1. says
    Aaron Rupar:

    Jon Stewart on ABC: “What Toomey’s amendment wants to do is make sure our sick & dying veterans have the pleasure our 9/11 first responders at Ground Zero had of having to come back to Washington, hat in hand, riddled w/cancer, & march through the halls of the hill begging for $”

    Video is available at the link.

    STEWART: The Toomey amendment is really about capping the fund. It’s about putting caps on it and giving it a sunset clause for ten years. Now, we’ve been through this with the 9/11 First Responders.

    Commentary from Wonkette:

    […] All while fucking over veterans and setting up the opportunity to do it again at later date. It’s a game to them to mess with veterans’ lives.

    As a veteran affected personally by this in many ways, there are fewer phrases that have become more insulting and meaningless from the lips of conservatives over the years than “Thank you for your service.” It’s as worthy of mockery as “thoughts and prayers.” […]

  2. says

    Hello, Everyone,

    The Infinite Tread reached 500 comments, and then rolled on, automatically, to begin again at comment #1. So here we are.

    For your convenience, here are a few links back to the previous 500 comments:

    Oh, FFS: Multiple Arizona Republicans are already suggesting Tuesday’s elections are rigged if they don’t win
    Good: Democrats are paying attention to Latino voters.
    “Lauren Boebert Fairly Certain We’ll All Eat Our Dogs If Dems Pass Gun Control.”

  3. says

    U.S. kills al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, officials say.

    Washington Post link

    The United States has killed Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leader of al-Qaeda and one of the world’s most-wanted terrorists, who oversaw the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, alongside the group’s founder, Osama bin Laden, according to U.S. officials familiar with the matter.

    Both men escaped U.S. forces in Afghanistan in late 2001, and Zawahiri’s whereabouts had long been a mystery. Bin Laden was killed in a raid by U.S. forces in Pakistan in 2011.

    The Associated Press first reported that Zawahiri was killed.

    It was not immediately clear where and when Zawahiri died and what element of the U.S. government had carried out the mission.

    The Central Intelligence Agency carried out a drone strike over the weekend in Kabul, Afghanistan, according to officials familiar with the matter.

    The White House said on Monday that President Biden would give remarks in the evening about “a successful counterterrorism operation,” but did not mention Zawahiri.

    This is a developing story and will be updated.

  4. says

    BBC – “Reality of Ukraine war hidden from Fortress Russia”:

    …Pskov is a medieval fortress town which, in a thousand years, has seen many battles.

    With its high walls and watchtowers, the ancient citadel is curiously topical and symbolic. This is how the Kremlin portrays modern Russia: as a besieged fortress threatened by the West.

    In town, at a rundown Soviet era sports stadium, they’re re-enacting a battle from World War Two.

    People posing as Russian partisans are involved in a shoot-out with a group dressed as German Nazis. A mock-up of a Russian village is in flames.

    The Kremlin likens what is happening in Ukraine now to the Second World War. It insists that today, once again, Russians are victims, heroes, liberators: the good guys fighting Nazis and fascists.

    It is a false image. A parallel reality. But many here believe it….

    Here’s the video report (Twitter link).

    I’m reading Tony Judt’s Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945. My review is extremely mixed, but in any event this caught my eye in the discussion of the Russian/Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 (p. 446):

    There were ripples of protest throughout the Communist bloc. On August 25th 1968 demonstrators in Red Square protesting the occupation of Czechoslovakia included Pavel Litvinov (grandson of Stalin’s foreign minister) and Larissa Daniel (wife of the imprisoned Soviet novelist). East European army units engaged in the invasion of Czechoslovakia had been led to believe that they were defending the country against West German or American invaders, and some of them had later to be quietly withdrawn, their reliability – notably that of Hungarian units occupying Slovakia – seriously in question….

  5. says

    From this week’s Meduza news feed:

    Kosovo border policy change postponed after Serbs block streets in protest

    Tensions flared in Serbian-majority northern Kosovo on Sunday amid plans by the authorities to start requiring Serbian citizens to be issued temporary IDs upon entering the country. Kosovo officials called the measures a “reciprocal” response to Serbia’s policy of issuing temporary IDs to Kosovar visitors.

    The changes were slated to come into effect on Monday, August 1. On July 31, local residents began building barricades to block major roads in the area, cutting off access to two major border checkpoints in the villages of Jarinje and Brnjak. In the city of Kosovska Mitrovica, air raid sirens sounded for over three hours, according to Reuters.

    After consulting with representatives from the U.S. and the EU, the Kosovo authorities announced that they would postpone the new policies for one month if the protesters removed the barricades. The roadblocks were removed on Monday afternoon.

    Ukrainian postal service no longer working in occupied territories

    Ukraine’s national postal service, UkrPoshta, is suspending operations in the country’s occupied regions. According to Ihor Smilianskyi, UkrPoshta’s director, the decision was made with postal workers’ safety in mind amid growing threats from the Russian military as well as from Russian-backed “DNR” and “LNR” forces. “They don’t allow us to deliver pensions because they need to collect passport numbers from pensioners for the ‘referendums’ in exchange for pensions in [rubles] — a classic case of extortion. They can’t do things any other way,” said Smilianskyi.

    As for whether the suspension is permanent, Smilianskyi quoted the Terminator: “We’ll be back.”

  6. Jean says

    Since the world was paying more attention to Ukraine and Russia than the US, they had to stir some shit and do their own illegal international action and send a drone to kill people on foreign soil. And Pelosi is also going to Taiwan just to annoy China as there is no other actual reason to go there. I hate the fucking US government sometimes even the wrongly called “left” one.

  7. raven says

    We seem to be failing again on another emerging disease, monkeypox.

    Monkeypox is really rat pox and is thought to be the ancestor of smallpox.
    Why is it spreading now?
    A number of reasons but one is that we no longer vaccinate for smallpox. I’ve been vaccinated for smallpox like all the boomers. We stopped in the 1970s. There is now a large pool of young people never vaccinated.
    If there is a susceptible rodent species in North America, sooner or later monkeypox will find it.
    The rodent population in NA has bubonic plague and that entered from Asia in the early 20th century.
    There is always the possibility that monkeypox re-evolves into something like smallpox.

    We know from other viruses that the way to stop these novel viruses is to get on them early with enough effort. We stopped SARS and Avian flu that way.

    It’s Too Late: Monkeypox May Be Part of Our Lives Forever
    We failed to get on top of the monkeypox outbreak and we may have missed the chance to stop the disease becoming endemic—and a permanent threat—in the U.S. and Europe.
    Updated Aug. 01, 2022 5:42AM ET / Published Jul. 31, 2022 10:02PM ET dailybeast

    We failed to get on top of the monkeypox outbreak and we may have missed the chance to stop the disease becoming endemic—and a permanent threat—in the U.S. and Europe.

    Monkeypox is spreading fast all over the world, especially in the United States and Europe. With cases doubling every two weeks or so, there’s a growing risk that monkeypox will become a permanent problem in countries where, before, outbreaks were rare and small.

    The pox is, in other words, close to becoming endemic in a lot of new places. If that happens, it might become very difficult to eradicate. Monkeypox, which causes a fever and rash and is fatal in a very small number of cases, will become yet another disease that people have to worry about all the time.

    For the pox, there are two paths to endemicity. If the virus infects enough people fast enough to outpace authorities’ efforts to trace transmission and vaccinate at-risk individuals, it might become endemic in people. “We are getting close to this already,” James Lawler, an infectious disease expert at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, told The Daily Beast.

    The good news with this kind of endemicity is that it doesn’t have to be permanent. Reversing human endemicity is hard, yes—but it’s possible. “If it’s just spreading in humans it can be controlled—eventually—through vaccination and natural immunity,” Amesh Adalja, a public health expert at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, told The Daily Beast.

    But monkeypox was originally a “zoonotic” animal virus. It circulates in rodent and monkey species in West and Central Africa, where outbreaks in the human population are frequent.

    If the pox finds a home in some animal species in North America or Europe—say, squirrels, rats, or prairie dogs—it’ll be all but impossible to eradicate regionally. “Game over,” Lawler said. The pox will be all around us, probably forever, just waiting for opportunities to spread from animals to people. Outbreaks will be frequent and big, just like they are now in West and Central Africa.

    To be clear, the pox is not endemic in people or animals in the United States or Europe—yet. But the trends aren’t encouraging. “I do share the other scientists’ concern of containment and the virus becoming endemic in our U.S. rodent population,” Stephanie James, the head of a viral testing lab at Regis University in Colorado, told The Daily Beast.

    Officials first noticed the current outbreak, involving a relatively mild West African strain of the pox, after diagnosing a U.K. traveler returning from Nigeria in early May. Spreading through close physical contact including sex, the pox soon accompanied travelers on planes heading for countries far and wide. Doctors diagnosed the first U.S. case on May 27.

    But it’s apparent now that the first diagnosed pox cases in Europe and the U.S. weren’t the real first cases. On June 3, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced it had found genetic evidence of American pox cases that predated the first cases in Europe from May.

    “Monkeypox’s rapid spread in people is a preventable tragedy. But it can still get a lot worse.”
    Doctors may not have noticed or reported these earlier infections, at first, owing to the similarity between pox symptoms and the symptoms of some common sexually transmitted diseases such as herpes. “The virus was masquerading as a sexually transmitted infection and had been spreading clandestinely for several months,” Adalja explained.

    The virus had a big head start, which helps to explain why, months later, it’s still staying ahead of intensifying efforts to contain it. There were 20,638 confirmed cases in 77 countries as of Wednesday, according to the CDC. That’s up from fewer than 10,000 cases two weeks ago. The World Health Organization has counted five pox-related deaths in non-endemic countries.

    What’s frustrating to epidemiologists is that, in theory, we had all the tools we needed to swiftly contain a pox outbreak. Thanks to COVID, health workers all over the world are better than ever at contact-tracing. Vaccines and therapies that work for smallpox also work for monkeypox. There’s a proven strategy: diagnose cases, isolate and treat the infected, vaccinate their family, friends and co-workers.

    And educate the public—especially the highest-risk groups including men who have sex with men.

    But so far, the strategy isn’t working. Part of the problem is with the virus itself, Lawler said. “The disease is different than the monkeypox we have seen in the past. I don’t think we know why—probably a combo of virus, hosts and environment.”

    Mostly, it’s our fault. Too many doctors misdiagnosed pox cases as herpes or some other STD. The WHO and the CDC both waited too long to designate the pox outbreak as a public health emergency and mobilize resources. The WHO declared an emergency on July 23. The CDC is expected to do the same in the next few days.

    Authorities are deploying more vaccines and therapies and boosting testing. Even so, the clinics that are on the public-health front line in the U.S. need more of everything. More tests. More vaccines and therapies. More money for community outreach. The U.S. National Coalition of STD Directors recently surveyed a hundred clinics and found that half lacked the capacity to deal with the monkeypox outbreak.

    “We are still going too slowly,” Lawler warned. And, he added, “we are still dismissing the possibility of the unexpected.” Including the increasing likelihood of the pox spreading to squirrels or rats.

    The feds seem to be at a loss to deal with “reverse zoonotic” people-to-animal transmission. To prevent endemicity in animals, you have to detect pox infections in a species, cull the infected animals then closely monitor the remaining population to be sure you eliminated all the virus.

    But it’s not clear who in the federal health establishment should take the lead. “Operational zoonotic disease response falls in this gray area,” Lawler said. The CDC maintains a website describing pox symptoms in pets and livestock and explaining where to send samples for diagnosis. The Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service monitors disease in animals. Especially livestock.

    APHIS couldn’t, or wouldn’t, confirm it’s testing animals for monkeypox. The agency referred The Daily Beast to the CDC, which did not respond to an email seeking comment. If there’s a lead agency for detecting pox in animals, that agency doesn’t seem eager to take responsibility.

    Monkeypox’s rapid spread in people is a preventable tragedy. But it can still get a lot worse. With hard work and a little luck, it’s still possible to contain and eventually eliminate the human outbreak.

    But if American or European rodents catch the pox, the outbreak will escalate into something much worse. A newly endemic disease. One that’s all but impossible to eradicate.

  8. raven says

    Non-endemic countries record first monkeypox deaths
    Stephanie Soucheray | News Reporter | CIDRAP News | Aug 01, 2022

    Over the weekend, Brazil, Spain, and India all recorded the first monkeypox deaths outside of endemic countries in Central and West Africa. Spain recorded two deaths, with Brazil and India each recording a single death. So far in the current outbreak, there have been 10 deaths from the poxvirus.

    Six deaths have been recorded in Nigeria (5), and Ghana (1). Historically, the West African clade of the monkeypox virus carries with it a low case-fatality rate of 1%, and non-endemic countries had thus far avoided fatal cases of the disease.

    In Brazil, the patient who died had lymphoma and was immunocompromised. In Spain, home to Europe’s largest outbreak, two men have died. A 22-year-old man in Kerala, India, also died over the weekend; Indian health officials said he contracted the virus while abroad.

    Globally there are now more than 21,000 confirmed cases of the virus.

    Another obscure disease is starting to come into focus.
    Because it is here, making Americans sick and spreading rapidly.

    The case fatality rate so far is running around 1 in 2,100.
    This article notes that one case was in an immunocompromised cancer patient. That isn’t all that reassuring. It is like saying that Covid-19 virus only kills old people. Old people don’t find that all that useful. There are lots of immunocompromised and/or cancer patients in our society.

  9. Jean says

    SC @9
    I’m surprised that using a generic non-dehumanizing term for some human beings would provoke hilarity from your part. Especially with the history of those assassination attempts where the actual target is not who it was intended or who it was announced in addition to the “collateral damage” mentioned or not. And even without collateral damage or mistaken identity, it is still an international crime to invade another sovereign country space in this way (even when the US does it and even if they don’t wanna…).
    I was going to say that if the US would quietly accept that a Chinese (or any other country) drone killed someone (again a generic description for a human being…) on US territory then I might ignore when the US does the same. But actually, I would also condemn China (or whoever).

  10. beholder says

    @6, 13 Jean

    I feel your pain, but you’ve got to pick your battles. Virtually no one else here on the Infinite Thread wants to hear about uncomfortable imperial shenanigans from unapproved sources. Antiwar rhetoric isn’t in their list of talking points and I’ve given up hope that it ever will be.

    Save your sanity and find other antiwar types who actually respect your opinion.

  11. Jean says

    You can roll your eyes all you want at that, it still doesn’t change the fact that the US is stirring some shit in Afghanistan and Taiwan just to prove that they can and that the US President is proud of murdering people with drones in foreign countries. And even the most abject terrorist (which may or may not be the case here) is “people”.
    Another issue is that this will also go a long way towards giving more talking points to those who will defend the indefensible from other countries by calling out the US hypocrisy. There was no need to add more of those. But I guess this is an election year so that’s what counts (not that there are non election years in the US).

  12. Tethys says

    Jean- Since the world was paying more attention to Ukraine and Russia than the US, they had to stir some shit and do their own illegal international action

    Biden having a press conference is a strange way of trying to sneak in an unnoticed assassination.

    And Pelosi is also going to Taiwan just to annoy China as there is no other actual reason to go there

    Lol, I suspect semiconductors might be the most important reason for visiting Taiwan during a trade meeting in the South Pacific region.

    The US doesn’t recognize Chinas authority to dictate who can visit Taiwan, despite China being annoyed by that fact.

  13. Akira MacKenzie says

    Hey all:

    Not sure if this is the best place to post this, but I need to drop some personal news.

    I’m going In for surgery in the morning. Turns out that I have a large, potentially-cancerous mass on my right kidney that has got to go. There is a one-in-four chance they can just remove the mass (it’s sitting close to some major blood vessels). Otherwise they’ll have to take the whole organ. Thank goodness for bilateral symmetry, eh?

    Fortunately, according to my urologist, my prognosis is “excellent.” The MRI they did earlier this summer revealed no metastasis. I won’t need chemo or radiation. It’s a pretty common procedure with a high recovery rate. That said, being the bundle of neuroses I am, I’m still scared shitless.

    So, in case the worst happens, thanks for putting up with my rants, raves, tantrums, and grossly misinformed musings. Thanks for all those times you called me out on my stupidity. That said, this blog has genuinely helped me grow as a person. I’ve laughed. I’ve cried. It was better than Cats.

    See you all later. If not, it was a pleasure knowing you all.

  14. raven says

    U.S. kills al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, officials say.

    Now why is this a tragedy?
    Zawahiri was a terrorist who killed hundreds of thousands of people as the second in command of al Qaeda. Almost all of them were innocent civilians.
    The most high profile were the 3,000 at the World Trade Center in NYC, but the vast majority of al Qaeda victims were middle eastern Muslims.
    The Atlantic

    Ayman al-Zawahiri was Osama bin Laden’s Himmler. President Biden and most Americans will see his death as just revenge for the three thousand innocents killed by Al Qaeda in the United States on September 11, 2001—and so it is. But I have to admit that Zawahiri’s end leaves me cold. Revenge is sour because it always comes too late. Three thousand to one: the numbers provide no comfort.

    And think of Zawahiri’s other victims. Most of them were Muslims whose names are not carved in stone. It’s staggering to think how many human beings are no longer alive because this doctor from a prosperous Egyptian family embraced a hateful ideology that licensed him to kill. There was Shayma Abdel Halim, an 11-year-old schoolgirl, killed in 1993 in a Cairo suburb by a car bomb that Islamic Jihad, a terror group that Zawahiri later merged into Al Qaeda, intended for an Egyptian prime minister. There were the hundreds of Kenyans and Tanzanians murdered in Al Qaeda’s bombings of U.S. embassies in 1998.

    Remember the tens of thousands of Iraqis, most of them Shia, blown to pieces, shot to death, or beheaded by Al Qaeda’s local affiliate. At one point Al Qaeda in Iraq went on a killing spree of bakers in Baghdad. The body count in Iraq grew so high that Zawahiri worried it might hurt Al Qaeda’s image among the world’s Muslims. Think of all the Afghans, Pakistanis, Indonesians, Australians, Turkish, Spanish, British, Moroccans, Syrians, Malians, and others who perished in all the suicide bombings and executions carried out over the past quarter century with Zawahiri’s approval. Perhaps one day the names will be recorded in a memorial or museum or database somewhere, under a heading that says: “Ayman al-Zawahiri’s victims.”

    Zawahiri is dead. Al Qaeda and the Taliban are back in business running Afghanistan, eliminating opponents and erasing women with the ideology that, three decades ago, gave Zawahiri the right to kill an 11-year-old schoolgirl.

    This guy is right up there with Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Osama bin Laden, ISIS, and the latest genocidal maniac, Vladimir Putin.

    I’ll feel sorry for Ayman al-Zawahiri after I’m done feeling sorry for his hundreds of thousands of victims. That should take a few thousand years.

  15. raven says

    See you all later. If not, it was a pleasure knowing you all.

    Good luck.
    Trust your doctors. If they say, “It’s a pretty common procedure with a high recovery rate.”, they are the ones that should know.

  16. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 20
    Thanks, Raven. I know I shouldn’t be stressing as much as I am, but what can I say? Anxiety is my resting state.

  17. Jean says

    Tethys @17: I was not saying that this was done sneakily but the total opposite. It was done to draw attention like a spoiled child having a fit. And if you think trade is the only (or even main) reason to be there, you’re naïve.

    raven @19: I’m not saying that his death is a tragedy. I’m saying that the US doesn’t give a shit about the rule of law as long as it benefits them at the current moment and under their current circumstances. It’s always “American exceptionalism” (and I hate using ‘American’ because the US is not America but only a part of it).

    Akira MacKenzie @18: I hope everything as well as they can and I’m sorry for cluttering the thread with my useless ramblings. What you’re going through is what’s real and important.

  18. KG says

    Despite the loathsomeness of Ayman al-Zawahiri, I agree with Jean that his assassination cannot be justified: the USA is not entitled simply to kill anyone it wants, anywhere it can get away with it – and this action is, among other things, an assertion that it is so entitled. I don’t agree with Jean about Pelosi visiting Taiwan; the Chinese authorities’ claim to determine who may and may not visit what is, de facto, an independent country, is of the same order of arrogance as the American authorities’ claim to be entitled to conduct assassinations such as that of al-Zawahiri.

  19. StevoR says

    On how our days are getting shorter by milliseconds for reasons we don’t fully understand and, if the trend continues, we may need to take a second off :

    Whilt via Space dot com :


    Hopefully some interesting stuff for folks here.

  20. says

    There is of course a serious discussion to be had about the justifiability and implications of actions like the killing of al-Zawahiri, but Jean’s take was quite silly.

    Since the world was paying more attention to Ukraine and Russia than the US, they had to stir some shit and do their own illegal international action and send a drone to kill people on foreign soil.

    Pelosi is also going to Taiwan just to annoy China as there is no other actual reason to go there.

    [Killing al-Zawahiri] was done to draw attention like a spoiled child having a fit.

    These are just unserious claims, and to cite these two events together [?!] as specifically arousing hatred for the US government, in this moment, is…really strange. The US has engaged in decades of imperialist war and destruction in response to these terrorist attacks, killing innocent people (many with drones) and destroying lives on a massive scale. This – the targeted killing of the fucking leader of Al Qaeda who’s being harbored by the fucking Taliban – is what piques your hatred? Give me a break. It’s like posting in 1960, in response to the capture of Eichmann, that Israel was just trying to get attention and “I hate the fucking Israeli government sometimes.”

  21. says

    And I’m offended by the ludicrous claim that killing al-Zawahiri was undertaken in a frivolous spirit for frivolous reasons. It’s disrespectful to his thousands of victims, willfully disregards his continuing threats, and undermines substantive criticisms.

  22. says

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

    The US announced Monday a new tranche of weapons for Ukraine’s forces fighting Russia, including ammunition for increasingly important rocket launchers and artillery guns. The $550m package will “include more ammunition for the high mobility advanced rocket systems otherwise known as Himars, as well as ammunition” for artillery, national security council spokesman John Kirby told reporters.

    Three people have reportedly been killed by Russian shelling while evacuating in a minibus near Kherson, Ukraine’s military is reporting. Ukraine’s Operational Command “South” reported that three people died from the attack on the bus near Dovhove.

    Turkey’s representative at the Joint Coordination Centre (JCC) in Istanbul has said that the first ship carrying Ukrainian grain to world markets was expected to anchor at Istanbul on Tuesday night. At a briefing held at the JCC, general Özcan Altunbulak said the course of the ship was going as planned. Another official said “The plan is for a ship to leave every day. If nothing goes wrong, exports will be made via one ship a day for a while.”

    Ukraine’s state security service says it is investigating 752 cases of treason and collaboration. According to the agency, the greatest amount of cases have been documented in the regions of Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson.

    The United Nations’ secretary general, António Guterres, has warned that a misunderstanding could spark nuclear destruction, as the US, Britain and France urged Russia to stop “its dangerous nuclear rhetoric and behaviour”.

    Sabina Higgins, the wife of Ireland’s president, Michael D Higgins, has triggered a political row in Ireland by urging Russia and Ukraine to call a ceasefire and enter negotiations. Critics said the intervention amounted to Kremlin propaganda because it appeared to equate Moscow’s aggression with Kyiv’s fight for survival.

    The US has accused Russia of using Ukraine’s largest nuclear power plant as a “nuclear shield”. US secretary of state Antony Blinken said Washington was “deeply concerned” that Moscow was now using the plant as a military base and firing on Ukrainian forces from around it and called Russia’s actions around the plant “the height of irresponsibility”.

    Meanwhile, the evidence mounts that the Russians locked more than 50 POWs in a building in Olenivka and blew it up.

  23. says

    Good grief – update to #366 in the previous chapter – Guardian – “Third woman complains at use of her image in Spanish ‘beach body’ ad”:

    Spain has apologised after a third British woman complained that doctored images of her were used without permission in a widely criticised [?] “beach body” campaign.

    The women’s institute, part of Spain’s equality ministry, has emailed all three models to “sincerely apologise” for a poster that was supposed to encourage women of all shapes and sizes to be proud of their bodies.

    Instead, the institute and Arte Mapache, the artist who created the poster, prompted anger from the women featured because their images were used without permission and in two cases were significantly altered.

    Juliet Fitzpatrick, a cancer survivor, became the third woman to complain about the poster since it appeared last week, saying the image created “a bit of a Frankenstein” by superimposing a photographic portrait of her face on the body of another woman who appears to have had a mastectomy.

    Fitzpatrick, whose face appears on a standing body on the left of the beach poster, had two mastectomies, one in March 2017 and another in November 2018 and has since campaigned about the visibility of women who have had breasts removed.

    Speaking to the Guardian she said: “The face is reminiscent of me, but that’s not my body. I’ve got no breasts, and this one has got one breast. The thought of my face being on a body of a woman with one breast is quite upsetting.”

    The institute apologised to Fitzpatrick, as well as to Sian Green-Lord, who was left shaking with anger after the poster showed her image with her prosthetic leg edited out, and to Nyome Nicholas-Williams, the first of the three models to complain that her image had been used without consent.

    The email said: “We did not know that images of real women had been used. We sincerely apologise for any damages that may have been caused to you. The aim of our campaign is to recognise body diversity in all its dimensions, and we will be glad to collaborate with you in any related action.”

    In a statement the institute added: “The institute wants to clarify that at no time was it aware that the women who appear in the images were real people. The work contracted was the elaboration of an illustration, without the use of models. The institute, as an injured party, have contacted the models to clarify the situation, and are waiting for the illustrator and the models to reach an agreement.”

    Mapache apologised last week for using images of women without permission. But he has yet to issue personal apologies to the women involved….

  24. Akira MacKenzie says

    I just got a call from the hospital. The doctor called in sick. GAAAAAAAAH!!!!!

  25. says

    Hamilton Nolan in the Guardian – “The world is ablaze and the oil industry just posted record profits. It’s us or them”:

    …A recent study showed that for the past 50 years, the oil industry has made profits of more than $1tn a year, close to $3bn a day. These profits are driven not by some fantasy of free enterprise and perfect competition, but by the exact opposite – cartels, mega-corporations and the regulatory capture of governments, conspiring to create a market free of both competition and of a price that reflects the actual cost to the world of the product that is being sold.

    Fossil fuels make enough money to corrupt politicians, cause wars and bend public opinion through the brute force of a firehose of propaganda. The machine does not just extract and sell fossil fuels; it also concerns itself with ensuring that the entire world is arranged in a way conducive to maintaining the demand for those fossil fuels. The growth of oil profits even as the reality of climate change is burning before our eyes is proof that no single crisis, no matter how existential, will be enough to shut this machine down naturally. The machine must either be broken by us, or it will break us all….

    More at the link.

  26. KG says

    There is of course a serious discussion to be had about the justifiability and implications of actions like the killing of al-Zawahiri, but Jean’s take was quite silly. – SC@28

    Yes, I agree.

  27. Rob Grigjanis says

    Best of luck, Akira.

    I’m half expecting to have my upcoming surgeries postponed because of the ongoing stresses on the health care system in Canada.

  28. says

    More votes in the US today.

    Bolts – “What to Watch in the August 2 and August 4 Primaries”:

    The referendum on abortion rights in Kansas on August 2 is the first major election that will shape reproductive rights since the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe vs. Wade. In Arizona and Kansas, candidates with a history of wanting to restrict the vote and denying the results of the 2020 presidential election are running in Republican primaries with Donald Trump’s support. And plenty of other critical offices are on the ballot this week—from one of the year’s most important prosecutor elections in Tennessee to a perplexing GOP primary for governor in Michigan.

    Here are 36 races that Bolts is watching on August 2 (in Arizona, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, and Washington), and on August 4 (in Tennessee), as prepared by Daniel Nichanian. More may be added to our cheat sheet through Election Day.

    Check back on Election Night as we fill in each result in the second column. And support us to sustain this work….

  29. Akira MacKenzie says

    Just heard back from the urologist’s office. They are rescheduling for the 29th. I got to call me leave/disability provider to renegotiate my recovery.

  30. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    A group of Russian soldiers have accused their commanders of jailing them in eastern Ukraine for refusing to take part in the war, in a rare public exposure of tensions inside the ranks of Russia’s army over the invasion.

    Maxim Grebenyuk, a lawyer who runs the Moscow-based advocacy organisation Military Ombudsman, said that at least four Russian soldiers had filed written complaints with the prosecutor general’s office, demanding punishment for the superiors who oversaw their detainment.

    “We already have a list of 70 Russian soldiers who were held as prisoners. In total, about 140 soldiers were held,” added Grebenyuk, who represented the soldiers.

    In one written testimony sent to Russian prosecutors on 1 August and reviewed by the Guardian, a soldier described how, after refusing to return to the battlefield, he was jailed for more than a week in different cells in the Russian-controlled separatist Luhansk People’s Republic.

    Vladimir, a soldier whose name has been changed at his request:

    As a result of what I believe were tactical and strategic mistakes made by my commanders … and their total disregard for human life … I made the decision not to continue in the military operation.

    Vladimir said he was detained on 19 July and placed in a room with window bars where he was held without food with 25 other soldiers from his unit who also refused to fight.

    Shortly after, Vladimir said he was transferred to the town of Bryansk in Luhansk, where he was held in a former school, which had been turned into a military base with about 80 other soldiers from different units who had similarly refused to continue participating in the invasion.

    He said they were guarded there by members of the private military firm Wagner, a notorious organisation that has been accused of committing human rights abuses while fighting alongside the Russian military in Ukraine.

    The soldier wrote:

    They [Wagner soldiers] told us that mines had been placed outside the military base and that whoever tried to flee would be considered an enemy and shot on the spot.

    We were fed once a day at lunchtime. There was no basic hygiene.

    The whole time, not a single document was provided that would explain our arrest.

    “We were illegally jailed,” Vladimir wrote, asking the prosecutors to start a criminal investigation into two Russian colonels and a major who he said were responsible for his jailing.

    The former UK Labour leader has urged western countries to stop arming Ukraine in a TV interview likely to underscore Keir Starmer’s determination not to readmit him to the Labour party.

    “Pouring arms in isn’t going to bring about a solution, it’s only going to prolong and exaggerate this war,” Jeremy Corbyn said. “We might be in for years and years of a war in Ukraine.”

    Corbyn gave the interview on Al Mayadeen, a Beirut-based TV channel that has carried pro-Russia reporting since Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

    He said:

    What I find disappointing is that hardly any of the world’s leaders use the word peace; they always use the language of more war, and more bellicose war.

    This war is disastrous for the people of Ukraine, for the people of Russia, and for the safety and security of the whole world, and therefore there has to be much more effort put into peace.

    He called for the UN to be “much more centre stage”, and suggested involving other international bodies such as the African Union or the League of Arab States if the UN were unable to help negotiate a ceasefire.

  31. raven says

    This is today’s atrocity from Russia. It is just more threats. OTOH, it is still only 8:00 AM here.

    twitter Visegrád 24

    Dmitri Medvedev has written online that:

    – Russia will retake Ukraine
    – Ukraine is “a fake nation”
    – Russia will recreate the USSR
    – Russia will retake Georgia after UA
    – Russia will retake Kazakhstan
    – Kazakhstan is currently executing a genocide against Russians.

    Dmitri Medvedev is just an internet troll.
    He is also the second or third most powerful man in Russia.
    “Dmitry Anatolyevich Medvedev is a Russian politician who has been serving as the deputy chairman of the Security Council of Russia since 2020. Medvedev also served as the president of Russia between 2008 and 2012 and prime minister of Russia between 2012 and 2020. Medvedev was elected president in the 2008 election. Wikipedia”

    I’ve been saying for a while that if Ukraine goes, Georgia and Moldova will also go.
    So will Kazakhstan and probably the other Central Asian former SSRs.
    Kazakhstan can read the writing on twitter and is now looking for allies anywhere they can.

  32. says

    Text quoted by SC @43:

    “Pouring arms in isn’t going to bring about a solution, it’s only going to prolong and exaggerate this war,” Jeremy Corbyn said.

    That makes me wonder if Jeremy Corbyn is on Putin’s payroll.

    SC @31, so the women’s institute, part of Spain’s equality ministry, disrespected several women while claiming to be launching a campaign supportive of women. Major fuckup.

    @32, Best of luck to Akira as she faces health care issues and scheduling difficulties.

  33. raven says

    Most people have heard about the attack on Ukrainian POWs in the Russian prison camp in Oleniyka that killed 50 POWS.
    The Russians claim the Ukrainians shelled it while the Ukrainians claimed the Russians shelled it.
    Neither are correct.
    It now looks like the Russians just closed up the building and threw a thermobaric bomb inside.
    ROMAN PETRENKO – SUNDAY, 31 JULY 2022, 13:50

    Journalist and Politico correspondent Christopher Miller has released Maxar satellite photos showing the prison camp in occupied Olenivka, Donetsk Oblast, before and after the killing of Ukrainian prisoners.

    Source: Miller on Twitter; Mykhailo Podoliak, adviser to the head of the President’s Office on Twitter; InformNapalm

    Quote from Miller: “New sat images of Olenivka prison in Russia-occupied Donetsk region of Ukraine where at least 50 Ukrainian POWs were killed in an attack that Kyiv says – and preliminary evidence suggests – Russian forces carried out.”

    Details: The international intelligence community InformNapalm, after analysing the attack on the prisoners, concluded that it was not an attack from HIMARS-type MLRS or any other. They explain that as a result of the “missile strike” not a single brick flew out, the beds did not move an inch, etc.

    They also wrote that the bodies would not have been burned after a rocket attack – they would not have been intact.

    Instead, investigators believe that it was a thermobaric bomb, meaning they simply fired into the building from the windows, blocking all exits.

  34. raven says

    “Pouring arms in isn’t going to bring about a solution, it’s only going to prolong and exaggerate this war,” Jeremy Corbyn said.

    That makes me wonder if Jeremy Corbyn is on Putin’s payroll.

    It shows he isn’t qualified to lead any nation.

    If the Russians lay down their weapons, then they go home, open a bottle of vodka, and see what is on TV.
    If the Ukrainians lay down their weapons, they get genocided, and disappear forever.

  35. says

    Akira @18, I would be “scared shitless” too. Even so-called common or routine surgery is scary. Keep us informed. We are all hoping the surgery and recovery afterwards go well for you. Sorry to hear there was a delay in the schedule.

  36. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 45

    Psst.. Not to be a pedant because it could have been a typo, but I’m a cis he/him.

  37. tomh says

    Kansas City Star
    Misleading text urges ‘yes’ vote in Kansas to ‘give women a choice.’ Source is unknown
    By Katie Bernard / August 1, 2022

    An anonymous group is sending a misleading text to Kansas voters telling them to “vote yes” in order to protect choice.

    “Women in KS are losing their choice on reproductive rights. Voting YES on the amendment will give women a choice. Vote YES to protect women’s health.”

    The message went to voters across the state, including former Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius….

    Kansans for Constitutional Freedom, the main “vote no” campaign called the message an example of “desperate and deceitful tactics.”

    “This misleading text shouldn’t surprise anyone. The anti-choice movement has been lying to the voters of Kansas for decades,” Sebelius said in a statement. “This act of desperation won’t stop the voters of Kansas from protecting their constitutional rights and freedom by voting NO tomorrow.”

    On Tuesday, Kansans will be the first in the nation to vote on abortion rights in a post-Roe world. They are deciding whether or not to approve a constitutional amendment that would remove the right to abortion from the state constitution.

    A yes vote would add language removing the right to abortion which would allow lawmakers to pass laws severely restricting or banning abortion. A no vote would keep the status quo and uphold a 2019 state supreme court decision that found a right to end a pregnancy within the Kansas Constitution.

  38. KG says

    That makes me wonder if Jeremy Corbyn is on Putin’s payroll. – Lynna, OM@45

    Very unlikely. Putin has no need to pay him, and Corbyn isn’t personally corrupt. Corbyn just suffers from the fairly widespread delusion in sectors of the left that the only form of imperialism in the world is US imperialism, and if the US is doing something (in this case, supplying arms to Ukraine), it must be wrong.

  39. says

    Guardian podcast – “Will Ghana introduce some of the harshest anti-gay laws in the world?”:

    In February 2021, a community centre for LGBTQ+ people in Ghana was closed down weeks after it had opened, following a wave of protests. As our west Africa correspondent, Emmanuel Akinwotu, explains to Michael Safi, the incident marked a new and dark chapter for gay rights in the country.

    Though previously homosexuality was still illegal in Ghana, the law had not been strictly policed, making the country a relatively safe space for LGBTQ+ people compared with its neighbours. Since the closure of the centre however, there has been a surge in homophobic abuse, and an organised religious movement is seeking to clamp down further on LGBTQ+ rights.

    Now a drastic anti-gay bill is passing through the Ghanaian parliament. It proposes not only 5-year sentences for LGBTQ+ people but also even harsher punishments for people who support or “advocate” for gay rights.

    Emmanuel Akinwotu has such a pleasant voice. This is the video of the Angel Maxine song mentioned in the podcast.

  40. raven says

    “I’m really baffled by how little reporting there is on #Olenivka in Western news. In all likelihood, Russians locked dozens of Ukrainian POWs inside a building and then exploded an incendiary bomb inside. If confirmed, it is one of the worst war crimes of this century.” Janis Kluge on Twitter

    Janis Kluge is right that this is a war crime, the slaughter of 50 prisoners.

    She is so wrong that this is “one of the worst war crimes of this century.
    There have been so many war crimes in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Israel, Gaza, Yemen, Afghanistan, Bosnia, Ukraine, etc.. that this war crime is on a long list somewhere in very small print that would take a while just to find it.

    It’s probably not even the worst war crime this week in the current Russian invasion of Ukraine. The Russians every day launch cruise missiles at cities in Ukraine without caring what they hit; hospitals, schools, shopping malls whatever. And wherever they have occupied, there are mass graves.

  41. rorschach says

    “That makes me wonder if Jeremy Corbyn is on Putin’s payroll.”

    Why would he be, if Johnson and his party were already, to get Brexit done? They didn’t need Corbyn. Does anyone here read Sarah Kendzior? It wasnt’t Corbyn to fly out to meet the Russians on his holiday for further instructions.

  42. says

    Akira @49, thanks for the reminder. Can’t believe I fucked that up.

    In other news: West Virginia senator says victims of child rape ‘romanticize’ abusers, see them as ‘boyfriends’

    West Virginia’s Republican, anti-choice, and conspiracy theorist Senator Robert Karnes has said an awful lot of ridiculous things on Twitter, but his comments during a debate on an abortion bill on July 31 were outright dangerous.

    There were arguments on both sides of the controversial bill, but Karnes’ comments were particularly repugnant. Karnes used his time to suggest that children who’ve been raped “romanticize” their sexual abusers. His thinking, apparently, is that a minor victim of sexual abuse believes they’re in a “relationship” with their rapist and even see them as a “boyfriend.”

    “You know the dynamic in these relationships quite often is that the child has a very romanticized view of what’s happening. … They think that this is their boyfriend,” Karnes said.

    After finishing, Karnes asked state Sen. Stephen Baldwin his opinion, to which Baldwin replied, “I don’t know what you’re talking about, sir.”

    But again, this isn’t Karnes’ first foray into being the worst the right-wing has to offer. Karnes has repeatedly used the “groomers” argument against bodily autonomy and reproductive rights advocates. [video at the link]

    Karnes wasn’t the only GOPer to make nonsensical arguments against abortion at the debate. State Rep. Chris Pritt tried to argue that forcing absent fathers to pay child support would “encourage” more abortions. What?

    Pritt then suggested that since pregnant people don’t want to fight for child support, they’ll “go over to Virginia” for abortion care.

    Last Friday’s vote on the state’s uber-restrictive abortion bill ended without a decision. The senators passed the bill with a 21-10 vote, but adjourned without a final resolution.

    West Virginia Metro News reports that both the House and Senate were unable to come to a final decision or ability to agree. The primary issue was that Republicans didn’t believe the bill went far enough.

    There were debates about removing criminal repercussions for health care workers and doctors who provide abortions from the bill, and a debate over the time period abortions would be allowed in the case of rape or incest, which was reduced from 14 weeks down to 8 weeks.

    Essentially, the state’s conservatives weren’t happy to make any concessions on abortion access.

    Karnes called the bill without criminality for providers a “pro-abortion” bill and blamed Republicans for failing to ban the right to reproductive choice outright.

    “This is not a pro-life bill; this is a pro-abortion bill,” said Senator Robert Karnes, R-Randolph, blaming some of his party colleagues who had pushed to loosen its policies. “This was done by this party.”

    State Sen. Hannah Geffert, a Democrat, said about the bill: “I think we have to understand that this is no abortion for poor women. … Poor women in the state are not going to have a choice because they can’t afford to go anywhere else.”

  43. snarkrates says

    I doubt that anyone here is shedding any tears over al-Zawahiri. In his case, one wishes there were a hell. However the matter of drone strikes is problematic because:
    1) There is no transparency to the process of finding, selecting or executing the target
    2) Safeguards, if they exist at all, are very limited and opaque

    I understand the reasons for the US policy–the terrorists are non-state actors who have essentially declared war on a sovereign power. If you consider it a war, it is a war with no battlefield. If you consider the acts of terror a crime, there is no method for arresting, extraditing and trying the perpetrators. But regardless of the novelty of the situation and the difficulty of dealing with it, all one needs to do is consider drones in the tiny hands of Cheetolini to see the dangers of continuing this policy.

  44. says

    Wonkette: “What Not To Wear To An Alabama Execution”

    “Justice has been served,” read the statement from Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall, following the July 28 execution of Joe Nathan James Jr. for the 1994 murder of young mother Faith Hall.

    The statement was far less solemn than it was smug. “In the years since,” he continued “Joe James has tried to blame everything and everyone in an attempt to escape the consequences of his crime. He has claimed that his highly experienced trial counsel was ‘ineffective,’ that his artful appellate counsel was ‘deficient,’ and — in a demonstration of shocking cowardice and callousness — that his victim bore the blame for her own murder.”

