federal docket by Ed Vallejo, one of the 11 Oath Keepers charged with seditious conspiracy for his part in the attack on the Capitol. Vallejo is hoping to sweet talk US District Judge Amit Mehta into releasing him from jail pending trial. It’s not clear whether this gambit will work — Vallejo is, after all, the guy who babysat the weapons cache in Arlington and was preparing to drive it in to DC if shit got heavy. But he’s probably not endeared himself to his fellow Oafs by putting all this stuff out there on record.

    The biggest detail from this document dump, first flagged by Politico, is the reference to Rep. Ronny “Dr. Feelgood” Jackson.

    “Ronnie Jackson (TX) office inside Capitol – he needs OK help. Anyone inside?” someone texted to the Oath Keepers group chat at 3 p.m. on January 6 as the insurrectionists were inside the Capitol and Congress was preparing to evacuate the chamber.

    “Dr. Ronnie Jackson – on the move. Needs protection. If anyone inside cover him. He has critical data to protect,” reads another message at 3:08.

    “Help with what,” responded head Oaf Stewart Rhodes. “Give him my cell.”

    We have questions.

    Like how did the Oath Keepers know that the Republican congressman, who had actively promoted lies about a stolen election, was “on the move” and in need of “protection”? And what “critical data” was in his possession which the Oath Keepers both knew about and felt the need to protect? Also, what the fuck was a sitting member of Congress doing coordinating with armed domestic terrorists?

    For his part, Jackson angrily insists that he had nothing to do with these people.

    “Like many public figures, Rep. Jackson is frequently talked about by people he does not know. He does not know, nor has he ever spoke to the people in question,” his spox told Politico, before seamlessly pivoting to blame Democrats for trying to smear him.

    “The liberal media’s attempt to drag him into a ‘story’ and make him part of something he has nothing to do with is yet another example of why millions of Americans are exhausted by the relentless, biased coverage of January 6th and its continued use as a political tool.”

    Which is a weird way to say that the Oath Keepers seemed to know his whereabouts on January 6, and now one of them is trying to use that information as a Get Out of Jail Free card.

    The rest of the texts are a mixed bag for the Oafs. They spend quite a lot of time talking about weapons. What can they bring in to DC? What are they storing in Arlington? What are they going to do to Antifa when they meet them? What is the best defense for tear gas? What can they carry that looks like something innocuous but can be used as a weapon? (Answer: a lead pipe with a flag attached.)

    On the other hand, attorney Jonathon Moseley, who was paid by Sidney Powell’s “charity” to represent some January 6 defendants and was recently disbarred, has claimed that the Oafs went to the Capitol not to overthrow the government but rather “to provide security at a demonstration that turned into chaos.” […]

    They were also planning to “guard” Mike Flynn that day, and made tentative arrangements to provide a personal security detail (PSD) for Ali Alexander and various rally organizers from Women for Trump and Latinos for Trump.

    As Rhodes texted the group on December 31:

    [snipped details of many request for security, per Rhodes] We may also end up assisting the PSD for Alex Jones again. Which was a great feather in our cap. We worked superbly will with both Alex Jones security team (who are awesome guys) and with Praetorian Guard (also awesome veterans – led by SF and SEAL veterans). They LOVE working with us because of our legit “quiet professional” demeanor and skillsets.

    […] their playing bodyguard on January 5 [does not] explain what they were doing marching into the Capitol on January 6 in stack formation with the avowed goal of waging “unconventional warfare” and with an arsenal of weapons stashed just across the river. But you can bet their defense is going to spin it like these goons were a band of volunteer crossing guards just trying to keep the peace.

    Lotsa fuckin’ luck.

    Link

  148. says

    rorschach @197, good point. I did not give stupidity enough credit. The vile stew of arrogance, stupidity and fascism in politicians like Abbott is becoming more common. Not “normal” exactly, but certainly more common, and therefore normalized.

    In other news, this is interesting:

    A federal judge will allow a group of Georgia voters to move forward with a case to disqualify Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene from running for a second term, arguing that her role in the Jan. 6 insurrection disallows her from appearing on the ballot.

    The ruling reads that Greene “voluntarily aided and engaged in an insurrection to obstruct the peaceful transfer of presidential power, disqualifying her from serving as a Member of Congress under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment …”

    Judge Amy Totenberg, a President Barack Obama appointee, also denied Greene’s request for an injunction and temporary restraining order […]

    “After a thorough analysis of the evidentiary and legal issues presented in this complex matter involving unsettled questions of law, the Court finds Plaintiff has not carried her heavy burden to establish a strong likelihood of success on the legal merits in this case,” Totenberg wrote in the 73-page ruling.

    The challenge was filed with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger by five voters represented by Free Speech for People, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization founded in 2010 offering legal assistance with a focus on election and constitutional issues.

    In a news release, one of the voters named in the challenge, Michael Rasbury, said: “Everything I’ve read says Rep. Greene was involved in the Jan. 6th insurrection that was trying to override everything I believe in — Our Constitution, how we run elections, and how our government is set up … She should not be on the ballot.”

    In an email to the Times, Ron Fein, the legal director of Free Speech for People, applauded Totenberg’s latest ruling.

    “Judge Totenberg’s well-reasoned opinion explains why the Georgia voters who filed this challenge against Greene have the right to have their challenge heard, and why none of Greene’s objections to the Georgia state challenge have any merit,” Fein wrote. “At the hearing on Friday, we look forward to questioning Greene under oath about her involvement in the events of Jan. 6, and to demonstrating how her facilitation of the insurrection disqualifies her from public office under the United States Constitution.”

    Greene, 47, an openly unapologetic Trump bootlicker [now there’s an apt description], has denied being involved in the Jan. 6 insurrection on the Capitol […]

    she told NBC News: “The American people are fed up with this over-dramatization of a riot that happened here at the Capitol one time … They are sick and tired of Jan. 6 — it’s over, OK?”

    On Jan. 5, 2021, Greene appeared on Newsmax for a Facebook Watch interview where she proclaimed that the next day when Congress was meeting in a joint session to formally count the votes of the Electoral College, when asked what she or her party would do, she said, “This is our 1776 moment,” a reference to the American Revolution in 1776 that has become synonymous with far-right extremists.

    Greene was famously relieved of her House duties on both the Education and Budget Committees last year after spewing violent, racist, and Islamophobic vitriol on social media.

    […] Let’s not forget the relief we all felt when Greene was banned from Twitter in January after violating the company’s COVID-19 misinformation policies.

    Greene’s challenge will resume Friday with a hearing where the congresswoman will be questioned under oath, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports, but the final ruling on whether or not Greene will appear on the ballot will come from Raffensperger.

    Link

  149. says

    From the Guardian article about #198:

    In a statement to the Guardian, a spokesperson said [Rep. Ronnie] Jackson “is frequently talked about by people he does not know. He does not know nor has he ever spoken to the people in question”.

    Asked if Jackson was never in contact with the Oath Keepers, the spokesperson did not answer.

    Still can’t believe that guy was Obama’s WH physician.

  150. says

    I’ve seen some commentary about the war and Russian actions on Easter, talking about this past weekend. But as I understand it – correct me if this is wrong – Orthodox Easter is this coming Sunday, April 24th.

    Remember this?

    The Trump administration denied that the call was about the sanctions. Trump spokesperson Sean Spicer told reporters that call had grown out of an exchange of holiday greetings on December 25 — a questionable story given that this year’s Russian Orthodox Christmas was actually on January 9, 2017.

  151. lumipuna says

    Re: parody video linked at 168

    Luukkainen replies to his own tweet to link the original youtube video (from which the new parody is edited, with somewhat altered English subtitles). I can’t give more details, but the original sketch seems to be from about 1980s. I’m too young to even remember Spede Show, though I recall Spede was remembered as a major cultural icon at the time of his death.

    The original topic of parody is Finnish leaders during Cold War being afraid to criticize the USSR too strongly. The two Finnish politicians are visiting Moscow to complain feebly about Soviet airplanes skimming Finnish airspace (this type of intimidation has been continued regularly by post-Soviet Russia). In the new edition the visitors are posed as Russian leaders in Helsinki, protesting feebly about Finland’s impending Nato application.

  152. says

    lumipuna @ #202:

    The original topic of parody is Finnish leaders during Cold War being afraid to criticize the USSR too strongly. The two Finnish politicians are visiting Moscow to complain feebly about Soviet airplanes skimming Finnish airspace (this type of intimidation has been continued regularly by post-Soviet Russia).

    Ooh, that’s interesting context! Thanks!

  153. says

    “91-year-old Holocaust Survivor Perishes in Mariupol Basement”:

    As she lay dying in a Mariupol basement, freezing and pleading for water, Holocaust survivor Vanda Semyonovna Obiedkova wanted to know only one thing: “Why is this happening?”

    Ill and emaciated during the last two weeks of her life, the 91-year-old could not even stand up. She died on April 4, not peacefully of old age in her own bed, but as a victim of the horrific 21st-century war that has engulfed her hometown.

    “Mama didn’t deserve such a death,” says Obiedkova’s daughter, Larissa, through tears, just hours after arriving with her family in a safe location.

    She had watched helplessly as her mother’s life ebbed away, remaining at her side until the last moment. After her mother passed away, Larissa and her husband risked their lives to bury Obiedkova, amid non-stop shelling, in a public park less than a kilometer from the Azov Sea.

    “The whole Mariupol has turned into a cemetery,” says Rabbi Mendel Cohen, director of Chabad-Lubavitch of Mariupol and the Ukrainian port city’s lone rabbi. Obiedkova and her family had long been active members of Mariupol’s Jewish community, the matriarch regularly receiving medical aid from Cohen’s synagogue.

    “Vanda Semyonovna lived through unimaginable horrors,” the rabbi says. “She was a kind, joyous woman, a special person who will forever remain in our hearts.”

    Since the war began, Cohen has been working full-time to evacuate community members from the inferno, working the phones even on Shabbat, and most recently, Passover. Earlier this week he was able to evacuate Larissa and her family.

    Vanda Obiedkova was born in Mariupol on Dec. 8, 1930. She was 10 years old in October of 1941, when the Nazis entered Mariupol and began rounding up the city’s Jews. When the SS came to the family home and took away Vanda’s mother, Maria (Mindel), the little girl managed to evade arrest by hiding in a basement.

    “She couldn’t scream; that’s what saved her,” says Larissa.

    On Oct. 20, 1941, the Germans executed between 9,000 and 16,000 Jews in ditches on the outskirts of Mariupol, including Obiedkova’s mother and her mother’s entire family. The little girl was later detained, but family friends came and convinced the Nazis that she was Greek. Her father, who was not Jewish, then managed to get her checked into a hospital, where she remained until Mariupol was liberated in 1943. Obiedkova gave a full account of her life and Holocaust experience to the USC Shoah Foundation in 1998.

    “We had a VHS tape of her interview at home,” says Larissa, who notes that her mother retained a measure of Yiddish until the end. “But that’s all burned together with our home.”

    Obiedkova married in 1954, when Mariupol was known by the Soviet name of Zhdanov, and spent her entire life in the city. In recent years, she lived with Larissa.

    “Mama loved Mariupol; she never wanted to leave,” she says.

    Back in 2014, when war began and Mariupol was hit particularly hard, Larissa and her family joined Mariupol’s Jewish community in evacuating with Rabbi Cohen to a Chabad campground outside of Zhitomir, in western Ukraine. They returned when things quieted down, but Larissa says there’s no going back this time.

    “I’m so sorry for the people of Mariupol,” she says, as she breaks down once again. “There’s no city, no work, no home—nothing. What is there to return to? For what? It’s all gone. Our parents wanted us to live better than they did, but here we are repeating their lives again.”

    The one, lonely bright spot, Larissa says, has been Rabbi Cohen and the Chabad of Mariupol Jewish community, which has been a lifeline throughout the last seven weeks of hell….

  154. says

    Ukraine update: All unquiet on the eastern front

    Two days into what Ukrainian officials have officially labeled “the Battle of Donbas,” there are reports everywhere … though what they mean is difficult to interpret.

    GOOD
    Near Izyum, where Russian forces have been gathering over the last two weeks, and which was expected to be the northern end of a north-south pincer movement, Ukrainian forces have reportedly advanced from the west, retaking some of the small villages on the outskirts of the city. A similar story is coming from Mariink, a suburb of Donetsk, where Ukrainian forces have driven Russian troops from an area of the town they occupied.

    Reports also continue to come out of Popanas and Rubizhne that a number of attempted Russian advances have been repulsed. Reports indicate that a number of vehicles have been damaged and drones shot down in these failed attempts.

    The U.S. reportedly will deliver seven additional planeloads of weapons to Ukraine within the next day, with getting artillery systems to the front lines a high priority. [map/image at the link]

    BAD
    Ukrainian forces have retreated from the town of Kreminna, stating that it offered a poor defensive position. Russian forces have reportedly occupied the town and Russian armored vehicles have moved rapidly to the west to at least partially occupy the town of Zarichne. These locations could potentially position Russia to push further west, so that—should those forces in Izyum actually move south—Slavyansk could portentially come under attack from multiple directions. Or Russia could move south from Kreminna with the intention of cutting off Rubizhne. In any case, word that Russia has taken any location is never good, even though this seems to have happened more as the result of Ukraine repositioning its forces rather than direct conflict.

    In Mariupol, Russian forces continue to compress the area in which the approximately 1,000 remaining Ukrainian fighters are located. During the day on Tuesday, Russian forces captured what could be the last armored vehicles in control of the Ukrainian forces, as the troops retreated further into the maze of the Azovstal metal works. However, so far there doesn’t seem to be any sign that Russia is repositioning the forces they’ve held in Mariupol as they continue efforts to bomb Ukrainian resistance from its last stronghold.

    Russia continues heavy shelling at locations all along the boundary of the area under their control.

    MEDIUM
    Near Kherson, Ukrainian forces are apparently advancing, but reports indicate that Russian troops have heavily mined the roads inside and outside the city. This is greatly slowing the Ukrainian advance, and attempts to remove mines under enemy fire are always extremely difficult.

    In a Pentagon briefing, U.S. officials indicated that they believe Russia’s efforts in the Donbas are concentrated at Izyum and at Donetsk. An additional two Battalion Tactical Groups reportedly entered Ukraine within the last day, and Russia is reportedly staging air support for the region out of both western Russian and eastern Belarus.

    After days of near stasis, there does seem to be genuine movement, and we’re likely seeing the maximum exertion from Russia as they try to turn their isolated actions into something that approximates a coordinated effort. Why they are choosing to do this at this time, when the weather still restricts movements, likely results from political pressure to get something accomplished by May 9 than it does any change in conditions on the ground.

  155. says

    A New York Times video that gives a glimpse into conditions in the towns just on the Ukrainian side of the front.

    Scroll down at the link to the 1:46:24 PM post to view the video.

    Link

  156. says

    Followup to comments 56, 145, 196 and 197.

    GOP Texas Gov. Greg Abbott may be trying to move on from his disastrous stunt, but he remains the target of international ire. Mexican President Andres Manuel López Obrador called Abbott’s failed policy forcing commercial vehicles to undergo unnecessary secondary inspections “a very despicable way to act,” NBC News reports, adding that the right-wing governor was only thinking of reelection. Fact check: true.

    Abbott has also touted supposed agreements with a number of Mexican governors as part of ending his redundant checks, but The Texas Tribune reported that three of these agreements already existed. Abbott and the governors did not have the authority to sit down together in the first place, López Obrador said.

    “With all due respect, states have no legal authority to do agreements with a foreign country,” López Obrador said according to The Dallas Morning News. “Instead of thinking—and I say this respectfully—‘How will I fix the problem of inflation?’ He is politicizing and even violating international rights.”

    But this is Abbott we’re talking about, a man who has shown no shame or hesitation in violating his own state’s laws by illegally jailing hundreds of asylum-seekers with no formal charges as part of Operation Lone Star, another border scheme. Advocates first noted the unlawful detention of hundreds of migrants last fall. Months later, these illegal imprisonments have continued. But the abusive treatment of asylum-seekers too often gets ignored, or minimized as normal. Among Republicans, it’s encouraged.

    However, it’s been quite a different story for Abbott’s policy of redundant checks, which were announced on April 6 and gone by April 15. The reason? Economic losses, and lots of them.

    “Ray Perryman, president of the Waco-based economic research firm Perryman Group, estimates that the delays cost the U.S. $4.2 billion for the period from April 6 to April 15 based on the economic impact of previous border slowdowns, including in 2019,” The Dallas Morning News continued. Fresh Produce Association of the Americas President Lance Jungmeyer previously told CNN that the losses to vegetable and fruit producers alone were estimated at over $240 million. Perryman told The Dallas Morning News that the firm plans to release more details on its findings this week.

    The Dallas Morning News reports that López Obrador said he thinks Abbott “aspires to be a (2024 presidential) candidate for the Republican Party, and so he thinks that with this action he will win support,” even if it does fuck up the economy. But we already know that when confronted on his own failings, Abbott likes to point the finger at the president.

    […] “It’s great that it has been resolved,” López Obrador continued in The Dallas Morning News report. “I just hope (Texas) will not act this way again. It doesn’t help them. … How can a person who aspires to be president of a great nation like the United States act this way?”

    Link

  157. says

    NBC News:

    A spring nor’easter has already dropped at least a foot of snow on parts of New York and Pennsylvania, leading to power outages and the closure of businesses and schools.

    I hope everyone is okay.

  158. says

    NBC News:

    The Biden administration is preparing to announce another substantial military aid package for Ukraine this week, five U.S officials tell NBC News. Three officials said the package is expected to be similar in size to the $800 million one the administration announced last week.

    I get the feeling that an $800 million size package is about what the Pentagon can handle when it comes to the logistics of moving all of those tons of materiel to Poland quickly. See comment 98.

  159. says

    NPR:

    The U.S. Department of Education says it will retroactively help millions of federal student loan borrowers who have been hurt and held back by its troubled income-driven repayment (IDR) plans, calling the plans’ longstanding flaws and mismanagement “inexcusable.”

  160. says

    Ukraine update: Pentagon thinks big Russian offensive is still to come, because so far this is lame

    Exactly a week ago, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) concluded that “Russian forces will likely continue ongoing offensive operations in the Donbas region, feeding reinforcements into the fight as they become available rather than gathering reinforcements and replacements for a more coordinated and coherent offensive.” That’s exactly what seems to be happening now as Russia pushes broadly across the entire Donbas front lines, but exercises overwhelming force absolutely nowhere.

    Ukraine has declared the start of the much-anticipated Russian offensive, but the Pentagon is less sure. […]

    As the Pentagon sees it, Russia is merely softening up the frontlines for something bigger down the line. It could very well be that, because despite the massive artillery barrages, Russia’s gains have been minimal, mostly ground assaults repulsed by Ukrainian defenders. So really, more of the same, just at a higher intensity.

    So why are they wasting men and material with these probes? Apparently, it’s what they do. […]

    The source for this information is Oleksiy Arestovych, an advisor to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and Dmitri helpfully translates his regular dispatches. (In fact, Dmitri’s Twitter account is one of the most informative around.) So according to Arestovych, Russians send a probe, see what happens. If Ukrainians blow up the cannon fodder? Good to know! That area is well-protected, let’s avoid it. But hey, this other advance received minimal resistance, and they lay down artillery to soften it up even more. And then? … Seriously, and then? With a competent military, you have a rear force that can then exploit the breach and push forward, taking additional ground while the original spear holds the breach open, protecting it from counter-attack. Here, Russia sends cannon fodder to die, and then sends some new cannon fodder somewhere else, and they’re laying artillery down the entire front anyway.

    It’s so weird, it almost seems like fiction. Are Russians really that incompetent, stupid, and callous toward the death of their service members? And yet here they are, still probing, still losing men and equipment to drip-drip-drip attacks, even though their big offensive is supposedly underway. […] That’s why the Pentagon must think, “This can’t be it. There has to be more coming down the pike.”

    All those troops being thrown into the wood chipper have to be replaced. And the Ukrainian General Staff has an ill view of them:

    [S]eparate units of the 103th, 109th, 113th, 125th and 127th [motorized] regiment operate. Their equipment was carried out during the forced mobilization of men from the temporarily occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk regions. The structurally-appointed regimes include up to 5 battalions counting about 300 soldiers each. Only 5-10 percent of the personal composition of the specified units have combat experience. The regiment management consists of officers of the armed forces of the Russian Federation. These formations have significant problems with providing weapons, ammunition and medicines.

    So the result is forced conscripts like this guy, with no combat experience, zero training, and only 300 soldiers per battalion that are supposed to have 800 to 1,000. (Remember that when the Pentagon says there are 78 BTGs in Ukraine right now. They’re not all created equal.) Their purpose is cannon fodder in human-wave attacks, to see whether an approach is defended by Ukrainians. They are literally dead men walking. Their best chance of survival is mutiny and desertion … to the west. Russians soldiers pulled out of Kyiv certainly have zero interest in getting thrown back into the line of fire. Others in Donbas are refusing orders to advance to combat. (See here, here, here and here, here, here, here, here, and here.) [For embedded links, navigate to the main link for this article.]

    Assuming some sort of major offensive will at some point take place (still not convinced it will), its early results will determine the mid-term outcome of the war. If Russia advances and Ukraine is unable to hold, morale will increase and Russia will be able to manage some level of unit cohesion. But if they hit brick wall after brick wall, suffering horrendous casualties in the process, that army could disintegrate overnight. Endless parades of casualties, wet and cold from spring rains, and leadership that treats them as garbage take a toll. More artillery guns and ammo would further compound that misery. As Russia knows, artillery is a powerful psychological weapon, traumatizing more than it’ll ever directly kill. […]

    With American, Dutch, and Canadian artillery starting to flow to Ukraine, their ability to return the favor is getting a huge boost in the coming weeks. Ukraine can withstand the barrages because they have no choice—they’re fighting an existential battle for their survival. But those Russian and Donbas conscripts? They don’t need this shit. They don’t see any Nazis. [Tweet with actual mother/son conversation transcribed is available at the link. Audio is available, but without translation.]

    As Mark pointed out earlier, Ukrainian forces are actually advancing in several locations, including the eastern front. This is not Ukraine on its back heels. This is a confident, aggressive, smart, and increasingly well-equipped defensive force using its superior intelligence, better-trained soldiers, and tactically smarter command (all the way down to the squad level with a real NCO culture) to bedevil an outclassed, outmaneuvered, and poorly motivated enemy.

    Can Russia cobble something together to push harder? Maybe. Lots of war will still be fought. But Russia better hope this isn’t the actual massive offensive they’ve been promising. Otherwise, there’s not much war left.

  161. says

    From a Washington Post article by Dana Milbank:

    […] “It’s easy to laugh at Florida’s claim that it rejected 28 math textbooks over “publishers’ attempts to indoctrinate students” with such “special topics” as CRT, “culturally responsive teaching,” “social justice” and “social-emotional learning.”

    But then I opened the 2020 edition of one of the banned textbooks, Cengage’s “Precalculus With Limits” — and was horrified by the “indoctrinating concepts” I saw. If this is Precalculus With Limits, I’d hate to see the kind without limits.

    At a time when Floridians by law “don’t say gay,” much less “trans,” this banned book brazenly teaches about the “Transitive Property of Equality.” Not only are impressionable minds taught about the “transformation of functions,” but also they are even indoctrinated in “describing transformations” and — appallingly — “sketching transformations.”

    “At a time when Florida is banning the acknowledgment of gender fluidity or any identity outside male and female, this subversive textbook unabashedly tells suggestible children that such things exist as “reciprocal identities,” “cofunction identities,” “additive identity property” and even “multiplicative identity property.”

    Milbank concludes:

    “Thanks to DeSantis, Florida’s children will never have to learn about such “indoctrinating concepts.” In fact, they won’t have to learn much of anything at all.”

  162. says

    […] [Putin] is causing all RU stocks to get de-listed on foreign exchanges on purpose . He just voluntarily cut RU from foreign capital markets. I can’t even begin to imagine just how pissed off his oligarch friends are right now. They go to sell some stock, right, and find out there are no buyers cause they are not sellable on an exchange — that is what this means.

    […] Guess he is about as good at capitalism as he is at war.

    Hahhahahaha

    They will never raise foreign capital again — really — and Russia is basically financially screwed to begin with. Really.

    What a genius three dimensional super smart move Vlad. Keep it up. Must have learned this from Trump.

    What friends does he have right now in his oligarch circle I wonder?

    […] What a fuck up. He is trying to keep capital in the country by force — making the people who will want out geometrically more now — AND guaranteed no one will ever invest monies in the future there because they see they can get trapped. Really — he just fucked himself.

    Hahahahahaha

    I had to say this because it is so hysterically stupid. What a fucking moron.

    Link

  163. says

    Wonkette: “Newsmax’s Eric Bolling Literally Begging Tucker To Stop Siding With Genocidal Putin”

    A few weeks ago, Newsmax’s Eric Bolling had an interview with Wladimir Klitschko, the brother of Vitali Klitschko, the mayor of Kyiv, Ukraine. And they specifically talked about pro-Russia Americans like Tucker Carlson, who actively side with Vladimir Putin as he commits genocide against innocents in Ukraine. Klitschko said people like Tucker have blood on their hands. Bolling seemed genuinely confused by people like Tucker, how they can so openly side with evil here.

    It wasn’t a fluke, and now Bolling, whom we defend on Wonkette approximately … [checks Wonkette archives] … never, is making it more personal.

    Media Matters found a recent clip from Bolling’s show that ran after the Klitschko interview, after images of war crimes and genocide started to come out of places like Bucha, where Bolling personally begged Tucker to side with good. And he specifically contextualized it with the now well-known fact that Tucker is so valuable as Russian propaganda that they show him to their own people nonstop on their state-run propaganda networks. [video available at the link]

    ERIC BOLLING (HOST): But, when Russia’s war on Ukraine started, Putin and his propaganda-drivers felt that that was their moment to run with an American TV anchor whose comments could be used to support their own narrative and prop up their propaganda machine. From that moment on, clips from Tucker’s show were to be used ad nauseam night after night on Russian state TV. The Russians see Tucker Carlson as their ally, the guy across the ocean who’s helping their cause. […]

    Now I’m not here to slam Tucker, I have the utmost respect for him. But, Tucker, you don’t want to be associated with this, certainly you don’t want to be — it to be part of your legacy to be associated with a war criminal, an evil madman committing blatant genocide and atrocities just across the ocean. You don’t want to be associated with that in any way. The video is heartbreaking, Tucker, you’re even seeing these images that I’m seeing. It’s unbelievable.

