1. Reginald Selkirk says

    One of the world’s most congested cities just opened its first metro line
    (Dhaka, Bangladesh)

    The largely Japanese-funded project, known as Line 6, was inaugurated at a ceremony by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina — who described the new railway as a “milestone,” the Dhaka Tribune reported. “Another feather added to the crown of the development of Bangladesh,” she said.
    She added that there would also be train carriages reserved solely for women and said the Dkaha metro would help reduce traffic jams in the city “significantly”.
    The line, which stretches over 20 kilometers (about 12 miles), will serve 16 stations and connect the northern zone of Dhaka to government offices and hospitals for now, according to a statement released by the state-run Dhaka Mass Transit Company Limited (DMTCL).
    It will eventually expand to cut through the city to the financial district of Motijheel in the south, it added.

  2. Reginald Selkirk says

    Feds detail roles of 3 women charged with kidnapping girls for polygamous leader

    ST. GEORGE — Three women have been charged in the kidnapping of eight underaged girls in connection with a federal case filed against Samuel Rappylee Bateman, an Arizona polygamous leader who remains in federal custody without bail.
    And the details compiled by federal investigators suggest a pattern of deceit and cover-up, including the shredding of potentially vital evidence, over a period of years.
    According to a 22-page complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Arizona Dec. 1, all three women – Donnae Barlow, 24, Moretta Rose Johnson, 19, and Naomi Bistline, age not available – are in federal custody facing one count of obstructing a federal prosecution and a second count of kidnapping in connection with a federal case against Bateman.
    The complaint says that between May 2020 and November of this year, the suspects were involved in transporting the underage girls between four states, including Arizona, Utah, Nevada and Nebraska.

  3. says

    Olga Tokariuk:

    Being in Ukraine, it is evident that this latest massive Russian missile attack didn’t scare people or made them less willing to resist. The reaction is not even anger, rather indifference/a shrug. What are they hoping to achieve? Ukrainians won’t surrender whatever Russians do

  4. tomh says

    With latest Title 42 ruling, Supreme Court majority makes a mockery of the law
    By the Editorial Board / December 28, 2022

    Republicans and Democrats broadly agree that the nation’s asylum and immigration systems are broken. Both are aware that Congress, paralyzed by partisanship, has failed to provide a fix. But that failure cannot be a pretext for the democracy hack that GOP elected officials from 19 states have undertaken in asking the Supreme Court to retain a Trump-era anti-covid public health measure that has been repurposed as an immigration enforcement tool along the southern border. And by siding with those officials, at least temporarily, the conservative majority on the high court has made a mockery of the law.

    The policy in question, known as Title 42, was imposed in March 2020 as the nation was reeling at the onset of a new, poorly understood pandemic. It suspended the legal asylum system, enabling border authorities to quickly expel migrants without giving them the benefit of filing a claim. Since then, Title 42 has been used 2.5 million times to turn migrants back — though many of them, having received no adjudication of their claims, tried repeatedly to cross the border unlawfully.

    Whatever Title 42’s benefit at the outset — and there is scant evidence it was effective in combating the pandemic — it had run its course by the time Joe Biden took office. His administration made no effort to justify it; that, along with the repeal of other Trump-era immigration measures, was taken by migrants as a signal of a more lax border. In April, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ordered Title 42 terminated.

    In November, U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan pointed to the fact that no evidence buttressed its continued use to protect public health, ruling against the Republican officials who sought to keep it in place. Even as Title 42 was used to block asylum seekers at the border, the judge noted, millions of other travelers were crossing, in buses and cars, with few impediments. What’s more, the CDC had previously rescinded the use of quarantine and other restrictions on the grounds that they were ineffective.

    Republicans made no attempt to justify Title 42, a public health measure, on public health grounds. Yet in keeping it in place while the GOP officials continue to press their appeal, the Supreme Court ignored all that, acting more as lawmakers than as judges.

    It remains the case that the immigration and asylum system, overwhelmed by a years-long backup in its caseload, cannot be jury-rigged by borrowing a public health measure for an unintended purpose. It is a job for Congress, not courts, to forge a solution.

  5. says

    Guardian – “Iranian chess player ‘moving to Spain’ after competing without headscarf”:

    One of Iran’s top-ranked female chess players is reportedly planning to settle in Spain after photographs emerged of her taking part in an international tournament without a headscarf.

    Sara Khadem, ranked 804 in the world and 10th in her home country, was not planning to return to Iran after the tournament due to fear of reprisals, two sources told Spanish newspaper El País.

    Instead, Khadem and her husband, the film director Ardeshir Ahmadi, and the couple’s young child will move to an unnamed Spanish city.

    It remains unclear whether the family had already obtained residency – the report notes that they own a flat in the country – or if they plan to seek asylum. Khadem did not reply to a request for comment from the Guardian.

    The report comes after Khadem, also known as Sarasadat Khademalsharieh, made headlines around the world as she appeared to play for a second day at the Fide World Rapid and Blitz Chess championships in Almaty, Kazakhstan without a headscarf.

    The 25-year-old player has become the latest in a string of sportswomen who have seemingly defied Iran’s strict dress code for women since anti-government protests erupted in September.

    As a broad base of protesters wages one of the boldest challenges to Iran’s leadership since the 1979 revolution, they have seized on shows of support from Iranian athletes and celebrities….

  6. says

    RFE/RL – “‘Teach Everyone Or No One’: Afghan Men Join In Protests Against Taliban’s Ban On Women’s Education”:

    Afghan women have found a strong supporter as they protest against the Taliban banning women from universities — men.

    Hundreds of male professors and students, as well as husbands and fathers, are publicly airing their opposition to the latest restriction imposed by the Taliban against their “sisters.”

    While women are leading the charge and taking the brunt of the ensuing crackdown as they demonstrate for their rights, men have protested the Taliban’s December 20 decision to ban women from state and private universities with walkouts, resignations, and street demonstrations.

    Such open support from men is unusual in Afghanistan’s deeply patriarchal and conservative society, and speaks volumes about public discontent as the Taliban gradually restores the most draconian aspects of its brutal rule in the 1990s.

    The protests by both women and men began immediately after the Taliban announced the university ban, the latest restriction it has imposed against women since it seized power in August 2021. Just days later, the militant group banned Afghan women from working for NGOs operating in Afghanistan.

    In Nangarhar, male students at a medical school in the eastern province walked out of their classes en masse on December 21 and said they would refuse to take exams until women’s access to their university was reinstated.

    There were similar walkouts of male students at the Afghan Pamir Higher Education Institute in the capital, Kabul.

    In southern Kandahar Province, around 600 male students at Mirwais Neka University walked out of their classes to protest the ban.

    In the provincial capital, also called Kandahar, male students who walked out of their university classes were reportedly beaten by Taliban fighters, as evidenced by videos sent to RFE/RL’s Radio Azadi.

    “Teach everyone or no one,” a protest slogan born in Nangarhar, quickly spread to provinces around the country, including Herat, Logar, and Takhar.

    Prominent male personalities have also publicly supported women and their right to pursue a university education.

    Among them are several cricket players, who have used the popularity of their sport in Afghanistan as a platform to express solidarity with female students.

    And on live national television, Ismail Mashal, a university professor from Kabul, ripped up his academic degrees while appearing on the private TOLOnews channel.

    “I don’t need these diplomas anymore because my country is no place for education,” Mashal declared. “If my sister and my mother cannot study, then I don’t accept this education.”

    Dozens of other male academics have also reportedly resigned from Afghan universities, where women had previously been allowed to study by the Taliban, although while segregated from male teachers and students.

    Women have continued to lead the way on the streets and in chants of “Allahu Akbar” and “education is our right” that have broken the nighttime silence in Kabul and other cities.

    One woman in southeastern Ghazni Province, who spoke to Radio Azadi on condition of anonymity, said she joined the chants of “teach everyone or no one” in the hope that the message will be taken seriously by the Taliban and the world as a whole.

    “We hope that this growing demonstration will continue to expand so that our voices can be heard,” she said.

    University education as a whole was already suffering from a brain drain since the Taliban’s return to power. At Herat University alone, some 70 percent of the institution’s lecturers dissatisfied about teaching restrictions, the diminished quality of education, and the halving of their salaries are believed to have left, often for abroad.

    The ban on women’s university education has only added to the international outcry about the Taliban’s treatment of women and girls.

    But amid the controversy, the Taliban has doubled down.

    Nida Mohammad Nadim, the Taliban’s minister of higher education who signed off on the ban on women’s education, this week said that the militants were not interested in the “progress and civilization” of the Afghan people and that nothing — not even a nuclear strike — would make them change course.

  7. says


    Israeli ambassador to France, Yael German, resigns rather than represent the new Netanyahu govt, which “endangers the State of Israel & its values… I cannot make a lie of my soul and continue to represent policies that are so radically different from that I believe.”

  8. says


    The Jan. 6 select committee’s finding that Donald Trump lured followers to storm the Capitol does not absolve them of legal responsibility for their actions, a federal judge ruled Wednesday, the first opinion to cite the congressional panel’s criminal referrals of the former president.

  9. says

    Ukraine update: 10 moments from a war that already contains a million unforgettable moments

    As the end of the year rolls up, each of us who has been involved in writing Ukraine updates in the 300+ days of this illegal, unprovoked invasion has been charged with the task of picking their own “top 10” moments in this struggle. My first response is to pick just days when I was able to shout, “[Fill in city name here] has been liberated!” In fact, we could probably fill everyone’s list just by looking at the big September push in Kharkiv, when things were going so fast that three updates a day didn’t seem like enough to keep up.

    But the most important moments are not always the good moments. They’re not all Zelenskyy stepping into the center of Izyum (though that’s here), or the sunflower seed babushka. These are the moments when something changed. Something shifted. Something broke. Something moved.

    These are the moments that I found most significant over the last 300 days. The ones that, for good and for ill, I still can’t shake out of my head. And let’s start with this one, seven days before the first Russian tank rolled into Ukraine.

    A week before the war began, it was clear to everyone except Vladimir Putin that he was about to direct his nation into a disaster that would ultimately be worse for Russia than for Ukraine.

    When Putin started the buildup around Ukraine, he may have thought that he had this in the bag. After all, Donald Trump spent four years attacking allies, running down the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and showing Ukraine that all the U.S. wanted from them was more corruption. The most important European member of NATO is heavily dependent on Russian natural gas. The pandemic has left the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. even more politically divided—with the assistance of some good old fashioned propaganda. Ukraine itself has still been unable to shake off two decades of deliberate Russian interference, invasion, and funding of separatists. This must have looked like a cakewalk.

    [Photo of Ukrainian tanks on their way to confront Russia’s invasion, feb 25, 2022]

    What better symbol could there be for the opening day of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine than what occurred at Snake Island? Confronted by a flotilla led by the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, the small number of Ukrainian defenders in this small offshore facility had what may be the defining conversation of the entire war.

    Russian warship Moskva: “Snake Island, I, Russian warship, repeat the offer: Put down your arms and surrender, or you will be bombed. Have you understood me? Do you copy?”

    Ukrainian sailor Roman Hrybov: “Russian warship, go fuck yourself.”

    Hey, how did that turn out? We’ll definitely get to that.

    Sure, Snake Island had the snazzy reply, but there may be no better example of how Russia’s poor planning and Ukraine’s quick thinking would define the next 10 months than what happened at Antonov Airport in Hostomel, 10 kilometers northwest of Kyiv.

    Within hours of Putin’s declaration that a “special military operation” was underway, Russian airborne special forces dropped into Antonov Airport and began to take over the facility. More Russian troops were on their way, not just coming down the highway from Belarus but bound for the airport on two immense transport planes. The airport offered tremendous strategic value, and Russian forces were so confident in their position that they even welcomed in news crews to film them calmly taking positions around the airport.

    Then Ukrainian forces fought back and wrested the airport away from Russian troops. They also purposely damaged the runway too badly to allow Russia to land those big transports. A day later, reinforcements began pushing Ukraine out of the airport again, but by then Russia has missed this chance to quickly capture a functional airport on the outskirts of Kyiv. [Yes. I would have put this in the top ten moments when Russia failed and Ukraine turned the tide. Photo at the link: The destroyed Ukrainian Antonov An-225 “Mriya” cargo aircraft, the largest plane in the world, at Hostomel, April 8, 2022.]

    Truthfully, that quote heard round the world might not be a quote at all. It wasn’t recorded, and it wasn’t until a U.S. official repeated what Zelenskyy reportedly said when offered a ticket out of Kyiv that the phrase gained credibility. But even if it wasn’t a perfect quote, it was a perfect definition of who Zelenskyy turned out to be. His presence in the streets of Kyiv in those first days, visibly walking among the citizens, pulling members of his Cabinet in his wake, trading his suit for an olive-drab T-shirt … it was all pitch perfect. The man everyone needed at the moment they needed him most.

    #6 THE 40-KILOMETER CONVOY, FEB. 28, 2022, DAY 4
    This wasn’t so much a moment for Ukraine as it was a moment for how the media covered the war in Ukraine. The 20-, or 30-, or 40-kilometer convoy was an event spread out over days, a much-hyped grindingly slow movement of Russian trucks and armors down the highway from Belarus. What was significant about it was the the media played it up as a good thing for Russia. It wasn’t just Putin who expecting Russia to take Kyiv in days—it was much of the American news media. They treated that 40-kilometer convoy as if it represented an unstoppable force on its way to smash through Ukrainian forces, when the truth was the whole thing was symbolic of Russia’s inability to plan and operate a large force far from its own borders. [Photo: Destroyed Russian tanks and armored personnel carriers (APC) in Dmytrivka village, west of Kyiv, April 2, 2022]

    Two weeks into the fighting, Russia had not captured Kyiv. However, it still seemed to be coming ever closer to making that a reality. On this date, some of the first images out of Irpin and Bucha revealed the true horror of Russia’s actions. Meanwhile Amazon was selling “Z” T-shirts and Tucker Carlson was proudly cheering on Putin’s horde each night.

    It was on this day, as the bridges into Kyiv were falling and people were scrambling over the river, passing children from hand to hand, that Ukrainian soldiers searching through a destroyed Russian tank discovered that Russian forces might not be well supplied in most ways, but they had brought with them their dress uniforms to prepare for a victory parade in Kyiv.

    It wasn’t until this point, about two weeks into the fighting, that the U.S. banned the sale of Russian oil, the EU pulled together its first sanctions, and Western companies began to desert Russia in droves. The discovery of the dress uniforms at the same time that people were beginning to realize Ukraine would not fall in a matter of days seemed like a perfect match. [Photo: Ukrainian girl rides a hoverboard past the burned out remains of a Russian tank, Chernihiv oblast, Sept. 7, 2022.]

    There are too many instances of rampant cruelty to single them all out. As of this writing, over 53,000 Russian war crimes are under investigation. However, if there’s a moment of utter horror that defines Russia’s absolute disregard for life, decency, and anything that resembles humanity, this is the one. Mariupol had already withstood days of shelling at this point. In spite of a sign noting that there were children sheltering inside the city’s beautiful drama theater—a sign made to be visible from the the air—a Russian pilot bombed the building on March 16, leading to between 500 and 600 deaths. Russia has since built a facade around the site that hides the ruins behind pictures of Russian artists.

    Turns out my numbers were off in this. Make it 0%/100%.

    It may be years before analysts and military historians are able to sort out just how much of what’s happening now in northern Ukraine is the result of Russia seeking to consolidate territorial gains to the south, and how much is simply having their asses handed to them in a bucket (My guess: 10%/90%). But in any case, on Friday the list of Ukrainian cities and towns liberated, and the collection of Russian equipment left behind, is growing almost too quickly to catalog.

    On this day it was clear that Ukraine was making a breakthrough, but everything was in such flux that it wasn’t even clear that the movement in Kharkiv was going to be the breakthrough.

    On Tuesday, Ukrainian forces made a sudden and forceful attack in southern Kharkiv oblast near the town of Balakliya. By all accounts, this attack caught Russia by complete surprise. Ukraine apparently managed to move enough force into the area that they had an advantage in both men and armor. Also they reportedly used NATO-style combined arms tactics, with armor, infantry, artillery, and air support all working in concert. When a core of resistance prevented Ukraine from immediately capturing Balakliya, they didn’t stop. They took Bairak to the south. They took Vrubivka to the north. They completely encircled Balakliya and they just kept going.

    Put this down as a day where the predictions were hopeful and also, thankfully, turned out to be right. Maybe it’s not so much that I’m glad I was right on this one as it is that I’m very glad the “experts” were wrong.

    The conventional wisdom has flipped 180 degrees in less than a week. Rather than waving bye to Russians retreating across the Dnipro, everyone—from Ukrainian officials to television analysts—are now expecting Ukraine and Russia to face off for The Mother of All Battles III: Kherson Showdown. The number of articles in the last few days saying that Ukraine will face a “tough fight” in Kherson likely exceeds Russian casualties in the war. This Newsweek article is typical, with the inclusion of this stomach-dropping quote:

    “The Russians are going to leave behind nothing but dust,” one former resident predicted. “The only question I have is whether it will be worse than Mariupol, or only as bad as Mariupol.”

    Somewhere in this, I realized that 10 wasn’t nearly enough. Where are the weeks of fighting in Severodonetsk? Where’s the long fight at Azovstal? What about Russia finally capturing Popasna after that little town gave its literal all? The whole protracted early act around Kharkiv where every bridge on the Siverskyi Donetsk seemed like a goal just out of reach? Where’s the bombing of the bridge? You know, the critical bridge. Not that bridge, the other critical bridge, the one that defined everything that was going to happen next. Where’s the sinking of the Moskva? Oh. Hang on a second.

    There. [Photo of little Ukrainian girl holding a sign that reads, “RUSSIAN WARSHIP GO F__K YOURSELF.” She has yellow and blue flowers in her hair.]

    So many moments, good and bad, didn’t make this list. Once I started looking, so many things happened in the opening days of the invasion that were so critical to what came later that I just couldn’t let them go. So everything that happened after March got short shrift.

    You’ll just have to make your own list.

  10. says

    Jan. 6 committee releases 19 witness transcripts including interviews with Trump Jr., Ray Epps

    The Jan. 6 committee published 19 transcripts on Thursday, adding to a growing list of records it has already released to supplement its final report unwinding the attack at the U.S. Capitol and former President Donald Trump’s attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

    Transcripts released Thursday include interviews with:
    Christina Bobb, Trump campaign attorney.
    David Bowdich, deputy director of the FBI.
    Muriel Bowser, the mayor of Washington, D.C.
    Taylor Budowich, Trump spokesman.
    Robert Contee III, chief of the .D.C Metropolitan Police Department.
    Ray Epps, ex-U.S. Marine, former president of the Arizona Oath Keepers.
    Ruby Freeman, election worker from Georgia harassed by the former president’s supporters and election fraud conspiracy theorists.
    Stephanie Grisham, former White House press secretary.
    Alyssa Farah Griffin, former White House director of strategic communications.
    Kimberly Guilfoyle, former adviser to Trump, spouse to Donald Trump Jr.
    Chris Hodgson, former director of legislative affairs to former Vice President Mike Pence.
    Doug Mastriano, former Pennsylvania state senator, failed gubernatorial candidate for Pennsylvania.
    Ryan McCarthy, former Secretary of the U.S. Army.
    Christopher Miller, former acting Secretary of Defense.
    Stephen Miller, former senior adviser to Trump.
    Wandrea Arshaye Moss, election worker from Georgia harassed by the former president’s supporters and election fraud conspiracy theorists and extremists,
    Mark Robinson, retired D.C. Metropolitan Police Department sergeant.
    Steven Sund, former U.S. Capitol Police chief.
    Donald Trump Jr., former President Donald Trump’s eldest son and executive vice president of Trump Organization.

    Ray Epps

    Epps, a former U.S. Marine and one-time leader of the Oath Keepers chapter in Arizona, met with the committee voluntarily on Jan. 21, 2022 and in November 2021. The transcript released on Thursday is from his January interview.

    Epps came to Washington on Jan. 6 and was filmed at the Capitol but was never arrested. He has admitted to directing people toward the Capitol after Trump’s speech. Historically, Epps has told reporters he believes he was never arrested because he contacted the FBI promptly after his name first started circulating in FBI alerts about the siege. Phone records, according to The New York Times, have corroborated this account and Epps has maintained that video of him purportedly “urging” people to storm the Capitol is actually footage of him attempting to calm rioters. Epps never entered the building but did enter restricted grounds outside of it.

    Epps became a touchstone for Jan. 6 conspiracy theorists who argued he was a deep state plant and member of the FBI who helped orchestrate the Capitol attack. Those conspiracy theories were spurred by right-wing extremists as well as mainstream talking heads on Fox News and among Republican members of Congress.

    Former President Donald Trump namedropped Epps at a rally, intensifying unfounded theories about Epps being part of a “false flag” mission attacking the Capitol. He claims to have endured multiple death threats.

    Per the transcript, Epps addressed some of the claims against him head-on. He told members of the committee that he has never worked for the FBI never spoke to law enforcement at the FBI or elsewhere once he arrived in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 4. […]

    More highlights from the transcripts coming soon.

  11. says

    Russians “send freshly mobilized soldiers to certain death” at Kreminna, says Ukrainian gunner

    In “Amid Intense Fighting, Ukrainian Forces Advance On Kreminna In Luhansk Region”, RFE/RL’s Borys Sachalko and Will Tizard reported on interviews with Ukrainian paratroopers and gunners fighting near Kreminna […]

    The video starts by saying Kreminna is a key logistics point for the Russians. “A soldier can’t fight without supplies.” says one Ukrainian soldier. Later, a Ukrainian gunner says:

    They send freshly mobilized soldiers to certain death. If they manage to break through, more experienced troops come in…. They are just coming to die.

    Another says, “Our infantry guys said that sometimes they don’t even have guns and body armor.”

    A companion story “‘We Fight With Our Brains. They Fight With Numbers’: Ukrainian Paratroopers On The Battle For The Donbas City of Kreminna” by Sachalko, also published yesterday, tells a similar story. Sachalko writes:

    With Russia’s invasion of Ukraine now in its 11th month, the ferocity of the fighting in Kreminna is matched only by the intensity of the fighting 80 kilometers to the south, in the city of Bakhmut.

    But according to interviews with Ukrainian soldiers and accounts published on Russian military blogger accounts on Telegram and elsewhere, the bloodshed is no less senseless and relentless.

    Yesterday the UK Ministry of Defence said that Russia has likely reinforced the Kreminna sector in response to recent Ukrainian advances.

    Sachalko and Tizard’s video ends with a Ukrainian gunner saying:

    I think that it will end one day, and we’ll have a peaceful life again. There’s nothing good about war.

  12. says

    From the Guardian Ukraine liveblog:

    The Kyiv Independent has a story about how volunteers have been risking their lives to rescue abandoned animals during the war.

    According to the United Nations, over 13 million Ukrainians have been forced to flee their homes since the beginning of Russia’s all-out war, including 7 million refugees and 6.5 million internally displaced. Countless animals were left behind, forced to fight for survival amid Russian attacks and cold weather.

    For many of them, the only chance to survive is to be rescued by Ukrainian volunteers, who risk their lives traveling to front-line settlements and liberated territories to save abandoned cats and dogs, farm animals, and wild ones.

    Volunteer Kateryna Arisoy said:

    Most humanitarian missions and charities are aimed at helping people, and I can understand that.

    But I believe that all creatures deserve to live.

    (Animals) suffer no less than people, and in some cases — even more.

  13. says

    Some podcast episodes:

    The WSJ has a 4-part series called Uncontrolled Substances about the company Cerebral. Here’s the link to the WSJ podcast. This is the first episode of the series:

    “Uncontrolled Substances, Part 1: Subscribe and Prescribe”:

    Cerebral is a startup that set out to provide access to mental-health services and wound up under federal investigation. WSJ’s Rolfe Winkler and Khadeeja Safdar take us back to the origins of the company, exploring the ideas that laid the foundation for explosive growth….

    I’m in shock after listening to it. Even in the US, it’s incredible that this was allowed to exist.

    The War on Cars – “RERELEASE: There Are No Accidents with Jessie Singer”:

    ***Happy holidays! This is a rerelease of our interview with Jessie Singer, the author of There Are No Accidents, which originally came out in February 2022 as Episode 80. It’s one of our favorite episodes from 2022. We’ll be back with new episodes in January.***

    What do we mean when we say something is an “accident”? When a motorist kills a pedestrian or cyclist it is often described in the press and the criminal justice system as a “car accident” — even when there is a clear cause such as a driver who was drunk, distracted or speeding. According to a new book by journalist Jessie Singer, events that most people describe as accidents are anything but. Singer argues that who lives and dies by accident in America is not random but utterly predictable. Using the word, she says, protects the powerful and leads to “the prevention of prevention.”

    SWAJ – “It’s In the Code Ep. 32: The War on Christmas”:

    We’ve all heard the rhetoric about the so-called “war on Christmas.” But why, exactly, do some Christians talk this way? Why do they get so angry? What are they so afraid of? And is there more going on with this rhetoric than might appear on the surface? In this episode, Dan decodes the “war on Christmas” language to uncover the expressions of Christian nationalism that form the basis for it.

  14. says

    In dispatch from Loserdom, Trump threatens third-party run if he loses GOP nomination

    As the Republican Party continues its post-midterm meltdown, Donald Trump is rising to the occasion.

    Trump used his Truth Social platform Wednesday to remind the Republican Party that he plans to destroy it if it cuts him loose. He included no text, he simply blasted out an article from the pro-MAGA site American Greatness titled, “The Coming Split.”

    In it, the author, Dan Gelernter, explores what might happen if a majority of GOP voters still want Trump as their nominee but the “Republican Party” refuses.

    “I have no intention of supporting a Republican Party that manifestly contravenes the desires of its voters,” Gelernter writes. “The RNC can pretend Trump isn’t loved by the base anymore, that he doesn’t have packed rallies everywhere he goes. But I’m not buying it: Talk to Republican voters anywhere outside the Beltway, and it is obvious that he is admired and even loved by those who consider themselves ‘ordinary’ Americans.”

    Though fewer Republicans and GOP leaners than ever say they want Trump to run in 2024, it’s also true there’s still plenty of appetite for Trumpism and his mystique, shall we say.

    Gelernter pledges to support Trump as third party candidate if he does not prevail in the Republican primary.

    “Do I think Trump can win as a third-party candidate? No. Would I vote for him as a third-party candidate? Yes. Because I’m not interested in propping up this corrupt gravy-train any longer,” he explains, singling out Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell as entirely out of step with the base.

    […] the bigger immediate problem for McConnell and his ilk is the fact that Trump will surely burn the entire party to the ground if he doesn’t clinch the nomination.

    He is most certainly hinting at a third-party run that would almost surely doom Republicans in a general election.

    But let’s imagine a slightly less dramatic scenario in which Trump loses but doesn’t launch an independent candidacy. He will never be the guy who graciously steps aside, endorses the GOP frontrunner, and works to elect them, a la Hillary Clinton in 2008 or Bernie Sanders in 2020 (to say nothing of 2016). Even if Trump isn’t running, he will launch a revenge tour with the sole mission of burying the GOP standard bearer, whoever they may be.

    Trump brought millions more voters into the Republican fold, and the party is now dearly dependent on motivating the MAGA base it gained after alienating suburban voters who once buoyed Republican turnout. If Trump’s not the nominee, he will undoubtedly instruct those MAGA voters to abandon the Republican Party as a corrupt institution of traitors to his cause.

    One way or the other, Trump is committed to making sure any party he isn’t dominating is no party at all. Nothing will be left of the Republican Party if he can help it. So the GOP either gets Trump as a nominee, gets a third-party candidacy from him, or gets a scorched-earth campaign from Trump to raze the entire institution. How grand.

    Some of Trump’s recent rallies have not been “packed.”

    I do hope he runs as a third party candidate. Not only would he lose, but Republican candidates all over the map would lose. This is shaping up to be a potent schadenfreude moment.

  15. says

    Guys They Caught Another Vote Frauder And BOY Are You Not Going To Believe This One!

    Well now we finally know where the voting fraud was! It was a Republican, again, this time a county elections official in New York, who will plead guilty in federal court as part of an ongoing Department of Justice election fraud case. The Albany Times-Union reports that Jason T. Schofield, who until yesterday served as the commissioner of elections for Rensselaer County, will plead guilty on January 11 to felony election fraud charges.

    Schofield had been arrested by the FBI in September and charged with using at least eight people’s personal information without permission to apply for absentee ballots in 2021. The specific charges were “12 felony counts of unlawful possession and use of a means of identification.” He had initially pleaded not guilty; the plea deal announced yesterday by the DOJ noted that Schofield resigned his county elections job after agreeing to the plea deal.

    The Times-Unionreported in September that the indictment accused Schofield of

    using an online state Board of Elections portal to request absentee ballots on behalf of eight voters who had no interest in voting, did not request absentee ballots and didn’t know that Schofield was using their personal information to obtain the ballots. The indictment alleges the official “falsely certified” that he was the person requesting the ballot when he entered the voters’ names and dates of birth in the portal.

    The ballots that were delivered to the Rensselaer County Board of Elections were subsequently filled out and submitted in last year’s primary election, the general election, and sometimes both.

    You have to admit, it was really convenient having the ballots come to him at work like that. Guess that would be why convicted but pardoned election felon Dinesh D’Souza’s fanciful cell-phone tracking detective work didn’t discover this actually real alleged fraud, and instead had to settle for making shit up.

    The Times Union reported Schofield’s misdeeds came to light earlier this year as part of an FBI investigation into another local Republican official, Troy City Councilwoman Kimberly Ashe-McPherson, who resigned from the City Council when she pleaded guilty in June to absentee ballot fraud. […]

    Schofield, the Times-Union reports today, will be cooperating in the DOJ’s ongoing investigation of absentee ballot frauding in Rensselaer County over the last couple years; while the paper calls it a “voter fraud” case, we’d note that all the people being investigated so far appear to be Republicans associated with the city and county governments, not your average everyday voters who always seem to be the targets of GOP “voting integrity” measures.

    In addition to the federal probe, there’s also a state AG’s investigation of possible absentee ballot fuckery by Rensselaer County employees, including Leslie A Wallace and Sara. J. McDemott, who “has been described by county political insiders as a GOP operative.” […]

    Wallace was listed in payroll records two years ago as an “assistant for constituent relations” in the office of county Executive Steve McLaughlin, who was indicted last year on unrelated felony charges for allegedly misusing campaign funds and falsifying campaign finance filings. McLaughlin has pleaded not guilty; his criminal case is being handled by the state attorney general’s office.

    McDermott, a confidential assistant in the human resources office, has been active in local politics and government. Last year, she ran for county executive on the Working Families Party line after defeating McLaughlin’s Democratic challenger, Gwen Wright, in a primary for the progressive party’s line. McDermott did not actively campaign for county executive, but her primary win may have siphoned general-election votes away from Wright, whose name only appeared on the Democratic line.

    Nothing illegal there, just some good old political ratfucking. So charming!

    And yeah, McLaughlin, the unrelated alleged felon, is also a Republican.

    […] We’ll also remind you that all this very intentional election frauding by Republicans is happening while Black women in Tennessee and in Texas continue to serve years-long sentences for voter fraud that occurred when they mistakenly tried to vote while incorrectly believing they were eligible to vote. (Crystal Mason, the woman in the latter case, won the right to have her appeal reviewed in May, but as far as we can tell is still in prison as that process continues.)

    We bet these New Yorkers end up with seriously slapped wrists, and rightwing media will insist this fuckery by Republican political insiders proves that absentee voting needs to be made more difficult, the end.

  16. raven says

    China COVID deaths accelerate to 9,000 a day according to modeling from a UK research firm.
    They are predicting 25,000 dead a day in late January.

    The Chinese government is claiming 10 dead in the month of December. The real number is likely closer to 270,000 dead. The government statistics are only off by 4 orders of magnitude.
    The total estimates of Covid-19 deaths from this outbreak run around from 1 million to several million dead. Airffinity is estimating 1.7 million dead by April.

    It is also likely that we will never know because the Chinese government has no real intention of counting how many are dead from this virus. Which is what the Indians, most third world nations, and several US states including Nebraska and Florida did.

    China COVID deaths accelerate to 9,000 a day

    China COVID deaths accelerate to 9,000 a day – UK research firm Airfinity

    Thu, December 29, 2022 at 7:40 AM PST·2 min read

    BEIJING (Reuters) – Around 9,000 people in China are probably dying each day from COVID-19, UK-based health data firm Airfinity said on Thursday, nearly doubling its estimate from a week ago, as infections ripped across the world’s most populous nation.

    COVID infections started to sweep across China in November, picking up pace this month after Beijing dismantled its zero-COVID policies including regular PCR testing on its population and publication of data on asymptomatic cases.

    Cumulative deaths in China since Dec. 1 likely reached 100,000 with infections totalling 18.6 million, Airfinity said in a statement. It says it uses modelling based on data from Chinese provinces before the recent changes to reporting cases were implemented.

    Airfinity expects China’s COVID infections to reach their first peak on Jan. 13 with 3.7 million cases a day.

    That is in contrast to the several thousands of cases reported by health authorities a day, after a nationwide network of PCR test sites was largely dismantled as authorities pivoted from preventing infections to treating them.

    Airfinity expects deaths to peak on Jan. 23 around 25,000 a day, with cumulative deaths reaching 584,000 since December.

    Since Dec. 7 when China made its abrupt policy U-turn, authorities have reported 10 COVID deaths.

    Health officials recently said they define a COVID death to be an individual who dies from respiratory failure caused by COVID-19, excluding deaths from other diseases and conditions even if the deceased had tested positive for the virus.

    As of Dec. 28, China’s official COVID death toll stood at 5,246 since the start of the pandemic in 2020.

    Airfinity expects 1.7 million deaths across China by the end of April, according to its statement.

    According to its website, in 2020 it built “the world’s first dedicated COVID-19 health analytics and intelligence platform”.

    China’s chief epidemiologist Wu Zunyou said on Thursday that a team at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention plans to assess fatalities differently.

    The team will measure the difference between the number of deaths in the current wave of infections and the number of deaths expected had the epidemic never happened, Wu told reporters at a briefing.

    By calculating the so-called “excess mortality”, China would be able to work out what could have been potentially underestimated, Wu said.

  17. says

    George Santos Also Lied About That. And That. And That. And Oh Yeah, That.

    Every day something that George Santos lied about comes to light. […] It is hard to keep track of everything, as the revelations are coming fast and furious, but we’ll try.

    First of all, did you know that Santos was born a poor (half)-black child? [Tweet showing Santos claiming to be half Black is available at the link.]

    Half-Caucasian and half-black. And also half-Brazilian? Also Catholic and Jewish? Does he even know the difference? […]

    Speaking of the Jewish thing, here’s Santos claiming those Jewish ancestors were specifically Ukrainian Jews: [Tweet and video showing Santos lying about having Jewish ancestors.]

    Yep, he claimed to be of Ukrainian descent on February 28 of this year, just a couple of days after Russia invaded Ukraine. Awfully huge coincidence, considering the number of European countries he could have pretended his Jewish ancestors fled to escape the Nazis. Previously he had said Belgium. Now it’s Ukraine first, then Belgium, then they went to Brazil. He’s really giving new meaning to the term “stolen valor.”

    Santos also claimed at one point to have attended Horace Mann, the unfathomably tony New York City prep school through whose halls many members of America’s upper class have passed. […]

    Here is Santos on his time at Horace Mann:

    They sent me to a good prep school, which was Horace Mann Prep in the Bronx. And, in my senior year of prep school, unfortunately my parents fell on hard times, which was something that would later become known as the depression of 2008. But we were hit a little earlier on with the overleveraging of real estate. And the market started to implode. Um, and the first thing to go was the prep school. You know, you, you can’t afford a $2,500 tuition at that point, right?

    Horace Mann’s tuition in 2006 — Santos is 34 (allegedly), which means if he left the school four months shy of graduation, he’d have been dropping out sometime around 2006 — was $29,000. But there’s a reason Santos might have been off by a factor of 10:

    “We’ve searched the records and there is no evidence that George Santos (or any alias) attended Horace Mann,” Ed Adler, a spokesman for the school, told CNN.

    Man, if you’re going to lie about going to a place like Horace Mann, at least try to get the tuition number you claim your parents couldn’t afford somewhere in the ballpark. […]

    Santos’s campaign website had claimed his mother was in the South Tower of the World Trade Center on September 11, though it did not say she had died there. But she did! Or maybe not: [Tweet at the link.]

    His campaign website had this to say about the story, before someone took the page down sometime in the last day or two:

    On September 11th, George’s mother was in her office in the South Tower. She survived the horrific events of that day, but unfortunately passed away a few years later.

    By “a few years later,” he meant “15 years later.” And the juxtaposition makes you think her death was somehow 9/11-related. But there is no evidence that that is the case. This is a bit like us saying our grandfather survived World War II (he wasn’t in the military, but he did spend part of an afternoon every weekend, when he wasn’t running the family furniture store, watching the skies over Virginia for German planes as part of the Aircraft Warning Service of the civilian Ground Observer Corps), but then unfortunately died a few years later (in 1986).

    […] The upshot of all this bullshit coming to light — or downside, if you’re George Santos — is that now federal investigators are reportedly looking into his finances. Because even the federal government thinks it’s a little odd that a guy can go from making $55,000 in 2020 to somewhere between $3.5 and $11.5 million in 2021 without winning the lottery or selling a tech start-up or getting signed by the Mets.

    Santos’s explanation is that he became a sort of a Guy Friday for rich people who wanted to buy yachts and private planes. Seriously, that’s what he told Semafor:

    As an example of his work, he said a client might want to sell a plane or a boat. “I’m not going to go list it and broker it,” he said. “What I will do is I will go look out there within my Rolodex and be like: ‘Hey, are you looking for a plane?’ ‘Are you looking for a boat?’ I just put that feeler out there.” He said he had a network of wealthy investors, family offices, “institutions” and endowments that included about 15,000 people. Within the first six months of starting Devolder, he said he “landed a couple of million-dollar contracts.”

    “If you’re looking at a $20 million yacht, my referral fee there can be anywhere between $200,000 and $400,000,” he said.

    Yep, that’s definitely how it works with rich people. They don’t go to established brokers for these high-end luxury items, but they definitely talk to a guy who knows a guy whose cousin has some TVs or handbags he can give you a discount on.

    Tune in tomorrow, when we fully expect to find out that George Santos is three Ayn Rands stacked in a trenchcoat.

  18. lotharloo says

    Trump is not going to run as a third party candidate if he loses. He hates losing and so he makes up excuses for his losses but running as a 3rd party will be too obviously loser-ish for his massive ego and it’s also too much effort for his lazy ass. Most likely he will do what he is best at which is whining and blaming others.

  19. Reginald Selkirk says

    Democrat wins Arizona attorney general race after recount

    PHOENIX — A recount of votes has confirmed Democrat Kris Mayes narrowly defeated Republican Abraham Hamadeh in the Arizona attorney general’s race, one of the closest elections in state history.
    The highly anticipated results announced Thursday in Maricopa County Superior Court are among the last in the country to come out of November’s election and solidified another victory for Democrats who shunned election fraud conspiracies in what used to be a solidly Republican state.

  20. Reginald Selkirk says

    School break-in:
    Who is ‘Merry Christmas Jay?’ Police looking to ID ‘hero’ who saved lives in Buffalo storm

    Police are looking to identify a man they’ve dubbed “Merry Christmas Jay,” who they say saved lives in the devastating storm in Buffalo, New York.
    After spending the night in his truck, the man rescued strangers from cars trapped in the snow and brought them to a school for shelter, according to police in the town of Cheektowaga, just outside of Buffalo.
    The police tweeted a photo of a note, signed by “Jay,” which apologized for the damage.
    “I’m terribly sorry about breaking the school window & for breaking in the kitchen … I had to do it to save everyone and get them shelter,” the note said…

  21. says

    Quoted in Lynna’s #25:

    Yep, [Santos] claimed to be of Ukrainian descent on February 28 of this year, just a couple of days after Russia invaded Ukraine.

    [Santos:] And, in my senior year of prep school, unfortunately my parents fell on hard times, which was something that would later become known as the depression of 2008.

    [Santos’s campaign website:] On September 11th, George’s mother was in her office in the South Tower. She survived the horrific events of that day, but unfortunately passed away a few years later.

    He also lied that four people who worked for him were killed in the Pulse nightclub shooting. He’s like Fabulist Gump.

  22. raven says

    Trump NFTs Crater With Daily Sales Down 98% From Peak.
    Just so you know, Trumps NFTs are way down from their open.
    I would guess they are going to continue to drop because really, who cares about Trump NFTs.

    You don’t even get a picture with that NFT. The NTF just claims you own all the rights to that image, even though it is on the internet and anyone can download it if they want.

    Trump NFTs Crater With Daily Sales Down 98% From Peak

    Decrypt Media
    Trump NFTs Crater With Daily Sales Down 98% From Peak
    Andrew Hayward
    Thu, December 29, 2022 at 3:30 PM PST·3 min read
    In this article:

    Former U.S. President Donald Trump’s official NFT trading cards were the talk of the crypto industry—not to mention much of Twitter and even late night TV—when they launched a couple of weeks ago, but the hype has since faded significantly.

    Secondary market sales for the Trump Digital Trading Cards, which are minted on Ethereum scaling network Polygon, tallied just over $59,300 in total on Wednesday, per data from CryptoSlam. That’s a 98% drop from the peak sales day of over $3.5 million on December 17—and continues the steady slide in momentum and value for the NFTs.

    Trump’s collection is hardly dead, however. As of this writing, the former president’s NFTs are the 69th best-selling project over the past 24 hours, according to CryptoSlam, with just over $44,000 in sales during that span. By contrast, top project the Bored Ape Yacht Club has notched over $2 million in sales over the past day.

    Donald Trump Says He Launched NFTs for the ‘Sort of Cute’ Art

    The secondary market premium on Trump NFTs is fading quickly, too. The NFTs originally sold for $99 apiece during the primary sale, and amid the hype around the project in the days after the initial mint, even an NFT with “common” artwork and traits commanded a sizable multiple of that. The floor price, or price of the cheapest listed Trump NFT on a marketplace, peaked at 0.84 ETH (about $990) on December 17.

    Now, however, the floor price on top marketplace OpenSea is just 0.15 ETH, or about $180. Some of the NFTs have sold for as low as $131 apiece on the marketplace today.

    Trump’s NFTs launched on December 15, with 44,000 of the Polygon NFTs offered to the public depicting the disgraced ex-president as a cowboy, astronaut, and more. Another 1,000 of the NFTs were kept by the project’s creators. Each $99 collectible served as a contest entry to win prizes and perks, such as dinner or a meet-and-greet with Trump.

    The NFTs were widely mocked as a cash grab, and even criticized by some of Trump’s own supporters. Some of the artwork elements were apparently stolen from online apparel imagery, plus Trump’s team is alleged to have held onto a disproportionate amount of the rare NFTs in the collection. Some initial buyers complained of technical hitches, too.

    Still, the buzz fueled secondary market demand for a few days thereafter, as some NFT “degen” traders saw an opportunity to profit from flipping the controversial assets. But the hype has been short-lived, with prices and trading volume crashing just days after the launch. And as sales data shows, the market isn’t getting any hungrier for Trump’s digital cards.

    Trump, who was previously opposed to cryptocurrencies, said in a recent interview that the NFT artwork was “sort of cute,” and that he “didn’t view it as an investment.”

    Trump’s initial NFT sale raked in over $4 million and sold out within 24 hours. All told, the project has generated about $9.8 million to date in secondary trading volume, with Trump’s team taking a 10% cut of sales made through marketplaces that honor creator royalties.

  23. says

    Yahoo!/Reuters – “Romania detains ex-kickboxer Andrew Tate in human trafficking case”:

    BUCHAREST (Reuters) – Romanian prosecutors said on Thursday they have detained divisive internet personality and former professional kickboxer Andrew Tate on suspicion of human trafficking, rape and forming an organised crime group.

    Tate, banned from many social media platforms for misogynistic comments and hate speech, and his brother Tristan will be detained for 24 hours alongside two Romanian suspects, prosecutors from the anti organised-crime unit said in a statement after raiding their properties in Bucharest.

    The Tate brothers have been under criminal investigation since April.

    They declined to comment but their lawyer confirmed they had been detained.

    “The four suspects … appear to have created an organised crime group with the purpose of recruiting, housing and exploiting women by forcing them to create pornographic content meant to be seen on specialised websites for a cost,” prosecutors said.