    There really wasn’t any other direction he could go with it. He couldn’t talk about how Hall’s family will be able to sleep better at night, how the state was doing this for them, so that they could finally get closure — because her family did not want this. In fact, they repeatedly and publicly begged Marshall and Governor Kay Ivey to commute James’s sentence, and were ignored.

    The family asked to be there for James’s final statement but were told that if they came in to hear that, they would have to stay and watch him die. “Once you’re in, you’re in,” an Alabama Department of Corrections officer told them.

    While the ADOC was not able to accommodate the wishes of the victim’s family, they were able to delay the execution for three whole hours to figure out how to set up the IV line.

    They also managed to find the time and energy to initially deny reporter Ivana Hrynkiw access to the execution because, they claimed, her outfit — which she had worn to executions in the past — violated their dress code, which the warden had just decided to start enforcing without notifying anyone about it. Their official execution dress code.

    First they said her skirt was too short to allow her in. They could not possibly make an exception even this one time. So in order to be able to do her job, she borrowed a pair of fishing waders with suspenders that a cameraman from another outlet happened to have with him that day. Then, they said she couldn’t go in because she was wearing open-toed shoes. She went to her car to get sneakers and was then, finally, let in, to watch a man die while wearing fishing waders and sneakers. […]

    “From the time I started covering the criminal justice system, primarily executions, I had always been told to dress as if you’re going to a funeral,” Hrynkiw said in an interview with The New York Times. “I was just baffled because I came in looking very professional and very respectful for an event such as this, and after I had changed into this costume, it was very disrespectful.”

    Corrections officers also inspected the ensemble of Associated Press reporter Kim Chandler to ensure that her outfit was acceptable to them.

    It’s such a deeply fucked and deeply, deeply American juxtaposition. I don’t know that there is a more uniquely American take than being more offended by a woman’s leg than by watching a person be murdered by your government or a more American move than to shield the delicate sensibilities of those who are watching the literal execution of a human being from the horror of some toe cleavage.

    Meanwhile, in her statement about why she just had to ignore Faith Hall’s family, Kay Ivey took a moment to really congratulate herself on taking a stand for victims of domestic violence.

    With any execution case, I look very closely at the history, the cold-hard facts and all other information or correspondence I may receive. I also take deeply seriously the feelings and position of the victim’s family and loved ones. However, we must always fulfill our responsibility to the law, to public safety and to justice. Tonight, a fair and lawful sentence was carried out, and an unmistakable message was sent that Alabama stands with victims of domestic violence.

    Except she did not stand with the only living victims of that tragedy. Moreover, the assumption that every victim of domestic violence believes in the death penalty is patently offensive. Kay Ivey had Joe Nathan James Jr. executed because that is what she wanted. She is the one who bears that responsibility, not victims of domestic violence. She stands with herself, alone, we assume in a midi skirt and Wellies.

    And let us not forget that Gov. Kay Ivey is more than happy to force victims of domestic violence, rape and incest to carry the children of their abusers to term, regardless of how dangerous a situation that might put them in. So, you know, she’s just a real caring person.

    You wanna hear one of the most depressing statistics in the world? Only 21 percent of Americans believe there are adequate safeguards in place to ensure that no innocent person will be put to death and only 35 percent of Americans actually believe that the death penalty deters crime and only 41 percent of Americans say they believe that Black people and white people are equally likely to be sentenced to death, and yet 60 percent of Americans still support the death penalty. [chart at the link]

    You know what that means? That means there are people out there who know, full well, that we execute the innocent, that the death penalty does nothing to deter crimes, and that it is racially biased and who still think it is a good idea. Who still want to keep it around.

    So we can never really fool ourselves into believing capital punishment is about justice or about standing for victims — because remember, as much as prosecutors love to profess their great appreciation for “victims’ rights” whenever those rights give them a pass to jack up a sentence or violate the accused’s civil rights … when victims say they don’t want this, they are ignored.

    Today is a tragic day for our family. We are having to relive the hurt that this caused us many years ago. We write to inform you that we have decided to not attend the execution of Mr. Joe Nathan James Jr. We’ve asked Governor Kay Ivey and Attorney General Steve Marshall to hear our voices and respect our wishes. We know they decided not to. We hoped the state wouldn’t take a life simply because a life was taken and we have forgiven Mr. Joe Nathan James Jr. for his atrocities toward our family. […] Although we knew this day would come, we hoped to have our voices heard through this process. We’d like to thank State Representative Juandalyn Givan for her help and assistance by reaching out to the Governor’s office. We pray that God allows us to find healing after today and that one day our criminal justice system will listen to the cries of families like ours even if it goes against what the state wishes. Our voices matter and so does the life of Mr. Joe Nathan James, Jr. — Faith Hall’s family

    Clearly, capital punishment, like so much of the US criminal justice system, is for entertainment purposes only.

  45. blf says

    ● Concuring with others including KG@51, “Corbyn isn’t personally corrupt” and it’s very very unlikely Putin (or anyone else) is paying him.

    ● All the best for Akira!

    ● There was a wildfire near Marseille today — not quite sure where so I’m unsure how close to the village — but apparently quickly contained.

    ● I was wondering about this this morning in the heat — low 30℃’s but no breeze so feels much hotter — when getting my almost-weekly supply of olive oil (today’s is an excellent one from a local in- / near-the-village producer), Spain warns heatwave threatens olive oil production (Grauniad edits in {curly braces}):

    Fierce heatwaves and a lack of rain in Spain threaten to reduce olive oil production from the world’s top exporter, the country’s agriculture minister has warned.

    “If there is no temperature relief or rains in the coming weeks, this year’s olive harvest could be notably lower than previous ones,” Luis Planas told Bloomberg News. “The olives sector is concerned about oil production.”

    Spain accounts for nearly half of global production of olive oil. The setback, along with continued disruption to the supply of sunflower oil from Ukraine, meant the prices of vegetable oils were likely to remain high, Planas said.

    Refined olive oil prices in Jaén in southern Spain, the Spanish benchmark, rose 8.3% in June from the previous crop year to €327 (£274) [$333] for 100kg, according to the International Olive Council. In Bari in southern Italy, extra virgin oil cost €419.7 for 100kg, on average.

    Kyle Holland, an analyst at market research group Mintec, said its market sources are suggesting that there could be year-on-year reductions of 25 to 30% for Spanish olive oil production.

    “There are also major worries in the market regarding the quality of the coming crop and what proportion of the crop will make extra virgin / virgin grades and how much will be classed as lampante {not fit for human consumption},” he said.


    Supplies of olive oil are under threat as northern Italy suffers its worst drought in 70 years. […]

    Planas estimates Spain’s overall production of grains including corn, wheat and barley could decline by 13% this year to 17.5m tonnes because of the high temperatures and scarce rainfall.

  46. says

    Olexander Scherba:

    Odesa. “We’re still open. Just had to cover it with plywood because of some putz. When the putz is dead, it’s a 70% off celebration discount”.

    #UkraineWillWin #UkraineWar #StandWithUkraine

    Photo at the (Twitter) link. :)

  47. says

    Well, we are not yet done with Herschel Walker as a Republican candidate for the Senate. Soon, I hope this becomes old news.

    Wonkette: “Herschel Walker’s Pretty Sure He Can Whoop Elie Mystal In Georgia Senate Race”

    Herschel Walker, an honest-to-God Republican Senate nominee, has spent the past week or so dodging any attempt to schedule a debate with Georgia’s incumbent Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock. It seems as if he’d much prefer debating with The Nation’s Elie Mystal, who isn’t running for the Senate and doesn’t even live in Georgia — although that didn’t stop Walker.

    Walker was personally offended when Mystal expressed how personally offended he was over Walker’s slow-motion train wreck of a candidacy, which might still somehow reach its final destination. This weekend, Mystal and MSNBC’s Tiffany Cross discussed an Atlanta-Journal Constitution poll that showed Warnock leading Walker 46 to 43 percent, well within the margin of error. Somehow, eight percent of Georgia voters remain undecided.

    “Make it make sense for me,” Cross asked Mystal, who proceeded to drop several truth bombs.

    MYSTAL: Yes, it’s going to be a close election in Georgia because Walker has the backing of the Republicans. Now, you ask, why are Republicans backing this man who’s so clearly unintelligent, who so clearly doesn’t have independent thoughts? But that’s actually the reason. Walker’s going to do what he’s told. And that’s what Republicans like. That’s what Republicans want from their Negroes. To do what they’re told. And Walker presents exactly as a person who lacks independent thoughts, lacks an independent agenda, lacks an independent ability to grasp policies.

    Mystal compared a potential Senator Walker to current Senator Tommy Tuberville, whom he considers “the dumbest person in the United States Senate.” Hey, Wonkette agrees!

    MYSTAL: So the GOP likes these candidates that aren’t able to kind of think for themselves, because that … basically means that Mitch McConnell gets three votes every time he shows up to work as opposed to just his own.

    This is obviously true, as no Republican seriously believes Walker is qualified to serve in the Senate as anything more than an extension of McConnell’s will. In fairness, they don’t require anything more. They need “no” votes when a Democrat’s president and “yes” votes when a Republican’s ruining the country.

    Rightwing media apparently spent the weekend aghast on Walker’s behalf, and the candidate himself — wearing a “Team Me” T-shirt — recorded a video response where he claims that Mystal called him “the n-word.” That’s not true but we’ve established that Walker lies a lot. [video at the link]

    WALKER: Good morning! You know a lot of people have been asking me to say something about the man on MSNBC that called me the “n-word.” Here’s what I got to say about that: Shame on MSNBC and shame on them. I’m gonna pray for both of them, because they need Jesus! When I saw what he said, it reminded me of the differences between myself and my opponent, Senator Warnock, and the leftwing crazies who believe America is a fundamentally bad country full of racist people. They want to divide us and turn us against each other. We have our problems but we can solve them together …

    Zzzzz … sorry, dozed off for a second there. You get the gist of his treacle. Walker is going on about U-N-I-T-Y while Republicans call Democrats radical socialist “groomers” who hate America. But Walker gives Republicans the warm fuzzies whenever he suggests that Democrats, especially two Black people on MSNBC, are the real racists.

    Here’s where I’d disagree slightly with Mystal, who argues that Walker is an insult to actual Black conservatives. Walker’s a bad joke who has no actual policy positions he can articulate without fumbling, but this is arguably true of all Republicans these days regardless of race. Warnock is a great senator and I’d hate to see [Walker] replace him, but Walker’s not any dumber or less qualified than Marsha Blackburn or any more craven and dishonest than Ted Cruz.

    Cross invited Walker to appear on her show and share his “thoughts on voting rights, reproductive health, domestic terrorism, gun rights, economic woes, etc” and how he plans to address these serious issues in the Senate. Instead, Walker spent the day with Brian Kilmeade for a glowing segment on “Fox & Friends.” […].

  48. says

    snarkrates @ #60:

    1) There is no transparency to the process of finding, selecting or executing the target

    Well, in this specific case, there was quite a bit of transparency in selecting the target – dude had a $25 million bounty on his head!

  49. says

    CNN – “Biden Justice Department sues Idaho over state’s abortion restrictions in first post-Dobbs lawsuit”:

    The Biden administration filed a lawsuit on Tuesday against Idaho for restricting access to abortion to patients who need lifesaving medical treatment, the first such Justice Department challenge since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade this summer.

    Idaho’s near-total abortion ban, which will take effect later this month, would make it nearly impossible, according to the Justice Department. for patients who need an abortion in emergency medical situations, such as an ectopic pregnancy or other complications, from receiving potentially lifesaving treatment.

    “In the days since the Dobbs decision, there have been widespread reports of delays or denials to pregnant women experiencing medical emergencies,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a news conference Tuesday. “We will use every tool at our disposal to ensure that pregnant women get the medical care that they are entitled to.”

    The trigger law, which was passed in 2020, would make providing abortions a felony punishable by up to five years in prison. The ban has exceptions for cases of rape or incest if reported to law enforcement or to prevent the death of the pregnant person.

    The Justice Department is suing under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, which states that hospitals receiving Medicare funds “must provide medical treatment necessary to stabilize that condition before transferring or discharging the patient,” according to Tuesday’s lawsuit.

    “The Idaho law would make it a criminal offense for doctors to comply with EMTALA’s requirement to provide stabilizing treatment, even where a doctor determines that abortion is the medical treatment necessary to prevent a patient from suffering severe health risks or even death,” DOJ said.

    Abortion providers in Idaho have also challenged the state’s trigger law. The state Supreme Court is set to hear the case on Wednesday.

    DOJ last month created a task force aimed at protecting abortion fights following the Supreme Court decision in Dobbs that overturned Roe v. Wade and struck down the federal right to abortion.

    Garland said that the lawsuit has “nothing to do with going around” the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs.

    “The Supreme Court said that each state can make its own decisions with respect to abortion, but so too can the federal government,” he told reporters Tuesday. “Nothing that the Supreme Court said, said that the statutes passed by Congress, such as EMTALA are in any way invalid. It’s quite the opposite. The Supreme Court left it to the people’s representatives. EMTALA was a decision made by the Congress of the United States. The supremacy clause is a decision made in the Constitution of the United States. Federal law invalidates state laws that are in direct contradiction.”

  50. says

    Wonkette: “Fox News So Mad At Joe Manchin Now, HOW VERY DARE HE!”

    Fox News is REALLY mad at Joe Manchin for being a Democrat who occasionally wrangles deals in backrooms with other Democrats, and they are especially mad at him for coming out in support of whatever Inflation Manchin Houseboat Better bill he negotiated with Chuck Schumer, so that he might receive maximum extra credit for supporting a bill that accomplishes things that are part of the agenda of the president, who is in the same party as he is.

    Manchin was on with Fox News’s Harris Faulkner this morning, because when you want hi-LAR-ious fake sincere outrage from one of the daytime anchors, she’s good at that. She will just read her propaganda talking points like a real live journalist, like that time Arkansas GOP Senator Tom Cotton put on […] a big shiny red nose and did a clown square dancer routine in AG Merrick Garland’s general direction, accusing Garland of believing conservative parents are “domestic terrorists.”

    Faulkner told her viewers at the time, “you need to watch this,” calling it “riveting” and assuring the [audience] that Fox News was “isolating” all the most important clips from that day’s Garland hearing, like a real curator of the news, doing “analysis” of what is “important.”

    So it was with this Manchin interview, where Faulkner got VERY mad at Manchin for interfering with the dissemination of whatever talking points came out of Rupert Murdoch’s big body holes this morning. [video at the link]

    It starts normally enough. Manchin is like doodly-doodly-ooh, I am a person who cares about my constituents and only does things because I love America! Harris Faulkner replies by playing clips of punchable doucheface Peter Doocy spreading Republican lies at Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre about how the Inflation Deflation bill raises taxes on people making under $400K per year.

    And that just started them down the road to malarkey! “We gotta know the bottom line!” said Faulkner. Manchin told her the bottom line. He asked her to be accurate, and not be unfair. (On Fox News.)

    Faulkner did not like any of his answers about corporate taxes. “This is the part that counts,” explains Harris Faulkner, who knows the parts that count. She continued: “I’m reading — AND I AM READING, SENATOR!” — because she reads! — that now people making under $400K per year are going to get a tax hike.

    No, no, no, Joe Manchin explained. So she repeated as fact again that people making under $400K per year were going to have a tax hike. And Joe Manchin was DONE.

    “That’s wrong, that’s wrong, that’s a LIE, that’s a PURE, OUTRIGHT LIE,” said Joe Manchin.

    So credit to Joe Manchin for calling Fox News a liar to its face. [more video available at the link]

    “So their taxes are not going to go up,” Harris Faulkner verified. No, they will not. […]

    Manchin suggested maybe also gas prices might go down because of this bill, which led to the corny-ass exchange quoted in the tweet above. “Be optimistic! Be an American, Harris, be an American!”

    So Faulkner decided to do more propaganda about the taxes. “I wanna hit that tax line again of $400,000, I gotta hit that,” said Harris Faulkner, who had to hit that, because she hadn’t hit it yet. Was Joe Manchin saying that such Never-Liars as Mitch McConnell were being misleading when they say the bill will raise taxes on people making under $400K? “Totally absolutely wrong,” said Joe Manchin, about integrity person Mitch McConnell.

    To underline it, Manchin said, “the facts you have are completely wrong!”

    Here is the part where Harris Faulkner got very angry […] and some other garbage. [more video available at the link]

    Manchin asked if Faulkner, and by extension Fox News, we guess, is just scared that they came up with a bill that might actually help people. And Faulkner was GODDAMN pissed, because “My father served!” and “Service in the Bible!” and “that’s what we do, we serve our fellow man and woman!” and HOW VERY DARE YOU, JOE MANCHIN!

    So Harris Faulkner asked Joe Manchin why he won’t help out his own Democratic Party, by (???) not fighting inflation, because Joe Biden is very unpopular, and (???). We don’t even think Faulkner knew which propaganda talking points she was saying at that point.

    Millions of people in America think Fox News is “the news.” This is probably the single most significant reason why this country will proooooobably not be around for that many decades longer.

  51. says

    Herschel Walker quoted in Lynna’s #65:

    …Shame on MSNBC and shame on them. I’m gonna pray for both of them, because they need Jesus! When I saw what he said [WTF?], it reminded me of the differences between myself and my opponent, Senator Warnock…

    …the senior pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church.

  52. says

    Trump Is Ready To Fck Sht UP For ERIC In Missouri Senate Primary!

    Former President Chaos Monkey worked his magic last night on Missouri’s US Senate primary. MAGA entropicus schadenfreude covfefe!

    “I will be Endorsing in the Great State of Missouri Republican race (Nomination) for Senate some time today!” he arglebargled on not-Twitter in the morning, sending Eric Greitens’s campaign into an ecstatic tizzy. Would Trump’s endorsement on the eve of today’s election be enough to push the former governor and current rancid tire fire over the top? […]

    In recent weeks, Greitens, the early frontrunner whose campaign is being run by Don Jr.’s ladyfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle, had fallen to third place in the polls. He’d failed to impress voters with a series of unhinged campaign ads threatening to shoot down “RINOs” like The Deer Hunter. The abuse allegations by his ex-wife didn’t help either. Rep. Vicky Hartzler, backed by Senator Josh Hawley but un-endorsed by Trump, was in second, with Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt leading the pack. Schmitt is truly vile, but in a normal-for-Republicans way, using his office to file dozens of performative lawsuits on everything from mask mandates to “critical race theory” to immigration in an effort to boost his MAGA bona fides.

    Over at the Schmitt campaign, there was also great excitement over Trump’s endorsement announcement. Because Trump had called up the candidate and told him “You’ll be happy.”


    That’s right, Trump promised his endorsement to both candidates after an afternoon playing Guilfoyle off against Hawley and RNC chair Ronna Romney McDaniel, who said that Greitens’s many scandals would jeopardize the GOP’s chances of holding the seat, or at least make it expensive to hold.

    What followed was a piece of dementia as performance art, according to Politico:

    As the meeting wore on, those familiar with what transpired say, Trump began to lose patience. At one point it was suggested that he could endorse “Eric,” and that by doing so he would be supporting both Schmitt and Greitens.

    It was a madcap exit ramp. But Trump went in on the details, asking if the two candidates’ first names were spelled identically — noting that it wouldn’t work if they weren’t. While Trump was intrigued, he also remarked that it might be too cute. He asked for draft endorsements to review, one announcing his support for Schmitt, the other for Greitens.

    “Too cute”? Well … that’s one way of putting it.

    In the event, Trump put out a statement exhorting Missouri voters to “send a MAGA Champion and a True Warrior to the U.S. Senate, someone who will fight for Border Security, Election Integrity, our Military and Great Veterans, together with having a powerful toughness on Crime and the Border.”

    “We need a person who will not back down the Radical Left Lunatics who are destroying our Country,” he rambled. “I trust the Great People of Missouri, on this one, to make up their own minds, much as they did when they gave me landslide victories in the 2016 and 2020 Elections, and I am therefore proud to announce that ERIC has my Complete and Total Endorsement!” [LOL, LOL, and more LOL]

    ERIC! Hooray! But … Eric WHO? Was the old man so demented that he’d forgotten to type Greitens, in an epic pratfall?

    No! The premiere merchant of chaos did this on purpose, his spokesman Taylor Budowich assured the public. [Tweet at the link]

    You know it’s a really good joke if you have to explain it.

    Immediately the Greitens campaign congratulated itself for tying down that endorsement, with or without Trump’s consent. [Tweet at the link]

    And so did Schmitt. [Tweet at the link]

    You heard the man, Missouri! Vote for ERIC, the candidate who is NOT VICKY.

    Tomorrow Trump will claim credit for pushing ERIC over the finish line — whichever ERIC that may be. Take that one to the bank!

  53. says

    On taxes and Dems’ climate bill, GOP rhetoric runs into reality

    According to Republicans, the Inflation Reduction Act includes a middle-class “tax increase” — despite the meaning of the words “tax” and “increase.”

    As Senate Democrats eye a vote this week on their ambitious reconciliation package, called the Inflation Reduction Act, Republicans have settled on a specific line of attack. GOP senators argued yesterday, for example, “Democrats want to raise taxes on almost every American.”

    The editorial page of The Wall Street Journal echoed the talking point [sheesh]. “This gives the lie to Democratic claims that no one earning under $400,000 will pay more taxes under the bill, a promise Mr. Biden also made in his campaign,” the editors wrote in a piece published on Sunday. “The reality is that the Schumer-Manchin bill is a tax increase on nearly every American.” Fox News, not surprisingly, is on board with the claim, too.

    That’s not even close to being true, and it’s worth understanding how and why Republicans are getting this so very wrong. As The New York Times reported:

    Since the deal was announced, Republicans have attacked it as classic tax and spending — the same terms they have used to deride much of Mr. Biden’s agenda. Last weekend, Republican senators released a companion analysis from the Joint Committee that they said was proof the entire bill would raise taxes on the middle class, though it did not actually show middle-class Americans would pay more taxes under the plan.

    Steven M. Rosenthal, a senior fellow at the Tax Policy Center, told The Washington Post’s Catherine Rampell, in reference to the Democratic legislation, “If you’re not a tax cheat, hedge fund manager or a corporation making over $1 billion, you’re not affected.”

    So, what led Republicans to insist that the Inflation Reduction Act would raise taxes “on almost every American,” when reality shows otherwise?

    As it turns out, GOP lawmakers requested that the Joint Committee on Taxation examine the Democratic legislation — the result of which is online here (pdf). As Jon Chait explained, the JCT didn’t find that the bill would raise middle-class taxes, but it did offer Republicans a point that was easily exploited.

    The complication that enters the picture is that the JCT, like other economic modelers, tries to project how the burden of a tax increase is borne. The agency used to assume that corporate tax increases are borne entirely by shareholders in the firms that pay the tax. In 2013, the agency changed its modeling assumptions and now assumes that corporate tax increases are not borne entirely by shareholders. Instead, firms respond to tax increases in part by reducing wages for their employees and reducing investment, which ultimately leads to slightly lower wages…. But even assuming JCT’s projections are completely correct, it is not a description of a tax increase on the middle class. It is a forecast, rather, that a tax increase on large corporations will eventually lead to slightly lower incomes by the middle class. JCT’s table breaks down this burden by income category. But it is not showing that the people in these income categories will pay more tax.

    In other words, because the Democrats’ reconciliation package would require many large corporations to pay more, the Joint Committee on Taxation — looking only at part of the bill — made an educated guess about those corporations possibly, at some point in the future, lowering incomes.

    This, according to Republicans and their allies, constitutes a “tax increase” — despite the meaning of the words “tax” and “increase.”

    Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer added on the chamber floor yesterday, “[O]ver the past few days, we’ve heard Republicans go back to their timeworn attacks that they use against virtually any Democratic policy. They’re sounding alarms that this bill will raise taxes on American families, but it does not! Here is the plain truth: the bill will not raise any taxes — any taxes — on families making under $400,000 a year…. When you increase taxes on the wealthiest and corporations who pay nothing, they say you’re raising taxes on everybody. Bull!”

  54. Jean says

    SC @28, 29
    Those are just 2 unrelated actions from the US taken on the same day that will make the entire world less safe which prompted my reaction (there’s a long list of such actions form the US and I’m not rating them against each other or against actions from others). That you would be offended by my arguably silly and clumsy take on them rather than by the actions themselves is on you, especially in view of these actions being at least partly done at this time for political purposes (having a “win” for the elections) rather than for justice (which definitely wasn’t and won’t help reduce terrorism) or trade (which could be done some other way regardless of the legitimacy of China’s attitude and claims).
    Anyway, have fun with your little clique here. Goodbye.
    (and you can stop rolling your eyes now)

  55. says

    Meduza – “‘Distorted and discredited’ From the peace sign to scare quotes, these are the gestures that now trigger prosecution in Russia”:

    In the week after Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in late February, federal lawmakers raced to pass legislation that effectively abolishes the freedom of expression regarding criticisms of the “special military operation.” The strictest new law criminalized the dissemination of “knowingly false information” about the military. Under aggravated circumstances, the maximum penalty for violating this new statute is 15 years in prison. According to researchers at the OVD Info project, investigators across Russia have opened at least 75 felony cases against people accused of “spreading fakes” about the army.

    While this is Russia’s most extreme domestic wartime policing measure, it is the less utilized sibling of another offense that more commonly leads to prosecution. By late July, the Russian authorities had opened at least 3,400 cases for violations of another law adopted in the invasion’s immediate aftermath: the misdemeanor ban on “discrediting” the armed forces. Punishable by fines as high as 100,000 rubles ($1,600), repeat “discrediting” offenses and rare aggravating circumstances (for example, provoking riots) can result in felony charges, but this has happened only eight times, so far. Meduza reviews several examples of the “discrediting” displays and performances that have triggered administrative cases.

    According to Alex Lokhmutov, a lawyer for OVD Info, the law defines “discrediting” as “belittling” the military’s authority, while outright false information is “inaccurate, publicly significant information” about the actions of the armed forces.

    The fuzziness of this wording has cultivated enormously arbitrary enforcement. In different cases, nearly identical statements have been prosecuted as both “felony fakes” and “misdemeanor discrediting.” The police themselves struggle to understand the difference between these two offenses, Lokhmutov told Meduza.

    The types of antiwar speech that provoke police responses demonstrate both the justice system’s loose grasp of how to apply these new laws and how protests in Russia against the war in Ukraine have gradually retreated to cyberspace.

    In the weeks after the February invasion, most people charged with “discrediting” the army were arrested at antiwar demonstrations and charged with the dual offenses of assembling in public without a permit and belittling the military. Later, as protests dwindled, the police refocused on single picketers and reports filed by random citizens against their own compatriots for remarks in public (and sometimes even in private). Today, most new charges involve comments or even reposts on social media, discovered by officers who make it their jobs to scour websites for antiwar content.

    Below, Meduza reviews some examples of antiwar protests that triggered misdemeanor charges for “discrediting” the military and its “special operation” in Ukraine. This story also features depictions of these events by Volya, a photographer from Belarus now living in Georgia who worked in the fashion industry before opposition protests in 2020 and 2021 nearly toppled the Lukashenko regime. During that unrest, she witnessed police brutality and the perils of living apolitically. She also saw the ridiculous degrees to which Belarusian law enforcement suppressed even the hint of opposition. She sees that same cruelty guiding Russia’s current campaign to frighten the opposition and keep antiwar sentiment hidden.

    What the police have treated as “discrediting” Russia’s military. (Actual cases.)

    “Silent support”

    The authorities in Tomsk arrested Stanislav Karmarski at a public square during an antiwar protest. He didn’t hold any signs, pump his fists, or chant any slogans, but a judge determined that he knew about the rally in advance and showed up to express his support (albeit silently) for this illegal assembly to “discredit the military.” For this offense, Karmarski was fined 45,000 rubles (about $720). The court slapped the same fine on a few others arrested at the protest, as well.

    Nekrasov’s “tolls of war”

    Translator Lyubov Summ “perpetrated public actions aimed at discrediting the use of the armed forces of the Russian Federation” by standing in Moscow’s Pushkin Square and reading aloud from Nikolay Nekrasov’s “As I Hearken to the Horrors of War,” speaking of “the mourning mother’s eyes” and her son “who lies beneath a sodden, bloody hillock.”

    A judge ruled that this performance “aimed to cultivate a negative attitude” about Russia’s troops and its “special military operation” in Ukraine, “essentially mirroring content posted online that expresses negative attitudes about these events.” The court fined Summ 50,000 rubles ($800).

    A busted letter Z

    The governor of Russia’s Stavropol region has urged locals to volunteer their Saturdays for cleanup work in their hometowns. After one of these civic outpourings in Pyatigorsk, several dozen volunteers assembled more than 100 “tree cookies” into the shape of a giant “Z” — the unofficial symbol of the “special military operation” to “liberate” whatever bits of Ukraine the Russian military manages to occupy.

    Afterward, a local man named Dmitry Semin came along and scattered the pieces of tree trunk, “damaging” the monument to Russia’s invasion.

    Like numerous others prosecuted for defacing displays of the “Z” (and the “V”), Semin was convicted of “discrediting” the military and fined 30,000 rubles ($480). (In Krasnodar, another man was fined the same amount for spitting on a “Z” banner.)

    Barbed wire and Tolstoy

    In mid-March, a young theater student in Ufa was fined 30,000 rubles for appearing in the city’s center with a crown of flowers atop her head and barbed wire wrapped around her dress. She taped her mouth shut and carried a copy of Lev Tolstoy’s “War and Peace.” The judge determined that this “visual image expressed disagreement with the special operation carried out by Russia’s armed forces in Ukraine.”

    Green ribbons

    At least three people in Veliky Novgorod were fined between 32,000 and 40,000 rubles (about $580) for wearing green ribbons around their wrists (one of the many antiwar symbols that’s surfaced since the February invasion). The judge decided that this gesture was designed to discredit the military and even accused the defendants of endangerment. “The offense committed here,” read the verdict, “encroaches on the protection of [others’] constitutional rights, freedoms, morality, and public order.”

    Scare quotes

    Alexey Podnebesny lives in Nizhny Novgorod and recently complained on social media about the sorry state of the local public utilities, noting that the authorities could have connected all the homes in the city to centralized hot water for the money spent on Russia’s “special operation” in Ukraine. By putting the phrase in quotes (like we just did here), Podnebesny conveyed to readers that the “special operation” is in fact a euphemism for something sinister. “According to the rules of the Russian language and the context [of the remark],” the judge ruled, “it clearly indicates an ironic, reverse, and disparaging meaning.”

    As a result, Podnebesny was fined 30,000 rubles….

  56. says

    Jean @ #76:

    That you would be offended by my arguably silly and clumsy take on them rather than by the actions themselves is on you

    I’m fine with that.

    especially in view of these actions being at least partly done at this time for political purposes (having a “win” for the elections)

    Ah, throwing in another weak take for the hell of it. That totally bespeaks good faith.

    (and you can stop rolling your eyes now)

    Oh, good. I was afraid I might pull something!

  57. raven says

    Kansas is voting today on whether to keep abortion in that state legal or not, a constitutional amendment.
    Well, Kansas is deep Red so the outcome is predictable.
    Or is it?

    Yahoo News
    Laura Kelly
    Kansas voters to decide abortion rights in 1st test since Roe v. Wade repeal

    Republicans hope reduced turnout works to their advantage, although the Kansas City Star reported there had been a 246% increase in early in-person votes compared to 2018. The limited polling indicates a tight race, with a July survey finding 47% in favor of the amendment, 43% opposed and 10% undecided.

    The polling data is closer than I would think for Kansas at 47% prohibition to 43% keep it legal.
    Still going to be an uphill battle for women.
    We might know by late tonight.

  58. Tethys says


    “Breaking: #Ukraine may begin the official registration of same-sex marriages shortly.

    Hoorah! My friends in Ukraine will be officially married, and will hopefully survive to enjoy their new legal rights. I hope they stay safe in Kyiv.

    Jean @76 Those are just 2 unrelated actions from the US taken on the same day that will make the entire world less safe which prompted my reaction

    How is a trade visit to Taiwan (the #1 supplier of computer chips) from the elected representative of California and the Silicon Valley tech industry making the world less safe?
    It’s her actual job, you ninny.

    The world likes smartphones and computers and high tech controls. Taiwan doesn’t belong to China, and it’s Nancy’s job to forge very strong trade alliances that ensure that the US tech industry has the raw materials to make the tech that the entire world uses to communicate and conduct business.

    The GDP of CA is a huge and crucial part of the US economy.

  59. Tethys says


    Good luck on your surgery! I hope the Dr’s prognosis is correct, and the operation goes well. I imagine it’s stressful to have it postponed at the last moment.

  60. Jean says

    Tethys @81
    My take on the current events has been called silly and without good faith but I think yours qualify as well. Check her op-ed in the Washington Post for her own views about it and some of the reasons for the visit and tell me who’s the ninny then. And I’m not the only one questioning the pertinence of the visit and the potential security issues (and I’m not talking about partisan politics).

  61. tomh says

    Justice Dept. sues Idaho over near-total abortion ban coming Aug. 25
    By Perry Stein and Devlin Barrett / August 2, 2022

    The Justice Department has filed its first lawsuit in the wake of a historic Supreme Court decision allowing states to outlaw abortion, arguing that a new Idaho law that would impose a near-total ban on the procedure violates a federal requirement to provide medical care when a pregnant person’s life or health is at stake.

    The Idaho law allows doctors to be criminally prosecuted for providing abortions, Garland said at a news conference Tuesday afternoon. He argued that it could conflict with federal law that says patients seeking emergency medical care at a hospital accepting Medicare funds are entitled to any lifesaving treatment.

    The lawsuit cites several medical conditions that could require a doctor to perform an abortion for lifesaving reasons, including septic infections and ectopic pregnancies — when the fetus implants outside the uterus and the pregnancy cannot be viable.

    “We will use every tool at our disposal to ensure that pregnant women get the emergency medical treatment to which they are entitled to under federal law,” Garland said at a news conference.

    The state’s governor, Brad Little (R), called the lawsuit an “overreach” and said he would “defend Idaho’s laws in the face of federal meddling.”

    It could be a harbinger of future suits to be filed by the Justice Department, since some other states also have laws that do not make exceptions to their abortion bans for the life or health of the woman…..

    Garland argued that the legal issues at stake in the Idaho lawsuit are straightforward. By banning abortions even to women in medical emergencies, the lawsuit says, Idaho law violates that federal treatment law. And when state and federal laws are in conflict, federal law prevails, according to the Constitution.

    The attorney general has also said federal agencies “may continue to provide reproductive health services to the extent authorized by federal law,” an indication that there may be legal battles over what kind of reproductive health care may be provided by doctors working for the federal government in states that restrict or ban abortions.

    Nancy Northup, president and chief executive of the Center for Reproductive Rights, an advocacy organization, hailed the lawsuit and said the Justice Department’s involvement fighting abortion bans across the country is crucial.

    “The number of states enforcing radical bans and denying people life-saving care is growing rapidly,” Northup wrote in a statement. “We are already seeing pregnant people in dire situations being turned away from hospitals.”

  62. Jean says

    tomh @86
    I’m just saying that this is not only a trade delegation visit but a political one done to provoke China and her own words confirm that, specifically this: “visit should be seen as an unequivocal statement that America stands with Taiwan, our democratic partner, as it defends itself and its freedom”. Regardless of the validity of the Chinese reaction and the US views on Taiwan, this visit is unnecessary bravado which will not help anyone in the region. She might think it helps her and her party for the fall elections though but that’s speculation on my part.

  63. says

    BBC – “Taiwan: Nancy Pelosi trip labelled as ‘extremely dangerous’ by Beijing”:

    China has branded a landmark visit to Taiwan by US Speaker Nancy Pelosi as “extremely dangerous”.

    It accused Ms Pelosi, the most senior US politician in 25 years to visit the island China claims as its own, of “playing with fire”.

    “Those who play with fire will perish by it,” Beijing warned in a statement….

    Well, that’s thuggish and overwrought!

    Another BBC article, “Nancy Pelosi’s long history of opposing Beijing,” links to a video report she tweeted in 2019:

    28 years ago, we traveled to Tiananmen Square to honor the courage & sacrifice of the students, workers & ordinary citizens who stood for the dignity & human rights that all people deserve. To this day, we remain committed to sharing their story with the world. #Tiananmen30

    From the BBC article:

    Most famously in 1991, two years after large-scale protests in Beijing were crushed by the Chinese government, she visited Tiananmen Square and displayed a banner honouring the deceased demonstrators. [This is what’s in the video report she tweeted, which I recommend.]

    For its part, the Chinese government has made no secret of its disdain for Ms Pelosi, once labelling her “full of lies and disinformation”….

    I support the visit even more now.

  64. tomh says

    Jean @ #86
    “visit should be seen as an unequivocal statement that America stands with Taiwan, our democratic partner, as it defends itself and its freedom”.

    I guess what I wondered is, do you see Taiwan as a part of China? Because the many Taiwanese that I know don’t. After all, “Chinese” is not a race, it’s a country of origin. My friends regard themselves as Taiwanese, their country of origin. Yet I know many people don’t agree, or even see any difference between the two, and I wondered if that were your view.

  65. Jean says

    SC @89
    So she has a history of provoking China and my take that she wants to provoke China is garbage. Ok, that makes sense.

    I’m not saying that China has any right to respond to the provocation that it called for by their own statements but she’s playing a game which will not cost her anything but can very well get others killed. And it will definitely not help anyone or calm things down.

    Also, you’re an asshole.

  66. Jean says

    tomh @86
    I think the Taiwan people should decide for themselves what they want. I also think that China is one of the 3 big world bullies with Russia and the US and that each one will do as they wish as long as they think they will end up on top. Human lives for them are expendable especially if they are foreign. The US cares a little bit more about their own citizens (and sometimes allies) but to the rest of the world that does not make much difference.

  67. says

    So she has a history of provoking China

    She has a history of defending human rights and democratic movements in China and in Taiwan. These sorts of criticisms veer creepily close to repeating the logic of abusers. Pelosi can visit anywhere she wants that wants her to visit.

  68. tomh says

    @ #92
    Well, the Taiwanese have decided for themselves what they want, and, at the moment, they want to welcome whomever they like to visit them, regardless of how China feels about it. It’s important to them to be an independent country. They’ve been threatened by China for so long that they’ve grown almost immune to it. I think your fear that this will escalate into disaster is misplaced.

  69. says

    CounterVortex – “FBI raids Russian-backed Black Nationalists?”:

    …It is always odious to learn of police targeting of Black political groups in the US, which inevitably recalls the FBI’s murderous “COINTELPRO” against the Black Panthers in the late 1960s, and the 1985 police massacre of followers of the MOVE organization in Philadelphia. In fact, we fear that the indictment and St. Petersburg raid will give the Uhuru Movement, APSP and Black Hammer a cachet that could fuel their popularity in certain sectors.

    Still, we do have to wonder if these groups are suffering from a deep cynicism or an even deeper naivete. Are they unaware that the same FSB-AGMR network apparently supporting them is also supporting their ostensible worst enemies on the racist right? Are they unaware of racist persecution of Crimean Tatars and Chechens in the white-supremacist Russia of Vladimir Putin?…

  70. Jean says

    tomh @97
    I hope you’re right and nobody gets killed because of this visit. But things have already escalated because of it. It’s now a question of where it goes from here.

  71. Tethys says

    I concur with SC that the claims of ‘ provocation’ is entirely consistent with the logic of abusers.

    China’s Xi Pinging could just shut up and mind his own business about a peaceful visit between two completely independent countries.
    Threats of violence from China if people in Taiwan and America speak to each other is not behavior any democratic minded person should tolerate. ‘You’re not the boss of me, so fuck off’ is the core basis of independent democracy and anti authoritarian philosophy.

  72. says

    CNN – “Senate passes long-sought bill to help veterans affected by burn pits”:

    The Senate voted Tuesday night to pass a long-sought bipartisan legislation to expand health care benefits for millions of veterans exposed to toxic burn pits during their military service, sending the bill to President Joe Biden to sign into law. The final vote was 86-11.

    Passage of the bill marks the end of a lengthy fight to get the legislation through Congress, as veterans and their advocates had been demonstrating on Capitol Hill for days. Many veterans were allowed into the Senate gallery to watch the final vote on Tuesday evening.

    The bill widely expands health care resources and benefits to those exposed to burn pits and could provide coverage for up to 3.5 million toxic-exposed veterans. It adds conditions related to burn pit and toxic exposure, including hypertension, to the Department of Veterans Affair’s list of illnesses that have been incurred or exacerbated during military service.

    The legislation had been held up in the chamber since last week when more than two dozen Republicans, who previously supported the measure, temporarily blocked it from advancing.

    Tuesday’s final vote followed votes on three amendments with a 60-vote threshold. [Sen. Pat] Toomey’s amendment, which would have made a change to a budget component of the legislation, failed as expected, in a vote of 47-48.

    Last week’s surprise move by Republicans led to a swift backlash among veterans and veterans’ groups, including protests on the US Capitol steps over the weekend and early this week. Comedian and political activist Jon Stewart — a lead advocate for veterans on the issue — took individual GOP senators to task for holding up a bill that had garnered wide bipartisan support in earlier votes….

  73. says

    Humor from Andy Borowitz:

    Donald J. Trump has demanded an immediate recount of covid tests after it emerged that President Biden had tested positive more times than he did.

    A fuming Trump told reporters that “the only way Sleepy Joe could beat me at covid is if the tests were rigged.”

    Lending Trump support was his former attorney Rudolph Giuliani, who claimed that Biden’s most recent covid test was “rife with fraud.”

    “These covid tests are like a Breathalyzer,” Giuliani said. “You blow into the thing when you’re perfectly fine, and it registers that you’re drunk off your ass.”

    Trump asserted that once a recount is performed, he will have topped Biden’s positive tests in a landslide. “Frankly, we did win this infection,” he said.