    Bolling is begging Tucker to repudiate his former comments about how he roots for Russia over Ukraine, which he said back in 2019. And he’s begging Tucker to look at the images we’ve seen from Ukraine, and asking “who can’t be moved” by them.

    Sadly, he’s talking to Tucker Carlson. There’s no evidence of any good in Tucker Carlson, anything redeeming. There’s no reason to believe Tucker would ever side against evil, as long as the evil is white, conservative Christian, and Tucker thinks the evil seems manly. We all know about his well-documented masculinity issues.

    But we’re glad to see this isn’t a fluke. Newsmax — or at least Eric Bolling on Newsmax — really thinks Tucker Carlson needs to please please please stop giving aid and comfort to America’s genocidal enemies, and he’s willing to say it again and again. That’s how much un-American scum Tucker is, that Newsmax comes off looking more human.

    In other news of Russia’s war on Ukraine, Bloomberg has some interesting reporting on how, inside the Kremlin, discontent with Putin’s ill-conceived and stupid war is growing, but nobody seems to be able to do anything about it:

    Almost eight weeks after Vladimir Putin sent troops into Ukraine, with military losses mounting and Russia facing unprecedented international isolation, a small but growing number of senior Kremlin insiders are quietly questioning his decision to go to war.

    The ranks of the critics at the pinnacle of power remain limited, spread across high-level posts in government and state-run business. They believe the invasion was a catastrophic mistake that will set the country back for years, according to ten people with direct knowledge of the situation. All spoke on condition of anonymity, too fearful of retribution to comment publicly.

    So far, these people see no chance the Russian president will change course and no prospect of any challenge to him at home.

    It seems remarkable to us that Bloomberg was able to find 10 Russian insiders willing to talk to them anonymously. That must mean certain folks are really fuckin’ horrified.

    According to their reporting, some of these people say they, like American intelligence, are worried Putin might pull out the nukes as he fails deeper and harder. Also:

    [M]ore and more top insiders have come to believe that Putin’s commitment to continue the invasion will doom Russia to years of isolation and heightened tension that will leave its economy crippled, its security compromised and its global influence gutted. A few business tycoons have made veiled statements questioning the Kremlin’s strategy, but many powerful players are too fearful of the widening crackdown on dissent to voice their concerns in public.

    […] Of course, we’re sure it’s all fine and Bloomberg is fake news. Maybe if Putin needs a little pick-me-up he could look into one of those Tucker Carlson tanning beds, for his pale saggy [testicles].

    That’ll fix him right up.

    Link

  164. says

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

    An ultimatum by Russia to Ukrainian fighters holding out in the besieged port city of Mariupol to surrender has passed its deadline. In a statement issued early this morning, the Russian defence ministry said it would “once again” offer Ukraine the option “to stop fighting and lay down their weapons” from 2pm Moscow time (1100 GMT) on Wednesday. [This might be the third such ultimatum.]

    A small but growing number of top Kremlin insiders are reportedly questioning President Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine, according to Bloomberg. Some senior Kremlin insiders believe Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was a “catastrophic mistake that will set the country back for years”, the channel cited multiple sources as saying.

    Finland’s parliament has opened the debate on whether to seek Nato membership. Finland’s prime minister, Sanna Marin, has said her country would decide “quite fast, within weeks” whether to apply for membership after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine led to a surge in political and public support for joining the military alliance.

    Western nations prepared to stage coordinated diplomatic snubs in protest against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine at a meeting of G20 finance ministers in Washington. The US treasury secretary, Janet Yellen, plans to avoid G20 sessions attended by Russian officials on Wednesday. The UK finance minister, Rishi Sunak, also will not attend certain G20 sessions, a British government source said.

  165. says

    […] The Washington Post gives us a new version of the story [about the book-banning movement] from Llano, Texas, and it hits all the usual notes: One or more hyper-conservative zealots with free time on their hands and a lifetime of carefully nurtured ignorance offers up a list of supposedly “pornographic” books. An assemblage of like-minded community paranoids leaps at the opportunity to prove that they, too, live to be Outraged About Things, and so the town’s farthest-right and most eager-to-provoke clan uses their outrage to wound or destroy previously quiet local institutions.

    But none of the people who rode the outrage trolley to newfound positions of power know a single damn thing about anything, and by God nobody’s going to make them learn because everybody knows expertise is communism, and so whatever the actual supposed “agenda” was supposed to be when those first flyers were sketched out immediately devolves into whatever personal agendas the self-appointed conservative heroes have most on their minds.

    And that is how, yet again, you get a local religious zealot and a small-time political figure launching a war against “pornography” that Lo And Behold just happens to focus nearly exclusively on purging books about Black Americans, books by Black Americans, and anything that even hints at sex education but especially any material that might convince teens struggling with their own sexual identity to consider accepting themselves as a valid alternative to suicide.

    How did Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me end up on the initial list of “pornographic filth” that needed to be moved to the “Adult” section of the local library? Because it is about racism, and it is on every conservative list of books to be objected to. [snipped other examples]

    The books being most consistently targeted consist of those (1) by non-white authors, (2) with non-white characters, or (3) that mention homosexuality or bisexuality in any format. Once again Republicanism has managed to coincidentally choose as their enemies the precise enemies that Nazi Germany declared to be undesirables. […]

    Because the American conservative movement is also obsessed with restricting knowledge in general, however, the movement also has as its target any book that describes human sexual biology in any manner at all. We are now in the rather remarkable place where Tucker Carlson is devoting airtime to—and this is true—explaining why conservative men should be irradiating their testicles to boost their testosterone levels, but if a panicking adolescent girl wants to know why blood is trickling out of her vagina, no adult is allowed to explain it to her or provide a book that would.

    […] I cannot emphasize enough how much Carlson fans, in particular, ought to be irradiating their reproductive parts as often and for as long as possible.

    That aside, the rest of the Post’s story is as rote as can be. We’ve got the small-time Texas judge ordering the local library to stop new book purchases and pull any books “with photos of naked or sexual conduct regardless if they are animated or actual photos,” which means somebody now needs to explain to him, probably in writing, why very few books tend to have ‘animated’ pictures and he probably meant to say something else. We’ve got that same judge ominously writing that the county “is not mandated by law to provide a public library” at all, if it comes down to it, which we can presume is the Plan B if too much of the community starts objecting too loudly.

    We’ve got conservative county commissioners purging the local library board, booting out all the longtime volunteers who acted with knowledge of and devotion to their county’s libraries, and a new board filled with, you guessed it, the loudest advocates for removing books.

    Lest you think any expertise was lost in the transition, fear not. The new conservative library board receives regular advice from God Almighty Himself, reports the Post:

    “Panel members often stop to pray over questions brought up in meetings, and until the Lord answers, they can’t resolve them, according to county officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they feared repercussions.”

    Uncanny! Remarkable! Not only does the Lord Himself personally act as adviser and parliamentarian and secretary during the new library board’s meetings, it turns out that He is ragingly racist, giving the secret nod to purging the exact lists of books that the conservative appointees themselves previously wrote out in their lists! And can you witness this miracle of God and government, down in Llano County, Texas? No. No you absolutely cannot.

    Because one of the first things the new board did was close their meetings to the public after a few members of the public were spotted taking notes during a meeting. Ah, yes, and now we’ve stumbled into the usual conservative movement demand that government be made less accountable and in fact need not justify its decisions at all, so long as conservatives are in charge of them. Again, uncanny.

    […] a group of bullshitting local theocrats is faking their connection to God in order to justify their own personal racism and hypersexual perversion (don’t miss the Post detail that the main instigator of this local anti-library effort responded to a Beatrix Potter-themed library fundraiser and petting zoo by hosting an “adults only” video about pedophilia next door, which is definitely normal behavior and certainly not evidence of Q-laced paranoias that run so deep that somebody should maybe taking a quick look in this person’s basement!).

    […] And you’re literally not allowed to make white racist conservatives feel bad. That’s the whole point of the book purges. If there’s a book about racism in the library or a book that suggests that LGBT human beings exist despite conservatives demanding they not exist, it will make the shouting angry bullshitters feel bad. Which is oppression, and is in fact the only sort of oppression you are allowed to acknowledge as existing.

    Well, there you go. The same story as always, with the same beats, the same list of “unacceptable” books shoveled full of Black American authors but somehow declared to be indecent. And really, I cannot emphasize enough how much all of these people should be irradiating their own private parts as often as possible using whatever tools Carlson wants to help sell them. Please. There may be no act that perfectly encapsulates the state of modern America fascism more than that one does.

    Refusing to be vaccinated during a worldwide pandemic because you think it might turn you magnetic? That comes close. But this is better.

    Link

    “A lifetime of carefully nurtured ignorance” is a well-turned phrase. LOL.

  166. says

    Also from the Guardian liveblog:

    Putin: new intercontinental ballistic missile will make Russia’s enemies ‘think twice’

    Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, said Russia has successfully conducted a test launch of the Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile, AFP reports.

    The Sarmat, dubbed Satan 2 by western analysts, is among Russia’s next-generation missiles that Putin has called “invincible”. It is designed to replace the Soviet-era Voevoda ICBM, known by the Nato designation SS-18 Satan.

    Designed to elude anti-missile defence systems with a short initial boost phase, giving enemy surveillance systems a tiny window to track, the superheavy intercontinental ballistic missile can carry multiple warheads.

    Addressing the Russian army in televised remarks, Putin said:

    I congratulate you on the successful launch of the Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile.

    This truly unique weapon will strengthen the combat potential of our armed forces, reliably ensure the security of Russia from external threats and make those who, in the heat of aggressive rhetoric, try to threaten our country, think twice.

    According to the Russian defence ministry, the test “successfully” took place at the Plesetsk cosmodrome in northern Russia.

    The ministry said:

    Sarmat is the most powerful missile with the longest range of destruction of targets in the world, which will significantly increase the combat power of our country’s strategic nuclear forces.

    The new second season of The Rise of the Nazis, about dictators at war, seems pretty relevant right now.

    Meanwhile…:

    yes moskva may be gone but the pride of the russian federation admiral kuznetsov looks strong.

    for example it does not even appear to have been on fire during this satellite pass

    and here we see a local artist’s impression of what a functional aircraft carrier might look like…

    Photos at the link. From the responses:

    “A Neptune missile should put it down as an act of mercy.”

    “If it’s not on fire, how do we even know it’s operational?”

    “They’re getting it ready for another battle against a dry dock.”
    “this time she will be ready.”
    “Expecting a feint from naval cranes.”

    “Entire hours pass without it being on fire. Checkmate woke west!”

    “Just wait for it, they will start the mighty tar-powered engines soon, to teach the West another lesson.”

    “It does have a sloppily painted Z, so at least it has that going for it.”

    “That’s a vintage parquet landing deck”

    “BURN. but not like, literally this time.”

    “Cranes walked so tractors could run”

    As I was saying in January

  167. says

    Dana Milbank quoted in Lynna’s #218:

    If this is Precalculus With Limits, I’d hate to see the kind without limits.

    LOL. That excerpt is funny, but now I’m starting to wonder if they did just do some sort of automated search for things like “trans” and “identity.”

  168. says

    New episode of Fever Dreams – “Brainpill Bankruptcy feat. Nikki McCann Ramirez”:

    Would you buddy up to a neo-Nazi for a cut of crowdfunded “patriot freedom” cash? That’s the question reportedly wracking a wing of a D.C. jail, where multiple alleged January 6 rioters are being detained. This week on Fever Dreams, hosts Will Sommer and Kelly Weill dive into the far right’s money troubles—both behind bars and outside them, as three of Alex Jones’ companies file for bankruptcy. Media Matters associate research director Nikki McCann Ramirez joins the podcast to discuss Tucker Carlson’s bizarre new “special” on masculinity, which features a guy tanning his balls on what looks like a Tesla charger. Elsewhere, Will and Kelly check in on the stinkiest new QAnon trend: not bathing due to fear of snake water.

  169. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Wimbledon has set itself on a potential collision course with the rest of tennis after banning Russian and Belarussian players from this summer’s championships due to the scale and severity of the invasion of Ukraine.

    The decision was taken after nearly two months of deliberations and legal advice, with the All England Club also concerned about the image it would present if the world No 2, Daniil Medvedev, lifted its famous silver gilt cup on Centre Court.

    In an unusually strong statement Wimbledon expressed “sadness” that individual players would suffer, but stressed it wanted to play its part “to limit Russia’s global influence through the strongest means possible”.

    “In the circumstances of such unjustified and unprecedented military aggression, it would be unacceptable for the Russian regime to derive any benefits from the involvement of Russian or Belarusian players with the Championships,” it added.

    The Lawn Tennis Association, which runs all the other major summer grass court tournaments in Britain, including the prestigious Queen’s Club event, has also announced a ban.

    Those set to miss out include the men’s world No 8, Andrey Rublev, who wrote “No war please” on a TV camera lens after a match in Dubai, and the two-times women’s grand-slam champion Victoria Azarenka.

  170. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    The head of Ukraine’s Orthodox church, Metropolitan Epifaniy [cool name], has asked people to forgo night Easter services in areas of the country affected by fighting amid fears Russian bombardments will continue during the Orthodox Easter period, Reuters reports.

    In a televised address, Metropolitan Epifaniy of Kyiv said he had little faith that a pause in shelling by Russian troops, proposed by Ukraine for the duration of the Orthodox Christian Easter festivities, would hold.

    He said:

    It is hard to believe this will really happen, because the enemy is trying to completely destroy us.

    Epifaniy said the Easter service could be held in the morning or afternoon and that priests should try to avoid crowds in churches.

    People can also watch broadcasts of Easter services on television or the internet, he said.

    The UN’s secretary general, Antonio Guterres, has also called for a four-day Orthodox Easter humanitarian pause in fighting in Ukraine to allow for the safe passage of civilians to leave areas of conflict and the delivery of humanitarian aid to hard-hit areas.

  171. Tethys says

    Despite my lack of religious beliefs, I have a large supply of politically correct Easter Eggs which get stuffed with trinkets and hidden for the next generation of godless heathens who celebrate egg laying rabbits each spring.

    (Plus the traditional meal of Russian pancakes crepes)

  172. says

    France 24 – “Ukraine’s Zelensky, Kremlin critic Navalny call on France to vote for Macron in presidential race”:

    Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and jailed Russian Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny voiced support separately for French President Emmanuel Macron ahead of Sunday’s second round of the presidential election that pits the incumbent against Russia-friendly far-right candidate Marine Le Pen.

    Navalny tweeted his support for Macron, calling on French citizens to vote for him just hours before the two presidential candidates face off in a high-stakes televised debate. Zelensky, in a TV interview, said he did not want to influence French elections but spoke in favour of Macron.

    “A Russian political prisoner addressing the voters of France is quite ironic… I certainly, without hesitation, urge the people of France to vote for @EmmanuelMacron on April 24,” Navalny said in a long Twitter thread posted in French and English.

    Navalny added that he was “shocked” that Le Pen’s party received a €9 million loan from “Putin’s notorious money-laundering outfit”, the First Czech-Russian Bank.

    “I don’t doubt for a minute that negotiations with these people and deals with them included a shadowy political part as well,” 45-year-old Navalny said.

    “This is corruption. This is selling political influence to Putin,” he added.

    Navalny said France was “close” to his heart and he felt he could address the French for a number of reasons.

    … [I didn’t know this background from 2014.]

    “I will root for France, the French and @EmmanuelMacron,” Navalny said on Twitter.

    Ukrainian President Zelensky was more circumspect in his support for Macron.

    “While I do not think that I have the right to influence what happens in your country, I want to say I have a relationship with Emmanuel Macron and I would not want to lose that,” he told French TV station BFM.

    He added that Le Pen was wrong in her views about Russia-Ukraine issues. “If Le Pen understands that she has made a mistake, our relationship could change,” Zelensky said.

    Le Pen, who prior to the war had been an open admirer of Putin, has said that as president she would block European sanctions on Russian oil and gas. The far-right candidate has also said that if she is president, France would once again leave NATO military command and has called for a Russia-NATO “rapprochement”.

    This is linked at the liveblog. As they note, “The foreign policy section of the Macron-LePen debate is set to be interesting.”

  173. says

    Ukraine Update: The heavy weapons spigot has finally opened for Ukraine

    Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy:

    “I like new questions,” he said. “It’s not interesting to answer the questions you already heard.” He is frustrated, for instance, by repeated requests for his wish list of weapons systems. “When some leaders ask me what weapons I need, I need a moment to calm myself, because I already told them the week before. It’s Groundhog Day. I feel like Bill Murray.”

    Zelenskyy’s wish list isn’t a state secret. [List available at the link.]

    The day after Zelenskyy released this list [April 13], President Joe Biden announced an $800 million package to Ukraine that included some of these items. Yesterday, we learned that less than a week later, the United States is close to announcing the next $800 million package, one that would boost the current American contribution to $3.2 billion in military aid since Biden took office, with no end in sight. As far as the United States is concerned, the floodgates are open, already checking off 155mm artillery (eight M777 howitzers and 40,000 shells), Armored Personnel Carriers (APC, 200 M113s), and 11 Mi-17 Russian-built helicopters […] In addition, the United States is delivering critically important anti-battery radar, which tracks the source of incoming artillery so it can be targeted and struck by Ukraine’s own guns, as well as 500 more Javelin anti-tank missiles, 300 more suicide drones, 100 Humvees, body armor, explosives, ad small arms.

    If you checked in on the peanut gallery, you’d see people claim that the shipments are “too late” (just dumb), that it’s “not enough” (of course it’s not, but that’s a week and a half’s worth, which is a lot), and lots of complaining that what Ukraine really needs is aircraft. Well, sure, but the United States doesn’t have the Soviet/Russian aircraft it can already fly and service. Though …
    Aircraft? What aircraft?

    At yesterday’s Pentagon press conference, held by Press Secretary John F. Kirby:

    Q: And you said earlier that the Ukrainians have now more fighter aircraft than they had two weeks ago. Can you give us …

    KIRBY: More operable fighter aircraft than they had two weeks ago.

    Q: So can you give us an idea of—did they receive more? And an idea of how many? Dozens?

    KIRBY: I would just say without getting into what other nations are providing that they have received additional platforms and parts to be able to increase their fleet size—their aircraft fleet size, I think I’d leave it at that.

    Platforms and parts.

    Q: What is a platform?

    KIRBY: Platform is an airplane in this case. They have received additional aircraft and aircraft parts to help them, you know, get more aircraft in the air. Yes.

    Those were very carefully chosen words to say “we’re not sending any aircraft, but, magically, they have more planes!” There have been long-aborted plans to have Poland and/or Romania send Soviet-era planes they’re phasing out, and “backfilling” those nations with shiny new American F-16s. The only way to interpret this is that Ukraine isn’t just getting some of those planes, but that they already did.

    Note, Ukraine has “denied” the Pentagon’s claims, and I use the scare quotes there on purpose. […]
    1) The use of the word “officially” is hilariously weird. Oh yeah? Officially? What about unofficially? Poland tried to pawn its Mig-29s to the United States, to transfer to Ukraine. It wanted to erase its footprints. The U.S. was like “LOL no.” So of course this transfer has to be off the books.

    2) “New aircraft.” That’s some pedantic parsing, I know, but these aircraft are old.

    3) They admit they have more operational aircraft, but go back to “we just got some spare parts” as a way to provide plausible deniability when Russia counts all the new MiGs Ukraine has back in the air.

    A close reading shows zero inconsistency between the Pentagon and Ukraine’s statements.

    Regardless, everyone agrees Ukraine has more aircraft than it did before. That’s progress on another items on Zelenskyy’s list. Now let’s start training pilots and ground crews on F-15s or F-16s, whatever is easiest to maintain. You know how there are civilian military contractors in war zones? They’re not all Blackwater mercenaries. Many are maintenance personnel. I’m now persuaded this would be a viable stopgap measure to both help maintain these modern aircraft, as well as play NCO and train Ukrainians to eventually take over the tasks themselves. I’d just want to make sure Ukraine had the hard shelters and air defense systems in place to protect these aircraft on the ground, because Russia would launch the remainder of its missiles if it had a chance to take them all out.

    Artillery, and more artillery!
    The current $800 million package had eight M777-towed howitzers and 40,000 shells, and people wailed, “It’s not enough!” No shit. That was the first batch. Biden said today that the U.S. was prioritizing sending more artillery, and the next $800 million package will undoubtedly expand on that order. Canada is also sending M777s, which makes things easier for Ukraine. Remember: Logistics and maintenance have to be as simplified as possible, so standardizing around fewer systems is ideal.

    Furthermore, as much as I was hoping for the self-propelled M109, which essentially is an artillery gun on tracks, the U.S. must be paying attention to Russian woes in Ukraine, especially losing a great deal of their own self-propelled artillery guns to General Mud. Towed artillery is less likely to suffer from those problems. And all of NATO has loads and loads of 155mm shells. The Brits, for one, have already promised to supply Ukraine with 155mm ammunition. The Soviet-designed gear both Ukraine and Russia currently use are 152mm, and Ukraine is reportedly running low. Shifting to NATO-standard munitions should help.

    Lithuania has sent nine of its D-30 howitzers, while Poland sent around 20 2S1 Gvozdika—but they use 122mm shells at a time when the bulk of Ukraine’s current artillery fleet uses 152mm and is likely moving to a 155mm standard. I have no idea how much additional effort it’ll take to supply these, but it certainly complicates logistics. Maybe they can be kept back, say, for Kyiv’s territorial defense forces, allowing the bigger guns (and their supply lines) to move east to the front lines.

    Armored Personnel Carriers/Infantry Fighting Vehicles
    The Ukrainian offensive around Kherson has stalled because it cannot penetrate a wall of Russia artillery. Unmounted, unprotected infantry are too vulnerable to blast shrapnel. As we’ve seen, the terrain is basically Kansas: wide open fields with few places to take cover. This is where armor comes in. Armored personnel carriers can rush troops forward while protecting them from the shrapnel of exploding artillery. M113s won’t stop anti-tank missiles or Russian tank hits, but they are not designed to do that. They’re designed to offer soft protection.

    The U.S. opted to send old M113s rather than more modern M2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles, which are currently being phased out. Maintenance concerns likely played a role in that decision, but it likely didn’t hurt that half the world fields the M113, once again making it possible for other nations to send their own stock without requiring Ukraine to learn to maintain and support yet another weapons system. Also, the U.S. has around 6,000 of these lying around. As long as Ukraine wants them, we can afford to pass them on.

    Other countries are stepping up with their own contributions. The Netherlands promised “heavy equipment,” starting with “armored vehicles.” Given that their tanks are modern German Leopard 2s, and they only have 18 of them, we can safely assume that they’ll be sending one of the many APCs they currently field. I notice they have Bushmasters, which Ukraine just received from Australia. Would be convenient to standardize around those somewhat.

    The Brits are sending 120 FV103 Spartans, the Czechs are sending 56 of their BMP-1 variant (which Ukraine already knows how to service), while the Poles are sending an undisclosed number of their own BMP-1 version.

    Air defense systems
    Eliminate Russia’s ability to fly aircraft over the battlefield, and the situation shifts dramatically. NATO has sent a whole buffet of shoulder-fired anti-aircraft systems, and they have been very effective at curbing Russia’s ability to deploy ground-support planes and helicopters over the battlefield. But they don’t have the altitude range to hit high-flying bombers and missiles. Those kinds of systems have incredibly heavy logistical and operational requirements. As I’ve written before, maintenance training for the U.S. Patriot system is one year, and that’s just for baseline knowledge. NCOs continue that education once new soldiers reach their units.

    Thus, Ukraine has been begging Eastern European nations to part with their Soviet-era systems, which they already know how to operate and maintain. The only country to answer that call is Slovakia, which parted with a single battery of its long-range S-300PMU system, including 45 missiles. The United States has temporarily backfilled the donation with an American Patriot system, which will stick around until Slovakia learns how to operate their own. It is critical that Ukraine get more such systems, capable of shooting down incoming missiles, if it intends to seriously rebuild its air force. Ukraine needs to protect its air fields.

    Bulgaria has one S-300 battery, Greece has 32 launchers and 175 missiles. And that’s it for long range systems. However, there are more options in the medium-range category, with several friendly nations fielding variants of the Buk air defense system, which Ukraine already operates. While the S-300s have a range of up to 90 kilometers, the Buk can defend out to 30 kilometers and altitudes of 14 kilometers (40,000 feet)—totally adequate for airfield and other critical infrastructure anti-missile defense. Finland has some in storage in “operable condition.” Allies also have the 9K33 Osa system, also used by Ukraine, with a similar range of 30 kilometers, and an altitude of 12 kilometers. The system is operated by Bulgaria, Greece, Poland, and Romania.

    The British don’t have any Soviet-era systems, but they are stepping up with their Stormer system equipped with Starstreak missiles: [tweet and photo available at the link]

    Starstreaks are particularly deadly because they don’t home in on heat signatures, so they can’t be fooled by most aircraft countermeasures (mainly, flares to distract the missiles). These will be helpful on the Donbas front lines, where Russian ground-attack aircraft dare to operate, close to friendly airspace.

    Multiple Launch Rocket Systems
    I’ve seen some people demand the United States give Ukraine American M270 MLRS, to which I say, NO FUCKING WAY. This is my very specific area of expertise. They were a beast to maintain and support. They were constantly broken down in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. I can’t imagine what they might look like 30 years later. There are better alternatives.

    The Czechs have delivered at least 20 RM-70s, which are based on the Soviet-era GRAD MLRS, which Ukraine already operates. Meanwhile, Poland has sent at least 20 of its own GRADs.

    Tanks
    Poland has reportedly sent over 100 T-72M(1)s, though the Poles are in no hurry to publicly confirm it. Unlike other nations, Poland seems to want to keep its major weapons transfers quiet, even if leaks are inevitable: [Tweet and photos available at the link]

    The Czechs have promised 12 more T-72M1s. These are old variants, and Ukraine wants more modern gear. But there is hope that they can be quickly upgraded with modern optics. [Tweet and image available at the link]

    Western tanks are problematic for several reasons, mostly dealing with logistics. It’s one thing to have civilian contractors work on aircraft in Ukraine’s west. It’s another to have them on the eastern front lines servicing complex modern battle tanks. American M1 Abrams battle tanks use jet fuel and burn 3 gallons per mile (not a typo). It’s complicated enough getting regular diesel to the front lines.