    “They would have gained important sums of money.”…

  24. says

    Speaking of schadenfreude moments:

    The Daily Beast’s Zachary Petrizzo went to the trouble of soliciting some mean quotes from people who now hate Fox News host Sean Hannity, and if that’s not doing God’s work I don’t know what would be. All the trouble stems from Hannity’s admission in a legal deposition that no, he didn’t believe “for one second” the election fraud claims being peddled by Trump’s willing team of coup-egging propagandists.

    The deposition was in relation to Dominion Voting System’s defamation suit against Fox News for repeatedly promoting provably false claims about election “hacking” involving Dominion’s voting machines. If you were to ask me it would seem that Hannity straight-up admitting that he never actually believed the false claims that he was inviting guests to promote on his show is worse, from a defamation standpoint, than if he were to have said that he had been taken in by the hoaxers. Hannity put people on television that he knew damn well were lying, all to promote a conspiracy theory that would explain why Donald Trump losing the election was not because most of the electorate now considered him an incompetent, crooked, showboating buffoon, but because invisible world enemies of Republicanism cheated conservatives out of the win.

    Those hoaxes billowed into an attack on the United States Capitol, one intentionally egged into being by the promoters of the lies. And Hannity was among the promoters of the lies, because he and other Fox hosts considered boosting hoaxes intended to undermine democracy to be Good Television.

    In any event, the following people are now super angry with Sean for jumping off the treason trolley:

    • Pillow kingpin Mike, uh, Pillowguy? Lindell, I think it was.

    • Self-humiliating Trump conspiracy-promoting “lawyer” Lin Wood.

    • Hobo matroyshka Steve Bannon.

    • A far-right crackpot radio guy named Stew Peters who most decent people never heard of, much less care about.

    The common theme here is “hoax-promoting coup supporters.” Among hoax-promoting sedition-backing would-be saboteurs of democracy, Hannity is now persona non grata because he says he didn’t actually believe the hoax-promoting seditionists when he and Fox were helping them promote their hoax-promoting seditions.

    […] Oh, and apparently Donald Trump, a national traitor, is also angry at Sean, but it’s not because of the not-believing-our-lies thing, it’s because Trump blames Hannity for his decision to endorse “Doctor” Oz for Senate and “Doctor” Oz turned out to be a garbage fire of a candidate and somehow that’s all Sean’s fault now.

    Oh, how far Hannity has fallen from the days of being Donald Trump’s bestest press buddy.

    Anyway, whatever. Normally having all the nation’s biggest crime-backing traitors to democracy angry at you at once would be a very good thing, but it’s going to take a lot more than “the emperor of crappy pillows is temporarily mad at me” to haul Hannity out of the Worst People In America bracket.

    The real lesson here is that there’s no honor among coup promoters, conspiracy theorists, or Florida golf cheats. The moment you do anything that doesn’t benefit their own personal agendas you become their enemy, and it doesn’t matter how many boots you’ve polished beforehand.


  25. says

    Bowser Sheds New Light On Trump’s Brief Flirtation With Federalizing DC Police Force

    D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser fleshed out an incident stemming from the George Floyd protests in June 2020 during her interview with the Jan. 6 committee, the transcript of which was released Thursday.

    For a period amid the protests — which were particularly large in the district — the Trump administration flirted with the idea of federalizing the Metropolitan Police Department, the D.C. police force.

    Bowser had gone public with her concerns about that plan before, but added more detail in her conversation with the committee investigators.

    She described getting a call about the idea as she was walking from her car into her house.

    “I got back in the car. I told the team we would all meet down at City Hall,” she said. “And I had to make a call to our counsel, our attorney general for the district all because this is a real kind of threat to our governance.”

    She told the investigators that Mark Meadows, then-White House chief of staff, was speaking for the White House on the idea.

    “His basic tenor was that this was going to happen,” she added of Meadows, “there was nothing I could do about it.”

    Bowser said she pushed back hard.

    “I’m telling them it would be a complete disaster; we’re going to lose the city,” she said. “I was concerned that we would have a riot in the district. I mean, a real one.”

    The investigator pressed on the question of why the Trump administration was interested in federalizing the force in the first place.

    “They didn’t want protests outside of the White House,” Bowser responded.

    Bowser said that then-Attorney General Bill Barr was the administration’s point person on law enforcement at the time. She added that while he had led “some pretty outrageous conduct in the summer” she also thinks that he might have been able to exert some control over Trump on Jan. 6, had he still been working for the administration.

    The Trump administration ultimately backed off the idea to federalize the D.C. force, though it did flood the streets with members of the National Guard who, infamously, flew military helicopters menacingly low over the protesters.

    Trump at the time was fuming at scenes from the protests, which were widely covered on TV, and threatening to turn to more extreme measures to quash them. He forcibly cleared protesters from Lafayette Square for a photo op where he held a Bible aloft in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church.

    “We already live with the offense of limited home rule, despite being taxpaying Americans,” Bowser said of the push to federalize the police. “And for this President, especially, to trample on that, we could not abide that.”

  26. says

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

    Shelling continues in Ukraine and Russia, as one person reported dead in Chernihiv

    One person has been killed by Russian shelling in the Ukrainian town of Semenivka in the Chernihiv region in northern Ukraine according to reports. Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of the office of president of Ukraine, said on Telegram that Semenivka was left without electricity after three strikes. “So far, one dead person is known,” he posted to Telegram.

    Dmytro Zhyvytskyi, the governor of Sumy region, which is in Ukraine’s north-east and borders Russia, has posted to Telegram to say that overnight three settlements in the area were fired on by Russia. Two air alerts have sounded today in the Mykolaiv region, so far with no attack materialising.

    In Russia, Vyacheslav Gladkov, governor of the Belgorod region, reported that an industrial enterprise had been hit by shelling from over the border in Ukraine. Additionally, the RIA news agency quoted the Russian-imposed governor of Sevastopol, Mikhail Razvozhaev, as saying that air defence systems had been used this morning. “All services are operating normally. Our military, as always, worked well,” he said [LOL], urging residents in Crimea…to remain calm. He gave no further details of the incident.

    Ukraine’s air force reported on Friday morning that Russia launched 16 so-called kamikaze drones overnight, and that Ukrainian air defences destroyed all of them. It added that the drones had been sent from the south-east and north.

    Earlier, the Kyiv city military administration informed residents that five Shahed drones entered Kyiv’s airspace, and debris from one struck an administrative building in Holosiiv.

    None of the claims have been independently verified.

  27. Reginald Selkirk says

    First “virovore” discovered: An organism that eats viruses

    Since viruses are found absolutely everywhere, it’s inevitable that organisms will consume them incidentally. But researcher John DeLong at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln wanted to find out if any microbes actively ate viruses, and whether such a diet could support the physiological growth of individuals and the population growth of a community…

  28. Reginald Selkirk says

    The lost nuclear bombs that no one can find

    In fact, the Palomares incident is not the only time a nuclear weapon has been misplaced. There have been at least 32 so-called “broken arrow” accidents – those involving these catastrophically destructive, earth-flattening devices – since 1950. In many cases, the weapons were dropped by mistake or jettisoned during an emergency, then later recovered. But three US bombs have gone missing altogether – they’re still out there to this day, lurking in swamps, fields and oceans across the planet.
    “We don’t know as much about other countries. We don’t really know anything about the United Kingdom or France, or Russia or China,” says Lewis. “So I don’t think we have anything like a full accounting.”
    The Soviet Union’s nuclear past is particularly murky – it had amassed a stockpile of 45,000 nuclear weapons as of 1986. There are known cases where the country lost nuclear bombs that have never been retrieved, but unlike with the US incidents, they all occurred on submarines and their locations are known, if inaccessible…

  29. Reginald Selkirk says

    A promising new Covid pill shows key advantages over Paxlovid in trial

    A new antiviral pill for Covid was found to be as effective as Paxlovid at curbing mild to moderate illness among people at high risk of severe disease in a Phase 3 trial in China.
    The results, published Wednesday in The New England Journal of Medicine, suggest that the treatment had fewer side effects than Paxlovid, the go-to antiviral for high-risk patients. Around 67% of people who took the experimental pill, called VV116, reported side effects, compared to to 77% who took Paxlovid.
    The new pill was also less likely than Paxlovid to cause unexpected side effects due to reactions with other medications, such as those for insomnia, seizures or high blood pressure…
    VV116 is similar to the antiviral remdesivir, which the Food and Drug Administration has approved as an IV infusion. But the team behind the new drug — pharma companies Junshi Biosciences and Vigonvita Life Sciences — tweaked the formula so that the body can absorb it in pill form, said Dr. Peter Gulick, an associate professor of medicine at Michigan State University. Gilead Sciences, which developed remdesivir, is testing a similar oral version of its drug.

  30. Reginald Selkirk says

    Putin Oversees Launch of New Russian Submarine and Warships

    Putin, who has largely avoided public engagements since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, gave the green light for Russian flags to be hoisted on the new vessels via video link.
    Among the newly commissioned vessels were a corvette, a minesweeper, and the Generalissimus Suvorov nuclear-powered submarine that is capable of launching ballistic missiles.
    Another nuclear submarine, Emperor Alexander III, was put to sea on Thursday and will be commissioned following trials.

  31. Reginald Selkirk says

    Andrew Tate Arrested for Human Trafficking in Romania After Pizza Box Gave Away His Location

    Tate taunted Thunberg on Twitter about the carbon emissions of his 33 cars, to which Thunberg replied with a joke about “small dick energy” that racked up millions of likes. Tate then posted a humiliating 2-minute video of himself smoking a cigar in a robe and insisting that he was not at all owned by the teenager. The video prominently featured two boxes of pizza from a local shop, which reportedly tipped off authorities to his whereabouts…

  32. Reginald Selkirk says

    New rifle, light machine gun headed to close combat troops

    The Army plans to field in 2023 a rifle and light machine combination that will replace the standard issue M4 carbine and the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon for its close combat force…
    That new caliber, a special, Army-designed 6.8mm round, is the biggest change that shooters will see. The Next Generation Squad Weapon program had industry competitors build the weapon around the round…
    Once fielded, the M5 carbine replacement and the M250 SAW replacement, will allow users to shoot farther, faster with more accurate shots that are more lethal than the current 5.56mm round used in the two legacy weapons…
    The two will also feature the NGSW-Fire Control, which is a computer-assisted optic that can provide aim correction, first focal plane optic, a disturbed reticle, ballistics computer and laser range finder. It also links wirelessly with current and future soldier electronics.

  33. raven says

    Person Of Interest in Idaho Homicides Arrested in Pennsylvania Near Pocono Mountains

    We all heard about the pointless murders of 4 college students in Moscow, Idaho. With no motive or suspects, the police didn’t have much to go on to solve these murders.
    That may have changed with the arrest of a suspect in the Poconos of Pennsylvania.

    Person Of Interest in Idaho Homicides Arrested in Pennsylvania Near Pocono Mountains

    Person Of Interest in Idaho Homicides Arrested in Pennsylvania Near Pocono Mountains
    Sources confirm to NBC10 that a person of interest in the killings of four University of Idaho students has been arrested in Monroe County, Pennsylvania.
    By Deanna Durante, Tom Winter, Jonathan Dienst and Travis Hughes • Published 55 mins ago • Updated 23 mins ago

    A person of interest in connection to the murders of four students at the University of Idaho was taken into custody in the Pocono Mountains early Friday morning. Stick with NBC10 for more updates.

    A man has been taken into custody near the Pocono Mountains in connection with the homicide of four University of Idaho students.

    Four law enforcement sources confirm to NBC10’s Deanna Durante and NBC News that the person of interest is in custody in Monroe County, Pa.

    Further circumstances regarding the nature of the arrest and the suspect’s capture are not immediately known. The suspect appeared in front of a Monroe County judge around 8:30 a.m. Friday, sources tell NBC10.

    The Nov. 13 killings of the four students — Madison Mogan, Kaylee Goncalves, Xana Kernodle, and Ethan Chapin — left their community of Moscow, Idaho in shock and garnered attention nationwide.

    Police say the four were stabbed to death in an off-campus house rented by the three female students in the middle of the night, some with wounds that suggest they fought back against their attacker. The investigation to this point has largely come up empty. Two roommates on the first floor who police say slept through the attack have already been ruled out as suspects.

    A press conference is scheduled in Moscow, Idaho at 4 p.m. ET.

  34. Reginald Selkirk says

    @52: Rather vague, so far. Note the use of the term “person of interest.” Both CNN and FauxNews have dispensed with that and are using the word “suspect.”

  35. says

    Ukraine update: The view from inside Russia’s war effort is the same as what we see outside

    Dmitri over at War Translated posted the translation of a long Telegram post by Russian volunteer Murz, who helps support the Luhansk militia fundraising for supplies. Along with war criminal Igor Girkin, he is one of the fiercest internal critics of the Russian war effort, and this latest 5,000-word missive does not disappoint. Let’s dig in.

    Let’s start with his take on Russian war propaganda.

    Those who read my [Telegram] channel could already notice that a terrible thing happened to me recently – I watched Russian TV …

    The finale of the news release generally made me doubt that I was watching Russian TV. The weather forecast included a story, typically Ukrainian in essence and presentation, that in Ukraine, the weather is kind of terrible – solid ice, in Dnepropetrovsk so many buses have crashed due to ice. Most of the rest of the time was devoted to rituals about the fact that not only Ukraine, but finally the whole of Europe will freeze this winter.

    “The burghers are alarmed,” the announcer said, completing the “forecast”, “by the fact that black smoke poured out of the pipes of German thermal power plants!”

    Apparently, it was such a special test moment to see how everything in the viewer’s head has calibrated, because along with these words they showed ordinary white steam coming from these same pipes. “If you see white smoke, watch the news again in an hour and repeat until the smoke turns black” or something like that.

    We’ve laughed at how clumsy Russian propaganda can be, and here is one of their own pointing to how ridiculous it all is. It’s like Fox News and conservatives: People prefer to be told everything is okay, even if their eyes reveal the truth of the situation.

    This is also a reminder that Russia, unable to win on the battlefield, has really invested a great deal into making winter as miserable as possible for not just Ukrainians, but for their European allies. Direct attacks on Ukraine’s infrastructure have certainly made Ukraine’s life more difficult, but Europe is getting along just fine without Russian petroleum or natural gas. No matter how much Russian propaganda might claim otherwise, fact is that Russian oil exports have collapsed and Europe is opening up liquified natural gas terminals at breakneck speed, making Russian gas obsolete. As a result, this has been happening: [Tweet showing “The Russian ruble dropping 4% against the U.S. Dollar, in its biggest one-day drop since July. The Ruble is now at a 7 month low due to the market reacting to new Western sanctions against Russian oil. Sooner or later, there will be a bank run in Russia.” Chart at the link.]

    All the smoke and mirrors used to prop up the ruble and the Russian economy are less effective by the day.

    But back to Murz. Next up is his analysis of how Russia is destroying its tanks by using them as long-range indirect fire (in other words, like artillery). When he talks about tanks firing from “closed positions,” he means well in the rear as opposed to maneuvering at the vanguard of an attack.

    Separate fierce fuck-up are the constantly popping up videos from the 1st Army Corps of the DPR showing firing from tanks from closed positions, practiced on a regular basis. The horror here, of course, is not that tanks shoot from closed positions, they can do it, a good tankman should be able to do it … The horror is that with the silent catastrophic lack of shells in artillery (you can’t talk about it, because then someone will have to answer for it, but no one wants to), it was decided to replace artillery with tanks on a regular basis …

    In reality, such shooting is an emergency temporary measure in a situation where it is necessary to cover a large concentration of the enemy, and there is no free artillery at hand or it is impossible to use it because of the operational counter-battery fire, to which the tank, due to thick armor, is much less susceptible than self-propelled artillery guns and, especially, the towed guns in which the crew and ammunition load are not covered at all. Smooth-bore tank guns are not designed for what they are now doing all day long: continuously bombarding enemy positions with high-explosive fragmentation shells.

    There’s a great deal of debate about whether Russia is running out of artillery shells. Indeed, Bakhmut’s defenders have noted a significant decrease in the intensity of the Russian barrages. Some speculate that Russia is hoarding ammo for a major new offensive. Others say that supplies are dwindling. Yet others say that it’s just Russia moving pieces across the battlefield, or that Russia is using this time to do maintenance on their guns, like replacing barrels.

    Here Murz is saying that at least in the Donbas, Russian forces are so low on artillery shells that they’ve replaced them with tank shelling. The problem is those tanks aren’t designed to fire this much, with projectiles hurtled at far higher speeds (to pierce enemy armor) than artillery shells. That can work as a short-term Band-Aid, but it knocks those tanks out of commission when they actually, you know, need tanks. Maybe that’s why those Wagner troops are assaulting Ukrainian defensive positions around Bakhmut without any armor support.

    Next up, Murz talks about how Ukraine is “duping” Russia into wasting lives around Donetsk city.

    This duping is straightforward. Since the Armed Forces of Ukraine don’t give a shit about the fate of civilians in Doncek, the Armed Forces of Ukraine are hitting the city with multiple rocket launchers. All the preparations for firing can be done in advance, the BM-21 installation eventually rolls out to the point literally for a couple of minutes, the actual package of 40 missiles leaves the rails in less than a minute … In the end, a “counter-battery fire” against such missile terror by searching for and destroying systems with our current resources will give almost nothing. And that’s exactly what the enemy is counting on. He is counting on the fact that politicians, having seen enough of burning city blocks, will put pressure on the military – “Drive the ukrops away from the city!” And the 1st Armed Corps will continue to kill the remnants of their infantry at the Ukrainian fortified areas around Donetsk.

    While Ukraine undoubtedly strikes infrastructure targets inside Donetsk city, this is what it looks like today: [Tweet and photo at the link: “This is how Donetsk looks, it is not destroyed by mass Ukrainian fire. Unlike Russia, Ukraine does not wipe out entire cities. How about you stop spreading nonsense.”]

    The city has power, which could easily be cut as it’s well within range of Ukrainian artillery. Yet when it is struck, it’s the rail infrastructure, it’s the gas storage, it’s the ammo dumps and troop concentrations. Ukraine doesn’t have the munitions to waste on civilian targets, nor the inclination to do so even if it wanted. This propagandist claim is a reminder that Murz is a Russian nationalist true believer.

    What is more interesting is how Murz sees Russia haplessly falling for Ukrainian traps. It is Ukraine with the battlefield initiative, not Russia, and it’s costing his home team. Not that he thinks Russia always needs to be tricked into slaughtering its own forces …

    In other sectors of the front, the Russian command does not need such a goading, as it voluntarily drives to slaughter the last remnants of the infantry, no longer very combat-ready due to previous losses. The Russian military has an incredible talent for turning any village with a couple of landings and a pig farm into Verdun, on which their own, not enemy, units are ground.

    What a turn of phrase! “The Russian military has an incredible talent for turning any village with a couple of landings and a pig farm into Verdun, on which their own, not enemy, units are ground.” If I ever get around to writing my book about Dovhen’ke, that sentence is making it to the jacket cover.

    Next up, he laments the poor state of Russia’s communications, or more accurately, the lack of any. It’s why we don’t see anything larger than (literally) a handful of troops assault any position at any given time. It is impossible to coordinate any such attacks without working radios.

    Nothing larger than the “remnants of a motorized rifle battalion” in the RF Armed Forces can be controlled as a single organism. And, of course, in this situation, the battalion commanders and company commanders of these “remnants” become well-deserved heroes, who, if possible, drag all the shit on their own backs. Although more often, alas, they don’t. And they are buried with their subordinates when, after half a dozen assaults, each organized worse than the previous one, we still capture another piece of land and collect their rotten remains.

    From the fact that the Russian army can do nothing except for bleeding and capturing another village while surrendering a district center or an entire region on the other flank. So the Russian army made an amazing conclusion—let’s take more villages! And arranged the maximum possible Verduns along the entire front line, including the very infamous Pavlovka in the DPR. And, of course, Bakhmut. How could it be without it? Why not kill the last remnants of combat-ready infantry at it? It’s not possible at all. These fucking bastards need to get positive news somewhere! Here, we freed another 100 meters of such and such village. And whoever is the first to report on the complete liberation of the village gets a medal.

    […] I love the obvious sarcasm as he celebrates the capturing of some insignificant village as Russia loses entire regions on the other flank. You might remember how one pro-Russian Twitter account celebrated Wagner’s capture of a hill near Bakhmut, while Ukraine was at that very moment liberating almost the entirety of Kharkiv oblast. [Tweet and images at the link]

    Next up, Murz tackles the lack of unified Russian military presence.

    Could [Russia] replenish the depleted units, in which motivated officers and sergeants, military equipment remained? They could. It was possible to eliminate that monstrous patchwork that is the RF Armed Forces, when soldiers of various military units, the National Guard, PMCs, BARS volunteers”, “Akhmads” crowd on the square of one or two kilometers? It could be. But no one did it. The enemy has been rendered a large-scale service, worthy of a military tribunal, which, of course, will not happen.

    This is a topic we’ve touched on before, and merits a deep dive. There is no unified Russian command. As Russian forces were thrown back in Kharkiv oblast, Russia’s ministry of defense begged Wagner (a “PMC,” or “private military contractor”) to move forces up and help stop the Ukrainian advance. Wagner CEO Yevgeny Prigozhin (also known as “Putin’s chef”) refused, bragging that his people were the only Russians anywhere on the front advancing. He was too busy feeding prison cannon fodder into the wood chipper around Bakhmut to give a rat’s ass about anyone else’s problems. He certainly doesn’t buy into any grander strategy.

    Then there’s the Rosgvardia—Putin’s private national guard—because god forbid the regular army get too big and dangerous and threaten Putin’s rule. They are traditionally used to suppress civilian uprisings in Russia, and in Ukraine they’ve mostly been seen around Kherson. Now, presumably they’re in Melitopol, Mariupol, and other occupied cities.

    BARS are volunteer battalions of mobilized former military veterans. They’re the ones holding the line around Kreminna and Svatove, and by many indications are relatively competent. “Akhmad” I assume is a racist reference to Ramzan Kadyrov’s Chechen militias. After featuring heavily on TikTok early in the war, they seem to have mostly disappeared. Rumors are they are “barrier” troops, shooting any retreating Russian prisoners or mobilized fodder, but I’m not sure I buy it. Given we last truly saw them in Kherson, I suspect they’re also part of Russia’s defenses in Zaporizhzhia oblast, on the approaches to Tokmak, Melitopol, and Berdyansk. Kadyrov has been hot and cold on Russia’s Ministry of Defense, and seems to help when he feels like it or it’s in his interest.

    At the start of the war, there wasn’t even a unified commander, with each axis of attack commanded by one of Russia’s military districts. As such, they all fought for resources, attention, and glory. That seems to have been solved not just by the appointment of a supreme commander (Sergey Surovikin), but by the elimination of all but one of those axes of attack. And yet still, even today, Russia’s units remain fragmented. Reports of them firing on each other are common, and if Murz is correct, it’s even worse than anyone thinks.

    Moving on …

    Is it worth discussing the construction of the “Faberge Line” [Surovikin’s Line]?

    This guy knows how to use words! I didn’t know Faberge, known for its delicate and breathtakingly expensive “imperial eggs” and jewelry, was a Russian company.

    Thus Murz mocks the fragility of the defensive lines Russia is building all across its captured territories. Of the white concrete pyramids that make up part of those lines, he rolls his eyes, “God forbid the tank is scratched” as it punches through. He notes that rains have washed away the foundations of defensive emplacements. Meanwhile, he notes that Russia should’ve learned from Ukraine on how to properly defend.

    It’s a shame to learn from the enemy of our army, yet in the meantime this spring and summer the enemy demonstrated in the Donbas all the necessary components of a successful long-term defense, which sipped a lot of blood of our troops. It suddenly turns out that the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation have problems with these issues, and all potential rudiments of improvements are destroyed at the root. I repeat once again – this level of military incompetence simply does not exist. This is deliberate sabotage, sabotage and betrayal.

    Murz has made these accusations before, that Russia’s war effort is so catastrophically terrible that it can’t possibly be mere incompetence. He is convinced that treason is at the root, and that he continues to post unbothered by Russian authorities speaks to … something.

    Wagner’s Prigozhin and Kadyrov have both attempted to blame Russia’s Ministry of Defense for their disastrous performance, yet Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu survives, lest Putin be forced to admit mistakes. The Ministry of Defense attempted to blame Russia’s SBU security services for bad intelligence heading into Ukraine, and the rumor is that it is them who are protecting ultra-nationalist critics of the war like Murz and Girkin—they shift the focus and blame back on the armed forces.

    Next up, more on Russia’s problems with its artillery:

    The next item is artillery. Normal defence is built on artillery and around artillery … No artillery – no defense. Rifle infantry will not hold the defense for a long time. The Armed Forces of Ukraine mastered their artillery for 7 years, the Russian army relaxed its artillery as best it could […] And, of course, stopping any attempts to automate the work of artillery with the help of appropriate software. “Not allowed”. We see the result. Monstrous lunar landscapes in the fields, where there is not a trace of Ukrainian fortifications. Echelons of ammunition flew away to nowhere under the approving bleat of propagandists and “experts” like Shurygin. And in the end, artillery depots near Izyum, handed over to the enemy. Well done!

    We’ve seen those lunar landscapes. Here is the outskirts of Dovhen’ke: [image at the link]

    Murz has a point. Every single one of those shells hit seedlings and crops and maybe some locusts, but … there wasn’t a single Ukrainian soldier, piece of equipment, or position anywhere out in the open like that. Ukrainians like to talk about Russia’s massive artillery advantage, but the vast majority is spray-and-pray, hitting nothing of value. Now, such volume means that eventually, something of value gets hit. Most injuries and deaths in this war come from artillery, not bullet wounds, and Ukraine has lost as many as 50,000 soldiers this war thus far. So none of this is meant to minimize the damage from Russian artillery. But just imagine, what if they were actually good at their craft?

    The result at the moment (which the Russian media and biased bloggers are diligently trying to cover up) … is a monstrous shell hunger in artillery. Air strikes from afar with unguided 80-mm rockets from a pitch-up (because if you fly closer, they will shoot you down) only tickles a well-entrenched enemy, although it can look very impressive. Pew pew pew! Hooray! What a shot! And when the smoke settled – another plowed field.

    “Pew pew pew hurray!” I’m dying. This guy is funny! “Shell hunger” is the direct translation of “ammunition shortage.” He keeps coming back to this, saying they’re running out.

    And you know how Ukrainians have had great success using drones to drop grenades on Russian soldiers? Murz mocks Russian attempts to copy that strategy.

    On our side, the stupid morons who wasted the ammo on plowing the fields decided to replace the six-inch projectiles with VOGs [grenades] dropped from copters. With the motivation “Well, hohols do it!”

    But you fucking can’t … Because hohols have learned over the years how to properly terrorize our motherfuckers with these grenade drops. They have tactics, they have a system for applying it. Starting with a competent choice of a site that is optimal for dumping terror, identifying convenient targets and ending with a concentration of forces – when 4-6 copters arrange a “carousel” over some unit for several hours, bombarding it with these VOGs or makeshift bombs. And you fuckers just order the “Mavics”, for which the people have scraped together the money, hoping that they will conduct reconnaissance and adjust artillery. No, let’s bomb. Immediately! Tomorrow! And people run to carry out your fucking order, headlong, without really working out either tactics or reconnaissance of targets. And they are trying to intimidate the army of moles with 30-mm little shits dropped from copters. And hohols jam these “Mavics” and shoot them down for their own pleasure, because they are NOT R*T*RDS, THEY ARE LEARNING. And the artillery remains not only with meager ammo but also without eyes.

    “Hohol” is the Russian slur for Ukrainian. Aside from multiple hateful slurs (because he is Russian after all), this is hilarious. Russian artillery desperately lacks eyes on the enemy. Well-meaning supporters crowdsource drones for these units, but instead of using them to adjust artillery fire, they want to do cool grenade drops just like their enemy does. But since they don’t know how to do it, they’ve just wasted that precious drone their families and supporters scrimped to buy.

    I’m going to wrap up with his view on Russian infantry, even though his screed goes on and on.

    By grinding down the remnants of the infantry in mini-Verduns along the entire front, the Russian command renders an invaluable service to the Armed Forces of Ukraine, which in the spring and summer showed how important it is to have a reserve of at least somewhat prepared infantry, which can fill more and more hastily built lines instead of those taken by our troops. We will not have such a supply of people for the winter offensive of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. On average, our infantry is prepared disgustingly, without even touching on tactical issues. Shooting training is a complete ass and is difficult to fix because there are neither people capable of using the tools for reconciling shooting and training people, nor the tools themselves. Almost no one knows how to use group weapons normally.

    Those defensive lines look imposing, and will certainly slow down any Ukrainian offensive. But the line is only as effective as its manned infantry defenders, and mechanized (armored) reserves in the rear, ready to respond to any Ukrainian breakthrough. [Tweet and image at the link]

    Also, give it a little time and those defensive lines may literally crumble into dust. That process has already begun. [Tweet and image at the link]

    You gotta love Russian corruption. But Murz doesn’t just criticize the workmanship of the defensive emplacements, but stresses the importance of trained defenders in those trenches. He’s totally right.

    […] Ukraine has mastered the art of defense. Their “flexible defense” moves back and forth between layered trenches depending on the tactical situation. No reason to sit in forward positions under Russian artillery. They’re happy to retreat, allow Russian infantry to advance, then hit them as they extend past their protected positions, with stretched supply lines. Once the Russian advance is dealt with, Ukraine can return to their forward positions, ebbing and flowing like the tides. We’ve seen it time and time again this war, currently at Bakhmut.

    Now imagine a mobilized Russian, with zero leadership or training, thrown into a trench and told to hold the line. Yes, he’ll be a speed bump that will need to be dealt with by any advancing Ukrainian force, but that’s about it.

    Anyway, that was fun. The biggest takeaway? Murz didn’t say much we didn’t already know. It means that we’re not blinded by hopium and copium, but have a true, honest, and clear picture of Russia’s rank difficulties.

    As for Murz, last I checked, his Livejournal had been taken down by Russia. So who knows, maybe he’s not so protected after all.

  36. says

    Two Possible Reasons Why Trump Got Lax Treatment From The IRS As POTUS

    In his letter to the House Ways and Means Committee, chairman Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA) noted that the Internal Revenue Service didn’t properly audit Trump while he was in office—another similarity he has with former President Richard Nixon.

    “In 1974, it became known publicly that the IRS did not properly examine President Nixon’s returns,” Neal wrote. “Shortly thereafter, the IRS implemented a mandatory audit program for a sitting President’s returns ‘in the interest of sound tax administration.’”

    But the law was never really enforced since it’s “merely IRS policy and not codified in the Federal tax laws,” Neal says.

    A report issued by the House Ways and Means Committee on Dec. 20 shows that the IRS was, in fact, deviating from the status quo.

    “The IRS dozed through most of its obligations to audit Trump during his presidency,” my colleague Josh Kovensky wrote last week, “concluding that it violated an agency program which mandates that the tax returns of every President be audited annually.”

    Every president since Nixon has indeed been subject to routine annual audits so why did the IRS drag their feet with Trump?

    Noah Bookbinder, president of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, presents two possibilities: either the IRS wanted to avoid controversy or Trump “used the levers of government to shield himself from scrutiny” by installing loyalists in the agency.


  37. says

    What We Don’t Know From Trump’s Taxes

    It’s important to keep in mind: the tax returns themselves are really only a road map to further discovery, likely by seasoned tax experts.

    And what’s released today is itself limited by the scope of the Committee’s request. The House only asked for six years of Trump’s personal and business returns.

    But if you take a look at the records themselves, Trump is claiming deductions based on losses and other events that took place before 2015 — the earliest year of returns requested by the panel.

    That, in fact, is a problem cited by the Ways and Means Committee itself in the report that it issued last week. There, investigators remarked that the basis for Trump’s deductions — which resulted in him paying next-to-zero tax in some years — was unclear from the records requested.


  38. says

    Tony Ornato was interviewed by the [January 6] committee three times. The transcript released Friday is from his Nov. 29, 2022. He was also interviewed on Jan. 28, 2022 and March 29, 2022. He left the Secret Service to work in the White House and lead security training. He was one of several points of contact on Jan. 6 tasked with passing along communications about security-related issues.

    Ornato became a key focus for the committee after former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson testified that Ornato was present during an explosive moment on Jan. 6 when former President Donald Trump was informed that his motorcade would not be taken to the Capitol after his speech at the Ellipse.

    Under oath, Hutchinson said Ornato invited her into his office at the White House on Jan. 6 along with Bobby Engel, the head of Trump’s Secret Service detail. She told investigators that Ornato asked her if she had yet caught wind of Trump’s episode in the motorcade. Hutchinson said Ornato recounted how Trump “lunged” at Secret Service agent Bobby Engel as Engel sat in the driver’s seat of the president’s armored vehicle.

    Curiously, Ornato testified that he didn’t recall whether he had read memos from the Secret Service, the Department of Homeland Security, the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department or any news reports about the potential for violence on Jan. 6. However, the committee obtained an email that he forwarded to Bobby Engel on Jan. 4 about the looming threat. Though he told the committee he received “hundreds of emails” daily, the Jan. 4 email was one of the only ones the committee received from the Secret Service that Ornato forwarded to Engel.

    Ornato received an email, subject line: “Enrique Tarrio post” on Dec. 12 from the Protective Intelligence Division. It had been sent as well to Secret Service agent and other officials, including Bobby Engel. Ornato testified he wasn’t familiar with Tarrio, the leader of the extremist Proud Boys, at the time. The email disclosed that Tarrio had taken a tour of the White House that morning and there was “no known media coverage” at that moment.

    “So, as | read it today, ‘there is no known media coverage,’ meaning that there could be possible media coverage of this gentleman having a tour at the White House. And, at the time, | probably — | didn’t — | wasn’t aware of all the groups and everything back then, as | am more familiar with them now. However, if it was relayed to me that that’s who that particular person was, | would’ve made the chief of staff aware that this had taken place that day,” Ornato testified

    When the committee pushed back, saying he had to be aware of who the Proud Boys were—they participated in a MAGA rally that was heavily reported in November and on the night of Dec. 12, held another rally in Washington—Ornato said: “I don’t recall. There was so many groups. | mean, | could’ve known at the time. | just don’t recall this specific group of knowing — you know, | knew Code Pink, | knew — there’s different — when | was actually working as a special agent in charge, there were different groups that | was always briefed on and had in my head. During this time, not being in that environment, | don’t recall all the groups that | knew or didn’t know.”

    Ornato’s memory wasn’t jogged any further when asked whether he was aware that Bobby Engel had received an email on Dec. 12 questioning why the Secret Service hadn’t been alerted that the leader of the Proud Boys went on a White House tour. Ornato said he may have passed the information along to Mark Meadows, however he couldn’t recall specifically.

    “I don’t specifically [remember a conversation with Meadows]. There was so much in my role there that I would have to make him aware of. This was probably one of the many thing that I did bring to his attention because that was my normal course of business,” Ornato testified.

    Committee: “— is your testimony that you just weren’t aware of that and don’t know whether you passed that along to Mr. Meadows?”

    Ornato: “No, sir. Let me explain…. | completely grasp what you’re saying on who he was and what he was doing. | would’ve passed that to Mr. Meadows based upon who [Tarrio] was. | would not have known who submitted him to come into the White House. | would not have known any of that, as that all gets disseminated through the service to run background checks. So they would’ve brought that to us, or to me, on that. | wouldn’t have known that information. But | would’ve addressed this with Chief of Staff Meadows based upon not just the media attention but due to the gravity of who the person was, absolutely.”

    Notably: Later in the interview, Ornato testifies that Meadows would have been briefed on “the potential for groups to clash, the pro and the anti groups on the Washington Monument” on Jan. 6.

    “I would have tallked to Chief of Staff Meadows on that,” he said.

    Ornato also had trouble recalling whether he was aware of Elmer Stewart Rhodes, the leader of the Oath Keepers who was recently convicted of seditious conspiracy. On Dec. 17, he received a forwarded link to a story about Rhodes with the headline “Right-wing militant leader pledges violent support for Trump dictatorship.”

    “| don’t remember that general subject coming to my attention. | just remember from reviewing the documents of the ones that — dozens of groups on there, | believe the Oath Keepers is on there. But! don’t remember it being pulled out as a specific topic of conversation,” Ornato testified.

    It is notable in his exchanges with the committee that Ornato had left the Secret Service to take on the role at the White House but testified that he still had access to his Secret Service-issued cell phone. He also testified that he didn’t know the meaning of “ALCON,” common shorthand for “ALL CONCERNED” that is used in bulletins among intelligence and military services

    On Dec. 24, Ornato received a bulletin from the Protective Intelligence Division citing the open-source message board. The bulletin highlighted warnings of people defying local gun laws when coming to D.C. on Jan. 6. The message highlighted stated: “’Armed and ready, Mr. President’: Demonstrators urged to bring guns, prepare for violence at January 6th “Stop the Steal’ protest in D.C.”

    Ornato said he didn’t discuss with Dan Scavino, the top Trump White House aide who often handled and monitored the former president’s social media. If Scavino would have seen the threatening messages, he would have gone straight to the Secret Service anyway, Ornato said, not him. When asked if he could recall a time Scavino did go to the Secret Service directly about similar material, he couldn’t recall.

  39. raven says

    @52: Rather vague, so far. Note the use of the term “person of interest.” Both CNN and FauxNews have dispensed with that and are using the word “suspect.”

    Yeah, I know.

    The police are clearly desperate to solve this case.
    That they’ve said anything means they likely have more evidence then they are saying right now.

    Or maybe just that they are grasping at straws.
    They did this at the Atlanta Olympics bombing, where they first accused the security guard who rather alertly, discovered the bomb and got everyone away.
    He was a true hero and the cops promptly accused him of what he prevented.

    We may know more at the 4:00 ET press conference in Idaho.

    What strikes everyone is the complete pointlessness of these 4 murders.
    There are no obvious motives, no obvious suspects, and there was nothing to gain by killing these students.

  40. lumipuna says

    CN: random nerding about calendars

    In the “Merry humbug” thread on Christmas day, this remark in the comment 21 by nomdeplume caught my attention:

    I believe that “Xmas Day” is the result of a mistake in calculations of the Winter Solstice by some ignorant religious writer.

    I had a hunch that the 3-4 day difference between solstice and Christmas relates somehow to the inaccuracy of Julian calendar, so I went to Wikipedia to investigate. I learned some interesting stuff. Some of the following is my own interpretation.

    When the Julian calendar was established in the first century BCE, northern winter solstice happened to fall approximately on December 24 in that calendar. This, I presume, was the (almost accurate) basis for declaring December 25 as the official date for the traditional Roman solstice feast Saturnalia, which was later substituted with Christmas. Meanwhile, northern spring equinox originally fell on March 22-23.

    Forward to the early third century CE. In those 250-300 years that passed, the inaccuracy of Julian calendar caused the solar dates to shift backwards by about two days, to December 22 and March 20-21. Around this time, Christians in Egypt began seriously developing their own calculation method for the infamously complicated date of Easter. They settled on using March 21 as the standard value for spring equinox, and this standard was later (within a couple centuries) adopted by the almost entire Christendom.

    Forward to the end of 16th century, when our Gregorian calendar was established. At this point, the Julian solar dates had shifted by about 12 days, to about December 11-12 and March 10. There was then a famous 10 day leap forward in Gregorian calendar dates in order to correct that shift. But why only 10 and not 12 days? I can only guess they wanted to set the spring equinox at (or preferably slightly before) March 21, in accordance with the established tradition with regard to calculating Easter. Therefore, our Gregorian date for northern winter solstice is December 21-22 while the northern spring equinox is about March 20.

    Gregorian calendar was first invented and adopted by the Catholics, then grudgingly adopted by Protestant nations and finally adopted by most nations dominated by other religions. Certain Christian churches still use Julian calendar for ecclesiastic purposes, most notably the Eastern Orthodox churches of Russia and Ukraine. Within the last 100 years, most other Orthodox churches have adopted a “Revised Julian” calendar, which has dates aligning with Gregorian calendar dates (the Orthodox Church of Finland went straight Gregorian). Today, the solar date shift in Julian calendar is about 15.5 days compared to the starting point, and 13 days compared to the Gregorian calendar.

  41. Reginald Selkirk says

    @59: At the risk of repeating something already said*, have you heard of the Phantom time hypothesis ?

    The phantom time hypothesis is a historical conspiracy theory asserted by Heribert Illig. First published in 1991, it hypothesizes a conspiracy by the Holy Roman Emperor Otto III, Pope Sylvester II, and possibly the Byzantine Emperor Constantine VII,[further explanation needed] to fabricate the Anno Domini dating system retroactively, in order to place them at the special year of AD 1000, and to rewrite history[1] to legitimize Otto’s claim to the Holy Roman Empire. Illig believed that this was achieved through the alteration, misrepresentation and forgery of documentary and physical evidence.[2] According to this scenario, the entire Carolingian period, including the figure of Charlemagne, is a fabrication, with a “phantom time” of 297 years (AD 614–911) added to the Early Middle Ages.
    Evidence contradicts the hypothesis and it failed to gain the support of historians.

    * I learned of this quite recently, but can’t remember where. Tracking the Infinite Thread is difficult since it rolls over so quickly. I also might have read about it elsewhere.

  42. Reginald Selkirk says

    @52 etc.
    Suspect named

    Bryan Christopher Kohberger, 28, was arrested early Friday morning …
    A Ph.D. student by the same name is listed in the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology at Washington State University, which is a short drive across the state line from the University of Idaho. Messages seeking more information were left for officials at WSU. DeSales University in Pennsylvania confirmed that a student by that name received a bachelor’s degree in 2020 and completed graduate studies in June 2022…

  43. says

    Monster of 2022: Billionaires

    […] Billionaires are a different breed. I know more about them than most, having recently written a book about excessive wealth in America—or rather, about what excessive wealth is doing to America.

    […] Forbes even has a “real time billionaires” list that lets you track “today’s winners and losers.” You’ll be happy to know that Elon Musk lost $6.3 billion the Monday before last and Jeff Bezos was down $2.5 billion, but Warren Buffett—one of the “good” billionaires—was $1 billion richer than he was on the previous Friday. Crazy, isn’t it, how these rarified humans—mostly white, mostly dudes—can gain or lose more money in one day than you and all your friends and family combined can ever hope to possess?

    […] These are the stereotypically rich, people who hoard public and private and political resources so far beyond their needs that, should they will it, their kids and grandkids (and potentially their descendants in all perpetuity) could live—sponge—off the proceeds.

    The biggest hoarders—spongers—of all are the billionaires. I find it perversely amusing that wealth inequality within the 1 percent (see charts below) closely resembles wealth inequality within the broader US population. [charts at the link]

    […] billionaires comprise less than 1 percent of the global ultra-high-net-worth population but own 27 percent of its cumulative wealth.

    […] They’re a pretty small social pool, the Bs, but the United States mints more of them than any other nation—way more. Wealth-X counts 975 American billionaires in 2021, almost two-and-a-half times as many as runner-up China, which has more than four times as many people. The US number represented a 5.2 percent increase over 2020 and a 20 percent gain in cumulative wealth, which brought them up to a total of $4.5 trillion—during a pandemic!

    The United States, with just over 4 percent of the world’s population, has, according to Altrata, 29 percent of its billionaires—and those billionaires own 38 percent of the world’s total billionaire wealth.

    […] Should billionaires exist? I got asked that question a lot during publicity interviews for my book. I usually said something like, “Well, if the United States actually guaranteed its citizens equal rights, protections, and opportunities—and if our tax code wasn’t more or less a system of subsidies for the affluent—then I guess billionaires would be okay.”

    […] lately I’m thinking that was too charitable. Billionaires are typically billionaires because they built or staked a successful company, or invented something remarkable, speculated in real estate, or figured out how to game the markets. But their journeys almost always entail, directly or indirectly, some combination of lowballing workers (foreign and domestic), screwing over tenants, despoiling the environment, busting unions, avoiding taxes, siphoning off public money, and fighting proposals that guarantee people a living wage and safe and dignified working conditions. When you have that much, some portion of it is invariably blood money. […]

    […] Lobbyists for the investor class have convinced Congress—nonsensically—that it’s okay to favor the gains of wealthy investors over the paychecks of people who work for a living. […] Virtually every industry was rep­resented, along with a who’s who of blue-chip companies: Amazon, Anheuser-Busch InBev, Comcast, Verizon, General Electric, Micro­soft, Novartis, etc. “My donors are basically saying, ‘Get it done or don’t ever call me again,’” New York representative Chris Collins told reporters […]

    […] But billionaires give back! Whoa there. Don’t get me started on philanthropy. High-dollar giving is often something more like misanthropy—not a good deed, but rather a business or personal or political strategy.