    New Yorker link

  74. says

    NBC News:

    The death toll from California’s McKinney Fire has grown to at least four after two more people were found dead at homes in Northern California on Monday, according to the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office.

  75. says

    Associated Press:

    President Joe Biden is set to name top officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to serve as the White House coordinators to combat the growing monkeypox outbreak. […] The White House said the pair would coordinate “strategy and operations to combat the current monkeypox outbreak, including equitably increasing the availability of tests, vaccinations and treatments.”

    New York Times:

    Gov. Gavin Newsom of California declared a state of emergency on Monday to address a monkeypox outbreak, making the state the third in four days to elevate its public health response to the rapidly spreading disease.

  76. says

    Manafort Impresses Prison Buds With Tales Of Breaking Mueller Plea Deal In New Book

    Former Trump campaign chairman needed to avoid being seen as a ‘rat’ in prison.

    Former 2016 Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort arranged for transcripts of his plea hearings to be sent to federal prison to prove to inmates that he wasn’t a “rat,” he wrote in a forthcoming book.

    Manafort wrote that he needed to prove himself after conflict erupted between him and “Billie J” — a prisoner incarcerated with him at FCI Loretto who Manafort dubbed a “hypocrite” and a bully. Billie J, in Manafort’s telling, abused his power over the jailhouse commissary, using “his role there to get people hard to find commissary goods — for a price, of course.”

    “I refused to respect him which pissed him off,” the former Trump campaign chairman wrote. “In retaliation, he accused me of being a rat, citing the fact that I had done a plea agreement.”

    Manafort wrote that he moved quickly to “cleanse” himself of Billie J’s assertion.

    “I had to have my attorney send me my sentencing transcripts — ‘my papers,’” the former Trump campaign chairman wrote. “The prison hierarchy could read the ‘papers’ and proclaim judgement.”

    Manafort entered into a plea deal with Special Counsel Robert Mueller in September 2018, admitting to a conspiracy and witness tampering charge. Prosecutors said that he repeatedly lied to them after agreeing to cooperate, thereby breaching the deal.

    TPM obtained a copy of the forthcoming memoir, titled “Political Prisoner: Persecuted, Prosecuted, but Not Silenced.” [Oh FFS]

    In his memoir, Manafort wrote that two members of the “prison hierarchy” read the papers — a man named Ralph who dined at the facility’s “Italian table” and a “muscle-bound specimen of a man” named Vegas.

    “Of course, they immediately proclaimed me innocent of the Billie J. attack,” he wrote.

    As Trump’s 2016 campaign manager and a former political consultant [Putin Puppet] in Ukraine, Manafort took center stage in the Mueller investigation. After facing down two indictments in D.C. and Alexandria, Virginia, Manafort found himself incarcerated in 2018, having been convicted at one trial and having struck the plea deal to avoid another.

    Manafort wrote that his fellow prisoners in FCI Loretto, a low-security institution located in rural Pennsylvania, told him that they couldn’t understand why Trump had not pardoned him for the time he was there — from 2018 until May 2020.

    “To them, the worst criminal is not somebody who breaks the law, but a rat,” Manafort wrote. “To them, Trump should have made sure the family was taken care of — that I wasn’t in jail anymore.”

    Manafort entered into the plea deal with the special counsel’s office after being convicted on eight out of eighteen felony counts for bank and tax fraud in a trial in the Eastern District of Virginia.

    He then avoided a trial in D.C. by agreeing to cooperate with prosecutors. That agreement broke down as Manafort repeatedly lied to the government, a judge found.

    During that time, reports emerged that Manafort continued to feed information — via his attorneys — to Trump’s legal team. At one point, Rudy Giuliani claimed publicly that Manafort had not yet shared anything damaging about Trump with the Mueller team.

    Manafort affirmed this in the book, describing interactions with Mueller prosecutor Andrew Weissmann.

    “Another thing that upset Weissmann was the fact that I had maintained my joint defense agreement with Trump’s attorneys during the time we were working on the proffer,” Manafort wrote.

    The agreement allowed Manafort’s attorneys to share information with Trump’s legal team, even as he was supposed to be cooperating with the government.

    “I never tried to hide this from Weissmann, but he was still angry when he found out,” Manafort wrote. “Oh, well.”

    Manafort recalled directing his attorney to make it known to the Trump team that “there was nothing to fear.”

    “I wanted to make sure they knew that even though I was cutting a deal, I wasn’t going to make anything up,” Manafort wrote, adding later that he was “led to believe that it was communicated.

    Manafort wrote elsewhere in the section that, when considering the plea agreement, he committed to not crossing certain “red lines.”

    “I wouldn’t be their stool pigeon,” Manafort wrote.

    Trump ultimately pardoned Manafort after the 2020 election, in December of that year.

  77. says

    Followup to comment 108.

    Posted by readers of the article:

    “To them, Trump should have made sure the family was taken care of — that I wasn’t in jail anymore.”

    Weird that Manafort writes about what a good gangster he was for boss Trump, but maybe even weirder that he includes the judgment of his fellow prisoners/gangsters that Trump was a lousy mob boss.
    Feels like I’m walking around in an episode of the Sopranos. And I very much need a shower.
    As if we need a more proof that Trump was treated and acted like like an organized crime boss. No wonder he was so supplicant to Putin, the boss of bosses.
    Imagine that. Manafort discovers that there are some other unsavory characters in prison
    Ralphie and muscle man Vegas at the Italian Table of the Big House, frantically thumbing through legal transcripts, is a great image.
    I love that Manafort is playing up the danger of the situation like he is in Sing Sing. He was a in minimum security federal prison, where his biggest danger was if he accidentally nicked himself with a potato peeler doing kitchen work.

  78. says

    Dave Wasserman tweeted a minute ago: “I’ve seen enough: in a huge victory for the pro-choice side, the Kansas constitutional amendment to remove protections of abortion rights fails.”

    I know he knows his stuff, but I won’t be able to believe it until all of the votes are counted.

  79. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 99

    Still, we do have to wonder if these groups are suffering from a deep cynicism or an even deeper naivete. Are they unaware that the same FSB-AGMR network apparently supporting them is also supporting their ostensible worst enemies on the racist right? Are they unaware of racist persecution of Crimean Tatars and Chechens in the white-supremacist Russia of Vladimir Putin?…

    As long as the checks clear (sort of speak), I don’t think they give a shit what Putin does on his side of the planet. The enemy of my enemy is my friend… if they also find another group of my enemies.

  80. says

    Akira MacKenzie @ #113, but as he points out:

    We have noted before the efforts by AGMR to co-opt both the radical left and radical right in the United States. In December 2014, AGMR hosted an international conference in Moscow on the “Right of Peoples to Self-Determination and Building a Multi-Polar World,” drawing participants from groups on the US “anti-war left” (sic) including the United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC) and the International Action Center (IAC)—both spin-offs of the retro-Stalinist Workers World Party. Also in attendance were representatives of Russian and European neo-fascist formations—and white nationalists from an Alabama-based group, the neo-Confederate League of the South.

    The League of the South was one of the prominent groups at the the August 2017 “Unite the Right Rally” in Charlottesville, Va., which notoriously turned deadly. We noted at the time the vocal expressions of support for Syria’s Russian-backed genocidal dictator Bashar Assad among the far-right knuckleheads at Charlottesville. The Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right notes the special affinity that the League of the South has for Putin’s Russia. In an essay on their website entitled “To Our Russian Friends,” the League’s president Michael Hill writes: “We understand that the Russian people and Southerners are natural allies in blood, culture, and religion.” Another essay on their site urges followers to prepare for “The Coming Civil War in America.”

    The (support for the) League of the South poses a direct threat to them, especially since they’re in the South.

  81. raven says

    Kansas rejects Amendment 2, which would have eliminated a right to abortion from the state constitution
    Grace Panetta 36 minutes ago

    Kansas Constitutional Amendment – “Value Them Both”
    Last updated:
    8/2/2022, 7:24:36 PM
    County Results
    Candidate Votes Pct.
    No 273,419 63.20%
    Yes 159,228 36.80%
    Votes in: Estimated 72% Votes counted: 432,647

    Looks like the Kansas Forced Birth amendment is going down in flames.
    It isn’t even close right now at almost 2 to 1 against.

    The forced birthers and the christofascists don’t have the support they claim they do.
    Kansas is almost a worst case for pro-choicers.

  82. says

    Tethys @115, SC @117, and others: Hooray! So glad to see that abortion rights won in Kansas, won decisively. With now more than 80% of the vote in, it is obvious that reproductive rights won in Kansas.

    SC @111, you’re welcome. Those comments hit the nail on the head.

  83. says

    Johnson County just went over 200,000 in turnout today, which is insane when you consider that they only got to 270,000 votes in the GENERAL midterm election in 2018.

    And, as impossible as it might be to believe, in Kansas (of all places!), this initiative to give the overwhelmingly GOP legislature the discretion to act on abortion rights may not even make it to 40% of the vote in a state that Donald Trump won by 15 points.


  84. Tethys says

    Impossible as it is to believe, 50% of the people in Kansas happen to be women, who clearly and overwhelming support reproductive bodily autonomy and privacy at the gynecologist.

    It is impossible to believe that MSM entirely forgot the massive Womens March in protest of tfg, and the Blue Wave, judging by their automatic exclusion of relevant words like fascist and sexism to describe GOP efforts.

  85. StevoR says

    Exceellent speech at the Natioanl press club by Australian Greens leader Adam bandt here here albeit over an hour long.

    With an announcement during that confirming Australia will finally have an official climate target legislated :

    With Aussie ABC news report on the Kansas abortion ban here :

    too for those who may be interested.

  86. KG says


    You’re very naive about military matters. If China invades Taiwan in the wake of Pelosi’s visit, it will be because they had already decided to do so at the first opportune moment; they would not mount such an invasion without having the forces they would need ready and plans – both military, and in terms of handling the political blowback and possible sanctions – worked out in detail.

  87. says

    CNN – “Six takeaways from Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Arizona and Washington primaries”:

    Kansas voters handed abortion-rights advocates a massive victory Tuesday, surging to the polls to defeat a measure that would have allowed the GOP-led legislature to impose new restrictions.

    The vote in Kansas was one of the first tests of the potency of abortion rights at the ballot box since the Supreme Court’s decision to reverse Roe v. Wade and end the federal protection of abortion access.

    Meanwhile, in Michigan, one of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump was ousted, while the matchup was set for what will be one of the key gubernatorial races this fall. And in Missouri, the political comeback of a former governor was shut down.

    In Arizona, local elections officials were still counting votes to determine whether a slate of statewide candidates who were endorsed by former President Donald Trump and promoted his lies about election fraud won their Republican primaries.

    Here are six takeaways from Tuesday night’s primaries:

    Kansas maintains constitutional right to abortion

    Kansas voters sent a dramatic message on Tuesday, opting to maintain the right to an abortion in their state’s constitution just weeks after the US Supreme Court decided to overturn Roe v. Wade.

    Polls have long shown that voters overwhelmingly support protecting abortions rights. But the win for the “no” vote in Kansas is proof of that and signals that the Supreme Court decision has further angered voters and possibly shifted the politics of the issue ahead of the November elections.

    The “no” leaves the state constitution unchanged. While lawmakers in the state can still try to pass restrictive abortion laws, courts in Kansas have recognized a right to abortion under the state constitution.

    The biggest warning to Republicans, many of whom have trumpeted the overturning of Roe and backed pushes to pass stricter abortions laws, is perhaps the turnout in Kansas. With 78% of the vote in on Tuesday night, nearly 700,000 people have cast ballots in the primary, a figure that already dwarfs the turnout in the 2020 presidential primary election.

    “This is further proof of what poll after poll has told us: Americans support abortion rights,” said Christina Reynolds, a top operative for Emily’s List, an organization that looks to elect women who support abortion rights. “They believe we should be able to make our own health care decisions, and they will vote accordingly, even in the face of misleading campaigns.”

    A member of the ‘impeachment 10’ is defeated

    Rep. Peter Meijer became the second of the 10 Republicans who voted to impeach former President Donald Trump to be ousted in a primary Tuesday, losing to Trump-endorsed conservative challenger John Gibbs, CNN projected.

    Democrats played a role in boosting Gibbs — a calculated decision that has become a flashpoint, angering some Democrats and anti-Trump Republicans.

    Meijer, a freshman, voted to impeach Trump just days after taking office, after the insurrection of January 6, 2021. Gibbs, meanwhile, backed Trump’s lies about widespread fraud in the 2020 election.

    Meijer’s loss means the Grand Rapids-based 3rd District seat will be one of the most competitive House contests in November’s midterm elections.

    The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, eyeing the seat as a possible pick-up opportunity, spent more than $300,000 on television ads seeking to bolster Gibbs with pro-Trump GOP primary voters by portraying him as a Trump-aligned conservative.

    In Washington, two more Republicans who voted to impeach Trump, Reps. Jaime Herrera Beutler and Dan Newhouse, were attempting to survive their own primaries. The state’s open, non-partisan primary system in which the top two finishers regardless of party advance to November’s general election made them more difficult targets for Trump and his supporters.

    Unknowns in Arizona

    Arizona’s race for the Republican nomination for governor could depend on whether former President Donald Trump’s supporters turned out in force on election day in a state that conducts its contests largely by mail.

    If Trump’s slate of statewide candidates in Arizona advances to the general election, they’d be positioned to take over the election machinery of one of the nation’s most important presidential battleground states if they win in November.

    But there was one person who had defied Trump and his election lies ousted on Tuesday, according to a CNN projection: Rusty Bowers, the Arizona House speaker. Bowers testified in June about the pressure he faced to overturn the state’s 2020 election results from former President Donald Trump and others. In return, he was censured by his party, called “unfit to serve” — and now has lost his primary for a state Senate seat.

    Greitens’ attempted comeback falls flat

    Republicans in Missouri breathed a sigh of relief after state Attorney General Eric Schmitt won the wide-open Senate primary, according to a CNN projection.

    Perhaps more significant than who won, though, in the deep-red state, is who lost: disgraced former Gov. Eric Greitens, who was attempting a political comeback. Greitens resigned in 2018 amid a sex scandal and accusation of campaign misconduct, and subsequently faced abuse allegations from his ex-wife, which he has denied

    Dixon victory in Michigan governor’s race sets up referendum on Covid policies

    Tudor Dixon, the conservative commentator endorsed by Trump in the final days of the race and backed by large factions of the Michigan Republican establishment, won the state’s GOP primary to take on Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, CNN projected.

    The clash in Michigan could be one of the nation’s most competitive governor’s races.

    Whitmer has cast herself as a bulwark for abortion rights in a state where Republicans have sought to enforce a 1931 law that would impose a near-total ban on abortion.

    Dixon, meanwhile, framed the race in her victory speech Tuesday night as a referendum on restrictions Whitmer imposed during the Covid-19 pandemic.

    Dixon, a mother of four who is backed by former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s family, is also an advocate of school choice — potentially positioning education as a marquee issue in November’s midterm election.

    Progressives suffer another defeat in Michigan

    Rep. Haley Stevens’ projected Democratic primary victory in Michigan’s newly drawn 11th Congressional District over fellow Rep. Andy Levin marks another blow against progressives in what has been a mostly disappointing primary season.

    It’s also a resounding victory for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, and its super PAC, United Democracy Project, which has spent millions backing moderate, more staunchly pro-Israel candidates in Democratic primaries.

    Stevens and Levin are both supportive of Israel, but Levin — who is Jewish — has been more willing to criticize its government’s treatment of Palestinians and is the lead sponsor of the Two-State Solution Act.

    Progressive Democrats, frequently targeted by AIPAC spending this primary season, have fumed at fellow Democrats for accepting or courting support from the group, which has also contributed to Republican election deniers. AIPAC has defended the practice, arguing that its policy goals need bipartisan support.

    J Street, a liberal pro-Israel group that has clashed with AIPAC, tried to boost Levin with a $700,000 July ad buy, but that sum paled in comparison to the millions bundled by AIPAC and more than $4 million spend by UDP.

  88. says

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

    Ukrainian refugees are likely to become victims of rising tensions and disinformation campaigns in their host countries, a report has warned.

    False reports exaggerating how much aid refugees receive compared with local people, as well as linking refugees with violent crime and political extremism, could cause a breakdown in relations with local communities, the charity World Vision said.

    In its report, Warm Welcomes, Lurking Tensions, the humanitarian organisation said anti-refugee messaging was already spreading on social media and “niche media outlets” in neighbouring countries.

    About 8.8 million people, mainly women, children and elderly people, have left Ukraine since the Russian invasion began on 24 February, with many making their way to border countries such as Romania, Moldova and Poland.

    The report said:

    Messaging that could stoke anti-refugee tensions is already being spread in Romania, Moldova, Poland and across central and eastern Europe

    Whilst not a major issue yet, tensions are beginning to develop in some host countries.

    Children may face risks such as verbal and physical abuse between refugee and host communities, human trafficking and more as early as February 2023.

    The international community needs to act now in order to prevent the situation deteriorating to dangerous levels like in Lebanon and Bangladesh.

    Vladimir Putin’s purported lover has been hit with sanctions from the US government’s treasury department over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

    Alina Kabaeva, 39, landed on the latest update to the federal Office of Foreign Assets Control’s specially designated nationals list, freezing any of her assets in the US and generally prohibiting Americans from dealing with her.

    The move came a little more than three months after the White House said Kabaeva, a famed former rhythmic gymnast, nor anyone else was safe from sanctions, even after her last-minute removal from a round of such penalties in April.

    UK officials had similarly sanctioned Kabaeva – who now is chairperson of Russia’s New Media Group, the country’s largest private media company – in May.

    The Kremlin has long denied that Putin, who is divorced, is romantically involved with Kabaeva, but various published reports suggest that she is the mother of at least some of his children. A Moscow newspaper which, in 2008, reported that Putin and Kabaeva were involved despite his still being married at the time was shut down soon after for unclear reasons.

  89. says

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

    Campaigners have called for an end to “unchecked political patronage” as polling found most people oppose plans for Boris Johnson to appoint new peers in the final weeks of his premiership.

    Alarm was raised by the Electoral Reform Society over a proposal drawn up by CT Group – a political lobbying firm run by the Conservative adviser Lynton Crosby – for the prime minister to appoint up to 50 new Conservative lawmakers to ram contentious legislation through parliament.

    The leaked document sparked condemnation from Gordon Brown, and led to accusations the Lords was already “bursting at the seams”, meaning more “meaningful checks and balances” on appointments were needed.

    Polling from Opinium found 54% of people are against Johnson drawing up a “resignation honours” list that could ennoble key allies who stuck by him during the dying days of his administration and urged him to fight on. Just 13% backed the move, while 34% expressed no view [WTF].

    Among voters who backed the Conservatives in 2019, 41% were against the plan while 21% were in favour. There were 2,000 adults surveyed at the end of July and their responses were weighted to be nationally representative.

  90. says

    Get your popcorn: Herschel Walker finally agrees to debate, says he’s ‘ready for Senator Warnock’

    Republican Senate nominee Herschel Walker is a former running back, a Heisman Trophy winner, and a man who doesn’t believe in evolution. And he can’t seem to run fast enough away from a debate with Sen. Raphael Warnock. I mean, can you blame him?

    Warnock ran a 30-second ad calling out Walker to “stop dodging” and “commit to debates.”

    I wouldn’t want to have to defend how my COVID-19 spray works or why I hid from the public and my own campaign staff that I’d fathered three children. Or how I said I graduated from college but didn’t. Or certainly why I said I’d co-founded a veterans organization when I didn’t. Those are tough topics to debate with a sitting senator who also happens to be the senior pastor at the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church.

    But despite all of the bullshit he will have to defend if he actually shows up, Walker maintains he’s “ready for Senator Warnock.” [video at the link]

    […] Whether it’s because of the Warnock ad or because he’s slipping in the polls, Walker blustered to Hannity he wanted “Warnock to be ready.”

    […] Quentin Fulks, Warnock’s campaign manager, tells The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the senator already accepted “three well-established Georgia debates” despite Walker’s claims that he was ready to debate “any day of the week.”

    Fulks says, “Nothing has changed. Reverend Warnock remains committed to debating Herschel Walker and giving Georgians three opportunities to see the clear choice about who is ready to represent Georgia.”

    Dodging debates is nothing new for Georgia’s cowardly Republican nominees. Walker refused to debate during the primaries in May, and in 2018, Gov. Brian Kemp refused a final debate with Democratic nominee Stacey Abrams.

    According to The Black Wall Street Times, Walker is polling unfavorably among Georgia’s Black voters. Results found that 80% of Black voters plan to vote for Warnock. Walker has continually refused to accept the results of that poll.

    Walker told an 11Alive reporter in Atlanta, “I think you’re wrong. I don’t need to argue with you about it. So, I think you’re wrong. You know you’re wrong,”

    Fulks told the AJC, “I don’t know if Herschel Walker is scared for voters to hear what he has to say, or scared for voters to hear that he’s unprepared to speak on the issues that matter most to the people of Georgia. … There’s a clear choice in the race for Senate, and we hope Herschel Walker will be true to his word and commit to joining us at three debates.”

    The debate Herschel Walker has agreed to is supposed to take place on October 14 in Savannah, Georgia.

  91. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Russia has started creating a military strike force aimed at Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s hometown of Kryvyi Rih and warned that Moscow could be preparing new offensive operations in southern Ukraine, Ukraine said on Wednesday.

    Russia holds swathes of Ukraine’s south that it captured in the early phases of its invasion, but Kyiv has said it will mount a counter-offensive. It said on Tuesday it had already recaptured 53 villages in occupied Kherson region, Reuters reports.

    In its regular update on the war in the south, Ukraine’s southern military command described the situation as tense and said Russia attacked along the frontline on Aug. 2.

    Ukraine has been trying to ratchet up pressure on Russia’s positions in the strategically important Black Sea region of Kherson and has used Western-supplied long-range weapons to conduct strikes on Russian supply lines and ammunition dumps.

    Ukraine’s military said in a statement that Russian forces were scoping out basements in the region to turn them into bomb shelters to store military hardware.

    Ukraine has said any negotiated peace settlement with Moscow would be contingent on a ceasefire and the withdrawal of Russian troops, brushing off comments by ex-German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.

    Schroeder, who is a friend of Vladimir Putin, said he met the Kremlin leader in Moscow last week, that Russia wanted a “negotiated solution” to the war and that there was even the possibility of slowly reaching a cease-fire.

    In response on Wednesday, Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak described Schroeder derisively as a “voice of the Russian royal court”.

  92. says

    Ukraine update: Russia loses two supply trains in a day … but only one to Ukrainian attack

    Given last night’s focus on our resounding abortion rights victory in Kansas, I don’t have the energy left to write the usual cogent longer-form narrative (I write these before I go to bed). So please forgive me for this “grab-bag” format including interesting vignettes collected through Tuesday.

    Let’s start with this, which … is exactly as he describes it: [tweet and video at the link]

    This is a good one, I’ll translate it from Kremlinese: “We send our stupid ass cannon fodder out in the open, 600m from enemy positions, without cover or protection, to bait Ukrainian artillery to reveal their positions.” [video at the link]

    Mark and I have long discussed Russia’s “reconnaissance by fire” approach: Send Donbas cannon fodder forward until they’re shot dead. Drop artillery on that position. Send more Donbas cannon fodder forward to see if anything is left alive. If they live, then great! They have just advanced a few dozen meters. Otherwise, rinse, lather, repeat.

    It’s bad enough they employ tactics so callous to the lives of their allied Ukrainian proxies. But here they are bragging about it. Apparently they don’t realize that this isn’t how competent, civilized militaries wage war! They don’t even respect these poor suckers enough to give them helmets and body armor, leaving them fully exposed to even incidental shrapnel a well-equipped soldier would shrug off. I guess it makes little sense to protect men whose entire job is to get shot.

    Down in Kherson, Ukraine is still keeping a lid on details, but one government official offered some good news:

    Number of liberated settlements in Kherson Oblast reaches 53 […]

    The previous reported number was 46, so Ukraine continues to advance. Note that most of these are tiny agricultural towns. But like we’ve seen with Dovhen’ke and Bohorodychne, the width of that dot on the map can’t always be measured by its pre-war population.

    Now let’s tell the tale of two Russian supply trains. The first is Brylivka railway station, Kherson. [map at the link]

    There are two train routes from Crimea to Kherson, leaving them exposed to attacks. On July 31, that’s exactly what happened as Ukraine smashed a military supply train.

    HIMARS missile systems crushed the railway echelon of the Russian occupation army – the occupiers complain on social networks about the effective operation of American weapons in the hands of the Armed Forces.

    It is noted that a railway echelon with more than 40 wagons, which arrived from the temporarily occupied Crimea at the Brylivka railway station in the Kherson region, was hit by a high-precision HIMARS missile.

    It is claimed that 80 occupiers were killed as a result of the strike, and another 200 were injured. In addition, all drivers and engineers of the “Russian Railways” company, who were transporting military cargo, were destroyed.

    This is supposed video of the attack (clearly too dark to confirm via geolocation): [tweet and video at the link]

    NASA FIRMS imagery confirms big fire at the rail station. A fuel storage site was also confirmed hit (along with surrounding fire damage) by satellite imagery. One Russian Telegram user in Crimea noted the emergency services effort in the aftermath: [image of text at the link]

    I didn’t realize that this rail line is a single track: [tweet and map at the link]

    […] the entire line from Kherson to Dzhankoy is only a single track […]

    The other two peculiarities are that the station at Brylivka has “passing loops” that allow trains headed in opposite directions to share the line. That means one train has to “pull over” into one of those passing loops, which is where the train column likely got hit. The other peculiarity is that just north of this location, that single track passes over the North Crimean Canal, giving Ukraine a juicy bridge target to hit to fully cut this line. At that point, Russia would be dependent on that second line that goes to Melitopol, 230 kilometers away from Kherson.

    This isn’t the only Russian supply train to have issues that day, although this next one is more of an own-goal: The Kalanchak railway station, on the same rail line but further south, went up in flames. [tweet and image at the link]

    The how it happened is freakin’ hilarious:

    On July 31, an echelon with military equipment and ammunition for the occupiers arrived at the “Kalanchak” railway station of the Kherson region. At 8 a.m. the next day, the Russians began unloading the echelon. Apparently, in order to mask the unloading process and protect against HIMARS strikes, the occupiers used powerful means of smoke. At approximately 11:20 an explosion rang out in the work area. It was not possible to accurately determine its nature due to a thick smoke screen. However, immediately after the explosion, the echelon without any warning started moving in the direction of Crimea. The enemy’s personnel scattered in panic.

    Presumably, the explosion resulted from careless handling of ammunition during unloading or a fire that arose due to inept use of pyrotechnics during the creation of a smoke screen.

    Smoke is widely used in combat to hide troop movements, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard of it used to hide an entire train station. The ultimate goal might’ve been to prevent a HIMARS attack, but the proximate goal was to hide the activity from Ukrainian drones scanning for targets.

    It’s been assumed that Ukraine had a list of depots, and was systematically working its way through it. But if Russia is working this hard to hide actual loading and unloading of war material, it suggests that Ukraine is acting more opportunistically with real-time intelligence, hitting depots in the middle of operations.

    So sure, smoke might be helpful, as long as you don’t blow yourself up. And even then, Ukraine is clearly aware of the ruse. If there’s smoke at a depot, odds are good Russia is up to no good. […]

  93. blf says

    The veterans toxic exposure bill (the PACT act) has now passed the Senate, intact I believe, on an 86–11 vote  which is a larger than the original 84–14 vote, suggesting two thugs who had previously voted against it switched (and one other previous nay-sayer apparently abstained or something). According to Senate finally passes bill expanding benefits for veterans exposed to toxin, teh dummies agreed with the nonsensical thug face-saving absurdity:

    On Tuesday night, the Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer, a Democrat, announced that he and his Republican counterpart, the minority leader, Mitch McConnell, had reached a deal on the bill. At a news conference, McConnell said Republicans’ objections were part of the legislative process.

    “These kind of back and forths happen all the time in the legislative process, you’ve observed that over the years,” he said. “I think in the end, the veterans service organizations will be pleased with the final result.”

    I eventually decided to not put Moscow Mitch’s final comments (second paragraph (especially the first sentence)) in eejit quotes because, in a properly functioning legislature, there is constructive “back-and-forth”. However, the Senate, and arguably the entire US Congress (both houses), is currently rarely functioning, much less functioning properly, at all. Moscow Mitch fudged his claim — made a claim which is currently misleading — but was not outright lying.

  94. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 126

    What does Warnock hope to accomplish by publicly debating Walker? To reveal what a gibbering, uneducated, bigoted fool he is? Everyone already knows that and the Georgia’s right winger don’t care. If anything they love how his Walker’s antics “trigger” us and the laugh at our, from their prospective, hysterical responses.

    Walker’s campaign isn’t about putting a component individual into office. It’s about unseating a leftish black Democrat with a token Uncle Ruckus to avoid accusations of racism.

  95. says

    There is a well of infinite cruelty from which Republicans can never quench their immoral thirst to inflict pain and suffering on others Take for example Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky. Paul decided to attack his opponent Charles Booker over — wait for it — helping to deliver supplies such as water to flood victims in eastern Kentucky.

    Republicans really suck when it comes to natural disasters. We have known this since George H.W. Bush. But here is what dear Rand Paul has to say about Charles Booker:

    […] Booker personally delivered a truck full of water and supplies to an emergency shelter at Letcher County Central High School in flood-ravaged Whitesburg on Saturday, with his campaign office in Louisville now full of more supplies that will be delivered soon after his call for supporters to provide donations.

    But when asked by a reporter at his Monday press conference in Louisville if he felt like he was doing enough for the flood victims — and the optics of his opponent being there on the ground with his volunteer effort — Paul countered that politicians should stay out of the way.

    “I think most people think that the people who should be doing the responding are the professionals,” Paul said. “You know, politicians out there having their picture taken probably isn’t that useful.”

    Paul added that what flood victims actually need are “monetary donations, as opposed to goods,” saying that much of the goods collected for the Western Kentucky tornado victims in December “still sits in warehouses, and they’re still trying to find somebody that could make use of it.”

    “I just don’t like the images of politicians getting in front of a camera out where rescuers are trying to actually dig people out and try to save lives.”

    Paul said he would eventually visit the area and work with “the governor and the other elected officials to make sure that disaster relief is there for them. But in the immediate aftermath, we really would need to save lives.”

    My reply to Rand Paul is, “Who’s this ‘we’ white man?” I don’t see you out there saving anything. Which is why Paul gave this cruel and pissy response. He couldn’t be bothered to go to eastern Kentucky.

    And I wouldn’t believe anything he says about stockpiles of items from the last disaster either. Paul is fast and loose with his “facts.”

    Booker was way too classy in his response to Paul:

    “He’s talking like someone who hasn’t been on the ground, because if he saw what I saw, he’d know that everyone’s help is needed,” Booker said. “If he actually listened to the people on the ground, he’d know they are asking for supplies to help with cleanup, hot meals, and debris removal. They’re asking for help finding loved ones.”

    Since delivering a truck full of supplies to the emergency shelter in Whitesburg on Saturday, Booker says his campaign office “has received an overwhelming amount of donations and supplies for the impacted areas. We will be working with organizers on the ground to make sure they are distributed to those in need.”

    What gets me about all of this is that Booker is a real, compassionate human being. And Paul is selfishness and cruelty all rolled into one. In a world with any decency and justice, Booker should defeat Paul this year.

    Tragically, we live in a world where my fellow Kentuckians will see a black man helping out during a disaster, and they will give him the middle finger come November. […]

    I will still send what little money I can spare to Booker’s campaign, and I will hope that voters in other states will send more Democrats to the U.S. Senate. Booker gives me hope in humanity, but white Kentuckians depress the living shit out of me.


    A “donate to Charles Booker” link is available at the main link. I disagree with the author’s tendency to lump all “white Kentuckians” into one category. I agree that Rand Paul is one guy who depresses the living shit out of me.

  96. says

    Wonkette: “Defense Department And Army Texts From Jan. 6 Also Deleted? Cool.”

    Wonkette has been closely following the curious case of the missing Secret Service January 6 texts, the ones they appear to have deleted approximately five minutes after the Capitol riot concluded. Or maybe the Secret Service only sent one text during that time, the one they produced for the House January 6 Select Committee, the one that said “Netflix and coup?” (ALLEGEDLY.)

    And golly, all of this is just everyone’s fault and no one’s fault all at once, but there definitely is not a coverup, no sir, don’t you even say words like that. It was an accident! It was totally normal protocol! It was a few bad apples! It was right after the Department of Homeland Security got a letter from Congress telling them to please preserve all texts and other documents related to the terrorist attack Donald Trump incited on American soil.

    Shockingly, it seems like this little problem — is it too soon to suggest that they just reflexively deleted records to cover up whatever anti-American crimes they committed for Donald Trump, allegedly? — might have been endemic to the whole Trump DHS, with illegally appointed Acting Chief Chad Wolf and its Acting Deputy Secretary Ken “Cooch” Cuccinelli at the helm. Imagine that. Chad Wolf hiding things that make Trump look bad, even if they involve attacks on America? No he never!

    But look at us talking about the Secret Service and DHS, when there’s a whole different building in DC where all the January 6 texts have magically disappeared. It is called the Pentagon, and surprise, it was also run by […] Trump sycophants on January 6.

    Uh oh, sketti-oh, where did the texts from all Trump’s [sycophants] from the Pentagon go?

    The acknowledgment that the phones from the Pentagon officials had been wiped was first revealed in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit American Oversight brought against the Defense Department and the Army. The watchdog group is seeking January 6 records from former acting Secretary of Defense Chris Miller, former chief of staff Kash Patel, and former Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy, among other prominent Pentagon officials – having filed initial FOIA requests just a few days after the Capitol attack.

    Miller, Patel and McCarthy have all been viewed as crucial witnesses for understanding government’s response to the January 6 Capitol assault and former […] Trump’s reaction to the breach. All three were involved in the Defense Department’s response to sending National Guard troops to the US Capitol as the riot was unfolding. There is no suggestion that the officials themselves erased the records.

    We are sure everything is on the up and up, especially when you see this in context of how Trump shoehorned all those morons, including Kash Patel, Devin Nunes’s former clown boy, into Pentagon leadership just after he lost the election.

    CNN reports that Paul Ney, who was general counsel for the Defense Department, told them he turned his phone in like normal at the end of the administration, and he certainly didn’t wipe it himself, and he has no idea what happened to it after that. And government lawyers reportedly have said in filings that this is all just routine stuff, that when people leave those agencies, their phones get wiped.

    On the other hand:

    A former Defense Department official from a previous administration told CNN that it is ingrained into new hires during their onboarding that their work devices were subject to the Presidential Records Act and indicated their communications would be archived. The source said it was assumed when they turned in their devices at the end of their employment, any communication records would be archived.

    So maybe that is not what happens.

    On November 10 of 2020, back when the January 6 attacks were just an unborn baby in Trump’s anal cavity, Wonkette wondered aloud why Trump was shoehorning a particular band of idiots, including Patel, into Pentagon leadership. We asked if Trump was purging everybody with the vaguest modicum of a sense of the oath they swore, in order to replace them with people who’d help him stay in power.

    We also asked if Trump was desperately sticking loyalist morons into agencies to try to find and destroy incriminating evidence against him.

    And we still don’t know the answer to those questions. But damn, these new revelations sure as hell look terrible, especially when you consider that we’re talking about all communications surrounding Donald Trump’s attempts to overthrow the American government and install himself as king, and the terrorist attack he basically ordered on the Legislative Branch and his own vice president.

    Can’t imagine what kinds of things Defense Department texts might reveal about January 6. There certainly haven’t been a shitload of questions about […] that day for three hours and 19 minutes while the Capitol was under siege, or what treason-weasel Michael Flynn’s brother Charles was doing in the room. (And by the way, he’s still there.)

    Read the letter sent by American Oversight to Attorney General Merrick Garland, demanding an investigation. It’s hot fire. This scandal is going to get WAY worse, we reckon.

  97. says

    Meduza – “The Metropolitan’s projects: Initiatives linked to ‘Putin’s confessor’ received $332 million from Russia’s government and state-owned companies”:

    Initiatives linked to Metropolitan Tikhon (Shevkunov), a Russian Orthodox bishop said to be Vladimir Putin’s personal confessor, have received more than 20 billion rubles ($332 million) from the Russian government and state-owned companies, according to a new report by the investigative outlet iStories.

    iStories journalists found that since 2015, more than half of this sum — 11.1 billion rubles, or $185 million — has gone toward financing Russia: My History, a “history parks” initiative associated with Metropolitan Tikhon. The funding for these multi-media exhibitions, which have been unveiled in 24 Russian cities, mainly came from regional budgets, with additional help from the state-owned energy giant Gazprom. The most expensive parks were set up in St. Petersburg and Tver, to the tune of 1.4 billion ($23 million) and 1.1 billion rubles ($18 million), respectively.

    The other “half” of the money went to six foundations also linked to Metropolitan Tikhon. As follows from their financial reports for 2019–2021, these foundations received 9.15 billion rubles, or $152 million, mainly from the Russian government and state-owned companies, as well as through donations, rental properties, and ticket sales.

    For example, the foundation Moia Istoria (My History) received 4.6 billion rubles (more than $76 million) over those three years, most of which was spent on another major project associated with Metropolitan Tikhon — the construction of the State Museum-Preserve Tauric Chersonese in Sevastopol (the largest city in Russian-annexed Crimea). The foundation allocated 3.4 billion rubles (more than $56 million) to this project in 2021.

    My History’s main source of funding was Gazprom Neft’s social investment initiative Ronye Goroda (Home Cities). In fact, the Home Cities initiative allocates most of its funds to Metropolitan Tikhon’s projects. The initiative donated more than more than 1 billion rubles ($16.6 million) to My History in 2019, and an additional 3 billion rubles ($50 million) in 2021.

    iStories also found that My History and the Humanitarian Projects Foundation — Tikhon’s two biggest foundations in terms of turnover — were both founded by one Ivan Esin, a former legal consultant for Gazprom Neft. Esin is also the founder of Smart Grup, a company that signed contracts with My History, including for the reconstruction of the Chersonese Museum-Preserve. Today, Smart Grup is owned by the Humanitarian Projects Foundation and one of its former employees, a woman by the name of Svetlana Sablina.

    Metropolitan Tikhon is often referred to as “Putin’s confessor” in the Russian press. Whether this is true is unknown, but the Russian president has never challenged the claim. According to iStories, it’s “most likely not true” — however, Tikhon has known Putin since 1999, when he was the director of the Russian FSB.

    Everything about this report, including the photo at the link, reminds me of the 2014 film Leviathan. I wanted to look up the director, Andrey Zvyagintsev, to see where he stands on the invasion of Ukraine, and found this:

    On June 25, 2021 Zvyagintsev [who’s 58] received the Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine. On the 3rd day after vaccination, he had a fever of 38-39°C and was taken to the hospital. On July 8, he was admitted to intensive care. During his treatment in the hospital, he contracted sepsis as a result of contracting a nosocomial infection resistant to antibiotics. He subsequently developed polyneuropathy after he was put into an artificial coma in Germany, the result of which causing him to lose the ability to walk. For a long time he could neither sit nor speak, and there were problems with the movement of his hands. In the hospital, his throat ligaments were injured. As of May 2022, he is still undergoing treatment at a hospital in Wiesbaden, Germany.


  98. says

    Under Biden, U.S. uninsured rate improves to an all-time low

    When was the last time the uninsured rate was this low? Never. It’s never happened. President Biden says that’s “not an accident” — and he has a point.

    The scope of the Affordable Care Act was extraordinary, reaching every part of the nation’s expansive health care system. But at its root, the ACA had one overarching goal: to reduce the uninsured rate by bring affordable coverage to millions of Americans. The United States had one of the highest uninsured rates in the industrialized world, and reformers believed the ACA would make it better.

    It did exactly that. […] once “Obamacare” was passed and implemented, the nation’s uninsured rate sharply improved. The law set out to achieve a specific goal and it succeeded.

    That progress faltered a bit during Donald Trump’s presidency, as the Republican administration’s policies pushed the uninsured rate a little higher, but as USA Today reported, the Biden administration is now celebrating the lowest uninsured rate on record.

    A record low 8% of Americans lacked health insurance at the start of the year, according to an analysis by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services provided first to USA TODAY. More than 5 million people have gained coverage since 2020, according to the department’s review of household survey data.

    Better yet, the same data showed the strongest improvements among low-income Americans.

    To be sure, an 8 percent rate is still higher than it should be, and it reminds us that there are still millions of Americans who lack coverage. The uninsured rate would be significantly better were it not for Republican officials in 12 states who continue to reject Medicaid expansion through the ACA for reasons that defy common sense.

    […] President Joe Biden took some credit for the news, declaring, “This progress did not happen by accident.”

    […] Biden and his congressional allies took a variety of deliberate steps early last year that made a significance difference in bringing health security to millions of families. Indeed, not only did the administration significantly bolster outreach efforts, encouraging and helping consumers enroll in ACA plans, but Democrats used the American Rescue Plan to make coverage much more affordable — with some consumers seeing their premiums fall to nearly or literally zero.

    […] The bad news is that those insurance subsidies are set to expire later this year. The good news is that the Democrats’ Inflation Reduction Act would keep the low insurance rates in place for three more years. […]

  99. says

    […] Franita Tolson, an election law expert at the University of Southern California, told NPR, “The reasons why Trump’s attempt to overturn the 2020 election failed is because there were state officials who refused to substantiate his claims of fraud. These folks really are gatekeepers.”

    It was against this backdrop that Arizona Republicans voted yesterday in their secretary of state primary — and their choice reverberated nationally for a reason. NBC News reported:

    Mark Finchem, a prominent 2020 election denier and an Arizona state legislator, has won the Republican secretary of state primary, NBC News projects. With 99% percent of the expected vote in, Finchem, who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump, had 40% of the vote. State Rep. Shawnna Bolick, another 2020 election denier, had 19% of the vote.