    The good news is that several NATO allies have T-72s currently being phased out: Bulgaria (430), Czech Republic (around 630), and Poland (around 1,000).

    Conclusion
    While Ukraine hasn’t gotten everything it wants, the spigot is now open, with heavy armor (tanks and armored personnel carriers), aircraft, artillery, MLRS, and air defense systems finally flowing into the country. No one aside from the Germans and the French seem particularly worried about Russia’s reaction, and worrying about it seems quite quaint these days. Russia has watched impotently as NATO has flooded Ukraine with the very weapons that have killed or injured tens of thousands of Z invaders.

    And yes, we are all eager for more, and it will never be enough, but the logistics of the operation—already impressive—are dramatically improving, reflected in the quickening pace of new American military assistance packages. Meanwhile, other allies are finally coming online, like Italy, which approved weapons shipments on Monday.

    Germany approved $2 billion for Ukraine to “go shopping,” but inexplicably still won’t directly deliver weapons, and France is lagging. But with Biden pushing hard, hopefully they’ll deliver in a bigger way. They certainly seem to understand that they’ll shoulder the bulk of the burden of Ukraine’s reconstruction, but the longer this war lasts, the higher that bill will be. It will save them money in the long run to engage more actively in Ukraine’s defense.

  174. says

    Arizona lawmaker boldly lies about 1 billion migrants at border

    There are right-wing politicians using extremist talking points to attack Democrats on immigration and the southern border, and then there’s Debbie Lesko. The Arizona representative lied in a now-deleted tweet on Tuesday that “more than 1,000,000,000 migrants”—that’s billion with a b!—were apprehended by U.S. border officials in a span of six months.

    That’s a lot of people—about one in seven of all living human beings, to be more specific, noted The Washington Post’s Philip Bump. “If you have a spare bedroom, you probably would have had a knock at the door from someone from Customs and Border Protection. No wonder she eventually deleted the message.”

    In her now-deleted tweet, Lesko pointed to a report from The Wall Street Journal that claimed more than 1 million—not billion—arrests by U.S. border officials. But this too needs more explanation: Immigration policy experts have long stressed the Stephen Miller’s anti-asylum Title 42 policy “has had the counterproductive effect of significantly increasing the number of arrests at the border.” This is because desperate people unjustly blocked from their asylum rights will again try to seek safety.

    ”Before the pandemic began, just 7% of people arrested at the border had crossed the border more than once, but by October 2020, 40% of all people arrested had crossed the border multiple times that year,” American Immigration Council said last October. “Throughout Fiscal Year 2021, 1 in 3 people apprehended at the border had already crossed the border at least once that year.”

    ”Last month, the Border Patrol recorded 209,906 apprehensions, the third-highest since 2000 (we don’t have monthly records from before then),” Senior Policy Counsel Aaron Reichlin-Melnick tweeted on Tuesday. “I estimate that 61,000 of them—41%—were repeat apprehensions of someone on their 2nd, 3rd, or higher attempt to cross the border.”

    It would seem that one way to respond to this would be to end this disastrous policy.

    […] Republicans echoed the rhetoric of anti-immigrant hate group Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). The Tanton network group issued a press release just one day after President Biden’s inauguration that accused him of “inducing an immigration and border crisis.” Just one day after getting sworn in! That Biden sure gets shit done.

    “Within days of the release, Republicans began to echo the same language in their messages on social media,” The American Independent’s Oliver Willis reported last year, with Republican legislators including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy mimicking FAIR’s “border crisis” term nearly 40 times altogether through March 2021. Listed alongside Lesko were a number of other notorious anti-immigrant loudmouths, including Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton and Tennessee Sen. Marsha Blackburn.

    Blackburn has used “invasion” terminology to describe immigration at the southern border in Facebook ads several times in 2018, Media Matters reported in 2019. This is the same wording used by the white supremacist terrorist who went to El Paso that year to shoot and kill Mexicans. In Lesko’s state, GOP officials have used the term in asking the state’s governor to invoke war powers against asylum-seekers. Meanwhile, Lesko and Cotton opposed a bipartisan probe of the Jan. 6 insurrection, while Blackburn didn’t vote at all. Let’s also remember how McCarthy tried to sabotage the whole thing. But they continue to push the lie that we should be afraid of asylum-seekers.

  175. says

    France 24 liveblog:

    No escape for Le Pen on Russia

    Le Pen, who has spoken admiringly of Putin in the past, had somehow succeeded in side-stepping her ties with the Kremlin during the campaign.

    But there was no escape this time as Macron repeatedly challenged her on the subject. He also flagged her early recognition of Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

  176. says

    Hillary Clinton moves to shut down Trump lawsuit

    Clinton lawyers contend that Trump’s sprawling racketeering case is meritless and ask that it be dismissed ‘with prejudice.’

    Hillary Clinton is moving quickly to shut down an epic federal lawsuit that […] Trump filed last month accusing her, her political allies and various government officials of a racketeering conspiracy to propagate false claims about Trump and Russia in connection with the 2016 presidential race.

    In a motion filed Wednesday with a federal court in South Florida, Clinton’s attorneys say the sprawling, 108-page complaint is entirely without legal merit and amounts to little more than a publicity stunt.

    “Whatever the utility of Plaintiff’s Complaint as a fundraising tool, a press release, or a list of political grievances, it has no merit as a lawsuit, and should be dismissed with prejudice,” longtime Clinton attorney David Kendall wrote.

    While some other defendants have sought to stall the suit as they assess how to respond, Clinton’s lawyers wasted little time in asking U.S. District Court Judge Donald Middlebrooks to dismiss the claims against her “with prejudice” — meaning Trump would not be able to reformulate the suit and re-file.

    As a technical matter, Clinton’s motion applies only to her, so it can’t shut down the entire case. However, other defendants — who include various Clinton campaign aides, former Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, former FBI Director James Comey and ex-FBI agent Peter Strzok — could join in Clinton’s legal move to torpedo the suit.

    At least some of those defendants are expected to be represented by the Justice Department or government-paid attorneys.

    Clinton’s filing spends little time parsing the far-fetched and often incomprehensible allegations Trump makes against her, such as theft of trade secrets and witness tampering.

    “Clinton vigorously disputes the allegations in the Complaint,” her attorneys write. “But even taking those allegations as true, Plaintiff fails to plead any cognizable legal causes of action.”

    The filing asserts some very basic flaws are fatal to Trump’s suit, chief among them that the famously litigious former president and real estate mogul took too long to come to court. Clinton’s lawyers say the statute of limitations for the claims in Trump’s case ranges from two to four years, but the various assertions about Trump’s ties to Russia were out in the open in 2017.

    “Notwithstanding his rousing, all-caps call to action, Plaintiff waited four years, four months, and twenty-four days before filing suit,” Kendall wrote. “His delay renders each of his claims untimely.”

    Clinton’s attorneys also say Trump is trying to turn run-of-the-mill political opposition into a court case.

    “At most, Plaintiff alleges that other entities sought to further Clinton’s candidacy and, after the election, politically opposed Plaintiff’s administration,” Clinton’s motion argues. “This is conduct plainly protected by the First Amendment, and there is nothing unlawful about engagement in political activity.”

    Earlier this month, Trump asked Middlebrooks to recuse himself from the suit because he was appointed by Clinton’s husband, former President Bill Clinton. But the West Palm Beach-based judge promptly swatted down that request, saying he’d never met either Clinton.

    Middlebrooks also said that having judges step off cases involving political allies of the president who appointed them could grind the federal courts to a halt.

  177. says

    Le Pen is talking about crime. She just said “I’m mincing my words. I have to be very careful with my language here. We’re faced with barbaric behavior everywhere…” Then launches into her proposed measures to radically restrict immigration and institute punitive, authoritarian policies. This is an area where her mask really falls.

  178. says

    Dave Keating, France 24:

    They’re now talking about law & order.

    #LePen: “Our country’s in dire straights, and I’m being careful on the terminology I use – we are faced with barbaric behaviour. things are getting wilder & wilder”

    “Even deep in the countryside, people say there’s insecurity everywhere”

    You could find almost this exact quote in the early chapters of Vichy France and the Jews. Just disgusting.

    Macron is trying to talk about about the majority of women who are murdered are killed by someone in the home, and how he’s worked on this issue. She won’t even accept the subject as part of the discussion, because it would require her to acknowledge that it’s not roving gangs of immigrants. She actually said Macron pointing this out was offending victims!

  179. says

    Keating:

    The new softer face of Le Pen seems to be going out the window now. “We must be firm and tough on crime” she says.

    “The French feel that because of a lack of resources there’s no security. People are allowed to do whatever they want.”

    She’s talking about Islam. She’s on a real hate roll now.

  180. says

    France 24 liveblog:

    France ‘going savage’, says Le Pen

    The far-right candidate is talking tough on crime and immigration, conflating the two as her party often does.

    “We are facing barbarism, a real ensauvagement. We’re surrounded by insecurity in our cities, countryside, on public transport,” says Le Pen. “We must deal with the problem of massive, unregulated immigration, which is aggravating insecurity in our country.”

    Carrying racist overtones, the word “ensauvagement” has been a favourite theme of France’s far right in recent years, used to suggest that the nation is turning savage.

    More recently it has controversially been adopted by Macron’s hardline interior minister, Géral Darmanin, who has also accused Le Pen of being “soft” on radical Islam.

  181. says

    Dave Keating (from the same thread linked above):

    “In your France, you would have police officers running down the street chasing girls wearing hijabs or boys wearing the kippah,” Macron tells Le Pen.

    “We already have police harassing people about not wearing masks” responds Le Pen.

    “You’re not taking this seriously,” he says.

    “We would be the first country in the world to ban religious symbols, is that the country you want to have?” Macron asks Le Pen.

    “We will be the first country in the world to do a lot of things [under my presidency]” responds Le Pen.

    [He responded that these were policies that *advanced* freedom.]

  182. says

    Keating (same thread):

    Macron says the full headscarf ban in all public spaces in Le Pen’s platform would mean many people would be banned from public life.

    “You can’t say that a headscarf ban is a ban on radical Islamism,” he tells her.

    “Yes I can” she responds.

    FFS.

    (The debate is now over. I missed the very end due to a phone call, but I think I got the major points.)

  183. says

    Dave Keating:

    #Macron ends the debate by telling voters:

    “This whole election is a referendum for or against the EU…for or against the ecological transition…for or against secularism…and therefore a referendum for or against what we are,” he says.

    “The choice must be clear.”

  184. says

    Charlie Kirk’s TPUSA signals its surrender to white nationalist Groypers by embracing them

    The Groyper War—the internecine battle among far-right groups vying for the college-age audience, pitting Charlie Kirk’s slick Turning Point USA operation with Nick Fuentes’ America First and its white nationalist Groyper Army—seems to be over. With barely a whimper, the Groypers are the victors.

    Although it’s been clear that Kirk has been nudging TPUSA in a white nationalist direction over the past year, in recent weeks he has removed the barriers between the groups altogether. This week in California, two unrepentant white nationalists affiliated with America First are scheduled to appear as invited speakers at a TPUSA event at University of California-Santa Barbara—one month after having appeared at a similar event at Fresno State hosted by the school’s College Republicans.

    Thursday’s UCSB event sponsored by TPUSA is two-person panel featuring John Doyle, the host of the popular YouTube channel “Heck Off, Commie!,” and another far-right TikTok influencer named Kai Schwemmer, whose account is called Kai Clips. Both are closely associated with Fuentes and America First, and both specialize in outrageously and unapologetically racist discourse promoting white-supremacist eugenics.

    Doyle, for instance, viciously smeared Martin Luther King Jr. on one of his recent shows.

    “Without the assassination, he wouldn’t have a legacy, and I guarantee you he wouldn’t have a holiday,” Doyle said. “He would have become someone like Al Sharpton, or Jesse Jackson. Like, eventually the information about the scandals would have gone public—his infidelity, his Communist ties, his plagiarism—but now, because he was assassinated, nobody cares about that. Because the story goes that he died fighting for equality and he was killed by a racist white man. … So in terms of the legacy of Martin Luther King, being assassinated was, like, the best thing that could have happened to him.”

    He will be joined onstage at Santa Barbara by Schwemmer, a 19-year-old Groyper influencer whose TikTok account, as Ben Lorber reports, launders stylized takes on white nationalist ideology for a Gen Z audience. Schwemmer appeared in a video promoting Fuentes’ “White Boy Summer” speaking tour in 2021, and lamented on Twitter that “the white population is globally declining and we are being treated terribly by the incoming populations, the acceleration of mass immigration is one major part of this.”

  185. Pierce R. Butler says

    Lynna @ # 222, quoting some Kossack: … conservative men should be irradiating their testicles to boost their testosterone levels…

    That only works when they first inject them with a secret blend of ivermectin, hydrochoroquine, & Escherium coli in Russian caviar. Send me one ethereum for details!

  186. StevoR says

    Australia’s opposition leader Anthony Albanese ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthony_Albanese ) has just tested positive for covid 19 – right in the middle of a long election campaign & the night after the first :”leaders” debate :

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-04-21/albanese-tests-positive-to-covid-campaign/101007004

    Whilst it seems people are giving up on having anti-deadly virus measures in place just as we’re coming off a peak in the latest covid outbreak here in SA :

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-04-21/sa-records-4079-new-covid-cases/101004300

    And Oz generally. Guess those figures look pretty small to those in the states but still..

    Things were already hard enough for the ALP with pretty much the whole media against them without needing this. Sigh.

    FWIW, I’m voting (& volunteering for) the Greens and preferencing ALP, I think Albo is good – but definitely NOT great. Much like Biden-Harris. He woudn’t be my number 1 choice as PM and I think Bill Shorten was better as well as Penny Wong who has made it clear she won’t ever run for PM. However, Albo is certainly Astronomical Units if not Light Years better than Morriscum. Yes, Albo & the ALP have their weaknesses and I am very disappointed in his attitude to refugees and climate – but I understand why he’s going smallest of small targets after the last Federal election here even if I disagree. The top priority for me here has to be stopping the LNP from cheating and lying their way into yet another undeserved and destructive term in power. Thankfully I can vote 1 Greens, 2 ALP and still get the ALP in power and send them a message thanks to our preferential voting system.

  187. says

    Short YT clip from Maddow last night – “Brazilian President Puts Records Of Moscow Trip Under Seal For Five Years”:

    Rachel Maddow shares reporting that Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has sealed all public records of his three-day trip to Moscow to meet with Vladimir Putin before Putin launched his war in Ukraine, after which he declared Brazil’s “solidarity” with Russia.

    She also featured some of France 24’s English-language livestreaming of the presidential debate yesterday, which reminded me that I’d meant to mention above how impressive I thought the interpreters for Macron and Le Pen were. Really next level – it sounded like they were actually debating in English!

  188. says

    CBC – “U.S. Capitol briefly evacuated after parachute demonstration plane deemed ‘probable threat'”:

    The U.S. Capitol was briefly evacuated Wednesday evening after police identified an aircraft that they said posed “a probable threat” — but the plane was actually carrying members of the U.S. army’s parachute team, the Golden Knights, who then parachuted into Nationals Park for a pregame demonstration.

    The alert from the U.S. Capitol Police sent congressional staffers fleeing from the Capitol and legislative building around 6:30 p.m. local time.

    The incident suggested a stunning communications failure between the military, the Federal Aviation Administration and the Capitol Police, all the more remarkable because of Washington’s focus on improving security since the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the building by supporters of then-president Donald Trump.

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi blamed the Federal Aviation Administration in a statement Wednesday night, saying its “apparent failure to notify Capitol Police of the pre-planned flyover Nationals Stadium is outrageous and inexcusable.” The FAA did not respond to a request for comment.

    Kelli LeGaspi, a spokesperson for the army’s Recruiting Command, which was behind the Golden Knights demonstration, released a statement saying: “We are reviewing all aspects of the event to ensure all procedures were followed appropriately to co-ordinate both the flight and the parachute demonstration.”…

  189. says

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

    Vladimir Putin has ordered his forces not to storm the last remaining Ukrainian stronghold in the besieged city of Mariupol, after his defence minister admitted that the Russian army was still fighting thousands of Ukrainian troops there.

    Putin described a plan to storm the Azovstal steelworks “impractical” and called instead for Russian troops to blockade the area “so that a fly can’t get through”. The meeting appeared to be orchestrated in order for the Russians to step back from the assault on the steelworks, which has been stymied by a fierce Ukrainian resistance and the difficulties of operating in the industrial area.

    The mayor of Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, has said it is under intense bombardment. Oleg Synegubov, head of the Kharkiv regional state administration, said Russian forces shelled areas of Kharkiv with multiple systems. He claimed there were about 15 attacks and that five civilians were injured.

    Russian forces are advancing towards Kramatorsk while Putin likely desires to demonstrate “significant successes” ahead of Victory Day celebrations, British intelligence has suggested.

    Spain’s prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, and Denmark’s prime minister, Mette Frederiksen, are both expected to meet Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy in Kyiv today.

    Chinese President Xi Jinping has said his government supports talks to resolve international disputes but reiterated China’s opposition to unilateral sanctions. China has repeatedly criticised western sanctions, including those against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, but has also been careful not to provide assistance to Moscow that could lead to sanctions being imposed on Beijing.

    Five allied countries including the United States have warned that “evolving intelligence” indicates Russia is poised to launch cyberattacks against rivals [?] supporting Ukraine….

  190. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    A majority of people in Sweden are in favour of joining Nato, AFP cites a new poll as showing.

    The poll, carried out by polling institute Novus, showed that 51% of Swedes were in favour of joining the military alliance– up from 45% just a week ago. It marks the first time the pollster has recorded a majority on the issue.

    The results come as Sweden’s ruling party, the Social Democrats, prepares for a debate on whether to abandon the country’s military non-alignment. The party has historically opposed Nato membership, so a reversal of that policy would pave the way for a Swedish bid.

    In neighbouring Finland, the issue of Nato membership is currently being mulled by MPs following the publication of a government-commissioned “white paper” last week.

    Swedish opinion in favour of joining Nato is increasing because they believe it will be done together with Finland, Novus chief executive, Torbjorn Sjostrom, said.

    If Finland were to join the alliance, 64% of Swedes questioned said they were in favour of joining.

    Russia is closing the consulates of three ex-Soviet Baltic nations, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, the Russian foreign ministry said.

    The ministry said in a statement that it was closing the Latvian consulates in St Petersburg and Pskov, the Estonian consulate in St Petersburg and its office in Pskov, and the Lithuanian consulate in St Petersburg.

    All employees will be ordered to leave and declared “persona non grata”.

    Earlier this month, Latvia and Estonia each ordered the closure of two Russian consulates over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Lithuania also expelled its Russian ambassador.

    Latvia and Estonia recognise Russia’s actions in Ukraine as ‘genocide’

    The parliaments of both Estonia and Latvia have each recognised Russia’s actions in Ukraine as “genocide”.

    In a statement, the Estonian parliament said “systematic and massive war crimes” have been committed against the Ukrainian nation by Russia’s armed forces, adding:

    These crimes are ideologically incited by Russia’s political and military leadership and its national propaganda authorities.

    In temporarily occupied territories, Russians committed “acts of genocide” against the civilian population, the statement continued.

    These have consisted of murders, enforced disappearances, deportations, imprisonment, torture, rape and desecration of corpses.

    Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, his Danish counterpart Mette Frederiksen and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky have been giving joint press conference in Kyiv.

    Reuters reports that Frederiksen said her country would give further military aid worth 615m Kr (£69m / $90m) to Ukraine and support further sanctions against Russia. She said Denmark’s total military assistance amounted to around 1bn Kr (£112m / $146m).

    Ukraine prime minister Denys Shmyhal is in Washington today. He will be meeting with House speaker Nancy Pelosi and other bipartisan congressional leaders later, and it appears he will also be meeting with defense secretary Lloyd Austin.

    Joe Biden is scheduled to take to the podium today at the White House at 9.45am ET (1.45pm GMT) to provide an update on Ukraine and Russia….

    Biden is speaking now.

  191. says

    New Frontline – “The Power of Big Oil Part One: Denial”:

    Watch part one of “The Power of Big Oil,” a three-episode FRONTLINE docuseries investigating the fossil fuel industry’s history of casting doubt and delaying action on climate change.

    Go inside the decades-long failure to confront the threat and increasing impacts of climate change in “The Power of Big Oil.” This deeply researched docuseries reveals what scientists, corporations and politicians have known about human-caused climate change for decades, and the missed opportunities to mitigate the problem….

    1.5-hour YT video at the link.

  192. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Biden: War in Ukraine is at a ‘critical window’

    The battle of Kyiv was a “historic victory” for the Ukrainians, Biden said, a “victory for freedom won by the Ukrainian people with unprecedented assistance” by the US and its allies.

    Biden said:

    Now we have to accelerate that assistance package to help prepare Ukraine for Russia’s offensive that is going to be more limited in terms of geography, but not in terms of brutality.

    The US and its allies are “moving as fast as possible” to provide weapons to Ukrainian forces, Biden said, announcing another $800 million in military assistance.

    The US will also ban Russian-affiliated ships from American ports, which he described as “another critical step” to “deny Russia the benefits of the international economic system that they so enjoyed in the past”.

  193. says

    NYT – “‘I’ve Had It With This Guy’: G.O.P. Leaders Privately Blasted Trump After Jan. 6”:

    In the days after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol building, the two top Republicans in Congress, Representative Kevin McCarthy and Senator Mitch McConnell, told associates they believed President Trump was responsible for inciting the deadly riot and vowed to drive him from politics. Mr. McCarthy went so far as to say he would push Mr. Trump to resign immediately: “I’ve had it with this guy,” he told a group of Republican leaders.

    But within weeks both men backed off an all-out fight with Mr. Trump because they feared retribution from him and his political movement. Their drive to act faded fast as it became clear it would mean difficult votes that would put them at odds with most of their colleagues.

    “I didn’t get to be leader by voting with five people in the conference,” Mr. McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, told a friend.

    The confidential expressions of outrage from Mr. McCarthy and Mr. McConnell, which have not been previously reported, illustrate the immense gulf between what Republican leaders say privately about Mr. Trump and their public deference to a man whose hold on the party has gone virtually unchallenged for half a decade.

    The leaders’ swift retreat in January 2021 represented a capitulation at a moment of extraordinary political weakness for Mr. Trump — perhaps the last and best chance for mainstream Republicans to reclaim control of their party from a leader who had stoked an insurrection against American democracy itself.

    This account of the private discussions among Republican leaders in the days after the Jan. 6 attack is adapted from a new book, “This Will Not Pass: Trump, Biden and the Battle for America’s Future,” which draws on hundreds of interviews with lawmakers and officials, and contemporaneous records of pivotal moments in the 2020 presidential campaign.

    On a phone call with several other top House Republicans on Jan. 8, Mr. McCarthy said Mr. Trump’s conduct on Jan. 6 had been “atrocious and totally wrong.” He faulted the president for “inciting people” to attack the Capitol, saying that Mr. Trump’s remarks at a rally on the National Mall that day were “not right by any shape or any form.”

    During that conversation, Mr. McCarthy inquired about the mechanism for invoking the 25th Amendment — the process whereby the vice president and members of the cabinet can remove a president from office — before concluding that was not a viable option. Mr. McCarthy, who was among those who objected to the election results, was uncertain and indecisive, fretting that the Democratic drive to impeach Mr. Trump would “put more fuel on the fire” of the country’s divisions.

    But Mr. McCarthy’s resolve seemed to harden as the gravity of the attack — and the potential political fallout for his party — sank in….

    On Jan. 10, Mr. McCarthy spoke again with the leadership team and this time he had a plan in mind.

    The Democrats were driving hard at an impeachment resolution, Mr. McCarthy said, and they would have the votes to pass it. Now he planned to call Mr. Trump and tell him it was time for him to go.

    “What he did is unacceptable. Nobody can defend that and nobody should defend it,” he told the group.

    Mr. McCarthy said he would tell Mr. Trump of the impeachment resolution: “I think this will pass, and it would be my recommendation you should resign.”

    He acknowledged it was unlikely Mr. Trump would follow that suggestion.

    Other Republican leaders in the House agreed with Mr. McCarthy that the president’s behavior deserved swift punishment. Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the second-ranking House Republican, said on one call that it was time for the G.O.P. to contemplate a “post-Trump Republican House,” while Representative Tom Emmer of Minnesota, the head of the party’s House campaign committee, suggested censuring Mr. Trump.

    Yet none of the men followed through on their tough talk in those private conversations.

    In the following days, Mr. McCarthy heard from some Republican lawmakers who advised against confronting Mr. Trump. In one group conversation, Representative Bill Johnson of Ohio cautioned that conservative voters back home “go ballistic” in response to criticism of Mr. Trump, demanding that Republicans instead train their denunciations on Democrats, such as Hillary Clinton and Hunter Biden.

    “I’m just telling you that that’s the kind of thing that we’re dealing with, with our base,” Mr. Johnson said.

    When only 10 House Republicans joined with Democrats to support impeaching Mr. Trump on Jan. 13, the message to Mr. McCarthy was clear.

    By the end of the month, he was pursuing a rapprochement with Mr. Trump, visiting him at Mar-a-Lago and posing for a photograph. (“I didn’t know they were going to take a picture,” Mr. McCarthy said, somewhat apologetically, to one frustrated lawmaker.)

    Mr. McCarthy has never repeated his denunciations of Mr. Trump, instead offering a tortured claim that the real responsibility for Jan. 6 lies with security officials and Democratic legislative leaders for inadequately defending the Capitol complex.

    In the Senate, Mr. McConnell’s reversal was no less revealing. Late on the night of Jan. 6, Mr. McConnell predicted to associates that his party would soon break sharply with Mr. Trump and his acolytes; the Republican leader even asked a reporter in the Capitol for information about whether the cabinet might really pursue the 25th Amendment.

    When that did not materialize, Mr. McConnell’s thoughts turned to impeachment.

    On Monday, Jan. 11, Mr. McConnell met over lunch in Kentucky with two longtime advisers, Terry Carmack and Scott Jennings. Feasting on Chick-fil-A in Mr. Jennings’s Louisville office, the Senate Republican leader predicted Mr. Trump’s imminent political demise.

    “The Democrats are going to take care of the son of a [b—-] for us,” Mr. McConnell said, referring to the imminent impeachment vote in the House.