    […] Worse, billionaire giving is subsidized by ordinary taxpayers. Under current policy, only the roughly 10 percent of Americans who itemize deductions on their state and federal tax returns—as almost every wealthy family does—get to deduct charitable donations from their taxable income. So when a billionaire with a 20 percent effective tax rate gives $100 million to his own foundation, or makes a huge donation to Harvard—as Jared Kushner’s daddy did to help him get in—or bankrolls “charities” that spread hate and misinformation (because eligibility rules for tax-exempt nonprofits are shamefully lax), that donation costs the US Treasury $20 million. […]

    Much more at the link.

  44. says

    Bizarre personal life aside, there’s a lot of hinky money behind George Santos

    […] the latest report focusing on his campaign finances, or what he claimed on them, anyway. That includes nearly $11,000 to a company called Cleaner 123 for “apartment rental for staff.” Except that according to neighbors of the “modest suburban house on Long Island,” Santos had been living there for months, along with his husband.

    If Santos was paying for his own housing out of campaign finances, that would be a violation of federal rules—campaign money can’t be spent on day-to-day living expenses such as rent and utilities for candidates. Paying staff rent may or may not be a violation, but it’s unusual, campaign finance experts told the Times. The Times telephoned Cleaner 123, where a representative “confirmed that it was a cleaning company, but hung up before answering why it had received rent payments from Mr. Santos.”

    Santos has claimed that he lives with his sister in Huntington, NY, on Long Island after reporters were unable to reach him at the Whitestone, Queens address that he used for his voter registration. His sister, however, lives in Elmhurtst, Queens according to “court documents, as well as interviews with neighbors and a doorman.”

    What’s also eye-catching on his campaign disclosures are the “more than 30” expenses claimed for office supplies, meals, transportation, etc. that were exactly $199.99, one cent below the threshold requiring receipts to be filed with reports. That, Paul S. Ryan, an election law expert, told the Times would be exactly how a campaign looking to hide the illegal use of campaign funds would do it.

    “I consider deployment of this tactic strong evidence that the violation of law was knowing and willful—and therefore meeting the requirement for criminal prosecution,” Ryan said.

    Santos also spent huge amounts on travel expense—$30,000 for hotels, $40,000 for airfare, and $14,000 on car services—for a candidate running in an urban district measuring 254.8 square miles. “By way of comparison, Nick LaLota, the Republican representative-elect from the First Congressional District, in Long Island’s Suffolk County, spent roughly $900 on hotel stays, $3,000 on airfare and $900 on taxi services, according to his campaign filings, the Times reports. “Sean Patrick Maloney, the outgoing head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, who lost to a Republican in the Hudson Valley, spent just $8,000 on air travel, according to his filings.”

    The expenditures are one thing. The money he used to pay for them—including that mysterious $700,000 that he loaned himself—is quite another. And that’s what’s landed Santos federal prosecutors’ attention. Sources to ABC News “were careful not to characterize this as a formal investigation and stressed that prosecutors, at this stage, are only looking at publicly available filings.”

    They’ll find much to interest them there, including that loan, which could have been illegal if he took the money from his company, the Devolder Organization, to fund his campaign. Santos told the Daily Beast this week that “he withdrew money from the firm to underwrite his campaign.” He said the same thing on WABC radio on Monday, that it “was the money I paid myself through the Devolder Organization.”

    “You can fund a campaign with your own money to whatever extent you’d like, but the deal is it has to be your money,” Jordan Libowitz, communications director of government watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics, told the Daily Beast. “Two major problems here. One, if it’s the company’s money, it’s not his money. If it were Santos personally doing business as the company—that is, if it were his bank accounts—that’s okay. But this is an actual corporation, and you can’t make a corporation to run money through to your campaign.”

    There’s also plenty of questions about where that $700,000 came from before it got to Devolder Organization. “If I wished to illegally fund a campaign and hide it, what I would do is run the money through a dummy corporation, then to a dark money group that supports the campaign. But if I was not that up on things, or a little lazy, I might … set up the dummy corporation, say it’s in the name of the candidate, then have the candidate pay himself the money and give it to the campaign,” Libowitz said. “This isn’t to say that this is clearly an illegal pass-through donation scheme, because we don’t know the full picture yet—but if it were one, this is what it would look like.”

    There’s definitely enough to keep prosecutors and investigators busy here.

  45. Reginald Selkirk says

    @65: “more than 30” expenses claimed for office supplies, meals, transportation, etc. that were exactly $199.99, one cent below the threshold requiring receipts to be filed with reports.


  46. says

    Ginni Thomas And Liz Cheney Spar Over 2020 Election

    […] Thomas and committee Vice Chair Liz Cheney (R-WY) had a prolonged back-and-forth, with Thomas questioning Cheney too.

    Cheney asked Thomas if she would’ve changed her view of the 2020 election had she known then that Trump administration members like then-White House counsel Pat Cipollone and then-Attorney General Bill Barr said there was no evidence of fraud.

    “Honestly, I don’t think it would have, because millions of people still found that there were irregularities with the COVID changes to mail-in balloting,” Thomas responded. “And there were so many other things that, you know, I don’t think there’s a lot of — there’s a lot of people uncomfortable with the 2020 election despite what this committee is pushing. Okay?”

    Cheney pressed her, pointing to the Trump campaign’s many unsuccessful lawsuits.

    “So despite the fact that the courts had ruled in a number of instances, in fact judges appointed by President Trump had ruled very clearly and specifically that these allegations — that the campaign’s claims were not supported by the evidence, you were aware of those rules and just chose to ignore them?” Cheney asked.

    “I just think there’s still a lot of things that are still being uncovered,” Thomas retorted. “And so I believed there was fraud and irregularity, contrary to clearly what you believe.”

    Refusing to let the line of questioning drop, Cheney pushed Thomas to admit that there were legitimate paths for candidates to challenge the outcome of elections.

    “Yes. And Democrats have done that in many instances — 2000, 2004, 2016,” Thomas said. “It seemed like there were a lot of people who claimed President Trump was illegitimate for four years and tried to undermine his administration. Do you agree with that?”

    In response, Cheney ran through team Trump’s many unsuccessful lawsuits seeking to overturn the election.

    […] “I worried that there was fraud and irregularities that distorted the election but it wasn’t uncovered in a timely manner, so we have President Biden,” [Ginni Thomas] said at one point in the transcript.

    Much of the investigators’ questioning focused on Thomas’ communications after the election, some of which have already become public through the release of Mark Meadows’ texts. During the deposition, she repeatedly expressed regret about what she wrote in those messages, but maintained that she was operating at too much of a surface level to be knowledgeable about specific plots to overthrow the election, like the fake electors scheme.

    She also, perhaps stretching credulity, steadfastly insisted throughout that she and her husband, Justice Clarence Thomas, do not share any details about their work with each other.

    That contention attracted investigators’ scrutiny. They asked her, in particular, about an exchange with Meadows when the then-White House chief of staff promised Thomas that he would keep fighting to overturn the election, that he would stake his career in D.C. on it. She responded with relief, saying that she “needed that, plus a conversation with my best friend just now. I will try to keep holding on.”

    Upon questioning by the investigators, Thomas admitted that the “best friend” she refers to in her text “looks like it was my husband.”

    She said that she has no memory of what her husband said in that conversation to comfort her.

    “I wish I could remember, but I have no memory of the specifics,” she said. “My husband often administers spousal support to the wife that’s upset.”

  47. says

    Followup to comment 68.

    Posted by readers of the article:

    So f’ing tired of the justification for proclaiming there was massive fraud with zero evidence being “but a lot of people said…”

    People were harmed and some died because of these deliberate lies intending to overturn an election. I wish for accountability for more than the small fish.
    Mrs. Thomas: I can’t say that I was familiar at that time with any specific evidence. I was just hear it from news reports and friends on the ground, grassroots activists who were inside of various polling placed that found things suspicious. […]

    Mr. Raskin: I see. and what are the episodes of fraud that still concern you, even in the wake of more than 60 Federal and State court decisions rejecting allegations of fraud and irregularity?

    Mrs. Thomas: […] There seems to be a lot of people still moving around, identifying ways that thee were … we’ll see. We’ll see what happens. I don’t know specific instances. But certainly I think we all know that there are people questioning what happened in 2020, and it takes time to develop an understanding of the the facts. [LOL]
    weasel word salad
    what a complete and utter dipshit

  48. tomh says

    Kris Kobach Committee Agrees to Pay $30,000 Fine, Admits to Taking Illegal in-Kind Corporate Contribution from the “We Build the Wall Foundation” During U.S. Senate Run
    RICK HASEN / December 30, 2022


    Others involved in the “We Build the Wall Foundation” have been convicted of crimes.
    Election Law Blog

  49. Reginald Selkirk says

    Idaho murders

    Law enforcement sources told ABC News that police identified Kohberger as a suspect, at least in part, by using DNA technology, and police then tracked the grad student to Pennsylvania through his car.

  50. whheydt says

    The failure rate of semiconductors shipped from China to Russia has increased by 1,900 percent in recent months, according to Russian national business daily Коммерсантъ (Kommersant).

    Quoting an anonymous source, Kommersant states that before Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine the defect rate in imported silicon was two percent. Since that war commenced, Russian manufacturers have apparently faced 40 percent failure rates.

    Even a two percent defect rate is sub-optimal, because products made of many components can therefore experience considerable quality problems. Forty percent failure rates mean supplies are perilously close to being unfit for purpose.

    According to Kommersant, Russian electronics manufacturers are not enjoying life at all because, on top of high failure rates, gray market gear doesn’t flow with the same speed as legit kit and supply chains are currently very kinked indeed inside Russia.

    The newspaper lays the blame on economic sanctions that have seen many major businesses quit Russia. Gray market distributors and other opportunistic operators have been left as the only entities willing to deal with Russian businesses.

    Gray market folks are not renowned for their sterling customer service nor their commitment to quality. They get away with it because buyers of products with – ahem – unconventional origins self-incriminate if they complain to authorities.

    Perhaps they’re even dumping dud product on Russian buyers, knowing that they can’t easily access alternatives.
    If 40 percent of silicon sourced from China is indeed kaput, it’s an interesting expression of the “friendship without limits” that Moscow and Beijing declared in February 2022. It’s also an oddity, given China’s oft-stated ambition to crush corruption, modernize its economy, and focus only on quality development of world-leading products.

    China has used diplomatic language that makes it plain it does not entirely approve of Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine – but the Middle Kingdom also doesn’t entirely mind Russia’s international isolation. It means Chinese companies’ export prospects improve at a time when most of the world’s liberal democracies have shut the door on Huawei, ZTE, and other high-tech Chinese companies.

    Moscow, meanwhile, needs to pump out more kit to sustain its illegal invasion. Semiconductors are a critical element of that effort, so if failure rates are high whoever is sending dodgy products to Russia is hampering the not-a-war effort. ®
    Article is a bit old (mid-October), but the problem most likely hasn’t gotten any better for the Russians.

  51. says

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

    Ukraine’s latest estimates of Russian losses show another 710 troops killed on 30 December.

    The figures, which have not been verified by the Guardian, say nearly 106,000 Russian armed forces members have been killed since the invasion began on 26 February.

    Another 16 armed personnel vehicles (APVs) were taken out, along with three tanks, six drones and six artillery systems.

    Russian figures differ, but independent estimates show heavy losses for the Kremlin’s forces.

    Russia’s leadership may be preparing a new mobilisation order and could close its border to men within a week, according to Ukraine’s defence minister.

    Oleksii Reznikov addressed Russian citizens in a video message on Friday. Speaking Russian, he warned people who might qualify for mobilisation. “I know for a fact that you have about one week left before you still have any choice.

    “In early January, the Russian authorities will close the borders to men, declare martial law, and begin another wave of mobilisation. Borders will also be closed in Belarus.”

    Reznikov warned that Russians living in cities would be at particular risk.

    Kryrylo Budanov, the head of Ukraine’s intelligence directorate told the BBC on Friday that Russia’s new mobilisation order would start on 5 January.

  52. says

    Rebecca Solnit in the Guardian – “Greta Thunberg ends year with one of the greatest tweets in history”:

    …There’s a direct association between machismo and the refusal to recognize and respond appropriately to the climate catastrophe. It’s a result of versions of masculinity in which selfishness and indifference – individualism taken to its extremes – are defining characteristics, and therefore caring and acting for the collective good is their antithesis.

    “Men resist green behavior as unmanly” is the headline for a 2017 story on the phenomenon. Machismo and climate denial, as well as alliance with the fossil fuel industry, is a package deal for the right, from the “rolling coal” trucks whose plumes of dark smoke are meant as a sneer at climate causes to Republicans in the US who have long opposed nearly all climate action (and are major recipients of oil money).

    …Beyond the entertainment value of what transpired over the past few days is a serious reminder of the intersection between machismo, misogyny, hostility to climate action and climate science, and the dank underworld of rightwing characters like Tate recruiting white boys and young men to their views.

    Both of Thunberg’s tweets were TsOTD – #474 in the previous chapter and #39 above.

  53. says

    German embassy in the US:

    Germany has ended its dependence on Russian energy. Since August 11th, no coal has been imported. Natural gas imports have been reduced from 55% at the beginning of 2022 to zero. Oil imports dropped from 40% to under 20%, and will be phased out by the end of this year.

  54. says

    Kyiv Independent:

    Explosions reported in Kyiv, Kharkiv oblasts during the nationwide air raid alert.

    Multiple reports on social media also said that the air defense was working in Kyiv, Kherson, Kharkiv, and Vinnytsia oblasts in the afternoon of Dec. 31.

  55. says

    Illia Ponomarenko in the Kyiv Independent – “Ukraine to enter 2023 with frail upper hand over Russia”:

    In December 2021, most forecasts voiced in the media did not give Ukraine much of a chance in case of Russia’s full-scale invasion. 

    Ten months after it started on Feb. 24, 2022, experts and media discuss where Ukraine will strike next, and what else Russia can do to save itself from a humiliating ultimate defeat in this war. 

    In the year 2022, two large militaries clashed in the biggest battle since World War II, involving a mix of modern warfare and brutal trench slaughter. 

    Despite all odds, Ukraine managed to do the unthinkable, having successfully repelled the initial Russian blitz, then withstanding the bloodletting war of attrition, and then retaking the strategic initiative. 

    Ukraine has destroyed the myth of Russian invincibility and persuaded the West to fully support its case instead of making yet another deal with the Kremlin. It has forced the “almighty” Russia to go to extremes and — unsuccessfully — adhere to general mobilization, nuclear threats, and overt terror bombing to make Ukraine surrender. 

    The war enters 2023, with Ukraine having a slight advantage over the greatly degraded Russian military, mainly thanks to the extensive Western military aid. Chances are high that the next months of winter and spring 2023 are going to be decisive for the war’s general outcome.

    Ukraine is going to continue with its effort to retake the occupied land via new offensive operations. 

    And it is likely that the Kremlin, in a bid to save face in the increasingly critical situation, is preparing one more all-out attack upon Ukraine — such as the second massive rush on Kyiv in early 2023….

    Much more at the link.

  56. Reginald Selkirk says

    @78: According to Kommersant, Russian electronics manufacturers are not enjoying life at all because, on top of high failure rates, gray market gear doesn’t flow with the same speed as legit kit and supply chains are currently very kinked indeed inside Russia.

    Not to mention the need to avoid all windows.

  57. Reginald Selkirk says

    Court rules doctors who provide abortions can’t be prosecuted under Arizona law

    PHOENIX — An Arizona court has ruled that abortion doctors cannot be prosecuted under a pre-statehood law that criminalizes nearly all abortions yet was barred from being enforced for decades.
    But the Arizona Court of Appeals on Friday declined to repeal the 1864 law, which carries a sentence of two to five years in prison for anyone who assists in an abortion and provides no exceptions for rape or incest.
    Still, the court said doctors can’t be prosecuted for performing abortions because other Arizona laws passed over the years allow them to perform the procedure, though non-doctors are still subject to be charged under the old law.

  58. says

    Dmytro Kuleba:

    This time, Russia’s mass missile attack is deliberately targeting residential areas, not even our energy infrastructure. War criminal Putin “celebrates” New Year by killing people. Russia must be kicked out of its UN Security Council seat which it has always occupied illegally.

  59. Reginald Selkirk says

    After 150 years of life surrounded by gravestones, London’s Hardy Tree falls

    That was until the 1860s, when plans for a railway line cut through the yard, and in order to build the station, something had to be done about the approximately 10,000 bodies buried there.
    Thomas Hardy was an architect’s apprentice at that time. Chesher said that he had the “horrific” and “gruesome” job of exhuming those bodies and moving their gravestones…

  60. says

    Ukraine update: Pass the smelling salts! The Tankies lost it over Zelenskyy’s Washington visit

    It’s been a while since we checked in with the tankies […]

    For the uninitiated, a “tankie” is someone who believes that imperialism is bad, and only the United States can be imperialist. Furthermore, all of the world’s problems can be blamed on said American imperialism. This is my favorite encapsulation of this twisted ideology:

    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.

    The name “tankie” comes from those Western leftists who continued to defend the Soviet Union after it violently crushed rebellions in Prague and Budapest with tanks. Despite all evidence to the contrary, they refused to surrender their beliefs in a Soviet socialist utopia.

    In the case of Ukraine, the tankies claim it’s the United States’ fault that Russia invaded, goaded into attacking because of their nefarious capture of the Ukrainian government, potentially expanding the NATO alliance to the Russian border.

    They all pretended that NATO didn’t already share a border with Russia, and everyone shrugged off Finland and Sweden’s NATO bids, weirdly unthreatened by NATO’s new presence on 1,340 additional kilometers of Russian border. Its almost as If NATO wasn’t actually a threat to Russia!

    It didn’t even matter to the tankies that Putin himself has time and time again reiterated his grand imperialist ambitions, while Russian politicians and state propaganda claim that Warsaw and Berlin come next after Ukraine. It also doesn’t matter that a belligerent Russia has invaded several of its neighbors over the past decades. If you are a tankie, it’s all America’s fault, the end.

    As you might imagine, they didn’t take Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s visit to the United States on Dec. 21 very well. [Tweet and video at the link]

    The Russian Orthodox Church is literally an arm of the Russian government, and was used in Ukraine to foment division, rebellion, and espionage. Ukraine has plenty of other Orthodox churches for people to attend in this deeply observant Orthodox nation, as well as Catholic and Jewish venues. But tankies like Max Blumenthal will hyperventilate about Ukraine removing pro-Russian elements from its territory, while ignoring Russia’s war crimes, murder, and destruction. And they manifest that callousness by harassing Ukrainian refugees fighting for their country’s survival. [Tweet at the link. Blah, blah, blah, “Zelensky is a criminal servant of western imperialism,” etc.]

    If only Ukraine would surrender to the murderous hordes, then a bloodied Russia wouldn’t have to resort to making nuclear threats! Ergo, something something imperialism. All the while, Vladimir Putin is comparing himself to the literal imperialist Peter the Great. [Tweet at the link]

    For all the talk of “NATO aggression,” how come NATO hasn’t invaded any of its neighbors? There’s a reason nations—including several historically neutral ones—are clamoring to enter NATO, and it isn’t because of Russia’s friendly neighborly behavior.

    Noam Chomsky laid this turd earlier this year:

    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.

    Let’s see what he’s up to these days … oh look at that, he continues to debase himself.

    If the war goes on, Ukraine will be the primary victim. Advanced U.S. weapons may sustain a battlefield stalemate as Russia pours in more troops and equipment, but how much can Ukrainian society tolerate now that Russia, after many months, has turned to the U.S.-U.K. style of war, directly attacking infrastructure, energy, communications, anything that allows the society to function?

    [Tweet and images at the the link]

    […] And I certainly don’t recall U.S. forces systematically destroying civilian water, electrical, and heating infrastructure. I’m certainly no apologist for American imperialism, and this site rose in prominence thanks to our opposition to the U.S. invasions and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. But American forces haven’t engaged in that kind of wanton mass destruction in generations.

    And what’s with his claim that it took Russia “many months” before destroying civilian infrastructure, somehow pretending that entire cities haven’t been leveled by Russian bombs since the start of the war. [image of Mariupol]

    Finally, NOAM CHOMSKY THE SAVIOR deems to dictate to the Ukrainian people what they can or should tolerate. He feigns concerns about their lack of electricity and heating, but nothing about their concerns of their countrymates getting murdered, raped, tortured, and subjugated in occupied territories. It’s not for him to decide how much Ukrainian society can tolerate. Ukrainians can decide for themselves. And it is clear that Zelenskyy has a popular mandate to remove Russian forces from all occupied territories.

    Moving on:

    [Lee Stranahan posted], the “Russian invasion of Ukraine” narrative by the USA and the UK was the biggest, most public, most excruciatingly slow motion military false flag operation on history.

    OMG that guy! He was banned from here at Daily Kos for something or other; we probably weren’t left enough. Now he’s literally a Russian government mouthpiece. You’d think being so breathtakingly wrong about Russia’s invasion would humble him, but nah, being a tankie is like being a Trump Republican—you can pretend you’re never wrong.

    His Twitter bio says he hates “globalist fascism,” he tweets random crazy shit like, “Ukraine is used by the zionist oligarch mafia for human trafficking,” and … this:

    Based on the facts and evidence available to everyone who wants to look into it, and because I believe in the principles of liberty and the rule of law the USA was founded on, I once again say, I proudly stand with Russia.🇷🇺💪

    Don’t try to make it make sense.

    Also, don’t try to make this make sense:

    [posted by samara khan] Russia is the leader of the Christian world. It is a true Christian country — where Christians & Muslims are fighting satanism sidebar side as brothers.

    Let’s check in on the dumbest tankie of them all:

    This contains convincing evidence of deliberate civilian killings by a Russian paratrooper unit in March. Unfortunately such killings tend to be a common feature of war, which raises the question of why you’d want to prolong the war, rather than curtail it. [tweet and image at the link]

    Michael Tracey has been a blithering fool this entire war, recently claiming that the Holocaust was America’s fault. That was some A+ tankie revisionism in action.

    This latest might not be as dramatically ridiculous as his Holocaust take, but it’ll certainly make his greatest hits catalogue: “Alright, I’ll admit it, Russia committed atrocities in occupied territory, a totally common thing. So why would Ukraine want to liberate the rest of Russian-occupied territories?” Sometimes he seems so close to getting it. Yeah, Michael, why would Ukraine want to protect its people from such atrocities?

    But nope, his brain shuts off and he’s left with a useless “durr war is bad” conclusion.

    Meanwhile, his chief benefactor Glenn Greenwald is back on Tucker Carlson’s show. [Tweet and video at the link]

    It’s laughable to see any Republican cry about spending not “benefiting the American people” when they vote against literally any program that does so. But in this case, this argument is particularly wrong. I support Ukraine because it’s the right thing to do, for freedom and democracy. But if you want a cold, calculating, heartless view of that spending, it’s incredibly beneficial to us. As summarized in that Center for European Policy Analysis think tank report:

    The war degrades one of our two biggest geopolitical rivals at a fraction of the cost of a direct war, and with no U.S. losses.

    The war has demonstrated the crappiness of Russian military equipment, which means more international buyers for our industrial military complex (and the jobs they support). In addition, the U.S. and its allies need to replenish stocks, which is even more sales for defense contractors.

    Countries in the Russian sphere, realizing their equipment is shit, will need to cozy up to the West in order to gain access to weapons that actually work. We can see this happening already with Pakistan and India.

    Russia’s difficulties must unnerve China as they prepare for war against Taiwan. If $100 billion for Ukraine’s defense is expensive, imagine an active war in Taiwan—the cost in equipment, the lives of Taiwanese and our soldiers and those of our allies (as such a war might draw in Australia and Japan), and the devastation if would cause in Taiwan. The economic consequences of cutting off Chinese trade and losing Taiwan’s supply of semiconductors would be incalculable.

    Instead, China has to wonder if their military is as corrupt and hollow as Russia’s, while Western unity and resolve means their own economic consequences would be catastrophic. The last time they fought a war was in 1979, and they lost it … to Vietnam. In my opinion, anything that cools the rush to war over the Taiwan strait is the best consequence of this war.

    By forcing Europe to halt Russian fossil fuel imports, it has accelerated the continent’s push toward renewable green energy, and in the meantime, provides a lucrative market for American liquified natural gas.

    Some of this stuff is good, some of it is not. The hell I want more domestic natural gas production. We need to get off that shit. And I don’t love the military industrial complex’s business boom. But there’s no doubt that the money spent in Ukraine benefits Americans in myriad ways. Greenwald and Carlson are full of crap.

    [Tweet and map at the link] This refusal to call out imperialism wherever it rears its ugly head is so bizarre. What’s funny is I’m sure the tankies would love to call out the United Kingdon’s invasion of Iran in 1941 as imperialism. But hey, it was the Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran, so sure, the Soviet part of it was a “counter-offensive.” Got it!

    What’s particularly frustrating about these rationalizations of Russian aggression is that Russia itself doesn’t hide its imperial ambitions. Here is Putin himself:

    “Peter the Great waged the great northern war for 21 years. It would seem that he was at war with Sweden, he took something from them. He did not take anything from them, he returned [what was Russia’s].

    “Apparently, it is also our lot to return [what is Russia’s] and strengthen [the country]. And if we proceed from the fact that these basic values form the basis of our existence, we will certainly succeed in solving the tasks that we face.”

    Everything is Russia’s! There is nothing that isn’t Russia’s. But don’t dare call it imperialism, even though Putin literally says imperialism “forms the basis” of their existence. Without imperialism, all Russia would have left would be a sad lot of people, wondering why everyone else has toilets and washing machines as they drown themselves in vodka.

    BONUS: Libertarians aren’t tankies. But had to include this for fun: [Tweet and images at the link.]

  61. says

    […] What better way to round out the year than by toasting the scoundrels who did the worst the best? It’s TPM tradition, after all. Ever since Duke Cunningham — in all of his shameless glory, complete with bribe menu, lava lamp, and yacht party — brought us into a new era of public corruption, reveling in the moments when public figures reveal their true, often corrupt and comically grimy colors is what we do best.

    Without further ado, join us in our celebration of this years winners — one of the most cartoonishly dishonorable cast of characters we’ve raised a toast to yet.

    Best Scandal – General Interest
    With a whopping 56.3 percent of the vote, the Donald Trump Mar-a-Lago documents case took the cake for best scandal overall in 2022. The whole ordeal has been a transgression of such grand magnitude and pettiness, we’d be doing ourselves a disservice by not celebrating it. Cheers to you, Mar-a-Lago storage units. And an honorable mention to Judge Cannon. [graphic presentation of vote percentages by subject is available at the link.]

    Best Scandal – Local Venue
    The winner of the local venue scandal has, in my opinion, all of the markings of a perfect TPM story. We’ve got extremely dumb racists, we’ve got arrests, we’ve got a U-Haul. And, most importantly, we’ve got some local-level repercussions for behavior that feeds into a broader narrative about the troubling state of our country! As the person who nominated the Patriot Front put it, the headline says it all: White Supremacists Deliver Themselves To Cops In A U-Haul. [graphic presentation of vote percentages by subject is available at the link.]

    Meritorious Achievement In The Crazy
    A lot of candidates said and did a lot of crazy and oftentimes incredibly concerning stuff during this year’s midterm elections. But no one debased themself quite so spectacularly and so embarrassingly as Herschel Walker, the supposedly pro-life guy who started out the midterms with one kid and ended it with a handful of secret children and multiple allegations of paid-for abortions.

    But he also said a lot of super weird stuff, in general. Here’s the moment that TPM reporter Emine Yücel nominated him for:

    I think the video pretty much speaks for itself but basically in a November campaign speech Herschel Walker went on a bizarre rant about a movie he recently watched. “Fright Night, Freak Night, or some type of night,” he said, trying to remember the name of the movie. “I don’t know if you know, but vampires are some cool people, are they not? But let me tell you something that I found out: a werewolf can kill a vampire. Did you know that? I never knew that … So, I don’t want to be a vampire any more. I want to be a werewolf.”

    [graphic presentation of vote percentages by subject is available at the link.]

    Most Cringe Campaign Ad/Meme
    […] This campaign season gifted us some truly inspired, foolish gems when it came to campaign videos and social media memes. The winner in this category, Dr. Oz’s crudités, is a bit tired in my Extremely Online opinion, but the people have spoken.[graphic presentation of vote percentages by subject is available at the link.]

    Most Convoluted Conspiracy Theory/Most Creative Take On The Big Lie
    2022 was a big year for conspiracy theories, in part because we, as a society, are losing our marbles. But mostly because the Big Lie was resurrected in some truly tangled forms this year that deserved recognition.

    While TPM investigative reporter Josh Kovensky’s expertly comedic pitch for ItalyGate probably made the conspiracy theory — and all the ways it has resurfaced in the past year — difficult to resist, it seems Marjorie Taylor Greene and her crackpot Jewish space lasers yelling was too hard for you all to pass up. [graphic presentation of vote percentages by subject is available at the link.]

    Forgotten Heroes
    We created this category this year as a way to dance on the political graves of some of 2022 biggest losers — the delightfully disturbing public figures who lost their primary or midterm bids that we will miss most. While some may slink away in shame, others, like Louie Gohmert, may find a way to linger in their political relevance. Time will tell.

    But here’s to you, Madison Cawthorn. The cocaine-key-bump sex-party news cycle was one for the ages. [graphic presentation of vote percentages by subject is available at the link.]

    An addition to the above text, just for fun:

    How could this have happened? How could the Trump administration have allowed a cyber-coup to unseat it in late 2020, permitting the CIA and Barack Obama to team up with an Italian defense contractor to use military satellites to zap millions of votes, cast by unsuspecting, pro-Trump patriots, and transform them into Biden ballots?

    In the world of the ItalyGate conspiracy theory, Trump let all of this happen under his nose. Mamma mia. The theory gained an audience not only among the MAGA faithful foaming at the mouth amid Trump’s loss, but with senior members of the Trump administration. Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows appears to have asked the DOJ to investigate the theory, while attorney Rudy Giuliani propagated it as well. The Defense Department was asked to investigate it — after all, military satellites were involved. But despite the Trump administration’s best efforts, they lost, and Italy’s fleet of vote-zapping military satellites won.

    – Nominated by: TPM investigative reporter Josh Kovensky

  62. Reginald Selkirk says

    NYT headline: “Pope Benedict XVI will be buried at St. Peter’s Basilica”

    Why does the Holy Roman Catholic Church bother with the intermediate steps? You know that eventually they are going to break his skeleton down into relics for various churches.

  63. raven says

    Fidelity marks down value of Twitter stake by 56%.

    That is a steep markdown for only holding the position for a month or two.
    Fidelity put in $316 million for the leveraged buyout.

    I doubt if Musk will be managing Twitter for too much longer.
    There are a lot of people who put in money to get this deal done and they are losing half of it already and I’m sure, they aren’t happy with Musk.

    Fidelity marks down value of Twitter stake by 56%

    Fidelity marks down value of Twitter stake by 56%
    Fri, December 30, 2022 at 1:36 PM PST·1 min read
    In this article:

    (Reuters) – Fidelity funds slashed the value of their Twitter stake by 56% in November, according to a monthly disclosure by the investment firm released on Friday, as the social media giant navigates a period of turmoil following Elon Musk’s $44 billion buyout.

    Fidelity Blue Chip Growth Fund’s stake in Twitter was valued at nearly $8.63 million as of Nov. 30, compared to $19.66 million at October-end, days after Musk closed the acquisition.

    Another of the asset manager’s funds, Fidelity Contrafund, also reported a similar markdown.
    The news was first reported by Axios.

    Musk’s tenure at Twitter so far has been chaotic amid an exodus of advertisers and heavy layoffs. Fidelity was among more than a dozen investors who backed the billionaire’s deal to acquire Twitter, committing over $316 million.

    Technology stocks have also suffered heavy losses this year as the Federal Reserve raised interest rates aggressively to douse inflation, raising odds of a recession.
    (Reporting by Niket Nishant in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber)

  64. Reginald Selkirk says

    Authorities tracked the Idaho student killings suspect cross-country to Pennsylvania, sources say

    Genetic genealogy techniques were used to connect Kohberger to unidentified DNA evidence, another source with knowledge of the case tells CNN. The DNA was run through a public database to find potential family member matches, and subsequent investigative work by law enforcement led to him as the suspect, the source said…
    Fry told reporters Friday state law limits what information authorities can release before Kohberger makes an initial appearance in Idaho court. The probable cause affidavit – which details the factual basis of Kohberger’s charges – is sealed until the suspect is physically in Latah County, Idaho, and has been served with the Idaho arrest warrant, Thompson said.

  65. whheydt says

    Re: Reginald Selkirk @ #104…
    Uh, huh… The Republicans are against pretty much everything Gen Z is for and they’re spending their money holding on to those over 65. So they are antagonizing the emerging voter blocks while holding on to the dying block. Real winning strategy there…

  66. StevoR says

    @ 106. Reginald Selkirk : Thanks. New year, new island, very cool!

    BTW. That article was semi-paywalled but clicking “maybe later” enabled me to read it.

  67. says

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

    Numerous blasts were heard in Kyiv and in other places around Ukraine and air raid sirens wailed across the country in the first couple hours after midnight on New Year’s Day.

    Reuters reports that as the sirens wailed, witnesses said some people in Kyiv shouted from their balconies: “Glory to Ukraine! Glory to heroes!”

    Fragments from a missile destroyed by Ukrainian air defence systems damaged a car in the capital’s centre, but preliminarily there were no wounded or casualties, said Kyiv’s mayor, Vitali Klitschko.

    The capital’s city military administration said 23 Russian-launched “air objects” had been destroyed.

    The attacks came minutes after Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, delivered a new year message of wishes of victory for his country in the war – in its 11th month, with no end in sight.

    Blasts continued to be heard, with no immediate reports of damage, Reuters witnesses reported.

    There were also unofficial reports of explosions in the southern region of Kherson and the northern Zhytomyr region.

    The attacks followed the barrage of more than 20 cruise missiles fired at targets across Ukraine on Saturday in what its human rights ombudsman, Dmytro Lubinets, called “terror on New Year’s Eve”….

    Russian forces are probably depleting their stocks of artillery ammunition and as a result will struggle to support their current pace of operations on parts of the frontline in Ukraine, according to the Institute for the Study of War.

    The US thinktank said in an update on Sunday that it is likely the constraints on munitions will prevent Russian forces from maintaining a high operational pace in the heavily contested Bakhmut area of eastern Ukraine in the near term.

    It also said Russian president Vladimir Putin’s New Year’s Eve address “continued to illustrate that Putin is uncertain of his ability to shape Russia’s information space and remains focused on justifying the war in Ukraine and its cost to his domestic audience”.

  68. Reginald Selkirk says

    Cops arrest atheist society chief

    Dalit activist and Telangana president of Bharata Nasthika Samajam (Atheist Society of India) Bhairi Naresh was arrested on Saturday for his alleged blasphemous comments against Hindu gods in general and Swamy Ayyappa of Sabarimala in particular, police said…

  69. says

    Guardian – “‘It’s going to be wild’: Brazil braced for ‘Lulapalooza’ as new leader kicks off reign [sic – WTF?] with huge party”:

    They are billing it as Lulapalooza – a momentous explosion of Brazilian politics and dance – and Mayse Freitas wouldn’t miss it for the world.

    “I think it’s going to be the greatest show on earth … It’ll be the happiest day of my life,” said the social activist from the Complexo do Alemão, one of Rio’s largest favelas, as she geared up for the festivities.

    The source of her joy is the demise of Brazil’s ultra-conservative president Jair Bolsonaro and the extraordinary political resurrection of his leftist successor, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who will take power on Sunday during the musical extravaganza in the capital, Brasília.

    For many of the 60m citizens who voted Bolsonaro out of office, the former paratrooper’s defeat was a pivotal victory over an aspiring autocrat bent on shattering Brazil’s young democracy, as well as its international reputation.

    “This is a historic and a unique moment,” said Jonas Di Andrade, 29, a journalist and activist who is also heading to Lulapalooza to celebrate a politician he credits with helping him become the first member of his family to study at university.

    “These were four extremely difficult years during which we went into survival mode – above all in the favelas,” Andrade said. “Bolsonaro represents the past: a past of oppression, of colonisation, of the enslavement of bodies and minds, of violence, of hostility, of extermination.”

    More than 60 high-level delegations are set to attend Lula’s inauguration compared with 18 when Bolsonaro took power – a sign of global relief over the exit of a radical leader whose assault on the Amazon made Brazil an international pariah.

    Some of Brazil’s top artists are also heading to Brasília to sing in their country’s new era, among them the drag queen Pabllo Vittar, the sambista Martinho da Vila, and the Amazon star Gaby Amarantos.

    There is, however, anxiety over possible extremist attacks at Lula’s 1 January festa.

    Lula, whom allies have reportedly urged not to travel to his inauguration in the convertible Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith normally used, has tried to calm supporters, rejecting the idea the celebrations would be marred by rightwing “rowdiness”.

    “Don’t worry about all this noise. Those who lost the election need to pipe down – and those who won have the right to throw a big party,” Lula said on Thursday….

    As Reginald Selkirk mentions @ #90 above, Bolsonaro is reportedly at Mar-a-Lago with Trump. Together, they’ve probably killed half a million or more people, and many more will suffer and die in the future due to their catastrophic environmental policies.

  70. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 105

    Uh, huh… The Republicans are against pretty much everything Gen Z is for and they’re spending their money holding on to those over 65.

    Don’t worry, those GenZers will eventually “grow-out” of their childish leftist beliefs and become either good, church-going, flag waving, LGBTQ-hating, Muricans or politically indifferent just like like all the previous generations have.

  71. raven says

    The tl;dr version.
    Summary: Autopsy tissue samples of 44 people who died of COVID-19 showed SAR-CoV-2, the virus responsible for coronavirus, spread throughout the body and to the brain, with traces of the virus lingering for 8 months.

    The Covid-19 virus can spread and replicate any where in the body. Its receptor is widespread in tissue expression.
    This explains why the list of symptoms and organ involvements is so long.

    The significance of the Covid-19 virus being found in the brain isn’t clear. There are common neurological symptoms but they could also be caused by the micro and macro clotting that this virus can cause.

    It is surprising that anyone could read an article like this and not want to get vaccinated for the Covid-19 virus. This is one of the more dangerous viruses we have to deal with, more dangerous than the influenza viruses by a long ways.

    Autopsies Show COVID-19 Virus in Brain and Elsewhere in Body

    Autopsies Show COVID-19 Virus in Brain and Elsewhere in Body
    Featured Neurology Neuroscience·December 31, 2022

    Summary: Autopsy tissue samples of 44 people who died of COVID-19 showed SAR-CoV-2, the virus responsible for coronavirus, spread throughout the body and to the brain, with traces of the virus lingering for 8 months.

    Source: University of Minnesota

    An analysis of tissue samples from the autopsies of 44 people who died with COVID-19 shows that SAR-CoV-2 virus spread throughout the body—including into the brain—and that it lingered for almost eight months.

    The study was published in Nature.

    Scientists from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) tested samples from autopsies that were performed from April 2020 to March 2021. They conducted extensive sampling of the nervous system, including the brain, in 11 of the patients.

    RNA and viable virus in various organs

    All of the patients died with COVID-19, and none were vaccinated. The blood plasma of 38 patients tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, three tested negative, and plasma was unavailable for the other 3.

    Thirty percent of the patients were female, and the median age was 62.5 years. Twenty-seven patient (61.4%) had three or more comorbidities. The median interval from symptom onset to death was 18.5 days.

    Analysis showed that SARS-CoV-2, as expected, primarily infected and damaged airway and lung tissue. But the researchers also found viral RNA in 84 distinct body locations and bodily fluids, and in one case they isolated viral RNA 230 days after a patient’s symptoms began.

    The researchers detected SARS-CoV-2 RNA and protein in the hypothalamus and cerebellum of one patient and in the spinal cord and basal ganglia of two other patients. But they found little damage to brain tissue, “despite substantial viral burden.”

    The investigators also isolated viable SARS-CoV-2 virus from diverse tissues in and outside the respiratory tract, including the brain, heart, lymph nodes, gastrointestinal tract, adrenal gland, and eye. They isolated virus from 25 of 55 specimens tested (45%).

    The authors wrote, “We demonstrated virus replication in multiple non-respiratory sites during the first two weeks following symptom onset.”

    This shows tissue samples
    RNA in situ (RNAscope) detection of SARS-CoV-2 in extrapulmonary tissues. Credit: The researchers
    They add, “Our focus on short postmortem intervals, a comprehensive standardized approach to tissue collection, dissecting the brain before fixation, preserving tissue in RNA later, and flash freezing of fresh tissue allowed us to detect and quantify SARS-CoV-2 RNA levels with high sensitivity by [polymerase chain reaction] and [in situ hybridization], as well as isolate virus in cell culture from multiple non-respiratory tissues including the brain, which are notable differences compared to other studies.”

    Possible ramifications for long COVID

    Senior study author Daniel Chertow, MD, MPH, said in an NIH news release that, prior to the work, “the thinking in the field was that SARS-CoV-2 was predominantly a respiratory virus.”

    Finding viral presence throughout the body—and sharing those findings with colleagues a year ago—helped scientists explore a relationship between widely infected bodily tissues and “long COVID,” or symptoms that persist for weeks and months after infection.

    Part of a Paxlovid RECOVER trial that is expected to begin in 2023 includes an extension of the autopsy work highlighted in the Nature study, according to coauthor Stephen Hewitt, MD, Ph.D., who serves on a steering committee for the RECOVER project. Autopsies in the RECOVER trial include people who both were vaccinated and infected with variants of concern—data that weren’t available in yesterday’s study.

    “We’re hoping to replicate the data on viral persistence and study the relationship with long COVID,” Hewitt said. “Less than a year in, we have about 85 cases, and we are working to expand these efforts.”

  72. says

    Ukraine Extra: Why did President Zelenskyy talk about the Battle of Saratoga?

    When Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited the U.S. Congress, there were moments in his speech that generated spontaneous applause and standing ovations. But there was at least one moment that Zelenskyy likely expected to get a much bigger response from his American audience.

    It’s easy to think of Zelenskyy back in Kyiv, planning this trip with his small circle of advisers, wondering just what he might say in order to best serve the needs of Ukraine. Certainly he would do everything that he could to remind the Americans that the battle being fought in Ukraine is about defending the cause of democracy and freedom against aggressive authoritarianism. That was a given. Absolutely he would emphasize that Ukraine is not asking for a gift, but an investment. One that serves the future of all nations.

    But what else could he say? What else would move the hearts of American legislators? What thread might be pulled to underscore how the struggle that Ukraine is now fighting is deeply connected to not just America’s future, but the conflicts in America’s past? Then he had it. Zelenskyy had the perfect line.

    “Just like the Battle of Saratoga, the fight for Bakhmut will change the trajectory of our war for independence and for freedom.”

    That this was not an everyone-on-their-feet moment in Zelenskyy’s speech was probably hard for anyone back in Kyiv to fathom. After all, from the 1918 Battle of Kiev to a long series of World War II battles fought against both Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, that’s all regarded as recent military history in Ukraine. Everyone knows that stuff. Military history is definitely A Thing. Ask someone in Ukraine about the Battle of Khotyn, and they’re likely to ask you, “Which one?”

    That recalling the Battle of Saratoga wouldn’t stir the hearts of Americans is probably hard for Ukrainians to conceive. Because in a lot of ways, that battle was everything. It didn’t involve George Washington. It didn’t happen at Bunker Hill. But without the victory at Saratoga, there might not even be a United States today.

    So, for the sake of generating an appropriate response the next time the leader of a war-torn country invokes what might be the most critical battle of the American War of Independence, here’s Saratoga in a nutshell.

    The first thing to know about the Battle of Saratoga is that it wasn’t a battle. It was a whole series of battles, skirmishes, and nearly a month of face-offs that ended an extensive British campaign. Going into that campaign, the fledgling United States had been on the losing end of practically every meeting of force bigger than a skirmish, and seemed on its way to being an anecdote in the big book of “amusing things colonists get up to.” Coming out of the last of those battles, the U.S. found itself in possession of a surrendered British army, and well on its way to a critical alliance with France.

    Here’s how that happened.