    State Rep. Beau Lane acknowledged the reality of the 2020 race and received a fair amount of support from the state’s Republican establishment. He finished a distant second with 25 percent support.

    Right off the bat, the obvious problem with Finchem’s candidacy is that he’s an unhinged election denier, basing much of his candidacy on ridiculous conspiracy theories about Trump’s defeat. In fact, the Arizonan recently said he wouldn’t accept the legitimacy of his own primary unless he won. […]

    A Slate report added, “In Arizona, the secretary of state, along with the governor, is charged with certifying all elections. So, if elected, Finchem could simply refuse to certify any democratic victory in any state, local, or federal election, citing the sorts of unspecified and unproven claims of fraud he has raised to say that 2020 should not have been certified.”

    But with Finchem, the fact that he’s an election denier isn’t the only problem. NBC News’ report added:

    Finchem has appeared on QAnon radio talk shows and attended the “Stop the Steal” rally in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021, which led to the storming of the Capitol. He also spoke at a “Stop the Steal” event a day earlier, telling the crowd that Trump had won the 2020 election. In a 2014 interview with local news outlet, Finchem identified himself as a member of the Oath Keepers, a far-right militia group whose founder was charged with seditious conspiracy and other counts in connection with the Jan. 6 insurrection.



  100. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Russian energy giant Gazprom has said that delivery of a turbine needed to keep gas flowing to Europe via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline was “impossible” due to sanctions on Moscow.

    Gazprom said in a statement:

    Sanctions regimes in Canada, in the European Union and in Britain, as well as the inconsistencies in the current situation concerning the contractual obligations of (turbine maker) Siemens make the delivery impossible.

    The statement risks further increasing concern [unsurprisingly] in European countries who suspect Moscow is looking for an excuse to delay the turbine’s return to Russia and further reduce its gas deliveries, AFP reports.

    Earlier on Wednesday, German chancellor Olaf Scholz accused Russia of blocking the delivery of the key turbine to throttle gas supplies to Europe, as he raised the possibility of keeping nuclear plants going.

    The continent’s biggest economy has been scrambling for energy sources to fill a gap left by a reduction in gas supplies from Moscow.

    The delayed return of the turbine from Canada, where the unit was being serviced, was behind an initial reduction in gas deliveries via the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline in June, according to Gazprom.

    Supplies via the energy link were further reduced to around 20 percent of capacity in late July, after Gazprom halted the operation of one of the last two operating turbines due to the “technical condition of the engine”.

  101. blf says

    Snark from the Grauniad, Anyone who thinks Birmingham was not on the map needs to just buy a map:

    I always loved those children’s books that offered a map that folded out of the cover. The Lord of the Rings set the standard, allowing you to trace Frodo’s travels through Middle-earth to the far-off lands of Mordor. It was only as an adult that I discovered that those fantasy worlds had been very much closer to home than I’d imagined.

    Like Tolkien, I grew up in Birmingham and it was a smile-inducing wonder to realise that many of the landmarks in the books were based on the geography of the author’s childhood — that the Shire itself was a recreation of the happiness of his infancy at Sarehole Mill; [… other examples]; and that the haunting Eye of Sauron was reportedly evoked by a memory of the grim weeks Tolkien spent recuperating at the university hospital from “trench fever” contracted in France in 1916, where the illuminated clock tower he could see through the window kept him awake.

    [Teh “U”K’s culture secretary] Nadine Dorries spent most of last week embarrassingly suggesting that the Commonwealth[colonial] Games might finally put Britain’s second city and the entire West Midlands — home to three million — “on the map”. Perhaps the culture secretary should take a day out on the excellent Birmingham Museums Tolkien Trail (and follow it up with a wander around Shakespeare’s Stratford and Dr Johnson’s Lichfield) to get her bearings.

    Excerpt from an article linked-to by the above snark, Nadine Dorries said that the Commonwealth Games put Birmingham on the map and people are not impressed:

    The Tory[Teh nasty party] MP who has a habit of putting her foot in it was doing the media rounds on Thursday morning ahead of tonight’s [Sunday July 28th] opening ceremony at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

    […] Dorries said: It’s putting Birmingham on the map, it’s putting the West Midlands on the map.

    She then went on to express how much the government have invested in the games and the legacy it will hopefully leave. That’s all well and good but claiming that a sports games which, at the time of writing, hasn’t even begun yet is responsible for getting eyes on a city that has a population of 1.149 million people and in 2017 attracted 41 million tourists seems a little farfetched.

    Another reason Birmingham is “on the map”, so to speak, Why the Birmingham Six’s story must not be forgotten: “It remains one of the gravest miscarriages of justice in British history. […]”

  102. says

    Oh, wow – Ben Collins is livetweeting the Alex Jones trial:

    Wow. Sandy Hook parents’ lawyer is revealing that Alex Jones’ lawyers sent him the contents of Jones’ phone BY MISTAKE.

    “12 days ago, your attorneys messed up and sent me a digital copy of every text” Jones has sent for years.

    “You know what perjury is?” the lawyer asks.

    Sandy Hook parents’ lawyer is now asking Jones about the times he has emailed about Sandy Hook over the last several years, despite testifying under oath he couldn’t find any emails about Sandy Hook. There are apparently a lot of them. One is on a screen right now.

    Even Jones is stunned by the fact Sandy Hook parents seem to have his emails. Jones just called it their lawyers’ “Perry Mason moment.” It’s shocking.

    Judge instructing the jury on the entire contents of Alex Jones’ phone, which was accidentally handed over from Jones’ lawyers to the Sandy Hook parents’ lawyers:

    “What we do know is that it was not properly turned over when it should have been.”

    These texts and emails are FINALLY revealing financials behind Infowars.

    Some days in 2018, InfoWars was making $800,000 a day.

    “Well after your deplatforming, your numbers keep getting better,” Sandy Hook parents’ lawyer says.

    If they keep that up, that’s ~$300 mill. a year.

    (Alex Jones says $800k a day was a really good week during CPAC, where they were doing better business.)

    Just want to add that Alex Jones’ latent cough came back in full force when his own texts, which he didn’t know the Sandy Hook parents’ lawyers had access to, appeared on a screen in the court room and he was asked to read one.

    Sandy Hook parents’ lawyer on a hot mic during a recess: “You know what nobody’s thought about yet? What happens when that phone goes to law enforcement.”

  103. says

    SC @139, thanks for that link.

    An excerpt I found meaningful:

    […] “As someone who’s been fascinated by the left side of the European and American political spectrum, I have to say that Jeremy Corbyn is someone I’ve looked up to at times,” journalist Oleksandra Povoroznyk told Byline Times. “So you can imagine my disappointment at the moment.

    “I’d be very surprised if Corbyn has actually spoken to Ukrainians or even knows any, because something I’ve noticed is that even the most well-meaning Western experts, even the most pro-Ukrainian ones, don’t actually want to listen to what Ukrainians are saying.

    “A lot of people in the West are denying Ukraine any sort of agency by claiming we’re constantly being manipulated by NATO or saying it’s a US proxy war and the West is forcing us to fight. None of these people are actually paying attention to what we’re actually saying. It’s sad and annoying.” […]

  104. says

    Humor from Andy Borowitz:

    Republicans in Kansas woke up to the dark prospect of life in a state where women have human rights, G.O.P. activists report.

    Harland Dorrinson, a Republican stalwart in Kansas for more than forty years, said that now, after voters in the state appeared to affirm women should be treated as humans, “I no longer recognize my Kansas.”

    “This is a slippery slope,” he said. “If women are granted bodily autonomy, it’s only a matter of time before they are permitted to marry who they want, wear what they want, eat what they want. I know I speak for many of my fellow-Republicans when I say I don’t want to live in a state like that.”

    Dorrinson said that he is contemplating leaving the state where he has lived his entire life but is unsure where he might go. “If this kind of nightmare can happen in Kansas, it can happen anywhere,” he said.

    Had Tuesday’s vote gone the other way, Dorrinson said, Republicans in the state had forecast a bright future for Kansas. “Next, we were hoping to roll back women’s right to vote,” he said, adding ruefully, “but it’s a little late for that now.”

    New Yorker link

  105. says

    Associated Press:

    The United Nations said Yemen’s warring parties agreed Tuesday to renew an existing truce for two more months after concerted international efforts. The already 4-month-old cease-fire has been the longest nationwide ease in fighting since the war began in the Arab world’s poorest country nearly eight years ago.

  106. says


    Pregnant Georgians can now list their fetus as a dependent on their tax returns. The Georgia Department of Revenue released new guidance this week establishing that the agency ‘will recognize any unborn child with a detectable human heartbeat … as eligible for the Georgia individual income tax dependent exemption.’

  107. says

    “Taiwan: ‘After reunification, we will do re-education’, says the Chinese ambassador to France”

    Video at the (Twitter) link. They’re speaking French – no subtitles. The whole thing is fairly unsettling, though not unexpected. He suggests that 10, 20 years ago most Taiwanese people were pro-unification and now most are against it; chalks this claimed change up to the effect of “extreme” political propaganda; and so tries to present “reeducation” as merely a means to counter this alleged indoctrination – after this, Taiwanese people will again come to favor unification. (This is telling given that he’s proposing “reeducation” after unification, so he’s talking about the “reeducation” of a population the majority of whom, he admits, are hostile to unification.) He also tries to compare this “reeducation,” in an obviously canned line delivered unconvincingly, to French schools teaching republican values (the BFM TV interviewer responds well to this ahistorical bullshit).

  108. says

    Idaho nears the fulfillment of Aryan Nations leader’s vision for creating a white-nationalist haven

    Part one of a two-part series

    Back in the 1970s and ‘80s—a period when white supremacists and far-right nationalists had been largely relegated to the fringes of American politics—the remnants of the movement devised a strategy for making a comeback: Create a “white homeland” by encouraging as many of their like-minded believers and sympathizers to move to the Pacific Northwest and gradually grow their numbers to achieve political dominance. One group from Southern California decided to put this plan into action: the Aryan Nations.

    Led by a former aeronautical engineer named Richard Butler, the neo-Nazis who went by the name Church of Jesus Christ-Christian—affiliated with the racist Christian Identity movement—targeted one state in particular: Idaho. They believed that its scenic rural countryside was a perfect setting: already home to an almost entirely white populace with a long history of arch-conservatism, it seemed like a ripe environment for spreading their ideology and quietly taking things over.

    Now, nearly 50 years after the Aryan Nations set up shop in the Idaho Panhandle, and more than 20 years after they were put out of business, Richard Butler’s vision for the state is becoming dangerously close to being fulfilled. A steady deluge of “white flight” newcomers from more populous states—particularly California—who see Idaho as a far-right political refuge has gradually turned the state into a haven for extremist politics, with an unmistakably bigoted, menacing, and violent ethos.

    The apotheosis of this transformation is the recent takeover of the state Republican Party apparatus by far-right “Patriot” extremists, who swept out every incumbent in leadership positions at the recent GOP convention, replacing them with radical ideologues. The new GOP chair, a legislator with John Birch Society credentials named Dorothy Moon, crowed: “We have to make sure with the Democrats coming at us with full force that we have our barriers up, our guns loaded and ready to keep this state free.”

    Most of the new Idaho GOP leadership features transplants who came to Idaho from other places like Missouri (Moon), Arkansas, and California. Their politics are from the extreme right: no-exception abortion bans, COVID denialism, Trumpist election conspiracism, and antigovernment paranoia. And the nexus of their organizing is a pair of entwined entities: the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee in Coeur d’Alene, and the paleo-libertarian Idaho Freedom Foundation, both overseen by the same man: California transplant Brent Regan.

    […] This tide has become a flood in recent years, as Idaho has led the country in population growth, with a large majority arriving from the suburbs of California cities.

    The attitudes they bring with them reflect the image of Idaho that was first promulgated in the 1980s by the Aryan Nations: a wholesome place dominated by conservative whites, a means of escaping the demographic and cultural changes—particularly the influx of nonwhite immigrants—occurring elsewhere.

    A homeland for hate

    The neo-Nazi strategy of creating a “white homeland” in the Pacific Northwest was first elucidated in the early 1970s by a Michigan-based Ku Klux Klan organizer named Robert Miles, who in 1971 had been convicted of plotting to bomb school buses in Pontiac. After his prison term, he began peddling the strategy to his fellow racist organizers, calling it the “Northwest Imperative.”

    He outlined the logic of the plan in a 1989 interview:

    If, for instance, 31 million people move to the Northwest—simply pack up, call up the United Van Lines and move up to Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon, Washington—and buy a house there or rent a house there, that’s not a violent movement.

    […] One of the neo-Nazi leaders who decided to act on Miles’ plan—dubbed the “Northwest Territorial Imperative”—was Richard Butler, who in 1976 purchased a parcel of land near Hayden Lake, about 10 miles north of Coeur d’Alene, and moved his Christian Identity church there from its original home in Lancaster, California. He built a number of buildings, including a churchhouse, and dubbed the property the Aryan Nations.

    It soon became a major convocation site for the American racist right, drawing hundreds of fellow white supremacists for their annual Aryan Congress gatherings, which included neofascist parades through downtown Coeur d’Alene, and inevitably concluded with a nighttime cross-burning, with full press coverage.

    […] The “Northwest Imperative” would be realized, he explained, by drawing in people who might not be explicit white supremacists like themselves, but were sympathetic with their goals. But it key to the plan was inmigration “by White nationalists moving to the area, buying land together or adjacent to each other, and having families consisting of five or ten children. … We will win the Northwest by out-breeding our opponents and keeping our children away from the insane and destructive values of the Establishment.”

    This meant that a number of the people being drawn to the Northwest were radical extremists with a willingness to use violence [snipped examples]

    Among the people drawn to the Aryan Nations who were not dedicated racists, however, were people like Randy and Vicki Weaver, a survivalist couple from Iowa who moved to the Panhandle to prepare for the end of the world, and were drawn to Butler’s church by its apocalypticism and paranoia. In 1992, after Weaver refused to become an informant against someone he had befriended at the Aryan Nations, he got into a gunfight with federal marshals that turned into a lethal standoff with the FBI at his home on Ruby Ridge, in rural Boundary County. That standoff is credited with inspiring right-wing ideologues to found and promote the antigovernment “Patriot” militia movement.

    Butler’s operation was put out of business by a Southern Poverty Law Center lawsuit in 2000, and Butler himself died two years later. But the trends he had helped set into motion kept on going.

    ‘I’m no racist’

    Just as Miles had predicted, the national news coverage of the Aryan Nations had implanted an image of Idaho as a predominantly white place congenial to far-right politics in the broader public imagination so that, by the 1990s, an increasing number of newcomers began arriving from other states looking for those conditions.

    Idaho only became a deep-red Republican state in the past two decades. Prior to that, it was a classic “purple” state, electing a mix of Democrats and Republicans; famous Democrats such as Senator Frank Church and Interior Secretary Cecil Andrus were elected statewide then, largely on the back of sturdy support in northern Idaho.

    Idaho’s shift began in earnest in the 1990s when “white flight” from California and elsewhere brought hordes of authoritarian conservatives fleeing the brown people. It transformed the region, including eastern Washington State and Utah. […]

    The largest influx of such voters came from California:

    Between 1991 and 1993, a reported 28,202 Californians moved to Idaho, making up nearly 27% of the state’s 98,446 new residents. In the same period, 5,315 of those California transplants moved to Kootenai County, nearly 40% of its newcomers.

    California provides more than twice as many emigres to Idaho as second-place Washington state. And even many of the latter, according to Idaho state transportation officials who tally newcomer origins through auto license plate transfers, are once-removed Californians who moved on after finding the growing congestion of Seattle and Puget Sound too much like home.

    One of them, a former Thousand Oaks stockbroker, hated the cultural conditions and traffic of Southern California, as he told the Los Angeles Times: “I’m no racist, but I just got tired of being a minority in Los Angeles, tired of explaining English to 7-Eleven clerks and counting their change for them.”

    The most prominent contingent was cops. Over 500 California police officers moved to northern Idaho by the end of the ’90s, leading locals to dub the Panhandle region “LAPD North.” [I did not know that.]

    The most prominent of these departing cops was Mark Fuhrman, the LAPD detective who committed perjury about his use of racist epithets during the O.J. Simpson trial and who had been exposed as a flaming bigot (one ex-girlfriend testified that he had told her, “The only good n—–r is a dead n——r”). Fuhrman moved to Sandpoint in 1995 after retiring from the force, and his fellow ex-California cops living in the region angrily defended him: “I don’t attach any significance to the fact Fuhrman might be looking to retire up here,” one said. “It’s only natural to want to retire someplace that is less intense and reflects more genuine American values.”

    Idaho’s inmigration trend […] has intensified to tsunami levels. And with that tide, not only has the number and percentage of Republicans expanded, but the levels of right-wing extremists among them have risen to previously unseen levels.

    A 2017 survey of political attitudes among Idaho newcomers found that 60% of them identified as Republicans, while only 25% were Democrats, compared to 54% of native Idahoans who identified with the GOP. […]

    The data demolishes a popular myth in Idaho that all the people moving to the state are going to turn the state liberal—a legend that was given fresh legs recently by Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, who claimed that this supposed transformation was part of Democrats’ nefarious campaign to “replace” conservative white voters.

    However, as KTVB-TV news staff found when it examined the data from the previous four election cycles, the reality is precisely the opposite: the inmigration was turning Idaho even farther to the right politically. […]

    Extremism in the real world

    At the same time and more broadly, movement conservatism under Donald Trump has become host to an overlapping array of conspiracy theorists, white and Christian nationalists, and anti-democratic authoritarians, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic and in the aftermath of Trump’s 2020 electoral defeat. In Idaho, that has translated into a surge of far-right politics both within the halls of power and among the general populace.

    […] They all generically call themselves “Patriots,” but they share a broad range of political worldviews […]

    Allowing these extremists to participate in mainstream circles without being shunned, he said, becomes an invitation to spread their ideology. “Neo-Nazis and other folks like that are really kind of looking to take advantage of this moment of people questioning and trying to radicalize these folks even further, which is really, really troubling,” Piggott said.

    […] A band of neo-Nazi terrorists who moved to Idaho in 2020—mostly ex-Marines who had met at boot camp in North Carolina—planned to target electrical infrastructure (mainly transformer stations) in the Pacific Northwest in order to knock out power to targeted regions where they hoped to use the distraction to carry out political assassinations of leading leftist figure in the region. The men even conducted paramilitary training sessions in the Idaho desert to prepare. The FBI arrested them in October 2020.

    […] Buying property in remote areas that are already predominantly white and right-leaning, networking with locals, training, farming, and stockpiling.

    […] As time goes on in this conflict, we will expand our territories and slowly take back the land that is rightfully ours … As we build our forces and our numbers, we will move into the urban areas and clear them out. This will be a ground war very reminiscent of Iraq as we will essentially be facing an insurgent force made up of criminals and gang members.”

    Ammon Bundy, the notorious leader of the 2016 Malheur National Wildlife Refuge standoff—who had moved to Emmett from Nevada in 2015—led a protest outside a Boise hospital claiming that local authorities had “kidnapped” one of the children of his cohorts […]

    After the arrest, Bundy’s massive network of online supporters descended on the players in the controversy, doxxing health care, social workers, and police officers involved in the case […]

    At an October 2021 Turning Point USA event hosted by Charlie Kirk at the Nampa Civic Center, one of the audience members—later identified as a California transplant—asked Kirk: “At this point, we’re living under a corporate and medical fascism. This is tyranny. When do we get to use the guns?”

    The crowd whooped, and he continued: “No, and I’m not, that’s not a joke, I’m not saying it like that. I mean literally, where’s the line? How many elections are they gonna steal before we kill these people?”

    […] When the video hit social media and went viral, most Idaho Republicans were silent—except for the local Republican legislator from Nampa, Rep. Ben Adams, who tweeted that it was a reasonable question: “Our Republic would not exist without this kind of rhetoric. The question is fair, but Charlie Kirk probably isn’t the person to ask.” (Adams is also a transplant who was born in Florida.)

    In late April, a group of far-right bikers called the Panhandle Patriots, spouting right-wing “groomer” rhetoric, announced their intention to “confront” the annual Pride in the Park event in Coeur d’Alene with a counter-event that would emphasize guns, then later backed off to rebrand it as a “day of prayer.” When the event arrived on June 11, a number of gun-toting Christian nationalists showed up to mill around on the event’s periphery.

    The scene reached its climax when a group of 31 masked men from the neofascist Patriot Front organization tried to invade the park by arriving en masse in a rented U-Haul truck, but were arrested just outside the park by Coeur d’Alene police. Inside the vehicle, investigators found a detailed plan for starting the riot in the park and then expanding the violence into the city’s downtown.

    One of the key planners of the invasion attempt was a Patriot Front member from Idaho, while other key participants lived in the nearby Spokane, Washington, area. But their plans attracted other members of the group from as far away as Texas and Alabama.

    […] “We take over that state’s capitol, small towns, and local politics,” Chapman [Notorious Proud Boys figure Kyle “Based Stickman” Chapman] wrote. “Institute laws that benefit us and eventually vie for secession.”

    Boise resident Cherie Buckner-Webb—an African American, as well as a fourth-generation Idahoan—observed to the Statesman: “There’s a critical mass that is no longer doing this in the shadows,” Buckner-Webb said. “Crosses used to get burned in your yard in the dark of night, or you covered your face. These people are bold. They’re emboldened.“

    Next: The extremist GOP takeover

  109. says

    Not good! – BBC – “Ukraine war: IAEA says Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant out of control”:

    A huge nuclear power plant occupied by Russia during its invasion of Ukraine is “completely out of control”, The head of the UN’s nuclear agency says.

    Rafael Grossi was quoted by the Associated Press news agency as saying the Zaporizhzhia plant needed an inspection and repairs.

    “You have a catalogue of things that should never be happening in any nuclear facility,” he said.

    Europe’s biggest nuclear plant is dangerously close to the fighting.

    In 1986, northern Ukraine was the site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster when a reactor at the Chernobyl plant exploded.

    Russian forces also seized Chernobyl soon after the invasion on 24 February this year but withdrew after five weeks. Computers at the site were looted or damaged but actual nuclear equipment at the decommissioned plant was not affected.

    More at the link.

  110. says

    Oz Katerji:

    The leading figures on Britain’s organised far left have in recent days have basically come out and said: “you can’t hope to defeat fascism, so surrender”.

    These are people that genuinely think they would have fought at Cable Street.

    Whether you like it or not, Ukraine resists, Ukraine is defiant, Ukraine is free. What a failed political project run by cranks and apologists for Russian violence has to say on the matter changes nothing.

  111. raven says

    Another fallacy about Trans children proves to be wrong.
    Social contagion does not explain why Trans people are…Trans people.
    And Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria still doesn’t exist.

    The Hill
    New research challenges claim that youth identify as transgender due to ‘social contagion’

    Brooke Migdon Wed, August 3, 2022 at 12:29 PM·4 min read

    A paper published Wednesday in the journal Pediatrics disproves popular theories used mostly by conservative politicians and those in the medical field seeking to restrict access to gender-affirming health care for transgender youth.

    Transgender adolescents do not identify as transgender because they are influenced by external factors like social media or their peers, according to the paper, and cisgender youth do not identify as transgender to flee the stigma of being gay or lesbian.

    The paper’s lead author told Changing America that he hopes his and his colleague’s research will be used to eradicate the use of unfounded theories in political discourse and policy making.

    Gender dysphoria is not driven by “social contagion” and transgender youth do not identify as transgender to escape stigma related to their sexual orientation, new research suggests — directly rebuking two popular theories embraced by conservative politicians and a small percentage of the medical community seeking to restrict access to gender-affirming health care for transgender young people.

    In a paper published Wednesday in the journal Pediatrics, researchers found that the percentage of adolescents who openly identified as transgender declined between 2017 and 2019, which challenges a theory that the number of transgender youth in the U.S. is climbing due to the influence of things like social media and peer pressure.

    In April, Missouri Rep. Suzie Pollock, a Republican who sponsored legislation this year that would have stripped doctors that provide gender-affirming care to minors of their medical licenses, said the “root cause” of gender dysphoria is abuse, mental disorders and “social contagion.”

    Rep. Gary Click (R), the sponsor of a similar measure in Ohio, said while testifying that he believed young people who identify as transgender are often influenced to do so by social media or a “desire to fit into a group or escape an adverse experience.”

    America is changing faster than ever! Add Changing America to your Facebook or Twitter feed to stay on top of the news.

    “Sadly, work in this area has become highly politicized,” Jack Turban, an incoming assistant professor in child and adolescent psychiatry at the University of California San Francisco and the paper’s lead author, told Changing America on Wednesday.

    “This is difficult to watch for those of us who have dedicated our careers to supporting the mental health of young people,” he said. “We regularly see young trans patients who become more anxious and depressed as they watch politicians stigmatize them on large national platforms.”

    In states like Florida and Alabama, where legislation targeting transgender young people has become law, “things are even worse,” Turban said.

    In the study published Wednesday, Turban and his colleagues analyzed data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Youth Risk Behavior Survey — a biennial survey distributed to high school students across the country.

    While the CDC survey does not require states to collect or report information on adolescents’ gender identity (questions about sexual orientation have only been administered since 2015), 16 states opted to do so in both 2017 and 2019, culminating in a sample of roughly 100,000 young people per year.

    Using that dataset, researchers found that most transgender youth between 2017 and 2019 were assigned male at birth — a discovery that challenges another fringe theory that adolescents assigned female at birth are more likely to identify as transgender because of social media, peer pressure and other external influences.

    From 2017 to 2019, the percent of transgender youth assigned female at birth fell from 1.9 percent to 1.4 percent of the transgender population, the study found.

    The paper disproves the “social contagion” hypothesis that stems from a 2018 study of online parent forums. According to that study’s findings, children are more likely to experience “rapid onset gender dysphoria” when they spend more time using the internet or have friends who are transgender.

    That theory has been disproved by multiple studies published in peer-reviewed journals including The Journal of Pediatrics and The Sociological Review.

    Joerg Heber, then-editor-in-chief of the journal PLOS ONE, which published the original study, issued an apology shortly after it was released for “oversights that occurred during the original assessment of the study.”

    Researchers on Wednesday also found that data did not support a theory that there is a national trend of cisgender youth identifying as transgender to flee the stigma of being gay or lesbian.

    Comparing rates of bullying victimization among transgender adolescents and cisgender sexual minority adolescents, researchers found that rates of victimization were much higher among transgender young people.

    According to Turban, experts working in transgender health care have never given much credence to the idea that lesbian, gay or bisexual youth identify as transgender to escape judgement or torment from their peers.

    “That simply isn’t what we generally see in clinical practice,” he said.

    Turban said he hopes his research will be used to eradicate the use of unfounded theories in political discourse and policy making, which is what motivated him and his team to take on the study in the first place.

    “My hope is that we can move away from a politicized discourse about trans youth and toward one that is compassionate and evidence based,” he said.

  112. says

    “New research challenges claim that youth identify as transgender due to ‘social contagion’.”

    A few years from now, even this headline will seem ridiculous – that such a claim would ever be taken seriously and research needed to rebut it.

  113. says

    So from the limited bits I’ve been able to stomach…the TERF coverage of the Kansas vote, the Lionesses’ victory, and so forth consists entirely of weird language policing around “girls, “women,” “people,” etc. It’s sad and bizarre. Their thinking is so poisoned that they can’t even just enjoy these things or straightforwardly stand up for human rights.

  114. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 139 & 148

    What next? Bernie Sanders starts speaking glowingly of Caleb Maupin?

  115. says

    SC @147, Yikes! That is really, really scary news.

    More text from the link you provided:

    […] The plant is still operating, with Ukrainian staff under Russian control.

    At a news conference at the UN headquarters in New York, Mr Grossi said: “The situation is very fragile. Every principle of nuclear safety has been violated one way or the other and we cannot allow that to continue.”

    The IAEA’s director-general said he was trying to put together a mission as soon as possible to visit the plant but this required the approval of both the Ukrainian and Russian sides, as well as UN authorisation, given the risks involved in visiting the war zone.

    In June, Ukraine’s state nuclear company said Ukraine had not invited the IAEA – and any visit would legitimise Russia’s presence there. [Surely that has changed now??]

    This week, Mr Grossi said he and his team needed protection to reach Zaporizhzhia – which meant the co-operation of both Russia and Ukraine. “I’m pleading to both sides to let this mission proceed,” he said.

    IAEA contacts with staff at the plant had been “patchy” and the supply chain of equipment and spares had been disrupted, Mr Grossi explained to AP. There was also a lot of nuclear material which needed to be inspected, he added.

    “While this war rages on, inaction is unconscionable,” he said. “If an accident occurs at Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, we will not have a natural disaster to blame – we will have only ourselves to answer to. We need everyone’s support.” […]

    The Ukrainian staff at the plant must also be near the breaking point.

  116. says

    Senate votes 95-1 to add Sweden, Finland to NATO

    The Senate on Wednesday voted overwhelmingly to approve a resolution ratifying Sweden’s and Finland’s accession to the NATO, sending another signal that Congress remains unified in opposing Russian aggression toward Ukraine and Europe.

    The Senate voted 95 to 1 to approve the resolution, with every member of the Democratic caucus and most Republicans voting in support. It ratifies protocols of accession that NATO allies signed on July 5.

    Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), who argued in a recent op-ed that the United States should focus on containing China instead of expanding NATO, was the only Republican to vote “no.” Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) voted “present” on the resolution. […]

    Even Mitch McConnell was onboard:

    The resolution was a top priority of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who visited Sweden and Finland in May as part of a congressional delegation that also met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

    McConnell insisted the Senate ratify Sweden’s and Finland’s NATO membership before leaving for the monthlong August recess.

    “There is just no question that admitting these robust democratic countries with modern economies and capable, interoperable militaries will only strengthen the most successful military alliance in human history,” McConnell said on the Senate floor.

    McConnell noted that Sweden and Finland already participate in NATO- and American-led missions and that Finland already meets NATO’s target that members spend at least 2 percent of their national gross domestic product on defense.

    He suggested that Republican colleagues who voted against expanding NATO made a mistake, arguing that standing up to Russian aggression will send a strong message to Chinese leaders.

    “Even closer cooperation with these partners will help us counter Russia and China. Their accession will make NATO stronger and America more secure,” he said.

    “If any senator is looking for a defensible excuse to vote ‘no,’ I wish them good luck. This is a slam dunk for national security that deserves unanimous bipartisan support,” he added. […]

  117. says



    DENNIS PRAGER (HOST): My friends, the anger over the fraud that was committed in the last election has nothing to do with who should be the nominee in this election. That’s an emotional argument. I understand the emotion. There is no doubt in my mind there was cheating. I have no proof.

    He knows it. He has no proof.

    I only have arguments for the fact there was massive cheating.

    Good arguments? No, he feels the arguments. How could there possibly be so many people in America who literally wouldn’t piss on Donald Trump if he was on fire?

    I don’t know who won the election. Ok? To be honest, I don’t know.

    We know who.

    But, I can’t say it was honestly won and I can’t say for certain it was dishonestly won.

    The first one. According to members of Trump’s own administration, even!

    The only thing I am certain of is that Democrats cheat whenever possible and that there was cheating in this election.

    He’s certain of it. He has no proof.

    That has nothing to do with who should be the nominee. Nothing. I am not choosing a nominee based on my anger over the last election. I am choosing a nominee based on that person’s ability to win.

    He’s not being emotional.

    I said this when Donald Trump did not go to Georgia, or did not go enough. I don’t remember which it was. But Georgia was enough — Georgia, the two runoffs which decided everything. It enabled this horrible human being named Joe Biden to govern as a dictator because he has the split Senate which is therefore in Democrats’ hands because of the vice presidency.

    Yes we hate that particular kink in our system where Democratic presidents with 50/50 Senates get to govern as dictators. He’s sure that’s how it works. He has no proof, though.

    And he’s not being emotional.

    Good punditry, Dennis, as usual.

    Sheesh. Head/desk. Prager University dunderhead …

    Video is available at the link.

  118. KG says

    I spent a fair amount of time in Birmingham in the 1990s. My partner (now wife) was living and working there – not far from Sarehole Mill. I was working successively in Leeds and Aberystwyth, but spent a lot of weekends and time off there. Not by any means my favourite city, but pleasant enough in parts, and apparently the best place outwith South Asia for baltis – the vegetable and mushroom ones served in the Indian restaurant near her home were certainly the best I’ve ever tasted. In any case, I never had any trouble in finding the place, so it was definitely on the map even then!

    As it happens, I’ve just been rereading a series of three novels largely set in Birmingham: Jonathan Coe’s The Rotters’ Club, The Closed Circle, and Middle England, set respectively in the 1970s, 1990s and 2010s, and together making up something of a “condition of England” series, with a lot of social and political history intertwined with the main characters’ lives from adolescence to late middle age. The Birmingham pub bombing features in the first, one of the characters being killed in the explosion. In the third, a secondary character (a Londoner) points out that “Sarehole” is an anagram of “arsehole”!

  119. KG says

    SC@139, 148, 158,
    My opinion of Corbyn has shifted from ambivalence to disgust. I’m even having to question whether a Labour win in 2019 would have been worse than what happened – although I’ve a feeling that in that alternate universe, Corbyn would have been ejected from the leadership (and hence from the premiership) if he’d said anythnig similar. As far as I can judge, support for Corbyn’s view is minuscule within Labour – although as a non-member, I could be wrong.

  120. raven says

    Paul Krugman has an article on the economic sanctions against Russia.
    .1. They aren’t working too well.
    For various reasons, including the sanctions, oil and gas prices are up. And Russia is having no problem selling their oil to non-European countries.
    .2. They are having trouble buying stuff though including advanced microchips.
    That has hit their economy hard.
    .3. The sanctions on their own aren’t going to end the war in Ukraine.

    .4. I’ll add my own 7 cents here. Russia has proven to be an unreliable supplier and trading partner. It is also a terrorist state that routinely threatens to nuke everyone for some reason or no reason. I’m not sure why Germany is buying Russian gas when Russia just threatened to vaporize Berlin.
    There is a lot of natural gas in the world e.g. Central Asia has huge reserves. Even Germany itself has natural gas deposits that they could drill into. Plus the LNG trade.
    They really need to get away from Russian natural gas for their own national security.


    Who’s Embargoing Whom?
    Aug. 2, 2022 NYTimes

    The other day, my CUNY and Stone Center colleague Branko Milanovic suggested that it would be interesting to “compare Napoleon’s continental blockade against Great Britain to the current sanctions against Russia.” As it happened, I was already on the topic. I had just read Andrew Roberts’s “Napoleon: A Life” and was thinking about the parallels.

    The parallels are not, in fact, very good. But laying out the differences is itself, I believe, a useful exercise, and there are other historical examples of trade embargoes in times of war that come closer to what’s happening now.

    So, for those not familiar with the history, a potted summary: At the beginning of the 19th century, Britain and France were locked in a peculiar stalemate — the British unbeatable at sea, France very nearly unbeatable on land. Napoleon tried to break this stalemate with economic warfare, closing the ports of Europe to British commerce. But his blockade was leaky, and his attempts to plug the leaks led him into disastrous military ventures — first a bloody quagmire in Spain, then a catastrophic invasion of Russia.

    What does this have to do with the current situation? Not much. Let’s fast-forward to 2022.

    The conventional wisdom on Feb. 24, I think, was that Russia would win a quick military victory in Ukraine, but then face a cash shortage as the West embargoed its exports. This has not come to pass.

    On the military side, Russia’s attempt at a quick seizure of Ukraine’s major cities ended with huge losses and a humiliating retreat. Russia then shifted to a grinding, artillery-driven battle of attrition in the Donbas but gained only a few square miles of ground, again at the cost of heavy losses. That attack more or less stalled out in mid-June, and more recently Western weapons seem to have tipped the balance of power in Ukraine’s favor, although the front lines remain static, at least for now.

    On the other hand, Western attempts to restrict Russian exports have been a bust. Russian oil is still finding its way to world markets, and if anything, the country appears to be flush with cash.

    But while Russia is having no problem selling stuff, it’s having a lot of trouble buying stuff. Sanctions on Russia’s exports have, as I said, been a bust, but sanctions on its imports — refusal to sell Russia essential goods — have been more successful than, as far as I know, anyone expected. Even nations that aren’t part of the coalition imposing sanctions, including China, have sharply cut their exports to Russia:

    None of this would have made sense in the Napoleonic era, because international trade was much simpler then. Sanctions appear to be restricting Russian industry because so much modern trade consists not of consumer goods but of industrial inputs. That wasn’t true in, say, 1810, with the main exception being cotton — which didn’t come from areas Napoleon controlled.

    Also, in 1810, there weren’t many multinational businesses. Today, a company that manufactures goods in China — even if it’s Chinese-owned — is probably reluctant to sell potentially strategic goods to Russia out of fear that it may find itself sanctioned in other, more important markets, like the United States and the European Union.

    So economic sanctions against Russia appear to have been surprisingly effective, just not in the way everyone expected. That said, there are no indications I’m aware of that the economic cost of the sanctions is leading to any moderation in Russian policy. What they’re doing instead is crimping Russia’s military production, which is a real problem for Putin, given the continuing inflow of Western weapons into Ukraine.

    But wait, that’s not the end of the story, because there’s another de facto embargo underway. Early in the war, supporters of Ukraine pleaded with European nations — Germany in particular — to stop buying Russian natural gas; they didn’t. But now Russia is, in effect, sanctioning its own gas exports. It’s not an explicitly announced policy, but Russia has been reducing deliveries to European markets, pretty clearly in an attempt to damage the European economy and increase political pressure for Europe to stop supporting Ukraine.

    Gas prices spiked in February with the Russian invasion, but quickly subsided to more or less the pre-invasion level. They didn’t begin a sustained rise until mid-June. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this upward break corresponds with the point when even the Russians realized that their Donbas offensive wasn’t going to produce a decisive breakthrough.

    Everything suggests that this was when Russia began limiting gas deliveries. In effect, Russia, not the West, is now the player trying to use economic warfare as a substitute for its inability to prevail on the battlefield.

    The closest historical parallel I can find is the embargo on cotton exports imposed by the Confederacy early in the Civil War, in an attempt to force Britain to intervene on the side of the South. This embargo didn’t last long, but by the time it was repealed, it was moot: The Union navy was blockading Southern ports anyway. Needless to say, the embargo didn’t work.

    Will Russia’s ploy work better? I wish I could be more sure than I am about European resolve, especially given high inflation and the high risk of recession (which is higher there than it is in the United States). On the other hand, the nations that seem most likely to waver, especially Germany and Italy, have been lagging in their arms deliveries anyway; Russia’s stealth gas embargo is unlikely to deter crucial shipments from the United States, Britain and Poland, among others.

    The truth is that it is hard to find historical examples of successful economic warfare unless you count blockades that were themselves a form of military action — like the U.S. submarine campaign that devastated Japan’s economy during World War II. In the end, the war in Ukraine will probably be decided on the battlefield.

  121. KG says

    I’m not sure why Germany is buying Russian gas when Russia just threatened to vaporize Berlin. – raven@163

    That’s easy: lack of an immediately available alternative. Gas that could be available next decade, next year or even next month, can’t be burned today.

  122. says


    GOP candidates reject primary defeats, too

    After nearly two years of the Big Lie, some Republicans are applying ridiculous election conspiracy theories to their own primary defeats.

    A couple of months ago, Ryan Kelley, a far-right estate agent, was arrested and charged with crimes related to the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. That wouldn’t have been especially notable, except the Michigan Republican was also running for governor.

    In the immediate aftermath of his arrest, Kelley’s public profile received a boost, and one poll showed him narrowly leading the crowded GOP field. That said, his campaign ultimately faltered and in this week’s gubernatorial primary, Kelley finished fourth out of five candidates.

    At least, that’s what the actual vote tallies show. As The Detroit News reported, the failed candidate isn’t conceding and didn’t appear ready to accept the results.

    Real estate broker Ryan Kelley, who finished in fourth place in Michigan’s GOP primary race for governor and was 25 percentage points behind the winner [!], Tudor Dixon, was the first candidate to question the results. The Allendale man posted a statement at about 1:24 a.m. on some of his social media platforms. Then, at about 5 a.m., he released the same message on his official Facebook page.

    Kelley described the primary results as a “predetermined outcome,” and called his party’s nominee the “predetermined winner.” He called on the state GOP to support “a publicly supervised hand recount to uphold election integrity.”

    This comes a week after election officials in Michigan expressed concerns that conspiracy theories might lead some local Republican canvassers to refuse to certify primary results.

    At first blush, it might be tempting to scoff at occasional sore losers, but the larger pattern is more discouraging. Much of the GOP started by embracing Donald Trump’s Big Lie about the 2020 race, and Republicans are now applying those conspiratorial principles to other races — including their own.

    NPR recently highlighted the crop of GOP candidates “who insist they won their elections, facts be damned.”

    While Trump has most notably spent the last 18 months denying his 2020 election defeat, despite clear evidence he lost, he’s not the only one. During this election cycle, candidates across the country have refused to concede — even in races that are not remotely close.

    […] the list of such GOP candidates isn’t short, and it is growing.

    The Associated Press recently published a round-up of these losing candidates, highlighting primary races in Colorado, Nevada, and South Carolina. Axios found related instances in Florida and Georgia.

    In some cases, losing Republican candidates simply whine about fraud that they can’t prove, but in other instances, the GOP candidates who fell far short have pushed for recounts and even filed lawsuits based on their theories.

    None of this is healthy. Democracies work when candidates and parties accept legitimate results, win or lose. When much of one party, fueled by absurd lies, decides to only accept elections when Americans vote the way they like, it erodes the entire system.

    Aren’t people tired of this schtick in which Republican candidates whine about non-existent election fraud?