    Once the House impeached Mr. Trump, it would take a two-thirds vote of the Senate to convict him. That would require the votes of all 50 Democrats and at least 17 Republicans in the Senate — a tall order, given that Mr. Trump’s first impeachment trial in 2020 had ended with just one Republican senator, Mitt Romney of Utah, voting in favor of conviction.

    But Mr. McConnell knew the Senate math as well as anyone and he told his advisers he expected a robust bipartisan vote for conviction. After that, Congress could then bar Mr. Trump from ever holding public office again.

    The president’s behavior on Jan. 6 had been utterly beyond the pale, Mr. McConnell said. “If this isn’t impeachable, I don’t know what is,” he said.

    …Once the proceedings against Mr. Trump moved from the House to the Senate, Mr. McConnell took the measure of Republican senators and concluded that there was little appetite for open battle with a man who remained — much to Mr. McConnell’s surprise — the most popular Republican in the country.

    After Mr. Trump left office, a new legal argument emerged among Senate Republicans, offering them an escape hatch from a conflict few of them wanted: It was inappropriate to proceed with impeachment against a former president, they said….

    In February, Mr. McConnell voted to acquit Mr. Trump even as seven other Senate Republicans joined with Democrats to muster the largest bipartisan vote ever in favor of conviction in a presidential impeachment trial. Anxious not to be seen as surrendering to Mr. Trump, Mr. McConnell went to the Senate floor after the vote to deliver a scorching speech against the former president.

    But Mr. McConnell went mostly silent about Mr. Trump after that point. He avoids reporters’ questions about the former president and only rarely speaks about Jan. 6. In a Fox News interview in late February 2021, Mr. McConnell was asked whether he would support Mr. Trump in 2024 if the former president again became the G.O.P. nominee for the presidency.

    Mr. McConnell answered: “Absolutely.”

  194. says

    Paul Brand, ITV:

    BREAKING: Senior and highly influential backbencher Steve Baker calls on Boris Johnson to resign.

    “The gig’s up”.

    There can be few more devastating interventions. Only yesterday he was talking of mercy and forgiveness.

    Significantly this means both the chair and deputy chair of the Covid Recovery Group of MPs – a large and influential chunk of the party – now publicly say they want Boris Johnson gone.

    Steve Baker’s intervention… [video at the link]

  195. StevoR says

    Meanwhile in spaaace news (yoiking from Colbert) :

    https://www.syfy.com/syfy-wire/bad-astronomy-perseverance-rover-sees-phobos-transiting-the-sun

    Phil Plait on a transit of Phobos.

    Plus :

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-04-18/australia-smallest-sauropod-dinosaur-ollie-outback-queensland-/100995592

    One big old baby.

    In addition to :

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/science/2022-04-21/micronova-new-type-of-cosmic-explosion-discovered/101000182

    The micronova which, obvs, isn’t a supernova or nova but still astronomically impressive.

  196. says

    Julia Davis:

    Meanwhile on Russian state TV: host Vladimir Solovyov threatens Europe and all NATO countries, asking whether they will have enough weapons and people to defend themselves once Russia’s “special operation” in Ukraine comes to an end. Solovyov adds: “There will be no mercy.”

    Video with subtitles at the link.

  197. says

    SC @252, so, it sounds like Putin is declaring victory in Mariupol when he doesn’t really have a victory there. Also, he is still planning defeat for the people hunkered down in the Azovstal steelworks … by starving them.

  198. says

    Might be funny if it were not also an example of corruption in the Republican Party:

    Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows is under investigation for voting in North Carolina after having moved to Virginia, and just to make this a bit more complex, the Republican claimed this week to be a resident of South Carolina.

  199. says

    Trump loses another court case:

    When Omarosa Manigault Newman, a former aid in Donald Trump’s White House, wrote a book about her experiences, the former president was more than disappointed. In fact, [Trump] sued his former ally, insisting she’d signed a nondisclosure agreement during the 2016 campaign, and the book violated its terms.

    Trump’s lawsuit failed, and as The New York Times reported, he also lost a related case yesterday.

    A court arbitrator has ordered former President Donald J. Trump’s presidential campaign to pay nearly $1.3 million in legal fees to Omarosa Manigault Newman, the former “Apprentice” star, White House aide and author of the first tell-all book about the Trump White House. The award, handed down on Tuesday, concludes a protracted legal fight….

    Manigault Newman’s lawyer told the newspaper that the size of the award “hopefully will send a message that weaponized litigation will not be tolerated and empower other lawyers to stand up and fight.”

    At face value, this is a costly setback for the former president and his political operation. But the problem for Team Trump is not just that it lost a non-disclosure case; the problem is that it keeps losing non-disclosure cases.

    Consider the case of former Trump campaign worker Alva Johnson, who alleged a few years ago that in August 2016, the then-candidate grabbed her at a campaign stop and kissed her on the mouth against her will. After she sued, the Republican filed an arbitration complaint against her, claiming Johnson had violated a non-disclosure agreement by making the allegations.

    That didn’t work: Just last month, the former president’s campaign was ordered to pay more than $300,000 in legal fees and expenses to the former employee. Victor Bianchini, the retired federal judge who adjudicated the arbitration complaint, concluded that the Trump campaign “was invested in silencing other employees that were terminated or had somehow criticized the candidate in other ways.”

    He added that one of the underlying points of the campaign’s challenge was “curtailing any criticism of the candidate.”

    As we discussed soon after, the larger pattern is striking: Team Trump has also lost an effort to enforce a non-disclosure agreement against a different former campaign worker named Jessica Denson. What’s more, Team Trump’s non-disclosure case against Stephanie Winston-Wolkoff didn’t work out well, and neither did the case against Mary Trump.

    The message to others seems unmistakable: There may be others holding back because they signed an NDA and fear the consequences of breaking it. The more Team Trump’s attempts to enforce these agreements fall short, the less incentive his former employees have to remain silent.

    Link

  200. says

    Ukraine update:

    […] nations are flooding gear into Ukraine, but few want to actually talk about it: “[N]ations are trying not to advertise to Moscow exactly what is being provided. France says it has supplied 100 million euros of military equipment to Ukraine, without specifying what it has sent. Some countries have no desire to goad the Russian bear.” There’s also this sentence, which is either the scoop of the week, or an embarrassing journalistic error:

    The United States has also agreed to provide some 155-millimeter howitzers, along with 40,000 matching rounds, while trying to buy Soviet-standard ammunition from countries that use it, including nations outside of Europe, like Afghanistan and even India, a longstanding buyer of Russian arms.

    The U.S. is trying to buy weapons from the Taliban? Did India, one of the few nations still happy and eager to do business with Russia, actually get approached to sell arms headed to Ukraine? Did they say “yes”? In any case, 30 countries are assisting Ukraine in its war effort, which is 30 more than are assisting Russia, all coordinated by the United States. No one does logistics like the United States.

    Meanwhile, Russia’s broad-based assault along the entire Donbas front has netted them some small gains. [Maps available at the link]

    Losing any ground sucks, of course. But the tactical withdrawal is a legitimate tool in any army’s toolbox, and Ukraine has several layers of defensive lines set up. None of these losses are particularly strategic, the way Izyum was. If the plan is to fall back behind the Siverskyi Donets river, you better believe dug in positions are already in place, but with a river assisting in the defense—just like the Irpin halted the Russian advance toward northwest Kyiv. Ukraine’s Severodonetsk salient is unfortunately becoming more and more exposed, with a city that has been absolutely pummeled sine the beginning of the war. There were celebrations in pro-Russian channels last night that Ukraine was falling back from Severodonetsk, but I’ve seen no real confirmation. Ukraine did announce that every single food storage site in the city had been destroyed by Russian shelling and the city was fully cut off from supplies, which certainly seems ominous.

    In total, Ukraine’s General Staff claimed 10 Russian attacks yesterday, which is double the intensity of the previous weeks, when we’d see four to six daily attacks. The Institute for the Study War noted that “Russian forces have not achieved any major breakthroughs, nor have they demonstrated any new capability to conduct multiple successful, simultaneous advances.” You know me, I don’t see how Russia gets its shit together. If a “major offensive” ever materializes, I suspect it’ll feature troops rushing forward as someone yells “charge!” except that half the troops won’t hear it because their radios won’t work or were sold for booze, while another quarter will be like “no thanks.” Ukrainian defenses will inevitably be pushed back from sheer numbers, but then what? Russian losses will continue to be horrific, while Ukrainian reserves gear up in the west, and heavy artillery, suicide drones, and more armor joins the fight. […]

    Link

  201. says

    Thursday COVID Roundup: The Pandemic is Finally Over! Rejoice!

    The article is chock full of snark, while also providing updated information. The details regarding Long Covid are particularly alarming. There’s also a graph and other info highlighting sublineages of Omicron, (BA.2.12.1 increased to 19% of cases, and it has a transmission advantage over BA.2 … of course it does). Hospitalizations for Covid 19 are rising exponentially again in Florida and New York. Hospitalizations are rising faster in Florida than they did in the last Omicron wave.

    Excerpt from the article:

    […] Who cares if 500 die a day! Who cares if we are approaching 1 million official deaths! Those people were disposable! Never mind the lovey-doves who are still in mourning! They need to get over COVID like I have! Besides, they didn’t die of COVID! Something else killed them!

    […] I am FURIOUS right now, and when I feel this way I often resort to snark and sarcasm in heavy doses. I have never felt more disposable as a Long COVID sufferer than right now. While I am not giving up quite yet, the events depicted at the start of the diary have left me extremely close to doing so.

    With all of the stress in my life right now, the last thing I need is for this stinging defeat to have happened. The moves by the airlines show that they don’t think the mandate will EVER come back. Biden is fighting for it, but the damage has already been done. […]

  202. says

    […] towns taken by Russians have their citizens conscripted

    [maps available at the link] Combat continues as major breakthroughs have yet to occur in the areas of operation. The east has attacks, counter-attacks, and probing for encirclement. Weapons shipments continue. Disinformation abounds as Russia spins the recent test of a new ICBM.

    […] Russian forces made minor advances in the ongoing offensive in eastern Ukraine on April 19, seizing several small towns and advancing into the key frontline towns of Rubizhne and Popasna. Russian forces continued major assaults with heavy air and artillery support but are continuing to build the logistics and command-and-control capabilities necessary for a larger offensive. Russian forces have not achieved any major breakthroughs, nor have they demonstrated any new capability to conduct multiple successful, simultaneous advances. Russian forces additionally made grinding progress against remaining Ukrainian defenders in Mariupol’s Azovstal Steel Works and announced plans for a May 9 Victory Day parade in the city – indicating Russian forces will declare victory in Mariupol by that date at the latest.

    […] Ukrainian forces reported the presence of small numbers of Syrian or Libyan mercenaries fighting in Popasna (eastern Ukraine), likely individual recruits fighting under the umbrella of the Wagner Group rather than larger units.

    […] Russian forces made minor advances around Izyum but have not secured any major breakthroughs.

    […] To the south of #Izyum #Russian forces were stopped before reaching the city limits of Dovhen’ke. #Ukraianian troops inflicted heavy losses on the attacking 🇷🇺, who retreated after suffering too many casualties.

    […] In #Popansa, #Russians continued their assault on the city, but thus far have been unable to take the city center. #Ukrainian armed forces have been holding their lines and inflicting heavy losses. […]

    Doctors treating Russian military personnel on the border with Ukraine are being forced to sign non-disclosure agreements.

    […] Ukraine says Russian forces are planning “pseudo-referendums to declare a forced mobilization and throw ‘mobilized’ Ukrainians to the hottest parts of the front. […]

    Much more at the link.

    See also:
    https://twitter.com/juliaioffe/status/1516920051705819137

    and:
    https://twitter.com/jane_in_vain/status/1516570629755088913

    A video that broke me today: a Russian missile hit this blind grandma’s house. She doesn’t know her house has been completely destroyed, and asks the soldier to close the door because it’s cold.

    In the video, you can see the soldier crying.

  203. blf says

    You Are Islamicizing Your Genitals, Jarrin Jackson Tells Transgender Individuals (RWW edits in {curly braces}):

    Jarrin Jackson, a radical right-wing activist and [“pizzagate”] conspiracy theorist who is running for a seat in the Oklahoma Senate, declared […] that transgender individuals are Islamicizing {their} genitals by undergoing gender reassignment surgery.

    [… lots of repetitive burbling, spittle frothing, and dung flinging…]

    […] […] Muslims do genital mutilation for women that have sex or commit adultery. That’s what Muslims do. You are Islamicizing your genitals.

  204. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 268

    Ummmmm, I’m no fan of Islam in either theory or practice, but no.

  205. says

    […] A few choice tidbits, all according to Fiona Hill:

    – Upon meeting Hill for the first time, she says Trump mistook her for a secretary (she was the senior director for European and Russian affairs on the National Security Council) and “became angry that she did not immediately agree to retype a news release for him.”

    – Trump informed Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan that most Americans’ idea of Turkey comes from the prisons in Midnight Express: “Bad image—you need to make a different film.”

    – Trump would ask to send magazine articles to the likes of Erdogan and French president Emmanuel Macron if the stories included flattering pictures of the leaders. Often, the text of the article was anything but. That didn’t matter: Trump wanted to make sure that his peers on the world stage knew when they were “looking strong.”

    – In a conversation with former German chancellor Angela Merkel, Trump referred to Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) as “Senator Pocahontas.” Merkel was aghast.

    – Trump did his shtick about hating windmills—to the prime minister of Norway.

    – Trump didn’t see why Crimea shouldn’t be a part of Russia. They speak Russian there, after all. […]

    Link

  206. says

    Wonkette: “Michael Flynn Has Cool Idea To Help Putin Finish Genocide He Started”

    With every day that passes in Russia’s war against Ukraine, being an American Putin apologist becomes a little bit grosser than it was the day before. It became grosser when the world started to see the mass graves full of executed civilian corpses that were left when Russian troops would leave a Ukrainian town. It became grosser when reports started coming out of Russian troops raping Ukrainian [women]. [“Ukraine’s ombudsman for human rights Lyudmyla Denisova says they’re documenting several such cases.
    “About 25 girls and women aged 14 to 24 were systematically raped during the occupation in the basement of one house in Bucha. Nine of them are pregnant,” she said. “Russian soldiers told them they would rape them to the point where they wouldn’t want sexual contact with any man, to prevent them from having Ukrainian children.””] With every atrocity, it’s just that much more impossible to say that these people’s arguments [like Michael Flynn’s arguments] are academic in nature, that maybe they just have a different perspective on foreign policy.

    So let’s talk about disgraced pardoned literal actual traitor Michael Flynn, a man who’s eaten dinner in Moscow close enough to Vladimir Putin to know what he smells like. We are eight weeks into this war that Ukraine did nothing to provoke, despite whatever Kremlin-scripted justifications people like Flynn, Tucker Carlson, and Tulsi Gabbard might have for it.

    On Mike Lindell TV, which is a thing that exists — don’t miss the chyron with the MyPillow discount code — Flynn told beclowned former OAN host Emerald Robinson that it’s just time for everybody to stop helping Ukraine and let Russia win. You know, for humanitarian reasons.

    He phrased it a bit differently, of course: [video available at the link]

    At the beginning of the clip, Robinson says that “if you listen to western media, it sounds like Ukraine is holding off Russia, but if you listen to not-western media, it sounds like Russia has the upper hand.” Which is a cute way of saying Russian government-owned media.

    And Flynn says, “Anybody that continues to put fuel on a blazing fire, meaning more weapons, more ammunition, more of the sort of warfare-type stuff that’s thrown into this fire is going to keep this fire blazing for a long, long time, and I think that doesn’t benefit anybody.” Of course, the primary military aid that’s happening is western countries giving Ukraine weapons and ammunition to push back against Russia’s invasion. So what Flynn is really saying is just that everybody should stop helping Ukraine and let Putin finish the genocide he started.

    You know, the type of thing a polite dinner guest of Putin’s would say. [photo available at the link]

    […] we really ought to go further back in Flynn’s history, specifically to the time in 2016 when, as a member of Donald Trump’s transition team, he secretly negotiated with the Russian government not to respond to sanctions imposed by the Obama administration after Russia meddled in the 2016 election to steal it for Trump. That set of sanctions came on top of the other sanctions Obama had put on Russia after it invaded Ukraine the first time, in 2014. Then when Trump made him national security advisor, Flynn lied to the FBI about those secret negotiations with the enemy.

    Elsewhere in the broadcast, Emerald Robinson wanted Flynn to respond to Malcolm Nance going to Ukraine to fight against Russia. Flynn’s question was whether Nance was “fighting for a fascist dictator, or is he fighting for communism?” Which suggests Flynn may be too senile and/or huffing too much QAnon paint to even be qualified to discuss world affairs at this point. [Video available at the link]

    Who’s the “fascist dictator,” Mike? Who’s the “communism?” He’s fighting on behalf of Ukraine, you traitorous dumbfuck, which is neither communist nor fascist.

    As Judge Emmet Sullivan once memorably said to Flynn, “arguably you sold your country out.” Arguably that includes selling out our allies, both Ukraine and the larger NATO alliance Putin’s genocidal fantasies are threatening.

    That’s just what Michael Flynn does. That’s just who he is. It’s who he’ll always be.

  207. says

    […] Bitcoin feels wasteful to a lot of people because its security depends on buying lots of specialized computing hardware that’s useless for any other purpose and then running it hard, which consumes joules and joules of electricity. The Cambridge Center for Alternative Finance calculates that Bitcoin mining, on the whole, consumes slightly more energy than gold mining, which is a fair comparison, since both Bitcoin tokens and gold are pitched as alternatives to fiat currencies such as the U.S. dollar. Bitcoin mining consumes more electricity than Norway but slightly less than Egypt, the center says, and accounts for 0.62 percent of the world’s total electricity consumption.

    Here is a mind-blowing stat about Bitcoin: Every second, the Bitcoin network performs about 200 quintillion hashes, which are essentially guesses about a certain very long string of digits. There’s a race among Bitcoin network participants, known as miners, to make guesses faster and faster so they can be first and win rewards in the form of Bitcoin. It’s cheaper for them than buying Bitcoin on the open market: The token’s price is up more than thirtyfold over the past five years.

    As the miners get faster, the network automatically makes the problem they need to solve harder, essentially spinning the treadmill faster. The Bitcoin network was designed this way to limit the pace at which new blocks of verified data are formed to one every 10 minutes. Unlike with most other cryptocurrencies, there is a built-in ceiling on production of tokens. More than 90 percent of the 21 million Bitcoin that will ever exist have already been mined, making each one more valuable.

    Pressure on Bitcoin to switch to a less energy-intensive approach is coming from several directions. Ethereum, the No. 2 cryptocurrency, is switching from proof of work, which Bitcoin uses, to proof of stake, which requires much less computing power and therefore does less damage to the environment. Briefly, you prove your work by doing those quintillions of calculations. You prove your stake by pledging cryptocoins that you own. As in a company’s shareholder vote, the people with the most coins have the biggest say.

    The difference in energy consumed per transaction between the two systems is like the difference in height between the world’s tallest building and a single screw, according to one creative comparison. Once Ethereum makes the switch, Bitcoin will be the only one of the most highly valued cryptocurrencies using proof of work.

    The European Parliament is moving toward insisting that all cryptocurrencies meet environmental sustainability standards, although in March a draft document stopped short of banning the proof-of-work system that Bitcoin uses. Also in March, Greenpeace USA, the Environmental Working Group, and other environmental advocacy groups began the Change the Code campaign, which involves advertising as well as putting pressure on cryptocurrency fanboys like Elon Musk of Tesla and Jack Dorsey of Block (formerly Square), as well as Abigail Johnson of Fidelity Investments, which manages mutual funds that invest in Bitcoin miners. The campaign got a $5 million boost from Chris Larsen, the executive chairman, a former chief executive and a co-founder of Ripple, a blockchain company for global enterprises.

    There is no Bitcoin headquarters that you can call for an official response on this matter. Jameson Lopp, one of the currency’s defenders I spoke with, said, “There is no official anything when it comes to Bitcoin. There is no leader. There is only the protocol.”

    Lopp, a co-founder and the chief technology officer of the Bitcoin storage company Casa, who describes himself as a professional cypherpunk, said it wasn’t up to people like him to defend Bitcoin. “I believe it defends itself. The game theory and the incentives are what keep this working. People can scream about environmental concerns all day long, but until you come up with a better system, it’s going to keep going.”

    […] there’s no evidence that the key players in Bitcoin are interested in making the big switch to energy-saving proof of stake. It wouldn’t benefit the miners, who have invested heavily in specialized computing technology that would go to waste. And there’s no groundswell for it in the other key interest group, the operators of nodes — computers that keep up-to-date digital records of crypto transactions. The node operators collectively decide whether each new block of transactions should or should not be legitimized and appended to the blockchain. Some fear that moving to proof of stake would diminish Bitcoin’s decentralization, which they value. […]

    NY Times link

    Sounds like an environmentally-damaging mess to me.

  208. says

    Update – Guardian liveblog:

    Russia rejects proposal for Easter truce

    Volodymyr Zelenskiy said he is still hopeful for peace even after Moscow rejected a proposed truce this weekend over the Orthodox Christian Easter period.

    Russia had rejected a similar request earlier this week after the UN secretary-general, Antonio Guterres, called for a truce through Easter Sunday to allow the delivery of humanitarian aid and safe passage for civilians attempting to flee the war zone. “The four-day Easter period should be a moment to unite around saving lives and furthering dialogue to end the suffering in Ukraine,” he said.

    Russia’s deputy UN ambassador, Dmitry Polyanskiy, said the request was not “sincere” and would give Ukrainian fighters more time to arm themselves.

  209. says

    Marcy Wheeler:

    Don’t look now but two co-conspirators in the crime Steve Bannon got pardoned for are pleading guilty to ripping off gullible Trump supporters.

    How it happened that 1) Bannon could rip off gullible Trump supporters and then 2) Trump could pardon Bannon for ripping off gullible Trump supporters and 3) the Trump supporters wouldn’t even peep, I’m not sure.

    I blame Fox News.

    In a world with a competent press there would be blaring headlines tomorrow:

    BANNON CO-CONSPIRATORS ADMIT THE[Y] ALL CHEATED TRUMP SUPPORTERS
    –Bannon escaped consequences thanks to Trump pardon–

  210. says

    Well, good. At least the implementation of this terrible anti-abortion law has been put on hold:

    A federal judge on Thursday temporarily blocked a state law that effectively eliminated abortions in Kentucky after the state’s two remaining clinics said they couldn’t meet its requirements.

    The two Louisville clinics had gone to court immediately after the law took effect, asking that the measure be put on hold while the case is litigated. Thursday’s decision was a victory for abortion rights advocates and a setback for the Republican-led legislature, which passed the law in March and then overrode Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear’s veto of the measure last week.

    The measure bans abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy and requires women to be examined by a doctor before receiving abortion pills. It also contains new reporting requirements that the Kentucky clinics said they couldn’t immediately comply with. Noncompliance can result in stiff fines and felony penalties.

    Supporters of the law say the goal is to protect women’s health and strengthen oversight. The law’s opponents say the objective all along was to stop abortions completely. […]

    Link

  211. tomh says

    Re: #277
    A lot of these draconian abortion laws may be put on hold, or even held unconstitutional since they’re at odds with Roe v Wade, but then will come back to life this summer when the Supreme Court either reverses Roe or simply rules in favor of Dobbs, in the Mississippi abortion case. The purpose of many of these laws is to have them on the books awaiting SC action. There is little doubt that will come, and it won’t be good news.

  212. says

    I can’t find confirmation on these stories, but very interesting if true:

    […] There are multiple stories of mutinies in the Russian Army. None can be confirmed but the stories are multiplying.

    The final assault on the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol was canceled by Putin, reportedly because of a mutiny. Russian forces did not want to walk into a death trap to flush out the Ukrainian marines and Azov fighters who they know will fight to the death and probably take out a dozen Russians for every Ukrainian fighter that falls. Putin has now declared they will ‘seal off’ the plant. The ferocity of the warriors of Mariupol may have earned them the time needed to survive to see relief arrive. Putin was willing to sacrifice as many as it took to wipe them out but the Russian soldiers who would have been sacrificed had other ideas.

    It seems a lot of Russian soldiers are thinking that Putin’s willingness to sacrifice their lives needlessly is maybe not such a great idea. Putin was reported apoplectic on hearing that 60 paratroopers mutinied and refused to go to Ukraine. […]

    Link

    See also: https://twitter.com/UkraineDispatch/status/1516254012223410180

  213. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Russia has slapped “indefinite’ travel bans on US Vice President Kamala Harris and Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg as well as dozens of prominent Americans and Canadians in retaliation for sanctions imposed over Ukraine.

    The Russian foreign ministry said the travel restrictions on 29 Americans and 61 Canadians – which also includes defence officials, business leaders and journalists from both countries – would remain in effect indefinitely.

    The foreign ministry said the list was comprised of people responsible for the two countries’ “Russophobic” policies.

    US State Department spokesman Ned Price, who has been targeted in the ban, said that the travel ban was “an honour.”

    I have to say it is nothing less than an accolade to have earned the ire of a government that lies to its own people, brutalises its neighbours and seeks to create a world where freedom and liberty are put on the run and, if they had their way, extinguished,” Price told reporters.

    Other Americans banned by Russia include ABC News television presenter George Stephanopoulos, Washington Post columnist David Ignatius and the Russia-focused Meduza news site’s editor Kevin Rothrock. [I believe Julia Ioffe was on the list.]

    The US defence officials include Pentagon spokesman John Kirby and Deputy Secretary of Defence Kathleen Hicks.

    The list of Canadians is headed by Cameron Ahmad, who serves as director of communications to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and Canadian Special Operations Forces Commander Steve Boivin.

    Kevin Rothrock:

    I’ll say this: I had no intention of setting foot in Russia again while Putin is still in power, but the idea that I might never be allowed to visit the country again is definitely sad to me. My travels there have shaped me as a person and built lifelong friendships.

    I saw a similar comment from another journalist earlier.

  214. says

    News about Obama’s speech:

    Former President Obama placed blame on tech companies for failing to address the disinformation problem he said the industry has amplified during a speech Thursday at Stanford University.

    The new information ecosystem, fueled by the rise of dominant social media platforms, is “turbocharging some of humanity’s worst impulses,” he said in the roughly hourlong speech.