    Back in 1775, things got off to a roaring start for the American revolutionaries. At both Lexington and Concord, British forces that had marched out to destroy supplies of the Massachusetts militia ended up finding themselves outmaneuvered by the American irregulars. They were forced to flee after taking casualties and marched all the way back to Boston.

    In the next couple of weeks, the Americans would force the British out of Boston, capture the fort at Ticonderoga, win a whole string of smallish victories, and even capture a British frigate. In fact, just about the only thing they would lose before November 1775 was the Battle of Bunker Hill—which turns out to be the only Revolutionary War fight most Americans can now name. Go figure.

    All those wins surely kept the Patriots warm through some tough winters ahead, because significant victories were about to become more difficult. Of course, all those early wins are also what inspired them to engage in the tomfoolery of attacking Canada, which was a big part of why things went sour in the following year. There are always tradeoffs.

    The following year, the one everyone seems to think the war actually began, wouldn’t be without its victories; there was that crossing the Delaware thing the day after Christmas, but that was at the very end of a long year.

    What came right after chasing the British out of Boston was Washington trying to repeat the trick on Long Island, only to end up losing more than 2,000 men and running back to Manhattan. It takes a lot of “victories” involving the capture of a couple of dozen British troops to make up for getting utterly crushed in the first large battle. The U.S. followed this up by losing its first big naval battle on Lake Champlain, and about half its navy in the process. Then the British captured Fort Washington, taking 3,000 American troops as prisoners. What would eventually be the Continental Army was never all that large. Losing 5,000+ men in a matter of a few months was definitely not in their plans.

    Fortunately, Washington’s much-painted holiday trickery seemed to set a hot pace going into 1777. Washington won at Trenton, then did it again, costing the British not just most of their hired mercenaries but about 400 redcoats. Following this with a series of small running fights, the Americans pushed the Brits clean out of New Jersey.

    Meanwhile, the British were having a lot of success outside New England, so they decided that it would be a good tactical step to slice American forces in half. If they could keep the New England troops from reinforcing the South, and the Southern troops from reinforcing New England, the British could engage the Americans using the classic idea of “defeat in detail”—if the whole army is giving you fits, break them up. Then beat the pieces one at a time.

    To this end, British General John Burgoyne assembled a force of 8,000 men and sailed south out of Quebec in June 1777. He landed his force near Fort Ticonderoga in New York and set out to move southeast, slicing through any American force he met along the way.

    Truthfully, even before getting to what’s now remembered as the Battle of Saratoga, the whole Saratoga campaign was something of a mess for the British. From the day Burgoyne’s men landed, they were harassed by Patriot forces and had trouble bringing the Americans to a decisive conflict. Then the Americans brought them to a serious fight at the Battle of Bennington—which, despite the name, took place several miles north of its namesake on a farm in New York. Kind of like Woodstock.

    At the Battle of not-quite Bennington, about 1,500 men from Burgoyne’s army were on the way to actual Bennington for the purposes of stealing horses. They were absolutely surprised along the way by a force of around 3,000 members of the U.S. army (along with the, ahem, Republic of Vermont), who couldn’t believe the gift they had been handed. Pretty much that entire chunk of Burgoyne’s army was lost in a few hours. Strangely enough, a lot of these guys were also Hessians. You have to wonder just how much this hired crew was really interested in getting themselves killed for the British Empire.

    However, Burgoyne was still picking up some late-arriving Canadians and a few local loyalists, so by the time he made it to the area of Saratoga, about ten miles north of Albany, his army was still packing about 7,200 soldiers. And hey, even if everything wasn’t all roses all the time, Burgoyne was closing in on his destination with enough victories to make a pretty good report to his superiors. He had secured Ticonderoga, chased down and destroyed an American force at Hubbardton (actually in Vermont this time), and occupied a fort on the Hudson River. True, he had offended his Native American scout force enough that they packed it in, leaving Burgoyne’s army more or less blind to what was ahead, but … things were almost done. Gates had been in communication with Gen. Henry Clinton, who was holding things down in New York City. He expected Clinton’s force to march toward Saratoga from that direction, providing both fresh supplies and a near doubling of forces.

    Instead of Clinton, as the British (and Canadian, and German, etc.) force rolled up to Saratoga, they ran into the outliers of an American force under General Horatio Gates. Gates had about 9,000 men in total, including a force under his assistant, Gen. Benedict Arnold. Yes, that guy.

    Burgoyne split his army into thirds, looking to probe around the edges of the American force. He doesn’t seem to have been looking for a fight, and may have still been hoping to hook up with Clinton, but he does seem to have understood that a clash with the nearby American force might be inevitable.

    Meanwhile, Benedict Arnold was eying the left side of Burgoyne’s approaching force, which was moving to control an area of high ground. Burgoyne was dragging most of the artillery with him in that left column, and Arnold could see that those guns on those hills would give the British a powerful position.

    With that in mind, Arnold went back to Gen. Gates and asked him for permission to get in Burgoyne’s way with some American frontier-style fighting in the woods. It wasn’t a bad idea, but Gates did not like Arnold. The two men had once been close, but in recent weeks each seemed to make moves designed to undercut the other. Besides, Burgoyne was still headed more or less in the direction Gates wanted him to go, so sitting back and waiting for the British force to be in the right spot seemed like a decent idea to Gates.

    However, he finally agreed to send out a few hundred men for a “reconnaissance in force.” Then, as now, this turns out to be a good way to get people killed. At Arnold’s suggestion, the Americans moved toward a farm belonging to loyalist John Freeman. The British force was split up, marching in smaller groups, with some of those groups delayed by trees the Americans had deliberately dropped across local roads. As the British tried to get their scattered forces together, and the Americans tried to get into position, one of the British groups spotted the Americans across the bare fields of Freeman’s farm. Fighting was close at hand.

    Truthfully, it wasn’t the best location for the Americans. They had been preparing a series of fortified bluffs and trenches at a point where they hoped to funnel Burgoyne into a trap. Which is part of why Gates was all in favor of just letting the British keep walking. This was not that spot.

    On Sept. 19, the two armies opened fire. Col. Dan Morgan, in command of one light infantry force, started off by having sharpshooters pick off every officer they could identify, then charged his men directly into the force ahead. Only as more and more British arrived, that force turned out to be the whole central third of Burgoyne’s army. Still, if Morgan’s men were startled, they apparently were not as startled as the British, who were so rattled by this sudden attack that the second group of the British center force mowed down not Morgan’s infantry, but … the first group of the British force.

    By the time Burgoyne himself was near enough to hear the shooting, the whole thing was a mess, with small squads on each side running forward to engage, then retreating behind trees. Over the course of the day, the farm changed hands multiple times. More and more of each force came forward, increasing the tempo and heat of the fighting.

    In the end, the British were able to bring more of their force to the fight and carried the field. About 300 Americans were lost in the fighting, and Burgoyne’s force notched up a victory. Huzzah! However, the British victory left Burgoyne in a bad position. He didn’t control the surrounding heights, his supplies were running low, and he had a large number of wounded to tend.

    The British general was contemplating attacking the Americans again the next day, but a letter arrive from good old Gen. Clinton suggesting he could be in the area by the end of the month. So Burgoyne decided to dig in and wait for relief.

    Burgoyne was still waiting on Oct. 6, when he finally decided he had to get out of this death trap and move his men up onto that high ground, which was known as Bemis Heights.

    Remember that part about how the Americans had fortified a position against a British attack? Bemis Heights was that position. Also, while the British were waiting for relief to arrive, American forces actually had been arriving. News of an enemy force encamped in a tight spot, with dwindling supplies, was pretty good bait for every American force in a hundred miles.

    Roughly 5,000 British troops formed up and marched for the heights on Oct. 7, expecting something like the level of force that they had met in the battle at Freeman’s Farm. Over 8,000 Americans formed up to meet them—and there were another 5,000 American forces nearby.

    Burgoyne lost 400 men in the first hour of fighting. Then Gen. Arnold showed up on the field—against orders, and apparently drunk. However, if he was drunk, he apparently functioned better that way. Officers sent to drag Arnold back to his tent couldn’t keep up with him as he charged all over the battlefield, taking command of one small group after another.

    Late in the afternoon, Arnold led a charge through a gap in the British lines, penetrated deep into the rear of Burgoyne’s forces, and captured a critical position. In the last moments of this fight, Arnold’s horse was shot. It fell on his leg, splintering it badly, and a bleeding Benedict Arnold was finally carried off the field after being described as a “genius of battle.” That’s right. He’s the hero of this piece.

    By this point, Burgoyne had lost over 1,000 men. The two armies broke apart and went back to low-level fighting, but it was easy to see what was ahead. The British force was greatly reduced, while the American force was well-supplied and growing by the day. Burgoyne did what he could to try to maneuver his force away from the Americans, and stared hopefully at the hills in hopes that Clinton might finally appear. Neither worked.

    On Oct. 17, Burgoyne surrendered his army to Gates.

    This was no small victory. An entire British Army had surrendered to an American force. The British strategy of dividing the colonies was in tatters, and back in Quebec, there were serious worries that the Americans would take a second swing at traveling north. Most importantly, the French decided to finally take the chance of recognizing the American colonies and began negotiations leading to the vital American-French alliance that would persist through the end of the war.

    The end of the Saratoga campaign is somewhat lacking in the romance of many battles. There was no single critical strategic move, no brilliant bit of maneuver, no story of troops advancing amazing distances in a day or holding a hilltop against an overwhelming force. What cost the British these fights, in the end, was our old friend logistics. They couldn’t coordinate their supplies or their men well enough to sustain an army in the field at the size and efficiency necessary to secure victory.

    When the best bit of color your story can manage is a reportedly drunken Benedict Arnold leading a charge before getting his horse shot, your fight is seriously lacking in romance. But that moment when Burgoyne surrendered to Gates? That may be the single most important moment of the whole war. Everything that came after was colored by that moment.

    It was the point when an army that had been considered well below second-rate upset what was supposed to be the greatest military on earth. It was when the underdog showed that defeat was not inevitable.

    Which is why it ended up in Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s speech to congress.

    Footnote: Benedict Arnold, having been passed over for promotion in the previous year, was lauded as a hero following Saratoga. His seniority was restored, and it was expected he would soon gain another command. However, his wounded leg kept him stuck in bed for five long months. It was during that frustrating period, while others gained the glory he thought he deserved, that Arnold began to exchange correspondence with British agents. […]

  73. says

    […] for years Trump has shielded his tax returns like Jeffrey Dahmer guarded the vegetable crisper in his refrigerator, but now we have unfettered access to several years’ worth of those returns. And guess what! Trump was lying about his federal tax bill!

    In fact, you may remember this innocent exchange from the first 2020 presidential debate/one-man screaming match, which featured journalist Chris Wallace doing his best 2012 NFL replacement ref impression:

    WALLACE: No, Mr. President, I’m asking you a question. Will you tell us how much you paid in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017?

    TRUMP: Millions of dollars.

    WALLACE: So not 750?

    TRUMP: Millions of dollars. And you’ll get to see it. And you’ll get to see it. [video at the link]

    WALLACE: “I know that you pay a lot of other taxes, but I’m asking you this specific question. Is it true that you paid $750 in federal income taxes each of those two years?”

    TRUMP: “I paid millions of dollars in taxes, millions of dollars of income tax. And let me just tell you, there was a story in one of the papers …

    BIDEN: “Show us your tax returns.”

    TRUMP: “… I paid $38 million one year, I paid $27 million one year …”

    BIDEN: “Show us your tax returns.”

    TRUMP: “You’ll see it as soon as it’s finished. You’ll see it. You know, if you want to do, go to the Board of Elections, there’s a 118-page or so report that says everythign I have, every bank I have, I’m totally underleveraged because the assets are extremely good, and we have a very …”

    WALLACE: “I’m asking you a specific question …”

    TRUMP: “Let me tell you …”

    WALLACE: “I understand all that. I understand all that. No, Mr. President. I’m asking you a question. Will you tell us how much you paid in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017?”

    TRUMP: “Millions of dollars.”

    WALLACE: “You paid millions of dollars?”

    TRUMP: “Millions of dollars.”

    WALLACE: “So not $750.”

    TRUMP: “Millions of dollars. And you’ll get to see it. And you’ll get to see it.”

    BIDEN: “When?”

    When? Well, how about now?

    Turns out Wallace was a lot closer in his estimate than Trump was—which is weird, since Trump had access to all his returns and Wallace was just going by what he’d seen in the Fake News. And by “closer,” I of course mean “exactly right.” Trump paid—wait for it—$750 in income tax in both 2016 and 2017.

    Indeed, after Congress obtained Trump’s tax returns following a protracted battle—and the House Ways and Means Committee voted to release them to the public—we finally found out how little this self-described billionaire contributes to the public coffers. Spoiler alert: It ain’t millions per year.

    In fact, the whole time Trump was leveraging his position as POTUS to rip off the taxpayers, he was sending precious little back to the government.

    NBC News:

    The couple paid little in federal taxes during Trump’s presidency and appeared to owe none in 2020 after reporting large deductions and expenses that resulted in a net loss of $15 million. Trump then claimed a $5 million refund, according to the return.

    Trump also reported zero charitable donations that year, the returns show. […]

    So Donald Trump was caught in a lie. Alert the media. No, really. Alert them, because while this is the kind of revelation that might end the political career of a non-pathological liar, it’s been met with yawns and eye-rolls from the nattering news nabobs, who’ve gotten a little too used to offhandedly dismissing Trump’s daily geyser of lies.

    But come on, now. This is a big one. “Millions of dollars” is way, way off from $750. Maybe Andrea Mitchell and/or Maggie Haberman should be embedded at the Mar-a-Lago omelet bar so we can really get to the bottom of the Trumpian moral abyss.


  74. says

    Russia’s rift between Wagner and main military is becoming deeper, escalating towards MF…

    The intervention by Yevgeny Prigozhin came after a foul-mouthed video from his rank-and-file mercenaries attacking Russia’s top general, accusing him of leaving them to do all the hard fighting.

    It is the latest salvo in a bitter rift between Russia’s formal military leaders and Wagner, the private army smiled upon by President Vladimir Putin and which is supporting the country’s invasion of Ukraine.…

    Yevgeny Prigozhin is backing up his mercenaries who were caught on tape calling the chief of the Russian Army a “motherf*cker.”

    Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin offered a scathing response Tuesday to a video that surfaced days earlier in which Wagner mercenaries are seen cursing out Valery Gerasimov, Russia’s Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces.

    “To the Chief of the General Staff: you are a fucking motherfucker. We have nothing to fight with, we have no rounds. The guys are dying for us there, and we’re fucking sitting here, not helping. We need rounds, we want to fuck everyone up. We are fighting against the entire Ukrainian army near Bakhmut. Where are you? It’s about time you help us. There’s nothing else to fucking call you except motherfucker!” one of the fighters said in the video.

    While Russian media had suggested the men in the video might have actually been “Ukrainian nationalists” dressed up as Wagner fighters in a bid to undermine the war, Prigozhin quickly shot down that conspiracy theory.

    “The guys asked me to pass along, that when you’re sitting in a warm office, it’s hard to hear the problems on the frontline, but when you’re dragging the dead bodies of your friends every day, and seeing them for the last time, then supplies are very much needed. And you want everyone to stir and at least in some way to think about how it is for those on the frontline,” Prigozhin said.

  75. says

    Another billionaire acting like a dunderhead:

    93 year old Billionaire and Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus is a doctrinaire Plutocrat who blames ‘woke people’ and workers who demand a decent wage for the decline of capitalism.

    In 2016 and again in 2020 Bernie Marcus was one of Donald Trump’s top donors. He also is a big donor to Ron DeSantis. Marcus calls Trump’s policies as ‘spot on’ and he calls Biden “the worst president in the history of this country.”

    This comes from a fawning article in the Financial Post:

    The list of potential obstacles to entrepreneurial success in the United States today is long, according to Bernie Marcus, co-founder of The Home Depot Inc.: human resources executives, government bureaucrats, regulators, socialists, Harvard graduates, MBAs, Harvard MBAs, lawyers, accountants, Joe Biden, the media and “the woke people.” […]

    “Thanks to “socialism,” he says, “nobody works. Nobody gives a damn. ‘Just give it to me. Send me money. I don’t want to work — I’m too lazy, I’m too fat, I’m too stupid.’”

    “We used to have free speech here. We don’t have it,” Marcus says. “The woke people have taken over the world. You know, I imagine today they can’t attack me. I’m 93.

    [cartoon “Voting Republican” available at the link]

    […] Bernie Marcus reeks of entitlement and arrogance that so many billionaires seem to share. Home Depot board approves $15 billion stock buyback.


    Stock buybacks typically bolster the price of shares. Repurchases have sometimes been criticized for being focused on increasing wealth for shareholders — including top executives — while not improving the company’s productivity, profitability or the compensation for workers.

  76. says

    Hats Off To Wonkette’s 2022 Legislative Badass, Nancy Pelosi!

    […] I had already said earlier it would kind of have to be either Nancy Pelosi or the January 6 committee, both of whom have done incredible service to the US […] The House January 6 Select Committee managed to make televised hearings riveting again, and Pelosi capped off a career of public service as the leader of Democrats in the House since 2003, either as Speaker or as minority leader. Even though she’s stepping down from House leadership, Pelosi will remain in the House, representing her San Francisco district and probably being available to incoming Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-New York) if he needs advice on anything. [Good news, especially for Hakeem Jeffries.]

    Over the years, people have said a lot of really dumb things about Pelosi, from weirdly blaming her for there being no public option in Obamacare (that was the US Senate, actually, and Joe Lieberman and Max Baucus) to downright lying about her comments about Obamacare in 2010. Reality: She said that once the bill was passed and Americans found out what was in it, they’d like it. But hey, edit the first part of the clip, and it could be presented to make it seem like the bill’s contents were secret, and it would have to be passed before anyone found out what was in it. […]

    Nancy Pelosi is already guaranteed a place in history as the most effective House speaker ever. She got Democrats — famous for the old Will Rogers joke about not being an organized political party — to settle differences and pass stuff. And in the time she led House Democrats, Republicans turned into the ungovernable party, in part because they increasingly lost interest in getting things accomplished at all. In the time Pelosi has led House Democrats, the Republicans have chewed up and spit out Denny Hastert, who resigned when Pelosi became speaker in 2007, John Boehner, who retired and was replaced — very reluctantly — by Paul Ryan, and then when Pelosi became speaker again in 2019, Kevin McCarthy. McCarthy may or may not become speaker next week.

    All that time, Pelosi has been doing the job and doing it well — well enough that every Republican candidate for the House pretends they’re running against her, and probably some Senate candidates, too. That demonization of Pelosi led an unhinged conspiracy fan to try to murder her husband Paul in October, but only because the speaker herself, his intended assassination target, was in Washington at the time. Republicans made jokes about the attack, because that’s America in 2022.

    Through it all, Pelosi has been fiercely focused on doing the work, from passing Obamacare to closing out her tenure as speaker with the passage of the Respect for Marriage Act, ensuring that even if the Supreme Court undoes the Obergefell decision, all marriages in America will be treated equally under the law.

    So Madam Speaker, please enjoy your new role as an ordinary member of Congress, and your title as Representative Pelosi. You’re the standard by which all future speakers of the House will be measured — and it’s not likely any will come close for a long, long time.

  77. says

    2022 In Energy And Climate

    Climate and energy stories are always about numbers, so let’s start this review of 2022 with a fairly small one that should give you hope: Nine. That’s nine percent, and according to polling by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, it’s the percentage of Americans who are “dismissive” of the reality of climate change: They “believe global warming is not happening, human-caused, or a threat, and most endorse conspiracy theories (e.g., ‘global warming is a hoax’).” Just nine percent. That’s roughly the percentage of Americans who think Elvis is still alive or that the Holocaust never happened. But because they make so much noise, spreading their denialism at every opportunity, most people would assume the number is a lot higher.

    The poll also identified another 10 percent as “doubtful” of climate realities; these folks may say it’s happening, but “do not think global warming is happening or they believe it is just a natural cycle. They do not think much about the issue or consider it a serious risk.” I think that probably describes most Republicans apart from the all-out cranks, and it’s very bad news that many members of those two groups are in positions of political or economic power, of course. But here are the other good numbers from the poll: [chart at the link]

    Most Americans are either “concerned” or “alarmed” about global warming and its effects on climate, and as those effects become all too visible in our lives, those numbers are only going to increase. We’re finally demanding changes. And those changes are happening — 30 or 40 years later than needed to have headed off the significant worldwide damage that’s now locked in, and we still need to dramatically cut greenhouse gas emissions much more quickly to avoid the worst possible effects of warming.

    The Paris goal of limiting total warming since the Industrial Revolution to 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F) remains theoretically possible, but unlikely without dramatic changes in how we create and use energy. That’s the bad news. But every tenth of a degree C of warming we prevent will also prevent progressively worse and worse outcomes. There’s good reason to think we’re finally heading in the right direction. The International Panel on Climate Change reports are going to continue to be grim, but it’s no time to throw our hands in the air and say we’re screwed — I worry that climate despair may be as bad a disincentive to pursue change as denial — and as unrealistic.

    For a sobering but grimly optimistic look at where we are now, see this important David Wallace-Wells essay in the New York Times (gift link) published in October. Wallace-Wells explains that, thanks to changes in energy production that are already happening, the hands of the climate doomsday clock have slowed compared to estimates of just a few years ago. The “business as usual” estimates, which assumed no slowing in the rate of greenhouse emissions, pegged the likely increase in global temperatures at four or even five degrees by the end of the century. That would be

    a change disruptive enough to call forth not only predictions of food crises and heat stress, state conflict and economic strife, but, from some corners, warnings of civilizational collapse and even a sort of human endgame. (Perhaps you’ve had nightmares about each of these and seen premonitions of them in your newsfeed.)

    Now, with the world already 1.2 degrees hotter, scientists believe that warming this century will most likely fall between two or three degrees. […] A little lower is possible, with much more concerted action; a little higher, too, with slower action and bad climate luck. Those numbers may sound abstract, but what they suggest is this: Thanks to astonishing declines in the price of renewables, a truly global political mobilization, a clearer picture of the energy future and serious policy focus from world leaders, we have cut expected warming almost in half in just five years.

    Needless to say, that doesn’t mean we can pat ourselves on the backs and throw another endangered species on the barbeque. But the range of outcomes has changed, as Wallace-Wells notes. The nightmare scenarios have been “made improbable by decarbonization,” although the most hopeful options have been “practically foreclosed by tragic delay.”

    The window of possible climate futures is narrowing, and as a result, we are getting a clearer sense of what’s to come: a new world, full of disruption but also billions of people, well past climate normal and yet mercifully short of true climate apocalypse.

    Go read/listen to the whole thing. […]

    Part of the reason I’m feeling cautiously optimistic is that people who know climate and energy policy are generally very pleased with this year’s climate bill, aka the Inflation Reduction Act. Independent energy reporter David Roberts has discussed it extensively with energy and climate experts, and while it has some dumb shit in it that was the price of getting Joe Manchin’s support, they say the bill really deserves the praise it’s received.

    There’s a perfectly good reason the climate provisions in this bill are so good. They’re taken more or less directly from Washington Gov. Jay Inslee’s “gold standard” climate plan from the 2020 presidential campaign, which itself reflected the work of a whole bunch of climate policy wonks. The dollar amounts are smaller, but the effects are going to be significant.

    What’s more, Roberts points out, the “green bank” and other research and development provisions in the bill will provide billions of dollars in seed money for new clean energy enterprises, which are likely to lead to even more reductions in emissions over the next decade — but because those companies and technologies don’t exist yet, they can’t be included in any models. That means the total US emissions reductions resulting from the bill are likely to be more than the 40 percent already estimated. Roberts believes this law has the potential to remake large parts of the US economy.

    Another reason for optimism came in the form of a peer-reviewed study published in September by Oxford University’s Institute for New Economic Thinking. The researchers explain that a rapid transition to renewable energy will actually cost far less than going slowly, because greater deployment of renewables will drive down the price of electricity enough to save the world $12 trillion, compared to continuing to use fossil fuels. It’s simply not true that the clean energy transition would be too costly to pursue: If anything, not transitioning quickly will cost far more. […]

    Happy new year. Consume less. Keep up the pressure for change.

  78. whheydt says

    Re; Lynna, OM @ #119…
    And while all that was going on as part of the Battle of Saratoga, an ancestor of mine was in command of a very tiny warship in the South Carolina navy (Brig’o’war Notre Dame, 16 guns, 4-pounders).

  79. raven says


    There are multiple reports of a New Year celebration that occurred in a building of a school in the occupied Makiivka, where a large number of mobilised were located. HIMARS strike.

    Russian sources are telling about hundreds of victims.

    This school building was hit by HIMARS and leveled. Apparently, it was also an ammunition storage area.

    The number of casualties is vague but some estimates are up to 600.

  80. raven says

    Moscow’s Invasion Of Ukraine Triggers ‘Soul-Searching’ At Western Universities As Scholars Rethink Russian Studies

    Oh really?
    I can’t imagine why.

    AFAICT, the two main threats to the world and world peace are Russia and China. Currently, Russia is the leader in being on the Dark Side.
    We’ve seen enough to know that Russia is seriously flawed and dysfunctional and going nowhere.

    Moscow’s Invasion Of Ukraine Triggers ‘Soul-Searching’ At Western Universities As Scholars Rethink Russian Studies

    Moscow’s Invasion Of Ukraine Triggers ‘Soul-Searching’ At Western Universities As Scholars Rethink Russian Studies

    January 01, 2023 10:14 GMT
    When more than 2,000 Slavic, East European, and Eurasian studies specialists from around the world gather in Philadelphia later this year for their largest annual conference, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will dominate the discussion — or loom large over the proceedings, at the very least.

    In Ukraine, Moscow’s unprovoked war has killed tens of thousands of people and laid cities and towns to waste. At universities across the West, it has thrust Russia’s history of imperialism and colonialism to the forefront of Slavic and Eurasian academic discussion — from history and political science to art and literature.

    The war is forcing scholars, departments, and university officials to question how they teach the history of Russia, the former Soviet Union, and the region, what textbooks and sources they use, whom they hire, which archives they mine for information, and even what departments should be named.

    The Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies (ASEEES) has made “decolonization” — which it describes as “a profoundly political act of re-evaluating long-established and often internalized hierarchies, of relinquishing and taking back power” — the theme of its 2023 conference.

    “Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine has led to widespread calls for the reassessment and transformation of Russo-centric relationships of power and hierarchy both in the region and in how we study it,” the association says in a notice on the convention.

    “The war is really an earth-moving event and academia — as part of that world — has been shaken,” Edward Schatz, the director of the Center for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies (CERES) at the University of Toronto, told RFE/RL. “I feel like it is impossible to do things the way we have done it all along. Something has to change. The question is how much changes and along what dimensions.”

    Schatz says the CERES faculty will hold a two-day meeting in January to discuss a host of issues including the curriculum and whether to change the center’s name. Some faculty have questioned why an institution covering a region that spans two continents and reaches from the Atlantic to the Pacific should have only one country — Russia — in its name.

    In Britain, meanwhile, the University of Cambridge is holding a series of lectures under the banner “Rethinking Slavonic Studies.” Among other examples, scholars in North America are working on a book of essays that will focus on “decolonizing Eastern European and Eurasian art and material culture.”

    Trauma ‘Overlooked’

    Many scholars say the Russian state receives too much focus in academia at the expense of the colonized nations, regions, and groups, including Ukraine, the Caucasus, and Central Asia, as well as ethnic minority communities in Russia itself. The view from St. Petersburg and Moscow — the capitals of Russia since the tsarist era and of the Soviet Union — dominates.

    Proponents of decolonization or “decentering” are calling for a greater inclusion of voices from those nations and regions in the curriculum of Russian, Soviet, and Eurasian history, literature, culture, political science, and economics.

    Oxana Shevel, a professor of political science at Tufts University in Massachusetts and president of the American Association for Ukrainian Studies, says many scholars of the region feel that academia has “overlooked to a large extent” the trauma caused by Russian imperialism and colonialism.

    The focus, instead, tends to be on the Moscow-centric view that the Russian and Soviet states brought “modernization, education, and industrialization” to those communities.

    “Scholars who study non-Russian regions of the former Soviet space are basically speaking with one voice for the need to decolonize Soviet and post-Soviet studies,” Shevel told RFE/RL.

    That voice is not being heard — or heeded — by everyone in the field. Scholars calling for change say they are facing resistance from some academics whose primary focus is Russia.

    The potential impact of the shift that has begun goes beyond the need to rewrite lectures and incorporate new material. It could also affect current and future research projects and reach back in time, as well, leading to greater scrutiny of past works.

    ‘Misjudged And Misunderstood’

    Decolonization “is not a very comfortable conversation for most of my colleagues, but I think it is an unavoidable one given the circumstances,” Valentina Izmirlieva, the director of Columbia University’s Harriman Institute for Russian, Eurasian, and Eastern European Studies, told RFE/RL.

    “This is still a developing situation and it is difficult to know how things will change a year from now,” Izmirlieva said.

    Erica Marat, a professor of political science at the National Defense University in Washington and a Central Asia expert, says the push by scholars of Ukraine to challenge the status quo in academia has inspired those studying other regions ruled by Moscow. “The war in Ukraine and just how Ukrainian scholars are speaking out is really opening up a lot of space for the rest of us,” she told RFE/RL.

    Vitaly Chernetsky, a Ukrainian-born professor of Slavic and Eurasian languages and literatures at the University of Kansas, says that the works of experts from non-Russian regions and communities are not taken seriously enough by peers, a view shared by Marat and others.

    Ukraine has been “misjudged and misunderstood” in the West in part because scholars of Russia dominate the discussion, Chernetsky said.

    As a case in point, he says one reason many in the field expected Kyiv to fall quickly following the Russian invasion in February was that they bought into the narrative that Ukraine was a “divided” nation with a weak sense of national identity.

    Universities rarely offer courses in the history or culture of Ukraine, Europe’s largest country by size and its seventh-largest by population. A major reason has been a lack of student demand — which scholars say is a result of the entrenched focus on Russia, though the war has led to a spike in interest.

    In the academic curriculum, Ukraine has been “part of a larger laundry list of 15 post-Soviet countries or countries of Eastern Europe between Germany and Russia,” said Chernetsky, who became vice president of ASEEES on January 1.

    The Ukrainian diaspora has played a major role in keeping Ukrainian studies going in the West, funding visiting professors and language classes at select universities, scholars told RFE/RL.

    John Vsetecka, a 33-year-old graduate student who will defend his thesis on Ukrainian history next year, says it’s hard for scholars like himself studying former Soviet republics other than Russia to find faculty positions on the tenure track.

    “Few ever move out of temporary jobs” as researchers or visiting professors, Vsetecka said. The result, he added, is a “brain drain” of regional expertise from academia.

    Emigre Influence

    Scholars say studies of the Eurasian regions of Russia and Soviet studies in the United States has historically been taught from a Moscow-centric perspective because of the outsized influence of Russian-born scholars who helped found the field.

    Clarence Manning, chairman of the Department of Slavic Studies at Columbia University and one of the few Ukraine experts of his time, made this argument in a 1957 scholarly article.

    A dominant school of thought within U.S. academia held that “every person within the old Russian empire is a Russian,” he wrote. These scholars, described as “Russia Firsters,” repeated “old traditional formulas set out by Russian scholarship before the [1917] Revolution” and treated Russia and later the Soviet Union “as a single, unified country.”

    The lack of attention to “non-Russian Slavic tongues and histories” was “unfortunate, for it tended to give instruction in the major centers a Russian, if not Soviet, orientation, a fact which would cause repercussions in the following period.”

    Sixty-five years later, those repercussions continue to be felt.

    Susan Smith-Peter, a professor of Russian history at the College of Staten Island in New York, says that the teachings of Vasily Klyuchevsky, an imperial-era scholar and one of the founders of modern Russian historiography, were essentially transplanted to the United States.

    Klyuchevsky, who died in 1911, denied the existence of Ukraine as a people and a culture distinct from Russia, she says. His students in Moscow included Michael Karpovich, who would go on to teach generations of Russia scholars over three decades at Harvard University, from 1927 to 1957.

    Kyiv, Rus, And Russia

    Karpovich “rejected the historiographical legitimacy of a separate Ukrainian history,” Smith-Peter wrote in a blog post this month, adding that as a result, the works of Ukrainian scholars “were often not integrated into the work of Russian historians.”

    One key narrative passed on from imperial-era historians by emigres, and still widely taught in the United States today, is that Russia is the direct and sole successor to Kievan Rus — also known as Kyivan Rus, from the city’s Ukrainian name — a state that reached the peak of its power a century before Moscow was founded.

    Putin, who has falsely claimed that Ukrainians and Russians are “one people” and has suggested in numerous historically inaccurate written and spoken remarks that Ukraine has no right to exist as a fully sovereign state, has used that vastly simplified notion of continuity in attempts to justify his war.

    His skewed version of history appears to be at the center of what numerous analysts have said is Putin’s obsession with dominating Ukraine.
    The large-scale invasion has “led to a period of soul-searching within Russian studies” and is forcing scholars to reconsider how they do things, Smith-Peter said.

    She said she will “fundamentally change” how she teaches Russian and Soviet history to include the perspectives of colonized people and question the simplified continuity between Kievan Rus and Russia.

    She suggests that scholars of Russia, especially those doing work on the Soviet period, should learn Ukrainian in order to use Ukrainian archives.

    ‘People Are Dying Over This’

    Mark Steinberg, professor emeritus of Russian history at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the co-author with the late Nicholas Riasanovsky of the widely used textbook A History Of Russia, told RFE/RL the current debate isn’t new.

    Academia has been grappling with questions of Russian and Soviet imperialism and colonialism and how to teach it since fall of communism in the late 1980s, Steinberg says. He says that the field has changed over the years, with universities now seeking scholars who specialize in the Russian Empire rather than the state and who know a second regional language besides Russian.

    Nonetheless, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has “pushed the field to understand empire and colonialism as probably never before,” Steinberg said. “Previously it was all academic discussion but now people are dying over this.”

    The challenge academics now face is understanding how Russian imperialism and colonialism impact the way they think about or approach their subjects. “I think that is the most interesting shift, and probably the most controversial,” he said.

    As for the textbook A History Of Russia, Steinberg said he has made “some significant changes in the direction of questioning simple assumptions about Kyiv-Moscow continuities and will develop these further in the 10th edition.”

    While some institutions and professors have been making changes to their classes and curricula, Chernetsky said, the field still needs “deep, structural” change.

    “The important thing here is not to lose momentum, because big academic institutions tend to be inert,” he said.

  81. says

    Text quoted by raven in comment 127:

    Ukraine has been “misjudged and misunderstood” in the West in part because scholars of Russia dominate the discussion, Chernetsky said.

    Yep, sounds like a complete overhaul of “Russian Studies” is long overdue.

  82. says

    Extreme weather update:

    Northern California and western Nevada were slammed over the weekend by a powerful winter storm that deluged towns and counties with several inches of rain and snowfall.

    An atmospheric river storm pulled in moisture from the Pacific Ocean before pushing through the western states. As of Sunday afternoon, power was out in more than 170,000 California homes, with about 35,000 homes in Nevada also in the dark […]

    More than five inches of rain fell over the San Francisco Bay Area on Saturday, marking the region’s second wettest day on record.

    Photos shared online show a flood of murky brown rainwater streaming through San Francisco’s streets.

    The California Highway Patrol shut down a major route, US-101, on New Year’s Eve before re-opening it on Sunday.

    […] Across the San Francisco Bay in Oakland, about 4.75 inches of rain fell on Saturday night. The rainfall set a new record in the city, breaking a previous one set in 1982.

    Oakland crews are working to clear streets of flooding and debris, including downed trees, while also providing sandbags to residents to divert water from their homes. […]


  83. whheydt says

    Re: Lynna, OM @ #128…
    During the Revolutionary War it did. Bear in mind that, at that time, the states considered themselves independent, sovereign states, and issue that wasn’t truly settled until the US Civil War. Or, as my father used to put it, the Civil War changed one word. It changed “the United States are a country” to “the United States is a country.”

  84. cicely says

    raven @118:

    It is surprising that anyone could read an article like this and not want to get vaccinated for the Covid-19 virus.

    The people who are refusing vaccination for ideological reasons, aren’t likely to read an article like this in the first place, and

    2. Don’t believe the science behind it; often, are distrustful of science in general.

  85. StevoR says

    Trio of news stories here :

    The UK division of climate change protest group Extinction Rebellion says its activists will temporarily stop blocking busy roads, gluing themselves to buildings and engaging in other acts of civil disobedience because such methods have not achieved the desired effects. … (snip) .. To further its goals of getting politicians, corporations and the public “to end the fossil fuel era”, the group said it would instead focus on broadening its support with actions such as getting 100,000 people to surround the Houses of Parliament in London on April 21.

    “In a time when speaking out and taking action are criminalised, building collective power, strengthening in number and thriving through bridge-building is a radical act,” the website post said.

    “This year, we prioritise attendance over arrest and relationships over roadblocks, as we stand together and become impossible to ignore.”

    When we will say “Enough!” to the cruel “sport” / form of gambling here?

    One horse has died and another has been injured after a shocking fall during Western Australia’s highest-profile horse racing event. .. (snip) .. The event was abandoned mid-race.

    West Australian mare Chili Is Hot had to be euthanised at the track, after being attended to by staff on the course. (..snip ..) The fall is the latest in a string of high-profile incidents that have prompted protests and criticism of the racing industry in recent years.

    Several horses have died on Melbourne Cup day in recent years, prompting heightened calls from animal welfare groups for an end to racing.

    In addition to :

    More severe and frequent bushfires could kill nearly 2,500 Australians in the next 10 years and cost $110 million in healthcare bills, a new report shows.

    The Monash University study found from 2021 to 2030, between 2,412 and 2,422 people could lose their lives to bushfires and many more could end up in hospital from burns, dehydration, smoke damage and other bushfire-related conditions.

    The modelling from the university’s Centre for Medicine Use and Safety recognised the role of climate change in higher bushfire risk.

    “Bushfires are a natural part of Australia’s ecosystem, but the frequency and severity of bushfires in Australia has been increasing, due in part to climate change,” the study said.

    Source :

  86. StevoR says

    Oh & the doco I mentioned last night here :

    is on again tonight too – the second half on channel 22 ABC TV Plus / Kids :

    Dinosaurs Of The Frozen Continent
    Monday, 2 Jan
    Series 1 | Episode 2
    7:32 PM – 8:24 PM [52 mins]
    gCCRepeat | Repeated on Sunday 8 Jan at 10:30 PM, ABC TV Plus
    We find out how the discovery of the Cryolophosaurus, dubbed the T-Rex of Antarctica, and a 25-foot-long plant eater, the Glacialisaurus, lead to interest in a continent that was thought to be largely devoid of life. (Final)

    Info via ABC TV news ‘es online TV guide. Those who can get ABC iview can see it here :

    As well or try here :

    Starting very soon so apologies for the short notice.

  87. KG says

    blf hasn’t commented here since November 5th. – anybody know what’s going on? – Pierce R. Butler@17

    I was seriously pissed off with blf over his ridiculous suggestion that I “return your rubles to Putin” because I criticised the post-1991 expansion of NATO (see my #313, his #317 and my #322 on this page). I don’t know if that was related to his disappearance; I certainly had no intention of driving him away. If you’re following the thread, blf, please let us know whether you’re OK.

  88. KG says

    You might (or might not!) be interested to learn that the last time the Julian and Gregorian calendars will agree on the year is, if I’ve calculated correctly, the 31st December 48996 Gregorian, which will be 1st January of that year Julian. I hadn’t come across the revised Julian calendar, which would allegedly be slightly more accurate (but also slightly more complicated) than the Gregorian: the mean tropical year is currently 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes and 45 seconds long (365.24219 days), the Gregorian calendar gives an average of 365.2425 days, the revised Julian 365.242222222… days. However, when one takes into account the precession of the equinoxes, the movement of the perihelion, and the secular decrease in the speed of the earth’s rotation (which means that over the long term there will be fewer days in the year), it becomes difficult to say which is more accurate. It might make most sense to add or subtract leap days from whichever of the three calendars you prefer as and when measurement shows it’s necessary.

    Reginald Selkirk@60,
    Even more loopy is the “New Chronology” of the respected Russian mathematician Anatoly Fomenko (his areas of expertise are in geometry and topology), which snips out around 1,150 years and identifies Jesus with the Byzantine emperor Andronikos I Komnenos (take that, Jesus mythicists and historicists!!!). Velikovsky also went in for chronology-truncating, but in relation to ancient Egypt, where actual dates are (still) less well-established.

  89. says

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

    A New Year’s Day attack on a complex in the Russian-controlled city of Makiivka killed scores of recently mobilised troops sent by Moscow, according to reports on both sides, in what could be one of the deadliest known incidents involving Russian conscripts so far.

    Without claiming the strike, Ukraine’s military command said up to 400 Russian soldiers were killed in the incident in Makiivka, a city in the Moscow-controlled parts of the Donetsk region.

    Pro-Russian authorities late on Sunday acknowledged that there were casualties, but did not comment on the Ukrainian figures.

    Daniil Bezsonov, a senior Moscow proxy official in the Russian-occupied Donetsk region, said a Ukrainian missile struck a vocational school in Makiivka that housed soldiers two minutes after midnight on New Year’s Day.

    “A massive blow was dealt to the vocational school from American MLRS Himars,” Bezsonov wrote in a post on the Telegram messaging app, referring to US-provided missiles. “There were dead and wounded, the exact number is still unknown,” he added.

    Photographs circulating on social media show what appears to be the ruins of the building in Makiivka used by the Russian army as barracks.

    The Guardian was not able to independently verify the reports.

    Several waves of Russian drones targeted critical infrastructure in Ukraine’s capital of Kyiv and surrounding areas early on Monday morning. Air raid alerts were issued in Kyiv and across eastern Ukraine, beginning just before midnight and still wailing hours later. Debris from a destroyed drone hit Kyiv’s northeastern Desnianskiy district, wounding a 19-year-old man who was later taken to hospital, the city’s Mayor Vitali Klitschko said.

    The Ukrainian ministry of defence claimed it shot down 39 Iranian-made Shahed drones, as well as a cruise missile, last night. Earlier we reported that Ukraine’s regional military command in the country’s east said air defence systems destroyed nine Iranian-made Shahed drones over the Dnipropetrovsk and Zaporizhzhia regions by the early hours of Monday. Zelenskiy, added that “45 ‘Shaheds’ were shot down on the first night of the year” in his Monday evening address.

  90. says

    Barak Ravid:

    BREAKING: New Israeli foreign minister Eli Cohen signaled a policy shift on Ukraine in his 1st speech hinting the new government will take a more pro-Russian line. He said he will speak on Tuesday with Russian FM Lavrov – 1st such call since the Russian invasion of Ukraine

    In his speech Cohen hinted that unlike his predecessor Yair Lapid he will not condemn Russia publicly. “On the issue of Russia and Ukraine we will do on thing for sure – speak less in public”

    The new Israeli FM said he is going to draft a “responsible” new policy on the war in Ukraine and stressed the foreign ministry “will prepare a detailed presentation to the security cabinet on this issue”. He also said the Israeli humanitarian aid to Ukraine will continue

    Why it matters: Cohen’s predecessor Yair Lapid led a tough line Russia, condemned it publicly & even said the Russian military committed war crimes. Since the invasion Lapid didn’t speak to Lavrov & after he assumed office as caretaker prime minister he didn’t speak to Putin

  91. says

    In the Guardian:

    Andy West – “Teaching philosophy in a children’s prison has shown me the meaning of anger”: “The arguments against imprisoning children are well established, yet still we lock up those who have been failed…”

    John Harris – “The wreckage of Brexit is all around us. How long can our politicians indulge in denial?”: “If both parties ignore the uncomfortable facts, politics will be flooded with dangerous conspiracies and betrayal myths…”

    “‘Fuah!’ sure: the vegan foie gras selling out across Spain”: “The plant-based pate has exceeded the Spanish startup’s expectations as orders fly in…”

  92. raven says

    Jeff Tiedrich @itsJeffTiedrich

    happy new year morning! Joe Biden woke up in the Virgin Islands. Donald Trump woke up in a dementia-soaked haze. Andrew Tate woke up in a Romanian prison cell. it’s fucking glorious
    7:16 AM · Jan 1, 2023

    This last year was not good for many people, notably the Ukrainians.

    But it could have been worse.