  123. says

    Ukraine Invasion Day 162: large-scale operations yet to come

    […] Key Takeaways

    Unconfirmed social media reports suggest that Iran may have sent the first batch of drones to Russia and sent pilots and maintenance personnel to train on the Russian Su-35, potentially suggesting that Iran may seek to use recent aviation agreements to facilitate the acquisition of Russian combat aircraft.

    Russian forces conducted unsuccessful offensive operations northeast and northwest of Kharkiv City.

    Russian forces conducted limited ground attacks northwest of Slovyansk and east of Siversk.

    Russian forces made marginal gains southeast of Bakhmut and continued offensive operations to the northeast and southeast of Bakhmut.

    Russian forces made incremental advances around Avdiivka and are continuing attempts to push southwest of Avdiivka.

    Russian forces launched two assaults in northern Kherson Oblast and are continuing to redeploy troops to the Southern Axis.

    Russian federal subjects are forming new volunteer battalions in Novosibirsk, Saratov, Ulyanovsk, and Kurgan Oblasts, and are changing time periods for enlistment compensations.

    Ukrainian civilians are continuing to resist the Russian occupation with acts of civil disobedience and partisan sabotage as the Kremlin considers longer-term methods of population control in occupied Ukraine.

    Map at the link.

  124. tomh says

    Biden Issues Executive Order On Access To Reproductive Health Care Services
    August 4, 2022

    Yesterday, President Biden issued an Executive Order on Securing Access to Reproductive and Other Healthcare Services (full text). The White House also issued a Fact Sheet explaining the Executive Order. The Executive Order reads in part:

    There have been numerous reports of women denied health- and life-saving emergency care, as providers fearful of legal reprisal delay necessary treatment for patients until their conditions worsen to dangerous levels. There are also reports of women of reproductive age being denied prescription medication at pharmacies — including medication that is used to treat stomach ulcers, lupus, arthritis, and cancer — due to concerns that these medications, some of which can be used in medication abortions, could be used to terminate a pregnancy. Reportedly, a healthcare provider, citing a State law restricting abortion, even temporarily stopped providing emergency contraception.

    As it remains the policy of my Administration to support women’s access to reproductive healthcare services, including their ability to travel to seek abortion care in States where it is legal, I am directing my Administration to take further action to protect access to reproductive healthcare services and to address the crisis facing women’s health and public health more broadly.

    The Executive Order among other things directs the HHS Secretary to advance access to Medicaid coverage for patients traveling across state lines for medical care. It also directs the Secretary to promote compliance with non-discrimination laws in obtaining medical care.

  125. says


    […] The optics of the speaker’s [House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s] meeting with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen were loaded with symbolism. Pelosi paid tribute to Tsai, saying, “We are so proud of your leadership, a woman president in one of the freest societies in the world.” The unspoken contrast was with the all-male leadership of the People’s Republic of China, where no woman has ascended to the Politburo Standing Committee, the highest political body, since its foundation in 1949. The understated presence and language of Taiwan’s popularly elected leader also stand in sharp relief to the bellicose rhetoric emanating from Beijing, which again repeated its warning that those who play with fire “will perish by it.”

    […] In roughly 24 hours, Chinese officials and propagandists went from warning of a possible war to pleading for patience as Beijing struggled to articulate a cohesive response to Nancy Pelosi’s landmark trip to Taiwan.


    […] It was the worst possible outcome for China—Pelosi demonstrated just how impotent China was to stop her visit, and she used the intense attention China’s histrionics generated to further shine a light on its despotic shortcomings. And after priming its public for action, the government looked weak in the face of what they declared to be Western provocation.


  126. says

    Ukraine Update

    […] Russia is trying to approach Bakhmut from three locations, while also pushing toward Pisky and Avdiivka down near Donetsk—two towns that have resisted Russian advances from the regional capital (and Russian stronghold) of Donetsk city for eight years. [map at the link] On that northern advance, Ukraine has established a solid defensive line from Bakhmut to Sivers’k. Russia hasn’t even gotten to that line, as Ukraine makes Russia pay for every meter it advances. Unlike Severodonetsk and Lysychansk, both isolated in a deep salient from Ukrainian artillery support, this line is well covered on the Ukrainian side.

    Meanwhile, the southern approach is so nonsensical, that war criminal Igor Girkin, who commanded the Donbas forces in the 2014 war, nearly lost his head over it.

    So, the Russian military thinking was marked by another genius military decision – while the ukrops are trying to achieve success on Kherson direction (where a breakthrough of a frontline in theory promises a deep penetration or at least an operational success), our military geniuses again decided to directly assault Avdiivka […]

    Naturally, I wish our fighters maximum success. But even in the most favourable case (that is when after fierce street battles and fights inside the depths of the enemy’s prepared defences, our forces will take Avdiivka etc), the frontline will only be moved to the next defensive line of the enemy – that is the same Sloviansk – Kramatorsk – Druzhovka – Konstantinovka – Kurakhovo line. Hardly any deeper. Although for me personally such success does not seem to be guaranteed at all (knowing the state of the DPR and RF Armed Forces infantry).

    Head-on assaults of this nature won’t get Russia far. They simply don’t have the man- and firepower to make it happen. This is patently futile. With Ukraine advancing in the Kherson area, perhaps Russian generals are feeling new pressure for action?

    This is an amazing statistic: [map and stats at the link, showing less than 19.4% of Ukraine being occupied by Russia, which is 0.02% more than Russia controlled at the end of June]

    That’s 63 square miles, the equivalent of taking a piece of land 10 miles deep, six miles wide. June even includes the Russian capture of Lysychansk! I did some quick checks, and here is the furthest Russia has been able to extend from its three major Donbas victories:

    Izyum: (captured April 1)
    15 kilometers south (to Dovhen’ke)

    Popasna: (captured May 7)
    22 kilometers north (to Lysychansk)
    24 kilometers south (closed small salient)
    16 kilometers west (toward Bakhmut)

    Lysychansk: (captured July 3)
    10 kilometers (maybe, likely less)

    Very few of those gains happened in July, obviously, and what little they got was mostly offset by Ukrainian’s own modest gains west of Izyum, in southern Donbas, and around Kherson.

    That Izyum approach hasn’t budged since Dovhen’ke fell on June 11. With the battle of Bohorodychne now over, Russia is actually moving backwards. So it’s no surprise seeing Russian war vehicles with the “V” markings—indicating Izyum advance—headed toward Kherson […]

    By all indications, Russia is shifting a huge number of their forces to Kherson where they are ripe for being cut off. Supplies and access to the Kherson region run through just three easy-to-cut railroads and a handful of bridges. You know how in some stupid movie, you see the heroes headed into a trap and you scream at the screen, because it’s so obvious it’s a trap?

    Yeah, that.

    But Russia doesn’t have a choice. This is the comeuppance of their under-resourced and now-decimated assault on Ukraine—they don’t have the forces to defend what they have. So they have to reinforce the one regional capital they managed to capture, and one that matters a great deal to Vladimir Putin’s Novorossiya (New Russia) fantasy—connecting Russia, Donbas, the entire Black Sea coast to Odesa, and into Moldova’s Transnistria region. If Russia loses Kherson, it hands Ukraine the biggest propaganda victory of the war since winning the Battle of Kyiv, and relegates Russia to the Donbas front, another humiliation for a supposed global superpower. Oh, and Crimea once again loses its water. Never underestimate the power of water.

    Yeah, that.

    But Russia doesn’t have a choice. This is the comeuppance of their under-resourced and now-decimated assault on Ukraine—they don’t have the forces to defend what they have. So they have to reinforce the one regional capital they managed to capture, and one that matters a great deal to Vladimir Putin’s Novorossiya (New Russia) fantasy—connecting Russia, Donbas, the entire Black Sea coast to Odesa, and into Moldova’s Transnistria region. If Russia loses Kherson, it hands Ukraine the biggest propaganda victory of the war since winning the Battle of Kyiv, and relegates Russia to the Donbas front, another humiliation for a supposed global superpower. Oh, and Crimea once again loses its water. Never underestimate the power of water. […]

  127. rorschach says

    KG @164,

    “That’s easy: lack of an immediately available alternative. Gas that could be available next decade, next year or even next month, can’t be burned today.”
    As you know I hadn’t lived in Germany for almost 20 years, and I was shocked to see the degree to which they had made themselves dependent on Russian gas when I returned. Former chancellor Schröder, just like Johnson and Trump, has turned out to be a Russian asset, but questions do have to be asked about Merkel too. Like, who thought this ever was a good idea, and why?
    The fact there are nuclear and coal lobbyists about now trying to seize the occasion is not surprising, but mostly a distraction. The renewables are there already, if the will existed to use them. But predictably, who is scheduled to cut down gas consumption in winter? Why, schools and the poor of course. While the German opposition leader flies in his private plane to another privileged politician’s wedding.

  128. ondrbak says

    rorschach @170

    Like, who thought this ever was a good idea, and why?

    It all goes back to the 70s and German then new policy of rapprochement with the Eastern block and the Soviet Union in particular. That’s when they started building gas pipelines from Siberia to Germany. The expressed idea was that closer and mutually beneficial economic ties would reduce the likelihood of military hostilities. Or maybe the German government just wanted cheap gas for the German industry, then as well as now.
    If you squinted hard enough you could say the idea kinda worked, until it didn’t.
    Here’s a long read from the Grauniad on the topic.

  129. says

    Here’s a link to today’s Guardian Ukraine liveblog, which is already closed for the day (they’ve been closing them earlier this week):

    Eight people have been killed and four have been wounded in Russian artillery shelling in the eastern Ukrainian town of Toretsk in Donetsk oblast on Thursday, the regional governor has said. The shelling hit a public transport stop where people had gathered, the governor for the area, Pavlo Kyrylenko, wrote on Telegram. Three children were among the wounded, he said.

    The UN is conducting a fact-finding mission in response to requests from Russia and Ukraine after 53 Ukrainian prisoners of war were killed in an explosion at a barracks in separatist-controlled Olenivka….

    A US official accused Moscow of preparing to plant fake evidence to make it look like the recent mass killing of Ukrainian prisoners in an attack on a Russian-controlled prison was caused by Ukraine….

    Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, wants to talk directly to China’s leader, Xi Jinping, in the hope China can use its influence with Russia to bring the war to an end. According to a report in the South China Morning Post, Zelenskiy said: “It’s a very powerful state. It’s a powerful economy. So [it] can politically, economically influence Russia. And China is [also a] permanent member of the UN security council.” So far, China has refused to condemn Russia’s invasion and Xi Jinping told Putin it would support Russia’s “sovereignty and security”.

    A Moscow court has convicted the US basketball player Brittney Griner on drug charges, sentencing her to nine years in prison and a 1m rouble fine in a politically charged verdict that could lead to a prisoner swap with the United States. Griner, a basketball talent who played in Russia during off-seasons from the Phoenix Mercury, was arrested for cannabis possession in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport in February.

    The US Senate has ratified Finland and Sweden’s accession to Nato, voting 95-1 [Hawley] in support. The US is the 23rd member state to ratify what would be the most significant expansion of the 30-member alliance since the 1990s as it responds to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. “This historic vote sends an important signal of the sustained, bipartisan US commitment to Nato, and to ensuring our alliance is prepared to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow,” the president, Joe Biden, said in a statement. All 30 Nato members must ratify the accession before Finland and Sweden can become members.

    The head of the United Nations nuclear watchdog has again appealed for access to a Ukrainian nuclear power plant now controlled by Russian forces to determine whether it was a source of danger….

    The first shipment of grain to leave Ukraine under a deal to ease Russia’s naval blockade has reached Turkey….

    Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has called the behaviour of the ex German chancellor Gerhard Schröder “disgusting”. The former German leader has come under fire after he went on holiday to Moscow and had a private meeting with Vladimir Putin. Schröder told German media in a lengthy interview he had nothing to apologise for over his friendship with the Russian president.

    Nato members are working closely with defence companies to ensure Ukraine gets more supplies of weapons and equipment to be prepared for the long haul in its war with Russia, the Nato secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, said on Thursday. Stoltenberg told Reuters in an interview: “We are providing a lot of support but we need to do even more and be prepared for the long haul.”

  130. says

    The Christian Right Fires A Warning Shot At Senate Republicans

    Obergefell has become the new Roe.

    After passing the House with the support of 47 Republicans, the Respect for Marriage Act, which would protect marriage rights for same-sex couples if the Supreme Court were to overturn its 2015 decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, faces much dimmer prospects in the Senate. There is one reason why: the Christian right still controls the Republican Party. Movement leaders know it took 50 years to reverse Roe, and are committed to a similar strategy to undermine and eventually overturn Obergefell. With abundant clues in the Supreme Court’s June decision overturning Roe that LGBTQ rights could be next on the chopping block […]

    […] South Dakota’s John Thune and Louisiana’s Bill Cassidy accused Democrats of introducing the bill to distract from inflation. […] Florida’s Marco Rubio called it “a stupid waste of time,” and claimed gay Floridians are “pissed off” about something else — high gas prices. […] Maine’s Susan Collins, who was one of the bill’s four original Republican supporters, came up with the laughing-crying emoji argument that, because Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) had struck a surprise deal on Democratic legislative priorities late last month, she would struggle to win fellow Republicans’ support for the marriage bill. “[I]t was a very unfortunate move that destroys the many bipartisan efforts that are under way,” she told HuffPost.

    These were opportune but risible excuses. The reality is these Republicans were already seeing an avalanche of opposition from Christian right political advocacy organizations. Family Research Council Action, the political arm of the Family Research Council church, began calling the bill the “(Dis)Respect for Marriage Act” before it reached the House floor. The group reminded Republican lawmakers that their party platform states, “[t]raditional marriage and family, based on marriage between one man and one woman, is the foundation for a free society and has for millennia been entrusted with rearing children and instilling cultural values.” In an email blast, FRC Action sowed fear among its supporters that the bill would be used to persecute them and take away their religious freedom. […] The American Family Association called the bill “an Orwellian attempt to pretend that the Court’s very recent discovery of a constitutional right to same-sex marriage is not controversial and offensive to many people around the country.” The Heritage Foundation called it a “publicity stunt” aimed at “tak[ing] the spotlight off progressives’ radical policies and paint conservatives as bigots — and all this conveniently before the midterm elections.”

    Despite the Christian right’s protestations that same-sex marriage is unpopular, it is actually extremely popular, with Gallup earlier this year finding 71 percent of Americans — a record high — supporting it. What’s more, most religious people do not think protections for same-sex marriage infringe on their religious freedom. According to the Public Religion Research Institute, “Majorities of most major religious groups support same-sex marriage,” with one significant outlier: white evangelicals. Only 35 percent of white evangelicals support marriage equality — and their views drive the Republican Party. In the Senate, the filibuster rules reinforce this tyranny of the minority.

    There are two reasons for the Christian right’s dominance of the GOP. One is that while white evangelicals make up just 15 percent of the population, they are highly enthusiastic voters; they made up 28 percent of the 2020 electorate, and 76 percent of them voted for Donald Trump. They make up large swaths of the electorate in red states, and are likely to be motivated to engage in backlash against a Republican senator seen to betray the cause.

    The second reason is that the Christian right — made up of white evangelical activists along with other conservative white Protestants and Catholics — has built a formidable political and legal machine designed to position themselves as defenders of the true faith and the real Christian America. A well-funded constellation of legal and political organizations has been inordinately successful in amassing power, both in Republican Washington, red state legislatures, and the federal judiciary. It is designed to flex its muscles at moments like these.

    The opposition to the Respect for Marriage Act is an object lesson in how the Christian right’s power works.

    That network’s strength has been on full display in recent weeks. The legal powerhouse Alliance Defending Freedom took the lead on a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell opposing the bill, signed by more than 80 religious right leaders. […]

    […] ADF has not only led the way in transforming our jurisprudence against church-state separation and reproductive and LGBTQ rights, it has cultivated and cemented relationships that ensure its proximity to power. It counts among its compatriots Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett and Senator Josh Hawley, who have both been faculty speakers for its training program for aspiring Christian lawyers. In 2019, Hawley single-handedly killed the appointment of a federal judge, nominated by Trump, because he had once litigated a case against ADF. Hawley’s wife, also a lawyer, now works for ADF, and played a key role in the strategy to overturn Roe.

    After the House vote, FRC Action pledged to support primary challengers to any Republicans who voted for the bill. […] the message certainly is not lost on Republicans in the Senate where, unlike the House, GOP votes are necessary to get the bill past a filibuster. No one wants to be the one who tips the scales in favor of the bill, and incurs the wrath of Christian right operatives and the get-out-the-vote machine at the disposal of a primary challenger.

    Lately the media has taken a greater interest in exploring and reporting on Christian nationalism. It is, however, crucial not only to understand what Christian nationalism is as an ideology, but to understand how right-wing operatives have attained the power to subvert democratic structures and democratic values in order to make it the core of anti-majoritarian rule. The opposition to the Respect for Marriage Act is an object lesson in how that power works. Christian right operatives and lawyers argue that America is a Christian nation, that Christians’ right to practice their religion must be protected from secular, progressive incursions like constitutional rights for LGBTQ people, and that it is the duty of judges and government officials to ensure that these “biblical” values are secured. With a sympathetic majority on the Supreme Court and a razor-thin Democratic majority in the Senate with filibuster rules favorable to conservatives, the Christian right has every incentive to deploy this power. And because Republicans no longer have an alternative base upon which to build a coalition, they will continue to relent.

  131. says

    Here’s a link to today’s Guardian US liveblog. From their coverage of Orbán’s CPAC speech in Texas, which just ended:

    Orban has opened his speech in Texas by saying that “Hungary is the Lone Star state of Europe”.

    He described Hungary as “under the siege of progressives, liberals day by day”, and noted that he was “the only anti-migration political leader on our continent”, which was greeted with applause.

    Orban appears to be responding to the recent news of a top adviser resigning and accusing him of using “pure Nazi” rhetoric by arguing that his administration is misunderstood.

    Hungary “introduced a zero-tolerance policy on racism and antisemitism. So accusing us is fake news, and those who make these claims are certainly idiots. They are the industrial fake news corporation,” Orban said.

    Orban went on to attack American liberals, saying they tried to stop his speech and calling for unity between conservatives in the United States and in Hungary.

    “They hate me and slandered me and my country as they hate you and slander you and America’s transformation. We all know how this works. Progressive liberals didn’t want me to be here because they knew what I will tell you,” Orban said.

    “I’m here to tell you that we should unite our forces… because we Hungarians know how to defeat the enemies of freedom on the political battlefield.”

    Texas is a major crossing point for undocumented immigrants entering the United States, which Republicans have said is a “crisis” that president Joe Biden deserves blame for.

    Orban must realize this. He’s giving examples of “how to fight back by our own rules” and detailing to the conservative audience his own hardline policies against migrants, particularly from Syria.

    “We were the first ones in Europe who said no illegal migration and stop the invasion of illegal migrants,” he said. “We believe that stopping illegal migration is necessary to protect our nation.”

    Orban didn’t mention Joe Biden directly, but appealed to the audience of conservatives for “strong leaders” – by which he presumably was not referring to the Democrats in control of the White House and Congress.

    He cited the impacts of the war in Ukraine on Hungary, which he notes has received one million refugees.

    “In my view, the globalist leaders’ strategy escalates and prolongs war and decreases the chance of peace. Without American-Russian talks there will never be peace in Ukraine. More and more people will die and suffer and our economies will come to the brink of collapse,” Orban said.

    “We in the neighborhood of Ukraine are desperately in need of strong leaders who are capable of negotiating a peace deal. Mayday, mayday, please help us. We need a strong America, with a strong leader.”

    Orban wrapped up his speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference by declaring, “We must take back the institutions in Washington and in Brussels”, and saying the two capitals “will define the two fronts in the battle being fought for Western civilization”.

    After defeating Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, “Now the West is at war with itself,” Orban said. “We have seen what kind of future the globalist ruling class has to offer. But we have a different future in mind. The globalists can all go to hell, I have come to Texas.”

    [I’m sure Biden will be threatening that he’ll perish by fire any minute now…]

    A who’s who of American conservatives will appear at CPAC over the next two days, before Donald Trump makes the event’s closing remarks on Saturday evening.

  132. says

    The US liveblog is now closed as well. From their closing summary:

    The Senate will meet this weekend to begin considering Democrats’ marquee spending plan to fight climate change and lower healthcare costs, which is the culmination of more than a year of fitful negotiations….

    The justice department has filed charges against four current and former Louisville police officers over the death of Breonna Taylor.

    The White House declared monkeypox a public health emergency as the virus spread across the United States….

  133. says

    Followup to SC’s comment 172.

    U.S. says Russia aims to fabricate evidence in prison deaths

    Russia is looking to plant false evidence to make it appear that Ukrainian forces were responsible for the attack, U.S. intelligence officials determined.

    U.S. officials believe Russia is working to fabricate evidence concerning last week’s deadly strike on a prison housing prisoners of war in a separatist region of eastern Ukraine.

    U.S. intelligence officials have determined that Russia is looking to plant false evidence to make it appear that Ukrainian forces were responsible for the July 29 attack on Olenivka Prison that left 53 dead and wounded dozens more, a U.S. official familiar with the intelligence finding told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

    Russia has claimed that Ukraine’s military used U.S.-supplied rocket launchers to strike the prison in Olenivka, a settlement controlled by the Moscow-backed Donetsk People’s Republic.

    The Ukrainian military denied making any rocket or artillery strikes in Olenivka. The intelligence arm of the Ukrainian defense ministry claimed in a statement Wednesday to have evidence that local Kremlin-backed separatists colluded with the Russian FSB, the KGB’s main successor agency, and mercenary group Wagner to mine the barrack before “using a flammable substance, which led to the rapid spread of fire in the room.”

    The official, who was not authorized to comment publicly and spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the classified intelligence — which was recently downgraded — shows that Russian officials might even plant ammunition from medium-ranged High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS, as evidence that the systems provided by the U.S. to Ukraine were used in the attack.

    Russia is expected to take the action as it anticipates independent investigators and journalists eventually getting access to Olenivka, the official added.

    […] Earlier Wednesday, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he is appointing a fact-finding mission in response to requests from Russia and Ukraine to investigate the killings at the prison.

    Guterres told reporters he doesn’t have authority to conduct criminal investigations but does have authority to conduct fact-finding missions. He added that the terms of reference for a mission to Ukraine are currently being prepared and will be sent to the governments of Ukraine and Russia for approval.

    The Ukrainian POWs at the Donetsk prison included troops captured during the fall of Mariupol. They spent months holed up with civilians at the giant Azovstal steel mill in the southern port city. Their resistance during a relentless Russian bombardment became a symbol of Ukrainian defiance against Russia’s aggression.

    More than 2,400 soldiers from the Azov Regiment of the Ukrainian national guard and other military units gave up their fight and surrendered under orders from Ukraine’s military in May.

    Scores of Ukrainian soldiers have been taken to prisons in Russian-controlled areas. Some have returned to Ukraine as part of prisoner exchanges with Russia, but other families have no idea whether their loved ones are still alive, or if they will ever come home.

  134. says

    Sen. Whitehouse:

    Wray confirms: Kavanaugh tips from tip line were sent to Trump White House without investigation; and Trump White House directed what witnesses FBI would interview.

    Here’s a thought: nothing prevented Trump White House from using FBI tip line information to direct FBI investigation away from percipient or corroborating witnesses.

  135. says

    Followup to SC’s comment 174.

    Wonkette; “American Fascists Welcome Viktor Orban Like He’s Hitler Come Back From France”

    Here is Donald Trump bragging — through one of his white spokesmen, because he’s not allowed to have Twitter — about how he got to bump uglies on Tuesday with the American Right’s favorite white supremacist Nazi fascist authoritarian human rectal fissure, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

    Yes, this is what excites the rapidly decomposing loser.

    [Taylor Budowich tweeted:] “45: Great spending time with my friend, Viktor Orbán, the Prime Minister of Hungary. We discussed many interesting topics—few people know as much about what is going on today. We were also celebrating his great electoral victory in April.” [Accompanied by photos of Trump and Orbán together.]

    […] just recently one of Orban’s longtime ministers, Zsuzsa Hegedus, resigned after Orban gave a speech in Romania that pretty much everybody interpreted as being overtly Nazi. She called it a “pure Nazi text.” She said not even a “bloodthirsty racist” would be cool with what he said. […]

    In his speech, Orban bemoaned Europeans having babies with people of other races, saying we don’t want to create a “mixed-race world.” “We are willing to mix with one another, but we do not want to become peoples of mixed race,” said Orban. (When he said “one another,” he meant all the shades of white European.)

    “I don’t know how you didn’t notice that the speech you delivered is a purely Nazi diatribe worthy of Joseph Goebbels,” [Hegedus] wrote in her resignation letter, according to the Hungarian news website.

    The condemnation, from many sides of Hungarian society and obviously throughout Europe, was fierce. But hey, Mr. […] LoserNazi, come on over to the deposed American president’s ugly golf resort. Maybe you can have a nice conversation about race-mixing!

    Of course, Orban [spoke] at CPAC in Dallas this afternoon, because face it, if you were a spritely Nazi propagandist prime minister on the make, that’s where you’d probably go too. They weren’t mad about his “mixed-race” speech at all, so his keynote speech is a go:

    Alex Pfeiffer, a spokesman for CPAC, defended Mr. Orban’s presence at the gathering, saying in a statement that the group supports “the open exchange of ideas.” He called Mr. Orban a “popular leader in his fourth successive term.”

    Matt Schlapp, the CPAC chairman, recently told Bloomberg, “Let’s listen to the man speak.”

    Right. If Hitler was alive, we have a feeling he’d be in Dallas this afternoon too and we’d all be scolded for refusing to at least listen to what the man has to say.

    So that’s all very legal and very cool, Viktor Orban going to CPAC to be with his people and say 14 words at ’em. Steve Bannon, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Sarah Palin and Lauren Boebert are all part of the lineup too. Bet they plan to say some words too.

    Last night, Tucker Carlson was extremely mad about how unfairly Orban is being treated right now. He started the segment with his giddy jizz-squeals about what a great guy Orban is, then pivoted to complaining that Fareed Zakaria accurately reported on CNN about Orban’s “I Am Nazi And So Can You!” speech. Tucker is appalled. How can you act like somebody is a Nazi just because they walk, talk, and quack like one?

    Tucker then hosted one of Orban’s ministers who didn’t resign in disgust, Balasz Orban, who was there to explain that they are not Nazis, it’s just that they built a wall on their southern border to make “law and order.” He said Hungary is under a lot of pressure from the “globalist elites.” It’s just that “our country is very proud” of its “Judeo-Christian heritage” (a known buzzword for white supremacists) and therefore it has to have closed borders.

    Then Balasz Orban explained that Ukrainian refugees coming across the borders from the northeast are OK but people coming from the south aren’t OK. He says those are coming from “other civilizations.”

    “Ordinary people can differentiate,” he says.

    Tucker said this was just a very “moderate” policy.

    BUT DON’T CALL ANY OF THESE PEOPLE NAZIS. [video at the link]

    Just kidding, you can call them all Nazis.

  136. says

    Quoted in Lynna’s #178:

    [Taylor Budowich tweeted:] “45: Great spending time with my friend, Viktor Orbán, the Prime Minister of Hungary. We discussed many interesting topics—few people know as much about what is going on today. We were also celebrating his great electoral victory in April.” [Accompanied by photos of Trump and Orbán together.]

    This shouldn’t be allowed by Twitter.

  137. KG says

    The fact there are nuclear and coal lobbyists about now trying to seize the occasion is not surprising, but mostly a distraction. The renewables are there already, if the will existed to use them. – rorschach@170

    You can’t switch from gas or oil to renewables just like that. A lot of German industrial plants, and IIRC German homes, burn gas directly rather than using electricity produced by burning gas.

  138. says

    Here’s a link to the Guardian’s…China tantrum I guess liveblog. From there:

    China’s government has announced sanctions against Nancy Pelosi and her direct relatives in response to “vicious and provocative actions” by going to Taiwan, state media has said.

    According to CGTN, Pelosi …

    … insisted on going to Taiwan in disregard of China’s serious concerns and firm opposition, seriously interfering in China’s internal affairs, seriously undermining China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, seriously trampling on the one-China principle, and seriously threatening the peace and stability of the Taiwan strait. In response to Pelosi’s vicious and provocative actions, China has decided to impose sanctions on Pelosi and her immediate family in accordance with the relevant laws of the People’s Republic of China.

    [The repeated use of the word “seriously” has the opposite effect of that intended, in my view.]

    China has not yet specified the sanctions in public.

    China has halted ties with the US on a range of critical issues, from talks on the climate crisis to dialogue between their militaries, following the visit to Taiwan by the US House speaker, Nancy Pelosi.

    The announcement of the counter-measures came as Beijing conducted military drills surrounding the island of Taiwan….

    The cancelled interactions ranged from climate talks, to dialogues between the leaders of Chinese and US military theatres, to the working meeting of Chinese and US defence ministries and consultation mechanism on maritime military safety between the countries.

    Tensions are running high in the Taiwan strait. The military drills have forced a number of vessels to reroute their journeys, causing disruptions to regional – and global – economies. On average, 240 commercial ships have passed through the maritime zones each day over the past week, according to Lloyd’s List Intelligence data.

    Earlier, the US condemned China’s launch of ballistic missiles around Taiwan during live-fire exercises as an “overreaction”, as a number of Chinese ships and planes again crossed the median line.

    [Taiwanese president] Tsai Ing-wen delivered [a] video message in response to China’s exercises. In it she says: “We are calm and not impetuous, we are rational and not provocative, but we will also be firm and not shirk. Taiwan will never be knocked down by challenges.”

    Reuters is carrying a report that suggests that tensions at the gathering of foreign ministers hosted by south-east Asia’s regional bloc Asean have continued. As well as the member states, counterparts from the US, China, Russia, Japan and Australia have all been there.

    It appears that Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi and Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov walked out of a session today when their Japanese counterpart Yoshimasa Hayashi spoke, according to what a person who was in the room has said to the news agency.

    Wang had cancelled a meeting with Japan’s representative in Cambodia a day earlier, with China citing displeasure over a G7 statement urging it to resolve tension over Taiwan peacefully.

    Taiwan claims 68 Chinese planes and 13 warships have crossed median line on Friday

    Taiwan’s defence ministry has said that as of 17.00 local time 68 Chinese planes and 13 warships had crossed the ‘median line’, the unofficial but previously respected demarcation line of Taiwan’s territory.

    Reuters reports that in a statement the defence ministry said it condemned the action, and that it would defend national security with firm action. It accused China of seriously damaging the status quo of the Taiwan Strait.

  139. says

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

    Dispatch: the western ex-military training Ukrainian recruits

    In the heart of the Donbas, a group of eight highly experienced western ex-military personnel are delivering an intensive 10-day training course for 40 new Ukrainian recruits who have been pulled straight from the fighting.

    As the battle for Ukraine’s east grinds on, soldiers in the Donbas have been taking heavy casualties in a vicious artillery battle. Ukraine’s professional fighting force, who have been defending the eastern frontline since 2014, are severely depleted. Since 24 February new recruits have been surging to the frontline, many with shockingly little training.

    The recruits on the course have a patchwork of equipment: different weapons, fatigues and body armour of varying quality. Aged between their early 20s and mid 50s, the men are of all shapes, sizes and levels of fitness.

    One in 10 was in the military before the war and they have had very little formal training, explains Andy Milburn, founder of the Mozart Group, a new private security company that’s tasked itself with training Ukrainian soldiers.

    Milburn, a retired Marine Corps colonel who spent 31 years in the US military, gathered expert volunteers to train civilians fighting in Kyiv’s civil defence force as they defended their capital. Now based in Donbas, the Mozart Group consists of between 20 and 30 volunteers from the US, the UK, Ireland and other western countries.

    The Mozart Group’s name was coined by its members as a tongue-in-cheek musical reference to the Wagner Group, a shadowy Russian paramilitary organisation that’s often described as Vladimir Putin’s private army. Milburn says at first he was “a little ambivalent about using the name” but that it has “caught on as a brand now”.

  140. StevoR says

    A funny way to prove a point here I guess :

    Plus great news for the Biloela family of refugees -although it should never have been this hard or taken this long for our govt todothe right thing and so much needless suffering has been inflicted here :

    Plus :

    On the deep underground connections of trees and fungi all interconnected.

  141. says

    Guardian – “Sandi Toksvig says ‘lives at stake’ after anti-gay Anglican church declaration”:

    The lives of LGBTQ+ people are at stake, the broadcaster and author Sandi Toksvig has said, after the archbishop of Canterbury affirmed the validity of a 1998 resolution that gay sex is a sin.

    In a letter to more than 650 bishops attending the once-a-decade Lambeth conference on Tuesday, Justin Welby, who is also leader of the Anglican church, said the resolution, known as Lambeth 1.10, was “not in doubt”.

    “It was a sin in 1998 and you just wanted to make clear in 2022 that no one in your finely frocked gang has moved on from that,” wrote Toksvig in her letter published on Twitter on Wednesday evening. “Seriously, with the state the world is in, that is what you wanted to focus on?”

    Responding to the latest knot the Church of England has tied itself into, Toksvig laid bare the facts, including that suicide is contemplated by young LGBTQ+ people at higher rates than their non-LGBTQ+ peers. She said she had faced death threats herself, and questioned the Church of England’s interpretation of Jesus’s views on homosexuality.

    “The lives of LGBTQ+ people are at stake here,” Toksvig wrote. “Jesus doesn’t mention sexuality at all. It clearly wasn’t a big deal for him.”

    The host of the TV panel show QI and former Great British Bake Off presenter, who refers to herself as a humanist, added: “I have had several credible death threats over the years, sometimes requiring the very kind assistance of the police hate crime squad.

    “Each and every one of those threats has come from an evangelical Christian. Inevitably they have wanted to kill me on God’s behalf.”

    Toksvig is not alone in criticising the church’s stance. Other campaigners for LGBTQ+ equality were similarly angered by Welby’s decision to uphold a declaration that says “homosexual practice” is “incompatible with scripture” and says same-sex unions should not be legitimised or blessed.

    “Priority has been given to saving a manmade institution over protecting LGBTQ+ people’s lives,” said Jayne Ozanne, a leading gay activist in the Church of England. “It is a stick with which many of us have been beaten and will continue to suffer around the world.”

    Ninety bishops, including eight archbishops, said LGBTQ+ people had “historically been wounded” by the church, and said they “look forward to the day when we all may feel truly welcomed, valued and affirmed”….

  142. says

    From the latest summary at the Guardian China-tantrum liveblog:

    …US secretary of state Antony Blinken has warned again that China’s “provocative” actions risk a serious escalation and could destabilise the region. Speaking at a news conference on the sidelines of the Asean regional forum meeting, Blinken told the media that the US has repeatedly told China that it did not seek a crisis. Blinken said that Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan was peaceful, and that “there was no possible justification for what they have done” in response.

    The US has summoned China’s ambassador Qin Gang to the White House to démarche him for China’s actions. A démarche is a protest lodged through diplomatic channels.

    China summoned Canada’s ambassador over the country’s participation in a statement issued by the foreign ministers of the G7 nations. Chinese vice foreign minister Xie Feng informed the ambassador Canada should “immediately correct its mistakes” on the issue of Taiwan or “bear all consequences”.

    Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi and Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov reportedly walked out of a session at the Asean forum today when their Japanese counterpart Yoshimasa Hayashi spoke.

    Pelosi has been in Tokyo today, where Japan’s prime minister Fumio Kishida said he told her “we have called for the immediate cancellation of the military drills”, which he described as a “serious problem that impacts our national security and the safety of our citizens”.

    Australia’s foreign secretary Penny Wong has described China’s actions as “disproportionate and destabilising”.

  143. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    A leading Russian hypersonics expert has been arrested on suspicion of treason, the state-controlled TASS news agency reported on Friday.

    Andrei Shiplyuk heads the hypersonics laboratory at the Novosibirsk Institute of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics, according to the institute’s website, and has in recent years coordinated research to support the development of hypersonic missile systems, Reuters reports.

    The Russian news agency cited one of Shiplyuk’s colleagues as saying searches had been conducted at the institute.

    Last month Dmitry Kolker, another Novosibirsk-based physicist, died of pancreatic cancer shortly after being arrested on suspicion of treason.

  144. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Helen Davidson offers this analysis from Taipei:

    Amid the round-the-clock global coverage, there was still a distinct lack of panic among Taiwanese. Reporters roamed coastal spots near the drill zones, looking for quotes but finding few in fear. In the capital, Taipei, people ate their lunches in city restaurants as warships steamed across wall-mounted television screens. Online, people shared memes and joked about an anti-US protester photographed outside Pelosi’s hotel, holding a sign made with pieced-together printed papers that was evidently supposed to say “Warmonger Pelosi” but instead read “ongerwarm osiPel”. [Hee]

    Social media commenters brushed it all off as not real military action. “The CCP has no real ability and can only put on some performances,” said one.

    Inside Taiwan, there is real gratitude towards Pelosi, despite the potentially dangerous fallout. Outside the airport on Wednesday, young Timothy Lee said she had “risked her life” to visit and show Taiwan support. Lee Ming-che, a Taiwanese activist who was recently released from a Chinese jail after five years, was one of three former political prisoners to meet Pelosi. He told the Guardian her visit showed young people they should keep defending human rights.

    “She is an 82-year-old and not giving up,” Lee said. “She has not given up and Taiwan should not give up.”

  145. blf says

    Apropos of nothing, some time ago I mentioned the most obvious sign of the rising cost-of-living I’d noticed was the outdoor market egg vendor raising their prices for Monster-sized Armoured Organic Eggs from €3.50 to €3.60 to €3.80 this year. Today, I noticed another sign, at one of my favourite restruants — a highly-regarded place known to many locals but few tourists with relatively simply but well-prepared seasonal French cuisine — the standard formula price had gone from €25 to €27; add an apéritif, vin, etc., to that and I usually pay 52€ (actually, 55€ in cash, as they haven’t accepted credit cards since the pandemic lockdowns, with the change left as a thanks). Today it was the usual excellent (even the peas!), albeit for 54€. They were very apologetic, doubly so since they couldn’t, at first, find a bottle of this wonderful digestif (not quite sure what it is) made by the chef-owner’s father they usually offer gratuis.

  146. rorschach says

    I haven’t been to any outdoor (or indoor) restaurant or market since May 2020. That will remain the case until we have nasal or buccal vaccines that provide mucosal immunity. Unfortunately the Biden government does not currently financially support the project by Prof Iwasaki at Yale, which is essentially ready to do this.

  147. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    AFP report Taiwan’s Prime Minister Su Tseng-chang has called for allies to push for de-escalation, saying “(We) didn’t expect that the evil neighbour next door would show off its power at our door and arbitrarily jeopardise the busiest waterways in the world with its military exercises,” he told reporters.

  148. raven says

    The tl;dr version.
    .1. DeSantis suspends elected prosecutor over new abortion law
    .2. Warren added that no cases regarding violations of the state’s new abortion law have been brought to his office.

    It is not obvious to me that DeathSantis has the legal authority to suspend an elected DA for Hillsborough county.
    Among other things lacking here are Due Process, hearings, and any sort of laws allowing this to happen.
    This is basically nullifying an election by fiat, simply ordering it to be reversed.

    DeSantis suspends elected prosecutor over new abortion law
    By ANTHONY IZAGUIRRE August 04, 2022

    TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended the elected state prosecutor of Tampa on Thursday for pledging not to enforce the state’s new 15-week abortion ban and for supporting gender transition treatments for minors.

    The Republican governor announced the suspension of Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren at a news conference in the county’s sheriff’s office.

    “When you flagrantly violate your oath of office, when you make yourself above the law, you have violated your duty, you have neglected your duty and you are displaying a lack of competence to be able to perform those duties,” DeSantis said to cheers.

    The suspension comes as DeSantis runs for reelection in Florida and builds his national profile as a potential 2024 Republican presidential candidate through near constant criticism of liberal policies on abortion, policing and other culture war issues.

    Warren, a Democrat, was elected as state attorney by Hillsborough County voters in 2016 and in 2020. In a statement, Warren said “the people have the right to elect their own leaders — not have them dictated by an aspiring presidential candidate who has shown time and again he feels accountable to no one.”

    “The governor is trying to overthrow the results of a fair and free election, two of them actually,” he said later Thursday at a news conference. “People need to understand. This isn’t the governor trying to suspend one elected official. This is the governor trying to overthrow democracy here in Hillsborough County.”

    Warren added that no cases regarding violations of the state’s new abortion law have been brought to his office.

    In an executive order formally suspending Warren, DeSantis focused heavily on Warren’s signing of statements where prosecutors from across the country said they won’t use their offices to pursue criminal cases against seekers or providers of abortion or gender transition treatments.

    More than 90 district attorneys, state attorneys general and other elected prosecutors across the U.S. have signed the letter saying they don’t intend to prosecute people for seeking, providing or supporting abortions.

    Some are in states with few or no restrictions on abortions. But others are in law enforcement in places where there are bans or deep restrictions – including the counties that include Birmingham, Alabama, and Jackson, Mississippi, along with several of Texas’ biggest cities. In some cases, there might not be much to enforce because many clinics have either stopped offering abortions or have closed entirely.

    Besides the statements from prosecutors, city councils in places including Nashville, New Orleans and Boise, Idaho, have introduced or adopted measures telling law enforcement agencies to make abortion-related cases low priorities.

    Florida’s new abortion restriction became effective July 1. It prohibits abortions after 15 weeks, with exceptions if the procedure is necessary to save the pregnant woman’s life, prevent serious injury or if the fetus has a fatal abnormality. It does not allow exemptions in cases where pregnancies were caused by rape, incest or human trafficking.

    Violators could face up to five years in prison. Physicians and other medical professionals could lose their licenses and face administrative fines of $10,000 for each violation.