    “But not all problems we’re seeing now are an inevitable byproduct of this new technology. They’re also the result of very specific choices, made by the companies that have come to dominate the internet generally, and social media platforms in particular. Decisions that intentionally or not have made democracies more vulnerable,” he said.

    Certain features, such as the “veil of anonymity” online, have compounded the problem, he said.

    Obama highlighted the real-world impacts of the spread of disinformation, discussing the spread of false information about the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccines, 2020 election conspiracies that fueled the violent riot at the Capitol last year and Russian disinformation campaigns leading up to the invasion of Ukraine.

    “People like [Russian President Vladimir] Putin, and Steve Bannon for that matter, understand it’s not necessary for people to believe this information in order to weaken democratic institutions. You just have to flood a country’s public square with enough raw sewage. You just have to raise enough questions, spread enough dirt, plant enough conspiracy theorizing, that citizens no longer know what to believe,” Obama said. Bannon is a former strategist for former President Trump.

    “Once they lose trust in their leaders, mainstream media, in political institutions, in each other, the possibility of truth — the game’s won,” he added.

    […] On Thursday, the former president advocated for a multipronged approach to combat disinformation — including from government reform, tech employee-led change and a shift in the way users consume news and information online.

    “At the end of the day the internet is a tool, social media is a tool. At the end of the day tools don’t control us. We control them. And we can remake them,” Obama said.

    “It’s up to each of us to decide what we value and then use the tools we’ve been given to advance those values. And I believe we should use every tool at our disposal to secure our greatest gift —a government of, by and for the people, for generations to come,” he said.

    Without going into specific detail, Obama offered support to plans to reform Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which gives tech companies a legal liability shield from content posted by third parties. The controversial measure has been attacked by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, though there is little bipartisan consensus on how to reform it.

    But he said the issue must also be addressed within the industry.

    “These companies need to have some other North star other than just making money and increasing market share. Fix the problem that in part they helped create, but also to stand for something bigger,” he said.

    “And to the employees of these companies and to the students here at Stanford who might well be future employees of these companies: You have the power to move things in the right direction. You can advocate for change, you can be part of this redesign — and if not, you can vote with your feet and go and work with companies that are trying to do the right thing,” he added. […]

    Link

  215. says

    Ukrainian MoD re #256:

    Corruption and irresponsibility in russia has dealt another insidious blow to its war efforts. In Tver, a research institute that develops russia’s Iskander missiles and systems for SU-27 and TU-160 bombers, which have been destroying peaceful Ukrainian cities, has burned down.

  216. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    US ‘Ghost’ drones will help fight in Donbas, Pentagon says

    Newly disclosed ‘Ghost’ drones are part of America’s latest arms package for Ukraine, the Pentagon has confirmed.

    The White House said earlier on Thursday that more than 121 Phoenix Ghost Tactical Unmanned Aerial Systems would be provided to Ukraine as part of the new arms package.

    The Pentagon said the Ghost drones are well suited for the coming fight in Ukraine’s Donbas region, which officials have described as flat terrain reminiscent of the US state of Kansas. The drones have been developed for attacking targets and are destroyed after a single use.

    Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said:

    It was developed for a set of requirements that very closely match what the Ukrainians need right now in Donbas.

    It can also be used to give you a sight picture of what it’s seeing, of course. But its principal focus is attack.”

    A small number of Ukrainians have been trained in the United States on how to operate Switchblade drones, single-use weapons that fly into their targets and detonate on impact.

    Kirby said training for the Ghost drones would be similar to the training on the Switchblade.

    The Ghost drones have so far not yet been delivered to Ukraine.

  217. raven says

    2 Russian oligarchs were found dead one day apart alongside their wives and children, reports say
    Mia Jankowicz 11 hours ago Businessinsider.com

    Police are investigating the deaths of Russian oligarchs Sergey Protosenya and Vladislav Avayev.
    The men, along with their wives and children, were found dead within days of each other.
    Police suspect a marital dispute in the cases, which have remarkable similarities.

    Two Russian oligarchs were found dead alongside their wives and children one day apart, according to multiple reports.

    Vladislav Avayev, the former vice president of Gazprombank, was found dead of a gunshot wound in his Moscow apartment on Monday, Russia’s state-run Tass news agency reported.

    The Moscow investigations department did not name the victims in its public statement about the case, but Tass said an unnamed source confirmed their identities.

    Investigators wrote in their statement that they are prioritizing a theory that Avayev shot his wife and daughter, and then himself.

    More than 2,000 miles away, in Spain, another oligarch — Sergei Protosenya — was found hanged, with his wife and daughter stabbed to death, Spanish TV channel Telecinco reported. His body was found Tuesday, Spanish outlet El Punta Vui reported.

    He was found with a bloodstained knife and an ax at his side, Telecinco reported.

    Protosenya was the former vice president and chief accountant of Novatek, a major gas company with close connections to Gazprombank.

    Two Russian oligarches have now turned up dead.

    Yeah it is pretty suspicious.
    These men were probably in the Billionaire class and had every reason to keep on living. Money might not buy happiness but it still buys a lot of substitutes.

    There is no Rule of Law in Russia and anyone can turn up dead at any time for any reason.

  218. says

    Guardian – “Leaders of Germany, Spain and Portugal urge French to vote Macron”:

    The leaders of Germany, Spain and Portugal have publicly backed Emmanuel Macron in Sunday’s French presidential election runoff, calling on French voters to support “freedom, democracy and a stronger Europe” – and taking a swipe at Brexit.

    In a highly unusual intervention in another country’s election, Olaf Scholz, Pedro Sánchez and António Costa said in an op-ed column in the leading French daily Le Monde that France’s second-round vote was “for us, not an election like any other”.

    Although they did not mention Macron or his far-right rival Marine Le Pen by name, the centre-left German chancellor and Spanish and Portuguese prime ministers said they “hoped” the incumbent’s vision of “France, Europe and the world” would win.

    The vote was a choice between “a democratic candidate who believes France is stronger in a powerful and autonomous EU, and an extreme-right candidate who openly sides with those attacking our liberty and our democracy,” they said.

    The EU needed a France that remained “at the heart of the European project”, they said, continuing to “defend our common values” in a “strong and generous Europe”. “We hope the citizens of the French Republic will choose it.”

    In a dig at Britain’s decision to leave the bloc, the three leaders said “Take back control” had been “the Brexiteers’ promise”, but that Brexit had instead “disrupted Britain’s transport and supply chains, caused a collapse in its foreign trade and seen inflation rates generally higher than in the eurozone.”

    Those in the UK who were supposed to be “the first beneficiaries of leaving the EU – workers, young people and the vulnerable – are those who have ultimately suffered the most,” they wrote.

    The leaders said the election outcome was crucial “for France and for all of us in Europe” because of Russia’s war on Ukraine. “Populists and the far right in all our countries have made Vladimir Putin an ideological and political model,” they wrote, referring to past admiring remarks by Le Pen about the Russian president….

  219. says

    Maddow last night:

    “Listen: Audio Contradicts McCarthy’s Denial In Recommending Trump’s Resignation”:

    Rachel Maddow shares exclusive audio of House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy saying that he would call Donald Trump and recommend that he resign in the wake of the January 6th attacks and with a second impeachment looming, as reported by Jonathan Martin and Alex Burns of the New York Times in their new book “This Will Not Pass,” and contradicting McCarthy’s multiple denials.

    “New Book Exposes Duplicity Of Republican Leaders Toward Trump”:

    Jonathan Martin and Alex Burns, national political correspondents for the New York Times, talk with Rachel Maddow about the reporting about Republican leaders Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy in their new book, “This Will Not Pass,” which in some instances shows what Burns describes as “the staggering gulf” between what GOP leaders say publicly versus privately about Donald Trump.

    “McCarthy Wanted Twitter To Suspend Other GOP Members Of Congress: Report”:

    Jonathan Martin, national political correspondent for the New York Times, talks with Rachel Maddow about reporting in his new book with New York Times colleague Alex Burns, “This Will Not Pass,” that Republican House Leader Kevin McCarthy wished that Twitter would suspend the accounts of members of his own caucus. Martin confirms that this reporting is backed up by recorded audio.

    (I intentionally excluded their denials from the excerpt @ #258, as I do with most denials from the Putin regime, since I don’t like to repeat probable lies from known liars.)

  220. says

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

    Japan says disputed islands ‘illegally occupied’ by Russia

    Japan has described four disputed islands as “illegally occupied” by Russia for the first time in nearly two decades amid deteriorating relations over the war in Ukraine.

    The islands, which Moscow calls the Kurils and Tokyo the Northern Territories, have been held by Russia and claimed by Japan.

    In its annual diplomatic report published today, the Japanese foreign ministry states that the “greatest concern between Japan and Russia is the Northern Territories”, calling them “Japanese territories over which Japan holds sovereign rights, but are currently illegally occupied by Russia”.

    Japan has not referred to the islands as being “illegally occupied” since 2003, according to Japanese public broadcaster NHK.

    Japan and Russia have long been engaged in attempts to agree to a post-second world war treaty, but the Japanese foreign ministry said the Ukraine crisis would stall talks with Russia.

    Last month, Moscow said it would drop the talks, citing the “impossibility” of continuing discussions as Tokyo was “striving to cause harm to the interest of our country”.

    The Kremlin spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, said the islands are “inalienable territory of the Russian Federation”.

    Moldova has submitted a first questionnaire on European Union membership, the country’s president, Maia Sandu said.

    Also in the Guardian – update to #s 256 and 282 – “Seven die in fire at Russia defence institute – reports.”

  221. says

    LOL – Guardian liveblog:

    Ukraine has officially registered the Russian warship Moskva lying at the bottom of the Black Sea as a “national underwater cultural heritage site”, according to the Kyiv Independent’s Illia Ponomarenko….

  222. blf says

    Here in France, French polls suggest Macron pulling away from Le Pen as campaign ends (Grauniad edits in {curly braces}):

    […]
    Emmanuel Macron appears to have opened up his lead against his French presidential rival, Marine Le Pen, according to the latest opinion polls, on the last day of campaigning before Sunday’s second-round vote.

    In an Ipsos survey, 57.5% of those questioned said they intended to vote for the incumbent president, against 42.5% for Le Pen. Even allowing for a 3.3-point margin of error, a result along those lines would give Macron a convincing victory.

    Only 5% of those polled who said they would vote for Macron thought they could change their mind, compared with 8% of those who intended to vote for Le Pen. But in a sign of uncertainty about the final result, more than 40% of those who said they would cast a blank vote said they might still choose one of the candidates.

    Another poll by BVA published on Friday suggests Macron would win by a margin of 11 percentage points.

    […]

    Gaël Sliman, the president of the pollsters Odoxa, said its NouvelObs poll showed Macron winning by 53% to Le Pen’s 47%, with a 2.5-point margin of error.

    “This isn’t the usual score of a social democrat president facing an extreme-right rival, but a more classic score between two ordinary rivals in the second round,” Sliman said. “The president is suffering from poor vote transfers from voters who voted for another candidate in the first round, even when they called to vote for him.”

    “He does not exceed 50% of the votes transferred from any candidate, whereas Marine Le Pen can count on more than 80% of the votes of Eric Zemmour’s voters.” Sliman puts this down to an absence of clear advice in favour of Macron by Mélenchon. “‘Not a single vote for Le Pen’ {Mélenchon’s call after the first round}, does not translate to ‘vote Macron’,” Sliman said.

    […]

    The second round vote is on Sunday. Starting at midnight today (in about nine hours as I type this), there is a legally-enforced ban on polling(? publishing poll results?) and on campaigning.

    As I’ve mentioned previously, this election there has been no propaganda for either Macron or teh le penazis stuffed into my mailbox — very weird and unusual. (Teh le penazis did destroy their propaganda after Putin invaded Ukraine, as it had (at least) a prominent(?) photograph of Le Pen meeting Putin — that could explain the weird lack of their propaganda?) I have no idea who has been soliciting on the streets (e.g., during the outdoors markets), as I’ve managed to avoid them entirely this election. Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s supporters and others (as one example, the Greens, if I recall correctly) have stuffed propaganda into my mailbox, it’s just so weird neither of the two second-round contenders ever has (this election). There is, sadly, a lot of le penazi support in this area, and with the results depending (probably) on a mixture of “getting the vote out” and convincing Mélenchon’s supporters to vote (and not spoil their ballots), it’s weird there has been any propaganda.

  223. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Russia has opened a criminal case against a prominent opposition activist on suspicion of spreading false information about Moscow’s military campaign in Ukraine, his lawyer said.

    Vladimir Kara-Murza was detained outside his home in Moscow on 11 April, hours after CNN aired an interview in which he criticised Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

    Reuters reports he was later sentenced to 15 days in jail for disobeying police orders upon being detained, Kara-Murza’s lawyer, Vadim Prokhorov, said at the time. Kara-Murza has not been formally charged and Prokhorov denies his client broke the law.

    “Vladimir Kara-Murza is now at the main investigation Department of Russia’s Investigative Committee,” Prokhorov wrote on Facebook. “A criminal case has been opened… for ‘public dissemination of deliberately false information about Russia’s armed forces.’” Prokhorov did not say when precisely the case had been opened.

  224. says

    Re #287, Rep. Cheney’s office has put out a statement saying she didn’t record or leak the audio and doesn’t know who did. The others on the call were House minority whip Rep. Steve Scalise and NRCC chair Rep. Tom Emmer from Minnesota, so presumably one of them or a member of one of their teams was responsible.

  225. says

    Julia Ioffe at Puck News – “Mothers for Putin”:

    …My conversation with Olga Mutovina [“one of the founders of ‘The People of Baikal’, which has been keeping a running list of Buryatia’s casualties—the only such record in the republic—and which has been blocked inside Russia by the Kremlin’s media watchdog”; Buryatia “has acquired the rather sad distinction of being the Russian region with the most reported combat deaths”]… I hope you find it as sad and moving as I did, and that it gives you some insight into why Russia’s mothers aren’t rising up against Vladimir Putin.

    There’s a hope here in the U.S. that, once more and more coffins start coming home to Russia, the mothers of these dead soldiers will protest or pressure the Kremlin to stop the war. Is that a reasonable hope?

    It’s not just Americans who are hoping for this to happen. We also expected this to happen, that if there were combat deaths, the families would start asking questions and that some kind of discontent would ripen. Unfortunately, that hasn’t happened. This has been one of our biggest disappointments.

    Why isn’t it happening?

    At first, they published obituaries of these soldiers. Our local politicians issued statements about this or that person who had been killed. But when there were too many of these funerals, then they stopped saying anything and the government press stopped writing about it. Some of the journalists we know at these places told us that they were prohibited from publishing obituaries or writing anything about those killed. There’s a big athletic complex here in Ulan Ude [the capital of Buryatia] where people practice archery, which is the national sport here, and that’s where the military funerals are held. We did a survey where we asked people if they knew that there were now several funerals a week at the complex and only two people knew anything about it.

    We also asked them what they thought of the special military operation—that’s what we call it in Russia—and they told us some absolutely incredible things. One young man told us that it was okay because [the dead soldiers] would simply be reborn. He was talking about the local Buddhist belief in reincarnation. That’s what I mean when I say that the support here for the government and the special operation is founded in tradition. These people are simply saying what the Buddhist lamas here say, and they say publicly that they support the war. There were lamas that went to Ukraine and held special prayer services and performed certain rituals [with the troops]. The lamas are directly participating in this.

    You mentioned the people who work for state media who are banned from writing obituaries. Is it all explicit or do people already know that they should keep quiet?

    It’s this all-encompassing learned helplessness. No one has any questions and no one has to explain anything. Everyone understands everything. You know, this really shocked me when I spoke to the mother of one soldier, a 19-year-old boy. I asked this mother if she had any questions for the authorities. And she said, “Who needs me and my questions?” That is, in this situation, where she’s lost everything, where a person should be screaming herself hoarse, she was silent. And most people are like this. They have no questions. It is this learned helplessness, this inertia: What can I do?

    Were there family members who said that these deaths were justified, that these young men were heroes?

    Almost everyone we spoke to spoke in these terms. …These are the phrases you hear at the [government] rallies, at the funerals where local officials speak—funerals where there are several coffins at once and which are basically turned into political rallies—and they use exactly this kind of language: These boys died for you and me. They are defending their country. They died so that there would be no bloodshed in our country. The family members of these soldiers hear all this at the funeral and I think it probably would be very painful to think that your child died for nothing. It’s a defense mechanism, to tell yourself that, “Yes, my child died, but it wasn’t in vain. He was a hero.”

    In the Meduza podcast, you said that families of fallen soldiers are instructed by the Russian military not to say anything, not to take photos at the funerals. Is the military actively intimidating family members?

    Things are so tense in the country right now that the military doesn’t even have to intimidate anyone. It’s enough just to hint at something and people understand everything themselves. They understand that they might not get the money [the government promised to families of fallen soldiers], that they might face unpleasant consequences. People are already so scared that a hint is enough….

    The thing that jumps out most to me is that most of the fighting and the dying for Putin’s idea of this pan-Slavic, Russky mir [“Russian world”] is being done by the ethnic minorities—Buryats, Chechens, Dagestanis—who are subjected to constant racism in Russia. How do you explain this?

    We get this question most frequently from foreign journalists. Russian journalists don’t ask about this. We don’t think that this is a question of [Russian] nationalism. We think it’s for different reasons. Chechnya and Dagestan, for example, have warrior cultures….

    Do the Buryats take note of this, though?

    Of course they do. When the head of the republic met with the local intelligentsia, the press secretary of the theater stood up and said, essentially, “When it comes to the honor guard at the eternal flame, they have tall, blue-eyed Russians, but when it comes to dying, they send the Buryats.” This created a lot of controversy and people shouted him down. This is a real question here. Maybe people are discussing this privately in their kitchens, but it’s not something that’s really discussed publicly.

    These zinc coffins coming home, are they scaring young people off of joining the military?

    This is another surprising discovery. It turns out it’s working in the opposite direction….

    So we shouldn’t expect any protests, even if more coffins come back from Ukraine?

    Of course not. There won’t be any protests, not economic protests, not mothers’ protests, and the reason for this is very simple: the propaganda machine has been turned all the way up and it’s swallowing people whole. All the entertainment programs are gone. Now it’s either news of the war or talk shows about it, where the propagandists are methodically painting a picture for people that squelches any questions they might have: It’s all done by the Nazis, it’s all crisis actors, et cetera. It’s a very simple picture of the world. If you watch TV, you have no chance. Unfortunately, a lot of people watch TV here, even young people. It’s a very simple way to press a button and have everything explained to you.

    Do most people in Buryatia support the war? Or are they too scared to say otherwise?

    I think the majority supports it….

    I don’t think that these people who are saying they support it in public are saying something else in private. I think people really do support it because it’s simpler. It’s much easier to sink into this comfort zone and never leave it because the truth is too horrible and hurts too much. If we realize that our country is the aggressor and that our nation is a pariah, if people who were taught for generations that the Russian soldier is always the liberator and only fights in just wars, if they learn that our soldiers did these horrific things, that they killed and raped and pillaged, that will be very unpleasant and painful. It’s much easier to shout from the rooftops that you support the special operation. I think our country has some very difficult work ahead to fully realize what we’ve done, that each individual bears some responsibility for this and has to repent for it. Without this, Russia can’t continue to exist.

    Much more at the link. I have some problems with the initial framing of the article and some other concepts and claims therein, but it’s extremely helpful.

  226. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Taiwan’s foreign minister, Joseph Wu, told Kyiv’s mayor, Vitali Klitschko, that his country feels the situation faced by Ukraine “as though it is happening to ourselves”, Reuters reports.

    The war in Ukraine has garnered broad sympathy in Taiwan, with many seeing parallels between Russia’s invasion and military pressure from China, which views Taipei as its own territory.

    Taiwan has joined Western-led sanctions and donated $20m (£15.5m) for Ukrainian refugees, mostly raised by the public.

    Speaking by video conference, Wu told Klitschko that Taiwan and Ukraine were both democracies “on the front line of resisting the expansion of authoritarianism”, the Taiwanese foreign ministry cited him as saying.

    Following their conversation, Wu tweeted a picture of himself talking to Klitschko, a former champion boxer, writing:

    Champ, we’ll continue to stand with you & your people. Freedom will prevail!

  227. says

    From the latest summary at the Meduza liveblog:

    …No predicting this: The Russian Internet giant Yandex says it is suspending an unspecified number of its investments in Russia and abroad amid economic uncertainty caused by international sanctions against Russia. The company also withdrew its financial guidance for 2022, which predicted upwards of $6.2 billion in consolidated revenue for the year. “In the current circumstances, our visibility over the […] medium-term is extremely limited,” the company said.

    No man left behind: Dmitry Shkrebets, whose draftee son is one of the sailors aboard the Moskva warship that went missing after it sank in the Black Sea last week, says Russia Today editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan blocked him on Telegram after he criticized her coverage of events inside Russia. “Take a look at the many-sided truth found among our truth-bearers,” Shkrebets wrote online afterward.

    Teaming up to investigate Russia’s atrocities: U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland confirmed on Thursday that the United States is working with Ukraine on collecting evidence regarding possible war crimes committed by Russian occupying forces. Ukraine’s prosecutor general, Iryna Venediktova, previously said her office is investigating more than 5,800 cases of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Additionally, new satellite images show a mass grave in a Russian-occupied village located about 12 miles west of Mariupol — a discovery that Ukrainian officials say is evidence of war crimes against civilians, reports The Washington Post.

    The tank imbalance: Ukrainian forces currently have more tanks on the ground than their Russian counterparts, a senior U.S. defense official told The Washington Post. “Right now, the Ukrainians have more tanks in Ukraine than the Russians do,” the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity under terms set by the Pentagon. The official also noted that about two dozen Russian battalion tactical groups are being refitted and resupplied.

    Fortune doesn’t favor everyone: Citing EU sanctions, the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the world, Binance, announced that it is required to limit services for “Russian nationals or natural persons residing in Russia, or legal entities established in Russia, that have crypto assets exceeding the value of 10,000 euros.” These account holders now have 90 days to close out their positions.

    Hello, neighbor: The St. Petersburg branch of Russia’s ruling political party has launched a bot on Telegram that allows people to file complaints against individuals for spreading supposed “false information,” including information about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The bot doesn’t work anonymously: users must share their own full names and email addresses. Following the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in late February 2022, Russian lawmakers adopted legislation that criminalizes the dissemination of such “false information” (defined as anything that contradicts official government claims). Violations are punishable by up to 15 years in prison. Human rights lawyer Pavel Chikov says officials have opened at least 32 felony cases based on this new statute, as well as dozens more cases against peace activists alleging other criminal acts, such as vandalism, “justifying terrorism,” and so on….

  228. says

    Also at Meduza:

    “Manipulating yesterday”:

    Political scientist Gulnaz Sharafutdinova on how Putin’s elite — and not the ‘mentality of the Russian people’ — laid the groundwork for war…

    “Toxic positivity”:

    Desperate to convince citizens the war won’t change their daily lives, the Russian authorities are flooding the airwaves with “positive” news stories…

    “‘What does missing in action mean? Is my son dead?’”:

    Meduza talks to mothers of conscripts who served aboard the sunken Russian warship Moskva…

  229. says

    A recent episode of Meduza’s podcast The Naked Pravda – “The Russian North Caucasus during the Ukraine War”:

    The Russian North Caucasus has played a special role in the invasion of Ukraine. Journalists estimate that at least 60 men from Dagestan died fighting for Russia by March 23, indicating that this republic had lost more soldiers, by far, than any other region in Russia. In terms of public messaging, Chechen ruler Ramzan Kadyrov has been one of the loudest cheerleaders for the “special operation,” rattling his saber at every opportunity and declaring the seizure of Ukrainian territories before it’s actually happened.

    Across the North Caucasus, one of the most crucial factors when it comes to military service is the absence of alternatives. Unemployment is higher in this region than anywhere else in Russia. It’s the highest of all in Ingushetia, where it exceeds 30 percent.

    To find out more about the war’s impact here, The Naked Pravda turned to Ingush journalist and activist Izabella Evloeva and independent political and security analyst Harold Chambers. (Also, Meduza extends a special thanks to journalist Katie Marie Davies for her assistance with dubbing parts of this episode.)

    It’s a short (18-minute) episode, well worth listening to. There’s a contrast with the regions discussed in the interview @ #293 above.

  230. says

    SC @287: “I intentionally excluded their denials from the excerpt @ #258, as I do with most denials from the Putin regime, since I don’t like to repeat probable lies from known liars.”

    And McCarthy is a known liar. In this case, he made himself look even worse than usual by denying what he had said. But there are tapes of him saying exactly those things. He doesn’t have a leg to stand on.

    McCarthy shot himself in the foot several times. And it is going to get even worse for him. I noticed that the journalists/authors interviewed by Rachel Maddow said that there are even more audio tapes.

  231. says

    […] The reporting McCarthy [Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy] described as “totally false and wrong” turned out to be totally true and accurate.

    “The only discussion I would have with him is that I think this [impeachment resolution] will pass, and it would be my recommendation you should resign,” McCarthy said in an audio recording aired on the show last night.

    In other words, McCarthy (a) told his members he’d encourage Trump to resign; (b) abandoned his own principles; (c) lied about it; and (d) got caught.

    […] Politico spoke to a senior GOP aide who said McCarthy has a “trust” issue, adding, “He’s a bald-faced liar who literally just has no problem completely lying. And that doesn’t sit well with members.”

    But as is often the case in Republican politics, the minority leader’s fate may very well rest in the hands of the former president whom McCarthy was briefly prepared to abandon.

    And on this front, the Californian may be surprisingly safe. The Washington Post reported this morning that Trump and McCarthy had a phone conversation last night and the former president was apparently “not upset about McCarthy’s remarks and was glad the Republican leader didn’t follow through, which Trump saw as a sign of his continued grip on the Republican Party.”

    Or put another way, the former president sees McCarthy — the would-be next Speaker of the House — as being in his back pocket. The House GOP leader may have said he’d call for Trump to resign, but since McCarthy lacked the courage to follow through, Trump is reportedly willing to let it slide.

    In theory, it could prove problematic for Republicans to have a House leader with no credibility as a person who tells the truth, but in practice, Republicans had a president for four years with no credibility as a person who tells the truth, and the party didn’t much care.