  93. says

    Julia Davis:

    During a New Year’s special on Russian state TV, they had the audacity to appropriate a Ukrainian song, “Chervona Ruta.” The singer performing it was dressed as some kind of a madam. Backup dancers, unsuccessfully pretending to dance like Ukrainians, were grotesquely ridiculous.

    Video at the (Twitter) link.

  94. Reginald Selkirk says

    The Color of Wolves Mysteriously Changes Across America. We Finally Know Why

    On the North American continent, specifically, the farther south you go, the more wolves there are with dark, black-hued coats. The phenomenon was unexplained for a long time, but now scientists have determined that the culprit is one of the biggest drivers of natural selection: disease…
    Scientists suspected that the canine distemper virus may play a role in the numbers of black-coated wolves across North America since the DNA region in which CPD103 resides is also involved in encoding a protein that protects against lung infections like canine distemper.
    This would mean that if wolves with black coats are more likely to survive the disease, they’ll reproduce and pass their CPD103 variant on to their cubs…

  95. Reginald Selkirk says

    CIA staff made a ‘suicide pact’ to resign if Trump fired director Gina Haspel, former aide says

    CIA staff had a “suicide pact” to resign if Donald Trump fired director Gina Haspel, a former aide to the president told the House’s January 6 select committee.
    Alyssa Farah Griffin said that the threat of a mass walkout stopped Trump from replacing Haspel with supporter Kash Patel, according to transcripts released by the committee in late December…

  96. says

    Reginald @144, Republicans have all the best candidates for office.

    SC @142, for a country that brags about its superior culture, Russia certainly produces a lot of schlock.

  97. Tethys says


    The frozen rictus and rather maniacal clapping of the audience members is more striking than the 50’s kitsch Americana style performance. Some of the background attendees appear to be present via cgi and green screens.

    Und now comrades, you shall enjoy this very Russian propaganda party and those armed guards are merely extra security. Do not look at them while you smile for the cameras.

  98. says

    whheydt @131, thanks for the information.

    In other news: With one day to go, McCarthy is still scrambling for GOP support

    It was exactly 100 years ago when the House last failed to elect a speaker on the first ballot. We’re apparently poised to see the rare occurrence again.

    […] The New York Times reported over the weekend:

    The election of the House speaker on the floor of the chamber is usually a largely ceremonial exercise devoid of surprises. But if Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the Republican leader, is unable to put down a rebellion among a group of hard-right lawmakers before the vote on Tuesday, the result could be a whirl of chaos not seen on the House floor in a century. Mr. McCarthy has pledged to fight for the speakership on the House floor until the very end, even if it requires lawmakers to vote more than once.

    This a story with several moving parts, so let’s flesh out what’s up.

    Wasn’t it a foregone conclusion that McCarthy would become speaker?
    He certainly thought so. McCarthy has been the House Republicans’ leader for the last four years, and when the GOP won just enough seats in the midterm elections to claim a majority, he expected to get a promotion.

    And now that promotion is in jeopardy?
    Evidently so. Almost immediately after the midterms, a small-but-significant conservative contingent within the House Republican conference said McCarthy simply wasn’t a reliable enough ally, and the members of the faction got to work undermining him.

    How many votes does McCarthy need?
    […] There are 435 members of the House, and to get elected speaker, someone needs a majority. As a matter of arithmetic, that suggests McCarthy — or anyone else vying for the job — would need 218 votes. [Assuming that there are no members absent, and/or that no members just vote “present.”]

    How big is the GOP’s anti-McCarthy contingent?
    The incumbent minority leader can lose no more than four of his own members, and headed into the holidays, five House Republicans — Arizona’s Andy Biggs, Florida’s Matt Gaetz, Virginia’s Bob Good, South Carolina’s Ralph Norman, and Montana’s Matthew Rosendale — said they’ll oppose McCarthy’s bid. Complicating matters, the group declared that they intend to vote as a bloc, preventing party leaders from trying to pick them off, one by one.

    Making matters worse for McCarthy is the faction appears to be growing, not shrinking. Yesterday, a group of nine conservatives released a written statement saying they’d heard the GOP leader’s latest pitch — and it wasn’t good enough for them. Note, these nine skeptics are on top of the five aforementioned “Never Kevin” members.

    What do McCarthy’s detractors want?
    Many simply want a different leader, but for others, there’s a substantive dimension to this.

    At the start of every Congress, the House adopts a package of procedural rules that govern how the chamber will operate for the next two years. The package is generally overlooked, but far-right Republicans have focused heavily on it in recent weeks, seeing it as a key vehicle to give them more power.

    With this in mind, McCarthy’s intra-party opponents have made several demands, including an emphasis on something called the motion to vacate the chair.

    In practical terms, the motion to vacate the chair allows House members to oust their own sitting speaker — or at least try to — by way of a vote that effectively serves as a no-confidence vote. McCarthy said for weeks that he wouldn’t give in on this point, because he didn’t want that sword hanging over his head for the next two years, putting him in constant jeopardy.

    But yesterday, McCarthy caved, telling his members that he now supports a new rule that would empower five of his own members to force a no-confidence in their leader. [No one was placated.]

    None of the five “Never Kevin” members has budged, and the nine additional skeptics issued their letter after McCarthy endorsed changes that would weaken him.

    […] So, is McCarthy a goner?

    It’s a little too soon to say for sure, though his odds of success went from bad to worse over the weekend. If the vote were right now, McCarthy would definitely fall short of the support he needs, but funny things can happen on Capitol Hill over the course of 24 hours, and the would-be speaker is so desperate, there’s no telling what he might offer his Republican detractors, or how they might respond.

    […] As he begs for votes, isn’t McCarthy undermining his own capacity to lead?

    Yes. He’s creating conditions in which he’d be a weak speaker, but he’s doing it anyway, apparently because he values the title more than he values his capacity to lead the institution.

    Does the party have a plan B?
    Not really. Biggs is running for the gavel, but no one seriously believes he’ll become speaker. Roll Call reported late last week, however, on a provocative possibility: “The plan, which would only be deployed if the speaker’s election went to multiple ballots with no one budging, would be for a significant bloc of Republicans to work with Democrats to nominate retiring Michigan GOP Rep. Fred Upton for speaker. … The member said the long-shot effort to elect Upton would involve giving Democrats concessions on House rules, like subpoena powers for committees, and other assurances Republicans probably ideally don’t want to grant.”

    […] It seems like a stretch, but at this point, anything’s possible.

    Aside from the palace intrigue, why should folks care about this?
    Because the public needs a functioning House — and ideally, a majority party capable of governing. If the GOP struggles to elect a speaker, it would represent a new level of Republican chaos.

    Brendan Buck, a consultant who previously worked for Republican Speakers Paul Ryan and John Boehner, wrote in The New York Times today, “If Republicans are unable to muster the votes for a speaker, it will make very clear from the outset they cannot be counted on to fulfill the body’s basic responsibilities.” […]

    Anything else?
    […] votes for speaker happen before the rules are adopted, “meaning the vote operates outside of the chamber’s standard operating procedures.” In other words, the House approves a set of rules as to how the chamber will function at the start of a new Congress, but that vote happens after the House speaker is chosen.

    If members struggle to choose a speaker, the rules governing the House can’t be approved, and the institution is simply stuck until the matter is resolved.

  99. says

    It is 2023, and Hope Hicks is trending because the January 6 Committee dropped a whole bunch of documents on New Year’s Day, supplemental material for the report they compiled. And in that supplemental material, there is some shit from Hope Hicks.

    In the report, Hicks texted to Ivanka Trump aide Julie Radford on January 6, “We all look like domestic terrorists now.” Yes, that is indeed what Donald Trump’s supporters in Washington looked like that day.

    In these new texts we learn that Hicks and Radford were just really upset about tweets sent by supermodel Karlie Kloss, who is incidentally married to Jared Kushner’s brother Josh Kushner, after the January 6 domestic terrorist attack on the Capitol.

    Zachary Petrizzo reports in the Daily Beast:

    After the riot, Kloss took to Twitter to write: “Accepting the results of a legitimate democratic election is patriotic. Refusing to do so and inciting violence is anti-American.” She also responded to a Twitter user who encouraged her to “tell your sister-in-law and brother-[in]-law” by replying, “I’ve tried.”

    The newly released texts show that Hicks flagged the Kloss tweets for Radford, who responded, “Unreal. She just called me about it.”

    Hicks then texted back: “I am so done” and added, “Does she get how royally fucked they all are now?”

    Were they mad at Karlie Kloss for tweeting something normal and true? Were they mad at the situation Donald Trump had put them all in? Was it just one big pity party?

    All of the above, it seems.

    Hicks texted Radford the afternoon of January 6, saying that “in one day [Trump] ended every future opportunity that doesn’t include speaking engagements at the local proud boys chapter.” Radford said, “yup.” And Hicks complained that they were all unemployable now, and that’s where the line about how they all looked like domestic terrorists came from. [image of text conversation is available at the link]

    Hicks said, “And all of us that didn’t have jobs lined up will be perpetually unemployed.” She was “so mad and upset.” Radford had been “crying for an hour.”

    God, they were so fucking mad. This had made them all unemployable. Like untouchable. Like there wasn’t a chance of finding a job. Not being dramatic, but they were all fucked. Alyssa [Farah Griffin, former Trump White House comms director] looked like a genius for resigning when she did [in December 2020].

    Read for yourself, because those were their exact words. Radford also texted in this exchange that Visa had sent her a “blow off email” that very day. [image of text messages at the link]

    So yes, just a whole lot of self-pity, as Petrizzo notes in the Daily Beast. It’s almost enough to make you feel sorry for them — just kidding, no it isn’t.

    We don’t know how successful Hicks’s and Radford’s lives are right now, but we will note that Alyssa Farah Griffin is a co-host on “The View” now, so yeah, “we are all fucked” and “Alyssa looks like a genius” were probably correct reads from Hope Hicks on that day.

    You may enjoy the text exchanges for yourself right here. Some schadenfreude for your new year, if you will.

  100. whheydt says

    The BBC is reporting that Russia is conceding to 63 dead in the HIMARS attack. Also there are reports that there was an ammo dump in the basement that went off, compounding the damage.

    Kind of sums up Russian army competence in the whole war…setting up a barracks on top of an ammo dump and then Ukraine figures out where it is and that it’s in range of something them have to attack with. I wonder which hurts Russian efforts in the area more…loss of a whole bunch of untrained conscripts or the loss of the ammo?

  101. lumipuna says

    StevoR at 134 – Whoa, thanks for the viewing tip! I had no idea this sort of stuff is currently on Yle Areena – courtesy of my tax money! I usually only use Yle for the daily news.

    KG at 136:

    Even more loopy is the “New Chronology” of the respected Russian mathematician Anatoly Fomenko (his areas of expertise are in geometry and topology), which snips out around 1,150 years and identifies Jesus with the Byzantine emperor Andronikos I Komnenos (take that, Jesus mythicists and historicists!!!). Velikovsky also went in for chronology-truncating, but in relation to ancient Egypt, where actual dates are (still) less well-established.

    I hadn’t heard about these either. However, I’ve sometimes spent hours marveling at the chronology of biblical young earth creationism, particularly as presented by Ham et al. of Answers in Genesis. There can hardly be anything more truncated than that!

  102. whheydt says

    Re: Lynna, OM @ #148…
    Said ancestor was born in Charleston, SC in 1757. He was in Britan when the war started. He was detained. He escaped and got to New England and signed on board a privateer (yes, depending on which side you consider, I have a actual pirate in my ancestry). Back in port, he signed off the privateer and returned to Charleston. Three days after arriving there, he got a commission as a Lieutenant in the SC Navy. He was appointed as an officer on the Notre Dame. During his first cruise on her, they captured a ship laden with military stores and he was put in command of the prize crew and sailed her to a US port. When the Notre Dame returned to port, her captain retired and recommended my ancestor to command her, which was done.
    So he was in command of a warship in time of war before the age of 20. Probably makes the accomplishments in our teens, of most of us here (and I include myself in that) look rather minor.

  103. says

    whheydt @153, “Probably makes the accomplishments in our teens, of most of us here (and I include myself in that) look rather minor.”

    Yes, no doubt. I did notice when reading other accounts of war that some wealthy Englishmen bought officer-level military assignments for their sons … when the sons were only 16 years old. Still, your ancestor sounds exceptional even in those circumstances.

    I keep thinking about the difficulties surrounding communication in the late 1700s. Military leaders were relying on Indian scouts, on messages delivered by riders on horseback, on letters that could be lost along the way, etc. Ships had to dock at ports before they could get any updated news.

  104. raven says

    So he was in command of a warship in time of war before the age of 20.

    In the old days and even in our recent past, people grew up faster, especially in times of war.

    .1. In April 1943, 25-year-old John F. Kennedy arrived in the Pacific and took command of the PT-109.

    .2. George H.W. Bush’s plane was crippled by enemy fire and the cockpit filled with smoke. The 20-year-old Bush told his crew to escape the plane immediately as it was in danger of exploding.

    .3. My father was captain of a Navy ship in his early 20s during WW II. He took command at 20.

  105. says


    DHS warns of right-wing firearms attacks, land mines laid on migration routes & gassing of migrants

    Had Title 42 been lifted, there might have been an explosion of violence against immigrants by white nationalist groups, according to the Department of Homeland Security. Expecting Title 42 to be lifted, the Department of Homeland Security issued a warning that should that happen, there might be an uptick anti-immigrant violence.

    According to CBS News (, “Intelligence officials ‘have observed calls for attacks targeting primarily migrants and critical infrastructure,’ according to a bulletin issued on Dec. 23 by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Intelligence & Analysis, which cites social media discussion of ‘firearms attacks, the placement of land mines along migration routes, and luring migrants into trailers to poison them with gas.’”

    […] Earlier this year, a public advisory issued by DHS warned that,”Potential changes in border security enforcement policy, an increase in noncitizens attempting to enter the U.S., or other immigration-related developments may heighten these calls for violence.”

    Granting a petition from Republican-led states, on Tuesday, the Supreme Court allowed U.S. border officials to continue expelling migrants under the pandemic-related measure, known as Title 42. CBS News reported ( that, “The high court decided to hear a request from 19 Republican-led states who were seeking to delay the end of Title 42, which was originally set to expire on Dec. 21 because of a lower court order that found the policy to be unlawful. The Supreme Court will now hear arguments on whether it should allow the Republican-controlled states to defend Title 42’s legality during its February 2023 session.”

    Violence against immigrants is nothing new. A CNN story noted that “Grievances over immigration policy and animosity toward immigrants have previously fueled extremist acts, including the 2019 Walmart shooting in El Paso, Texas, that killed 23 people and left another 23 wounded. Authorities said at the time the accused shooter drove to the West Texas border city with the sole intent of killing immigrants and Mexicans” (

    According to reporting by The Center for Public Integrity’s Kristian Hernández (, “Anti-immigrant rhetoric has featured prominently in Republican candidates’ campaign ads and speeches ahead of the Nov. 8 midterm elections. But watchdogs say this election cycle is different because of how much the GOP has embraced and promoted a more sinister mix of fringed conspiracy theories rooted in xenophobia and white supremacy. […]

  106. says

    The last chapter of the January 6 Select Committee Report is not without its humorous moments. Such as when Gen. Michael Flynn, great patriot and fearless defender of the Republic, reneged on his plans to lead the crowd in its march on the Capitol, texting rally organizer Caroline Wren “Hell, no. It’s freezing.”

    Revolution! This is our 1776, boys! Unless, you know, it’s like, cold, or whatever.

    […] the finale is a grim march through the inevitable climax of Trump’s months of agitation. The mob of thugs and Nazis and white supremacists beat the shit out of the Capitol Police, before being dispersed by Trump’s “we love you” video and the arrival of a few more men with guns. It’s a miracle that this handful of brawling losers didn’t manage to kill any lawmakers […]

    The report lays out the plan to deploy the mob, crafted via high-level contacts between the White House, where Mark Meadows ran point; the campaign, with Katrina Pierson handling logistics; the money, as Wren doled out $3 million donated by Publix heir Julie Fancelli through various groups like Turning Points USA and Women for America First; rightwing figures like Alex Jones, Ali Alexander, and Michael Flynn, who fed the base lies about a stolen election; and domestic extremists like the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, and Three Percenters. Plus various Qanon freaks and assorted weirdos, rounding out the mix:

    Nick Quested, a documentary filmmaker, captured the mood that morning. Jacob Chansley (a.k.a. the QAnon Shaman) proclaimed “this is our 1776,” vowing “Joe Biden is never getting in.” An unnamed woman from Georgia, who said she hosted a podcast dedicated to a new so-called Patriot Party, also proclaimed January 6th to be the new 1776. She added an ominous warning. “I’m not allowed to say what’s going to happen today because everyone’s just going to have to watch. Something’s gonna happen, one way or the other.”

    Indeed, something was “gonna happen.” Although not perhaps in the way these gullible saps with blood in their eyes had been led to believe. The plan was for the Proud Boys to skip Trump’s speech and mass at the barricades. At the conclusion of Trump’s ranting, Jones, Alexander, Flynn and Roger Stone would lead the crowd toward Congress, where the waiting thugs would exhort the enraged mass to breach building and water the tree of liberty … after stopping for a snack:

    On the morning of January 6th, they gathered at the Washington Monument. At 10:30 a.m., the ProudBoys started their march down the National Mall towards the U.S. Capitol. In total, there were approximately 200–300 Proud Boys, as well as their associates, in the group.

    They then walked back across the north side of the Capitol towards the National Mall, where they stopped to eat at food trucks. The Proud Boys stayed by the food trucks until they returned to the Peace Circle at approximately 12:49 p.m. Within minutes of arriving at the Peace Circle, the Proud Boys and their associates launched the attack on the U.S. Capitol.

    If the hot dog cart is out of relish, WE WILL RIOT.

    And yes, it’s funny that this ragtag band of self-important hooligans thought that they could beat the US government. But also, these people were fucking dangerous. Here’s how the committee described Guy Reffitt, a member of the Three Percenters who was just sentenced to seven years for civil disorder, obstruction of an official proceeding, entering and remaining on restricted grounds with a firearm, and obstruction of justice:

    Reffitt had indeed planned for violence on January 6th, noting on December 28, 2020, that he would “be in full battle rattle.” While driving to Washington, DC on January 5th, Reffitt expressed his desire to “drag[ ] those people out of the Capitol by their ankles” and “install[ ] a new government.” On the morning of January 6th, Reffitt clarified the target, telling “other members of his militia group and those gathered around him” at the Ellipse that “I’m taking the Capitol with everybody fucking else”and that “[w]e’re all going to drag them mother fuckers out kicking and screaming. . . . I just want to see Pelosi’s head hit every fucking stair on the way out . . . And Mitch McConnell too. Fuck’ em all.”

    “Congress can hang. I’ll do it. Please let us get these people dear God,” another Three Percenter named Daniel Rodriguez posted to a group chat. Afterward he told the FBI that “Trump called us. Trump called us to DC,” adding that, “If he’s the commander in chief and the leader of our country, and he’s calling for help — I thought he was calling for help. I thought he was — I thought we were doing the right thing.”

    Rodriguez participated in the attack on Capitol Police Officer Michael Fanone:

    One of the most brutal attacks of the day occurred outside the tunnel when rioters dragged MPD Officer Michael Fanone into the crowd, and then tased, beat, and robbed him while a Blue Lives Matter flag fluttered above him. Albuquerque Head, a rioter from Tennessee, grabbed Officer Fanone around the neck and pulled him into the mob. “I got one!” Head shouted.

    Lucas Denney, the Three Percenter, “swung his arm and fist” at Officer Fanone, grabbed him, and pulled him down the stairs. Daniel Rodriguez then tased him in the neck. Kyle Young lunged towards Officer Fanone, restraining the officer’s wrist.

    While Young held him, still another rioter, Thomas Sibick, reached towards him and forcibly removed his police badge and radio. Officer Fanone feared they were after his gun. Members of the crowd yelled: “Kill him!,” “Get his gun!” and “Kill him with his own gun!”

    Which is horrifying, and yet, also, pathetic. The mob was capable of disgusting violence when they managed to corner one or two officers alone. But against the men with big guns, they were totally powerless:

    The congressional Members in the House Gallery were evacuated after the Members on the House floor. Congressional Members in the Gallery had to wait to be evacuated because rioters were still roaming the hallways right outside the Chamber. At 2:49 p.m., as Members were trying to evacuate theHouse Gallery, the USCP emergency response team cleared the hallways with long rifles so that the Members could be escorted to safety. USCP surveillance footage shows several rioters lying on the ground, with long rifles pointed at them, as Members evacuate in the background. By 3:00 p.m., the area had been cleared and Members were evacuated from the House gallery to a secure location.

    Of course their plan, ridiculous and doomed as it was from its inception, began to fall apart almost immediately. First Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio got arrested for burning a Black Lives Matter banner stolen from a historic Black church. Barred from DC, he holed up in a hotel in Baltimore and let his men risk their necks alone.

    Then Roger Stone noped out, leaving DC before Trump even took the dais. Then Flynn got goose bumps, and decided to get a cup of cocoa rather than lead his troops into battle.

    And even Alex Jones appears to have had mixed feelings about the whole business. After huddling up with Alexander and Infowars asshat Owen Shroyer, Jones used his bullhorn to egg on the crowd, shouting “the second American revolution,” and “Let’s go take our country back. Trump is only minutes away. Let’s start marching to the Capitol, peacefully.” But once he saw that the mob was descending into violence, he requested that the Capitol police allow him access to an elevated platform so that he could attempt to deescalate.

    In the end, Jones and Alexander ceded the field to the mob to save their own backsides:

    Apparently, Jones’s security team also realized he was not successfully controlling the crowd, as one of his security guards reportedly told him, “Alex, they’re going to blame this all on you, we got to get out of here as fast as possible.”

    By approximately 2:21 p.m., Jones began descending the stairs. Despite claiming to make attempts to calm the crowd, Jones further incited the mob as he departed, loudly proclaiming “we will never submit to the new world order” and then leading the crowd in the chant “fight for Trump.”

    At 2:24 p.m., rioters gained entrance to the Capitol through the doors leading into the Rotunda, an entrance that was only a few feet directly behind Jones as he was speaking. As the Rotunda was breached by rioters, Jones and Alexander left the area and decided to leave the Capitol complex area altogether.

    And of course Trump, who’d set the whole thing in motion and promised to march with them, went back to the White House to watch television, leaving his supporters to their fate. So, in the end, after the useless little pawns had scraped up a few thousand dollars for gas money and body armor, heeding the call to “Be there, will be wild!” their leaders all abandoned them.

    No one with any power has faced consequences for summoning the mob. And with the exception of true believers like Sidney Powell, who raised money for lawyers to defend some of the higher ranking militia leaders, no one has helped them at all. In fact, opportunists like Reps. Marjorie Taylor Green and Matt Gaetz continue to exploit the goons, howling up about political prisoners and supposedly unfair conditions in DC jails where they’re being held in protective custody so they don’t get shanked.

    And meanwhile, we twiddle our thumbs wondering if we have enough evidence to prosecute the villains who set the plan in motion. Well, it’s ridiculous. Not as ridiculous as thinking you should go to war against the federal government because Roger Stone, Alex Jones, and Donald “Bone Spurs” Trump will have your back. But bloody ridiculous all the same.

    Wonkette link

  107. says

    […] The New York Times talked to [George Santos’s] ex-boyfriend, and oh fuck.

    His name is Pedro Vilarva, and when they started dating, Pedro was only 18. Santos was 26. (What would Libs Of TikTok lady call that?) And at the time, of course, Santos was technically married to a woman, whatever that was all about.

    But, you know, details!

    Mr. Vilarva found him charming and sweet. They dated for a few months before Mr. Santos suggested they move in together. Mr. Vilarva said he felt on top of the world — even if he said he did find himself footing many of the bills.

    Love it when you’re 18 and you’re paying the bills for your deadbeat 26-year-old boyfriend.

    “He used to say he would get money from Citigroup, he was an investor,” Mr. Vilarva recalled. “One day it’s one thing, one day it’s another thing. He never ever actually went to work,” he said.


    Things began to unravel between the two men in early 2015, Mr. Vilarva said, after Mr. Santos surprised him with tickets to Hawaii that turned out not to exist.

    Oh goddamn.

    Around the same time, he said he discovered that his cellphone was missing, and believed Mr. Santos had pawned it. […] The betrayal prompted him to plug Mr. Santos’s name into a search engine, where he found that Mr. Santos was wanted by Brazilian police.

    “I woke up in the morning, and I packed my stuff all in trash bags, and I called my father and I left,” he said.

    Good for him, and good that he’s talking now.

    So that’s a thing that’s happening.

    The Times notes that on top of all the investigations currently ongoing, Republican Rep. James Comer, incoming chair of the House Oversight Committee, told Fox News last week that YEAH PROBABLY the House Ethics Committee would be investigating Santos. “What Santos has done is a disgrace. He’s lied to the voters,” said Comer, like a common stopped clock twice a day.


    New York Democrats also made it clear they want to subject Mr. Santos to deeper scrutiny. Representative Hakeem Jeffries, the incoming Democratic leader, has said Mr. Santos is “unfit to serve.” Representative Ritchie Torres said he planned to introduce the Stop Another Non-Truthful Office Seeker Act — the SANTOS Act — that would require House candidates to provide details of their backgrounds under oath.

    So that is some shade from a fellow gay New York member of Congress.

    Warmest regards to House Republicans on everything you’ve achieved, you’ve earned every bit of this.

  108. whheydt says

    Re: Reginald Selkirk @ #161…
    One might well wonder–with a name like that–if there is a village on the island…

  109. lumipuna says

    IIRC the original “Potemkin villages” were named after the 18th century Russian (or possibly Ukrainian?) nobleman who was said to have commissioned them, and who generally played an important role in Russian/Ukrainian history. I bet the Potomkin Island is also named after him, and I think Velykyi translates approximately “The Great”.

  110. lumipuna says

    The modern (and much better documented) equivalent to Potemkin Villages would be Putin Referendums, referring to the narrative that Crimea, Kherson etc. regions recently held genuine referendums where they authentically decided to join Russia.

  111. Reginald Selkirk says

    Last night, during a sportsball game in the USA, a player suddenly collapsed and had to be hospitalized.
    Bengals and Bills game postponed after player suffers cardiac arrest on field, in critical condition
    My current best guess as to the cause is something called “commotio cordis”, cardiac arrest caused by a blow to the chest. Most people probably do not know that this is more common in lacrosse than in American football. This diagnosis is speculative.

    This other diagnosis is contemptible:
    Was Damar Hamlin vaccinated? Anti-vaxxers link Buffalo Bills star’s cardiac arrest to his Covid vaccine status

  112. StevoR says

    Aussie ABC news here :

    The new US Congress will open with House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy grasping for his political survival, potentially becoming the first nominee for speaker in 100 years to fail to win initial support from his own colleagues. ..(snip).. Despite attempts to cajole, harangue and win them over — even with an endorsement from former president Donald Trump — Mr McCarthy has fallen short of securing enough votes to be certain of victory.

    The situation could very well devolve into a prolonged House floor fight, a spectacle that would further divide the Republican Party and dominate the first days of the new Congress.

    Source :

    Here’s hoping I guess.. ?

    Meanwhile on Putin’s continuing war in Ukarine see this :

    analysis whilst covid~wise this news from China :

    seems a bit of a worry.

  113. Reginald Selkirk says

    @167: The situation could very well devolve into a prolonged House floor fight, a spectacle that would further divide the Republican Party and dominate the first days of the new Congress.

    I don’t know as this would make much difference. The Republicans will still obstruct anything the Democrats to do. And Republicans don’t actually stand for anything themselves, other than “burn it all to the ground if that’s what it takes to keep myself in power.”

  114. says

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

    Russia is planning a protracted campaign of attacks with Iranian drones to “exhaust” Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskiy warned in his Monday night address. Ukraine, he said, had to “act and do everything so that the terrorists’ fail in their aim, as all their others have failed.”

    On national television in Ukraine, Yuriy Ignat, spokesperson for the air force command of the armed forces of Ukraine, has claimed that nearly 500 Russian drones have been downed since September.

    The Ukrainian strike on a Russian base in Makiivka, Donetsk, has generated “significant criticism of Russian military leadership”, according to a recent report from the Institute for the Study of War (ISW). A number of prominent Russian pro-war bloggers and commentators acknowledged the attack on Makiivka, with many suggesting the number of casualties was higher than the figures officially reported.

    The general staff of Ukraine’s armed forces has said up to 10 units of Russian military equipment of various types in occupied Makiivka were damaged or destroyed. Ukraine almost never publicly claims responsibility for attacks on Russian-controlled territory in Ukraine, but its military reported the Makiivka attack as “a strike on Russian manpower and military equipment”.

    Satellite images taken by US-based company Planet Labs that purportedly showing the aftermath of the strike on Makiivka have circulated online, showing the building that allegedly housed the Russian troops before and after it was hit. The images, dated 2 January, show a building almost completely razed to the ground. Unverified footage posted online of the aftermath of the blast also showed a huge building reduced to smoking rubble.

    It is unlikely Russia will achieve a significant breakthrough near Bakhmut in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region in the coming weeks, the UK Ministry of Defence has said. This is due in part to Russia likely conducting offensive operations in the area at only platoon or section level, it said.

    The French prime minister, Élisabeth Borne, said this morning she was more confident over the situation of French energy supplies for the next few weeks, citing lower consumption and an increase in nuclear output capacity.

    Nato countries will discuss their defence spending targets in the coming months as some of them call for turning a 2% target into a minimum figure, Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg told the German news agency DPA.

    Ukraine and the European Union will hold a summit in Kyiv on 3 February to discuss financial and military support, Zelenskiy’s office said in a statement on Monday.

  115. says

    Here’s a link to today’s Guardian US liveblog. From their first summary of the year:

    New Congress convenes with Republican battle for speakership first order of business

    Good morning, US politics blog readers and welcome to our first blog of 2023, kicking off here as the 118th US Congress gets going.

    It’s a vertical take-off for drama in Washington DC today with all eyes on the House of Representatives. Here’s what’s in store:

    – Republican House leader Kevin McCarthy hopes to be voted in as House speaker today, succeeding Democrat Nancy Pelosi as the GOP takes control of the lower chamber of Congress after the party’s notable win amid a below-par mid-term election performance in November.

    – Trouble ahead, though. McCarthy arrives on Capitol Hill today with all signs pointing to his not having the votes he needs in the bag to be named speaker – at least on the first round of voting – setting up the biggest battle for the gavel in 100 years.

    The House will commence business at 12pm today and the very first order of business, before new members are sworn in, even, is to elect the speaker of the House. McCarthy plans to huddle in the bowels of the Capitol this morning, hoping to negotiate enough support to win a majority on the first round of voting – but it’s not looking good. We have the prospect of multiple rounds of voting, stay tuned to see what happens.

    – White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre will hold the first media briefing of the year, with that gathering in the West Wing scheduled for 2.30pm (though we know from experience that that timing can slip … and slip …

    – The US Senate also convenes today and it’s all calm in the upper chamber, as the Democrats retained control in the midterm elections and Kentucky Republican Mitch McConnell resumes his role as minority leader with a celebration as he becomes the longest-serving political party leader in senate history.

    – Joe Biden has no public events today but the US president is traveling to Kentucky tomorrow to celebrate new infrastructure spending – with McConnell in tow as a display of bipartisanship.

  116. raven says

    Ben Hodges @general_ben

    Why do we allow Russia to fire from sanctuary? By not providing ATACMS, F16’s and other long-range strike capabilities to UKR, we have in effect granted sanctuary to Russia which is able to kill innocent civilians in Ukraine without fear of consequences. Undefendable policy.

    He has a point here.

    This is not a defensible position any more. Russia is firing up to 100 long range weapons at Ukrainian civilians every day.
    Time to fire back at militarily significant targets.

    olexander scherba🇺🇦 @olex_scherba
    The instant elimination of 500+ occupiers who celebrated New Year at a school in Makiivka is still #1 topic in Ukraine. Russia’s largest instant casualty of this war.

    People call it the Makiivka Graduation party.

    It turns out that having a large party on top of an ammunition dump was not a good idea.

    The Russians aren’t really counting their losses of men and war weapons. They will probably run short of weapons and ammunition first.

  117. says

    Also in the Guardian:

    “‘Extreme event’: warm January weather breaks records across Europe”:

    …“We can regard this as the most extreme event in European history,” [climatologist Maximiliano] Herrera said. “Take the case of July 2022 UK extreme heatwave and spread this sigma (magnitude) in a much huger area, encompassing about 15 countries.

    “We can arguably say this is the first time an extreme weather event in Europe (in terms of extreme heat) is comparable to the most extreme in North America.”…

    Karen Bakker – “Noise pollution is a menace to humanity – and a deadly threat to animals”:

    …These findings underscore the vast threat that marine noise pollution poses to our oceans. As offshore operations – from seabed mining to oil and gas and renewable energy construction – are proliferating, little thought has been given to noise pollution. While exposure threshold levels have not yet been determined, it is clear that this emerging science will eventually lead to new restrictions on the permitting and operations of marine industrial and shipping activities.

    Arwa Mahdawi – “Millennials aren’t getting more rightwing with age. I suspect I know why”:

    …Historically, people tend to become less liberal as they age: the Che Guevara posters come down and conversations about home improvements replace debates about social improvements. But millennials [in the US and UK] are bucking that trend….

    Speaking of generations, politics, and climate, I recently read The Final Pagan Generation by Edward J. Watts. I liked it very much and totally recommend it.

    The Final Pagan Generation recounts the fascinating story of the lives and fortunes of the last Romans born before the Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity. Edward J. Watts traces their experiences of living through the fourth century’s dramatic religious and political changes, when heated confrontations saw the Christian establishment legislate against pagan practices as mobs attacked pagan holy sites and temples. The emperors who issued these laws, the imperial officials charged with implementing them, and the Christian perpetrators of religious violence were almost exclusively young men whose attitudes and actions contrasted markedly with those of the earlier generation, who shared neither their juniors’ interest in creating sharply defined religious identities nor their propensity for violent conflict. Watts examines why the “final pagan generation”—born to the old ways and the old world in which it seemed to everyone that religious practices would continue as they had for the past two thousand years—proved both unable to anticipate the changes that imperially sponsored Christianity produced and unwilling to resist them. A compelling and provocative read, suitable for the general reader as well as students and scholars of the ancient world.

    Here’s a recent piece by the author: “Rome’s Final Pagan Generation and America’s Climate Failure.” A common thread would seem to be…violent Christian extremists.

  118. says

    Also today in religious extremism…:

    BREAKING: U.S. ambassador to Israel Tom Nides told me after minister Ben Gvir’s visit to the Temple Mount\Haram al-Sharif this morning that the Biden administration has made it clear to the Israeli government it opposes any steps that could harm the status quo in the holy sites

    U.S. ambassador Tom Nides: “To be very clear – we want to preserve status quo and actions that prevent that are unacceptable. We have been very clear in our conversations with the Israeli government on this issue”

  119. tomh says

    Trump-Heavy Federal Appeals Court Quotes Thurgood Marshall in Ruling Against Transgender Student
    ELURA NANOS / Jan 2nd, 2023

    A majority of a federal appeals court made up almost entirely of Donald Trump appointees ruled against a transgender activist in a case over bathroom usage in schools. In dissent, stood four Barack Obama appointees.

    The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Florida ruled 7-4 Friday that the St. Johns County School Board did not illegally discriminate against transgender student Andrew Adams when it refused to allow him to use the boys’ bathroom at his high school.

    Trump-appointed judge Barbara Lagoa said the case was about the “unremarkable—and nearly universal—practice of separating school bathrooms based on biological sex.” The rest of the court’s 7-member majority was comprised of five more Trump appointees… and one George W. Bush appointee — U.S. Circuit Judge William Pryor.

    In the court’s equal protection analysis, Lagos pointed to former Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall‘s words to support the majority’s central premise that because single-sex bathrooms are commonplace, they are not illegally discriminatory.

    Lagos wrote that “Indeed, the universality of [separating bathrooms by gender] is precisely what made Justice Thurgood Marshall’s statement—'[a] sign that says “men only” looks very different on a bathroom door than a courthouse door’ — so pithy.”

    The four dissenting judges were all Barack Obama appointees: U.S. Circuit Judges Charles Wilson, Adalberto Jordan, Robin Rosenbaum, and Jill Pryor.

    Wilson penned a 7-page dissent in which he called the school’s bathroom policy “nonsensical” and argued that “biological sex” is not a “static” concept. Wilson began by discussing chromosomal irregularities that lead to individuals born with intersex variations.

    “How then, does the bathroom policy account for intersex people?” Wilson queried.

    It was Pryor, though, that penned a protracted 65-page dissent that slammed the majority at every angle.

    Pryor said the majority’s definition of “biological sex” was “counterfactual” that addressed the wrong issue at stake in Adams’s claim. While the court focused on whether transgender students are singled out for their mandated use of single-sex bathrooms, Pryor said the relevant issue is whether Adams —a boy— is permitted to use the boys‘ bathroom.

    Pryor’s frustration was apparent: “It is not, and has never been (again, no matter how many times the majority opinion says it), about whether the School District can maintain separate bathrooms for boys and girls.”

    Law and Crime

  120. says

    Trump’s offensive against Ruby Freeman reaches an ugly new level

    As Donald Trump renews his offensive against an innocent election worker in Georgia, remember that his own team told him these claims weren’t true.

    Around midnight last night, for reasons that aren’t yet clear, Donald Trump used his social media platform to launch a new offensive against an old perceived foe. It started with this unfortunate missive:

    “Wow! Has anyone seen the Ruby Freeman ‘contradictions’ of her sworn testimony? Now this is ‘BIG STUFF.’ Look what was captured by Cobb County police body cameras on January 4, 2021. … Now it gets really bad.”

    Soon after, the former president published another item, accusing Freeman of election crimes, followed by a third missive, in which the Republican asked, “What will the Great State of Georgia do with the Ruby Freeman MESS?” Trump concluded that he’s battling “the evils and treachery of the Radical Left monsters who want to see America die.”

    Both items referred to “suitcases” filled with ballots that Trump believes Freeman opened, all as part of the crime that was committed only in his imagination.

    In case anyone needs a refresher, it wasn’t long after the 2020 elections when the nightmare began for a clerical worker in a county election office in Georgia and her mother. Trump and some of his rabid followers decided that Shaye Moss and her mother, Freeman, who had taken a temp job helping count ballots, were directly and personally responsible for including fake ballots in Georgia’s election tally.

    In fact, unhinged Republicans claimed to have proof in the form of a video in which Moss and Freeman could be seen doing their jobs. What conspiracy theorists said were “suitcases” of bogus ballots were really just standard boxes used locally to transport actual ballots.

    I don’t know how many times this has to be repeated, but apparently, the fact check is still necessary.

    The video — which showed nothing nefarious or untoward — nevertheless made the rounds in conservative media and in far-right circles, with Republicans insisting that the images showed election fraud, reality be damned. Trump even put it on screen during one of his post-defeat political rallies. In fact, the former president went after the two Black women, by name, repeatedly, which in turn led Republican activists to threaten the women’s lives and show up at their homes.

    Freeman, a retiree who started a small boutique business selling fashion accessories, was forced to flee her house, close her business, and move to an undisclosed location on the advice of the FBI for her own safety.

    These women, who’d done nothing wrong, were terrorized because of a ridiculous lie. During the Jan. 6 committee’s televised hearings six months ago, the public had the chance to see their sworn testimony, in which they described their experiences in painful detail.

    “There is nowhere I feel safe. Nowhere,” Freeman testified.

    “Do you know how it feels to have the president of the United States to target you? The president of the United States is supposed to represent every American. Not to target one,” Freeman added. “He targeted me. A proud American citizen who stood up to help Fulton County run an election in the middle of a pandemic.”

    That was six months ago. Overnight, Trump decided to pick the same unnecessary fight with the same innocent woman all over again.

    Making matters worse, the former president has already been told that his accusations are false — not just by reporters and fact-checkers, but by his own Justice Department. As Rachel noted on the show several months ago, former acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue told Trump directly that the matter had been reviewed and the accusations were baseless.

    After one conversation in which the then-president referenced an imagined suitcase filled with fraudulent ballots, Donoghue told Trump, “No, sir, there is no suitcase. You can watch that video over and over. There is no suitcase. There is a wheeled bin where they carried the ballots. And that’s just how they moved ballots around that facility. There’s nothing suspicious about that at all.”

    Trump, in other words, was told the truth, but he chose to tell lies that put innocent election workers in danger — and last night, [Trump] decided to do it again.

  121. says

    As a surprisingly productive Congress wraps up, a mess awaits

    As the 117th Congress got underway two years ago, expectations were low. Lawmakers were poised to govern in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 attack, in an evenly divided Senate, and with Democrats enjoying a small majority in the House. It was hardly a recipe for legislative success.

    And yet, as the current Congress comes to an official end in a few hours, it’s worth pausing to note that federal policymakers are wrapping up a surprisingly productive session. As the Associated Press recently summarized:

    The 117th Congress opened with the unfathomable Jan. 6, 2021, mob siege of the Capitol and is closing with unprecedented federal criminal referrals of the former president over the insurrection — all while conducting one of the most consequential legislative sessions in recent memory. Lawmakers are wrapping up the two-year session having found surprisingly common ground on big bills, despite enduring bitter political divisions that haunt the halls, and the country, after the bloody Capitol attack by supporters of the defeated president, Donald Trump, that threatened democracy.

    […] In some instances, Democrats advanced their policy goals largely on their own, passing the American Rescue Plan, for example, which included, among other things, a progressive child-tax-credit policy and funds for lower health care premiums. The party also passed the Inflation Reduction Act, which included the most ambitious investments ever in combating the climate crisis, as well as new caps on insulin costs.

    The list of bipartisan accomplishments, however, is even longer. As regular readers know, the list includes the infrastructure package, the CHIPS and Science Act, an expansion of veterans benefits in the PACT Act, the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act — the first major legislation to address gun violence in nearly three decades —the Postal Service Reform Act, the Respect for Marriage Act, the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act, and even a historic overhaul of the Electoral Count Act.

    […] recent progress is poised to come to a painful stop. The incoming House Republican majority, if it can figure out a way to elect its own speaker, appears to have no meaningful interest in governing over the next couple of years, and we’ll all be quite lucky if the GOP-led House avoids pushing the United States into default later this year.

    All of which is to say, the legislative progress was nice while it lasted.

  122. raven says

    Ron Filipkowski 🇺🇦 @RonFilipkowski

    Michael Flynn today gave his assessment of Ukraine: “Russia has achieved all of their objectives, and they’re now exposing .. bio labs that have been in there sponsored by the US. The guy that just showed up to speak to our Congress in a sweatsuit should’ve been thrown out.”

    Michael Flynn is a disgrace to the US armed forces, where he managed to somehow make general.

    He was convicted of a felony and pardoned by Trump.
    He is also now a traitor to the USA.

    And oh yeah, Russia has achieved none of their objectives in Ukraine inasmuch as after their genocide attempt, the Ukrainians are still there.
    And the biolabs are totally imaginary.

  123. says

    Ukraine update: Once again, Ukraine demonstrates that intelligence is the most important weapon

    The step by step information that led HIMARS directly to the door of a Russian base 15km east of Kherson city.

    Anatomy of an OPSEC failure. A Russian volunteer posted photos on VK in Sahy, Kherson Oblast with member of the GRU’s 10th Spetsnaz Brigade. He left the location tagging on, which makes it very easy to geolocate the Grand Prix country club from the tiles. [Tweet and images at the link]

    [map at the link] Local sources report that in Veluki Kopani and Kostohryzove in occupied Kherson region two more Russian warehouses were destroyed.

    According to the regional military administrator of the Luhansk region, Ukraine now has such fire control over the highways between Svatove and Kreminna that Russia is forced to move troops between the two areas by routing them over to Starobilsk and back — a 100km detour.

    On New Year’s Day, Ukrainian forces directed what were reportedly missiles from a HIMARS launcher at a building housing hundreds of Russian troops in the the occupied town of Makiivka, roughly 20 kilometers from the front lines in Donetsk Oblast. Unfortunately for the soldiers housed there, Russia was also apparently using the building—formerly a school—to stockpile ammunition. The resulting explosion absolutely leveled the location. That single attack appears to have killed hundreds of Russian soldiers, with the Ukrainian military estimating it at 400 killed, 300 more injured. Meaning that this might be the single largest loss of Russian forces in the entire war. We can’t be sure because Russia will not give actual numbers about losses during the sinking of the cruiser Moskva, but in any case, it’s a massive loss for Russia.