    Florida has not enacted laws criminalizing gender transition treatments for minors but “these statements prove that Warren thinks he has the authority to defy the Florida Legislature and nullify in his jurisdiction criminal laws with which he disagrees,” the executive order reads.

    The executive order also accuses Warren of having a “flawed and lawless understanding of his duties as a state attorney” in his “presumptive non-enforcement for certain criminal violations, including trespassing at a business location, disorderly conduct, disorderly intoxication, and prostitution.”

    “The governor’s suspension of State Attorney Warren is not political to me. It’s about law and order. It’s about ensuring our loved ones are safe. It’s about the victims and their voices,” said Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister. He said Warren has been acting as a kind of “supreme authority by reducing charges, dropping cases and singlehandedly determining what crimes will be legal or illegal in our county.”

    Asked whether he’s overriding the will of the voters by suspending their choice for prosecutor, DeSantis said Warren’s conduct has fallen “below the standard of the Florida Constitution” and that he’s neglected his duty to state law.

    “I don’t think the people of Hillsborough County want to have an agenda that is basically woke, where you’re deciding that your view of social justice means certain laws shouldn’t be enforced,” the governor said.

    Rep. Fentrice Driskell, a Tampa Democrat and leader-designate of the Florida House Democratic Caucus, said Warren has been using his prosecutorial discretion appropriately.

    “I’m not going to mince words: this is a shocking political attack on an elected official serving the people of Hillsborough County,” she said. “Andrew Warren is being removed because he assured our community that he will not be a foot soldier in Ron DeSantis’ extremist agenda.”

    DeSantis appointed Hillsborough County Judge Susan Lopez to serve in Warren’s place during his suspension.

    “I have the utmost respect for our state laws and I understand the important role that the state attorney plays in ensuring the safety of our community and the enforcement of our laws,” Lopez said.

  149. raven says

    From the article above about DeathSantis removing the elected DA.

    “I’m not going to mince words: this is a shocking political attack on an elected official serving the people of Hillsborough County,” she said. “Andrew Warren is being removed because he assured our community that he will not be a foot soldier in Ron DeSantis’ extremist agenda.”

    Sums it up.
    I will note here that Warren wasn’t removed for doing anything or not doing anything. He was removed for a pledge he signed to not prosecute abortion cases.
    In most cases, a crime is what you did, not what you said you might do.

    DeSantis appointed Hillsborough County Judge Susan Lopez to serve in Warren’s place during his suspension.

    The DA is part of the Executive branch, part of law enforcement.
    The judicial branch is a separate part of the government and a judge is part of that branch of government.
    He now has a judge filling in for the DA.

    IANAL and don’t know the details of Florida’s laws and procedures.
    But none of this looks remotely legal to me.

    PS DeathSantis also did exactly what this DA, Andrew Warren did.
    He decided that the Covid-19 virus wasn’t worth worrying about and ignored all the rules and regulations that were made to fight this pandemic virus.
    He even ordered the state to not count up how many people died from the virus.
    And has the piles of dead bodies of Covid-19 virus victims to show for it.

  150. raven says

    Euromaidan Press
    Russia is burning gas in a giant torch that is visible from Finland

    Flames have been burning at Gazprom’s Portovaya compressor station every day since June 17. This could be happening because there is nowhere to deliver surplus gas.

    This is where Europe’s winter heating supply is going.

    I will say the Russians show their usual lack of imagination.
    .1. Natural gas can be liquefied to LNG and sent around the world.
    .2. Natural gas can be stored in underground facilities, which is what everyone does for the winter.
    .3. Natural gas is the feedstock for making nitrogen fertilizer, the key input for feeding 7.9 billion people.
    They could just convert this to fertilizer and sell it or use it.

  151. tomh says

    Kari Lake, Backed by Trump, Wins Arizona’s G.O.P. Governor Primary
    Running a campaign heavily focused on false claims of a stolen 2020 election, Ms. Lake beat a rival supported by the state’s G.O.P. establishment and its departing governor, Doug Ducey.
    August 5, 2022

    Kari Lake, who in the span of two years transformed herself from a veteran local television news anchor into a tribune of the far-right political movement, won Arizona’s Republican primary for governor, according to The Associated Press.

    Ms. Lake prevailed over a field that included Karrin Taylor Robson — an ally of Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican who defied former President Donald J. Trump by defending the results of Arizona’s 2020 election — and two other candidates.

    Ms. Lake will face Katie Hobbs, Arizona’s Democratic secretary of state, in the general election. Mr. Ducey is prohibited by term limits from seeking re-election.

    Nearly as soon as she left her Phoenix TV station in the spring of 2021, Ms. Lake began repeatedly proclaiming that Mr. Trump, who endorsed her that fall, had been cheated out of a second term in office. After spending 25 years in local television, she attacked the news media as corrupt.

    The contest was the latest primary for governor to become a proxy war between Mr. Trump and establishment Republican power brokers.

    As in Maryland and Illinois, where Trump-endorsed candidates toppled rivals backed by local G.O.P. officials, Ms. Lake’s victory signaled the declining power of party donors and television spending. Ms. Taylor Robson, a developer who served on the Arizona Board of Regents, largely paid for her campaign herself, spending millions more on TV advertising than Ms. Lake did.

    But in the end, Mr. Trump’s endorsement proved more valuable than anything Ms. Taylor Robson could buy.

  152. says

    Dems question Family Research Council’s tax status as a ‘church’

    The Family Research Council has established itself as a leading far-right advocacy and research organization. According to the IRS, it’s also a “church.”

    In recent decades, the Family Research Council has established itself as a powerhouse advocacy and research organization. When it comes to fights over LGBTQ rights and reproductive rights, for example, the FRC long ago surpassed the Christian Coalition as the preeminent group in the religious right movement.

    But as it turns out, characterizing the Family Research Council as an advocacy and research organization may no longer be entirely accurate, at least not as far as tax law is concerned. ProPublica recently reported:

    According to documents obtained via the Freedom of Information Act and given to ProPublica, the FRC filed an application to change its status to an “association of churches,” a designation commonly used by groups with member churches like the Southern Baptist Convention, in March 2020. The agency approved the change a few months later. The FRC is one of a growing list of activist groups to seek church status, a designation that comes with the ability for an organization to shield itself from financial scrutiny.

    Secular tax-exempt organizations have to file a specific kind of tax return — a Form 990 — that lists staff salaries, sizable payments, grants, etc.

    Churches, however, don’t have to file Form 990s. What’s more, church audits are more difficult and far less common than audits of other tax-exempt institutions.

    Whether the Family Research Council actually should be seen as a church, however, is another matter. From the ProPublica report:

    Does the organization hold regular chapel services? According to the FRC’s letter to the IRS, the answer is yes. It wrote that it holds services at its office building averaging more than 65 people. But when a ProPublica reporter called to inquire about service times, a staffer who answered the phone responded, “We don’t have church service.” Elsewhere in the form, it says that the employees make up those who attend its services.

    [The Familia’s Research Council lied to the IRS.]

    With this in mind, Politico reported this week that more than three dozen House Democrats — who collectively are scrutinizing organizations that claim church status to avoid taxes — contacted the Internal Revenue Service about the FRC.

    In their letter to the IRS, the lawmakers argued that the Family Research Council “claiming to be a church strains credulity: they do not hold religious services, do not have a congregation or affiliated congregations, and do not possess many of the other attributes of churches listed by the IRS.”

    They added that while they “understand the importance of religious institutions to their congregants” the U.S. tax code “must be applied fairly and judiciously.”

    As best as I can tell, the IRS hasn’t responded.

  153. says

    Cheney news:

    There are only 11 days remaining before Wyoming’s primaries, and by appearances, Republican Rep. Liz Cheney is in trouble. Her primary rival, Harriet Hageman, continues to peddle absurd lies about the 2020 presidential race, to the delight of Donald Trump, who’s enthusiastically supporting her candidacy.

    Recent polling paints a predictable picture: Wyoming’s GOP base, much of which remains committed to the failed former president, intends to punish Cheney — for supporting Trump’s impeachment, for helping lead the Jan. 6 committee, for putting democracy’s interests above partisan consideration, and for her general political apostasy.

    And so, with time running out, the endangered congresswoman has brought out the big gun: her father. NBC News reported:

    Former Vice President Dick Cheney slammed former President Donald Trump, calling him a “coward” in a new TV ad bolstering his daughter, Wyoming GOP Rep. Liz Cheney, ahead of her primary on Aug. 16.

    In the minute-long, direct-to-camera commercial, Dick Cheney — who, incidentally, held this congressional seat for 10 years in the 1980s — is unexpectedly unreserved in his condemnation of the former president.

    “In our nation’s 246-year history, there has never been an individual who is a greater threat to our republic than Donald Trump,” the former vice president says in the ad.

    He added, “[Trump] tried to steal the last election using lies and violence to keep himself in power after the voters had rejected him. He is a coward. A real man wouldn’t lie to his supporters. He lost his election and he lost big. I know it, he knows it, and deep down I think most Republicans know it.” [Dick Cheney wore his signature cowboy hat while he accused Trump of being a coward. Good theater. Still, Dick Cheney is not the best spokesperson for anyone. Might play well in Wyoming though.]

    Referring to his daughter, Cheney concluded, “There is nothing more important she will ever do than lead the effort to make sure Donald Trump is never near the Oval Office again. And she will succeed.”

    We’ll learn soon enough just how much political clout the former vice president still has in Wyoming, and the degree to which it can compete with Trump’s influence. (In 2004, with Cheney on the ballot, the Republican ticket carried Wyoming with 68.8 percent of the vote. In 2020, Trump’s GOP ticket won Wyoming with 69.9 percent of the vote.)

    But this newly unveiled ad is nevertheless notable for a couple of reasons.

    First, it’s difficult to cheer Dick Cheney under any circumstances, especially as he accuses someone else of being a dangerous threat to democratic principles. Similarly, let’s not brush past the fact that the former vice president has had seven years to denounce Trump in these blunt terms, but he waited quite a while to deliver the message.

    Second, as a matter of political strategy, it was widely assumed that Liz Cheney would try to shift the focus in this race to her conservative record and support for conservative principles — and away from her fight against Trump and in support of democracy.

    Instead, as Primary Day nears, Team Cheney is doing the opposite, effectively turning her race into a referendum on the former president, his lies, and his misconduct.

    That’s a risky move, which appears unlikely to work in the short term, though it’s difficult not to wonder whether Liz Cheney and her political operation are already eyeing what comes next after the primary.


  154. says

    Job market defies expectations with blockbuster growth in July

    We’ve all heard plenty of talk about a possible recession, but at least for now, there’s no evidence of it in the surprisingly resilient U.S. job market.

    Expectations heading into this morning showed projections of about 258,000 new jobs added in the United States in July. As it turns out, according to the new report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the preliminary tally suggests the domestic job market did much better than that. CNBC reported this morning:

    Hiring in July was far better than expected, defying signs that the economic recovery is losing steam, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday. Nonfarm payrolls rose 528,000 for the month and the unemployment rate was 3.5%, easily topping the Dow Jones estimates of 258,000 and 3.6% respectively.

    The nation’s 3.5 percent unemployment rate is the lowest since President Joe Biden took office, and it now equals the rate from before the start of the economic crisis created by the Covid pandemic. All told, the U.S. economy has now gained back all of its pandemic job losses — and it’s happened faster than hardly anyone thought possible a year ago.

    Adding to the good news, the revisions on job totals from May and June were both revised up a bit.

    So far in 2022, the economy has created 3.3 million jobs, and that’s after just seven months. By any fair measure, that’s an extraordinary total, more in line with what we’d expect to see in a full year.

    We’ve all heard plenty of talk about a possible recession, but at least for now, there’s no evidence of it in the surprisingly resilient U.S. job market.

    […] Over the course of the first three years of Donald Trump’s term — when the then-Republican president said the United States’ economy was the greatest in the history of the planet — the economy created roughly 6.4 million jobs. This included all of 2017, 2018, and 2019.

    According to the latest tally, since January 2021, the U.S. economy created 10 million jobs — far in excess of the combined total of Trump’s first three years. In fact, this year’s total to date exceeds any individual year of the former president’s term.

    In recent months, Republicans have responded to developments like these by pretending not to notice them. I have a hunch GOP officials will keep the trend going today.

    Postscript: For some additional context, consider job growth by year over the last decade:

    2013: 2.3 million

    2014: 3 million

    2015: 2.7 million

    2016: 2.3 million

    2017: 2.1 million

    2018: 2.3 million

    2019: 2 million

    2020: -9.3 million

    2021: 6.7 million

    2022 (so far): 3.3 million

    In early 2020, such a turnaround would’ve been very difficult to believe. And yet, here we are.

    Video titled “The job market is great. Democrats need to sell it.” Available at the link.

  155. says

    Now We Finally Know: Notorious Kremlin-Linked Oligarch Paid For Giuliani’s Trips

    Rudy Giuliani had his travel expenses covered by an indicted Ukrainian oligarch’s company as he sought dirt on President Biden, the New York Times reported this week. [Yep. Coordinated action to smear Biden and boost Trump.]

    It’s a bombshell that requires us to think back, before the election overthrow attempt, before two impeachments, to 2019, when Giuliani was gallivanting around former Soviet states seeking ways to smear Trump’s likely opponent.

    The revelation of who was paying his bills would have been shocking — if not entirely surprising — at the time. It remains shocking today. But, if anything, much of the coverage of it is understated.

    The point isn’t only that Giuliani’s paymaster is under federal indictment. Rather, it’s who the oligarch — Dmytro Firtash — is.

    The Times reported that Firtash’s firm paid thousands of dollars for Giuliani’s travel in summer 2019, including for a stay at the Ritz London and for private flights.

    Giuliani and Firtash have issued similar responses to the Times’ report: Giuliani, via an attorney, claims that the former mayor had “no idea” the oligarch was funding the trips. A Firtash representative told the Times that the oligarch was unaware, too, claiming the payments were due to an “inadvertent error” and that Firtash did not authorize the transactions. [bullshit]

    The implication of the cash flows, as the New Republic noted, is that a pro-Kremlin oligarch paid for Giuliani’s efforts to dig up dirt on former President Trump’s political opponent at the time: Joe Biden.

    […] Gassing out
    The big scandal that first put Firtash in the crosshairs of the DOJ had to do with the gas trade between Russia and Europe, via Ukraine.

    […] in the mid-2000s, it was all about the money and, eventually, the corruption: in 2006, nonprofit Global Witness released a report identifying several intermediary firms in the gas trade between the states with murky ties to political leadership in the countries. The scandal had the potential to be huge, with billions of dollars in profits reportedly being siphoned away from gas flows into Europe via the intermediaries.

    Reports identified the beneficial owner of the firms as Dmytro Firtash, a then-unknown businessman. It set off a race among journalists and researchers to answer basic questions about the man — including what he looked like.

    Over time, more has come out. […] By 2001, Firtash resurfaced as an intermediary between Central Asian governments and the Europe gas trade.

    Over time, suspicion mounted that Firtash was linked to Semyon Mogilevich, a notorious Russian mobster who remains on the FBI’s Most Wanted List with a $5 million price on his head.

    […] Then U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine William Taylor (a name familiar to those who closely followed Trump’s first impeachment) authored a series of cables based on meetings he held with Firtash. In one of them, Firtash purportedly said that he only got into business after receiving approval from Mogilevich.

    Federal prosecutors never charged Firtash with anything having to do with the Russia-Ukraine-Europe gas trade, or with Mogilevich, though they have described him as an “upper-echelon” associate of Russian organized crime.

    The indictment that came down in April 2014 accused Firtash of arranging the bribery of Indian officials to gain access to mining concessions.

    The first impeachment
    Since then, Firtash has been stuck in Vienna, undertaking a series of strategies to avoid extradition to Chicago, where a federal grand jury returned the indictment against him.

    […] Firtash appointed a former Austrian justice minister to his legal team and, in July 2019, hire two attorneys who informally advised President Trump: Joe DiGenova and Victoria Toensing. [Laughable]

    DiGenova and Toensing hired a Giuliani associate at the time — Lev Parnas — as Giuliani sought damaging information about Joe Biden.

    Another DiGenova and Toensing client — former AP reporter John Solomon — published an affidavit that the two lawyers obtained from Firtash, rehashing long-debunked allegations against Biden.

    DiGenova and Toensing also reportedly scored a face-to-face meeting with Attorney General Bill Barr.

    All of this puts the New York Times report in much sharper relief: Giuliani, an attorney for President Trump, was having his expenses covered by a Ukrainian oligarch with alleged but unconfirmed ties to the Russian mafia, as the former New York City mayor sought dirt on President Biden. […]

  156. says

    Followup to comment 201.

    Posted by readers of the article:

    At this point the question around the Trump camp is what have the Russians not paid for?
    There was a brief period post 9/11 where I feared Rudy as a shoe-in for President. But man, there is no indignity too low for this guy, no shame he is unwilling to subject himself to.
    Anyone across the political spectrum, from Tankie Rose Dead-Ender Twitterers to the most swivel-eyed loon of a MAGA, who deny that Big Oil and Gas and Big Blackmail represented chiefly by the Russians and Saudis […] completely owned Trump even before 2016 and by extension the Zombie Conservative Rethuglican Party, are in willful ignorance at this point.

    Nearly every major geopolitical disruption we have seen for over a decade can be laid at the feet of that axis, to their dead-end smash and grab operation before all extractive industry has nothing left. […] they decided it’d be nice to own one of America’s two major political parties outright. And here we are.

  157. says

    System Malfunction: Fox Tries To Attack WH Over Report Showing Massive Job Growth

    The Labor Department dropped a surprising monthly jobs report for July on Friday showing that U.S. employers added a whopping 528,000 jobs last month while unemployment dropped to 3.5 percent, bringing employment back to its pre-pandemic level.

    Now allow Fox News to explain how President Joe Biden and the White House screwed up here.

    “America’s Newsroom” opened its segment on the report with a clip of White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre telling reporters on Thursday that the Biden administration expected that the incoming employment report would put the number of new jobs at 150,000.

    Wrong! Job growth was actually way better than that! The White House was wrong!

    “White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre yesterday predicting a cooler job report that might tame inflation, but number’s going in the opposite direction,” Fox News host Mike Emanuel said after the clip.

    Underneath Emanuel was a chyron declaring “WH MISSES FORECAST ON LOWER JULY JOBS GROWTH.”

    However, the White House hadn’t missed the forecast any more than Fox Business did on Thursday, when former Trump economics adviser Kevin Hassett, appearing as a guest on fellow ex-Trump adviser Larry Kudlow’s show, claimed the report would show employment “way on the downside” at only around 100,000 jobs. [tweet and video at the link]

  158. Pierce R. Butler says

    Lynna… quoting Steve Benem @ # 200: … Republicans have responded to developments like these by pretending not to notice them.

    Dunno who doesn’t consider False Noise “personalities” as Republican spokesentities, but –

    Fox News’s chyron… blasts the White House for not getting the estimate right. … It reads: “WH Misses Forecast on Lower July Jobs Growth.”

    If Jesus came back and held a news conference with Biden on the White House lawn, they’d slam Democrats for supporting illegal aliens.

  159. Pierce R. Butler says

    Ooops – apologies for not refreshing to see that Lynna had scooped me @ # 203!

  160. says

    Ukraine Update: Russian lines recede south of Izyum as Russia rushes to potential Kherson trap

    According to Ukrainian General Staff, Ukraine has launched a new offensive in Kharkiv area in northern Ukraine, “The defense forces of Ukraine advanced into the depths of the enemyʼs defenses and gained a foothold.” No details were offered, but will definitely bear watching. Russia is already emptying out the Izyum area to reinforce the Kherson front. Ukraine is forcing Russia to spread itself ever thinner, reminding them that their northern front isn’t particularly secure.

    General Staff also announced the liberation of Mazanivka and Dmytrivka in the Izyum front, something they generally don’t do unless Ukrainian forces have moved well beyond the location. We are now seeing a real roll back of Russian forces around southern Izyum: [map at the link]

    […] “Liberation” means all Russian forces contesting those settlements have been pushed away […] As for Dovhen’ke, General Staff has reported shelling of Ukrainian forces in “the area of Dovhen’ke.” Given that Russian troops don’t shell themselves (at least not intentionally), that’s usually General Staff code for “Ukrainian troops are sitting there.” In other words, while Russia might still be occupying that pile of rubble, Ukrainian forces are actively contesting it.

    Speaking of rubble, look at what’s left of Dibrovne: [video at the link]

    @Danspiun of course scoured the video to catalog losses after the Russian retreat: [tweets, images, and lists of destroyed or captured Russian equipment are available at the link]

    n the video you can see how hilly the area is. It helps explain why Russia was unable to advance quickly, and also explains why liberating it will be slow going.

    The big question here, and one I’ve repeatedly asked since Russian forces seemed to lose interest in Bohorodychne, is a chicken and egg one—are Russian forces withdrawing because of strong Ukrainian pressure, or is Ukraine advancing because Russia is thinning out the region? General Staff has announced several (unsuccessful) Russian ground assaults in the area in recent days (including one against Bohorodychne yesterday), and the Ukrainian in the video above explains how they forced out the Russian garrison by cutting off its supplies. So Russia doesn’t seem to be giving up, or withdrawing on its own initiative. But the answer can also be “both”—as Ukraine degrades Russian lines and the invaders lack the reinforcements to patch up losses.

    This amazing video was filmed around Dibrovne: [video at link, complete with English subtitles]

    Note how drone operator destroys a Russian ammo truck. […] Also nice to hear the contrast between this video, with Russian artillery booming in the vicinity, and the liberation one further up, with Ukrainian troops chilling in blissful peaceful quiet.

    With Dovhen’ke now Russia’s southernmost position around Izyum, it means the front lines are back to where they were June 11.

    […] Finally, I’ll leave you guys with a thought for further exploration—

    Note how quietly Ukraine has approached its limited tactical counteroffensives around Izyum, in southern Donbas, and this new one around Kharkiv. Now compare that to Kherson, where everyone in Ukraine hasn’t shut up about their supposedly imminent counteroffensive. Even President Volodymyr Zelenskyy made a big speech about “ordering” his armed forces to take Kherson back, as if the Ukrainian army was confused about their job.

    If the intent was to panic the Russians into reinforcing the region, it’s been a smashing success. Russia has already moved between a quarter and a third of its total combat forces in Ukraine to the area, and according to video on Telegram, troops and equipment continue to stream in.

    […] I speculated the main Ukrainian counteroffensive won’t be Kherson, but south of Zaporizhzhia and southern Donbas. I’m more and convinced that’s the play. Certainly no reason to hit a mass of Russians at Kherson when it’s far easier to cut them off. And the near-daily announcements of Ukraine’s big push to Kherson has been perfect bait. […]

    In other words, if Ukraine was serious about Kherson, they would’ve kept their mouths shut, sprung the surprise on Russia. Instead they gave them months advance notice. Ukraine isn’t that dumb.

    If this is what’s happening, we’ve got a couple more of weeks for the Kherson honeytrap to lure whatever Russians are in transit, then we can wrap up Season 3 and move toward what will hopefully be the fourth and triumphant final season of this war.

    Season 1: Battle of Kyiv
    Season 2: Battle of Luhansk/Donbas
    Season 3: NATO guns and HIMARS shape the battlefield
    Season 4: … endgame?

  161. says

    A heavily armed American Taliban cleric terrorizes a town hall meeting held by Beto O’Rourke

    We are in trouble, folks; the fascists are becoming ever more bold and dangerous, as witnessed by a nutball walking into a town hall with an AR-15. Video of the encounter is in the embedded tweets below (three parts for the full video) filmed by Shannon Watts of Mom’s Demand Action, a grassroots group fighting for policies that protect against gun violence.

    A self-proclaimed “minister of the gospel” showed up to Beto O’Rourke’s town hall in Hemphill, in East Texas, on Saturday, July 30, asking questions about abortion and if Jesus was the gubernatorial candidate’s “lord and savior.” The man did all this while carrying an assault-style rifle over his shoulder just months after a gunman used a similar rifle to kill students and teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde.

    The man, who claimed to be a preacher, is seen in multiple videos posted to Twitter over the weekend. Before asking his question, the man says in the video that he was not at the town hall to talk about guns, asking O’Rourke how to “deal with the murder of the unborn for anything other than to save a woman’s life.” The man then goes on to claim that there are plenty of “great men of god who are the product of rape.”

    Part one. [video at the link]

    Beto handled it well and was careful not to agitate the cleric holding an AR-15 with a pistol in his holster.

    Part two and three. [videos at the link]

  162. says

    Stop the Medicare “Advantage” Scam Before Medicare is Dead

    Congress must pass a law to stop the deceptive advertising of Medicare Advantage plans. Only Medicare should be able to call itself Medicare.

    Unless you’ve been out of the country for the past few years, you’ve seen the ads on TV featuring Joe Namath, Jimmy Walker, or William Shatner hawking so-called “Medicare Advantage” plans. [Yep, I’ve seen those. Highly irritating … and deceptive.]

    [video is available at the link]

    Medicare Advantage is not Medicare.

    It’s private health insurance being offered to people over 65, with the bill paid for by Medicare. Once you get on an Advantage plan it’s very difficult to get off, and if you’ve been on for more than a year you may not be able to go back to regular Medicare with a Medigap plan at all.

    It’s also one of the most effective ways that insurance companies are using to kill Medicare for All before its even birthed, since almost half of all people who think they’re on Medicare are actually on these privatized plans instead.

    Nearly from its beginning, Medicare has allowed private companies to offer plans to seniors that essentially compete with it, but they were an obscure corner of the market and didn’t really take off until the Bush administration and Republicans in Congress rolled out the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003.

    This was the GOP’s (and a few corporatist Democrats’) big chance to finally privatize Medicare, one bite at a time.

    Bush’s law authorized giant insurance companies to offer for-profit health insurance to people over 65 that competes directly with Medicare and — most egregiously — it lets those companies pretend that they’re offering Medicare by using the brand name “Medicare Advantage.”

    […] With Medicare Advantage, seniors are at the total mercy of the insurance company providing the Advantage plan. They can deny care (and frequently do), refuse to pay for tests, and even refuse to authorize or pay for surgeries and other life-saving procedures.

    This is their business model, in fact, just like with regular health insurance. The more they can deny care and claims, the more profit they make.

    Most Advantage companies screw their customers just as enthusiastically and aggressively as they do customers of their regular plans, including denials, co-pays, and deductibles. And, because many elderly people don’t have the mental or technical bandwidth to challenge denials of care, the companies get away with it far more easily.

    The only real difference is that these companies are paid by Medicare to do this to people, instead of by their customers. And that works out really, really well for the insurance industry, because they regularly lie to Medicare about how sick their customers are so they can make huge profits.

    […] Worse, though, every year, Advantage providers can submit a summary to the federal government of the aggregate “risk score” of all their customers and, practically speaking, get paid ever year a massive additional lump sum for their “increased risk.”

    […] profit-seeking insurance companies, being the predators that they are, have found a number of ways to raise their risk scores without raising their expenses. And the more they do this, the faster they drain Medicare’s trust fund straight into their money bins.

    For example, many Medicare Advantage plans promote an annual home visit by a nurse or physician’s assistant as a “benefit” of the plan. What the companies are doing, though, is trying to “upcode” their customers to make them seem sicker than they are to increase their overall Medicare reimbursement risk score.

    “Heart failure,” for example, can be a severe and expensive condition to treat — or a barely perceptible tic on an EKG that represents little or no threat to a person for years or even decades. So these visiting nurses look for the tiniest tick in an EKG.

    […] The home health visits are designed to look for illnesses or codings that can increase risk scores. They very much are not looking for conditions that require medical intervention. This “free home health visit” scam is so profitable that an entire industry has sprung up of companies that send nurses out on behalf of the insurance companies.

    […] *“By 2009, government officials were estimating that just over 15 percent of total Medicare Advantage payments were inaccurate, about $12 billion that year.”

    *Based on its own sampling of data from health plans, the report shows how Medicare has estimated that faulty risk scores triggered nearly $70 billion in what officials deemed “improper” payments to Medicare Advantage plans from 2008 through 2013.

    […] Companies are almost never nailed for these overcharges, and when they are, they usually pay back pennies on the dollar.

    […] “The recent HHS Payment Accuracy Report exposes that taxpayers have overpaid Medicare Advantage plans more than $30 billion dollars over the last three years,” Brown wrote. “This report comes on the heels of a 2016 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report and a 2013 GAO report on [Medicare Advantage] plan overcharges and the failure of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) to recoup billions of dollars of improper payments from Advantage plans.”

    With a tiny slice of these huge profits, Advantage companies then will pay small parts of dental, vision, hearing or even give people a bit of cash every month. It’s pure marketing, though: in exchange for what sounds like a deal, customers must put up with fewer diagnostics, regular denials of care, co-pays, and deductibles.

    […] And it’s causing real disasters for real people. [see the link for details]

    Reporter Mark Miller wrote for the New York Times in February 2020 about Ed Stein, a 72-year-old man with bladder cancer and a Medicare Advantage plan that didn’t cover the cancer docs in his area who specialized in his type of cancer. He tried to shift back to traditional Medicare to cover what promised to be complex and expensive surgery and chemotherapy.

    As Miller wrote:

    “That was when he ran up against one of the least understood implications of selecting Advantage when you enroll in Medicare: The decision is effectively irrevocable.”

    And when those customers get really, truly sick they’re sometimes in for a world of hurt.

    […] the Times notes:

    “Tens of millions of denials are issued each year for both authorization and reimbursements, and audits of the private insurers show evidence of ‘widespread and persistent problems related to inappropriate denials of services and payment,’ the investigators found.”

    If you have “real” Medicare with a Medigap policy to cover the 20% Medicare doesn’t, you never have to worry.

    Your bills get paid, you can use any doctor or hospital in the country who takes Medicare, and neither Medicare nor your Medigap provider will ever try to collect from you or force you to pay for what you thought was covered.

    Neither you nor your doctor will ever have to do the “pre-authorization” dance with real Medicare: those terrible experiences are part of the past.

    But if you have Medicare Advantage — which is not Medicare, but privatized insurance that came about because of George W. Bush’s 2003 law to privatize Medicare — you’re on your own.

    As the Times laid out:

    “About 18 percent of [Advantage] payments were denied despite meeting Medicare coverage rules, an estimated 1.5 million payments for all of 2019. In some cases, plans ignored prior authorizations or other documentation necessary to support the payment. These denials may delay or even prevent a Medicare Advantage beneficiary from getting needed care…”

    If Congress and the Biden Administration really want to continue to allow giant insurance companies to exploit and rip off consumers and drain the Medicare Trust Fund, there’s probably not a lot we can do, given that almost half of all seniors now have so-called Advantage plans. Unwinding this scam will be very, very difficult at this point.

    But — at the very least — let’s stop the egregiously deceptive advertising. Only Medicare should be able to call itself “Medicare.”

    […] Let’s bring truth in advertising to health care for seniors and stop the destruction of what’s left of real Medicare.

    If it is being marketed like a scam, it is a scam.

  163. lumipuna says

    Via raven at 196, from Euromaidan Press:

    Russia is burning gas in a giant torch that is visible from Finland

    Flames have been burning at Gazprom’s Portovaya compressor station every day since June 17. This could be happening because there is nowhere to deliver surplus gas.

    This story has a video clip and a photo of the Portovaya torch, as seem from across Finnish border (about 20 km away, at the Baltic Sea coast near Vyborg where the NordStream I pipeline departs from Russia):

    Headline: “Here Russia burns away its own billions – The flame seen on video contains a view of current world politics”

    Further down, there are some old photos from the Portovaya gas compression facility. There’s a satellite data graph from the US National Institute of Aerospace, showing that occurrence and intensity of fire at the Portovaya facility have exploded this year. Some torching of gas occurs now and then at similar facilities in various countries, due to technical or logistical difficulties, although it is a waste of gas and harmful for the environment.

    According to Jessica McCarty, assistant professor at Miami University, the previous fires at Portovaya almost never burned at the gas compression station itself (where the current flame burns) but at the nearby industrial facilities. During May-July, Russia quit its gas delivery to Finland (this small volume was insignificant for Russian economy and not a very big hit for Finland’s energy supply either) and greatly reduced the amount of gas delivered along NordStream I to Germany before briefly cutting it altogether. It seems pretty clear that the current torching is indeed caused by gas surplus in the Russian system.

    In 2021, Russia’s total gas export was worth 55 billion euro, most of which went to the EU. Now, Russia stands to lose about 50 billion euro a year just by ending the EU trade, although the future price of natural gas is difficult to predict. It depends a lot whether there’s gas delivery from Russia to EU in the first place.

    The Russian national gas company Gazprom has been blaming the recent restrictions on gas delivery along the NordStream I on technical difficulties, which sounds somewhat plausible according to a quoted expert. However, Gazprom has been clearly deliberately dragging its feet in terms of solving the technical problems or using alternate gas delivery routes. There’s a photo of the gas turbine that’s currently stuck in Germany after repair. There’s a tweet from the Gazprom (in English), blaming Western sanctions for their supposed inability to get the turbine back into operation.

    Near the end, there’s a mention that torching of natural gas for various reasons was already a widespread practice in Russia, and a major environmental problem. It is illegal but very poorly enforced against. While nearly all of the released methane burns into carbon dioxide (which is a less potent greenhouse gas), it’s still wasted fossil fuel, and the burning generates a large amount of soot particles that spread over the Arctic region, reducing the reflectivity of snow and ice, increasing the warming of the climate.

    raven at 196 commented:

    I will say the Russians show their usual lack of imagination.
    .1. Natural gas can be liquefied to LNG and sent around the world.
    .2. Natural gas can be stored in underground facilities, which is what everyone does for the winter.
    .3. Natural gas is the feedstock for making nitrogen fertilizer, the key input for feeding 7.9 billion people.
    They could just convert this to fertilizer and sell it or use it.

    The article quotes a Finnish expert who is somewhat baffled on why Russia is resorting to large scale torching of natural gas. My guess would be that the LNG facilities and fertilizer plants that exist in Russia are already operating at full volume (as normally) and storage facilities are full.

  164. says

    OUCH! FOX News Hack Tucker Carlson Lamely Tries to Insult Jon Stewart, Gets Another Brutal Beat Down

    Some people just don’t know when to leave bad enough alone. And at the top of the list of those pitifully oblivious meatheads is the Fox News Senior Schmuck and Fascist Asslicker, Tucker Carlson. For someone who has been savagely steamrolled so often in the past, you might think that Carlson had learned something. You would be wrong.

    On Thursday night’s episode of Carlson’s White Nationalist Hour on Fox News, he felt compelled to malign America’s most beloved humorist, Jon Stewart. The impetus for this attack was that Stewart had the gall to speak out on behalf of American soldiers who were poisoned while serving, but for whom the country was not providing necessary healthcare. Stewart’s efforts contributed to the bipartisan passage of the PACT Act (despite eleven Republicans voting against it) that will finally deliver the care that they need.

    So what on Earth could have triggered Tucker into such a tempestuous tantrum? Well, apparently it has something to do with his looks, particularly his height. Carlson lashed out maniacally at Stewart accusing him of…

    “…looking like a guy who lives in the men’s room at your public library, eating imaginary insects out of the air. And he was there to get, for some reason, into a shouting match with the senior editor of Human Events called Jack Posobiec. […] He looks demented.”

    This raises the question of how Carlson is so familiar with denizens of men’s rooms at libraries. More to the point, Carlson completely misunderstood the reason Stewart was there. It wasn’t to argue with Posobiec, a notorious racist and conspiracy theorist. It was to help the heroes that Fox News pretends to support. But Carlson was just get started. After playing a brief, and purposely edited video clip intended to make Stewart look bad, Carlson went on to rant…

    “That’s Jon Stewart? The famous Jon Stewart? He looks like a homeless mental patient. He’s shrieking and disheveled. And very short. Really short. Too short to date. Was he always that short? What happened? Where’s he been the last 7 years? If you know, let us know. We want answers.”

    [video at the link]

    Yes, Tuckums. That’s the famous Jon Stewart, passionately standing up for sick veterans, which is more than you’ve ever done for anyone else. And while Stewart may be only 5’7″, if he 6’7″ he still wouldn’t date you. So take a cold shower in a library men’s room and get over it. Or go try to get a date with the “sexy” cartoon M&Ms that make you so hot.

    It’s interesting that Stewart works so hard on behalf of others, but Carlson can only find fault with his height. Carlson’s hatred of short people says much more about himself than it does of Stewart. However, Stewart had a prompt and appropriate response…

    “Friends. Tonite I am sad. @TuckerCarlson believes me too short to date…and yet somehow, miraculously, I remain tall enough to not know what Victor Orban’s ass tastes like! Is it goulash Tucky? Seems like it would be goulash.”

    OUCH! Did Carlson really think he could beat Stewart in a battle of the burns? Stewart’s retort was both funny and topical. Hungarian dictator Orbán just spoke at the ultra-rightist CPAC conference where the conservative crowd cheered his racist and authoritarian views. Carlson is a huge fan of Orbán, having traveled to Hungary in order to do a slobberingly softball interview late last year.

    What’s more, Carlson’s infatuation with Orbán is reciprocal. Orbán recently praised Carlson saying that “programs like his should be broadcasted day and night. Or as you say 24/7.'” He better be careful or Vladimir Putin, who Carlson is also enamored of, will get jealous.

    This, of course, isn’t the first battering that Carlson has had by Stewart. In 2005 Stewart appeared on CNN’s Crossfire which was co-hosted by Paul Begala and Carlson. In that encounter Stewart told Carlson that he was “not going to be your monkey,” and that he is “as big a dick on [Crossfire] as you are on any show.” A few weeks later Crossfire was canceled and Carlson was fired. It’s clear that Carlson has never gotten over it. Watch the classic exchange below. [video at the link]

  165. raven says

    The NYT has an analysis of how many states would vote to keep abortion legal.
    It is 40 out of 50.
    The only ones that would vote against it are in the deep South.

    Oregon had an abortion vote in 2018 about public funding, to stop it.
    It lost by 65% to 35%.

    Kansas Result Suggests 4 Out of 5 States Would Back Abortion Rights in Similar Vote
    The referendum in a reliably Republican state shows which party has the most energy on the issue.
    Aug. 4, 2022 NYTimes edited for length
    There was every reason to expect a close election.

    Instead, Tuesday’s resounding victory for abortion rights supporters in Kansas offered some of the most concrete evidence yet that the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade has shifted the political landscape. The victory, by a 59-41 margin in a Republican stronghold, suggests Democrats will be the energized party on an issue where Republicans have usually had an enthusiasm advantage.

    The Kansas vote implies that around 65 percent of voters nationwide would reject a similar initiative to roll back abortion rights, including in more than 40 of the 50 states (a few states on each side are very close to 50-50).

    It’s a tally that’s in line with recent national surveys that showed greater support for legal abortion after the court’s decision.

    The only reason the deep South can keep abortion illegal is because they are massive hypocrites. Most girls and women that need an abortion will end up traveling to…Blue states.

  166. tomh says

    Texas Tribune
    Jury awards parents of Sandy Hook victim more than $45 million in punitive damages in Alex Jones defamation case
    Lawyers for the parents asked the jury to end Jones’ “gold rush of fear and misinformation.” He’ll owe a total of nearly $50 million to the parents.

    A Texas jury on Friday added $45.2 million to the damages that conspiracy theorist and media personality Alex Jones must pay to the parents of a Sandy Hook shooting victim as punishment for repeatedly claiming the school shooting was a hoax.

    On Thursday, the jury ordered Jones to pay the parents $4.1 million in compensation for his comments, bringing the total amount owed to just under $50 million. Friday’s order determined punitive damages, which can be awarded to punish a defendant for reckless, negligent or outrageous behavior or to deter future bad acts.

    Bernard Pettingill, an economic expert….estimated that Jones’ net worth, combined with the net worth of Free Speech Systems, ranges from $135 million to $270 million.

  167. rorschach says

    Lynna @207,

    “We are in trouble, folks; the fascists are becoming ever more bold and dangerous, as witnessed by a nutball walking into a town hall with an AR-15.”
    I am constantly astonished as to how the Democrats are ignoring the looming christofascist takeover of the USA (and its nuclear arsenal) after the midterms. It is likely that there will be no more democratic elections in the US and everyone seems ok with it. The SCOTUS is essentially a Taliban council, just with alcohol, the Secret Service (short:SS) deletes evidence of conspiracy to commit treason with gay abandon, Agolf Twitler is still holding televised rallies…USA is on the brink, and nothing is happening. It’s quite disconcerting.
    Germany is not perfect, far from it, people here have in the last 20 years lost the plot intellectually too, burning forests are nowadays the result of “hot weather” or “glass shards”, as opposed to arson, but hey, at least here if you had the religious nutjob neolibs try election interference, there would be riots in the streets. I hope.

  168. raven says

    This is an update of the Russian deportation plans in Ukraine.
    The latest numbers are something like 2.8 million people, 440,000 of them children.

    TIL (Things I Learn) online.
    How to commit genocide.
    .1. Commit atrocities and mass murder. A lot of the population will flee to the West as refugees. In Ukraine’s case, it is 12 million refugees, 7 million internally and 5 million out of the country.
    .2. Forcibly deport millions of the population to Russia. These people are ending up at the ends of the earth without much social support. If the typical Russian pattern holds, many of them will be disappeared and/or die one way or another.
    .3. Kill a few million of the target population. That will at least quiet them down.
    .4. Import your own people into the empty spaces you’ve created.
    .5. Forced assimilation.
    Suppress the language and culture of the conquered people. Take over the schools and Russify the population. In a few generations, only old people in out of the way places will speak Ukrainian.
    This is almost what has already happened to Belarusian. Not too many people speak it any more and there is very little content in the language being created since Belarusian bookstores are illegal.