    Looking ahead, questions abound. Was last night’s Trump-McCarthy call sufficient to keep the former president satiated? Are there more tapes that might create new problems for the House leader? Will intra-party rivals see McCarthy as damaged and start positioning themselves as competitors?

    Link

  232. says

    Ukraine update: Russia did the smart thing in Mariupol, and it might still cost them

    As I’ve been suggesting, it made no sense for Russia to expend more cannon fodder on rooting out Ukrainian defenders from the city-sized labyrinth that is the Azovastal steel plant. So Russia will put up a cordon around the place, and send the rest of their Mariupol forces north to join the fight for Donbas.

    Except … have you seen the factory? [video available at the link]

    The factory is over 4 square miles large. I measured the outside border of the facility and it was over 9 miles, half of it over water. Russia’s lack of night-vision goggles will only compound the difficulty of containing the Ukrainians at the plant. Indeed, its defenders ventured out of the complex a couple of days ago to rescue 500 Ukrainian border guards surrounded and low on ammo in a different part of the city. It will be possible for Russia to keep these forces in Mariupol, but it’ll be impossible to prevent them from roaming the city. Whatever poor Russians or proxies are left behind will be sniped, ambushed, harassed, and attrited little by little.

    The big question is food: What exactly does Ukraine have stashed in the tunnels of the complex, now housing several thousand holdouts, including the families of fighters (and children)? And can Ukraine use the plant’s southern sea access to continue sneaking in more supplies (and perhaps evacuate the children)?

    If the defenders are well stocked (and it was always planned as Ukraine’s Alamo), then Russia’s inability to subdue it could be of great benefit. The plant was literally designed to withstand a nuclear bomb, and tunnels run the entirety of the facility, allowing defenders to move around at will without being detected or exposing themselves to the relentless artillery on the surface. Depending on who the Russians leave in the containment garrison, the defenders may even be able to venture out on supply runs, or take what they need (food and ammo) from the Russian garrison itself. Even now, in daytime, they’re running around causing trouble outside the factory grounds: [video available at the link shows a direct hit on a Russian tank in Mariupol]

    The rest of the front appears static on paper, with no territory changing hands, but troops on the ground were certainly busy. Ukraine’s General Staff claimed they repelled 10 different Russian attacks and inflicted significant casualties over the past two days:

    […] on April 20 this year, another batch of wounded soldiers of the Russian Federation (about 220 people) and over 50 bodies of the killed firefighters were delivered to the central district hospital of Novoaydar city.

    In addition, the battalion tactical group of the 136th individual [motorized] brigade of the 58th military army of the Southern Military District, which was operating in the Kurahivsky direction, suffered significant losses in live force (up to 250 people) …

    In the territory of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, ten attacks of Russian occupiers have been shot down in the past 24 hours, six tanks were destroyed, eight units of armored and fifteen units of automobile equipment, four artillery systems.

    General staff also reported that some Russian units weren’t getting paid, further adding to morale woes. And while it’s always wise to doubt these casualty reports, they seem to generally match up with some of the videos we can see online (including some gruesome stuff I certainly won’t be sharing here). But here, take this single attack set to the Ukrainian national anthem: [video available at the link]

    Check out where the town of Krasnohorivka is located: [map available at the link]

    The town is literally outside the capital of the Donetsk breakaway region in Donbas. You know how pathetic it’s been that Russia can’t capture towns on its own border, like Chernihiv, Sumy, and Kharkiv? Well, this is more of the same.

    So here’s an underresourced column, seemingly much smaller than the battalion tactical group (BTG) that is supposed to be Russia’s maneuver unit—10 tanks and 40 infantry fighting vehicles. It ventures out of its separatist stronghold, and artillery absolutely demolishes it. Those vehicles can’t leave the road for fear of getting stuck in the mud, and Russia isn’t waiting for the mud to dry because … who knows why. Maybe it’s as simple as “Putin needs his victory by the May 9 parade.”

    As a result of this ill-conceived effort, I count six dead tanks (which makes the general staff reports believable), and one infantry fighting vehicle. One of the tanks might even be salvageable—the turret still works, but the track is shot. Whatever BTG this unit was with just lost 60% of its heavy armor in this dinky forward probe. Ukrainian infantry in Krasnohorivka didn’t have to sweat this one, the damage was done from afar. All the dead and wounded are on the Russian side. But had that probe gotten closer to town, it would’ve been met with a swarm of Javelins, NLAWS, or any of the other anti-tank missiles in Ukraine’s arsenal. This attack never had any chance of success!

    So another day passes, and everyone is still waiting for Russia’s mythical “all-out offensive.” Yes, there are more attacks than a week ago: 10 daily assaults compared to four to six. But if there were something big coming down the pike, why continue to attrit troops and equipment in this manner? Yeah yeah, I am a broken record. But so are Russia’s tactics.

    Meanwhile, the United States is sending 90 more artillery howitzers, while other allies send dozens more. The U.S. isn’t done gifting these to Ukraine either. More are coming. Lots more. There’s no reason to stop. So before long, any Russian attempt to move will be met with a similar wall of artillery unless Russia figures out how to fly a competent air force to hunt these batteries down.

    Russia did try to bust out that air force yesterday, and they got shot down a lot—here, here, and two more here [links available at the main link]. Ukraine lacks air defenses for high-flying strategic bombers and ballistic missiles, but they have no shortage of surface-to-air missiles to engage low-flying ground support aircraft. As a result, Russia is terrified of sending them too far out from friendly Donbas skies. That’s why Russia doesn’t try to take out the massive arms shipments arriving daily from the West: Russian aircraft go poof if they try to venture more than a few miles into Ukrainian airspace.

    Yesterday, the Pentagon assessed that Ukraine had more tanks remaining in country than Russia and its allies. With more armor, artillery, and aircraft arriving daily from the West, the balance of power is slowly shifting even further toward Ukraine. And with Vladimir Putin’s refusal to order a general mobilization in Russia, Ukraine’s advantage will only grow.

  233. says

    Pro-Kremlin resource Readovka reported about the death of 13,414 #Russian soldiers while around 7,000 are being missed. These numbers were announced at a closed briefing of #Russia’s Ministry of Defence. The post by Readovka has already been deleted.

    https://twitter.com/nexta_tv/status/1517345729093775360

    Whenever unauthorized information is posed on Russian sites, the excuse is always that they got “hacked.” Incidentally, these numbers align with Ukraine casualty claims. Russia has been accused of using “missing” as an excuse to refuse paying survivor benefits to families.

  234. says

    NBC News:

    A Florida man has been arrested for allegedly pepper spraying officers at the Capitol on Jan. 6, and who law enforcement officials say then allegedly made a menacing call to the FBI special agent investigating his role in the riot.

    Barry Bennett Ramey, who officials say was affiliated with the Proud Boys, was arrested in Florida on Thursday, according to court records. He is facing charges of assault on federal law enforcement officers with a deadly or dangerous weapon; obstructing law enforcement; entering or remaining on restricted grounds with intent to impede; knowingly engaging in an act of physical violence while using or carrying and deadly or dangerous weapon; and an act of physical violence on Capitol grounds.

    Earlier this month, according to the FBI affidavit, Ramey called the FBI special agent investigating his case and read aloud the agent’s home address. He then texted the agent the agent’s former vehicle identification number. [Oh, smart move. LOL]

    […] Court records indicate that the same FBI special agent who was threatened executed Ramey’s arrest warrant Thursday morning in Plantation, Florida. Ramey will make his initial appearance in a federal court in Fort Lauderdale on Friday. Court records do not yet list an attorney for Ramey.

  235. says

    Wonkette:
    “Florida Just Gonna Go Ahead And Ban Trans Youth From Existing Entirely”

    Over the past few months, the state of Florida has been leading the attack against transgender youth (see also: Black people, gay people, anyone who can get pregnant, anyone who likes not contracting COVID on planes). It’s almost as if Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is planning on running for president and so hopes to dazzle the Republican constituency with just how very efficiently he can restrict the rights of anyone who is not a heterosexual cisgender man whose understanding of epidemiology derives near-exclusively from QAnon message boards and rightwing media.

    This week, in response to a Health and Human Services memo explaining gender affirmative care — which is the standard of care for gender dysphoria supported by the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics — Florida state Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo issued his own guidance on gender dysphoria, as supported by the personal instincts of Tucker Carlson’s target audience.

    Florida’s guidance, more or less, is for parents, doctors, psychologists and school personnel to react to a young person telling them they are trans by placing their hands over their ears and loudly singing “LA LA LA LA LA I CAN’T HEAR YOU.”

    It reads:

    Due to the lack of conclusive evidence, and the potential for long-term, irreversible effects, the Department’s guidelines are as follows:

    – Social gender transition should not be a treatment option for children or adolescents.

    – Anyone under 18 should not be prescribed puberty blockers or hormone therapy.

    – Gender reassignment surgery should not be a treatment option for children or adolescents.

    – Based on the currently available evidence, “encouraging mastectomy, ovariectomy, uterine extirpation, penile disablement, tracheal shave, the prescription of hormones which are out of line with the genetic make-up of the child, or puberty blockers, are all clinical practices which run an unacceptably high risk of doing harm.”

    – Children and adolescents should be provided social support by peers and family and seek counseling from a licensed provider.

    This is quite a list. First it says children or adolescents shouldn’t be allowed to identify as a gender other than the one they were assigned at birth. This may be a “guidance,” but it will likely severely limit the ability of gender-diverse children and adolescents to receive not only necessary treatment, but social support as well.

    Curiously, the study Florida cites as backing up their opposition to “social transition” (names, clothes, pronouns) does not in fact do that. It says only that in some cases, it might be best to wait to socially transition until right before puberty — which is very different from saying adolescents should not transition at all.

    Of the articles cited to back up their assertion that no one under 18 should be given puberty blockers (which makes literally no sense given that 18-year-olds are rarely still pre-pubescent), only one is an actual study of puberty blockers, which found that “Overall patient experience of changes on GnRHa treatment was positive. We identified no changes in psychological function. Changes in BMD were consistent with suppression of growth.”

    Puberty blockers, by the way, are entirely reversible. They are prescribed to give an adolescent more time to decide if they want to fully transition. Should they stop taking it, puberty will resume as normal.

    For the articles meant to provide evidence that adolescents should not do hormone therapy, one article pretty much just says that there should be more research on hormone therapy, while the other actually just says that hormone therapy didn’t have any effect on psychological comorbidities.

    Via TandfOnline:

    Results: Those who did well in terms of psychiatric symptoms and functioning before cross-sex hormones mainly did well during real-life. Those who had psychiatric treatment needs or problems in school, peer relationships and managing everyday matters outside of home continued to have problems during real-life.

    Conclusion: Medical gender reassignment is not enough to improve functioning and relieve psychiatric comorbidities among adolescents with gender dysphoria. Appropriate interventions are warranted for psychiatric comorbidities and problems in adolescent development.

    Do they not know what comorbidities are? It means more than one condition. Hormone therapy not treating comorbidities is hardly evidence that it should not be used.

    As for surgical transition, and their meant-to-be-terrifying list of “encouraging mastectomy, ovariectomy, uterine extirpation, penile disablement, tracheal shave, the prescription of hormones which are out of line with the genetic make-up of the child, or puberty blockers,” none of that is happening until you get to “hormones” and “puberty blockers,” which, see above. If it does, it’s a decision to be made by the adolescent and their doctor, not the adolescent and the state.

    Perhaps the Florida Department of Health was not counting on anyone actually reading their citations. Either that or they didn’t give a damn, because this has literally nothing to do with science or children’s welfare. They don’t care if this “guidance” ends up with kids killing themselves […]

    Coincidentally, the details of Joseph Ladapo’s background check for the Surgeon General position have come out recently. They reveal that his former boss at the University of California Los Angeles recommended against the appointment, saying, “In my opinion the people of Florida would be better served by a surgeon general who grounds his policy decisions and recommendations in the best scientific evidence rather than opinions.”

    Clearly, Ron DeSantis disagrees.

  236. says

    OMFG.

    Former president Donald Trump on Thursday offered his most explicit statement to date that he threatened not to defend NATO allies from attacks by Russia.

    Appearing at an event held by the Heritage Foundation in Florida, Trump claimed that he told fellow NATO leaders that he might not abide by NATO’s Article 5 collective-defense clause if those countries didn’t pay more for the alliance.

    A fellow leader “said, ‘Does that mean that you won’t protect us in case — if we don’t pay, you won’t protect us from Russia’ — was the Soviet Union, but now Russia,” Trump said. “I said, ‘That’s exactly what it means.’ ”

    Trump implied that it was a negotiating tactic. “Now if I said, ‘No, I don’t mean that,’ then why would they pay? So somebody had to say it,” he said.

    Trump said he was “amazed” the conversation hadn’t leaked during his presidency.

    […] Policymakers had different interpretations of what he meant. Some felt he was threatening to pull out of NATO altogether. Others believed he might be saying he would make decisions about whether to defend countries based on whether they were meeting their spending commitments.

    […] Trump has previously danced around whether he would commit to Article 5, including conspicuously declining to endorse it in May 2017. The following month, he did endorse it. But by the summer of 2018, he was again calling that into question, suggesting it might not be worthwhile for NATO countries to commit to defending “tiny” Montenegro, which was at the time a new member.

    […] Trump has regularly tried to claim credit for making NATO countries pay more, though the reality is more complex. NATO countries were already increasing their funding substantially before Trump’s presidency, following Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014. […]

    Washington Post link

  237. says

    Republicans fighting Republicans:

    In OHSEN, Trump had expected McIntosh from the Club for Growth to stop supporting Mandel after Trump backed Vance. The Club aired a new spot today featuring Vance quotes criticizing Trump in the past. Trump had his assistant send McIntosh a text saying, “Go f*^% yourself.”

  238. says

    Steve Benen summarizes some Republican shenanigans in Wisconsin:

    * In Wisconsin’s ridiculous election “audit,” former state Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman has routinely destroyed public records he’s deemed unimportant. A state judge ordered him yesterday to stop doing that.

    * Speaking of the ongoing fiasco in Wisconsin, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel had this gem that I’ll just quote verbatim: “Assembly Republican attorney Michael Gableman is probing the backgrounds of public employees and contractors working on elections to determine their political leanings, including one who he believes is a Democrat because she lives with her boyfriend, loves snakes, plays video games and has a nose ring.”

  239. says

    Ukraine update: This is not the World War III you expected. Let’s hope it’s the only one you get

    What’s happening in Ukraine is not World War III. Or at least, it’s not the World War III anyone anticipated. But with every day that goes by, the importance of what’s happening in Ukraine and the scope of what’s at stake seem to increase.

    When Vladimir Putin committed Russia to an invasion of their western neighbor, it wasn’t obvious that this would be a pivot point in history; one of those moments where the outcome affects international relations, world economies, and such apparently unconnected issues as the climate crisis for decades to come. Maybe it should have been, because all that is certainly clear now. Every day, as Russia pushes in more forces, and the West responds by abandoning any pretense when it comes to providing Ukraine with the weaponry to fight back, the do-or-die nature of this conflict becomes more clear.

    If Russia is successful in achieving its stated goals of capturing eastern Ukraine and the Black Sea coast all the way to Moldova, it won’t just embolden Putin to keep up his brutal assaults on civilian populations as a tactic of war, it will put paid to the idea that the West can in any way hope to stop Russia without “getting their hands dirty.”

    Ukraine is a nation with a population greater than California. It is being armed with every system that seems applicable in the effort to halt Russian ambitions. What should be clear, to the United States and every other western nation, two months into this conflict, is that if this isn’t enough to stop Putin, we will have to do it ourselves. We win this war, or we will get another.

    […] there’s almost no end to the things Russia is doing wrong. Whether it’s their graft-ridden chain of logistics, an incredibly top-heavy command structure, an organization structure that makes their units extremely fragile, or a simple lack of competence that limits the scope of their operations, Russia’s approach would get them flunked from any war college in the West. The only tactic they have been able to engage that has been by any definition successful is that they have committed war crimes at a scale and pace not seen since World War II.

    Russia doesn’t have the ability to engage successfully with a peer military. It does have the ability to bomb the shit out of children, hospitals, and blind grandmothers. It has the ability to slaughter whole civilian populations and toss them into enormous mass graves. Russia can’t execute intelligent tactics to win battles in the field, but it’s perfectly capable of grinding forward with dumb tactics that pulverize cities and lives.

    Unless, of course, someone makes them stop. Which is where we are now. Not “Does Ukraine have the weapons it needs to stand against Russia in a fair fight?” but, “Does Ukraine have what it needs to destroy Russia’s ability to kill civilians in their homes?” Which is a very different thing.

    To stop the slaughter, Ukraine isn’t going to just need Javelins to halt the advance of Russian tanks, or Stingers to take down helicopters buzzing over Ukrainian territory. It needs armor, artillery, and air support—in the form of fighters, helicopters, and drones—that will allow it to eliminate the weapons Russia is firing into Ukrainian towns and cities. So when word comes that Ukraine now has more tanks in theater than Russia, or that the U.S. is sending another massive order of artillery their way, that’s just a start. There literally is no way we can give them too much.

    To really win this thing, Ukraine can’t fight the Russian army to a draw or force them to halt their advance. Ukraine has to destroy the Russian army in a way that keeps it from committing mass murder of civilians, not just right now, but for a long time to come. That is a very big task.

    What’s happening in Ukraine is not World War III. Except in the sense that it will define the world we all live in for a long time to come. Which … okay, maybe it is.

  240. says

    Guardian – “Indian lawmaker arrested after tweet criticising Narendra Modi”:

    A state lawmaker in India was arrested for criticising the prime minister, Narendra Modi, in a tweet, officials have said, raising concerns over freedom of speech in the world’s largest democracy.

    His arrest coincided with the arrival of the British prime minister, Boris Johnson, in the country.

    Jignesh Mevani, a prominent campaigner for India’s marginalised low-caste Dalit community, accused the Hindu nationalist leader of idolising Nathuram Godse, the assassin of India’s independence icon Mahatma Gandhi.

    Some fringes of the Indian rightwing revere Godse as a hero for killing the man they blame for the partition of India and Pakistan – comments that Modi has criticised in the past.

    But Mevani tweeted this week that Modi “worships and considers Godse as God”, accusing the prime minister of fomenting religious division.

    He also demanded that Modi apologise for communal violence in Gujarat, where Mevani is a member of the state legislature.

    He was arrested on Thursday on accusations of attempting to disturb “public tranquillity and peace”, the police said.

    He was taken across the country to Assam in India’s north-east, where the complaint had been filed, and a court in Kokrajhar denied him bail, ordering him to be held in custody for three days.

    Freedom of speech is enshrined in India’s constitution and Mevani’s lawyers called the arrest “illegal” and “unconstitutional”.

    The tweet in question has been taken down by Twitter in India after a legal complaint.

    The police have previously arrested social media users for “provocative” tweets that were critical of Modi or the rightwing government, sparking fears that the government was crushing dissent.

    Mevani is believed to be the first elected politician detained on such grounds….

    (Pretty tired of the “raising concerns” and “sparking fears” language.)

  241. says

    Update to #291:

    The judge has remanded @vkaramurza in custody whilst he’s investigated for ‘fake’ info on Russia’s war vs Ukraine: namely a speech in the USA where he talked of Russia bombing residential areas, hospitals & schools. All facts

    Another depressing day for free speech in Russia

    As icing on the cake, the Justice Ministry has just declared @vkaramurza a foreign agent (aka ‘enemy of the state’) along with other new entries on the ever-expanding list including Leonid Volkov from Team Navalny), Ekho Moskvy’s Venediktov & Sergei Parkhomenko

  242. says

    Here’s Marjorie Taylor Greene denying that she ever said Speaker Pelosi was a “traitor to our country” and then being presented with evidence that she, in fact, said that.

    https://twitter.com/kylegriffin1/status/1517546351294394370
    Video is available at the link.

    Also:

    Marjorie Taylor Greene says she doesn’t recall speaking to anyone at the White House about Jan. 6 — except she recorded a video outside the West Wing days before saying: “We had a great planning session for January 6.”

    https://twitter.com/hugolowell/status/1517546843156144130
    Video is available at the link.

  243. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Russia’s defence ministry has reported that one sailor died and 27 more remain missing after one of its premier warships, the missile cruiser Moskva, sank last week in the Black Sea south of the threatened Ukrainian port of Odesa.

    A further 396 crew members were rescued, RIA news agency has said, citing Russia’s defence ministry on Friday, Reuters reports….

    So now they’re admitting to 28 sailors lost. The real number is undoubtedly far higher.

  244. says

    Followup to comment 313.

    Wonkette:

    Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (Q-Bugfuck) is a patriot, dammit. That’s why she told those brave citizens in January of 2020 that “You can’t allow it to just transfer power ‘peacefully’ like Joe Biden wants and allow him to become our president because he did not win this election. He’s guilty of treason. It’s a crime punishable by death is what treason is. Nancy Pelosi is guilty of treason.”

    For America! […]

    https://www.wonkette.com/-2657199535

  245. says

    […] Being on the right side of history has long driven Melaniya Podolyak.

    But she didn’t expect her career to take her from working as a staffer in Ukraine’s parliament and political activist in Kyiv to operating a military and humanitarian aid warehouse for volunteer fighters.

    Podolyak, who can often be found trying to stay warm in the warehouse she operates outside Lviv, wearing a Carhartt jacket and tugging on a vape, has a small volunteer force that she directs. These warehouse workers are doctors, architects, IT specialists, financial analysts and other professionals who have put their careers on hold or found time to work here during the war.

    Though they lacked experience, together they’ve figured out how to efficiently empty trucks of boxes, organize supplies and repack buses headed for Kharkiv, Kyiv, Mariupol and other cities hit by Russian attacks.

    While she said she couldn’t say exactly how she had gotten supplies to some cities under Russian occupation, she admitted she was part of a group that organized a drone to drop a satellite phone to defenders in Mariupol a few weeks ago.

    “If I could, I’d ship them a tank,” she said. […]

    Link

  246. says

    Christo Grozev:

    Russia’s MoD claims only 1 person died on board the sunk Moskva cruiser, with 27 “missing” (is there another word for missing in the sea??) and 396 “evacuated to Sevastopol”.
    So they’re saying essentially 28 killed and 396 saved. Highly improbable given the damage.

  247. says

    CNN – “Honduras extradites former president to the US to face drug trafficking charges”:

    Juan Orlando Hernández, the former president of Honduras, was extradited Thursday to the United States, where he will face federal drug trafficking and firearms possession charges.

    The US Justice Department at the same time unsealed an indictment alleging Hernández engaged in a conspiracy to protect and profit off smugglers moving cocaine from Central and South America into the United States.

    The indictment in US District Court in the Southern District of New York charges Hernández with cocaine importation conspiracy, possession of machine guns and destructive devices, and conspiracy to possess machine guns and destructive devices.

    “As is charged in the indictment, Hernández abused his position as President of Honduras from 2014 through 2022 to operate the country as a narco-state,” US Attorney General Merrick Garland said Thursday at a news conference announcing the charges.

    According to the indictment, Hernández partnered with some of the most violent drug trafficking groups, receiving millions of dollars off a network that funneled cocaine through Honduras and into the United States. He used the money, the indictment says, to enrich himself, finance his political rise and subsequently remain in power.

    In exchange, Hernández provided the trafficking organizations with law enforcement information that helped shield the organizations’ leaders from criminal investigations, protected leaders from extradition to the US and allowed them to commit violence with virtually no consequences, US authorities say….

  248. says

    BBC – “Ukraine war: The Russia I knew no longer exists – Steve Rosenberg”:

    There are no shells exploding in Moscow. There are no foreign forces encircling the city. What Muscovites are experiencing now is nothing compared to the horrors in Ukraine.

    At first glance life here even looks normal. As usual, Moscow’s Garden Ring is packed with traffic. Crowds are streaming from the metro station opposite me.

    In reality, though, little here could be described as normal. Normality ended on 24 February when Vladimir Putin ordered his troops into Ukraine for his “Special Military Operation”.

    I have experienced Communist Russia. I have lived through post-Soviet Russia. Now the world’s largest country has metamorphosed again.

    Let me take you on a tour of “Special Military Operation Russia”.

    I get in the car to drive to the supermarket. By force of habit, I switch on the radio. It’s tuned to 91.2 FM – once the home of Radio Echo of Moscow. Echo was my favourite Russian radio station – a reliable source of news and information.

    But in recent weeks all independent Russian news outlets have either been blocked or shut down. Broadcasting now on 91.2 FM is state-run Radio Sputnik, which backs the Russian offensive in Ukraine.

    Driving along the Garden Ring, I pass a theatre which has erected on its façade a giant Latin letter Z – the symbol of Russia’s military operation. There’s another Z outside the headquarters of Russian Railways. I overtake a lorry that has a Z sticker on the side. In recent weeks Zs have been graffitied on the front doors of Kremlin critics.

    At the shopping mall, business is far from booming. Many of the shops – international brands – have shut down. Since Russian forces attacked Ukraine, hundreds of foreign companies have suspended operations in Russia.

    In the supermarket, the shelves are full. Last month’s sugar shortage in Russia – the result of panic buying – appears to have been resolved. But the range of products seems smaller than before. And over the last two months prices have shot up.

    My final destination is the giant war museum that celebrates the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two – a glorious victory, achieved at enormous human cost. More than 27 million Soviet citizens were killed in what is known here as the Great Patriotic War.

    What I find disturbing is how the “Special Military Operation” has found a place in this museum, how it’s being honoured here.

    On the museum’s website, the spelling of the word “museum” has been altered to feature the letter Z. In the museum shop you can buy Z mugs and badges declaring “Putin is My PreZident”.

    And the museum is currently hosting an exhibition about Nazis in Ukraine. That helps to cement the Kremlin’s bogus claim that the Russian army is liberating Ukraine from Nazism.

    This is “Special Military Operation Russia” – a parallel universe, Orwellian, where invasion is liberation, where aggression is self-defence and where critics are traitors.

    It feels like the Russia I have known for the last 30 years has gone.

  249. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy has said he is “grateful” to Britain after prime minister Boris Johnson announced the reopening of the UK embassy in Kyiv.

    “I am grateful to our British friends for the important symbolic decision announced today to return the embassy to Kyiv. The United Kingdom became the twenty-first country to return a diplomatic mission to our capital. And this shows that we are not the only ones who believe in the victory of life over death,” he said in his latest video address to the nation.