    Ukraine followed this up by hitting another large ammunition storage in Svatove on Monday. This time, the massive explosion appears to have been triggered by a single small bomb dropped from what was likely a consumer-grade drone. That explosion also resulted in not just the loss of ammunition for that Svatove area, but the loss of an unknown number of Russian soldiers who were present in and around the facility.

    In the early hours of Tuesday, it appears that Ukraine has hit another Russian base, this time in occupied Tokmak in Zaporizhzhia Oblast. How many Russian soldiers were taken out in this attack is unclear, but initial reports suggest “dozens.” This location was roughly 25 kilometers from the front lines.

    In retaliation for the Makiivka attack, Russia fired missiles into an ice rink at Druzhivka, near Kramatorsk. The number of Ukrainian soldiers lost in this attack appears to be … zero. Because this isn’t just a war of weapons. It’s a war of intelligence.

    Video from Ukrinform showing the explosion of an ammunition depot in Svatove.

    Russian forces dig for survivors in the destroyed barracks at Tokmak. [video at the link]

    A French journalist happened to be filming in Druzhivka just as the Russian missile struck. [Tweet and video at the link]

    Images from the scene on Monday showed firefighters attempting to save the building, home to what was reputedly one of the best hockey teams in Ukraine. What those images didn’t show was any sign that the building contained Ukrainian troops or any type of military equipment. Russia seems to have selected a purely arbitrary target because even before the invasion began, their intelligence sources have absolutely sucked when it comes to identifying Ukrainian military positions.

    The entire reason that Ukraine was able to withstand the initial assault from Russian forces owes as much to Russia’s intelligence failings as it does how badly the Russian military handled maintenance and logistics. If Russia had been in possession of accurate intelligence, Ukraine’s air force and its air defenses would have fallen in the first day of the invasion, providing Russia with air superiority. Instead, Ukrainian jets and helicopters are still flying, Ukraine’s air defenses are constantly improving, and Russia is left firing missiles into houses and hockey rinks.

    This is a content warning on just the text in the following tweet. [Tweet and image at the link]

    Here’s a look at what’s happened in the Svatove area over the last week. As with events around Lyman in the fall, the longer action lingers in an area, the more tiny villages and does-that-even-qualify-as-a-village locations appear on the map. The area around Svatove is getting pretty detailed at this point. Also note the scale of this map: All of this is happening very close to the city of Svatove. [map at the link]

    Here’s a guide to what’s been going on over the last week in a series of steps.

    1) Ukraine carried out simultaneous attacks on four villages, including Kolomyichykha and Patalakhivka, effectively eliminating Russia’s area of control west of the P07/P66 highway (and yes that highway has a new official name, but I’m sticking with what Google puts on their maps to avoid confusion at this point).

    2) Russia pressed back, creating a miniature salient and directing platoons to company-sized assaults on Kolomyichykha, Miasozharivka, and other locations Ukraine had recently liberated. In the process, Russia appears to have overrun the village of Dzherelne and placed several of these locations back into the “in dispute” category.

    3) Ukraine pressed back against the Russian attacks, again pushing Russia out of Kolomyichykha and other identified villages. Russian forces have apparently also been driven from Dzherelne and the area around the Andriivka reservoir.

    4) However, Russia still seems to have some kind of force in this area detached from any of the village locations as reports are still showing Ukrainian forces repelling attacks at locations as deep in the “blue” as Stelmakhivka.

    That’s one part of this subsection of a subsection of a front. The other important action is what’s happened just a few kilometers to the north.

    1) Ukraine appears to have solidified its control of Kryvoshyivka and Pidkuichansk, pushing Russian forces back from the highway in this area and opening a route of attack toward both Svatove and Kuzemivka.

    2) After weeks of back and forth between Novoselivske and Kuzemivka, Ukraine appears to have won a couple of decisive engagements, enough so that the Ukrainian military is calling Novoselivske liberated for the first time since Ukrainian forces reached the area in October.

    The action in Novoselivske/Kuzemivka mostly took place on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. It included Russia launching an attack to the west headed by one of their newest T-90M tanks. That T-90M was destroyed, and was apparently the subject of this new turret-tossing championship video. [video at the link]

    In case you’re wondering, that turret had to clear 78 meters (256 feet) to have remained airborne that long. Pretty amazing. The loss of the tank was accompanied by the loss of other armored vehicles that attempted to make it over the railroad embankment separating the two neighboring towns.

    This was followed up by a Ukrainian counterattack that apparently went a long way toward breaking the concentration of Russian forces that have been gathered in Kuzemivka to prevent a Ukrainian advance along the highway to the northeast. [Tweet and video at the link]

    Ukrainian forces also apparently moved toward Kuzemivka from the north, resulting in a serious fight in the woods north of the town from which Russian forces were eliminated. At this point, Russia is reportedly moving reinforcements to the area east of Kuzemivka by bringing in troops that had been positioned all the way over at Starobilsk. Ukraine hasn’t reported actually liberating Kuzemivka proper, and it’s unclear just where the current line falls, but the Russian losses in the area are significant. Those woods north of the town had been a location from which Russian forces enforced fire control over the highway. That area is lost to them now.

    As on just about every day of the last two months, I’d love to be reporting “Svatove is liberated!” That’s not yet true. However, Ukraine is still steadily moving forward, taking new positions, solidifying older positions, gradually removing Russian forces from locations west of the city.

    One thing that’s been slowing down activity around Svatove and Kreminna is that mud season has been prolonged this year. Sustained periods of below-zero temperatures that should have frozen the ground by now haven’t arrived as all of Europe is experiencing record warmth.

    As The Washington Post reported on Monday, at least seven countries have already hit record highs in the new year. That area of extreme and unusual warmth includes Ukraine.

    As temperatures soared 18 to 36 degrees Fahrenheit (10 to 20 Celsius) above normal from France to western Russia, thousands of records were broken between Saturday and Monday — many by large margins.

    However, that warmth is far from all bad in this situation. It may be slowing the movement of tanks in the east, but across all of Ukraine, the warmth is destroying Russia’s largest tactic in the war: its efforts to force Ukraine to the bargaining table by destroying infrastructure. Thanks to that warm weather, many areas of Ukraine are not seeing the expected difficulties with keeping people from freezing after Russia hits electrical or gas facilities. In fact, while officials are still urging Ukrainians to conserve power and blackouts are a regular part of life in most areas, including Kyiv, the electrical supply remains much higher than anticipated due to a much-reduced demand for heating.

    That seems worth a little delay in the movement of tanks.

  124. says

    France 24 – “Thousands attend politically charged funeral for Kurdish shooting victims in Paris”:

    Thousands of Kurds from across Europe travelled to the Paris suburbs Tuesday for the politically charged funeral of three of their own killed in a December attack in the French capital.

    Buses were chartered to bring people from across France and some neighbouring countries to the ceremony in Villiers-le-Bel, north of Paris, local sources said.

    Tears and cries of “Martyrs live forever!” greeted the coffins, wrapped in the flags of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Kurdish-controlled Rojava territory in northern Syria.

    The huge crowd followed the funeral on giant screens erected in the car park, showing the coffins surrounded by wreaths beneath a portrait of imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan.

    Police and security volunteers were on duty outside the hall hired for Tuesday’s proceedings.

    A xenophobic gunman, William Malet, killed two men and one woman in a December 23 attack on the Ahmet Kaya community centre in Paris’s 10th district.

    His victims were Abdurrahman Kizil, singer and political refugee Mir Perwer and Emine Kara, a leader of the Movement of Kurdish Women in France.

    Arrested after the shootings and formally charged on December 26, 69-year-old Malet told investigators he had a “pathological” hatred for foreigners and wanted to “murder migrants”, prosecutors said.

    Malet, a retired train driver, had a violent criminal history and had just left detention over a previous incident.

    But many Kurds in France’s 150,000-strong community refuse to believe he acted alone, calling his actions a “terrorist” attack and pointing the finger at Turkey.

    Tuesday’s funeral recalled another held at the same spot almost exactly 10 years ago after three Kurdish activists linked to the PKK were shot dead, also in Paris’ 10th district.

    The Turkish suspect in the killings, believed to have had ties to Ankara’s secret services, died of cancer in pre-trial detention.

    More recently, an April attack in which men were beaten with iron bars at a Kurdish cultural centre in eastern French city Lyon was blamed on members of the Turkish ultra-nationalist Grey Wolves group, which has since been banned.

    The Democratic Council of Kurds in France (CDKF) called Tuesday’s ceremony an “opportunity for those who wish to pay their final respects… before the bodies are repatriated to their native soil” for burial.

    CDKF activists plan a march Wednesday in tribute to the December victims, on the street where the shootings took place.

    On Saturday, a “grand march” of the Kurdish community — originally planned to mark the 10th anniversary of the 2013 shootings — will set off from Paris’ Gare du Nord rail hub.

    In such cases in today’s propaganda environment, the phrase “acted alone” seems slippery and outdated.

  125. says

    Manu Raju (via the Guardian liveblog):

    In the first sign of the new GOP majority, House officials removed the metal detectors that Nancy Pelosi had installed after Jan. 6. The removal came as the 118th Congress convened at noon

  126. Reginald Selkirk says

    Swedish Navy receives Saab’s Torpedo 47 LWT
    South Korea’s Tiger Shark Torpedo to reach FOC by year-end
    Are torpedo-killing torpedoes ready for prime time?

    The concept of blowing up torpedoes as they approach follows a trend of decoys becoming increasingly ineffective against torpedoes capable of turning around and reengaging a ship after missing it on the first pass — potentially for hours, said Johannes Peters, a naval analyst at Kiel University in Germany.

  127. says

    Mari Saito, Reuters:

    NEW: We’ve spent several months investigating pro-Putin activists across Germany who are agitating for Berlin to cut aid to Ukraine and pursue peace with Russia. Here are some of our findings…

    We have discovered, through interviews and a wide review of social media posts and other online information, that key figures in this campaign in Germany have links to the Russian state or to far-right movements.

    These include organizers of several pro-Russia protests in Cologne who traveled together to Donbas last year to distribute aid. In a video of their trip, Elena Kolbasnikova and Max Schlund thanked the People’s Front, a group headed by Vladimir Putin, for help organizing the trip.

    Max Schlund actually used to be called Rostislav Teslyuk in Russia. His partner’s brother said Schlund served as a senior lieutenant in the Russian Air Force. In 2022 Schlund completed a transaction to buy an apartment in Moscow, according to Russia’s property registry.

    Over the summer in Berlin, a man in a suit attended an event held by the German Communist Party. At one of the event panels (“Peace with Russia”) the businessman, Oleg Eremenko, argued that Ukrainian youths were being taught to hate Russia.

    Eremenko confirmed to Reuters that he worked for the GRU. He said he served inside Russia but declined to give details. “I served, and that’s it,” he said. “I’m now in Germany in, let’s say, a civilian status,” promoting Russian culture and memorialising World War Two dead.

    Eremenko has also been pictured with Igor Girkin. Six yrs ago, Eremenko took part in a Russian dating show where a close associate of Girkin appeared on stage as one of his friends. Asked about it all, he said: “Too much information will do no favours for the pro-Russian side”

    Here are some of the other figures involved in public rallies and online work to push a pro-Kremlin message. Seewald is behind a Telegram account called that shares memes and German translations of Putin’s speeches. He’s been cited by Bavaria’s verfassungsschutz as an extremist.

    Please read the full story for more reporting from @zverev_live @m_tsvetkova and @reporter_polina. As always, great to work with @ChristianLowe4 and @jmaclondon on this….

    Link and images at the (Twitter) link.

  128. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    We’re coming up on the end of the alphabet and not only is Kevin McCarthy far short of winning a majority in the election for House Speaker, he’s behind Democratic minority leader Hakim Jeffries in the voting.

    This is a disaster for Republicans on their first day supposedly in control of the House of Representatives.

    They can’t recess without the clerk of the House, Cheryl Johnson, agreeing to a vote, it seems, so the Democrats might just keep everyone on the floor and force the second round of voting to proceed with McCarthy having any chance to twist more arms on his side.

  129. Reginald Selkirk says

    As of right now, Wikipedia lists the Speaker of the House as “Vacant since January 3, 2023”
    Party affiliation is
    Dem 212
    Rep 222
    Vacant 1

    So I guess Jeffries got all of the Dem votes.
    Kevin McCarthy is a horrible person and I don’t mind seeing him sweat. That said, all the Republicans are horrible people, and anyone else they select as leader would probably be more horrible than McCarthy.

  130. says

    Quoted in tomh’s #176:

    Trump-appointed judge Barbara Lagoa said the case was about the “unremarkable—and nearly universal—practice of separating school bathrooms based on biological sex.”

    Nonsense. The practice has always been based on social sex.

  131. says

    Reginald Selkirk:

    Republicans are horrible people, and anyone else they select as leader would probably be more horrible than McCarthy.

    I don’t think anyone worse than McCarthy has any chance.

  132. says

    Hannah Neumann, MEP:

    Protests in #Iran continue.

    Civilians are shot at, with live ammunition.
    Journalists tortured.
    Teenagers on death row.
    Public executions continue.
    Funerals brutally attacked by #IRGC

    This will not go away. It will only get worse, if we are silent. So, time to wake-up again.

  133. Reginald Selkirk says

    Deciding which Republican congressperson is worst is like comparing infinities.

  134. says

    Text quoted by SC @187:

    We have discovered, through interviews and a wide review of social media posts and other online information, that key figures in this campaign in Germany have links to the Russian state or to far-right movements.

    Yep. That’s what I thought. Same in the USA.

    Update on the votes (multiple voting rounds) for Speaker of the House:

    We’re now up to 16 votes for Jordan. McCarthy’s not on target to lose more votes than the first round, but he’s lost the second round soundly.


    Although it is fun to see the House Republican members fighting among themselves, as long as they continue to do this, nothing of any substance gets done.

  135. says

    On Tuesday, the biggest show in Washington, D.C., is the Kevin McCarthy roast. It may not have a cavalcade of D-list comedy stars wearing rental tuxes, but it absolutely contains a lot of jokes—most of them preceded by the words “Representative” and followed by an “(R).” But even as we’re all enjoying this showcase of weakness, disorganization, and self-inflicted political wounds, today is absolutely a sad day for what we’re losing.

    Today is the end of an era when the House was skillfully operated by someone who was indefatigable in working through issues, consummately skilled in finding the votes necessary to secure support for a bill, and absolutely historic in the role she has played in Congress. Today is the real end of the era of Nancy Pelosi.

    She may still be around, but her hand at the wheel—patient, persuasive, and powerful—will definitely be missed.

    […] What’s easy to miss, as we watch McCarthy stumble through what may be the opening moments of a “leadership position” for which he has surrendered every ounce of leadership, as well as common decency, is that Pelosi has led a Democratic House that is far more diverse than anything Republicans have dealt with in decades. McCarthy is already failing to hold together a slim majority where everyone is in stark agreement on every major point. Pelosi handled much greater challenges regularly, and did it so easily that it was rarely noticed.

    Republicans have a tent that goes all the way from hard-line conservatives to ridiculously hard-line conservatives. Pelosi has been faced with a House where the members of her own party span the whole gamut of the left, the middle, and even a bit of the right. She’s driven through climate change legislation even when members of her party were from states where fossil fuels play a huge role. She’s lifted up health care even when it meant going against both insurance and pharmaceutical industries that funded critical campaigns.

    Most of all, she has demonstrated an unmatched organizational skill that persuaded individual members to soften, delay, or even surrender their individual demands in order to build legislation that met the challenge of the day. Nancy Pelosi is the champion of not allowing the perfect to become the enemy of the good. That’s often left people in her own party angry or disappointed. It’s also left America much better off for her efforts.

    “The fact of the matter is no other speaker in the modern era, Republican or Democrat, has wielded the gavel with such authority or such consistent results,” said former Republican speaker John Boehner. “Let me just say you are one tough cookie.”

    It is a rare thing to see a politician who can wed their moral compass and willingness to seek compromise; someone capable of setting aside personal goals in service to the party and nation; a person so willing to suffer public outrage to obtain benefits for the same people screaming for her defeat. With Pelosi, all of this was so obvious, that it was often simply ignored. She wasn’t just ready to risk everything to get what America needed, she did it reflexively.

    Nancy Pelosi was never a great speaker, but she may be the greatest Speaker the nation has ever seen. And it is going to be some time before we see her like again.


    I think Pelosi is sticking around as a member of the House in order to help Hakeem Jeffries.

  136. says

    Followup to Reginald @204:

    […] To recap: Jordan is a monster, McCarthy is a slime mold, and Gaetz admires the one man in Congress [Jordan] whose moral record may be worse than his own. It’s a very special day in Congress. […]


    Everybody take a drink. But limit yourself to something non-alcoholic, because this thing looks like it could go on for a gallon or two.


  137. Reginald Selkirk says

    McCarthy Proposes Gutting Office of Congressional Ethics in Bid for Speaker

    But buried in the text was another provision that could be highly consequential for the new Congress being sworn in on Tuesday: language that would effectively gut the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE), as the independent panel faces pressure to investigate lawmakers who participated in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.
    Most significantly, McCarthy’s proposal would require OCE to hire its staff for the 118th Congress within 30 days of the resolution’s adoption, a requirement that sources familiar with the process tell TIME would make it exceedingly difficult for the office to have the resources it needs to conduct its investigations, given how long it takes to hire candidates for roles in the federal government. The proposal would also block OCE from hiring new employees over the next two years if someone leaves their position, sources say.

  138. tomh says

    Abortion Pills Can Now Be Offered at Retail Pharmacies, F.D.A. Says
    By Pam Belluck / Jan. 3, 2023

    For the first time, retail pharmacies, from corner drugstores to major chains like CVS and Walgreens, will be allowed to offer abortion pills in the United States under a regulatory change made Tuesday by the Food and Drug Administration. The action could significantly expand access to abortion through medication.

    Until now, mifepristone — the first pill used in the two-drug medication abortion regimen — could be dispensed only by a few mail-order pharmacies or by specially certified doctors or clinics. Under the new F.D.A. rules, patients will still need a prescription from a certified health care provider, but any pharmacy that agrees to accept those prescriptions and abide by certain other criteria can dispense the pills in its stores and by mail order.

    The change comes as abortion pills, already used in more than half of pregnancy terminations in the U.S., are becoming even more sought after in the aftermath of last year’s Supreme Court decision overturning the federal right to abortion….

    An official with Danco, which for years was the only company to produce the medication, branded as Mifeprex, said the company expected that smaller independent pharmacies might be first to dispense the drug and that it might take the bigger chains longer, partly because of the logistics involved in complying with the requirements.

    The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the company’s concerns about threats from abortion opponents, said that one logistically intricate step for big chains would be implementing the companies’ requirement that pharmacies keep confidential the names of health providers who prescribe mifepristone.

    [This is obviously for the health providers’ safety.]

  139. says

    Wall Street Journal:

    In the two years since a pro-Trump mob stormed the U.S. Capitol, prosecutors have secured guilty pleas from more than half the rioters they have charged, helping lead to a 99.8% conviction rate. … The Justice Department has charged more than 900 people, extracting guilty pleas from at least 450 of them on crimes ranging from unlawfully parading in a Capitol building to assault, obstruction and sedition. More than 180 rioters have been sentenced to jail time.

    Associated Press:

    The House Jan. 6 committee is shutting down, having completed a whirlwind 18-month investigation of the 2021 Capitol insurrection and having sent its work to the Justice Department along with a recommendation for prosecuting former President Donald Trump. The committee’s time officially ends Tuesday when the new Republican-led House is sworn in.

    Okay …WHEN the new House members are sworn in. We don’t know when that will be because the Republicans have, so far, failed to elect a leader.

  140. says

    Followup to Reginald’s comment 3165.

    Shit that Twitter now allows to be posted:

    as a conservative I am against the vaccine except for when it takes out blacks like damar hamlin [Posted by Carson Wolf]


    […] In an Elon Musk-controlled Twitter world, QAnon began floating conspiracy theories and racist tropes almost immediately, pumping out in significant volume claims that vaccines had led to this outcome or that they might be okay with this outcome because the player was Black. There is only one word for it: despicable.

    While doctors took to Twitter and every news source possible to explain the problem, QAnon supporters offered their own, medical-free assessment, and thanks to the Twitter platform and social media, they are allowed to market their non-scientific assessment and influence others who buy into that absolute garbage.

    […] Thank you again, Musk, for giving conspirators their paid-for blue checkmark.

    […] Commotio cordis occurs when a person is hit in the chest and that impact triggers a dramatic change in the rhythm of their heart. […] What happened to Damar Hamlin has NO relation with any Vaccine […]


  141. says

    Happy New Year To Everyone Except Scumbags Using Damar Hamlin As Prop For Sicko Anti-Vax Fantasies

    Last night, during “Monday Night Football,” something awful happened. Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin, 24 years old, made a tackle, and then collapsed as the result of a severe and seemingly sudden cardiac event. He’s in critical condition. The game was suspended and then postponed, though there was a time last night when the ambulance was on the field when it was still unclear that would happen.

    There are many doctors on Twitter, and though they are not Damar Hamlin’s doctor, some have offered that what happened looks like it could be something called “Commotio cordis,” a rare arrhythmia that can happen after a blow to the chest. It apparently happens most often with baseball or hockey players who are young. (Think of a very fast baseball or puck hitting the chest.) There are other possibilities. We will find out when we find out.

    What not one real medical expert has suggested is that Damar Hamlin collapsed because he was vaccinated against COVID-19. However, America’s vilest and stupidest people are committed to a conspiracy theory that people are just collapsing and/or dropping dead everywhere because of the vaccine, despite how they have no actual evidence of anyone collapsing/dropping dead from the vaccine. So they’re pretty sure that’s what happened. They’re particularly obsessed with fostering a fantasy that young, healthy professional athletes are dying in droves from mandatory vaccines.

    It’s sick. These people are sick.

    Here’s a sampling. Some of them think they are very cleverly speaking in code, but you’ll let us know if you’re confused what they mean, OK? [Examples at the link]

    Garbage. Just absolute garbage.

    We have a theory why these people are so committed to this conspiracy theory, and it’s that many of the low-information (mostly) white people spreading it are unvaxxed people who have lost unvaxxed family members and other loved ones to COVID. When so many of us were getting vaccinated and COVID started transitioning away from a daily fear and into a daily annoyance, these people and their families were still becoming gravely ill and dying tragic, lonely, pointless deaths. They’re ashamed to admit it. Humans really hate to suffer the humiliation of admitting they were wrong, and we imagine that tendency is only stronger if their mother or their father or their brother or their sister is dead because of it.

    So they invent fantastical worlds where their loved ones died of something else, and The Liberals are out there just dropping like flies, because they took the vaccine.

    “Coach” Dave Daubenmire has been a prolific and batshit spreader of anti-vax conspiracy theories, and he’s been in overdrive the past 12 hours. [Tweets and links to comments at the main link]

    […] read them in light of the fact that these [people] are willing to take very real tragedies and use them to bolster their delusional fantasies. As with other unhinged rightwing conspiracy theories, the lies detract from very real issues and the very real grownups trying to solve them. […]

    [Adam Kinzinger replies to Charlie Kirk]

    You are absolutely the biggest piece of human garbage that can possibly exist right now. I literally think you are done now

    Using this tragedy for your BS lies is sick

    Charlie Kirk has been spreading the conspiracy theory that athletes drop dead because of the Covid vaccine.

  142. says

    […] so Donald Trump Jr. was doing one of his OnlyFans sessions (NOT A REAL ONLYFANS, IS CHEAP KNOCKOFF) — the kind where he seems a bit hyper and like he’s sucking in a lot of air — and he was mad. In particular, he was mad about an article in the esteemed Time magazine, which said that exercising is racist.

    Whoa if true, right?

    It’s not true. The tweet we’re pasting will spoiler that it is not true. But really, watch this video [video at the link]

    Junior’s ranting about an article that supposedly says exercise is racist to black women. I read it. It’s an interview of an author who wrote book about the history of exercise in US. One part notes that at the turn of 20th century racists wanted white women in better shape to have more babies. [tweet posted by Ron Filipkowski, which includes the red-faced Donald Junior ranting]

    Junior said people “have lost their minds more than I thought,” which surprised him because “the amount of lost mind is strong to, let’s say, really really strong.” Direct quote.

    He showed the headline of the article in Time, which refers to “the white supremacist origins of exercise.” Oh golly, that set him off. “Exercise is now white supremacy!” he whined based only on the headline.

    Junior ranted that “It’s either white supremacy or climate change, LIDDDURRALLY EVERYTHING is one of those things, good, bad or indifferent, they will blame it on all of those things!” That’s how he pronounced “literally” and the rest of the sentence was that everything is either white supremacy or climate change. Gotcha, buddy.

    Junior claimed Time magazine wants to “get rid of exercise.” He said he assumes they want this because they don’t want people to be “self-sufficient or masculine.” [LOL] That does sound like Time magazine.

    “This is in Time magazine. Exercise is now APPARENTLY racist! THAT’S how insane we’re getting!” Junior said it would be far less racist to just listen to the science that says fitness is good. He said it’s “probably […] literally killing people” to ignore these things. “Letting people go about being obese is literally killing people under the guise of protecting them from racism!”

    His voice was breaking. The way it shook when he tried to pronounce the word “guise,” oh boy it was something.

    Did Junior read the article?

    Can Junior read?

    Is Junior just lying to whatever morons tune in to his fake knockoff OnlyFans?

    Was Junior too lazy to actually prepare for his videoboner session and just started ranting about the first headline he could find that mentioned white supremacy or racism?

    Because the article he thinks he’s mad about says LIDDDDDURRALLY nothing about any of the contents of his rant. It’s really interesting, though!

    First of all, it’s not remotely anti-exercise. Time even suggests that a good place to read it would be on the treadmill or the stationary bike. It’s an interview with Natalia Mehlman Petrzela, an exercise historian, about the history and evolution of exercise in America. (She has a new book coming out this month.)

    Among many other things, Mehlman Petrzela explains how fitness gurus in the early 20th century sounded extremely progressive on the one hand — they thought corsets were stupid and that women should seek to become strong! — but then she found out something else in her research:

    Then you keep reading, and they’re saying white women should start building up their strength because we need more white babies. They’re writing during an incredible amount of immigration, soon after enslaved people have been emancipated. This is totally part of a white supremacy project. So that was a real “holy crap” moment as a historian, where deep archival research really reveals the contradictions of this moment.

    Oh damn!

    Now look, the rest of the interview is fascinating and we absolutely recommend it.

    But that is literally the only part that’s about race. That’s it. An exercise historian found out in her research that in the early 20th century the fitness movement was encouraging white women to get big and strong and tough so they could have lots of white babies. She said it was a “holy crap” moment.

    That’s it.

    This historian is not anti-exercise. She’s not saying “and because early 20th century fitness dudes had this weird white supremacist thing going on, STOP DOING THOSE CRUNCHES RIGHT NOW!” She’s all for exercise. And she’s teaching us some history in the process!

    Charitably, we reassert the very real possibility that Junior didn’t read a fucking word of the article, he just saw “white supremacist” in the headline and got triggered.

    Because if that whiny white MAGA man rant came from a person who did read the article? If that’s all it takes for these losers to start crying that Time magazine is trying to confiscate their masculinity?

    Lord, that would be sad.

    Also will probably end up on Tucker Carlson’s show by the end of the week.

  143. StevoR says

    Not what you want to happen when you are asleep – & what to do about it :

    A horrified camper has had a “meltdown” after waking up at 3am on Monday morning to discover a large cockroach burrowing into her ear. ..(snip).. Maroochydore-based ear, nose and throat specialist Adam Blond said insects entering ears were more common than people thought. He said he treated at least one case every couple of weeks and the rate increased during warm holiday seasons when people camp with lights outside. “Small cockroaches are really common, occasionally spiders, but more likely mozzies and moths get caught in there,” Dr Blond said. .. (snip)… He recommended turning lights off and shining a torch to the outside of the affected ear to see if the insect was small enough to come out on its own.

    “You’ll know if it’s out,” he said.

    “If you do the torch trick, and it comes running out itself, you’ll actually feel the release and it’s completely gone.”

    If that fails, Dr Blond explained the simplest and safest approach was to smother the insects by putting drops of room temperature baby oil or olive oil into the ear, before seeking medical help.”Oil suffocates them and stops them from moving around and they’re essentially dead,” he said.

    “It’s the movement that drives you crazy. It’s incredibly noisy and painful.”

    The specialist said that most of the time it was not the insects, but misguided first aid responses, that caused serious complications.

    Source :

  144. StevoR says

    Also via ABC news :

    Russia’s defence ministry has blamed the illegal use of mobile phones for a deadly Ukrainian missile strike that killed 89 servicemen, raising the reported death toll significantly. he ministry’s reaction came amid mounting anger among some Russian commentators, who are increasingly vocal about what they see as a half-hearted campaign in Ukraine.

    Most of the anger on social media was directed at military commanders rather than Russian President Vladimir Putin.

    The Russian defence ministry said four Ukrainian missiles hit a temporary Russian barracks in a vocational college in Makiivka, the twin city of the Russian-occupied regional capital of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine.

    Ukraine’s military has said it launched a strike that resulted in Russian loss of equipment and possibly personnel near Makiivka, but it has given no further details.

    Ukraine has said as many as 400 Russians were killed.

    See :

  145. says

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

    Russia is deploying new military units to the northern part of occupied Crimea, Andrii Cherniak, a representative of the Ukrainian Defence Ministry’s Main Intelligence Directorate, said, according to s report on The Kyiv Independent website.

    Russia is also reportedly fortifying the area and parts of Kherson Oblast, the report adds.

    “They (Russia) are losing. That’s why they create defensive structures where they can, realising that they will have to conduct combat operations on these lines,” he said.

    Cherniak said that Russian forces are currently making “every effort” to preserve the so-called land corridor to Crimea through occupied Ukrainian territories in the south of the country.

    Also from the Guardian:

    “Anger and grief at rare public commemoration in Russia after Makiivka strike”:

    Mourners have voiced grief and anger at a rare public commemoration in Russia for the scores of soldiers killed on New Year’s Eve.

    Admitting its worst military losses from a single Ukrainian attack, Russia on Tuesday said 89 servicemen were killed when a temporary deployment point was struck in Makiivka, a town in the eastern region of Donetsk partially held by separatists since 2014.

    The strategic communications directorate of Ukraine’s armed forces claimed on Sunday that about 400 mobilised Russian soldiers were killed and about 300 more were wounded. That claim could not be independently verified.

    Russian bloggers say many of the victims were reservists recently mobilised into the army.

    About 200 people laid roses and wreaths in a central square in the city of Samara – where some of the servicemen came from – as an Orthodox priest recited a prayer.

    Soldiers also fired a gun salute at the commemoration, where some of the mourners could be seen holding flags for the ruling United Russia party.

    “It’s very tough, it’s scary. But we cannot be broken. Grief unites,” Ekaterina Kolotovkina, head of a group of army spouses, said at the ceremony.

    At the gathering in Samara, Kolotovkina, the wife of a general, said she had asked her husband to “avenge” the victims.

    “We will crush the enemy together. We are left with no choice,” she told mourners.

    Similar gatherings were reported in other cities of the Samara region including Tolyatti, home to Russia’s largest carmaker AvtoVAZ.

    “What conclusions will be drawn? Who will be punished?” Mikhail Matveyev, a member of the Russian parliament representing Samara, wrote on social media.

    On Wednesday Russia claimed the use of mobile phones by soldiers on New Year’s Eve had led to the deadly strike on Makiivka….

  146. Reginald Selkirk says

    Two charged in Christmas Day attacks on Washington substations that cut power to 14,000

    Matthew Greenwood, 32, and Jeremy Crahan, 40, both of nearby Puyallup, were planning to rob a business, which would have been made easier with electricity unavailable for security, cameras, lighting and other elements, federal prosecutors said
    They said the men carried out the burglary during the power outage, according to court documents.
    Greenwood was also charged with possession of unregistered firearms, a short-barreled shotgun and a short-barreled rifle, authorities said.

  147. Reginald Selkirk says

    WA Sen. Patty Murray, for now, is second in line for presidency

    Washington Sen. Patty Murray was sworn in Tuesday as Senate president pro tempore, becoming the first woman in the country’s history to hold that role.
    In the process Murray immediately, and temporarily, became the second person in line for the presidency.
    The Senate president pro tem position is typically third in line for the presidency, after the vice president and the House speaker. But there currently is no House speaker…

  148. raven says

    82% of the parts inside the Iranian drones were American. The engine is an Austrian 4 cylinder aircraft engine. The cameras are Japanese and Israeli.
    It’s clear that the Iranian drones are like Leggos, just parts from all over put together in Iran.

    It is also clear that we are going to have a very hard time stopping them from getting those parts. I’m sure that is also the case with the Russians and Chinese.

    “Of the 52 components Ukrainians removed from the Iranian Shahed-136 drone, 40 appear to have been manufactured by 13 different American companies, according to the assessment.

    The remaining 12 components were manufactured by companies in Canada, Switzerland, Japan, Taiwan, and China, according to the assessment.”
    According to the Ukrainian assessment, among the US-made components found in the drone were nearly two dozen parts built by Texas Instruments, including microcontrollers, voltage regulators, and digital signal controllers; a GPS module by Hemisphere GNSS; a microprocessor by NXP USA Inc.; and circuit board components by Analog Devices and Onsemi. Also discovered were components built by International Rectifier – now owned by the German company Infineon – and the Swiss company U-Blox.

    82% of the Shahed drone components had been manufactured by companies based in the US. 

    CNN Exclusive: A single Iranian attack drone found to contain parts from more than a dozen US companies
    By Natasha Bertrand
    Updated 6:18 AM EST, Wed January 4, 2023

    Washington CNN
    Parts made by more than a dozen US and Western companies were found inside a single Iranian drone downed in Ukraine last fall, according to a Ukrainian intelligence assessment obtained exclusively by CNN.

    The assessment, which was shared with US government officials late last year, illustrates the extent of the problem facing the Biden administration, which has vowed to shut down Iran’s production of drones that Russia is launching by the hundreds into Ukraine.

    CNN reported last month that the White House has created an administration-wide task force to investigate how US and Western-made technology – ranging from smaller equipment like semiconductors and GPS modules to larger parts like engines – has ended up in Iranian drones.

    The options for combating the issue are limited. The US has for years imposed tough export control restrictions and sanctions to prevent Iran from obtaining high-end materials. Now US officials are looking at enhanced enforcement of those sanctions, encouraging companies to better monitor their own supply chains and, perhaps most importantly, trying to identify the third-party distributors taking these products and re-selling them to bad actors.

    There is no evidence suggesting that any of those companies are running afoul of US sanctions laws and knowingly exporting their technology to be used in the drones. Even with many companies promising increased monitoring, controlling where these highly ubiquitous parts end up in the global market is often very difficult for manufacturers, experts told CNN. Companies may also not know what they are looking for if the US government has not caught up with and sanctioned the actors buying and selling the products for illicit purposes.

    And the Ukrainian intelligence assessment is further proof that despite sanctions, Iran is still finding an abundance of commercially available technology.

    Of the 52 components Ukrainians removed from the Iranian Shahed-136 drone, 40 appear to have been manufactured by 13 different American companies, according to the assessment.

    The remaining 12 components were manufactured by companies in Canada, Switzerland, Japan, Taiwan, and China, according to the assessment.

    Sanctioned Iranian companies appear to be successfully working around efforts to cut off their supply of crucial components and electronics. For example, the company that built the downed drone, Iran Aircraft Manufacturing Industries Corporation (HESA), has been under US sanctions since 2008.

    A game of whack a mole worth playing
    One major issue is that it is far easier for Russian and Iranian officials to set up shell companies to use to purchase the equipment and evade sanctions than it is for Western governments to uncover those front companies, which can sometimes take years, experts said.

    “This is a game of Whack-a-Mole. And the United States government needs to get incredibly good at Whack-a- Mole, period,” said former Pentagon official Gregory Allen, who now serves as Director of the Artificial Intelligence Governance Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “This is a core competency of the US national security establishment – or it had better become one.”

    Allen, who recently co-authored an investigation into the efficacy of US export controls, said ultimately, “there is no substitute for robust, in-house capabilities in the US government.”

    He cautioned that it is not an easy job. The microelectronics industry relies heavily on third party distributors and resellers that are difficult to track, and the microchips and other small devices ending up in so many of the Iranian and Russian drones are not only inexpensive and widely available, they are also easily hidden.

    “Why do smugglers like diamonds?” Allen said. “Because they’re small, lightweight, and worth a ton of money. And unfortunately, computer chips have similar properties.” Success won’t necessarily be measured in stopping 100% of transactions, he added, but rather in making it more difficult and expensive for bad actors to get what they need.

    ‘A prolonged attack’ with Iranian drones
    The rush to stop Iran from manufacturing the drones is growing more urgent as Russia continues to deploy them across Ukraine with relentless ferocity, targeting both civilian areas and key infrastructure. Russia is also preparing to establish its own factory to produce them with Iran’s help, according to US officials. On Monday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that Ukrainian forces had shot down more than 80 Iranian drones in just two days.

    Zelensky also said that Ukraine had intelligence that Russia “is planning a prolonged attack with Shaheds,” betting that it will lead to the “exhaustion of our people, our air defense, our energy sector.”

    A separate probe of Iranian drones downed in Ukraine, conducted by the UK-based investigative firm Conflict Armament Research, found that 82% of the components had been manufactured by companies based in the US. 

    Damien Spleeters, the Deputy Director of Operations at Conflict Armament Research, told CNN that sanctions will only be effective if governments continue to monitor what parts are being used and how they got there.

    “Iran and Russia are going to try to go around those sanctions and will try to change their acquisition channels,” Spleeters said. “And that’s precisely what we want to focus on: getting in the field and opening up those systems, tracing the components, and monitoring for changes.”

    Experts also told CNN that if the US government wants to beef up enforcement of the sanctions, it will need to devote more resources and hire more employees who can be on the ground to track the vendors and resellers of these products.

    “Nobody has really thought about investing more in agencies like the Bureau of Industry Security, which were really sleepy parts of the DC national security establishment for a few decades,” Allen, of CSIS, said, referring to a branch of the Commerce Department that deals primarily with export controls enforcement. “And now, suddenly, they’re at the forefront of national security technology competition, and they’re not being resourced remotely in that vein.”

    US companies say they are complying with US law
    According to the Ukrainian assessment, among the US-made components found in the drone were nearly two dozen parts built by Texas Instruments, including microcontrollers, voltage regulators, and digital signal controllers; a GPS module by Hemisphere GNSS; a microprocessor by NXP USA Inc.; and circuit board components by Analog Devices and Onsemi. Also discovered were components built by International Rectifier – now owned by the German company Infineon – and the Swiss company U-Blox.

    CNN sent emailed requests for comment last month to all the companies identified by the Ukrainians. The six that responded emphasized that they condemn any unauthorized use of their products, while noting that combating the diversion and misuse of their semiconductors and other microelectronics is an industry-wide challenge that they are working to confront.

    “TI is not selling any products into Russia, Belarus or Iran,” Texas Instruments said in a statement. ” TI complies with applicable laws and regulations in the countries where we operate, and partners with law enforcement organizations as necessary and appropriate. Additionally, we do not support or condone the use of our products in applications they weren’t designed for.”

    Gregor Rodehuser, a spokesperson for the German semiconductor manufacturer Infineon, told CNN that “our position is very clear: Infineon condemns the Russian aggression against Ukraine. It is a blatant violation of international law and an attack on the values of humanity.” He added that “apart from the direct business it proves difficult to control consecutive sales throughout the entire lifetime of a product. Nevertheless, we instruct our customers including distributors to only conduct consecutive sales in line with applicable rules.”

    Analog Devices, a semiconductor company headquartered in Massachusetts, said in a statement that they are intensifying efforts “to identify and counter this activity, including implementing enhanced monitoring and audit processes, and taking enforcement action where appropriate…to help to reduce unauthorized resale, diversion, and unintended misuse of our products.”

    Jacey Zuniga, director of corporate communications for the Austin, Texas-based semiconductor company NXP USA, said that the company “complies with all applicable export control restrictions and sanctions imposed by the countries in which we operate. Military applications are not a focus area for NXP. As a company, we are vehemently opposed to our products being used for human rights violations.”

    Phoenix, Arizona-based semiconductor manufacturing company Onsemi also said it complies with “applicable export control and economic sanctions laws and regulations and does not sell directly or indirectly to Russia, Belarus or Iran nor to any foreign military organizations. We cooperate with law enforcement and government agencies as necessary and appropriate to demonstrate how Onsemi conducts business in accordance with all legal requirements and that we hold ourselves to the highest standards of ethical conduct.”

    Swiss semiconductor manufacturer U-Blox also said in a statement that its products are for commercial use only, and that the use of its products for Russian military equipment “is in clear breach of u-blox’s conditions of sale applicable to customers and distributors alike.”

    CNN’s Tim Lister and Victoria Butenko contributed to this report.

  149. says

    Disagreements :):

    Reginald Selkirk @ #174:

    I don’t like the practice of putting THC in ‘edibles.’

    Counterpoint: They’re delicious and awesome, and the cute tins they come in are very difficult to open.

    Quoted in Lynna’s #159:

    Representative Ritchie Torres said he planned to introduce the Stop Another Non-Truthful Office Seeker Act — the SANTOS Act — that would require House candidates to provide details of their backgrounds under oath.

    Cute name, but I don’t like it and don’t think he should introduce it.

  150. says

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

    Biden: House speaker debacle “embarrassing”, “not a good look”

    Joe Biden has commented on the House speaker chaos, calling the failure of Republicans to choose a speaker “not a good look” for the country.

    While leaving the White House to Kentucky for his speech on the infrastructure bill, Biden told reporters that the failure of Republicans to elect a House speaker is “embarrassing”, stating that the debacle is “not his problem”.

    Biden added: “I hope they get their act together.”

  151. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 174

    I don’t like the practice of putting THC in ‘edibles.’

    I partake in THC Delta 8 (which skirts Wisconsin’s anti-drug laws by being derived from hemp rather than the standard pot plants) in gummy form mainly because smoking it would be a dead giveaway to my militantly anti-pot father. For me, edibles are discreet.

  152. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 236

    The author was assuming that Putin wasn’t pulling Lukashenko’s strings all along.

  153. Reginald Selkirk says

    AOC says she was telling Matt Gaetz the Democratic Party would ‘absolutely not’ rescue Kevin McCarthy’s speakership bid when they were spotted chatting on the House floor

    Speaking to The Intercept, Ocasio-Cortez said Gaetz told her that House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy — who is currently vying for the role of House Speaker — is trying to convince the GOP he can cut a deal with the Democratic Party to get the job.
    In response, Ocasio-Cortez says she told Gaetz that the Democrats will not help McCarthy out…
    Ocasio-Cortez told Semafor on Tuesday that Gosar, too, had approached her to ask if the Democrats were willing to help McCarthy secure the speakership by exiting the chamber and lowering the vote threshold.

    Why would they? That would cut into their popcorn sales.
    And why would Republicans choose such inappropriate emissaries?

  154. raven says

    From the article in #236.
    “Campaigning before the referendum, Lukashenko stated, “nothing great can be expressed in Belarusian. It’s a poor language”.

    Belarus might well be a lost cause.
    There are only 9 million Belarusians.
    Their own government is actively suppressing Belarusian language and culture in favor of Russia’s language and culture.
    Few people speak Belarusian these days.

    This is what Russia has planned for Ukraine.

    Before the war, at least half of Ukrainians first language was Russian, including a lot of their politicians such as Zelensksy. They’ve been erasing all the minorities around them for centuries by cultural assimilation, a lot of that using force and murders. Kazakhstan, Moldova, and Georgia are next after Ukraine.
    It’s slow motion genocide.

    It has one flaw though.
    Just because you speak Russian, doesn’t make you Russian. It doesn’t even make you like Russia.
    I/we in the USA speak English but that doesn’t make us Australians, New Zealanders, British, Canadian, or Jamaican.

    Russia trains Belarusian troops, the country’s opposition is in prison or exile, while the country’s official language, Belarusian, is being actively suppressed by the authorities in favor of Russian.
    Attacks on Belarusian history and language began in 2022.

    2 years after dictator Lukashenko stole the election, Belarus is a grim place
    Belarusian law enforcement has raided and shut down independent publishers.

    The Tavarystva Belaruskai Movy (Partnership for the Belarusian Language), an NGO promoting the Belarusian language, was shut down.

    Belarus has long been the most Russified of the former Soviet republics. During his first presidential term, Lukashenko held a referendum to designate Russian as the second official state language.