    The old idea that you commit genocide by killing all of the target population is outdated. You don’t even have to kill all that many people.
    Refugees, deportations, terrorism, and forced assimilation is all you need. The best method is probably forced assimilation. It will take a while, a generation or two, but in the end it will work. And without the piles of bodies, the world isn’t going to worry about it too much.

    Inside Russia’s ‘Kafka-esque’ Mass Kidnapping Scheme
    A deranged “filtration” system gives Ukrainian civilians—including young children—the illusion of choice but, in reality, they are being kidnapped en masse by the Russian state. Allison Quinn News Editor
    Updated Aug. 05, 2022 11:07AM ET / Published Aug. 05, 2022 4:33AM ET

    Nearly six months into Russia’s full-scale war against Ukraine, with up to 1.6 million Ukrainians forcibly taken to Russia so far, Ukrainian authorities say Russian forces are now using civilians as cannon fodder on the front line and faking artillery attacks to trick them to cross the border.

    Just this week, Ukrainian authorities in Kozacha Lopan, a village occupied by Russian forces in the Kharkiv region, said residents were herded up and forcibly “evacuated” to Russia’s Belgorod region after being tricked to board buses by soldiers who told them they had to leave to escape “intense shelling” in the area. There was no such shelling, authorities said.

    In the occupied Luhansk region, authorities say 80 civilian men in the city of Starobilsk were forcibly sent to the front line this week alone, sent to die for the Russian forces who violently took control of the area.

    It’s all part of a “Kafka-esque system” Russia has set up to systematically wipe out the Ukrainian population by forcibly “Russifying” hundreds of thousands of citizens, according to a new report extensively detailing Russia’s network of “filtration” camps for refugees.

    The Centre for Information Resilience, a nonprofit that uses open source intelligence to track Russia’s activities in Ukraine, has compiled a new dossier—shared with The Daily Beast—on the network of camps and temporary accommodation centers Moscow is using to literally kidnap hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians in plain sight.

    “Ukrainian refugees are presented with the illusion of choice from the moment of their capture until their involuntary settlement in Russian territory. They are trapped in a Kafka-esque system working against them. Their forced displacement is just the beginning of the long-term impact of the war on the Ukrainian population. Kept under the watchful eyes of the invading forces from the moment of their capture until their forceful placement in Russian territory, there is no safe way to escape a process in which the wrong answer can cost them their lives,” the report reads.

    Screenshots of the video showing heavily armed Russian personnel waiting and escorting refugees arriving in buses at the Bezimenne filtration camp, Donetsk.
    Throughout five months of war, Russian forces have routinely fired at evacuation buses carrying residents to safety in Ukrainian-controlled territory, have blocked roads to thwart such evacuations, and in other cases snatched up fleeing Ukrainians to use them in propaganda videos for Russian media, the report notes. In one case, a Ukrainian history teacher serving as the driver of an evacuation bus, Mikhail Pankov, was taken captive by Russian forces before appearing, blindfolded, in a segment on Russian television which claimed he’d been detained on Russian territory while supposedly acting as a spotter for the Ukrainian military.

    “I’m begging you, please give my papa back. We’re doing very badly without him, we miss him. Please return my papa,” Pankov’s 12-year-old daughter pleaded in a gut-wrenching video on social media after his capture in May.

    Evacuation buses covered in bullet holes, civilians waiting for evacuation near Mariupol, and screenshots of video detailing the living conditions experienced by the detained civilians in Bezimenne.
    The 30-page report by the Centre for Information Resilience also pinpoints the locations of 11 “filtration” camps in the occupied Donetsk region. While Russia has claimed the camps are simply “checkpoints” for refugees hoping to get to safety, arriving refugees are often surrounded by heavily armed Russian forces and greeted by agents of Russia’s Federal Security Service.

    Ominously, footage secretly filmed at one of the camps in Donetsk, which the Centre for Information Resilience geolocated to a school in the village of Bezimenne on the outskirts of Mariupol, showed hundreds of Ukrainian men being held captive despite having passed Russia’s “filtration” process.

    A man detained in the same building who shot the footage and shared it on Telegram said the Russians overseeing the captives had been heard saying they hadn’t yet decided whether to use the men to fight for Russia’s army or as “labour for the demolition of the Mariupol rubble,” the report says.

    “When in Russian custody many refugees report going through intense interrogation, often with verbal abuse, threats, or actual physical assault. According to reports some people were simply never seen again.”

    In many other cases, those who underwent Russia’s “filtration” process described being shaken down for bribes, or of having their phones confiscated by Russian interrogators only to get them back with newly installed programs meant to track their activities.

    Journalist Stanislav Miroshnichenko described the process to Current Time TV in mid-June. “A person I was speaking to saw a program on his phone. It was a certain file that was uploaded to his phone via Bluetooth. In my opinion, it was called ‘Eavesdropping of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.’ I asked him if he had tried to delete the program from his phone. He answered that after he left, he turned off the phone and hadn’t used it. He didn’t know how to delete it,” he said.

    Those who do pass are reportedly then transported deep into Russia, where they report additional interrogations before being met at temporary accommodation centers by Russian state media urging them to praise Moscow’s supposed humanitarian efforts toward refugees.

    Location of the known filtration camps in Donetsk, pictures of a pickup point for civilians fleeing war zones just outside Mariupol, and a screenshot from the drone footage of the filtration camp in Bezimenne from May 2022 (left) and satellite image of the area from 2019 (right).
    Russia’s Voronezh, Rostov, and Krasnodar regions are said to have served as the settling point for most of the deported Ukrainians, who are often promised work opportunities, payments, and housing that they never get—or “free land” that turns out to be deep in the wilderness and dense with trees and swamps.

    “Trapped in a system that forces them towards Russia whilst presenting the illusion of choice, most will not have the money, connections, or even the mobility to attempt an escape,” the report notes.

    Many refugees also find that their new accommodation in Russia comes with heavy strings attached. While Russian authorities give out 10,000 rubles (about $175) to arriving Ukrainian families, if they want to stay, they have to fork over more than half of that.

    “They complained that they get a one-time payment of 10,000, and pay 6,000 for the [mandatory] Russian language exam,” one Russian woman who works with refugees told The Daily Beast.

    “Of all [the families I’ve worked with], only one supported Putin,” she said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

    Perhaps worst of all, thousands of children have been swept up in Russia’s mass kidnapping scheme—many of them dubbed “orphans” and adopted out to new Russian families, a fact which both Vladimir Putin and his children’s rights commissioner, Maria Lvova-Belova, have openly gushed about.

    While Russian state media has provided glowing coverage of the Kremlin’s supposed “humanitarian” efforts to take in Ukrainian children they claim were rescued from orphanages near the front line, Ukrainian authorities have said the so-called “orphans” they snatched up, particularly in Mariupol, were actually ripped away from their families.

    “Among those taken to the Russian Federation, there are new orphans who lost their parents as a result of the war, and children from families that got separated. We know of cases where children were simply taken away from their parents,” Pyotr Andryushchenko, an aide to Mariupol’s Ukrainian mayor, said in late June.

    “We are certain that this is just part of ‘denazification’ aimed at getting as many Ukrainian children out of the Ukrainian population as possible. We understand perfectly well, after what happened in Mariupol, that if children are put through the adoption procedure in two or three years, given the age they are at, it will be very difficult to find their parents, and they themselves will not remember them,” Andryushchenko said.

    The independent news outlet Verstka reported in late June that hundreds of unaccompanied Ukrainian children were taken to a sports complex in Taganrog, in Russia’s Rostov region. Some of those kids were later moved to the Moscow region, where they were handed over to Russian families.

    The Centre for Information Resilience geolocated the makeshift temporary accommodation center where children were being held in Taganrog, identifying it as the Dvorets Sports Complex. In mid-March, a third of refugees being held at the center were between the ages of 3 and 10, according to their report.

    The families of thousands of Ukrainian children who went missing during the chaotic early days of Russia’s full-scale invasion are still searching for their kids months later.

    Tatyana and Yelena, two grandmothers from Mariupol, are among the most gut-wrenching examples. Their toddler granddaughter, Nastya, vanished along with both of her parents when the city came under heavy shelling on March 12, according to Verstka. The building Nastya lived in with both parents—the daughter and son of Tatyana and Yelena—burned up after taking a direct hit, but none of their bodies were found in the wreckage.

    Five months later, Tatyana told Verstka, she spotted a little girl she was sure was Nastya being described as an “orphan” in footage aired by Russian state media last month that showed Ukrainian kids being taken in by their new adoptive Russian families near Moscow.

    She recalled her husband searching the house for a sedative to calm her down. After sending Yelena the footage, she too agreed it was the missing granddaughter.

    But after weeks of haggling with Russian authorities to verify the little girl’s identity, a long-awaited meeting proved disappointing, Tatyana said. Though Russian authorities would not agree to bring the girl in person, they provided pictures and video of her that were inspected by friends of the family who knew her well.

    “It’s not Nastya. They could not make a mistake. It’s not her nose, not her big blue eyes,” Tatyana was quoted saying.

    She and Elena now continue their search for both their children and granddaughter, who Tatyana recalls had always refused to pick flowers like other kids, believing that both the flower bud and flowers were meant to stay as one whole family.

    “She thought that both the mother would be hurt, and the children— the flowers—would be hurt. If they are separated, the buds would wither and die.”

  169. says

    Satire from Andy Borowitz:

    As it reportedly considers a criminal prosecution of the former President, the Department of Justice has “strongly urged” Donald J. Trump to retain Alex Jones’s legal team.

    “We at the Justice Department can think of no one better to represent you than Alex Jones’s lawyers,” Attorney General Merrick Garland wrote recently, in a letter to Trump. “They are, quite simply, the Dream Team.”

    Garland added, “After watching these lawyers in action, my associates at the D.O.J. and I looked at each other and said, ‘These guys have to represent Trump.’ ”

    The Attorney General acknowledged that Trump might be considering hiring his longtime attorney, Rudy Giuliani, but noted, “As amazing as Rudy would be, we think that Alex Jones’s lawyers would be even more amazing.”

    In a final inducement to Trump, Garland added, “We’ll pay them.”

    New Yorker link

  170. says

    Why Alex Jones’ phone matters beyond the Sandy Hook trials

    His cell phone data appears to prove he lied about Sandy Hook and his finances. Could it also help Jan. 6 investigators or even lead to criminal charges?

    It was the Perry Mason moment heard round the world. And by that, I mean Wednesday’s live, in-court revelation that attorneys for far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones inadvertently sent two years worth of texts and emails from Jones’ cell phone to his opponents in a defamation trial.

    Using those emails and texts judiciously and strategically, Texas lawyer Mark Bankston gave a masterclass in cross-examination, alleging Jones lied about everything from his very use of email to his financial situation to the sincerity of his stated belief that the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting was a hoax. It’s no wonder a jury concluded that Jones, who was held liable by default for refusing to provide relevant documents, including texts and emails, now owes $50 million — $4.1 million in compensatory damages and an eye-popping $42.5 million in punitive damages, which Jones’ lawyer already vowed to contest — to the parents of 6-year-old Jesse Lewis, who was killed in the Sandy Hook massacre.

    One would think it could not get worse for the Infowars host. But even before the jury announced its damages award, Judge Maya Guerra Gamble made a ruling that could far overshadow Jones’ monetary woes: She held that barring certain medical records belonging to other Sandy Hook families, Bankston’s possession and use of Jones’ phone data was generally fair game. Why? Because Jones’ lawyer — who realized his mistake but asked only that the other side “disregard” what he shared — failed to specifically identify any privileged material within the 10 days allotted under Texas court rules.

    And it’s that decision that stands to make Jones’ life truly miserable. Not only did it leave him open to punitive damages to Lewis’ family and significant damages in two other, similar Sandy Hook cases, but it could also expose Jones to criminal investigation and prosecution in three areas outside Sandy Hook: bankruptcy fraud, obstruction of Congress and any crimes committed in connection to the Jan. 6 attack. (And that’s not even counting any exposure Jones might have simply for lying under oath during prior depositions or on the stand.)

    First, as the trial was underway, Jones’ parent media company filed for federal bankruptcy protection, just as some of its subsidiaries did in April. Wednesday’s court proceedings, however, suggest that Jones’ claims of poverty are false. Although Jones has testified that he “lost millions of dollars” after he and Infowars were “deplatformed” in 2018 from YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Apple, the contents of Jones’ phone apparently show his revenue increased — and that on some days, he made more than $800,000 through products sold through Infowars advertisements. If Jones’ bankruptcy filings reflect similar discrepancies, he could be referred to the Department of Justice for investigation; it is a federal crime to make false or misleading statements in bankruptcy proceedings and/or willfully file fraudulent documents in a bankruptcy proceeding as part of a larger scheme to defraud, including in order to conceal assets from one’s litigation adversaries.

    Second, much is being made of the House Jan. 6 committee’s reported request for the contents of Jones’ phone — and Bankston’s announcement that he will comply with that request.

    To be fair, Bankston admitted Thursday that while he and his co-counsel saw text messages “from as far back as 2019,” they do not know “the full scope and breadth” of what is on Jones’ phone, much less whether “it even covers the time period” of interest to the committee. (Jones’ lawyer, for his part, told the court the texts produced cover more than six months “from late 2019 into the first quarter of 2020.”) On Friday, Bankston had a disappointing update for The Austin-American Statesman: “It does look like that phone was scraped in mid- to late-2020.” Yet Bankston’s comments do not seem to be definitive, and the well-staffed committee will devour the phone’s contents. and if there are communications from 2020 and 2021, Jones could be at further risk.

    Here’s why: When the committee issued a subpoena to Jones last November, it not only sought his testimony, but demanded he produce relevant documents within weeks. Jones ultimately testified this past January — and claimed to have invoked the Fifth Amendment roughly 100 times — but apparently did not produce his texts.

    Those texts remain of intense interest to the committee, which, according to The New York Times, has been trying to obtain them for months — and for good reason. As the committee observed in its subpoena to Jones, both media reports and his own statements reflect he:
    – “Repeatedly promoted” claims of election fraud and urged his listeners to attend the Jan. 6 rally that preceded the Capitol attack in ways that intimated he had knowledge of then-President Donald Trump’s plans;
    – Was told by the White House on or around Jan. 3, 2021, that after the Ellipse rally ended, he was “to lead a march to the Capitol, where President Trump would meet the group;”
    – Spoke at the Jan. 5 Freedom Plaza rally at Trump’s request;
    – Helped organize the Jan. 6 Ellipse rally, “including by facilitating a donor . . . to provide what [Jones] characterized as ‘eighty percent’ of the funding;” and
    – Marched, with “Stop the Steal” movement leader Ali Alexander and others, from the Ellipse to the Capitol on Jan. 6, where he was recorded “telling people not to be violent and to gather on the east side of the Capitol to hear President Trump speak.”
    – As the Times has noted, Jones also has a “broad range of ties to people in pro-Trump circles,” and was “closely involved” in two Washington-based rallies on Nov. 14 and Dec. 12, 2020, for which the Oath Keepers provided security.

    Further, with longtime Trump confidante Roger Stone, Jones was among those Trump allies “meeting in and around, or staying at” the Willard Hotel in Washington, where Jones interviewed former national security adviser Michael Flynn on Jan. 5. Among the texts included in Jones’ phone data, as produced to Lewis’ family’s lawyer, are what Bankston described as “intimate messages” between Stone and Jones.

    In short, Jones’ fingerprints — and relationships — are all over Jan. 6 and the weeks preceding it. And if Jones’ phone proves his involvement in Jan. 6 and/or schemes to overturn the 2020 election in ways that contradict Jones’ prior testimony, Jones could also find himself under investigation for one or both of two crimes of which Stone was convicted before Trump pardoned him: obstruction of an official proceeding and false statements to Congress.

    Third and finally, Bankston also disclosed in court that the Jan. 6 committee is not the only investigative body to request the phone. “Several law enforcement agencies” also made requests for the phone data, Bankston told the judge, adding that he intends to comply with those requests “immediately.” And although Bankston did not mention the Justice Department by name, it’s a safe assumption that the DOJ is one of the “various federal agencies” that came calling.

    Since the season finale of the Jan. 6 committee hearings last month, public reporting shows the DOJ’s own investigation is moving at a faster clip than expected or understood. In recent days, we’ve learned the Justice Department has issued grand jury subpoenas to at least four Trump White House aides: Greg Jacob, Marc Short, Pat Cipollone and Pat Philbin. A fifth Trump White House staffer, Cassidy Hutchinson, is reportedly cooperating with the DOJ’s probe.

    Jones, on the other hand, was in discussions with the DOJ about potential cooperation in its investigation months ago — but offered help only in exchange for immunity from prosecution. It’s unclear whether Jones ultimately reached a deal with federal investigators, but his eagerness for leniency at a much earlier phase in the DOJ’s work, coupled with its recent, dramatic advances, only underscores why a federal review of his phone data could be more bad news for Jones.

    Of course, whether Jones has anything to fear beyond additional defamation liability is something only he (and his email and text buddies) know. It’s also possible that the real damage Jones could do is less to himself than to any number of others — such as Stone, Flynn or even Trump himself — in his orbit. […]

  171. says

    NBC News:

    Three more ships with grain have left Ukrainian ports and are headed to Turkey for inspection, Turkey’s defense ministry said Friday, evidence that a U.N.-backed deal is working to export Ukrainian grain that has been trapped by Russia’s invasion.

  172. says

    NBC News:

    South Korea joined the stampede to the moon Thursday with the launch of a lunar orbiter that will scout out future landing spots. The satellite launched by SpaceX is taking a long, roundabout path to conserve fuel and will arrive in December. If successful, it will join spacecraft from the U.S. and India already operating around the moon, and a Chinese rover exploring the moon’s far side.

  173. says

    Blasts Reported at Nuclear Plant Seized by Russia

    New York Times:

    Artillery duels around a huge power plant on the Dnipro river raised the risk of an accident, as each side blamed the other for the explosions on Friday […]


    […] Russia had seized the facility early on in the invasion, and has been using it as a fortress to launch artillery attacks with the expectation that Ukraine would not risk the dangers of a nuclear catastrophe by firing back.

    Ukrainian technicians continue to operate the plant under Russian guard, and the situation has caused international alarm. According to the director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Grossi, the biggest nuclear power complex in Europe has been operating without access to parts and vital equipment, and without access for the international teams that would normally verify the complex is being operated safely. Normal safety practices are being disregarded or are simply not possible. The situation was dangerous enough before what has just happened.


    New York Times:

    […] …on Friday, artillery duels near a giant nuclear power plant on the Dnipro River in southern Ukraine created new safety risks.

    Explosions in and around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power complex at about 2:30 p.m. destroyed electrical transmission lines and posed risks of damaging the plant, forcing engineers to alter the operation of one of its six reactors by reducing power, Ukraine’s state nuclear company, Energoatom, said.

    Hours later, a second series of three explosions damaged an auxiliary building near one of the nuclear reactors, raising the risk of hydrogen leaks and fire, the company said.

    President Volodymyr Zelensky and other Ukrainian officials blamed Russia for the attacks.

    “This is the largest nuclear power plant on our continent, and any shelling of this facility is an open, brazen crime, an act of terror,” President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his nightly address. “Russia should bear responsibility for the very fact of creating a threat to the nuclear power plant.”

    The Russian ministry of defense said it was Ukrainian forces who had shelled the plant, accusing them of an act of “nuclear terrorism.”


    No radiation release has been detected or reported, but needless to say there are serious concerns about what may be happening in the complex. Currently three of the six reactors at the plant had been operating, two were on standby, and one was undergoing repairs. Following the damage at the complex, output from one of the reactors was reduced, possibly taking it off line. In the absence of outside verification, it’s not possible to confirm the status of the plant.

    The Times reports Ukraine had used a precision drone strike to take out a missile launcher and anti-aircraft system 150 yards away from a reactor without causing any damage to the reactor; the Friday explosions are being attributed to Russian forces, which lack comparable targeting capabilities.

    Russian actions at Chernobyl according to a report from the BBC indicate that the invaders did not understand what they were dealing with, and did not seem to care about the risks of a nuclear accident. Vandalism and looting were reported at Chernobyl as well as reports of Russian troops suffering possibly lethal radiation exposure. (Reuters)

    This is consistent with other actions by the invading Russian forces which indicate they are poorly trained, poorly led, and prone to casual brutality and criminality. That is not reassuring given the risks in dealing with nuclear power stations. […]


    Ukraine now has eight reactors connected to the grid – two at the Zaporizhzhia power station, which is under Russian occupation, three at Rivne, two at the South Ukraine power station and one at Khmelnytskyy. Its seven other reactors are shut down for regular maintenance or held in reserve.

  174. tomh says

    North Carolina school district plans to put AR-15s in every school
    Herb Scribner / August 6, 2022

    A North Carolina school district said Friday it plans to put AR-15 guns in every school in the event of a future mass shooting.

    The topic of arming teachers and school staff members has become an ongoing discussion in the United States in the wake of the Uvalde school shooting, with some schools now training teachers to carry weapons.

    The Madison County school system in North Carolina plans to put AR-15 rifles in special safes in every school throughout the county, the Asheville Citizen-Times reports.

    Sheriff Buddy Harwood said the rifles will allow schools and police officers to quickly defend themselves against school shootings.

    “I do not want to have to run back out to the car to grab an AR, because that’s time lost. Hopefully, we’ll never need it, but I want my guys to be as prepared as prepared can be,” he told the Asheville Citizen-Times.

    School districts across multiple states are discussing whether or not teachers should be wielding guns to stop future school threats in the wake of the Uvalde school shooting, which killed 19 children and two teachers.

    At least 29 states currently allow people other than police or security officers to carry guns on school grounds, per the National Conference of State Legislatures.

    In Ohio, a new law gives teachers the right to carry firearms after less than 24 hours of training, stoking critics’ concern.

    In Florida, there are more than 1,300 school staff members working as armed guardians across 45 school districts, the New York Times reports.

    Texas has at least 402 school districts enrolled in a program that allows people, including teachers and staff, to be armed, per the Times.

    Pennsylvania has been discussing the topic recently, too. State Sen. Doug Mastriano introduced a new bill that would allow school employees with a license to carry a firearm to carry the weapon at work.

    Meanwhile, a headline in the Washington Post:
    ‘Never seen it this bad’: America faces catastrophic teacher shortage

  175. tomh says

    ‘Not her body, not her choice’: Indiana legislature passes near-total abortion ban
    Herb Scribner / August 6, 2022

    Indiana became the first state in the country since Roe. v. Wade was overturned to approve a near-total abortion ban Friday night….

    Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb signed the bill into law late Friday night after the Indiana House and Senate passed the bill earlier that day.

    The ban takes effect beginning Sept. 15.

    The ban includes some exceptions, including cases of rape, incest, if the fetus is diagnosed to be a lethal anomaly and cases to protect the life of the mother, AP reports.

    Under the bill, abortions can be performed at hospitals or outpatient centers owned by hospitals. This means abortion clinics will lose licenses in Indiana.

    Doctors who perform an illegal abortion, or fail to report them, will also lose their licenses under the new law, the Associated Press reports.

    Rep. John Jacob (R), who previously supported a total abortion ban, said the abortion bill wasn’t strong enough, the Indy Star reports.
    “The body inside of the mom’s body is not her body,” he said, per the Washington Post. Let me repeat that: The body inside of the mom’s body is not her body. Not her body, not her choice.”

    Eli Lilly and Co., which is one of Indiana’s largest employers, said in reaction to the ban that it will be “forced to plan for more employment growth outside of our home state.”

  176. says

    Ukraine Update: Oh goodie, the Tankies are losing their minds over Pelosi and NATO

    It’s always interesting peering into the Tankie alternate reality, so let’s check in this Saturday morning. For those of you who don’t know, the Tankies oppose American imperialism (so far so good), but think only America can be imperialist. It looks like this:

    If you’re on the side of the US empire on any issue you are on the wrong side. Doesn’t mean the other side is always necessarily in the right, it just means a globe-spanning empire that’s held together by lies, murder and tyranny will always be in the wrong. Yes it’s that simple.

    I’ve previously covered the Tankies […], and they are named after the leftists who defended the Soviet Union even after it used tanks to crush uprisings in Budapest and Prague. In modern times, it ends up looking like this:

    Noam Chomsky, in an interview this week, says “fortunately” there is “one Western statesman of stature” who is pushing for a diplomatic solution to the war in Ukraine rather than looking for ways to fuel and prolong it.

    “His name is Donald J. Trump,” Chomsky says.

    These days, they’re certainly upset about Nancy Pelosi. [tweet at the link]

    Merely showng up, in a civilian aircraft, while dozens of Chinese ships buzzed around, missiles flew over Taiwan, and entire sea and airspace around the island closed for “military exercises”—well, it’s the U.S. that is “escalating.” Now, if you’re wondering, “well, at least this Tankie must care about the freedoms of the people of Hong Kong?” Ha ha no [tweet at the link refers to Britain colonizing Honk Kong: "There was no "democracy" or respect for "human rights" in the 150 years of British colonial rule over Hong Kong."]

    No one is defending Britain’s colonial past, the West has a putrid history in that regard. But remember, the Tankie doesn’t oppose all colonialism, just the Western kind. So it’s quite interesting that it was China that prevented Britain from transitioning Hong Kong to a full democracy.

    In the 1960s and ’70s, when Britain considered introducing direct elections, Communist China squashed the idea, warning Britain to “preserve the colonial status of Hong Kong.” Direct elections were later allowed, but only for a limited number of seats in the local legislature in 1991, with the countdown ticking to Hong Kong’s return to China. The last British governor, Chris Patten, expanded the number of directly elected council seats, but an infuriated China considered that a breach of the handover agreement and immediately replaced that legislature with an appointed one after resuming sovereignty.

    If you’re all-in on China being somehow the perfect society, you’ve gotta be able to brush off that pesky Uyghurs issue.

    No “genocide” of the Uyghurs is taking place in China. Actually the opposite is happening. The Uyghur population has increased (they were not subject to the “one child policy”). No “cultural genocide” either. Xinjiang has 24,000 mosques, there are many Uyghur restaurants etc.

    You can find a great deal of information on China’s dealing with Uyghurs, but here are primes from the Council of Foreign Relations and the BBC. It’s genocide.

    But hey, the Tankies know who the real evils are: [“Nancy Pelosi is evil” tweet available at the link. Photo shows Pelosi with the Dalai Lama]

    If you’re wondering why Pelosi is “evil” for meeting with Dalai Lama, [the Tankie] goes on to call him a “slave owner and terrorist.” You know, because he advocates for independence for Tibet, and has murdered, let me do some math … carry the one … zero people in his dastardly quest for self-determination.

    [Jackson Hinkle tweeted] To all the conservatives who think Taiwan is a country & want war with China: You are doing Soros’ dirty work, congratulations.

    Tankies are very anti-semitic, duh.

    I’m a Fascist but I support modern China. They fight against liberalism, LGBT propaganda for children, they allow net zero immigration. The Chinese corporatist system is very similar to the Italian one in the 1930s. CCP was evil when Mao was there. Not anymore.

    They are also very anti-LGBT for some reason.

    […] Meanwhile, the U.S. Senate voted to admit Finland and Sweden into NATO. That made the Tankies sad.

    U.S. progressives are tools of the national security state and endless war [plus insults aimed at Bernie Sanders and AOC]

    Putin’s pal Glenn Greenwald had conniptions.

    Bernie doesn’t even pretend any more to have anything resembling a left-wing foreign policy or any minimal divergence from the neocon-driven Dem Party’s foreign policy dogma.

    Opposing NATO expansion was long a mainstream liberal view. Now only Hawley & Paul will get near it […]

    Honestly no clue what he’s talking about. In the 1998 expansion bringing Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republican into NATO, liberal stalwart Dems. Barbara Boxer, Russ Feingold, Ted Kennedy, John Kerry, Carl Levin, Barb Mikulski, and Patty Murray all voted yes. (Interestingly, nine Republicans and 10 Democrats voted no, but they were mostly the party’s conservative wing) […]

    Anyway, this about sums it up: [Cartoon at the link debunking “NATO expansion” justification for Russia invading Ukraine.]

  177. says

    Investigation confirms what we all know: GOP is deliberately targeting corporate climate measures

    Last week, West Virginia State Treasurer Riley Moore announced he would be targeting financial institutions pulling away from the fossil fuel industry, echoing a similar move from Texas’s comptroller. Naturally, these actions don’t exist in a vacuum and are a product of a concerted effort from state Republicans to pull the country further away from meeting its climate goals at the behest of the oil and gas sector.

    As the New York Times reports, nearly two dozen such officials are pulling these tactics on both state and federal levels. […]

    These actions range from state treasurers voicing their opposition to a proposed Security and Exchange Commission rule tackling environmental, social, and governance (ESG) concerns to those same treasurers outright targeting any firms who say they will decrease fossil fuel financing for the sake of sustainability concerns by way of laws passed against such measures. […]

    Many of these politicians were influenced by groups like the Heritage Foundation and the American Petroleum Institute […] Aside from API literally being an oil and gas trade organization, groups like the Heritage Foundation have long opposed any measures meant to address climate change. The think tank is listed by Greenpeace as a “Koch Industries Climate Denial Front Group.”

    It also heavily donates to Republicans […] Links between the Heritage Foundation and treasurers like Moore aren’t hard to find: Moore recently appeared on a Heritage Foundation podcast to discuss how much he hates ESG rules. […] these relationships are not just poisoning politics, but actively harming our planet.

  178. says

    Senate parliamentarian gives OK for climate, tax, health bill to proceed

    The Senate parliamentarian has given the green light to a $740 billion budget reconciliation bill that will reform the tax code, tackle climate change and lower drug prices, putting the Senate on track to begin voting on the bill Saturday afternoon.

    Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced Saturday that the bill is on track to pass this weekend now that the parliamentarian, Elizabeth MacDonough, has ruled that its provisions comply with the budgetary rules enabling it to circumvent a GOP filibuster.

    […] “In a few hours, we will formally begin the process of passing the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 by voting on the motion to proceed,” Schumer said.

    That will then trigger up to 20 hours of floor debate, followed by votes on an open-ended series of amendments that could last throughout the night and into Sunday morning.

    Schumer told colleagues they should expect to keep voting until the bill is finished, likely sometime Sunday. […]

    Lindsey Graham said that he and other Republicans planned to make the voting process “hell.”

  179. StevoR says

    “I will write peace on your wings and you will fly all over the World.”
    – Sadako Sasaki, died 1955, aged 12. One of 80,000 plus victims of the first Atomic bombing.

    Source :

    Anniversary of the Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima today.

    ABC news article on the 77th anniversary here :

    Where we are now nukes~unwise here – just under 6 min long youtube clip.

    Thought once that we’d got past this and learnt but seems we’ve gone backwards in this respect so very far.

    Thought we’d progessed towards disarming and globally agreeing that nukes weren’t going to be an option but..

    I’ve been to Hiroshima. Walked around the Peace Park – Genbakendomu – there. It is incredibly moving and, I really don’t know what to say now. Words don’t suffice.

  180. says

    Abandoned mines and poor oversight worsened Kentucky flooding, attorneys say

    “No one is denying the amount of rain we had — it truly was a 1,000 year event — but did the strip mines contribute? Absolutely,” a Kentucky lawyer said.

    As eastern Kentuckians continue to search for missing loved ones, muck out their homes and prepare for more rain, they are beginning to ask who could be at fault for this past week’s deadly flooding and whether it was a natural disaster or one caused by the coal mines that have drastically reshaped and scarred the landscape.

    Compacted dirt, destroyed mountaintops and deforestation in eastern Kentucky have often been left ignored by the coal companies that mined there, despite legal requirements that they attempt to return the land to its natural state when mining concludes. In recent decades, that spurned responsibility has, at times, turned heavy rains into floods and caused local residents who once counted on mining for jobs and prosperity to bring litigation against their former employers in Appalachian courtrooms.

    Lawyers who have pursued these cases in the past said it is still too early to pursue a case in the most recent flooding, as studies need to be conducted […]

    Kentucky, particularly the eastern mountains, are littered with abandoned coal mines. Many are a result of strip mining or mountaintop removal mining, the latter a method in which mining companies use explosives to blast off a mountain’s summit to get to the coal inside.

    […]”It is obviously just a clear slam dunk in terms of corporate irresponsibility,” said Alex Gibson, the executive director of Appalshop, the culture and education center in Whitesburg that was hit by more than 6 feet of water. “And of how we can predict an outcome and ignore all the signs along the way until the tragedy happens […]

    […] The loss of the natural ridge lines, vegetation and trees, and the cracks in the mountains that are largely owned by companies often funnels rainwater into the thin valleys, or low-lying hollows, where most eastern Kentuckians make their homes.

    Without these natural protections, regional flooding has grown as climate change brings new levels of precipitation up from the Gulf Coast to Appalachia.

    “They’re saying it’s a natural disaster, but I’m sorry. This is a disaster that was made by a whole bunch of mining that’s been going on for the past 40 years,” said Jack Spadero, the former director of the National Mine Health and Safety Academy who has testified as an expert witness in numerous coal mine lawsuits in recent years. “It has changed the landscape of eastern Kentucky dramatically.” […]

    Background information related to reclamation:

    The Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977, or SMCRA, was a federal regulation that was supposed to prevent coal companies from leaving abandoned mines behind. The law required mine owners to reclaim the land and return it to its natural form as much as possible. In the ensuing 45 years, many companies have avoided that work and many states in the region, like Kentucky, turned a blind eye to it.

    Now, there are more than 2,800 entries for Kentucky in the national inventory of known-abandoned mine land, according to a Department of Interior database, and much of it is located in the state’s eastern hill country. Experts also said that the number in the inventory is likely a conservative figure and that recent coal company bankruptcies have made it more difficult to pursue accountability.

    SMCRA required every state to enforce the financial responsibility and reclamation obligation of the coal mine operators in their state. While some states required mining companies to pay reclamation costs upfront, others — like Kentucky — allowed them to put up a bond for the potential costs. In the past, small companies in Kentucky were allowed to create a pooled fund, while larger ones were able to self-bond, but the majority were done through a third party.

    “There are surety companies that are holding these bonds, which are woefully inadequate to do the real reclamation work, but many are even fighting to turn over those bonds, so it’s like pulling teeth,” said Joe Childers, who has litigated cases for vulnerable Kentuckians against major energy companies for more than 40 years. “In the meantime, nothing gets done. The hillsides are scarred, they’re not reclaimed and you get a rain event like last week and you have terrible flooding. And it was totally exacerbated by the lack of proper regulation.” […]

  181. blf says

    Chris Riddell in the Grauniad, Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss: Tory headless chickens (cartoon), “Faced with stagflation, the Conservative leadership candidates have precious little to offer”.

    Also, First Dog on the Moon, Let us sing the praises of this magnificent and highly opinionated bird: “Recently some turbo chooks moved in the dam near our house. They are very dramatic creatures there is always a lot going on”. The mildly deranged penguin is upset it isn’t about her, and contains no mention of cheese.

  182. says

    blf @229, those are two good cartoons. I liked the note about the Turbo Chooks being extinct on the mainland, like decency and kindness.

  183. says

    Republicans are sore losers, but it’s more dangerous than that

    Donald Trump has made being a sore loser such a central part of the Republican identity that many Republican candidates are now insisting that their own Republican primaries must have been compromised. But it’s not just personal petulance. It’s part of a broader effort to undermine voters’ faith in elections and to lay the groundwork to overturn inconvenient results.

    Most of the whiners […] are also losers. Big-time losers. But one, Arizona secretary of state nominee Mark Finchem, won his primary and still claimed, “I’ve got people all over the state saying, I’ve gotten ballots that I didn’t ask for.” Finchem is in the running to be in charge of the election systems of a key battleground state, so what he’s saying there is that he would be looking for ways to use that role to undermine elections.

    In other cases, it’s a toxic combination of sour grapes and the desire to undermine democracy.

    In Colorado, Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters—currently under indictment for election tampering for allegedly participating in a breach of election equipment—paid more than $250,000 for a recount of an election she lost by 14 points, which she insisted had involved “cheating.” That recount gained her 13 votes, not exactly evidence of cheating. Or any misconduct at all. The recount also gained the winner 13 votes. Like Finchem, Peters was running to be secretary of state.

    Republican gubernatorial candidates in Nevada and Georgia also cried foul after losing their primaries. Nevada’s Joey Gilbert also paid for a recount, while Georgia’s Kandiss Taylor is apparently relying on the MyPillow guy to investigate and make things right for her.

    The Trump move of trying to influence the results—or at least the perception of them—by claiming victory prematurely is also spreading. In Pennsylvania, Trump told Dr. Mehmet Oz, his endorsee for Senate, to declare victory before the results were fully in. In Arizona, eventual Republican gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake did declare victory while the results still had her trailing.

    These moves are “exceedingly dangerous, because a democracy depends on losers’ consent,” Rick Hasen, the director of UCLA Law’s Safeguarding Democracy Project, told Axios.

    “If people believe the other side is consistently stealing elections, first of all, you completely delegitimize people in office … but second, you create the conditions where people might be more willing to engage in fraud themselves as a way of trying to even the score.”

    Indeed, the Colorado man who pleaded guilty to forgery for casting a ballot in the name of his missing (and presumed dead) wife told the FBI it was “Just because I wanted Trump to win. I just thought, give him another vote. I figured all these other guys are cheating.”

    Republicans are telling their voters not to accept any election result they don’t like. They’re telling their voters the other guys are cheating, with the implication that cheating is the only way to fight back. They’re training thousands of poll workers in these beliefs. Donald Trump’s late 2020-early 2021 coup failed. But it laid the groundwork for 2022 and 2024.

  184. raven says

    Invasion pushes Ukrainians to ditch Russian, survey showed that 76% of Ukrainians consider Ukrainian their native tongue, up from 57% in 2012. Ukrainian now dominates in Kyiv, where Russian was the main language a decade ago.…

    I’m not posting the article because it is the Wall Street Journal and I avoid Murdoch’s papers.

    .1. It’s interesting how many people in Ukraine speak Russian.
    It was the language of the conqueror for so long that it was taking over from Ukrainian.
    (The two languages aren’t even all that similar considering they are both Slavic languages.)
    .2. I was reading a Ukrainian subject website where everything is in English.
    Some of the Ukrainian posters were mentioning that they were switching to Ukrainian and having a hard time of it. They know Ukrainian but not well and up until recently rarely used it.
    Strangely enough, their English was pretty good though.
    .3. They say that President Zylensky’s Ukrainian is getting better.
    He is a native Russian speaker from the East and apparently his Ukrainian isn’t the best.

    .4. The Russian speaking Russians from Ukraine and the Russian speaking Ukrainians almost all don’t like the Russians any more. Speaking the same language doesn’t count for much when the Russians are wrecking your home and threatening your life.

  185. raven says

    Blasts Reported at Nuclear Plant Seized by Russia
    New York Times:

    Artillery duels around a huge power plant on the Dnipro river raised the risk of an accident, as each side blamed the other for the explosions on Friday […]

    This is the largest nuclear reactor in Europe.

    It wouldn’t surprise me if the Russians blow up this nuclear power plant, or disable the core cooling system and let it melt down.
    If they end up getting driven out of Ukraine, what is there to stop them?
    It’s not like we and the rest of the world are going to like the Russians any less if they do so. We already are at zero regard here.

  186. raven says

    The Ministry of Healthcare of Ukraine has issued instructions on how to deal with a radiation accident.* “Given that the terrorist country does not comply with any laws and rules of warfare, every Ukrainian should know the basic rules of conduct in case of an emergency of any nature”,

    This is just a coincidence, I’m sure. Nothing to do with a failing nuclear power plant at Zaporizhzhia being occupied by the Russians.

    Latest Ukraine updates: Nuclear site ‘seriously damaged’
    By Hamza Mohamed and Federica Marsi 6 Aug 2022

    Parts of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant have been “seriously damaged” by military strikes, Ukraine’s nuclear power plant operator says.

    This isn’t looking very good right now.

    The Russians decided to use a nuclear power plant as a military base.

  187. says

    Josh Marshall: Trump’s Grievance Feedback Loop

    Democrats are now in a reasonably strong position to hold the Senate and perhaps expand their majority. A major reason for that is that Donald Trump took it upon himself and was largely allowed to pick the candidates. Almost all of them are terrible candidates: Oz, Vance, Masters, Walker. These are simply terrible candidates. They could win. But it will be in spite of their terribleness not because of it. Kelly, Warnock, Fetterman, Ryan are all pretty good candidates. In some cases, in terms of their fit for the state in question they are near perfect candidates. Tim Ryan may be the best example of that even though he’s the least likely of the four to win. But all would be in much more challenging contests if they were opposed by even generic, non-crazy-sounding Trumpite Republicans.

    Which brings us to the grievance feedback loop.

    Donald Trump was in Wisconsin last night, the site of two critical races in November, one for Senate, one for Governor. But he spent most of his time picking a fight with Assembly Speaker Robin Vos. I am not a fan of Vos by any stretch of the imagination. But if you were a Republican or a Trump Republican you really would be a fan of his. He’s helped lurch government in the Wisconsin strongly to the right. So why is Trump beating up on him and endorsing his GOP primary opponent? It’s over the Big Lie. Vos isn’t one of those slightly heterodox GOPers who loves Trump but wouldn’t back the Big Lie. He was a strong supporter of it. But Trump is still trying to get Vos to change the results of the 2020 election. In response, Vos has patiently explained that that is neither possible nor legal, even though he’d love to. And that’s where things stand. Now he’s the RINO.

    Even though I know the answer sometimes I find myself wanting to ask the big Trumpers why the Big Guy doesn’t try to win an election the old fashioned way: trying to get more people to vote for him. We’re almost two years out and he is literally still trying to get elected officials try to change the results of the 2020 election. It’s hard to know just what that would even mean right now. Robin Vos can say whatever he wants. Joe Biden isn’t going to stop being President.