    Referring to comments by a senior Russian commander on Friday that the country’s new goal was to gain control of southern Ukraine, giving it access to Transnistria, a pro-Russian breakaway region of Moldova, he continued:

    This only confirms what I have said many times: the Russian invasion of Ukraine was intended only as a beginning, then they want to capture other countries.”

    In Moldova, he noted, Russia has claimed that the rights of Russian speakers have been violated.

    Although, to be honest, the territory in which Russia should take care of the rights of Russian-speakers is Russia itself. Where there is no freedom of speech, no freedom of choice. Where there is simply no right to dissent. Where poverty thrives and where human life is worthless. To the extent that they come to us, go to war to steal at least something that resembles a normal life.

    You know they used to talk about their biggest dream: to see Paris and die. And their behavior is now just shocking. Because their dream now is to steal the toilet and die.”

  250. says

    Ukraine update: No major attacks, no major counterattacks, but lots of small movements

    When Russia announced it’s “stage two goals” this week, they made it clear that not only does Russia intend to take all of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts in eastern Ukraine, but an area all along the Black Sea coast from the Donbas to the border of Moldova. Previously, Russia had made noises as if all these various areas of occupied territory were to be treated as “independent republics” which would be be given an opportunity for some kind of “referendum” to define their relationship to Russia. All of that was BS to begin with, and now Russia isn’t even keeping up the pretense. Instead, Russian officials are insisting that the area will become a single large “federal district” of Russia.

    Putin’s war was always a war of conquest. As the days go past, Russian attacks meet ever more resistance, and more civilian areas are targeted for destruction by a frustrated Russian military, the whole story about those “independent republics” is being discarded. The problem for Russia is that if those republics were always a cover story, the idea of their Russia to Transnistria corridor seems like a fairy tale.

    On Saturday, Russia tossed a reported three more cruise missiles into Odesa, apparently striking a residential area. How much damage, in buildings or lives, those missiles have caused isn’t yet clear. But they certainly didn’t cause any harm to Ukrainian defenses. They absolutely don’t serve the Russian goal of extending the area it controls beyond Kherson.

    Throwing cruise missiles at Odesa isn’t a military tactic. It’s an act of murderous petulance. For all the damage it causes, it’s an expression of how powerless Russia is to actually take the things it wants from Ukraine.

    How much trouble is Russia having in achieving it’s stated goals? Let’s go back, once again, to the other side of the country and the town of Popasna. Before the invasion, Popasna had a reported population of 19,000. It’s less than two miles from the larger town of Pervomaisk, which Russia has controlled for eight years. [map available at the link]

    On Saturday, as Russia was sending missiles at Odesa, it was lobbing artillery shells into Popasna. At least two people are reported dead. But the fact that Russia is still throwing artillery at Popasna clearly underlines one thing: They still haven’t taken it. Russia has run an unknown number of armored columns down that single broken stretch of highway. On Wednesday, it reported that it had captured Popasna. Russian state television ran video of a triumphant tank commander reportedly sailing into the town as they announced the “complete occupation.” Only it is not occupied.

    Russia is making advances in the east, but so is Ukraine. Over the last two weeks, Russia has not been able to mount any major attack. Unfortunately, Ukraine has also not been able to mount a major counterattack. Kherson is still under Russian control, Ukrainian forces don’t seem to have made a significant advance toward the supply chain supporting that Izyum salient. No one has been able to break through to relieve Mariupol.

    But then, Ukraine may not be focusing on any of those things. With thousands of new tanks, UAVs, helicopters, transports, and artillery pieces to deal with, it’s all that Ukraine can do to get the new equipment into place, deal with the sudden wealth of gear (and increased complexity), and prepare themselves to move when Russia moves. [map available at the link]

  251. says

    Russia ramps up it’s excuse game. Because it’s not as if they gave up on getting defenders out of the Azovstal plant because those defenders were winning.

    Russia sys it cancelled its planned assault on Azovstal steel in Mariupol to prevent the West from using WMDs

    Laughable.

    The summary of what Russia is claiming comes from Samuel Ramani.

  252. blf says

    Lynna@326 quotes someone claiming “Russia s[a]ys it cancelled its planned assault on Azovstal steel in Mariupol to prevent the West from using WMDs”.

    Wet Mud Delivery? Or just a complaint about the Ukrainian tractor corps?

  253. says

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

    The Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has warned Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is “only a beginning” and that Moscow has designs on capturing other countries after a Russian general said it wants full control over southern Ukraine.

    Russian forces have resumed airstrikes on the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, where Ukraine’s remaining troops in the city are holding out, Ukrainian presidential adviser, Oleksiy Arestovych, has said.

    A video has emerged showing women and children in Mariupol’s besieged Azovstal steel plant saying they are “running out of strength” and need to be urgently evacuated to Ukrainian-controlled territory.

    A civilian evacuation planned from Mariupol on Saturday did not go forward, an aide to the besieged city’s mayor has said. The official blamed Russia for the failure of the evacuation effort, which was meant to begin around midday local time.

    Five people have been killed and eighteen injured in a missile strike in the southern Ukrainian port city of Odesa on Saturday, the president’s chief of staff, Andriy Yermak, said.

    Two Russian generals have been killed near Kherson, the Ukrainian ministry of defence’s intelligence directorate has said. Another is in critical condition.

    Zelenskyy is holding a press conference in a metro station in Kyiv, which they’re following live.

  254. says

    Guardian – “Back in the USSR: Lenin statues and Soviet flags reappear in Russian-controlled cities”:

    …Residents told the Observer there had been a full-blown campaign to erase Ukraine’s national identity. Ukrainian flags have been ripped from civic buildings. In Melitopol teachers are being forced to use Russian and to teach the Kremlin’s school curriculum. The authorities have said some may need to be “retrained” in Crimea. Russian “military police” units have destroyed Ukrainian literature and textbooks.

    The historian Anne Applebaum said the Russian government’s methods in Ukraine were darkly familiar. Today’s Moscow is replicating what Soviet forces did in occupied Poland, the Baltic states and the rest of central Europe in 1939, as well as at the end of the second world war. It was an “eerily precise repeat of the NKVD [Soviet secret police] and Red Army’s behaviour,” she said.

    She added: “They have lists of people to arrest – mayors, museum directors, local leaders of all kinds. They systematically rape and murder civilians, in order to create terror. They deport other people en masse to Russia, to enhance their own depleted population. They eradicate local symbols – statues, flags, monuments – and put up their own.”

    Applebaum said there was “one new twist” in Russia’s takeover of southern and eastern Ukraine, now the scene of a brutal battle for the Donbas. “Because modern Russia stands for nothing except corruption, nihilism, and Putin’s personal power, they have brought back Soviet flags as well as Lenin statues to symbolise Russian victory,” she said.

    Ukraine removed its Lenin statues in 2014, in the wake of the Maidan revolution. Monuments vanished from squares in Kharkiv, Kyiv and elsewhere. Communist slogans were banned under “decommunisation” laws passed by Ukraine’s parliament. Henichesk and other occupied areas are now seeing forced “recommunisation”. Or, put another way, they are going back to the USSR….

    More at the link.

  255. says

    Reuters – “Exclusive: Local election chief threatened by Republican leader seeking illegal access to voting equipment”:

    A local Republican Party leader in North Carolina threatened to get a county elections director fired or have her pay cut unless she helped him gain illegal access to voting equipment, the state elections board told Reuters.

    The party official, William Keith Senter, sought evidence to support false conspiracy theories alleging the 2020 election was rigged against former U.S. President Donald Trump. The previously unreported incident is part of a national effort by Trump supporters to audit voting systems to bolster the baseless stolen-election claims.

    Senter, chair of the Surry County Republican Party, told elections director Michella Huff that he would ensure she lost her job if she refused his demand to access the county’s vote tabulators, the North Carolina State Board of Elections said in written responses to questions from Reuters. Senter was “aggressive, threatening, and hostile,” in two meetings with Huff, the state elections board said, citing witness accounts.

    Senter did not respond to requests for comment.

    Huff, who refused Senter’s demands, was disturbed by the incident of political intimidation. Such threats have become common nationwide since the 2020 election. Reuters has documented more than 900 threatening or hostile messages aimed at election officials in a series of investigative reports.

    “It’s a shame, that it is being normalized,” Huff told Reuters. “I didn’t expect to get it here in our county. We are just trying to do our job by the law.”

    Senter’s demands are a potential violation of state law. In a legal memo responding to community calls for a “forensic audit” of voting machines, Mark Payne, an attorney retained by the Surry County Board of Elections, wrote this week that it was illegal to provide access to voting machines to unauthorized individuals. Anyone threatens or intimidates an election officer could also face felony charges, according to a state statute.

    No one has been charged in the incident.

    The North Carolina Department of Public Safety and the Federal Bureau of Investigation did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Saturday.

    Dobson Police Chief Shawn Myers said he was not aware of the threats to Huff and did not believe his department had responded. Sheriff Steve Hiatt did not respond to requests for comment.

  256. blf says

    When propaganda ‘goes overboard’: Kremlin officials fear a negotiated peace with Ukraine would destroy Putin’s ratings, Meduza’s sources say (Meduza edits in {curly braces}):

    The Putin administration’s domestic policy bloc has come to a conclusion: there are currently no “good PR scenarios” for ending Russia’s war against Ukraine that would also preserve the authorities’ ratings. This is what three sources close to Putin’s administration told Meduza.

    Putin’s domestic policy team began developing these “exit strategies” several weeks ago. “They looked, fiddled around, {but} there’s no clear scenario in sight. As such, they decided not to prepare {public} opinion for possible negotiations {and reaching a peace agreement}. They’re letting everything take its course,” explained one of Meduza’s sources.

    Meduza’s sources claim that officials in the Kremlin are convinced that the majority of Russians perceive the war as a “struggle against Nazis and Nazism.” As proof, they refer to the results of classified sociological studies (which the Russian authorities have long used to monitor public opinion). As Meduza reported previously, since early March 2022, after Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, contractors working for Putin’s administration have been conducting both quantitative and qualitative public opinion research, including interviews and focus groups.

    That said, there is no reliable, independent data to corroborate these claims about the country’s “militant majority.” Various sociological surveys on Russians’ attitudes towards the war have been published, and many of them show overwhelming support for the “special military operation” in Ukraine. However, many experts stress that given the influence of propaganda, censorship, and repressions, these studies are unlikely to reflect reality.

    Nevertheless, Putin’s administration continues to rely on its own survey data, which, according to Meduza’s sources, supports the notion that the Russian population is on the warpath. In particular, Kremlin officials are of the opinion that one of the most serious obstacles to “the public’s exit from the war” could be the “stance of many members of the middle class,” who allegedly support the “special operation.” Citing the same classified studies, Meduza’s sources claim that these “members of the middle class” believe that “if the war has already started, you need to keep going until victory — to Kyiv or even to Lviv. You can’t retreat.”

    […]

    These claims are implicitly supported by the results of a survey of thousands of Moscow residents conducted by the public opinion and market research company Russian Field (the survey was commissioned by Russian opposition politician Roman Yuneman). Indeed, among people whose incomes allow them to buy “almost anything,” 62 percent supported the continuation of the “special military operation in Ukraine” and just 29 percent supported peace talks. Among those whose incomes allow them to make major purchases (like household appliances), these figures were 54 percent and 37 percent, respectively. At the same time, those who couldn’t even afford groceries were almost evenly split, with 40 percent supporting the “special operation” and 40 percent favoring negotiations.

    Speaking to Meduza, sociologist Grigory Yudin underscored that these results can be chalked up to the fact that “a significant portion of the Russian middle class consists of law enforcement and mid-level government officials.” “In other words, they are direct beneficiaries of the regime. Or they are those who know when they need to show loyalty,” he explained.

    […]

    Meduza’s sources attributed [Kermlin’s fear of pulling back and conducting peace negotiations] to the fact that Russian propaganda has “gone overboard with whipping up the topic of Nazism” in Ukraine. “These triggers are too strong, it’s a revival of the memory of the Great Patriotic {War}, when we fought against the Nazis. This memory has been cherished for far too long,” a source said, referring to the memory of World War II.

    [… T]wo political strategists who spoke to Meduza (one who has worked with Putin’s administration in the past, and another who still works with Kremlin officials) questioned the validity of these fears. “Relying on some kind of sociology right now is strange. People are rather passive, they may not be against the war, but they aren’t for it either. You don’t see the letter ‘Z’ on middle-class cars in Moscow. {Survey} respondents are speaking reflexively — perhaps they aren’t even being dishonest. But this isn’t militant support. These people aren’t prepared to go fight themselves,” one political strategist commented.

    Both sources are confident that if the authorities were to “tone-down the propaganda,” they shouldn’t expect any backlash from the “supporters” of the war. As one of them put it, “citizens will stop thinking and talking about Nazis, [and] completely switch to their own personal problems.”

    Sociologist Grigory Yudin supported this line of thinking. The way he sees it, the authorities’ fears about stirring up opposition among the supporters of the “party of war” are a result of Kremlin illusions. In particular, Yudin recalled an article Meduza published a month before Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, in which a source close to Putin’s administration asserted that even Russian “hipsters” are “Imperial at heart.” “This, of course, is a sick fantasy,” Yudin said. “I don’t know any evidence of this. These people {in the Kremlin} invented an audience for themselves and are forcing everyone to play along with their lies. Albeit unsuccessfully.”

  257. blf says

    Gun violence becomes leading cause of death among US youth, data shows:

    […]
    Gun violence overtook car accidents as the leading cause of death among children and adolescents in the US in 2020, according to a report from the University of Michigan.

    The finding was published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday as part of longer term research effort from the university’s Institute for Firearm Injury Prevention (IFIP).

    An analysis of mortality data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed a nearly 30% increase in gun-related deaths among Americans up to age 19 between 2019 and 2020, the researchers said. These deaths include incidents of suicide, accidental shootings and homicides, with homicides outpacing the other two categories.

    […]

    Although 2020 marked the first year that more children and teens were killed by guns than in car accidents, gun violence has been the number one cause of death among Black teenage boys over 15 for at least a decade, according to CDC data.

    And these teens weren’t dying in high profile mass shootings on school campuses or malls. Rather, many of them lost their lives in homes where guns were present and unsecured and in the neighborhoods they grew up in.

    […]

    “These numbers are horrible, especially because these are such preventable deaths, but until very recently research has been chronically underfunded,” said [a researcher with IFIP and associate professor of emergency medicine at the University of Michigan, Dr Jason] Goldstick […]. “Our ultimate message is that a public health approach to violence prevention can work, but only if you fill in the evidence base and to do that, you need funding.”

  258. says

    Guardian – “Lessons in patriotism used to justify Ukraine invasion to Russia’s children”:

    Russia’s plans to overhaul education have gone hand-in-hand with its war in Ukraine. Officials are writing curricula to justify the invasion, and have suggested schools will hold flag-raisings and sing the national anthem each morning from September. A major Russian textbook publisher is reportedly using autochecking software to edit out positive references to Ukraine in its schoolbooks.

    According to Russia’s education ministry, history will become a compulsory subject from the first grade. “We will never allow it [to be written] that we somehow treated other nations – our fraternal nations of Ukraine and Belarus – poorly,” said education minister Sergey Kravtsov, who announced the new initiative at the opening of an exhibition called “Everyday Nazism”. “We will do everything in our power so that historical memory is preserved.”

    But there is also a new level of pressure on teachers, sometimes to organise pro-war photo-ops with children, or in other cases to hide their anti-war feeling from their students….

    Educational officials have promised further changes to Russia’s curriculum and new patriotic initiatives clearly inspired by the war. Some, such as the flag and anthem, seem inspired by similar rightwing efforts in the United States.

    Others are specific to Russia’s war in Ukraine. Kravtsov told Putin last week that they had already begun developing lessons about the “goals of the special operation – to help our people, denazification, the demilitarisation of Donbas”.

    The lessons manuals, or metodichki, are so far not compulsory, noted Denis Lanshchikov, a history teacher at a private school in Moscow. But many teachers and administrators at state schools appeared to have leaned into them of their own volition, either because they supported the war or because they thought “big brother is watching”.

    “It seems to me that it isn’t yet a top-down attempt to make schools totalitarian,” he said. “But then every person … creates this totalitarianism himself.”

    Even grade-school students are facing some level of indoctrination. “In all the schools they held these special events dedicated to the topic that Russia is fighting with fascists,” said Marina Litvinovich, an opposition politician in Moscow. In her son’s fourth-grade class, the children were given a “light version”. “They don’t quite get it. So they went through the [second world war] Leningrad blockade – and during the lesson they also said that ‘look, this is how Russia is continuing to fight against fascism’.”

    “The kids are kind of cool toward it,” she said of her son. She compared it to the indoctrination that she went through as a student in the late Soviet period, saying: “When the Soviet Union fell, all this indoctrination flew away … so I’m not extremely worried about it, it will fly away when they meet reality. It’s bad but not a catastrophe.”

  259. says

    blf @327, Ha! Funny. I’ll go with your interpretation. Probably both General Mud and the Ukrainian tractors.

    In other humor:

    The Georgia congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene testified on Friday that she could not have played a part in the January 6, 2021, insurrection because she had been abducted by a Jewish spaceship earlier that day.

    “I was walking down the street, minding my own business, when suddenly a Jewish teleporting beam levitated me into the hull of the orbiter,” she said.

    Once abducted, she testified, she found herself in the presence of the Rothschild banking family, all dressed in silver spacesuits.

    “They had this big panel with flashing lights and knobs on it that they were using to control the government, the news media, and the entertainment industry,” she said.

    After observing her for several hours, the Rothschilds returned her to Earth unharmed, she said.

    “My biggest fear was that the Rothschilds had implanted something in my head to control my mind the way they control wildfires,” she testified. “Fortunately, my brain is the same as it’s always been.”

    New Yorker link

    Well, no doubt that is all true. It does account for Marjorie Taylor Greene using the phrase, “I don’t recall,” so often when she was testifing under oath.

  260. says

    Great thread (now with 60+ entries, with links):

    Starting an ongoing [thread] on ‘Who do Russians say they are fighting in Ukraine to justify/distract from their ineptitude, cowardice and cruelty?’

    1) Nazis
    Already a bit tired. Luckily, Russian propagandists are always ready to freshen up their material

    2) US world domination (a few tankies seem to be taken in by this line…)

    3) Banderivtsy: followers of Stephan Bandera, far-right wartime leader of the militant wing of Ukrainian nationalists in the 1940s

    4) Satanists.
    Nobody likes a satanist.

    9) Not even a real nation with no concept of nationhood…

    10) but also a nation entirely consumed by its own vision of nationhood which is why ‘denazification must mean deukrainianisation’

    This extremely nationalist nation with no concept of nationhood is also a colony led by a puppet regime

    12/ Cancel culture by ‘liberal-fascists’
    Liberal-fascists are easily my least favourite type of fascist. Simultaneously too liberal and too fascist. Bad.

    17/ Lenin and his artificial creation of a made-up state and also all the people in said state who disrespect Lenin statues

    18/ Against the gays and all their gay parades. Looks way too much fun. Bomb ‘em.

    19/ An army of migratory birds carrying bioweapons genetically targeted at Russians and developed by the Pentagon and Ukrainian army

    23/ neocon globalist Masonic sodomites

    The sort of insult that raises more questions about the insulter than the insulted

    58/ Western forces occupying Ukraine and trying to stop it from being ‘independent’

    Independent, adj. (archaic, Russian) Occupied by Russian troops and entirely dependent on the Kremlin’s vision of what your state should be….

  261. says

    Wonkette: “This Florida Atheist’s Bible Banning Petition Is Goddamn Delightful”

    Florida, as we all know, has gotten real book-ban happy lately. They’ve banned piles of math books, they’ve banned a children’s book called “Everywhere Babies” for reasons even the books authors are not sure about, tons of Young Adult Fiction and pretty much anything they’ve decided mentions racism, sexuality, gender or teaches kids social skills and empathy (“Social Emotional Learning” is the new thing they are upset about). The goal, it seems, is to just ban everyone under 18 from reading any book but the Bible and the collected works of Michael and Debi Pearl.

    However, a wrench has just been thrown in that plan. Atheist activist Chaz Stevens has sent a delightful letter to Miami-Dade County asking that the Bible and any book mentioning the Bible be banned on the exact same grounds people want to ban all of the other books.

    His complaints include:

    1 .Age Appropriateness.

    As the Bible casually references such topics as adultery and fornication –or as I like to think, Date Night Friday Night –do we really want to teach our youth about drunken orgies?

    – For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. -Matthew 15:19

    – Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy Romans 13:13

    2. Bestiality and Rape.

    Taking a cue from Florida Statute Ch. 847.001 6(a,b,c), one should consider such discussions to be harmful to minors and obscene.

    – Do not have sexual relations with an animal and defile yourself with it. A woman must not present herself to an animal to have sexual relations with it; that is a perversion. – Leviticus 18:23

    3. Wokenness.

    With the constant babbling concerns about teaching Critical Race Theory, should we not take stock of the Bible’s position on slavery? I am concerned our young white students will read such passages and wake up to civilization’s sordid past.

    – Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; not with eye-service, as men-pleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; with good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men: knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free. – Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians, VI, 5-7

    4. Social-Emotional Learning.

    The most troubling of issues for many, as it’s obvious once we teach little Jimmy and Susie to show empathy for their classmates, they’re one giant step closer to getting their LGBTQ+ freak on.

    – It is not good enough for man to be alone, therefore, encourage one another and build each other up! – Genesis 2:18

    From what I know about the Bible, there is a lot more where all of those came from, especially insofar as it concerns fornication and rape and conception, both immaculate and non. Not to mention all of the questions it could invite about consent and magically impregnating women with … yourself.

    They should also make sure they don’t have any books about any saints, cause that could get pretty dicey as well. [image available at the link]

    Also — “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is the exact sort of woke, Social Emotional Learning that good, decent Republicans are fighting against all over America. The kind of nonsense that destroys our beautiful American tradition of bullying children who are different badly enough so that they move far, far away as soon as they graduate, leaving small towns blissfully free of adult nonconformists. […] Just the way God intended.

  262. blf says

    Previously mentioned in this series of poopyhead threads was a fairly-recent lunatic conspiracy theory about Covid, this one claiming it’s somehow derived-from or related-to Cobra snake venom (because, if I recall correctly, some English-language words commonly used when discussing Covid-19 supposed have Latin roots meaning snake and poison, or something like that). Apparently, this has mutated into water supplies being contaminated with Cobra venom, leading to some hucksters reselling water filters. One water filter maker is not impressed, Water Filter Company Says It Doesn’t Remove Snake Venom Amid Outlandish COVID Conspiracy:

    […]
    Seychelle[‘s] filters remove a wide range of contaminants in water, but what they don’t remove is snake venom, the company said Tuesday. It made the statement after a COVID-19 conspiracy began spreading the false claim that the disease comes from cobra venom. COVID-19 is the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus first discovered at the end of 2019.

    In the video, a retired chiropractor shares the false theory that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention planted cobra venom in COVID-19 vaccines and the water supply. He adds that his theory is based on a fortune cookie and an episode of the fictional NBC series, The Blacklist, according to a report from The Daily Beast.

    [Another individual, a] promoter of QAnon […] began selling Seychelle filters saying they removed cobra venom from water while also selling them for a higher than retail price. He claimed that popular water filter manufacturer Brita was part of the fabricated cabal.

    Seychelle said in a statement released Tuesday its filters haven’t been tested to remove snake venom nor to does it make that claim.

    […]

    The chiropractor who claimed venom was the source of the pandemic has since backtracked after receiving backlash from other conspiracy theorists, according to the Daily Beast report. He does still claim that COVID comes from the water supply.

    The mildly deranged penguin suggests diluting your daily dose of bleach — adding bleach to your water will kill any Cobras, venoms, and Covids lurking therein, and as stated by hair furor, will do the same to any of those which still managed to sneak into your body (perhaps when you you washing your tinfoil hat?).

  263. Pierce R. Butler says

    SC… quoting Meduza @ # 298: …at least 60 men from Dagestan died fighting for Russia by March 23, indicating that this republic had lost more soldiers, by far, than any other region in Russia.

    Lynna… quoting some tweet @ # 303: Pro-Kremlin resource Readovka reported about the death of 13,414 #Russian soldiers while around 7,000 are being missed.

    According to my preliminary calcs, that means Russia has >224 regions, depending on definition of “by far”. Even if Readovka has majorly misoverestimated Russian fatalities, it would seem Meduza misunderestimated those of Dagestan.

    Or something like that.

    /Bushisms

  264. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 342

    The theory is even weirder than that. The quack in question used some wired etymology to “prove” that “Corona Virus” means “King Cobra” and that THEY want to use the venom to turn us into human/Satan hybrids.

  265. blf says

    Florida’s examples of banned topics in math books derided as ‘political theater’:

    Education officials release four examples among the 54 math textbooks they rejected last week because of prohibited topics

    […]

    The state said it had refused to use the books because of prohibited topics including alleged references to critical race theory. On Friday, however, after pressure to explain the decisions, the education department published several images of math problems from the textbook with the offending segments highlighted.

    In one example, a colored graph features levels of “racial prejudice” by age. Another example, under the heading “adding and subjecting polynomials”, begins with the words: “What? Me? Racist?” and uses the statistical results of a common survey about unconscious bias as an example for a set of mathematics problems.

    […]

    “Those examples were given with no context and were not even elementary-level material,” Andrew Spar, president of the Florida Education Association that represents more than 150,000 educators, said. […]

    Indeed. Without even looking at the image at the link, the “What? Me? Racist?” uses Algebra; it is not, in any way shape or form from an elementary-schools level textbook.

    […]
    Other content that Florida’s education leaders objected to are cartoon children appearing at the side of textbook pages encouraging students to “learn together”, to have “a growth mindset” by trying a new way to tackle a problem when they were stuck, or to adopt a “math mindset” to help understand their feelings.

    Math is about getting the right answer. It’s not about how you feel about the problem, DeSantis said at a press conference earlier in the week.

    […]

    “These kinds of antics and political theater going on over these textbooks is exactly what’s driving people out of the profession” [said Spar].

    Some of the few examples the Florida Department for Imnumeric Slaves released can be seen at the link. They are much more hilarious than this rather bland Grauniad article might suggest — I do hope the Grauniad rolls out its snark machine…

  266. blf says

    Some recent cartoons in the Grauniad:

    ● Stephen Collins, By George, what a horrible history.