    The published results showed voters in favor, but the vote itself was marked with controversy with lawmakers and judges deeming it unconstitutional.

    Campaigning before the referendum, Lukashenko stated, “nothing great can be expressed in Belarusian. It’s a poor language”.

    According to the 2019 census data, while 56% of Belarusians claim Belarusian as their native language, only 26% reported speaking it in their daily lives.

    The actual number of people speaking Belarusian daily is believed to be much lower. However, a Belarusian cultural revival was among the key features of the nationwide 2020 protests.

    “The accelerated loss of sovereignty and Russification is a reaction to the Belarusification of society,” Korshunau argues.

    Speaking Belarusian after 2020 is associated with being opposed to Lukashenko’s regime and can lead to fines or imprisonment.

    Using the country’s original official language has become a risk many are afraid to take.

  155. Reginald Selkirk says

    This account makes a bit more sense.

    Kevin McCarthy Thought Dems Would Help Him Win, to Which AOC Said ‘Absolutely Not’

    The conversation we witnessed was Gaetz informing AOC that McCarthy had been telling his colleagues he’d be able to cut a deal with Democrats to vote “present,” thereby lowering the number of yes votes he needed to win, she told the outlet. She told Gaetz that would definitely not be happening and even checked with leadership to confirm it.
    “McCarthy was suggesting he could get Dems to walk away to lower his threshold,” Ocasio-Cortez told The Intercept. “And I fact checked and said absolutely not.”

  156. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 239

    And why would Republicans choose such inappropriate emissaries?

    This isn’t the OLD Republican party who follows the “decorum” and “manners” of the Big Government tyrants who want to take our guns, money and JEEZ-us. No, this is the MAGA GOP, the Patriot Republican Party, the party of the white working class who dwell in REAL America. They don’t give a damn what YOU prissy libs want an ifin’ you don’t like it, you can move to China where you belong!

    If they weren’t in public office, these white trash shits would be sitting on the porch of their run-down double-wides, wearing stained wife-beater shirts while swilling bear and telling each other racist jokes. Why we allow this party to continue to exist at all perplexes and disgusts me.

  157. says

    Ukraine update: Russia is losing, it knows it’s losing, and it plans to keep losing. Forever

    On Tuesday, the Kremlin announced that all Russian schools would now teach students how to interpret “international military-political and domestic events and facts from the position of a patriot of the Fatherland.” And when they are not being dosed with propaganda, Russian high school students—all Russian high school students—are now to be taught how to march, salute, dig trenches, and conduct “combined arms tactics.” It doesn’t say where they would get the teachers, which could be an issue,since no one in the Russian Army seems to know how to conduct combined arms tactics.

    All of this sounds sad, ridiculous, and very much like a nation that expects to be at war forever. It also sounds very, very like the past actions of nations that were on the losing end of prolonged conflicts. The only good news for those high school kids is that this government, and all its requirements, are likely to fall before they’ve managed to reach Hole Digging 201.

    This action is emblematic of where Russia now sits in relation to the invasion that it launched against Ukraine. They’ve gone from assuming that Ukraine would fall in days to insisting that Russia would always hold Kherson and Kharkiv to a position where they’re telling themselves that war is good. That war is the natural state of Russia. That Russia should never expect anything but war.

    What does the future look like to Russian leadership right now? It looks like Bakhmut. It looks like sending men through rubble to certain death, every day, forever.

    Meanwhile, in Bakhmut, here are the voices of two Ukrainian defenders, both of whom pass along the same message: Ukraine’s defense holds and while Russia keeps sending large numbers forward, very little changes. [Two tweets and videos at the link]

    The six-month effort to capture the battered city of Bakhmut has now cost Russia tens of thousands of troops, hundreds of tanks, and involved the expenditure of so much artillery that for the moment at least, Russian guns are virtually silenced. Where do things stand in Bakhmut? Something like this: [map at the link]

    This is a map from before Christmas. Russia occupies a few locations in the industrial rubble east of the city, makes multiple attempts daily to move up Patrisa Lumumby Street past all those very familiar factories, and occasionally makes it far enough to have people die along Pershotravnevyy Street. This map is still perfectly fine for today.

    Russia has lost so many people along that stretch at this point that if they were all still lying there, the mound would be 20 meters high for over a kilometer. If you laid all those Russian soldiers on a football field, you could walk anywhere you wanted to go on that field and never touch the ground. And Russia is still attacking along the same road, using the same tactics, generating the same results. If that seems incomprehensible, that’s because it is. This is a very special form of madness.

    Russia has actually asked that fighting be stopped at times expressly so they can collect bodies. Even so, Ukraine’s military intelligence chief reported: “Soldiers showed me a section where dead bodies are piled up like something you would see in a movie.”

    To the south, Russia has claimed repeatedly to have taken all of Optyne. They haven’t. The lines there are also about where they were at this time two months ago. Russia also hasn’t taken Soledar to the north.

    In the last week Russia claims to have captured Bakhmutske, a small area south of Soledar. Russian military bloggers are reporting this as “the breakthrough” that will allow Russia to surge across Donetsk Oblast. However, it’s not clear that even this small gain actually happened. In fact, it’s not clear that Russia has advanced 1 meter beyond the point it occupied when the Russian military last claimed to have captured Bakhmutske on Dec. 13.

    As for that big breakthrough, it’s the same thing that Russian military bloggers said about Russia’s reported capture of Ozarianivka last month. Russia troops were going to surge through there, hitting locations to the west. Only as of yesterday, fighting was still going on in Ozarianivka. Big battles to the west that Russian sources were reporting only last week simply vanished from Telegram channels.

    None of this means that Russian actions along the line north and south of Bakhmut are not a threat, or that the cost of holding this line has not been terrible. But it’s genuinely unclear at this moment if Russia even has a goal beyond sending the next group of men to die at Bakhmut. Do they have a plan for what happens next if they actually capture the city?

    Fortunately, we’re unlikely to ever find out. Meanwhile, as Russia prepares to feed an neverending line of troops into a meat grinder, it’s also increasingly convinced that this war is coming home. [Tweet and video at the link]

    This morning, Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense produced the usual list of locations shelled and assaulted by Russia, though this time that list is incomplete. For example, near Kreminna, there are reports of shelling in Makiivka, Ploshchanka, and Dibrova, but no mention of Chervonopopivka, along the highway north of the city. The report explicitly says that over 15 locations in the area were shelled by Russia, while naming only eight. So hopefully this doesn’t represent a change in control of that highway area.

    One thing that was clear in this report was that Ukraine is continuing its HIMARS attacks against Russian positions. However, over the last few days the focus of those attacks has changed from mostly ammunition depots to “clusters of Russian troops.” Ukraine reported that helicopters carried out a dozen sorties against Russian troop concentrations on Tuesday, while HIMARS “struck two Russian command posts, five concentrations of manpower and equipment, one ammunition storage location, and a Russian UAV control post.”

    That doesn’t mean that Ukraine isn’t still finding some ammo dumps. [video at the link]

    Those attacks on troop concentrations are contributing directly to daily reports of high Russian casualties. On Tuesday, the reported number of Russian troops killed was 720.

    CNN reports on a Ukrainian intelligence assessment that took a look into one of those cheap Iranian drones Russia is now using to attack Ukrainian cities. What makes them possible? American technology

    Parts made by more than a dozen US and Western companies were found inside a single Iranian drone downed in Ukraine last fall, according to a Ukrainian intelligence assessment obtained exclusively by CNN.

    President Joe Biden has already appointed a task force to determine ways in which the flow of these technologies might be cut off, but considering the ubiquity of the chips in consumer devices sold around the world, it’s unclear how much can be done.

    One more thing to note from those reports by the Ukrainian MOD this morning: In the Zaporizhzhia area, a whole string of cities and towns have seen strikes on both troop concentrations and bases. That includes strikes at Berdyansk, Melitopol, Polohy, Tokmak, and Vasylivka in the last day.

    Predicting Ukraine’s next move is a fool’s game, but darned if this doesn’t look like the area is being softened up.

    South of Kreminna, Russian sources have repeatedly mentioned Ukraine moving “in the direction of Lysychansk” over the last day. However, it seems likely this is just another way of describing the movement of Ukrainian forces toward Shypylivka and Pryvillya, both of which hold strategic positions for attacking either toward Kreminna or toward Rubizhne and Lysychansk.

    North of Kreminna, Russian Telegram channels reported that Russia has been trying to dislodge Ukraine from positions along the highway with “daily attacks.” However, Ukraine has repelled all these attacks, which suggests that the area around Chervonopopivka is still under Ukrainian control.

    On Wednesday morning, Ukraine’s director of military intelligence, Kyrylo Budanov, sat down with ABC News and made a series of statements that were very blunt. Among them:

    “Russia’s weaponry is depleting.” That’s responsible for both decreased shelling along the front lines, and for the replacement of Russian missiles with cheaper Iranian drones.

    Ukraine is expecting Bradley fighting vehicles from the U.S. “We are waiting for them. We’re looking forward to them very much. This will significantly improve the combat ability of our units.”

    But the biggest news of the interview was a frank statement that Ukraine is planning a major offensive started in March. “This is [when we will see more] liberation of territories and dealing the final defeats to the Russian Federation. This will happen throughout Ukraine, from Crimea to the Donbas.”

    Of course, any such interview is likely to be studded with upbeat assessments and positive predictions. There’s also a fair chance that the “just wait until March” message could also be another means of passing along a message to Russia that they don’t have to worry about an offensive in the next two months. Go on Vlad, have a nap.

    One side of this illegal, unprovoked invasion is planning to keep up a losing effort forever, the other side plans to win quickly. I know which one I would bet on.

  158. says

    To understand what’s happening in the House, it’s first necessary to read through the Republican Party platform. There. That’s done.

    In 2020, the Republican Party decided it didn’t need a platform. Or rather, it couldn’t decided on what to put in a platform in time for the convention in August. This came after an earlier report that Donald Trump wanted a “radical overhaul” of the platform, that would reduce all Republican positions down to a “ single card that fits in people’s pockets.” In the end, Republicans got more radical than that — they just didn’t write a platform.

    Unable to agree on the basic principles for which they stand, or provide a list of critical issues that would motivate the party over the next four years, the GOP turned in a blank sheet of paper. It was a clear announcement that they are a party without a purpose, without any core beliefs, and with no goals other than winning. What’s remarkable in the wake of this open admission is not that they lost the White House, but that they won anything at all.

    That Republicans are currently conducting a farce in the form of a election for Speaker of the House, is a sign of just how reflexively Americans have been taught to take out their frustrations on the party in power. Even if the alternative offers them nothing at all, you can still get Americans to punch that box next to “R.” And now Republicans are giving a textbook demonstration of what it means to have no principles, no morals, no plans, no loyalty, and no life.

    The Republican Party is dead. But hey, its corpse sure can put on a show.

    You don’t have to trust me that the Republican Party is a badly animated cadaver going through the motions of governance. Republicans have said it theirselves. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-run away), declared that the party was dead and that it was “Time to bury it,” following the less than tidal performance in the midterms. He’s not wrong. The only time a Republican carried home a majority of the presidential election in this century was when George Bush managed it while Americans were still doing a post-9/11 patriotism lockstep.

    It’s easy to complain that, over the last several election cycles, Republicans have had no positions except that they hate everyone and everything about the Democrats. Only that’s exactly what’s left of the GOP. Shambling about moaning “Woke! Woke!” is all there is to their pathetic existence. Still, they’ve done pretty well getting along on momentum and heavy prodding from Fox News. They’re dead, but they refuse to lie down. If only they didn’t drop scraps of disgusting rot across the American political landscape in the process, it would almost be admirable.

    What happened in the House on Tuesday is exactly what you would expect from a party that has no platform; a party populated by people whose idea of loyalty extends no further than their own flaking skin; […] No one could put their own personal whims aside long enough to generate something that even looked like a coherent party.

    […] no matter how funny the latest round of voting may be, this zombie party isn’t good for anyone. Not even the zombies.


  159. says

    I just got home from work today and I flipped on the news. I quickly learned that something truly bizarre occurred today at the Capitol. No I am not talking about Qevin MqQarthy’s failed attempts to become Speaker of the House. Something even more strange took place and that was…nothing. No left-wing extremists tried to storm the Capitol on January 3, 2023. Not a single Capitol Police officer was beaten or tased by a radical Democrat. Zero windows were smashed in. No horned shaman marched into the chambers and declared that Nancy Pelosi was the real winner of the Speakership contest. Nobody built any gallows and there was not a single murmur of hanging the Vice President from them. And finally no one rubbed their shit all over the walls of the Capitol. Instead, the Democrats gracefully accepted the fact that the Republicans were now the majority in the House of Representatives. Kind of like how the peaceful transfer of power is supposed to work in a functioning democracy. I guess there really is a difference between the two parties.


  160. says

    Someone on Twitter was talking about this this morning and now Jake Tapper was just cheering about it: If you watch C-SPAN now, you can watch a bunch of conversations on the floor (like the ones with AOC and some MAGAs yesterday) because when there’s no speaker to tell them otherwise the C-SPAN camera operators are allowed to film from all over. When a speaker is in place, they’re invariably limited to a narrow set of camera angles – the person speaking and a wide shot of the room, basically. But for now they can have fun.

  161. says

    JEFFRIES: “The Republican dysfunction is what it is: Chaos, crisis and confusion, along with craziness. That’s sad for the American people. They’re going to have to figure out a way out of it.”

  162. says

    Who’s to Blame for GOP Chaos? “Coco Chow,” Says Trump in Another Racist Rant

    And that’s how Trump is trying to generate support for Kevin McCarthy? Sheesh. trump refers to Mitch McConnell’w wife as “his domineering, China loving BOSS, I mean wife, Coco Chow.” Trump goes on to say, “there is so much unnecessary turmoil in the Republican Party, in large part do (sic) ti people like the Old Broken Crow, Mitch McConnell, and his “wife”, Coco Chow” […]


    This—yet another bigoted attack by Trump against his own Transportation Secretary, Elaine Chao—is at once typical of our racist former president and yet inexplicable. Chao has nothing to do with the current turmoil in the House, yet here she is, once again getting targeted on Trump’s sad alternate universe, TruthSocial.

    So I’ll ask the question once again: How do you even write about the man’s anti-Asian racism at this point? I still don’t have an answer. But I do wonder whether Republicans simply find insults like “Coco Chow”—garbage that never seems to lead headlines—genuinely funny. Because Kevin McCarthy sure as hell isn’t sweating over this latest entry. One easily imagines the Matt Gaetz’s of the party chortling, hard. Neither Chao nor the powerful Republican husband she apparently controls with the help of Beijing, Mitch McConnell, has ever said much in response—and Chao seems to believe that ignoring the racism will convince Trump to stop. I don’t know what the best option is, but let’s hear it for the party that can’t stop eating its own.

  163. johnson catman says

    If only 12 republicans would spite-vote “present”, Jeffries could become the new speaker (if I am reading the rules above correctly).

  164. says

    Followup to johnson catman @254: Lindsey Graham posted this: “How does this end? When Kevin McCarthy secures 213 votes — one more than Hakeem Jeffries. To those Republicans who suggest it is better to have Hakeem Jeffries as Speaker you must understand that means backing policies like: DC statehood, Puerto Rican statehood.”

  165. Akira MacKenzie says

    “House Republicans now are on the verge of becoming a total clown show if they’re not careful,”

    Too late. Your party has been a “clown show” long before Trump oozed his way into the White House. I’d say it goes back to.. oh, when you elected that fascist, senile b-actor back in 1980, further if you’re counting Tricky Dick.

  166. says

    From Wonkette’s live coverage:

    […] 12:23: Hahahahahaha that moron Chip Roy is nominating Byron Donalds. He is explaining to us that Byron Donalds is Black. When Roy explained that Donalds is Black, the Republican caucus stood up to give Byron Donalds a standing ovation, for being Black.

    […] 1:21: Hahahaha Matt Gaetz is yelling at people on the House floor and Steve Scalise is yelling at people. Did y’all see last night where Sean Hannity said Republicans are on the “verge” of looking like clowns? “Verge.”

    […] Note the #ShortTermHouseRental hashtag. LOL.

    […] 1:48: Dumb hick nominating McCarthy this time babbling about how they need to elect McCarthy speaker so they can start investigations into whatever white Republican men are having hallucinatory fever dreams about today. Hunter Biden’s penis probably.


  167. says

    “Powerful Storm Threatens California With More Flooding”

    After several damaging storms swept through the state in recent weeks, residents face another deluge.

    Rain lashed the Bay Area early Wednesday as Californians braced for another powerful storm, which forecasters said would bring more flooding, landslides and damaging winds just days after another “atmospheric river” drenched the West Coast.

    […] The office of Gov. Gavin Newsom said on Twitter that the state’s operations center was at its highest emergency level on Wednesday, and that the flood operations center was helping people stockpile sandbags and other storm necessities. Shelters were being opened, and employees were ready to be deployed to hospitals, officials said.

    The new storm is expected to bring up to four inches of rain and winds of up to 40 miles an hour to California’s inland valleys over the next couple of days, and gusts of 60 to 80 m.p.h. in the coastal hills, according to the National Weather Service. Heavy snow is also expected in the mountains. […]

    The area was already soaked from previous rainstorms.

  168. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 256

    To those Republicans who suggest it is better to have Hakeem Jeffries as Speaker you must understand that means backing policies like: DC statehood, Puerto Rican statehood.”

    Oh no. How horrible.

  169. says

    Akira @260, exactly. That’s what I thought. :-)


    “What was expected to be a day of triumph for House Republicans coming into the majority turned into chaos,” says Wednesday’s AP explainer, and it’s not immediately clear whether the nation’s political press was genuinely caught off guard by the current Republican shitshow or are just pretending at it. Was Tuesday expected to be a day of “triumph” for House Republicans? No, it was pretty clear from the get-go that the day was more likely to be a whining, dysfunctional pie fight in which the House Freedom caucus—aka the rank base of the Republican anti-democracy, pro-sedition movement—insisted that they be given the lion’s share of new Republican powers or they’d sabotage the rest of the party, good and hard and forever.

    Look, once a sizable chunk of the Republican Party has decided that seditious revolt is better than accepting election results they don’t like, nobody can really claim to be surprised that the same crowd would willingly sabotage their own party’s governing majority unless that majority, too, agreed that Team Sedition would get All The Powers.

    These aren’t people who do real well with the concept of “voting.” If you thought they were going to suck it up and vote for Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the soggiest lump of bread to ever want the speaker’s post, after a vote or two to make their displeasure known, you don’t understand Team Sedition. They despise the notion that people other than themselves should be in charge of things.

    […] these are people who watched a violent coup unfold and walked away from it without a stitch of remorse—instead making support for the seditionists a new party litmus test. They take glee in embarrassing anyone in the party who expresses the slightest commitment to “governing!”

    […] We can imagine a lot of ways this “could” end, but all of it hinges on trying to predict the strategies of a group of angry gerbils who don’t want to do anything but chew the House scenery for a while.


  170. Reginald Selkirk says

    @258: 12:23: Hahahahahaha that moron Chip Roy is nominating Byron Donalds. He is explaining to us that Byron Donalds is Black. When Roy explained that Donalds is Black, the Republican caucus stood up to give Byron Donalds a standing ovation, for being Black.

    Think it through. He is saying, “We are actually voting for a BLACK person ahead of Kevin McCarthy.” So not only is it severely racist, it is meant to be a profound insult to McCarthy.

    Kevin McCarthy: The worst McCarthy since Tailgunner Joe.
    Why is Kevin McCarthy the worst Republican leader in history?

    The Republicans need to get this Speaker election out of the way so they can begin to address the nation’s pressing concerns, by which I mean Hunter Biden’s laptop.

  171. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 268

    Declaring oneself a racist fascist at anti-racist training seminar. Once again, a reason why freedom of speech is a BAD idea.

  172. Reginald Selkirk says

    Danish bank workers celebrate first full year without robberies

    Denmark has recorded its first year without bank robberies, as the use of cash has dwindled in recent years, the country’s finance workers’ union said.
    The increasingly cashless society had led banks to reduce their cash services, the union said on Monday, leaving little potential loot for robbers…
    The union said there had been 221 bank robberies in 2000, a number that slowly decreased to less than 10 a year since 2017…

  173. Reginald Selkirk says

    We might see more defections away from McCarthy

    Congressman Ken Buck of Colorado, who is seen as a representative of a group of conservative Republicans who have so far stuck with McCarthy, appeared on CNN shortly before the latest vote.
    He gave hints that the ground beneath McCarthy’s feet may become increasingly shaky.
    “At some point today, the conference as a whole needs to make a decision,” he said. “We’re starting to get some open conflict on the floor as well as behind closed doors.”
    He added that this fifth vote was the last one for which Mr McCarthy could count on his support, and that the chamber must move forward and choose a Speaker.
    If Buck breaks ranks, the defections from McCarthy’s side could turn from a trickle to a flood. So far, 20 Republicans have consistently voted for a different candidate, and another Republican has abstained.

  174. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 272

    Yeah, and there is NOTHING we can do about it as they burn the nation down around us.

  175. says

    Followup to SC @276:

    And the Cs do McCarthy in again. He’s lost this round of balloting before the Ds come up. Again.

    BTW, it was insurrectionist and coup plotter Scott Perry that nominated Donalds.

    McCarthy has lost the sixth round of voting.

  176. says

    Meanwhile, President Biden is actually doing some useful work.

    President Joe Biden, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, and other bipartisan leaders gathered Wednesday in Cincinnati to tout recently passed infrastructure that will allocate $1.6 billion to help pay to replace the aging Brent Spence Bridge. The move comes after Biden vowed to “fix that damn bridge” during a town hall in July 2021. Biden is now delivering on that promise.

    Built in 1963, the Brent Spence Bridge which connects Cincinnati to Kentucky has been considered “functionally obsolete” for years. It has become a symbol of the nation’s declining infrastructure, with several presidents vowing to not only work on it but create better roads and bridges across the country.

    While several issues have vied to gain bipartisan support, infrastructure bills and bridge projects bridge the political divide, with Congress approving the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

    I believe it sends a message, an important message, to the entire country,” Biden said, referring to the law that made the bridge project possible, according to The Enquirer. “We can work together. We can get things done. We can move the nation forward.”

    “After years of politics being so divisive, there are bright spots across the country,” Biden added. “The Brent Spence Bridge is one of them.”

    Biden jokes at bipartisan infrastructure event:

    “Newly elected Rep. Greg Landsman, he couldn’t be here today. He’s dealing with trying to figure out who’s gonna be the next Speaker … I wish him a lot of luck … He may be the first freshman ever elected Speaker … “

    […] This is a bridge that has been a major national issue for 25 years, my top transportation project for decades. And it’s going to be fully funded by the infrastructure bill, which I supported,” McConnell told reporters Tuesday according to the Associated Press. “It’s important for me to be there.”

    The Brent Spence Bridge isn’t the only one Biden’s administration is planning to work on. According to the Federal Highway Administration, $400 million of the $1 trillion federal infrastructure package approved in 2021 has been allocated to the Golden Gate Bridge, in order to complete the third and final phase of the seismic upgrades that will allow it to withstand earthquakes. […]


  177. says

    […] Putin confirmed that Russia is using a variety of social schemes to justify the transfer of Ukrainian children to Russia. […]

    In his annual New Year’s speech, Putin thanked Russians for their efforts to send children from occupied Ukrainian territory on “holidays.”

    ISW has previously reported instances of Russian officials using the guise of “holidays” and vacation schemes to justify the transfer of Ukrainian children to Russia and Russian-occupied Crimea. Putin’s list of instructions also directs Russian Commissioner for the Rights of the Child Maria Lvova-Belova and the occupation heads of Kherson, Zaporizhia, Donetsk, and Luhansk oblasts to “take additional measures to identify minors…left without parental care” in occupied areas to provide them with ”state social assistance” and ”social support.”

    The Kremlin may seek to use this social benefit scheme to tabulate the names of children it deems to be orphans to identify children for deportation to Russia and potentially open avenues for their adoption into Russian families. ISW continues to note that the forced adoption of Ukrainian children into Russian families may constitute a violation of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

    […] Similar deportations have taken place across various parts of Russian-occupied Ukraine; according to Ukrainian authorities, over 13,000 children have been transferred out of Ukrainian territory since the war began. According to the Associated Press, many of these deported children have been given Russian citizenship and culturally Russified after being adopted by new, Russian families—a pattern that, according to experts, fits squarely within the definition of genocide under the Genocide Convention.


  178. says

    Interesting moments from today’s ongoing humiliation of and by the Republicans:

    […] OOH Lauren Boebert says Donald Trump needs to stop calling them to say vote for Kevin McCarthy, says Donald Trump should call Kevin McCarthy and say YOU DON’T HAVE THE VOTES.

    Jeers in the room. Amazing.

    […] Note that Donalds was on Fox News while Boebert was nominating him.

    […] Also George Santos was sitting with Lauren Boebert, so that’s about right.

    […] 3:28: Everybody is interrupting this poor dumb idiot woman Kat Cammack from Florida who is just trying to say that the American people OVERWHELMINGLY voted for Kevin McCarthy. We just polled all Americans and they had no fucking idea what she was talking about.

    She also just called Joe Biden “Obama’s J.V. team.”

    And then she cracked herself up with a joke about Democrats loving watching Republicans fight, because they brought “popcorn, blankets and alcohol” to watch Republicans fail. Satisfied with her joke, and the jeers from Democrats, she started immediately complaining “the House is not in order!” […]

    Wonkette link

  179. Pierce R. Butler says

    Joe Biden, quoted @ Lynna’s # 279: … Greg Landsman… may be the first freshman ever elected Speaker … “

    Alas, our only prez needs a refresher course in House of Reps history – Henry Clay claimed that record in 1811.

  180. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    House is adjourning until 8pm ET

    This will give members about three and a half hours to hash things out. McCarthy could try to make deals with Republican holdouts – or bow out.

    In three rounds of voting today, the results have been exactly the same: Hakeem Jeffries 212, Kevin McCarthy 201, Byron Donalds 20, present 1.

  181. whheydt says

    Re: Pierce R. Butler @ #284…
    Even without knowing anything of the history of the House of Representatives, there had to have been a freshman elected Speaker. The first Congress had nothing but freshmen.

    However, given the clown show they’re running, if they elect a freshman, I’d expect it to be George Santos.

  182. johnson catman says

    re whheydt @286: For sure!! I mean, just look at his resume! And if that isn’t good enough, he can make up another one that looks even better!! Perfectly represents what the republicans now stand for!

  183. says

    Sophie Pedder:

    …Official Elysée communiqué, confirming “delivery for the first time of French-built light combat tanks” to Ukraine. Interesting that it stresses that this is a first, as Macron has long refused to get into a numbers race, and sets it in context of France “increasing” military aid

    The debate over whether the AMX-10 RC is really a tank (thanks @shashj for great graphic [at the (Twitter) link]) seems to be somewhat missing the point
    This is a step change for [France] in its support for [Ukraine] Macron is calling them light tanks
    And it is a leadership bid, to get other Western countries to move

  184. says

    Kyiv Independent:

    Explosions reported in Russian-occupied Melitopol.

    The Russian-installed authorities reported late on Jan. 4 that explosions were heard in the city of Melitopol in Ukraine’s southeast and its suburbs.

    Vladimir Rogov, a Russia-appointed member of the Zaporizhzhia Oblast administration, said that air defense had been activated.

  185. whheydt says

    Re: SC (Salty Current) @ #292…
    Are they sure it isn’t just Russian troops smoking and discarding lit cigarettes in the wrong places?

  186. says

    This is one of those situations in which almost no one knows what the rules are, so the past 15 minutes in the House have been mayhem, but they have adjourned until noon tomorrow without taking another vote.

  187. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    The McCarthy-aligned Congressional Leadership Fund and the Club for Growth – which hasn’t supported McCarthy so far – have apparently reached an agreement. The two groups issued a joint statement backing McCarthy.

    The CFL agreed to not spend in any safe Republican districts, engage in open GOP primaries or against any Republican opponent. This was something Club for Growth, an influential conservative organization, had been pushing for. Rightwing Republicans opposed to McCarthy have been complaining that the CFL had unduly meddled in open seat primaries and working against conservative candidates.


  188. raven says

    “Ukraine will not repeat the mistake with the Budapest memorandum: it turns out that the signature of the US president is worthless in this world”

    This statement from a high Ukrainian official is mostly right but it isn’t that simple.
    We agreed to (Wikipedia) “The memorandum,….prohibited the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States from threatening or using military force or economic coercion against Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan,” The UK and USA never invaded or threatened Ukraine. It was only Russia which violated it.
    And now, it is the UK, the USA, EU, NATO, etc.. which is helping a huge amount in defending Ukraine.
    FWIW, Bill Clinton was president when the Budapest memorandum was signed.

    Danilov: “I have repeatedly said and will repeat: our victory will come when Russia is deprived of nuclear weapons.” Good luck with that. No one knows how to take their nuclear weapons away without getting blown up by them.

    Ukraine will not repeat the mistake with the Budapest memorandum: it turns out that the signature of the US president is worthless in this world

    01/05/23 01:44 3 383 27
    Budapest Agreement (111) war (38917) Danilov (901) negotiations (2336)
    Ukraine will not repeat the mistake with the Budapest memorandum: it turns out that the signature of the US president is worthless in this world – Danilov
    News Censor.NET War in Ukraine memorandum, Budapest
    Ukraine’s victory must involve the deprivation of Russia’s nuclear weapons.

    Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of the National Security and Defense Council, said this on the air of the national telethon broadcast by the Rada channel on January 4, Censor.NET reports with reference to Gordon .

    According to him, today’s danger of the Russian Federation for Europe and the whole world is caused by the mistakes of the West, which made the Russians nuclear monopolists as a result of the Budapest Memorandum.

    “At the end of the 90s, there was a wrong decision that Moscow should be responsible for the entire territory of the former USSR. If the bet was placed on our country or on Kazakhstan, it would be a completely different configuration,” said Danilov.

    Read also on “Censor.NET”: The signatory countries of the Budapest Memorandum could conclude a new agreement, – Zelensky

    He emphasized that Ukraine drew conclusions from how the parties that gave security guarantees to Kyiv in exchange for giving up nuclear weapons did not fulfill them. And after the military victory over the Russian Federation, he will not repeat such a mistake.

    “We will no longer allow ourselves to be included in the Budapest memorandums. It turns out that the signature of the American president is worthless in this world. This is absolute nonsense – if the president of the United States signed his signature, then he must bear joint responsibility for it,” he said in an interview. I

    According to Danilov, the way Western partners are currently interpreting the terms of the memorandum has a “sad” look.

    “Having such experience, we draw conclusions… The configurations of alliances in the world after our victory will be completely different. I have repeatedly said and will repeat: our victory will come when Russia is deprived of nuclear weapons. We cannot leave it in the hands of madmen, this very dangerous”, – explained the secretary of the NSDC.

  189. says

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

    Here’s more on the head of the private Russian military group Wagner, Yevgeny Prigozhin, who today bade farewell to former convicts who had served out their contracts in Ukraine, as my colleague Pjotr Sauer reported earlier.

    The Wall Street Journal’s Yaroslav Trofimov writes that Russian commentators are beginning to joke that Prigozhin is the country’s real leader.

    The Wagner founder has previously criticised the Russian defence ministry for its performance in Ukraine and has lauded Wagner as the country’s most capable fighting force.

    In a video published at the end of December and purportedly filmed near the city of Bakhmut in the Donetsk region, two apparent Wagner soldiers are seen insulting the chief of general staff, Valery Gerasimov.

    The Guardian could not independently verify the footage, but when asked about the video by Russian journalists, Prigozhin appeared to express his approval for the actions of the soldiers, saying he travelled to Bakhmut to meet them.

    “The guys asked me to convey that when you sit in a warm office, the problems of the frontline are hard to hear,” Prigozhin said in a statement, in an apparent dig at the country’s top military command.

  190. says

    Also in today’s Guardian:

    “‘Life is short. Steal a walrus’: why a trainer devoted his life to free Smoochi the walrus”: “The Canadian theme park Marineland sued animal trainer Phil Demers for plotting to steal a 1,200lb walrus – but he prevailed…”

    “‘This is another revolution’: could legalisation of cannabis transform Mexico’s economy? “: “Despite frustrating legislative delays, farmers in Mexico are keen to start growing a crop that may be more profitable than rice, corn or sugar…”

    “Eight members of Utah family found dead from gunshot wounds”: “Police not looking for anyone else after finding family, including five children, dead at home…”

  191. Reginald Selkirk says

    Australia to purchase US-made HIMARS missile system

    The purchase of the systems, the Naval Strike Missile (NSM) and the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), has been in the works since last spring, when then-Defense Minister Peter Dutton said the war in Ukraine and looming threats from China, showed the need for Australia to upgrade its defensive weapons systems.

  192. StevoR says

    Oh noez!! People might want to in the same nation where you live and make new safe lives for themsleves thats .. well, ^ song title… Somehow?


  193. StevoR says

    The old canard / aphorism aout insanity = doing thesame thing over & over again and expecting different results .. & the Repugs congressional votes for speaker again and again and same non-results. Hmm..

  194. says

    Shashank Joshi:

    Ukraine has become the Svalbard Global Seed Vault of modern weaponry. At least one type of every military platform in existence, and every calibre of shell, will soon exist there, preserved for post-apocalyptic societies to find, recreate and start over on ‘is it a tank’ debates.

  195. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Putin calls for 36-hour ceasefire in Ukraine

    Vladimir Putin has instructed his defence minister, Sergei Shoigu, to introduce a 36-hour ceasefire along the entire line of contact in Ukraine from noon tomorrow to midnight 7 January, the Kremlin said.

    Russian troops must hold fire for 36 hours in order to mark Orthodox Christmas, it said.

  196. says

    Mykhailo Podolyak:

    First. Ukraine doesn’t attack foreign territory & doesn’t kill civilians. As RF does. Ukraine destroys only members of the occupation army on its territory…
    Second. RF must leave the occupied territories – only then will it have a “temporary truce”. Keep hypocrisy to yourself.

  197. says

    Ukraine update: It’s a tank. No it’s not. Who cares! Bradleys and AMX-10s are going to Ukraine

    A brief island story … Potemkin Island is a large (8km by 4km) island in the Dnipro River just across from the city of Kherson. When Russia finally retreated from all of Kherson Oblast west of the Dnipro, neither side had military forces on the island. However, three weeks ago Russia launched a new mini-invasion, occupying the island with a small force. The following week, Ukraine landed forces on the island and liberated the homes that line the island’s northern shore. For the moment, Potemkin appears to be split down the middle. [map at the link]

    Presumably, Russia wants to occupy the island as a forward post for attacking Kherson. From Potemkin, you could hit the city with plain old mortars. You could practically throw a stone. Ukraine definitely wants to avoid that, and actively liberating the people on the island is definitely a net good.

    Then on Thursday, Russia attacked the bridges. Not the bridges to Potemkin, because there are no bridges. The island is actually connected to the city by a ferry service. Instead, Russia bombed the bridges to tiny Karantynny Island directly off the west bank from Kherson. Karantynny (the name translates as “Quarantine Island,” so you know there’s some history there) is actually a city park. It also contains the Kherson Zoo—that would be the zoo from which Russia stole a raccoon.

    Why did Russia attack these bridges? That’s not clear. Maybe they were protecting the scene of their raccoonapping crime. Maybe they just wanted to deny the people of Kherson a nice place to go on a sunny afternoon. Maybe they didn’t realize the bridges don’t run to Potemkin.

    Anyway … Potemkin. Looks like a nice place. Almost no roads or vehicles. Just about every house on the water. Assuming it’s not subject to frequent flooding, how cool must it be to live on Potemkin Island and commute to a job in Kherson by taking the morning ferry? Let’s get people back to that life. And also find that raccoon.

    The French AMX-10 is an “armored reconnaissance vehicle” carrying a crew of four. Depending on the update, it weighs between 15 and 22 tons, is capable of speeds up to 85 kilometers an hour, and mounts a 105 millimeter main gun with a high-penetration round capable of cutting through the armor of any tank Russia has in the field. It’s a heavily armored vehicle carrying a turreted gun designed for the singular purpose of taking out other armored vehicles, but it runs on wheels, not treads, and so, say the lords of categorization, it’s not a tank.

    The U.S. Bradley weighs in at 33 tons, has durable spaced armor, and definitely does run on treads. But it mounts a 25 mm chain gun on its blocky turret rather than a smoothbore cannon, typically pairing that 200-rounds-a-minute beast with a pair of anti-tank missiles. In addition to a crew of three, it can also carry six fully equipped soldiers inside its armored chassis. So … also not a tank.

    Historically, there have been tanks that didn’t have treads. There have been tanks that didn’t mount big guns. In the days when armies fielded light tanks, medium tanks, heavy tanks, mobile guns, and a mad variety of mobile tank destroyers with and without turrets, either the AMX-10 or the Bradley might easily have been slotted in. These days, when “tank” means almost exclusively main battle tank, neither of them clears the hurdle of “tankness.”

    Whatever they’re called, it looks like both of them are headed for Ukraine. When they arrive, semantics are going to matter a lot less than firepower.

    Following a phone call between French President Emmanuel Macron and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Wednesday, the French military announced that they would be the first to send a western-designed armored fighting vehicle to the war. That statement has to be parsed a bit to be understood, because western nations have definitely sent Ukraine a lot of tanks and other armored vehicles at this point. However, the tanks being sent have all been some form of Soviet-designed tank, almost all of them with recent NATO upgrades. The western-designed armored vehicles sent, like the M113s delivered by the U.S., aren’t considered fighting vehicles even if they are bristling with machine guns. So … first western-designed armored fighting vehicle. France even called them “light tanks.” Take that, military language sticklers.

    In any case, the AMX-10 RC is something very different from most of the hardware that has gone to Ukraine. In introducing the AMX-10 RC I really should use this video, which is not only in French, but features two French soldiers talking over each other to such an extent that you can barely pick up a word, even if your middle school did insist on making you take a language class. But honestly, the best introduction to this vehicle I could find comes from the video below, assembled by the folks behind that great time sink, the World of Tanks game. A game where, I will personally testify, these things are absolutely hated by everyone driving every other form of tank. [video at the link]

    Why do other tank drivers hate these f***ing French-wheeled vehicles? Because they’re fast. So fast and agile that in many cases they can literally circle another tank quicker than that tank can turn its turret. There’s little more irritating than sitting there in a well-armored heavy tank, positioning yourself to ease your well-nigh impenetrable god-gun turret over the nearest slope, only to have one of these clown cars pop over that hill, shoot you in the ass, disappear over another hill, then squirt back into the scene from another direction to repeat the process. [LOL]

    Thank goodness that my personal experience is limited to watching pixels get torn apart. In the real world, prepare to see more Russian T-72 drivers competing in the turret toss championships. Because the AMX-10? Russian tankers are also going to hate them. These little bastards are dangerous. [video at the link]

    There were tweets this morning that claimed the AMX-10s were already rolling off transport planes in Ukraine. These appear to be an exaggeration. How many and how soon are answers that we still don’t seem to know. France has 240 of these vehicles currently in service, all of which are being phased out as they are replaced by another wheeled vehicle, the ERBC Jaguar. One French military source indicated that AMX-10 RCs could arrive in Ukraine in “weeks,” but that’s the only such statement we have at the moment.

    In other western-designed armored vehicle news, President Joe Biden confirmed yesterday that the United States is investigating sending Bradley fighting vehicles to Ukraine. Which version of the versatile platform, and how many will be sent, remains unclear. But hopefully the U.S. won’t spend time stripping down vehicles to take out modern fire control and communication systems. Just send them. (And hey, wouldn’t this be a great opportunity to field test a Black Knight prototype?)

    As you watch this video on the Bradley, be prepared to be gobsmacked by the pure firepower and toughness of this “transport” vehicle. [video at the link] In Desert Storm, the Bradley destroyed more enemy vehicles than the M1 Abrams.

    Military analyst Mark Hertling, who commanded a Bradley team in Desert Storm, has long been singing the vehicle’s praises and giving the reasons why this vehicle, not the M1 Abrams, should be America’s way of putting western steel on the Ukrainian battlefield. [Tweet and image at the link]

    The Bradley isn’t just tough in a fight, its solid in day-to-day operations. Unlike actual tanks, it doesn’t leave a trail of broken parts in its wake or require the constant tinkering of a turbine engine mechanic. Even the Bradley’s treads have a reputation for staying on (which is saying something) and though it may not be as fast as the AMX, it’s much more capable of dealing with the muck currently confronting Ukrainian forces on the front lines.

    There’s a reason why way back in April, even as he was talking about why setting up the proper supply and logistics limited the ability of U.S. to deliver many weapons to Ukraine, kos was already pulling for Biden to dispatch the Bradley. Everything he said back then sums up why this is the perfect vehicle to load on the next round of transport planes.

    […] To get a sense to how much simpler the Bradley is, the training program to maintain it is 12 weeks, while it’s six months for the M-1 Abrams tank. And the Bradley uses regular diesel, not jet fuel like the Abrams.

    These two vehicles—the high-speed mobile gun and the battle-tested infantry transport—may seem quite different. However, just about everything Hertling says in his praise of the Bradley (good mileage, easy maintenance, capable armor, and the firepower to push through tough situations) also applies to the AMX-10. These vehicles could have tremendous impact on the fighting in Ukraine, especially if Ukrainian troops have a chance to develop tactics that play to the strength of both vehicles.

    Now that France is providing the AMX-10, and the U.S. is offering up the Bradley, let’s hope Germany will join in by sending Ukraine the Leopard. In fact, there are already suggestions that these moves by France and the U.S. are putting more pressure on Germany to just say yes to unleashing their MBT. Watching an army that is scouting the field in an AMX-10, delivering troops in Bradleys, and driving forward behind Leopards would be an example of NATO unity and a thing of beauty.

    Unless you were on the opposite side in T-72s and BMPs. Then it would be a horror show.

    I’ve had several notes asking about Part II of the Field Guide to Drones. Believe me, I want to get there, because that part contains some of the most interesting items—all those drones that don’t just look like miniature planes. The problem that I’m having is that the number of new drones entering the conflict keeps increasing. Already the first field guide is obsolete as a number of additional winged drones have joined the combat space.

    Another thing that seems to be happening repeatedly is modification of existing drones to press them into new roles. For example, Russia’s Orlan-10 may be the most common drone of the entire conflict, and while it started off as a surveillance drone used to help target Ukrainian assets for artillery strikes, recent versions have been outfitted with a belly pod capable of carrying a pair of small bombs. Exactly how these bombs are delivered isn’t clear—inaccurately is the likely answer as unlike rotor drones, the Orlan can’t stop to hover over a target—but the Orlan-10 is just one out of many drones that have seen significant changes since the beginning of the invasion.

    One day soon I’m going to just have to go with a guide to the nonwinged drones that I currently know about (with some water-dwelling and possibly land-based drones tossed in) while knowing that it will be obsolete the day it comes out. After that, there will be updates to try to keep reality and the “field guide” somewhere in the same universe. Look for this in the next couple of weeks.

    None of the above means that an M113 isn’t still a great tool for Ukraine. [Tweet and images at the link]

  198. raven says

    Here is a summary of how Russian genocide works.
    They started this in the Russian empire and have all but erased a dozen or so nationalities.

    .1. Destruction of language
    .2. Hunger as a weapon
    .3. Purposeful demographic change
    .4. Political repression
    .5. Creation of the myth about separatism

    The Russians know exactly what they are doing. They are simply following a well worn pathway started during the days of the Russian empire.

    This time it is different. The Ukrainians are in a position to fight back and that is what they are doing. If Russia had anything to offer them, they wouldn’t have to invade and destroy much of the country.

    These writers put it a bit different than I would.
    A main tool of Russian genocide is massacres of the cultural, educational, and scientific leadership. Being a Ukrainian or Belarusian poet during the time of Stalin was a good way to get killed.
    Discrimination against Ukrainian speakers was common. You could take your exams in one of two languages, Ukrainian or Russian. Only the Russian one would lead to a job.
    They also deport the native population and bring in Russian settlers.

    How Russia conducted a centuries-long destruction of the Ukrainian identity in the Ukraine’s eastern regions

    How Russia conducted a centuries-long destruction of the Ukrainian identity in the Ukraine’s eastern regions
    from We are Ukraine
    Prepared by Diana Matviiv
    Designed by Vladyslav Rybalko

    One of the most beloved narratives of Russian propaganda is the use of a historically incorrect thesis about the alleged belonging of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions to Russia. Despite its fictious nature, this sentiment is frequently cited by Russian propagandists in the media and Russian politicians alike as a means of justification for military aggression.