    […] Grievance has always been the touchstone of Trumpism. But Trump’s maniacal focus on the Big Lie amounts to gunning up ever more anger from a slowly shrinking group of people. It’s not that the public appetite for Trumpite authoritarianism is diminishing. But the appetite for relitigating the 2020 election is. Republicans get a new bite at the apple in just three months. They can try to win or steal that election and maybe they’ll have better results. Trump’s interests and the Trumpite GOP’s are not precisely aligned, even though they both operate within Trumpism.

    Trump himself is in a narrow grievance feedback loop. He can’t let go of the last election to the extent it’s complicating efforts to win the next one. For him there’s no other way. But Republicans have other options. So far, he’s blocking them from taking them.

  188. says

    Crime … lots of it in states that lean Republican.

    Excerpt from a description of a Fox News episode in which real-time fact checking revealed the truth:

    Fox News panel show Outnumbered had a liberal guest, Jenna Arnold, join the program Thursday and she diverted the show into a very tense, personal discussion about crime levels in the U.S. after she noted that “crime is higher in red and Republican states more than it is in liberal cities.”The comment created a quick backlash from the other four panelists as Arnold took aim at a common theme on Fox News — rising crime in “blue” states and cities. Arnold later cited her sourcing, the public policy think tank Third Way, which published a report in March 2022 that found that in 2020 the “per capita murder rates were 40% higher in states won by Donald Trump than those won by Joe Biden.”


    […] Constantly you hear the refrain on Fox News that “crime is rampant in Democrat-Run cities” where the prime example given is the murder rate in Chicago. Not much else is usually cited, […] these criminals just run wild in Democrat Cities, don’t cha know that?

    Yeah, well when you actually look at the murder rate on a state-by-state basis — it’s not really like that.

    Here are the 10 states with the highest murder rate:
    Louisiana (12.4 per 100k)
    Missouri (9.8 per 100k)
    Nevada (9.1 per 100k)
    Maryland (9 per 100k)
    Arkansas (8.6 per 100k)
    Alaska (8.4 per 100k)
    Alabama (8.3 per 100k)
    Mississippi (8.2 per 100k)
    Illinois (7.8 per 100k)
    South Carolina (7.8 per 100k)

    Louisiana has the highest murder rate in the U.S. of 14.4 murders per 100,000 residents. Murders were more than twice as common in Louisiana as they were nationwide. Murders are disproportionately concentrated in urban areas, especially New Orleans. New Orleans has a murder rate of about 37 per 100,000 residents, one of the highest of any U.S. city, followed by Baton Rouge with a murder rate of 35.1.

    Alabama has the second-highest murder rate of 12.9 murders per 100,000 residents. This is also more than twice the rate nationwide. In Alabama, Birmingham has the most gun violence and, therefore, the highest murder rate of 37.1. Fairfield, Anniston, Pritchard, and Troy are other cities with the highest murder rates in Alabama.

    Mississippi has the third-highest murder rate in the United States. Mississippi’s murder rate is 12.7 murders per 100,000 residents. According to the latest FBI data, Jackson had the most murders in 2018 of 78, which is a murder rate of 47 murders per 100,000 residents. Brookhaven has the highest murder rate in the state of 57.7 murders per 100,000 people.

    Missouri has the fourth-highest murder rate of 11.3 murders per 100,000 residents. Murders in Missouri are disproportionately concentrated in metropolitan areas – about 90% of murders committed in 2017 in Missouri were committed in metropolitan areas. St. Louis and Kansas City are two of the most dangerous cities in the United States. In 2017, St. Louis had 205 murders and Kansas City had 150.

    Alaska has the fifth-highest murder rate in the U.S. with a rate of 10.6 murders per 100,000 residents. Alaska has the highest violent crime rate of any state of 829 incidents per 100,000 residents. The most dangerous city in Alaska is Anchorage, where the violent crime rate is 1,203 per 100,000 residents and 27 people were murdered in 2017.

    Now it is fair to say that the murder rate is higher in cities – where the population is also highly dense — so we see larger per capita rates in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Birmingham, Jackson, St. Louis, Kansas City and Anchorage where some of those cities have Democratic Mayors, except for Anchorage, the rub of this is really that cities are where Democrats live. Most cities are filled with Democrats and most rural areas — without a city — are filled with Republicans.

    In cities, you have a high concentration of population, but you can also have a higher concentration of poverty which combined can generate envy and jealousy that leads to violence. [….]

    The twenty cities in the United States with the highest murder rates (murders per 100,000 people) are:

    St. Louis, MO (69.4)
    Baltimore, MD (51.1)
    New Orleans, LA (40.6)
    Detroit, MI (39.7)
    Cleveland, OH (33.7)
    Las Vegas, NV (31.4)
    Kansas City, MO (31.2)
    Memphis, TN (27.1)
    Newark, NJ (25.6)
    Chicago, IL (24)
    Cincinnati, OH (23.8)
    Philadelphia, PA (20.2)
    Milwaukee, WI (20.0)
    Tulsa, OK (18.6)
    Pittsburgh, PA (18.4)
    Indianapolis, IN (17.7)
    Louisville, KY (17.5)
    Oakland, CA (17.1)
    Washington D.C. (17.0)
    Atlanta, GA (16.7)

    […] Although murder rates in US cities are extremely high compared to other countries, some cities are experiencing their lowest numbers of murders in years. Newark, New Jersey had 72 murders in 2017, down from 94 in 2016. New York City’s 300 murders in 2017 is the lowest number the city has had since the 1950s.

    In all honesty, some of these numbers, particularly in southern cities can be the lingering after-effects of the failed reconstruction, Jim Crow and red-lining policies which continue to maintain jobs and education deserts within these cities. People of color here have reduced hope, reduced job options and reduced educational opportunities for which they themselves are blamed which can lead to self-loathing and self-destruction that can be massively devastating in ways that are quite similar to cities like Chicago which has had racial riots — led by whites against migrating blacks attempting to escape the South — for over 100 years.

    GOP Politicians such as Blake Masters have attempted to blame black people for this gun violence while of course completely ignoring the legacy of continued segregation which has placed people in these near hopeless situations and also ignoring the fact that most mass gun murders are committed by white people, usually white men.

    The numbers change slightly when you look at gun-based murders per state.

    Here are the 10 states with the highest gun deaths per capita:

    Alaska (24.5 per 100k people)
    Alabama (22.9 per 100k people)
    Montana (22.5 per 100k people)
    Louisiana (21.7 per 100k people)
    Mississippi (21.5 per 100k people)
    Missouri (21.5 per 100k people)
    Arkansas (20.3 per 100k people)
    Wyoming (18.8 per 100k people)
    West Virginia (18.6 per 100k people)
    New Mexico (18.5 per 100k people)

    Firearm legislation is a big topic in the United States. It’s important to look at the relationship between gun laws and gun deaths in the states. The South is a high-risk area for firearm violence, with those along the Mississippi River consistently reporting some of the highest gun mortality rates. Southern states, such as Florida and Louisiana, have seen sharp increases in gun violence since enacting stand your ground laws. Since enacting its stand your ground law in 2005, Florida has seen a 32% increase in gun deaths. [I did not realize the effect was that dramatic.]

    The rate of firearm deaths and a state’s strictness of gun laws have a strong correlation in some states, while not as much in others. Alaska, which has some of the laxest gun laws, has the highest firearm deaths in the country. However, Delaware has significantly stricter gun laws than Virginia but has a higher rate of firearm deaths.

    Suicides account for the highest number of gun-related deaths in the U.S. The Pew Research Center reports that since the 1990s, gun homicides have declined while suicides by firearm have increased. Of the 39,773 firearm deaths in the country in 2017, 23,854 were by suicide, about 60%. Gun-related suicides are most common in Wyoming, Montana, and Alaska. Suicide is especially high among American Indian and Alaskan Native populations, greatly contributing to Alaska’s high rate of gun deaths.

    Here Chicago and Illinois don’t even make the Top 10.

    Again, the predominance is among Red States starting out with Anchorage which again has a Republican Mayor. The prominence of guns and gun culture, stand your grounds laws, higher rates of suicide and lax gun safety laws are all contributing factors to higher rates of gun death.

    But you won’t hear that on Fox News — not without a loud chorus of nay-sayers immediately shouting down the speaker as soon as they bring up the subject of “Red State Murders.”


  189. says

    Unified Democrats pass critical climate and healthcare bill in face of Republican blockade

    The Senate has voted to approve the reconciliation measure known as the Inflation Reduction Act today, after spending well over 24 hours in continuous session so that senators could offer amendments that had no chance of passing. The final vote was 51-50, with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the tie breaking vote. A last-minute change backed by Sen. Kyrsten Sinema and every Republican sharply narrowed the bill’s proposed changes to the corporate minimum tax rate, which Democrats countered in turn with new limits to deductible corporate losses.

    The House is expected to vote for final passage on Friday, sending the bill to the White House for President Biden’s signature.

    […] Though not nearly as comprehensive as the original Democratic climate crisis plan earlier scuttled by Sen. Joe Manchin, the bill makes significant investments in clean energy and in infrastructure defense against expected climate-related disasters. The bill is expected to help the United States to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 40% of peak levels; still not enough, but a substantial improvement.

    Republicans did succeed in making one notable change to the bill, however: All but seven Republican Senators voted to strip a provision placing a $35 price cap on insulin in private insurance plans. Because the Senate parliamentarian (confusingly) ruled that the price cap did not meet reconciliation rules, 60 votes were needed to keep the measure in the bill. Only 57 votes could be mustered.

    It’s yet again not particularly clear why Senate Republicans felt it necessary to keep those insulin prices high, but the party has consistently voted against such measures.

  190. says

    Ukraine Update: Logistics, yet again; Amnesty International issues non-apology apology

    Ukrainian fury over a report from Amnesty International released last week—a report that blames the Ukrainian military for fighting in urban areas, as they fight to keep Russia from capturing those same urban areas—doesn’t look like it will be abating anytime soon. Already a high-profile resignation has taken place, and there may be other fallout.

    Before we dive in on that one, though, let’s address a new CBS report that made what seems on surface a scandalous claim, and one that’s also being hammered.

    OMFG: [Tweet from Julia Davis available at the link: “Meanwhile in Russia: statements by Lauren Boebert and Marjorie Taylor Greene, criticizing aid to Ukraine on the basis of uncorroborated conclusions by Amnesty and CBS, are again making headlines in the Russian state media.]

    MTG and Boebert are Putin’s useful fools. (As are Reps. Rand Paul, Ron Johnson, and Josh Hawley. And Donald Trump.)

    [Tweet and video at the link]

    So #cbsnews didn’t talk to #Ukrainian officials or the military – just two foreign blokes & #Amnestyinternational – who simply pluck figures out of thin air – “kind of like 30% maybe.” This is pure, sensationalist, Russian propaganda designed to discredit Ukraine.

    The scandalous-sounding claim being highlighted by CBS, that only “30% of it reaches its final destination,” is accompanied by plenty of insinuations of chaos or corruption, but in addition to the obvious sourcing issues of that completely guesstimated claim: Is that bad? Even if it were completely true, would it be a sign of crisis? A sign that we need to cut off aid, rather than abiding something so wasteful?

    It sincerely wouldn’t, and welcome back to the unendingly bumpy terrain of logistics, something we here have been hammering the importance of since the beginning of the war. Sending troops to the frontline requires driving them there. Keeping troops on the frontline requires deliveries not just of food and the odd replacement parts, but ton after ton of ammunition. From bullets to anti-tank rockets to keeping the critical HIMARS systems stocked, without those supply lines frontline troops are nothing but targets. And getting supplies to the frontlines is hard. It’s not just hard physically, it requires an army inside each army to be devoted to finding out who needs what, where it can come from, the quickest route to get it there, and which units should be getting priority treatment over the others.

    Even delivering four HIMARS systems, as we’ve previously emphasized, is an enormous challenge. But keeping them fed with the rockets that make them a weapon, rather than just expensive green-painted targets? A single C-5 cargo plane can carry 140 tons of cargo, which maps out to less than half a day of ammunition for a single HIMARS launcher. Taken alone, that’s nearly 300 tons per day that has to be trucked from Ukrainian supply stations to each and every HIMARS vehicle backing up frontline troops. That’s just one weapon system. From howitzers to tanks to rifles, every weapon needs the same supply. [Impressive!]

    [Tweet and video at the link]

    It’s unfathomably complex, and Russia’s logistical incompetence is one of the prime reasons Putin’s original invasion plans collapsed. It hasn’t gotten better.

    In CBS’ promotional clip they do, in passing, hint at the most uncomfortable reason supplies headed for the frontlines might not make it there. Supply convoys are prime targets for enemy forces. Blowing up a supply convoy, getting rid of the supplies, the means of delivering more supplies, and the drivers doing it is a military priority. Ukraine has had astonishing success in wiping out entire Russian convoys regularly, bogging down Russian troops and denying them the means to push forward. It’s the reason Russia has been giving up ground around Izyum, and Ukraine’s ability to target Russian supply lines around Kherson is a masterful example of Ukraine shaping a battlefield to come.

    Let’s back up, then. Let’s say that for every cargo plane’s worth of “military aid” being shipped across Ukraine’s borders, “like 30% maybe” of that aid has so far made it to the frontlines. Is that bad? Should we be panicking?

    Well, here’s a question in response. If 100% of shipped-in aid was already on the frontlines, would Ukraine be worried?

    They’d be in a state of panic. Absolute panic.

    Start with the basic points; the “frontline” is a small part of a military battle. Every soldier not on the “frontline” still needs food, every truck still needs gas, every vehicle in maintenance still needs replacement parts, and every supply depot needs, well, supplies. Where do those 140-ton-per-half-day HIMARS rocket pods go, when they’re delivered to Ukraine? They do not get loaded on trucks and shipped out to the frontlines. God forbid. You do not want two weeks worth of HIMARS rockets sitting next to the damn HIMARS, during a fire mission. You don’t want them anywhere in the targetable vicinity.

    You also don’t know which HIMARS are going to see the most use, a week from now. You can guess, but you don’t know. Frontlines could shift. New priorities could suddenly emerge. Something could break, taking a given launcher out for six hours, or two days, or a week.

    HIMARS are an unfortunately simplistic example here, because every one available to Ukraine is, you can be sure, being used to its fullest right now. There aren’t likely to be any held in reserve. That’s not true of any smaller weapons system; you can bet that anti-tank missiles, howitzers, and everything else aren’t being deployed at the maximum rate simply to have something in reserve.

    An army does not want all of its weapons on the frontlines. It does not want every last tank and howitzer already committed and ready to take aim at the specific hill in front of them. That recipe ends in an immediate defeat the moment your enemy launches a new attack somewhere you didn’t expect—and you’ve got nothing left to respond with.

    An offensive operation requires long supply lines that can feed enormous quantities of ammunition to the frontline troops attempting to overrun the enemy’s defensive positions. A defensive operation requires layers of defense, so that if one “frontline” collapses a new set of defenses can kick in.

    If you’re an army waging a defensive war on frontlines that span an entire country, you are well and truly screwed if every weapon you’ve got is already allocated to a frontline unit. It shouldn’t even be close.

    There are other reasons why specific weapons systems may not yet be seeing 100% frontline deployment, however, and that’s aside from the obvious point that not all “military aid” is meant for frontline use in the first place. Western nations have been pledging new weapons systems to Ukraine that Ukraine has no prior experience in using, maintaining, or even moving. The process of adoption isn’t as straightforward as it would be if Ukraine was already using those systems. It’s slower, and it has to be.

    The rational approach, then, suggests that the new weapon systems are going to be held back longer than Ukraine-built ones so that units getting one can learn what they need to learn. But that doesn’t mean they’re not already serving a purpose. Perhaps British howitzers, to pull an example out of a hat, are being deployed more slowly than Ukraine would deploy other systems—but the presence of British howitzers in western supply depots means that Ukraine can ship similar Ukrainian weapons to the frontlines in larger numbers than they otherwise would, because they don’t need to hold as many of those weapons back for possible reallocation. They now have backups: the British versions.

    This is true even for weapons shipments that haven’t happened yet. The majority of promised aid doesn’t need to even be in the country, so long as nations have inked pledges to deliver it on whatever schedule is possible. You don’t want every missile in-country. You don’t want every 105mm shell sitting in a massive, easily targeted supply depot inside Ukraine. If the Ukrainian defense has reason to believe those supplies are forthcoming, then current Ukrainian reserves of similar ammunition can be rushed out to the frontlines for larger-scale operations.

    It’s not just the frontline troops winning or losing wars. Without a steady stream of supplies each and every day, those troops are dead. It’s the know-how of what to get where and when that wins every war ever fought. If only 30% of “military aid” to Ukraine is making it to “frontline” troops, that’s … not even something to necessarily get worked up over.

    There might be corruption, because wartime, and there might be heavy losses as supplies get shipped to the front—though if such a thing is taking place, there’s been little evidence. But the specific claim being made by CBS to promote its report, a claim that perhaps all but 30% of the “billions of dollars of military aid” being sent to Ukraine “doesn’t make it to the front lines,” indeed seems sensationalistic. It’s not supposed to go to the frontlines. It’s not even necessarily supposed to have a “final destination” yet. It don’t work that way.

    Ukraine couldn’t be contesting Kherson right now if all western aid has already been pledged, delivered, and allocated. It’s installments of future shipments that’s making the current defense possible. We can only hope most of it’s being held back from the front in preparation for Ukraine’s next moves.

    […] Now let’s turn to the Amnesty International report that’s causing so much fury both inside and outside the organization. The core of the Amnesty International announcement is a condemnation of Ukrainian troops for their presence in populated Ukrainian areas: [Tweet at the link]

    Ukrainian forces have put civilians in harm’s way by establishing bases and operating weapons systems in populated residential areas.

    Such tactics violate international humanitarian law and endanger civilians, as they turn civilian objects into military targets

    The report was seen as accusing Ukraine of endangering civilians by fighting in urban areas, rather than blaming Russia for attempting to capture those urban areas. And that has Ukrainians absolutely livid.

    Ukrainian officials on @amnesty report: it creates a false balance between victim & criminal. Main efforts of int’l orgs should be to end Russia’s war, not instruct the Ukrainian army on how they should defend themselves from genocide.
    “Anyone who amnesties Russia and who artificially creates an informational context that some terrorist attacks are supposedly justified or understandable, have to realize that it helps the terrorists,” Volodymyr Zelenskyy on today’s @Amnesty report.
    Urban warfare is not prohibited by int law. If fighting goes on in residential areas, measures to protect civilians must be taken

    UA officials claim this is being done; govt stopped educational process in places of active hostilities, carries out evacuations – 🇺🇦HR Commissioner
    & Ukrainian Amnesty members literally traveled the country, to find out if people were being warned to leave, were leaving. They found this to be true. Amnesty International refused to listen!

    Amnesty Ukraine was blindsided by the head office’s report and objected furiously, and the head of Amnesty Ukraine resigned over the report’s publication. [Many more tweets available at the link, including: “Funny how I, as a Ukrainian civilian, feel in even more danger after @amnesty published their report (and especially after it was picked up by Russian media and spread there like wildfire). Because Russia’s always seen civilian infrastructure as its main targets […]

    The report has been getting substantive pushback, because it’s difficult to see what Ukrainian defenders are supposed to do differently when facing a war of conquest. Russia’s intent is to capture these population centers. The population centers are, themselves, the targets of Russia’s advances.

    Russia intends to capture each city, primarily doing so by using artillery fire to produce such widespread damages as to make those cities unlivable. After capturing cities, Russia has been kidnapping large numbers of Ukrainians—sometimes under the pretense of “rescuing” them, sometimes under no pretense at all—and spiriting them away to concentration camps inside Russia. Reports from liberated Ukrainian cities tell of random civilian executions and other horrific war crimes.

    It’s impossible to think of a plausible scenario in which Ukrainian defenders could defend those cities from capture without … urban fighting. There’s a difference between hiding among civilians for the explicit purpose of using them as human shields and justified urban defense, and critics don’t think the Amnesty International claim differentiates between the two.

    [much more at the link]

    Finally, on Sunday, the organization issued an apology of a very familiar form:

    ⚡️Amnesty International apologizes for ‘distress and anger’ its report about Ukraine caused.

    In an email to Reuters, the human rights organization said it regrets “the pain caused” by its report accusing Ukraine of endangering citizens, but “fully stands” by its findings.

    This is known as the Sorry If You Were Offended Apology, and is … not likely to go down any better. […]

  191. says

    previous guy’s post-truth gaslighting now goes full nonsense about 6 January 2021

    Desperation as the indictments loom…Trump baselessly claims that Jan. 6 instigators and Gretchen Whitmer kidnap plot were ‘fake’ in CPAC speech,” Just like those who instigated January 6. It was a fake deal. Fake. It was a fake deal,” [JFC!]

    [video at the link]

    – Trump baselessly said Jan. 6 instigators and a plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Whitmer were “fake.”
    – He alluded to conspiracy theories about the Capitol riot being orchestrated by FBI agents.
    – Trump made the comments while speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Dallas.

    […] The House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, riot has hosted six public hearings so far revealing their findings, which also included public damning testimony from former staffers in the Trump administration.

    GOP Reps. Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene were among the six GOP lawmakers also asked Trump to pardon them for their efforts in trying to overturn the 2020 election.
    [more video available at the link]

    [greeneuropeanjournal source] […] “That is actually the reason why academia is under attack: critical thought is the best remedy against bullshit. This explains why the far-right proponents of “alternative facts” hate what we do: academic freedom is the obligation to resist the devaluation of truth.


  192. says

    Republicans block cap on insulin costs for millions of patients

    Washington Post link

    Republican lawmakers on Sunday successfully stripped a $35 price cap on the cost of insulin for many patients from the ambitious legislative package Democrats are moving through Congress this weekend, invoking arcane Senate rules to jettison the measure.

    The insulin cap is a long-running ambition of Democrats, who want it to apply to patients on Medicare and private insurance. Republicans left the portion that applies to Medicare patients untouched but stripped the insulin cap for other patients. Bipartisan talks on a broader insulin pricing bill faltered earlier this year.

    The Senate parliamentarian earlier in the weekend ruled that part of the Democrats’ cap, included in the Inflation Reduction Act, did not comply with the rules that allow them to advance a bill under the process known as reconciliation — a tactic that helps them avert a GOP filibuster. That gave the Republicans an opening to jettison it.

    “Republicans have just gone on the record in favor of expensive insulin,” said Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.). “After years of tough talk about taking on insulin makers, Republicans have once against wilted in the face of heat from Big Pharma.”

    Some Republicans did support the price cap in the 57-43 vote for the measure, but not enough joined Democrats in support of it to meet the threshold [60 votes] for passage.

    More than 1 in 5 insulin users on private medical insurance pay more than $35 per month for the medicine, according to a recent analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

    Some 7 million Americans require insulin daily. A Yale University study found that 14 percent of those insulin users are spending more than 40 percent of their income after food and housing costs on the medicine. […]

  193. says

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

    Ukraine conducted long-range strikes on Russian troop bases and two key bridges across the Dnieper River overnight. The strikes hit the only two crossings Russia has to the pocket of southern Ukrainian territory it has occupied on the western bank of the river, said Natalia Humeniuk, spokesperson for Ukraine’s southern military command. “The results are rather respectable, hits on the Antonivskyi and Kakhovskyi bridges,” she said on television. Kirill Stremousov, deputy head of the pro-Russian administration imposed on occupied Kherson told Interfax: “The equipment of the builders who are repairing the Antonivskiy bridge burned down, there are no critical damages. But the opening of the bridge is slightly delayed.” [Sure, guy.]

    Four ships carrying Ukrainian foodstuffs sailed from Ukrainian Black Sea ports on Sunday….

    Russia is strengthening its positions and numbers on Ukraine’s southern front to ready itself for a Ukrainian counteroffensive and is likely to be preparing the ground to attack, according to British and Ukrainian military authorities. “Russian troops are almost certainly amassing in the south, either waiting for a Ukrainian counteroffensive or preparing to attack. Long convoys of Russian military trucks, tanks, artillery and other things continue to move from the Donbas to the south-west,” the UK’s defence ministry said.

    Russian shelling was recorded on Saturday in dozens of towns along the eastern and southern frontlines, according to the Ukrainian military. It also said Russian forces attempted to conduct assault in six different areas in the eastern Donetsk region, all of which failed to gain any territory and were held back by Ukrainian forces.

    Ukraine is investigating almost 26,000 suspected war crime cases committed since Russia’s invasion in February and has charged 135 people, its chief war crimes prosecutor told Reuters. Of those charged, approximately 15 are in Ukrainian custody and the remaining 120 remain at large.

    Zelenskiy said on Sunday that there could be no talks with Russia if it proceeds with referendums in occupied areas of Ukraine on joining Russia….

    Finland has registered a record number of asylum seekers following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, beating a previous high set during the 2015 migrant crisis….

  194. says

    Salon – “Texas targets trans voters with restrictions”:

    As a transgender man living in Texas, the rapid rollback of fundamental civil rights across our nation has been horrifying. I’ve watched ill-informed, aggressive political attacks on my health care, my livelihood, and my friends and family spread from Texas to every corner of the country.

    In the last few months alone, elected officials in Texas have pushed ruthlessly to deny life-saving medical care to transgender youth, investigate the loving families of trans teenagers for ‘child abuse,’ and force teachers to report their trans students to authorities.

    These situations reveal how the LGBTQ+ community has not been properly represented in our nation’s elections, through no fault of our own. Yet while it’s more urgent than ever that transgender people make our voices heard at the ballot box, our voices have been systematically silenced, allowing lawmakers to place these hateful targets on our backs. The reason is clear: The simultaneous attack on voting rights sweeping our country is pushing transgender people like me to the outskirts of our democracy….

  195. says

    Guardian – “Hungary tries to unlock funds frozen amid EU disciplinary process”:

    Hungary hopes to strike a deal with Brussels on blocked EU funds by the end of the year, as it races against the clock to unlock billions that have been frozen over concerns about state-captured institutions and corruption.

    If Budapest fails to reach an agreement with the European commission by the end of 2022, it stands to lose €4.64bn (£3.91bn) in Covid recovery funds, while questions remain over a potential €24.3bn six-year funding programme to upgrade its national infrastructure.

    While Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orbán, has previously suggested he did not need the EU’s Covid recovery grants, he has sent top officials to Brussels on a charm offensive to unlock the funds.

    Hungary’s chief negotiator, Tibor Navracsics, told the Guardian he was optimistic about an agreement on the Covid recovery plan worth a potential €15bn by the end of the year. He also hopes Hungary can strike a “partnership agreement” in early autumn to secure €24.3bn of “cohesion funds”, mostly from the EU.

    Both agreements are tangled up with an unprecedented disciplinary process launched against Hungary in April that could lead to the suspension of EU funds because of violations of the rule of law…. The Hungarian government has been given a 22 August deadline to respond to a lengthy letter from the commission warning of “remedial measures”, if Budapest fails to address longstanding concerns about the rule of law.

    Hungary has received billions of EU funds since it joined the bloc in 2004, but concerns have spiralled about alleged misuse of EU cash to enrich Orbán’s friends and family. During Orbán’s 12 years in power, independent media has withered and checks and balances have weakened.

    Navracsics – a Hungarian former EU commissioner, who was appointed minister for regional development in May – has been sent to Brussels to persuade officials to unfreeze the funds. His low-key charm offensive has been overshadowed by Orbán’s attacks on EU sanctions policy and inflammatory speeches, including an address on so-called race mixing that prompted a leading adviser to quit denouncing “pure Nazi” rhetoric.

    Senior EU officials believe Orbán needs EU money, as he grapples with soaring inflation, a plunge in the Hungarian forint and the threat of severe recession. The darkening economic outlook has forced the Hungarian prime minister to scrap energy price caps and hike small business taxes, leading to days of protests in Budapest last month, where people chanted “Orbán get lost”.

    Analysts have cited the lack of agreement with the EU as one of the sources of economic pressure on the fragile Hungarian economy.

    EU officials sense a moment of leverage to push the government to reform its institutions. But they also mistrust Orbán, renowned for his so-called “peacock dance”, ie, offering cosmetic concessions or a minor tactical withdrawal, while continuing to make Hungary an illiberal state. “Our experience has been over a decade that they say they abide, then drop one thing and then they come back through the backdoor. We have never resolved an issue 100%,” one senior EU official told the Guardian. “That is the big issue of trust.”

    The commission would like to create a new authority to safeguard EU funds in Hungary and is calling for stronger anti-corruption bodies and space for NGOs to scrutinise government policy.

    The Covid recovery plan is worth €5.8bn in grants to Hungary – €1.4bn less than if it had been approved last year. But 70% of the grants (€4.64bn) will vanish if there is no deal by the end of the year. The total plan could be worth €15bn, if Budapest opts to take up cheap loans on offer.

    Navracsics, a member of Orbán’s dominant Fidesz party, would not confirm whether Hungary was prepared to agree to an additional authority to safeguard EU funds. He said Hungary was making “institutional changes”, including changing public procurement rules – a key concern as Orbán’s allies scooped up unusually profitable EU-funded contracts through uncompetitive processes.

    Daniel Freund, a Green MEP focused on EU budget control, said he feared the EU was going to fall into another trap. “ [Orbán] has been outsmarting the commission time and again, signalling he will concede on this or that, and in the meantime preparing his next trick on how to circumvent certain things.”

    The German MEP argued Hungary’s plan should not be approved this autumn, because more time was needed to restore the rule of law after 12 straight years of Orbán government. “I think it is unrealistic to have rule of law repaired to a degree where it is sensible to unfreeze the recovery plan in the next two to three months,” he said.

    They would be fools to unlock these funds. From Thursday (quoted @ #174 above):

    Orban wrapped up his speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference by declaring, “We must take back the institutions in Washington and in Brussels”, and saying the two capitals “will define the two fronts in the battle being fought for Western civilization”.

    After defeating Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, “Now the West is at war with itself,” Orban said. “We have seen what kind of future the globalist ruling class has to offer. But we have a different future in mind. The globalists can all go to hell, I have come to Texas.”

    Get the funds from Texas, then, you yutz.

  196. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Russian forces want to cause electricity blackouts in southern Ukraine by shelling its Zaporizhzhia nuclear complex, Ukraine’s ambassador to the IAEA nuclear watchdog said on Monday, calling for an international mission to the plant this month.

    “We will use all possible channels of diplomacy to bring the IAEA and UN closer to conducting this mission,” Yevhenii Tsymbaliuk, ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), told reporters in Vienna.

    “We really need it urgently, as soon as possible, I would say not later than the end of this month,” he added.

  197. raven says

    Today’s Russian war crime is their threat to blow up the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant.
    They’ve mined it and have said they will blow it up if they lose in Ukraine.

    I believe them and won’t be surprised if they do exactly that.
    It will look a lot like another Russian production, Chernobyl.
    Except in a densely population region. Most of the radiation from Chernobyl went north over an uninhabited region and then into…Belarus and Russia because of the way the wind was blowing. That is why the radiation exclusion zone is called the Red Forest and not the Red Cities. 8/8/2022
    Russian occupiers declare their readiness to blow up mined Zaporizhia NPP

    Russian occupiers declare their readiness to blow up mined Zaporizhia NPP
    The Russians have begun to openly blackmail the whole world, declaring that they have mined the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant (NPP) and are ready to blow it up, Energoatom reported on its Telegram channel on Monday.

    “In his statement, the head of the radiation, chemical and biological defense troops of the Russian armed forces, Major General Valery Vasiliev, who now commands the Zaporizhia NPP garrison, said that “there will be either Russian land or a scorched desert,” the company said.

    According to Energoatom, it was Vasiliev who announced that the Russian occupiers had mined all the important facilities of the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant.

    “As you know, we have mined all the important facilities of the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant. And we do not hide this from the enemy. We warned them. The enemy knows that the plant will be either Russian or no one’s. We are ready for the consequences of this step. And you, warriors – liberators must understand that we have no other way. And if there is the toughest order, we must fulfill it with honor,” Vasiliev told his soldiers.

    Earlier, Andriy Yusov, a spokesman for the Main Intelligence Agency of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, said that the agency had confirmed information about the mining of Zaporizhia NPP power units by Russian troops.

    Russian invaders on August 6 in the evening again launched a missile attack on the territory of the Zaporizhia Nuclear Power Plant, as a result of which three radiation monitoring sensors were damaged around the site with the station’s dry storage facility for spent nuclear fuel.

    “Consequently, timely detection and response in the event of a deterioration in the radiation situation or leakage of radiation from containers of spent nuclear fuel is not yet possible,” Energoatom said.

    FWIW, these meltdowns can be serious long lived radiation hazards.
    A fission nuclear bomb only uses 50-100 lbs of uranium.
    “A typical reactor may contain about 100 tonnes of enriched uranium (i.e., about 113 tonnes of uranium dioxide).”
    If you run the numbers, the amount of radiation released in a meltdown compares favorably with a nuclear bomb because of the huge asymmetry in fuel loads, lbs versus tons.

  198. says

    Some recent podcast episodes:

    War On the Rocks – “Great Expectations? The Next Phase of the Russo-Ukrainian War”:

    Michael Kofman joined Ryan for yet another conversation about the unfolding tragedy of the Russo-Ukrainian War. In this episode, they focus largely on the potential for a Ukrainian counter-offensive on Kherson. They also discuss Russia’s repositioning of forces, continued (albeit smaller) Russian offensives in the east, the role of HIMARS, Russia’s personnel strategy, and whether we can know if a Ukrainian victory is truly possible.

    The Daily – “The Alex Jones Verdict and the Fight Against Disinformation”:

    In a landmark ruling, a jury in Texas ordered Alex Jones, America’s most prominent conspiracy theorist, to pay millions of dollars to the parents of a boy killed at Sandy Hook for the damage caused by his lies about the mass shooting.

    What is the significance of the trial, and will it do anything to change the world of lies and misinformation?

    Guest: Elizabeth Williamson, a feature writer based in the Washington bureau of The New York Times.

    A World to Win – “Chaos in the Tory Party w/ Phil Burton-Cartledge”:

    This week, Grace speaks to Phil Burton-Cartledge, author of Falling Down: The Conservative Party and the Decline of Tory Britain, about the current leadership contest within the Conservative Party. They discuss why there’s a dearth of Tory talent, why both candidates, Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak, are trying to model themselves on Margaret Thatcher, and whether they have any answers to long-term issues facing both the country and the Conservative Party itself.

    Mad in America – “How Grief Became a Disorder and What This Means About Us: An Interview with Kaori Wada”:

    In March 2022, a new grief-related disorder was officially adopted into mainstream mental health diagnosis nomenclature. Prolonged Grief Disorder (PGD) is a recent addition to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual fifth edition text revision (DSM-5-TR). A PGD diagnosis is to be used when a person is grieving too long and too intensely.

    In this interview, Kaori Wada, Psychologist, grief researcher, and Associate Professor and Director of Training at the University of Calgary, builds upon her recent paper on the Medicalization of Grief in conversation with MIA Science News Writer and Psychologist Zenobia Morrill. Wada articulates a history of institutional tensions and financial conflicts behind the creation of this new PGD diagnosis. She also discusses the ways PGD could shape how we collectively understand and respond to those grieving.

    Wada’s work demonstrates that the creation of PGD was not based on scientific findings but appears to be entangled in long-standing arguments between camps of mental health professionals with different stakes in whether the diagnosis became legitimized. Further, PGD, as with other diagnoses, represents elements of mainstream psychological theory that tend to render deviations from Western cultural norms as “unhealthy.” Is diagnosis needed to provide support and care? If so, those most likely to experience marginalization, violence, and unjust loss are also most likely to be classified as having PGD, a mental illness.

    Wada and Morrill explore what this new PGD diagnosis may mean, reflecting on the ways the “diagnose-and-treat” logic seems to medicalize experiences formerly considered part of the experience of being human. The need to pathologize experiences in order to address them represents a paradox. A new ethical and moral quandary befalls professionals tasked with determining when grief is an illness and when expressions of grief are inappropriate….

  199. says

    More podcast episodes:

    Citations Needed – “Ep. 165 – Labor Union Depictions in Hollywood (Part II): The Rare Pro-Worker Narrative”:

    A white collar worker wrestles with whether to accept a promotion or help his co-workers organize. Salt miners stand up to the company that’s taken over their town. A factory worker exposes her employer’s union-busting tactics.

    Stories like these represent something we don’t often see in Hollywood: Unions and labor organizers as the good guys. Not as egomaniacs or zealots, thugs or grifters—but as heroes willing to risk their health, homes, and livelihoods for the greater good.

    This is in contrast to the anti-union depictions in pop culture we explored in Episode 164, part one of a two-part series on depictions of labor in film and television. We discussed Hollywood’s emphasis on corruption in labor organizing, focusing on depictions of bloated bureaucracy, organized crime, and autocratic union bosses in On the Waterfront (1954), Blue Collar (1978), and The Irishman (2019), among others.

    On this episode we address the inverse of that, looking at the rare but nontrivial examples that pop film has celebrated the accomplishments of labor movements, centered beleaguered workers with everything to lose, positioned abusive employers as the villains, and embraced themes of worker courage and heroism. While very often not perfect, these examples show that compelling, award-winning narratives can be crafted out of tales of collective action and collective bargaining.

    Our guest is Angela Allan.

    On the Media – “Under The Table”:

    This week’s podcast extra is about podcasts, but this story has its roots in the early days of rock ‘n’ roll. Alan Freed was a celebrity DJ on WINS in New York, famous for helping popularize the nascent genre through the 1950s. But, unbeknownst to his listeners, record promoters were secretly bribing Freed and other popular disc jockeys across the country for extra air time for their artists — in a rampant practice known as “payola,” which eventually caught the eye of regulators. In 1960, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) outlawed payola, requiring broadcasters to disclose any payments received. However, members of the music industry would continue to blow the whistle on similar behavior in the decades that followed.

    According to Bloomberg reporter Ashley Carman, a similar culture of pay-to-play is taking hold in the world of podcasting. Her latest piece is titled, “Podcast Guests Are Paying Up to $50,000 to Appear on Popular Shows.”

    You’re Wrong About – “Porn Wars w. Nona Willis Aronowitz”:

    Here’s some money, go see a Porn War. This week we’re going on a field trip to Times Square with Nona Willis Aronowitz, author of Bad Sex, to learn about Deep Throat, “porno chic,” and the unresolved feminist battle over whether to eradicate pornography or make more of it….

    Guardian – “The Tory leadership race and the ghost of Margaret Thatcher”:

    Over the last month, the race to become Conservative party leader has been whittled down from eleven candidates to two. There has been one other figure, however, who has loomed large over the contest: Margaret Thatcher.

    While the former chancellor Rishi Sunak has pledged to “govern as a Thatcherite”, the foreign secretary, Liz Truss, has been forced to deny dressing like the Iron Lady. Both of the remaining candidates have cited Thatcher as the party’s greatest prime minister.

    As the Guardian columnist Polly Toynbee explains, it all points to a party that, in harking back to a leader who came to power more than 40 years ago, is badly out of touch with Britain in 2022.

  200. says

    Nordic News (Twitter link):

    Finnish PM Marin wants to limit Russians’ travels in Finland and other EU countries by expanding sanctions

    Foreign ministry: Russian tourists using Finland as transit country for holiday destinations

    “It is not OK that while Russia is waging a brutal war in Europe, Russians can live normal life, travel in Europe, be tourists,” Marin tells Yle.

    lumipuna has been sharing related developments here for a while.

  201. says

    As the midterms near, Republicans aren’t just targeting Democrats, immigrants, journalists, and school teachers. The GOP is also focused on prosecutors.

    At the Conservative Political Action Conference late last week, Republican Rep. Andy Biggs, the current chair of the right-wing House Freedom Caucus, talked up some of the goals he’d like to see his party prioritize if they’re in the majority next year — particularly when it comes to law enforcement.

    “There are things you can do,” the Arizonan said, reflecting on Congress’ power. Biggs added, “You start defunding some of these bad agencies. The FBI. The DOJ.”

    […] what’s striking is the degree to which rhetoric like this has become common, even among more influential Republicans. Roll Call reported two weeks ago, for example, on comments House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy made at a recent conservative gathering.

    Speaking to the America First Policy Institute gathering in Washington, McCarthy previewed some of the policy areas to be covered, including energy, crime and foreign policy. “We’re going to withhold money [from] any prosecutor that doesn’t uphold the law and picks and chooses who they go to prosecute,” McCarthy said.

    […]t prosecutorial discretion isn’t exactly a new concept in American law enforcement. But just as notable was seeing the would-be Speaker of the House speaking publicly about his intention to defund prosecutors that Republicans disagree with.

    […] The GOP is also increasingly focused on prosecutors as a convenient political villain.

    During yesterday’s Senate proceedings, for example, Sen. Marco Rubio was among the members pushing poison-pill amendments to the Inflation Reduction Act. Not long after sunrise, the Florida Republican published a tweet that read, “The Democrats just blocked my effort to try and force Soros-backed prosecutors to put dangerous criminals in jail.”

    The wording was problematic on a variety of levels — some critics questioned the reference to George Soros as possibly being anti-Semitic — but at its root, Rubio explicitly directed his criticism at law enforcement officials he disagrees with.

    It came on the heels of another Florida Republican, Gov. Ron DeSantis, ousting an elected state attorney for taking positions on abortion and trans care that the governor didn’t like.

    […] I’m reminded of this NBC News report published soon after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

    Dozens of elected prosecutors said Friday they would refuse to prosecute those seeking, assisting or providing abortions after the Supreme Court overturned the 1973 ruling that guaranteed a constitutional right to abortion. Prosecutors from 29 states, territories and Washington, D.C., signed a joint statement that included signatories from states like Mississippi, Missouri and Wisconsin that have banned or are poised to ban abortion services following the reversal of Roe v. Wade.

    Does the GOP intend to suspend and/or defund all of them, too?

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