    ● Chris Riddell, Partygate is ready to bring down Boris Johnson, “[Bojoexit:] The prime minister is grimly hanging on to his job, but time’s up”.

    ● Edith Pritchett, Facing up to the online beauty racket.

    ● Tom Gauld, On the trouble with writing an autobiography.

    And last, but by no means least, First Dog on the Moon, These climate scientists are full of extremely dangerous ideas — and now they’re targeting banks, “These people are monsters!!!!!”

  267. blf says

    Inside The Bizarre Conspiracy Theory That Halted Putin’s Bombing Plans (Yahoo / Daily Best edits in {curly braces}):

    […] Russian state media have latched onto a bizarre explanation for Putin’s decision to back off [directly attacking Mariupol’s Azovstal steel plant] — that the steel plant is teeming with Western mercenaries and even senior NATO officers.

    On Friday, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov declared: The remainder of Ukrainian nationalists from the Azov regiment… together with foreign mercenaries from the United States and European countries, are securely blockaded on the territory of the Azovstal plant.

    The previous day, experts on state television had started to suggest that this belief might have played a part in Putin’s decision to halt the bombing of THE besieged steel plant.

    Appearing on 60 Minutes [from context, the Russian show, not the States-side one –blf] Thursday evening, military expert and retired Colonel Yury Knutov opined that Azovstal is hiding secrets of global importance. He speculated that unveiling them would cause a ripple effect, including the possibility of impacting the re-election of French President Emmanuel Macron. […]

    […] Knutov asserted: Many experts say that likely, aside from members of Azov and Ukraine’s Armed Forces, NATO advisers are there {at Azovstal} — and very high-level ones. And if they end up in the hands of the Russian Army, this will cause an international scandal and have major political implications inside NATO countries. Political leaders, leaders of NATO countries, have claimed that none of their advisers are there and NATO has no part in this, other than providing secondary aid by sending weapons. Suddenly — if this will be proven to be a lie — Macron could be defeated in his election. A number of other politicians might be forced to resign.

    Host Evgeny Popov, who is also a member of Russia’s State Duma, weighed in: For him {Macron} to lose in the elections we need to get those NATO’s people out of there — specifically the French ones — in the next two days.

    Thanks for confirming Russia / Putin wants teh le penazis to win.

    Knutov said that destroying Azovstal by bombing would not be difficult [snicker — assuming he only means conventional high-explosives deployed by an actual army –blf], but it would deprive Russia of an opportunity to identify the people remaining there. Therefore, Putin’s idea of a blockade was more likely to reveal the secrets of the steel plant. Knutov predicted that within one week or less, current inhabitants of Azovstal would emerge and surrender, as they’re forced to starve and suffer from the lack of water.

    Speaking about the Kremlin’s intent to overtake the entire Donbas region, Knutov pointed out that according to the Pentagon, Russia is expected to rely on the same tactics it implemented in Syria. Knutov ominously predicted: It’s said that new tactics will be implemented… our tactics developed in Syria are proven. Maybe something new will also be used, I’m not ready to talk about it and reveal it. He later added: We’ve reached the stage where, I believe, NATO directly involved itself in this military conflict. We can already speak not only of our army’s special military operation on the territory of Ukraine, but NATO’s war against Russia on the territory of Ukraine. That is where we’re at right now.

    Co-host of 60 Minutes, Olga Skabeeva, pointed out that the release of the people from the Azovstal steel plant has been demanded by a host of Western officials […]. Dismissing the idea that these politicians are concerned about the release of civilians reportedly trapped at Azovstal along with members of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, Skabeeva concluded: They want to free the people from the catacombs, which means there are some very, very special people — very valuable people there.

    […]

    The inflammatory rhetoric on state television, often seen as a reflection of the prevailing mood at the Kremlin, has become increasingly belligerent. During Tuesday’s broadcast of The Evening With Vladimir Solovyov, the host attempted to deter NATO countries from assisting Ukrainians in their self-defense against Russian aggression. He continued the theme of accusing Western countries of covertly sending their operatives to fight in Ukraine, stating that they will be destroyed along with the weapons supplied by the West.

    Solovyov threatened: De facto, we’re starting to wage war against NATO countries. We’ll be grinding up NATO’s war machine, as well as citizens of NATO countries. When this operation concludes, NATO will have to ask itself: ‘Do we have what we need to defend ourselves? Do we have enough people to defend ourselves?[‘] Solovyov opined that not only Ukraine would have to be denazified, meaning that Russia would continue marching through Europe. He ominously added: And there will be no mercy. There will be no mercy.

  268. blf says

    A few snippets from Russians Oddly Buy Into Ukraine Conspiracy Theories. Please note both the source (New Lines Magazine) and the author (Dr Sophia Moskalenko, “a social and clinical psychologist, author and a research fellow at Evidence-Based Cybersecurity Group at Georgia State University”) are unknown to me, and I have no idea of their reliability. In the article, Dr Moskalenko self-identifies as “Ukrainian, Jewish and Romani. Each of my ancestors’ people survived a genocide in the 20th century”:

    For all the trillions of dollars Russia has received in oil and gas revenue during Putin’s reign, in 2022 almost a quarter of the population still doesn’t have indoor plumbing. Under such conditions, the government’s claims about Russia’s greatness might invite questions even from conspiracists. The answer the Russian government offers is that the West, specifically NATO and the U.S., has been keeping Russia on its knees. They are to blame for the lack of medical care in Russia, horrific human rights abuses and the outhouse instead of a toilet for 1 in 4 people. The overwhelming support for the war suggests most Russians accept these conspiracy theories.

    I did not specifically check either the claim that Russia has received trillions (plural) or that c.25% of the population(? households?) lack indoor plumbing, but consider both plausible — Russia did and still does get about one billion per day, and my understanding is Russia is largely rural(-ish). I could easily be wrong on one or both points.

    Anger toward Ukrainians has been simmering for generations in Russia, and ethnic slurs and denigrating portrayals of Ukrainians in Russian popular culture have stoked anti-Ukrainian sentiments during Putin’s rule. After Ukraine overthrew the Russian-installed corrupt regime in the 2014 Revolution of Dignity, narratives of NATO’s covert involvement and fabricated stories about Ukrainian nationalists crucifying children in the Donbas region justified the Russian invasion that led to the annexation of Crimea and an eight-year-long war in the Donbas.

    [… T]he messaging is not only for Russian audiences. The Russian foreign minister and the Russian representative to the United Nations flatly denied the overwhelming evidence of Russia’s war crimes, instead laying blame on Ukrainians. As Yale history professor Timothy Snyder pointed out, if Putin succeeds in the broader political aims he is pursuing with this war, he will control the meaning of terms adopted by the West after World War II that describe the extreme scale of horror: genocide, Nazism, atrocity. If Putin succeeds, he can declare what these words mean.

  269. blf says

    From Al Jazeera’s one madman’s war live blog (general link, unlike the Grauniad, it doesn’t seem possible to link to the specific blog entry):

    (20:27 GMT) Zelenskyy slams UN chief’s ‘illogical’ plan to visit Moscow before Kyiv
    Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has criticised a decision by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to visit Moscow on Tuesday before heading to Kyiv on Thursday.

    “It is simply wrong to go first to Russia and then to Ukraine,” Zelenskyy told reporters in the Ukraine capital. “There is no justice and no logic in this order,” he added.

    “The war is in Ukraine, there are no bodies in the streets of Moscow. It would be logical to go first to Ukraine, to see the people there, the consequences of the occupation,” he said.

    […]

  270. says

    Pierce @343, yeah that was weird. I think maybe “60 men” was supposed to be “600” … or some other number related to reality. It’s frustrating when the numbers are clearly wrong but one can’t find a reliable source to correct the error. It’s more than “fog of war,” it’s just posting stuff that has perhaps not been proofread, or posting stuff that is just made up. Thanks for your skepticism.

    It is probably true that many men from Dagestan have died fighting in Ukraine. It’s a shame that we don’t really know how many.

  271. lumipuna says

    Re 343: Maybe they meant it’s a large number in proportion to Dagestan’s population?

    It could also be that while a certain number of casualties is currently acknowledged by the federal government, a much smaller number of bodies have been thus far officially identified and repatriated/reported to their home regions. Presumably, regional authorities can only report what has been reported to them by the military/federal authorities.

  272. says

    Ukraine update: Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, three times is …

    On Saturday evening in Kyiv, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense said they believe Russia is positioning its forces for a strike toward Sievierodonetsk. Located near the western edge of the Luhansk oblast, the city of 101,000, and the neighboring city of Lysychansk (population 95,000) are the lynchpins of Ukraine’s eastern defenses. Located on the east bank of the Seversky Donets River, Sievierodonetsk is threatened by Russian movements that have strengthened the salient running through Izyum and captured villages to the northwest.

    The advance along this line is slow. It’s taken Russian forces better than two weeks to move less than ten miles. Even so, the buildup of forces northwest of Rubizhne, and continued heavy shelling from Russian bases to the east, has led to some suggestion that, should Russian forces progress much further south from Izyum, Ukraine might choose to withdraw from both Rubizhne and Sievierodonetsk, falling back across the river and using that natural barrier as the new line of defense. [map available at the link]

    The idea here is to prevent the possibility of a large number of Ukrainian forces being cut off. However, it’s hard to believe that Ukraine would take this action unless the situation was truly dire. Sievierodonetsk has been one of the cores of Ukrainian resistance since pro-Russian forces occupied parts of Luhansk oblast eight years ago. Ukraine certainly can’t be anxious to surrender any population center after seeing what’s happened in places like Bucha and what is still happening in Mariupol. Sievierodonetsk could expect to be come in for especially harsh treatment considering its role in holding back Russian forces since 2014.

    So while a planned withdrawal may be on a “in case of fire” chart somewhere, don’t expect it to happen any time soon. Any idea that Ukrainian forces are about to pick up and run in large numbers is wishful thinking on Russia’s part.

    […] the Ukrainian government has announced that U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin will make a trip to Kyiv on Sunday to meet with Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelenskyy.

    Zelenskyy also stated that he expected President Joe Biden to visit Kyiv “when the security will allow.” Though a host of foreign officials have visited Kyiv in recent days, it seems unlikely that Biden will make that journey so long as Air Force One can get no closer than Poland, Russian missiles are still plowing into cities in western Ukraine, and getting to Kyiv requires making a long train journey along a route Russia has repeatedly threatened to destroy.

    On the other hand … Biden likes trains.

  273. says

    SPONTANEOUS RUSSIAN COMBUSTION
    On Saturday, a significant fire broke out at the College of Aerospace Engineering and Technology in Korolyov, Russia. On closer inspection, it seems that this fire is actually at a facility called TsNIIMash, the primary analytical center for Roscosmos, the Russian space program.

    On Friday, the Dmitrievsky Chemical Plant, on the outskirts of Moscow, went up in a fairly spectacular blaze. This was Russia’s largest single chemical plant. Their major product is listed as “industrial solvents” like butyl acetate which is quite flammable (as well as smelling like a cross between apples and bananas). These products are used as raw material and reagents in synthesizing a host of other materials, and the loss of the Dmitrievsky plant can be expected to slowdown production at other plants across a large area. Reportedly, products from this factory were directly involved in Russian weapon production.

    On Thursday, another fire broke out at a research facility with connections to both the Russian Ministry of Defense and Roscosmos in the city of Tver. At least six people are dead and 10 more missing, including scientists reportedly involved in the design of Iskander missiles.

    All of this could also be coincidence [a reference to the “coincidence” of three Oligarchs recently dying, all in supposed murder-suicide plots that killed entire families] … Russia is not exactly known for high safety standards or up-to-date infrastructure. Fires happen in Russia with much greater frequency and higher loss of life than in most countries. But the idea of a few nondescript “repair men” driving around Russia in old coveralls, and carrying a toolbox full of railroad flares while humming the Ukrainian anthem under their breath seems [like a possibility]

    Link

  274. says

    Elizabeth Warren:

    Kevin McCarthy is a liar and a traitor.

    This is outrageous and that is really the illness that pervades the Republican leadership right now. They say one thing to the American public and something else in private. They understand that it is wrong, what happened, an attempt to overthrow our government. And that the Republicans instead want to continue to try to figure out how to make 2020 election different instead of spending their energy on how it is that we go forward in order to build an economy, in order to make this country work better for the people who sent us to Washington.

    Shame on Kevin McCarthy.

    Adam Schiff:

    Authoritarians don’t come to power alone.

    They come to power on the backs of men like Kevin McCarthy.

    Men too weak to adhere to any principle. Too hungry for power to say or do what’s right. And too cowardly to tell the truth.

    We deserve better.

    Eric Swalwell:

    Kevin McCarthy is in the “Gang of 8.” He has access to America’s most sensitive security secrets. Kevin McCarthy was just publicly proved to be a liar. What other recordings exist? He should lose his classified access. No one who lied in the private sector would get a clearance.

    Commentary:

    […] That’s right; let’s stop calling republican leaders gutless, spineless, cowards or stupid. Let’s use the labels — traitor, corrupt, seditionists, fascist, authoritarian, pro-Putin, anti-American, …. We need to tell the harsh truth, get these memes out and educate voters about what’s at stake in the November elections.

    Let’s build momentum against the republican party as a whole, not just local candidates or individual leaders. Let’s talk about the culture of corruption. Let’s nationalize the elections.

    If you have a twitter or Facebook account, retweet and re-post such tweets with some of your own thoughts and insights. Let’s not let the republican lying machine dominate the conversation.

    Link

  275. says

    Wonkette: “Florida GOP Rep Threatened To Defund​ Special Olympics Because He Wasn’t Invited To A Party”

    Florida Rep. Randy Fine, most recently in the news for sponsoring the “Fuck Disney” bill to strip the company of its special Reedy Creek Improvement District tax status as punishment for speaking out against the government, threatened to defund the Special Olympics.

    Surprisingly, it’s not for some weird right-libertarian/Ayn Rand-y reason where he opposes taxation and altruism altogether, but rather for a more personal one: West Melbourne Police Department did not invite him to a Special Olympics fundraiser they were holding, in which local public figures would be fake-jailed and community members would have to donate a certain amount to bail them out.

    On top of that, they did invite Jennifer Jenkins, a Brevard County School Board member who accused Rep. Fine of cyberstalking her after he posted her personal number online and invited people to call her to yell about her support of mask mandates and repeatedly posted horrific things about her on social media.

    “Randy posts lies on social media, daily, sometimes multiple times a day, calling me ‘mentally ill,’ ‘child abuser,’ ‘prostitute,'” Jenkins wrote in the complaint she filed while trying (and sadly failing) to get a restraining order against Fine. “I am terrified this narrative of ‘child abuser’ will incite violence, more threats and harassments against me and my family.” (As well she should be).

    In text messages obtained on Friday through a public records request from Florida Today, Rep. Fine and West Melbourne City Councilman John Dittmore discussed the fundraiser, with Dittmore explaining that they had invited the whole school board to attend and participate, but that Jenkins was the only one who RSVP’d yes. Fine still considered this a personal slight and told Dittmore that this could result in both the $1 million funding the West Melbourne had gotten in the state budget for the Special Olympics and $460,000 flood risk reduction project at risk for being vetoed.

    “Jenkins just put your project and special Olympics funding on the veto list,” Fine wrote in the text messages, because it is now par for the course in Republican Florida politics to threaten and punish organizations for offending the government.

    Dittmore promised Rep. Fine that he would offer to “personally donate” the money Jenkins might bring in, in exchange for her being removed from the event.

    “The crazies are going at it right now.” Dittmore wrote “I’m just going to handle on my end and then if she doesn’t voluntarily step away I will bring up Tuesday at our council meeting.”

    Dittmore, a former police officer, assured Fine that the cops who invited Jenkins just wanted to invite the school board and were not aware of Fine’s personal issues with her. He then invited Fine to come with him to the event anyway, but Fine responded “I’m not going to jack shit where that whore is at.”

    “You guys will need to raise a lot of money given that’s who you want to honor, not the person who got you money in the budget,” Fine added.

    When questioned about the text messages, Dittmore explained that he was just trying to protect funding for the flood risk reduction project. Fine said that he absolutely never threatened the project’s funding or the Special Olympics funding, claiming that threatening to veto the projects did not mean he was threatening to veto the projects. [LOL]

    Via Florida Today:

    Fine denied Saturday that conversation ever took place and said he never threatened to ask DeSantis to veto the items. He said the “veto list” comment was a remark about the “negative attention” brought to the event by Jenkins, who attempted to “politicize” it when she posted about the event on social media.

    “When you have someone like Jennifer Jenkins come and politicize charity events, it creates problems,” Fine told FLORIDA TODAY. “If you want to be in a charity event, fine. But when you go on Facebook and you politicize it, you put it at risk.”

    Fine did not answer further questions pressing him on the nature of the “risk” he referenced.

    And what did Jenkins do to “politicize” it? She posted on Facebook about the event with the hashtag #BailJenkins, a takeoff on the fact that Rep. Fine is fond of ending the social media posts with #JailJenkins. You know, the ones where he regularly calls her a prostitute and child abuser and baselessly accuses her of cheating on her husband … all because she supported mask mandates.

    Jenkins herself, when reached for comment, was not surprised that he had called her a “whore” or threatened the city for not inviting him to a party. “I’m no stranger to these attacks from him,” she said. “He has constantly gotten a pass for his defamation and libel, and he’s just been emboldened by those who are supposed to be holding him accountable.”

    Rep. Fine remains convinced that he is the good guy here.

  276. says

    ‘It was killing me’: Mother accuses Russia of forcibly deporting her son from Ukraine

    “I am afraid there will be brainwashing and they will force them to take up arms,” said Natalia Demish.

    Natalia Demish escaped the horrors of besieged Mariupol last month.

    But while she is now in relative safety in the central Ukrainian city of Dnipro, she was cut off from her 21-year-old son, Yuri, by the ongoing fighting when she fled.

    Demish, 40, says Yuri has now been forcibly deported to Russia, and she worries that he will be forced to fight against his own country.

    Hers is just one story, but it adds to Kyiv’s accusations that while Russia has been assaulting Ukraine from the air and the ground, it has also been forcibly deporting large numbers of the country’s civilians. If true, these accusations could constitute a war crime under international law. [photo at the link]

    Kyiv accuses Russia of blocking efforts to send humanitarian aid to Mariupol, or buses to evacuate civilians to Ukrainian-controlled territory. The city has been under siege for nearly two months, and thousands have been killed, according to local officials. Remaining residents have been left with virtually no food, water or electricity.

    […] Demish, an accountant before the war, said she had spent 34 days hiding in a basement in Mariupol with her husband, his two daughters and his parents. After resorting to melting snow to make drinking water, they finally had had enough and took their chance to escape to the central city of Zaporizhzhia in a convoy of cars on March 29.

    But Yuri, who was living with her former-husband in a neighborhood badly damaged by shelling, was cut off from her at the time, with no phone or internet connection. So Demish left without him, believing she had no other choice if she was to survive, and no way to reach her son.

    Later that day, she finally heard from Yuri.

    He said he and his father had walked to the city of Novoazovsk, some 25 miles east, after their building was fired on and Russian troops told them they had to head there if they wanted to stay alive, according to Demish. Novoazovsk has been under the control of Russian-backed separatists, who have been fighting Ukrainian forces in the country’s east since 2014.

    After that, Demish had no communication with her son, an engineering student, for days. Then on April 4, Yuri sent her a message (seen by NBC News) via the Viber messaging app, which is widely used in Ukraine, in which he said: “We are forcibly going to Russia today.”

    When she finally reached her son on the phone the same day, Demish said, he told her that they were put on a train and told they would be taken to Russia, but were not given the final destination.

    Demish said she told him to run away and jump from the train.

    “But he said, Mom, all the windows are shut. It’s not an option,” Yuri said.

    “Not knowing where my son was, it was killing me,” Demish, speaking in Russian, told NBC News in a phone call from the city of Dnipro, in central Ukraine, where she moved after escaping to Zaporizhia.

    After going silent again for more than a week, Yuri finally called his mother on April 15 to say that after three days on the train, they made it to the village of Semyonovka in Russia’s Nizhegorodsky Oblast or district, some 675 miles northeast of Mariupol.

    He told her that he and other evacuees were being lodged in wooden houses surrounded by a forest, and that Russian volunteers were helping them by providing food and medicine.

    But he said his phone had been searched and he was questioned about his family in Ukraine, and about any friends in the Ukrainian army.

    They were allowed to move around the region, Yuri told his mother, but not outside it because they had been processed as refugees. Her son has his travel papers with him, and Demish said she was desperately looking for any way to get him out of Russia, potentially through neighboring countries like Georgia or Turkey.

    Demish said that the last contact she had with Yuri was on Monday, when he told her on the phone that he was doing OK, but that they had been shown propaganda videos alleging that Ukraine as a nation was an “artificial concept” — a line that has been touted by Russian President Vladimir Putin for years and was used as one of the pretexts for Russia invading Ukraine in February.

    “He said they told them that Ukraine never existed as a country, and that it’s part of Russia,” Demish said. “When he objected and said history can’t be rewritten, he said two men approached him and he was questioned for two hours.”

    They also questioned why he wrote to his mom that he was forcibly sent to Russia, Demish said. He said he was never asked if he wanted to go to Ukraine instead, she added. “He was told that he would be recruited into the army in Ukraine if he did, and he would become cannon fodder, but he was now in Russia, a great country.”

    […] Last month, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said reports that Ukrainian citizens had been forcibly taken from Mariupol to Russia were not true, though he said that the Russian military does help civilians leave the city.

    Earlier this month, Michael Carpenter, the U.S. ambassador to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, said a fact-finding mission found evidence of forced deportation of Ukrainian civilians to Russia.

    […] As much as Demish resents her son’s plight, she said she was also aware that he could have died in Mariupol had he stayed. “In the city, there is no heat, electricity or water. All stores are looted. It’s impossible to survive there,” she said. “I think people were ready to go anywhere just to be warm and have food.”

    Her biggest concern is that her son could be forced to fight against his own country.

    “I am worried that they will take our Ukrainian men, put Russian uniforms on them, get them into a bus and take them to Ukraine,” she said. “I am afraid there will be brainwashing and they will force them to take up arms and they will say, if you want to free up the city, go fight.”

    But she hopes to get Yuri out of Russia soon and see him again, and that they can all return to Mariupol one day.

    “I really want to come back,” she said, with sadness in her voice. “But only after it’s liberated. I don’t want to live under the Russian flag.”

  277. blf says

    Polls here in France close in about 30 minutes — 20h00 Paris time — and until then, “French media are barred from quoting candidates or publishing polls to ensure they don’t influence voters”, Voter abstention at 28% in French presidential run-off, up 2.5% from 2017 (a live blog France24-style). I myself am thinking of heading off to a local bar / pub, in part because the weather has cleared (its been raining dogs and other animals the last few days)…

  278. blf says

    Russian volunteers help welcome Ukrainian refugees at Paris’s Gare de l’Est (video). « Gare de l’Est » is basically the Eastern (main) train station in Paris; i.e., where refugees from Ukraine are most likely to arrive (in Paris).

    Since the war began more than 5 million Ukrainians have fled the country, with nearly 45,000 finding refuge in France. Many of them arrive at the Gare de l’Est in Paris on trains travelling via Germany. Waiting to receive them is the Red Cross along with a number of Russian volunteers eager to offer the displaced Ukrainians their support.

    There is a partial-transcript at the link. A snippet:

    With a few rare exceptions, the presence of the Russian interpreters is well received by the refugees. Natalia Perepelytsia, a Ukrainian from Kyiv, says she doesn’t mind the contact with Russian interpreters. “We don’t make a difference between Russians and others, we judge people on their qualities and not on their nationality”.

  279. KG says

    From Guardian:

    Emmanuel Macron has defeated his far-right challenger Marine Le Pen in the second round of France’s presidential elections, projections show.

    According to usually accurate estimates, the current president scored 58.2% of the vote, against 41.8%% for the Rassemblement National (National Rally) leader.

  280. KG says

    If the figures @360 are anywhere near correct, that’s a smashing defeat for fascism! Expect turmoil in the “RN” (fascist party).

  281. KG says

    Apparently, Marine Le Pen is talking now, denouncing “two weeks of unfair tactics” since the first round. Unfair tactics such as telling (some of) the truth about her policies, I suppose.

  282. blf says

    As KG@360–362 has reported, President Macron has been re-elected. His currently-projected 58%–42% victory is worrisome, as it’s the highest le penazi total ever, albeit possibly on a very low turnout (see @358). On the other hand, he’s the first ever Fifth Republic President to be re-elected with a (current) majority in Parliament.

    Éric Zemmour is already whinging, something about blah blah blah…

    I myself tried to go to a rather good bar with good WiFi to monitor the results, but they were closed tonight (surprisingly), so went to a nearby even better bar (but with worse WiFi), where about all I caught was Le Pen’s nauseating concession babbling. They had a rum from Japan, which I (and basically none of the other customers) had ever heard of — Japan? Rum? — so of course I tried it, and it was actually rather good (and surprisingly inexpensive).

    The focus now is on the upcoming Parliamentary elections, with both Le Pen and Jean-Luc Mélenchon asserting they will deprive Macron of a majority; e.g., Forget the presidency, I can lead France as its PM, insists Mélenchon, “[… L]eftist is courting allies to help make him prime minister in June, handing him power to disrupt the winner […]”.

  283. blf says

    Oh for feck’s sake! According to the local village’s app, c.51% voted for teh le penazis, and c.48% for Macron. That’s much higher than any le penazi vote I can recall, and certainly the first “majority” I can recall (albeit no information — via the app — on turnout).

  284. blf says

    France24 has pointed put several times now Macron trolled Le Pen by walking to his victory speech (which has mercifully short) with the EU’s anthem Ode to Joy playing (not the French national anthem La Marseillaise).

  285. says

    blf and KG, above, I was so glad to see that Macron won. It is scary that a majority of the voters where blf lives voted for the French Putin, (or the French Trump), Marine Le Pen.

  286. says

    Ukraine Update: Russian state TV delusion reaches new heights as they advocate for Baltic invasion

    If you’ve been paying attention to accounts (like @JuliaDavis) covering Russian state TV, one of the only places Russians are allowed to get their news, you know about their daily frantic fascist war-mongering. For this update, I’m going to go through a segment where a host and his guest discuss how easy it would be for Russia to just go ahead and conquer the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. [video available at the link]

    Remember, everything on Russian TV is sanctioned by the government. This segment fits in