    Despite what the fabricated narratives posit, Luhansk and Donetsk regions are Ukrainian regions – their real history serves as evidence.

    For centuries Russia has been Russifying the eastern and southern regions of Ukraine and suppressing any expression of a Ukrainian identity in every possible way. What methods Russia used for this and what it led to — read in our special publication.

    Destruction of language

    One of the main arguments of Russian propaganda regarding the alleged belonging of Donetsk and Luhansk regions to Russia is the use of the Russian language by the regions’ local residents. While the language is indeed commonly used – albeit the frequency of its use rapidly decreasing today in the face of Russia’s war in Ukraine – Russian propagandists fail to mention what exactly led to the spread of the Russian language in these regions.

    If we look back at history, the situation was different in the past. According to the census of the Russian Empire in 1897, more than 58% of people named the Ukrainian language as their mother tongue in the Bakhmut district of the Donetsk region. In the Mariupol district of the Donetsk region, this number was 46%. Conversely, the number of those who considered the Russian language as their native language in the same districts was recorded as much lower at that time with 31% in the Bakhmut district and 14% in the Mariupol district.

    Centuries of severe oppression and prohibitions faced by the Ukrainian language and the Ukrainian identity at large, first under the Russian Empire and later under the Soviet Union, contributed to the reversal of these statistics.

    Long-term aggressive Russification policy had led to the gradual elimination of the Ukrainian language from official use and to its entrenchment as an inferior, secondary language. The Russian language was institutionalised as the sole dominant language.

    Hunger as a weapon

    In 1932-33, Ukraine experienced one of the biggest tragedies in its history — Holodomor, otherwise known as the Great Famine. As a result of man-made famine, orchestrated by the Soviet regime, an estimated 3 to 8 million Ukrainians were starved to death.

    The Donetsk region is among the ten regions most affected by the Great Famine and the repressions of the Great Terror. According to the Ukrainian Institute of Demography, 230,000 people were victims of famine in the Donetsk region and 31,560 people became victims of mass starvation in the Luhansk region. Workers of the local factories received meager portions of food and were subject to starvation. As strikes began, the manufacturers were brutally suppressed.

    “There were seven of us in the family — father, mother, three brothers, me, and my elder sister. It was a terrible time, there was nothing to eat, and all food was taken away. We ate grass and leaves. My little brother began to swell up from hunger,” recalls Palaрhia Sokha from the village of Trembachevo in the Luhansk region, in her interview with Suspilne national broadcaster. She was 9 years old during the Holodomor.

    Purposeful demographic change

    After the famine killed thousands in the eastern and southern regions of Ukraine, the Soviet authorities took to resettling Russian families into areas previously populated by Ukrainian peasants. The Soviet authorities allocated 15 million rubles for their resettlement.

    According to KGB archives, Russian collective farmers were resettled to the Donetsk, Lugansk, Dnipropetrovsk, and Kharkiv regions. Upon settling in Ukraine, Russian farmers were provided with significant benefits.

    According to the Holodomor National Museum, 21,000 families of Russian collective farmers were resettled in Ukraine from the second half of 1933 to 1934.

    However, Ukrainian historians recognise that artificial assimilation of Russian farmers in the eastern regions of Ukraine had a limited impact if considered as a standalone factor.

    Political repression

    Another Russian means of erasing the Ukrainian nation were political repressions. From first attempt to establish Soviet power in 1918 to the second half of the 1980s, the terror was purposeful and organized, and where there was an absence of terror, paranoia and fear prevailed.

    One of the crime scenes of the Soviet regime in the Donetsk region is the Rutchenkove field. During excavations in the spring of 1989, remains of men with bullet holes in their skulls were discovered. The dead turned out to be victims of the repressions of the 1930s-1940s.

    Creation of the myth about separatism

    After repressing, starving, killing and forcibly Russifying thousands in Ukraine’s eastern and southern regions for decades, Russia did not let go of its attempts to erase the Ukrainian identity of the Lugansk and Donetsk regions. These attempts reached their peak in 2013-2014 when Russia forcibly introduced a narrative that the majority of the inhabitants of the regions supported separatism and the idea of “joining” Russia.

    According to a survey by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology and the Democratic Initiatives Foundation conducted in February 2014, 33% of the residents of the Donetsk region and 24% of the population of the Lugansk region were in favor of joining Russia. In the same survey, 79.7% of the Donetsk region respondents and 72.7% of the Luhansk region respondents were in favour of Ukraine and Russia remaining as two independent states.

    The lack of a majority support did not prevent Russia from invading an independent state and occupying parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. The consequences of the Russian occupation were horrific for these territories — from economic recession to bans on the learning of the Ukrainian language to political repressions.

    In 2022, Russia continued further by launching a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. As a result of Russian mass shelling, many cities and villages in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions were simply wiped off the face of the earth.

  199. says

    I wonder how we should each describe ourselves. Should we follow Kari Lake’s example?

    In Arizona, Kari Lake has begun describing herself as the state’s “duly elected governor,” despite the fact that she lost her 2022 race. The Republican has filed lawsuits related to the election, but they’ve failed because Lake has been unable to substantiate her conspiracy theories with evidence.

    Arizona Election Loser Kari Lake Unduly Crowns Herself With A New Title

  200. says

    New York Times:

    “Nobody is in charge,” John Fredericks, a syndicated right-wing radio host and former chairman of Mr. Trump’s 2016 and 2020 campaigns in Virginia, said in an interview. “Embrace the chaos. Our movement is embracing the chaos.” That ideology of destruction defies characterization by traditional political labels like moderate or conservative. Instead, the party has created its own complicated taxonomy of America First, MAGA and anti-Trump — descriptions that are more about political style and personal vendettas than policy disagreements.


    […] By any fair measure, if the current dispute among House Republicans were simply a matter of moderates fighting conservatives, the fight would be far more coherent. But that’s not the case at all: Many of the competing GOP members agree with one another on practically every issue, but differ over tone, tactics, tantrums and Trumpism.

    To see these divisions along clean ideological lines is to misread the partisan landscape, and to see members who aren’t as radical as Rep. Jim Jordan as some kind of “centrists” is to strip the labels of any credible meaning.

    […] there simply aren’t a meaningful number of GOP “moderates” on Capitol Hill in 2023: The conference is filled with conservatives to one degree or another. Indeed, as NPR’s Steve Inskeep noted yesterday, even some of the more pragmatic House Republicans avoid using the “moderate” label to describe themselves.

    And if they’re not embracing the label, there’s certainly no reason to do them the favor of using it anyway.

    Consider some roll calls from the recently concluded Congress. How many GOP members voted to certify the 2020 election results, impeach Donald Trump over Jan. 6, and create a Jan. 6 commission? Only nine — and only two of the nine were re-elected in the 2022 midterms. The rest either retired or lost in Republican primaries.

    Yes, there are GOP factions that are ostensibly designed to represent Republicans aligned with an undefined “center.” But as regular readers know, several members of the Problem Solvers Caucus, for example, were among those voting to overturn the 2020 presidential election. The same is true about members of the Republican Main Street Partnership. […]


  201. says

    Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) took to Twitter Wednesday night to criticize the GOP’s handling of the speaker race, accusing them of having a “cavalier attitude” and calling their conduct “frivolous” and “disrespectful.”

    “All who serve in the House share a responsibility to bring dignity to this body,” Pelosi tweeted. “Sadly, Republicans’ cavalier attitude in electing a Speaker is frivolous, disrespectful and unworthy of this institution.”

    “We must open the House and proceed with the People’s work,” she continued.

    The House has been crippled by Republicans’ inability to come together and elect a speaker. As a reminder without a speaker, no one is sworn in, the House floor has no rules and there are no committees or committee assignments. In other words: There Is No House Of Representatives Right Now.


  202. says

    Jake Sherman reports “Team McCarthy’s goal here is to not LOSE any of the votes he had on previous rounds.” How pathetic is that. Losing by the same number as the last six times is the big goal.

  203. Reginald Selkirk says

    Democratic Sen. Stabenow of Michigan won’t run again in 2024

    LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow, a member of the Democratic leadership, announced Thursday that she will not run for a fifth term in 2024, a surprise decision that opens up a seat in the key battleground state.
    The news shocked many Democrats in the state because the 72-year-old Stabenow had not previously indicated that she would not seek reelection.

    A full 2 years seems sufficient notice.

  204. says

    Excerpt from Wonkette’s live coverage of the House leadership vote:

    […] one of the idiots, NC GOP Rep. Dan Bishop, rises to remind everyone that Byron Donalds, who has been in Congress since 2021, could be the first Black speaker, because he is also Black, have you all met his Black friend?

    All the Democrats start cheering “Hakeem! Hakeem!” [LOL]

    Anyway, Bishop nominates Byron Donalds, who he explains is Black.

    He is also moaning a whole lot that Democratic Rep. Cori Bush said Republicans are using Byron Donalds as a “prop.” He is North-Carolina-white-splaining to the Democrats how racist that is of Cori Bush to say that.

    Just another white Republican from the south who sounds like he’s doing an impression of a confederate Foghorn Leghorn […]

    […] 12:41: And now it looks like McCarthy has (unofficially) lost his seventh vote!

    Garrett Haake says on MSNBC that there’s some secret conversations and clamming up to reporters, so maybe SOMETHING IS HAPPENING.


  205. Reginald Selkirk says

    Idaho killing details coming out

    The third time Mortensen opened her bedroom door to a far more terrifying sight: “a figure clad in black clothing and a mask that covered the person’s mouth and nose walking toward her.” But the masked man just walked past her and left the home from the back sliding glass door as she stood in a “frozen shock phase.”…
    Hours later, Mortensen would learn that three of her roommates—and one of their boyfriends—were brutally murdered.
    That’s according to a probable cause affidavit unsealed Thursday, which lays out previously unknown details about what happened in the Moscow, Idaho rental home the night of the shocking murders that have since captured national attention…
    Authorities later noticed a “tan leather knife sheath laying next to Morgen’s right side” bearing the U.S. Marine Corps insignia and crucial DNA evidence on the button snap.
    Authorities also found a latent shoe print at the scene, which showed a “diamond-shaped pattern (similar to the pattern of a Vans type shoe sole) just outside” Mortensen’s door…

  206. says

    Former DC cop Michael Fanone, one of the most outspoken victims of the January 6 terrorist attack on the Capitol:

    I think at night, when the lights are turned off, Abe Lincoln and Ronald Reagan have some pretty choice words to say about the fact that they have to hang on Kevin McCarthy’s wall. They did some fucking above-average things. And they’ve got to adorn the wall of this fucking weasel [B-word] named Kevin McCarthy, with his fake fucking spray-on tan, whose fucking claim to fame, at least in my eyes, is the fact that he amassed a collection of Donald Trump’s favorite-flavored Starburst, put them in a Mason jar, and presented them to fucking Donald Trump. What the fuck, dude?

  207. says

    David Rothkopf:

    News: McCarthy proposes key concessions:
    –Will babysit for Gaetz’s girlfriends one night a week
    –Will personally teach Boebert how to read
    –Will arrange for Gosar to be adopted by a family that doesn’t actually hate him

  208. Reginald Selkirk says

    New Congresswoman Fights Rival Over Witchcraft Accusation

    Rep. Anna Paulina Luna … But back home in her conservative Florida district, Luna is waging a very different kind of war: a legal fight with political enemies who say she is a literal witch.
    A letter obtained by The Daily Beast reveals that the Florida Republican retained the high-powered law firm Holland & Knight to go after a would-be rival who leveled a series of outlandish allegations against Luna on the Bubba the Love Sponge radio show in the fall.
    The letter demands that Matt Tito, a pal of Roger Stone who mulled challenging Luna in a primary, apologize on video for his accusations, which include claims that Luna was fired from a job—and that she had a sexual liaison with Rep. Matt Gaetz…
    “You said that Ms. Luna (a devout Christian) practices witchcraft,” Lisko added.
    “You are hereby demanded to publicly and immediately retract each and every defamatory statement you made about Ms. Luna on the show,” Lisko continued. “Because you do not have the ability to distribute your retraction widely on your social media, you are demanded to apologize and retract your statements on the Bubba the Love Sponge Show or by making a retraction and apology video that you send to me that Ms. Luna will distribute via her social media.” …

  209. johnson catman says

    from Reginald Selkirk link @336:

    However, a few Republicans could vote ‘present’, lowering the total number of votes needed to win for McCarthy.

    Wouldn’t that actually make Jeffries more likely to be elected since he has gotten more votes than McCarthy in every round?

  210. says

    Followup to Reginald @337.

    Josh Marshall:

    There’s a dog not barking here that may be obvious but is worth mentioning. It’s not just that Donald Trump’s low energy endorsement of Kevin McCarthy isn’t carrying the day. It’s that Trump’s name hasn’t really come up at all. [Except for the fact that Matt Gaetz just nominated Trump for Speaker of the House.]

    Lauren Boebert, in her nominating speech, name-checked [Trump] to note how his endorsement of McCarthy was not swaying her. But that’s the exception that proves the rule. Not in the sense that she’s not taking Trump’s guidance but because she’s even discussing him. Trump’s wishes, feelings, threats, anger and really anything else about him are just completely absent [almost completely absent] from this entire drama. In a way that is the biggest story here.

  211. says

    The unsolicited Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) vote for Trump is further proof that this is not about one candidate for some (or most) of the MAGA conservatives. The main goal for the hardliners here seems to be to hold the House hostage until McCarthy and his allies give in to their demands, thereby demonstrating they can hold their power (and that faction of the party’s power) over his head for the next two years.

  212. says

    Jennifer Jacobs:

    Scoop: US **and Germany** will send armored vehicles to Ukraine, a significant upgrade in firepower urgently sought by @ZelenskyyUa.

    US will send Bradleys; Germany to send Marders, sources tell @mcnienaber @PeterMartin_PCM & me.

    Biden to speak to @OlafScholz today, I’m told.

  213. says

    Olena Halushka:

    In Aug 2014 russia promised to open a green corridor for the Ukrainian defenders encircled near Ilovaisk. While Ukrainian servicemen were moving via routes agreed, russians shelled them, killing 366, injuring 429 & imprisoning 300 ppl.

    Never trust russian ceasefire offers

  214. says

    I believe the number is 11. If 11 Republicans voted present or didn’t vote, the threshold would be 212 and Jeffries would win. Of course, that would never happen given House Republicans’ brilliance, unity, and precise coordination.

  215. says

    Here’s a link to today’s Guardian US liveblog. From there (as noted above):

    Kevin McCarthy fails to reach 218 votes

    Kevin McCarthy has failed to secure 218 votes needed to become House speaker … yet again.

    McCarthy received 201 votes among GOP lawmakers.

    The same 20 hardline Republicans who voted against him yesterday also voted against him today during the seventh ballot.

    Nineteen of them voted for Floridian representative Byron Donalds, while Matt Gaetz voted for former president Donald Trump.

  216. Reginald Selkirk says

    @338: Further
    Most recent voting:
    Jeffries 212 (very steady!)
    McCarthy 201
    Donalds 19
    Other 1 (Gaetz vote for the Orange One)
    Present 1

    For McCarthy to win by people dropping out, he would need at least another 12 votes drawn from the FreeDumb caucus, with the rest of that caucus voting ‘present” (or perhaps some of those contrarians would vote “not present.’) Anyone already voting for McCarthy dropping out would not help McCarthy.
    About 20 Dems dropping out would help McCarthy, but why would they do that?

  217. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    President Joe Biden has said Vladimir Putin is “trying to find some oxygen” by floating a 36-hour ceasefire from tomorrow noon to mark Orthodox Christmas.

    Asked about the Russian president’s order, Biden told reporters:

    I’m reluctant to respond (to) anything Putin says. I found it interesting. He was ready to bomb hospitals and nurseries and churches on the 25th and New Year.

    He added:

    I think he’s trying to find some oxygen.

  218. Reginald Selkirk says

    Christmas in Ukraine

    Traditional Ukrainian Christmas festivities start on Christmas Eve, which is celebrated on 24 December in the Julian calendar used by the Eastern Orthodox Church, which falls on 6 January in the common Gregorian calendar…
    As of 2017, 25 December, Christmas Day by the Gregorian calendar, became an official government holiday in Ukraine. The Eastern Orthodox Church and Ukrainian Greek Catholic Churches predominantly follow the Julian calendar, and 7 January is also a public holiday in Ukraine.[5][6] In December 2020, the head of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, Metropolitan Epiphanius, said that changing the date of Christmas to 25 December in Ukraine is possible after both the church and the faithful are ready for such a decision, after conducting educational work. It was stated that the postponement of the Nativity of the Lord would entail a change in the dates of all fixed holidays to 13 days ago…
    On 18 October 2022, the Orthodox Church of Ukraine allowed dioceses to hold Christmas services according to the Revised Julian calendar, i.e., 25 December. In the case of a divine service, its participants are released from the restrictions of fasting on this day.[8] …

    I am guessing the Russian war may accelerate adoption of Western habits in Ukraine.

  219. says

    Dmytro Kuleba:

    President @ZelenskyyUa has proposed a clear Peace Formula of ten steps. Russia has been ignoring it and instead shelling Kherson on Christmas Eve, launching mass missile and drone strikes on New Year. Their current “unilateral ceasefire” can not and should not be taken seriously.

  220. says

    Emily Haber:

    BREAKING: Germany will provide Marder infantry fighting vehicles to #Ukraine️. We’ll also join the U.S. in supplying an additional Patriot air defense battery.

    @POTUS and @Bundeskanzler are determined to provide Ukraine with the support that’s necessary, for as long as needed.

  221. says

    Oleksiy Danilov:

    How does a pack of petty kremlin devils relate to a Christian holiday? Who will believe scum that kills children, bombards maternity hospitals, tortures prisoners? A ceasefire? Lies and hypocrisy. We will bite you in the singing silence of the Ukrainian night.

  222. says

    Yaroslav Trofimov:

    A pivotal point in Western military support for Ukraine. The U.S. will supply Kyiv with Bradley M2 infantry fighting vehicles, Germany with Marders, plus Berlin is dispatching another Patriot battery to Kyiv. France already said it will send light tanks. Taboos have fallen.

  223. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 350
    About 20 Dems dropping out would help McCarthy, but why would they do that?

    I can’t speak for House Dems, but I know a couple of Dem senators (well, one Dem one “former” Dem) who would definitely “help” if they had the vote.

  224. Reginald Selkirk says

    Wounded Putin Crony Sends Shrapnel From His Spine to Macron

    Russia’s military has spent months leaving a well-documented trail of war crimes in Ukraine, but Vladimir Putin crony Dmitry Rogozin apparently thinks a tiny piece of shrapnel removed from his spine proves Russia is actually the victim.
    Russia’s former space chief, still recovering from his injuries after he came under fire by Ukrainian troops while celebrating his birthday on occupied Ukrainian land, has sent an unsolicited missive to the French ambassador to Russia bemoaning his near-death experience—along with the shrapnel extracted from his back…

  225. Reginald Selkirk says

    The little-known weapon knocking down Iranian drones over Kyiv

    According to Ukrainian officials and advisers to Kyiv who spoke to POLITICO, much of it is thanks to the German-made Gepard system, a vehicle that can send dual streams of 35mm rounds ripping into the sky to hit the drones. Berlin has sent 30 Gepard vehicles to Ukraine over the past year, with seven more on the way this year.
    The weapon, essentially an anti-aircraft gun that sits atop a tracked vehicle…

  226. Reginald Selkirk says

    Maybe George Santos could change his name to “Present” and sneak his way to victory.

  227. Reginald Selkirk says

    Why we can’t turn off the NFL

    America’s unbreakable fixation with football will only lead to more injuries like Damar Hamlin’s.

    Meh. The likely cause of Hamlin’s injury was Commotio cordis, which is actually more common in baseball and softball than in American football. If you normalized for number of participants or hours played, that would undoubtedly also include lacrosse.

  228. tomh says

    If they’re going for the record they better settle in. The 34th Congress in 1856 took 133 votes over two months to elect a Speaker.

  229. says

    SC @371, yes, now we are on round 10 of voting … and still no closer to selecting a Leader of the House. I am thoroughly fed up with this nonsense. Furthermore, I have to say that the speeches given by people nominating Republicans are getting worse, not better. What a bunch of dunderheads.

  230. says

    Trump’s renewed attack on Ruby Freeman is revealing. Here’s why.

    His revival of baseless claims against the former Georgia election worker could signal legal news — and might hurt his wallet, too.

    Seemingly out of nowhere this week, former President Donald Trump fired off a series of deranged, disjointed “truths” about former Georgia election worker Ruby Freeman.

    As my colleague Steve Benen recounted Wednesday, Freeman and Shaye Moss, her daughter, were accused by Trump, Rudy Giuliani and others of tampering with ballots at Atlanta’s State Farm Arena on Election Day in 2020. But federal and state investigators found no evidence to support those accusations, and at least one Justice Department official told Trump the claims were false.

    Nonetheless, Trump took aim at Freeman again this week on his social media platform, Truth Social, baselessly accusing her of lying under oath and committing election crimes.

    Because Freeman has an ongoing defamation suit against Giuliani, some may wonder whether these new posts could enable her to sue Trump himself. Although Trump could be insulated from defamation claims regarding statements made during his presidency, a question that federal courts are still weighing, Freeman likely could sue him for repeating false statements about her now. After all, author E. Jean Carroll recently filed a new defamation lawsuit against Trump after he repeated certain allegations about her on Truth Social shortly before he was deposed in her case.

    Fast forward to Wednesday morning when Trump started in on Freeman again here and here, falsely accusing her once more of “stuffing the ballot boxes.”

    So what might have prompted Trump to reignite his public attacks against Freeman? It’s true the House Jan. 6 committee released her transcribed interview last week, but is that really why Trump is going after her again?

    A more likely explanation begins in Georgia, not on Capitol Hill. As The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Tuesday, the special grand jury convened by Georgia’s Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is wrapping up its investigation into efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

    According to the newspaper:

    The panel could vote within weeks on recommendations, including whether Willis should press any charges, according to the outlet. If a majority of jurors can agree on a course of action, it will be included in a final report, known as a special presentment.

    It’s not so much that an indictment is imminent. The report would first go to Fulton County Superior Court Chief Judge Robert McBurney for review before being turned over to Willis for “potential criminal prosecution,” the newspaper reported. And that would require empaneling a new grand jury.

    Yet, as the special grand jury wraps up its work, it’s unknown whether Willis’ team plans to seek testimony from Trump or has even signaled to his legal team that it intends to do so. As the newspaper notes, “Formally petitioning him for his appearance could trigger a lengthy court fight — and he would likely plead the Fifth Amendment.” Still, that petition would not exactly be welcomed by Trump.

    Could developments in Fulton County be why Trump suddenly lashed out again at Freeman? And will Freeman seek compensation for all he has put her through? After all, she provided this heartbreaking testimony before the Jan. 6 committee:

    There is nowhere I feel safe. Nowhere. Do you know how it feels to have the President of the United States to target you? The President of the United States is supposed to represent every American, not to target one. But he targeted me, Lady Rudy, a small business owner, a mother, a proud American citizen who stand up to help Fulton County run an election in the middle of the pandemic. …

    Now I won’t even introduce myself by my name anymore. I get nervous when I bump into someone I know in the grocery store who says my name. I’m worried about who’s listening. I get nervous when I have to give my name for food orders. I’m always concerned of who’s around me. I’ve lost my name, and I’ve lost my reputation. …

    I’ve lost my sense of security, all because a group of people, starting with number 45 and his ally Rudy Giuliani, decided to scapegoat me and my daughter Shaye to push their own lies about how the presidential election was stolen.

    I asked Protect Democracy, which has been co-counsel to Freeman both in her defamation lawsuit against Giuliani and in connection with her Jan. 6 committee testimony, for comment about their client’s next steps. Her attorney Von DuBose provided this statement:

    Nobody, not even a former president, has a right to intentionally spread damaging, defamatory lies about fellow citizens. The lies about Ms. Freeman and Ms. Moss have been proven false over and over again, but they have nonetheless upended my clients’ lives and continue to threaten their safety.

    That Freeman’s life was upended because of her service was not lost on the Jan. 6 committee. At its June 21 hearing last year, Rep. Adam Schiff expressed how sorry committee members are for what Freeman and her daughter endured, remarking, “No election workers should be subject to such heinous treatment just for doing their job.”

    Their sacrifice hasn’t been lost on President Joe Biden either. On Friday, the second anniversary of the Capitol attack, he will award the Presidential Citizens Medal to Freeman, Moss and 10 others who also “demonstrated courage and selflessness during a moment of peril for our nation” and “performed exemplary deeds of service for their country or their fellow citizens.”

    Yet, Trump has doubled down on vilifying and endangering them, this time without any protections the presidency could afford him.

  231. says

    Followup to comment 374.

    Jake Sherman:

    Anna Paulina Luna, speaking from the floor, says the media is trying to pit Republicans against each other.

    She made this proclamation during a nomination speech on the 10th ballot for speaker in the GOP controlled House.

    Well, that makes my point for me.

  232. says

    […] Gaetz and Biggs are fundraising off their McCarthy opposition, in case you needed any more indication that they are never going to vote for him. […]


  233. Oggie: Mathom says

    German-made Gepard system

    The Gepard, based on the Leopard I MBT, has been around since the late 1970s or early 1980s (at the very least, Tamiya came out with a 1/35 scale model of the Gepard in the early 1980s (not a very accurate one, either)). It was developed around the same time as the Soviet Union’s ZSU23-4 system. The Soviet one used a smaller gun, but had four 23mm rifles rather than the Gepard’s two 35mm rifles. Both were initially designed as anti-aircraft systems but both militaries quickly realized that it was not going to be real effective against modern (1980s modern, that is) ground attack aircraft, but would be very effective against the slower-moving attack helicopters.

    I am trying to find the source in my library, but I think (I know, risky) that Germany produced somewhere between 300 and 500 of the systems. (And the Pffft of All Knowledge says 400 (Yeah!!!!)) The Gepard is still an effective surface to air weapon because the electronics and radar systems have been updated almost continuously since its introduction. The ZSU 23-4 got some upgrades in the late 1980s and then again in the early 2000s, but for the last 15 or 20 years, it has been using radar and electronics that are 15 or 20 years old. And getting older.

    I am not surprised that the Gepard would be useful against drones. Some small tweaks to the targeting software to account for the smaller drones would be, well, not easy, but very doable.

    Back from Florida and visiting Wife’s family. Nice time in Florida. If you are ever in the Daytona/Orlando area, and eat meat, and are looking for a good barbecue, I strongly recommend Brians BBQ in Deland. Also, Hollerbachs is a very good German restaurant (and clothing shop, deli, beer store) in downtown Sanford. And it is right across the street from a nice little used book store.

  234. says

    Ali Alexander ups his civil war with Marjorie Taylor Greene, saying he has evidence against her

    Ali Alexander is one of the central figures in the planning of the Jan. 6, 2021 “Stop the Steal” event that was used as a distraction for the more insidious attempt to overthrow the results of the 2020 presidential election. Alexander is also a far-right conspiracy theorist who has already testified and lied to Congress about his participation in the events of Jan. 6.

    As evidence has mounted, Alexander has looked to prove his innocence in the nefarious activities surrounding the attempted coup d’état on that day by placing the blame on everyone else besides himself. It has amounted to a transparent plea to federal and state authorities for immunity in return for evidence against his fellow conspirators.

    One of those fellow-conspirators, according to Alexander, is Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene. Alexander has long named Greene as one of the high-ranking government participators in the Jan. 6 festivities. But Alexander has also remained rather mum on the details of his interactions with important Republican operators. On Thursday, Alexander decided to break his silence and went live on Telegram. He had a lot to say about Greene.

    Grab your popcorn.

    Warning: Alexander, like everyone involved in the “Stop the Steal” scam, is a scumbag and says scumbag things and uses scumbag language.

    The audio begins with a voice-breaking Alexander exclaiming, “I will not suffer this harlot. I will not be taught vows and loyalty, commitment from a whore!” It’s the kind of eloquence we have come to expect from the right-wing conspiracy theorists in our country these days. But let us be clear: Alexander wants you to know he isn’t enjoying being the scapegoat for his whiter counterparts.

    “You have got me mistaken for some damn fool.” Well, I mean, saying you are buddies with people like Paul Gosar and Mo Brooks and Greene is sort of like saying you are a fool, but please go on. “A fool, Ali Alexander has never been called.” Wait, you just said that.

    ”In the coming days, I am going to reveal that Marjorie Taylor Greene, in my summation and the summation of lawyers, committed a crime.” Now this is something fun! Of course, people like Alexander and Steve Bannon and Donald Trump and even Greene say a lot of untrue things in the form of exclamatory statements of secret evidence—all of the time.

    ”That crime is going to be handed to the state of Georgia.” Hehe. Also, MyPillow guy Mike Lindell says things like this all the time. Alexander goes on to say that while it will be up to Georgia officials to decide whether or not they will pursue this “evidence,” Alexander believes that “the House Ethics Committee, and House rules, must expel Marjorie Taylor Greene, when this evidence comes to light.”

    He proceeds to use another offensive descriptor for Greene before concluding, “I am done with you. You are lukewarm and I am spitting you out of my mouth. You played me and no more.” Alexander then pauses before teasing out a classically conservative bit of possibly defamatory mudslinging: “Everyone will know about your drunken night because the consultants that have drunk with you will have to choose whether they fear me or whether they fear you. And they fear me Marge.”

    What this evidence is, if there is any, remains to be seen. We know that Greene has been rather loose with her ability to tell the truth in every and all contexts, including courts of law. However, like all of the conservatives involved in lying about the results of the past elections, Alexander has zero integrity as a witness. It is a liars’ pit of lying. Like rats in a sinking cage—just less cute. [video at the link]

    It was only two years ago that these two were having so much fun together on Twitter. [Tweets at link. Here is just one of those tweets from Ali Alexander: “If they do this, everyone can guess what me and 500,000 others will do to that building. 1776 is *always* an option.”]

  235. Reginald Selkirk says

    Public Service Announcement:
    Excessive popcorn consumption may harm your health.
    Colonic Phytobezoar Caused by Popcorn Kernels Resulting in a High Grade Large Bowel Obstruction

    Abstract: Phytobezoars are the result of ingestion of indigestible or poorly digestible substances. The stomach is the most commonly affected, with the small bowel being the next most common site. The colon is a rare location for a bezoar. We report the first case of pancolonic phytobezoar from popcorn kernels causing a large bowel obstruction.

  236. says

    Round 10:

    Jeffries 212
    McCarthy 200
    Donalds 13
    Hern 7
    Present 1

    There are reports of some sort of agreement between the semi-fascist and fascist Republican wings. I guess we’ll see…

  237. says

    NBC News:

    The Biden administration announced new policies at the southern border on Thursday, effective immediately, that will bar more immigrants from Cuba, Haiti and Nicaragua from crossing the border to claim asylum while increasing the number of legal pathways for those migrants to apply for asylum from their home countries.

  238. says

    Associated Press:

    The South Carolina Supreme Court struck down Thursday a ban on abortion after cardiac activity is detected — typically around six weeks — ruling the restriction violates the state constitution’s right to privacy. The 3-2 decision comes nearly two years after Republican Gov. Henry McMaster signed the measure into law.

  239. says

    Wall Street Journal:

    The Federal Trade Commission on Thursday issued a plan to ban noncompete clauses, a proposal that would allow workers to take jobs with rival companies or start competing businesses but raises the prospect of legal opposition from companies that say the practice has a legitimate purpose.

  240. says


    Special counsel Jack Smith has received a trove of new documents from local election officials in Wisconsin and Nevada who were subpoenaed as part of the ongoing criminal investigation by the Justice Department into efforts to overturn the 2020 election. The documents were handed by officials in Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, and Clark County, Nevada, in response to Smith’s subpoena. They include communications with lawyers working on former President Donald Trump’s behalf.

  241. says

    New York Times:

    Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, who is part of Democrats’ razor-thin edge in the chamber and represents a swing state that has played an outsize role in the past two presidential elections, said on Thursday that he had prostate cancer but expected to make a full recovery.

  242. says

    Washington Post:

    Loud booing. Animated conversations in the aisles of the House chamber. Sleeping children. Lawmakers scrolling on their phones. The typical live stream from the U.S. House is focused on the dais and the desks from which members of each party address the chamber. But this week brought an unusual amount of drama as the American public watched lawmakers struggle to select a new speaker. And that’s largely thanks to C-SPAN. The House Radio-TV Gallery told The Washington Post that C-SPAN was given permission in advance of the voting for its cameras to visually roam across the chamber. But once a speaker is confirmed, C-SPAN will go back to its normal procedure.

    Too bad. I like free range C-SPAN cameras.

  243. raven says

    Update on a pregnant antivaxxer who caught Covid-19 virus.
    The baby was stillborn.
    And it keeps getting worse.

    I am so blessed to watch all these miracles the lord has done.

    A week later.
    She is getting both legs amputated from the mid shin down.
    …Her hands and feet, and fingers and toes are all black and no longer have blood flow.
    …So due to that she has to have them amputated.

    …Please continue the prayers and kind words

    Her prognosis isn’t good.
    But, she is a Pure Blood, not having been…vaccinated against a sometimes fatal disease that especially targets pregnant women.

  244. says

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

    Trusts holding billions of dollars of assets for Roman Abramovich were amended to transfer beneficial ownership to his children shortly before sanctions were imposed on the Russian oligarch.

    Leaked files seen by the Guardian suggest 10 secretive offshore trusts established to benefit Abramovich were rapidly reorganised in early February 2022, three weeks before the start of Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine.

    The sweeping reorganisation of Abramovich’s financial affairs commenced just days after governments threatened to impose sanctions against Russian oligarchs in the event of an invasion.

    The leaked documents raise questions about whether the changes to trusts were made in an attempt to shield the oligarch’s vast fortune from the threat of asset freezes.

    Analysis suggests the amendments made Abramovich’s seven children, the youngest of whom is nine years old, beneficiaries of trusts holding assets worth at least $4bn, though the total value could be much higher.

    The changes appear to have made the children the ultimate beneficial owners of trophy assets long-linked to their father, including luxury properties and a fleet of superyachts, helicopters and private jets.

    Sanctions experts said the sweeping reorganisation of the trusts could complicate efforts to enforce sanctions against the oligarch and potentially frustrate attempts to freeze assets previously believed to belong to the metals tycoon.

    The revelations are likely to raise questions about whether Abramovich’s children should also be subject to asset freezes. Unlike family members of some of Putin’s closest advisers, many families of oligarchs subject to sanctions have avoided restrictions.

    Ukraine’s deputy prime minister, Iryna Vereshchuk, has warned residents in occupied territories not to attend church services for Orthodox Christmas.

    Russia is planning to launch “terrorist attacks” in churches, Vereshchuk said, without providing evidence, as she urged citizens to “be careful and if possible refrain from visiting places with large crowds”.

    She said:

    There is information that the Russians are preparing terrorist attacks in churches in the temporarily occupied territories for Orthodox Christmas.

    It is not possible to verify these claims.

    A Ukrainian open-source intelligence (OSINT) group also reported receiving tip-offs about attacks on Orthodox churches in Donetsk and other occupied territories, the Kyiv Independent reports.

  245. says

    Also in today’s Guardian:

    “‘It never stops’: killings by US police reach record high in 2022”: “Law enforcement killed at least 1,176 people or about 100 people a month last year, making it the deadliest for police violence…”

    “Killing of LGBTQ+ activist prompts outcry over anti-gay attacks in Kenya”: “Body of fashion designer and model Edwin Chiloba, 25, found stuffed in metal box by side of road, say reports…”

    “Poison in the haze: documenting life under Ahvaz’s oppressive orange skies”: “Ahvaz, in western Iran, is one of the world’s most polluted cities. Mohamad Madadi has made it a mission to photograph his home town’s environmental crisis…”

    “China Covid: wave of celebrity deaths sparks doubt over actual toll”: “Users of Chinese social media have questioned the country’s official statistics after a surge in the number of public figures dying…”

  246. Reginald Selkirk says

    China Covid: Young people self-infect as fears for elderly grow

    But younger Chinese, all of whom did not wish to be named, feel differently – and some told the BBC they were voluntarily exposing themselves to infection.
    A 27-year-old coder in Shanghai, who did not receive any of the Chinese vaccines, says he voluntarily exposed himself to the virus.
    “Because I don’t want to change my holiday plan,” he explains, “and I could make sure I recovered and won’t be infected again during the holiday if I intentionally control the time I get infected.” He admits he did not expect the muscle aches that came with the infection, but says the symptoms have been largely as expected.
    Another Shanghai resident, a 26-year-old woman, tells the BBC she visited her friend who had tested positive “so I could get Covid as well”.
    But she says her recovery has been hard: “I thought it would be like getting a cold but it was much more painful.” …

    I also hope that they are taking measures to ensure that they do not spread the virus once they have it.

  247. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    The BBC has a report on how fighting is continuing despite Russia declaring a unilateral ceasefire today:

    Air alerts were reported across Ukraine shortly after the purported truce began, and then the governor of Kherson region said a strike on a fire station left rescuer dead and four other people wounded in the main city, liberated in November by Ukrainian forces.

    The eastern city of Kramatorsk also came under attack and more than a dozen buildings were damaged, Ukrainian officials said.

    Luhansk regional leader Serhiy Haidai warned that Russia’s Christmas truce was “a lie and a trap”, advising residents not to attend Orthodox Church services or gather in crowded places as the Russians could plan “terrorist attacks”.

    Kyiv Mayor Vitaliy Klitschko warned that overnight temperatures in the capital would drop to -11C and called for electricity to be carefully used.

    Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said the truce was an attempt to stop his country’s military advances in the east of the country, and bring in more men and equipment.

    Artillery fire could be heard on both sides of the front line in the eastern city of Bakhmut, where Russian forces have concentrated much of their firepower in an attempt to push east towards Kramatorsk.

    Although Russian officials insisted the truce remained intact, there was no indication of any significant lull in fighting.

    Ukrainian MP Inna Sovsun told the BBC:

    We are two and a half hours into this proclaimed ceasefire, and actually the whole territory of Ukraine is under air raid alert. So I think that speaks for itself.

    Basically the ceasefire, the Russians are making it up.

    Reuters has updated its reporting on the situation in Ukraine. Here are the latest lines:

    Artillery fire could be heard from the front line in Ukraine on Friday, even after the official start of a unilateral ceasefire declared by Moscow and rejected by Kyiv.

    Russia’s defence ministry said its troops began observing the ceasefire from noon Moscow time (0900 GMT) “along the entire line of contact” in the conflict, but said Ukraine kept up shelling populated areas and military positions.

    Reuters could not immediately verify whether the intensity of fighting slowed following the start of the truce. One witness in the Russian-occupied regional capital Donetsk, close to the front, described outgoing artillery fired from pro-Russian positions on the city’s outskirts after the truce was meant to take effect.

    In the hours prior, rockets slammed into a residential building in the Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk close to the eastern frontline, damaging 14 homes but with no casualties, the mayor said. Residents described several explosions.

    “It’s bad, very bad. We need to pressure them, get them to leave, maybe more air defence systems would help. This happens often, not only on festive occasions. Every other day,” said Oleksnadr, 36, outside a supermarket at the time of the attack.

    One rescue worker was killed and four others injured after Russian forces shelled a fire department in the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson before the deadline early on Friday, the regional governor said. Reuters could not immediately verify this.

    Shortly after the ceasefire was supposed to come into effect, Russian-backed officials accused Ukraine of shelling Donetsk with artillery, Russia’s state-run TASS news agency said.

    Denis Pushilin, the Russian-installed leader in Donetsk, said on Thursday that Putin’s order only covered offensive operations and his forces would hit back if fired upon.

    Vladimir Saldo, the Russian-installed administrator of Ukraine’s Kherson region, described the ceasefire as “a gesture of goodwill,” but said the situation on the front lines would not change because of it.

    Despite air raid warnings sounding in several regions, no major air strikes were reported by Ukrainian officials after the ceasefire starting time.

    The town of Bakhmut, 12 miles (20 km) southeast of Kramatorsk, has for months been the most intense battleground, still in Ukrainian hands despite dug-in trench warfare and months of battering by Russian forces that have left much of it in ruins.

    “I tell people we should pray for the guys holding Bakhmut. If Bakhmut is given up, Kramatorsk will suffer heavily,” said Yehven, 32, also at the supermarket.

    A Russian hacking team known as Cold River targeted three nuclear research laboratories in the United States this past summer, Reuters reports.

    Between August and September, as President Vladimir Putin indicated Russia would be willing to use nuclear weapons to defend its territory, Cold River targeted the Brookhaven (BNL), Argonne (ANL) and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories (LLNL), according to internet records that showed the hackers creating fake login pages for each institution and emailing nuclear scientists in a bid to make them reveal their passwords.

    Reuters was unable to determine why the labs were targeted or if any attempted intrusion was successful.

    Cold River has escalated its hacking campaign against Kyiv’s allies since the invasion of Ukraine, according to cybersecurity researchers and western government officials.

    The digital blitz against the US labs occurred as UN experts entered Russian-controlled Ukrainian territory to inspect Europe’s biggest atomic power plant and assess the risk of what both sides said could be a devastating radiation disaster amid heavy shelling nearby.

  248. says

    Meduza – “‘Giving Europe the chance to come to its senses’: Meduza got access to a Kremlin handbook on how propagandists should sum up 2022”:

    The Kremlin released a handbook for authorities and pro-Kremlin media, what they should say in year-end reports about 2022. The handbook’s “recommendations” range from insisting that that Putin “prevented an impending NATO attack on Russian territory” to claims that the “denazification of Ukraine” is going well and that the Russian economy is about to start booming. As for certain inconsistencies — like the fact that Russia is allegedly withstanding “NATO, the most powerful war machine in human history” and, also, that the West is funding Ukraine less and less — the handbook’s authors have no advice. Meduza summarizes the handbook’s main points….

  249. says

    Moscow Times – “‘Sacred Goal’: Russia Paints Ukraine Assault in Spiritual Terms”:

    Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill, a powerful ally of President Vladimir Putin, is embracing the rhetoric of the medieval crusades in urging support for Moscow’s offensive in eastern Ukraine.

    When Pope Urban ordered the first crusade to the Middle East in 1095, he told Christians to rise up and defend fellow believers, promising that their sins would be wiped away.

    Nearly 10 centuries later, Kirill has called on believers to support pro-Russian “brothers” during Moscow’s offensive in eastern Ukraine.

    In a sermon in September, he said that dying in Ukraine “washes away all sins.”

    As humiliating military setbacks for Russia in Ukraine pile up, authorities in Moscow seem increasingly willing to depict the campaign in religious terms.

    Keen to ensure public support, Putin declared during his midnight address on New Year’s Eve that “moral, historical rightness is on our side.”

    He had initially said that the fellow Orthodox Christian nation needed to be “demilitarized” and “de-Nazified.”

    But more than 10 months into Moscow’s offensive, Russian authorities, military commanders and propagandists aim to depict the conflict as a battle against the decadent West.

    In early November, former president Dmitry Medvedev said that Russia faced an existential threat and that the “sacred goal” was to fight the satanic West.

    “We are listening to the words of the Creator in our hearts and obeying them,” Medvedev, who serves as deputy head of Russia’s Security Council, wrote on messaging app Telegram.

    “The goal is to stop the supreme ruler of Hell, whatever name he uses — Satan, Lucifer or Iblis.”

    The offensive has deepened a rift between the Russian and Ukrainian Orthodox churches. But even in Russia, not every cleric supports the rhetoric of the Moscow Patriarchate.

    Andrei Kordochkin, an Orthodox priest based in Madrid, said the words come straight from the Middle Ages.

    Kordochkin was among nearly 300 Russian Orthodox clerics who signed an open letter urging authorities to end the “fratricidal war” in Ukraine.

    Kordochkin said “many more” people agreed with the letter’s message but were unable to sign it for various reasons.

    “We bitterly think about the chasm that our children and grandchildren in Russia and Ukraine will have to overcome in order to start being friends with each other again, respect and love each other,” the petition said.

    Several signatories of the letter have been sanctioned by the patriarchy, said one priest, requesting anonymity to speak candidly. 

    Some of the clerics were moved to other parishes and replaced by priests loyal to the Kremlin, he said.

    “One priest served 30 years in his parish and was then transferred to serve elsewhere,” he added, calling the Russian offensive a “catastrophe.”